Ultrasounds Past

American Thanksgiving is in a few days. A few days before Thanksgiving two years ago was when we first heard two heartbeats at an ultrasound. It feels like a lifetime ago—and also like it was yesterday. How that’s possible, I’m not sure.

That was a magical day. One I will never forget. Nor will I forget showing those ultrasound photos to our closest family over pumpkin pie and watching their faces as their eyes realized what they were seeing. “Twins!” my aunt exclaimed. We all smiled as I sipped my room temperature ginger ale.

Fast forward two years and we are chasing after a solitary toddler… And she makes our world go ‘round. She is the sun and the moon and the stars all shining bright within 25 pounds of pure energy.

Sometimes it feels like her spirit is big enough for two. Sometimes, I am grateful that we only have one.

Mostly, I’m just grateful that I get to be her mother.

What a journey it’s been.

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One

We are in teething hell once again. My memory is a bit hazy, but I’m fairly certain this is the worst it’s ever been for our poor girl—and that’s saying something because teething has never been kind to her.

We got up with her around 2:30 am. I nursed her and rocked her in the dark for a bit before putting her back in her crib and sneaking back to my own bed. The quiet lasted for about ten minutes. Long enough to believe it was going to stick, which made it all the more painful when she started crying again. I waited. The crying stopped again after less than a minute. Relief. I closed my eyes. More crying. A minute goes by and the crying stops again. It’s quiet for a couple of minutes and then wham—more crying.

This went on for about 45 minutes.

I don’t often leave Charlotte to cry in her crib, but I do generally wait to see if the crying is really going to stick or if she’s just going to squawk for a moment and then go right back to sleep. In this case, neither sleep nor extended crying happened, but I gave up and went back into her room once it became clear that none of us were going to get any sleep if we didn’t get this kid back to dreamland.

Wrong answer. We walked into her room and she started SCREAMING. The kind of sobs that leave you soaking wet and gasping for air. No amount of rocking/nursing/singing/soothing was calming her down. We tried to get some Motrin in her and the screaming escalated to a place I didn’t even know existed.

That’s how we found ourselves watching Sesame Street at 3:30 am.  At 4 am, she scooted herself out of my lap, grabbed one of my knitting needles off the coffee table and took off through the house in her footed pajamas with a squeal of delight.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore playing with my kid. I love when she gets silly and runs through the house like a wild banshee. But at 4 am, I don’t love anything except sleep. I scooped up my little wild thing and we returned to her bedroom while she twisted in my arms and screamed NO NO NO NO NO.

I was back in my bed at 4:17 am. Catch’s alarm goes off at 5, so she never even bothered coming back to bed, opting for a spot on the couch with a blanket and a warm hound.

Today, my body aches and my eyes feel like sandpaper.

I am telling you this to explain why we will not be having another child. Nope. Not happening. One and done. Thank you very much, universe, for our precious gift. Future precious gifts can involve sleep, coffee, alcohol, or cash. Babies are officially off the Christmas list.

Edited to add:

Also, this:

Step One

I’ve been reaching out to family law and adoption attorneys since the election.

The other day, our president elect said that gay marriage has already been decided by the supreme court and that it’s a done deal. In almost the same breath, he promised to overturn Roe v Wade, which is also a supreme court decision and so should also be a done deal by his own logic. So excuse me if I have a hard time believing that my family is (legally) safe from the repercussions of this man’s pending administration.

Since we were married at the time of Charlotte’s birth, we are eligible for a streamlined second parent adoption in California. I have learned that all that really means is that we’re exempt from a home study. That’s great and all, but it doesn’t have the tremendous impact on the bottom line that I had hoped for.

It is going to cost us $2700 for Catch to adopt Charlotte. Her own daughter—by decree of both Charlotte’s birth certificate and every contract we signed at the fertility clinic. Everything I read online said $2-3k, but I saw folks in other states who were looking at figures closer to $1500, and I was really hoping that’s where the ball would drop. Obviously not.

I’m grateful at the moment that we only have one Charlotte, because if we had to pay for two (+!) adoptions, I’d probably say fuck it and insist that we just take up residence on a deserted island far, far away and live off of coconut.

I have no idea how we’re going to come up with $2700. I am contemplating opening an Etsy shop and selling knitted things, but I have so little time these days and knitting takes so long—I don’t know that I’d even be able to put a dent in it.

I’d sell a kidney, but I have a feeling I’m going to be drinking a lot over the next 4-8 years, so it’s probably best if I keep them both.

I know we’ll figure it out. We always do. And honestly, I feel like I’m using the financial burden as a crutch because it is so much easier to focus on $2700 than it is to focus on the big picture—the extreme prejudice of this incoming administration. Many, many people in this country have far more to fear than Catch and I, and their fears can’t be remedied with cash.

Fallout

I’m warning you in advance that the word “fuck” appears 12 13 times in this post. If you are offended by my cursing, I suggest taking a break from my blog for the next 4-8 years.

We drove home from my in laws’ house yesterday. It’s about a 2-3 hour drive and Charlotte was taking a much-needed nap, so we were both quiet. I was browsing Facebook on my phone and Catch was driving.

