Growth

The camera roll on my iPhone is totally out of control.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to remove photos from it since Charlotte was born. I want them all. All the time.

BUT, both my phone and iCloud are totally out of space, and I’m not about to pay for more iCloud space than I’m already paying for.

So this week, I started the overwhelming task of going through my photos one by one and deleting the ones that are repeats (am I the only one who takes 10 shots of one pose?), blurry, or things that I just don’t need to keep. I’ve been using my pump time to do this (an hour a day), so as of right now I’m 2.5 hours into this project. I started with the day Charlotte was born (July 26th) and I’ve made it all the way to… August 16th.

Yeah. I have a bit of a problem when it comes to taking pictures.

I mean, I’m grateful for the memories and all, but do I really need to remember every time Charlotte drooled? My brain says no, but my heart says yes. I’m working on it.

In the meantime, I’ve now logged several hours in front of Charlotte’s tiniest baby pictures and I feel like I’m being drowned by a wave of nostalgia. It’s actually physically painful to look at these pictures and know that my tiny baby will never be that tiny ever again.

Even worse are the feelings of regret. I look back to that time and I remember the battle with breastfeeding and all of the pressure I put on myself to make it work. It was a constant struggle—I was always worried about it. It made it so hard to just be in the moment with my newborn baby.

I want a do-over. I don’t want another baby, I just want to go back and re-live Charlotte’s first months. I want to hold my littlest love complete with all of the knowledge I have now. I want to let go of the anxiety and the worry and just be present in those weeks with her. I want to totally lose myself in her new baby smell and squeaky little coos.

I’d probably still make the decision to breastfeed, but at least I’d know how to make it work and I wouldn’t have to worry so damn much.

Today, Timehop showed me that one year ago (Charlotte was 5 days old) I was diagnosed with double mastitis and a raging UTI. (A UTI that it would take 3 different cycles of antibiotics to kick.)

I remember those days. I remember the tears and the frustration and the hormones. The bleeding and the pain. The desperation. The anxiety.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that that poor mess of a new mother was me. I’d give just about anything to be able to wrap that mama up in my arms and show her a glimpse of life right now. I wish she could have seen how it would all be okay. I wish she could have understood how second nature it would all become… how time would heal more than just the stitches and the infections.

The pictures show Charlotte growing before our very eyes, but it’s easy to forget how much we grow as mamas, too.

Friends Without Kids

Most of our friends don’t have kids. It’s just sort of happened that way. In the past week, I had two encounters with childless friends that have made me feel sort of lousy.

The first was mid-week last week. A friend and her husband were in town briefly and were able to spare a few hours to see Charlotte and eat some pizza with us. They’d been over for about an hour when the husband said, “So do you guys have anything going on other than the kid?”

It sort of felt like a slap to the face. Like, can we please talk about something other than life with your child? And to make matters worse, I couldn’t think of a single other thing to talk about. I need a solid bottle of wine if I’m going to have meaningful conversations about politics, the environment, or religion… and let’s face it, those conversations aren’t really great to have when you’re also trying to wrangle a one-year-old.

I sat there feeling like the kid at the table full of grownups. I wanted to stand up and shout, WAIT! I’M INTERESTING! I SWEAR!

Then on Saturday, a lot of our kid-free friends came to Charlotte’s party. It was SO nice to see them. I have missed spending time with our friends.

On Sunday, I was talking to Catch’s kid-free sister and I said something like, “We really need to try to spend more time with our friends.”

She jumped in really quick and said something like, “No, you really don’t have to. Trust me, the last thing they want is to be obligated to hang out with a kid.”

She went on to explain how she doesn’t really enjoy the evenings they have with their friends with kids. That the night ends too early and you don’t get to have adult conversation and then you leave at a time when most people’s night is just getting started and you feel sort of shortchanged by the evening.

Basically, she said that our non-parent friends feel like it’s a drag to hang out with us now that we’re moms.

Ouch.

There’s a part of me that wants to say, screw her, she’s wrong… but really, I think she’s probably right in a lot of ways.

Catch and I always had the party house. We were the ones who made elaborate meals and delighted in sharing food and copious amounts of liquor with our circle of friends. Now, people come over and I scramble to order a pizza and hope that the few beers I have in my fridge aren’t stale.

We aren’t just 30-somethings anymore. We’re parents. And we’re exhausted.

But we’re also kind of lonely. And how are we supposed to have interesting things to talk about if none of the interesting people in our life want to spend any time with us?

The Birthday

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I am a bit sad and majorly relieved to have Charlotte’s birthday behind us. It was exhausting!

