Everything is Altering

This post was happily featured on Babble on April 18, 2012 as the post I am most proud of us a mom!

One week ago I gave birth to our precious son, Carston Cook Levey Friedman. We have been affectionately referring to him as Little Man.

Our Little Man, Carston Friedman

During labor I spent a good amount of time on Facebook and Twitter. It was amazing to feel like so many friends and family were part of the process.

I was ready with my custom hospital gown, pillow case, and essential supplies.

A Twitter friend, Sarah Buttenwieser, sent me a message after he’d arrived, part of which said: “#everythingaltering.”

That phrase, “everything altering,” kept running like a loop through my head over the next 24 hours. I kept saying to myself, “Everything is altering. Everything is altering.” Of course, the link to “altar” and worshiping him and all the promise he holds (as the Midrash says, “With each child the world begins anew”) was not lost on me either.

I also kept thinking about the choice of tense. Everything alterED the moment he entered the world. As any mother knows, the moment when that little human life is both forced out of you, by you, and also slips out of you, on his own, is indescribable.  Everything changed in that moment.

And, yet, my husband, John, and I still remained ourselves. Life shattered for a brief moment and was then put back together with so much more love than we knew before. We were fundamentally changed and fundamentally the same all at once.  Case in point: On the day we left the hospital an article about John’s research (which I’ve written a bit about before) appeared on the front page of The New York Times (and check out Nicholas Kristof’s column tomorrow, which also discusses this work). He spent the next several hours on the phone with reporters and even doing a live interview from home.  I snuck in half an hour of work on an article I have coming out next Sunday in The Boston Globe Magazine on afterschool math enrichment centers.

So much the same, yet completely different.

Because it is not that everything alterED, but that it is alterING.  Every sigh, sound, thought, movement has a new meaning. And this is a continual process of negotiating new challenges together and renegotiating identities and expectations.

As I take in lots of wonderful advice (one wonderful example written by Rebecca Sullivan, “Pilfer Disposable Hospital Underwear?“) and continue to share our evolving journey with loved ones, I look forward to finding out where this altering will take us as individuals, as a family, and as professionals.

This Saturday will capture many of those changes. We’ll spend the morning following the US Marathon Trials, since John is a serious runner and running fan.

A future marathon man?

Then we’ll watch the Patriots game (Go, Tom Brady!).

Go Tom Brady!

Finally, we’ll switch to the Miss America Pageant. This will be the first time in many years that I won’t be watching with friends while hosting a pageant party. Carston has been studying up on his favorites though. Once the preliminary competitions end tomorrow night, I plan to post my thoughts and predictions on this year’s interesting group of contestants.

Studying this year's Miss America program book

In the meantime, we’ll be altering away.

Maternal love

ETA: I love that motherhood means entering new conversations and dialogue. Continued thoughts from Standing in the Shadows blog!



  1. Oh, Hilary – when I read the title of this I misread, and thought it was ALTARing, a references to altars. Which of course it is, in its own way, as you say. I love your words here, and your assertion that this is a process rather than a single incandescent moment. Of course it’s both, but I agree with you that it is ongoing, and at least in my opinion, it continues as they grow. I can’t wait to meet the little man, and to see you. xox

  2. Amy McLeod Friedman Welcome to the other side, a new world, to continual altering! Just know that when you think things have settled, it will all change again. To altering…and altering….welcome to parenthood!
    21 hours ago · Like
    Jean Kang I love the pats jersey on your little man – as a michigan alumni, I’m a huge brady fan! 🙂
    21 hours ago · Unlike · 1
    Tagliaferro Donna Well said…..beautiful article
    10 hours ago · Like
    Julie Livingston Precious and extremely well said. Enjoy every moment.
    10 hours ago · Like
    Emily Weiss Your best blog entry yet.

  3. Molly Moran says:

    Hilary, I’m so happy for you and your family. Our baby is 6 weeks old and just starting to smile at us – the first smile was the single best moment of my life other than the moment she was born. It’s truly amazing and altering!

    I have found that having her has made life so much more fun. Going places with her is an adventure, even if it’s just to the post office. And leaving her with grandparents and going to the movies without her feels like a beginning-of-the-relationship date. Of course there are tough moments, but it’s much easier than I thought it would be and much more fun than I thought as well.

    Enjoy Carston and keep blogging – it’s so great to read your thoughts on motherhood.

    • Molly-

      Thanks so much for reading!

      And I agree, way less work than I thought, so even more fun than I thought possible.

      Jealous about the smile. Only get that with gas now, but definitely something to look forward to in a few weeks. 🙂

      Hopefully next time you are in Boston the kiddos can meet!

  4. I enjoyed reading this… via @BabbleEditors. The chose of words and how you roll through the smallest of things and ellude to the larger ones. I hope the altering has transitioned and unfolded in to even more love and joy these last few months. Great Post


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