Noe Valley Voice June 2001

More Mouths to Feed:
Miles Lewis Backer

By Maire Farrington

Wendy and Dean Backer and their 91/2-year-old son Sam will tell you that their newest family member, Miles Lewis Backer, has turned out to be a bit of a prankster. First, he skipped his due date and dawdled for a week, causing Mom and her doctors to decide to induce labor. Then, he tickled everyone by making a surprise entrance the night before his hospital appointment.

"The labor started here [at home]," says Wendy. "I wasn't even paying attention until we realized it was pretty regular. And Dean's aunt [Gail Belz, who lives in Diamond Heights] was here. She was going to spend the night because we were going to go to the hospital the next morning.... [But then] my water broke," and Miles insisted they get the show on the road.

Wendy and Dean rushed to California Pacific Medical Center, arriving at 9:15 p.m. Miles was born a mere four hours later -- at 1:16 a.m., on March 16, 2000-- weighing a healthy 81/2 pounds. "It was a pleasure trip," says Wendy, comparing the speedy delivery to the 18-hour birth experience she'd had with oldest son Sam. And having Dean by her side was a definite plus. "He's a great coach," she says.

Miles has ash blond hair, blue eyes, and eight teeth (and counting). "I think it's funny that Sam's losing teeth and Milo's gaining teeth," Wendy says.

Baby is named after his great-grandmothers on Dean's side, in the Jewish tradition of using the first letter of the name of a deceased relative. Miles is after Mildred Backer, and Lewis is after Lillian Belz. At home, he is affectionately known as Milo, and at 14 months he is quite the little dynamo.

"He's nonstop all day long," says Mom, "except if he's watching Sesame Street or a video," which is just about the only time you'll catch Miles sitting still.

Dean describes his son as very healthy and curious, "like most babies his age, I think. I don't know," he jokes. "I haven't been around that many lately. It's been a while."

Dad points out that Miles also has his willful side, and brother Sam agrees. "He's very happy, but also kind of 'I want what I want as soon as I want it,'" Sam says. "My favorite game I play with him is I pick him up and spin him around and then I put him on the ground and he kind of goes like this with his head," says Sam, demonstrating a wobbling motion. "And he'll let me hold him."

Wendy and Dean met in 1984 while working together on a film in New York. They were married in 1987 and moved to San Francisco four months later. Home was an apartment on Clipper Street until 1996, when they bought their house on Church Street. Wendy, 40, now works as vice president of sales for a business communications company. Dean, 41, is a set decorator in the motion picture industry.

Taking an eight-year break between children "seems easier than having them two or three years apart," Dean relates. "We're a lot more relaxed than we were with Sam," he says. "With Sam, everything was like, 'Oh my God!'" The family also enjoys the advantage of "cool new inventions," such as the Diaper Genie, which discreetly stows used diapers, and the nifty Velcro fasteners that have replaced the sticky tape variety.

Wendy agrees that raising Sam provided a confidence booster for the second round of parenting. "When we first brought Sam home, we laid him on the bed and we looked at him, and we were like, 'Ooooookay,'" she says, conveying the sense of anxiety that first-time parents often experience. "This time, it was [a breezy] 'All right, here you go.'"

Switching gears from only child to older sibling was not without its ups and downs for Sam, however. "The first time I saw him in the morning I thought he'd be like he is now -- playing around," says Sam. "I was thinking, 'Oh, he'll know who I am,' even though he'd never seen me before. And he looked at me like, 'Who are you? Get away from my mother.' So I was disappointed. But now when he sees me, he goes [lets out a happy squeal], 'There he is! There he is!'"

Miles is a regular visitor to Day Street Park, where he'll swing as high as he can on the baby swing or watch his brother play football. "He's always watching the big kids," says Dean. "He wants to do what they do."

Younger brother so loves the great outdoors that "he wonders when it rains why we can't go outside," says Wendy. When it's too wet for his daily stroll through the neighborhood, Miles will hunker down with his JumpStart Baby computer game. He also loves blocks and anything that rocks. He'll hop astride his gigantic stuffed banana toy that flips upward to form a U-shaped rocker.

On Wednesdays, he's off to Gymboree class for playtime with his toddler buddies. Back at home, he hones his dexterity by pulling the CDs out of the rack. He's even graduated to opening up the covers and removing the disks. "He can do it very easily, too," says Sam.

Miles also has become adept at turning the pages of the picture books his brother reads to him, although Sam has to cue him as to the appropriate timing. Miles has even been known to use his busy little hands to relieve the books of their binding.

One can't spend time with Miles without noticing his snappy sense of rhythm. Whenever one of his musical toys starts to play, he'll stop what he's doing and bounce along to the beat. "He loves to dance," says Dean, who frequently indulges his son by leading him in a waltz.

On a recent family outing to Golden Gate Park, the Backers happened upon some big-band swing dancing at the band shell, and of course Miles brought their stroll to a halt. "He insisted that we stop, so we had to go out and dance with him," Mom relates.

No matter where he is, he keeps the music playing. "In the car if I'm driving and we have one of our tapes on," Wendy says, "and there's that little pause between songs, he'll start doing that 'Uh-uh' [to signal he wants more]. And I'll say, 'It's coming. There's more music coming, don't worry.'"

Miles is known for making plenty of his own noises. "He's a lot different than Sam was at his age," says Dean. "Sam was real mellow, easygoing -- very quiet. He was verbal, but he wasn't a yeller. This one's loud."

"Every time I take him out, I hear someone say, 'He's got a great set of lungs,'" Wendy laughs.

There's no question, says Dad, that Miles adds his own unique stamp to the family. "They're completely different," Dean says of his two boys. "It's amazing. You think you make one model, that this is what you produce, and then out comes this one."

Wendy admits that she's "more tired, doing this at 40 than when I did it nine years ago. But it's been a wonderful rebirth for the family. Miles adds a different dimension of levity and lightness.... We always told Sam that we made Miles because we did so well with the first one," she says. "He was such a good one. We figured, how could we miss?"

More Mouths to Feed

wants to show off your newest family member. If you have welcomed a new baby into the house, or adopted a teenager, please send your announcement to the Noe Valley Voice, More Mouths to Feed, 1021 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA 94114. Or e-mail us at We'd also appreciate a phone number, so we can arrange for the family portrait.