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I cried in a dentist’s office today. The office of a dentist I had never met before, so that will forever be his first impression of me, the frazzled, rain-dampened blonde slinging an equally rain-dampened blonde toddler before suddenly breaking down in a puddle of tears.

But I should probably back up. Because, if you know me, I like to think that it would surprise you to hear that the pursuit of dental hygiene would bring me to hysterics.

My morning started much earlier and several miles away from that fateful office. It started at 6 a.m. in my bed, as most mornings do since Vivi’s determined sleep regression. While not every morning starts quite so early, it’s usually between 6:00 and 6:30, and today was no exception. So she awoke and called me, I went and got her, and we both snuggled back in bed for a few more minutes of dozing. When I went back in my room to get my phone, Joey grumbled sleepily, “Your phone is bugging out.”

It’s rare to get a text quite so early, but this one was from our intended babysitter (who I had asked to watch Vivi while I went to the dentist that morning) telling me that her son was sick, and she didn’t want to infect all of us, so she couldn’t come over.

Not a big deal — kids get sick. The only bummer was that no one else I knew was available to step in. Okay, I thought, I guess we’re all going into Manhattan. That’s fine!

We got up around 7:00, and it was already clear that Vivi was having, well, a day. She screamed for milk, tried to refuse to say “amen” after our breakfast prayer (I waited her out and finally got a begrudging one before dishing out her eggs), and took off her pants ten minutes before we had to leave for no apparent reason.

Not a big deal! Toddlers, amiright? We started to pack up to leave.

Fortunately, I glanced out the window and saw that it was raining before we left. Still not a big deal! I decided to ditch the stroller and wear Vivi on my back (actually much more convenient for city travel anyway), grabbed an umbrella, and away we went. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with Vivi at the appointment, but I just sort of hoped I could plunk her somewhere with YouTube videos for 20 minutes.

This is what I like to refer to as “the best part of our day.” A walk to the subway. In the rain. With a baby on my back. If that gives you any idea.

We got to the station as a train was arriving, but my Metrocard was empty, so we had to refill. As I listened to the sound of the train pulling away, I soothed myself with the fact that one comes every five minutes or so. We were in no rush! I had factored in cushion time because I’m me!

We finally got on a train and rode the 30 minutes to our stop with little incident. Vivi was intrigued by her fellow passengers and only started to fuss right before our stop. Phew. Is there anything worse than a screaming baby in your train car?

That right there? That’s what we like to call a cruel irony. Remember that.

I arrived at the Empire State Building, snapped the above photo because memories!, and approached the desk and told them who I was there to see.

“Oh, they moved out of the building three years ago.”

Cue: slow blink. “What?”

“It’s okay, though, I think they just moved right across the street.”

Okay, I thought with a sigh of relief. Call off the snipers.

“Oh, I’m sorry, they actually moved [insert address that will probably mean nothing to you but suffice to say it was SEVEN BLOCKS AWAY. IN THE RAIN.].”

My appointment was at 10:00. At this point, it was 9:55.

“RaaaAAAWWRRGGG!” I said. In my head.

Out loud, I said “thanks,” hitched up my baby backpack, and hit the street.

Seven blocks (did I mention it was raining?) later, I got to the building, rode up one floor in the elevator, and stepped into the lobby. I gave them my name and Groupon number (dental insurance is expensive, yo). The receptionist looked it up. No dice. She tried again. Nope. The owner came out and tried it. Nada.

“You had an appointment here?”

I show them my texts confirming, and he asks to see my Groupon.

“Oh, this isn’t us.”

Um, pardon?

A lot more conversation followed. Honestly, I can’t even explain what happened. As far as I understand it, there are TWO dental offices of the same name (but one has “Management” or something at the end?) in the SAME office space, but one of them (the one I wanted) is only open on Thursdays. Somehow, I had called the number of the other one. I should also mention that, last month, I also thought I had an appointment with this office and they couldn’t find it the week of. I’m now pretty convinced that my original appointment was with the right company (so I guess I missed it?), and that this whole office is a vortex where time, light, and sanity go to die.

Anyway, the point is, I had no appointment. After traveling for an hour on the subway and IN THE RAIN with a now-fussy baby strapped to my back. I couldn’t even make eye contact with the guy because it wasn’t his fault BUT WASN’T IT KIND OF?!?

He sensed my displeasure.

“Listen, you came all this way, what I can do is give you a cleaning here for the cost of the Groupon. It’s actually a better deal because our cleanings are more expensive. It’s probably a blessing in disguise [Note: He actually said those words. He was probably right, but it still made me want to kick him in the shin.] because I don’t think you would have been very happy with a cleaning with the other office.”

