Tag Archives: parenting

On the move with young children | NameBubbles

This post is sponsored by NameBubbles.  Use code ONTAP to receive 15% off your next order of adorable personalized labels for everyday life.

NAMEBUBBLES

In this joyful season of parties, playdates, cookie swaps,and caroling (just kidding… we don’t go caroling… does anyone go caroling?… we do the other stuff, though), it seems like we are on the move more often than not.  It’s taken me nearly four years, but I’ve finally got our system down when it comes to packing for two young children.  Whether we’re heading out for a few hours or a few days, there are several things I always do or have on hand to keep us (semi) organized, sane and happy.

WHAT WE PACK FOR DAY-TRIPS OR SHORT OUTINGS

For doctor’s appointments, gymnastics, to exercise, or visits to family and friends, I try to pack as light as possible (it’s all relative with little people in tow).  

namebubbles water bottle

Our staples include:

  • A full water bottle for each of us — I love using NameBubbles labels in fun shapes because they stand out and are easily recognizable, so there is no mistaking whose bottle is whose 
  • Snacks (obvi)
  • Pull-ups, wipes, a change of clothes
  • A few books and toys

WHAT WE KEEP IN THE CAR

In addition to a first aid kit and car safety basics (jumper cables, a photocopy of my AAA card, emergency cash), I also keep a small container (it’s this soft-sided cooler… so basically… we are also ready for a party AT ALL TIMES) of everyday items in the car, tucked behind the driver’s seat.  I check and re-stock our container often and switch out some items based on the season and label anything that might lose its way (and hopefully find its way back to us).

namebubbles name labels

  • Non-perishable snacks (nut + fruit bars, apple sauce, crackers)
  • Aquaphor (great for chapped lips, dry skin, cuticles, minor cuts or scrapes and diaper rash)
  • Mints
  • Hand sanitizers and/or wipes
  • 2 pull-ups/diapers/undies per child, changing mat
  • 2 basic changes of clothes — long sleeve tee shirt and leggings (it really helps that Grace and Nick wear the same size)
  • Extra socks (they double as mittens when you’re extra unprepared…)
  • Tissues
  • Small bag for garbage or laundry

WHAT WE PACK FOR LONGER ADVENTURES

We do a lot of traveling between the city and the Cape, and for longer drives we pack a few extras in addition to our clothes and toiletries.

namebubbles books activities

namebubbles clothing labels

namebubbles stuffed animal

  • A small cooler packed with a few necessary perishable items like fruit and yogurt for the kids, so that we’re not rushing out to the store as soon as we get where we’re going
  • Books and activity kits for the drive
  • Comfort items for sleep time (Nicky is devoted to his lovie, and Grace has a few hundred stuffed animals that usually make the trip, too)
  • Packable jackets (because kids are wonderfully messy and inevitably one ends up in the wash) and extra sneakers or boots, depending on the weather

I’ve recently started using NameBubbles’ clothing and shoe labels for the kids, rather than writing in their names with permanent marker.  Once they’ve outgrown their clothes and shoes, I’ll be able to easily remove the label and donate the items to Cradles to Crayons or the Family Pantry of Cape Cod in the best condition possible.  These labels are machine washable and work for stuffed animals too, which is great for when the kids bring toys on trips, or to school or playdates.

Now I just need to figure out how to organized the rest of my life.  Just kidding… kind of.

To save 15% on your next order of personalized labels, use the code ONTAP. 

Also On Tap for Today:

What are your must-haves for quick trips or longer adventures?

Currently | September 2017

It’s late September and I just took a blissful outdoor shower (one of my favorite things about our Cape house).  I’m telling you that partly so you know I prioritize hygiene, and partly to express what a gorgeous summer day it is in New England… despite it technically being, like, the fourth day of Autumn.  Whatever, man.

CURRENTLY | SEPTEMBER 2017

currently september 2017

Serious question: How to you make your hands look cool and/or normal in photos?

