Sep 26 update: You can read about our story in my latest post, https://tmbrg.com/blog/shelby/
Aug 23 update: Not a whole lot to report, we have just been getting the house cleaned and setting up our bedroom with all the baby stuff, and I think we are all set there. We have also met with our wonderful doula a couple times now and are very grateful to have her for support. If you haven't read though our parenting plan below please do it is very important to us, here are a few of the important bullet points
- We will not be gendering the baby so please don't ask if its a boy or girl, and please use the terms they/them/baby or use their name when asking or talking about them. (more information below)
- For parent identities Katie prefers Nini and not mom/mother, and for me dada/dad/pop.
- We will not be having guests for the first 2-3 weeks except for our doula. I will be sharing photos and updates and we can even facetime if you want to see baby.
- For those that have donated and gifted us things for this baby, we thank you so so so very much! ❤️
If you have any questions about the above we would be happy to talk to you about them.
Aug 3 update: If you would like to know when we have updates...like when the baby comes, subscribe here! Also please contact Tim anytime after mid-September for baby updates per Katie's request .
Aug 1 update: Due to the new COVID Delta variant we decided that it would be best if we cancel baby shower plans. We are sad that we probably won't get to see you in person before this person comes, but hopefully sometime soon! If you still want to donate items (email us), help with some stuff on our registry, or the meal train we would be very grateful! We will continue to keep you updated...just a couple more months!!!
shower / registry / gifts
We’re so grateful for your love, well-wishes and support! And I know you’ve probably heard me (Katie) say NEVER EVER re: baby showers (DM me if you wanna share the baby shower traditions you think are the weirdest and creepiest), but actually we really would love to have a low-key get together just to see your faces, give you a squeeze (if you’re vaccinated and comfortable with it after this year), share our excitement with you and really feel our family and friends hold us in love & well-wishes as we prepare to welcome this person earthside! So stay tuned for details on a pastel- and pennant-flag-free picnic sometime in August.
And gifts are not necessary, but they’re so appreciated! Here’s our registry if you’re interested. You’ll notice there’s not a lot of “stuff” on here--that’s intentional. We have a small house that really can’t hold much more stuff, but more importantly, what this tiny person truly needs is to have a planet left for them to live on and for Jeff Bezos not to have another dime (k, I know we’re all laughing, but we’re trying to be a low-consumption, Amazon-free household and would appreciate your help to stay that way!). So our registry reflects only those items that are truly necessary for them right now. We’ve also been generously gifted lots of hand-me-downs by family, friends, and neighbors--love you all so much!
If you’re wanting to gift, what will make us all feel most loved and seen is:
- Limiting gifts/contributions to only those items on the registry.
- Contributing toward our doula fund! This is really our highest priority. Benefits of doula support.
- Checking in with us first before buying anything not on the registry (you might have a truly great idea! but it’s also possible we’ve already been gifted a hand-me-down)
- Cooking us a freezable meal, a batch of healthy snacks, or sending a gift card Chipotle or &pizza are both close by, and we’re able to stretch these cheap meals very far!
- If you want to sign up for our meal train, we would be eternally grateful too!
- We would cherish something precious that you’ve made with your own hands that this baby can carry with them through their childhood and which will always remind them how much you love them!
- A note about the car seats: we have two on there--one for Tim’s car and one for Katie’s. We know they’re kinda $$, but we chose this particular model because it’s a convertible lifetime seat (it will last until they’re ready for just a booster seat), it’s flame-retardant-free, and we know it’ll fit in both of our vehicles (Katie’s car is very small). This model goes on sale once per year during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale which starts July 28th (unless you have a Nordstrom card and then I think you get access earlier).
gender open parenting
We believe babies don’t have a gender, because gender is a socially-constructed concept, the same way that money is a socially constructed idea--and babies have no understanding of what money is or how to use it, even though for us as adults it’s deeply embedded in how we navigate our world so much so that we can barely imagine a world without it.
So, because gender is socially constructed, how we individually relate to gender, or what gender we identify most with (gender identity) is not something anyone can really know for themselves until they start to understand more about what our culture and community believe about gender.
Babies typically start to understand the ideas of gender within their community around age 3-4, and will often express their own gender identity around then, though their concepts of gender and who they are within the realm of gender identity can continue to evolve as they grow and understand more about how their world sees gender.
So how does our culture see gender?
- Limited only to 2, binary genders--it was not always this way.
- Some gender theories.
- Macho Man, Little Princess: How Gender Norms Can Harm Kids Everywhere
- A vision for how we think it could be instead.
So what does all this mean for how we will parent this baby?
