With the exception of our parents and siblings, to whom we had confided Munchkin’s name, none of our relatives knew how we had decided to call our son, and they were jittery with anticipation as they gathered for the bris. D’s aunt drove nine hours from Philadelphia to Portland, S’s uncle came down from Montreal, and we also welcomed relatives and a few close family friends from Boston, New York, and Connecticut to tell them his story. We now share a slightly abridged version with you:
“You guys will make great parents!” offered a few friends by way of congratulation when they learned that S was pregnant, which strikes us as a bit of a silly thing to say in retrospect. Until one has to actually take care of a child it is impossible to know how to parent, no matter how many books one reads or online resources one consults. After giving us a three-day grace period to get used to the idea of his presence, Munchkin decided to test our friends’ optimism and put us on our mettle.
You watch your social media feed get cluttered with other people’s baby pictures and you say to yourself, “That won’t be me.” Then the big day arrives, you take one look at your newborn child, and you fall so instantaneously and completely in love that your brain gets warped a little. You find yourself skipping meals, ignoring your body’s feeble pleas for sleep, and losing track of time, holding — or just simply looking at — this tiny person who is so beautifully fragile and so completely dependent on you. You can’t be blamed for knowing in your heart that yours is the most adorable baby ever to be born.
S spent a lot of time reading about pregnancy and labor, mentally steeling herself for a painful, but natural delivery. She did her research, hired a doula, and toured the hospital with a labor & delivery nurse who also worked as a lactation consultant. S knew it would be difficult to avoid a medicalized birth in a hospital setting, but she was firm in her preferences and knew what she wanted. It came as quite a shock, therefore, when her carefully thought-out plans were rendered moot even before she went into labor.
With S’s due date rapidly approaching, the baby could literally come any day now, which makes for an unusual state of mind. On the one hand, we still make plans to spend time with friends and family. Yet at the same time we are trying to be realistic, knowing at the back of our minds that the baby can decide to make his appearance at any moment and that it is quite possible that we won’t keep any of our plans.
D was sad to miss the Beat Horizon show, not just because they had played at our wedding, but also because we’ve had limited access to good live music in our Foreign Service postings. Long before he caught the travel bug or fell in love, music was D’s first passion and remains the thing he misses most while living abroad.
Discussing the joys of parenthood with someone who has children when one does not yet have any of one’s own is not unlike witnessing the highs and lows of a bipolar episode. People will say that having children is the best thing that has happened to them, and in the same breath complain about no longer being able to go out to a movie, enjoy a romantic dinner, or sleep in past sunrise. They’ll talk about being up to their elbows in baby poo and implore you to treasure every moment because kids grow up so darn fast. Not surprisingly, the advice we hear most often from friends with young children is to enjoy our rapidly vanishing free time and get as much sleep as possible while we are still childless.