Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Looking for a new mascot, Yale?




March 1, 2012
Dear Caitlin:
On behalf of the Admissions Committee, I am pleased to inform you that your application to the 2012 Graduate Entry Pre-specialty in Nursing- Nurse Midwifery program has been accepted.  I want to offer my congratulations and invite you to join the vibrant Yale School of Nursing community.


Can't believe this is really happening.  Start to finish - I did this.  I did this.  Myself.  With no one else.  This is MY dream.  And I am making it come true.  Sometimes?  Dreams really do come true.  Because you make them come true.  Here's to my dream, coming true, right before my eyes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Big Feelings

Perspective has been regained.

I went to New York this past weekend to visit some dear friends.  I camped on their couch, cuddled their dog, and gleefully (and cluelessly) cheered on Kansas University in the KU vs Missouri college basketball game (KU won by one point in overtime, okay, it was a very intense game).  We ate guacamole and cookies, shopped some great sales, (I) complained bitterly about how much colder than Boston it was, but far and away the most important thing that happened on my trip was hearing what my amazing friend J. had to say.  She is a teacher, a phenomenal one at that, and she teaches very, very difficult children.  Autism, behavioral disorders, developmental delays - she deals with them all.  Girl can move mountains for those kids, and honestly, I swear she does.  She told me about a conversation she had with one of her students when he was having a meltdown one day.  She told him, "I know that you're having some really big feelings right now, and that's okay.  I also know that because those feelings are so big it might be hard for you to hear what I'm going to tell you.  That's okay too, because I'll tell you again when you're not having such big feelings.  Here's the thing: feelings never last forever.  They always change.  So even though right now, your big, big feelings are making you scream and cry, they won't last forever.  I promise."

What a lesson to be learned.  Feelings always change.  Always.  Nothing ever stays the same, and the pit of sorrow you're in one day won't be the same on the next, just like the cloud you're flying on one day won't be there the next day either.  And that's okay.  Sometimes our feelings are big and scary, sometimes they're smaller and more easily managed, but regardless - they never last forever.  What a relief, huh?  To know that even in our darkest hour, the hour will not last forever.

I love my friend.  I love everything she does for me.  But above all, I love her heart.  It's big enough for all her wonderful, difficult students, and it's even big enough for me.  My big, big feelings about her are one thing that will never change. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

If you read this, you'll be sorry

I'm in a bad mood.  I usually try to avoid blogging when I'm in a bad mood (just like how I try not to write when I'm feeling depressed...until I realize weeks have gone by without me posting a damn thing and then I throw my hands up in defeat and write anyway).  There are big problems in the world...and then there are mine:

My lips are raw and bleeding because I chew them obsessively.  They hurt.
Cricket was being a piss-pot when she got home from school today and immediately threw two tantrums in a row while I was trying to feed a starving Dove and not wake up a sleeping Bun.
I'm hungry.
I don't want to eat.
I have to pee.
I don't want to pee.
I'm a spitting, spewing, oozing ball of hormones and moodiness (isn't it redundant that someone who is bipolar is saying they're moody?).
This makes me super duper fun to be around, of course.
Knowing I'm such a terror right now makes me feel bad for everyone around me.
I have seventeen billion emails and phone calls to return/make and guess what - I don't want to!!!
I'm cold.
I got eleven hours of sleep last night and I am still exhausted.
The kitchen is a mess from the dinner I made (and am not eating) and I don't want to clean it.
Tucker is out of food and I feel like a horrible mother for forgetting to get him more on my way home today.
Facebook annoys me.
Twitter annoys me even more.
I AM ANNOYING MYSELF WITH ALL THIS ANGST.

*Deep breath*
I'm going to go get ready for bed and go to bed now.  Yes, it's 7:30.  Yes, I'm 24.  I don't care.  I can't stand myself for one more minute.  I'm sorry if you read this.  I really, really am.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cricket Gems

"Bun is wide awake, and Dove is wide asleep!"

