Thursday, December 23, 2010

"I don't think she smiles like that"

Caroline is in North Dakota with Tyler for Christmas. She will be there for about 2.5 weeks total.

Sucks. A lot.

I'm trying not to be depressed about it and to take advantage of the time to study for the next part of the boards, which are coming up in January, and to sleep in and spend time with friends. Spending the holidays without your child, though... well, I don't even really like to think about it, much less write about it, so I won't.

I miss her. I don't want a whole lot of things in life, other than to be a good dentist and to be a good mom. When half of that is missing, I feel... at a loss. Empty. Purposeless. I keep the door to her room shut. I don't turn on the Christmas tree. The holidays aren't happy for me this year.

I can't wait until she comes home.

But anyway. That is not the purpose of this post. This is:

I have a close friend who also recently got divorced. I was spending the night at her place a few days ago (when I had no heat and then a gas leak in my apartment, which is a whole nother story) and we were laying around chatting and looking at pictures from a Christmas party last week. She said, "hey, can I tell you something? This is going to sound so lame. But when I've looked at pictures of you from a long time ago, you have this really big, big smile and it almost doesn't even look like you. I thought, I don't think she smiles like that. But when I look at these pics from Friday, you have that same smile again."

And she is right. I do.

I have to remember that. That even though it's sad, this first divorced Christmas without my baby, I am me again. I am happy again, in the big picture. I can drag myself up out of this unhappy marriage and all the things we did to each other and all the pain and sadness can be lifted.

I can be me again. I can smile like that again.

In fact, I guess I already do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stop googling that.

I always enjoy tracking the google searches that lead to my blog. Usually it's a whole lot of searches along the lines of "unexpectedly expecting blog" or "unexpectedly expecting julia" and whatnot. Sometimes there are a few extremely creative spellings of "unexpectedly" (get it together, people).

But aside from those, the most common search terms to lead to this page are "paper cut on eye" (thank you, breastfeeding) and "how to make a woman cry" (thank you, pumping).

(Okay, there also was once a search for "grown woman in diper" [sic] but we just won't even go there. No, we won't go there. Because I don't even want to know.)

Seriously? Who are these men (I assume they are men) searching for how to make a woman cry? WTF? Stop googling that. We are doing enough crying all on our own, probably already because of you, thanks very much. We don't need you looking for instructions on how to make us do that.

And now that I've made a whole post about it, I've probably just perpetuated the problem. That's okay. At least now when they search for it, they'll get here and be scolded. You're welcome.

And for those of you googling "paper cut on eye", well, I'm sorry for you, because that just sounds like it really sucks. Good luck with that.

Monday, December 6, 2010


So, my short Thanksgiving break was pretty awesome. I got to hang out at home with Caroline and just relax and spend time with her. Our days are hectic, so it was nice to "catch up". But I don't think the break was quite long enough, because my brain appears to be totally fried. Luckily, Christmas vacation is just two weeks away...

I keep losing my school ID, which I need to get to my desk and into the labs. I also keep putting things down around the clinic and then realizing they are missing a couple minutes later, and then running all over trying to find them. Basically I am just leaving pieces of myself all over the place and being really scatterbrained. I never used to be like this! I guess I am just a little overwhelmed and need a vacation. But the worst happened yesterday...

I was in the lab working over the weekend because I am pretty much drowning in dentures, which is actually a disgusting mental image and I am truly sorry for inflicting it on you. I had a bunch of projects going on at once, trying to be efficient because I had to pick Caro up from Tyler's place (an hour away) at 3:45. The last thing I had to do was make a shell for a temporary bridge, around 1:30. I put a sheet of plastic in this plastic-melting machine that gets extremely hot, and went to gather up my stuff to leave while it was heating. I'm sure that any of you stretched-too-thin mothers can guess what happened then. I picked up my stuff and walked out of the lab, completely forgetting that I had turned on that machine.

All was well until about 10pm, when I sat bolt upright on the couch and remembered. That machine gets HOT. It totally would be capable of burning down the building. I frantically texted everyone I knew who might be at school. No one. I called public safety and told a cop there what I had done and asked him to go make sure someone had shut off the machine, because I couldn't drag my sleeping baby a half hour to school to do it myself. Ohmylord he was so annoyed with me. Understandably. I guess.

I didn't know the room number to the lab and I am the worst direction-giver ever, so these cops were wandering all over the hospital (which is huge) trying to find the lab. I didn't know the technical name for the machine. (We just call it a "suck-down machine", to which the cop said "is this a prank call?") I didn't know anything, really, except that I would probably be in a little bit of trouble if I burned down the entire health center. They found it eventually and of course it was already shut off. The cop was going on and on about it so finally I said "look, do you want me to stop in at public safety tomorrow morning to help you fill out this report? Or maybe pick up some kind of scarlet letter to wear on my chest?" and he was all "well you don't have to be rude" and I was all "well I'm sorry but neither do you sir" and I'm pretty sure public safety is going to key my car tomorrow.

Then of course I was wishing the damn place had burned while I suffered through a terrible morning in clinic, but that's neither here nor there.

So. Long story short (way too late for that), I could use a week of vacation or two!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful. 2010 version.

This Thanksgiving was so different from last year. I am sure I don't need to explain why.

Thanksgiving is usually one of my favorite holidays. It's like the only American holiday that isn't completely over-commercialized. And it's all about delicious food. I don't think I need to spell out how awesome that is. But it's also all about family time, and holidays like that are tough, being separated and still in the middle of all the divorce stuff. I woke up this morning feeling pretty bummed. I moped around the house for awhile before getting ready to leave with Caroline for our Thanksgiving plans. I fully planned on being that newly divorced girl and drinking too much wine and making things awesomely awkward by talking loudly about my divorce.

But once I got moving and spent some time with family and friends, I started thinking more about how much I really do have to be thankful for... and there are so many things...

I'm thankful for my daughter, who amazes me and entertains me and melts my heart every single day. I'm thankful for my family, and for my close friends who are family to me, even if we aren't related by blood. I'm thankful that I did go back to school to finish my degree, and thankful that I'm finally graduating this May.

And now I've typed "thankful" so many times that the word is starting to look really weird and I keep questioning whether or not I'm spelling it right. But, anyway...

I'm thankful for my freedom from a relationship that was no good for me, and that I don't have to pretend anymore that I am happy. I'm thankful for this chance to have a new life and a fresh start. I'm thankful to have hope for the future.

Life is good, really. It gets better every day. And I'm really, truly so thankful for that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dear Caroline,

When you are old enough to understand, these are the things I want you to know. First of all, I love you more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone or anything. I hope you know that already, even without me ever having to say so.

I worry that you will hate me someday for making the decision to split up our family. For compromising your relationship with your father. I hope that you will be able to see past the sad parts and appreciate the reasons why I did what I did. Your father and I were not going to be able to live happy lives together. We weren't going to be able to give you a happy, stable life, and that was so clear to me that I knew I had to part ways with him... and I had to do it while you were still young enough to not remember the awful process of it all.

I hope you don't think that I did it out of selfishness, out of flightiness, like so many people seem to think that I did. Continuing to pretend would have only hurt us all more in the end, and the last thing I want is to hurt you...

