February 25, 2012


I've been reliving what this day, and these past few days, meant for me a year ago.  I was waiting, waiting, trying not to be impatient as my baby took his time.  I had no.idea. what was in store for me when Bear was born.  I had no clue if any of "it" would work.  Could I push him out? Would he drink milk?  Would the diapers hold the pee?  Would he pee?  I would fold and reorganize teeny baby clothes, doubting that there would ever be a baby to put in them.  And oh, I held the lowest expectations for any possibility of cuteness.

I pulled out the little blank book I was using last year to take childbirth notes in and pump myself up.  I had written "Now it's mental gymnastics, one day he will be here.  Don't take him for granted," and "I really hope I remember to look at the cord while it is still bright blue," and then a big long list of my cloth diaper stash.  The best pages are the most worn out, water-dotted pages in the whole book, and I remember when Dust gave me back this journal after coming home with my new baby.  He showed me that he and Dana had recorded most all of my contractions until he was born.  I was ecstatic to have that list of contraction times!  I love reading the notes beside them.

8:30 - doozie
8:41 - standing
9:38 - fizzled out
2:59 - you whistled, we laughed
3:35 - you felt a pop
6:15 - puking
8:50 - urge to push
9:40 - born

That little book takes me back in time.  I was so cumbersome and preggo, wearing the same freaking black dress over leggings with a different scarf every day.  I bought two pairs of boots that I promptly blew the hubs out of, because my feet and ankles were so swollen I had to do lots of extra jamming to get them on.  Bending down to put those boots on was a break-a-sweat way to start my workday.  I can still feel the basketball pushing against my ribs pushing against my lungs, and how Dustan was no help to me, in the same way it's easier to put on your own gloves.

Those days were so cold, and filled with roadtrips to the northern side of Milwaukee to visit my CNM's telling me I would shortly get induced.  I'm not going to hash through all of that again.  This is more me remembering how ignorant I was of all the beauty that was in store for me, when I really didn't know to hope for anything more than being able to throw those boots away after my baby was born!  Had I known, I would have been breathless with excitement and obnoxious with obsession my entire pregnancy to get that baby out and spend my days watching his hands go from the desperate-newborn-fist stage to the dimpled, curious paw stage.

If there's anything I've learned through Bear's entrance and first year of life, it's this.  In the world of birth, babies, and parenting, there are countless philosophies.  There is a wrong way and a right way to do practically everything, and everyone - even that one over there, with no children - has some type of opinion.  I can't get exasperated with this, because I have my own strong opinions about many things.  I just think all the angles are a testament to the fact that babies, and how we handle them, is something that matters so, so very much.  They're our little people, our little citizens.  They're us, just at the beginning.  Take care about how you feed us and how we should sleep and how we should hold one toy over another and how a developing mind needs this at this stage and that at that stage.  Someone found a secret key to getting a baby to sleep? That's book-publishing material right there.  It can get crazy, listening to all those voices.  I know from experience that any time someone is a little nutty about something they believe (about anything!) go easy on them (us).  Because the passion up top is usually tied to some heavy place down where big stuff sits.

But here is what I'm most grateful for.  After Bearboy finally showed up on his own watch (and there he was in flesh and blood, wearing the onesie I had been waiting to put him in), I got clobbered by the most unexpected permission to relish this baby.  I didn't see it coming.  It has helped drown out all those voices about how to do or not do everything.  It doesn't mean I haven't had to make choices all along the way.  I have, and I've actually really enjoyed the learning curve as well.  It just means all those choices and philosophies are such a tiny fraction of the baby experience, and I - well, I just didn't see it coming.  While I was pregnant, a lady told me that the best advice given to her was this.  Enjoy your baby. 

Every night he goes to bed and I sit down to plunk around on the internet or stuff some diapers, and I miss that boy.  I didn't expect that.  That being a mama, when stripped down from all the trappings that word implies, means I got a dooders sprouting teeth who tries to eat dogfood every day, and awards me the broadest, most familiar beep-falling-out grins when we're home from a walk.

One day he will be "my oldest," tying knots in Trail's leash and filling his water bottle on his own.  Unbelievable!  But today he is a baby - and however close to one years old he thinks he is, he's still a baby.  I drag him along to everything, and show him how it works to be a person.  That's what it is to be a mama, and it's the best thing I never saw coming.


  1. this made me cry. best.blog.entry.yet! Happy Birthday to your baby - who is still very much a baby. I feel honored to have had a front row seat to the most memorable moment of you life. even though i laid with my kiddos tonight - told stories, hugged, kissed, prayed, and even cried - i suddenly miss them and want to go wake them up and tell them just one more time - "you're a rock star, and i love you with all my heart."

  2. So well said. I relate to you on the never saw it coming part. I was terrified with my first pregnancy. Spent the whole thing so scared. I had no idea how to take care of a baby or how to be a mom. With my last pregnancy I was so stinkin excited I couldn't sleep. It was like Christmas times 1000. Can't wait for you to experience a pregnancy stuffed with joy and giddy with excitement because now you know just how great it's going to be.

  3. What brilliant and eloquent insight into the psychology of the things we're each a little "nutty" about! You're so right--my passions are tied to the big, deep, heavy stuff. My calendar told me it was Bear's birthday over the weekend, so I came to check in and was rewarded with this wonderful post. Happy Birthday, Bear boy! And happy anniversary of giving birth, Bets; you're such a strong, beautiful, courageous and amazing human being! (I remember thinking, on my first birthday after becoming a mom myself, that my mom was the one who should be getting presents every year on my birthday). And keep enjoying that boy. (Here's a little game I play with myself: I imagine that it's years down the line and my kids are moody, irritable teenagers, or that they're adults who are too big to be picked up. Then I imagine how much I'd enjoy taking a trip back in time for just a minute to where they were small enough that I could hold their little baby self. And THEN I realize with giddy joy that I'm there--in the past, holding them while they lay their little head against my shoulder, feeling their weight in my arms, the tininess of their little body compared to their grownup self. And I relish it for all I'm worth, allowing myself to be fully present in the moment, absorbing every bit of it for my future self.)

  4. Your awesome and so is Bear! Your writing is so much fun, I get excited when I see that you have updated.

    Another blog I read wrote something about her little girl turning 5 soon and I though you would like it or maybe agree..

    a quote from this blog post...
    "You love them because they're yours. All they had to do was show up."

  5. I ALWAYS ALWAYS love what you write Betsy but one thing hit me today: Chad and I have always told the kids in the morning, "I missed you while you were sleeping." And I totally realized that other parents do that too!! The pictures are adorable - I love the one of Bear on the couch with no shirt - He is just too precious and I can't wait to see you all soon! Love from Tennessee to all three of you!! XOXO

  6. "I know from experience that any time someone is a little nutty about something they believe (about anything!) go easy on them (us). Because the passion up top is usually tied to some heavy place down where big stuff sits."

    One of my favorite quotes ever. :)

    Congratulations on making it through your first year as a mama! You and Dustan are raising a beautiful, vibrant, joyful baby boy. What a tremendous reflection of both of his parents.

  7. I realize this is an older post, and maybe you've abandoned the internet again, but I just wanted to say that the title of your blog is HILARIOUS. As a Minnesotan, I just love it. :) Hope you're well!

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