Pinch Me

Do you see that? Up in the sky? That flying pig?

Charlotte has slept through the night for five nights. In a row. FIVE.

Miracles happen, people. Pigs are flying, and Charlotte is sleeping through the night.

I don’t expect that this is a permanent development by any means, but it sure has been nice. Five nights in a row of real, solid sleep. She even let us sleep in this weekend, which is just WOW. Who is this child?

Two things are happening as a result of this:

  • The last two nights, I have found myself hoping that she’ll wake up at some point because I miss cuddling with her in the middle of the night. What? No. Yes? Maybe? Sigh.
  • Back pain. I’ve had a bad back for years courtesy of a car accident more than a decade ago, and when I got pregnant, it just sort of vanished. It has remained mostly vanished until these last 5 nights. Apparently between pregnancy’s need for me to get up and pee every few hours and Charlotte’s need to nurse every few hours, I was actually doing my back a favor by getting up and moving throughout the night. Now that I am not getting up, my back freaking hurts. Figures!

The really interesting thing about this is that it’s happening as we’ve relaxed our stance on bedtime. Since Catch has been off, we’ve found ourselves out doing things a lot more, and it’s resulted in some late bedtimes. I used to be such a hard ass about bedtime because I believed it was the only thing saving me from total sleep annihilation but lately, fun just feels more important. We could have rushed home for bedtime after Catch’s softball game on Wednesday night, but then Charlotte would have missed out on running through the sprinklers on the field after the game. We could have rushed home from my mom’s house the other night, but then Charlotte would have missed out on watching the lizards and eating the cupcake(s)… and the bee sting, but oh well—you can’t win ‘em all!

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For now, the fun mom approach is working, and I’m just going to roll with it. It’s probably going to backfire on me once she starts daycare in the fall and she has to be up and out of the house earlier, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. It’s worth it for a few months of the status quo, because the status quo is the most manageable our life has been since we became parents.

Summer Evenings

This summer feels so different from last summer.

You know what I’ve realized? I never really liked having a baby. I loved my baby–so, so much. But babies just aren’t very fun for me. I absolutely LOVE having an almost-two year old. This is a fantastic age.

My mom lives close to us and has a pool. I know she really expected us to live in her back yard last summer, but it was just too damn hard. Charlotte was under a year old, and there were always too many factors complicating things. Naps, bedtime, sun, heat, feeding… it was just a pain in the ass.

This summer, we’re in much better shape. We invited ourselves over for dinner last night and Charlotte had a blast. I look forward to many summer evenings like this…

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Strawberries

I haven’t been doing my photo posts lately, and I really miss them. Mostly because it forced me to think about my photos. I had to sort through them and maybe do a tiny bit of editing, and I was doing it a bit at a time so I never felt overwhelmed by a full memory card. I want to get back into that habit. I’ve still been taking pictures… not daily, but often enough. I’m going to try to get back on the sharing bandwagon.

We went strawberry picking the weekend before last, and I love these pictures. Charlotte tried to eat every strawberry she saw. Basically, she has a strawberry in her mouth in about 99.9% of the pictures I took that day. I dare you to try to give her a supermarket strawberry, though. She’s no fool. She only wants them straight from the farm/garden. Plastic supermarket containers are not acceptable.

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Oh, Damnit

Huge sigh…

I went to the doctor yesterday.

A few months ago, I started having heart palpitations. They were annoying, but usually pretty fleeting and I ignored them for a while. Over the last few weeks, it reached a point where I couldn’t ignore them anymore. They were happening all the time, but were particularly bad in the evenings and when I was trying to fall asleep. It was incredibly uncomfortable and honestly a bit scary.

My gut was telling me it was anxiety-related. I have been under a tremendous amount of pressure at work and things just aren’t great. It’s really been taking a toll on me mentally and physically. So, off to the doctor I went, prepared for her to send me home with a prescription that would solve all of my problems.

That didn’t happen.

What did happen was a bunch of lab work, an EKG, and a long conversation about some concerns I had about going on an anti-depressant based on some past experience. We went back and forth for a while, and decided that pending the results of the tests, she wants me to spend the next 4 weeks focusing on sleep and exercise to see whether I can get this under control without drugs. We already have a phone consult scheduled for 4 weeks from yesterday.

The technician who did my EKG captured a few of the milder palpitations, so I was glad they could at least see that I wasn’t imagining things.

My thyroid, CBC, electrolytes, and A1C all came back normal (A1C was the very high end of normal—we’ll see what the doctor says about it). My cholesterol result, on the other hand, was out of this universe high. Like, it’s scaring me just thinking about it. Heart disease runs rampant on my mom’s side of the family. My grandfather died of a massive heart attack at 54. My uncle had a quadruple bypass two years ago. My other uncle is diabetic. My mom has been on cholesterol meds for years, and had heart problems last summer.