My hope is to give you more stability than you could have had, more love than you could have felt, surround you with more happiness than I could have done if I had stayed with a man I did not love. I am certainly not perfect, and maybe I'm doing it all wrong. I don't know. But all I can do is the best I can, and what I feel is right for us. I hope that someday, if you are ever in a similar situation, the decision that I'm making now can give you the courage to realize that you are never stuck, you are never trapped. If you've tried to make things work and are truly unhappy where you are, there is a way out, you can be happy again, and you shouldn't be afraid to say that you want to take a different road than society tells you to take.

I love you. I only want the best life for you. Maybe I can't offer that "perfect" life, living together with your father and a sibling and a dog and a white picket fence out front. But I can offer you all my love and hopefully, two parents who are happier apart than they ever could have been together. I hope that, even if your life is different from your friends' lives, you believe in the end that your two happy homes are better than a single unhappy one.

I love you.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


That's what I am. That's all I am. The high that I was on from the thrill of changing my life for the better has worn off. Now I'm just being pulled under by the endlessness of the legalities and the stress and the seemingly bottomless anger and bitterness we have towards each other, that seems to be growing every day.

Does divorce always have to be like this? I feel like there must be couples out there who decide to end things and carry it out in a civil manner. Maybe it has to be more of a mutual decision in order for that to happen...

All I know is that I'm completely wiped out. We can't even hold a semi-normal conversation without our counselor present. It's like he's finally realized that it's truly over and has stopped asking me to reconsider, to give us a chance... and now the gloves are off. And boy, it really sucks when the gloves come off with someone who knows you this well. They know just how to really piss you off and screw you over.

It's so exhausting to not only deal with the pressures of my final year of school, taking care of my daughter alone, and the financial stress of raising her without an income other than my student loans... but also emotionally to try to find some way of handling the death of this relationship that was supposed to be forever. Most of the time, I try not to stop and think about any of it, because if I do, I start to fall apart... but I can't do that forever. At some point I am going to have to turn around and face the fact that my life has pretty much exploded in my face. I have my own therapist (separate from our couples counselor) to help me through it, but it's so hard to make it work with my schedule when I have patients until 5pm and then I have to get to daycare.

On the days I can push it to the side and focus on what matters and the light at the end of the tunnel, I am happy. Other days, like today, I am huddled in the corner of the library with my headphones on, trying not to cry. I don't know what I've done/ Or if I like what I've begun/ But something told me to run/ And honey you know me it's all or none...

So much pressure from all directions, I feel like I am going to crack... why can't we just both agree that we weren't right for each other and walk away from this, relatively unscathed? I wonder if it ever works out that way. I kind of doubt that it does. I am starting to think that getting divorced is the only way to truly get to know the person that you married.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Caroline and I kept our apartment when Tyler moved out. It has its positives-- we didn't have to move, we are both used to living here, and her daycare is right across the street. But I didn't feel like I could keep living in a space that represented our old life because it made me feel sad and uneasy all the time. Plus, some of our furniture went with Tyler, of course. So I changed things up. Made things brighter and bolder. It's a fresh start. Not anywhere near finished, and I still have lots of blank walls, but... it's a beginning.

Here's the living room couch. I got it from IKEA and put it together, all by myself! Our living room used to be a bunch of blah browns, so I love the bright blue.

Our bedroom used to be blue with like a country quilt on the bed, but I re-did it in bright red. Which you can't really see at all in this picture and it also looks like the reds don't match each other, and in general it just looks kind of horrible. But I promise they do match when there isn't two different types of light, and it looks good in person. There, now you're convinced.

I've spent an awful lot of time at IKEA lately, replacing things Tyler took with him and getting new stuff to redecorate. It is kind of a depressing place to go when you are dealing with a situation like this. There are all these cute little families buying baby stuff and couples moving in together and being all affectionate and making out and stuff in the checkout lines and vom. I try to just charge through with my cart and pick up what I need and book it outta there.

There is also the problem of how to decorate when I have literally no money to spare. But I needed to redecorate in some way for my own mental health, so I have resorted to using lots of mirrors. IKEA has lots of them for cheap, and they help open up the place, which is dark and small. At first it kind of bothered me to be seeing my reflection everywhere I turned.

But now I kind of like it. Like I said, it's open. And I'd rather have mirrors than mass-produced art that you find stacked in an IKEA bin. We used to have our walls filled with paintings and art from different places we'd visited, but a lot of that went with Tyler, so I guess I'm just going to have to take some trips to fill up my walls again!

Besides, my new life is going to be one that actually includes me and what I want. Rather than centering around what I can do for everyone else while I just sort of fade into the background. So the mirrors are kind of fitting.

I like our "new" place. It's not our forever home, of course. But it will do for now. For the first time in my life, I have a place that's just mine. And it turns out that that's a pretty good feeling.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Justifications, rationalizations

It's funny how strongly my own feelings about my divorce are affected by other people. I think that if I were living in some kind of social vacuum where there was no one else to influence me about it, I would be in a pretty constant state of calmness and peace that I am finally making the changes in my life that I've wanted to make for a long time. But really it's hard to say how I would feel, because everyone and their dog has an opinion about it and no one can possibly hold it back, not even a little bit, not even to my face.

I should back up a little and explain what I mean, because from the people I am close to, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. No judgment, not even from those who don't know the entire story. My friends are truly amazing and supportive, and I love them completely.

But what makes me feel the worst is when people guilt me about Caroline. Believe me, I am fully, completely, soul-crushingly aware that I am splitting up our family, and I know what that means for her future. I don't need anyone to remind me of that. It haunts me. It kills me. I wake up during the night and lie awake for hours, completely overwhelmed with guilt.

So here I go again, with my explanations, justifications, rationalizations... not for them. For me. Because I can't forget why I'm doing this, and it keeps my spirits up, and keeps me going when things get tough or when I face more judgment and disapproval and guilt.

I was unhappy. Miserable, in fact. Not just a matter of looking at your life and asking, is this as happy as I can possibly be... what if there's something more out there? But a matter of, I just cannot continue with this, I cannot keep going, I know that this is not forever and if it is, then I just don't want to keep living. Should I have kept suffocating under the weight of a promise I made when I was too young to really know what I wanted from my life? Just for the sake of not backing down?

Once the decision was made, I felt relieved, free, alive. I had doubts, sure... I still do have doubts. But I felt like I could not just close my eyes and go back to sleep. Could not slip back under the surface and pretend that I had never come up for air. If I had done it, if I had gone back just for the sake of not hurting feelings and keeping the peace, every minute would have been a lie and I just. could. not. do it. Life is too short, and you only get one shot at it. I'm not going to waste my time-- and his-- with something that I know in my bones is not enough.

But people can call me selfish. They can call me whatever they want. It hurts, sure. But it doesn't hurt as much as staying in an unfulfilling marriage would have, over the long run. For me, for her, or for him. It wasn't a good situation for any of us, and I'm proud to have the courage to say so.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Things are looking up

I feel good these days. Maybe it's too early to be feeling good, but I can't deny it and I don't really want to.

