Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You Are a Very Beautiful: Christmas, New Years, Long Blog Post

Happy New Year! I feel a little like the cat that finally caught the mouse with how perfectly our holidays went. It was kicked off by my bf's wedding, which was beautiful, and I'll do more on that later to really give it the blog real estate it deserves.

The gorgeous couple ... 

After the wedding, we were able to successfully get our little three's company to Texas and enjoyed both Christmas and New Years in Houston and Dallas. Sure, it wasn't without me and Tom catching a horrible cold, that apparently everyone caught. I don't know about you, but Contagion the movie just got freaky real and not just because Gwyneth Paltrow could viably be the person most responsible for spreading a deadly virus to the world at large (GOOP anyone?) but anyway, if you were a part of the hoi polloi that got that cold too, we feel your pain.  The trip was still wonderful because it was with family and friends and most importantly, two flights that Catcher totally dominated. Our little guy is going to be - has to be - a traveling pro. I know what you're thinking, Courtney, of course he was good, he was 4 and 6 weeks old on those trips, and you'd be right, but it still felt like a triumph. The very best part? Not having to walk through the TSA body scanner. Thats right, we've got an infant now suckas! It's metal detectors all the way. I was going to do a 'in your face' dance but I was afraid TSA would detain us with a made-up penalty like excessive celebration or something. 

Granddaddy Branning meeting Catcher for the first time. I guess Catcher was bashful...

More Grandma Roro time ...

Cousin diaper change time...

Christmas butt...

Christmas smile...

Getting to meet Brd and Grandpa Morrill for the first time. That's a lot of Morrill man...

The grandma hold as we call it; the hot grandma hold...

If your husband makes your favorite birthday cake for your birthday and does it well, you should keep him forever...

Tom was the stupid head winner-winner chicken noodle soup dinner...

Uncle Brd trying to brainwash Catch into being an aggie. He'd make Johnny Football look like Johnny Waterboy, Brd. We can't have that...

The hard night when all 3 of us were sick...

This is the new me. I know, attractive...

The George W. Bush Museum in Dallas. Very well done...

Harrowing to see these beams from the WTC...

Tom and I getting to try on our future jobs for size, but I will clearly be president and Tom, first gentleman. 

And our son, the Vice President of Cute...

We had a grand time with family, and who can ever dislike a Texas Winter? We played golf for heavens sake! There were the card games, the shuffleboard...

...the movies (there are always a lot of movies), the long chats and laughs with my siblings and parents, everyone finally getting to meet Catcher, my birthday that although slightly ruined by sickness, was redeemed with Tom making my favorite birthday pound cake VERY well I might add, a lovely mani-pedi and breakfast at the Old West Cafe while our waiter fanned me during my fever/postpartum hot flashes...not embarrassing at all. 

Here's a list of the movies we saw.  I'm also going to do something grossly anti-film school and assign these films star ratings to save time:

-Red 2 (3 out to 5 stars)
-The Wolverine (2 out of 5 stars)
-Mrs. Doubtfire (5 out of 5 stars)
-Hitchcock (2 out of 5 stars)
-Saving Mr. Banks (5 out of 5 stars)
-Frozen (4 out of 5 stars)
-The Secret life of Walter Mitty (4 out of 5 stars)

I think 2014 is going to be a big year of changes for me and my family. It has already shaped up to be thus. I'm actually excited to face those changes head-on. I've got a list of 30 things to do before I'm, erm, 22. And that is actually my New Years resolution list this year, instead of calling them my new years resolutions. It helps that my birthday is New Years Eve; makes my goals feel less mainstream and more personal. 

