A Page of One's Own

Thank You, Stranger

Dec
28

Being a parent is tough. You hold this little kid in your arms having (literally) no idea what you should really do. This bewildered feeling, in my experience, has not gone away for the last eleven months of motherhood–new day, new huge question mark in the air following me around.

And you know what is mega helpful to me, as a loving and concerned parent?

When you, dearest stranger/family member/anyone other than my husband, tell me how to parent.

You have no idea how much of a relief it is to have you approach me and yell in my face: “SHOULDN’T THAT BABY BE WEARING A HAT?” It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and wonderful inside, knowing that you trust that I love my baby (who I carried for 40 weeks in my uterus, pushed out of me, and have spent every moment of her life with) more than you do.

Haha, just kidding. Don’t test me right now. Don’t tell me to put a hat, a coat, a blanket, or a diaper on my baby, or my baby will be completely naked for the next year (or five years) of her life. Rolling around in the snow, eating the yellow snow actually, completely naked.

Back to the whole “being a parent is tough” bit. Man, I’m not kidding. Every mistake you make as a parent causes brain damage, according to google. There is no way to raise a little human without inflicting some serious amount of brain damage.

You let your kid cry? BRAIN DAMAGE.

You pick your kid up when crying? BRAIN DAMAGE.

You use a bottle instead of a sippy cup, OR a sippy cup instead of a bottle? BRAIN DAMAGE.

You feed your kid solids too early, too late, you use the wrong color car seat cover? BRAIN DAMAGE.

All of these things can be stressful if you let them get to you. Brain damage seems like a steep cost for getting the wrong car seat cover, but don’t risk it.

All of this aside, I can also confidently and without reserve say that the WORST part of parenting is the unsolicited advice. It is hilarious. It is as if every human in the world suddenly gets a say in how to best raise my kid. Which totally makes sense, seeing as they are all the one awake with her all night/changing diapers all day/etc etc…

I put together a little list, so you can know if you are an unsolicited advice-giver to young parents. If you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, seek help, or just stop offering unsolicited advice.

A. Do you or have you ever started a sentence with the words “you should” to a young parent?

B. Do you or have you ever reacted negatively, (including body language such as eye rolling, shoulder shrugging, etc…) when a young parent does anything?

C. Do you or have you ever said the words “When I was young parent” in a condescending tone without being asked to speak that sentence?

D. Do you or have you ever approached anyone in Target, Walmart, or Home Depot to offer helpful ideas on how to raise a child, including but not limited to how to best feed, comfort, clothe or love their child?

You want to be helpful? Thank you. Go buy me diapers, or a cute outfit for my baby, or better yet, go get me some caffeine.

Xoxo, Kaylee

When Sundays Go Wrong

Nov
07
img_1933

Pre “The Terrible Sunday”

I genuinely do not know how anyone with a child under 17 makes it to church and stays there for more than 45 minutes. Sundays are the struggle of my life.

This morning, Branden and I woke up to Charlee having a complete meltdown. She knew it was Sunday. She was just an absolute grump all morning. Regardless, I told Branden, “I’m going to look good today. I never try anymore. I’m going to try today.”

I also decide to dress my baby. She has had no dresses for the last few months. She wears pants to church, if I get to putting pants on her. Sometimes she wears a shirt to church and that works too. Anyways, today I decide to dress my baby. I put her in a new floral dress from my mom, a huge bow, pink nylons and moccasins. She looks adorable.

Back to me.

I proceed to put on a funky white dress and black tights. As I stand by my mirror putting on makeup, I hear a solid thud behind me. Charlee had pulled herself up on my dresser, slipped, and smacked her cheekbone directly on the metal of a bookshelf. I drop my mascara, sprint over, and scoop her up quickly. The moment that I picked her up, I feel something wet run down my arm. I smell diarrhea.

I look down to check the damage only to see a huge bruise forming on her cheek. She is screaming in pain, and I am frantically running back and forth with her at arms length, searching for wipes.

