Then and Now

October 20, 2017

I think because it’s October, I’ve been running those mental comparisons lately of where I was last year. For instance, last week, on Tuesday, I knew that I had gone in for my ECV. I’ve thought about how I agonized over the decision and wondered whether we were doing the right thing. I thought about my disappointment in the unsuccessful procedure, but also how I let go, so to speak, to just enjoy the last few days of my pregnancy. I’ve thought about how excited – and terrified – we were.

This time, last year, I was walking out of work for the last time. I had worked feverishly all week to wrap things up, get things ready, and it felt liberating to exit the lobby of my building – heading towards the unknown. I’ve thought about how my mom came in early (she would be here this Sunday, if this were last year). I’ve thought about how the reality of having a baby really didn’t hit Luffy and I until this weekend. Since I had binge watched Bob’s Burgers while upside down on my ironing board, our weekend’s motto had been Tina Belcher’s patented panic attack noise.

I’ve thought about my c-section and how even having this tiny baby outside of my body didn’t really bring about a mom-epiphany. There’s a video we have, that my dad recorded. It has to be just hours after my surgery. My mom is holding the dumpling (who is so tiny and red!) and I’m laying in the hospital bed. The dumpling is crying, this weak little newborn bleating, and I’m just making small talk with the nurse. Every fiber of my being (now) screams at the girl in the bed to SOOTHE THAT BABY!!! but, of course, the video shows me that I didn’t. To be fair to myself, it would be a long time before my presence alone could soothe the dumpling.


There are a lot of things, in looking back through the archives, that I didn’t mention, things I’d like to remember. Rocking the dumpling after his middle of the night nursing sessions is one. I had read that infants took twenty minutes to fall into a deep sleep, so I took that as the gospel truth and almost superstitiously refused to do anything else. I remember standing in my dark living room at 11pm and 1am and 3am and 5am and furiously rocking the dumpling (he liked some speed behind his rocking) as the clock in my kitchen counted down the minutes. Afterwards I would ever so carefully transfer him to his rock ‘n’ play, still in our bedroom at that time, and practically hold my breathe as I climbed back into bed myself.

Another moment: just days after the dumpling’s arrival, Luffy had to take a quick business trip. My mom was still helping us at that point and I had just taken over for her after she had looked after the dumpling all night. It would have been about 4 or 5 in the morning. I had just changed the dumpling’s diaper in our bedroom and re-swaddled him. Importantly, he wasn’t wearing anything beneath the swaddle and I think the swaddle had snagged the velcro on his diaper somehow. Anyway, a few minutes after I had changed him, I was holding him against me and felt something warm seep down me. Horrified, I realized that he was basically peeing all over himself and me. Of course, he started crying as I laid him on the floor to clean him up and change him, again. Meanwhile, I’m trying to clean myself and the floor, all one-handed and in the dark. A hilarious, though quiet, introduction to motherhood.


As I’ve been looking back so much this month, I also can’t help but stay in the present, to compare/contrast the then and now. The dumpling seems so solid now, as he hurtles towards toddlerhood. He’s confident standing now and pulls up even when he doesn’t really have anything to pull up on (the shower door and my leg are good examples). He’s standing on his own for brief moments and I know he’s so close to walking. He loves to eat, except when he doesn’t. He loves ice-cold water out of his straw-sippy cup. I have cow’s milk in my fridge for the first time ever and he’s taken a few sips here and there. He plays well by himself, except when he decides you haven’t paid enough attention to him lately. He crawls and scoots and rolls and does this adorable 360 turn on his butt. He’s figuring out how to manipulate his world and all the times he can’t (floor versus baby head, for example).

I can’t believe it’s almost been a year, just like I couldn’t believe it was almost time and I couldn’t believe those two little lines. Happy almost-birthday, my sweet dumpling.

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First words?!

First words are an odd business. I think I had this idea, in my head, that a baby would go about his babbling thing and then be like mama or dada or doggie and you’d be like MY BABY SAID HIS FIRST WORD!!!!!!! OMSQUEE!!

But that’s not really how it happens. Instead, Luffy and I debate whether the dumpling is connecting phrases like mamamamama with mama and me, for instance. Luffy gives a lot more credit to the dumpling than I do. He thinks the dumpling is starting to connect that mama means me and dada means him. I’m not quite so sure yet*. I mean, the dumpling generally says mama-mama-mamamamama when he is upset (because of course he does) and dada-dada-dadadada when he is happy and excited, so I suppose that’s a start. It’s just not how I imagined it would be, that’s all.

