Are we ready for baby #2?

Holding hands on a walk.

When Simeon and I decided to have our first child we went through what felt like a fairly comprehensive check-list of considerations.

Do we both want a child? Yes. An obvious question to be sure, but what if the answers were to have differed? What then? Thankfully they did not.

Are we healthy? Are we prepared physically? Yes.

Are we financially stable? Yes. Though student loans and credit card debt still loomed large in the budget and we would have loved to have been making more than the woefully underpaid non-profit salaries we were bringing in, we were both earning good enough paychecks. It felt like enough to support a family.

Are we really ready to bring home a baby? Well, to be honest, this was tricky. This question could read as a matter of whether we were emotionally ready for the changes a child would cause. But in reality, it was the technicality of the question we had to consider. We didn’t actually have a home to bring a baby to. We had quickly moved to Vermont when a job offer was made and after a couple months we still had yet to find an affordable and semi-permanent living situation. In the meantime, we had been renting a room in a home owned by friends. At least we would have nine more months to sort things out, right? But then I wavered. Should we wait until things were even more clearly settled? This was a decision we would never be able to undo. We had to be sure.

Eventually, I took solace in the advice I had heard repeated by many friends who had had children: There’s never a perfect time. You can never prepare enough to feel really ready and even if you do prepare better than anyone ever has in the history of parenting (assuming that’s a possibility) it will be futile. No one can predict what kind of temperament to expect from their newborn.

Verdict: There’s never a perfect time. And one other thing I heard said over and over, I’ve never regretted it anyhow.

So, we went for it. And when Eli was born I was not nervous or overwhelmed. I even surprised myself by how calm I was in the day-to-day experience of being a new mom. I still couldn’t wrap my mind around what a miracle it is to grow a human inside my body and expel it alive and well.  And yes, I was bowled over by the enormity of the responsibility of caring for this tiny helpless human. But I took comfort knowing that every person on Earth had had a mother and whether she was a great mom, or a so-so mom, they had made it and there they were, shopping for groceries or waiting patiently at a red light. I would be ok. HMy baby would be ok.

Eli is now two years old and again I am find myself incredulous. Are we ready for another baby? And again we find ourselves asking those same questions… What about buying a more permanent home? Should we wait to have more in savings? What about our relationship with our son? Are we ready to introduce a new member to the family and disturb our little trio?

It’s not a logical decision I hear over and over again. Stop using logic to make this choice and ask with your heart instead.

In a quiet moment I find space to sit with myself. My heart beats. In the rhythm of its thumping I feel a tug. An opening. I want another child. A beat. Did I just say that? A thump. A quickening. Yes, we’re ready. We can do this. Another baby Bittman. Coming soon. Hopefully.

Th-thump. Th-thump. Th-thump…

 

This is a post for October 13th

Happy Birthday

Dear Simmy,

Happy Birthday! Your birthday was October 13th, I realize that. But today is when I’m posting your birthday blog. So it goes…

And so it goes with you. Another year to add to the memory books. Another year to prove to the world (to yourself?) that you’re blessed with love. Another year to examine your strengths, settle with your weaknesses. Another year to share your gifts–to share your heart.

I am beyond words with you sometimes. Four years that I’ve known you and everyday you surprise me. Everyday I look at you with wonder and surmise that ah-ha! Today I have at last figured you out. And then you go and do/say/write something that makes me again sit with awe. You inspire me.

The world is a better place with you in it. The world is richer, more colorful with your presence. The world is kinder, more forgiving, more empathic, more deliberate, more spirited with you in it.

I am because you are.

I love you. Happy birthday.

xo

Natanya

A Shower for Baby Bittman

Baby shower

Baby showerLast month Simeon and I were treated to a special afternoon at my in-law’s beautiful home in honor of Baby Bittman. Maggie, Sam, and our dear friend Monica spent many weeks at work on this event to make it truly lovely. We felt so loved!

Baby shower

Baby showerFriends from near and far came to celebrate the occasion, including the entire Zimmer clan. Look at all of us together!! This year, two more members will join us as both I and Havi (far right) are pregnant. Can’t wait to share so many more memories with this growing crew.

Baby shower

Baby shower

And lucky me, some of my best girlfriends made the trip too. Molly, Jen and I have been a solid trifecta for seven years. One wedding, one engagement, one pregnancy, and one masters degree (+ one in progress) between us since (not to mention the many boyfriends, jobs, moves, and other shenanigans). They mean so much to me – I was so grateful for their presence.