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(Note to parents everywhere: Don’t wait until the baby is asleep to assemble the Cozy Coupe, or else you will be stuck outside in the dark hammering shit together because you didn’t realize that hammering metal things would be part of the assembly process and that shit is LOUD.)

What a day, though. It was amazing. Our house was SO full of family and friends. It was absolutely insane, and completely perfect (in all its imperfection).

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Have you heard about the big wildfire out here in Southern California? Well, it was over 100 degrees here on Saturday and we were right in the line of smoke and ash from that fire. 5 minutes after we set out the table cloths, they were dusted with ash. No bueno. Not to mention that the air quality was terrible.

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Basically, that meant that almost everyone squeezed themselves into our living room, dining room and kitchen. Our house is a cozy little thing. 1200 square feet. It was built in 1950 long before cavernous rooms were a thing. Off the top of my head, I’ve counted that we had at least 39 people at our house on Saturday. It was tight!

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Charlotte was showered in love. She got so many presents that it took us all weekend to open them all. Some of my favorites were the Unicorn Pony Cycle from my aunt and the Mary Queen of Scots rubber ducky from our Nanny who just returned from Scotland.

 

The birthday was everything I hoped it would be. We had a ton of help getting everything ready. I got the decorations finished. The food was good. The cake was totally perfect. People showed up… boy did they show up! Charlotte was happy all day. We just couldn’t have wished for a better celebration of Charlotte’s first year.

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Happy Birthday, Baby

My sweet Charlotte,

One year ago, you were placed in my arms for the very first time, and if it were up to me, I would never have let go.

Unfortunately, I can’t stop time and so I’ve had to let go many, many times this past year—and each time I’ve let you go, your mama and I have watched in wonder as you grew before our eyes.

You learned to laugh and smile.

You sat on your own.

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You crawled.

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You celebrated all of your first holidays.

The year has been filled to the brim with firsts. I can’t even begin to list them all. Know that the joy in our lives has increased with every one of your milestones. Just when I think I couldn’t possibly be any happier, you do something new and my heart explodes with happiness.

You’ve grown inch after inch and gained pound after pound since this day last year. I look back at those tiny newborn clothes and I just can’t believe that you ever fit into them. You are such a big girl now! I’m so grateful that I have ten thousand photos to remind me of how small you were. (Seriously, sometimes mama really needs to put down the camera… but you’re just so CUTE!)

You are a force to be reckoned with these days, my little one. You have strong opinions about everything, and you let us know exactly how you feel. When you’re happy, it’s impossible for us not to be happy, and when you’re sad, our hearts break for you.

You adore the outdoors. The beach, the pool, the park, and the back yard are your happy places. If there is fresh air and sunshine and we can give you a little bit of room to explore, you are just the happiest baby. People stop to share in your joy when we’re outside—it’s infectious.

You are constantly in motion. We can’t get you to sit still for longer than a minute. There’s always another room you’d rather be in or another obstacle you need to climb. (The climbing! Oh my gosh, you scare me to death! It’s great that you know how to get up on things, but I can’t wait for you to learn to get down off of them safely—right now, you dive head first and we just have to pray that we’re close enough to catch you.) You don’t like to be restrained by anything for too long—the stroller and the high chair are fine until you decide that they’re not fine and then you will protest loudly and use all your strength to try to free yourself.

The other night while I was chopping up a mango for your dinner, you dumped out the dogs’ water bowl onto one of the kitchen rugs. The next morning, you opened up a cabinet while your other mom was making you a bottle and you dumped a bottle of vinegar all over the floor. Nothing is safe. Clearly we need to improve our babyproofing skills. You are just so curious, and you want to explore everything. Who could blame you? The world is a magical place for a baby!

You still aren’t the biggest fan of nighttime sleep, my little one. Sometimes you “only” wake up twice, and sometimes it’s more like 5 times. Every once in a blue moon, you’ll sleep longer than expected and I’ll wake up and find myself missing you. As hard as it is to be up with you at all hours, I enjoy those quiet moments with you. (And sometimes we fall asleep together in the glider, but don’t tell your mom because she gets mad at me!)

Every night at bedtime, I stand over your crib and sing “You Are My Sunshine” because you ARE my sunshine. You light up my life like nothing and no one ever has.

Happy birthday, sweet girl. You are a miracle.

All my love,

Mama

 

 

 

The first birthday party

I have always been a crafty person. Catch used to give me a hard time because I had too many hobbies and too much stuff to go along with them.

