Interview: The Journeymen

Again, sorry RSS readers for the tardy intro. Unless it doesn’t double-post, in which case nevermind.

Jessica and Brandon have a 1-year-old, Madeleine. So, as parenting goes, they’re getting into the groove of things.

Q: You chose to not find out Maddie’s gender before she was born, why not? Did anyone give you a hard time about it?

Dad: I feel like there aren’t many big surprises left in life, but this was one we could keep.  People who were more traditional seemed to give us a hard time, which doesn’t make any sense since most of them didn’t have the option of finding out our genders because the technology didn’t exist then.  But they were very traditional in that they wanted to buy us gender specific gifts.

Mom: Brandon really wanted it to be a surprise and he convinced me it was a good idea.  I mostly moaned about it, but at the end of the day, was really glad we didn’t know.  There are precious few surprises like this in life these days, and though finding out along the way would also have been surprising, it made “the moment” when Madeleine was born even sweeter – more exciting and overwhelming.  I still felt connected with her when I was pregnant – she was never an “it” which is what I feared it would feel like if we didn’t find out.  She was just “baby” while I was pregnant, which worked.  And yes, LOTS of people gave us a hard time.

Q: Would you chose to keep it a mystery again for a second baby?

Dad: Yes.

Mom: I have mixed feelings and my jury is still out – I would opt for it to be a surprise if I was thinking only about what I wanted, but it may be easier to help Madeleine acclimate to the idea of a sibling if we can explain that she will have a little brother or sister.
Q: Did the first year feel like it went by too fast?

Dad: Initially, no.  But in hindsight, as the year progressed, the year went way too fast.  Until you’ve experienced your own child from birth to walking, you won’t know how fast it goes.

Mom: Absolutely – so much of it was a total blur that it flew by.  Now, with a full fledged toddler on our hands, I am mourning the days of having an infant that can stay still!

Q: What has been the hardest part of year 1?

Dad: Not knowing what to expect.  While finding and figuring things out on your own is fun and part of life as a new parent, it’s really frustrating sometimes not knowing what to do or expect.

Mom: The hardest part for me was just letting go – in order to stay sane, I had to part ways with constantly maintaining control over everything.  From worrying about her development, to ensuring that she reads, eats and sleeps enough – it’s enough to drive you nuts.  Sometimes, you just need to let things happen, and let them develop in whatever fashion they do.  Of course you stay connected to all of these things, but constantly worrying and exhausting yourself over them has proven to me to be overwhelming and unnecessary.

Q: What has been the best part?

Dad: Snuggling….which has changed now that she has a new found independence.  No more snuggles for Mom and Dad.  We’re hoping the snuggles return!

Mom: Baby fat rolls!  Being a new parent is hard, and exhausting, but it’s pretty incredible to watch a child you created start to grow into a little person!  It’s been pretty special to see Brandon with her too – it’s amazing how quickly you begin to love another human being, and to watch your spouse fall in love with the child you created is cool.  Oh, and baby kisses are the BEST.

Q: Do you feel like you already have a sense of Maddie’s personality? Or is she still too young for that overall?

Dad: Her personality seems more evident in some aspects than others.  She is independent, a people watcher, curious and sly.  But at other times, it seems like it may be too early to really tell.

Mom: Absolutely – she is independent and determined, and a total goof.  She is very social and makes friends with everyone, and loves to be center of attention!

Q: Have you felt like you knew what you were doing through the first year? Or did it feel like you were making a lot up as you went along?

Dad: Between what you read and the myriad of “advice” people give you, you feel like you know what you’re doing but really you’re just winging it.

Mom: Making it up as we went, for sure!  But I felt like everything we did, we did because it felt right.  People gave us a hard time about random things (I can’t tell you how many people remain constantly concerned that we are freezing our child) – but at the end of the day, I think Mom and Dad know best.  We know what she likes, what she doesn’t like, how she’s comfortable, and how we want to raise her.  I listened to what people said when they offered solicited or unsolicited input, thanked them for sharing their thoughts, and went on our merry little way doing things in whatever fashion WE felt was best.

Q: How do you think year 2 will go? Any concerns you’re already starting to think about?

Dad: We’re looking forward to her telling us what she wants, but we may also dread it!  Temper tantrums….

Mom: I think year two will prove to be harder than the first.  We now face teaching our child right from wrong etc.  Definitely now sure how to deal with this type of development!  So much of the 1st year was physical development – learning to roll over, learning to hold your head up, sit and walk.  It seems like now we are approaching the cognitive, emotional and ethical development –  very uncharted territory!

Q: About how quickly did you adapt to the parenthood routine? Or are you still adapting?

Dad: I think I’m still adapting to being a parent – you fall into a routine as you become more comfortable, but life as a parent is constantly evolving.  Once I’ve adapted to Madeleine being a certain way, she grows and changes and the cycle restarts.

Mom: I think we fell into things pretty quickly – within the first few months.  There was an adjustment period just to having a baby to care for, then a readjustment when I went back to work.  At the end of the day, I don’t truly feel like our life changed as drastically as we thought it would.  Life simply takes more planning these days.

Q: Were the first couple months as bad as everyone says?

