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My partner and baby daddy

Chambers of knowing

Is it normal to feel, at the age of 38, like you are just starting to figure out how to live a good, satisfying human life?

Since coming out of my reproductive coma, I’ve been wandering into a particular state in which I feel like I can see and understand all of the things.

Or most of the things.

Or at least some of the things.

Like last week when we were with our friends March and Dev and she said something about AJ, I don’t even remember what it was, but suddenly this little chamber of knowledge just burst open, and I realized that all of the hurtful things AJ has done since we had Jo, essentially none of them were done with malice in his heart. He hasn’t been actively trying to destroy me all this time. Dare I say he has wanted to be helpful the vast majority of the time.

I’ve had little whiffs of that truth before, but nothing like this – just standing in the middle of it, all the time in the world to look around, touch, breathe, get my bearings.

Photo by Dave Morris
Photo by Dave Morris

Knowing what I suddenly knew in that space let me look back and rewrite memories that fueled resentment in me for a long time.

Back when Jo was a baby, when AJ would be angry about the way I would ask for help, and when I would feel horribly misunderstood and eventually despondent – that whole sad, missed connection song and dance wasn’t driven by AJs repeated desire to abandon me. In fact, as my friend Zelda aptly pointed out, “He hasn’t ever experienced mental illness before.” By jove! I don’t think he has. I remember asking him, between post-coital drags on a cigarette back in our early 20s, if he had ever been depressed.

After a long silence, he said “I don’t think so.”

I don’t either.

Oh! The inescapable tragedy of a relationship with another human being. They come into the whole damn thing with this wholly Other set of understandings of how things should or shouldn’t be. So then it’s perfectly natural that after you make a baby with said person and find yourself in the midst of obliteration by motherhood and post-partum hormones, that you would feel desperate and scared and ask him for lots of help. But maybe, probably, you didn’t always ask nicely or politely – maybe, probably, because you were at the bottom of a hormonal well and maybe, probably because you were raised on a steady diet of co-dependence and so you were angry that you had to ask for help at all because he should have noticed you were hungry or tired or desperate for something. And then, perhaps he thought, “This way I’m being treated is really rude and impolite, and I don’t want to be treated this way and therefore I will call a great deal of attention to it, so that maybe it will stop.” And then it makes sense that you would tire of even asking for help, because of the argument and criticism that would ensue.

And so, there we found ourselves. For quite some time. Me in a state of painful despondency that pickled into anger and resentment. He in some other sort of state that also pickled into anger and resentment.

It is hard to have a relationship and then a baby with a whole other human person.

Ugh. Just writing it all out like that I already lost the feeling of clarity I started with. I think what I was trying to say was that I’m finally learning how to live my life.

Like, how is it that some people just seem to know how to spend a weekend? How is it that some people aren’t tugged into existential dread every time they face an expanse of free time?

To me, something about free time evokes the terror of space. Limitless airless air on every possible side of you, going on into black nothing forever and ever. And there you are, just floating. Alone. Forever.

But this weekend, another one of those little chambers of knowing something just burst open. And I was relaxing like a normal person on the weekend. I puttered. I painted. I drank some wine and watched a caterpillar.

Is it possible we just have these little pockets inside ourselves that know all the things we need to know and they’re just patiently waiting for us, like that cave in France with all of the prehistoric paintings on the walls? Those boys were just playing and wandering, with all the freedom and ease particular to boyhood. And boom. They find themselves deep inside with all these answers that were painted foreverago and now they’re just right in front of them.

Is it the same for us? Little chambers, caves, spaces with dust hanging in the air. Just existing, all this time. With the things we need inside.

 

I’d choose anaphylaxis over depression any day of the week and twice on Sundays

A couple weeks ago, I was doing what I usually do on a Monday morning: sitting in a room full of upholstered chairs with other allergy sufferers, applying ice packs to my arms while waiting the mandatory 30 minutes after getting my allergy shots. I often bring a book to read, but this time I was huddled over my phone, getting all teary-eyed over a text AJ had sent:

AJText

I’m gonna let our wack-a-doo nickname slide for now and cut to the chase. For me, there is no more sublime feeling than AJ’s empathetic response when I finally break down and tell him that I’m depressed. Is there any larger comfort than this: to have a person you love respond with caring and softness when you admit to them that you’re struggling with the feeling you hate the most in the whole world? (No, I don’t think there is.)

