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…

 

Welcome To The World Baby Bittman!

imageLast Tuesday morning, under a stormy gray sky, our bright sunshine boy entered the world. As he settled into new life outside the womb the skies cleared and a rainbow appeared over the birthing center. Our Eli Noah had arrived, our ‘divine comfort’ made manifest. imageToday, on the occasion of his week old birthday, we officially announce the birth of this beloved child. Born at 10:11 am on June 23rd, 2015 weighing 6 pounds 7 ounces and measuring 16.5 inches long, he is pure perfection. imageOur new little family of three is doing remarkably well. Eli is patient with us as we learn what it means to be his parents. Likewise, he seems awed by the miracle of his birth just as much as we are. He stares at us with a look that hovers just above loving suspicion and just below bemused delight. We stare back at him with tears in our eyes and dopey grins hardly believing he is ours.
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PS We weren’t the only ones excited by Eli’s arrival; even our little friend Fred couldn’t wait to offer his own special welcome. You’ve gotta watch his adorable greeting hereWelcome to the world baby Bittman…

 

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.

38 Weeks

38 weeksDo you think the belly looks bigger this week? I’m definitely feeling big, but not HUGE like I guess I expected I would by now. The main difference this week is that I roll out of bed. Literally roll over to one side and leverage myself up on an arm in order to rise up. It wasn’t an intentional habit shift but clearly there’s only so many ways to heave a whale of a person out of a soft mattress!38 weeksHaving said that, I can hardly believe I still fit into jeans! Well, I guess I should amend that. They are overalls, so there’s little constriction on the waist and the adjustable straps make it easy to create more space for a growing belly. But still! So happy to be able to wear something other than leggings. I was dreaming the other day about my post-pregnancy wardrobe and have begun planning for my summer capsule wardrobe. I have a few items on my list that I can’t wait to wear again. Like jeans! And my favorite t-shirts! 38 weeksThanks to the generosity of friends I think we’re at a good place of readiness whenever Baby B decides to join us. We’re down a few hundred diapers or so but we’ll get those next week and then we’ll really be set. Meanwhile, I had a truly ah-ha moment when I realized just how close I am to losings the freedoms I take advantage of every day… Doing things on my own schedule, being spontaneous, enjoying peace and quiet…38 weeksSo I’m doing what I can to sleep as much as I want, go where I want, and do what I want. But I can’t wait to forgo all the freedoms to share my life with my baby. In these quiet moments of waiting I wonder what it will feel like to be at the service of someone else so completely. To never be far from a thought of this other person. It’s more than I can understand now but I can’t help but try…

Notes & Observations

  • I think I’m finally at the place of understanding how women come to loathe pregnancy. There are certainly moments this week when I’ve found myself craving my belly all for myself again.
  • I’m getting so tired of all my maternity wear. I want to be able to wear non-stretchy, non-ruched items! Soon, I know. Ah. Can’t. Wait.
  • When strangers comment on the pregnancy they aren’t quick to offer advice, but rather, to ask after the gender. When I tell them we’re waiting to find out they’re always elated. No one does that anymore, they lament. Good for you! It makes me wonder about gender, identity, and the general need to know. What need does it fill for the parents to find out? I’ve been totally satisfied not knowing. I’m guessing its a boy, and I’m always amused by the strong convictions of friends who have shared their guesses, no matter what gender they suspect, but especially when they’re sure its a girl. There is so much to learn and question about gender and identity and biological sex – the recent coverage of Caitlyn Jenner having brought the conversation again to the national spotlight. We might find that our child’s the gender isn’t static or that the child’s choice of  identification is something totally unexpected. I’m open to that and open to loving whomever shows up. Whomever it is will be perfect as they are and as they come to be.

 

37 Weeks

37 weeksWell, here we are! 37 weeks and “pre-full term” as the midwives say. I apologize that I failed to take any belly pictures last week so I didn’t update the blog with a ’36 Weeks’ post. But we’re making up for it today!

It’s pretty darn exciting to know that the baby would be just fine being born at any moment. Though he or she knows full well that we would all prefer a delivery date no earlier than June 22nd when Grandma Carolyn arrives and after Simeon finishes a Folklore Catering gig in Connecticut.
37 weeksAt my recent appointment the baby was actually measuring a bit small (for the second time in two weeks) and I’ve only gained 15 pounds thus far when the average weight gain for someone my height is 25-35 pounds. To be doubly sure nothing is the matter my midwife scheduled me for an additional ultrasound so that they could take more precise measurements of the baby, which will help explain what the issue is if there is one. 

37 weeksWe find out next week what the ultrasound revealed. What I do know is that the baby is in a very normal rhythm of sleeping on and off for 20-40 minutes at a time and moving frequently when awake. All feels well inside so I’m not taking to worry at this point. In fact, I more than hope it’s just a sign that the baby/my body are aware of my body’s limits–perhaps we’re having a small (slender?) baby because that’s what fits me well. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? 🙂

37 weeksI’m still pretty comfortable most of the time (high five!) thanks to the recent cool, rainy weather. I’m sleeping well–sleeping a lot, actually–and I only get up 1-2 times per night. I’m used to it by now and am able to fall back asleep quickly. Still, most mornings I wake naturally at 5 am, either because the light is already filling our bedroom or because the cat is meowing for breakfast and to be let outside. In my morning daze I’m not sure which. Either way, I get up, take care of the cat, and fall back into bed for another hour at least. Such bliss.