I've been keeping (very) busy, trying to focus on being productive at school, caring for Caroline, and re-decorating my apartment. The evenings are when I feel the most lonely and sad, after Caroline goes to bed, but I have more than enough to do to keep me distracted. I put her down around 7, clean up the kitchen and pick up all her toys, do a load of laundry, get food ready for both of us for the next day, pack her daycare bag, prep food for the next day's dinner, and take a shower. By the time I'm done with all that, it's usually about 9 and I study if I need to, or just watch TV, read, or play on the internet and go to bed around 11. We both get up around 7 and we're out the door with all our stuff to get to daycare by 8.

I'm not going to pretend that it's all easy and fun, being a single mom in dental school. But it's pretty manageable as long as you have a plan and a system. When I have an exam or if she's sick or teething, things start to fall apart a little bit, but I can generally handle it. Tyler wasn't here this summer and had taken a lot of trips before that, so it's not really anything new... just more official. And once he gets things set up for her at his place, he's going to have her every other weekend, so I will have some time to myself to go out with friends, sleep in, or whatever.

Anyway, I've been feeling good. I was reorganizing my bedroom closet last night (the empty half had been getting to me a little bit) while listening to music and I just felt... strangely happy. I've wanted a different life for much longer than I have admitted it to myself. And now I am getting it, and it feels really good. I feel like I shouldn't feel content like this, that it's too soon. But I do, I feel satisfied with what I have and hopeful and excited for the future that I know is eventually coming.

People judge me for what I've done here. I knew that they would and I know that they do. But that's okay. I refuse to live my life the way I was half-living it. I can't wake up every day wishing I was somewhere else. My husband didn't deserve that either. This process is hard and it's awful but it will end with a better life for all of us. Someone said in my comments last week that it's better to be from a broken home than living in one. And isn't that the truth.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Tyler moved out tonight.

I'm sitting here on my empty living room floor, shaking a little bit. Tonight is hard. Better times are coming, but tonight is really hard.

Things have gotten messier recently. I don't want to discuss it on the internet, really, but I guess I should have known these things can't stay too uncomplicated. I am taking his child, basically. He's losing his baby because I was unhappy. I was naive to think he wouldn't fight back and get angry.

This was my decision. So why am I so incredibly, indescribably sad? I mean, I guess it's the little things that aren't really so little. Like the lack of furniture in my living room. It feels so empty. The pictures missing from the walls. The fact that only half my dishes are sitting in my kitchen cabinets. And then it's the big things that are really, really big. Like the fact that I promised to love him and be with him forever and I'm breaking that promise, like the fact that marriage is supposed to be for better or worse and I'm cutting and running, like the fact that we have a child and I am taking her from her father because I was just too unhappy to keep pretending. Part of me hates myself for doing this, he definitely hates me for doing this, and I wonder if she will hate me one day too.

But I can't... I can't just let it slide. I can't go back. I can't fake it, or just push through, or ignore the fact that I was just as lonely when he was home as I was when he was away. I can't live that life anymore. Not for anyone. I'd be doing everyone more harm than good. And the subject of divorce would continue to come up over and over until this same exact thing happened, so I might as well get on with it while she is too young to remember the fights and the yelling and the bitterness and the boxes of books and sheets and cookware... and the empty living room...

I know I'm doing the right thing. But sitting here on the floor of this empty room, my doubts creep in and that's why I'm shaking a little. I should call someone to come over. I have plenty of friends who would. But right now I guess I just feel like being alone. In this empty room.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I think I need to clarify

First of all, thank you all so much for your comments, emails, and Facebook messages. I really am overwhelmed by how many people care about what I'm going through. Even after me only updating sporadically here and not posting anymore at all on the bump boards/MM. Honestly... I can't say how much it means to me to know that people are wishing good things for me and for Caroline. Even people we don't know in real life at all.

But I need to expand a little on my last post, I think. Yes, we are getting divorced. The word itself still sounds ugly and horrible to me. But this decision is 100% mine and I am about 90% happy with it at this point. (Our counselor asked me what the other 10% was and I hesitated and finally said "guilt" and she looked at me like she knew that I was done.) It feels like... relief. And hope. And lots of sadness, too, but... mostly I am looking forward because I am tired of feeling like I am only going to live my life halfway happy.

The awful parts: how devastated he is. The guilt trips. The knowledge that I am denying him a full relationship with his child (he's going to live across the country from us... how can they really ever be close?). The worry that I'm not doing what's best for her... that I'm being selfish. Feeling like I could die when I see him hug her and cry...

The good parts: the relief of having made the decision. Knowing deep down that this is the right thing. Caring for her alone without feeling that awful, all-consuming resentment about the fact that she and I will always come in second or third after his career. Hoping that someday I will find someone who is able to give me what I need... that better times are coming. Taking charge of this life that seemed like it was completely derailed by those two lines and this beautiful child while his continued all but undisturbed.

I can't stay with someone just because I feel bad for them. I can't keep faking it. This is going to happen at some point and I may as well follow through before things are much more complicated... before we have a house, real jobs, money, more children. Do I split up our family now, or in ten years? The move to Denver that has been looming is really what forced the issue. It was like, do I move forward with this? Do I pack up my life and leave all my family and friends, find a job out there, have more children with him, buy a house with him? Or do I just... not?

I choose not.

I know this is the right thing. I know it because he hasn't lived here for three weeks or more, and I feel... at peace. Relieved. Happy. Not that I don't care about him or wish him well. He is a good person who deserves more than someone who is always looking over her shoulder for a different life.

Please don't feel sorry for me. Well, if you want, you can feel sorry for the messiness and sadness and legalness of it all... because that part really is terrible. But I'm making the hard choice that I feel is the right one.

Thank you again for all of your support. Really. I am tearing up just typing this.

Photo by Kari Merkel

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We're getting one.

I don't have a whole lot else to say other than that, right now. I filed the papers yesterday.

I hope to continue this blog even though I haven't been great about posting lately. Just going through some tough times right now... and don't really feel comfortable about putting it all out there on the internet. Not that I haven't shared anything and everything here before, but this just seems like it should be private.

This is hard. This is so, so hard. But I know that better times are coming someday and that is what is keeping me going.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Overly personal statement

I've been struggling a little bit lately, hence the long absences between posts. Tyler's been away. Pretty much constantly since June. He's been home a few days here and there. Juggling school and Caroline all by myself has been... tiring. Tiring isn't the word, really. I'm drained. I'm falling behind on my paperwork, losing too much weight, and running on fumes. I know I can do it, and I don't have much longer to go until I get a little help. I'm just, you know. Struggling a little.

So, I'm trying to get things together for residency applications, because that's coming up quickly. I have to write a personal statement. I despise writing about myself for personal gain. It feels so fake. I sat here staring at the cursor blinking for the better part of the evening before writing this all in one go, without stopping. I can't put it in my applications. But I kind of wish I could. It sums up how I feel. If I can do this, if I can have enough of myself left over to still love what I'm doing, I deserve to get in wherever I want. And those bitches better take me.


I had a baby during dental school.

