Love Grows Deeper

I love my baby.

No really. I LOVE my baby.

I don't think I knew what this meant when Owen was born. I mean yes, there was an amazement and awe there in seeing my child for the first time but I don't think I understood motherly love yet. There's just so much to take in when you all of a sudden become a parent. You all of a sudden have a whole armful of new responsibilities (literally!) and there's so much to learn. It becomes a bit daunting and the first few weeks for me were very instinctual: you take care of your baby because that's what you do. You don't have a choice because this child needs you to survive. But as the weeks go on, I'm finding much more joy and love in the whole process.

Now that Owen and I are experts at the whole breastfeeding process and he's establishing an awesome sleep pattern we've moved past the initial survival mode and things are becoming more exciting and enjoyable. Owen is so responsive and he really loves communicating with Nick and I so it's becoming much more interesting talking to him and interacting with him as he learns and grows. It's just amazing watching his little brain expand and take the world in as he stares in my eyes and works to figure out what it is I'm saying to him. He loves to smile at Nick and I even when we're just looking at him. I can't wait to see who this little man is that's waiting to blossom!

Owen is the most interesting little person I have ever met. He is, without a doubt, the cutest baby in the world and I just love watching him! I now understand those "mom looks" that my mom would give me that made me roll my eyes. I understand now that she was seeing me as the baby I once was and was recalling those past precious moments where I actually wanted to be snuggled by her and I needed her more than anything else in the world. I can already feel myself giving Owen "mom looks" and I know I will one day drive him crazy when he's a teenager and I'm still gazing at him as if he's still my little baby.

I guess that's part of being a firstborn. You are your parents' first shot at taking care of a little one. You are the guinea pig and therefore get the most pictures, the most attention, and the most mistakes (usually). I'm so happy that Owen is my firstborn baby boy and I am so excited to watch him grow and watch our relationship get stronger and even more filled with love. Every day I feel like I love him even more than the day before! It's so wonderful.

This also further puts God's love into perspective for me. Not only do I greater understand the love He has for us as His created children, but also the incredible relationship He has with Jesus and the unbelievable sacrifice that He made for us. Now having a firstborn and only son (...for now), I shake my head at the idea of giving him up to die for sins that weren't even his. What an incredible God we have and what an incredible love He has for us. We are SO LOVED. Through loving my son, I feel more able to accept the love that I am being given every day. What a beautiful world.


Dedicating Owen to Jesus!

On Saturday we are dedication Owen to the Lord. This is what this means:

Some things to understand about dedicating your child to the Lord:

1. The practice of baby dedication is based on scriptural precedent, rooted in the Old Testament, in which Jesus was presented to the Lord in the Temple as an infant (Luke 2:22-35).

2. It is also based on and acknowledges God’s blessing upon and concern for the care of children (Isaiah 54:13; Matt 18:1-5, 10; 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17; Acts 2:39; 1 John 2:12-13).

3. It is you, Parents, who are doing the dedicating. It is a commitment you make in your heart before Jesus and agree together to live out in your home. The dedication we perform during the church service is simply a public acknowledgment of that commitment.

4. You acknowledge that your child is a gift given you by God (Gen 33:5; Psalm 127:3-5). As such, children are a blessing, a great privilege, and a source of joy (Prov. 23:24-25), and a lot of work, as we well know; however, we ultimately recognize that they have been created by our Father in heaven, belong to Him, and have simply been entrusted to us. Parents are stewards of their children, so that children might be raised in Jesus (Exodus 13:2, 12).

5. Parents, you commit to live by the grace of God as positive example of a follower of Jesus so your children will find it easy to follow you as you follow Jesus, and so that you will not be a stumbling block to your children’s saving faith in Jesus.

6. Your church leadership and community (elders, deacons, and members) commits to support and equip you by the grace of God to fulfill your responsibility, and likewise to be good examples to your children.

Baby Dedication is not:

Baptism: Baby dedication is not “dry” baptism of infants nor is it a substitute for baptism. Mars Hill Church recognizes a believer’s baptism as being the only biblical expression of baptism.

