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Twix

Catch and I moved in together after we’d been dating for about 9 months. It was Easter weekend—in April that year. And in case moving in together wasn’t a big enough step, the very next thing we did was get a puppy. As you do.

We tried adopting from a number of rescue groups in the LA area, but they ALL turned us away. We weren’t married. We worked too much. (Um—Catch is a teacher? She has SO MANY days off.) At one point, we totally fell in love with a puppy. She was about six months old. After we submitted our application, they told us we could come get her in a week. When we showed up to pick her up–brand new leash and collar in hand–we were told that there was a family looking at her right now and that they had to do what they felt was best for the dog. We left empty-handed.

As much as we wanted to rescue a dog, we were frustrated beyond belief. We turned to the classified ads and found an ad for basset hound puppies. I still have one of the photos from the ad.

twixs-siblings

After a phone call, it was decided that Catch would drive out to the middle of nowhere after work on the Friday before Memorial Day to retrieve our new puppy. I was stuck at work dealing with an obligation to a client.

I ended up getting horribly sick at my client’s office that afternoon (nothing like puking in your client’s bathroom)—and then I had to sit in well over an hour of horrid holiday traffic to get home. I went straight to bed when I got home.

You know what cures a stomach bug?

Puppies.

When Catch walked through the door with our puppy tucked under her arm, I almost cried. She was SO SQUISHY. She was SO LITTLE. She was so OURS.

We named her Twix because she was chocolate, caramel and cookie colored.

That night, we set her little puppy bed beside my side of the bed, laid her down and turned out the light. She cried and cried. I vividly remember scooping her up and telling Catch, “She needs her mommy.”

twix-mellytwix-play

That was ten years ago, and when the lights go out, you are still guaranteed to find that dog in bed with me—probably between my legs with her head resting on the back of one of my thighs.

Twix was my first baby. I love this dog so much that we once came home early from a vacation just because I missed her. She is my best friend. My Twixie Dog.

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So you can imagine how I felt when our veterinarian called yesterday afternoon to tell us that Twix very likely has cancer. You can imagine how my heart broke. You can imagine the tears.

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We don’t know much about any of it for now, and we likely won’t until they do repeat tests in three months. For now, we just sit with this knowledge and hope for the best while we make the most of our time with her.

I knew this would happen eventually. I’m not 25 anymore, and she’s no puppy. I’ve  avoided facing her age because our house isn’t going to feel like home without our Twix. Between our problems with Rolo and now this, it feels like everything is caving in on me at once. I’m not ready for this–but then, I don’t think I could ever be ready.

Rolo

rolo

There are a few different things floating around inside my head this morning. My in-laws are visiting for a few days and they showed up with a talking Elmo potty for our 14 month old daughter. Also, my dog bit my kid.

Like how I snuck that in there?

Sigh.

It’s been a long couple of days.

Catch and I have always been so proud of the care our dogs have received over the years. They are 10 and 11 now and we have pretty much financed our vet’s retirement over the years. They have always received whatever care they needed.

Then, Charlotte was born and we had to start paying for child care, which amounts to basically a shit ton of money. The dogs have been loved and well fed, but they’re not receiving their standard level of medical care.

Rolo has had a problem with his nose for several years. When we last discussed it with our vet, she suggested that her gut tells her it’s cancer and gave us orders to take him to a specialist to have him put under so that they can scope his nose and run tests on whatever is in there. Also, they were going to have to run tests before they could knock him out because he has a heart murmur—so add $$$ for that. It was going to cost a small fortune, and even back then, we just couldn’t do it. We felt like there was no point. It’s not like we’re going to put him through cancer treatment. So we didn’t take him, and we just accepted that this is how it’s going to be. Rolo wasn’t really too bothered by the nose thing. He still ate and played and begged for walks and loved life. We felt okay about our decision.

Since that visit two-ish years ago, Rolo’s been fine. The nose issue comes and goes. Sometimes it flares up and sometimes he’s absolutely fine. We just sort of rolled with it.

He’s in the midst of a pretty bad flare up right now, and it’s been bothering him a lot. He yelps if anything comes in contact with it. We knew he was hurting, but we also knew that if we gave it some time, it would go away.

