Overview (Spoilers Abound):
Shortly after the birth of our sweet baby girl in May, our best friends came to meet Quinn and brought with them this book. They’d said Birbiglia’s account of how a baby changes relationships was incredibly accurate and even made my friend Sarah cry at different points, despite the book being written by a comedian. Based on their accounts, I wanted to wait till Quinn was at least six months before picking up The New One, and I’m glad I did, as the parallels between Birbiglia’s experience and our own were easy to make having lived through that first half year. And I’m not saying our experience was alone here, actually we probably have had it easier than most with Quinn’s relative lack of crying, but Birbigulia sums up parenthood in a way that resonates to the core with anyone who has gone through this stressful, life-changing blessing.
In an early section of The New One, Birbiglia is establishing the introverted personality of his wife and how different she is from his extroverted nature. As he was discussing how he is her “social bodyguard” at parties I couldn’t help but laugh because Birbiglia had just put a name to the exact role I play for Luke, my very introverted husband. I immediately asked Luke if I was his social bodyguard and his response was, “Of course. I don’t want to talk. I probably don’t want to be there.” I don’t think I will every be at a party now and not think of this newly identified role without amusement.
The section that really touched home and made me cry ugly tears was relatively short and didn’t focus on Birbiglia’s new baby, but instead on how he and his father had taken up different political beliefs and the tension it causes constantly under the surface. This one hurt. Especially after the last couple of years and the hurt and arguments that it had provoked. Again, Birbiglia eloquently captures in words the heart of the situation and that even though we have different beliefs the love is not impacted. Specifically, his hopes for if his daughter has different beliefs in the future.
Another section that really touched home was Birbiglia’s description of how the father is relegated to the role of an intern in the family, especially right after the birth. They are constantly being asked to run errands or go fetch something. Luke was such a huge help after Quinn’s birth, I can’t emphasis this enough, but so much of his role was going and grabbing what I needed as so much of the early care, such as feeding every two hours was reliant on me. After reading this chapter I asked Luke about his thoughts and he said he is still the intern, but now it makes a difference Quinn prefers him. It’s true. Quinn has always love snuggling her dad. The few times she was inconsolable as a new born, Luke was the only one that had the ability to calm her down. She even went through a phase where she would cry if he left the room, and keep in mind she would sometimes go days without crying. This instant bond that Quinn and Luke shared certainly seemed to ease the intern feeling but it doesn’t change the fact that Luke still is constantly helping me get the phone that is just out of my reach or getting a glass of water when Quinn is nursing without even a mumble of complaint.
These are just three examples out of many of how Birbiglia’s book cut to the quick regarding the changes of having a newborn and how it alters your relationship with your significant. I can’t recommend this book more to fellow new parents. Overall, The New One was a fantastic read that not only is hilarious but also draws upon a whole spectrum of other emotions during a time already steeped in them.