I don’t know how long I’d been engrossed in my phone, but when I looked over at Catch, I saw tears running down her face.

This is what my in laws do to us. Her, especially. It has been one of my biggest struggles since the election the day I walked into a restaurant to meet them for the first time and came face to face with my FIL’s confederate flag t-shirt.

But specific to the election—how does our little family accept that people who claim to love us and our daughter so much voted for a man who won’t stand up for us? How do we make peace with the fact that fetuses and guns are more important to them than their daughter and granddaughter? How?

I am completely at a loss.

We went to the beach on Saturday. My in laws have been dying to take Charlotte to the beach ever since she was born. They asked if we’d take a photo of them with Charlotte for their Christmas cards.

It took absolutely every ounce of strength I had to allow that photo to happen. I was so angry. So incredibly fucking seething mad. I wanted to rip Charlotte from their arms and throw the camera in the ocean.

No. You cannot claim our baby girl. Not if you refuse to do everything in your power to protect her. You cannot say you love her when you use your power against her best interests.

FUCK YOU.

That is all I could think this weekend. FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU.

Catch is hurt and confused. She loves her parents. She hoped they would do better. Me? There’s no love between me and my in laws. I’m just angry. So incredibly angry.

So what do we do? How do we move forward?

We have no idea. Absolutely no idea.

We could cut them off. Write them out of our lives completely. The devil on my shoulder pops the champagne when I say things like that, but I don’t actually believe that’s the answer.

I think the answer is complicated. To begin with, I think we need to reclaim the power in this relationship. I don’t want to hold our daughter over their heads like a pawn, but that’s really what it comes down to. You want Charlotte in your life? You need to be decent human beings.

We’re not asking for much. We’re asking for them to respect the future we’re trying to shape for our little girl.

On Friday night, we had Sesame Street on. A black bear came on the screen and my FIL said, “Oh look, it’s Obama.”

What. The. Fuck.

I mean for starters—huh? It’s a bear. A muppet bear. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA? He meant it as an insult, but what’s insulting about that?

Bears = TOUGH

Bears = STRONG

Bears = DON’T FUCK WITH ME

So fuck yeah, OBAMA = BEAR

Really though, it’s goddamn Sesame Street. Can we just shut up and learn about the number of the fucking day? Can we just let Sesame Street be fucking Sesame Street?

That’s what I want going forward. I want a muppet to just be a damned muppet. Check your confederate flags at the door. Leave your gun at home. Shut up about your religion. JUST BE A FUCKING GRANDPARENT.

OR ELSE!

I can say that now! I’m a mom! DO IT OR ELSE!

Or else what?

OR ELSE WHATEVER THE FUCK WE DECIDE. KEEP PUSHING US AND YOU’LL FIND OUT.

Throwback Thursday

It’s been exactly two years since the beta that gave us Charlotte and I just started my first postpartum period this morning.

I had an inkling it was coming. I stopped pumping at work a few weeks ago, and it’s not uncommon these days for me to go 12+ hours without nursing Charlotte. (Which feels crazy when I think back to the months when I had to nurse her every 50 minutes!) So  it wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it was still a bit shocking.

I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, it feels like my body is slowly becoming mine again. I’ve been sharing it with my daughter for so long that I’ve honestly forgotten how that feels.

On the other hand, the last thing I needed in the midst of my current level of devastation was an added hormonal disruption. I already felt like I was bleeding for my country without literally bleeding. Thank you, universe.

So, it seems that my body is moving on while my heart and my head are still stuck on the events of the last couple of days.

Perhaps this is just my body’s way of saying, “I am woman, hear me roar!”

Touché, body. Touché.

 

 

Darkness

I am heartbroken.

It’s bigger than a Donald Trump presidency, though. Much bigger.

I can’t wrap my head around the hate in this country. I don’t understand it. So much hate and divisiveness. Bigotry. Narcissism.

Us versus them.

But we are all us—and we are all them. How is it that half of this country can’t see that?

I held my daughter at midnight last night and I cried. What kind of future will this leave for our children? This man has no respect for women or minorities. He doesn’t “believe” in global warming. He wants to take away the legal protections that marriage provides to thousands of families like mine.

Even worse, the bigotry has been given a megaphone. It’s mob mentality. They feed off of each other as they spew hate toward those of us who follow a different path in life.

Today, I am tired and hurting.

Tomorrow, I ready myself for four years of battle.

night

I’m Gonna Whine for a Minute

We’re having a rough time of it, lately.

I used to think it was great that we waited until we’d been together a while before we had a baby. Charlotte was born 3 days before the 10th anniversary of our first date. That’s a lot of years of just us. It’s a lot of camping trips and happy hours and weekends away and candle lit dinners. (And let’s be honest—a lot of hangovers.)

Now I’m questioning that, because I miss those days—and I know all too well exactly what I’m missing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Charlotte. I love her with an intensity that I could never have imagined. Being her mother is the greatest gift my life has given me.

But sometimes… Sometimes, I just want to feel like Molly again instead of just feeling like Charlotte’s Mother all the time.