I’ve admitted depression to AJ a handful of times over the course of our relationship, and this time, like all the others, it fell out of my mouth like defeat. If I’m telling him, it means it’s true. And I never want it to be true. Despite the fact that I know depression well, I will still run and hide when I feel it again, like a child convinced that if she can’t see it, it isn’t there.

For most of January and February and March of this year, I felt it nibbling around the edges, but I’d try to rationalize it away. It was just the rain, the winter, the Trump presidency, my lack of creative inspiration. Finally, though, I blurted it out to Aaron while he stirred something at the stove and I cried a little bit, and then we got distracted by something and it was over. Until I checked my text messages in the allergy clinic waiting room.

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Photo by Kevin Moreira

The ice was numbing the dull pain in my arm, and I sat there soaking in the relief that comes when someone you love really sees you. As I blinked through tears and started to text him back, a soft wheeze caught in my throat and made me cough. Oh, the familiar rasp of asthma. It intensified even after I dosed up on my inhaler. My throat started to thicken and itch. My nose congested. My face felt unbearably hot. All this in the space of a minute.

I walked into the nurses’ room and told the first one I saw that I was wheezing quite a bit. She calmly said, “Let’s find a room for you.” By her tone, I expected to wait.

I no sooner entered the room that a blood pressure cuff was slapped on my arm and a pulse/blood oxygen thing on my finger. In the next moment, the doctor walked in, and after I listed off all my symptoms, she asked me to please take off my pants and get on the table. She requested .5 somethings of Epinepherine and the nurse’s eyes widened. She had .3 waiting in the syringe already, and dove it back in to suck up another .2 before injecting it into the meaty part of my left thigh.

After I put my pants back on, I was presented with a tray full of little plastic ups with various pills and potions, all of which I sucked down. I then proceeded to “feel like I had drunk 10-15 cups of coffee” just as the doctor explained I would, and the nurse kept me company and took my blood pressure and pulse every 5 minutes.

“When you walked up to me, your face and neck were completely red,” she said. “Some people get really blotchy when they go into anaphylactic shock, and some people get flushed like you did.”

The doctor came back, and ordered another shot of Epinepherine for my virgin thigh, since she wasn’t pleased with my continued wheezing. Once I was re-pantsed, and the nurse deemed me stable enough to leave alone for 10 minutes, I sat in my chair, uncontrollably shaking on my now 20-30 cups of coffee, and checked out the anatomical ear, nose and throat poster next to me. It turns out that the laryngoscopic view of a larynx looks pretty vaginal.

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See?

As I sat there, wired as a Christmas tree next to the vaginal larynx poster, I couldn’t help but compare the satisfaction of this medical experience to the deep uncertainty of my own depression.

Thirty minutes ago, I had some physical symptoms for a single minute, walked a few feet and told a nurse about it, and was whisked into a room where I was given all of the help I needed, immediately.

For the last few months (and on and off my whole life) I’ve been struggling to understand, talk about and address my bouts with depression.

Even though it has come and gone dozens of times since my first real depressive winter as a 13 year old, I still feel like I barely know it at all. And it’s hard to talk to other people about something you hardly understand. It comes and goes mysteriously, a shape-shifter, each time with a slightly different texture, weight and character. The closest I’d come to explaining it with a friend recently, when he’d asked me how I was doing, was to admit, “Somewhere between fine and mentally ill.”

And after admitting depression, you rarely get whisked away to a room for effective and immediate treatment. More commonly, people get uncomfortable, nervous, or offer unhelpful advice. So you learn again and again that depression is something that scares people, and you have a short list of confidants—often others who experience it too.

The two times I have sought medical help for it, I was prescribed Zoloft by my OB. It worked a treat the first time, but she never followed up with me about how and when to decrease and come off my dose, so I figured that out alone. The second time, she referred me to a psychiatrist for the anxiety side effects I was experiencing. Riddled with depression, anxiety, a baby and 3-year-old, I called all 5 numbers on the referrals list she emailed me—3 were out of practice and the other 2 had no availability.

I must have called 30 different psychiatrists that I found online before I found one who could see me and took insurance. Once I finally sat in her office, she asked all the right questions and adjusted my dose so that both the anxiety and depression lifted. It was a hard won victory.

Hardly the direct simplicity of my bout with anaphylaxis.

