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???????????????

Going Out

I have a family that likes to go out to eat. My mom works her ass off all day, and while she can cook and is not bad at it, she often just doesn’t. That puts her and my dad in restaurants quite a bit and we often get invited.

I also have a local aunt, uncle and two cousins. When there’s a birthday, we tend to head to a restaurant. There’s not so many of us that the group is unmanageable, and we all live sort of on opposite ends of things, so it’s easier to just pick a restaurant and meet in the middle after we all get off of work.

This has been our thing for years. Years and years.

Enter Charlotte.

My cousins are adults and don’t have kids, so it’s been a long time since there were any little ones in this part of my family. I hate to say it, but Charlotte really complicates things for us.

We don’t have the kind of kid you want to take to a restaurant. We have the kind of kid who is incapable of sitting for longer than it takes to eat a few bites of some kind of chicken. She also does not do restaurant high chairs, so we have to sit in a booth and someone has to try to contain her. When it’s just us and my parents, my dad will inhale his dinner and then take her outside to play.

There’s nothing wrong with Charlotte. She is just 21 months old. She has the attention span of a mosquito, the energy of a Red Bull factory, and the grace of a stampede of buffalo.

Going to a restaurant with her is Not. Fun.

Tonight, my family is getting together for my cousin’s birthday. I really want to go. We hardly ever get to see them all, and I would love for them to be able to spend some time with Charlotte. But that means taking Charlotte to a restaurant close to the cusp of bedtime. And there will be a group of us, so things will take a while. Also, my dad will not be there to entertain her, and much as my mom and my aunt try, they’re not him. It’s just not ideal. At all.

Catch doesn’t think we should go, and my gut says she’s right. Hell, my brain even says she’s right. I think everyone within a 100-mile radius heard her hour-long tantrum last night and that’s par for the course the last few days. Who in their right mind takes a kid who is that grouchy (teething) to a freaking restaurant? No one.

But I’m sad, because it’s family. And this is what we do. I love them, and I want to share this little girl with them, but I also don’t need to subject everyone to my kicking, screaming, food throwing, out of control, teething toddler. Catch and I do not need the stress or the judgement of people who a) don’t have kids or b) haven’t had a two year old in 3 decades.

It sucks.

 

Monday

I wrote this yesterday and I never had a chance to post it, but I also can’t bring myself to delete it.

It’s Monday.

My house is a mess.

Charlotte woke up like, “HOW DARE YOU NOT HAVE MY PANCAKES READY FOR ME HURRY UP AND DO IT NOW I WILL CLING TO YOU AND NOT LET YOU PUT ME DOWN UNTIL I HAVE PANCAKES IN MY BELLY I DON’T CARE IF IT’S HARD TO MAKE PANCAKES WITH ONE HAND WHILE SUPPORTING 30 LBS WITH YOUR OTHER HAND THAT SOUNDS LIKE A PERSONAL PROBLEM GET ME MY PANCAKES NOW WOMAN YES MY DIAPER IS LEAKING AND YOU ARE NOW SOAKED WITH MY URINE BUT IF YOU THINK YOU ARE CHANGING MY DIAPER YOU ARE DELUSIONAL PANCAKES PANCAKES PANCAKES.”

My coffee got cold.

The nanny had to text us to ask where Charlotte’s tennis shoes are.

I panicked for a minute because it’s entirely possible that all of her sneakers are in the back seat of my car, which is as much of a disaster as my house, but then I remembered that there’s a pair on the bathroom counter. Because that’s where shoes go. See item 2 above.

I found out that Charlotte’s new school never cashed our deposit check in March, and I failed to account for that in my checking account balance which is a major OUCH.

BUT

I managed to catch the crock pot before it fell on my head AND to not fall when I missed a step getting down from the stepladder after retrieving the damn thing.

Said crock pot now holds the contents of tonight’s dinner, so I don’t have to think about it when I get home.

I got to leave my whiny, screamy, teething child with the nanny (ask me how sad I was to leave this morning), and enough time has gone by now that I actually miss my little pancake monster.

I cannot stop laughing at this video.

I am only 3 hours away from having a vodka tonic in hand.