My dad is in the bathroom (he is visiting his parents) and I start banging on the door with my elbows. Charlee is screaming, Branden is trying to figure out what in the world is happening, I am acting as a barrier between Charlotte’s falling poop and the carpet, and my dad is answering the bathroom door in his underwear.

Dad takes one look at us and snaps into fix-it mode. He grabs Charlotte, (she has poop in her hair; how does she have poop in her hair?) turns on the bathtub, and sticks her in. She is still completely hysterical. Branden and I are now running around the bathroom, bumping into each other and bumbling around with poopy wipes and poopy hands and poopy clothes. Dad is still in his underwear, rinsing off Charlee as she claws at his hands. Branden hands her a sucker. As if that will help.

My white dress (dry-clean only) is covered in the diarrhea of an angry little baby. I take it off and throw something on without looking twice.

Twenty minutes later, we finally walk into church. Charlotte is back in her PJs (at 9 AM). She looks like a boxer after a bar fight wearing a pink “G is for GIGGLES” onsie. As we walk in, I see that the doors to the chapel are still open. I do a hang-loose sign as I strut through the doors and say “YES. WE MADE IT IN TIME FOR THE SACRAMENT.” I say this too loudly and the people in the chapel turn to look at me.

As we walk forward, I realize that we, in fact, did not make it in time. The sacrament is happening as I walk in. Everyone is reverent. I am hanging loose. (I don’t know why it ever felt right to do a hang loose sign as I walked into that church.)

Not only this, but everyone and their 17 children decided it was a good Sunday to chill in the lounge outside of the chapel. It’s packed to the brim. We waddle to find an empty space with our little boxer baby and my dad. (Dad is now dressed in clothes.)

About 30 minutes later, I finally look at what I am wearing. I lean over to Branden and say. “Wow. My outfit makes no sense.”

I am in a red, polka-dot dress with black tights and dark green vintage boots with pointy toes. Nothing makes sense anymore. This doesn’t particularly bother me until he says “You look like Minnie Mouse,” at which point I begin glaring at him and don’t stop for the next hour. Just what I’m going for. Minnie Mouse.

During the second hour of church, the little boxer baby starts sucking on my neck, searching for food. We are in the front row of Sunday School because (SURPRISE) we are late. She then pulls down the front of my dress repeatedly. on the hunt. I am being undressed by a baby in pajamas with a black eye.

It was at this point that we left the church building.

All that I’m saying is that church is impossible.

Oh, and also, right before my dad left for the airport, she blew out all over him again. Bath numero dos.

CT Scans and Getting Hit In The Face

Jun
29
Charlee mad

How I Felt On Monday


Ask any pregnant woman how her pregnancy was and I can almost guarantee the response: “Oh, so many women have it worse; I really can’t complain!” 

Well, I can.

There was a live little human in my body squishing my organs and using my bladder as a punching bag and eating all my food and doing yoga in the middle of the night for months and months. Also, she tore something up in my lower abdomen/hip area, and no one knows what it is.

My doctor doesn’t know. The radiologist doesn’t know. My PA husband doesn’t know. My PT father doesn’t know.

I think that Charlotte knows. But she literally doesn’t tell me anything these days.

Two days ago, I finally addressed this issue by getting my first-ever CT Scan. Sitting on the little paper table in my scrubs, the tech came in and said: “By the way, we are going to stick an IV in your arm and give you a nasty drink and make you wait here for an hour. And then you can’t breastfeed, so your baby will be starving for the next 24 hours and will hate you for the rest of your life.” Looking back, I think he probably didn’t actually say that, but that’s what I heard. I groaned and told him about my fear of needles, asking him to distract me while he prepped for the IV and then stuck it in.

I don’t mean to be rude, I really don’t. But that man was the worst I have ever met at distracting a patient who faints at the sight of needles. As he stuck it into my skin, he kept saying, “Ok, you’re doing great; just DON’T think about the needle. Awesome job! Just keep not thinking about the needle. Yep, not the needle.” 

