You can find photos and short videos of Mackenzie at the following locations:
Happy New Year!
I hope everyone spent the holidays with family and friends and enjoyed themselves immensely, downing a few glasses of champagne or similar. Here in the USA we had a quiet night in. We had considered finding some fireworks nearby but it turns out that we would have had to schlep into either Baltimore or Washington DC, both of which are an hour away give or take and with a newborn it just wasnâ€™t practical. So with Mum and Dad we sat down and watched the proceedings from New Yorkâ€™s Time Square and celebrated with a glass of bubbly each. Must say it tasted so good after so long without any alcohol!
So with a smile I bid farewell to 2007 and welcomed 2008 which is bound to be a much better year indeed. For a week at the start of the month, Mum and Dad went to a resort in Pennsylvania for a break. Mackenzie and I were originally going to join them however I felt that it would be better for Andrew and me to spend that time alone with Mackenzie so that we could experience what it would be like when Mum and Dad returned home. That way if there was any concerns we had we still had some time with Mum and Dad here after their trip to perfect things before they left for good. Upon their return Michelle and her daughter Justine (from Colorado, exchange student when I was 17, considered as my sister) came for the weekend to visit us and especially Mum and Dad whom she hadnâ€™t seen for around 7 years.
So the house was certainly a busy one, but at least Andrew and I found time for a date night which actually marked the anniversary of me emailing him via the internet dating website. We thought we would take the chance while we had it for a night out together before we no longer had the baby sitting support. Then the time came to drive to the airport in Washington DC to say goodbye to everyone. Andrew was unable to come as he had a special project at work to complete so it was quite hard for me to have to say goodbye to my parents and then drive home. What can I say about my parents that would even begin to cover the gratitude and thanks that Andrew and I feel about the time they spent with us and the support we received? We really couldnâ€™t have gotten a lot of things achieved without them and of course it was nice just to be with them again and spend time as friends. Thanks again Mum and Dad!!!!!
So with Mum and Dad returning to Australia, Andrew and I are now alone with Mackenzie. Andrew still marvels at the fact that the hospital actually let us walk out with her! But seriously, we are doing well and handling the responsibility of looking after her and now the house (that was Mum and Dadâ€™s area whilst here) well. With my improved health (it looks as though the arthritis may be in remission!) I am able to do much more around the house which is quite invigorating as I hated having to basically be on bed rest last year, vomiting all day and watching TV.
Mackenzie is growing and developing well. She is due for her 2 month check up on February 11th so we will find out her weight then but we estimate her to be around 9 pounds (AJV: 10-11 lbs!) which is a great growth rate from the 6 pounds at birth. She continues to sleep and eat well and rarely cries (only when she is over tired, is unhappy at how long it is taking for the bottle to reach her mouth, or a very dirty nappy), so Andrew and I are extremely blessed and lucky and continue to touch wood each day that she remains that way. She has progressed to sleeping around 6-8 hours each night as long as we give her the last feed of the day as close to midnight as possible. Last night, however she somehow managed to sleep 9 hours, I was very surprised to see the time when I was finally awoken by her cooing.
Now that her nursery has been set up properly (previously the futon couch was being used my Mum and Dad so space was at a premium) she spends her nights in the crib and during the day she sleeps in the bassinet she was using in our room for the first 6 weeks which we have now relocated to the lounge room. This allows her to be able to sleep under any condition (she is right next to the TV and stereo, both of which are frequently on during the day) so that we do not have to change up our schedule in any way to accommodate her sleeps. This is best for her also – so that she can adapt to any environment.
She has started to respond to our voices and smiles, smiling back at us which is just priceless and melts your heart. She loves to make noises and coos regularly, especially when she is playing on her floor play mat. We have taken some video of this which should be available on the website per the above addresses soon. She also took her first adult bath with me during the month and she was in heaven. She loved the feeling of floating so we are hoping that when the time comes to introduce swimming she will love that also.
A few weeks ago I reached the 6 week mark post giving birth, the time you return to the OBGYN for a check-up and hopefully receive the all clear to resume all activities. Only a week prior however I needed to be seen as some of my internal stitches from the cesarean had become exposed and needed to be cut away. There was no pain involved or blood and gore so donâ€™t worry. I passed my check-up with flying colors, the OBGYN was very happy with how well I had recovered from the operation and I was given the all clear. This certainly made Andrew a very happy boy indeed!