Magic: Baby dedication is not “magic,” nor is it a formula of any kind that manipulates God, nor does it place any kind of extra-special blessing or protection upon your children, nor does it secure or ensure their immediate or eventual salvation.


Trading Smiles

The biggest news in the Walker home lately is that Owen has begun to smile. Before this week we caught one or two little grins, but a few days ago he really started getting the hang of it and has been warming our hearts ever since with his adorable little face. Seeing my son smile at me evokes a kind of love that I've never felt before - a love that is best described as protective, proud, warm and totally unconditional. It's the closest thing I can imagine that us humans can experience to the love God feels for us. It helps me better understand why He puts up with our constant ignorance and foolishness.

Not only is Owen's smile the most adorable thing on this planet (seriously - baby bunnies have nothing on my boy), it also marks the beginning of his desire to interact and communicate with people. When he smiles at me, I will talk to him in a happy voice and smile back and he'll study my eyes and face and then smile even bigger as he wiggles his arms and legs in excitement. It's just the coolest thing to know that he wants to communicate with me and right now, a smile is the only way he can.

More than anything else, it's really awesome to watch Owen grow and learn. He's changing every day and it's awesome to really see that. I can't belive he's almost a month and a half old already. The next twenty years are going to fly by and before we even know it he'll be grown with his own children. It just makes me realize more and more how important it is to soak up every day, love every minute of this and take as many pictures as possible!


Shoutout to "Babywise"

Let me first preface this by saying that some babies are easier to schedule than others. But in my opion, Babywise can and will work for anyone who puts their full effort into it.

You may be wondering, what is this Babywise you speak of? On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam is a book that helps parents get their infants on predictable eating, waking and sleeping patterns so as to create a more peaceful, predictable and happy family atmosphere. It teaches that babies function better when parents take the lead in establishing the flow of the day and have a flexible schedule of when and how often Baby will eat. This isn't to keep Baby from eating or to constrict Baby's growth - it actually ensures that he will get full feedings every time and therefore get the proper nutrition.

The Babywise rules that I've found most helpful are...

1. From the very first feeding after birth, make sure Baby gets a full feeding. This will establish good habits from the start.
2. Do not get Baby used to falling asleep with props (ie: an automatic rocking swing, nursing, riding in the car, specific music, etc) or he will not be able to sleep without them.
3. Establish a defined eat, wake, sleep pattern. Reverse the pattern (eat, sleep, wake) and Baby will need to nurse himself to sleep.
4. When it's naptime, put Baby down (even if he's fully awake) and let him cry himself to sleep. This is not harmful to Baby - it's teaching him how to sleep on his own.

There are some awesome side effects of using this method. Overall, Babywise babies tend to understand the concepts of delayed gratification, patience and schedule earlier than most children. They also learn to sleep through the night much earlier than non-scheduled babies. If the parent is directing sleep patterns, Baby will follow suit and learn how to sleep long and well. And how much happier is a family whose parents are getting enough rest at night?

Owen is a living testimony to the Babywise method. Overall, he is a really happy baby and is learning how to nap and eat when it's time. Additionally, he's sleeping through the night - even earlier than Babywise predicts (they recommend dropping the middle of the night feeding at about 8 weeks). By 2 1/2 weeks, Owen was waking up only once in the middle of the night and by 4 1/2 weeks, he was sleeping at least 6 hours straight through the night. It's been the same since then and it's been really wonderful getting uninterrrupted sleep as a new mom. I can imagine this will be even more important the next time around.

I don't want to seem like I'm bragging about my child - I truly think this is possible for every family. I mean, not all kids will learn to sleep through the night this early, but it seems to me that too many families end up totally sleep-deprived for the first six months (or more) and it makes raising children a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be. Especially if both parents are working! I can't even imagine trying to work while only getting six hours of sleep broken up over three increments throughout the night. It makes me drowsy just thinking about it!

So anyway, I just wanted to propose a toast to the authors of this incredible book - it's made mothering a lot more simple, straightforward and overall doable!!