Wednesday was our 6 week postpartum appointment. It was strange to say a partial goodbye to my wonderful doctor and to finally reflect on what one year has brought into our lives. In a year, our life probably looked like an insurance commercial. We decided to get pregnant, got pregnant, found out the gender, battled morning sickness, stretched and stretched and stretched, had cravings, had aversions, had restless legs, had charley horses in the night, needed help rolling over and standing up, felt kicks, REALLY felt kicks, felt hiccups, took baby to movies where he would jump during the loud parts, had 3 baby showers, put cribs together and painted changing tables to match, restructured our lives, took trips together, and then, one day at 4am, my water broke and 21 hours later there was a baby in my arms (ever so briefly). The delivery was hard, the days in the hospital while Catcher got better were extremely difficult, the after effects on my body were brutal.  The last 6 weeks - the last 12 months- have been a personal everest to climb. And now, feeling much better, I was sitting one more time in my doctor's office basically taking my first sigh of relief. For the first time in this whole…situation…I let myself feel pride instead of discomfort and anxiety. Yes, pride in myself and what I did, pride in my family. My mom has always said, "I can do hard things" and presumably she means "I can LIVE through hard things" and live we have. Sure, Tom and I are living more like World War Z these days, but we definitely lived through it and my body now tells the story. Every time I look in the mirror, although with some wincing, I suddenly see this warrior, this geeky, never-quite-there, screenwriter wannabe that suddenly has something actually worthwhile to say about herself. I don't think I had every really felt as human as I did the day of his birth, the day I could say I truly pushed my body to the limit and not in the abstract, the day this quitter became a…. well, not a quitter.  My baby sleeps next to me right now, and he is so beautiful I could cry…I do cry. 
Full disclosure: for the first 4 weeks, this is basically what showers were like for me:

But now I actually use the shower to get clean instead of weep like a sissy. In fact, I actually smile during showers; OK, and pray out loud that Catcher will stay asleep for like 5 freaking minutes so I can get to the conditioner. 

I want to say here and now, thank you to all of the lovely women (and a few men) who have offered up such wonderful advice and words of comfort. It has meant everything to me and gotten me through some incredibly hard days reading your own stories and realizing what a shared experience childbirth really is. Sure, we have some big differences in the details of our children's arrivals, but the experience on the whole seems to be so universal. I want to thank the following mothers (and close to mothers) that offered advice and commiseration recently. I will get around to thanking you personally, but I need to let it be known here:

(in no particular order)

Brianne Johnson
Tiffani Barth
Marianne Burch
Heather Turner
Trilby Cope
Rachel Speirs
Gentree Mergens
Emily Moffat
Heather McMurtrey-Brown
Galadriel Hutchings
Anna Pavkov
April Talley
Elise Larson
Mollie Beachum
Jessica Joyner
McKenzie Joyner
Lindsey Joyner
Morgan Joyner
Jazmine Livingston
Brittney Shupe
Danielle Champagne
Jennifer Norton
Jamie Sartain
Becca Barker
Molly Farmer Smedley
Cathryn Beachum,
Krissy Simonis
Carmen Bradley
Carolyn Buchan
Courtney Taylor
Krista Malfatto
Whitney Sukhan
Michael Aaron
Raquel Marvez
Lisa Corcoran
Lisa Cowan
Raschell Peschke
Marie Bench
Amy Williams Allred
Nashelle Wood
Cynthia Songster
My sister, Jordan Branning
My sister, Elyssa Morrill
My Mom, Robyn Branning
My mother in-law, Annette Morrill

And now for the next question: What did my mother ladies do to start getting back into shape? At 6 weeks PP I was cleared to exercise again. Hmmm, can it be 4 weeks PP again? Trust me, I'm in no rush and I'm not looking for craziness, just curious.

It's remarkable how all-encompassing pregnancy was for me. Although other things happened for sure in 2013, I feel like it is all entirely eclipsed by carrying and delivering Catcher. Is this how other mothers feel or did I get a smidgen obsessed? There wasn't much else that mattered honestly. It was all baby, all the time, which translates into madness, I'm sure. Of course I attended weddings and big events and worked through all 9 months, and took vacations and lived my day-to-day life, but 2013 will forever be the year of the baby. Of course, if the baby turns out as cute as this, it's pretty understandable I think. 


  1. Don't stress out on postpartum fitness! Kegals will be your best friend forever...Unless you enjoy wetting your own pants over the most simple task. I started with walking, slowly moved my way to jogging. Did simple abdominal exercise to close the distaste which will help with the flat tummy goal. But I didn't bother with formal fitness for 4 months after baby...keep it simple for now.

  2. Take your time on working out. I like to do exercises with the baby. Lifting them, using them as weights for lunges, and doing push-ups where I can blow raspberries on their tummy when I go down.

    Oh, and crying in the shower...I still totally do that some days :)

    I heart you Courtney. Seriously. I know what you did is SO HARD, but isn't it amazing? Welcome to the Mother's Club!