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We’ve all survived Year One

Dec 1, 2017 by

We’ve all survived Year One

I don’t think anyone realizes how fast a year can go until they are staring into the eyes of their child on their first birthday.

 

My Juliet,

Gosh, Yesterday, I couldn’t even think about you being a one year old. Last week, as the days kept creeping up on me, the weight of knowing you are not a baby anymore kept squishing the air out of my lungs. Now that the day is here, I find myself longing to keep you a squirmy baby forever. And, therein lies the problem, you are desperate and determined to grow up, while all momma wants is to keep you little. How is it possible that this wild, independent, almost-toddler was ever the helpless little bundle we brought home from the hospital? A year ago on this day, we didn’t know you. We loved you, but we didn’t know you. It amazes me that there was ever a moment when we didn’t know the spirited, little beast who has stolen our hearts forever. You have surprised me with your awesomeness… although with Daddy and I as your parents, how could you not be awesome?

Those early days are kind of a blur now, and I know you won’t remember them. But we will…that first time you giggled and I sprinted down the stairs to tell your daddy: we almost toppled down the stairs and he didn’t believe me anyway because you wouldn’t do it again. (But my heart soared, and the sound of your laughter will forever be my favorite noise.) Or when you first rolled over on the dining room table in front of Aunt Katie and Grandma and Grandpa, we cheered and applauded so loud we pretty much scared the shit out of you. But we were so proud. Or your first real belly laugh. Your first time on a swing and the absolute joy on your face…Or when at 6 months you were already able to feed yourself in your high chair, and would give us an inquisitive eyebrow raise when you liked a new flavor. Then suddenly you were crawling…and taking those first wobbly steps and no matter how many times you’ve fallen over you get right back up to try again. I admire your determination.  I am amazed by you.

You know, I was scared I was going to screw this whole thing up. Every single day while I was pregnant with you I was scared out of my mind. Having no idea how to take care of a baby is a pretty daunting hill to climb. And… well, I do screw up (as I’m sure you know), pretty much daily. Babies are hard. You’ll find out one day. There’s mountains of laundry, really horrifying diapers, and tears (yours and mine) that happen for inexplicable reasons. I don’t know that I have slept a solid night in nearly two years, and we’ve spent more than half of this year without daddy too! (His job as a soldier has taken him away for training, and schools and deployment.) But being your mom has been such a joy, and the greatest blessing…  I still don’t know what I did to deserve you. And now I look at the amazing tiny human you’re becoming – smart, funny, curious, a bit on the sassy side – and I can’t help but think that we must be doing something right.

 

How is it possible to love you this much? Click To Tweet

 

I can barely keep up with you now. Of course, being 32 weeks pregnant has something to do with that. But, people don’t believe me when I tell them that you never (EVER) slow down unless you’re strapped into your high chair. You’re crawling as fast as you can (hoping someone will chase you), tormenting the dogs, pulling all your books off the shelf, pointing at and grabbing everything, picking things up, laughing like crazy. Your energy is incredible.

And, although I may be a bit biased, you are the most beautiful baby I have ever laid my eyes on.  You have this sparkle in your eyes that draws strangers to you, melts hearts, captures audiences. When you smile your whole face lights up and so do the faces of everyone around you as you clap and wave and high-five strangers. I love that you wave at those strangers, that little wave is like magic. Cranky, hurried people in the grocery store can’t help themselves but to stop and wave back at the bubbly, little, blondie grinning up at them.  I don’t have to be biased to know that you have an amazing amount of charisma, you simply spread joy.

I could, most certainly, write about you for hours. I could retell every story, relive every milestone, but instead let me just leave you with a few, pretty sappy, mommy thoughts.

Juliet, I hope you continue to just love people and surround yourself with people who love you. I have so enjoyed watching you become YOU and I hope you are always so comfortable expressing yourself. I have quickly learned that each passing day is better when you are in it, and I hope you know what a delight you are to those who are blessed to be in your presence. Each day I watch you learn new things and explore the world around you I am reminded to take a moment myself to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Thank you for re-teaching me that!

This weekend, we will celebrate you. There will be cake and friends and presents and we will sing “Happy Birthday” over and over… I’ll cry because your very existence gives me joy so profound I don’t know how to keep those emotions from leaking out of my eyes. I hope you always know how much we love you. How freaking incredible you truly are. You’ve taught me how to see the world differently, through your innocent eyes. Let’s always drop everything to dance when we hear music and belly laugh when we fart. My life is so much better with you in it.

I hope, one day, when you are old enough to read this letter you’ll smile at your sentimental momma and know that my first year as a mother has been my greatest adventure, and you, sweet one, the most beautiful gift.

