Chickens Eat Avocados

by Jen on September 7, 2013

I really shouldn’t be writing. I have guests coming over tomorrow for lunch. I have several hours of work to do in my kitchen with prep and cleaning and whatnot, but I just put my Chicken down for a nap and landed here.

On my couch. Next to Millie who won’t stop licking her feet.

She’s got dog OCD, I’m almost positive.

But that’s okay because I love her and the cleanliness of our couch is just a small, but gross, price to pay for keeping her old ass content.

She turned 11 last month, by the way. She’s gray faced, and gentle, and still has eyes that sparkle like they did when she was a puppy.

I think she will live to be 20. She knows how much our family needs her, and she’s not one to leave her loved ones hanging.

Our Chicken is six months old now. He’s nearly 16 pounds and just over two feet tall. He’s measuring on the full-term baby scale rather than the averages of his preemie-ness. He measures in the 30th percentile for his weight and 20th percentile for his height. There was once a time he didn’t measure on the scale of “normal” babies at all, so this feels Incredible Hulkish.

He started solid food this morning. That was fun. I mean, really fun. Around the four month mark, I started reading books and articles indicating how parents often get super excited about starting their babies on solid food, but recommending babies wait until around the six month mark before starting. I didn’t get it. I wasn’t excited about it. I was content nursing, and figured prolonging solids meant prolonging his babyhood for as long as possible. But about three weeks before he turned six months, I got the itch.

I guess it came from his newfound interest in the world around him, or something. I’d been able to watch him make choices. Blue rattle or crinkly butterfly? Belly sleep or back sleep? Pet Millie or squeal at her? He’d suddenly become incredibly distracted. He’d be nursing and hear a car horn outside of our apartment and nearly give me nipple-lash craning his head to figure out where the noise was coming from. He began to show a preference for playing on the carpet versus a blanket (better for gaining scooting traction, I guess), and can now also determine which lullabies are sung for bed and which ones are sung for fun.

So in watching him slowly turn into a person versus a helpless, clueless newborn, I decided there was nothing more in life I looked forward to than watching him taste his first bite of non-mom food.

It’s kind of silly, but mostly awesome. I combed over my baby food book (which I’ve really enjoyed, by the way) and debated the all-important first food. Avocados, or pears, or bananas, oh my?

In the end, we opted for avocados blended with a couple teaspoons of top shelf breastmilk.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning ready to get the day started. The sooner Henry woke, the sooner he’d nap, and the sooner I’d be feeding him brunch a la avocado.

Dude slept until nearly 8:00 today.


Usually I’d have woken him to keep him on his loose, but existent schedule, but he had shots yesterday and was battling a low grade fever, so I let Sleeping Beauty catch a few extra zzz’s.

I’m selfless, you see.

Once he was up and nursed, I plopped his shirtless body in his highchair ready for action. George manned the “good” camera and I directed the video. I mean, clearly this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and should be documented as such?


I get your point.

Henry tasted the first bites of avocado with careful inspection, but after that, turned into a baby bird waiting with mouth agape.


Sad to say, but he comes by that naturally.

He downed his helping with barely a mess.

Mission accomplished.

And, it lived up to the hype. All my careful consideration made me feel good about what I was putting into his body. I like to pretend this means he’s going to ask for avocado slices on his sandwiches when he passes through the kitchen with his friends on his way to practice of some sort. To which I’ll say, “Ummmm, Henry Bruno? Are your hands broken? Get it yourself. I’m blogging.”


I’ve been missing my dad more than usual. No, he’s not dead. He’s very alive and well, but lives a plane ride away. Now that I’m a parent, I’m able to see the actions of my own parents more clearly. I’m able to understand that while Henry is my favorite miniature human alive, I could be watching television. I could be browsing the internet or browsing the shops on Austin Street or talking on the phone to Casey all day. Those are all things I enjoy doing- just not as much as I used to. Rather, I get to help Henry live up to his potential. And let’s be honest, that’s a hair more exciting than watching Real Housewives.

And now that I realize the things that are slowly losing importance in my life, I’m able to remember how involved my father was in my childhood. I don’t recall him doing much that didn’t involve me. He hunted, so I hunted with him. He fished, so I learned to thread worms on his hooks. He (and my mother) spent nearly every night of my youth trapped like rats in a viewing room of my gymnastics academy watching me fight tooth and nail to learn a glide kip, and when five nights of gymnastics a week didn’t prove to help me reach my goal, my dad built a makeshift set of bars outside of our house so I could practice there. My dad spotted me for countless backhandsprings and ariel cartwheels, and more incredibly, managed not to give up on me when I couldn’t master the coordination to play basketball any better than an overexcited ostrich.

His summer days were spent playing catcher when I decided my goal was to be the pitcher on my softball team. It must have been 147 degrees outside, but still, I pitched (sort of), and he shagged balls. I would imagine he burned more calories in one summer chasing the balls I was pitching “to” him than I have in my entire thirties.

But I get it now. And I appreciate it more now. And having my own child has helped bring about memories I’ve not thought of in decades probably.

As I tapped my fingers on my kitchen table at 6:30 this morning, sipping flat Pepsi and praying it’s lack of carbonation wouldn’t suffocate it’s caffeine kick, I thought of my parents. I thought of the hours of sleep they went without and the times I used their bodies as jungle gyms or asked them to do things that made them tired/hot/sore/uncomfortable/bored. I had no idea the things I wanted to do weren’t precisely the things my parents were dyyyying to do too. And I hope Henry doesn’t know it either. At least not until the day he’s awake at 6:30 anxiously awaiting the “excitement” of watching his own child experience their first food.

I hope it’s avocados.

And I hope he calls to tell me about it afterwards.




by Jen on August 30, 2013

Life is so… changey.

For instance, today I sat Henry in his highchair. I rushed to strap him in, singing and performing distraction dances, and hoping he didn’t realize what was happening. Complaint shrieks usually accompany this activity, you see. I was armed with my usual arsenal of toys to keep him “content enough”, so that I could slice a few peaches to complement my oatmeal. Handing him his chewy keys, I squared a peach on the cutting board. Then I lined up three toys next to the cutting board, so I’d be prepared for most anything he could throw my way.

As if starting the clock, I jiggled the first toy in my lineup. Rattle, rattle, rattle. I made my first peach incision. Rattle, rattle, rattle. Second incision. Rattle, jingle, jingle.

So far so good.

It’s not that I can’t tolerate his cries (because TRUUUUST ME, America, I tolerate lots o’ cries on the hourly)- it’s that I want to eat my effing oatmeal to the sounds of a happy baby for a change. Plain and simple.

By the time I’d finished de-fuzzing my peach, I realized something magical was happening.

Henry was content.

No dancing, no rattling, no singing required.

Instead, he was focused on my juice drenched cutting board and the fleshy peaches destined for my oatmeal.


But maybe, just maybe, that was enough?

Instead of speed-dunking my peaches in the oatmeal, whisking my *almost* six month old from his highchair before he engaged in a full on baby temper tantrum, and eating my breakfast one bite at a time for over an hour, MAYBE, we could just… sit?