Well obviously this didn’t go well for me, and I started to get lightheaded and nauseous. He grabbed me a barf bag and helped lay me down. As I laid there, I slurred out, “Wow. This is the worst day ever,” to which he replied, “This really is the worst day ever. I hate this day.”

After this experience, and when I was well enough to start waddling around again, I took my nasty cup of purple juice out to the patient waiting room and looked around at my neighbors casually.

Literally every person in the waiting room was over 100 years old and from a different country. I suddenly had stepped into a foreign, anti-English speaking, really really old people nursing home. I still have no idea what was going on. 

Trying to distract myself from the thing poking out of my arm, I began reading magazines and talking to people around me as best as I could. Unfortunately, I don’t speak a ton of languages, so it was a bit difficult.

After about 30 minutes of this, I found a very interesting man. He was apparently a cattle auctioneer and started demo-ing for me his auctioning voice. My eyes got big as he started hollering fast and quite loud. I enjoyed it very much, as I sat in my XL scrubs sipping my juice with an IV in my arm. 

Finally, the doctor came out to get me for my CT Scan. As I lay there with machines whirling around me, her voice came on the loud speaker and said, “Kaylee. I am injecting your body with contrast. In approximately 30-40 seconds, you are going to feel like you wet yourself.” And then the loud speaker shut off. 

What?

This was probably the creepiest moment of my life.

I nervously counted up to 33, at which point I felt my hands and mouth and pants fill with this terrible awful warm feeling. It was at this point that I started to hate everyone in the world. 

It was altogether a very strange experience that I hope to never repeat.

Later that day, I played tennis with my husband, brother, and sister-in-law. For one of the first hits, Taylor lobbed the ball to me, and I went for a grand slam. It was so epic in my head. I was going to smash it so hard right into the corner of the court and win the championship, and the world would finally know how amazing at tennis I was.

In reality, the ball came soaring down from above me, and I completely missed the smash, and the ball. I got nailed right in the face and stumbled around the court tripping over my feet and holding my face as Branden laughed at me and the rest of my family pointed and mocked. 

I really have nothing else to say about that day. 

So You’re The Mom With the Out-Of-Control Kid

Jun
12

IMG_9212Has anyone ever been in an airplane with an uncontrollable child? Did you judge the kid’s parents and wish that they would figure out how to help their child, for heavens sake? Last Tuesday, that child was mine, and I was the mother you were judging. The stress of it almost killed me. Honestly, I’m quite lucky to be alive.

The day began like any other, with a somewhat happy and somewhat grumpy baby. She slept good, got a great nap, and we were on our way to the airport and then on to Washington. The first flight was fairly uneventful, with me chatting with all my airplane neighbors and Charlotte sleeping peacefully in my arms. The second flight was the longest two hours that I have ever endured. I think I was on that two hour plane ride for at least a year.

Charlotte began the second flight with smiles, cooing at my new neighbors and grabbing at my painted fingernails. But the second that the plane left the ground, we were all, all of a sudden, going to die. Charlotte decided that she hated me, and planes, and all people, and all food, and all happiness, and really, all the world.

Moms say that babies have different types of cries. I never understood this. Charlee cries and I’m like “Oh no, a baby somewhere is crying.” I had never understood when a mom says, “Oh, that’s my babies tired cry.” “Yep, little Johnny is hungry!” What?

I didn’t understand that cries really can be different until this awful day.Charlotte’s cry was different than it had ever been before. It actually wasn’t like any cry I have ever heard from a baby before. It was a cry that I now have dubbed the “airplane cry.” It sounded like a hyena who just got shot by an arrow in the leg while trying to hunt for prey because it was starving to death. That’s the only way I can really think to describe it.

Charlee began this high-pitched scream of a cry and did not stop. The second that the seat belt sign flipped off, I shot up, pushed the stewardess with the lemonade out of the way, and stood bouncing her at the front of the plane. And mind you, the airplane was tiny. Everyone was listening and watching.

The bouncing didn’t work, but I bounced and bounced until I sweated. When that didn’t work, Charlotte and I walked the aisle while the overhead voice said “Just a friendly reminder: wear your seat belt at all times unless it is an emergency.” I truthfully do not understand how that lady didn’t understand how much of an emergency this really was.

