safely tucked away in a ninth-floor apartment in the bustling, maze-like community that is stuyvesant town, jess and her husband, josh, have just welcomed their new little gal: miss ruthie june. one foot into their sweet home, i was offered a jar full of sweet tea (evidence of jess’ southern roots.) …with a striped paper straw, nonetheless! little ruthie was as pleasant as can be; happily bouncing on her mama’s lap as i questioned them both on how the last five months have been:
you’re running out the door, what do you put on?
you can can fake anything with mascara and lipgloss.
what do you love about getting to raise ruthie in nyc?
i love that it’s not homogeneous. in nyc you bump into people who don’t believe what you believe or have a different family situation… it’s exciting (and challenging) to have the world all around her.
…and what scares you about it?
everything else! i was walking her on 14th street and was crying on the way home… i saw so many terrible things. a clump of strung-out guys begging for money. these middle school girls being so rude and screaming f-bombs. i was looking down at ruthie and she was just… [she demonstrates a huge smile and big happy eyes]. she was having a great time! and i was saying, “what have i brought you into!!??”
what do you indulge in?
right now, sweets. because i’m nursing, i’m not eating how i normally would. i eat cookies whenever i want!
what routines have you two established?
we have a pretty good schedule for her. i started looking at a lot of parenting books but quit… because it was a little bit of a beat-down. we start our day at the same time, around 8:00 or 8:30. we try to get out of the house everyday. it’s hard. especially if there’s bad weather or if she’s not napping well. i’ll really want to go outside, but sometimes it’s better to stay in for her so that she can get a nap. those days we’ll just go to cvs or walk around the neighborhood, trying to keep her napped and happy.
what do you think is the biggest challenge facing this new generation of mothers?
this is really cheesy and maybe i’ve watched one too many cnn specials… but the internet changes everything. branding, nudity, overstimulation… that didn’t exist when we were growing up. the whole concept of limiting computer and tv time, i just don’t know what i’ll do. my parents were awesome examples of how to raise kids, but they didn’t have that… our mothers can’t give us advice because it wasn’t a problem back then.
what’s the most important thing in your diaper bag?
wipes. we went out of the city the other day to go to target… sometimes i’ll just run in and josh will stay with ruthie in the car. well josh looked in the rear-view mirror and she had poop all the way up her neck! and she was just sitting there happily… like, “hi!” so josh got into the backseat to change her diaper… there was poop everywhere, all over her outfit… he used all the wipes. she was wearing my favorite onesie from bloomingdale’s (which is so dumb, i know). there was no time to be rinsing the onesie out- we had to go. but i had to try to save it! i had to save that onesie! so there i was, rinsing the sweet-and-sour-chicken-smelling poop out of the onesie in the target bathroom while josh is texting me, “ruthie’s screaming! please help me!” …the onesie was spared. but it doesn’t fit anymore. it was one of those stupid things that you do when it’s your first. all the other moms reading this will be saying, “oh, she’ll see…”
do you follow any motherhood blogs or websites regularly?
a lot of my friends have started family blogs. we started one too, when we found out we were pregnant… it’s so you’re not over-posting on facebook about what your kid’s doing. i look at all of theirs. it’s helpful because it’s like we’re this web-community trying to figure it out together.
describe josh’s reaction to becoming a dad & getting to know the role of fatherhood.
oh my gosh, he was so excited. he’d say, “i’ve been waiting my whole life to be a dad! all i’ve ever wanted is to be a dad!” one day i came home with a pair of girl footie pajamas from baby gap and i said, “ i know this is really dumb… but i bought these…” (because i was only a minute pregnant at the time). and i look over and he’s lying there with the pajamas on his chest with his eyes closed, imagining her on him!
how was ruthie’s birth different than you had imagined?
oh man. i had a plan, we went to a birthing class… but i knew i needed to be flexible. when i was 38 weeks, josh really wanted to know how much ruthie weighed. when we arrived to get a sonogram, the ultrasound tech told me that my fluid was low and that i should go to labor and delivery right then! i ended up being induced… and i was not very favorable for induction. on the bishop scale (where levels six-twelve are thought to be favorable for vaginal delivery and anything below is considered a probable c-section), i was told i was a one. in hindsight, that should have freaked me out more than it did, but there were just so many emotions. i was thinking, “i’m not ready to do this today! i don’t know what’s happening! i want to cry! i want to laugh!” i ultimately labored 22 hours and had her vaginally. it was incredible. my mom flew in that night. it all happened really fast. it wasn’t what i wanted, i had to have a lot of interventions. but the baby was healthy, i was healthy, everything was fine… that’s all i really cared about. in the end, i was really grateful. it is worth planning though, knowing what kind
of birthing experience you want to have. it’s important to be respectful of the people working at the hospital, but it’s also important to be knowledgable.
what the hardest thing about being a mom?
you can’t control everything. josh and i are both planners, i always joke that he’s a capital a and i’m a lowercase a. we really try to control our schedule, but you can’t always do that. if your kid is screaming because they’re tired, you have to stay home and let them have a nap; you have to do what’s best for them. i can’t always go to the gym on this day and this day, wash the clothes on this day, see this person at this time.
have you already felt a pull between motherhood and marriage?
a little, but probably not as much as i will with more than one child. ruthie is so easy. she slept through the night early-on, so we always have the evenings. last week josh and i made a pact that we would talk about our day before we turn on the tv or do anything else. sometimes all you want to do is something mindless, when you have no mental energy left. but you have to invest in that person.
at just five months, how have you begun to instill your values into her?
we have this little storybook bible that we researched and liked the best. we read through that at night. at one of my baby showers, everyone wrote a prayer on these little pink pieces of paper… everyone told me, “you can hang them on her crib!” and i thought, “is this really going to look good…?” [laughs] anyways, i didn’t read them for a while and when i did, i was weeping and saying, “waaaaah, oh my gosh! i have to hang these on her crib!”
what’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten?
everything happens really fast and you can’t take it back. you know that dreft detergent commercial, “you have a child forever, but you only have a baby for one year.” ya, maybe i’m tired all the time and it’s really hard, but i only get to do this with her for a little bit. i want to enjoy this time as much as i can. even when she’s fussy… i don’t want to skip any parts. [then she turned to ruthie and said, “‘cause you’re only going to be a little toot for a little bit. and then you’re going to be big! and then maybe you’ll be sassy?”]
what’s been your proudest moment so far?
even before i was married, i found it so interesting that when kids are on the subway hamming it up or doing something cute, everyone on the train softens a little. everyone started out that way, you know, a tiny life. innocent and sweet. one time i went to brooklyn to get these pajamas (that i just had to get from this one store all the way in brooklyn) and she fell asleep in the carrier and all these strangers were looking at her… ruthie was that child. she’s just a really sweet baby. when she brings a smile to someone’s face, i’m like, “yep, that’s my baby!”