Currently reading

Per usual, I have started 14 new books… and finished 0 of them.  We read so many great children’s books this summer (I need to add to this list), but now that I have a little time to myself while the kids are at preschool, I have loaded up my Kindle with non-picture books.  And it feels good.  Here’s what I’m reading:

Currently listening to

  • A whole slew of great podcasts: Pod Save America, Lovett or Leave it, Call Your Girlfriend, Fake The Nation, Style Your Mind, Fat Mascara and LeVar Burton Reads.
  • The Daily Mix playlists from Spotify (they nail it every time)
  • Grace singing “There’s a Potty in the USA”… because she heard Miley in the car once and now our bathroom has its own anthem.  

Currently watching

  • For out of state license plates… I printed a 50 states license plate worksheet thing (from a website called Mom’s Mini Van… in case my life status was at all in question, that should clarify things) mid-way through August.  So many people vacation on the Cape, I thought it might be fun to keep track of the different license plates we saw.  There are plenty of New Hampshires, New Yorks, New Jerseys, Connecticuts, Vermonts, Pennsylvanias, Floridas, and Maines here.  And a surprising number of Ohios.  I got very into this whole game, like… very quickly.  (Note that most of the summer it was just me and the kids down here… so essentially, I was the only one playing.)  And I’m not saying I purposely took the wrong exit to catch up to and record an interesting looking license plate…. but I’m not saying I didn’t either.  I saw Oklahoma and not only beeped, but frantically waved, and judging by the driver’s look… he was not into it.  And then, on Labor Day, as we made our way back to the city, I saw Alaska on Route 6 and lost what very little chill I had left.  Nick claims he knows someone who up until recently had Hawaii plates.  Likely story.  I started a brand new sheet the day after Labor Day, and I’m not bragging, but I have 40 of the 50 states already logged.  It helps that the entire country moves to Boston every September to go to college.  In their moms’ minivans.  
  • Nick brought his Netflix membership back from the dead so we could watch Ozark (thanks to Tina + Mal for the recommendation).  It’s dark, but not too violent and now I am obsessed with money laundering, so that’s fun.  To clarify: I don’t personally launder money, I’ve just developed a hobby/part-time job being suspicious of people who might.
  • Also on Netflix, Gaga: Five Foot Two.  Liked it a lot.  Love her a lot.

Currently feeling

  • Relieved to be back in a routine.  As fun as this summer was, I definitely appreciate (and need) order.  
  • Itchy, because I saw a spider approaching me 2 hours ago, but I lost track of it… so it’s only safe to assume it’s in my hair, texting its friends to come over.
  • Especially grateful.  We got a flat tire on our way home from Grace’s dentist appointment this morning and I know it’s such a small thing, but I felt myself getting so frustrated.  And embarrassed for being frustrated.  I am so lucky to have who and what I do.    
  • Speaking of embarrassed: Why did I write what amounts to a 10 page, double-spaced essay on license plate hunting?

Also On Tap for Today:

What has been the highlight of your month so far?

 

Yesterday’s misadventures.

First up, a photo that has nothing to do with anything. It’s just something nice to look at while I go free association about yesterday’s misadventures.

yesterday's misadventures

THINGS THAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY:

In the order which they occurred… I think…

  • Nicky snuck a half-eaten banana into the dyer while I was unloading laundry.
  • I woefully underestimated the timing for our morning routine and had to forgo a shower (but figured I’d sneak one in mid-morning #lol #no).
  • Immediately after we dropped Grace off at her summer program, Nicky fell and cut the back of his head badly enough to need stitches.  
  • He was such a champ.  I was a wreck.
  • While he was getting tended to (and squirming a bit), I somehow ended up with surgical glue on my face.  Apparently it will come off in 5-7 days.  Can’t wait for that.
  • I drank an iced coffee and cried in my car. (Hi again, caffeine.)
  • We made it back from urgent care in time to pick up Grace (and I exhaled for the first time in over an hour).
  • No luck on the shower.  But Jesus cranked up the humidity, so… poodle hair.
  • Speaking of poodles, all five of us (Grace, Nicky, Clark, his cone and myself) went to the vet.
  • The vet took one look at our motley crew and called for back-up (this literally happened), as if having an additional vet tech in the room would prevent my children from attacking or eating dog treats or… something.
  • Clark’s most recent bad luck (a scratched cornea) isn’t healing and will likely require surgery.
  • I called Nick (for, I think, the 5th time of the day).
  • I cried in my car again but this time I pretended to be fake sneezing (my kids love fake sneezing and I’ve never been above a cheap laugh).
  • We bought matching sweatshirts for the family (it seemed like the right thing to do).
  • I found the aforementioned banana.
  • We survived.