I am tired. Catch is tired. Charlotte is 15 months old and she has never slept through the night. Not once. She’s come close 3 times. I guess that counts for something. So out of the 450+ nights she’s been alive, we’ve had reasonably decent nights 3 times. That’s 0.666666666667%.

And honestly, I manage just fine with that. I do. As long as nothing ELSE comes along to rock the boat, I have found my sleep-deprived groove and it works for me. Except we all know that there’s always going to be something to rock the boat at some point.

Today, for example, we have a raccoon wreaking havoc in our attic, and Catch’s car was broken into (in our driveway) last night. Charlotte is teething, and sleep has been even worse than usual, so we’re both way less equipped to deal with the extra stress than we normally would be.

Catch’s work iPad was in the car, and of course they are expecting that we will pay for the replacement. Fantastic. Her wallet was also in the car (total fluke—her wallet is NEVER in her car) so she’s now without a driver’s license, debit card, credit cards, etc. Everything is below the deductible on our homeowner’s insurance, so there’s no point in filing a claim. And although Catch can show the police EXACTLY where her iPad is (less than a mile from our house) they can’t do a damn thing about it.

We have no idea how much it’s going to cost to deal with the wildlife in the attic, but it’s done some obvious damage, so there will be expenses on top of just getting the damn thing out of there.

Also, our computer died last week, so it’s presently sitting in the Apple Store having its logic board replaced—which we wouldn’t have done right this minute if we had known that all hell was going to break loose in the meantime.

So, we are totally broke. Beyond broke. Goodbye Christmas.

Pre-kid, we had some money to throw around. These things wouldn’t have been fun, but they wouldn’t have caused me to totally freak out, either. Childcare expenses are just insane. And we have a bargain basement nanny (she’s essentially family)! She costs what day care would cost, which is why we could have a nanny to begin with.

And my wife. Man, do I love her. She is the rock of our household. She works so, so hard. She’s the first one up, and she’s out of the house by 6:15 every morning. She has a crazy commute in crazy traffic, and she normally handles it all just fine, but lately life has just pushed her over the edge and she’s not handling it particularly well.

Something’s gotta give. We need a break. And a nap. If life could just slow down, that would be really great.

We Meant Well

Charlotte and I went to visit my Nana on Sunday afternoon.

Nana is pretty fragile these days. My aunts live within a mile of Nana’s house, as do several of my cousins, and they’re generally the ones who keep tabs on her. Right now, they’re all away on a cruise, so the rest of us are chipping in as we can. (I live reasonably far away, so it’s not easy to get to her.)

We showed up and had a nice visit for about 45 minutes to an hour. After that, things started rapidly deteriorating.

Charlotte is teething right now and her mood has been incredibly hit-or-miss. She is either happy and easygoing, or she is melting down. Nothing in between.

The meltdown started when I wouldn’t allow her to play with Nana’s fireplace tools. I tried every trick in my book to get her redirected and engaged in something else, but nothing was working. She was throwing a full on tantrum.

Now, I love my Nana, but she is very old school when it comes to child-rearing. Nana does not tolerate tantrums. Nana doesn’t understand that yelling at a 15 month old is not an effective means of gaining control over the situation. Nana yelled at Charlotte.

Cue HYSTERIA.

The tears were flowing. The sobs became desperate. The volume increased. Everything just went to hell.

Then, as a shocked Nana was (to her credit) trying to comfort my wailing child (who had thrown herself on the floor), she ran over Charlotte’s fingers with her wheelchair.

What’s beyond hysteria? Is there anything? There must be, because that’s what was happening. I’m just not sure what to call it.

I knew it was time to end our visit.

Nana asked me if I could just put her trash can to the curb before I left.

I pulled my sobbing, soggy child onto my hip and opened the garage door. As I did, Nana’s little Yorkie darted between my legs, flew out the open garage and took off down the street. I ran after her—25 pounds of crying child still attached to my hip.

I am calling after the damn dog, and she is turning to look back at me and then darting away even faster.

I am running as fast as I can with Charlotte in tow.

The dog is winning. Big time.

This is where I should tell you that I have ONE pair of jeans that even remotely fits me right now, and saying that they “fit” is probably stretching things a bit. As I was running, my pants were falling down. Trying to run after a dog, hold onto a toddler, AND hold up your pants is INCREDIBLY difficult, as it turns out. Nana’s entire neighborhood was provided a lovely view of my underwear.

Throughout this madness, I have run by at least 3 people who could clearly see how much I was struggling, but not a single person stopped to help.

Did I mention it was raining?

Eventually, I had to give up on the dog. I turned back to Nana’s house, pulled up my pants, shifted Charlotte (still crying) to my other hip, and trudged along trying to catch my breath. I put Nana’s trash can to the curb. The dog returned to the general vicinity of the house and I was able to lure her inside with the promise of a cookie that I absolutely didn’t give her because she is a little shit.

By the time I kissed Nana goodbye and got Charlotte strapped into her car seat, I had aged about ten years. At least.

It’s going to be a little while before we go back to visit Nana. And something tells me Nana won’t mind.