Meanwhile, I’m taking advantage of every last opportunity for spontaneity and “me” time. A quick jaunt to the village store for a creamee (read: frozen yogurt) with friends? Sure! A trip to run errands with Sim? Of course! Waking up when I want and going to sleep when I want? Hallelujah! I know it won’t last and soon we’ll be making plans around the baby’s needs so I’m happy to be deliberately enjoying my own agenda. Simeon said the other day that he’s excited to switch gears and have life revolve around Baby B. I don’t know if I’m as completely enthralled with the idea as he is but it certainly will be easier when my partner has such a great attitude about potential last minute cancellations.

Notes & Observations

  • The only major discomfort I’m feeling now is that I easily lose my breath from really strenuous activity like walking, eating, or watching TV. Sometimes we’ll be on our way somewhere in the car and I just have to start taking deep breaths because sitting upright is closing off the little space my lungs have left. I’m really looking forward to the baby “dropping” which will relieve some of that abdominal pressure.
  • Speaking of which, heart-burn flare ups have returned. But only at night, and only when lying down. It’s not every night–only a couple times recently–so I’ll experiment with sleeping propped up if it happens again.
  • You’ll see that the shorts I’m wearing in these pictures are not in my capsule wardrobe. It got too hot this month to wear leggings everyday so when we were in the Berkshires a couple of weeks ago I treated myself to a pair of maternity shorts. I’m so grateful I did!
  • We feel well prepared for the baby’s arrival. Just a few more items to check of the list and we’ll be 100% ready in my eyes: install carseat, select pediatrician, buy newborn diapers/wipes, set up upstairs diaper changing area. And if we’re really on a roll, finish organizing the house and closets! 😉

35 Weeks

35weeks35 weeks and we’re almost to the home stretch! Which is funny, because I’d say things have been stretching for a while…

35 weeksI’m thrilled to still be feeling so well at this stage of the third trimester. Usually you hear stories of restless sleep, swollen ankles, and other discomforts. But I can happily say that I’m sleeping well (despite the occasional long night) with no swollen ankles/feet to speak of! Being pregnant hasn’t stopped me from living my normal life except that these days I move much more slowly and try to take deep breaths frequently. I can get quite winded from the simplest of activities–like eating.
35 weeksI love any attention the bump gets out in public–probably because there hasn’t been too much. No strange advice or scary labor stories and no one tries to touch me without asking permission first. I have no good stories of weird encounters or odd folks sharing details better kept private. It’s been easy going and though a good story would be fun to retell, I hope it stays easy going for the next few weeks. That would be nice.

35 weeksJune is just around the corner and I can hardly believe we’re approaching the month of my due date. Thinking about it makes my heart palpitate (even more than usual!). Somehow June makes the fantasy of our new life that much more real.

Notes & Observations

  • I can still roll over in bed quite well but it requires some level of grunting. Not even kidding.
  • The baby’s movements feel like uterine yoga. Big stretches from back to front and top of bottom mean lots of poking in all sorts of directions simultaneously. There’s definitely a foot or hand or elbow somewhere on my lower left side that frequently tries to escape the moving vehicle. Arms and legs inside at all times, please.
  • The baby is the size of a honeydew melon! (S)he is probably about 18 inches long and 5.25 pounds at this point. The kidneys have fully developed and most of the physical changes from here on out will be weight gain–about an ounce per day!

 

Blessingway

BlessingwayWhile I was in California for Passover early last month I had the pleasure and honor of being the center of a Blessingway ritual hosted by my mom.

A Blessingway, like a Baby Shower, is a rite of passage for the mother-to-be. But the significance and intentionality behind the celebration is much, much different. Rather than focusing on the baby and the gifts as in most showers, the Blessingway makes space for the mother’s community to gather around her and shower her with, well, blessings.

It’s a beautiful Navajo tradition that is quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to the traditional Baby Shower. Though I will have a shower at the end of this month thanks to the love and care of my east coast family (love you!), I thought it would be wonderful to celebrate my transition to motherhood with my maternal tribe, too. And so, my mother set about to plan a wonderfully meaningful and intimate gathering.

In early April my mother, grandmother, aunts, and close childhood friend, Molly, met at my parents’ home for the ceremony. First we rinsed our hands in rose water outside the door ritualistically cleansing ourselves and purifying the space. Upon entering, we were greeted by an array of sacred accoutrement–candles, pictures, flowers, and other significant items.

The four directions were identified along each wall with colorful altars; in the center of the room pictures of the women of my family graced the coffee table: in frames were my great grandmother and her mother as well as images of my grandmother and mother.

Led by my mom, we called in the spirits of the four directions to hold the space and invited the energy and wisdom of my lineage to be with me. As we embroidered a swaddle blanket for the baby, burned away our fears, and laughed through our tears I found myself awed and inspired by the women in my circle. What power, what grace, what divinity.

And then! They each had a role in pampering me: a foot bath, neck and head massage, henna tattooing… I definitely felt loved up.

Before we ate dinner together (a delicious meal prepared by Dad!), I opened one of the best presents I have ever received: a book of letters and blessings written by my circle to me and the baby. Gifts of wisdom, anecdotes of love, and joyful hopes for the future are inscribed on each of those pages.

It was wonderful to have this time together with my family and to feel connected and cared for as I enter this wondrous new world of parenthood.

Thank you, Mom, for crafting a truly meaningful and special ceremony, and thank you Grandma, Aunt Ronna, Aunt Debbie and Molly for participating in the ways you did. I am so grateful.  xo

(And thank you, Aunt Ronna, for the pictures!)

Blessingway

Blessingway

Blessingway

Blessingway

Blessingway

Blessingway

Blessingway

Blessingway