And then there’s uh oh. I have no such questions about uh oh. The dumpling debuted this new word onomatopoeia over the weekend and pretty much exactly in context too (dumping his toys over the side of the bathtub). The funny thing is, I have no idea where he got it (though my guess is daycare). I have actually been painstakingly avoiding uh oh and other related whoopsies-type words because I haven’t wanted to make a game out of him tossing his food and/or sippy cup over the high chair. Regardless of where he picked it up, I do have to admit that it is adorable. Painfully adorable. We captured it on video the following evening (uttered while he was draining all of the water out of his tub) and I have been watching it all day today.

Uh! oh. Uh! oh. Uh! oh.

Uh oh, my heart!

*Obviously our discussion over mama and dada has been going on for while. However, last week, Luffy went out to get breakfast for us. The dumpling and I were watching him walk up to the house again and – clear as a bell – the dumpling goes “dada!” So I’m pretty sure he knows that one too. So sweet.

Desperate Texans

It’s common knowledge (at least I think it is) that Texas doesn’t really experience four proper seasons. We get an eternal summer (from about April through August September October) and then maybe two or three weeks of what would traditionally be considered Fall. Then we move straight into Winter and emerge on the other side for a few weeks of Spring. So you can’t really blame us for celebrating when we get a random “cold” snap a week into October. It’s 2:30 here and only 68 degrees out. When we woke up this morning it was in the upper 40’s!! Grab the jackets!

Now, bear in mind that it will be 75 before the end of the day. Plus, the sun is shining, so there’s no longer a chill in the air. So that’s why I laughed to myself when I saw a woman exiting Target earlier in jeans, boots, a long sleeve (white) tee, and a vest. Was she overdressed? Hell yeah. Was I gonna blame her for relishing in weather more fitting of October? Nope. You do you, Han Solo girl. You do you.

Speaking of clothing, why is it so challenging to find an outfit for photos?

I’ve finally decided on a location for our photos and now I’m trying to plan coordinating outfits. The guys are easy (oh thank heavens). I’m putting them in jeans and either dark gray or light pink button downs. Luffy is fully outfitted already and I have already found the shirt for the dumpling, I’m just waiting to purchase until I decide which color route I’m going. But for me? Ack. I can’t seem to find anything suitable.

Maybe my expectations are too high? I want it to look timeless (which strikes out practically every trendy top out there right now because, no, I don’t want to look like I’m on my way to Coachella). I want it to be flattering, especially since I’m still carrying an extra pound or two and would prefer not to focus on that in every frame. It also must be somewhat dressy because it has to stand up to the button downs. I’m also leaning towards a jewel tone, or something that will add some color to my skin tone (my olive complexion can leave me a bit washed out looking in my go-to shades-of-gray wardrobe).  A sweater would be a perfect option here, except that I am not a sweater person and, thus, do not have a sweater on-hand. And it’s not sweater weather yet, here in Texas (see above), so stores aren’t really carrying them. Buying online is always an option but because this has to fit my petite frame perfectly (re: flattering and timeless!), it’s a bit harder to pull off.

So yeah, that’s my current gripe. I’m critically eyeing my closet every time I go in there for inspiration as the date of our pictures draws closer (two weeks out!). Meanwhile, I also have nothing to wear to my brother’s wedding in a week and a half, although I’ve already secured flawless attire for the men in my life. (Credit where credit’s due: my husband is a groomsman so my brother technically procured his tux choice. Plus, my brother’s the one who found the dumpling’s bow tie and suspenders. So yeah. On second thought, I haven’t done much at all.)

Madness lies that way

Oh internet, I cannot tell a lie….

I’ve got babies on the brain. Specifically, little dumpling v2.

CUE GASP

I know! That’s insane! But there it is.

I think it’s because the dumpling is about to have his very first birthday. We’re in this wonderful place right now where we’re just so freaking happy. The dumpling is adorable and learning new things at a ridiculous pace*. Our routine is becoming smoother and smoother. We still have bedtime struggles and random meltdowns, but I guess Luffy and I are just better at handling them? Or at least accepting that they are part of parenting an infant OMG toddler. And so I’ve been looking back at the early, early pictures of the dumpling. When he was mere days old instead of months. And all I can see is how tiny he was and how much he needed us (as opposed to the round-the-clock nursing and twenty diaper changes a day and how even getting him dressed for the day was a challenge because he hated being naked — good job, self, compartmentalizing all this!).

