Sunday, April 29, 2007

Out in the BIG big world

By Savannah

Liam and I had a day out in the world yesterday.

For the most part, he has been home or out only for short visits to Nana and Pa Roberson or the grocery store. I have been feeling a bit stir crazy with little sleep or social interaction, so yesterday we decided to make a day of it. Papa was on a "season opener" motorcycle ride with his buddies to the coast till 4 p.m.

First we went to Mama/Baby yoga, taught by my dear friend Camille ( It was so fun to see other babies of Moms I met in prenatal yoga and to show off Liam. I needed the yoga! My back and neck have been pretty sore from so much holding, nursing and carrying Liam. Of course, he had a crying jag and then a blow-out poop right at the beginning of class...

He loved hearing the sounds of the other babies and once he relaxed, he was cooing back at them. I could hear him thinking, "finally she brings me around my own people!" After class, I popped him in his front pack and walked across the street to Clinton St. Cafe for a yummy sandwich.

We sat outside and enjoyed the sunny day (71 degrees!). We were visited by a tall thin man on a bike wearing a Bob Marley shirt who told me stories about his four grown kids, his eyes light and full of life, a black lab named Cleo who ate a piece of turkey that I dropped, and a friend I hadn't seen in over a year who was working nearby.

Then we drove over to Auntie Angela's new apartment.

We went for a walk around her neighborhood in the Multnomah Village area. It is hilly and it felt good to exercise! I took off my shoes and felt the hot ground under my feet. She came home with us and we had dinner (veggie pasta) and then Angela and I went out to hear my good friend Ellis Paul ( play at Mississippi Studios. Ellis is one of the best singer/songwriters of our current times and a person of real integrity and heart.

It was my first evening and three hour stint away from Liam. I missed him but he did great with Papa and even took my milk in a bottle! I only called to check on him once...

I gained so much perspective from my day, both with and away from Liam. Sometimes staying home with a new baby can feel isolating. I was beginning to get a bit loopy. Slipping into bed with Bill and Liam that I night I felt my heart creak open a bit more and the little pulse of "home" singing in my body.

Sometimes you have to leave home to find it, right?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"New Baby, Must Sell"

If you own motorbikes (or boats, or quads, or other big toys), and you troll the internet for-sale listings fantasizing about your next ride (or boat or whatever), then you’ve no doubt seen those four words or a variation on them, such as the popular “baby on the way, must sell!”

People (typically, fathers or fathers-to-be), usually sell their big-boy toys for one of four reasons: no time left to play with said toy, financial pressure, spousal pressure (“that bike/boat/quad/pool table goes, or I go!”), or strong feelings of self-preservation in the face of the new arrival.

That last one is a toughie.

On a recent sunny day, I took my beautiful 1982 Honda CBX for a short ride. The CBX is a bike I lusted after as a youngster, and several years ago, when the chance came to grab one, I sold a bike I had then and grabbed it. It’s been bliss ever since.

But the question remains: as a father, how much risk should you take? What’s reasonable, and what’s foolish? I am sure many people will condemn me or call me selfish for riding in the face of having a baby, and truth be told, I did not do any riding after last fall in order to remove one risk factor as Liam’s birth got closer. I usually ride all year round.

Billions of people around the world ride motorbikes each day, and for some, it’s their only transportation. Sometimes their very survival depends on a little Honda or Yamaha beater bike. Often, a whole family will motor around on a little bike.

But in the U.S., the typical way most people get around is in their car. Our society is built around the automobile. Motorbikes are recreational vehicles in this country. That may change when gas hits $8 a gallon, but I digress.

I did a lot of thinking about how (or if) my behavior would change with the arrival of a child. Most people get more safety conscious, and that is normal. I think I drive slower now. Maybe.

For some, there’s nothing to consider. They lead “safe lives:” they get up, drive to work, drive home, go to the gym, maybe do an outside thing like bicycle or golf, and then watch some TV. Pretty safe. And that’s fine if that’s what keeps them happy. To each his own.

