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Published on October 21, 2014

Lawrence: a great place to have a baby

By Giles Bruce, Lawrence Journal World 

    This, sadly, will be my last Daddy Rules column. Ironically, my writing a farewell column at this time has a lot to do with the fact that I am a new parent.

    Right around the time I got the job at the Journal-World, in early 2013, I found out my fiancee, Jessica, and I were expecting our first child (we had just gotten engaged a couple months prior; we met in the Chicago area, where we're both from.)

    So in March 2013, we moved from northern Iowa, where I had been working another newspaper job, to Lawrence, a place I'd first visited during my job interview a few weeks earlier. It would be quite a few major life changes happening to us in the course of a few months, but the opportunity at the Journal-World was too good to pass up.

    Lily was born Oct. 16, 2013, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Having had my first child there and interacted with staff in my capacity as a health reporter, I can honestly tell you that LMH is a gem. It's a community hospital that thinks bigger than most hospitals its size but cares for patients with a warmth and friendliness that lets you know its goal, above all, is to serve the community.

    That said, it was difficult to have our first baby so far away from family. Sure, our loved ones made the eight-hour drive to visit us often, but they weren't around when we could have used a hand around the house or a free babysitter so we could have a night out on the town. So I when I got the chance to be a health reporter at a newspaper (The Times of Northwest Indiana) that is about 30 miles from our respective hometowns, I went for it.

    If I had to start from scratch and find a place to raise a family, though, I'd have a hard time not choosing Lawrence. The community has a great education system, from preschool through college. People here put a strong focus on health and wellness. It's an aesthetically beautiful place. Great restaurants and culture, too. (Now I'm getting sad for leaving!)

    But at this point in my life, it's going to be a lot easier to be closer to grandmas and grandpas. Not only will Jessica and I have free babysitting and the chance to have date nights again, but we won't have to make that eight-hour drive with a small child every couple months for family get-togethers and holidays. Those road trips drained my energy for days after.

    Dan Coleman, who is part of Dads of Douglas County and a librarian at the Lawrence Public Library, has been submitting a monthly column about fatherhood, and he plans to continue doing so. I encourage other local fathers to follow his lead (ahem, other members of Dads of Douglas County). It's the age of the modern dad, who is more active in his child's life than the fathers of yore, so we are definitely in the spotlight these days.

    Personally, I hope to keep daddy blogging in the future. I'm not sure what the venue will be, but as Coleman told me: "We can't let mommy bloggers get all the glory!" Even though Larryville Mom does a great job and regularly kicks my butt in page views, dads need a voice on the Internet too.

    As for Lily, she turned 1 last week and is cuter than ever. Her front teeth are coming in, she walks with the help of walls and furniture, and is at least saying the words "Mom" and "Dad" (and "Tia," for our dog).

    The three of us will always have a connection to Lawrence because of Lily's birth here, so we'll never forget it (we'll be back to visit, at the very least). To the community that helped us raise Lily this past year, we say, Thanks!

    Lily celebrates her first birthday Thursday in Lawrence.

    Lily celebrates her first birthday Thursday in Lawrence. by Giles Bruce

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