I always envisioned that I’d be the mom who was constantly making things for her kid, but that hasn’t been the case. At all. For the last year, I’ve been way too busy momming, and there hasn’t been time for much else.

I started pinning ideas for Charlotte’s first birthday party on Pinterest months ago, and I decided that this was going to be it. This was going to be the time that I MAKE time for making. I was going to craft the hell out of this birthday party.

Except… yeah. Not so much.

Instead, I spent a lot of energy getting us ready for Mexico, and then we were IN Mexico and then we had to get home and unpack, and now we have to get the house ready for the 30 people who are coming to her party on Saturday.

So much for making time.

I’m doing what I can, though… with breaks and lunch hours and such. I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all. I want to do so much, and I want everything to be perfect and photo ready and frankly, I’m just a damn crazy person because the only person who cares about these details is me.

I’m sort of enjoying the crazy, though. For now. And I’m trying to promise myself that when I stop enjoying the crazy, I will calm the hell down and just STOP. But we’re not there yet, so if you’ll excuse me, I have to go spend some more time trying not to cut my fingers off.

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Weaning

I just went 12 days without pumping. I’m sure my pumping mama friends understand how amazing that is. It was like a vacation on top of a vacation. In fact, I got so used to not pumping that I was an hour late to the mothers’ room at work yesterday because I completely forgot.

Charlotte will be a year old on Saturday, (Yes, I know—I can’t believe it either.) and those 12 days were enough time to officially seal the deal: it’s time to wean.

It’s bittersweet. I love nursing Charlotte. Our breastfeeding relationship is so special, and I worked SO HARD to make it happen. Once we’re done, there’s no going back and on the cusp of her first birthday, I have some pretty big feels about that.

But I want my body back. I want to be able to take Excedrin when I get a headache, and to have that second drink when we’re out at dinner with friends. (Because THAT happens so often. Hah!) I want my breasts to be fun again. I want to put on a normal bra and wear clothes without worrying about whether I can nurse/pump in them or not. I want to go wine tasting and make someone else be the designated driver. I want to go on a date with my wife and not worry about how many hours we’re out so I don’t have to pump in the middle of our date. I want to stop worrying about how much water I’m drinking, and I especially want to stop taking the gazillion pills a day I’m popping to help my supply.

I’m just done.

Of course, I only have a very loose idea of how to be done. Weaning scares me. And to top it off, I feel guilty because my reasons for wanting to wean are so selfish. I would do ANYTHING for my kid… except this? That feels kind of wrong. But I know I’ll be happier to have that bit of freedom again, and having a happier mom has to be a good thing for Charlotte. (Hello, rationalization!)

The bottom line is that I’m taking 160 mg of dom every day to keep my milk supply where it is, and I don’t want to continue taking this medication indefinitely. I feel like I’ve been on it long enough, and it’s time to call it quits on the drugs. You’re supposed to wean off of dom slowly – 10 mg per week – so it’s going to be about 16 weeks before the drugs are out of my system, but my supply will likely be nonexistent much sooner than that.

Beyond reducing the dom, I don’t yet know what path I’m going to take. Weaning is going to start with the pump for sure. I have no clue how I’m going to handle Charlotte’s requests for boobs. I don’t know whether it’s best to go cold turkey, or to slowly start discouraging her from nursing. I’m hoping that my diminished supply will help once I start dropping the dom. I don’t know how we’re going to handle bottles and all of the other things I need to figure out. It’s going to be a process for sure. I just hope I can make this happen with as little drama as possible.

Help

Hey friends!

Charlotte has started trying to climb out of her crib. She hoists herself up and gets her feet off the ground so she’s hanging on the top bar. She could easily flip herself over and out. It’s totally freaking me out.

She’s too young for a toddler bed. We’d never get her to sleep. I have no idea what to do with this. Any experience/ideas/advice? I’m grasping at straws.

Vacation with the Munchkin

I was pretty scared to take this trip to Mexico with an 11 month old. Between the flights, the time difference, and Charlotte’s new found tendency to throw herself on the floor and scream, my expectations were pretty low.

It turns out, we had an AMAZING time. I don’t even think I can do it justice.

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The flight there was a bit (ok… a LOT) rough. Not because she was screaming, but because she is just impossible to contain. At one point, I was totally at my wit’s end and I let her sit on the floor between my legs and eat the crumbs of a packet of saltine crackers right off of the airplane floor. Not one of my finest parenting moments, but it bought us all 5 minutes of desperately needed peace. The flight home was much easier because we WORE HER OUT at the airport and she fell asleep at take off and slept for about half of the flight.