But it does not work for me.

I am an adventure seeker, and a photojournalist on top of it. My idea of a good time is running with my camera towards the forest fire, not away from it. On our honeymoon, I strapped myself into a barely-airworthy powered hang glider and flew around Kauai at 40 mph, at elevations ranging from soaring 6,000 feet over Waiimea Canyon to skimming 10 feet above the ocean. Fantastic!! Ask to see the video sometime.

But still, if it is in your nature to take risks, what do you cross off the list when family obligations come to the fore? Should climbers stop climbing mountains? Should skiers swear off the slopes? Should cyclists park their bikes and start driving their cars? Should police officers turn in their badges? Should soldiers lay down arms and tell their commanders, “you know, this is just too dangerous, I’m going home.”?

As a journalist at KATU, I see some of the craziest things, especially when people get killed, and a lot of people are getting killed. I swear, we do one fatality story every day – at least. Many times, the victim was hapless: they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, just minding their own business. Then, boom: hit by a car that went up on the sidewalk where they were walking. Or run over on their bicycle on the way home from work. Or skied into a tree or ravine. Or killed in an act of violence through no fault of their own. We think we live in a safe world, and for the most part we do. But not always.

Recently, Savannah and I watched a great TV series called 'Long Way Round' . It’s a seven-part series about two guys, well-known actor Ewan McGregor (from the new Star Wars films), and his pal, lesser-known actor Charlie Boorman, and their epic 115-day adventure of riding two BMW motorcycles from London, England (they’re Brits) to New York City the ‘long way,’ through Eastern Europe, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberian Russia (in the Springtime). Then they fly to Alaska and ride across much of Canada and the U.S. (which was the easy part).

Because they are quite wealthy, they take the trip on top-of-the-line BMW GS motorbikes, with every luxury and gadget, and have two support vehicles following them. They have satellite phones, unlimited budgets and a song in their heart as they begin.

Along the way, they find out that they are actually utterly unprepared and the trip nearly kills them at several points.

Both men have wives and small children. All ends happily enough, but along the way, Ewan McGregor confronts the concept of risk-taking. He says something to the effect that many people don’t take risks because of the ‘what ifs’: what if they got hurt (they did)? What if they have a major breakdown in the middle of nowhere, far from help (they do)? And so on. But it is a good question.

In the end, was the journey, and the risk involved, worth it? The answer for them was yes, without a doubt. It made them appreciate their families all the more.

Back out on my CBX, cruising along Interstate 84 into the Columbia River Gorge scenic area, I change lanes to pass a rumbling semi hauling three trailers. I click the big Honda down to fourth gear and roll on the power, and the big white motorbike shoots past the big rig in seconds. It never fails to thrill.

No car (well, no car costing less than $100,000) can match the experience. And no car – none – can match the incredible view from the cockpit of a motorbike. A good ride is a singular, even spiritual, experience. It’s why motorcycling is nearly a religion.

I dream of a time in the near future when perhaps my son will join me on such a ride, but I will not coerce him, it will be his choice. He may opt for a safe life, and think me crazy for riding motorbikes. Or he may outdo me and be the guy that installs flagpoles on the tops of skyscrapers. We shall see.

But as he grows up, I’ll continue to ride bikes, both motorized and pedal-powered, and wear my safety gear, and watch out for all the other drivers. 23 years of riding has taught me some tricks and made me aware of the dangers. I’m not invincible and I know that. I’ve made arrangements if I get hurt, or worse.

Just in case.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

On Our Own

Papa Bill is back at work, our doulas are gone, the lovely friends with meal deliveries have slowed and now it is just me and Liam, on our own.

We sleep off and on in the night, waking often for diapee changes, nursing and snuggling. During the day we laze on the couch and I watch Liam grow, by the minute it seems. Suddenly a newborn jumper that swallowed him at birth is almost too short for his long legs. He doesn't cry or fuss much. I listen for his cues and respond to his needs. He will grunt and bop his head when hungry. He will squirm and turn red in the face when needing to be burped. And as much as he eats, it seems his diaper needs to be changed just about anytime I can think to do it.