Plus, it doesn’t help that I am once again surrounded (in the social media-sense) by babies. My cousin is due with her first baby early next week. A friend from high school went into labor over the weekend (too soon, baby was born weighing a little over three pounds – omg she’s so tiny!!!!). Another friend from my first job is pregnant and living it up glamorously while travelling. Another friend from my exercise gig is also pregnant – and with a boy! One of Luffy’s best friends is expecting. So many babies!!

So then I start to do the math of if we start trying now and if I get pregnant then and the dumpling will be x age when his sibling arrives and that’s just no good self! Madness lies that way. Having a newborn was hard and I can only imagine that having two children – one newborn and one fully-fledged toddler – would be even harder. But then I think about cute little photos of the dumpling with his sibling. And even cuter images arise because his daycare teachers keep telling me that he likes to help them with the babies in his class – he pats their backs to help them sleep and helps the teachers tilt their bottles. And – STOP IT SELF. 

While on the one hand, I’d sort of love to just do it. Get it over with, in a sense, and by “it” I mean the newborn days. There was a cloud over the dumpling’s newborn days of OMG I will have to do all of this again, nooooooooooo!!! that would be lifted for his sibling’s newborn days. We’re pretty sure that we only want two children, so if we do it now, then we’ll be done with the newborn days forever! I mean, it can only go up from here right?! (lolz, please don’t answer that)

On the other hand though, there are plenty of things that I want to savor right now. The dumpling’s rapid fire milestones, for one. My body and how it’s pretty much back to being all mine for the first time since January 2016 actually even before that since we started trying so long ago. It’s nice not to be worried about ovulation tests and pregnancy tests and other ways my body was/is failing. I’m really working on losing the last couple of pounds, although I feel fairly comfortable with how I look and feel now. Also, [TMI alert:] I’m enjoying a sex life with Luffy again that doesn’t revolve around procreation – woot woot! I forgot how fun this actually is when it’s not scheduled or timed or honey take your pants off because I just peed and this stick says I’m ovulating.

Luffy’s plan is for us to wait until the dumpling is closer to three years old. Not to start trying, but to actually have a sibling, so we’d start trying about this time next year. And really, that seems like a good plan. Calm yoself, self. 

*Seriously! With the ridiculous pace! So I’ve had three types of sippy cups since the dumpling was about 6mo old. One with a spout, one with a straw, and one of those nifty 360 cups. I quickly decided against introducing the spout one because of recommendations from the AAP (short story: spouts are bad for mouth and oral development). So! The straw and 360 cups! No big thang. Except that the dumpling had no idea how to drink from a straw. He did catch on to the 360 cup and he loooooves drinking water from a regular cup (with me holding it, of course), but he’s never caught on to the straw. I’d try to show him how and then hand it to him, but he’d always just play with it.

Then, yesterday, I was looking for advice on how to teach your baby how to drink from a straw. One mom said she wasn’t going to be any help because she always used a straw for her cup and her baby was just naturally curious. Hmmm! I don’t use straws around the dumpling, so I thought that might be better than me showing him on his cup. After all, that’s how he learned to drink from a regular cup – by watching me. So last night during his dinner, I used a straw to drink from my cup. I didn’t make a big show of it or anything, just pointedly took several big sips from my cup + straw. After dinner, when we sat down to play, what do you think the dumpling wanted to do? That’s right, drink from my cup + straw. So I let him, and he sucked some water right down! So I passed him his own sippy + straw and off he went! He’s now a certified straw user! I’m printing up his certificate now!

And wow, that was a lot of words to basically say my kid finally figured out how to use a straw. Woo!

A random collection

…. of thoughts:


I was ridiculously pleased with myself yesterday because I remembered a random 1-800 number that my coworker needed. Off the top of my head. Without prepping. Look who’s brain is working just fine now!


So, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the dumpling’s first birthday is a mere 22 days away. Twenty-two. I also have no idea how this has happened, but I’ve already started some preparations. Namely, I’ve decided that now’s the time for some family photos.

I know that maternity and newborn photo shoots are all the rage these days, but I did not have them done. Re: maternity shots – I just couldn’t imagine a bunch of photos centered around my gigantic belly. I thought these were like the engagement photos of the wedding photo set. Nice in theory and good to have for announcements and stuff, but probably something you don’t ever look back on once your “real” event comes around. As far as the newborn shots – I couldn’t imagine coordinating such an event. How on earth was I supposed to get a newborn out of the house, along with myself and my husband – in photo-quality clothing/appearance no less?! Plus – glances around furtively for eavesdroppers – don’t take this the wrong way, but I think all newborns look the same, more or less. And they’re not even that cute. CUE GASP. I know! I know! That’s a terrible thought, but it’s so true. The dumpling looked alarmingly similar to a grumpy, old Chinese man for the first several weeks of his life. Why would I want to memorialize that on our walls?