 

Piecing Together Sleep


Sleep is a beautiful thing… when you’re getting some. We went so long without adequate sleep that even the most well-meaning mention of the word throws sparks that set off my anxiety like fireworks.

Going through Charlotte’s baby things for the consignment sale helped me realize how many things we have purchased for the sake of sleep: the Dock-A-Tot, Magic Sleep Suit, sleep sacks and swaddles galore, rock & play, pack & play, mattress for the pack & play, pacifiers—so many pacifiers, a different set of bottles just in case gas was a culprit, sound machine, Wubanubs, mesh bumpers, night time gripe water, blackout curtains, nursery-safe space heater, sleep training books… I could probably go on all day.

Point being: sleep is priceless. When you are in the throes of extreme sleep deprivation, you will gladly spend all of the money you don’t have if the latest sleep thing holds any promise of getting you some damn sleep.

I do not regret that our retirement date has been pushed back five years because of all of the money we spent on baby sleep paraphernalia. We always dreamed of spending our retirement years in the National Parks, but I’m pretty sure after 45 there won’t be any of those left, so whatever. We’ll just keep working.

I didn’t really come here to say any of that. What I came here to say is that things are better these days. As Charlotte approaches her second birthday, we are approaching our second anniversary as sleep-obsessed parental units, and I feel like we’ve learned some things.

I only get up with her once most nights. Once! It’s either sometime around midnight, or it’s sometime around 3 am. Some nights, I get up with her twice. That happened once this week.

None of that is very remarkable, but do you know what is remarkable?

She has slept through the night 4 times in the last 2 weeks. There were even a couple of times in the preceding weeks that she slept through the night. It’s like a thing now. Sometimes my kid sleeps through the night. I have NEVER been able to say that. EVER.  This is BIG. YUGE, even. (Clearly I have politics on my brain, but that is major progress because I HAVE A BRAIN AGAIN.)

This all started around Spring Break when we were going going going non-stop. We were wearing her the hell out. We’d be out having fun and we’d say screw bedtime and keep her up 30-60 minutes late. Or we’d push her nap so late that we had to do a later bedtime.

That is when this sleeping through the night phenomenon started. When we pushed our kid past the brink of exhaustion. That’s contrary to every sleep book ever written, I think.

On Thursday, she did two classes at the YMCA with our nanny. She had an average nap, then they played outside in the heat (90+) off and on until we got home from work. We went out for dinner with my parents and my dad took her outside and let her run and run and run for a good half hour while my mom, Catch and I finished our second round of margaritas. We got home around normal bedtime. When we pulled into the driveway, Charlotte asked for a walk. We needed to walk the dogs anyway, so we said screw bedtime and we all went for a walk. Charlotte was probably in bed about 30-40 minutes past her usual bedtime, and she was BEAT.

She slept through the night. (And so did I, thanks to those 2 margaritas!)

Obviously, days like that are not the norm. We cannot make Thursday into a Groundhog Day scenario. What we can do is move her bedtime once and for all.

Charlotte Louise, step right up—you’ve won a later bedtime!

Now, obviously, this kid’s sleep patterns are a fragile thing. This may not be the answer. She could start working on a tooth or catch a cold or we could travel across time zones and all will be lost. I have hope, though. I don’t expect that sleeping through the night is ever going to be the norm for her, but I would sure love to be able to join the ranks of moms whose kids sleep through the night occasionally. After close to 2 years of this shit, I deserve that promotion. Quick–someone order me some new mom cards!

Photo A Sometimes Project: Days I’m Too Lazy to Count

The last few weeks have been kind of rough due to some work stress. I haven’t been spending nearly as much time with my camera. I’ve missed a lot of days. Still, I am loving this project. It is a fantastic outlet for me and it’s forced me to get to know my camera better. I can’t even remember the last time I put it in any kind of auto mode.

So as I said in my photo post a few weeks ago, I’m going to keep at it—with realistic expectations. Here are last week’s photos along with this week’s.

April 22: Sharing a smoothie with moms. She stole a strawberry from the garden–the evidence is right there on her chin.

100days-April22

April 23:  The pool was a bit cold for her liking (and mine!) but she sure enjoyed floating with her WayJoe.