Once both babes (and Clark) were safely tucked in bed and the house was quiet, I sat at the kitchen table for two entire hours.  Just breathing.  I barely noticed how dark it was until I sort of came to, wondering if I should be searching for additional bananas.  If I’m being honest (which I endeavor to do, obvi), this is not the first banana/laundry incident we’ve had… this week.

 

Days like yesterday are memorable because they almost never happen (thankfully) and because they serve up gentle reminders of all sorts.  

A reminder that we have so much (excellent healthcare, reliable transportation, a generous and kind support network, clean clothes, plenty of bananas, a Frenchie who promised to live forever, and the resources to manage all of this).  A reminder that I need to take care of myself in order to best take care of others (no more staying up ’til 2 AM reading about shipwrecks #reallife).  A reminder that there is power in laughter and tears and tears disguised as sneezes.  A reminder that children are resilient and brave, even if their behavior is also terribly risky and awfully terrifying.  A reminder that quiet time is rarely wasted time.  A reminder that even (or especially) as a mother, it is important to be vulnerable and receptive to help.

I hope your yesterday treated you well.  And that your today did too.

Also On Tap for Today:

What gentle reminders are you serving up (or being served)? And who wants to watch You Got Served with me?

 

Gloomy ‘tudes + sunny dispositions.

Has it rained every Tuesday this year?  It seems like it.  

gloomy tudes + sunny dispositions

I’m one of those people that pretends to be even keeled, but the weather, man… it gets to me.  I wonder if this is fully science (a need for vitamin D, or whatev) or something we learn as we age.

I spent a good chunk of the day checking Dark Sky (likely my most used app #nerdalert), trying to do math (do I have enough time to get the baby out and into the running stroller, actually go running, factoring in route + speed/lack thereof, and make it back for preschool pickup before the next downpour?)… and mentally complaining.  None of this was especially helpful.

We got home from school and made it 1/29th up the length of our driveway (such is the pace of life these days) when the skies opened.  It was one of those rainstorms that’s over in seconds, but leaves you (and all the art projects you’re holding) soaked.  You might be able to guess my immediate reaction (and if not: it was to silently swear), but you’ve already seen how Grace and Nick reacted.  

With pure joy.  

The weather can ruin your mood.  It can ruin your day.  It can foul up your plans.  And it can foul up your I-look-chic-but-in-that-I-didn’t-try-kind-of-way outfit.

But it can also give you a puddle to jump in.  It can entice worms from where ever they usually are (who knows), so you can closely inspect them.  It can bring forth that inimitable spring rain on blacktop smell that makes me glad to live in the city.  It sustains plants (and all the things that plants sustain… like people).  And it can make my two babes laugh and squeal with utter delight.

But it’s not just the weather.

How many things weigh us down as adults, but with a simple shift in attitude, could be appreciated with the wonder and joy they might deserve?

Perhaps we can unlearn our gloomy grown-up attitudes.  Or at the very least, get some cool raincoats and enjoy the storm a bit.

Also On Tap for Today:

Are you walking around with a gloomy ‘tude or a sunny disposition today?

April 2017 | Currently

This is what life feels like at the moment, as I realize May is less than a week away:

  • Press 1 if you’d like time to slow down.  
  • Press 2 if you’d like to time to speed up to the part of the day when both kids are asleep and you can hear yourself think.
  • Press 3 if you have no idea what you want.

Now imagine me pressing 1-2-3 over and over again on the imaginary keypad of an imaginary phone.  Basically, that’s April in a nutshell.

april 2017 currently

APRIL 2017 | CURRENTLY

Currently enjoying

currently april 2017

  • What I’m calling a gentle return to consistent running (as gentle as things can get while pushing the beast that is a double running stroller).  No pressure, just getting out there.  Granted, I am registered for a few upcoming races, but in the interim, I’m enjoying getting back in the groove.
  • A turn for the better, weather-wise.  We spent this past Sunday visiting the baby animals (including two lambs that were only 3 days old!), checking out the plants, and enjoying a picnic lunch at Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon (about 30 minutes from the city).  It’s remarkable what good weather and fresh air can do.  Like, it practically makes me a nice, normal person.