The nurse at the allergy clinic said I could leave once the epinephrine had worn off, as long as none of my symptoms returned. So less than an hour later, I walked out of the old vagina larynx room, and away from the fastest and most effective and satisfying medical treatment of my life. I drove home, breathing easily through my open lungs, that dull, familiar pull of depression in the background, and AJ’s text still unanswered.

My week as a starfish or living at home without children

Alternate realities are helpful for the sake of comparison.

I know, because I’m currently living one. My house feels twice as big, my brain half as full. I slept till nine effing thirty this morning and ate pizza and jellybeans for dinner last night.

This is my life without children. For one week, both boys are in Colorado, swimming and fishing and eating popsicles (even chocolate ones!!) and watching TV with their grandparents.

Way back in winter, the concept felt thrilling and pragmatic, a way to cope with the predicament of summer vacation with two working parents. Yet laying in the bed of my childhood home at 4:30am, the night before we left them, I was certain this would be the largest catastrophe our family had ever seen. The boys would be paralyzed with homesickness, they would sit, wide-eyed, in front of scary movies from which their subconscious selves would never recover, my parents would slip into a catatonic haze of exhaustion, the boys would be happily splashing in the river, then swept into its roiling icy waters to die.

My dark, pre-dawn thoughts know no bounds.

Suffice it to say, I felt some anxiety about leaving them, even though the concept of leaving them filled me with the giddy joy of a convict imagining escape.

The morning we left, no one cried at goodbye, and my jangle of nerves was sure this was some terrible omen, a sign of ruptured attachment, when really, they were probably just super into their new water guns, and a whole grassy backyard lawn, its thick, green hose filling up a neon orange swimming pool.

I cried a little at the airport, but that did nothing to match the anxiety soothing properties of a single pint of beer I drank while waiting to board the plane for home.

I sat with my partner, like those couples I often see, reading and staring and drinking. Simply passing the time.

I’ve watched them hungrily, and fantasized about their freedom, while slung down with bags, AJ and I tag-teaming little boys with sweaty hands.

As the fizzy beer drone spread down my arms and legs, I became the woman in that couple. Waiting for my flight, borderline bored, literally nothing to do.

That’s when the giddiness set in.

I kept feeling the impulse to stretch my arms and legs out at a diagonal, as far as they would go, just to physically demonstrate my internal sensation. A huge spreading out. Extending into space that I forgot was there.

Starfish
Starfish by Elena Kalis

You can’t know how compressed you are until there’s space again. And let me tell you, I’ve been bound in pretty tight. Mothering is the sum total of thousands of minutes spent tracking people other than myself, anticipating needs, contorting my body and energy to try to ease the way. I ignore my aching back and elbow because the baby happened to fall asleep on me this way. Leftover salad goes uneaten while I mindlessly scarf down the remains of an abandoned lunch box sandwich. My energetic nodes are tuned to them and their needs.

And suddenly. I’m in my very own house without them. All those nodes are free. To rest, to roam, to notice other things. To stretch out like an goddamn starfish because there’s so much space to spare.

I have not been to the grocery store since we got home 4 days ago. I casually put our laptop on the floor after watching a late night show, unconcerned about prying 3 year old fingers at 6:30 a.m. I can leave work early or go out for a drink after because it doesn’t matter when I get home, and no matter when I get home, the house will be empty and quiet and just how I left it.

The other thing: I like AJ so much more.

This has been the most stark comparison of all.

On the airplane home, I was snuggling with him like a 20-year-old version of myself, and it felt natural as hell.

For years, I’ve puzzled over the shift in my relationship with him. Wasn’t there a time when I could hardly keep my hands off him? And even long after the whole honeymoon period wore off, didn’t I still dote on small affections?

So why has last several years of our relationship been afflicted with broken and worried conversations. Do I even like him anymore? Does he like me? Where oh where has my sex drive gone?

I was worried about myself.

But now I know what happened to myself.

Two little boys happened to myself.

And our mostly relaxed, dialed-in-to-eachother, touch a lot relationship was ever so slowly and hypnotically hemmed in by laundry and dishes and grocery lists and coordinating the logistics for how and when I’ll go get my semi-annual haircut.

We all know this concept. Raising small children with someone puts stress on that relationship. It makes sense that between the relentless care-taking, cleaning up and mammary glanding, my body craves mostly one thing when the children are away or asleep: separation.

