WHEELING - Our baby Henry is 9 months old and here's what we've learned so far about being parents:
1. Just when you think you have diapering down to an art, the baby learns new, karate-like moves to wiggle out of your arms.
2. For a baby, eating isn't just about filling the tummy, it's about discovering textures and flavors - and how much of it can he fling onto to mommy's shirt before she heads to work.
3. It's hard to read a book to a baby while he's trying to devour it.
4. Your once carefully decorated living room now looks like Christmas morning every day, thanks to numerous lighted, noise-making toys.
5. Getting bit with three baby teeth hurts. Getting bit with four baby teeth hurts more.
On a more serious note ...
6. There is nothing more precious than hearing your baby call out your name - ma-ma, da-da.
7. Your baby's smile and laugh can melt your heart and make a hard day away from him ... vanish.
8. You are not only your baby's parent, you are his first best friend: you play with him, talk with him and come to his aide in the middle of the night.
9. There's nothing you wouldn't do for your baby, again and again.
It took us three years to get Henry. Just when we were about to give up, the stick turned positive pink. Every day is amazing because he is here - it's almost surreal because of how fast he is growing up. It seems just like yesterday that we were bringing him home from the hospital - a slow, white-knuckled drive.
Caring for an infant doesn't allow much time to think about the future. We are trying not to worry too much, but instead enjoy every moment with him. Working in the newspaper business, we hear lots of stories about families surviving horrific situations - and some who do not.
Still, it's hard not to wonder what the future holds for him. We hope he is a good, kind person. And we hope when he encounters those who aren't that he can handle it, because we won't always be there to defend him.
We hope he enjoys his childhood, stays out of trouble and doesn't get involved with drugs or those who do them. And we hope when we get old that he visits us often and brings the grandchildren over to play so we can spoil them.
Shelley and Scott Hanson have been married for 11 years and both work for The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register as a reporter and copy editor, respectively.