What the heck. Worth a shot.

I mixed the peaches into my oats, explaining each action in depth, and for the very first time, Henry absorbed every detail. Appreciatively.

He was interested. His eyebrows reacted as my spoon clinked on the side of the bowl. His fingers gently massaged his chewy keys, but his eyes focused on me like I was made of fireworks.

His face flexed with flirts and inquisition and sheer amazement. Watching me eat breakfast was… enthralling.

It seems like yesterday (oh wait, it was yesterday) Henry was in a constant state of turmoil. I could catch moments of peace, but they were the result of an exorbitant amount of effort on my part. The peaceful moments were the byproduct of my sweat- not the byproduct of Henry just “being”.

But now? I was sitting at the breakfast table with the baby I dreamt of my whole life. He cooed at me as I described the flavors of my meal and even followed my finger as I pointed toward the window and remarked on the sunny morning. We engaged- our relationship nearly reciprocal.

When I was done, rather than rush to move him to his next activity, I replaced his chewy keys with his spinning wheel and turned my back to wash dishes.

He sat quietly, occasionally spinning his toy and smacking his hands on the tray of his highchair.

When I finished the dishes, I unbuckled my baby and swept him into an abrupt and aggressive hug. I kissed his neck, squeezed his chubby body, and squealed my appreciation to anyone who might care to listen.

My Chicken is changing. In the past week, he’s started to sit up in a tripod fashion, he’s rolled over from his back to his belly, he’s started sleeping with one arm out of his swaddle, and he’s learned he can just be.

I want to press “pause”. Already.



Managing the Fog

by Jen on August 22, 2013

The truth?

Being a mother is difficult.

Wonderfully, endlessly, perfectly difficult.

Far more difficult than I ever anticipated, even though I did my very best to insert myself in those tall shoes whenever I found a small opportunity.

Perhaps that’s my first problem?

Having to admit I was wrong. Having to admit I was incapable of understanding something I tried like hell to understand. Having to admit that when people said, “You can’t understand until you have your own”, (no matter how much my infertile soul wanted to shake the shit out of them), they were right. I couldn’t, didn’t, and wouldn’t understand until I had my own.

I understood how much I would love Henry. That was easy for me to picture. As much as it made the anti-pet people of the world wanna shake the shit out of me, I knew what it meant to love something to the depths of my pancreas, care for something with a lifetime of devotion, and experience pure joy at the sight of the contentment of my dachshunds. I knew if I could multiply the way I felt for them by infinity, that is how much I would love Henry.

And I was right.

I knew every decision of my life would be made from a different angle after I had a child. I knew my perspectives would shift to consider his end game before considering my own. I knew my alone time would cease to exist, spontaneous lunches with girlfriends would be a thing of the past, and waking up in the nook of George’s arm at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday only to sleepily watch last night’s episode of “Breaking Bad” before facing the day of doing whatever the hell we wanted whenever the hell we wanted would most likely take a pregnant pause for… eighteen years or so.

All of this I expected.

But what “they” were right about, was that I could never- not in a million years of praying for a child- predict how the overnight changes to “who I’d always been” would make me feel.

Loving Henry and caring for Henry was the easy part. Waking up twelve times a night to fill his tiny belly with milk was simple, all things considered. What became difficult was the sudden realization that to a large degree, I was homebound. Temporarily, yes, but still, homebound. Henry was (and still is) a bit of a challenge. He doesn’t seem to be wired with much of a “go with the flow” gene. He has painful reflux, little patience, strong opinions, and a penchant for ear piercing screams.

It took a while- a loooong while- to find the coordination to load all the baby apparatuses to my body like an urban pack mule. And once I’d conquered that, toting along my already frustrated baby so that he could scream for three city blocks and then scream even louder while I grabbed just one, measly, speedy, rewarding, “gotta have it to provide me with a small taste of who I used to be, or I will crumble in defeat” Starbucks was quite possibly the most jolting experience of my entire life.

Come oooon, buddy! It’s three blocks! It’s five minutes! I did everything right! Gave you your reflux medicine, filled your belly, changed your diaper, read you a book, sang you a song, let you nap, made sure the weather was beautiful outside, positioned you delicately in the carrier so that the sounds of my hearbeat would sooth you while we walked, and took NO detours. Yet, that wasn’t good enough.

But even once my muscle memory pitched in to help me out with the pack mule logistics, it was still a hard pill to swallow knowing I had such little control over how my son would react to even the slightest stimuli.

My “I don’t give a shit” switch was slow to engage. I still turn red faced and sweaty when Henry switches from happy coos in the grocery store to the rage filled screams that could only come from a baby who is in the midst of losing an appendage. I give “less of a shit”, but still care- maybe not so much for the gawking New Yorkers who are void of an “empathy face”, but maybe more so for me? I used to like grocery shopping. Food is beautiful to me. In my former life, I’d browse pasta sauces and probe produce and smell seafood. Grocery shopping is now a tunnel visioned race to the finish line with the hopes the finish line isn’t blocked by the elderly woman requesting a price check on matzo ball soup.

While it was once simple to schedule dentist appointments and hair appointments and drinks with friends, it is now one of life’s greatest challenges. This may seem minor until you’ve got a cavity that makes your head want to explode and a torn tendon in your foot that makes it impossible to bounce the baby who seems solely reliant on said bounce to calm his moods.

I didn’t expect this to feel quite so crippling. Pun not intended.

For the most part, I’ve always been proud of my ability to hold it all together. My house is always “clean enough”. I can pull off a good meal. I can keep my legs shaved, my thank-you notes current, my dogs bathed, my husband nurtured, and my mental health stabilized. So having a baby just meant I’d add one more thing to the mix. It meant I’d have to work a little harder, but I was used to hard work. This hard work would be “easy” because I wanted it so badly.

So when I had Henry, I was unprepared for how I might disappoint myself. I felt confident I’d know how to make him happy. I had 36 weeks of learning him from inside of me, so in all actuality, I was pretty much an expert. I’d know the perfect way to rock and shush and hold him. My voice would sooth him. I’d read all the books, made uppity judgements of other parent’s pitfalls, and vowed to never make the mistakes of those idiots (Oh how I’ve eaten my judgmental words!).

Rather than being the calming, soothing, all-knowing mother I thought I’d be, I felt like a failure. Not all the time, but at least multiple times a day. Nothing could have socked me in the gut like the feeling of being totally incapable of making my son happy. I knew it was crazy. Babies cry. It’s how they communicate. I prepared for that. I didn’t prepare, however, for how helpless and worthless it would make me feel. I wanted to fix him so badly. And when I couldn’t fix what ailed him, I wanted to sob on top of his sobs and unintelligibly apologize.

