Talmage is really becoming very interactive and smiles a lot! Here are some samples of his bright grins, and the movie at the end is to show the happy noises we are starting to hear quite a lot of around here!
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes...the baby in the baby carriage! And with that little bundle of joy comes a new level of responsibility and an abundance of new stressors. Studies have shown that the vast majority of couples experience a decline in marital satisfaction with the birth of a new baby. After hearing this repeated over and over again, I wanted to figure out how to prevent that from happening, since we were expecting our first child. So when I was given the task of writing a lengthy research paper on a stressor families experience, I jumped at the opportunity to study the transition to parenthood.
I was dismayed, at first, to notice that every study I read, every paper I perused, indicated that couples decreased in their marital satisfaction. After researching for quite some time, my professor indicated that he knew of a study where couples whose marital satisfaction increased with the birth of a new baby were analyzed (Shapiro, A., Gottman, J., & Carrere, S. (2000). The baby and the marriage: Identifying factors that buffer against decline in marital satisfaction after the first baby arrives. Journal of Family Psychology, 14(1), 59-70.)
This study found that there were 6 common factors among couples whose relationships improved with the birth of their first child:
-husbands expressing fondness and affection toward wives
-husbands' high awareness of spouse and relationship
-good quality of marital friendship (surpassing romantic infatuation)
-high level of marital adjustment prior to the birth of a baby
-high pre-natal marital satisfaction
-positive perception of parenthood
I was so happy to see the keys to avoiding that decline in marital satisfaction. Of course Sam and I don't have a perfect marriage, but I think being aware of these factors has helped the transition to parenthood go more smoothly.
Additionally, there are two things my parents were examples of that I have learned are essential for a strong family relationship:
-a weekly date
-not allowing anything--even your children--to come between you
When my dad was in graduate school and was not able to be home much at all, those weekly dates helped keep my mom sane with five small children and countless other responsibilities in Church, school, etc. Now, as Sam is in graduate school and is gone from approximately 5:30 am to 7:00 pm every day and often comes home only for 30 minutes or so before he has to dash out the door again to fulfill one of his Church callings or other responsibilities, I have learned the importance of that weekly date. When we were married, our sealer told us to continue our courtship through our marriage. Striving to do that, especially after the birth of our baby, has really helped us.
I remember that whenever we were sitting together as a family, whether it was at Church or another activity, none of the kids were allowed to sit in between my parents. They always sat next to each other. This was just one way they taught us that nothing would come between them. Additional studies have shown that there is an increase in divorce after about 25-30 years of marriage, because the children leave home and the couple is left alone and realizes they no longer know each other--they had lived through their children. Nurturing the marriage relationship first, before the relationship with the children, is crucial.
Of course I realize that I am still a newlywed, and don't really have experience with how to make a marriage last. But I just wanted to share some of my thoughts and some things I have learned about making the transition to parenthood a pleasant one. So for all of you newlywed couples out there, although the world will tell you to expect your marital satisfaction to decrease with the birth of a child, don't let that scare you off! Being a parent has truly increased our joy and our love for one another.
Yesterday Talmage turned 6 weeks old! The time sure is flying by with this little guy. Here are some tidbits about his development.
-He is sleeping really well at night, and will go 8-9 hours without eating, and generally only wakes up once or twice.
-He loves being able to see what is going on around him. If he is fussing, he will almost always stop if we stand him up, and sometimes he will move his feet up and down like he is walking. He seems to have a desire to be as big as us, so he wants to do exactly what we're doing.
-He has really grown attached to his mom and dad, and he does not like being left alone at all! He will protest if we leave him in a room without us for more than a minute or so, and will sit quite contentedly in his chair while I make dinner, sort laundry, get ready, etc. as long as he can see me right next to him.
-He loves licking things. While he has been experimenting with his tongue for a couple of weeks now, he has recently begun licking anything that is close enough for him to! Whether it is his shirt collar, overalls, blanket, or a person, his tiny little tongue will frequently dart out and start exploring whatever is near his mouth.
-He likes having the top of his head covered, but hates having his face covered. One day I was making dinner when I heard a series of rather urgent grunts. I turned around and saw that he had pulled his spit cloth up over his face so it was completely covered. It was as if he was saying, "Um, excuse me! A little help here!" He was calm as soon as I removed the spit cloth.