Baby showerOur friends and family were incredibly generous with their gifts. We love everything – and it will all be so useful for our new little one. Plus, instead of cards, people brought books for Baby B’s library. We’ve got a great start and I’m eager to read many of them myself! I highly recommend this idea for anyone planning a future baby shower. Cards get tossed but the books will be read over and over and every time we open one we’ll have a note from the person who gifted it. Such a sweet way to include loved ones from afar in the baby’s everyday life!Baby shower

Baby shower

Baby showerSim and I had a chance to take a few shots of just us and the belly after folks left. It was drizzling and overcast but our photographer friend, Elaina Mortali made some magic happen anyway. I love these shots so much! But next time I will remember not to wear black. It hides the belly a little too well.Baby shower

Baby shower

Baby shower

Baby shower

What a special day to remember! Thank you again, Maggie, Sam, and Monica for such a loving affair. We (three) love you very much indeed.

One Year Anniversary

Today marks our one year wedding anniversary. wedding-5I’m a mess of emotions today not only because this last month of pregnancy has been the most highly charged emotionally, but because I nearly forgot our anniversary. Ya, I’m that guy.

I wish that I could say I had something elaborate planned out for our weekend…A getaway, a party, a present even. But the truth is, in some ways I think it’s a little bit wonderful that we have been so engaged in our life together that we almost missed this date and occasion.

And of course, I would be remiss not to state the obvious – at least for me: Where has the time gone?!

wedding-15I still walk into a thrift store and feel a pull to look at the mug section. Wasn’t I just completing the seating plan last week? How can it be that a year has passed us by already? And there’s the clue I think. It hasn’t passed us by so much as we have been an active part of seeing it through.

Since the wedding we’ve honeymooned, changed jobs, moved, gotten pregnant, moved again, made new friends, explored our new community, gone on vacation to Jamaica, and braved the coldest winter I’ve ever known. A lot has happened this year for us and it makes sense that time would feel fleeting among the hubbub.

Most importantly, in this one year I have grown closer to my husband. We have shared so many hours in the car, so many hard choices, so many obstacles, so many quiet-daily-wins. We have become more patient with each other, more understanding. And we have each become even more in awe of this person across the table. This incredible individual who said, You. I choose you. You are my person. And made it so with a wedding one year ago.

I am so eager for what lies ahead for us this year and so damn excited about becoming a family of three in a few weeks time. What might next June look like I wonder?

wedding-23

Happy first anniversary, Simeon, I love you.

Related: Wedding Planning DIY | Engagement Album | Wedding Video | On Changing My Last Name

All photos by Heather Elizabeth Photography

On moving

On movingTomorrow we leave the fourth apartment Sim and I have shared in the past year. For certain, others in the world are far more transient and others still less so. I don’t know what weight to give the moves we’ve made other than we have been light-footed in each “home” – treading the ground as if borrowed for only a short time (though I still managed to put the most holes in the wall that one can). Somehow, we knew, that in each place our time there was temporary; perhaps part self fulling prophecy, part critical understanding of the way things were to be.

We didn’t love Hartford. Not in the way that one finds oneself enraptured by a locale and feels at home in the scent, the earth, the people. We didn’t feel comfortable in Hudson. Not in the way that one who is among one’s tribe feels content and relaxed. We couldn’t stay in the Berkshires. Not when our souls called us to journey beyond our comfort zones into a challenging and fruitful next chapter.

And so, here we are yet again. About to trek to another home, another city, another state. Life is an adventure, my mother always says. She’s so right. This adventure begins with a U-haul trailer, the cat carrier, and our gaze steadily focused on the northern horizon.

Vermont, we’re coming for you. And we’re coming to stay. This time will be different.This time we are committing to shove our feet deep in the Vermont earth, our hands clasped together tightly as a new family. We look forward to finding our footing among a new tribe, among our housemates, and among the land that so eagerly shares her bounty with those who choose… to make the move.

On changing my last name

natanya-simeon-24Last week I shredded an old identity: quite literally. Into my small, black, paper shredder went the Social Security card of a one Natanya Haviva Green. June 14th, on my wedding day, I became a member of the Bittman clan and–since the mail arrived last Tuesday–I am now a card carrying Bittman.

These days, nothing a woman does is without a narrative of sub-text; it doesn’t feel right to gloss over my transition from one identity/family to another without acknowledging the particular name-change quandary I–and the women of my generation–face.

natanya-simeon-38In these modern times of choice, a woman doesn’t just change her name. She chooses to, just as chooses not to hyphenate their names or keep her maiden name. I’ve been reading one editorial after another about the blowback women (and men) have received from each of these choices, it’s clear that no matter what option one chooses, there is so, so much at stake.