But knowing a concept does not erase the fear. Even though I thought that my relationship with AJ would most certainly, probably feel closer in those mythical years of the future when the boys need us less, I still worried. Have we lost it entirely?

Do I even like him anymore?

Well, hot damn, the answer is yes. In the spacious delight of these days at home to ourselves, we’ve fallen right back into the way it was. I cannot tell you the relief of this: it’s largely effortless to love my partner again the way I used to.

Also, I totally have a sex drive.

I had no idea it would be so easy to get right back into it.

Turns out it’s not so much me, or him, but The Situation that has changed.

Delightfully, The Situation will continue to change, in the direction of more freedom, not less.

I’ve got my eye on the horizon. It’s looking pretty starfishy.

A p.s. on Valentine's Day

My awesome friend Jenn commented on the post I just wrote about Valentine’s Day and the tragicomedy that has accompanied it through my relationship with AJ. She wrote,

Good points, and relevant to all sorts of expectations, not just holidays. You didn’t mention, have you ever done anything for AJ on Valentine’s Day? As a non-Valentine’s-celebrator, I didn’t really notice until this year that it seems to be a one-way affair of heterosexual men lavishing their heterosexual women with presents and romantic gestures. That seems weird to me. If it’s a celebration of love and your relationship, and you have an equal relationship with your partner, wouldn’t both partners have to work to make it a lovely celebration? Or, my preference, ignore it and then buy the marked-down candy!

Now you see why I’ve been friends with this woman since I first wandered into her Bob Dylan-postered dorm room. She raises a sensational point. I did not mention the years, like the last few, when I gave AJ valentines, declaring the particular ways in which I loved and was grateful for him. So yes! I have done things for him on Valentine’s Day.

valentine
Like this one that I  call “Valentine Amoeba meets The Greenhouse of Love”

And, I’m a tad ashamed to admit that the swelling arc of my feelings around Valentine’s Day has tended to have 90% to do with what I want or might get or what AJ is not doing for me. I like to explain this with the notion that I am a creature of the world, and my specific world has this particular story on hyper-repeat—this “one-way affair of heterosexual men lavishing their heterosexual women with presents and romantic gestures.” One reason I like that explanation is because it makes me feel less like a selfish, ungrateful twit. Another is that I think it’s true.

So let’s talk about the other stories here. What do you like to do for your partner on Valentine’s Day? And if you’re a heterosexual man, what’s your experience of the whole situation? Do you feel left out? Disappointed? How does this whole all play out in same-sex relationships? For folks who aren’t partnered? Bring it on, dear readers. How do you experience your expectations around Valentine’s Day? Any other selfish, ungrateful twits out there?

Giving up the Valentine's Day ghost

I’m an idealist. So I often fantasize about someone knowing the Exact Most Perfect Version of what I want and presenting it to me on a platter at the precise time when I most need it. Shockingly, the result of this practice has been a fair amount of disappointment.

Even when my family would scratch it all together and throw me a surprise 15th birthday party, I would notice all the ways it fell short of my perfect, Platonic Ideal of a 15th birthday party.

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Photo by QueenieVonSugarpants

I’m sorry, Mom and Dad and Maxine. It really was a delightful party.

And yes, this brings us to Valentine’s Day. What a horrendous notion for a holiday, for us fantasizing idealists and their partners.

Seven years ago, AJ and I flew home from New Zealand on February 14th. It was the tail end of a year and a half of gallivanting around the world as only two newly married people without children can do. We crashed in hostels, caught a scary bus in Ljubljana, marveled over this  tree in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Tree

and worked on organic farms in Spain and New Zealand. For weeks after we bought the flight home, I kept slipping little underhanded comments in for AJ. “We’re flying home on Valentine’s Day.” “Did you know that since we’re flying over the International Date Line that we’re going to have 2 Valentine’s Days?”

“VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!!!!!!!”

“I’m desperate for you to do the perfect thing for me on Valentine’s day.”

This was on the heels of the previous Valentine’s day, when we wandered around in Amsterdam for hours looking for a place to eat dinner, and I kept thinking that AJ had a Valentine’s surprise tucked up his sleeve. When I finally asked, he admitted he didn’t even remember what day it was. I gushed out my disappointment and tears all over those charming European paving stones.