There are days I feel I’m getting it right, and as he ages, those days reign supreme, but it’s still a gut check. It’s still a never ending test of patience and self doubt. It’s an endless question of “Should I let him sleep six minutes longer? Will letting him sleep six minutes longer mean he won’t sleep tonight? Should I have forced him to eat more? Is forcing him to eat more what made him spit up? Now that he’s spit up, is he hungry again? Should I have let him fuss a little longer before feeding him in the middle of the night? If I’d let him fuss longer, will he have obesity issues when he’s twenty? Should I have spoken Spanish (or Spanglish, because who am I kidding?) more often yesterday? Should I feel bad for using the television to help us endure five minutes of tummy time? Will those five minutes of television damage his eyesight or cause an attention deficit disorder? Is the five minutes of television more damaging than NOT doing five minutes of tummy time? Does he need more toys? Does he have too many toys? Is it too hot, cold, loud, stuffy, dark, light, crowded, desolate, boring, overstimulating in here? Is he spoiled? How do I unspoil him? But why can’t I spoil him? Did I teach him enough today? Did I make him use his muscles enough today? Did I make him use them too much and that’s why he won’t stop crying? Did I hold him enough, kiss him enough, play with him enough, make him independent enough?

See? Never ending.

And then, came the changes in my marriage. Before Henry, George and I were champions of taking care of one another. And then we added a player to the roster. That player, came with a set of needs that momentarily sucked the life out of both of us. It became “every man for himself” around here and when George yawned, rather than sympathizing, I rolled my eyes. “Puh-leeeeaaaase, you think you’re tired!?!?!” And when I’d roll my eyes, I could see the “Give me a break, you didn’t even get out of your pajamas today!” judgment written all over his face. Both of us too tired and overwhelmed to properly communicate, I wanted him to read my mind. I wanted him to know to hand me the baby wipes without me having to put forth the energy of saying the words. I wanted him to understand why I did the things I did without having to explain myself, yet felt an overwhelming to explain myself so he understood that every move I made with Henry was laced with purpose and the intent of what was best for his “tomorrow”. He wanted me to stop being bitchy. I wanted him to take care of me because I was drained from caring for Henry. He would put his arm around me, and rather than feel love, I felt “one more thing hanging on me”. I prayed Henry would be on his best behavior when George would get home from work, yet wanted him to catch a glimpse of the struggle I’d dealt with all day and secretly hoped he’d cry. He wanted to check his work emails, I wanted to throw his computer out the window. I felt the pressure of no longer providing a paycheck. George felt the pressure of being the sole breadwinner. I felt disconnected from every part of who I used to be. George felt more connected than ever to his job, as it was our only source of income.

I shared this, all of this, with my best friends. It was the first time in my married life I ever had anything to bitch about, yet the first time in my married life I had everything I ever wanted. We wanted a baby so badly, so why was it so hard? The baby was the only thing missing before. Henry came into our world and completed it in ways I could have only dreamt of. With a sheer disdain for cliches, truly, my cup runneth over. And yet, I had the audacity to COMPLAIN?!?!

I never imagined how busy I would be in a day. When people used to say being a mom was the hardest job on Earth, I agreed, but now I can safely say I only agreed because it felt politically correct. Idiot. I’ve always worked hard. I’ve always put in lots of hours. I’ve always been good at what I’ve done. So now, my home is my office. I can say, unequivocally, my old job ain’t got diddly on this one. Nobody is going to fire me from this one, but man oh man, is my new boss a ball buster. Moms who work outside of their home and hold it all together, you are UNBELIEVABLE. Moms who work from home, you are UNBELIEVABLE. I did not give this life the respect it deserved.

Lesson learned.

In the last month, things have settled. Henry doesn’t cry as often. He even thinks I’m pretty funny sometimes. I have mastered a few shush/shimmy/pat/hum/bounce/rock combinations that work to calm him from time to time. I finally stopped silently wanting to flick George in the forehead for not reading my mind. I did something novel and decided to have an actual conversation with him versus stew in my own bitterness. Guess what? When you communicate, you solve problems, yo. Who knew? I’m starting to feel pride in my ability to tackle daily errands with Henry. The feelings of “losing who I used to be” are starting to fill with feelings of being proud of “who I am now”.

I felt so out of control for a while, but now, I’m able to find perspective. And I don’t feel so strange. I feel like we’ve all been there. Transition is hard. Motherhood is hard. The transition to motherhood, while my most favorite transition of my whole life, is hard.

And no matter, even on the hardest day, I never lose sight of the fact that this could have very well never happened for me. We could have tried to get pregnant for years and years and years without success, and I will take the hardest day of motherhood over the easiest day of infertility any day of the week.

One of my favorite quotes is from Joan Didion. She said, “I write to know what I think”. Guuurrrl. It’s no wonder I’ve felt a little lost. In my quest to be good at this mom stuff, I stopped taking my fingers to therapy. There is no excuse. This- writing this, feeling this and purging this and telling this story is church. Always has been. In order to be at my best, I have to do this. I have to forego the mildew on the shower tiles and tracking the source of the bizarre smell in the kitchen. I have to.

And before I go, I have to show you this guy. He will be six months old in a couple weeks. I love him. So very much. And appreciate the new “hard” and beautiful life he’s given me.








My Dearest Chicken

by Jen on July 1, 2013

Chicken Legs

It started with teensy, tiny, scrawny little legs.

Like those of a chicken.

His skin draped over bones smaller than a sleeve of Sprees.

He was itty bitty. Pink. And wrinkly.

Therefore, my Chicken was dubbed “Chicken” (and sometimes Shicken, or Stinky Chicken, or even Sinky Shicken).

But today, just two days shy of turning a whopping four months old, those chicken legs have morphed into delicious ham hocks with rolls that cascade into the elastic of his diapers.

They are ticklish rolls. So ticklish, in fact, his pensive little lips betray his frown and show slobbery, pink gums and a curious lizard tongue as he smiles in delight.

I love him.

Beyond definition.

The smiley moments are few and far between, although gradually increasing as each day passes. At first, his fussiness seemed related to being born four weeks too soon. And then we learned of his acid reflux. But now, as much as I’d like to sugarcoat it, I think his fussiness is just part of his attitude. For now anyway. He likes what he likes. And if you deter from that, I can promise you, there will be a TOTAL. FRICKIN. MELTDOWN.

Because he was born a little early, he’s evaluated on an adjusted age scale. He’s not hitting the milestones of a typical (almost) four month old, but is seeming to lag about a month behind. We’ve had some early intervention evaluations and plan to continue until we see him catch up to his real age.

Aside from being “particular”, Henry is an incredible sleeper. Should I admit that? I’m going to regret putting that in writing tonight, aren’t I? Oh well. He sleeps like a dream. For most of his life we’ve been able to put him down in his bed (or bassinet) while he’s awake. He usually gives us an appreciative sigh, turns his head to the side and conks out for as long as he’s “supposed” to. He’s been consistently sleeping through the night for nearly eight weeks. Sleep… is by far his BFF.

And mine too, obviously.

Those hours of sleep are valuable. You know, to give him the energy required to fuss at me for most of his waking hours.

I’ll take it, though.

Even the most difficult days are better than the best days before he arrived.

