I can’t remember if I mentioned it here, but JB’s brother and his wife had their first baby a few weeks ago. He’s named after his grandfather, and we mostly call him Little C.


It’s been exciting, waiting for Little C. to arrive. The day my sister-in-law went into labor I found myself texting Joe on regular intervals, asking intrusive questions I wasn’t entirely sure were appropriate. (I’m just saying, it seems like there’s a fine line between “How far is she dilated?” and “SAY, HOW BIG IS YER WIFE’S VAGINER-HOLE?”)

This past weekend was the first time I got to see Little C. in person. My oh my, he is a tiny little peanut.


There’s so much I’d forgotten about newborns. I mean, it’s kind of amazing—and maybe more than a little sad—how all sorts of details had simply disappeared from my memory banks. The instant I held him, though, it all came rushing back, and I marveled at the familiarity of it all. The way he would sort of gritch around in my arms before succumbing to sleep; the fragile-feeling way newborns have of being simultaneously floppy-loose and drawn into a ball; the heat waves he emanated, as though his entire future burned inside his tiny body like a sun.

I remembered, too, how life with a newborn is sectioned into nerve-wracking chunks: the baby is content/asleep and everything seems utterly peaceful and perfect, and then suddenly out of nowhere everything goes to hell. One minute you’re sitting around relaxing, feeling that warm drowsy weight in your arms, and the next moment you’re called into action like a drill sergeant is barking in your ear: GO SOLDIER GO GO GO.

I had sort of wondered if holding someone else’s baby would make me rethink my choice to be done having babies of my own, and I can tell you this right now: it did not. I was phenomenally relieved to be able to hand him over as soon as he’d worked himself into that furious red-faced sheep’s-baa state, for someone else to shoulder the burden of playing the Hungry, Needs Comfort, or Just Kinda Poopy? game.

Oh, but his presence in the world does make me wish more than ever that we weren’t so far away. I wish I could pop over for a visit, to take over the baby-grind so Alexa could go see a movie or just take a damn shower. I wish we were all sitting down to a big messy chaotic Sunday dinner on a regular basis. I wish my boys had the same access to their beloved grandparents that their new grandson will. I wish JB could see his brother more often. I wish I didn’t know firsthand how grown—how different—Little C. will be, the next time I get to see him.


24 Responses to “Family branches, miles apart”

  1. Faith on August 31st, 2011 4:05 pm

    You’ll get there, I know it.

  2. Georgia on August 31st, 2011 4:07 pm

    This is a sweet and touching post…but “SAY, HOW BIG IS YER WIFE’S VAGINER-HOLE?” will have me in stitches for the rest of the week.

  3. Eric's Mommy on August 31st, 2011 4:12 pm

    OMG, he is so squishy and cute and small!

  4. Lisa S. on August 31st, 2011 4:15 pm

    One of the reasons we’re staying put in our current location for the time being is because we live approximately two miles away from my sister- and brother-in-law and their kids. My daughter is growing up in close proximity to her cousins; we do have those family dinners and we do swap babysitting. It is chaotic and loud and occasionally a pain in the ass, and it is worth it.

    I sincerely hope you & JB & your boys get a chance to have this with your loved ones. I hope you can create this chance and it happens when you need it to.

  5. Sharon on August 31st, 2011 4:56 pm

    “as though his entire future burned inside his tiny body like a sun”. Yes. Exactly.

    Powerful phrasing. And oh, so beautiful.

  6. Teralyne on September 1st, 2011 5:37 am

    Your post reminded that we are happy staying where we are cause we are so close to our two grandkids. We would miss out on so much if they did not live down the block from us. I have been able to see them all from birth till today age 5 and 3. I love them so much I could not see myself anywhere but near them. Tuesday was the three years old 1st day of preschool and the five year old 1st day of Kindegarden, so cool.

  7. danish on September 1st, 2011 6:25 am

    My only sister had her baby a year ago and they live 1000 miles away. We will see her for only the second time next week. Meanwhile, my sister announcing her pregnancy was the deciding factor in us trying for #2. So, my baby is 4 months younger than her baby and my fear is that they will hardly know eachother.

  8. Nolita @Morganic on September 1st, 2011 6:50 am

    It’s been a while since I had a newborn on my hands but you described the whole experience so succinctly. The peaceful weight followed by the drill sergeant screaming in your ear. Yes, it’s all coming back to me.