Currently watching

currently april 2017

  • Nick and Clark follow each other around, looking for adventure.  And snacks.
  • This Heineken ad, which seems like a masterful foil to Pepsi’s faux protest nonsense.
  • The last few episodes of The West Wing.  I must have inadvertently and magically saved them for times like these.  Imagine if CJ was Press Secretary in real life?

Currently reading

currently april 2017

Currently listening to

  • An old Ben Folds playlist. Nick and I danced to The Luckiest as our first dance at our wedding, and I think I played it thirty-seven times this week.  Grace asked me to turn it off all thirty-seven times.  Whatever, kid. Also on the playlist: Still Fighting It, Fred Jones – Pt. 2, and Philosophy… that intro always makes me wish I could jam on the piano. 
  • A whole slew of podcasts.  Current favorites: Pod Save America, With Friends Like These, Body Kindness, From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl, Call Your Girlfriend, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, Up First, and Book Club Appetizer.  I’m also looking forward to DeRay Mckesson’s new podcast, which launches next week.  I’ve all but sworn off TV news (I can’t quit political rantings on Twitter, however… old habits), and find that a lot of these podcasts fill the void nicely.  Without driving me insane.  

Currently feeling

currently april 2017

  • Grateful for moments of solitude here and there, not to mention a loving + supportive family.  I found this piece of “almost sea glass” (in cobalt glass, no less) while taking a solo beach walk at the Cape towards the beginning of the month.  It wasn’t sharp enough to worry about someone’s safety, so I’m certain the right thing to do would have been to throw it back into the surf so it could become actual sea glass… but I kept it.  In a lot of ways, I’m feeling like the human version of somewhere between almost sea glass and actual sea glass.  As I shared in an earlier post, this month has felt like a real time of transition.  Having quiet time to reflect has been really good.  Life is amazing and strange and weird and wonderful.  Also, if I write a memoir, please talk me out of titling it “Almost Sea Glass: The Elizabeth Story.”  And more importantly, talk anyone and everyone out of publishing it.
  • Excited for the next few weeks.  Full schedules, full hearts, can’t lose.  Or whatever they used to say on that football show. (JK…Friday Night Lights was the best.)

OK.  Time to turn into sea glass.  Or maybe, like, put on real pants.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • All about Comic Sans (aka the font that burns my eyes) from The Guardian
  • Painting “magic beans” with Grace (in reality: they are seeds we found on the sidewalk and maybe this isn’t the safest idea… but regardless, we are painting them with sparkly neon paint)
  • The Benefits of Solitude from The Walrus

What has been the highlight of your April?

 

 

The next season

The older I get, the more I notice the way life really does follow its own seasons. Some seasons are for celebrating.  Some seasons are for learning. Some seasons are for waiting.  Some seasons are for grieving.  Some seasons are for growing.  And some seasons are for sitting on the beach sipping fruity beverages.

Fruity beverages is sort of a ridiculous, but semi-on target way to transition to this: I stopped nursing baby (toddler) Nick 9 days ago.  Oh, but this isn’t a post about boobs… so don’t panic (or sorry to disappoint). Considering I nursed Grace until a month before Nick was born, I’ve essentially been breastfeeding since the end of January 2014.  This feels like the end of a huge part of our lives, mostly because it is.  It has been wonderful, challenging, weird, exhausting, and amazing.  I am grateful I was able to have this experience with both kids.  

And now I am ready for the next season of our lives.

the next seasonObsessed with these shoes by Toms… and these shells by Mother Nature

I took a long walk by myself along the beach this past weekend and found myself thinking about what I hope for this next season to bring.  I bought a $1.99 notebook (the cover’s a really ug shade of yellow, but it’s all they had) on the way back to the house and started making a list.  