And actually, I’m exaggerating. He’s improved ten fold in the last three weeks. His crabby moments can often be distracted with a jingly toy. He now greets me in the morning with coos and aaahs that could melt titanium. He flirts. He grins with one side of his mouth when I tell him I love him. He splashes in his baths, surprises himself, and then smiles so big you’d think his mouth might overtake his face. He stares at George with such curiosity. He parrots the tongue clucks George makes, and when he’s successful, his eyes sparkle with pride.

He is funny. And is totally aware of that. He does eyebrow yoga, giving me the most stern feedback, waits for me to laugh, and then breaks character and grins.

I loved him when I was pregnant. More than I’d ever loved before. But everyone said that love would be weak compared to the love I’d feel when I was able to hold him on the outside. It was true. And still is. The love I felt yesterday is nothing compared to the love I feel today. Every single day of his life suspends all comprehension of the infinite elasticity of my adoration and appreciation for him.

Children are amazing.

I could get high burying my nose in his sparse, feathery hair. I could glue my lips to his silky cheeks. I could watch him learn and observe and marvel at his world for the rest of my life.

I could gobble him whole.

Like a chicken.

Ribbet collage



Henry Bo Benry

by Jen on May 29, 2013


My Henry will be three months old in just a few days.

Moment of silence for his newborn-ness.

It is as though I’m now playing a game of Super Mario Brothers and ran into the mushroom… or whatever the hell it was that gave him super speed. The days are falling off the calendar so quickly I can’t stand it.

Time, take a breather.

But I did put together a little ditty of Henry’s first month. This is four minutes and twenty-eight seconds of carefully selected memories that I wanna slather in cream cheese and eat.

I made this video, and have watched it nearly three million four hundred and seventy seven times.

I cry a smidge every time.

Henry, my sweetest chickeniest buddy, you give the greatest memories.




Purging for Posterity

by Jen on May 10, 2013

I’ve been a mother for just a hair under 70 days. My site has been “broken” since before Henry was born, making it challenging to load photos and manipulate posts. (Does anyone have a blog doctor they recommend, by the way?) I’ve been resting on technical excuses and “new baby” excuses for a while, but now that my son is developing a somewhat predictable nap routine, I’ve got to get back to recording our lives. (Photos may still be sparse until the blog doctor comes to the rescue.)

There are so many things I want to engrave in stone as to never ever forget them.

I don’t have a stone or an engraver, sooo….

When we first brought Henry home from the hospital, we woke him for every meal. He lost more weight than was acceptable when he came home, so we were a ’round the clock buffet- force feeding and doing everything in our power to keep him awake long enough to feed.

After a few weeks, he started to get the hang of it and woke on his own every once in a while.

His moments of being awake were quick (maybe ten minutes after his feeds if we were lucky). Those moments were filled with the most somber, serious, annoyed, and disapproving faces. People joked he most likely would prefer the newspaper over Dr. Suess, and I didn’t disagree. My mother-in-law always giggles about how George was born a 40 year old. When he was little he listened to news on the radio with his grandfather, and at two years old, they say he studied the newspaper to match the pictures with the stories he heard. Those early moments with Henry indicated he would follow in his father’s footsteps.

When I was pregnant, I knew I’d give birth to a laid back baby. He didn’t move much in utero. Unlike many of my friends, he didn’t keep me up at night. On the contrary, he would worry me by his lack of activity, so I felt in my heart that I had a gentle, easily appeased, little snuggler on my hands. But I wasn’t entirely right. At least yet. While he was born an amazing sleeper (so far) (and snuggler), the moments he’s not sleeping have been more complicated than I’d pictured they would be. Swaddling has been a lifesaver, as moments when he’s allowed freedoms are moments that send him over the edge. But even swaddled, he will switch from content to irate with a simple shift of my arm. He enjoys when I wear him. He enjoys feeling close and snug, but if I dare bend to pick something up or wipe a countertop… watch out. There is very little gray with him (another quality he shares with my husband as I am nothing but gray). He’s either the happiest guy on the planet or screaming at the top of his lungs.

When he is losing his mind, we swaddle, then shush, then sway, and if all else fails, we brush his hair. Isn’t that funny? He likes to be groomed. He’s never happier than when he’s in the bathtub. And trust me, if it weren’t for his penchant for pooping in there, I’d probably leave him in until his sweet little toes were pruney.

Last week, his stern, perplexed face did something I began to doubt it ever would. He smiled. Or smirked, may be a better description? Regardless, an electric current flowed through my body and into my brain, nearly making me forget every scream-fest we’d ever endured. From there, all the effort I put into trying to stop him from crying changed course, and now my energy is spent trying to make him smile. His half smiles and smirks transformed (within hours, as all changes with him do) to full smiles and even laughs. “Burrrrring” my lips is apparently hysterical, and touching his chin almost always generates a grin.

From birth, he’s been pretty fascinated by his own tongue. In our childbirth classes and in several of the books I read preparing for his arrival, it was recommended we pay attention to his mouth. We were told he would work his mouth if he were hungry. So basically, we spent lots of energy trying to force feed him. It took some time for us to realize his mouth is his toy, not his hunger bell.

My favorite moments, thus far, are the first feed of the day when he can barely contain his smiles to eat. He fills his mouth with milk, makes eye contact with me, smiles the biggest smile and spills his milk out all over. Loose lips, man. I also look forward to his baths, the moments he drifts off to sleep to the sounds of his own satisfied hums, the determined bobble-head look he gets when lifting his head during tummy time, rubbing my lips on his soft sideburns, his newfound cooperation with his nightly massage (which gets more fun with every ounce of leg chub he gains), and the moments I watch him staring with great intensity as George tells him a story.

Recently I was standing in line at Starbucks with Henry strapped to my chest. Over the sounds of Joss Stone and perky baristas and thundering New Yorkers, Henry lulled himself to sleep with a methodical “hmmm…hmmm…hmmm…hmmm…”. It was loud and sweet and made even the most callous of coffee fiend soften a bit. I patted his tiny butt under the Moby, proud those sounds came from my sweet little slumber hound.

My first Mother’s Day (with a human child) is this weekend. I feel honored to be able to wake up and feed my smiley, healthy infant. There were years Mother’s Day had a different meaning, and for that, I almost mourn the holiday. I’m so lucky, so full, and so grateful, and I’m beyond hopeful this is the last Mother’s Day my infertile friends spend without the same opportunity I have.

I’ll close with a few of my favorite pictures since Henry’s birth. Once I get my blog coding fixed, I will be a lot more liberal with pictures! (I’m sure you can’t wait.) :-)

















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A Birth Announcement… 54 Days Late.

by Jen on April 26, 2013

I’m playing catch up.

I imagined that after I had our baby I’d be sitting in my hospital bed writing Henry’s birth story, and then after we got home, I imagined I’d spend most of his naps purging all the magical moments with him into my computer.

That didn’t happen. I was either hooked up to a breastpump, visiting with some of our post-birth visitors, or reading the baby books I’d read once but had to read again since I now had a real life person to reference.

