Return of the Daily Grind

Catch heads back to work in a week, and I am already mourning the loss of our summer. This has been such a wonderful summer. Things have been so peaceful and slow-paced. I hate that it’s all coming to an end.

To prepare for the change in our routine, I spent the entire weekend in the kitchen stocking up the freezer. I haven’t really cooked much this summer, and I admit that it felt pretty good to get back into my kitchen groove. We’ve got spaghetti sauce, pesto from the garden (soooo much basil!), two sets of brined pork chops, lemon chicken thighs for the Instant Pot, honey glazed chicken thighs for the Instant Pot, breakfast burritos, caramelized onions, blueberry banana popsicles, turkey/veggie sloppy joes, and shredded pork. I feel like I deserve a gold star. (I also made a German chocolate cake from scratch for my dad’s birthday in the midst of all of the freezer meals.)

Back to work for Catch also means school for Charlotte. She started with half days last week, and she did so well. We were ridiculously proud of her. There were virtually no tears, and her teachers were thrilled with how well she did. Even though Catch is off this week, we decided that she’s going to start full time (complete with early morning care) as of today. I dropped her off at 7:30 and she was pretty clingy, but I know she’s in good hands in the right place. I just have to remember that the Range Rover moms in the yoga outfits that cost more than I make in a week are not picking up their kids at noon AT me. (I will not miss standing in that crowd at pickup time…)

I was on vacation last week, so with Charlotte in school from 9-12, Catch and I had a whole week of quiet mornings to ourselves. On Wednesday, we celebrated the 12th anniversary of our first date and our 9 year wedding anniversary with fancy waffles at a trendy spot we would never bother to try to get into on a weekend morning. After Charlotte went to bed, we lit a few candles outside and enjoyed a caprese salad (tomato & basil from our garden) and a bottle of wine in the back yard. It was a really nice day. I am damn lucky to have that woman by my side. She’s pretty special.

I am still plugging along on Zoloft, for anyone who’s keeping track. I feel like I started to notice a difference right around Charlotte’s birthday party last week. I was much more relaxed about it than I would normally expect myself to be. My in-laws were here for a few days, and I never felt overwhelmed by them, which is highly unusual. At the same time, I also can’t definitively sit here and say that I feel Better. Maybe better, but not Better. More thoughts on Zoloft another day.

We had the pleasure of meeting a lovely blog friend and her fantastic kiddo last week while I was off. I won’t name names as I know she is fiercely private (as much as you can be in this space!) but it was so nice to see them. I wish we could all get together for a big blog weekend one day. We’d have a blast for sure. Catch asked me how I knew she wasn’t a murderer trying to kidnap our child and all I could say was I just know. This little world can be a bit hard to explain sometimes.

Hope to be back here soon with some of these thoughts filling up my head.

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Julys

I met my wife in July of 2005.

We were married in July of 2008.

We tend to vacation in July (#imarriedateacher) and we’ve spent our Julys together all over…

Big Sur

The Sequoias

The American River

The Kern River

Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Oregon

Canada

Mexico

In July of 2014, we were in Lake Tahoe mentally preparing ourselves for IVF.

It’s only fitting that our little girl was born in July. When I really think about it, how could she possibly have come any other month? July is our month. Every step along the road to Charlotte lead to July.

So, 3 days short of the 10th anniversary of our first date (also our 7th wedding anniversary), we welcomed our greatest adventure. The tip of our triangle. The yellow to our blue and red. The scissors to our rock and paper.

3 is my lucky number, you know.

I think about the final moments before our daughter took her first breath in that delivery room… our last minutes as a duo. I can hear my wife encouraging me despite my insistence that I can’t do it anymore. Neither of us could have imagined how often that same exchange would take place over the coming months.

And then there were three.

I only had a split second to feel the weight of my baby against me after she was born. She was blue and a bit floppy. Her cry was a barely audible squeak. She was whisked away from me before my eyes could even focus.

My wife held my hand tightly as she watched them work on our baby across the room. I couldn’t see them, so in the confusion I watched my wife’s face intently for a sign that everything was going to be okay. Again, I had no idea how many times I would do that same thing in the months to come.

Finally—just as the pediatrician rushed in—we heard her cry. Loud and long and clear. I felt myself relax for the first time in 9 months. It was only ten minutes between her birth and the moment I finally had her in my arms, but it felt like an eternity.

How has it been two years since I held my baby for the first time? How is it that something can feel like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once?

My tiny little squish is two years old today. She is singing loudly and running full speed through life. Nothing makes me happier than watching as she grows into herself and learns to navigate her world.

This little July baby completes us in ways we never even imagined.

Happy birthday, Charlotte Louise. You are the greatest thing to ever rock our world.


Countdown to Two

My mama heart can’t take this birthday business.

On Sunday, my baby girl will be two. TWO.