We had made chocolate chip cookies yesterday while she was home (school was closed on Presidents' Day).
Cricket: "Mommy and Daddy and you and me can all have a chocolate chip cookie but Bun and Dove can't."
Me: "That's right, they're too little to have a cookie."
Cricket: "So Mommy should eat lots and lots of cookies so that they get to taste the cookies in their milk."

Me: "Sweetie, do you want an orange for lunch?"
Cricket: "Yes, but only a really orange one."

Cricket: "Me and Mommy are milk monsters!"
Me: "You are?!  Why's that?"
Cricket: "Because I drink lots and lots of milk and Mommy pumps lots and lots of milk.  That makes us both milk monsters!"
Me: "So what about Bun and Dove, since they drink all of Mommy's milk?  Are they milk monsters too?"
Cricket: "No, Caitlin, you're silly.  They're babies."

Me: "Alright, sweetness, it's time for me to go home.  Where's my hug?"
Cricket: "Here!  It's right here!  See??"  *arms thrown wide open*
Me: "Goodnight!  Love you!"
Cricket: "Night!  Love you too!"

as I'm halfway to the car...


Cricket: "Caitlin!!!"
Me: "What's wrong, love?"
Cricket: "Love you one more time!"
Me: "Love you a million times, Cricket."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Keeping House

I am faced with a conundrum: five days a week, I work 10-13 hour days to keep a household of five running smoothly.  I do laundry three times a week (at least two loads, sometimes three), I take out the trash and recycling every day, I run the dishwasher and put dishes away, I wash every bottle part and breast pump attachment by hand (I do at least twelve dishloads of these a day), I tidy, I disinfect, I remake Cricket's bed, I put all the clean laundry away, I restock diapers and wipes, I write grocery lists, I even clean the bathroom sometimes when it really needs it.  Oh, and I also take care of Bun, Dove, and Cricket.  So, in conclusion, I am clearly capable of being enormously productive when it comes to matters of the home.  Believe me.  Their house is freaking spotless.  But then, I come home and there are two things going through my head:

1)  If any single iota of a person, living or dead, decides that they need me, ANYTHING from me, or that they want to touch me, dear Lord above help us all, because NOOOOOO.

2)  I. cannot. face. another. piece. of. laundry.  Or dirty dish, or stray hairtie, or errant book.  I will literally start to come undone at the seams when I see the towering load of my own dirty clothes in front of me or I will promptly burst into tears over the fact that my bed isn't made (because, um, guess who didn't make it this morning - oh yeah, ME).

Tonight, I came home at 9 PM and there was no toilet paper.  Both of my roommates were sitting on the couch, both having gotten home between 3:00 and 5:30 PM.  I asked them if we had any more TP.  Blank stares followed by "Umm...no, I guess not."  Awesome.  So I'll just put a roll of paper towels in there until I have time to go pick up toilet paper after I finish working my thirteen hour shifts.  No, I'm not upset.  No, I'm not worked to the bone and exhausted and coming undone.  And of course I won't flip my shit if you so much as touch me because all. day. long. I have been holding, cradling, rocking, soothing, feeding, bathing, or doing SOMETHING to SOMEONE who is very tiny, very needy, and very, very prone to both projectile vomiting and SUTB blowouts (Shit Up The Back).  Except - oh yes indeed, I am all of those things.

The up side to all of this kvetching is that I love these girls something fierce.  Tonight I had all three of them to myself and managed to get everyone fed, washed, dried, swaddled, pajamaed, read to, rocked down, and asleep by 8:15.  I stood over Cricket and watched her breath slow as her iron grip slowly loosened around her blankie and she relaxed into sleep.  I kissed her dark wispy bangs and whispered softly that I loved her.  Then I tiptoed in to check on the babes.  Dove, mouth open and swaddled tight was my little glow worm baby, wrapped up tight.  I gently touched her dark fuzzy head and stroked her chubby cheek.  Bun, unswaddled these days, was stirring slightly.  I put her binky back in, and watched her arms relax up above her head.  She jerked once and settled as I shushed her gently and stroked her cheek.  All was well.  I turned the sound machine down and tiptoed downstairs.