I did manage to send out a few birth announcements; however, I wasn’t able to send them to everyone I wanted to. Social media has blessed our son with so many virtual aunts, uncles, and besties I barely scratched the surface. So, for you, the one who tolerated all the posts about me peeing my pants and all the self portraits of my belly taken from the bathrooms at work, I’d like to “announce” our baby boy the cyber way.


Thank you to my talented friend Alison, owner of Ten Tiny Toes Designs, for creating Henry’s birth announcement. As always, she exceeded my expectations. If you have any print/design needs, she’s your girl. Visit her Etsy shop or e-mail her with an idea. She will be your new buddy, I swear.




by Jen on April 20, 2013

We survived our big adventure in Manhattan yesterday. We were all beat by the time we got home last night, but all in all, it wasn’t as big a shit show as it could have been.


I’m sure this isn’t just a New York City thing, but I did experience the feeling that I was the only one on the planet who’d ever had a baby. People gawked as I hoofed it down the street strapped to a wailing infant whose cries may have been heard in Colorado. I swear to you, there are men who run the streets in lingerie and people who walk around with rats they’ve dyed purple perched on their shoulders, and I’m pretty sure they don’t get the bizarre looks I received. Being a mother must make me aggressive though, because I found myself wanting to flip them all off and scream, “Oh yeah! I’m pinching him so he screams to annoy you! I love it when he cries like this, ya dick!”

Is it just me or does time stand COMPLETELY still when your baby is unhappy in public? What may have been 20 seconds of fussing felt like 3 days of window shattering screams. And also? You know how in horror movies there is always the scene with intense screeching sound followed by the camera zooming in on the face of the victim amidst a really terrifying situation? You know how the world around them gets smaller and closes in? My world did that. Surely I’m not alone… Bueller?

All sense of, “I’m cool as a cucumber” and “I’m just a few deep breaths away from total zen” melted away when I felt I’d never settle him down. And the worst part was that he was strapped to me (which was also the best part in lots of ways), but that crippled my ability to adjust him. With Henry, a two degree tilt can be the difference of sheer bliss and an all out tragedy. A fast jiggle can be the medicine that soothes his soul… until it instantly turns into the the poison that nearly bursts his spirit.

Armed with that knowledge, picture this…

I’m walking down the street at a rapid pace. I have a 94 pound diaper bag sliding off my shoulder. It is conveniently supposed to strap across my chest “messenger style”, however, I have a flopping wildebeest- er, baby on my chest instead. I’m standing upright, then tilt to an angle hoping that’ll solve my problems. His cries quiet for a few steps. I get cocky. I keep walking. People think I need a V8. Then his cries rev up again. So I jiggle. Cries continue. I shimmy. Cries continue. I hum. Cries continue. I shush and hum. Cries cease to whimpers.


I walk four blocks with my body leaned to the side- jiggling, shimmying, humming, and shushing like I’m under the influence.

When I met up with George, I threw the diaper bag at him like it was on fire.

We arrived at the radiology department at NYU for Henry’s hip ultrasound. I was tunnel visioned. All I wanted to do was find a seat with some room so I could dig into the diaper bag for my nursing cover. It wasn’t necessarily “time” for Henry to eat, but dammit, it’s the only trick in my arsenal that seems to calm him once he’s that worked up. George checked us in. (Thank god he was able to come to the appointment with me.) I bee-lined to a seat in the waiting room, fought with my diaper bag to free my nursing cover, slung it over my neck- realizing I didn’t give a damn who saw my boobs or who I offended at that point. Within seconds, my angry baby’s cries settled and my blood pressure returned to a “not totally dangerous” level.

So fun.

After showing the radiologists (and everyone else on the second floor of the hospital) what his lungs were made of, they confirmed Henry’s hips were perfectly normal (I guess this is a concern when babies are breech). He instantly calmed once we re-diapered him, so fortunately we were able to exit the hospital a bit quieter than we’d entered it.


George was able to take the baby back to his office for an hour while I went to my post-natal OB check up. I thought this might feel freeing, however, I found myself tapping my toe with angst the whole time I was at the doctor’s office. I pictured a massive baby meltdown while George was trying to work, and the doctor couldn’t examine me fast enough. I worried Henry would be hungry (even though he’d eaten just moments before I left him and George packed a bottle for this exact emergency situation). I had anxiety that, for the first time in his life, Henry might be picky and turn his nose up at his bottle in hopes of nursing instead. I rushed back knowing the second I stepped off the elevator, I’d find George’s boss reprimanding him for his squawking kid. Instead, I found a sleeping baby tucked peacefully in the corner of George’s office- George surrounded by doting females admiring our offspring. Life without me? Perfectly awesome.


It was rush hour before we were able to leave, so we dodged the subway and caught a cab home. Henry was almost as exhausted as I was, so we opted to skip his bath and headed straight to bed.

We slept like babies.

My baby may be an occasional hooligan by day, but he’s a consistent sleepyhead at night.


So we did it. We survived a day away from home. My diaper bag packing skills unfortunately didn’t suck, as it seems we needed “most” of the crap I packed. (The bright side to that heavy beast will either be one extremely buff arm… or one really lopsided shoulder.) We endured the stares, some mild embarrassment, and some serious physical exertion, BUT, I successfully nursed my son in public without flashing my nips to the masses, I made it back home without ever bursting into tears of rage, and the best part, I gained confidence to tackle that sort of an “adventure” again!

I’m determined to have my baby AND my city.

Although I think it may require growing an extra arm.




Com’plex’ And The City

by Jen on April 19, 2013

I’ve been living in a fantasy. I have a son. My home has been a revolving door of well wishers and house guests. I’ve spent substantial amounts of time with my mother, mother-in-law, and best friend. And, my husband was blessed with a generous amount of paternity leave. This week has been my first full week of alone time with Henry, and as much I loved having everyone here with us, alone time with him has been the goods.

For six weeks, we’ve “lathered, rinsed, and repeated” his schedule, sprinkling in occasional strolls through our neighborhood and exploring areas of Queens we’d not yet discovered due to moving here in the winter… and me being a ball of pregnancy discomfort. Sometimes I wrap him in my Moby sling. Sometimes he reclines in the stroller. But every time, our walks are relaxed and peaceful and without purpose.

Our pediatrician warned us against taking such a young baby on public transit, and said if it was an absolute necessity to do so, we’d need to do it during off-peak hours. Exposing him to the large crowds of rush hour was too dangerous to his immune system, and waiting until he was three or four months old was ideal.

We selected a pediatrician near our house, however, he’s still a subway ride away. Fortunately, we have amazing family on Long Island, and our aunt has given up many a’ morning to drive us to his appointments. She’s been a lifesaver, and I never realized the value of a car until I had an infant. Before that, I’d have given up my driver’s license for life. Now a car seems like a MAJOR luxury.

So today, we have our first required appointments in Manhattan. My days of blissful strolls will be replaced with the hustle and bustle of tackling public transit carrying my baby and all the crap he may need for an afternoon away from home… at least for one afternoon. Henry has an appointment to have an ultrasound on his hips (protocol for breech babies) and I have my postnatal check-up with my obstetrician. The logistics of making these appointments happen has stressed me out for weeks.