The walking didn’t work, so I tried nursing. She wouldn’t do it. I tried the binky. She screamed louder. So finally, I walked to the back of the plane and locked myself in the bathroom so that the poor citizens who were just trying to drink their lemonade and catch a nap would have a break. Charlotte and I stood in the one foot by one foot bathroom for about ten minutes. Just stood there. I may or may not have started crying at this point.

The horrible seat belt “ding” signaled to me that I was about to be forced again to my seat. I sat down with a puffy face and Charlotte screamed, if it was possible, even louder. The only way that she would cry a normal cry, not the hyena cry, was if I held her as she vertically planked and lifted her repetitively up and over my head and back down. I did this until my arms gave out and I thought I was going to throw out my back at age 23. Then,when I could literally not lift her anymore, I sat her in my lap and she screamed like she was dying.

The second that the plane touched down, I was on my feet trying to bounce her again, dripping in sweat, an absolute mess.

Everyone shuffled to their feet, getting their bags from the overhead bins and grabbing their cheesy headrest pillows. But just as this happened, the plane suddenly grew quiet as everyone turned to look at me. All of the people sat down slowly, and one man said, “We should probably let her go first.”

I nearly sprinted off that airplane, literally ran through the airport tunnel, and shoved the little hyena at my dad. The stress of that day took at least twelve years off my life.

 

 

 

 

My Moment Has Passed

Jun
08

Last week, Branden and I walked around downtown Provo for a free concert and festival. Branden strapped Charlotte to his chest with our baby carrier. We walked around holding hands, picking up all the free things, and stopping every three seconds with someone saying, “OH MY GOSH, LOOK AT THAT ADORABLE BABY AND HER CHEEKS!!!” Those cheeks are becoming legendary. It’s really the talk of the town.

I noticed that nearly everyone dressed the same. Holy hipster. Everyone had the same type of glasses, the same look, and the same haircuts and styles. (If you are of the older generation and don’t know what hipster means, picture someone dressing from 30 years ago and then picture them having not showered or eaten in a week or two. That is hipster, more or less.)

After about an hour of observing all the rad kids and their possies, I started to squirm a little. I’m rarely self-conscious, but I genuinely began to feel a little outdated. Branden and I walked around, in our shorts and t-shirts, with my hair up in a bun and quite undone (like always.) We both talked to Charlee in annoying, high-pitched voices and covered her ears at the concert so she didn’t go deaf.

We walked into a store called “unhinged,” full of amazing second-hand everything–clothes, shoes, books. It was perfectly hipster. Looking at everything, I think I must have gotten overwhelmed or something, and I sneezed and peed a little all at the same time. No one is allowed to judge me until you have carried a child for 9.5 months and then pushed that child out of you. When you have done that, and you still don’t pee when you sneeze….congratulations. Or judge me. Or whatever.

My self-consciousness skyrocketed. “Crap, Branden, I just peed a little. Look at my pants. Can you see anything? Well don’t act like you’re staring at my butt. No, crap, stop, look away!”  I was doing the frantic whisper that is actually louder than a normal talking voice. I’m pretty sure everyone heard me.

And in this moment, I thought and then said out loud to Branden: “When did I become this girl?” (I heard Cristina Yang’s voice in my head: “Do you know who you are? Do you know what’s happened to you? Do you want to live this way?”)

And now I know. My glory days have passed. I am a sneezing, peeing, baby-carrying, dirty diet-coke drinking, knee-length shorts wearing Mormon mom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this is a bad thing by any measure. I just have arrived there sooner than I anticipated. I thought I would be rad at least a second longer.

It’s kinda like the old person who realizes his blinker has been on for 5 miles, but he’s too deaf to hear it. Then, he knows. Or like the sixty year old woman shopping in Forever 21 who looks around and realizes everyone else in the store is actually 21. Then, she knows.

Well, then, I knew.