People don't do that. Well, women don't do that. I didn't mean to. She just happened. I found out right before part 1 of the national boards, and I cried every day for weeks. I thought I was losing my career. And my career meant everything to me.

I didn't know how I was going to do it. I didn't really think I could.

But I did. I am. I took a break for a year, after encountering some pregnancy complications and reevaluating some priorities. Leaving her and going back to school was the hardest thing I ever did. But I did it and I'm glad I did. I wanted to finish. I want to do this. I still want this more than anything.

More than almost anything.

In order to do this, in order to have a baby and raise her with very little help (due to my husband's long absences due to his job) during a demanding program, I had to reprioritize. Rearrange. Find a balance. Make things work. I couldn't be single-minded about my career anymore. And you know what? I think I'm better off for it. I love my daughter. I think she has made my conviction that I want to work in this field even stronger. If I could leave her at home to go back and finish what I started, and still love every single day of what I'm doing, well. It must be the right choice, right? It must be what I'm meant to do. If I can add this little person who requires so much love and attention to my life and still have enough left over to devote to my career and be happy with it every day, I must have chosen well for myself.

This is what I want to do. I still believe that, more than ever.


Even on days like today, when I'm totally exhausted and overwhelmed, I'm glad things happened the way they did. Sure, I still think about how the timing could have been better. But my motivation doesn't drag at times like my classmates'. I'm doing this for her. She needs me. And I'm so lucky to still be doing what I love.

She's pretty cute, too. That doesn't hurt.

And guess what? She took her first steps alone last weekend. I cried so many happy tears. I can't believe she's 18 months old. I know it's cliche, but really. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teeth: those pearly whites

I promise I'll write a post here soon, because I have one rolling around in my head. Until then, here's an informational post I wrote for The Baby Standard on baby/toddler teeth.

Enjoy! Hope it's helpful to moms out there.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Oh hai there. I haven’t posted in forever, so I have a lot of random things to say!

Caroline and I have been visiting Tyler and the in-laws in North Dakota for the past week and a half because I am on break from school. It’s always a nice vacation to head out to the middle of nowhere and just relax. We even went to the rodeo this year. I didn't even know that rodeos still existed before I married this man, by the way. Caroline was obsessed with all the horses. At one point during the day she was throwing a tantrum and I said “Caroline, use your words. Tell me what you want.” and she sniffled and said in a tiny voice “hoss”. I guess all those times I promised her a pony to get her to go to sleep are catching up to me. Crap.

We are struggling with sleep these days… both of us. Her crib was in the same room as us in North Dakota, so she kept waking up and seeing us and wanting to play. Now that she and I are home, she still thinks it should be party time around 2am. I was so tired last night that at 8pm I thought “well, it’s 10pm in North Dakota, so I should probably go to bed early” and then I laid there and laid there and couldn’t sleep, and finally realized that actually I can’t do simple math and it was only 6pm in North Dakota. But by then it was 10pm here so I just stayed in bed anyway. What a boring night. The scary thing is, I’ll be able to write prescriptions for people that involve numbers in just 10 short months. Shhh, it’s fine. Don’t be afraid.

Caroline still isn’t walking, although she loves to hold onto our hands and walk. (She holds her hands up and says “awk! Awk!”) So things are improving in that department. I am for real going to suckerpunch the next person who asks if she’s walking, though. Getting pretty sick of answering that question and hearing the inevitable “wait, how old is she again?” I think I will respond next time with “how old are YOU again?” and see how awkward I can make things.

What else? She is doing a long list of hilarious things. She has so many words now that I have stopped keeping track. She brings me a tissue and says “boogies” when her nose is running. She begs to go “ah-side” and “up, up, up!” She brings us her toothbrush and sternly tells us to “open”. She pokes us in the eye (hard) and explains “eye”. She can name most of her body parts and lots of animals and animal noises. She loves to snuggle and give kisses.

So, I go back to school on Monday. It was a perfect amount of time to be free. I am ready to get back in there and keep being productive, even if it does start my long summer of single-mom’ing it. I've got to get going on my summer checklist, though... so far, the only things I've done are the girls' night (Chicaghoes FO LYFE) and the spa treatments, which were glorious, thank you for asking. Maybe Caroline and I will go to the farmer's market tomorrow, if it isn't so ungodly hot outside!

Hope you're all having fantastic summers!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summer checklist

I wanted to make a list of things to do this summer. I know, that sounds really boring...

Deliver seven crowns and a pair of dentures
Do two root canals
Finish all my surgery requirements

I have a ton of school stuff I want to accomplish this summer, before the clinics fill up with the incoming class and things get crazy with boards and the countdown to graduation. But that's not what I wanted to make a list for.

I want a list of fun things. I want to have an amazing summer, like we did last year. I know that it's going to be tough, because I'm going to be caring for Caroline alone and doing the dental school thing. (I am doing that right now, in fact, since Tyler has been away for over two weeks already and won't be back for almost another week... I'm pretty tired, but hanging in there.) So I want to make sure I keep in mind all of the fun things I want to happen so that they don't get lost in the shuffle.

I tend to forget sometimes, in the midst of the craziness and stress of school, that I shouldn't just be surviving these years. I, we, should be enjoying them. I still need to be the mom I want to be, because neither of us are going to get this time back again. Caroline reminded me of that today. We had been up most of the night because she's been working on three new teeth. I'd had a long day and was lying on the floor of the nursery, watching her play after dinner. She figured out how to climb up on her little armchair and then climb off again. She was so excited. She must have done it about 20 times in a row, laughing hysterically, and crawling to me and smushing her face into my face and then crawling back to the chair to climb up again. I thought, wow, when was the last time I was that excited about anything? I have no idea. But I want to be excited about little things like that.

This may not be making much sense because I am actually so tired that I feel like I'm high. But I want to see things through Caroline's eyes and be excited about this summer, rather than just getting through it. Here are a bunch of things that I want to do:

Go to the farmer's market instead of the supermarket for groceries
Finger-paint with Caroline, and make a giant mess
Nap by the pool under an umbrella
Bring Caroline to the aquarium where Tyler and I had our wedding reception
Picnic by a waterfall with another mama/baby friend
Go strawberry picking
Have a girls' night out, and wear something fabulous
Take Caroline to the beach for the first time
Splurge on a spa treatment
Take an afternoon off from school and spend it just hanging out with Caroline
Go to a fair
Take a trip to the zoo

That's all I can think of at the moment. It's going to be a great summer!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Material girl

Parenting a toddler is a lot different than parenting a baby. I guess I knew that it would be. Overall, I like having a toddler a lot better than a newborn. She understands things, communicates, can do more fun stuff, and in general is just easier for me to figure out. But I admit that sometimes I look back and think, damn, it was kind of simpler when I didn't really have to know how to "parent" and all I had to do was keep her alive.

The thing about these little people is that you might say or do something and not think it's a big deal, but then later it comes back to haunt you and you suspect that you probably should have handled it differently, and by that time it is too late because you are really embarrassed in the middle of the grocery store checkout line and there is no going back.