We’re getting a little birthday crazed in our house. Charlotte could already sing happy birthday, but ever since my mom’s birthday last week she now expects that there will be cake when you sing the song. She walks around the house singing happy birthday and then yells, “Cake? Cake! I need a cake?”

About 5 minutes ago, Catch texted me a video to show me that she taught Charlotte to blow out a candle.

If you ask Charlotte how old she is, she will tell you she’s two as she attempts to hold up two fingers. She has not mastered the fingers bit, and it pretty much just looks like she’s either trying to flip you off or throw some awkward gang signs.

In all the excitement and activity of birthday preparations, I can’t shake the feeling that I just want to stop. I want to scoop my little girl into my arms, lie back in the corner of the couch with her and sleep together like we used to when she was tiny. I miss being able to hold her for hours and study every last bit of her smallness.

In a wonderful twist of things, it’s Catch she clings to most these days. I am ecstatic to see this shift in their bond—it has been long awaited and hard fought. Still, even though I am so, so happy to see Charlotte choose her other mama over me (truly!), I find myself feeling a bit lost. I’m not nursing her anymore, and I’m not rocking her when she wakes in the night anymore. So much of me was tied up in those two things for so many months. I don’t really know what to do with myself now. Charlotte can be less than a foot away from me, but I will still feel like I miss her. Like the nursing and the night comforting have left an empty space that I haven’t yet figured out how to fill.

As much as this milestone is throwing me for a loop, I also have these moments of immense pride. We have come so far in these two years. We have worked through so much change. We have (mostly?) righted our upended world. We have kept this kid alive for two years! She is healthy and happy and thriving. That’s pretty fantastic.

We’re getting pretty good at this parenting gig.

Zoloft Week 1

I have a good friend who’s taking Zoloft. When I told her my doctor was prescribing it, she told me it was about 4-6 weeks before she really noticed a change in her mood.

When I was on the phone with my doctor, she flat out told me that it will take 4 weeks or possibly longer before I notice a change in my mood.

When I looked on the internet, every message board post I found said that it took the person about 4 weeks before they noticed an improvement in their mood.

Knowing that, can someone please tell me why I was hoping I’d feel some relief after only a week? What made my brain even think it was appropriate to hope for that? Please tell my brain to shut up.

I just want to feel better. I want to not have this crippling anxiety that is making it so difficult to focus and be a productive member of society. I want to be able to look at my to do list and not feel paralyzed, which in turn increases my anxiety because I’m not getting things done that need to get done.

Does it make sense that I didn’t even fully understand how off I’ve been feeling until I started taking these pills and wishing I could feel better?

I think I need a life pass for the next 3-5 weeks. No work. No stress. No curve balls. Just let me float in the pool with my wife and my kiddo and occasionally bring me some frozen drinks and sunscreen.

Trigger

I opened Instagram a minute ago and I knew what I was looking at before it had even loaded. It was still blurry, but I can spot a twin ultrasound through a thousand fragmented pixels. With three taps in a matter of seconds, I had unfollowed the unsuspecting twin mom to be.

It’s been well over 2 years, but I still can’t look at twin ultrasound photos. Especially the early ones that are so clearly those two dark circles floating in space. I can’t handle the Baby A and Baby B labels. I do everything I can to avoid them.

I wonder if it will ever be easier? Will my first reaction to twin pregnancy announcements ever just be happiness? Will I always have to fake it? Will I ever not need to appease myself with the prepared dialog inside my head about how much better life is with just one kid?

Only time will tell.

Part of me is grateful for this reminder—however uncomfortable it may be. Time does not necessarily mean healing. Acceptance does not necessarily mean peace. Small does not mean insignificant.

Self Care

I took my first dose of Zoloft last night. There are a dozen reasons why I didn’t want to do it, but a hundred reasons why I should, so I did it. It’s a low dose to start, so we have lots of wiggle room to figure it out. I have a follow up with my doctor in 4 weeks, and I hope to see some signs of improvement before we talk again.

I really need this to work. My anxiety is just out of control. I can’t focus on anything, and then I’m falling behind which is causing more anxiety and it’s just a vicious circle. Something’s gotta give. Please let that thing be Zoloft.

Catch took Charlotte and the dogs to her parents house on Wednesday. They’re coming home later today. Do that math, and that means I had two whole nights to myself to do whatever I wanted to do after work.

I was apprehensive at first because I’ve never been apart from Charlotte for so long, but I knew it would be good for us all. Eventually, I was really excited for my alone time. For one thing, I haven’t had any significant time alone in longer than I can even remember. Excitement aside, I still cried when I had to leave her to go to work on Wednesday morning.

After work on Wednesday, I went shopping for a while and then used a gift card to buy myself a movie ticket to see The Big Sick. I sat at a restaurant bar and enjoyed a happy hour margarita while I waited for my movie to start. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen a movie in a theater. It was wonderful. I made it home shortly after 9 pm, cranked up the air, and stayed up way too late watching the Gilmore Girls and puttering around the house.