One morning last week, Rolo was sitting in the window on an ottoman (just like in the photo above) and Charlotte walked over to him and accidentally hit his nose. Rolo went BALLISTIC. He got right in her face and snarled and snapped and barked. He didn’t bite her, thank dog, but he scared the crap out of me and Charlotte. Charlotte SOBBED for the longest time—she LOVES Rolo. She had no idea what to make of that.

I called Catch in a panic and we agreed that we needed to get him to the vet ASAP. Catch made him an appointment for late that afternoon with a new vet because we’ve moved about an hour (in traffic) away from our old vet. In the meantime, we planned to just keep Rolo and Charlotte separated.

The vet appointment never happened. Catch arrived on time with Rolo and waited for over two hours before she walked out. We were SO angry. We ended up calling our old vet and scheduling an appointment for Saturday.

$913 later on Saturday afternoon, we learned that Rolo needs another $1500 worth of work. The vet doesn’t believe this is cancer at this point, and thinks it could be either a fungal infection or rhinitis, BUT on top of the nose, he has an abscess on a tooth that is now missing, severe gingivitis, and needs at least one other tooth pulled. So basically, his mouth hurts and his nose hurts, and it’s no wonder he reacted so severely to being hit in the snout.

We made him an appointment to get his mouth taken care of on Wednesday and when they put him under for the mouth, they will further investigate the nose.

We’ve been watching Charlotte and Rolo like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t get close to him, which is hard because they really love each other.

Then, yesterday after my in-laws arrived, we were ALL in the den, which is just a tiny converted bedroom. It’s a seriously tight space for 4 adults, and toddler and two dogs. It was a BAD idea for us to be in there with Charlotte and Rolo.

Sure enough, Charlotte tripped over Rolo and landed on his face and he went berserk. There was much yelling. I kicked Rolo away from Charlotte, but not before I watched his teeth drag across her face. Charlotte freaked out. I freaked out. My in-laws sat there insisting that he hadn’t bitten her, but they didn’t see it from my angle.

It wasn’t a bad bite. It looked and sounded much worse than it actually was. She had a scratch on her cheek near her ear and a few small circular marks on her forehead, but there was no blood and the circle tooth marks didn’t even bruise overnight. I am counting my blessings on that—this could have been SO MUCH worse.

But of course that doesn’t change the fact that my dog bit my baby, and that’s just not acceptable in any way shape or form.

It’s hard to fault Rolo for this. He’s in extreme pain (we do have him on pain meds, but clearly they’re not enough). He reacted like an animal—which he is. I cannot expect human reasoning from my dog. He is a part of our family, yes, but he is still a canine.

We knew we needed to keep her away from him and we failed. This is entirely on us, and I feel like absolute shit about it.

We don’t yet know what the long term is going to look like for Rolo. We’ll see what happens on Wednesday. If they can get his mouth cleaned up and get his nose figured out, we may be in the clear. (Not totally—I will obviously never be able to trust him again.) On the other hand, if this pain is going to be chronic, we’re going to have to seriously examine some other options. None of which I am okay with.

Anyway, this was a really long post, so I’m just going to call it quits and ask that you send some love our way. This all just really sucks.

(And before anyone asks, Rolo has been isolated in the house now. The kitchen has a baby gate, so now Rolo has to stay in the kitchen–which is really fine because the doggie door is in the kitchen, and he also has access to the guest room for a comfy bed. Still, it’s a huge change for him, and at his age, change is hard.)

My Kid was THAT Kid

We chose to hire a nanny versus putting Charlotte in day care because it’s what I was most comfortable with for my 4 month old baby after exploring the day care centers in our area that had space for her.

Having a nanny has been a blessing in a lot of ways. Charlotte gets the kind of one-on-one attention that she’d get from us. They play and sing, and the whole day revolves around Charlotte. I don’t have to pack a lunch or send bottles or anything else that would make our mornings more hectic than they are. Plus, the dogs have company all day, and they love being home with their baby. It’s been great.

The down side to the nanny scenario is that Charlotte is the only kid. She doesn’t have to share. She hasn’t watched much social interaction between kids. It’s literally her own little planet.