But now? When I have more brain-capacity and time to decide on and acquire outfits for everyone? When I have the patience to supervise haircuts and (my own) make-up efforts? When the dumpling no longer looks like this and instead looks a little like this? Sure! I mean, I’m still pulling my hair out in effort and I haven’t even finalized where we’re taking these pictures. But I have hired a photographer. So baby steps.


In other news, I am adulting all over the place this week. After putting off several mundane things, I had a fit of productivity last week. I had the garage door serviced this morning due to a thunk situation that seemed to be getting worse (although, OF COURSE, it was no longer making the thunk when the repairman arrived, because of course). I’m going in for my annual check-up with my PCP tomorrow (which means I’ll also be getting my flu shot!). I’m going to the optometrist to replace the glasses that I’ve disliked since ….. oh about four minutes after I paid for them. They cost too much though, to go replacing them just because, so I’ve waited. I’ve had them for about two and a half years now (I think? maybe? years are starting to sort of blur together), so it’s time.

I also de-cluttered the office this weekend by filing shit important documents away and also stumbled across a random cat-pee area. Which I cleaned. Go me.


Speaking of the weekend – I had one for the history books. I went shopping for jeans. With the dumpling in tow. That’s right! Please send me medals and certificates to commemorate this accomplishment.

It honestly wasn’t too bad (mostly because I miraculously found exactly what I was looking for in the first round of try-ons). The dumpling was remarkably entertained in the dressing room by the mirror and he only tried to crawl out like twice. So win! Especially nice since the dress I ordered for my brother’s wedding this month came in and, though extremely beautiful and beyond perfect for the occasion and my tastes, did not fit AT ALL. Scratch that. It was worse than just completely not fitting. I mean, I could zip it up and on the surface it looked good. It was little stuff like the mesh shoulders were technically too long so it didn’t lay correctly and the zipper gave me a weird upper butt situation. So like, it fit and looked great if you squinted and I stood about 25 feet away from you. Wah wah.


I’m feeling a touch under the weather today and I firmly blame my office’s air conditioning. It was freezing in the office yesterday, which meant my nose ran the whole day and I kept my space heater on. I think the cold air plus post-nasal drip plus dry space heater air just exacerbated whatever crap I had going on.


I’m trying to meal plan this week. When Luffy and I first started dating (and into our engagement and marriage), we were awesome about cooking dinners. We kept things pretty simple, but we cooked dinner at least five times a week. We had been on a slow decline from that, but I think things really took a nosedive when I got pregnant. Especially during the first trimester, I’d get home from work absolutely beat and the mere thought of cooking just wiped me out. We resorted to eating out a lot, or “meals” that required no cooking like PB&J’s or cheese and crackers. So now our week is honestly more like eating out five times and cooking once or twice.

I hit my limit last week when I reached the place where I was bored with eating out and the fact that we never know what we’re going to eat for dinner until like 8pm. I think this is our downfall. I used to be so good at thinking about dinner beforehand (do I need to get anything out of the freezer? what do I need to purchase at the grocery store this week? etc) and now I’m just like, oh right, there’s another meal that goes here. I take most of the blame too because I quickly realized that if I didn’t specifically plan for dinner (no thawing chicken in the fridge or slow-cooker ready to go), we’d eat out. So in my third-trimester laziness I would just “forget” to plan something and voila! No cooking required of me!

Anyway, I’m starting slow this week. Nothing too crazy or complicated, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be making dinner at least three times this week and that’s already an improvement!

Nighttime Moments

I remember – to the day – when the dumpling’s sleep started to get better, when we started to leave the newborn days of rocking and swaying and nursing behind. Quite literally, it was all thanks to a hefty round of vaccines at his 2mo check-up. They made him drowsy enough that he conked out on his own and we’ve been encouraging that ever since. That’s not to say it’s been a bed of roses ever since. I would say that the dumpling has been on an average track for night-nursing (he woke up three times a night for the longest time, then gradually moved to two, then to one, which is where we’re hovering most nights). Beyond that, we still have regressions and the occasion when something goes wonky and the night brings howling and crying and hours of awake time. We had one of those nights this week.

