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.

Advertisements

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.

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!

Somewhat sleepless in Seattle

Hello again! Luffy and I made it back and the dumpling did wonderfully, sans parents.

We went to Washington (Seattle area), primarily for a concert Saturday night. It was a whirlwind weekend of eating and drinking and driving (but definitely not in that order). We arrived Friday around noon and promptly dove headfirst into soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung a restaurant I feel positive I’ve mentioned before. Since it was our first vacation since having a child, we ordered a bottle of champagne to celebrate VACATION!!! It was real good. We spent the afternoon doing touristy things and traipsing up and down the downtown area enough to (hopefully) burn off all those soup dumplings.

On Saturday, we got waffles (WAFFLES!!!) and crepes, killing time until our noon check out. We then drove about two hours east of Seattle, to a tiny town in which we were staying. The concert was being held at a venue that is literally in the middle of nowhere (the Gorge Amphitheater). Our little town was only about 40 minutes from the amphitheater, so once we checked in and freshened up, we headed back out. The amphitheater itself is gorgeous, overlooking the Columbia river. The weather was cool, getting downright cold once the sun went down. I quickly realized that we only really know how to do outdoor festivals in Texas. Between three of us, we brought three 20oz bottles of water, as well as one refillable Camelbak. We were supposed to have two, but our friend forgot his. We also bought sunscreen and dressed in layers that we could “take off” as needed. …… Yeah. I was ridiculously cold by the end of the night even though I thought I’d dressed warmly. I realized that I should have brought a blanket after watching very nearly every other festival-goer huddling under a blanket at different points in the evening. We only finished two of those bottles of water and, though we filled it as soon as we got there, we didn’t even touch the Camelbak (probably because it wasn’t a thousand degrees out and thus we weren’t losing water through sweat as fast as we could replace it). And I completely forgot the sunscreen that we purchased expressly for the concert. Eh, we didn’t need it.

The concert itself was incredible. Just beyond words. And over too quickly, as wonderful things tend to do. We made it back to our hotel around 1 in the morning, which is when we discovered that my driver’s license (which I’d needed to get into the concert) was missing. Sigh

So this is where our story devolves into my usual absurdness.

Luffy realized Saturday night in the wee hours of Sunday morning that my ID wasn’t in his pocket anymore. Being one in the morning, we decided to search more thoroughly after some sleep, but found nothing the next morning. As I was about to try to get on a plane, I managed to dig out a copy of my passport from my email. TSA was actually really nice about the whole thing. I provided the copy of my passport, along with a debit card and my health insurance card, and essentially got an expedited though thorough passage through security. They went through my bags and gave me a pat-down, but they let me on the plane! Woohoo!

Monday I went to the DPS. That was rather uneventful, even fortuitous in a way. I happened to lose my license close enough to its expiration date (this November) that they just renewed it at the same time. So helpful! Plus, I’ve hated the picture on that license since I got it four years ago and got to take a new one. Double yay!

But then – on my way to lunch with Luffy I picked up two nails in my tire. I went out to the garage Tuesday morning to discover a pancake for a tire, completely derailing my plans of having Luffy pick me up from our mechanic after I dropped it off for patching. We were unsuccessful in pulling the flat tire off to replace it with the spare (the lug nuts were practically cemented on there) and had to cash in a free AAA tow. In more not-so-great news, the leak couldn’t be patched because the nails were too close together. We had to replace the tire. Now, I’ve honestly gotten nails in my tires maybe a handful of times before 2017. Right before the dumpling arrived last year, we replaced all four tires on my vehicle because they were due and we figured we might as well knock that task out before the baby arrived. Since then I’ve managed to have two, TWO, unfixable flats necessitating the replacement of a practically new tire. I’m sort of wondering if the driving gods are mad at me or something.

So that was fun. We picked it up yesterday and handed over the keys to Luffy’s car because he had three mechanical issues pop up yesterday. THREE. Like he’s trying to one-up me or something. Sheesh. Sit back down, this here’s my blog.

So yeah, that’s been us over the past few days. Lots of tedious adulting. Today is picture day at the dumpling’s daycare and I can’t wait to view the proofs. Last time he had picture day, we got several gems back including one alarmingly (or hilariously??) similar to this meme:

Good work son! You’ve got a knack for expressing your disregard for the whole school picture thing. Already getting a head start on years of this fool business.


A last aside – the dumpling is sporting a new tooth! One of his top center erupted while we were gone! He’s now enamored with grinding the top and bottom together, but I’m hoping he gets over it.

The Game

Before I had a child, I remember wondering what the allure of all of those baby games was. You know: peekaboo, nursery rhymes, so big – all of those. I mean, sure babies laughed and smiled, I suppose that’s cute. But what’s the fun in them? How could parents repeat them over and over and over and seemingly be just as delighted as their babies?

And then I had a child. And now I know.