Once Charlotte got stable on her feet, we started spending weekends at the park. It’s great for our high-energy little one, and we figured it would be good for her to be around other kids. It turns out that the park isn’t the best place to meet other kids, though. At least not in our neighborhood. There aren’t very many little ones her age when we go, and she can’t keep up with the bigger kids.

This is all part of the reason why I decided to take her to a kid gym class when I was off with her on Thursday. I wanted to see how she’d do in a room full of kids that were in her age range. (And you know—the play part was a factor too!)

So we show up for class, and Charlotte’s eyes practically bugged out of her head when she saw the play space. BALLS EVERYWHERE. Yoga balls, playground balls, ball pit… holy crap, the kid was in HEAVEN. I’m trying to get her shoes off and she’s just pointing and saying “Ball, ball, ball, ball…”

She got to run around the play space for a few minutes before class started, and it was awesome. She was so happy running from one thing to the next.

Until circle time happened. Picture a big circle filled with about a dozen toddlers each with an adult. Eleven of those toddlers are going with the program, happily enjoying the song/stretches/etc. One toddler is screaming and writhing out of her mom’s arms and pitching an absolute fit.

Guess which one was Charlotte?

If you guessed the screaming one, you are correct.

I had to get up and remove her form the circle so I could try to talk her down. While I was talking to her, circle time ended and they started some free play, so she went straight from tantrum to her happy place. BALLS.

Except it turns out that other kids like balls, too. Imagine that.

Well, my kid couldn’t imagine why another kid would want to play with a ball, and was intent on ripping balls out of their hands no matter how many other balls were currently available to her. And when I would stop and tell her that she needs to share and give the ball back to the poor shocked child standing there with outstretched arms, Charlotte would MELT. DOWN.

It wasn’t pretty, folks. Not pretty at all.

I’m not saying it was ALL bad. She had SO MUCH FUN playing. She was bouncing on anything that could bounce and gleefully running through the space squealing. She climbed and swung and tumbled her heart out. That part was great.

She’s just SO LACKING social skills. She has no idea how to be around other children. #momfail

It’s hard because our nanny doesn’t drive, so the most they can do is walk to the park during the day. That means it’s on us (with our very limited time with her) to make sure she’s getting some solid social time.

I don’t want my kid to be the pain in the ass scream-y kid in the play group! I’m grateful that I took that time with her on Thursday because otherwise I would have remained pleasantly oblivious to all of this for a while longer. Better to know now so we can start working on it!

This weekend, we’re going to decide which of two kid gym groups we’re going to join so we can start paying through the nose to get her an hour of social play time each week. (This shit is so damn expensive!)

Also, it is painfully obvious that we need more friends with kids. Because I have so much free time to devote to trying to make mom friends. Is there a match.mom?

Time

Lately, I have really been feeling the strain of working full time. I miss my daughter so much that it actually hurts. Her caregivers spend more time with her than I do. I hate it. I even resent it.

Our nanny was on vacation part of this week, so we had to make alternate arrangements for Charlotte Wednesday through Friday. This was planned well over a month in advance, so we had plenty of notice. My mom took her on Wednesday and the plan was for Catch and I to each take a day off to accommodate the rest of the week. Thursday was my day.

I’ve been looking forward to my day off with Charlotte for weeks. It is exceedingly rare that I get to spend a day alone with my girl. I can’t even remember the last time we had a whole day to ourselves.

Then on Tuesday, I got sucked into giving a big presentation to our executive team at their meeting. On Thursday. I was pretty upset about it. (Understatement.) The stars aligned though (!!!), and my boss ended up deciding he was going to deal with it himself so I got to have my day with Charlotte after all.

We had such a great day. This morning as I drove to work, I felt recharged. Happy, even. It was a total transformation. (Although it also helped that I didn’t have to peel my crying child off of me and pass her to the nanny when I left this morning.)

We didn’t do anything very special. We went out for breakfast and to the park with my dad in the morning. Then she took a good, solid nap and after she woke up and had lunch, we bought dog treats and went to one of those kid gym classes for the first time. (We’ve been talking about doing that for MONTHS, but the class schedule has never worked out between our work schedules and her nap schedule.) At the end of our “fun,” I was happy to come home and leave her with Catch while I cooked dinner for us all.