-He has recently discovered how fun it is to grab my hair and yank it, and will take the opportunity to do so anytime he can.
-He smiles and coos frequently, and will also imitate our facial expressions.
-He loves reading stories. The other day I pulled out a bunch of his board books and started reading them to him. He stared transfixed at each page, intently studying the animals, trucks, and other fun things.
-He startles at the funniest things! Yesterday in Church there were plenty of loud noises...talks in the microphone, singing, organ music...and he was dozing through it all. Suddenly someone across the chapel coughed, and he jumped so hard he nearly flew out of my arms!
-He is still full of crazy facial expressions, and Sam and I will often spend quite some time just staring at him as he is laying down, highly entertained by them!
He is such a ray of sunshine in our home. Being parents has multiplied the joy we felt being married.
Talmage will sometimes gaze at something with a transfixed expression on his face as if he is so astonished such a thing can exist. I get such a kick out of his wide-eyed, raised-eyebrow, open-mouthed look!
Today was Talmage's 6 week visit to the doctor. He won't be 6 weeks until Sunday, but his appointment was today, so here are his stats!
Height: 22 3/4 inches (75th percentile)
Weight: 10 pounds, 8 ounces (50th percentile)
Cuteness Level: OFF THE CHARTS!!! (Well, we think so anyway...:)
He also had to get the 6 immunizations, and I think it hurt me almost as much as it hurt him! He was brave, though, and stopped crying about 10 seconds after the first poke, only to be poked again, cry for another 10 seconds, and then be poked again with the worst of the three. I wish there were a way I could get the shots in his behalf. So after a trip to the park this afternoon and a nice, warm bath to help the shots feel good, I put him in his pajamas early this evening and he was all smiles! He seems to be recovering well from this morning's trauma.
I was very surprised to see how much he weighs...he gained 3 pounds, 1/2 ounce in just 27 days, even though his feedings only last 15 minutes or less! What an efficient guy. The doctor also said his straining and digestive upheaval should ease up in another month or two. Interestingly, after all the trauma he experienced this morning, he has hardly strained all day!
Talmage turned one month old on Wednesday! He is learning and growing at an astounding rate.
This past week has been a big one for becoming a better sleeper. The last couple of nights, Talmage has slept from 9:30 or 10:00 pm until 4:30 or so in the morning without being fed, and usually only waking up once! He is showing me more and more his preference to be on a schedule, just like his daddy. He wants to eat according to his schedule and sleep on a schedule, and if his schedule gets messed up, he is typically a bit more stressed throughout the day. He is also very time-efficient...especially when it comes to eating! He is growing really well, so I know he is getting enough to eat, but he generally completes the job in just 12-15 minutes! He has gotten too tall for many of his clothes, so although he still isn't filling them out too much, I think we'll be pulling out the bigger sizes soon.
Talmage is still a very well-behaved baby. He prefers to grunt to let us know when something is bothering him, rather than cry. However, he has had a bit of a rough time the last little while because of some digestive issues he has been having. He burps, hiccups, spits up, and passes gas a lot, and it is pretty much only during these times of internal disturbance that he cries. Strangely, the hiccups seem to really calm him down rather than aggravate him further. Perhaps it is because of his stomach issues that he shows a strong preference to being held upright, in a burping position, with his back being patted. He also really enjoys being snuggled tightly.
Talmage really loves rides in the stroller and rides in the car. He loves staring at the pictures on the wall with intense concentration. The other day, Sam came home from school and took Talmage around the house, showing him the different pictures and talking to him about them. Talmage loved it! He also loves playing Pat-a-Cake, as is seen in the movie posted below. He also loves it when we eat his face with kisses, pedal his legs in bicycle motion, and let him fly like an airplane above our heads. He absolutely hates being forced. I mentioned previously his adamant refusal to eat more if he doesn't want to, and that iron-will is seen in several aspects of his life. He still loves music, and he will sit quietly listening to me play the piano for quite some time! He likes to be outside on our balcony, carefully studying the surroundings.
We still marvel at the fact that we get to be his parents. We are enjoying this journey and delight in the new aspects of life our little Talmage shows us.