Dad: It’s great to have two people home initially.  No amount of reading or conversation can prepare you for life as parents once you’re home from the hospital.  But it gets better.  The first few months are difficult as your nights blend into your days, but as your child starts to interact with you, it makes the long nights all worth it.

Mom: Not bad, per se.  The first month was very, very hard.  We were completely exhausted, and emotionally drained dealing with Madeleine’s jaundice and trouble nursing – but I wouldn’t say it was bad, just tiring.  And it gets so much better.  Right around 4-5 weeks, Madeleine started sleeping more at night, her jaundice was getting better, she was smiling, and life was much, much better.

Q: Any advice for new parents or wannabe parents?

Dad: Sleep now because your child will become your new alarm clock, only you don’t get to set it!

Mom: Just do what feels right!  Listen to other new parents – they know and remember what it’s like, but realize that every situation is different.  We tried a lot of things that people suggested – some things worked, some didn’t, but it never hurts to try.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you got from your families?

Dad: From both of our mothers, “Don’t take your eye off the baby!”

Mom: My Dad, telling me to let go.  From the get go, I’ve worried about things – after a hard delivery on me, after Madeleine’s severe jaundice, I worried that she would have lasting developmental effects.  My Dad told me point blank – let it go, you can’t change things, just see how things go and roll with the punches. Best advice thus far. That and my Mom telling me not to take my eye off the babe.  It’s alarming how quickly she can get into trouble!

Q: Did it ever become too much having family input? Did you ever have to tell them to back down on anything?

Dad: Yes.  We had family constantly thinking she’s too cold and badgering us about it.

Mom: Yes….enter pressure over religion.

Q: Are there any issues about raising Maddie that the two of you happen to disagree about?

Dad: Not that I can really think of.

Mom: Not yet….except maybe the fact that I gave her a cookie.  Ok, I gave her two.  Brandon just glared.  :o)

Q: How long until we see a sibling?

Dad: Once I get a job, and we feel more stable in our life, I could see a sibling coming along.

Mom: Enter controversy.  Ha!  Kidding.  Who knows – I could definitely see thinking about wanting another baby towards the end of this year – maybe next year.  But we’ll see!

Q: You mentioned that religion became an issue with the parents… what was their stance? What is yours? How did you resolve the conflict?

Mom&Dad: Well, Brandon was raised in a devout Catholic family.  The kids in my family were raised Episcopalian, but as we have grown up, my parents realize that we will make our own religious decisions and leave the issue up to us to navigate our way through.  They might or might not like the decisions we make, but they do seem to respect that they are ours to make whenever we want to make them.  I now find myself at a point in life where I do not go to church, though I consider myself spiritual in my own way.  I am fine with this.  Brandon does not go to church, but is spiritual in his own way, and is also fine with this.  Together, Brandon and I haven’t yet decided if, when, or what role we want religion to play in our children’s lives.  We know that we do not plan to raise our children Catholic, but beyond that, we’re not sure.

We have indicated to our family that now is not the time that we want to have Madeleine baptized, though some continue to inquire.  At this point, this is an ongoing conflict mostly because it’s hard topic to discuss.  Sensitive as you may try to be, it’s a hard issue to talk about with people who are emotionally invested in the idea that we will raise our kids in a particular faith or do things at a certain time.  I wasn’t baptized until I was 6 or 7, and I think this worked out ok.  I think you should do things when they’re right for you.  In particular, I don’t think you should baptize your child out of obligation or because you feel pressured.  If you do it, it should be because you want to, and you do it in a church and with a faith that you believe in.  Right now, we don’t have any of these things – a church we attend, or a defined faith that we believe in.

I remain firm in my decision that this is a discussion and decision that shouldn’t involve pressure from or even much discussion with family.  It’s a personal choice that as new parents, and a new family, is up to us to make.  Outside pressure only seems to cause resentment.

Q: How did you decide upon Madeline [yes, I am a bad friend, I totally misspelled their daughter’s name here. That’s classy interviewing] for her name? Did anyone try to fight you on that call?

Mom&Dad: I can’t quite remember how Madeleine ended up on our list of names.  We went back and forth over how to spell it, and to this day, my Mother questions whether or not it was a good idea to let me have any input on spelling while I was completely doped up on magnesium post delivery.  ha!  We are however, happy with both the name and the spelling.  :o)

No one has ever said anything about our name decision, even after we gave her 2 middle names (she has Anne and Campbell both as middle names).  I expected someone to be upset or annoyed or something over it, but fortunately if they were, no one ever said anything to us!

Q: How are you handling things like TV for Maddie? Planning on steering her clear? Open season?

Mom&Dad: We made the decision to stay clear of TV for at least the first two years.  We’ve read numerous articles and studies regarding TV early on, and agree that there’s really no need or benefit for a toddler to be sitting in front of the tube when they should be interacting with the real people around them, as well as learning to play and imagine on their own.  I for one am not one of those individuals who buys into the idea that you can plop your kid in front of Baby Einstein and they will magically grow into geniuses….

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  1. #1 by Steve on February 1, 2010 - 2:17 PM

    Let me know when you want to interview people without children about the things people with children do wrong. 🙂

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