In case you were wondering whether or not it really matters what you do and say in front of a toddler, let me go ahead and clear this up for you right now. They are watching you. They are watching you, and they are waiting for just the right moment to proudly show off to the world what they have learned, in a way that you never intended.

Let me back up for a second.

I have this pink Coach wristlet-wallet-thing. Caroline loves it, probably because it is shiny. She loves all things shiny, in fact. She is definitely a girly girl. Every time she sees the wallet, she grabs for it, and I say "oh, Caroline, is that your Coach?"

So, the two of us are in the checkout line at Stop and Shop. We are alone because Tyler is in South Africa for three weeks, by the way, which sucks big time. I'm trying to put our groceries on the conveyor belt while also trying to keep Caroline from climbing out of the cart and/or stealing seven copies of People magazine. I hand her my wallet to keep her calm, because that never fails, right? She shows it to the lady behind us and declares, "Coach."

The lady (who seems to have a stick up her butt anyway) looks at me disdainfully and says "you taught your baby to say Coach??"

Me: "What? No."

Caroline: "Coach! Coach! Coach! Coach!"


Then she manages to unzip the wallet and pulls out my credit card. She waves it around, yelling "I got! I got!" and then she starts slamming it against the credit card machine like she is trying to swipe it. How in the heck do they learn these things?? I take the card from her and she melts down, of course, so I pull her out of the cart and put her on my hip while I attempt to continue to purchase my groceries like a normal person. She twists around and grabs for the magazines again, and the magazine stand teeters and comes crashing down, narrowly missing the uptight lady, and hits the candy/gum stand so that that also crashes to the floor, like dominoes. It was like they were toppling over in slow motion and I was diving for it (with Caroline still on my hip) yelling in a deep, slowed-down voice, "NOOoooo..."

So. I am mortified. Caroline squeals in delight. The lady behind me heaves a big sigh and looks at us like we are something disgusting she just scraped off the bottom of her shoe. She starts packing her groceries back into the cart so she can head to a different, less disastrous, checkout line. I wildly start scooping up candy and gum while apologizing profusely to the cashier, and she rolls her eyes and says "we'll get it. Just go."

I decide that this is the best course of action (before my child somehow manages to burn down the store, killing everyone inside) and go to stick Caroline back in the front of the cart so I can actually push the thing. She stiffens her legs and locks her knees, which she has NEVER done in the entire history of her life, which is the entire reason we are starting physical therapy, and refuses to get back in the cart. So I am awkwardly taking forever to stuff my kid in the cart while my ice cream is melting and the maintenance people are coming to clean up the huge mess and I am still apologizing.

I did get out of there eventually, in case you were wondering. Thank you for asking. I may or may not still be beet-red from mortification, though. And I am pretty sure we might have to switch grocery stores.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 16, 2010

I had looked forward to this day for years. But I didn't end up doing what I thought I was going to do.

I didn't put on a cap and gown and a lilac hood. I didn't cross the stage holding a diploma. I didn't shake anyone's hand, and no one called me "doctor". I didn't smile for any pictures with my classmates.

But you know what I did do?

I woke up and brought Caroline into bed and listened to her sing-song "ma-ma! ba-by! da-da!" while she played with my hair. I tickled her tummy and laughed when she laughed. I took her grocery shopping and read her books. We passed toys back and forth and learned to say "tank-yoo". I kissed her forehead and rocked her in the glider while she laid her head on my chest.

All in all... it wasn't graduation day, but it was still an awesome day. And I'll still get that diploma in exactly one year.

And in the meantime? I've got my baby. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Well, frick.

Caroline's early intervention appointment was on Friday. We had different people than last time. Nicer people. They always send a physical therapist and a speech therapist. The physical therapist was this girl who couldn't have been older than 23 or so, and she was super nice and cute and Caroline seemed to like her a lot. So I hope we get her from now on. Because Caroline qualifies for physical therapy, which means she is under the 3rd percentile, a.k.a. "severely delayed".


(I used to use the actual f-word all over the place here and everywhere, but I am trying to watch my potty mouth since I am now a mom of a toddler and all, even if she doesn't actually "toddle". A toddler who gleefully repeats any kind of dirty word as if she senses that she is not supposed to be saying it and neither am I.)

Anyway, she qualifies. Technically that is good news. There is no denying that we need some help, because there is no way she will be walking by 18 months without it. It's also good news that gross motor is the only area of concern. Once you get into two or more areas, you start having to worry that there are bigger developmental problems lurking around.

I try not to read about what she should be doing because it makes me get all uptight and worried and batshitcrazy (oops, sorry, I had to), so I am not sure exactly what level she is really functioning at. But I will just say that she can pull up to her knees but not her feet, is not at all interested in standing with help (her knees buckle), and it's only been within the past two weeks that we would go into her room to find her sitting in her crib, or in any position other than lying flat on her back.

It sucked to hear that she is so delayed. I try not to feel like it means that I've done something wrong, or not done enough for her somehow, but I can't help but let those thoughts sneak in. I'm also a little irritated with her pediatricians, because every time I ask about it at visits, they push on her legs and bend her knees and stuff and say that her muscle tone is fine. But the physical therapist said she is low tone, and I know another physical therapist who agrees, and she certainly doesn't bear weight on her legs very well, so you tell me.

I'm all about the run on sentences, tonight. It keeps me from swearing like a trucker. Sorry if this is unreadable. I'm still a little upset.

I just have to keep repeating to myself, this is good, she needs the help, and we are getting it. That's what really matters. She's going to be fine. It's just the one area. We are doing everything right.

So we'll be seeing a physical therapist once a week for 45 minutes. It sounds like a good program. Connecticut's program charges fees on a sliding scale, which means we won't go broke, and they will even come to daycare to work with her, which means I won't get kicked out of school for missing a day every week.

This is good, she needs the help, this is going to be fine.

Oh... and I can't close the post without saying happy Mother's day to all you mamas out there!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just GRADUATE already!

You guys, I saw the craziest patient that has ever existed this morning in the screening clinic. I desperately wish I could tell you the story. Sigh. I hate you, HIPAA. You ruin all my fun.

In other news, my former classmates are in their last week of school right now. I am so jealous that it's kind of obscene. I know, I know, I had that wonderful year off and I have my beautiful baby. But listening to them talk about senior week events and graduation and where they're going next year and how they're done with all the bullshit of dental school is pretty much killing me. I was supposed to be graduating now, too. I'm supposed to be Dr. L in a few weeks. But I'm still just Julia, with a crapton of work ahead of me for the next year, and it'll be without all my friends around to commiserate with.

It'll be fine, I know. But even though I'm going to miss them all, I'm at the point where I'm ready for them to just graduate already. I don't want to be reminded of where I "should" be or wonder what life would be like if I had somehow managed to stay in my old class. I just want them all to get outta there so I can keep plugging along and not wish I were them.

Okay, I needed to get that out of my system. Thanks.

Caroline is doing pretty well these days. Well, to be honest, she's kind of in one of those phases where you repeatedly tell yourself "this too shall pass". This is the golden rule with babies/kids, I am finding. Just when you think you can't take another minute of the whining and crying and temper-tantrum-throwing and clinging, the tooth pops through or the chest cough heals and you have your sweet baby back. I know this will be just like the rest of those times and it will end, but for now I am tired.