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April 24:  Sorry, Roly. I don’t think she’s going to share that strawberry. That she stole. Again. Despite the little fence we put up.

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April 25: Sesame noodles are her jam.

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April 27: Betcha didn’t know that unicorns and hound dogs are BFFs.

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April 29:  Rolling in Opa’s freshly laid sod.

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April 30: Poolside on her Oma’s 60th birthday. Her suit matches Oma’s chair.

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May 1: Mama sprayed her with the hose because she was throwing the rocks from our orange tree into her water table.

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May 2: Oh hi moon!

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That Consignment Sale – Was it Worth it?

We went to a consignment sale in March and it prompted us to decide that it’s time to part with Charlotte’s baby items and outgrown clothing. A few weeks later, I signed us up as consignors at a gigantic kids consignment sale out here. They take about 650 consignors and it’s held in an empty Costco warehouse.

About an hour later, the email arrived confirming our participation and providing instructions for preparing our items for the sale. I started to have regrets before I was halfway through that email.

So. Many. Rules.

Every item had to be entered into their inventory/tagging system. Tags had to be printed through the system on specific paper and then cut out and affixed to clothes with a tag gun. The tags also had to be in specific locations on the items. Then the items had to be placed just so on wire hangers and secured with safety pins as-needed. Then, hangers needed to be marked somehow so that it would be easier to find our unsold items at the end of the sale.

And that was just the clothes. Toys, books, and baby gear all had their own rules for tagging and preparation.

The email was loooooong. There were accompanying videos to watch. It was information overload.

I started to panic because we had a lot of stuff to sell. Babies amass an incredible amount of shit in their first year. This was going to be a huge undertaking.

Here’s what we needed to start prepping our stuff:

  • Hangers – 99 Cents store
  • Safety pins – 99 Cents store
  • Tag gun – Amazon
  • Neon colored zip ties – Amazon
  • Packing tape – Amazon
  • Cardstock paper – stole from work
  • Bandages for all of the times I stabbed myself with the tag gun – Medicine Cabinet
  • Rubber bands to group sizes together – stole from work
  • Scotch tape for taping tags to books – stole from work
  • Lysol wipes for cleaning – already on hand

We didn’t keep very good track of what we spent on supplies, but I’d guess it was around $50 when all was said and done. There are ways to spend less—especially if you plan better and don’t need hangers rightthissecond.

We started by going through bin after bin of clothes. They had to be checked for stains, and sorted by season. (Note: it is surprising how things that you swear were not stained when you put them in that bin end up with stains. Especially breastmilk and formula—those stains get worse with time and heat.) This sale was only for spring/summer clothes. We also took this opportunity to set aside anything meaningful that we weren’t willing to part with.


From there, we worked out a system. I entered things into the inventory/tag system while Catch hung/pinned things on the hangers. We hung everything on a rack we use for drying our work clothes.

Once that part was done, we printed tags and broke out the tagging gun and packing tape. We had over 200 items to tag. It was intense. I lost count of the number of times the tag gun needle stabbed my finger. I wanted to throw it at the wall by the time we were done.

Shoes were cleaned and then tied together with zip ties, which worked out great.

Items with loose parts were either taped or zip tied together. I put some smaller items in a gallon size baggie sealed with packing tape.


We marked our hangers by taping a neon zip tie to the neck of the hanger with packing tape. It worked great! Most people tied ribbon or yarn to their hangers, so ours stood out well on the racks when I went to pick up our unsold stuff.

Batteries were checked. Plastic was wiped down. Clothes were grouped and rubber banded by size—and we would have had a ton more to sell but they limit 0-12 month sizes to 40 items per child, so we were very limited there.

We filled our entire Ford Flex with stuff to drop off. I have never seen our car so full. Not even when we go camping.

We arrived, checked in and borrowed a rolling clothing rack. We loaded up the rack and our collapsible wagon with stuff and then waited in line to have our items all checked. They went through everything. Clothes were checked for stains. Batteries were checked in toys.

Then we had the pleasure of taking our stuff and putting it where it belonged on the sale floor. We also had to set up items like the Pack n Play and the bouncer.