I took a deep breath and said fine, mentally balancing my checkbook with this unexpected expense factored in.

At this point, the correct office returned my phone call (I had tried to call during the “where are you located exactly” mix-up).

“Hi, I missed a call from this number?”

“Yeah, I had an appointment, and I’m at your office, but no one is here and…”

“Oh, no, we’re closed today.”

“I. Know. But I had an appointment and…”

“No, no, you couldn’t have. Tell me exactly what happened.”

“Um, I called and made an appointment, but they said that they can give me a cleaning here so I guess-”

“Oh, good, well then I guess it’s all fine, right?”

And then I reached through the phone and strangled her. In my head. Not in my head, I hung up because if you don’t have anything nice to say….

The guy came back. “Okay, so what are we doing?”

At this point, Vivi grabbed a handful of flyers and threw them on the floor and my throat started to tighten up.

“Well,” I said, picking up the flyers and trying to shove them back into their display, “I came all this way in the rain with my baby, so I guess we’re sticking with this new plan because if I don’t get my teeth cleaned I’m going to start crying.”

And then I burst into tears.

So, yeah, not my proudest. But, to their credit, the people in the office could NOT have been nicer to me. I was handed tissues and bottles of water, and the receptionist popped up telling me about her four grandchildren and how this was her lucky day because she was going to watch Vivi for me. I was quickly ushered into a cleaning room, where a nice (and obviously prepped for the crazy woman in her chair) dentist checked my x-rays and cleaned my teeth (“We’re going to use this water pick because it’s much faster so you guys can get out of here.”). The hygienist kept sneaking me tissues and asking me if I was okay. (OBVIOUSLY NOT BUT I’M WORKING ON IT.)

By the end of the cleaning, I felt better. Calmer. I actually really like getting my teeth cleaned, so that helped. And, hey, no cavities. So that’s something.

I went out to the desk, and Vivi was happily sitting on the receptionist’s lap, watching videos and eating pretzels (they had asked before giving them to her). Basically, her best day ever.

I apologized to everyone for acting like a crazy person (“Don’t worry! It’s just the rain!”) and thanked them profusely. Heck, I booked a six-month follow-up cleaning because I felt indebted to them. Then I quickly strapped Vivi back on and ran shame-faced from the office. (Back into the rain.)

And THAT is where this story should end. But, because I live where I live, I had to get back on the train. I got to the station just as my train was leaving (again)(because of course), so we waited on the platform for the next one to arrive. We got on…and made it two stops before Vivi started pitching the world’s most epic meltdown.

For the record, my kid doesn’t really do meltdowns. She’ll yell and throw a fit sometimes, but always for a pretty easily identifiable reason and almost always with a 2- to 3-minute time limit. I take no credit for this; she’s just a mostly good kid.

This was different. Vivi screamed and thrashed like she had a scorpion in her diaper, and, honestly, it freaked me out a little.

You know who else was freaked out? Everyone else trapped in the train car with the demon baby.

I took her out of the carrier. Still screaming. I offered her a snack. Still screaming. I offered her water. Still screaming. (And hitting me.) We were THANK GOODNESS on an express train home, but it still meant 15 solid minutes of tortured screaming. More than one person got up an moved away from us in the car, but the majority were too polite and just threw me sympathetic stares. Because is there anything worse than a screaming baby in your train car?

I didn’t freak out. I wrestled her thrashing and took off her jacket, not sure if she was just overheating or something. She kicked off a shoe, so I took the other one off too. Nothing helped.

We finally, finally made it to our stop. Vivi stopped crying as soon as we stepped out of the car, but by then it was obviously of little help. There was no where to set my stuff to get her back into the carrier, so we walked the 10-minutes home (in the RAIN) with my juggling the umbrella and my now still occasionally crying baby. I probably looked like a regretful kidnapper.

We finally got home. IT WAS ONLY 11:58 A.M. I called Joey to tell him the story and promptly started sobbing, which freaked Vivi out and made her start crying too.

For everyone’s sake, I pulled myself together.

So, yeah. That’s the end of the story. I’m letting Vivi watch TV while I type this out because catharsis. And, also, I’m kind of done for today? Plus, listening to her actually singing along with the songs (so cute!) is making me love her again, so I’ll take it. Anyway, I’m exhausted, still slightly damp, and pretty sure I’m never leaving this apartment again.

But dang are my teeth clean.