I FaceTimed Brittany the next day and asked her “Brit. Tell me the truth. Am I hip or am I kinda lame?” to which she replied, “Mm. Kinda lame. Definitely, kinda lame.”

“Is that like, okay, or is that kinda sad.”

“Mm. Kinda sad. Definitely, kinda sad.”

Expect cool hipster pictures as Brittany works to make me cool again. My first step: stop writing posts like this telling the world that I peed in a hipster store while talking to my baby in an annoying voice.

Adults of the Universe Are Being Scammed

May
25

Branden and I have this thing. No matter where you are or how poor you are, buy whatever little kids are selling. Half-cooked cupcakes, lemonade, dandelions. And overtip the kids. Give them a 5 for a dandelion–that kind of thing.

Last Saturday, we saw 4 little girls selling brownies on a street corner. We stopped and bought a brownie. We ate half on the way home, untying the little pink bow and unwrapping it from its thick plastic cover. We re-tied it up for later and threw it in the backseat.

A few minutes later, we heard rustling of the plastic which continued without another noise for the next two hours. Charlotte had somehow grabbed the half-eaten brownie package and was playing with the plastic and the ribbon. We let her do this till her little hearts content, and she was the happiest kid in the world. Just a baby and her brownie.

Since then, this has become her favorite toy. She loves it. Anytime she is fussy, I throw her the half-eaten brownie , and she just grabs at it stares like it is a new puppy or a new car or something. We call it her “brownie friend.” Her brownie friend goes everywhere with us. To Target, to the the doctor’s office, to PA school and to the grocery store. It is like an imaginary friend, except it is actually a brownie. Branden wants to eat the other half of the brownie but I’m a little sentimental about it by this point and won’t let him touch it.IMG_1964 (1)

We try to distract her from her brownie friend with the fun toys we spent too much money on. She doesn’t even care. She likes the pink bow and the plastic and nothing will sway her from this love.

What I’m trying to say is that the baby-accessory making bosses of the world are scamming us all. They are all sitting in their multi-million dollar mansions eating their caviar and nutella and other things rich people have with their expensive, thick toilet paper laughing with each other. “What other little talking, flashing, singing, chirping little toy can we sell for one million dollars to all the sucker parents? Even though their kids are going to play with half-eaten brownies and blades of grass [Charlotte’s other favorite toy is her “grass friend”], what else can we get them to blow all their money on?”

Really though, everything in the baby world is crap. A baby onesie is a centimeter long and takes three cents to make. Sure, I’ll buy that for $30. Done. Let’s get two of them even though I don’t have twins.

A baby bath for $50? Sure. My baby needs her own bath even though I don’t have my own. And while we’re at it let’s get the $1000 stroller because obviously that is way more comfortable for my 0 month old (who doesn’t even know why in the world she is screaming most of her life or what food is or what a car is or how to talk or how to sleep) than the $50 one.

Anyways. If you need some easy money, start making baby toys or baby clothes or baby spaceships. And my baby will be over here playing with her brownie friend.

When Your Baby Poops All Over Walmart

May
14

Walmart can be a scary place. The place you go to at midnight when you need a toothbrush and there is exactly one person in the store and he is one million years old and he follows you with his scary
eyes. The place where hooligan teenagers go at 2 AM to steal shopping carts, trying to get kicked out so that they can tell their friends they got kicked out of Walmart as if that is the greatest thing on earth. The place where literally the strangest people talk to you and try to touch your baby.

Well today me and my baby braved the scariness of Walmart for some essentials. There we were, waddling down the aisles of peanut butter and tortillas, when I started to feel some rumblings. I immediately knew what this meant.

Charlotte has a super power to blow out of every brand of diaper at any time of the day. It’s like a dog-trick. “Charlotte, blow out,” the universe says. “K cool bye,” she says. Like four times a day.

And the universe told her to blow out right then, because as I had her strapped to me in her solly wrap, I saw the poop seeping out of her and onto everything. I stopped next to the bread to assess the damage. It was definitely on my shirt, and my shorts, and my undershirt, and my underwear. And it leaked out of both sides of her and up her back. It was all over the wrap she was in. And it smelled, really bad.