So basically, I went to the doctor to get my anxiety under control and instead I have even more to be anxious about. My doctor hasn’t yet called to discuss the cholesterol results, but I expect the call is coming sometime today. I will have to force myself to pick up the phone and listen while I hang my head in shame and silently badger myself for letting this happen.

The thing is that I did SO well with diet and exercise when I was trying to get pregnant. I was totally rocking it. I felt amazing. You would think that now that I have this beautiful little girl in my life, the motivation to get back to that place would be strong. Don’t I want to be healthy for her? Don’t I want to set a good example?

I’m just so freaking tired. I love the idea of being motivated much more than the reality. I miss running, and yet I also just really want to sit down at the end of the day after Charlotte goes to bed and be a zombie for a little while.

But apparently, zombies have embarrassingly high cholesterol and short life spans. Someone help me find my running shoes? And maybe throw away the ice cream in the freezer and hide my baking supplies?

As Charlotte said so succinctly last night, oh damnit.

Thirty Six

When I woke up on Friday morning, I was 36. To celebrate, Catch and I kissed the kid goodbye and left her in the care of our nanny while we drove up the coast.

Our first stop was Solvang. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in that little town, and every time I’m there we drive by an ostrich farm where you can feed the ostriches. I have always wanted to stop there. As we drove, Catch said, “Do you wanna go feed the ostriches?” And that is how we ended up here, feeding a bunch of crazed ostriches and emus from a dog bowl attached to a dustpan:

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I will be totally content to never do that again. Not because it was a bad experience or anything… I just think I’m probably good for at least another 36 years now. Ostriches and emus are pretty creepy.

In town, we bought danishes to take home, I ate my fill of aebelskivers with raspberry sauce, and we picked up a sandwich to share later in the day.

From there, we hit up Foxen Winery (our favorite!), for a tasting. It’s worth noting that Foxen has two tasting rooms that each pour different wines, so you actually do two full tastings there. That’s a lot of wine for someone who hasn’t been tasting in 3 years, but it was worth it. It was amazing!

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We sat out on their patio with the winery kitties and ate our sandwich after we finished our tastings. It was a beautiful day and it felt so good to be in one of our favorite places again. I have missed it. (My checking account, on the other hand, has definitely NOT missed it.) Sitting outside at Foxen on a sunny day felt like a quintessential “us” thing to do. We needed that. I needed it.

We left wine country and headed toward home, but I convinced Catch to stop at our favorite beach on the way. As we walked, we saw dolphins and a sea lion playing out in the water. It was really a spectacular afternoon. I’m so glad we stopped!

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We made it home just in time to tuck Charlotte in and kiss her goodnight. From there, I collapsed into an exhausted, grateful, 36 year old heap on the couch.

Another birthday for the books.

A Comparison

Pre-Child Weekday Morning:

Roll out of bed after hitting snooze multiple times.

Shower.

Get dressed.

Drive through Starbucks.

Go to work.

Post-Child Weekday Morning:

Get out of bed on time so you can shower before wife leaves for work.

Make child’s breakfast so that it’s waiting for her because otherwise she will be a hangry monster.

Pour coffee.

Sit down to drink coffee at the exact moment that you hear child singing through the baby monitor.

Sigh.

Put down coffee.

Pause for a moment outside of child’s door and take a deep breath.

Wonder whether you will be greeted with a smile or an angry scream. Odds are 75/25 in favor of the scream.

Open door, make eye contact with child and chirp, “Good morning sunshine!”

Turn off sound machine and open window shade as child decides whether she is happy to see you or not.

Child is not happy to see you.

Commence screaming.

Child demands bottle.

Explain that it’s not time for a bottle.

Child demands bottle more loudly.

Offer breakfast instead of a bottle.

Child throws herself on the floor, kicking and screaming BOTTLE!

Surrender. It’s too early for this fight.

Run to the kitchen and make the damn bottle while child stands there screaming MILK MILK MILK MILK!

Take bottle and child to couch.

Turn on Sesame Street.

But not that Sesame Street.

Not that one either, apparently.

Or that one.

Search through queue of 99,999,999,999 episodes of Sesame Street to find the one with Snuffy.

Sit in peace for 5 minutes while child is lulled into blissful submission by Snuffy and bottle.

Bottle is empty.

More bottle?

Offer breakfast instead.

MORE BOTTLE?!

Offer pancakes enthusiastically.

MORE BOTTLE!!!!!!

Dogs start barking like crazy.

Barking escalates child’s screams for more bottle.

Nanny enters the house.

BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK

Child runs screaming NO NANNY NO NANNY NO NANNY.

Yell at dogs to SHUT UP.

Apologize to nanny.

Add a few ounces of milk to bottle.