Love,

Momma

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23 Things I know to be TRUE about Deployments:

Oct 24, 2017 by

23 Things I know to be TRUE about Deployments:

No matter how many times we’ve gone through a deployment, some things simply do not change.

 

Here are the things I can count on, every time my husband heads off:

  1. People will tell me how hard it is when their spouse is away on business, or goes on a hunting trip, or works an overnight shift. I will not murder them. I will think about it.

  2. Our house will always be left in a layer of camo-colored gear-vomit after he leaves. It will take me 2 months to pack it back into boxes in the garage.

  3. Leaving day is always a shock, no matter how prepared we are or how much support we have, or how many days its been delayed.

  4. Ben and Jerry’s is always required sustenance for those first few days. Little Debbie sometimes makes an appearance as well.

  5. Coming home to a house without him is downright unbearable for a few weeks.

  6. I forget how many dishes I use, all by myself, when there is no one else to help me wash them.

  7. Managing household chores, to do lists, and errands takes some serious practice to complete singlehandedly. (Equal amounts of practice will be required to learn how to share these responsibilities again too.)

  8. Deployments do not get easier. Coping strategies just get more well-practiced.

  9. The national anthem still makes me cry. People disregarding it makes me cry too.

  10. For days, I will sleep in whatever dirty t-shirt he left in the hamper. I know this is gross.

  11. Feeling lonely is totally a thing, even when you’ve surrounded yourself with friends, hobbies, social outings, and four-legged companions.

  12. The dog takes up more space in the bed than my husband.

  13. I will eat my weight in cereal, popcorn and cans of soup.

  14. I can expect one or two real serious meltdowns…maybe three.

  15. Something will break. Something expensive. Something necessary.

  16. I will surprise myself by how capable I am.

  17. The dog will spend a week in mourning. Its pathetic and makes my heart hurt.

  18. People, even people I don’t know that well, will go out of their way to provide support. There is so much good in this world.

  19. No matter how much people try to include me in things, or how much I plan to interact with other people, something will still feel like its missing.

  20. The first three weeks and the last three weeks are the worst.

  21. You can never start a countdown to homecoming…because that day will change, and change and change.

  22. I always plan to save money, and then need retail therapy to get me through.

  23. A one sentence email can make an entire day brighter.

What things do you know to be true about deployments? Click To Tweet read more

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My flag. OUR flag.

Sep 26, 2017 by

My flag. OUR flag.

I had a coworker tell me today that she’d be ashamed if she were me and she bets my “husband is a terrible person since he’s marching off under Trump’s flag”.

Seriously. This happened. Word for word. As I’ve been emotionally preparing to send hubby off on his next deployment, these are the words she decides to share with me today. Truthfully, and this may be the pregnancy hormones talking, she’s lucky I didn’t punch her in her cunty mouth. (That right, I dropped the C-word. There’s a time and a place for all words, and this is the time and the place.)

Amidst the anxiety that comes with prepping for deployment, also comes extreme pride. Pride in my husband and his team, pride in myself and my capabilities….being ashamed? Never. I’ve been so angry at this coworker all day that my hands have been shaking, and I’ve given myself a headache. I can’t even bring myself to remember that everyone is entitled to their own (misguided) opinions, or to forgive her for her ignorance.

So allow me to be clear on two important details.

 

1) My husband doesn’t get to choose his boss, or his hours. He doesn’t get to decide he’s tired of his job and quit. He can’t use up all his sick time or plan extended Disney World vacations. He doesn’t get to pick and choose which holidays he feels like working for double time pay. His career isn’t glamorous or lucrative… but it is essential that he keep doing it, and doing it well.

2) It isn’t “Trump’s” flag. It is OUR flag. Yours and mine. You get to choose what you think of it, and how you treat it, but it’s still your flag. And me? Personally? I fucking love that thing.

 

That flag represents all the things that I hold dear in this world. Here’s the beauty of it, it stands for that freedom that you like to make grandiose claims about, the freedom to say…..choose a new president in a few years if you don’t like our current one.  It doesn’t represent one man, or one set of ideas, or one group of people. The close-minded stupidity of people makes me crazy some times.  That very flag that you are not acknowledging, that very flag that you refuse to stand up for? That’s the flag that gives you the privilege to make your “peaceful” protests in the first place…

And why can you do that? Because of people like my husband.

So, whenever my husband and his teammates next board that plane to destinations unknown: I’m proud of them, I’m proud of this country, and I will always stand for that flag.

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And just like that, we have a 9 month old

Sep 8, 2017 by

And just like that, we have a 9 month old

…because I don’t want to forget, because there’s so much to remember, and because I always want you to know how much you’re loved: here is a letter. To my baby girl as she turns 9 months old.

