Everything has Compounded

After capturing our first child’s birth two years ago in writing, I was feeling a whole lot of pressure to repeat things this time around. So I’ve waited, far too long, in hopes of better seizing the moment of our newest child’s birth. Well, here goes.

Nearly two years ago our daughter Hadley burst into the world as the sun broke across the morning sky. Instantly overloaded, everything I felt was raw and new. With my wife’s latest pregnancy, this time our preparation was even better. However, the moment when her labor was to begin remained wildly unpredictable. So recently, as I rose on a Thursday, near dawn with a full day’s schedule ahead of me, the last thing I expected was the new round of surprises awaiting me. In fact, the previous day I had accompanied my wife to her now weekly doctor’s appointment, reinforcing my certainty that labor was still some time to come – a week or so, the doctor and I surmised. However, as Ali cautioned my departure, incredulous that I was to spend the better part of the day over thirty-five miles from home, she followed with the quintessentially on-cue declaration, “You’re not going anywhere, because I think my water just broke.” With that statement, we entered our own peculiarly new phase. It was all remarkably familiar but diametrically different.

Last time our baby was born in the morning. This time the sun descended across Boston, nearing the golden hour of soft shadows and gilded gables. Again, Ali proved brilliant, delivering a blessed baby boy. Our son entered the world at 5:01 PM, on July 16, an instant namesake, triggering a whole new round of emotional tumult, again paradoxically familiar yet strange. The memorable gush I experienced during our daughter’s birth was stopped in seconds after on this evening. There were no instant cries of new life, but the briefest stay on Ali’s chest before being swiped for a support team of physicians. Following delivery, commotion and cacophony. Our baby boy’s face was the color of blueberry.

Fear and anxiety filled me as I waited for his first scream. Before I realized, I left Ali’s bedside, finding our newborn in the warmer, now screaming, with a new doctor cooing over him, accompanied by a team of other doctors and nurses, all assuring me that everything was alright. “It is only bruising,” she said in a rich Italian accent, “but we wanted to be sure.” As a result of the speed and force of delivery, his face bruised. Yet upon seeing a violet faced newborn a sequence of actions were immediately set in motion to ensure that he had not been deprived of oxygen. As a nurse would later explain, “We have a lot of resources at this hospital, so we like to use them.” In a blur, the little lad was wrapped and safely back in mother’s arms and the beautiful scene was slowly returning. The blueberry shade would fade quickly, revealing his handsomeness. It was all too much, again, but in such a different way from last time.

Minutes Old with Mom

Fritz, Ali’s honored nod to a family nickname, stirs something far below the surface. When I was a boy, my grandfather nicknamed me Fritz, as he too had been called when he was a boy. My nickname would later morph into Fritzwinkle, where the winkle came from I know not. Now, we had our own little Fritz, bringing with him more nuanced complications and complexities that I am still trying to understand. Yet, now I have a son, a namesake even, and he is a fantastic addition to our family. I only wish the first Fritz were here to see him.

End of Summer and Hadley’s First Birthday

Summer has definitely proved much slipperier to wrangle this year than I expected, even as busy as I found myself. Not enough posts here, not enough work done on the house, not enough miles run to stay fit, not enough moments spent with my wife, or playing with the baby. Now it is time to head back to school, a milestone that will now always be heralded by the birthday of my daughter, who turns one year old today. Wow! How the time has flown. As cliché as that might be, I feel like my life is proving to be more and more of an exemplar of that particular cliché.

Boston from the River Charles

After a month in the city of Boston, at UMass, working with a bunch of teachers on writing improvement, the last few weeks have found me drifting around our house and trying to finish some projects here and there, as well as gearing up for the big return to work.

Tiling the Half Bath   Tiling the Half Bath 2

Contrary to many people’s notions, teaching really is not just a nine-month of the year job. In reality, the summer could simply be termed the slow period. It’s no different from that cyclical stretch of the year when sales are down and everyone in the office is spending a lot more time surfing the net and forwarding lousy chain emails to everyone they know. That’s is definitely one big difference between teaching and many other jobs. From the minute I walk in the building I have to be on. There is no dragging myself into work after a hard night in hopes of hiding away at my desk and not dealing with anyone while I recover. Everyday there are five shows, sometimes with a break, most of the time with a lot of Q and A afterwards. Still, it is the best gig I have ever found. The hardest thing, at least in the begining of each year, is the fact that there is no pre-season or preview audiences for this teaching gig. So I have got a few weeks of being absolutely waxed, before regaining my sea legs, as it were.

