Say hello to Brian and Elsa.

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Brian and Elsa are soon-to-be first-time parents who hail from the Instagram-worthy state of Maine. As the days tick up to their due date, waiting has taken a front row seat by the woodstove in their 800-square foot cabin. “While we may be mediocre at preparation, at least we’ve got anticipation down.” The anticipation has looked a bit like this:

 

Counting down in stick figures.

Counting down in stick figures.

Prepping the baby bed. And readying the cat.

Prepping the baby bed. And readying the cat.

Seeing the house in a new light.

Seeing the house in a new light.

And testing the softness of the earth with some good ol' fashioned outdoor distraction.

And testing the softness of the earth with some good ol’ fashioned outdoor distraction.

Reactors and Improvisers.

Though Brian categorizes himself and Elsa as “better reactors and improvisers than planners and preparers”, the contents of their cabin have changed quite a bit.

It isn’t that we don’t think ahead, it’s just that we tend not to do ahead. It didn’t help that our late autumn was busy — I had two magazine assignments that kept me on the road, and the lead-up to Thanksgiving and the holidays is one of the busier times of year at the food co-op where Elsa is a manager.

We have the essentials covered, and ‘stuff’ people or not, we’ve had a pretty good time assembling the basics: We splurged on a Norwegian modern bassinet that is currently the nicest piece of furniture in our house.  We put altogether too much thought into our stroller, and Elsa scoured the 33-cent baby-clothes rack at the thrift store with all the savvy of a Barney’s buyer scouting runways in Milan.

 But in other respects, we’ll be improvising.  Right now, we dry all of our clothes on the line in the summertime and on a rack in front of the woodstove in the winter.  Time will tell how practical this is for frequent baby changes and the gDiapers cloth inserts we plan to work into the diaper mix.”

Brian and Elsa will be diapering old-timers before the crocuses bloom. They’ll start with newborn gPants and small disposable inserts on their brand new Mainer, and then move to a more flexible system when baby is large enough for small gPants with cloth or disposable inserts.

Big News for a Little Cabin.

And then the waiting was over. After a long and slightly wild labor, Brian and Elsa welcomed their new baby boy, Otis.

Otis arrives

IMG_0093“Our loose approach to a birth plan turned out to be the best plan of all, since things got a bit complicated when Elsa and I showed up at the hospital / birthing center for delivery. For starters, we had what may or may not have been a water-break false alarm a couple of days prior.  By the time Elsa went into proper labor, the midwife staff couldn’t be sure how long since the water had broke, which added a twist to the birthing process. Elsa labored in the tub, but the pediatrician and nursing staff recommended against a water birth, and the next few hours in delivery ended up involving more intervention that we’d initially hoped.  It was a hard-fought few hours for my valiant and awesome wife, but at the end, out came Otis Philip Kevin at a scrappy 6 lbs even.  Our little bantamweight!

We spent four nights in the hospital as the little guy had to get some light treatment for jaundice, and we were really glad to finally head back to the cottage in the woods to settle in with our new buddy. He and the cats are more or less ambivalent about each other’s presence. We’ve stoked the fire to pizza-oven levels, and we’re all cozied up as the snow once again starts to fly here in Maine. Otis is tiny, sleepy, still a bit on the orange side, and shockingly well-behaved out of the gate.  It’s a blast to watch him explore what his body can do as he waves his hands and feet around and grunts and moans like a moose during the rut. It should be a very fun week as we hang out at home and get to know our new pal.”

Cozy amidst snow, snuggled by a woodstove, from coupledom to familydom — sounds like a lovely way to wrap up winter. We’ll follow along as Brian, Elsa and Otis discover each other and uncover the pieces of the story that they may or may not have anticipated during their wintry wait.

By the way, Otis has a brilliant writer for a father. Brian is a frequent contributor to Outside, Sierra Magazine, Audubon and many more. Follow him on Twitter to stay abreast of each itty bitty detail. And check back here for more On Location exploration in the Pine Tree State.

The cats approve.

The cats approve.