I think that at this time most people would have panicked and gone home, and I probably should have done just that. But I knew that I could either be covered in poop at home with a screaming baby or covered in poop at Walmart with a screaming baby. And we really needed some eggs. So I decided to play it cool and finish the task that I was there to do. After all, I didn’t want to have to come back at midnight or 2 AM with the creepy old men and annoying teenagers.

So there I was, sauntering casually through Walmart, and no one who was farther away than 10 feet from me had any idea that I was in fact covered in poop. Anyone within 10 feet may or may not have known based on the smell.

It took twelve years to check out with the cashier. Literally, twelve years. And I realized after about eleven years of trying to buy my stupid food that I didn’t have any wipes with me. So in Charlee went to her plush car seat, her poop now spreading all over my car.

>Anyways. I’m officially a mom. It’s awesome. 

It Takes A Freaking Village: What No One Told Me About Being a New Mother

Mar
22

My role in “house” as a child was always the mom. Brittany was the baby. Ben was our pet.

I was excellent at being in charge. I told Brittany what to do and she made pretend baby noises and did what I said–always, always, always.

Playing the role of “mother” in reality is nothing like playing house. Your baby does not do what you say. Also, your pets do not talk.

The transition to a mother is surely smooth for some. It has not been for me. If you are one of those people who has never struggled with being a parent, don’t tell me about it because I’ll probably want to punch you in the face.

Here are a few things that people probably tried to tell me about being a mother, but I surely ignored.

You become a crazy person after giving birth.

I’m already pretty emotional about life. Truly, I’m a handful. But the two weeks after giving birth, I reached a whole new level of crazy and I couldn’t even do anything about it other than cry, which I did plenty of.

You have no idea what to do.

There was no motherly instinct for me, except an instinctive love and instinctive protection. When my baby cries, I still think “WHERE THE HELL IS THIS KID’S MOM?” And then I realize I’m her mom. And then I realize I don’t know what to do. But the love I feel for her gives me the patience to keep trying and trying and trying in a way that no one else ever will.

You feel guilty about everything, all the time.

No one agrees on how to raise a baby, and everyone tells you what they did to raise their baby that you should probably do. I constantly am conflicted about everything: pacifier, sleep, feeding times, crying, schedule, baby wraps, holding baby, setting baby down, taking baby in public, keeping baby alive. I am doing my best, but, it turns out, I have no idea what to do.

Your ability to be selfish is gone, and you will probably miss it. 

It turns out that I am naturally pretty selfish, and I occasionally miss being in control of my life, and doing much other than love and feed and change a baby.

You cannot do it by yourself. It takes a freaking village.

The day after my mom left, Charlotte squirted poop at me. Literally squirted it, all over me, all over herself, all over the floor. Then she rolled around in it, screaming. Naturally, I took my poopy pants off and ran around looking for carpet cleaner and a fresh diaper while she continued to roll around, both of us pantless. Shortly following the poop incident, my bladder decided not to work and I peed myself. Never done that before. As I tried to change my unshowered and nasty self for the third time, she started screaming and didn’t stop for 5 hours. We just looked at each other and cried all day.

It was awesome.

Without people helping me, every day would have looked like this.

It is lonely.

I am constantly surrounded by people: friends, family, colleagues, professors. But I have never felt so lonely in my life.

No one will ever love my daughter the way that I love her. I am her food source. I am her mother. I am her caretaker. I am the one who daily keeps her alive. I am the one who will listen to her problems her whole life. I am the one who will take care of things she can’t. I am the one who will truly, unconditionally love her more than any human being for every moment of every day for the rest of her life. I am the one who will feel every emotion she feels, deeper even. Other people may love her, but no one will ever feel the same kind of responsibility I do. I can’t compartmentalize this. It hangs over everything that I do, and I am the only one. It is a lonely, anxious, amazing place. It has been the greatest blessing of my life. The heaviness of the burden exhausts me.

Sometimes you don’t like your kid.