Then I did another sink load of dishes, put Bun's second blowout outfit of the day in the basement to soak, cleaned up the living room, and wiped down all the counters.  And now I am home.  Desperately lonely, but far too bristly and prickly and irritable to expect anyone to come near me with a ten foot pole.  Maybe I'll take some Advil for the headache I've had since 9 AM.  And then I think I'll call it a night.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What doesn't kill you...

...makes you stronger!

I know that Kelly Clarkson is not the first person to say this.  Or even sing it, probably.  But oh man, she does a good job.  This overused idiom is best said (sung, rather) along to the Kelly Clarkson song, "Stronger," preferably rocking out in the car, at a stoplight in Newton Centre in rush hour traffic after taking care of babies for thirteen hours.  Also best sung and rocked out to during periods of rumination over The Breakup.  

Here are the facts:
I was, and am, sad and grieving over the end of my relationship with Alix.
I was, and am, better off out of that relationship than in it.

The truth bites sometimes.  I thought I had it in the bag, y'all.  I thought that everything about my life was lined up, laced up, packaged up and ready to go.  Turns out I was wrong.  And you know what?  Being that dead wrong about something as big as that has opened my eyes to the possibilities of being right about so much else.  Like being okay with the idea that I don't need another person, a romantic relationship, or a life partner in order to feel complete.  I can work, I can build a career, I can build a family, I can parent, I can grow a community, and I can damn well fight my eating disorders and bipolar all by myself, thank you very much.  And I'm NOT by myself, that's the best part.  I have family.  I have friends.  I have amazing doctors and therapists who care about me and make ridiculous office hours and phone appointments in order to keep in contact with me.  I have the people that have always been there and the people that I have yet to meet.  Maybe one of those people will wind up being a partner.  Maybe not.  But either way - I'm never, not ever going to let being "alone" stop me from doing the things I want to do with my life.

So go ahead, K. Clarks - sing it, girl:

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone.

What doesn't kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn't mean I'm over cause you're gone.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Updates on the Littles

This is my fourth full week with the girls and I love (almost) every day of it.  Cricket starts chanting my name (quietly) when she hears my key in the door and she's pretty pumped that tomorrow is Pajama Day at her preschool (in case it's not obvious, that's the day where you wear your pajamas to school.  In case it's not even more obvious, guess which nanny has been asked to wear her pajamas to work tomorrow.  Oh yeah.  Setting the alarm a little later for tomorrow morning...)

Bun and Dove keep me hopping all day after Cricket goes to school.  Between the chores (laundry, dishes, bottle and breast pump attachment washing, trash/recycling emptying, sterilizing, diaper/wipe restocking, tidying, etc) and the actual taking-care-of-the-babies part, I am...what's the word...BUSY.  The twins are growing so fast, I can't even believe it.  They're wearing six month sleepers at four months!  Their next checkup is in a few days so we'll have an official weigh-in, but good lord, I am building some arm muscles hefting them around and they're still in what I professionally refer to as the "teensy" phase.  What makes me melt the most these days is that Dove, in particular, just wants to be held.  By me.  She'll be dry, full, awake, and happy...except that she'll realize that I'm not holding a baby and will promptly decide that she'd rather that not be the case.  Her brow will furrow.  The lower lip will start to protrude.  And before the whimpering can officially start, more often than not, I scoop her up and she's all smiles again.  Did I mention my arms are tired?

What I love right now: how little they are, how they snuggle into my neck, how they melt into sleepiness in five seconds flat, how they're juuuuust starting to interact with each other, and how they're learning how to coo, babble, and do big belly laughs.
What I'm looking forward to: when it's warmer (and they're older) so I can actually take them outside, when they are big enough to rest on my hip instead of my shoulder all the time, when they won't always need their necks supported so I can carry them both at once more easily (instead of like two footballs), when they fall in love with each other, and when they reach for me.  Especially that last bit.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

24 Years in the Making

Okay, so prepare yourselves for the embarrassment of....drumroll please...A VLOG!!!!!

