I Love You, Fuzzy Face.

by Jen on May 15, 2012

Home isn’t about geography.  I feel “home” in lots of places.  I’m home in New York City where George spoons me while I sleep.  I’m home in Kansas where I eat my grandmother’s pickles and grab Taco Tico with my mom.  I’m home in San Antonio where I listen to old-school folk music with my dad.  And I’m home in Tallahassee where I drive under moss-drenched canopy roads and share margaritas with my friends.

We just returned from Tallahassee.  Our former home.  We spent eight days in Florida, driving back and forth between DeLand and Tallahassee trying to suck every possible minute out of our vacation.  We had a list of restaurants we aimed to visit, things we planned to do, and a list of friends we hoped to see.  While we couldn’t fit in everyone and everything, I think we did pretty well considering we spent a majority of our time getting to know the newest member of our family.

Enter our first and only nephew (although we are fortunate enough to be considered honorary aunts and uncles to a handful of other totally spectacular rugrats that mean the world to us).  I call him “Fuzz” and George calls him “Lil Easton Bruno” (said super fast and with no change in inflection), but his birth certificate leaves off the “Lil”.

We’ve been staring at his pictures and watching and re-watching videos of him since he was born.  We were already in love, but NOTHING could have prepared either of us for how insane we’d be once we actually got to smooch on him and smell his sweet little neck.  The whole time I kept thinking, “We will love our own child more than this???  Impossible.”

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to some anxiety about meeting him.  The scars of my miscarriage are still fresh, leaving me surprised by instant rushes of sadness from time to time.  Easton would be the first baby I’d hold since losing mine, and I wasn’t sure how it would make me feel.  Heartsick?  Hopeful?  Healed?  And then I was nervous that maybe I’d be emotional from how much I love him, and the people around me would misinterpret my tears for sadness instead of gratitude.  Maybe I was unnecessarily paranoid?  Maybe nobody would notice, but still, I didn’t want my first meeting with my first nephew to be soiled by emotions I couldn’t explain.

When we arrived at their house (HIS house, really), he was lying on an activity mat watching it like it was the fireworks show at Disney.   His hands jerked and waved, his legs pumped and kicked, and his eyes were fixated on the blinking lights and rotating elephants and hippos.  We watched him for a few minutes, allowing our excitement to settle before whisking him off the floor and onto our laps.

When I finally cradled him in my arms, I felt all my anxiety go away.  I wasn’t thinking about the baby I lost.  I was enamored by the baby our family gained.  If I did cry, everyone would know it was because I loved him, because I was fascinated by him, and because he was the coolest miniature person to ever share my last name.  All the clichés are true.  I was overwhelmed by his purity and innocence, his blank slate primed to record all of life’s ups and downs, and the faces that seemed identical to his father in one moment and identical to his mother in the next.

He is exactly what our family has always needed.

Knowing our time in Florida was limited, I spent as many moments as I could staring at him, photographing him (poor kid!), and watching my husband and in-laws go nuts over him.  Each moment seemed more special than the last.  He studied his mother when she bathed him, stared adoringly as she fed him, and calmed instantly when she scooped him into her chest and shushed him.  He yawned and relaxed his body as Josh wrapped him tightly in his swaddle, trusting that his dad knew what was best for him.  He buried his head into George for cat naps, and squirmed like a slippery fish when I’d lotion him after his nightly baths.  Every part of it?  Awesome.

His life hasn’t always been so routine and relaxed, however.  After years of fertility struggles, he was born via c-section, and shortly after being discharged, returned to the hospital for jaundice.  Two days after the release for jaundice, Renee (SIL) went to the ER for severe stomach pains.  She was diagnosed with gas, told to drink hot liquids and take stool softeners, and was sent on her way.  Two days later, she went back to the ER with unbearable pain and was rushed into emergency surgery for intussusception (a rare and serious condition where part of your intestine or colon slides into another part of your intestine causing a blockage and cutting off blood supply).  The surgeon removed her right colon, part of her intestine, her gallbladder and her appendix.  HUH?!?!?  Who knew you could survive without all those guts???  And, who knew you had distinguishable sides to your colon?  Not I.

The surgery kept her in the hospital for a week, terminating her ability to breast feed and care for her new baby boy without major assistance.  When she was finally able to go home, she still required ’round the clock help since she was unable to pick him up and  perform simple parental functions.  Near the third week of recovery, she was finally able to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, only to go back to the ER for chest pains.  A CT found a blood clot near her liver, leading doctors to put her in ICU for a possible pulmonary embolism.

She is now home, taking blood thinners, keeping her activity level to a minimum and trying to make up for lost bonding time with her son.

It’s an exhausting story to TELL, let alone LIVE.

While it’s hard to find much of a silver lining to all of this, she is alive.  Her experience speaks volumes to the power of motherhood.  Both she and Easton were cheated.  Their early bonding time was cut short, her dream of breastfeeding was shot down, and their fairytale was far different than anyone imagined.  BUT, you wouldn’t know it.  You wouldn’t know they’d spent nearly three weeks of Easton’s eight week experience outside of her stomach in and out of the hospital.  You wouldn’t know they didn’t bond right away.  That kid is healthy and happy and completely in love with his mother.  That bond, more specifically, their bond is an absolutely beautiful thing to observe.

George and spent the days with them and the nights before we fell asleep recounting all the amazing things we’d been lucky enough to witness.