- It means that we're going to use they/them pronouns for them until they express a preference. We'll use they/them to represent that gender is not a binary, and there are more than two options. We would love it if you would use they/them as well!
- It means that we won't tell you the apparent anatomical sex of our children. In our society, the gender is often seen as being solely determined by the sex organs a child has on the outside of their body. But we see gender as something much broader and not directly related to those organs. In order to avoid confusion, we're not going to share details about those organs.
- It means that until our children can choose clothing and toys for themselves, they will wear colors and styles of attire with no regard for the gender for which they were intended, and they will be offered a variety of toys.
- It means that our baby will discern their own gender identity, and they'll tell the world when they're ready. In other families who have tried this, children usually self-identify when they are three or four years old.
Want to learn more or have questions for us? You can always just ask! We both love to talk about this. Or here are some great resources to explore to learn more:
- Tim (he/they) will be using “Dada/Dad/Pop”
- Katie (they/she) will be using “Nini.”
Just like gender is a social construct, our titles and identities around parenting are socially constructed. What it means to be a mother, a father, or a parent--and the terms associated with each identity (mom, dad, baba, eema, etc.)--vary by person and by culture.
And because this parenting job is BIG, the meaning these titles hold and the identities behind them are COMPLEX--they can be rich and meaningful, containing generations of loving parenting traditions -AND- they can hold generations of pain, trauma, and toxicity. Some examples:
This is not meant to imply that any given dad or mom individually has ANY of these qualities, just that these are some of the toxic cultural ideas that we have been socialized to believe about these identities. I know LOTS of rad moms and dads who are parenting in ways that dismantle these toxic ideas. But I also don't know ANY of those same folks, who haven't struggled with at least one of these ugly gendered stereotypes about their parental identity, either personally, socially, professionally, or within their home and relationship-balance. But they love being called “mom” or “dad” no less, and are defining those titles for themselves.
And I’m so glad we all get to choose the title and identity that makes us feel the most like ourselves--the most seen and at ease. I know lots of people who claim the title “mom” with ease and grace and strength to push back against these gendered parental roles. For me (Katie), there’s no ease in or pull toward the title/identity of “mother/mom,” but I can’t wait to parent! So I’ll be using the title “Nini” with this person rather than “mother/mom/mommy.” I would love it if you also referred to me as a parent or as “Nini” instead of “mom/mommy/mother,” it would make me feel so seen, understood, and at ease. Tim has always been “Dada” with Benjamin and while I know he’s got lots of interesting things to say about what that title means to him, it’s one I know he’s looking forward to using with this babyperson too.
the first 40 days
Many cultures around the world have postpartum recovery traditions that focus on some combination of the following:
- Extended Rest - Katie & Baby be following the 5-5-5 Rule as advised by our midwife This means 5 days IN bed, 5 days ON the bed, 5 days AROUND the bed. Which means they largely won’t be leaving the bed/bedroom within the first 2 weeks--this means we also will not be having visitors within these first two weeks because it’s such a critical (and unrecoverable) time for healing and bonding. But we’re so eager to see you and have you meet baby once we’re ready! Once we’re past the first two weeks, we’ll reach out to schedule some short visits.
- Nourishing Food - We’d love it if you’d share a favorite meal with us while we’re resting and healing. Here’s our Meal Train if you’d like to sign up to drop off some food, to send delivery, or to send a GrubHub or other meal app gift card.
- Loving Touch - do you have a massage therapist in Baltimore you’d suggest? We’d love to know! Otherwise Katie has a great acupuncturist who she’ll be seeing.
- Wise Community & Companionship - we’ll have our birth doula with us as a Postpartum Doula for the first 4 weeks too! Never heard of a Postpartum Doula? They are a highly skilled postpartum worker who is there a few hours a day to help with all of this.
- Nature - you know we love this! For the first two weeks we’ll be enjoying nature from our bedroom window or the front porch. Once we’re ready, we’d love to join you for a walk around the neighborhood, or an easy walk in the woods somewhere close by!
What about after 40 days? We’ll be traveling (🚜-slowly) to Florida around Thanksgiving, and staying through the end of January! This will be a 2-month postpartum “babymoon” (like a honeymoon but with baby!) and an important time for us to bond as a family, soak up some precious wintertime sunshine on the beach, and continue to rest, heal, and really get off to a good start before we both return to work at the end of January (and maybe find a sailboat! ⛵). Tim gets virtually no family leave 😢 for a new baby, so he’ll be using his once-in-10-years 2-month-sabbatical time off to be able to enjoy some time together as a family in a place we’ve always loved visiting--Siesta Key.
If you have any questions for us we are happy to answer them.