It’s a Gail!

We had a baby!


Gail Matthew Ruzicka/ 5:41 pm September 2nd, 2016/ 7lbs 8oz/ 19″/ the most amazing creature we’ve ever seen

Yesterday was the two week anniversary of her birth, which is unbelievable in every way. Unbelievable that we have a baby, unbelievable that she hasn’t been here forever, unbelievable that it wasn’t just a minute ago that I was still pregnant and totally incapable of imagining life with a newborn.


The strangest thing about these first two weeks has been time. Never before has time moved so quickly or so slowly. When she’s crying and it’s nighttime and we are trying to calm her, five minutes feels like forty-five minutes. When she’s about to wake up and we’re trying to finish dinner, twenty minutes will pass in a second. When Tony is holding her and she’s looking at him and the ceiling fan is on and there’s music playing, I would give absolutely anything to stop time forever because I’m just sure there will never be a moment better than this in all my life.


When she was four days old, we brought her to the pediatrician for her first check-up. After her appointment, I waited with her in the lobby while Tony pulled the car around. There was a woman there who ooed and ahhed over her, wanting to know how old she was. When I told her four days old, she seemed delighted.

“My baby is forty years old now,” she said. “It goes faster than you think.”

I waited until I got to the car to cry. As hard as this phase of little sleep and so many diapers and near-constant feeding is, I never want it to end. Can she please stay this tiny and soft forever?


The first time we took her to the grocery store required as much courage as anything I’ve ever done. Putting her down to sleep at night demands another leap of faith– there is an approximately one in four chance she’ll wake up, and the stakes are higher in the wee hours of the morning.

Thinking about the future, her at four months or four years or forty years, gives me the strangest, most indescribable feeling. It’s impossible joy and infinite sadness all at once, mixed with something like nostalgia for the present moment. What is that feeling? I don’t think there’s a word for it in the English language, or maybe any language. It’s a different kind of love than I’ve ever felt before.



She loves tummy time and going on walks outside and this song:

She hates baths but likes getting her hair washed. She is the sweetest baby and Tony and I can’t believe how lucky we are to have her.


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Last week we got the impossibly sad news that Tony’s close friend, Matt, had died. It was a freak accident, and it still doesn’t make any sense.


This winter, Matt helped us move a used stackable washer and dryer into our house. We had to pick it up from this guy’s basement. The basement stairs were steep, and the washer/dryer was heavy and unwieldy. Tony and the guy who sold it to us pushed from the bottom, while Matt lifted the dolly from the top. Because of the way the machine was weighted, Matt ended up doing nearly all of the work. He was drenched in sweat by the time we got it loaded onto the truck, while Tony and the guy looked like they’d just woken up from a refreshing nap.

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That washer/dryer.

We sold that stackable washer and dryer for a side by side when we found out I was pregnant. The person who bought it from us on Craigslist told us that his wife was going to use the stackable for her new pet grooming business.

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Current washer and dryer

There are a lot of things in our house that would be different if it weren’t for Matt.


This spring, Matt was part of the crew of family and friends that helped us demolish our back porch. It was an all day project, and Matt was a huge help. I know he was a huge help because, when I told my incredibly hard-working grandpa about Matt’s death, the first thing he said was, “He was the one who worked really hard with us on your back porch.”

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Matt, eating a bagel while pulling down our back porch.

The point of demolishing our back porch was to make room for a new laundry room/mudroom/bathroom addition, which will look something like this when finished:

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We have a contractor for the project, and he’s already done a lot of the framing. It’s taking shape, and we’re hoping we can get it all done before the baby arrives.

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There’s an easy metaphor about Matt in our house. The metaphor says something about demolition and construction. It talks about death and new life and explains how something so sad could happen in the midst of something happy. I don’t know what that metaphor is, but I believe it exists. It’s important for me to believe that it exists.

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Matt was also in our wedding as Tony’s best man.

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I was annoyed with Matt throughout a lot of the wedding planning. I was annoyed with Matt beyond wedding planning, actually. One of my most terrible traits is my ability to write people off. Do something that I dislike and I will remember it for months or years. I have a small social circle and a hideous ability to not care if it gets smaller.

Matt struggled with addiction, which sometimes made him self-centered and unpredictable. He also lost both of his parents unexpectedly and tragically within the last four years. I didn’t cut him nearly enough slack. I didn’t have the emotional intelligence to be empathetic. Or I did, sometimes, but it wasn’t often and it wasn’t enough. There were many times when I was frustrated with Matt.

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And then he’d do something, like work all day demolishing our back porch, and I’d have to admit even in my own small, weak, and stupid heart that Matt was a good friend. Matt was a complicated person, but there isn’t anything—shouldn’t be anything—complicated about loving someone who cares enough to help all day tearing down your back porch.

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I would give a lot to be able to tell Matt what his friendship meant to me, even when I wasn’t good at showing it.

Tony says that Matt and I are alike. He says this about the way we relate to people, our senses of humor, our ability to like things that are uncool wholeheartedly and thus, through the transitive properties of sincerity, make them cool. Tony says that we are alike in that we always believed in him, more than he believes in himself. How absolutely terrible for Tony, to have lost a friend who always believed in him. That is a loss that I know Tony will always feel.