 

To my dearest, little love,

 

This week you turned nine months old. Nine, whole, crazy months of happy, stinky, squealing baby. I can’t quite believe it. How have you been a part of our lives for so long already? It seems like a minute ago I was waddling around, huge as a house, with you in my tummy. All the minutes spent dreaming of who you’d be and what you’d be like–we wasted, because you are so much better than all the things we’d ever imagined. And smellier. Much, much smellier.

It’s you who taught me how to be a momma, in those sleep deprived night time diaper changes where I was lucky to get the thing on in the right direction. Maybe not the greatest momma, maybe not even a very good one sometimes (don’t tell daddy about the time I let you fall off the ottoman) but a momma none the less. A momma who, most days, desperately needed a glass of wine, and still has no idea what she’s doing. A momma who is mostly positive your first word will be “shit”.

As I was learning to fumble with snaps in the dark without cursing and figure out what made you tick, I know there were days that I was less than stellar. I’m sorry for the stumbles and mistakes, but I think you’re turning out just fine. I think I’ll do a better job with your sibling, because you’ve helped me figure out how to balance on the tightrope that is motherhood. On your birthday you transformed me, I became a mommy, and suddenly life was all about you –despite my headstrong ideas that life would stay the same. It was selfish of me to think that it would be any other way. I was silly.

You’ve grown so much this month that my heart hurts as it tries to remember every single change. You do something new every day! You’ve started to giggle at your own farts, and point at people and laugh. Daddy is training you well. You sneak food off your tray to hand to Crockett, scream angrily when you think you’ve lost a toy, and yell at the top of your lungs: just because you’ve discovered you can.

When I think back to that first day when Daddy and I bundled you into the car after leaving the hospital, your tiny body completely lost in your giant car seat, and then look at you today: I am amazed. Your legs are almost dangling out of the seat now. You’ve been out in this world just as long as you were in my tummy! I can’t believe how fast time is flying.

You are solid, with a herculean grip and strong legs that you love to stand and bounce on. You love to crawl over Crockett and put everything, including momma’s hair, into your mouth. When I walk into your room in the morning and see you standing there, your blonde head poking through the crib rails as you balance on your chubby little legs, grinning at me, my heart almost explodes.

You notice everything. (Especially when we are eating without you, which makes you so mad). Nine months ago I couldn’t imagine a day when your personality would make me laugh out loud, but every day you become more like your daddy (Lord, help us all) laughing and noticing all the things that are funny around you. You clap your hands when you’ve done something well, and wave bye-bye. Each time I’m astounded by how smart you are.

Your number one favorite thing in the whole world is meal time, a girl after momma’s heart. Food literally makes you sing. You love to feed yourself and have mastered the art of picking up tiny pieces of your meal. You will choose broccoli over everything else on your plate but you also like spaghetti-os and peaches, peas and Cheerios. In fact, there isn’t much we’ve set before you that you haven’t gobbled up. You’ve started to share your food with mommy and daddy when you eat, and offer us a full belly laugh when we pretend to take it from you.

You love to blow raspberries at Daddy and play in your swing. You babble and grin at anyone who pays you attention and you quickly capture the hearts of strangers. You still love baths and swimming and all things water, you’ll scream with excitement if you know we are about to get in the pool.

You bring so much joy into our family I don’t even know how to put it into words, so it only makes sense that Mommy felt a little bit guilty when we announced to you that you are soon to be a big sister. You don’t know what that means yet, or how it will change your world (and ours) but my instinct is to squeeze you just a little bit tighter while you’re still my only baby. The transition to mommy of two is scary (probably for both of us) but I can’t wait to see what a great big sister you become. Until baby #2 arrives though, just let momma snuggle you a little longer. I need to soak in every last little bit of you. I blame you though. It’s your own fault that you’ll be leaving only-child-status, because if you weren’t so wonderful we would have never wanted another baby. You’ll always be the only kid who knows what it’s like to have my undivided attention, the first nose I’ve ever picked (besides my own), the first person I’ve ever said “I love you” to more than a dozen times a day…you’re the one who made my cynical, “Grinch-like” heart grow to sizes I never knew were possible. Which is why I know there’s more than enough room in that heart for both you and your new baby brother.

You, my first-born, will always get to know- I loved you first, I’ll love you always, you are the light of my life.

Love, Momma

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New Mommy Monster

Jun 23, 2017 by

The first few months of new motherhood have been harder and yet more rewarding than I could have possibly imagined. When that little girl smiles at me, I feel like I have won the lottery. It doesn’t get better than that. But it does get worse. Much, much worse.

