Baby’s First Laugh

SQUEEEEE!!!!

The dumpling laughed for the first time on Saturday!!

I knew he had to be close. He’s been doing this thing where he’ll tilt his chin up and open his mouth into a wide, hammy grin. Each diaper change, I’d been taking the opportunity to tickle him and blow raspberries on his tummy. It finally worked on Saturday.

I squealed to Luffy, who was taking a nap, poor thing. But he laughed! Such a beautiful little sound.

I managed to get him to laugh one more time that evening (which I captured on video and have managed to share with everyone – seriously, it’s coming to a theater near you), but he hasn’t laughed since. Serious baby is serious.

And that’s about all the news I have. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a video to watch.

Four month check-up

The dumpling will be exactly four months old this Saturday, but he had his four month check-up this past Tuesday. He got another round of vaccines, which he wasn’t happy about, but other than that he did wonderfully.

Our pediatrician actually had him weighed and measured twice, just to be sure they had accurate measurements, because he’s measuring quite small. He weighs 12 lbs, 5 oz which puts him in the 3rd percentile for weight. That’s dropped from the 10th percentile at his two month appointment. He’s 24.2 inches long, which puts him in the 15th percentile for height. She was quite concerned about the weight percentile when she walked into the room (after reviewing his stats outside), but when she saw him, her worry eased a bit.

“He certainly doesn’t look skinny!” she said as we headed to the scale again. She was sure the weight had been off the first time around, but the scale read 12 lbs, 5oz again. Ultimately, she decided he’s perhaps just a late bloomer – or he might take after me instead of his dad. (I’m 5’1″, Luffy is 6’5″ – if I haven’t mentioned this anywhere.)

I think he’s just skinny, that’s all. Asian babies are smaller. Luffy is long and skinny; I’m short and skinny. Little dumpling has tiny thigh rolls and wrist rolls and elbow dimples (so cute!), but I certainly wouldn’t call him chunky. He’s happy though and he eats well, so whatever.

When I spoke to my mom about it, she told me that I was the exact same way as a baby. She said I never really chubbed up until I could feed myself and even then I was never a roly-poly baby. She told me that my doctors hounded her, wanting to run test after test to figure out what was wrong with me. At 7 months, I only weighed 11 pounds – completely off their percentile charts and not in a good way. After several rounds of testing, with no results to show, my granddad stepped in and asked her – is the baby happy? is she growing? is she playing? ok good, then leave my granddaughter alone. Of course, nothing ended up being “wrong” with me, I was just small and hated the texture of baby food.

My point is that I’m hoping he’s fine. It is worrisome to see him slip down the growth curves (even his own), but I’m staying optimistic that he’s just taking his time. He’ll get there.

In other news, our pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to start solid foods when we’re ready. New research shows that starting solids earlier than 6 months may lessen the likelihood of food allergies, so she wants us to start before then. I agree, but don’t think he’s quite ready yet. I’m excited to try some purees with him and introduce him to something other than breastmilk. If he’s anything like his parents, he’s gonna love eating.

On Nursing and Pumping

I have a confession for you guys: breastfeeding is wonderful for us.

I had so many worries during pregnancy about breastfeeding because you hear of so many horror stories (bleeding nipples! low supply! no supply! thrush! mastitis! poor latch! lip tie! tongue tie! I COULD GO ON). My standard quip to anyone’s inquiries on if I was going to breastfeed was always that that was my plan and I’d see how it went.

And then baby boy came along and I thought my fears were being realized. He wasn’t so patient at the breast and would sometimes scream and cry and give up before my milk would ever let down. We had to use a nipple shield for one breast because he just didn’t seem to like that side. I was really nervous about our one and only lactation consultation because I thought we’d get there and nothing would happen – he’d just refuse to nurse – and the LC would send me off with some failure to nurse diagnosis of shame (note – that’s not a thing, that’s only a thing in Belle’s neurotic mind).

Of course, all of this “trouble” happened in the first couple of weeks. We just needed some time to practice nursing, that’s all. Little boy quickly realized my milk would let down soon and got a little more patient. We weaned off of the nipple shield within the first two weeks or so. Ever since then, we’ve been trucking along beautifully.

I’m so grateful for the nursing relationship that we’ve enjoyed so far. It truly has been wonderful and while the middle-of-the-night feedings are certainly draining (when you’re the only one who can feed the baby), there’s part of me that enjoys those dark quiet moments with my son. I know I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

So nursing – yay!

But pumping, you guys. Ugh.

