three weeks with an abby-bear

  • They say (those who research such things) that it takes twenty-one days to make a habit. If this is right, J and I are now in the habit of parenting Bram. And there may be something to this, as I feel like we’re finding our stride as a family. Learning each other. Learning ourselves in these new roles. What a life changing three weeks it has been. Also, this just in: we have a three-week-old son!
  • I started teaching again on Tuesday night. I cried all the way to campus. Then I got over myself. I’d love to take a few years off with this boy, but I can’t. And, I mean, you can’t really have everything you want. What I do have is a super flexible schedule and a job that – when I have to be out of the house – is so all-consuming that it’s hard to think about anything else. I always thought I’d raise at least one child I gave birth to. I always thought I’d stay at home for a period of time. But when those were my dreams, I didn’t have this: a rock solid marriage, a son I adore, and a job that I’m good at, that I make a difference in doing. I am one of the lucky ones. This is better than my life would have been if all my first dreams had come true.
  • Your comments on our birth story meant a lot. It should have felt (maybe?) strange to send such intimate details out there to be read by strangers, but you don’t feel like strangers. You feel like our people.
  • Bram took his first tub bath last night. J got in with him and nursed him throughout, and he LOVED it. We seem to prefer our baby a bit on the unclean side, but it was fun to wash all his bits a bit more officially than one can do with a wet washrag on the changing table. I think we’ll try it again.
  • We also started introducing a bottle (of breast milk) yesterday, which was a great success. J is an AMAZING breastfeeding mom, but she’s been feeling a little oppressed by the ever-present necessities of the breast-feeding relationship. I think the occasional bottle will give her just the break she needs, and it was a joy to feed my son for the first time. I cried. Oh, the hormones. If you drive by, you can probably see a cloud of them hanging around our cottage.
  • We took our first real outing today: running a few errands on my campus (J and B stayed in the car) and heading to our favorite lunch spot with B’s Aunt Adrienne. It was lovely to see the sunshine together. To see our little town as a family of three. A glimpse of the sweetness to come.
  • I’ve thought a lot lately about a phrase Gail used in a post over a First Time Second Time. The phrase – “tilting at windmills” – comes when Gail discusses Lyn’s initial reaction to non-gestational parenthood, “how invisible she felt, how afraid she was for the future, cherishing the process of becoming a mother but feeling left out of it. We talked and talked, because, frankly, that’s what we do. Sometimes I heard her. Sometimes I thought she was tilting at windmills (she wasn’t).” This is the part I love: Sometimes I thought she was tilting at windmills (she wasn’t). I sense that people think I’m doing this. Not so much (though sometimes) J, but some of our friends and family. I think there’s a subtly with which NGPs are left out that’s just invisible if you’ve never been one. Some judgment about how often I’m holding him in our professional photos. A preference for photos with only the two of them. The occasional narrative that (accidentally?) leaves me out, that almost makes it look like J is a single parent. An emphasis on their shared looks (which: boy does our boy favor his mum; it is BEAUTIFUL to see, though threatening). Is it just my insecurity that makes me notice this?
  • Things I simply love: Bram’s breath, and the smell of his head. How quiet and sweet he in the morning, and how we share this. How he prefers a cool room to a warm one (my winter boy). Listening to J and B together in the next room. Folding stacks of clean diapers and putting them away again. All of his hand-me-down clothes, and picturing the other kids who wore them. How his big ears get caught on his clothes when I change him. How much eye contact he’s starting to give us. How he loves my singing even though it’s always off-key. Every single second of quiet wakefulness. The new intimacy of co-parenting with J.
  • Things I’m looking forward to: Our CSA starting up again. Asparagus season. Taking the boy to this wedding in July (Bram’s Aunt Laura is getting married!). Seeing our nearest Great Lake with him in the spring. Regular outside walks together as soon as it warms up a bit. Traveling back to Charleston in August: B’s first ocean-sighting, peninsula walks, time with our great, great friends there, a visit with his Grandmom Sarah. Heading up to Aunt Kippie’s city for mama’s favorite vegetarian sandwich this side of the U.S./Canadian border. Bram’s first Art Hop. A movie date with my wife in the spring. His first (intentional) smile.
  • Oh, and here’s a slideshow of Bram’s newborn photos. Have we mentioned how much we adore our sweet and talented photographer?