At least this is one of things that greets me when I return from work…

Standing at the Gate   Enjoying a Short Walk

Beyond that, the most important news is the golden birthday of our young one. Yesterday, we had a small gathering to celebrate the occasion. As are most of our soirées, it was a pretty laid back affair. Some friends, some snacks, some beverages, and a cake.

First Birthday Balloon

Hadley was looking fabulous, as ever, in her green and pink ensemble and party hat! She is one awfully cute kid.

Birthday Party Outfit   Monkey Cake

Ali crafted this fabulous monkey cake for our little monkey. Yes she did in fact decorate the whole thing. My wife is a woman of many talents! Of course she had an assortment of cupcakes, as well.

Cake Time   Digging in to the Cake

First Cupcake   Sid and Hadley

Hadley definitely seems to be more of an icing girl, at this point. At first, she treated the actual cake as though it were poison. However, eventually she came around on that opinion and could be seen gobbling up odd chunks from the destruction of her piece. Before long she had successfully ground cake bits all over her face and securely in her hair. She was rather enjoying herself.

Cake Aftermath

Hadley was the gracious recipient of some very kind gifts. So many thanks to all. Most of all thank you for being there to celebrate with us.

Opening New Books!

Hadley and Grandma Susie's Gift   Hadley at Her Table - Courtesy of Aunt Keri

Also thanks to my mom, who endeavors to spoil Hadley every chance she gets, despite being afar. Here is just one of the shipments of birthday gifts from her.

Look at All My Presents!

Baptism and Baby Spoiling

Last weekend, we hosted the families for Hadley’s christening. It was great to have my parents in town for a few days. They arrived a bit early and we got to spend a couple of days with them. It was the first time they had been this way since right after Hadley was born.

The Baptism Crew

We had a great time in the run-up to baptism day. My dad helped me out with a few things around the house and my mom got to spend some quality time with her granddaughter. While grandma nearly held the baby in her arms the entire time, it turns out Hadley took quite a liking to grandpa. She hung on him chimp-like and even was seen taking a nap on his chest, not something she does with just anyone. The old man seemed to quite like her too.

Baptism Dress Old Man and Hadley

By Saturday, my brother, David, and his girlfriend, Micaela, arrived. Our pick-up was slightly delayed, after my dad and I took a detour to a puddle jumper airport just north of Providence, thanks to my mother’s iPhone GPS routing us to the wrong destination. Having never been to the Providence airport before, I was none the wiser until we approached the deserted airfield. Needless to say we got righted pretty quickly. Chalk one up for the old school paper maps. I am rock solid with those.

Gran Jan and Hadley

Ali, Hadley, and I finally got to meet Micaela which was a treat. She was home in Argentina when we were in Chicago for the holidays, so we missed her. She too adored Little Miss Hadley and immediately upon my mother’s departure invoked the newly coined term “Micaela Time.” Needless to say Hadley got plenty of cuddling and spoiling.

Grandparents at Baptism

The christening itself was quite nice. Uncle David and Aunt Keri were flawless as godparents. The baptism was rolled into a normal service and everything went off without a hitch. The minor exception was a knocked fan during Hadley’s presentation to the congregation. That made a bit of a racket briefly but was quickly subdued.

With the Minister

Apart from the service, we had a small gathering at the homestead, in spite of the oppressive heat and humidity, and occasional rain. It seems like we always have the best weather for our summer soirees. Our MA reception was probably the hottest day of that year, and this baptism day was one of the more uncomfortable one this yet this season.

Boston Skyline

We did get to spend a couple of extra days with my brother and Micaela before they returned home to Chicago. We all had a great time cruising around downtown Boston one day and up the North Shore the next. It was all great fun.

Faneuil Hall

Make Way for Ducklings

In Rockport