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You know how this ends. On the magical mystery flight through two Valentine’s Days, AJ didn’t plan anything. I cried and cried. And then he scrambled and scribbled together a whole stack of handmade valentines and gave me one every hour from his shirt pocket.

I am delighted to report that we have evolved since then. I gave up the Valentine’s Day ghost, as it were, and had a few years of just protesting the whole thing. And AJ has taken to remembering and doing nice things for me on this commercial trap of a holiday. Last year, things were so blurred by pregnancy and home ownership and scrambling to rent a duplex that AJ hugged me, and that felt sufficient. Yesterday, AJ raised the topic of what we should do, and I said, “I want you to buy me flowers from that place by the fish market.” And he did. I wasn’t disappointed.

How our family survives cold season

I fear antibiotics the way that some people dread spiders or snakes. I actually had a nightmare when I was pregnant with Cal that I might need them during his birth and woke up in a cold sweat.

Before I go on, let me also mention that I love antibiotics. When I got an infection in my leg from a sting ray wound on my foot, I gulped those suckers down like they were candy. And miracle candy it was. Infection, gone. Leg still kicking. So to be more thorough, I fear and love antibiotics.

In my adolescence, I had several courses of antibiotics after a botched wisdom tooth removal. The surgery also left me with a piece of a dental instrument in my jaw and a partially numb lower lip for life, but the antibiotics threw me the most.

I suddenly became a 13 year old with chronic yeast infections that didn’t abate until college, when I got serious about a sugar free, dairy free, wheat free diet. These days, I don’t have to carry around little baggies of sprouted almonds to snack on while everyone else eats cake. But I do take a probiotic every morning. I started taking it consistently when I had a surprise bout of mastitis when Jo was 2. My acupuncturist recommended them and some herbs and manually expressing pus out of my achy boob. Good times.

I kicked the mastitis, which had gotten pretty serious, without needing antibiotics, and I was delightfully yeast-infection-free to boot.

I got especially lathered up about probiotics after I happened upon a PBS special that talked about how your gut is the first line of defense in your immune system–if you want to stay healthier, dose up your gut with a whole boatload of good flora. So I kept taking the probiotics everyday. Lo and behold, I stopped getting sick so often. Everyone in our house would come down with something, and I’d sail through unscathed. I would swagger around feeling biologically superior and imagining that my gut looks like this:

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Image by Cornelia Kopp

That’s when I decided we should all be taking one. So I found the cheapest place that sells the brand my acupuncturist likes and started giving AJ one everyday too. Jo digs his chewable version and I mix Cal’s into his bottle. They are not cheap, but I decided that the money we save from Jo not having missed a day of childcare in 2 years more than covers it. I swear we get sick less often than most other families we know, even though we’re swimming in the same viral and bacterial petri dish that is pre-school.

When we do get sick, it usually looks like a downgraded version of what everyone else is getting, and my favorite go-to for Jo and Cal is this great kids’ health resource. After checking in with it about 6 month old Cal’s sniffles, I’ve been dosing him up with 3-4 drops of echinacea tincture in his nighttime bottle, along with a couple drops of this for good measure.

On a side note: I started the new job. I chuckle to myself every day that I wander into the sea of cubicles. Being there feels a bit like visiting a foreign country–I feel unsure of the lingo–whether someone is kidding or completely serious, but I’m starting to get a toe-hold on the culture of the place. Like magic, I get excited to come home. I open the door and sigh. Home. I feel a sweet little lift instead of the old kerplunk that used to greet me. Also, I am pleased to say that AJ and I have reached a delightful understanding: after we put the kids to bed, we put the house to bed. So my fears of sinkfuls of crusty dishes and general mayhem have been allayed. And it feels, more than ever since having kids, that AJ and I are team. Woot.

Truly feminist picture book recommendations and paternity leave is over

Woo hoo! Had to share this lovely post responding to my recent post championing Elisabeth’s call for picture books with varied female characters and a gender balanced cast. Whew. Were you able to connect all those dots? Hope so. I don’t have much time to preen my writing because A. is back to work today. Sigh.

I’ve been weepy as a willow for the last 24 hours. Having his presence at home for 7 weeks (yes, SEVEN) has been nothing short of miraculous. He provides an extra set of arms for bouncing babies or wrangling older boys. He installs sliding glass doors where once there were windows.

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Pretty amazing, huh?

And he also makes tea in the morning with the perfect amount of sugar and milk.

I miss him.