I learned yesterday that this is something I need to do from time to time. Take an occasional day off and just BE with my kid. It seems kind of obvious when I think about it.

Random Monday Things

– Charlotte and I both wore our donut pajamas to bed on Saturday night, and when we woke up on Sunday morning the donut fairy* had visited. Note to self: coordinate wearing of donut pajamas more frequently.

Eating a donut from Molly on Vimeo.

– Catch and I decided that we’d go out for dinner with Charlotte after running a few errands on Saturday afternoon. Catch invited my parents. As we sat in the booth with our crazy toddler who was excitedly reaching for beer glasses and throwing knives across the table (what can I say? She’s enthusiastic.), I looked at Catch and mentioned how nice it was to have my parents there because they were dealing with Charlotte’s insanity while we ate in (reasonable) peace. She looked at me and said, “Why do you think I invited them?” Clearly, I do not give my wife enough credit. She is brilliant.

– I’ve been wearing my fit bit for the first time in a year. I have gained a half a pound since I put it on. Sigh.

– Yesterday, we had one of our friends over for an early Sunday dinner. After dinner, I sort of forced her into the bathroom to bathe Charlotte with Catch. After she left, I was feeling like that was probably a bizarre thing to do to one of our childless friends and wondered what on earth I was thinking. This morning, said friend (who I happen to work with) walked into my office and proclaimed that she wants to be able to give a baby a bath every week because it was so much fun. She is a good egg. I think we’ll keep her.

– We desperately want to take Charlotte camping, but all of our favorite sites (ie, sites that are within a few hours of home and have things like running water that would make life with a toddler manageable) are booked until they go off of the online reservations system in December. I liked to camp before camping was cool. Damn these hipsters who made camping trendy. I just want to take my daughter somewhere pretty where she can breathe fresh air and see the stars and get filthy. Is that too much to ask?

-Sometimes, my kid is really weird. I don’t even know what she’s doing at the beginning of this video. For a minute, I thought she was having a stroke, but no… she’s just weird.

Weird Child at Breakfast from Molly on Vimeo.

 

Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely weekend and that you stayed clear of toddlers throwing knives at restaurants.

 

* AKA Catch, who was awake at an ungodly hour and went out and got donuts.

Preschool

Our plan is to start Charlotte at a daycare/preschool next August/September. La la la… that’s a year away… we’ll deal with it later.

Except, we won’t deal with it later because WAIT LISTS.

Every single preschool in this damn city has a wait list. Apparently, we should have started shopping for preschool before we started our baby registry.

Catch and I have spent the week researching preschools that are a) close to home (because we both work in opposite directions of each other and I will be doing drop off but she will be doing pick up), b) affordable, and c) not hell holes/have good reviews.

We came up with a list this week and Catch started a spreadsheet and began contacting each school to inquire about wait lists, tuition, tours, etc. As we were sitting on the grass playing with Charlotte in the back yard the other night, we discovered that we were both drawn to one particular school. It’s a larger school with a gorgeous campus, a beautiful play area, farm animals and a huge swimming pool. It has five star ratings everywhere we’ve looked, and it’s 1.7 miles from our house.

I figured this place was a pipe dream. No way could we afford it and no way was she getting anywhere near that place before kindergarten.

THEN, we found out that we CAN afford this place AND they said she’ll have no trouble getting in as long as we fill out an application when we do our tour in a few weeks.

Christmas came early, folks. CHAMPAGNE FOR EVERYONE!

I am so fucking relieved.

My kid may not sleep worth a damn, but she is going to get into preschool and I did not have to sell a kidney. #momwin

I’m really trying here, but…

Yesterday…

Catch: Charlotte can have a turkey sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

MIL: OK

This morning…

Me: (on my way out the door) You’ve got lunch covered, right?

MIL: Yes, I’m making her a grilled cheese sandwich.

Me: No, like Catch said yesterday, please make her a turkey sandwich.

MIL: OK

This afternoon:

Text from MIL: Charlotte had grilled cheese for lunch.

I mean come on. I’m trying. I’m really trying. But seriously?

I know this is not that big of a deal. The difference between a turkey sandwich and grilled cheese is negligible. It’s not like she poisoned my kid. It’s still a freaking sandwich.

