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!

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.

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. 

 

Well then

Five days… that’s how long a viral stomach bug could last. Five days. Well then.

So this story starts way back on Friday. Ahhh, Friday morning, when we were blissfully unaware of what lay ahead of us. The dumpling woke up around 5:30, which is a little unusual for him (as of late anyway). I wanted to lay in bed, but Luffy prompted me to go try to nurse him back to sleep. After all, we were already a wake. So I got up and went to the dumpling, immediately smelling something foul when I opened his door. Oh, he pooped, I thought to myself, that’s why he woke up. This upped our odds of successfully returning him to his crib, so yay! I changed him and sat down to nurse. He was at it for about five minutes when he sat back from me and – urp – all the milk. All over us. Well then.

I called to Luffy and officially got everyone up for the day. We changed, I stripped my nursing pillow (and would later clean the chair and the carpet). The dumpling and I nursed again and then took a shower to clean off completely. Luffy and I watched him closely but he was just as happy as ever. He ate breakfast with us. I took him to daycare because he seemed perfectly content. Of course, you know where this is headed, so you already know I got a call at 11:30. The dumpling had vomited there again.

I merrily went off to pick him up. (I’m not a monster – I say merrily because I was procrastinating all work related matters and having a sick baby was the perfect excuse to chill with the dumpling all day instead of work – score!) He took a nice long nap when he got home and nursed plenty. He, again, seemed perfectly fine. Whew! The worst is behind us, I thought to myself, as I reviewed our pediatrician’s website which cited 24 hours of vomiting for a stomach bug. Saturday passed, as we did our best to care for our little recovering dumpling. Small, frequent meals. Easy on the solids. Lots of nursing. But also lots of playing and snuggles and books. Sunday morning, the dumpling got up like normal, starting nursing for breakfast and, in a moment of deja vu, – urp – all the milk. All over us. Well then.

I won’t regal you with each and every incident. Let’s just say that I think our high chair is cleaner now than on the day we bought it and that all of our clean-up towels have been washed at least twice this weekend. Every time we thought he was doing better, he’d turn around and get sick. When he vomited yet again yesterday morning, I finally called the pediatrician. I just wanted to know if I should bring him in. He had been vomiting twice a day, every other day, for five days. Halp?

And that’s when she told me that, unfortunately, some viral cases can be more stubborn than others and that five days would be expected. Well shit.

So yeah, that was fun. I mean, I say “was” very carefully because he could still vomit more. Oh god no, please don’t. If that happens, the pediatrician wants to see him immediately, but I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to that. I really, really want him to feel better.

He’s been a dream, of course. That was probably the oddest thing through all of this – he was perfectly happy pretty much the whole time. Talkative. Figuring out how to crawl. Playing with toys. Perhaps a little more cranky than usual, but that can be attributed to the disruption in his routine (he’s been home with me since Friday). He was so happy to go back to daycare today. Couldn’t wait to get down, out of my arms, so that he could play with his toys.

Yesterday was a stark reminder of why I would never be able to cut it as a stay at home mom. (And if you say I should cut myself some slack because I was dealing with a sick baby, I’d like to read the paragraph preceding this one again. The dumpling was acting perfectly normal.) Yesterday morning was fun and good as we played and read books. But then, he didn’t nap well. By 3:00, he’d napped a total of 50 minutes since he’d gotten up that morning at 5:30. So he was a little cranky and a touch dramatic and prone to bursting into tears for no discernible reason. (Seriously! He’d be playing with a toy and just burst into tears… maybe the toy wasn’t the right color suddenly?? The sun* and moon out of alignment? The ambient temperature wrong? Who knows!) He took a bit better nap, late in the day, but I must say that I was MORE than ready for bedtime. The entire day was just exhausting and I was so ready for some me time.

Anyway, the dumpling is back at daycare today, as previously mentioned and I keep freaking out every time my phone beeps or vibrates or lights up because I so badly want him to do well today. My poor baby.

*We did see the eclipse Monday! We watched it on TV since our area didn’t have totality. It did get darker here, which was pretty cool and also hella disorienting.