The Nanny, who we all know is my best friend, decided to do a birthday interview, film it, and post it on both of our blogs.  Guess who thought she was going to edit out most of the boring/embarrassing/useless bits?  ME.  Guess who didn't?  HER.  Soo...sorry about that.  But please enjoy.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Scars

Disclaimer: This post contains references to self-harm.  If this bothers you or is triggering for you, please do not read.

I have my fair share of scars.  After all, I have five brothers.  There are a few scars from my years of horseback riding, some that are evidence of Tucker's early days, and a jagged beauty that snakes up my right index finger from the car accident.  Through some combination of youth, luck, and genetics, my skin hides the scars well.  Indeed, my freckles alone have rendered most of the marks near invisible.  Except for four.  On my left thigh, exactly halfway between my knee and my hip, lie four wide, white bands that, even healed, look angry and frightening.  These are not the calm, orderly scars left behind after neat stitches have sealed a surgical incision.  Nor are they the barely perceptible lines left behind by cat claws or wood splinters.  These are disorderly, angled against each other as if fighting for space.  They are uncommonly wide, the sure evidence that they required stitches that never came.  The skin puckers faintly around them and they've barely faded in almost three years' time.  When I sat on the floor of my dorm room's closet my junior year of college, and dug a razor blade deep into the flesh and waited for blood to appear - I wasn't thinking about the scars I'd have someday.  At that moment, I was pretty damn sure I wasn't going to be around for breakfast the next day, let alone for a future that featured healed wounds.  I shook with silent, quaking sobs - my tears had dried up days ago.  I watched the blood bubble to the surface and trickle down my pale flesh before dripping to the floor.  I don't remember how long I sat there, wedged into my closet, willing my pain and anguish to rush out of the wounds I'd made for it.  Eventually, the trickle slowed, and then stopped.  Exhausted and numb, I uncurled myself from the floor, dropped the sticky blade into the trash, and collapsed into bed.  The pain inside me was still there.  Now I had an aching leg to go with it.

When I was admitted to the hospital only a few days later, I answered the intake questions honestly, too broken to defend myself and convinced there was nothing worth defending anyway.  Self-harm?  Yes, here.  I mechanically pulled up my sweatpants to show my still tender cuts.  Were you trying to kill yourself?  No.  Really?  Yes, really.  Why did you do it?  I stared fixedly at the floor, trying to find the words.  Because, I said, I just don't want to be...like this...anymore.  Don't want to be like what anymore?  Me, I said simply.  I don't want to be me anymore.

It turned out that the me I was living with at the time was an undiagnosed - and thus untreated - manic depressive.  I can say with a great deal of certainty that I don't ever want to be that version of me, ever again.  The right medications, therapy, and ultimately time have given me another chance to learn to live, often stumbling and flailing along, but living nonetheless.  It's not perfect, by any means, but I'm not giving myself any new scars.

I wonder, though, if there will come a time in my life when I feel something other than revulsion, fear, and hatred for the body I inhabit.  My body is the canvas against which I scrawl my pain and anguish, cutting, starving, and punishing it for the demons I wrestle with daily.  As a child, I kept my body at arms' reach, avoiding mirrors and clothes, burying my mind in my books and fantasy worlds.  As an adolescent, shocked and horrified by its unwillingness to remain unchanged, I proffered my body up to person after person, desperately seeking the validation I could not give myself.  Now, the objective is simple - if there is less of it, then there will be less pain because of it.