I made sure to schedule them at times when we’d not be on a crowded subway. George organized his work day so he will be able to accompany us to the appointments once we get to Manhattan, so all things considered, it could be much worse. George toted his carseat on the subway yesterday morning and so I will pick it up from his office and have something to sit the baby in once we arrive at our appointments (and then we will have it in case the subway is too crowded after our appointments and we need to take a cab home). I intend to wear him in his sling on the subway. I figure his body buried next to mine will be less susceptible to germs, plus it will allow me to have both hands available to carry his bag, hold the railings on the ninety flights of stairs we will most likely have to take, and fend off subway weirdos.

Sure I could take him in a stroller. As a matter of fact, we purposely moved into an apartment near a subway station with an elevator for this precise reason. BUT, if the subway station you are going to doesn’t have an elevator, it kind of defeats the purpose. Dammit. In theory, I could get off at a different subway stop, adding a mere 10 BLOCK WALK TO MY ALREADY EXHAUSTING DAY, buuuuut…. no. And honestly, I’m not as agile with the stroller yet as I’d hoped to be. Getting it on to the tiny elevator of our apartment building proves cumbersome enough, and the island of Manhattan is highly suspect when it comes to being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act- not that having a baby is a disability, of course… I just need fewer stairs and more elevators now.

So, wearing him it is! And then we cross our fingers the trains aren’t delayed or crowded. We cross our fingers we get a seat. We cross our fingers the baby doesn’t scream the entire time, blow out a diaper, or barf all over me. We cross our fingers that our diaper bag will be filled with the appropriate items all the while not weighing three tons. We cross our fingers my boobs don’t leak all over my baby, as his presence next to my body often makes that happen. We cross our fingers he doesn’t get hungry before I’m able to find a discreet park bench to feed him on. We cross our fingers I don’t need to do a diaper change outside of the 51st Street subway station. We cross our fingers it doesn’t rain, snow, sleet, or get too cold, as walking is our mode of transportation once we exit the train. We cross our fingers the doctor’s at both appointments are running on time and we aren’t spending the day in waiting rooms, and finally, we cross our fingers that the disruption of his normal routine doesn’t wreak havoc on his mood and sleep schedule for the weekend.

I have high hopes for managing my new life with my new baby with ease in the city and today will be a good indicator for how confident I will be with future excursions.

I love New York City. LOVE it. And today I squash the intimidation I feel for tackling it with a baby in tow.

Wish us luck. It’s gonna be a looooong (but hopefully glorious) day!



The Birth of Henry Elliott Bruno

by Jen on March 31, 2013

Today marks four weeks since I gave birth to the boy that has forever enhanced our lives. Ironically, today is Easter Sunday- the same day we miscarried our first baby and the same day Henry was due to arrive. He arrived four weeks early though, giving us four bonus weeks to spend with him. I’ve been piecing together some of my favorite parts of his story, trying to appropriately articulate how incredible the experience has been. The truth is, I’ll never be able to articulate it as perfectly as I’d like, but yet I never want to forget a single moment. Henry was born on March 3, 2013 at 8:53 a.m. Here is my story of his story.


After a trimester and a half of constant bladder issues, swollen appendages, lack of sleep caused by my baby’s head lodged in my ribs, back pain, and an inability to put on my own socks, I stopped working.  The plan had always been to quit working a bit before the baby was born, tackle some last minute “to do” items that remained dangling in the breezes of my pregnancy fatigue, and try to catch up on the sleep that I missed while going to the bathroom every hour for three months straight.  I’d get my grays touched up, my toenails polished, our hospital bags packed, and our house spotless.

Our due date was March 31st, but our baby’s breech positioning meant we’d most likely need a c section.  I’d spent my entire pregnancy fearing a pre-term delivery, but when our doctor finally scheduled our c section for March 25th, all my fears disappeared.  I’d dreaded a c section. I’d attempted to “turn” our baby on my own by coaxing him south with music and flashlights and body contortions, but no luck.  I’d been looking forward to meeting our child for so long, I didn’t want to be in a surgical fog.  I didn’t want to forget the look on George’s face when our baby was born.  And I didn’t want to be recovering for weeks.  I’d waited for this for too long.  I wanted to be a full-fledged, hands-on mom right from the start.

However, my anxiety leveled when our doctor declared March 25th as THE day.  Having a plan calms me- even when it’s not the plan of my dreams.  Having a date helped me reconcile the stresses of the unknown, and from that day forward, the idea and fear of delivering our baby any day other than March 25th completed faded away.

George spent my entire pregnancy treating me like I was breakable.  He overcompensated for all my inefficiencies, and for that, I felt I owed him something.  I opted to use money from my “final” paycheck to take him out for overpriced slabs of beef and expensive bourbon.  He deserves far more, but I figured that “date” could be one of our last as a childless couple, and the time to throw caution to the wind seemed appropriate.

I dressed up (as much as a you can when you are nine months pregnant) slathered on my fancy lotion, posed for a 36 week pregnancy photo with George, and rode the subway to Union Square.  We walked (George walked and I waddled) six chilly blocks, holding hands and marveling about how we’d not be doing this without a stroller much longer.



We arrived at the restaurant, checked our coats, and ordered food like it would be our last supper.  Before dessert was served, I felt my nose burn and my eyes water as I attempted to tell George all the things he deserved to hear.  I thanked him for all the times he settled my nerves and walked our dogs and did the dishes and mopped the floors.  I thanked him for the countless times he made me feel beautiful and special, and distracted me from worry with laughter.

We had the meaty bones of our dinner wrapped up for our dogs, commenting about how no dog in the world deserved a bone with that type of price tag.  We paid the bill, collected our coats, and stepped out onto the Manhattan sidewalks as the snow began to fall.

It felt magical- like the stage hands producing our evening had saved the light snowfall for our stroll back to the train.  We walked slowly.  I made a point to remember every step with the man and the city who made my dreams come true.  We stopped to watch people dancing in the park for a few moments before hailing a cab and heading home.

I knew the night was special.  I just didn’t know how special until the next morning.

I kissed my husband goodnight, noting the warmth of the bourbon on his breath, wrapped my uncoordinated body around my pregnancy pillow, and drifted off into slumber induced by sheer gluttony.

Predictably, I woke up each hour to pee, but at 4:30 in the morning, I found it impossible to get back to sleep. Henry’s head was pressed firmly into my ribs, compressing my lungs and maybe even my tonsils. Sleep was no longer an option.  I checked Facebook.  I texted with a few of my “late night scandalous” friends, and did my best to go back to sleep.  At just before 5:00 a.m., I shifted positions, and felt a large gush unlike any I’d ever felt. Water???  I’d been concerned I’d been leaking amniotic fluid since we had our amniocentesis in the second trimester, but this sensation seemed to render all other “scares” completely moot. I ran to the bathroom, feeling my heart race.