Ever since she was very little, Vivi has done this thing when she is nervous where she would hold my hair to soothe herself. Her face would be so serene, but her chubby little hand would be white-knuckling a strand of hair near the nape of my neck with all the death grip her little body could muster.

Over time, it became less a response to fear or nervousness and more of a comfort when she was tired or just needed soothing (hello, heavy teething weeks).

It never occurred to me that this could be a problem. I mean, I always have my hair with me. What better option for a soother? I can’t lose it or forget it at home!

Which brings us to present day, in which I realize that this is, in fact, a problem. Because my little lock twirler now has trouble falling asleep without my mane in her clutches. In fact, she’d be happiest if she could hold my hair all day long.

Don’t believe me? Here’s some actual footage:

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Yes, that is me sitting at the desk with her on the couch dozing with my hair in her hands. No, this isn’t staged. Yes, she has food all over her shirt. Yes, this looks like I have 8,000 neck rolls. Yes, this is real life.

While it hasn’t affected her nighttime sleeping (THANK GOODNESS), I’ve only been able to get her down for ONE nap in her crib in the last couple of weeks. It is, shall we say, problematic.

To be fair, she still falls asleep in the car seat and occasionally in her stroller (sans my hair), but if we’re home with nowhere to go? You can bet she’s only napping if I’m snuggled next to her on the couch, my hair in her chubby little fist.

I know it’s probably a phase. Or maybe I should buy her a Barbie and see if that makes a good enough substitute. But, aside from the nap issue, I’m also somewhat alarmed to see that she is actually pulling my hair out on occasion, or at least breaking off a handful of strands a few times a day. I mean, as if my postpartum hair issues weren’t bad enough.

So, what’s a mom to do? Lately, I’ve been on a mission to strengthen and smooth my hair as much as possible. I only wash it about three times per week (still haven’t worked up the gumption to do this again), and I try to air dry when I can.

I’ve also started taking prenatals again (not trying to get pregnant, they just had a really great effect on my hair and nails the first go-around) and added a biotin supplement. Additionally, I took a tip from my pal Madison (who has put much more research into this than I have — read more on her postnatal hair woes/solutions here) and also started adding integral collagen into my smoothie every morning. I can’t say for certain that I’ve seen immediate results, but I do see a lot of regrowth around my hairline.

To smooth the hair I already have, I’m also using a deep repair hair mask from Acure twice a week. It smells amazing, and I do feel like my hair feels softer and smoother after each use, especially when I let it air dry.

But other than that…I’m not sure what to do? Something tells me this is another one of those, “welp, here’s hoping we all grow out of it” moments.

Any tips from the mommas/hair enthusiasts out there?

 

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Vivi goes everywhere at a full-tilt run now. For someone for whom time must seem to move so slow, she’s in a near constant rush to get to the next thing.

I think she gets that from me. Lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about next steps for our family. It’s something we’re always discussing and dreaming about, but just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you take every step at once.

I’m not good at patience. When I know how I want to decorate a new apartment, I want to. It everything at once so it’s done rather than wait and budget. When we plan a trip, I want to pack NOW and get on the plane tomorrow, which is an impossible way of life with a toddler.

When I watch Vivi take off, arms pumping and feet stomping with all their might, I want to scoop her into my arms and snuggle her too tight to let her keep moving. Too tight for her to keep growing up.

It doesn’t work that way, of course. Vivi keeps on growing even in my arms. Just like time will continue to march on whether I’m there counting the seconds or not.

Part of why I’ve continued this blog is because it’s my living diary. It allows me to reflect on so many important parts of my life and be right back in that moment. I thought about quitting it many times, but, in all seriousness, I kept it because I always felt like it would be a nice way to remember my hypothetical child’s life too. That’s a big part of why I’ve kept it around this far. So when I look at Vivi rushing around to the next thing, changing every single day, literally over night, I’m reminded of how important it is to record. To remember.

So relax. Stop and smell the roses. Why be anxious about tomorrow and all that. Like I said, I’m working on it.

And maybe my precocious little toddler is just the daily reminder I need to savor the moment.

And while I have your attention…

Thank you to everyone who responded to my last post. As usual, y’all restore my faith in humanity almost every time I let myself show a weakness, and I truly appreciate it. 

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I’ve been putting off writing this post — writing any post — because, honestly, I wasn’t sure how to write it. And I didn’t feel like I could just skip it or gloss over my egregious absence.

I’ve been dark for a while. I decided long ago (never to live in anyone’s shadow…wait, focus, Justine…) that I wouldn’t apologize for gaps in posting because, gosh darnit, it’s my life, and if I want to live it instead of writing about it, that’s my prerogative.