I also feel like a big fat wuss for feeling this way, since he was around for SEVEN weeks. Thank you, A’s boss, for setting up your company policy to allow your employees to have access to the Family and Medical Leave Act even though you’re not legally required to, since you employ way less than 50 people. And thank you, State of California, for having the California Paid Family Leave program which made it possible for us to afford SEVEN weeks without A’s salary.

I don’t know a single person whose partner has been able to take this much time off after the birth of a baby. Not one. And may I please say that that is ridiculous. And sad. And just plain stupid.

I’ll keep my rant short, but it seems to me that one of the most basic things a country can do to support its people is to support its newest members and those bringing them into the world. And expecting new moms and dads to just ally-oop back to work lickety split puts tons of stress on new families. And directly influences mental and physical health of parents, health outcomes for newborns, and emotional lives of siblings to name a few. I don’t have the time or energy to go looking for all of the studies and articles that I’m sure have been written about this (if you have any at your fingertips, please share!!) but I’m sure that babies and parents are healthier and happier when parents are able to stay home and settle in for more than 5 minutes.

Here I am all weepy as hell and I got seven (SEVEN!) weeks of support from my partner, not to mention tons of food and childcare from friends. I know I could have handled it if A. wound up with the typical, all-American 1 or 2 weeks off, but I’m oh so grateful that I didn’t have to. And I know that there are tons of folks out there that don’t have a choice. And that makes me angry. Political rant-y angry.

Baby C is waking up, and there’s grocery shopping to do and J to pick up at one. I’m off to my solo parenting immersion.

Hope all is well with you, dear readers.

Happy Father's Day to the two I know and love best

For Father’s day, I’d like to celebrate the two fathers I know and love best: the one who co-made me, and the one who I helped to make.

Here’s my dad the day I was born.

This man, as you can see, takes the fatherhood gig very seriously. And yet he can still chill out with the best of ’em.

I love his combination of seriousness and irreverence.

And then there’s this guy.
(the one on the left)

He impresses me on a regular basis with his ability to both meet his own needs and put in some serious dad time. I mean seriously, notice here how he’s totally getting into the New Yorker, has strategically placed candy on his belly for easy access and is still “actively parenting.” Since I’m descended from a long line of people who very naturally (and sometimes obsessively) focus on other people before themselves, this has been a revelation.

Also, when he’s doing projects around the house, he thinks to do cool things with J like this

And this

And I never worry when he does that kind of thing, because he has a much better natural sense of danger and safety than I do. For whatever reason, ever since J was born, I just assume that he’ll be fine. Even when he’s, say, playing with a *slightly* rusty cheese grater or when a huge, erratic dog is lumbering towards him on the beach. Thankfully, I’ve got this guy around.

Thank you, you two fathers I love. My life is better because of each of you.

How our relationship was swallowed whole by a baby

A and I just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary this week.

(Yep. Still obsessed with faceless wedding photos.)

We have this little ritual on our anniversary of writing down our best and worst times from the past year and our goals for the coming months. While we were out to dinner (what a JOY it is to dine with no one other than your adult partner at 7pm on a balmy Monday evening) I plopped the little leather-bound journal where we’ve jotted this stuff onto the table, and we had a look at years gone by.

We really like creating abbreviated versions of words that don’t have any. Like “anny.” It’s just so exhausting and common to say anniversary. We are such hipsters.

Here are the pages for anny 5 and anny 6, our first two as parents.

Hello, salient metaphor for how having a child has changed our relationship.

If anything, these first years of parenthood have impressed upon me the finiteness of things. Time. Energy. Sleep. Patience. And I won’t lie—it’s definitely done a number on our relationship. I can confidently say now, 2 years in, that we’re finding more moments to connect in that lingering and nostalgic way we used to before J came on the scene. It feels like dusting off the words of a language we used to speak fluently—we have to work harder now to remember how to say certain things, but it’s sweet and confirming to feel our mouths form the words again.

As we lingered over our bottle of rosé, we couldn’t help but notice the goals we had listed for our 4th anniversary—when I was 6 months pregnant with J.

Such innocent ambition: social time, couple time, alone time, “not swallowed whole by baby.” Oh! and don’t forget exercise.

It really put those two blank years in the book into perspective. I think it’s taken us 2 years to get back to the place where those goals even make sense again.

Our hopes and dreams for this year?

“See 4th anniversary goals.”