Hold crying child.

Attempt to extricate yourself from crying child’s grasp a dozen times so you can get dressed for work.

Fail a dozen times.

Offer for crying child to accompany you to the bedroom to get dressed.

Offer declined.

Enhance bedroom offer with promises of bed bouncing.

No monkeys wish to jump on the bed this morning.

Wonder whether they will fire you on a Friday or wait until after the long weekend.

Shrug.

Sing along to Sesame Street songs you have heard ten thousand times with fake enthusiasm.

Notice that child has been still and quiet in your lap for ten minutes or so.

Take a deep breath and gently remove child from lap.

Dart into bedroom and hurry to throw on clothes.

Grab phone and coffee, kiss child on forehead, wish nanny luck, and run out the door before child can realize what’s happening.

Get in car.

Finally take a sip of (cold) coffee.

Drive.

Make mental note to buy lotto ticket.

Decide that when you win, you will quit your job but keep your nanny.

How Charlotte Is

 

A few weeks ago, Catch took Charlotte to one of her YMCA classes for the first time. As the kids sat in a circle with their parents and sang songs, Charlotte ran around like a wild animal. Catch tried to control her, and one of the other moms said, “Oh, Charlotte is always like this—sitting still just isn’t her thing.”

And there, summed up in a single sentence by a perfect stranger is the core of my daughter. Sitting still just isn’t her thing.

Charlotte needs a lot. Constantly. She does not stop. She challenges every rule. She requires near-constant input. She is fearless and curious and that combination is often dangerous and/or destructive.

Her emotions are larger than life. When she is happy, you feel her joy all the way to your bones. When she is angry, she is a force to be reckoned with. When she is sad, even the dogs plead with us to make it better.

Our daughter is light and sound and speed. There is no calm before her storm.

For a while, we lived in a little bubble where we believed that this must just be the norm. She’s a kid. Kids are crazy. Ours is no exception. It wasn’t until we started spending more time around kids her age in a group setting that we realized that she’s actually a bit more than the norm.

Yesterday when I drove our nanny home, she told me about Charlotte’s day. They were in one of her YMCA classes, and she was hugging the baby brother of one of her friends. He’s a little over a year old. It turns out that her hug was just a bit too enthusiastic, and they both toppled over onto the (padded) floor. The nannies rushed in to get them both upright, and no harm was done, but our nanny looked up and saw that the mom of one of the other kids was glaring at her and Charlotte. She sort of laughed it off as she re-told the story and said, “She’s new to the class so she just doesn’t know how Charlotte is!”

How Charlotte is.

I feel like my heart broke a little bit right then.

Most days, I consider how Charlotte is to be a compliment because how Charlotte is is fucking incredible. But right now, we’re struggling with her, and all of a sudden, how Charlotte is feels like some kind of a red flag. It feels like people are saying, “Your kid is… different.” Right now, different does not feel like a compliment. Different feels like, “Holy crap, people—get a handle on your kid before this whole place goes up in flames!”

Confession: Catch and I can barely handle our child these days. This morning I broke down in tears as she screamed and threw her body around the house in a tantrum so violent that she sliced her toe open. I was late for work and panicked because I am on thin ice at work. I cannot afford to be late. Again. Right then, I really needed to not be sitting on my living room floor wiping away my daughter’s fountain of snot and tears with my t-shirt.

She wouldn’t let me put a bandage on her bleeding toe. No amount of rocking or singing or Elmo or pancakes was calming her. The nanny couldn’t even look in her direction without escalating things. She stood just outside the door, peeking in every so often to make eye contact with me and raise an eyebrow as a silent “How can I help you right now?”

When all of the bodily fluids had slowed to a minimum, and Charlotte sat still on my lap hiccupping the last sobs away, our nanny looked at me and said, “You’re doing such a great job.”

I know she meant it, but all I could think was that if this was me doing a great job—late for work, still in my pajamas, covered in bodily fluids, longing for my cup of now-cold coffee, holding a child who was staring at both the television AND the iPad—well, if that’s “great” then someone has obviously lowered the bar.

That’s par for the course these days. Things really started to escalate about two weeks ago, and we tried to explain it away, but it’s just getting worse. I even took her to the doctor on Monday morning because I was convinced something must be wrong.

I called Catch when I was finally on my way to work this morning and tearfully asked her what happened to our little girl. Her storm used to be like April showers and suddenly it’s more like a hurricane. All we can do is batten down the hatches and shield ourselves from the worst of it.

There are lots of words thrown about in parenting circles when you’re talking about a kid like this—more and spirited come to mind most readily. She is certainly both of those things, and she always has been. Up until now we’ve managed just fine, but today we are filling queues with books and articles because we’re at a loss. For the first time, we’re feeling like we need more help than Google and mom groups can provide.

