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.

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.

Goodbye pump!

I walked out the door this morning, headed to work, sure that I was missing something. Computer bag – check. Wallet – check. Phone – check. …… I guess that’s it. I didn’t know what to do with all my free arms and shoulder space now that I’m not dragging along my pump and its accouterments. I mean, I’m practically naked without the extra bags!

I did the math earlier this week. This time, it was much more favorable. Even if I keep adding an ounce of breast milk per bottle, we should make it to a year on my current stash. By then, we’ll be free to introduce cow’s milk and be done with the whole breast milk/formula thing. I realized that I was free to stop pumping during the day whenever I wanted. So, I did that day. WHEEEEEE!!!! I’m also not quite sure what to do with all this extra time.

I can’t completely pack it away yet. Luffy and I are headed out of town in a couple of weeks – just the two of us. I’ll need to pump then to make sure I haven’t dried up by the time I get back (and also to make sure my boobs aren’t the size of watermelons by the time we get back – that too). But after that – I’m packing that thing away. Banishing it to the back of the closet, past the disassembled swing and bouncer, beyond the newborn clothes – TO THE BACK WITH YOU!

It’s very odd to think that this chapter in my life is closing. For now, anyway and who knows what the next, hypothetical child will bring. The dumpling and I still nurse, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before the morning and night sessions become more tedious than anything. (Speaking of, who decides when to wean? Is it me? At some point? Or will the dumpling just up and refuse to latch one day, all rip-the-bandaid style?) I do have to admit that it’s so nice not to take my shirt off hundred times a day and to put a real bra on (and keep it on!) in the morning. It’s also very nice to regain control over my body again, a little at a time. For the first time in a very long time, between the hours of about 8am and 5pm it doesn’t matter at all what I put into my body. Caffeine? Yes please, giddy up. More caffeine? Why sure! A snack/no snack/crap snack/healthy snack? You know, Belle, you do you – have at it. Again, I’m not quite sure how to best enjoy this newfound freedom. Since we’re going into a three day weekend here, I think I’ll celebrate it with mimosas*!

*Hypothetically speaking. I am, in fact, still at work. And they frown upon that sort of thing. 

 

And he’s off!

The dumpling officially figured out the whole crawling business this week. Now, to be fair, he’s by no means an expert crawler or anything. I’d say he’s in need of a few power ups and +1 skills, but he’ll get there.

Tuesday, in the midst of all of this, I happened to be videoing exactly when he made that first knee-shift forward. He’s been getting up onto all fours for the past few weeks (basically since the day AFTER our pediatrician’s appointment where I had to report that he wasn’t getting up on all fours yet, because of course). Astonishingly, he pretty much immediately figured out how to go from sitting to all fours to belly and then added an expert level roll to the whole thing. (You know, I always thought these sort of motor skills would happen slowly. Like, they’d have days and days where you can see them start to make the attempts and go through the motions and then finally put it all together, when really, it’s like – BAM – I can now execute a swan dive off the couch, with Olympic level form, but you should totes catch me because away! I! goooooo!) And that’s where he stayed for a while. He’d get a foot stuck underneath him and the attempt would fizzle out. Or he’d have something worth getting that was juuuuuust out of his reach and he’d lay down and cry rather than make the move.

But then! Something just clicked! And he shuffled a knee forward. The next day, he shuffled two forward. Voila! And just like that, he’s off! And mom’s off to baby proof the house!

Speaking of baby proofing, I’ve been going over my game plan for a while. I don’t think there’s too much to do, although I imagine a lot of this will be trial and error as the dumpling starts to find some independence and wander off. My plan is to keep the bathroom doors closed, full stop. That way, there’s no worry over the toilet or toiletries or toilet paper or any of that. Our house is a wide-open floor plan, so it’s hard to rope off areas. I have, however, already put up baby gates to the utility room (where Jas’ litter box is) and my office (where Jas’ tower is and I just feel like she deserves a safe haven from grabby little baby hands now that he can chase her). Other than that, we’ll need to anchor two book shelves in the living room, as well as our TV (right? can you anchor a TV? idk how these things work) and I plan to reorganize my kitchen to move things like tupperware to the bottom shelves and our cleaners to the utility room. So. Not too much right? Just put a pin in this here and direct me  back to it in like five months when the dumpling is getting into everything and I’m lamenting not just throwing him in his own over-sized tupperware container. That’s safe right?