More than anything, I want to protect and treasure what my body is capable of doing.  I have cradled countless babies against my chest, shushing them and circling them close in my arms.  I have been an athlete, have grown strong and swift in pursuit of first place.  I want the demons, the sicknesses, the pain I carry with me every day from now until forever to find a different canvas.  I'm still trying to find a way to etch some distance between the demons inside me and the flesh they inhabit.  For now, I can no more separate them than I can trust myself to drop the razor blade, eat a meal, or pull my head out of the toilet.  Some days, there are moments when grace intervenes and I manage to do it.  After all, I hold down a full-time job, I have great friends, an evil cat, an apartment, and a nursing school application in the works.  But just because everything looks okay from the outside doesn’t mean the inside isn’t disintegrating before your very eyes.  I know that one of my greatest strengths is to be able to put the hold switch on my symptoms with the stubbornness that only comes through genetics.  But oh, is it hard when the job is done.  When I can turn off the smile and take down the “I’ve got all my shit together” fa├žade and actually fall apart.  You might not think it, but sometimes that fall is the biggest relief there is.  Here’s the catch: the higher you go, the stronger your fight, the longer you hold out – the faster and harder and scarier the fall.

All I know is this: we don’t get to choose the demons that we fight, but we can certainly choose to fight them.  And the harder we fight, the more we allow others to fight their own demons too.  There will always be battles to be fought.  But there are also songs to be sung, babies to be held, and art to be made.  And that - that is worth fighting for.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Think Fast

Cricket is half asleep in her car seat on the way home from school the other day.  All of a sudden...

"Caitlin?"
"Mm?"
"Does your house have a chimney?"
"No, love, I live in an apartment building and we don't have a chimney."
"So...how does Santa Claus get in?"

**THINKING VERY QUICKLY**

"Well, he has a key for the front door to the building and then he leaves everyone's presents outside their apartment door on Christmas morning."
"Oh.  Okay."

*Insert nanny sigh of relief at having dodged large, Santa-shaped bullet*

Confessions of a Chronic Insomniac Part II

I think breakfast cereal is an utterly useless and unhealthful source of calories.  I cringe when I feed it to Cricket every morning.

The fact that I'll be 24 in a few days terrifies me.  Five years ago, what did I think I'd be doing by the time I was 24?  I have no idea, but I'd bet my left nostril it wasn't this.  Mostly I'm just scared because it's one more year gone by without babies - mine or anyone else's.

I just made my last payment on Alix's engagement ring.  Thank. The. Effing. Lord.

You know that viral video on YouTube about "put a bird on it"?  I don't find the video nearly as funny as most people do, but I laugh when I think about how I "put a bird on it" when I got my last tattoo.

I've been cooking the same peanut eggplant stew for two weeks running now.  There's enough frozen in my freezer to feed a small army.  So sue me, it's delicious.

I haven't been running in nearly two weeks and it's killing me.  This whole working 13 hours a day thing (and sleeping four hours a night thing) doesn't exactly lend itself to running.

I wish that it was still age-appropriate to make birthday gift request lists.

I looked better in my Target dress at my Yale interview session last week than forty other people in suits.  Hells to the yeah.

I used to be at least a little bit indifferent about getting into Yale.  Not anymore.  I will be devastated if I don't get in.  On the other hand, if I don't get in, I have two other fantastic routes to go on to becoming a midwife.  Half the time that I'm awake at night, it's because I can't stop thinking about the pros and cons of these three possible roads.

I eat the same thing every day.  Quite literally - the same exact thing(s).  You'd think it would get boring but for me, it's more of a relief than anything.

One time, I got bucked off a galloping horse over her head and landed head-first on the ground, only to look up and see her jumping over my prostrate body and see her back hoof landing six inches from my head.  I still think about that sometimes and am grateful for a) riding helmets and b) that I'm alive.

I think my one brother's artwork is the best you'll ever see and my other brother's music is the best you'll ever hear.  Call me loyal, call me biased, but whatever.  I believe in both of them.  If anyone in our family is going to make it big, it's going to be them.

By this time next year, I hope I'm either pregnant or have a baby.  Partners (or lack thereof), logistics, money, and good sense be damned. 

I know for a fact that I'll have lots of wrinkles when I'm old.  I smile a lot, I don't wear sunscreen on my face except in the summer, and I don't use any of that anti-wrinkle product crap.  Whatever, I'm just hoping they'll look good on me.

I have a penguin-shaped humidifier named Poppy.  Be jealous, because she's just that cool.