Thursday, December 20, 2012


“What strange creatures brothers are!” ~ Jane Austen

Surely, this baby must be a girl.  I had little to no trouble with my pregnancy with Jack and this one has been quite a rocky road- blood clots in my leg, unrelenting nausea.  So logic would deduce that my body makes baby boys well and isn't so great at baby girls.

Logic has no place in pregnancy.

A few years ago, I was out to lunch with a wonderful friend who is the mother of 2 boys.  They knew while pregnant with their 2nd child that they would be finished having children.  I asked her if her thought changed once she found out she was having another boy.  "You know," she said, "I definitely wanted a daughter for me, but I wanted a brother for my son even more.  I considered it a win/win."

And it was with those wise words that happy tears sprung into my eyes when the ultrasound technician told me I was having another boy.  Images started appearing in my head.  Jack and his brother reading books together, running around together at the lake, sleeping in bunk-beds, giggling all night.  And then the inevitable battles, fights, scrapes.  But then, even farther into the future, I imagined them standing next to each other at Jack's wedding.  Of course, so many of these things are possible for a brother and sister.  I have both and love them all ferociously.  But there is something magical about sisters and brothers.  I feel incredibly grateful to be able to give Jack a sibling and I feel honored to give him a brother who I hope and pray will love him and look up to him for the rest of his life.

There is a wistfulness I feel when thinking that Trevor and I may not experience the love of a daughter.  I think any parent who has single sex children can attest that many of us just assume that we'll have both and each sex carries with it some unique moments and bonds that don't form in the same way as with the other sex.  Maybe someday Trevor and I will, but maybe we won't.  But we don't wish this child to be a girl, we don't wish this child to be anything other than the miraculous being he already is.  

A funny thought hit me the other day while I was standing in the kitchen watching Jack and Trevor play together.  Jack won't have a single memory of life before his brother.  All of his earliest memories will involve the presence of this new boy.  Trevor and I will have photos and videos and blogs of life before him, although I know there will come a day when even those fade and it feels like our entire life has existed with children and not child.  Most of his identity in our family will be as someone's big brother as most of the identity I had growing up was as someone's big sister.  How funny that he'll never recall the years during which Trevor and I attempted to figure all of this out.  He'll just enjoy the years of being a family and of having a Harpo to his Groucho, a Harry to his Will, an Orville to his Wilbur, a Luigi to his Mario, and of course, if we're lucky, a Jake to his Elwood.

And it bears mentioning that in a month of so much sadness in the news, of families whose hearts are breaking and stories of our nation being at odds over practically everything, nothing in the entire world brings more hope and joy than the sight of a brand new life on an ultrasound screen.  To see the formation of his brain, his heart, his spine, his limbs breathed fresh air into my heart and mind.  Thank you, thank you God for this great gift of new life.  

Our new boy.  

Our new son. 

Jack's new brother.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I can't look at the news today and I can't read articles about the shooting at the Connecticut elementary school without tears welling up in my eyes and a lump the size of a walnut forming in my throat.  So I do what I can.  I love my baby.  Today, instead of putting Jack in his crib for his nap, I laid down next to him on our bed, held him in the crook of my arm, planted my lips on his forehead, stroked his hair, still curly from his morning's swim lesson and we fell asleep that way.  When I woke up 30 minutes later, my lips were still pressed against his head and my new baby was wriggling around inside of me.  I reflected in that dark room how moments like these are perhaps the only times in my life when I am certain of my babies' safety.  In the still, quiet room with the sound of cars driving by outside and airplanes flying overhead, I imagine them all being filled with someone else's children and how much sheer faith in humanity it takes to ever let them out of your sight.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."
-Fred Rogers

I think of the teachers who huddled their children together and read them stories to keep them calm.  I think of my own husband, a school teacher himself, who enters his school every day not knowing what the day will bring but doing his best to nurture, educate, and inspire those young people.  As with Columbine, Aurora, and 9/11 before this, the stories of the heroes & helpers will continue to emerge and I will mentally file them all away in an act of self-preservation so I'm not afraid to let my son out of my sight.

Jack's room has posters of "heroes" on the wall.  Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America.  He also has a picture of his dad on his bookshelf, a real hero.  I say a prayer of gratitude for our nation's helpers today.  Our teachers, our first responders- police, fire and EMTs, our pastors, priests, counselors, and volunteers.  All of them are someone's baby.  All of us are.

In one of my favorite movies "The Night of the Hunter", the strong female protagonist, a grandmotherly type who takes in orphans proclaims:

"It's a hard world for little things.  You know, when you're little, you have more endurance than God is ever to grant you again. Children are man at his strongest. They abide."

To those babies who were plucked from this earth at their strongest and to the babies, teachers, and staff members of that once joyful elementary school who must now endure the trauma that unfolded around them, I pray for those words to be true.  It is a hard world for little things, but they will endure and abide.