It’s just the principle.

I’ve got to start letting this little shit go. I just get so frustrated. Catch lets it roll right off with an upward flick of her eyes and a shrug of her shoulders. Why can’t I be more like that?

A Case of the Mondays

First thing this morning, I got into it with an anonymous stranger online about something I never anticipated becoming a thing. It escalated until I turned into a royal bitch and told her that I hope she enjoys the view from the high road. She promptly left the group afterward, leaving me feeling a strange mix of victorious and guilty. I should have just left it alone. I know better than to get into it with strangers on the internet.

In the midst of that, my in-laws arrived at my house 90 minutes early and woke Charlotte up from her nap despite being told that she would be napping at that time. My mom babysits on Mondays, so she had to deal with the crazy barking dogs and the screaming baby who was rudely awakened by said barking. I felt bad for my mom, plus I was so angry at my in-laws for not following our (pretty clear?) instructions so I totally went off on my wife because WHY CAN’T YOUR PARENTS EVER LISTEN. We’d been having a really great couple of day until I blew this particular fuse and now my wife is thoroughly pissed off at me.

As a result of all of this anger, I pumped about 3 ounces less than usual.

I have two blisters on my left foot because I decided to wear some shoes that I haven’t worn in ages on the same day that I decided I’m going to start the FitBit challenge that makes sure you get up off your ass during the workday and walk.

Now I don’t want to go home because although my baby girl is there and I want nothing more than to collapse into a heap with her, my in-laws will be there vying for her attention along with my pissed off wife.

Please send chocolate. And wine.

 

Expectations

Ten years ago, I had a lot of expectations of what pregnancy/motherhood would be like.

I expected that I would get pregnant reasonably easily. It took 2 years and IVF.

I expected that a heartbeat at an ultrasound would equal a baby. It doesn’t.

I expected that since childbirth is something women are “built for,” I would bounce right back. I didn’t.

I expected that breastfeeding would come naturally and be easy. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Anyway, you get the point. In the game of expectation versus reality, I lose. Every time.

The point of all of this is that my daughter—the light of my life—the center of my universe—the miracle that I went to hell and back to give life to—still can’t sleep for shit.

I expected sleepless nights. I did. I remember hanging out with my 4-week old baby in the middle of the night while she frolicked happily in her swing and I propped my eyelids open with toothpicks and feeling like it was okay because this is how it’s supposed to be. Tiny babies don’t sleep through the night. I can handle that. And I did handle it.

Then, I went back to work and had a nervous breakdown because it turns out that it’s really hard to function in the corporate world when you’ve been sleeping in two hour increments for 16 weeks.

Ten months later, I am still getting up with this child 3-4 times a night. Then I get up and head to work so I can adult for 8 hours. And then I come home, feed my family, play with my child, put her to bed and start the whole process all over again a few hours later.

This was not my expectation. Not at all. At this stage in the game, I anticipated a kid who slept through the night and that I would somehow be a model employee and a parenting magazine cover-worthy mother while also maintaining my status as a kick ass wife.

Hello reality. Meet my bitchslap.

I have given up on sleep. I have given up on parenting magazine covers. I have given up on ladder-climbing (I’ll just doze here on my current rung for a bit). I’m actually working a bit on the wife part, but let’s face it—kick ass is probably a level I won’t be reaching anytime soon.

I think I’ve reached a point in my life where it’s time to start lowering my expectations. A lot. At 25, it’s healthy to have high expectations—but if I don’t lower that damn bar a bit at 35, I’m just going to end up with a broken hip and arthritis.

So here we go. My new batch of lowered expectations:

Screw sleeping through the night. I expect that my child will wake up at least 3 times after 11 pm.

Screw losing the baby weight. I expect that my jeans will be tight because I am using sugar as a crutch.

Screw being a model employee. I expect that I will be late 4/5 days a week.

Screw the healthy organic food for my toddler. I expect that my child will refuse to eat the meals I have lovingly spent hours prepping and accept that there may just be a crap ton of frozen pancakes in my future.

Screw having a social life. I expect that I will continue to dodge social obligations out of sheer exhaustion indefinitely.