Zack’s got friends in low places

(‘Cause they’re all babies, yo. No redneck references here, I swear, although I’m sure many of their parents would be darned proud of the country song reference. Others are 100 percent mortified and will never let their babies play with The Dude.)

Zack’s social calendar is much more impressive than both of his parents’ put together and I’m sure it’s going to be like this at least through his mid-20s.

We have guy friends and lady friends, older friends and newer friends. We even have a birthday buddy and two friends with the same first name!

Through all of them, Momma and Daddy now have a dozen or so spectacular people in our lives, too. The babies share their drool and exclaim an “aghhh” or two now and then, but we parents raise our beers and talk about colors in diapers, nap schedules and pet peeves of the week.

Because of our location, it’s between 20 and 40 minutes to visit any of them or for them to visit us, but we all do it willingly, excitedly and lovingly, sometimes bringing gifts of coffee or much-needed pearls of wisdom. And did I mention the cute babies? And love, definitely love.

The funny thing is prior to six months ago, only one of these couple was SERIOUSLY in our lives on a regular basis and only another was a couple we would call acquaintances. Our babies have brought our crazy, fun group together, for better or worse, and the group just keeps on growing, too.

My Mom Friends are fantastic.(I love you all)

Some give me such hope and such great ideas — they just make parenting seem like the easiest thing in the world. They and others also share the darker secrets of motherhood — those times we moms need a time-out away from our babblin’ bebes, the scuffles with in-laws, the exciting ups (someone’s pregnant!) and the devastating downs (nothing gives strength quite like a sympathetic and/or ticked-off Momma) and the difficulty in being a working mom (we all are).

It’s not to discredit the dads, too, but really I don’t see them as much as the guys. When the two (or more) couples get together, it’s usually a quick segregation by gender. Scott tells me their talks are usually about power tools, golfing or some similar combination. Apparently Dads deal by talking about the stuff they can no longer talk about, haha. The manlier, the better.

And something has to be said about having a “playdate” with infants. I mean, the chances of both babies being awake at the same time is slim enough, although that gets easier as Zack gets older and is awake longer. But then to have them both with clean diapers and not hungry or cranky at the same time — that’s just one of those Super Mom moments where you feel like you have successfully climbed Mt. Everest — without a Sherpa. Oh, and you want to get a photo of the two together? Sure you do. Good luck. Arms are flailing, one baby is rolling, another has spit up coming out of his mouth and oh, look, just in time for the click of the shutter, here comes a meltdown!

But I snap away anyway, because I never want to forget these moments — these first friendship connections — connections that will hopefully last Zack a lifetime.

Let’s start with the ladies first, shall we?

Little Gabrielle “Bree” came into the world as a Christmas Eve present to her mommy, Meghan, and so many loved ones. I met her for the first time last week. Bree is so sweet and quiet and just a beautiful, beautiful girl. Meghan has already adapted so well to being a Mom, despite only being out of the gate for six weeks now. I’ve had six months and I’m just now starting to feel like I know a thing or two about my lil man.

I really enjoyed being teammates with Meghan eight years ago. (WOW. Old Moment, please hold. OK, it’s passing…) BUT I NEVER would have imagined that we’d be in touch all these years later, let alone living 20 minutes apart with babies born in the same year, talking about our favorite baby bottles and formula preferences. I have a feeling Meghan and I will be having a lot more playdates (and Momma dates, too!) in the future, too.

(And aside from Zack literally grabbing Bree’s pants with his one fist when we put them together on the floor for a photo-op, I’d say their friendship is off to a swell start.)

 

 

Zack was much more shy when it came to meeting Miss Hailey for the first time, perhaps because she’s an older woman. I’m not sure, but I do know that ever since that afternoon (far too long ago — ahem, calling for a get-together again, soon Hailey’s Mom!) Zack has perfected the “shy smile,” which he reserves almost exclusively for around women (or girls). It consists of a quiet giggle, a turn of the head and covering his smile up with both of his hands, all shy-like. It’s hysterical.

Hailey didn’t have much time for Z-man during their first encounter. I mean, first of all, she’s like three months older than him. At this stage of the game, she might as well be a cougar. She’s also far too busy crawling, and from the looks of things, trying to figure out that walking/standing thing. The girl is quick and I think she might just go straight to running and her Mommy and Daddy are going to be left in her trail of dust trying to keep up.

Hailey’s mom Krystal is another one who I probably never thought I’d be hanging out with — but it really, really works. We are both members in the My Mom Died Club, which is a really crappy club to belong to — unless you have someone else in the club with whom you can share your really crappy missing-mom moments. We’ve already messaged each other at random times just to let the other one know that that day was a little rough. It’s so nice to share that, because it really and truly is one of those things that I don’t think anyone outside of the club would understand. It’s amazing what bonds you together with people.

 

 

I have to give a quick shout-out here to another new lady friend of Zack’s who we haven’t had the privilege of meeting yet — Miss Madilyn. Madilyn is the naughty, naughty almost-three-month-old girl who gave her parents quite a fright by arriving WEEKS premature when they were home in Georgia for a baby shower around Thanksgiving.

She’s doing great now, though, and I know her parents — a dear, dear couple we met on our honeymoon in St. Lucia in 2009 — are so grateful for this new blessing in their lives. We share a wedding day, were part of each other’s memorable honeymoon and now have had our first babies born in the same year. This is a remarkable family and we only wish we didn’t live so far away from one another. (They live in Texas now). I can still remember that after only barely knowing the two of them for a matter of days, when we came across each other in one of the pool areas, the topic of when we were going to have babies came up… and I just can’t help but smile thinking how far we’ve come in that time.