Whilst in the hospital during my pregnancy I was greeted by a volunteer who worked for the Howard County Mothers Support Centre. Basically they are an organization funded by the hospital to help support all mumâ€™s (being expectant, new, 2nd time around etc) in whatever way they require. Some of their services include assisting mums on bed rest, providing child care options and things such as preschool groups. I was told about a program whereby every 3 months they start a new group called the Howard County New Mumâ€™s Support Group. The idea being that any mum who has given birth within that 3 month period is welcome to attend a weekly meeting, the premise being that it helps first time mums meet other first time mums enabling emotional support, networking for mumâ€™s and babies as well as a learning portion. The initial meetings run for 12 weeks and each week the moderator has someone come in for part of the meeting to talk to us about something of interest to us. For example the first 2 speakers covered sourcing child care and a baby nurse to answer all those nagging questions we all have.
This group has around 10 members currently and I love attending. I have connected well with a few mums, one of which is new to the country like me, plus itâ€™s a great way to feel normal – that is other people are going through exactly the same things you are. Given that I donâ€™t have my mum or my sisters close by for support, this group is proving to be priceless. Plus it forces me to get out of the house every Thursday for a few hours, even if you are having one of those days where nothing is going right and you canâ€™t be bothered!
The first week we met there was a severe snow storm, we received 4 inches of snow; and it was quite a treacherous drive home, worrying more about the little bundle of joy in the back of the car than anything else! You can see the photos via Andrewâ€™s sites above, under the heading of â€œHands in the Airâ€.
The location of our new apartment is across the road from the main shopping mall in Columbia. This enables me to walk each day (weather depending) with Mackenzie across to the mall for a walk around to get some fresh air and exercise, stopping for a hot chocolate before heading home. In general the mall is a safe location, yes it has crime such as car and store thefts, but I feel safe walking around. Only a few weeks ago though this changed with a stabbing occurring in mid afternoon (Mum and Dad were still here and with me at the time) right outside the entry to the food court. Prior to living here, this was the entry Andrew and I would park at and enter the mall. Granted crime can happen anywhere and at anytime but this made me a little nervous, especially about the route I take walking home which passes the bus stations where many vagrants congregate. So I have decided that from now on I am going to walk to the mall via another direction which passes town houses and the restaurants surrounding the mall perimeter. This only adds around 10 minutes to my journey and lets face it, I can do with the added exercise!
During the month I FINALLY got my Maryland state license. I had attempted a few times last year to achieve this but each time I was either unable to walk with the arthritis or unsure whether I could last long enough to not vomit during either the written or driving portion of the test due to the
morning pregnancy sickness. The main reason I am so excited about this is that up until this time I had no photo identification in the name of van der Stock. I was unable to update my Australian license or my passport before we left for the USA so it became a hassle on many occasions when I was unable to prove who I actually was!
The process itself though is quite a joke. The written exam is only 20 random questions of which you must get 17 correct followed by a 10 minute driving test in the parking lot of the MVA (Motor Vehicle Association). No actual driving on the road itself is required, no wonder so many drivers in this state are useless, love to tailgate, fail to signal and are in general just plain rude. But before I continue to abuse them too much, I actually failed my first attempt at the driving portion of the test! How embarrassing! I was trying to hurry and get it done whilst Mum and Dad were still here as I was unable to have Mackenzie in the car during the test, a very hard thing for a mum to co-ordinate. Anyway what I did wrong was what is called a â€œrolling stopâ€ at the very last stop sign before completion. I was so upset with myself not only for failing but for having to disrupt Andrewâ€™s plans one day to get him to attend the next test with me to look after Mackenzie.
Thankfully this time I passed (I was extra careful at the stop signs, only 3 in total) but then came the debate with the clerk about the spelling of my surname. They refused to split van der Stock into 3 words even though that is how Andrewâ€™s license is spelt and all other forms of cards I have such as my bank VISA. Apparently our marriage license has Vanderstock being one word so they would only spell it that way. Quite ridiculous really, itâ€™s not like we are asking for a different name altogether! So yes I have photo identification which is great, but itâ€™s still not in the correct name so I hope this doesnâ€™t cause yet more problems!
Well, this entry has certainly turned into a long one, but two last things to mention are as follows. Andrew and I changed our primary doctor this month as our prior one was hardly ever available and wouldnâ€™t take emergency visits so if you had a sore throat and needed to be seen, you would have to wait up to 2 or 3 days. This was totally unacceptable for anyone, let alone someone with all of my health complaints.
So we are now seeing a great doctor who works in the same building as Mackenzieâ€™s and the 2 practices are linked together which is great. Also on a health note, Andrew has been diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic. That means that at the moment it can be controlled by diet which is good news, especially for someone who hates needles so much. It also means that if he can get some weight off here is a chance for him to reverse this condition. Now that life is settling down more we are trying to find a routine that works for us in relation to meals and exercise so that we can support his quest as much as possible to lose some weight and regain his health.
Well now I will sign off. I hope everyone is well and I look forward to continuing to hear from you all via email. I love to hear about what you guys are up to and about Australia in general.