Yesterday, I met my mom after work for pedicures and then we enjoyed a long, leisurely dinner at an Indian restaurant. We drank cold beer, ate curry and had uninterrupted conversation for the first time in ages. The food was amazing. It was wonderful. I went home and cleaned a bit before I settled back in with more Gilmore Girls.


I really needed that time. It was such a gift. I feel so incredibly lucky. I wish I could give every tired mom in the world a few days off from their life.

My girls will be home this afternoon, and I can’t wait to see them.

22/23 Months

Charlotte is (well over) 23 months old now. Plans are under way for her second birthday, which feels like madness to me. I never wrote a 22-month update, so I’m going to kind of combine these months. It’s so long. I’m sorry!

Unfortunately, with the end of nursing came an increase in requests for a bottle. She’s been getting 2 four to six ounce bottles of whole milk a day since she was about a year old, and suddenly she was refusing to eat about 60% of the time and only wanted bottles of milk. Sometimes 5 a day. If she didn’t get them, it was absolutely the end of the world. It got rough. We switched to 2% milk hoping she wouldn’t like it as much. She loved it. I even started giving her half 2% and half water. She was totally willing to drink that. We knew it was time to put an end to it.


There were a lot of false starts where she’d go a day without one but then the next day she’d have 3. She’s finally reached a point where she will allow us to redirect her to a snack, and so far that’s been pretty successful. I am thrilled to report that we have been completely bottle free for TWO WEEKS now. After almost 2 years of bottle washing, I am fucking over the moon about this.


I want to make sure you’re all sitting down before I get to this next thing because it’s huge.

How many tears have I cried over Charlotte’s sleep since she was born? How many middle of the night breakdowns have I had over these 23 months? How many desperate pleas for sleep have I sent out to the universe? How many posts have I written about sleep?

This kid—MY KID—has slept through the night consistently for over three weeks.

I’m trying to find the words to say what this means to me, but nothing feels like enough. Take “grateful” and multiply the intensity times the light of a thousand suns. That’s how I feel these days.


We are officially without our nanny now. Catch is home for the summer, and Charlotte will start full time preschool/daycare in the fall. Closing that chapter on our childcare gave me all the feels. It felt like the end of something so important. I am so grateful to our nanny. She has been a gift.


Charlotte has had her two weeks at her new school, and she is having a blast. It’s just parent & me for now, so Catch is there with her, but now that school is in action we both have a bit more peace about our decision. I have no doubt that the full-time transition will be hard for her, but I think she’s in the right place and she is going to love it.


Her pediatrician has been after us to take her to the dentist since her 12-month exam, but we keep putting it off. I decided I didn’t want to hear it again at her 2-year visit, so Charlotte had her first visit with the dentist last week.  I wasn’t there, but I got the report that her teeth are perfect and she was fully compliant with both the dentist and the hygienist. I am totally psyched that it went so well!


Developmentally, she’s doing so well. Growing in leaps and bounds. She never stops talking and singing. She repeats pretty much everything we say. She counts to 15, sings the entire alphabet, recognizes a handful of shapes, and can name pretty much any animal you put in front of her.


She loves to do somersaults and leg lifts. She “lifts” a little 2-lb hand weight like a boss—she lays on the floor, holds it with both hands and pushes it up from her chest while she counts her reps. It’s adorable.


Catch plays softball at her college alma mater once a week. Last week, I was walking around campus with Charlotte while Catch played and we encountered a woman working with her personal trainer on the grass in a quad area. Charlotte ran over to her and yelled, “Good job!” and then laid down on the grass next to her and started doing leg lifts and counting.


Fine motor is still a very weak area for her. She has improved some with utensils, but she’s still nowhere near as adept as her peers. She gets frustrated and often resorts to eating with her hands. Overall, I’d say she just seems awkward with her hands. Not much control. She still uses both hands interchangeably, although she has much better control with her left, so we find ourselves encouraging the fork or the paintbrush into her left hand.


At 23 months, her shins are black and blue and her knees are always scraped. She is fearless and clumsy and nothing slows her down.


You may remember that we stopped going to swim lessons a while back because she was so scared that she wouldn’t detach herself from us in the water. We started taking her to open swim time when the pool was quieter and she did much better. Now that summer is here, we’re spending pretty much every afternoon in my mom’s pool, and she’s making so much progress. She’s much more comfortable. We’re so happy to see her loving the water. That said, on Wednesdays they swim for a bit at school in the parent & me class, and Catch said she absolutely hated the group swim. Again, she wouldn’t let go of Catch. I’m hoping she’ll come around to it eventually.


Overall, this kid is just pure joy. She lights up whatever room she’s in. We are so lucky to be her moms.