month of sundays

11/21/06

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Jordi’s shower at our apt. tonight – click for bigger

My brother Sean and his wife Jordana are entering that strange liminal stage called “full term” – they are far enough along in the pregnancy that if they gave birth tonight, it wouldn’t be premature. The official due date is December 17, but as most of you know, only 4% of babies actually bother to show up when expected. All of which imparts a constant buzz, an excited, worried, expectant shortness of breath that comes with the imminence of your first child.

Tonight we hosted their baby shower, and, as with ours twenty months ago, each guest was asked to provide a random snippet of advice. Since S&J’s crowd is slightly younger than us, we happened to be the only parents who had recently weathered a newborn, so their friends each offered something that had made a difference in their own childhoods. In many ways, this sort of advice can be even better.

Lucy has been so excited about the arrival of her cousin that she wants to spend a few minutes talking about it every day. After being a little freaked out by my hairy brother in the early going, she has developed a crush on Sean, and the thought of Auntie Dana having a baby in her belly fills her with delight. We were walking down Union Street the other day talking about cars (and which ones were red) when she suddenly said “dey’s a baby, dey’s a baby, in Auntie Dana’s belly.”

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I told her she was very good for using her possessive “s” combined with a name, and she looked at me like I squashed her buzz. The thought of an actual human being living inside another human being is a pretty trippy concept, and remains just as magical to me as it does to Lucy.

I gave several pieces of advice at the baby shower, of varying degrees of usefulness:

– don’t get a baby wipe warmer, just hold each wipe in your fist for five seconds to take the edge off before putting it on your baby’s arse

– never underestimate the power of the grundle when putting your baby to sleep

– always have an automatic “escape valve” or “get out of jail free card” that allows you to completely restructure your life if someone becomes inexorably miserable.

I can expound upon these in a later blog.

However, the one thing I told Sean while we were golfing last weekend is to make a conscious decision not to allow your life to drain of external meaning when the baby comes. In other words, fight to stay an artist, whatever that means.

In the hormone and adrenaline-charged weeks after Lucy’s birth, Tessa was feeling like we shouldn’t go back to Los Angeles, and our dream of writing TV and film scripts for actual money was hanging by a thread. Inspired and slightly scared, I wrote the first draft of a TV pilot in six days. Between breastfeedings, Tessa took that draft and overhauled it entirely. In a month, we had the final product, and that script led to our pilot deal with ABC last year. It remains our calling card and gets us into almost any meeting we want, and may well be turned into a show someday.

It was borne of fear, in the minutes following the most important event of my adult life, and I chose to put that energy into something restorative of old dreams. Any of you who have read Sean and Jordana’s writing know they are infinitely capable of the same. I challenged Sean to write a one-man show, or his two-woman show, or hell, even a screenplay or pilot in the harrowing weeks ahead. Not to be a control freak or too pushy, but I’d love to see him do it.

0 thoughts on “month of sundays

  1. Monica

    Ian, I’m an artist, and posts like this are the reason I’ll never stop reading your blog. Keep the fire, man! This late boomer salutes you.

    Reply
  2. GFWD

    Advice for Sean and Aunt ‘Dana:
    1. Take pictures early and often and go back and look at them every couple of months. You may have to get a larger external hard drive, but it’s worth it.
    2. Write down every little thing you can think of as it happens. Things happen so fast. It’s not a cliche. Share it or don’t share it, but capture it in the moment, if possible. Those random “chronicles” will be priceless to you down the road.
    3. Don’t be afraid to incorporate the child into your world, as opposed to making your whole world about the baby. Your child will tolerate ball games, noisy restaurants, shopping and lively cocktail parties in your home.
    Good luck.
    And Happy Thanksgiving to all readers. Safe travels.

    Reply
  3. Chris M

    My wife and I are expecting twin boys early next year so I am eager, make that frantic, to hear about the power of the grundle as it relates to getting babies to sleep. While I have experienced the many faceted qualities of my own grundle, I cannot recall its impact on my infancy.
    BTW Ian, your blog of late has reached a new level of excellence. I’m glad you’ve kept at it.

    Reply
  4. scruggs

    I find this entry particularly timely as our daughter is due this weekend. We’ve already been broken in a little with our first kid, but I feel like I’m back in the clueless stage facing the unknown. So, its good to get a little pep talk. Though one of my goals for the first month had been to make sure I actually remembered to shower and change out of my pj’s every day, so maybe I should raise the expectations a bit.