We can't wait till 2:45 because that is when Ella will jump up and pace and whine at the door. Papa Bill is home from work. We have been enjoying afternoon time going for walks as a family. I look forward to a few minutes to myself to fold laundry, soak in the tub or answer my email.

Somehow our days seem both long and short. Long in that we accomplish very little that is tangible; some days feel like a lazy sunday afternoon that never ends. Short in that every minute something amazing is changing within Liam and I want to notice every inch of it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Getting to know each other

By Savannah

Today is Tuesday and tomorrow will be the two week mark of our time with Liam earthside. The first two weeks are such an adjustment time. We are all just getting to know each other.

Liam is getting used to his body, all its functions and feelings, needs and development. Sometimes he seems surprised at his body, the little motions it makes jst beyond his control. He makes a noise and I can see on his face his wondering where it came from. At times it seems he has one response to everything: mouth open, little grunting sound, head bonking and rooting. He is an easily soothed baby and if bouncing on Papa doesn't work, nursing always does.

I am getting used to waking up many times a night to feed him. I am surprised at the deep sense of patience that I feel. I can sit for hours and snuggle him, nurse him, stare at the window with him. It is not my usual personality. I am a go-go on the move kind of person.So is it hormones or a miracle or just the fact that I know now how short these days are and want to relish the few moments of babyhood?

Bill moves around us like a protective force. I can feel him watching our dance together, waiting to fill a need. He feeds us, steps in to help with Liam, and watches us some more. Sometimes a Papa's place is confusing in these early days. He goes back to work next week and we will miss him. I like the look of amazement on his face as he falls in love a bit more every day.

And poor Ella. She is just plain confused. We call her "down-a-peg". She is the baby no more.

And then there is this new entity called, Our Family. We are all getting to know each other in new roles. I am seeing Bill as a Papa for the first time. I have been a Mama since we first met (of Caleb) but now I am the Mama of a baby who is very demanding of me as such. Things have changed around here...
And will continue to change, daily.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

In My Time

By Liam*

Today was a good day.

I slept good most of the night, except for the part where I woke up and it was real dark, and I felt a bit damp, but Mom and Dad took care of that and it only took about an hour to get back to sleep.

I think they like getting up a lot to make sure I'm OK, so I try to do it several times each night.

When I woke up in the morning I was hungry, so I stuck out my tongue and pretty soon Mommy had some breakfast for me. I felt damp again, so I had to take another trip to the special warm table where I get dry. Daddy loves to play with me at that table.

Later on, Dad set me up in my special place by the big window, where I like to watch the people, dogs, cars and clouds go by. It's one of my favorite spots. I also like to look out the window when Big Fuzzy is there. She likes to bark at the squirrels.

Later on in the morning, I went to the park with Mom, Dad, and Big Fuzzy. I'm not good at walking yet, so Dad carried me in his special shirt. I like the special shirt a lot, sometimes it puts me to sleep. The sun was shining at the park, and it was warm out.

After a little nap and a snack, Pa and Nana came over to visit. Pa held me for a while, so did Nana. They are both real nice and I like it when they visit. Pa held me under my arms until I went to sleep.

After that nap, mom said it was time for a bath. I like to take baths, the water is warm, and I can stretch out. Sometimes I get real cold when I get out of the water, though. Dad dried me off today while mom took a longer bath.

Daddy held me for a while after my bath and I looked around a lot. Daddy is real big, bigger than Mommy. I hope I'll be real big someday too.

Then Mommy played with me for a while, too. Mommy is soft and warm, and she feeds me. Daddy needs to shave and take a shower.

Sometimes I think I like Mommy better.

I hope tomorrow is as good as today was.

(*NOTE: Liam's comments have been edited for spelling and grammar)