Charlotte is not an easy baby. My nicknames for her include “turd” and “grumpy grumps.” Don’t be deceived by the cute pictures. They account for the 1% of her life she isn’t crying. The other day, I set her down to go to the bathroom. Nothing was wrong, but she started screaming. (She truly is a diva. She’s the mini version of me. Sometimes we fight about it.) I literally rolled my eyes and walked away for a second.

WORST MOM. She is going to blame me for everything in counseling some day anyways.

But, you always, always love her so much it hurts.

This is the one that people told me, but I didn’t understand until 8 weeks ago. When Charlotte was about 3 weeks old, I started singing songs about Jesus to her. She stared at me with her giant, beautiful, dark eyes and smiled, and smiled, and smiled. I started crying, and it wasn’t the hormones this time.

I have never loved anything more in my life. There is nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for my daughter. When she cries and something is wrong, I die a little. I feel everything that she feels, happiness and pain.

I have never felt love so deeply. She is everything to me. She is precious beyond what I can describe. She is straight from heaven, and by a miracle, she is mine. I don’t know what I did to deserve her.

Despite the struggle of motherhood, the messiness and the exhaustion, the loneliness and the fear, the guilt and the tears and the sleepless night and shower-less days, it is the most wonderful, beautiful, incredible experience of my life.

The Gym Rat Life 9 Months Pregnant

Jan
25

There are a few reasons I still occasionally go to the gym, at 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

1. Because if I stay sitting down for more than a few hours, I am fairly certain I will never again arise. 2. I can wear the same tights and t-shirt I wore at the gym 4 days ago and smell bad and look gross, and people will still ask: WOW. DID YOU WORK OUT? And even though I’ve been eating and crying for the last 4 days since I went to the gym, I can say. Yes. Yes I did. 3. Heath cake.

I went to the gym yesterday with Branden. I really shouldn’t have, because my day started with me asking him to do something and him saying Sure Kaylee, I would love to do it, and me responding by crying and saying Branden, I know you don’t want to help, why don’t you want to help? I DON’T WANT YOUR HELP. I was as confused as he was, and it was then that I should have decided I was a completely hormonal, emotional, slightly neurotic pregnant person and that the best option for the next hour of my life was to crawl back into bed, never again to arise.

However, after I stopped crying (because Branden had offered to help me and I was crying because that totally makes sense) I asked him if he wanted to go to the gym with me. I’m fairly certain he was terrified to say anything other than yes, so off to the gym we went.

Since I have started visibly showing, people shamelessly stare at me upon entering the gym. At first I thought it was because I was looking super beautiful these days. But then it occurred to me that I was wearing my husband’s t-shirts that were too big for him, my belly button was a weird little outie that showed through the oversized t-shirts, I hadn’t combed my hair or put on make-up in a fairly long time, and I realized they weren’t staring because I was beautiful; they were staring because I was pregnant.

We entered the gym and the stares began. I swear that as I walked in, everyone stopped what they were doing, the music shut off, all the machines broke, and every human just looked at me. PREGNANT, PREGNANT, PREGNANT.

Branden, bless his sweet heart, puts his hand around my waist and asked me what I wanted to do. I go first to the elliptical and start it up. This dumb girl next to me is breathing with ease and cruising right along, and naturally I felt that I had to run longer and harder than her. I tried to keep up, but my hips and back ached something fierce. Curse my competitive soul! She kicked my butt and I waddled off the machine after a few minutes feeling quite defeated and pathetic.

I then met up with Branden again and asked him to come up with a lifting circuit that wouldn’t involve me

1. Tightening my core significantly.
2. Laying on my back.
3. Laying on my stomach.
4. Laying on my sides.
5. Hurting my back.
6. Hurting my stomach.
7. Hurting my sides.
8. Make me tired.
9. Make me grumpy.
10. Make me cry.

With a host of options left, we came up with three exercises, the first of which was a set of 10 push-ups. My push-ups are little teensy arm-dips, because I lower myself down about 3 inches and my outie belly button scrapes the floor.

