A blank screen. I’ve been staring at one for two weeks. How is one supposed to be funny whilst in the midst of severe sleep deprivation? I now understand why it’s used as a torture tactic. And I now refer to my daughter as my little CIA Operative. She’s the worst. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love her to death. And I’m confident that I’ll actually like her someday too. But for now? She’s insomnia personified. And I am not amused.
You see, Blake’s issues with acid reflux crept up on us slowly. Despite vomiting in a way that would make any staunch bulimic proud, newborn Blake was still retaining enough breast milk to satiate her. But growth and maturity have done us no favors, and now — now she’s perpetually hungry and wakes frequently to let us know as much. And when she’s awake, she’s not exactly a treat to be around either, which wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, she was what doctors refer to as a “happy spitter,” which is exactly what you want to hear, unless you’re one of her future boyfriends. But her reflux has since worsened, and now at its peak, she’s constantly exhibiting signs of discomfort. Unless I’m holding her in a perfectly upright position, she writhes in pain and cries incessantly. And that’s with the assistance of medication, which we held off on for as long as possible, but finally had to start administering this past week. Needless to say, it’s fun times at the Sullivan residence these days.
Luckily for us, Brooke is a dream. She’s almost 1 year 5 months now, and this age is my favorite yet. She’s incredibly sweet and equal parts disgusting and adorable. She’ll throw her head back and call out “maaaa” at the top of her lungs in utter desperation…when I’m standing 2 feet away. Apparently two feet is too wide an expanse. I need to be within striking distance, lest she be unable to latch on to my legs, throw herself at me wildly, or stick her fingers in my eye socket. It’s totally precious and but one example of her ever-growing affinity for affection.
The other day, my husband and I were taking a walk with Brooke when we happened upon a young boy playing outside. And what does Brooke do? She walks right up to this older child that she’s never met before and, without pomp, circumstance, or hesitation, engulfs him in a tight embrace, before tenderly kissing him on his eye-level chest. I didn’t even bother to look back at my husband in order to survey the look on his face, as I wanted some kind of plausible deniability when the kid turned up dead. But I knew what he was thinking. Great, Brooke. You may as well start seeking out free candy from vans with blacked out windows and silver objects hanging ceremoniously from the tailpipe, in a such a way that you’d expect the back window to read “Just Married” (in a jailhouse ceremony). Only the accoutrements adorning the rear of this vehicle aren’t tin cans or other types of wedding fanfare, they’re rape whistles. I mean, talk about a total lack of appropriate stranger danger. What’s next? Is she going to become Jared Fogle’s pen pal? I can just see it now.
Brooke: Look ma! A letter from the penitentiary! That’s like a park, right?!
Me: Yes dear, if parks had terrible food and lots of surprise sex.
Brooke: What’s surprise sex?
In any event, it’s sweet.
Beyond that, I’ve just been enjoying Brooke’s growing imagination and love of play. Recently, my husband’s ever-gracious boss handed a Disney princess castle down to her, and you’ve never seen a girl’s eyes get wider or smile get bigger. She took to it immediately. And I did too…with one caveat. You see, one of my husband’s more deplorable exes shares the name of a certain Disney princess, and I had zero desire to have to repeat her name to my daughter. I was pretty sure she’d become a worse person just by hearing it. So I set about trying to figure out how I could dispose of this one particular toy without upsetting Brooke. Should I make like a parent attempting to explain away a deceased pet and tell her that it went off to live on a tiny-toy-whore farm? Or should I explain that Satan himself had blown fire through our home’s foundation and shot up through the floorboards in order to retrieve one of his own? Both seemed like viable options. In the end though, I ultimately decided to keep the toy. As one of the more prolific Disney stories, I couldn’t justify depriving my daughter of the chance to experience it, simply because her father had made some admittedly poor decisions. She could play with the toy. And you know what, I’d even be the bigger person and play with the toy too.