First off, whenever the dumpling makes noise around 10pm (usually when Luffy and I are headed to bed), I mentally prepare for the worst. Even if he manages to get back to sleep initially, muffled grunts at such an early hour inevitably herald an early wake-up. On those nights, I’m usually getting back out of bed to attend to the dumpling sometime between 11pm and midnight. So when we heard muffled cries at touch after 10 Wednesday evening, I prayed that tonight would be different. Unfortunately, he worked himself up into such a state that I didn’t even get an hour’s reprieve.

When I went to check on him, I found an inconsolable baby. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but the dumpling is not a cuddler. He doesn’t really like to be held close; in fact, the only time he ever puts his head on my shoulder is when he’s exhausted. Otherwise, he must be up! and engaged! and looking at all the things! So trying to comfort him can be a challenge. I tried to nurse, but he wanted nothing to do with that. I tried to pat him or rock him; that was a no-go. I tried Luffy’s technique of sitting beside the crib, shushing him. Nada. Luffy and I took turns, shushing and patting and wondering what on earth had riled him up to this point.

Finally, around 11pm, I cried uncle. I turned off our monitor, told Luffy that he should get some sleep, and headed back to the dumpling’s room. I grabbed a pillow and blanket from the spare bedroom and made a little pallet on the floor. I pulled a still howling dumpling out of his crib and placed him on the floor with me, hoping that we could co-sleep in a safe manner. HAHAHAHA, oh Belle. Not only did he not stop screaming, he also decided that since he was on the floor, crawling around was a much better option. Sigh.

So back in the crib he went, still wailing at the top of his lungs. I had made my little pallet right in front of his crib and thought I would spend the night there, but I couldn’t get the dumpling to even begin to calm down. He was wound to 11 and I had no idea why or how to ease him down. Finally, in a moment of desperation, I crawled into his crib with him. The crib creaked and groaned under my weight, but thankfully held tight. I laid down on my side, curled up around the dumpling. Amazingly, he pretty much immediately quieted down. Not all the way, but definitely better. I rubbed his back a little bit as he tossed and turned and kicked me, lovingly I feel sure. And then, more than an hour after it all began, he was back asleep with me beside him.

They tell you to enjoy it all. You say you haven’t slept for more than three hours in weeks and they say enjoy it. You say your baby refuses to go more than two hours without nursing and they say savor it. You say my house is a mess and my infant won’t nap and I haven’t eaten a hot meal in days and they say cherish it. And that used to drive me crazy because how could anyone enjoy a screaming banshee? I realize now, of course, what they meant. They don’t literally mean enjoy the screaming and the crying and the random meltdowns. They mean savor the moments in between because your baby is already catapulting towards independence and these days – yes of diapers and bottles and tedium – will be gone in a flash. And you will miss them.

So when I found myself curled up beside my dumpling just before midnight, futilely trying to ignore my cramping neck and shoulder and praying to the furniture gods that his crib would hold us both, I did the only thing I really could at the moment. I watched him in the dim light. Watched his chest rise and fall, his eyes tightly shut. Watched his body shift in his Zippadee Zip. Since he was on his back most of the time, I followed his profile – his round forehead and adorable button nose. But most of all, I watched him physically relax next to me, my mere presence enough to snap him out of whatever caused his funk and lull him back to sleep.

I breathed and watched and waited for almost half an hour before deciding he was fine without me (he had rolled as far away from me as he could get by that point) and climbing back out of his crib. I still curled up on the floor next to him, just in case, before heading back to my own bed around two in the morning. Was it an Instagram-worthy moment? No, of course not (especially the next morning when my sleep-deprived eyes could have carried our groceries home with those deep bags). Was it a moment I savored? Yes, in a quiet way. I hope to never forget his tiny body next to mine, finally sleeping soundly after so much agitation.

The Traveling Sock

It started not long after the dumpling learned to crawl. One of his socks happened to be on the floor (I can assure you, it wasn’t a usual occurrence). It happened to be on his way from the living room to the kitchen. So he paused, and grabbed it, and brought it with him.

And now he does this all the time.

We call it (them) his traveling sock. He regularly has two or three socks around the house now that he’ll pick up and take with him as he crawls from room to room. He delighted his grandma, over the weekend, as it’s one thing to be told and quite another to witness.

Then, yesterday when I picked him up from daycare, his teacher handed me his sock (a knee-high one, for the record). Apparently, he had taken it off himself so that he could have a traveling sock at school! I didn’t even know he could get his own sock off!

I just can’t with that dumpling – he is TOO cute!