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17 thoughts on “three weeks with an abby-bear

  1. Those photos are AMAZING!!!! What a terrific, special way to document his first few weeks of life. I am still so happy for you guys, every time I read a post of yours- overflowing happiness. Glad you guys are adjusting so well.

  2. I’m kind of new here, but we have so many “friends” in common that Facebook actually suggested “J” as “Someone You May Know”. I just wanted to say congratulations and I guess introduce myself. The pictures are great. I especially love his thoughtful pose with the book. ;-)

  3. I’ve never been any sort of parent, ngp or otherwise, so obviously I can’t speak from experience. However, I’d say that, whether you’re noticing things because of insecurity or not, your feelings are real. I’ll also say, though, that I in no way noticed or preferred photos of J with Bram over photos of you holding Bram. In fact, I loved the photos of the three of you together the most. Mama and Mum and Winter Boy. That’s as it should be. I also absolutely adore that you got to feed him. How magical. Much love to you ,J, and your wee one, as always.

  4. all of your feelings completely make sense to me (and help me to see my husband in a new light). even as a gp, i was amazed at the liberty that people took in sharing their opinions on things. it can be unnerving and amusing at the same time. you seem to be doing a good job of not taking on other people’s “stuff” though. it may not feel that way to you, but i’m hearing you speak more from an observer’s point of you. (good for you!). anyways, i am reliving those early days with my son (now almost two!) through you and jax’s blog. thank you. :)
    p.s. would love to see you all when you’re in town in august!!!!!!

    • Thank you for this comment, Danielle, and for saying that some of what I write helps you see these issues from your husband’s perspective. NGP-inclusion is something I feel called to advocate for, and most NGPs are dads. I think dads aren’t conditioned to feel as important to their kids as moms, and I think that does a great disservice to everyone in a family. From everything I hear from J, this was never true IN your family, but I’m sure it was true in how other people treated you (maybe even more culturally true in the south?). Anyway, it means a lot that you’re reading and that you’re finding some community here with us. I hope we get to meet up when we bring the boy down Charleston way!

  5. These pictures are so wonderful! The one of the three of you cuddled up on the couch… please tell me that’s going in a frame :)

    And I am SO excited to have you all at our wedding in July! What a sweet, serendipitous moment it was to meet you and J on that beach (which is a hop and a skip from our wedding chapel) just after getting engaged. I can still hear you saying “You’re getting married!” And Ben and I feeling like we were being welcomed into a truly awesome club.

  6. I also loved that paragraph from Gail. The longer we’ve been parenting, the more I see that I wasn’t making things up, and neither are you. Being on this path, especially after it not being the one you planned for, gives you a kind of super power to see things you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, and that many of us miss all the time. With time that will likely feel more like a strength than a weakness.

    Lovely photos and good luck as you dive back into your teaching and research.

    • That means a lot – the idea that this will start to feel like a strength. The work I’m facing now is how to put down the resentments these inequities bring up because I don’t want or have time for resentments right now. Please let me know if you have any advice on how to do that!

  7. Such gorgeous photos! Love the black and white especially. I’d never really thought about it, but what a sweet gig such a photographer has: giving her clients these little moments in time to hold on to forever.

  8. That photo on the couch is breathtaking, R. I love your little family. I have to say, though, I do see so much of J in Bram’s looks, there’s something about the expression of his eyes that reminds me of you.

    • You’re the first person, Bonnie, to say anything of this nature. I love you for this (because I know you’re an honest person, so you’re not just saying this to make me feel better), and am so so grateful that you’re in our lives.

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