I wasn’t due for another month, and at the very least, wasn’t scheduled to be induced for three weeks. I’d expected an early delivery. Something in my gut had told me this from the start; however, the day my c section was scheduled, I forgot all about the possibility our baby wouldn’t comply with our “plan”.

I sat on the toilet for several minutes, letting my water escape and my heart rate settle.

I woke George up a few minutes later, asking him to guess whose water had broken.  In a sleepy stupor, he asked “Who?”  After a few seconds of silence, his eyes opened wide and in disbelief he asked, “YOURS?!?!”  It seems I wasn’t the only one who’d have bet the ranch we wouldn’t meet our baby before March 25th.

I called the doctor, assured him Henry was still breech, and he told us to make our way to the hospital as soon as we could get there.  His final words before we hung up the phone?  ”Let’s have us a baby today!”

Okay, sir.  Let’s do that. Oh my god. Let’s. Do. That.

We scrambled a bit.  Our bags weren’t packed, although thankfully, our laundry was done.  Our dogs needed to pee (and needed a babysitter.)  And unfortunately, my contractions began soon after my water broke, leaving George to fend for himself.

We called a car service and were headed to Mt. Sinai within the hour.  Oddly, I felt as calm as I’d felt in 36 weeks.  I knew that before the day was over, my guts would be sprawled out on a table in an operating room in New York City, while my OB freed our baby from my body, and the entire idea gave me… peace. I realized I’d not had a moment of peace since miscarrying our first baby nearly a year before.

While I was aware our baby was arriving four weeks too soon (a late-term preemie, they would call him), I somehow knew after all we’d been through to get here, Sunday, March 3, 2013 was not going to be a day of defeat.  On the contrary, I peered out of the car window and on to the East River knowing that this day was going to be the greatest celebration of my life.

We arrived at Mt. Sinai, which, as luck would have it, was not the hospital we were “supposed” to deliver.  Because of the Hurricane Sandy damage done to the Labor and Delivery unit at NYU Langone Medical Center, our OB had been doing his deliveries at Mt. Sinai.  Had “we” waited until March 25th, our OB would have transitioned all his patients back to NYU, thus our son would have been born there. As planned.

Our baby laughs in the face of plans.

I was checked in by about 7:15, and because of the intensity of my contractions, the clinicians moved quickly to get me to the operating room.

Once inside, my OB stood in front of me, bracing me for the spinal block. I closed my eyes and felt a pinch in my spine while the team of medical professionals armed to bring my first born son into the world spoke enthusiastically about child birth and the miracle of their jobs. My anesthesiologist happened to be pregnant, and she distracted me with banter over the wonder of what our bodies are capable of.

I didn’t believe any of them. I didn’t believe that tiny pinch in my spine would render me “paralyzed” from the chest down, all the while allowing me to be alert and present for the entire experience.

They guided me onto the operating table, spreading my arms as if I were being strung on a cross. My world was wrapped in flannel. I was safe. Henry was safe. And even though I knew I probably shouldn’t feel so relaxed until I heard the virgin cries of our baby, NOTHING but positivity ran through my mind.

George entered the room moments later. He was cute. Suited in disposable scrubs, he was smiling and seemingly as relaxed as I.

He took his perch by my side, kneading my hand like dough and kissing me ever so often. I wore glasses with lenses several prescriptions old, and although his silhouette was slightly fuzzy, his smile was in focus.

The physicians did their final “time out” before starting my procedure. They talked me through the entire process, alerting me when I should feel pressure. Truly, I felt nothing. I guess they’d not been lying to me after all. I felt the operating table rock a few times, alerting me they were actually performing surgery, but I felt no pressure. I felt no pain. I felt totally alive.

I believe I may have held my breath the entire time. The surgery seemed to last only minutes, and the idea that my insides were resting on the outside never escaped me, but it certainly didn’t concern me. I thought for a moment about the power of the man standing over my stomach- the man with a sharp blade pressed into my abdomen, just inches above my child. I trusted him fully. In a way, this man- this most calming and reassuring OB, had given me the courage to get here. I remember the day I sat on the table in his office and he presented me with a birth plan template and maternity leave paperwork. That day, I smiled and squealed about how I couldn’t believe how I was finally far enough along in my pregnancy to be able to complete such documents. He seemed confused, so I admitted that I never believed I’d make it that far and that even still, I couldn’t believe that I might actually have a baby someday soon.

“You know,” he said, “sometimes good things happen.”

It seemed so simple to him, and for some reason, I believed him above all others.

And now, there he was, sifting his way through my stomach towards my son. He was moments away from putting his money where his mouth was. He was about to make my good thing happen.

I heard him comment about seeing Henry’s butt. Then he confirmed he was a boy, and that was the last thing I heard before an overwhelming wave of nausea rushed through my body. I told the anesthesiologist, who promptly stuck a pan near my cheek as I vomited.

From that moment, time stood still. My body felt sluggish. My mind was unclear. I heard a faint cry from the corner of the operating room, but I wasn’t sure who’s cry it was. Maybe my son? Maybe someone else’s miracle in an operating room neighboring mine? My plan had been for my son to be placed immediately on my skin, but I imagine they took one look at the vomit on my chest and thought better of it. My comfortable flannel world had been replaced by a foggy, medicated one, and the only thing that resonated was when I finally heard George.

“Look over here, Jebbee. There he is.”

I felt my eyes tear as I squinted through my glasses. A nurse held him up for me to see, and oddly, I didn’t feel the way I’d expected to. I’d spent 36 weeks learning and experiencing and getting to know the boy inside of me, and before that, I’d spent a lifetime wondering who he’d be. And now, finally, he was in front of me. His fuzzy image bestowed delicate reddish skin sparsely patched with remnants from his former home inside of me. His gentle eyes were swollen and glossy, his arms and legs scrawny and panicked, and his sweet face smushed from being trapped beneath my rib cage for far too long.

Amidst my medicated haze, I heard someone assure the masses that his face would fill out and his nose would soon straighten. After that, I smelled burning (cauterization, I assume) and drifted into the type of slumber you never expect to wake from.

I awoke in a recovery room later. I was unclear how much time had passed or if I’d dreamt the entire birth. When I saw George’s face, it was clear that some time in the last few hours, we’d become parents. The fuzzy image of my son from the corner of the operating room came rushing back to me, and like a sudden flip of a switch, my cloudy, selfish, medicated brain turned into the mushy, devoted, protective mother I always thought I’d be. I was ravenous and would have clawed through steel to see my baby.

His bassinet was wheeled into the room and my heart raced. And celebrated. And grew larger than ever before. I’d felt shame that our first meeting in the operating room hadn’t been as romantic as I’d pictured, but it no longer mattered. His tiny body was placed in my arms and my entire existence made sense.

I memorized every curve and wrinkle, taking an instant snapshot of our masterpiece that will live in my brain forever. His features, although scrunched from his big day, shined exactly like the features I love in his father. I did not see an ounce of myself in him, but saw a duplicate of the man I will adore forever. His tiny body appeared delicate and frail, but I knew his looks were deceiving. Our boy was strong.