I encountered the realities of name changing as a small child when my mother married my stepfather. To honor her family of origin, or to comply with her feminist leanings (I’m still not sure which) I became that kid with the long hyphenated last name. But soon, out of convenience, the seemingly endlessly-syllabic Natanya Reuben-Green became simply Natanya Green. My little 7-year-old self was pleased. I have a feeling that I also craved the singularity of belonging completely to my new father and his family. Eliminating the thorny hyphen-name was my way of smoothing out the formation of my new family of origin.

It’s thought-provoking to consider how deeply I wanted to belong to my father as his new daughter when so many feminists argue that it is the very belonging that is the fount for patriarchal discord in the first place. Truly, I am not my father’s property; my often surprising life choices are sure to prove he had little control over what I chose to pursue. However, belonging to a family (by birth or by choice) is a deeply primal human need. I felt that desire thread through my veins before I had words to describe the cravings. Belonging makes me happy; it fulfills a core need.

natanya-simeon-354Yes, but why not hyphen your names? Why couldn’t he take your name? Why didn’t you choose a new name together? Of course, these were all options available to us. But none were the right choice for me or for us. It was my choice to marry my husband. He asked for my partnership, and I chose to be his partner. To my mind, I conducted a radical act of my own making. I was able to choose my own future, unlike so many of my lady ancestors. To take my husband’s name as my own link’s us, and seals our fate as a couple. I am pleased to know my children, my husband, and I will all share a family name. That identification is important to me.

There are situational realities that made changing my name even easier. 1) I absolutely adore my husband’s family and I am honored to join them, 2) his parents have life values that mirror my own and I am proud of them as people; I liked the idea that choosing their name was a way to honor them too.

natanya-simeon-77Having already lived through a name change once before made the process feel less life altering, and more life affirming. It is commonplace for people to change their names (I know plenty of people who have chosen first names for themselves). As a woman (and a human), I will always live under the shadow of an unequal world. But making a “traditional” choice does not mean that I did not wrestle with its meaning or consequences.

Ultimately, I am now a Bittman and I am proud, honored, and thrilled by it. Looking ahead, it offers me a chance to mark the end of a major chapter and the opportunity to get to know my new self in the decades to come. To wit, this week, I’m a new woman!

All photos by Heather Elizabeth Photography

How we’re handling our finances – Part 1

Natanya + Simeon

When Simeon and I announce our vows on June 14 we will be uniting our hearts and our household. Indeed, we become officially united under California state law when we sign our marriage certificate. As we merge our hopes and dreams, so too we begin to share our assets and liabilities like never before.

I’ve always been curious how newly married couples choose to face their finances and what guidelines drive their decision making. A couple months ago, sensing this topic was far to great to handle on my our own, I signed us up for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University offered in our area. We begin in early July just after our honeymoon.

I have some idea what to expect from the class: I know we’ll be in a room with many other couples and guided through a series of topics on financial wellness and wealth building over a number of months. I could easily read all the steps online or in Dave’s books but I know that for me, in person learning and group accountability make for a more positive environment in which to manage the changes we will undoubtedly need to make to our money habits.

Beyond the class, Simeon and I have laid the groundwork we think is necessary for a rich life – in every meaning of the word. To pinpoint the specifics, here’s what we’re starting with:

〉 We have had numerous conversation in which we’ve shared our individual and family goals with one another, and how we imagine we might achieve them based on our current and foreseeable income.

〉 We’ve discussed how we see children playing into the picture and what we want regarding childcare, work adjustments, and long term career plans. We agreed on most everything regarding how we will split the work for household maintenance and child rearing (as much as we can at this point) and are looking ahead excitedly about our future with kids.

 We will keep separate bank accounts where our direct deposits land and which will allows us the freedom to spend our own money as we wish. Side bonus: secret gifts to each other are kept secret! 🙂

 We have opened a shared account that we both have equal access to and that will be used for all shared expenses: rent, food, vacations, and the like. Since Simeon currently nets a lot more than I do, we’ve agreed to split many of the bills in a way that feels more fair to our income levels.

***

It’s so thrilling to be on this journey and I’m happy to share our twists and turns in case it is helpful or at least interesting to you. If you have any questions, let me know. I’d also love to hear how you handled or plan to handle shared finances! Finances are usually so taboo to talk about but I’ve been inspired by Kelsey and her and her husband’s openness with their financial picture as they build a family, overcome debt, and plan for the future. It gives a lot of great perspective. Plus, in an effort to be more transparent in life, I’m pleased to share how we’re handling this very large and important topic.

photo by Heather Elizabeth Photography