I cannot describe the relief I felt when we walked out of there. We were done. The prep for all of that stuff took hours and hours over two weeks. I was so tired of having it hanging over my head!

I could not believe how fast our things started selling. The first 2 days of the sale yielded the highest sales. By the end, we had sold 179 items. Our cut of the sales was $475.

At the end of the sale, I collected a few clothing items: a bouncy seat that I had put the wrong tag on so it was priced way too high, a single diaper cover (out of 8), a single pair of shoes (out of 16), a boppy that had somehow been damaged during the sale, a Baby Merlin Magic Sleep Suit, two brand new pairs of tights, an infant sun hat, and 3 books that I opted to donate instead of finding them.

I think two main factors played into our success with sales:

  • We priced to sell. Most of our larger items were within a close range of their counterparts, but items like our clothes and shoes were definitely on the lower end of the price spectrum. Most of our stuff was Carters or Old Navy. I could not BELIEVE the prices some of the other consignors were asking for this stuff. Ex: $9 for a sun-faded Old Navy swim coverup that I probably could have purchased brand new (on sale) for a similar price. Know your audience. Although it draws people from all over, this sale was located in a lower-income part of this city. We priced our items accordingly. Our goal was to get rid of things, not to recoup the entire expense of the item. There were some higher priced items that we opted to sell online beforehand so that we wouldn’t have to lose a percentage of the sale to the consignment people.
  • Our stuff looked really good. It stood out in the sea of stuff. Everything was in fantastic condition, and if it wasn’t, we didn’t bother trying to sell it.

Obviously, we are not consignment sale experts, but we sure learned a lot from this first experience and I thought it was worth sharing in case anyone is considering taking on a project like this. And believe me, it is a Project.

We will do this again in October to sell the fall/winter items, but I think we’d probably only do it every other year going forward. It is a lot of work, and the more you have to sell, the more worthwhile the effort seems.

I am including our Consignor Sold Items Report so you can see how we priced things in case you’re curious. I mean it when I say we priced to sell. These clothes were listed at prices I would have been thrilled to pay–and did pay for the couple of things I decided to purchase.

The End of the Road: Some Thoughts on Breastfeeding and Postpartum Care

It’s been over a week since Charlotte has nursed. When I sat down, I intended for this post to be a reflection on our breastfeeding experience. It turned into something a bit more than that. Some of this has been blogged before, and some of it hasn’t. I found it really cathartic to write it all out. I needed this bit of closure, I think. It is quite lengthy.

The tl;dr of it is this: Fed is best and mama deserves to be happy.

When we left the hospital with our hours-old newborn, I thought I had breastfeeding under control. She latched fine and I thought that’s all I needed to worry about. I thought I was ready.

We got home, got situated, and she nursed. She nursed anytime she fussed. She stayed latched for hours. As we approached the 3-day mark, she became increasingly inconsolable. Nursing was not calming her. She was screaming and screaming. I was crying because I didn’t know what to do. She was obviously hungry, and my boobs were clearly not cutting it.

At the insistence of my mom and my wife, she got her first bottle of formula that evening. She calmed down immediately and slept peacefully, suddenly perfectly content with her full tummy. I cried.

My tears flowed throughout the night as my efforts to satiate her by nursing failed time and time again. We gave her more formula.

Women talk about their milk coming in and the subsequent engorgement. I never experienced that. Not even close.

By the time Charlotte was 5 days old, my nipples were raw and bloody. I had mastitis in both breasts. I was feverish and so sick—still recovering from childbirth with a horrid UTI and the latest flood of hormones on top of it all. I vividly remember the look on the nurse’s face that day after she asked me to take my top off. It was a mix of horror and sadness. They immediately called up to OB to get me seen for the mastitis, gave me a hospital grade pump and quietly suggested that perhaps breastfeeding wasn’t right for me. I crumbled.

The weeks that followed were full of breast pumps, SNS, nipple shields, herbal supplements, lactation cookies, Google, and visits with a lactation consultant. They were also full of an abundance of tears and fraught with intense anxiety.

I was afraid to leave the house. What if she needed to eat? The system we had for every feeding was that she would nurse and then have a bottle to top her off while I pumped. If we were out, I couldn’t pump. What would that do to my supply? Would I destroy all of our (non-existent) progress if I left the house?