Pumping is not so fun. And I’m one of the lucky ones who has a pretty great set up.

At work, I utilize our only conference room without windows (it’s literally the only place in our office without windows). My boss had the building put a lock on the door for privacy. I have no restrictions on pumping “breaks” (I usually take my computer into the room with me). My coworker even brought in a mini fridge for my exclusive use. And remember – I’m only at the office for two days a week! The rest of the time I’m working from home which means I have complete freedom to pump.

And yet, I still put it off. I still find the pumping breaks intrusive to my day. I’m constantly at odds with pushing the sessions back, but not too far back lest I throw off my entire schedule. And just this morning I got thrown another loop. The dumpling’s daycare teachers suggested increasing his bottle sizes. He’s gulping down the 4oz bottles he gets right now and it’s increasingly clear that he’s still hungry afterwards. My problem is that I produce just enough to cover the three 4oz bottles he consumes while he’s at daycare. Upping those bottles to 5oz means that I don’t currently produce enough, so I’m pumping every hour on the hour today, trying to increase my output.

I blame part of the problem on the fact that I can now specifically measure how much milk the dumpling gets and how much milk I can pump (notice – not produce, I produce enough milk for him just fine while he’s nursing). Being able to measure things just adds a whole layer of complexity and worrying though. Especially on days when I don’t pump enough to meet his needs as it’s so much clearer now. I can no longer say, man! He’s eating so frequently today – growth spurt! Now it’s more like so he had his usual 12 ounces at daycare and I only managed to pump 10.5 ounces… guess I’m pumping before bed tonight. Because that’s the other thing – technically if I don’t produce enough during my daytime pumping sessions, I could always add extra pumpings at night, either before I go to bed or in the middle of the night between his nursing sessions. It all depends on how much I value my sleep and sanity versus how much I really want to make sure he continues to get breast milk. And cue mom guilt, because it’s always just around the corner.

And – oh look at the time! – it’s time to pump again.

Baby’s First Flight!

Last Tuesday, exactly a week ago, we got a postcard in the mail. My mom had recently finished renovating her newly acquired office building and she was having an open house. This was a huge milestone for her. She’s been in business for over 11 years, but she’s rented her space the entire time. She had outgrown her original space long ago and had slowly leased additional suites in the same building. These suites were not all together though, so she and her employees were constantly running through common area to get back and forth. Plus there was a lack of security, given she had to rely on other tenants to lock the exterior doors. Then there was also the fact that the entire building shared a bathroom. Etc. Etc. Lots of reasons why this new building is going to be such a huge step up for her and her employees. Plus her own building! With her name on it!

When we got the postcard invitation to her open house, Luffy asked me if I was going to attend. It was on Friday though, middle of the day, in my hometown (5+ hours away by car) and Luffy also happened to be out of town that day.

“No,” I chuckled, “I’ll just send her some flowers to let her know we’re thinking of her.”


Last Thursday, around 2pm, I got a call that registered with my hometown’s area code. I answered, instantly recognizing my mom’s business partner’s voice. He and my mom’s best friend (who also happens to be her employee) wanted to surprise my mom by having me there for her open house. They’d cover the flight, they’d pick me up, they’d even purchase a car seat if that made things easier for me. My mom always planned surprises for everyone else and they wanted the chance to surprise her.

What could I do but agree?


Thursday night, as I lay in bed contemplating the next day – flying with the dumpling all by myself – I dissolved into a ball of nerves. What on earth was I thinking?! Flying home, with no one to help me with the dumpling?! I’m crazy! I’m insane! I should be committed!

As 11pm and then midnight and then 1am rolled around, I tried frantically to adjust my plans. I even got on the phone with the airlines to try to take a different flight (that actually didn’t exist – turns out I tend to misread things when it’s 12:30 in the morning and I’m freaking out). I tried desperately to come up with a solution that would allow me leave the dumpling at daycare and be home in time to pick him up. (To be clear, we have plenty of friends and family in the area who would have been here for the dumpling in case he needed it. I wasn’t just going to abandon my young to daycare and go jet-setting.)

Finally, probably around 1:30 in the morning or so, a mere four and a half hours before I needed to get up, I calmed myself. I could handle this. I was flying with the dumpling, not some stranger’s squalling infant. We would be fine. Worst case scenario, the flight is only 45 minutes long, I’m pretty sure I (and my seatmates) would be able to survive anything for just 45 minutes. And with that thought, I finally managed to get to sleep.