THE NEXT SEASON

In this next season, I want to invest more fully in my own health and wellbeing.  I want to sleep more (which isn’t saying much, since I am basically always awake).  I want to take more walks on the beach. I want to relish in alone time, without feeling guilty (real talk: it’s a careful balance).  I want to be better attuned to my own common sense and good judgement and rely less on scary headlines and unhelpful advice.  I want to spend as much time playing outside as possible.  I want to enjoy those little flashes of independence both kids share every now and then (it’s like watching them becoming themselves over and over).  I want to revisit some of the things that used to bring me joy, but that I stopped making time to do.  I want this next season to be for connecting and reconnecting and resting and recharging.  

And I want to find the perfect pair of cool mom jeans.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your current season looking like?

 

Currently | February 2017

February is wrapping up.  And no, it’s not a leap year.  Consider this a friendly PSA that my birthday is basically moments away (March 1st always seems to sneak up on people).  I’m not always so clear on how timezones work, but I think I’m already 35 on the other side of the world.  Meanwhile, Grace keeps asking if I’m 45 yet.  So there’s that.  

But I don’t want to rush February out the door just yet.  Despite the country imploding, I’m grateful we had things like my nephew’s baptism, Valentine’s Day, the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, Hillary’s message to the people and 70 degree weather to celebrate.  We left our jackets at home and walked on the beach.  We spotted the first plants sprouting.  Spring is coming.

CURRENTLY | February 2017

currently february 2017

Currently eating

  • …like summer has already arrived.  Tacos, tomatoes, salads and strawberries.
  • …dinner with Nick most nights after the kids go to bed (as opposed to snacking from the babes’ plates at 5 o’clock).  It’s been such a nice change.

Currently watching

  • So we watched like 5 minutes of a PBS special featuring various spy cameras disguised as animals, both because it sounded cool and it was not about the government.  The idea is that you get to see animals behaving as if they were not being spied on.  Unfortunately we caught the part where the baby monkey spy camera fell, and the real monkeys thought it had died and were, like, mourning.  It was devastating.  Did I mention that I am generally an emotional basket case?
  • Superstore + Homeland (they sort of balance each other out)
  • 900 “how to sew” YouTube videos 

Currently reading

Currently making

  • …plans for a meaningful Lenten exercise.  In the past I’ve given up Diet Coke, snacking, sugar and swearing (but not all in the same year… I’m neither a saint nor a martyr).  Other years, I’ve added more prayer, more intentional acts of kindness and more time away from technology.  For me, Lent is the ultimate lesson in patience.  In waiting.  In remaining hopeful.  Perhaps I’ll simply meditate on that lesson.  While not drinking a Diet Coke. 
  • A set of mini, mono-printed art journals.  It was a random Tuesday night project, but I am thrilled with the results.  I’ll share photos later this week.
  • A “good behavior” jar.  I am semi-mortified and semi-amazed at how well it’s working.  (To clarify: We are rewarding Grace’s good behavior, not mine…)

Currently listening to

  • “Call on Me” (Ryan Riback Remix) by Starley — it’s the perfect windows down in February song
  • Call Your Girlfriend (podcast)
  • This Irish Flute & Tin Whistle playlist on Spotify… baby Nick and I had music class this morning and the teacher broke out his tin whistle (apparently we missed the Irish flute last week).  Nick was mesmerized in class and keeps dancing and clapping along to this lively mix.  I think it’ll do wonders, too, for those times we are nearrrrrrly home and one or both kids is starting to nod off in the car.  

I hope you’re enjoying these last bits of February and looking forward to a lovely March.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your February?

Things to do in January

I don’t know about you, but putting away the holiday decorations nearly does me in every January.  The gloomy weather and a cold I can’t seem to kick (kids and their germs, I tell ya) aren’t helping.  

Winter Elizabeth is a lot less fun than Summer Elizabeth.

things to do in january

Semi-related: Winter Elizabeth somehow lost one of her children’s birth certificates. Not my finest work.  Hence, baby Nick and I made our way to the registry office at City Hall today.  As much as I would have rather stayed home, curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a book…

  1. One-year-olds don’t do that.  They just don’t.
  2. An object in motion stays in motion… while staying put is a great way to lose momentum.  And I’d already lost the birth certificate, so…

I couldn’t help but brighten up a bit as we approached City Hall, though.  I love the juxtaposition of old and new less old buildings.  I like seeing tourists milling about. I like the buzz of it all.  