My days revolved around the pump. My self-worth was dictated by the amount of breastmilk in those bottles after pumping. I was making myself crazy in the worst possible way.

I would not listen to anyone. Not my wife. Not my mother. Not the internet. No one was going to tell me that I could not breastfeed this child. No one. The doctors said that breast is best and my baby was going to get the best if it killed me.

I was angry at my body. So angry. I had to fight this body to get pregnant. I had to fight this body to stay pregnant. I even had to fight this body to safely deliver my baby. I was determined to keep fighting. My body would feed my baby, and that was that.

Enter domperidone. I felt dirty ordering this banned pharmaceutical from a sketchy overseas pharmacy. It was scary. I had the support of my lactation consultant, and even the support of the kind nurse who secretly slipped me the link to the pharmacy and the starting dose on a post-it note. Even so, I was anxious.

When my pills finally arrived, things started to change. I made more milk. Not a ton, but enough to make it worthwhile. We went from about 25% breastmilk/75% formula to 80% breastmilk/20% formula.

Breastfeeding was still a sore subject for me. I never felt great about it. I never felt relaxed. I couldn’t let go of my own inadequacy despite having absolutely no control over it. I was suffering from undiagnosed postpartum anxiety and depression, and even my best days back then make me cringe when I look back.

My supply took another hit when I returned to work. I did my best, pumping as often as I could for as long as I could. Most days I was lucky if I brought home 4 ounces after pumping 3 times, but I kept going.

When we were together, Charlotte wanted to nurse every hour. Despite my struggle, Charlotte was quite fond of nursing. She loved it. Her love for it only enhanced my desperation/determination to keep going.

I continued taking the Domperidone and every supplement under the sun until Charlotte was a year old. It took me 4 months to wean off of the Domperidone, and I was certain that once I did, that would be the end of my supply and the end of our nursing days. I was wrong.

Charlotte continued to nurse. She wasn’t getting much milk anymore (not that she ever really did)—mostly it was just comfort. Once I got all of the supplements, drugs and pumping out of the way, I found that I was happy to oblige.

It wasn’t until then that I genuinely started to enjoy breastfeeding. When nursing became a comfort thing instead of a “how I keep my baby alive” thing, all of the dark clouds cleared and the sun broke through for the first time in a year.

I have made the most of these months in the sunshine. I have held my sweet nursling in the dark and watched as she gently drifted off to sleep. I have smiled as she unlatched and nuzzled her cheek into my bare skin. I laughed and laughed when she learned to request, “Boobie?” I have taken comfort in the ability of these dysfunctional breasts to comfort my child when she’s hurting.

I fought so long and hard for these last 9 months. Was it worth it? I can’t say. Do I have regrets? Yes and no.

Mostly, when I look back at those early months, I can see (clearly) that I was not myself.  I was not in control of things. Anxiety had taken over my life. I wish more than anything that our postpartum care system was set up to better serve new moms. A doctor sees us 6 weeks after childbirth and tells us that we’re clear for sex—which is just what we want to hear when the stitches have yet to dissolve from our torn bodies. 

Probably the most extreme cases of postpartum depression and anxiety are recognizable by 6 weeks, but what about those of us with more moderate symptoms? Those of us who are still so deep in the fog of newborn life that we don’t even realize our feelings aren’t normal? How many of us have chalked it up to lack of sleep and hormones? 

Too many new moms are left to fall through the cracks and into this undiagnosed, untreated maze of depression/anxiety.

Why not also check in with us after 12 weeks? Talk to us. Give us some tips for pumping as we head back to work. Give us a handout explaining our legal rights to pump in the workplace. Check in on our mental health.

Normal life becomes unrecognizable when you have your first baby. You think you know what to expect, but you don’t. You can’t. Everything is new. When you start to notice that nothing feels quite right, it’s easy to let yourself think that’s just par for the course. Everyone must feel like this. And maybe that’s true. Maybe what you’re dealing with is the norm—but what if it’s not? How would you ever know? Just because your experience is similar to your friend’s or your mom’s doesn’t mean that that’s how it should be–or even how it has to be. But without a doctor there asking the right questions, nothing will change.

