Remember when I had the free time to write one or two blog posts per week? Yeah, neither do I. You know, someone really could have done me a solid and let me know how this whole 2 kids thing was going to play out. I feel like I was completely unprepared. I mean, sure, you think you have an idea of what chaos looks like, until you’re literally thrust into the center of it and realize that you actually had no idea at all. But that’s my life these days, in a nutshell: pure, unadulterated chaos. I feel like I’m the poster child for the beauty of birth control. The paragon for the importance of abstinence. The unofficial ambassador for the use of Plan B. Next thing you know, you’re going to look up and see a billboard with my face on it that reads, “Coat Hangers: They’re Not Just For Your Clothes.”
I love both of my girls to death; I really do. And I wouldn’t give them up for the world. But damn if I couldn’t use some help. You know how people typically dread visits from their in-laws? Like, nobody’s like, “Oh, great! It had been way too long since I last contemplated suicide!” Me, on the other hand? I couldn’t wait for my mother-in-law to come in town and give us a much-needed reprieve. But the weekend went as quickly as it came, and I found myself alone with both girls yet again.
To be fair, Blake has been relatively easy…during the day. But in true nocturnal spirit, she thinks it’s fun to stay up all night. I’ll be jolted out of a deep sleep by a piercing scream and jump out of bed to find my daughter with her hands thrown up to the sky, as if she’s asking, “WHYYYYY?!” I’m just like, I know, kid. Preaching to the choir. And it’s not like I can do that whole, “sleep when they sleep” thing, because when she’s napping during the day, I have a crazed toddler to look after. So here I am, bleary-eyed and hemorrhoid-tailed, trying to keep up with a tiny human that moves shockingly fast for something that’s not even able to walk. And I have to put on a forced smile and pretend like I’m happy to be awake with her. She’ll be doing something really cute, like eating lint out of the dryer, and I have to say something equally cute back like, “I can’t remember a time before you.” Except I can. It was called fun.
Truth be told, it doesn’t help that this is by far the most difficult that Brooke has ever been. For starters, she has turned into a complete mealtime nazi. I’ll be preparing her lunch for her, and little Adolf Hitler over here is literally screaming at me to move faster. It’s like my very own concentration kitchen. And then when I finally serve the chicken nuggets to this tiny dictator, she exercises absolutely no form of portion control and attempts to eat it all at once. So I’m left to worry about the copious amounts of white meat that my daughter’s shoveling into her mouth. A concern Kris Jenner has never had to share. And don’t even get me started on her affinity for emptying every drawer/cabinet in my house. Just the other day, she had deposited the contents of my bathroom cabinets onto the floor, and as I was hurrying to return them to their rightful places as Blake screamed from just outside the room, I heard a distinct sucking sound coming from behind me. I turned around to find Brooke sucking on the top of a tube, lotion smeared around the corners of her mouth.
I freaked out. I just started screaming maniacally and threw her into the sink, tossing water at her as if she were on fire. Then when I wasn’t convinced that she had been sufficiently purged of the toxins, I grabbed a glass and started pouring cupfuls of water into her mouth, in a manner that could only be described as waterboarding. Then I called Poison Control. A man answered.
“What seems to be the issue, ma’am?”
“My daughter just ate some lotion, and I need to know if she’s going to die.”
“Absolutely. What kind of lotion was it?”
“I need the name of it. That way, I can look up the ingredients in our system.”
“Right, of course.”
“Soooo…the name, ma’am?”
“I’m sorry, what was that?”
“Boob Tube. It’s a multi-action bust firmer.”
Keep an eye out for me in the next “Wanna Get Away” commercial.
But that’s life these days; trying to keep one child happy and alive, while the other screams at me from afar. There are those rare times though when everyone in the house is napping. While few and far between, they’re the only time that I can actually hear myself think. I’ll have one napping in her crib upstairs and another napping with my boob in their mouth. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Who cares what my husband does, right? But he looks so peaceful.
In all seriousness, it has been a difficult transition, but it’s one that’s all-too-welcome after the doubts I once felt over whether or not we’d even make it here. The other day, I got Blake’s newborn photos back from the photographer, and as I was scrolling through the proofing gallery, I couldn’t help but begin to cry. Up until that point, our journey together had been marked by strains of abnormality. The bleeds; the hospitalizations; the NICU stay; and all of the appointments to follow. All terribly abnormal occurrences that had always left me feeling slightly betrayed by luck. But here we were, doing the very first normal thing we had done since that first bleed. Looking at normal pictures. Of a normal baby. And, in a move contrary to how I normally operate, I let myself feel it. I unleashed a string of emotions personified through tears, each drop representing a time before now. A time before normal. And by the time I was done, I had let go of the pains of our recent past, ready to embrace our future.
That night, I gave Brooke a bath and put her to bed, ready for a soothing bath of my own. It had been a long day in the Sullivan household, and I desperately needed to unwind. But as I got out a book and a bath bomb and finished filling the tub, I heard Blake crying from the next room. I decided to feed her one more time, and when she had quieted, I laid her back down to sleep. More cries. I moved her swing into the bathroom, thinking she’d enjoy the close proximity. More cries still. Not close enough. Eventually, I undressed her and put her right on my chest, in the bath, where she finally lay peacefully, content. As she lay there, her diaper, hovering just above the water level, was receiving frequent deposits, giving new meaning to the term “bath bomb.” But she was quiet; happy; still.
I didn’t get to use my actual bath bomb, out of fear that the oils would disturb the tiny legs brushing the water’s surface. I didn’t get to read my book; my hands now commissioned for the purposes of comfort and protection. And I was soaking in some very questionable bath water. But as I lay there with my daughter, our chests rising and falling in time, I looked into her expectant eyes and couldn’t help but think…this is the worst. bath. ever.
But hey, there’s always tomorrow.