    Reply
  5. kate from the DTH front desk

    Ditto to what Chris M said! I’ve enjoyed reading this blog for the past year, but it’s just continued to get better and better.
    Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  6. Claudia

    Thank you, Ian, for this timely and inspiring post.
    As said wife expecting twin boys, I was literally laying awake at 4 am, mentally shaving extraneous minutes from my current shower routine and preparing to abandon it altogether on some days so that I could squeeze out additional time for writing. You have simultaneously reassured me AND solved the wipe-warmer issue.

    Reply
  7. amy

    thanks for the fabulous time, dad! i had a hard time getting to sleep last night–i wish you had been there with your magic hands.

    Reply
  8. Reader

    Great entry.
    Selling a TV pilot and giving birth – both miracles. Really, anyone should be proud of accomplishing either.
    Was there a Preppie dress code at the shower?

    Reply
  9. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Wow, the power of the Internet. I have never met either Sean or Jordana, (though I have perhaps exchanged some comments with each of them via your blog). . . . but I am so excited and happy for them both! Look at how cute they both are! Look at Sean’s huge smile! And Scruggs! Best of luck with baby number 2! Keep us updated!

    Reply
  10. Kel

    Claudia and Chris M, congrats.. my own boy/girl twins turned one last month and if I may offer a bit of what worked for us in the past year RE: coping with twins. My husband and I charted their sleep/eat/awake patterns for two months or more when they came home from the hospital, in order to determine the natural sleep patterns they were already following. Then, when we identified where they were overlapping (i.e. both asleep for an hour between 9 and 10 AM) we started there as a point to try and standardize the day into intervals of sleep, eat, awake, sleep, etc… on this chart we also noted who was fed, if it was bottle or if they nursed. This chart was a reference point for the caregiver helpers, and a touchpoint to remind ourselves that yes, there is a pattern and yes, we are not going totally insane, they will eventually go back to sleep, in aprox. 2 hours. I won’t go on here in the comments, but if you’d like to strike up a conversation, Ian, please share my email if requested. Take care Claudia, I was put on bedrest for 8 weeks before my guys were born 5 weeks early. I was just trying to do too much and paid for it with our collective health.

    Reply
  11. Claudia

    Kel, thanks for your advice! I think that tracking the babies’ patterns is a great idea. Congratulations on their first birthday; it sounds like you’ve done a great job. I hear you about taking it easy–actually, I need to hear it as much as possible. The bedrest fairy visited me earlier in the pregnancy, and I’d love to keep it from happening again. It’s just hard to resist outside pressure to try to be Superwoman. Twin pregnancy sure isn’t easy!
    I hope you (and all the other readers) have a great Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  12. CP

    the grundle is that netherworld between your junk and your bunghole, also known as the taint.
    as in taint your balls, taint your…
    well, you get the idea.
    happy thanksgiving, everyone! been a busy and productive fall. best of luck with projects and children. and have a wonderful beginning to your holiday season.

    Reply
  13. CP

    oh, and ian and sean: I saw an older gentleman who looked like he might be your dad on the food network not long ago. it was on easy entertaining with michael chiarello, which is set in napa, which according to your dad’s link is where he works.

    Reply
  14. kate from the DTH front desk

    Ah yes, so grundle was referring to what I thought it was referring to!
    Now if only I knew what it had to do with putting babies to sleep…

    Reply
  15. Ian

    Yes, indeed that was our dad. Apprently he kept doing things better than MC, and they had to edit around it. My dad is a monster cook, and Mr. Chiarello should know better than to screw with him.

    Reply
  16. LFMD

    What??????? I am with Expat Mama — what the hell is this grundle business? All I know is that my grundle has not been the same since Helen’s birth and my episiotomy. TMI, I know.
    You know, sticking a pacifier in the baby’s mouth would be a lot easier than this grundle business.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  17. greg T

    I suspect that I’ve been underestimating the power of the grundle. Truth be told, it never occurred to me that the grundle was a factor at all.

    Reply
  18. Annie

    God Bless Sean and Jordana!!! And the beautiful, and lucky, baby bundle. I will be archiving this blog 24-7 should I be fortunate enough to welcome a biological baby at any point in life, and certainly almost as much should I go another route.
    Delighted to see Julie Finefrock and the oddly bespectacled and dear Seth S. in the crowd above. Rock ON, Gideon Productions hounds and Associates!!!!

    Reply

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