But this wasn’t me being too busy to write. This was me going dark. In a lot of ways.

In short, I’ve been depressed. In the interest of not over-inflating things, I’m okay. I know other people deal with much more extreme versions of depression. Mine is a cyclical thing that I can usually anticipate with the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder. For me, depression comes in the form of exacerbated insecurities, claustrophobic feelings of being trapped, and feeling unloveable. It typically lasts anywhere from two weeks to a month, but this time it stretched over two months time, and that messed with my head. I felt like it would never end.

So, yeah, it’s a real trip.

And when feeling like holding my head just barely above water is just about all I can do, things like blogging about home decor and recipes and funny little things about my day aren’t even in the realm of possibility.

But what am I telling you for? If you’ve ever experienced depression (and I believe most people have and do), you already know.

Again, though, I’m fine. I only share this because, well, it felt dishonest not to. But I honestly feel like I’m finally on the other side of it — we’re on our way up out of the valley; the light is clearly visible. I’ll be returning to your regularly scheduled home decor and recipes and funny things about my day now.

But I wanted to say it. I wanted to share it. Because, odds are, you are feeling that way or have felt that way or will feel that way someday too. And you’re not alone. And it’s important that we all know that.

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Last week, I went to get Vivi after hearing her call me one morning and found her covered in vomit in her crib. She seemed totally unfazed (and didn’t have a fever), so I tried to stay calm, peeled off her dirty jammies, and popped her in the tub to clean her off (“A morning bath, Viv! Isn’t this fun?!”).

She smiled and babbled, but didn’t ask for breakfast or even milk (very out of character) and refused water, so I immediately suspected some kind of stomach bug. But without a fever, I couldn’t be sure. A few minutes after we got out of the bath, Vivi started gagging, and I held her over the sink while she threw up again. She handled it like a champ, but was clearly distressed and wouldn’t let me put her down even for a second.

 

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that (fortunately) Viv was back to normal within 24 hours. Whatever bug she had passed quickly after some homeopathic treatment, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

It’s such a scary thing, a sick baby. I’m not one for panicking, but I don’t know what to do with myself when I can’t make a plan or find a solution. Vivi can’t tell me what’s wrong, so I have to guess and trust my instincts that I know this little body inside and out when trying to figure out what to do next.

It’s such a strange thing to have this tiny person you feel so connected to — that you once were connected to — but who is now separate and, in some ways, unreachable. Lord knows how I’m going to handle it when she can really, truly go off on her own.

So I learn patience. I sit by her side with a sippy cup for the moment she wakes up, taking comfort in her steady breathing and telling myself rest is the best medicine when she doesn’t feel well. And I feel so, so, so grateful that this is the first serious illness we have encountered. I’m fortunate that the reason I don’t know what to do is because she normally is such a healthy, happy girl. And, not for nothing, I’m so glad I have a job that lets me be home with her while she recovers.

We probably have dozens of flus and sick days ahead of us in Vivi’s lifetime, but this, the first real one, I’m pretty sure I’ll always remember. But here’s hoping that the next time around, she can tell me what hurts or feels yucky.

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I think of myself as a pretty self-aware person. I have described myself that way numerous times in life (and on this blog). I have a tendency to overthink and overanalyze and (unfortunately) that often results is a lot of self-critique. For better or worse, though, if I have a problem, I’m the first one to know about it.

Or so I thought.

Because then sometimes something happens like my friend Madison talking about postpartum hair loss, and I read it and think, “I didn’t really have that. I mean, I have been hating my hair for a few months lately. It just seems like I can never get the texture I want anymore. And it doesn’t hold a curl anymore. And the color always seems a little off. And OH MY GOSH HAVE I BEEN HAVING POSTPARTUM HAIR ISSUES THIS WHOLE TIME?”

And then, just like that, I don’t think I know anything about myself.

So I do a little internet research and scour the comments of Madison’s post and order some collagen and wipe my brow because PHEW that was a close one.

But then I think: Have I lost touch with myself?

It’s not a crazy thought. I’ve spent the last almost two years consumed with caring for another person. And while I felt super connected to my body during pregnancy, lately I feel disconnected. Adrift. Maybe a bit numb.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. (HA.)

It’s possible that I need a break. We’re going out of town this month to get out of the city and see some friends, and I could not be more excited for a change of pace and scenery. This city is wearing on me, folks, and it’s especially ugly in January.

Maybe a little refocusing is exactly what I need.

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