To be fair, I’ve always just assumed it would be different with your own child and that’s exactly right. The dumpling looooooooves for us to sing to him. His favorites are Itsy-bitsy Spider and Open, Shut Them, but he’ll also take Disney songs or any other song you happen to be singing. If he’s in a good mood, he positively lights up when you start singing. If he’s in a bad mood, he’ll give you a teary little smile and put a pause on his cries (until the moment you stop singing, of course). He also loves to play peekaboo and he’s recently leveled up his abilities: he can now pull the cloth we’re playing with off of his own head. Score one for the dumpling! His little laughs and big smiles are infectious and Luffy and I will endlessly repeat whatever currently has him giggling in pursuit of MOAR giggles.

However, he’s got a new game now that he’s positively thrilled over and Luffy and I…. well we can’t get enough of it either:

So the dumpling has figured out that when either of us are holding him, he can throw his arms out to the other parent and be passed off. I’m not really sure why he’s so enchanted with this – perhaps it’s his first realization that he can communicate what he wants and get it*. Luffy and I love the little game though because the dumpling gives the best hugs and when he’s passed, he’ll sometimes turn around to you and give this little look like omg mom YOU’RE here too, that’s just amazing! i am so excited to see you!! and then throw his little arms towards you. Sigh. It’s the sweetest.

Last night, something threw the dumpling for a loop in the bath (we’re thinking maybe the water was too warm for his liking???) and he started crying. Big tears, long sobs. He did it the night before too and we were at a loss as to what to do. Nursing didn’t help. His zippy didn’t help. Pats and hugs and bedtime stories didn’t help. Eventually, he settled down, but it took him a while. Last night though, we brought him back to his room and played our little game again. Soon, he was giggling and smiling and all was right with the world.

Luffy and I would happily play that game with him for hours, especially with the knowledge that it won’t be long before he’ll have no patience for being held – he’ll want to GO and DO and RUN and SEE! So yes, right now we’ll pass him back and forth and back and forth and be delighted each time he throws his arms out to us.

*We’re working on some simple signs right now, mainly for milk and more. He hasn’t yet signed anything yet, but he definitely knows the one for milk. All I have to do is ask him if he wants milk (with the sign), and he goes ballistic with the hammy grins and the arm flapping. Yes! Milk! I love milk! I am so excited for the milk!!

Nine Months!

The dumpling! He is nine months old today. Holy cats!

It’s so odd to think that he’s been here, with us, for just as long as he was in me. Every day that passes tips the scales further and further towards making my time with him inconsequential.

We had his nine month check-up this morning. He’s doing great! Still a peanut – poor baby. Fourth percentile for weight and the twentieth for height. He’s got long legs and arms and a short torso (he gets the short torso from me). I laugh because he still wears 6mo onesies without issue. I bought him 9mo onesies the other day and they swallow him. Yet, his 12mo pants are a touch short, almost passing for shorts rather than pants.

His gross motor skills need some monitoring. He’s a big fan of sitting, that one. Put a toy he wants in front of him (which is probably the most recommended piece of advice for encouraging crawling) and he’ll streeeeeeeetch out to get it. Sometimes, he’s successful and will pull himself back upright to sitting, toy in hand. Other times, he does a controlled face plant, gets his legs out from under him, then wails at the horror of being on his tummy. TUMMY TIME… WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS??? Reminding him that he got himself into this situation does nothing to curb the wails. Good times.

He’s already come so far though, since those early newborn days. When he’s in a good mood, he’ll sit and play by himself, banging cups on the floor and depositing rings into a cleaned out tissue box (probably the best toy I’ve ever given him, because of course it is). Luffy and I always chuckle because many mornings, while we’re letting him chill in his crib for a bit (he needs a few minutes to really wake up), we’ll hear him all the way across the house – just talking to himself, greeting the day.

Bedtime is his absolute favorite time. He could be a fussy monster for the better portion of the day, but as soon as he realizes it’s bathtime, out come the smiles! He thinks it’s hilarious to be naked, probably because I always pinch his butt. He loves to play in the tub and will dump toys over the side until I make him get out. He adores being read to. Luffy reads to us (Harry Potter right now, we’re on the third one) while he nurses one last time. Sometimes, if he’s not ready for bed yet, I’ll sit him up to listen to dada read to us and – whoo – he loves that too. So many smiles – big smiles. Then into his crib he goes and, if he’s not quite ready for sleep yet, he chats to himself for a while. So adorable.

Sometimes I look back and miss being pregnant. It was so much easier, in a way. Harder physically, true. Plus you have the worry of the unknown (baby’s health, my health, delivery, what are the newborn days going to bring you, etc), but overall easier for me. No holding an infant all the time when he refuses to be put down. No making bottles or pumping or prepping daycare bags. No car seats or endless laundry or diaper changes. Plus, my needs still reigned supreme.

But then, I look down at my smiling boy and I’m ever so happy that he’s here. Happy nine months, my dumpling.

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.