If I wasn’t exaggerating before about the whole gym shutting down so everyone could watch the show, I mean it now. I wanted to stand up and yell,

WHAT. YOU’VE NEVER SEEN A 9-MONTH PREGNANT WOMAN DO PUSH-UPS ON THE GYM FLOOR?

But I know that saying this would have made me cry and one of my rules would have been broken, so instead I asked Branden to tie my shoes for me because they had come undone in the push-up mess and I couldn’t reach my toes.

After realizing that I could hardly take a picture of my husband tying my shoe in the gym because my stomach was in the way, I suddenly felt very, very tired. We went home, and I’m still wearing my tights and t-shirt and impressing all the people with my stinky 4-day old outfit.

The Brooks’ Year Review

Dec
31

Dear family and friends,

I can hardly believe it’s been a year since I last wrote you all! We hope that this letter finds you happy and healthy and as thrilled as can be!

Well. It’s finally happened. MY PARENTS ARE EMPTY NESTERS. The other day, I called my mom at 7 AM. Generally, she’s awake at 4. By 7, she’s made breakfast and lunch and dinner, run errands for the day, gone on 2 runs, re-organized something in our house, etc…etc…. Anyways, when I called her, she was still in bed. I was shocked out of my mind but tried to play it cool. I hung up, immediately called Brittany, and said: “MOM IS STILL IN BED AND IT’S 7 AM. I THINK SHE’S LOSING IT.”

After a mini intervention, it turns out that she is still stable, still happy, and enjoying waking up at 7 AM. The empty nester life is one of luxury, you know? My dad continues to be our happy, positive friend. I can tell he’s loving all the time with my mama—dates for days!

Taylor decided he didn’t want to spend the rest of eternity teaching history classes to 8th graders, so he started his graduate program at the U, while still teaching 8th grade. He gets a little bit hated on because he’s now attending the University of Utah, but we generously forgive him and tell him to try harder next time. Lexie decided to get her second degree in nursing, the champion! She became manager at the assisted living home she works at, and all her little minions call her all the time with questions about what to do. When her and Branden and Brittany get together, they like to talk about needles and medication and blood and hospitals and stuff, and I mostly just cry and tell them to stop because they’re scaring me.

Brittany loves Dixie University, and I love visiting her at Dixie University because 1. Her couch is the freaking bomb to sleep on, and 2. She is a little grown-up doing grown-up things as a sophomore in college! It blows my mind. She is also working on her nursing degree, and is now certified as a phlebotomist and a CNA. She just took the final for her hardest class today, and naturally celebrated by buying a little jean and gold dress for my baby girl. The other day, Branden was like “Kaylee, maybe we should start paying Brittany for all the stuff she’s bought our baby,” and I was like “No. We can’t afford that.”

Ben is currently all graduated from high school, preaching and serving people in Vina Del Mar, Chile. WOW how we miss him! My mom and I decided it was so hard to say goodbye to him because he is everyone’s baby. He is doing so well out there—working hard, playing soccer with Chilean babies, eating Chilean food and loving people to life. We love him and are incredibly proud of the young man he is.

I am 8 months pregnant and a college graduate! Honestly, Branden and I have no idea what are plans are for the next year, so look forward to next year’s letter because we could pretty much be anywhere in the world doing anything. Hopefully we’re in the Bahamas doing nothing, although that’s unlikely. We are excited to meet our little one here in a month. Branden is so cute about the whole thing. The other day, I asked him if he was nervous about any part of parenthood. He thought about it for a while and then responded: “There is one thing I’m nervous about.” (I got all quiet and sensitive, ready to comfort him in his fears.) “Kaylee, I don’t know how to dress a baby with their little flailing arms and legs.” So while he’s worried about that, I’m worried about screwing the kid up. Regardless, I love her dearly.

We hope that you all have a marvelous Christmas season and a glorious year! Thank you for your love and friendship!

The Brooks (The empty-nesters, Taylor and Lexie, Kaylee and Branden and unborn child, Brit, and Ben.)