“I loved when he fell asleep on my chest today!”

“I want to make a mixed tape of all the sounds he makes when he chugs his bottles.”

“Did you see his determined little bobble head when he sat in the Bumbo earlier?”

“He peed on Renee in the tub tonight.”

It’s gratifying to witness the exact moment it clicks in a baby’s brain to smile at you.  It’s humbling to watch a list of “firsts” that you have always taken for granted.  Babies are such masterpieces.

It was painstaking to board the plane back to New York.  We had to come home.  We love our home, but DAMMIT, we love that kid too.  How can a ten pound butterball have that sort of impact?  Dang you, Fuzz!

The privilege of being that baby’s aunt is overwhelming.  He can’t even talk, and I already know he is smart and funny and thoughtful and  enthusiastic.  The privilege of watching my husband be that baby’s uncle makes me more sure than ever that George will be the best baby daddy I’ll ever know.

Fuzz, you are such a little star.

Josh, Renee, and Fuzz.

Chillin' out. Maxing. Relaxing All Cool.


Fuzz, George, and Yours Truly

My MIL and my Fuzz

Makin' It Rain.


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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica May 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Jen you are one strong woman. To go through the pain of a miscarriage and to be able to dive so freely into the joy of this new baby takes so much strength of character. Sounds like Easton and his momma are amazing people but you and your spirit shine through this post most for me. Sending a million hugs.


2 XLMIC May 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Every single photograph is so lovely not just because you are anamazing photographer working with beautiful subject matter but because you so evidently LOVE said subject matter. What an awesome visit! So happy for you 🙂


3 alison May 15, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Oh goodness, I love him too. Thanks for the b-e-a-utiful photos of a sweetpea. I think you should be a traveling photographer. Just bring your camera and come live with your friends for a week and photograph our babies. 🙂

Random fact: Joey had intussusception when he was 6 months old, and is lucky to have survived (my MIL has told the story so many times that I can now recite it word for word). He lost all those fun organs too – the gallbladder and appendix. But! 31 years later and he's no worse for wear. Hoping she continues to recover quickly.


4 mamamash May 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

He's so beautiful, and so are you! I'm sorry Renee is having such a rough time! That's very scary stuff.


5 christina May 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm

SO SO SO beautiful!! i'm so sorry your SIL had to go thru all that (scary!!) and am glad she's on the mend. WOW! thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story and these beautiful photos, including the one including you! 🙂 congrats, Auntie! 🙂


6 MarthaCole May 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I was stunned reading all this, this afternoon. I didn't realize Renee had so many problems after giving birth. What she had is something similar to what my M-I-L had about 5 months ago. She had to undergo a similar surgery and have a large portion of her colon removed because it had gotten tangled. Goodness knows how that happens. She was 87 years old and the doctors weren't even sure she would survive, but she is a fighter and is still going strong. I love your pictures of Easton and the various family members. He has such an expressive face. And as I have commented to Lynne a couple times he is definitely a Murawski as well as a Bruno. I swear I can see Murph in him. I am so glad you got to enjoy him. You and George will be great as Aunt Jen and Uncle George. (((Hugs))) Martha Cole


7 Lynne May 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Both my DIL's are amazing women………..


8 Lisa Ogram May 15, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Incredible, honest and joyful account of love at first sight! Best to your family in its journey! Please keep writing, it is beautiful.


9 Kim Young May 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Jen, he is ADORABLE!!


10 Becky May 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Jen, I’m glad you have a pen! I went to school with George and Josh. I see the link to your website on the Facebook newsfeed under George’s name from time to time. I have read many of your stories and I always enjoy them. You are a wonderful writer.


11 Kimberly May 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

I am so so so sorry to hear about your SIl holy crap…that is the scariest thing…and they sent her home?
I love that Fuzz too even though I'm miles away. He is so gorgeous in those photos.
Sending you big giant hugs friend.


12 Alana May 16, 2012 at 8:34 am

Wow! You and your SIL are some of the strongest women I've ever heard about. I'm so sorry to hear about all her complications and sincerely hope that was the end of them and she can just focus on being a mommy to sweet little Easton. Being an aunt is a seriously cool and rewarding title to have and I wear it proudly for my 3 nephews and 1 niece. Your pictures are beautiful and I'm sure they'll be a great comfort to you when you and George can't physically be with him.
Too bad you couldn't be here this weekend – we are celebrating Amanda's birthday at Carrabba's!


13 Alison@Mama Wants This May 16, 2012 at 9:04 am

Oh beautiful boy. I love how he's brought the family closer than ever, bonding all over you for the love of him.

Gorgeous pictures.


14 Kenya G. Johnson May 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I haven't stopped by in a while, but you sound good. I think just maybe Fuzz had a part in that. It's a big hump from FL to NY but hopefully you'll get to see him again soon. Once gets talking and really remembering you, look forward to Skype of FaceTime. My favorite picture is the copycat one. Too cute.


15 runnermom-jen May 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Holy cow, your poor SIL!!! That is just awful. So glad she's recovering. And oh my goodness, Little "Fuzz" is soooo darn cute. Wonderful pictures!!!


16 Rach DonutsMama May 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I love that picture of you, Senor & Fuzz. It's gonna happen someday…

I love how generous you are Jen. I know what you've gone through is so very tough, but to see you taking such joy at your SIL's happiness is amazing.


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