I awoke with a start at 5:45 because omg the baby! He hadn’t made a peep all night. Of course, the one night I’m riddled with nerves and can’t sleep is the one night he sleeps all the way through. Because of course. I tried to roll over and go back to sleep, but I was wide awake. Which was probably ok because the dumpling ruined my plans to get ready before getting him up for the day by waking up at 6:15 and nursing for half an hour. But even with the curve ball, I got him fed, myself showered, breakfast eaten, Jas got her medicine, and we were out the door by 7:30!

And then I got to laugh at my anxious self as the dumpling did beautifully in the airport. He peaked out from his carrier as we went through security and made our way to the gate. He slept while we waited to board and woke up to be delighted by the airplane. A kind couple behind me shifted seats so that I could have a row to myself. I nursed him as soon as we took off and he nodded off for his first nap of the day. He slept the whole flight and woke up just as we were touching down. We made our way through my hometown’s small airport to find my mom’s best friend. As promised, she had a newly purchased car seat in the back. She had, adorably, given up YouTubing for installation help and had taken it to the local fire station. We chatted excitedly as we made our way to my mom’s business. With her business partner keeping her distracted from the security camera feeds, we made our way inside.

When I rounded the corner into my mom’s office, she stared at me, completely shocked and not really putting the pieces together – to see the dumpling and I standing in her office on a Friday morning. But the second passed and she burst into happy tears and came around her desk to envelope us both in a hug. She took the dumpling from me, hugged me again and again, and then proceeded to direct the set-up for her open house one-handed as she carried the dumpling everywhere – her mood notably lifted.

It was so much fun getting to surprise her like that! She was so shocked to see us and we made her day. We also got to surprise many of my extended family (including my own granddad who got the opportunity to meet his great-grandson!). Of course, with only two people in-the-know, we surprised nearly everyone who came out to support my mom. My mom had a blast showing her grandson off to all of her friends.

Since I was travelling alone and I needed to be back home to teach my first class the next day (which – SPOILER ALERT – didn’t end up happening because of a stomach bug I picked up along the way), our flight home was at 4:30 that afternoon. Mom drove us to the airport, sad to see us go but ever so happy that we came.

The dumpling did well on the flight home, although he was much more tired and therefore a touch more cranky. We made it home in time to get him into bed on time. Then I took a hot shower, had some dinner delivered, chatted with Luffy, and climbed into bed myself, exhausted from our busy day.

And then I got back up and puked, but let’s just pretend the story ended on my happier note, shall we?

Reminiscing

One interesting part of being back at the office is that I keep having flashbacks to being pregnant. I suppose because the last time I was in the office for any measurable amount of time was when I was pregnant. So every time I use the restroom, I remember going to the restroom a bajillion times. I remember walking waddling from the parking lot to the building. I remember making snacks and lowering my chair.

This has prompted me to look back through my archives here and I realize that I’ve already started to forget things about my pregnancy, especially in the early months. For instance, I totally forgot all the burping I did and how uncomfortable I used to be after eating and how I took up napping. I’ve already forgotten how I waffled for weeks over whether I had really felt the dumpling move. Most of all, I’ve already forgotten how long it too us to accept that I was really pregnant, after months of infertility.

Last night, I was browsing through posts and I came across this one. It’s so crazy and amazing to look back at it now and know that this WAS our cycle. This was it! We just didn’t know it yet. This cycle would be the one and we’d have a beautiful baby boy to show for it. Incredible.

Also, there’s one small piece from his birth story that I keep forgetting to tell. Like all crazy sane women trying to conceive, once I had a positive pregnancy test, I tested multiple times. I had cheapie tests from Amazon that I was using, but did splurge on a fancy digital one. Of course, they all said the same thing, but the digital one just gave a wonderful feeling – seeing that word “pregnant” displayed. Even more fun was the fact the the box boasted the result would be displayed six months, long enough for you to plan fun announcements or something. That’s sweet, I thought to myself, as I tucked the pregnancy test into my bathroom drawer. Each morning, I would open the drawer to get my hair brush or my makeup brush or my contacts, see the test and smile at that word again. I sent a picture of it to my mom when I told her. The test was a happy little reminder, especially in the early weeks before I started showing. Six months, however, came and went and the test still displayed its cheery little result. I stopped giving it much attention as my belly grew larger and larger each day. I was however amazed to find it still said “pregnant” by August. And September. And October. By the time late October rolled around I joked to myself that the test was going to outlast my pregnancy. Then, on the morning of October 25th, that momentous day, I opened up my bathroom drawer to find the test window blank. That’s right, I thought, in a few hours I won’t be pregnant anymore. Somehow, the test knew. My little silent testimony to the Dumpling’s existence was no longer needed.