The gross motor stuff is the same as ever, so we are having birth to three come to our place this Friday to do another evaluation. Part of me hopes that she will qualify for PT just so we can get some help (I really can't see her walking by 18 months), but another part of me hopes they smile and tell me she's perfect and everything is fine. Not pulling up by 15 months isn't a great sign, but a mama can dream, right?

Hmm, this post is kind of a downer on all counts. Oh well. Can't win them all. Here's hoping for a more positive one after Caroline's EI evaluation on Friday!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm back!

I got back from Belize late Saturday night. It was a fantastic trip. We got some relaxation time in, and then got to work. After ome major equipment failure the first day (and despite the HEAT!) we helped a ton of people and got a lot of great experience in. There were only four dental students on the trip and two faculty members, so we got a ton of one-on-one coaching that was really invaluable. I probably tripled my speed at doing restorative dentistry, and learned a new method of doing root canals that's much more efficient and updated than what we use at school.

The trip is something that third year students take every year, but it is usually based solely on doing extractions. This year was the first year that we only did restorative dentistry (fillings and root canals). One of the best parts of that was that we were showing all of these very rural populations that pulling teeth isn't the only treatment option out there-- that saving them can be a viable option too. We did a lot of esthetic work for them as well, which is one of my favorite parts of dentistry. I love giving people back their smiles. :) Four hygiene students and two of their faculty members also went with us, so our group did cleanings too. Having them along was great not just because they were really fun people, but because cleanings are a service that is virtually nonexistent in Belize, and it was great to be able to provide that for the people there.

AND it was great for me to make a couple of real friends in my new class. I've felt pretty alone there since I came back, and it's been getting worse lately because my old class is all graduating in a couple of weeks. So it made me really happy to get to know and make friends with the other three dental students who went. Maybe this last year of dental school won't be so lonely after all.

Enough rambling! Picture tiiiime!

The resort that we stayed at the first night and the last night. It was beautiful and we stayed in these huge villas:

We took a catamaran booze cruise to the barrier reef to go snorkeling. This is the island we stopped at by the reef:

Our equipment table and some of our crew. Our working conditions were a little bit different than we were used to! This is at a primary school where we worked for two days:

We had no shortage of patients!

Me with some of our patients at the school:

Doing some cosmetic dentistry:

Kelly and I jumped into the resort pool in our scrubs after our last, very sweaty day of work :) I don't know that the other vacationers appreciated it, though.

So that's it! It was the trip of a lifetime for sure. I'm so glad I went, even though I missed Caroline more than I thought possible! A week sure is a long time to be away from her... we've done an awful lot of snuggling since my return.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


So I don't think I've mentioned this here, but I'm going on a service trip to Belize. It's a trip that will involve doing lots of fillings but also snorkeling, beach time, and looong happy hours. I'm so excited! It seemed like a long way off, but suddenly it is... hmmm... four days from now. That came up quickly.

Anyway, I am sad to be leaving Caroline for a week. I've never been away from her for longer than a weekend, and that was just once for a wedding that Tyler and I were in. I'll miss her a lot. But it is exciting to be able to travel. I am always jealous of Tyler's trips, and now I get to take one of my own! Plus, I'll get tons of experience doing dental work because there are only four dental students going and we will be less... um... supervised (i.e. watched like hawks) than we are in the school's clinic. It will be a great opportunity. And all the fillings we do will count towards graduation, which is huge.

So, sorry for the short post, but I just wanted to go ahead and make an excuse in advance for the gap in posting that is about to occur! I will return with many pictures, and hopefully a tan!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thank you notes

Well, Caroline is 14 months old and I'm finally writing her thank you notes for her birthday presents. I kept nagging at her to get them done, but she just hasn't gotten around to it, so I decided I needed to step in. She better not make a habit of this, though! I'm not writing these again next year, Caroline!

Thank you notes are usually one of my most dreaded chores, but I am actually having a little too much fun with this. Writing thank you notes for a baby is a lot more fun then writing them for myself. Example:

"Dear H and E,
Thank you so much for my giant penguin and Puma track suit you got me for my birthday! I really love my giant penguin. I like to crawl over to him and grab his beak and bounce up and down and yell and YELL!!!!
Love, Caroline"

Will they appreciate it? I don't know. But at least it makes writing them less boring for me.

"Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
Thank you so much for my birthday money. I wanted to use it to buy fifty boxes of CHEERIOS!! But my mom made me put it in my college fund because she is boring. Thanks again! I really appreciated it.
Love, Caroline"

I could make it really authentic, if I wanted, and rip a bunch of pieces off each card and cover them in yogurt fingerprints before putting them in the envelope. But I thought that might be taking it a little too far.

Anyway, I'll leave you with a picture from this past weekend of Caroline in her Easter dress with pigtails in her hair (!!)...

You've gotta love the pigtails!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Here's the problem.

I hardly ever blog anymore. It's sad. I tell myself it's because I don't have time, but really, I am in front of the computer studying most nights after Caroline goes to bed, and let's be honest-- I would much rather play on the internet than study.

I guess I really do have the time, or at least most of the time I do. The problem is, I always want to write about stuff that happened during the day, and most of that involves my patients. There's all kinds of craziness and hilariousness and awkwardness that happens when you are an amateur dentist. And I happen to be a particularly awkward person, which makes for some spectacularly awful moments. But I can't write about them, really. It would be unprofessional. And I wouldn't want to get in trouble with my school and jeopardize everything that I have been working so hard for. Sigh. Being an adult is so boring.

So I mostly try to talk about Caroline. But let's be honest, there's not that much to say. I mean, I could go on and on about all the cute things she does, but to tell you the truth I suspect that would be kind of dull for you. I talk about mommyhood in general, but sadly I am more dental student than mom these days, and the dental part is kind of off-limits, so that puts me right back where I started.

One of my favorite commenters asked me how Tyler is doing (hi MJS!) so I suppose we can talk about him. (Whenever I am blogging, he asks "Are you talking about me? Are you writing about me? What are you saying about me?"- um, self-centered much, my dear? ;) so I will satisfy your curiosity and throw him a bone at the same time.) He is doing great, publishing papers like crazy. He could probably be done with his dissertation this year, if he wanted to be, but he has two more years of funding so he will probably hang out and keep publishing stuff until I am done with residency, and then we will move. We're thinking we'll go temporarily to either Germany or NYC at this point. We'd love for Caroline to have the opportunity to go to preschool in Germany, but I'm not sure what I'd do there since I definitely want to use this degree that I'm busting my butt to get. It's up in the air right now. We're still thinking that Denver will be our permanent home after Tyler is done with postdoc positions, though.

So that's his work life, which is his "other" baby. He often works late, and honestly it's hard for me. He hasn't been traveling since I went back to school, which has made things a little easier, but he's starting up again now. He's gone this week, and will go to South Africa in a few weeks, and then will be in North Dakota for the summer. But when he is home, he is a really great dad. I've got to give him credit there. Sometimes I wish we could spend more time together, and I know we both tend to neglect our relationship a little bit because we are both so incredibly busy. But as a father, he's just amazing. I knew he'd be great. But he's even more dedicated and involved and in love with Caroline than I imagined he would be. I love listening to him read to Caroline or talk to her about dinosaurs.