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It isn’t hyperbole to say that Matt’s death is a tragedy. I know it is a tragedy for Tony, and for me, and for our baby who will never get to meet the funny, smart, caring, and complex person that was Matt. It’s a tragedy for anyone who knew Matt, or would have known Matt.

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After we loaded the stackable washer and dryer into our house, Matt, Tony, and I went and had breakfast. I don’t remember what we talked about, or what we ordered, or what I did later that day. I do remember that we had a good conversation, and a really good morning. I am so glad I have that memory of Matt. I’m glad that this memory is tied to our house, and that there are many things in our house that remind us of Matt.  We don’t need the reminders, but we can find comfort in them.

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The cliff

I’ve neglected to mention something rather big on Fawn Log, which is that Tony and I are expecting a baby in early September! I’m pretty sure that all twelve readers of this blog know this, since you also know me in real life and/or are my friend on Facebook. But just in case some fabulous literary agent is secretly following along with my life on Fawn Log, just waiting for the opportunity to offer me a contract to further detail my DIY, relationship, and lifestyle insights in book form, I thought I should formally announce here. Good news, mysterious literary agent who almost certainly does not exist– I’m sure I’ll soon be qualified to write a parenting book as well!

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Here’s a fun project we did. Over the past year we (okay, it was Tony) saved scraps of the many wallpaper layers we removed from all the different rooms. We finally got around to hanging the prettiest ones by our front door. I think it’s a really great tribute to the history of our house and all the work we’ve put into it. And I also just love how it looks.

If someone– literary agent, is that you again?– asked me to sum up my pregnancy in two words, those words would be frantic and joyful. If I could expand my list to three words, those words would be frantic, joyful, and terrifying. It’s been frantic because, as you all know, we bought a technically uninhabitable house a year ago on May 15th (house anniversary! We can’t believe it!). Living in a work-in-progress construction zone as an adult can be difficult, but it’s doable. It’s less doable, it seems, for infants and young children. Tony and I have been frantically working to finish our house and have also–  perhaps stupidly– taken on a big project to add an addition to replace the wonky, not-original back porch. The addition will get the washer/dryer out of what will be the nursery and add a much-needed second closet to our house.  The last 6 months (6 months today! How?!) of pregnancy have been pointed at an almost singular goal: finish the house. The DIY parts have still been fun, but it’s a fun that’s been infused, at times, with no small amount of anxiety.


The time everyone helped us yank the back porch off our house. This part was actually not anxiety-producing, but it was totally thrilling. I’d highly recommend yanking unsightly rooms off your home!

Luckily, pregnancy thus far has also been joyful. It’s fun expecting a baby, and thinking about what he/she/it will be like. We found out a couple weeks ago that the baby is a girl, and it’s more real now that we can start thinking of her as a she. Tony got me this onesie and I really love it:

Pregnancy has been terrifying for reasons that are probably universal. Nothing in my life has ever felt so much like I’m running as fast as I can towards a cliff. I am hopeful that the free-fall at the end is towards something amazing, and beautiful, and life-affirming, like so many people describe parenthood. Even if it is all those things, I’m sure it will also be extremely difficult (like so many of those same people also describe parenthood). The scariest part for me is not that it will be difficult, but that I just can’t imagine what the difficulties, or the joys, will be like. It’s the unknown that gets me.


I stupidly didn’t take a before picture, but here’s an old entertainment center we bought off craigslist for $50. We painted it, changed out the handles, and added a clothes bar in the spot where the box TV used to go.


Here’s the inside– it’s the perfect size for hanging baby clothes! Don’t worry, this was what it looked like last month, before we knew the sex of the baby. We now have at LEAST 5 times this many clothes, and a shocking number of them are pink. Thank you, thank you to the family members who have given us so many amazing hand-me-down baby clothes. I am so happy that our baby will be able to wear mostly used clothes for our bank account’s sake and the sake of the earf.

Getting married scared the crap out of me, not because I didn’t love Tony and want to spend the rest of my life with him, but because I worried that something fundamental would change between us. What if I didn’t like that change? It turns out that some things did change, and in so far exclusively excellent ways. I feel closer to Tony, we’re better about planning for a long-term future, and when I introduce him to people as my husband they acknowledge and understand the importance of my relationship in way they maybe wouldn’t have if Tony was still “just” my boyfriend. Mostly, though, we’re still the same people with the same traits and issues. I’m grateful for that.


My mom thinks this is disturbing, but I think our FaceSwap is adorable. Look how cute Tony is! And I make a very handsome dude!

Maybe having a baby is the same way. Maybe the cliff is less terrifying than I imagine. Or maybe it’s more terrifying, but I ought to embrace it anyway. Either way it’s coming for me, or I’m coming for it, or maybe I should stop writing about just myself here and acknowledge that Tony and I and our daughter are all running towards this thing and will find out together what happens when we jump off. That part, at least, is comforting.


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