Baby’s first cold

We lasted just under three months. My poor dumpling.

It was the introduction to daycare, of course. We weren’t overly cautious with him as a newborn – we’ve been taking him to restaurants and stores since he was just a couple of weeks old – but we did always take precautions like covering his car seat and staying away from huge crowds. By his last day at the original daycare however, he already had some nasal congestion and we’ve gone downhill since.

We’ve been really lucky in that, so far, it hasn’t seemed to affect his temperament or sleep. He coughs at night but it doesn’t really appear to wake him. For the first time I have zero guilt about him being in his Rock N Play still because the incline is undoubtedly helping him sleep better at night. He’s his usual happy self during the day, although he does appear annoyed at all the coughing (not that I can blame him!). He hasn’t run a fever so far. All really good signs that he truly is battling just the common cold because, oh my, is it ever hard to listen to your baby cough and hack. He’s so young and his lungs are just so tiny! Poor dumpling.

He passed it to me, of course. There’s only so much my immune system can do when it’s being constantly bombarded by the germy little guy. What can I say? He likes to sneeze and cough on me as he’s nursing. So we’re both a little miserable and phlegm-y. It’s quite the cold because I have been fighting it for a week and a half with minimal improvement. Texas isn’t helping because the weather can’t decide which season we should be in today. Monday was spring with highs in the upper 70’s. Today’s back to winter with cold winds and a high in the low 50’s.

So yeah, send us get well wishes! And tissues because we are fresh out.

Back in the Saddle Again

I’m back! (cue Steven Tyler mic tip and hair flip)

Welp folks. My maternity leave has officially ended. I am on my third day of being a working mom. I think it’s going pretty well. It’s nice to be back at my job, using my brain for things other than keeping track of how long it’s been since the dumpling has slept. Though it’s a little dusty up there, I’m pleased to report that I do remember financial terms and can still label a balance sheet! Back in October, this time seemed like an eternity away. When the newborn days hit us hard, January seemed like it would never arrive. And now we’re here. That chapter has closed.

Three days in and all I have to say is whew! There’s just so much to remember to get the dumpling and myself out the door every morning. Milk. Lunch bag. Computer bag. Diaper bag. Pump. Pump parts. Seriously – did you pack the pump parts??? (A crucial piece that I forgot yesterday and had to turn around and drive all the way back home for.)

I have a pretty great arrangement with work. If you’ll remember (waaaaaay back at the beginning of my pregnancy), I worked out an arrangement that I would work from home part time. Today is the first day of that and I think I’m really going to like it. Mornings are a lot smoother when I’m not as concerned about getting myself out the door to go downtown. I can also pump while working, which is very convenient as I’ve already seen why working and pumping moms often stop pumping. It’s just such a nuisance. Yes, I know you’re providing sustenance for your child. Woo! But it also means 20 to 30 minutes (every three hours or so), locked in a room at work, feeling weird because you’re shirtless. It means interrupting conversations and meetings because you’re boobs are full. Or not interrupting conversations and meetings and then realizing that it’s 3pm and you’ve only pumped once. It means stopping what you’re doing right now because you’re already behind on your pumping schedule. Since I’m working from home most of the week, I think I’ll be more likely to keep up with pumping as it’s just my conversations with Jas that might get interrupted. (And who are we kidding, she’s a cat… she’s probably happy that I stopped talking to her and left her to nap in peace.)

We did change daycares. I feel pretty good about the new place so far. Everyone is warm and welcoming. Even though it’s a center (which I always stigmatized as huge and impersonal), the staff and teachers have greeted the dumpling by name every morning. They tell me that he’s the happiest baby! So many smiles! They also have a great app that keeps us up to date on his day in real time (he’s napping right now). They can also send us pictures through the app which is how Luffy and I got to view the dumpling’s displeasure with tummy time on Tuesday. I, however, am very happy that he’s getting regular tummy time and stimulation as I seriously doubt he was getting such attention at the last place.

So now Luffy and I are once again shifting our roles a bit, finding our groove in this new routine. Luffy helps me wash the daycare bottles and pumping bottles. I take time each night to get the dumpling’s bottles ready for the next day (right now, he’s getting all fresh milk because I’m battling a cold and want to make sure he’s getting all my antibodies). Luffy picks up the dumpling when I’m working from the office. I race home from to nurse. But at the end of the day, we get to spend a little time with our dumpling; coaxing adorable smiles that make the entire day so worth it.