Anyway, I guess I need to find a way to talk about dental school without having to retitle my blog "HIPAA violations and the occasional baby picture". I'll figure something out :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One year pics

Wow, I am a huge slacker these days with blogging. I need to get back on track, stat! I haven't quite mastered the whole multitasking thing just yet...

These pics are about a month old at this point, but I still want to share them because I love how they came out. My very talented friend Kari took them-- here is her blog.

I think she just gets more beautiful every day. But of course... I might be a little biased :)

Tomorrow is my 26th birthday and since it's Good Friday, I get the day off. Best birthday present ever! I can't wait to spend it with Caroline. I feel like I don't see her much these days. Especially since one day this week I was at school until 10pm, working on a bridge (which then fell out of my locker in the morning and broke when I went to hand it in. But we aren't going to talk about that. No, we'd better not talk about that.) Then, my mom is coming to watch Caroline while Tyler and I go out for dinner and drinks. I'm pretty excited!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Milestone anxiety

Sometime shortly after Caroline was born, I signed up for about a bajillion baby development emails. You know the ones I mean—your baby week by week, your x-week-old, or whatever. When they showed up in my inbox, I’d read them with a tinge of anxiety, checking up on where Caroline “should be”. I’d watch her during playtime, looking for milestones, or signs that she was about to reach them. Was that roll-over on purpose, or just a lucky accident? Is she lifting herself up enough during tummy time? Oh no… am I giving her enough tummy time? IS SHE GOING TO YALE OR ISN’T SHE?! I’ve got to tell you, I worry way more about this than I ever thought I would.

But it isn’t just me. The moms’ message board I post on is always consumed by posts about development and milestones. And those baby newsletters have to be fueled by some kind of demand, right? We all want to know whether or not our babies are on track, or “normal”.

For us, it’s turned out to be kind of a mixed bag. Caroline’s gross motor skills have always been a little behind. She was diagnosed with a mild gross motor delay at 9 months, and now that she’s a year and still not really crawling and definitely not pulling up or sitting up, it’s more of a full-fledged gross motor delay. We’re in the process of getting early intervention back out to our apartment for a follow-up evaluation, since she didn’t quite qualify for physical therapy at her 9 month visit.

The girl talks, though, like crazy. I hear that’s usually how it goes… if they have one type of delay, they make up for it in another area. When you have to watch what you say around your 12.5 month-old for fear she might repeat it (need I remind you of “ohshish”?), you know you are in trouble. I admit that I now shut off the radio when I pick her up from daycare for fear that her new favorite word will be “crunk”, or worse.

Anyway. It’s hard, when you go to daycare and you see babies months younger than yours walking around, and yours is still pushing herself around backwards on her belly. It makes me a little sad when I see or hear about other babies playing in ways that she can’t, and won’t be able to for a long time. It makes you wonder what you’re doing wrong. And I feel like even if she hadn’t turned out to have a delay, I’d still have been just as anxious about it.

It doesn’t help that when I saw one of Caroline’s pediatricians for a sick visit and mentioned my worries about her lack of sitting and pulling up, he asked, “were you and your husband also slow?” Uhhh… thanks for your sensitivity there, doc. I learned tact in med school. Why didn’t you?

But what I’ve come to terms with is this: that other baby in daycare isn’t better than my baby because he walks and mine doesn’t. His mom isn’t a better mother than me because my baby has a delay and hers doesn’t. It doesn’t mean anything, really. She’ll walk when she’s ready to. And if she doesn’t walk, for whatever reason, that’s okay too. She is who she is, and I love her regardless.

So now when those baby development emails show up in my inbox, I just delete them without reading them. (Someday I will get up the motivation to unsubscribe.) As long as we are taking appropriate steps to monitor her development and help her with her delays, that’s all I need to know.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

28 hours

I calculated this while I was sitting in class yesterday. Ideally, that's how many hours I think I need in a day. 24 is just not cutting it.

I need 24 hours to do the things I usually do... commute, classes, clinic, commute, pick up Caroline at daycare, make dinner, feed both of us and the pets, clean up around the house, wash diapers, give her a bath, put her to bed, study. (Most nights, Tyler doesn't get home until she's already in bed.) Then another hour so that I could spread out my day and not be constantly on the run, or maybe even use my lunch hour to actually *gasp* eat lunch. Another hour to spend with Caroline. Another hour to have some time to myself. And the last hour to SLEEP!

I love my life. I'm glad I went back to school, and the reason I'm constantly racing around is because I'm being productive, and I like that. But I have to admit I'm feeling a little run down these days. I came down with pneumonia last week, and spent the week in bed. Once I stopped feeling like I was literally going to die, it was kind of nice to just lay there and play on the internet and sleep whenever I wanted. Of course I had to pay for it when I finally went back to school on Monday, since a whole week off has caused my schedule to explode in my face, but it was still nice while it lasted. I am pretty sure I went back before I was fully rested and healed, but I couldn't really justify taking any more time off.

Have I mentioned how awesomely productive I am these days? It is pretty satisfying how quickly things have come back to me after being gone for so long, so quickly after starting clinic. I guess a year isn't really that much time after all. We get letters evaluating our performance every couple of months, and my latest letter congratulated me on my progress. Which made me very, very happy. I have to admit that it's not really me being successful, though... it's been a huge advantage to be good friends with people in my old class, because when they need to give something away to an underclassman (like a denture patient), they think of me first.

Whatever. I am still patting myself on the back. :)

In other news, today is the anniversary of Caroline's coming-home day! We got to take her home from the NICU exactly one year ago. The nightmare was over, exactly one year ago. I smile whenever I think about that day. We were so nervous to have her away from the nurses and the monitors, but so happy and excited to finally have her home with us. I never really allowed myself to believe that she was coming home until we actually had her in her carseat, and we were walking through the hospital lobby, grinning at each other. It was the first day I really felt like she was mine.

We didn't do anything to "celebrate", since her coming-home day is relatively close to her birthday (even though it seemed like years at the time), but I did give her extra squeezes and love today. Even though I'm sure it will be just another day to her, I know I'll always remember February 18 as the first real day of our life as a family of three.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ladybug, ladybug

We had Caroline's first birthday party yesterday at my parents' house, with a ladybug theme. Here are a few pics. It went really well, and everyone seemed to have a great time!

Cupcakes, jellybean guessing game, and red and black licorice. I showed Caroline that bow after I made it and she clapped her hands for me. Ahh. I've trained her well.

This banner was theoretically easy to make. Unless you don't buy enough ribbon and have to cut it into pieces, and then the pieces all fall apart when you try to hang it, and then you beg your husband to go out and buy more ribbon at 8pm because you have to study for a final on Monday. And then you still don't have enough so you just hot-glue the whole thing together.