I closed my eyes and inhaled his skin, counted his breaths, and hoped being close to me made him feel safe- made him feel home.

The journey to meet our Henry was long. It was filled with heartache. And triumph. And amazement. Never before had I dreamt of something I never thought actually possible. Once upon a time, our son was the size of a poppy seed. He had a tail and grew arm buds and bones and hair and remarkable features all his own. In 36 weeks, he’d developed into the most beautiful human I could have ever imagined, far more perfect than I could have ever dreamt. He did this inside of me. George and I made a little boy. A most phenomenal little boy. Unbelievable.

George stood over us, involuntarily stroking Henry’s cheek and kissing the top of my head. I could feel him beaming at the family we’d fought so hard to build.

I was proud. Proud of myself and the body I never believed was capable of such miracles. Proud of the perfect little fighter who made his appearance despite unfavorable odds. And proud of the man who never doubted either one of us and believed in this day all along.

The days that followed Henry’s birth were a whirlwind. Against all advice, I didn’t sleep the entire time I was in the hospital. I couldn’t. I was high on life. I could feel the burn of my incision, but it was completely filtered by the electricity of my son. I felt I needed to get to know him. I felt that because he’d arrived four weeks too soon, I needed to provide him with more security than the average baby. The nurses would creep into my room at night, take my vitals, and ask for the hundredth time, “Would you like us to take him to the nursery, so you can get some sleep?” And while I knew it was probably a good idea, I couldn’t part with my new role as his mother.

Breastfeeding was a challenge unlike any I’ve experienced. Our son was born five pounds and 10 ounces- a perfectly respectable size for a boy born too soon. But coined a late-term preemie, the nurses and lactation consultants strongly encouraged formula supplementation until my milk came in. I smirked on the inside. I’d been lactating my entire adult life, and now, while I finally had a purpose for it, my milk seemed to be on vacation. Each consultant assured me that it would take time, and often times, more time with a c section and an early baby. My body hadn’t quite yet prepared to feed him. His neurological ability to suck (and help bring my milk supply to the surface) wasn’t what it should be. So I spent hours in the dark of my hospital room, aimlessly compressing my breasts in hopes of coincidentally nourishing him with drops of colostrum. He was hungry and frustrated, and cried louder than you’d expect from such a tiny thing. On the other side of my room, separated by a thin curtain, I would hear the new baby belonging to my roommate stir. I heard my roommate adjust her hospital bed to a height she was able to lift her daughter from the bassinet, and within seconds, I’d hear the tiny wimpers consoled as her full-term baby latched on and nursed for half an hour. The nurses asked each of us how long our babies had nursed each time they did their rounds. My roommate would sleepily answer with a simple, “She did great. Fifteen minutes on one side and 12 on the other.” Then the nurse would ask me. I had no idea. All things considered, I shoved my boob in his tiny face for an hour and a half and tried to hit the screaming, moving, uncoordinated target with the tiny drips I’d vice gripped out of my nipple. I didn’t know how to answer. We supplemented with formula and each moment I wasn’t feeding him a bottle, I was hooked up to the breast pump trying to expedite the arrival of my milk supply. It seemed an impossible feat, but certainly one I didn’t intend to give up on.

We attended a breastfeeding class in the hospital. I slowly pushed his bassinet to the end of the hallway, shuffling my feet and trying not to jostle my guts. I sat in the classroom with other new mothers armed with chubby eight and nine pounders. Henry looked like a different species. The lactation consultant started the class by having us latch our babies, so she could assess our needs. The other mothers promptly cradled their newborns, guided their heads into position, and within seconds, the room was filled with the sounds of contented swallows. It’s a rare instance I’m not an overachiever, but in this situation, I felt like a total failure. I cradled my son, guided his wiry head toward my body, and instantly, he began to fight and scream. I was jealous. And discouraged. But the lactation consultant was patient and kind and gently explained that my breastfeeding challenges may be a bit different than those of a mother nursing a full term baby. Either way, she assured me we’d figure it out. And I believed her.

After three nights in the hospital, I received the discharge orders from my OB. I was healing well, moving around better than they’d anticipated, and by all accounts, was ready to start my new life- at home- with my miracle boy. It was then a matter-of-fact pediatric resident gave me the news that Henry would need to stay in the hospital under the photo therapy lights for the night. He was showing bilirubin levels that needed improvement, and a night under the lights would most likely resolve all concern. The news hit me like an intersection collision. I had no worries about his health. I knew he was in perfect hands. I knew plenty of babies with jaundice in the early days of their lives. But, I was devastated to leave him alone. I’d been discharged and despite my most tearful pleas, I was unable to stay with him for the night. I pumped breast milk until my nipples felt they might implode, hoping to leave him with as much of his mother as I could for the night. George and I kissed him goodbye and left the hospital without him. I nearly cried the whole way home.

The next morning, we made our way back to Mt. Sinai to see our baby. When we arrived, we stood at the nursery glass watching our tiny son, in a diaper and tiny “sunglasses” soak up the artificial rays. The bottle of breast milk was empty, comforting me and helping me feel as though maybe Henry had felt me with him through the night. Nurses buzzed through the nursery, burping and feeding and swaddling with finesse, and finally, one of the nurses finished diapering a dark haired little boy and motioned for us to come see our son. She flipped off his photo therapy lights, swaddled him, and brought him into the hall.

She explained they’d tested his bilirubin earlier that morning, but were waiting for the doctor to review it. Regardless, I felt total confidence his results would be perfect and he’d be coming home with us soon. We wheeled him into a waiting room, found an isolated corner, and I cradled him in my arms and attempted another breast feed. Oddly, it seemed things were clicking. We were FAR from “good” at it, but for the first time, I was able to provide a timeframe. Had someone asked, I’d have proudly reported that my son, my brilliant son, had nursed for about three successful minutes. Victory!

Shortly after the worlds shortest, but successful, nursing session, the pediatrician reported his bilirubin levels were within normal range, and we were free to take our new baby home.


Our days following Henry’s arrival in our home have been busy. We’ve lived life in two hour “Groundhog’s Day” increments. We diaper, feed, pump, swaddle, rock, nap, diaper, feed, pump, swaddle, rock, nap. We were fortunate enough to have the help (and company) of both of our mothers and one of my very best friends. And today, on our son’s actual due date, I can report that we are in a very good place. Despite early concerns, he’s gaining weight, my milk came in, our son grasps how to nurse (for the most part), his nose is straightening and showing no signs of impairing his ability to breathe, and our dogs have settled into their big sister roles like professionals.

For years I doubted I’d ever know the wonder of child birth. I feared I’d never feel a baby inside of me, or a baby nourishing at my breast. I marveled at the mystery I would most likely never know. And now, I no longer wonder. I know. I have experienced joy that cannot be described and miracles I cannot understand.

My life will never be the same. And I am eternally grateful.

It is an absolute honor to introduce you to our most amazing son. He was born at 8:53 a.m. on March 3, 2013. Thank you for following his journey, for rooting for his survival, and for being a part of all of our lives.






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