Weaned

Today, November 10, 2017, my baby weaned himself.

Honestly, nursing has been so much of an afterthought lately that the milestone doesn’t really mean a whole lot, in terms of our day-to-day existence. Further, this was entirely baby-led, so I’m not even celebrating a hard-earned victory or anything like that. We’re simply closing that chapter in our lives, mine and the dumpling’s.

They say that you never really know when the last time is the last, and I suppose that’s somewhat true. I had a hunch though, because he’d done the exact same thing when he dropped the evening session. Yesterday morning, he latched but didn’t stick around long enough to get anything from me, which is what he had done for his last session at night. The following night, he didn’t show any interest in nursing before bed. The difference this time: the evening sessions I took the mantra of don’t offer, don’t refuse and just didn’t offer my breast unless he asked. This time though, this morning, I did offer. And guys, he just looked at me, and was like nah – I’d really rather have some puffs thanks, and took off.

So, that’s it for us.

These milestones are hitting us right and left lately. A year old. He’s making strides cruising and walking with his push toy. He’s gaining weight, breaking his growth curve and accelerating up to the 13th percentile for the first time since he was born. He outgrew his infant car seat. He’ll throw a ball back and forth with you and will endlessly offer you things that he’s found. He claps and waves and high fives. He’s starting to drink cow’s milk. Our breastmilk stash ran out last week. And now he no longer nurses.

Sunrise. Sunset. Etc etc.

As for me, I’m super excited that I can take some Sudafed next time I’m sick. Living it up over here!

 

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One

Happy birthday, my little dumpling!

To be quite honest, I haven’t put much thought into how I want to commemorate my dumpling’s first birthday (and therefore setting the precedent for how I will always commemorate his birthdays). I’ve thought about waxing poetic about what it means to be a mother, to be his mother. I’ve thought about regaling you with what, exactly, the dumpling is doing now and how far he’s come. The thing is though, I’m sure those words have been spoken (re: motherhood) and it’s obvious how far he’s come (because, if I may be blunt, a year ago he was a squishy potato – not exactly setting the bar high here).

So I’ve decided the dredge through the memory banks and try to capture some untold* memories:


So in the hospital, our teeny, tiny newborn was primarily in his diaper and a swaddling blanket (day) or actual swaddle (night). This was just easier for the parade of nurses and doctors who needed to examine him and easier for me and Luffy as we held him skin-to-skin. I don’t want to alarm anyone with BRAND NEW INFORMATION, but the dumpling was our first child. Therefore, when we came home, we just kind of continued what we were doing/picked up at the hospital. I can only imagine my mother’s bemused smile when I told her, about a week and a half after his birth and so proud of myself, that I’d put pajamas on the baby! To help him sleep! Because I thought he might be cold at night! Aren’t I awesome at this?


I’m not a good picture taker. As in, I never remember to take them. Take this past weekend, for example, my brother got married and I got precisely three pictures: one of the dumpling and Luffy, one of the couple’s first dance, and one extremely blurry pic of my mom and brother dancing. That’s it. I don’t even have one of myself! And I got all dressed up! So as I scroll through my phone’s gallery, I am ever so pleased with myself about one particular image I did manage to capture:

It’s early morning. The picture’s embedded information is able to tell me more precisely: November 7, 2016, 7:13AM. I am reclining on our guest bed with my knees up; Luffy is at my side, asleep. The dumpling is in my lamp, bottom against my pelvis, head by my knees. He too is asleep. I don’t remember much in the way of specifics except that it had been a rougher night. If I remember correctly, Luffy had come in to check on me and had fallen asleep again as we chatted in the dim morning light. As I settled down into the bed, feeling complete with my husband and child, both right there and asleep, I snapped the picture. It’s a quiet, sweet memory through the newborn haze.


As a newborn, the dumpling used to always stick his tongue out. Quite literally. My OB commented on it after he finished stitching me up, that’s how early it started. It was adorable and I just now realized that he hasn’t done this for a very long time.


In looking back through photos, it’s so interesting to see his transformation from generic, newborn to himself. In the early photos, I see none of his features. I can (now) see a few of his features around the 2mo mark, but he doesn’t really look like himself until four months.


The dumpling has never been a snuggler. I think I’ve mentioned that fact several times (SO MANY TIMES, said everyone). This made it a little challenging when he was fussy or upset (read, overtired and refusing to settle) because you couldn’t just snuggle him into happy oblivion. I could get him to sleep on me by nursing, if we needed, but it wasn’t exactly something I wanted to encourage. And it didn’t always work.

So! There are exactly three times in his life that the dumpling has fallen asleep on me, sans nursing:

  • The first time is a cheat because he actually did nurse to fall asleep. But! I was able to shift him up and pull my shirt up and actually appear presentable when some friends of ours dropped by, even with a newborn in my shoulder.
  • The second time was during his first full-time week at daycare. Luffy and I stopped by at lunch to check on him. He snuggled into my chest and immediately fell asleep. And I do mean immediately. I felt terrible that I needed to return to work and had to hand him over, thereby waking him up, but it did warm my heart that I could just feel his little body relax and finally, finally, surrender to slumber in my arms.
  • The last time also occurred at daycare! (I’m sensing a theme here.) This time though, it was less about being over-stimulated by a new setting and more about having a blast. He had been playing like a champ when I walked in the door, but by the time we walked out, he was asleep on my shoulder. Poor little tuckered out baby!

I really enjoyed browsing through my gallery in search of inspiration for this. I loved seeing a sort of highlight reel (of course, that’s if you scroll past the twenty snaps of the exact same pose that were taken in an effort to catch that smile! or that look! or that hand thing he’s been doing!). I can see the shift towards mobility and the milestones like sitting up or solid foods. I can see his hair fall out and then fill in, little by little. I can see his scrawny chicken thighs bulk up into the little ham bones they are now. I can see his face fill in and his tummy round out. And nothing makes me happier, than to see my little boy get bigger and stronger and figure out this world. Happy birthday my sweet baby.

*And my apologies if you’ve heard one of these before! I wasn’t about to go through the archives for a year to make sure. Just take it as a sign that I really, really like this particular memory!

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.

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!

Nighttime Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Traveling Sock

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

And now he does this all the time.

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

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

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