I spent all that time blaming my broken body, but you know what was broken? The system. I needed to be seen, and I needed to be heard. I can tell you right now that if I had been of sound mind and body, I never would have put myself through the hell that was those early months of breastfeeding. Never.

As I looked back at my early posts related to breastfeeding, I saw a picture of myself holding a freshly pumped bottle of milk with about a quarter of an ounce of milk in it. I remember that moment. I remember that version of myself. I wish I could wrap my arms around that mama and give her some peace. I wish I could replace that damn pump with a bottle of zoloft and a glass of wine. Oh, how she needed that.

The moral of the story is this: Fed is best. Period. No matter what the posters in your doctor’s office tell you. No matter what they say at your birth or parenting classes. No. Matter. What. Fed is best.

You know what else is best for your baby? A physically AND mentally healthy mama. You don’t have to be scared/unstable/sad all the time. Depression or anxiety that interferes with your ability to enjoy your life is not a package deal that comes with your new baby. Fight for your happiness. If you don’t think your feelings are normal, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your mom is not your doctor. Neither is your spouse.

Given our history, I am beyond grateful that I was able to end my nursing relationship with my daughter on happy terms. As we wean, my head and my heart are clear. I made the choice that was best for both of us—something I was unable to do when she was an infant. That moment of clarity last week when I said, “This is it”? That moment was a gift. A gift I probably should have been given 20 months ago.

21 Months


Last week, we were shopping at the consignment sale we participated in. Charlotte was playing with an abacus that had caught her attention because BALLS. (Still an obsession, for anyone who happens to remember her first word.) I sat there with her for a minute and we slid the balls back and forth and then I watched in shock as she counted from one to fifteen on the abacus. We bought it. I mean, I’ve heard her count before but never all the way to 15 and rarely without starting at 7. She really likes saying 7, 8, 9.


She can sing the entire alphabet song now, too. Five thousand times a day. There are occasions where it’s AC/DC-EFG and other occasions where it’s ABCD-EIEIO, but for the most part she sings the whole thing straight through.

THANK YOU SESAME STREET. I will never again allow myself to feel guilty for this kid’s screen time.

Tooth brushing was damn near impossible for a while, but suddenly it is easy courtesy of both Minions toothpaste and the Elmo tooth brushing song. So we also have screen time to thank for teeth brushing.

I am obviously doing a damn good job of choosing the right channel for her to watch while I make breakfast. Mad props to me.


A few of Charlotte’s favorite things right now (in no particular order):

Fake sneezing and then saying “bless you” to herself

Declaring “I fell down” when she is not in any kind of situation where that is even possible and then looking at us with an expectant smile because she wants us to tell her she’s silly

Chu’s Day at the Beach

2-ingredient banana pancakes (I add cinnamon and a smidge of baking powder)

Singing. All day. Every day. Constantly.

The Sesame Street station on Pandora

Swimming—any chance to be in the water

Flowers—we even put a few fake ones in her Easter basket and she likes to make all of her stuffed animals smell them

Stuffed animals—she is all about the imaginary play with her team of “guys.” They especially like to dance. She will often offer them her paci or bits of cracker or cereal.


Picking things in the garden whether they are ready to be picked or not (it’s driving us crazy)


Playing in the car when it’s parked in the driveway


Asking, “What’s this?” about everything she sees and then repeating whatever we say. She’s pretty sharp and usually once you tell her, she’ll remember the word from then on.

Sesame noodles


Corn on the cob

A few of Charlotte’s least favorite things right now:

Wearing clothes/shoes (this is an ongoing battle)


Waking up from naps (grouchfest)

Rinsing her hair in the tub

Cleaning up after herself

Having her face wiped

Being denied the boob

We have so much fun together now. Afternoons in the back yard. Weekend adventures. Walks with the dogs. Swimming, swimming, swimming.

It feels like we’ve found our groove in a lot of ways. We know what makes her tick, and those things—fresh air, general silliness, music, dancing, new experiences—all happen to be really good for all of us.




Charlotte is without a doubt my favorite person in the world. I mean, my wife is up there too, but this kid—she is The Best. And it keeps getting better, which just blows my mind.