TEEEEEEETH

Wut the wut?!

The dumpling has teeth!! (scrunches up face, fans eyeballs, valiantly tries… not… to….)

MAAAAAAH BAAAAAABBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

I really thought we’d make it to a year without teeth. I didn’t have teeth until well after my first birthday. My brother apparently got like four in one week when he was five months old and then didn’t get another until around 16 months. And we’ve seen not a single sign of teeth in the dumpling. NOT A SINGLE WARNING that teeth were making their way through his little gums.

I was dropping the dumpling off at daycare this morning (which is usually an extended affair for me because his teachers and I just chat about him). Then they just casually mentioned that they had felt his teeth yesterday and were so excited for him and it also sort of explained his clingy behavior earlier this week and – HOLD UP – WUT NOW??? TEETH??? And they were like yes! Teeth!  And I was like, OMG, this explains so much, but also TEETH?!

So let’s back up to this weekend. Our darling boy was being a touch clingy. And we all know that I’m being a bit facetious when I say *touch* because, yeah. He basically refused to be put down the entire weekend. Don’t you dare walk away from me and leave me here. And no, it doesn’t make it better if you sit on the floor while I’m over here, pick me up woman! The only way I could get him to eat any of his solids was if I held him while feeding him. (Although we did try some baby pancakes I made him which he loved and then had an allergic reaction to, so yeah, not so proud of that one in hindsight.) He also seemed more tired than usual, barely making it a couple of hours before needing a nap. But! We still managed to get lots of smiles and laughs and “da-da-da-da”s out of him.

We mentioned it to daycare Monday morning as a sort of warning. Every other time we’ve warned them about fussiness and clinginess over the weekend, they’ve just laughed at us as, OF COURSE, he’s a perfect angel for them. This time though, even they had to admit he was just not himself. I picked him up Tuesday to find him on the hip of his primary teacher. She joked with me that he’d been there all day, lol, jk, but for realz please take this baby so that I can have my arm back. He, of course, was all smiles after being catered to.

Then yesterday, he kept biting me while nursing. He’s bitten me before, with just his little gums, hard enough to draw blood actually. Those times, it was more about the pressure or tugging. This time though, there was a sharp pain that accompanied each nip. I brushed it off though and tried to get through nursing without yelping. It didn’t help that he kept side-eyeing me while biting me, so I really thought he was just testing a boundary. What will mom do if I do this? CHOMP.

So yeah – teeth – it totally makes sense now. His teachers laughed that I hadn’t even checked for teeth, that they discovered them first, but, to be fair, teeth never even crossed my mind. I mean, aren’t they supposed to turn into little hellions? If my birth board is to be believed, the biggest sign of teething would be the extended night wakings with non-stop screaming, drooling, crankiness, and possibly some devil’s horns to top it all off – much like a bow atop a present. I just chalked the dumpling’s clinginess up to some sort of growth spurt or leap.

It’s true though, I felt them myself before I left the room. Two tiny teeth, poking through. I’m sad, in a way (ok, in lots of ways). Babies look so weird with teeth. Right? I can’t be the only person who thinks so. You’ve got this little cherubic baby, all cute and drooly, who opens his mouth and – BAM – teeth. Like a real person! I’m going to miss his little gummy smile so much… He’s going to look so different with teeth… He’s just getting so big… (scrunches up face, fans eyeballs, valiantly tries… not… to….)

MAAAAAAH BAAAAAABBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

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.