Me, getting ready for the party while Caroline took her pre-party nap (the nap timing worked out perfectly, which thrilled me)

Dining room table, before we set out the food. It was a brunch party, so we had three different quiches, an oven-baked French toast dish, a huge fruit salad, and assorted breads and pastries. YUM. Oh, and cupcakes for dessert, of course. Also, that Mylar ladybug balloon was by far Caroline's favorite part of the day. She would look at it and laugh hysterically, then do something else for a minute, then look back up at it and crack up again. And repeat endlessly.

Opening presents. Yesss, a book!!
You can't really tell, but her skirt was this adorable little black tulle thing with ruffles.

She loved this birthday card, more so than a lot of her presents.

Ditto for the wrapping paper:

One of her favorite gifts: a giant penguin, bigger than she is:

And finally, she wasn't a huge fan of cake, but at least she tried it! Look at those chub cheeks.

Overall, her first party was a big success. She bounced around maniacally from the sugar high for a little while afterwards, then passed out for hours... and woke up ready to play with all her new presents!

For my part, I did better than I expected. I thought I'd tear up at least while singing "happy birthday" to her, but I didn't. The only time I got a little teary was when I went out to put balloons on my parents' mailbox and thought about how many birthday parties I'd had as a little girl with balloons on the same mailbox. I am lame and cheesy like that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy birthday, baby girl

Caroline turned one at 6:08am today. I cannot believe it.

This year has flown by faster than any other year of my life. I have been thinking all day about how far we've come. From this...

To this...

My little sick baby is now a big, happy, healthy girl. February 5, 2009 was full of mixed emotions (joy, excitement, fear, uncertainty). This February 5 had a lot of mixed emotions too (pride, happiness, nostalgia, sadness that my baby is growing up)... I have to say that I prefer this year's mix!

I miss my little teeny baby, but I love my life with my chatty toddler too. And I'm sure I'll just keep loving it more and more.

Happy birthday, Caroline! I love you so much, baby girl.

Monday, February 1, 2010

::collapses onto blog::


Okay, so I'm still alive. And things are going really, really well. I had kind of a hard time getting back into the swing of things, but only for maybe two weeks or so. I went pretty quickly from wanting to quit every 20 minutes, to only wanting to quit every day or so, and then it was all uphill from there.

It was hard to sit alone in the lab, drilling my fake teeth (a prerequisite to clinic since I was gone so long), while both my new and old classes were up in clinic. And it was a lot harder than I expected to see all my old classmates so far ahead of me, and so close to graduation. Still is, I guess. I feel a little bit left behind, like I failed somehow. And I know that next year will be really lonely when they are all gone and have DMD after their names.

Getting used to my new schedule has been a little bit difficult, too... I won't lie. I went suddenly from staying at home all day, every day, to the insanity of clinic and classes and daycare. Caroline had kind of a hard time adjusting to napping at daycare, which resulted in interrupted sleep at night, so the first week was kind of a blur. I definitely had days where I'd be trudging up the hill to the health center, two different socks on and my hair all a mess, thinking things like "man, I don't even remember half of my drive here. Hey, what's that crud on my wedding ring? I hope that isn't Caroline's poop. ::sniff sniff:: Nope. Indian food. Phew. ...Wait, when did I have Indian food?"

But overall? I am so glad that I went back. It hasn't quite been a month yet, and I already feel like I am back in the game, and I'm loving it again. Yes, I am tired and I'm stressed and I feel like I've forgotten a lot of really important stuff. But I remember why I wanted to do this. And I'm really glad that I made myself go back and get through the first tough few weeks.

I do miss Caroline during the day. Some days I don't get home until she is already in bed... and that sucks. A lot. I go into her room on those nights and watch her sleep for a little while, half wishing that she'll get up during the night, just so I can see her.

But daycare is good for her. She still isn't mobile (a topic for a whole nother post...) and so I'm hoping that being around all the other kids will help with that.

AND. She's going to be a year old on Friday. A year old. Can you believe it? I can't. I absolutely can't. I want to type all sorts of horrendously dull cliches, like "where did the time go?" and "she's growing up so fast." She is talking up a storm these days. Her latest tricks include (very) short sentences, like "whadat?" and "wassdiss?" and, Tyler's favorite, "ohshish!" (Yes, we can go ahead and blame that one on her father. You have to watch what you say around her, even though she isn't even one yet.) Even though she doesn't crawl or pull up or walk, she is so smart... which helps me feel better about the lack of mobility. We will have to call early intervention back, though, because I'm pretty sure she's going to need some physical therapy. Oh well. At least she can curse. Right? (That was sarcasm, right there.)

What else? I know I am rambling, because I am tired. I still have to study for a final, and probably I should take a shower, because I haven't done that since... well... nevermind. Before I go, I'll share a few recent pictures of Caroline. I do have a video of "ohshish!", but we'll go ahead and keep that particular parenting failure off the internet, kthx.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The last day (and first Christmas pics)

Today was my last day of being a stay-at-home mom. I start school again tomorrow at 8am.

I was pretty weepy today. I know that's totally lame because I got a whole year at home, which is a heck of a lot more than many moms get. But I can't believe this day is actually here-- it's been in the back of my mind since I left last December.

Our apartment is all clean and organized, the laundry is done, I made lots of Caroline's food and stocked it up in the freezer. Tyler will be watching her for the next week until he goes back to school, and then she'll go to daycare. I'm hoping that will make the transition a little easier. I just keep reminding myself, this was going to be difficult no matter when it happened, and it's got to happen sometime... just push on through the first few weeks and it will get easier. Picking up classes and rebuilding my patient family seems so impossible right now, but my school is being as supportive as they can be, and I guess I will just have to do my best.

It doesn't help, though, when people (professors, or friends, or whoever) say stuff like "oh wow. It's going to be so hard for you." Or "good luck with the transition, this is going to be so tough." Huh... really? It's not going to be easy? That is so disappointing. I thought it was going to be a walk in the park! In fact, back when I was finishing my second year and studying for boards, I thought "you know what would make my life a lot easier? Having a baby. I should probably get on that."

Hrmph. I know it's going to be really hard. Nobody knows that better than I do. And I am already nervous as hell about going back only to fall flat on my face and fail. I don't need to be reminded that that is the most likely scenario. Kthx.

Anyway. I was putting Caroline to bed tonight and I was crying while I rocked with her in the glider (what? It was only like the fourth time today. That's pretty good, right?) She lay there with her head on my chest for a few minutes and then picked up her head and stared at me. I tried to pretend I wasn't upset... until... she pulled her binky out of her mouth and tried to stick it in mine. Like it would make me stop crying and feel better. It was so sweet that I freaking lost it.

Sigh. I'm going to miss her, it's only natural, but I've got to stop making this worse for myself than it has to be.

You know what will make me feel better? Sharing pictures of Caroline's first Christmas. Without further ado...

Okay, everyone watch me open my presents!

Waahh! Too many toys!! Not enough time!

Yesss!! I got a ride-on toy! (Yes, she does pump her fist like this every time she rides it.)

Clearly, her first Christmas was a big success! (Those are for you, Kelly! You are welcome! :)

I will update at some point once I figure out how to operate myself as a mother and a dental student. If I don't show up within a month, send a search party. Wish me luck!