Wish us luck.

Stuff… and some pictures

Mother’s Day feels like a lifetime ago. It was lovely, though. We spent the day at home—just the three of us. We celebrated Catch’s birthday. We cooked. We cleaned. We napped. We ended the weekend feeling rested and relaxed.

Since then, this week has been full of tantrums (screaming—so much screaming), sleepless nights, long, intense work hours, and frantic calls to try to rearrange childcare courtesy of emergency meetings and grounded airplanes.

We’ve had a lot going on. The biggest thing involves some good friends and I really can’t share the details, but it is crazy hard (more for my wife than for me) and complicated and hit everyone involved like an out of control freight train.

Today, as I was sitting at work feeling like an anxious wreck, our nanny texted me a picture of Charlotte holding hands with another little girl. It was followed later by a message letting us know that Charlotte had learned how to say the other girl’s name (Leona) and that she was so tired by the time they got home from the Y today, she looked up from her lunch and said, “Ready for nap.” Who is this child?

This little girl keeps me grounded.

Other happenings:

We have about two weeks left with our nanny and I am in denial about it. I really love our nanny. Charlotte really loves our nanny. We all agree (even the nanny) that this is the right thing for Charlotte, and yet I just hate that we have to let her go. She asked me if she could give my number to another family for a reference, which YES, OF COURSE… but also… NO. She’s MINE. You can’t have her. Sigh. More on that coming later, I suppose.

Catch and I are going to a Dodgers game on Saturday night. I gave her tickets for her birthday/Mother’s Day. It’ll be our first date night in quite a while. We’ve earned it!

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks. I’m taking the day off from work and we’re once again ditching the kiddo so we can spend the day in central coast wine country at our favorite winery (with a likely stop in Solvang for pastries). I can’t wait. It has been WAY too long. I am counting the days.

I haven’t taken a single picture since Sunday night, but I will share what I have from last week and the weekend.

May 5 – Painting in the back yard.

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May 6 – A Saturday evening out back. 100days-May6

May 7 – Checking out the giant river otters at the LA Zoo.100days-May7

May 8 – We turned her crib into a ball pit. She had fun for a bit, but getting those damn balls out of there was a pain. Never again.100days-May8

May 9 – Emptying her laundry hamper before bed. You’d think she was looking for something, but I’m pretty sure she just wanted to make a mess.100days-May9

May 11 – The other mama was working late, so we went for a walk through the neighborhood by ourselves. When we walk the dogs, this is a 20 minute walk. Alone with Charlotte, it was over an hour.100days-May11DSC_0068

May 12 – Ready for bed, but not ready for bed.100days-May12

May 13 – Celebrating Mother’s Day at Grammy’s house. Corn on the cob is her favorite.100days-May13

May 14 – It was the end of the day. After dinner but before mud pie and birthday candles. I’m still in my pajamas, but I decided we needed to remember this day so I set the timer on the camera. 100days-May14

Mother’s Day

My mom texted me a few weeks ago and told me flat out that she wants an oven thermometer for Mother’s Day.

I hadn’t actually planned on getting my mom a Mother’s Day gift. I figured a card and maybe a painting by Charlotte would suffice. It’s not as if an oven thermometer is going to break the bank—I mean seriously, as gift requests go, this one is ridiculously simplistic and is already sitting in my guest room awaiting a gift bag, but still. She expects a gift, and so she will get her oven thermometer.

But for me?

All I want for Mother’s Day is my little girl. I want to spend the day kissing her head and singing along to her silly songs and basking in her toddler glow.

Throughout all of the years of will we/won’t we negotiations, all of the pregnancy tests and needles and fertility-related debt, all I wanted was to be a mom. I wanted to be a part of this club. I wanted in on this Hallmark holiday. Charlotte gave me that gift, and I have not taken it for granted for one second of one day. She has filled every space that was left in my heart.

I hope she never feels the need to buy me an oven thermometer. I hope she will always just let me use this day to kiss her head and tell her over and over again that she is the greatest gift I have ever been given.

Nothing can top you, my sweet little girl. Nothing in the world.

I Should’ve Listened

We went to the family dinner. 

They brought everyone’s food. Except Charlotte’s. 

She reached her breaking point right as my boss was seated at the table next to us. 

My fucking boss, guys. I’m not even kidding. My. Boss. Have I mentioned how shaky things are for me at work lately? They are. This is not the time I need to be sitting next to my boss. 

Charlotte melted down. Like epic meltdown. Hyperventilating, kicking, beating her head into me, screaming herself hoarse…

It sucked. I mean, I got her outside FAST so boss didn’t see the worst of it, but still…

My boss. My fucking boss. 

We are never leaving the house again. 

WHY DID I NOT LISTEN TO MYSELF????? WHY???????????????