[I stole this photo from Victoria’s Facebook and I will probably be in huge trouble for doing that, so everyone please tell them how absolutely adorable their baby is!]

 

 

And then there are the boyz. (They’re so cute and will all be up to SO much trouble someday that I just feel the need now to add the gangsta “z” to that word).

 

Another new addition to the group and the youngest of its members is Owen 2 (we know two Owens now), who perhaps we should refer to as Owen G.

Lil Owen G. was born Jan. 9 and is the handsome lil son of Scott’s old friend Mark and his wife Jodi. We went to Mark and Jodi’s wedding last year and there was so much love — and fun — in the air that I doubt you could find anyone who didn’t have a great time. I hung out with Jodi a time or two last summer, when my stomach was about four feet in front of me and the thermometer was broken because of the record-setting heat. We exchanged pregnancy stories (she was in the easy part by then!) and grew closer. I was checking Facebook like a maniac for baby updates from her early last month and was so excited to learn about lil Owen’s arrival.

If you’re a mom, don’t ask Jodi how long her labor/delivery is, because although she’s a sweet girl, her answer will probably tempt you into punching her.

And Owen’s little blue eyes (at least for now) are so sparkling and sweet, I could just stare at them forever. I met him for the first time the other day and oh my goodness, that Baby Fever hit me hard!

 

While we’re talking about Owens, I should mention Owen S., or our Owen 1. He was born two days after Zack (by induction, hmrph, another lady you might want to hit when talking about birth stories, haha!) and outweighed our dude by at least half-a-pound.

I share a LOT with Owen’s mommy Reva and I know Owen’s daddy Bret and Scott LOVE finding an excuse to leave us for an hour or so (usually it’s a trip to get dinner or something along those lines, but I can’t help but wonder if they try to take the long way home). Bret and Scott grew up together and were in a slew of sports with each other, but I don’t even think they had a close friendship like this until just recently. And while I’ve known Reva for several years and even went to her wedding a couple of years ago, we were never very close until our boys came into the picture. (While I hid from the temperatures last summer by basically sitting inside the air conditioner, Reva would call me up to see if I wanted to go to a state park or a local lake… or other things outdoors. I always declined and I hope she realized it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with my melting body).

Zack and Owen are hysterical together. On one visit, I swear to you, it was like they were having a conversation together, “goo”ing back and forth with pauses in between. And this weekend, Owen army-crawled his way OVER Zack, who was like totally in his way.

I love watching the two of them together.

 

 

 

 

David and his family are some of our newest friends. David is another naughty preemie who gave his parents quite the fright a couple of months before Z-Man was born, but we love him anyway.

I’ve known David’s mom for a few years through work. She’s one of the assistant DAs in the county I cover and she’s always been so kind and sweet to me, which is more appreciated once I watched her tear through some defendants in court cases. I’m glad I’m on her nice side! It’s funny because I never realized how much a premature baby requires extra care (like Early Intervention) and so much worry from his parents. Brandi and I have really bonded over that whole dont-have-the-baby-experience-I-was-expecting angle that’s been thrown at us in the last year. I think it’s definitely made us stronger, dont-mess-with-my-babies mommas. And better people, too. Her David is doing so great and after our last visit with them, I really kept saying to Scott just how unbelievably healthy and big he seemed. He’s come a long way and it looks like things are going so well for them now.

And in talking about David you can NOT forget about his big sister Lexie, who loves chasing our cats, (sort of) playing with our dog Izzie and her toys and being a big help, like offering toys to Z-Man and helping to set the table before dinner. She just turned three, so happy belated birthday to a great big sister and really funny girl!

 

 

And last but not least, our Birthday Buddy Chase. Zack and Chase, the news boys, first met in utero when their mommies, both news reporters (Angie works for the local TV station) were interviewing the now-Governor of PA, Tom Corbett. I can still recall the “whoa!” exclaimed by the candidate when he walked in the door and was greeted by the two of us, maybe two weeks from the lil fellas came into the world.

Then, after my two and a half days of labor, with all due respect, Angie is probably the last thought on my mind. I figured she had a few more days to go and maybe I’d hear about it on Facebook when I was home recuperating. Until I had Zack, had someone post the info on my Facebook wall and had a message within MINUTES from Angie saying our boys were born on the SAME DAY, less than half an hour apart (different hospitals). It was insane.

Naturally, we had to get the birthday buddies together immediately. That first visit from Angie and Chase (who has so much handsome, stylin’ dark hair it’s just groovy) was quickly followed by another one. And we try to get the boys together every month for the birthday photo together — and some catching up for the Mommies, too. I love this friendship, I love this friendship, I love this friendship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that about covers our littlest friends — for now. I’m sure there will be more in the coming weeks and months and years, but I don’t know if anything will touch this first group. These boys and girls whose birth stories I know as well as my son’s; whose doctor’s appointments and hospital visits and complications and worries are as frightening for me as it would be if Zack were in their place. They are soul friends, sharing a timeframe and a proximity in age and location, but whose births have brought my entire family a safety net, there to catch us when we fall. We will happily return the favor anytime.

We love you all. You make this crazy journey a little easier on the hard days and a lot more fun on the mediocre days. I’m excited to see what the future brings.


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