Once we finished the grown-up business part of our outing, I figured we may as well embrace a bit of adventure, too.  We were bundled up and had plenty of snacks, why not?

mother juice unicorn blood

We split a cup of Unicorn Blood (yes, really… it’s a delicious mix of beet, carrot, celery, watermelon + pineapple) from Mother Juice at the Boston Public Market, walked along the Greenway and did some people watching at Faneuil Hall.  A little adventure was the perfect antidote to my winter mood.

matthew hoffman greenway art

So good, right?  Click to learn more about MAY THIS NEVER END by artist Matthew Hoffman currently installed along the Greenway.

For me, keeping busy (especially with good, fun, interesting things… not just boring, necessary things) goes a long way in keeping the winter blues at bay.  In that vain, here are a few things to do in January.

THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY

  • Get outside for a walk to improve your mood + overall health.
  • Take an art class. (Creative Bug is my favorite source for online classes– I gravitate toward the painting and drawing classes, but you’ll find really accessible courses on knitting, sewing, collage, drawing, etc.)
  • Or take a yoga class.
  • Join in a day of service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  You can find projects in your community here.
  • Put together a new playlist (Stevie Wonder on repeat here currently).
  • Celebrate an obscure January holiday (I’ve got big plans for National Popcorn Day on the 19th… mostly, my plans involve me + eating popcorn).
  • Unpack your holiday decorations.  No one can deny the magic of twinkle lights.
  • Ride the subway (i.e. the T) sans pants… or don’t. 
  • Spend an afternoon at a museum.  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and The Clark Art Institute are my (Massachusetts) favorites and I’ve been dying to take the kids to the Children’s Museum.  
  • Refresh your walls with some new (or DIY) artwork.  What you look at all day matters, obvi.
  • Get outside for another walk.

P.S. While the acronym SAD is sort of laughable, Seasonal Affectedness Disorder and winter depression are no joke.  Please don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. <3

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your January to do list?

Nick’s 1st Birthday

Today is baby Nick’s 1st birthday.  

In the fastest, most wonderful year, he’s traded this hat:

Nick's 1st Birthday

for this (ridiculous, but I couldn’t help myself) hat:

Nick's 1st Birthday

I love this beautiful, curious, adventurous, and sweet boy with all my heart.  

Also On Tap for Today:

Are you a hat person?

Labor Day | The second time around

On Labor Day two years ago, I shared Grace’s birth story (still hate that expression, still love becoming a mother… obvi). Today marks the first Labor Day since baby Nick was born and he’s exactly 9 months old today, so this seems as good a time as ever to reflect on the day we welcomed him to the world and to our family.

labor day birth story

Waiting until Labor Day was sort of a convenient excuse for me to take nine months to digest, reflect on and embrace those sort of bizarre, sometimes anxious, but ultimately amazing 24-ish hours of labor. And because all people and pregnancies and labors and deliveries and babies and postpartum meals (peanut M + Ms for life) are different, I’m sharing less about what actually happened and more about how I remember things.

labor day birth story

My hair is full of mom secrets.

Because the second time around, you have an experience to compare things to. You have expectations (even if you know you shouldn’t). You sort of feel like you know what you’re doing, but you also know you’re not a medical professional (unless you’re a medical professional). You’re a little bit further removed from the childbirth classes (regardless of whether you paid attention… or if you, like me, left the room for fear of being grossed out and read pamphlets about influenza in the hallway). You know what it feels like to have that baby placed on your chest for the first time. You just can’t imagine how your heart could get any more full.

I don’t want at all to sound like, Oh… I’ve done this before. I’ve got it under control. (If anything, it’s quite the opposite.) Or that I am in any way better equipped as a parent than any one else. I also think it’s important to express that families come to be families in any number of ways. All are good. And there is no better place for a child to be than in a loving family.

labor day birth story

So back to those influenza pamphlets. There was an aura of blissful ignorance about me as I delivered Grace. I didn’t want to know any more than I needed to know, and because I had no experience—personal or otherwise (this is very real: I fainted during sex ed in the 6th grade and again in 9th grade biology… and then skipped the video during our childbirth class mostly so I could remain conscious)—it was relatively easy to trust the process. To surrender to labor. To let my body (and Grace) do its thing.