No one can really prepare you, or at least they choose not to—and so you don’t know what you’re getting into until you are properly sinking in the quicksand that is parenthood. I think it’s partly because you get absolutely zero sleep, like none, that maybe people forget what it’s like and thus forget to tell you. Everyone just offers the same bullshit advice: sleep when the baby sleeps. Well, the baby never f-ing sleeps, so there’s that. And if I did sleep in the glimmers in which she has her eyes closed, the rest of the family would be starving and running around naked because the laundry and grocery shopping would just go straight down the shitter.

So, combine the lack of sleep with utterly ridiculous mood swings, crazy  hormones, clothes that don’t fit, bleeding nipples, and the sudden realization that life will never, ever be remotely the same…and new motherhood can start to seem a lot like a horror movie. The thing is, mixed in with all that rot, is this tiny creature who has changed your heart and ability to love into this huge, gigantic mess of a thing that you didn’t know was possible. Man, I love this kid. Who knew you could feel like that? (Especially now that she is sleeping through the entire night.)

The thing is, now that I’m getting some more sleep, I think it’s important for me to reach out. I need to draw back for a moment into those first few weeks and let you know that I totally get it.

Come back with me for a moment:

So there I was. Sitting in the dark nursery, by myself (ok, the baby was with me, but still), with torrential tears streaming down my face. Its week two of this tiny creature’s existence and I am clearly not cut out for motherhood. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I sit there in the dark trying desperately to get my child to eat. Allow me to set the stage for you—crying child at 2am; my husband needs to get up and leave the house early in the morning for work and my mother is sleeping soundly as a guest in our home: happily lapping up her role as new gramma. So I tiptoe with the baby to the nursery, where I can nurse and she won’t wake daddy or our other house guests. Only, breastfeeding is the single most frustrating and horrible thing I have ever tried to do. As I unhook my nursing bra from the shoulder in the dark, I can hear the skin tear before I feel the warm blood start to trickle down. You see, my nipples are chapped and raw from trying to nurse, and in my hurry earlier I tucked those suckers back into my bra before they were completely dry. Rookie mistake. The breast milk had hardened onto my nipple and quite literally glued my skin to my bra, so that when I removed my breast from its confines, I also peeled off a layer of skin. Clicking on the light only confirmed what I already knew, and pissed off the baby.

So, I grimace and move her over to the other side. “The bad side”. I don’t know if this is true for everyone but I have one good, rule following tit, and one that sucks. One side, my child will willingly latch onto and go to town. The other? Not only does it produce less milk, but the baby hates it. She simply hates eating from that side. Then, she begins to scream like one possessed by demon spawn.

That’s when it happens. I start counting how many hours of sleep I’ve had in the past several days and comparing it to the hours my husband has had. And then, I hate him. I wonder how many cups of coffee I can really have before it starts to infuse my breast milk. I start to wonder if I will ever feel normal or joyful again. I contemplate the idea that my body is not my own and has belonged to this tiny human for the last nine months and the foreseeable future…. And then I start to cry. I am an ugly crier.

So, the baby is crying, I am crying, and everything sucks. I feel more alone that I have ever imagined feeling, and to top that all off I feel guilty to boot. In my head I know I am supposed to be enjoying every tiny moment of this. That, too soon, she will be a child and no longer a baby. I shouldn’t be preparing to battle with my husband over his lack of help (or inability to breast feed as the case may be….it turns out he was incredibly helpful with said infant, but this is a dark moment here so bear with me) but I was feeling hateful and unjustly burdened… I felt guilty that I wasn’t swimming in euphoria. I was terrified that this new, hateful, tired, lonely person was the new me. I was so often cloistered and alone in the baby’s room to pump or feed that I was cut off from everything else. It was…awful.

So allow me to assure you, if you’re having feelings of doubt, hatred, homicide….. you are not alone. And, this feeling doesn’t last forever. (If it does, go. Go now. And talk to your health care provider because Postpartum Depression is a very real thing). Now, I’m all for wallowing in self-pity, but the angry tornado of emotions that I was during this time I was not a fan of. Every time my husband was contentedly snoring next to me in bed, and I lay awake obsessing over if the baby was breathing, I wondered if I was strong enough to place a pillow gently over my husband’s face. How long could I hold it there if he started to struggle? Someone should have warned him.

As the days pass I begin to feel a little more me and a little less an exhausted pile of crap. I like my husband a lot more too, and watching him become a really awesome daddy has been a lot of fun…You will too. This too shall pass. I wish we, as women, would band together to help each other through this whole child rearing nonsense. So much wasted time Mommy shame-ing one another. What we really need is each other’s support because this stuff is hard.

Today, I was able to get up, shower AND brush my hair before my daughter woke up for the day. (Write that success down in the baby book!) You’ll get there too. But for the moment, take a look at that sweet bundle of adorableness that you created. They grow and change so fast. This chapter will end. So, take a second and revel in the cuteness that is your kid. Do it now. Before they have a diaper blowout or something.

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