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We were prepared for the airplane with snacks (so many snacks!), toys, sippy cups, pacifiers… you name it. It’s just that nothing held her attention for longer than 30 seconds because she wanted to CRAWL. And of course, that’s not really an option when you’re on a plane.

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She did get her wings for taking her first flight, which was pretty dang cute. One for the baby book.

In other general travel news, we had a really difficult time getting the stupid car seat into the taxi on the way to and from the airport. The seat belts in Mexican taxis are not like the seat belts in the new cars we drive at home, and they were SO HARD to adjust. I’m getting anxious just thinking about it. I’m not sure what I’d do differently next time to solve that problem.

The real vacation began once the travel was behind us. Our days looked like this:

-Wake up and have breakfast.

-Hit the beach. Charlotte would crawl around like a crazy baby in the sand and the water. She was the star of the show and everyone who passed us on the beach would stop to laugh at her antics or ask questions about her.

-Rinse off in the showers and head to the pool (to get rid of the rest of the sand). The pool was only steps from the beach. We’d stake out a shady palapa for the day and then after a while I’d take Charlotte up for her morning nap while Catch and my mom stayed by the pool. Catch would come relieve me after an hour, and I’d get some quiet time by the pool with my mom.

-Charlotte would join us back at the pool around lunch time, and we’d enjoy some lunch by the pool and swim until it was time for her afternoon nap. We’d all pack up for the afternoon nap and head back to our rooms. Afternoon naps were for everyone. Sometimes Charlotte would nap in bed with us, and sometimes she’d nap in her crib.

-After afternoon naps, we’d shower and head out for dinner somewhere. We got to meet up with some friends for dinner one night–they were staying two hotels away from us! Unfortunately, that was the ONE night that Charlotte totally freaked out in the restaurant and I had to leave. I had been having such a nice time so I was pretty bummed to have to go.

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– After dinner, we’d hit the beach again until sunset, followed by a short night swim before bedtime. Bedtime was around 9/9:30 every night (there was a 2 hour time difference and we wanted to keep her on “home” time).

Basically, we lived in the water for a week and it was total perfection. Charlotte was active and happy. She napped like a pro, and went down to sleep easily every night. (Nighttime sleep was rough, as usual–no surprise there!) All of the fresh air and sunshine was so good for all of us.

I credit the routine for helping us stay sane. We got into a great rhythm and just stuck with it. Neither of us felt any need to leave the area around the resort because we were all so happy and relaxed there.

I didn’t think it was going to be possible to have a relaxing vacation with an 11 month old, but I did. I couldn’t have hoped for a better trip. All of that quality time with Catch and Charlotte was exactly what I needed… what we all needed.

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Catch and I spent a lot of time hiding in the bathroom of our hotel room while we waited for Charlotte to fall asleep, and even more time sitting quietly in the dark after she was out. It was slightly inconvenient, but it forced us to go to bed early and have some quiet time each day… not really such a bad thing.

I’ve been easing myself back into reality, but I’m struggling with going back to work on Monday. I don’t want this time with my little family to end. Being away from work has been so good for me in so many ways. I really needed this break, but I could use another week. Or month. Or lifetime. Time to buy a lotto ticket, I think.

Anyway, the moral of the story is this:

The vacation you’re afraid to take with your crazy baby? Take it. It’s worth every second of hassle.

347 Days

Last night as flag-clad-Charlotte gnawed on a cob of corn with one hand while flailing a rib bone in the other, it occurred to me that yesterday—American Independence Day—was the last of her “first” holiday experiences. With just a few weeks to go until her first birthday, we have run the gamut on holidays. I will never again peruse the little kiosk of “Baby’s First X” apparel at the Carter’s store.

I have found myself feeling nostalgic for pregnancy lately. Timehop has been displaying a series of belly shots, reminders of my last day of work before maternity leave, pictures of the beginnings of her nursery. I’ve found myself thinking longingly of the lazy breakfasts Catch and I would have on our lounge chairs out back while we enjoyed a few weeks off at home together for the first and last time. I miss watching my belly move—the excited anticipation. When I reminisce, it feels like watching the life of another person. Was that really us? How times have changed.

Tomorrow, we’ll board a plane to Puerto Vallarta for our first family vacation since the arrival of our little tornado. The last time we were in PV, it was all freshly shaved legs, perfect pedicures, tequila, sunsets, and our legs tangled together underwater. This time, it is pool floats, sunscreen, chipped toenail polish, nap schedules, do-I-really-need-to-shave?, and more luggage than a college kid moving into a dorm.

The speed at which babies change your life will give you whiplash.