In the days before Nick was born, I knew he was coming. He was allegedly two weeks early… but given the fact that he is nine months old and already the size of a Buick, I’d be less surprised if you told me he was two months late. Right around Thanksgiving, I woke up every day thinking, this is it. And it wasn’t. Until it was.

I had planned to take Grace to see the fox at the Trailside Museum (they have some sort of special connection) on a Friday morning, but my back felt especially achy and I remembered I needed to pick up Clark’s prescription (honestly… why are these the things I remember? Imagine what powerful thoughts my brain could harness if it forgot about ridiculous things like phone messages from the vet?), so we headed to Castle Island for a walk instead. After a loop or two, I called our midwife.

labor day birth story

She called back just as I was getting to the vet. So I was the super normal person talking about being in labor while sitting in the waiting room next to a man cradling his sick cat (it might have been healthy, I know even less about cats than I do childbirth… so, I know literally nothing about cats). In essence, she told me to leave the vet’s office and come to, like, the human doctor’s office. I remember thinking how weird it felt to be in public, and knowing I was in labor. Should I warn people? I don’t know. (I should warn my husband, I decided. Yes. That was a good call.)

While I waited for Nick to get home and for my parents to pick up Grace, I chatted with our neighbor, who is a former cop. He told me he had delivered six (maybe it was four) babies in his squad car. All he needed was a blanket. I mostly hoped it didn’t come to that. I thought for sure I’d need more than a blanket. For starters, I wanted one of those peanut-shaped yoga balls. Also, medicine. And a sanitary environment.

labor day birth story

This is sort of how the next 15 or so hours would unfold. I knew baby Nick was coming. I knew it would be soon, but I didn’t know how soon (more than 15 minutes, but less than a day… that was my guess). I knew I was uncomfortable, but I also knew I could manage.

Nick was born at a different hospital than Grace, and I had to consciously remind myself to trust the process despite everything feeling very unfamiliar. We stayed in triage from 10:30-ish that Friday night until finally getting a delivery room around 3 AM. During that stretch, we had to listen to all kind of things through the thin curtain dividers. And other people had to listen to me throw up and make groaning noises. For that, I am sort of sorry.

When we were finally moved to a room, I got wrapped in warm blankets and spritzed with lavender water by a particularly kind nurse. She turned on the hospital’s equivalent of the Nature Channel and encouraged me to be “soothed by Earth’s beauty.” Not normal, per se, but I kept telling myself to trust the process. To surrender.

labor day birth story

During morning rounds, the midwife on duty said baby Nick would be born that day… which seemed like an awfully big window. She told me to relax as much as possible, and encouraged grown-up Nick to grab coffee. I worried that the baby was hearing the crashing waves, cawing seagulls and distant foghorns from the nature channel and thinking “This lady’s trying to give birth to me in the middle of the Atlantic. I should stay in until she finds dry land!” No sooner had she left the room than we were pressing the call button to have her and the labor and delivery nurse hightail it back.

Less than 30 minutes later, baby Nick’s tiny, perfect, warm body was pressed against mine. My husband was kissing my head, tears streaming down his face. And everything, everything, everything was right.

And really. That’s the only part of this story that matters.  (I probably could have skipped the part about the cat at the vet, but I believe in setting the scene.)

So much of becoming a parent and becoming a family is unpredictable. It’s messy. It’s strange. It’s uncomfortable. It can get real weird, real fast. It’s anxiety producing. And once you are that parent, and you are that family, it doesn’t get any easier. Your heart lives outside your body, vulnerable and exposed. You worry. You cry. You stay awake for, like… ever. Some days you forget to put on pants because you’re too busy pureeing organic kale.

labor day birth story

But every day, you trust the process more and more. You embrace surrendering as not only something very good, but something (to quote Salt-n-Pepa) very necessary. You remind yourself that the best possible place for child is in a loving family. And you’ve got that covered.

Whether you’re sitting on a beach soaking up the last waves of summer, or cradling a newborn in your arms (like my beautiful and amazing sister!), or somewhere in between… Happy Labor Day.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your best tip for getting through the messy days, or savoring the heavenly moments?