    I hope you guys get to be closer to the family…

  9. Maggie on September 1st, 2011 6:57 am

    I have had all of these same feelings in the last month too. My beloved sister had her first child in July, she lives in Tacoma, WA and I live in Michigan. I was able to spend a week with her and the new babe, but it was so damned difficult to leave her. The thought of spending the rest of my life this far from my sister and my precious nephew is suffocating. I know it is hard for her too, so they are looking to move to Michigan which is closer to me, my kids and also our mom. However, it is no easy thing to pick up your life and move cross country, especially with a little one. I have already unfairly made my kids promise that they do not move too far away when they grow up ;)

  10. Lawyerish on September 1st, 2011 7:50 am

    This post was all kinds of gorgeous. And the last part made me want to weep, because my family is all strewn about the country (brother and family are out by you, we’re in NYC, parents are in GA), and my brother and I are missing seeing each others’ kids grow up except in photos and occasional, too-far-apart visits, and it completely sucks. The big, messy chaotic Sunday dinner in particular is something I would love to have. We all must find a way.

  11. Nik-Nak on September 1st, 2011 8:01 am

    And this is where I do a happy dance because I feel so lucky that my family, my mom, and my sister’s family all live on the same farm. Sometimes, when I want to scream and choke my sister, I have to stop and remember that we truly are lucky and even if the world around us fell apart at least we’d still all be together on our little hill.

    That baby is way to cute, I can’t hardly stand it.

  12. Olivia on September 1st, 2011 8:05 am

    I get this post so well. My family is scattered around the country right now, and it hurts when I think about how my parents have only seen my daughter 4 times in her 2.5 yrs. We have a plan in place to get us closer together in the next two years, and I just hope we can really make it happen.

  13. Cheryl M. on September 1st, 2011 8:30 am

    It is thoughts like this that remind me to use my camera MUCH MORE! My almost-7mo is growing so fast…I can’t believe he was a tiny bundle of warmth like Little C just a few short months ago.

  14. aimee @ smilingmama on September 1st, 2011 10:30 am

    I soooo understand how you are feeling. My sister had a baby in December, my first niece or nephew, and I got to see him weeks 1-4 but then not again until he was 6 mos! I think becoming an aunt must be just about 1/10th of the awesomeness of being a grandparent!

  15. Rachel on September 1st, 2011 12:09 pm

    My grandmothers both live in Miami and I live near San Francisco. I’ve seen them probably 10 times in 30 years and I just don’t have any idea how to have a relationship with them. I’m already closer to my grandma-in-law than I am to them and that smarts. It’s especially hard knowing that time is approaching where their respective medical problems will mean they are not going to be able to live independantly and there is not a lot I can do for them at this distance.

    I hope things work out to get you moved soon. Your vacation photos are a treasure, even without the family I could see wanting to live there.

  16. June on September 1st, 2011 1:22 pm

    We are far away from family, too. The silver lining in all that is we are also far away from familial DRAMA.

  17. adequatemom on September 1st, 2011 3:33 pm

    What a beautiful post. And yes, holding a newborn (and your reaction upon giving him/her back) is a GREAT way to know where you are on the “done” spectrum!

  18. Annie on September 7th, 2011 7:01 am

    I know how you feel. I always wish our girls could be closer to my parents or my husband’s parents. If it were a matter of distance we would move, but it is a matter of not really not wanting to participating on their part. It’s weird when grandparents are more involved in their own lives and couldn’t really care about their grandkids.

    I hope this doesn’t sound like an attack or like I know better, but I did want to give my 2 cents.
    If you want your kids to be around family…make it happen. If it means renting a house there, while renting your own house back home, or settling for a smaller house or semi crappier job, do it! It is so worth it to be around family. I would give my pinky to just feel what it felt like for my kids to have more than one grandparent that cared. And holy hell, holidays and sundays with the whole family?! That would be awesome! Anyway, there is my 2 cents. Glad your nephew is healthy and beautiful!

  19. Naomi B. on September 8th, 2011 5:22 am

    This post at the beginning made me laugh, but at the end made me cry. I’m in New England, the rest of my family is in Michigan. My older sister just had her first baby 5 days ago. I just want to be there. I don’t think I have ever experienced such a contradiction of feelings at the same time: happy/sad so I cry for both. I would clip my sisters toenails or scrub her toilets if I was there and that was what she needed. Right now all I can do is ravenously consume what pictures she has time to take and post/send.

  20. CC on September 8th, 2011 12:56 pm

    Heart tugging post as I am in the same boat on having two kiddos, same ages as yours, finally seeing the light, but the constant wonder – what would 3 be like……my beloved brother finally had a baby after much heartache and loss. While I delight daily on the miracle that his son is, I am so sad that I miss my darling nephew’s days. He is 19 months old and the time is whizzing by – how I wish I could see him every day. But damn them refuse to move to Hawaii!!

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