Nap time has never been more fun.
Now, this is the part where I’m supposed to apologize and explain that I’m really not a mean person, because I’m not. And if it seems like I’m going harder than a Russian here, it’s only because I wish Putin would go all Syrian War Crisis on her. To put it in relatable terms, I would bake the man who held me hostage a bundt cake before I’d ever wish happiness upon this girl. In my defense, she spent years trying to ruin my relationship, despite being in a relationship of her own. She even went so far as to find out from a mutual friend where my husband and I were planning to be one night and then showed up at said establishment — alone— just hoping to get a glimpse. I mean, c’mon; John Hinckley, Jr. was a less creepy stalker.
I forgot where I was going with this.
Oh, right. Brooke. So her imaginative play is blossoming, and it’s made this a really fun time for us both. Like any other age though, it still has its challenges. Like words. Brooke doesn’t say a lot of them, and apparently, she’s supposed to be saying more. And talking to other parents about it certainly doesn’t help either. If you listened to moms these days, you’d think their 16 month old was reciting Edgar Allan Poe before nap time. They’re like, “Oh, Bartholomew has 147 words. Look! He just said ramen!” First off, let’s call a spade a spade, he just said gibberish. But fine, taken as fact that he just said ramen, sure, you may be raising a genius, but you’re also raising a poor. Have fun getting him a Droid for Christmas.
Anyway, Brooke’s expanding vocabulary just needs to expand a little further, and we’ll be good. As it is though, I was thrilled when her third word was “sister.” Less enthused when her fourth was “shit,” but beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.
As far as how I’m doing, I’m…surviving. Life with two 10.5 months apart is an effectual nightmare, as evidenced by my lack of posts as of late. The good news? I finally got out of the house long enough to get a mani/pedi recently, which was a relief, since my last one occurred so long ago that it’d probably qualify for an exhibit at the Smithsonian. The bad news? The large amount of stress that I’ve been under dealt me my first pair of grey hairs. My mom was aghast. “I don’t even have grey hairs!” she’d said. I wanted to be like, ma, how would you know? You’ve been dying your hair since before I was born. If a grey hair were to ever sprout, it’d be snuffed out before it ever had a chance to grow. Like tiny grey hair abortion.
Otherwise though, despite still being in horrible shape (I’m winded after singing a lullaby), I’m finally starting to get my body back. I was in the shower the other day, when I felt a large lump in my calf and momentarily freaked out about having a tumor. The idea that it could be muscle never even occurred to me. The last time I had any kind of tone or definition, Caitlyn Jenner was only wearing heels in private. But muscle it was, and I couldn’t have been more relieved. I guess that’s the silver lining in having to bounce your child on an exercise ball every time you want to get her to go to sleep. I’ve rocked and bounced Blake so much these past few months that my general resting state these days is swaying to and fro. I didn’t even realize I had been doing it, until I caught the quizzical gaze of a bystander at the grocery store. He was staring at me with a look that turned from confusion to understanding. Like he finally got it. Eventually, the rhythm was going to get you.
Anyhow, after taking a bath with Blake last night (the princess can’t be bothered to bathe alone), I utilized my newfound muscles to bounce her to sleep, in what’s become our own special bedtime routine. And after laying her gently in her crib, I turned my sights towards Brooke. We outfitted her in some snug pajamas, turned on her overhead projector, and she and I swayed together, as I held her in my arms, singing softly in her ear. By the time I had finished my serenade, her fluttering eyes had finally closed, and I lay her in her crib amongst a sea of stuffed animals. I quietly exited the room, departing to my own, where I took a quick shower before joining my husband downstairs to watch The Bachelor (my choice) and the State of the Union (his). Hours later, we’d put ourselves to bed as well, and while mentally preparing for the long night of wake-ups ahead, I said a silent prayer.
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
And if I should die before I wake…
…thank f’ing God, because I know they don’t have Irish Twins in heaven.