January 20, 2018

Dear Vale,

Today, we spent all day together. You fell asleep after eating at 6:30 pm the night before, and slept longer than usual. You slept until it was almost your bed time. I was concerned your chubby little ass would be hungry, so I woke you up at 9:45 p.m. to eat again before sleeping for the night. You ate vigorously, fell promptly asleep, and slept until 8:45 a.m. today. Again, I questioned how your usual gluttonous self could possibly still be going without food, and woke you up, all smiles, for breakfast, but you wouldn’t drink breast milk, after many heroic attempts.

I eventually gave up, and went downstairs to feed myself, but did not get past the coffee. You were a bit fussy, even though I gave you your doll and como tomo, so I got distracted from my own food and decided to try my luck with your new sippy cup (failure), and then with your Dr. Brown bottle (expected failure), and then I decided I might as well make a breast milk avocado puree with the 3 ounces I pumped at 11:15 a.m. during my mediation the day before. You made a mediocre attempt at the avocado puree, though I suppose I should consider it fortunate that at least half probably made it into your mouth.

Eventually, you were convinced into breastfeeding at approximately 10:45 a.m., two hours after you woke up. The moment you were finished, I whisked you off to run errands before hunger struck again. You enjoyed browsing the aisles at Target, where we used my gift card from work to buy face powder, shampoo, baby sunscreen, and a sleep sack (pink fleece, with owls, 50% off, only $5). We went to Ross next, because I was hoping to buy a professional-looking name brand purse large enough to occasionally hold pump supplies, but I didn’t find anything that wasn’t completely boring.

I tested the limits of your patience, and took you to Barnes & Noble, where I spent many days of my youth, so you could be exposed to books. We then cruised into Starbucks, where I craved sweets, since I still hadn’t had breakfast, but I resisted.

We went home and you weren’t hungry for a while, so I took you on a walk. I called Ana while we walked to catch up, and see how things are going with your buddy Luka. The goal was to walk 4 times up the steep hill by our house, but you got bored on round 3, so we went home and I did a few half-assed squats instead. After your next feeding, you seemed to have fallen asleep, so I left you to rest, and practiced a Chopin Etude. I started on the Fantasie Impromptu, when I saw you squirm and flail on your baby monitor – quite a short nap – not even 30 minutes.

The balance of the day was spent pleasantly. I strapped you to my chest and folded and put away laundry. You watched me eat pasta and salad for dinner with great interest (you should be jealous – it was damn good!) I read from your Tang dynasty poetry book, and started reading Madeline and the Gypsies, but you started to get bored. I put you in your jumper while I did some ab exercises.

Your daddy called from New York and I realized the whole day had slipped by and you had barely napped, so I put you in your sleep sack, placed you in your bassinet hoping you would go to sleep at 9:00 p.m., and turned on your mobile You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray… I went downstairs to chat with your dad on the phone and make some tea. I heard you yell and scream bloody murder, and let you have at it for a few minutes, but then you began to cry, and I felt bad, so I came back upstairs to check on you. I cocked my head to one side and examined your behavior for myself. I asked you what could possibly be so tragic and smiled at you. At this point, you couldn’t help but start to smile back, yet you also clearly wanted to continue your act, so for the next 15 seconds you involuntarily vacillated between smiling and wailing while I laughed at you.

I picked you up and we sat next to the heater for a few minutes to warm up, and I put you in bed. (Daddy spoils you this way sometimes, so I can too!) I sang two songs in Chinese for you, but you were still wide awake, so I started singing Hallelujah. I had not gotten past the first verse when you decided you were just a little hungry. You had a night cap, fell asleep, and that was the end of our lovely day.

Your daddy misses you tons and will be back tomorrow.

Survived The First Week Back At Work

I made it through the first week of work with no disasters. I didn’t forget any necessary supplies, even though remembering stuff is my number one weakness, and I didn’t spill milk anywhere. I picked Vale up from daycare on time both days, and billed over 8 hours during my work-from-home day.

I attended a deposition that started and ended at an awkward time for my pumping schedule; it was too early to pump before the deposition started, it ended before lunch break, but lasted long enough that 5 hours had passed before the last feeding. I didn’t want to pump in a bathroom, so I thought it’d be genius for me to pump while driving. It worked out OK, but taking into consideration the extra time involved in setting up in the car, and pulling over to put my milk in bags, it didn’t save very much time, and wasn’t worth the hassle. Hey, learning experience for the future.

I thought the lack of sleep would be the worst part of new motherhood. I was wrong. It’s definitely breastfeeding and all that it entails. To clarify, breastfeeding per se is not the issue. However, having to constantly think about feeding and pumping schedules, where I’ll be, whether I’ll be able to feed and/or pump, and how long (i.e. how much freedom I have) until the next pumping session or until my boobs feel like they are going to explode, and crafting my wardrobe, sleep, social calendar, and work obligations around pumping/feeding considerations makes me feel a bit enslaved by my body.

People asked me if I cried, and I have not, but Vale has been increasingly resistant to drinking from a bottle, such that she goes many more hours than usual without eating during the day. She starts getting irritable as soon as she so much as sees a bottle, and has been eating far less than she otherwise would. She doesn’t cry much or fuss, but seems to have resorted to napping and eating her hand in place of drinking milk, which is depressing and hearts my heart a little. I want to enjoy her presence when I pick her up at the end of the day, but all I can think about is feeding her as soon as possible.

Vale continues to be a mellow baby otherwise, and has been adaptable to our schedule. She sleeps around 10:30-11:00 p.m., so we have plenty of time to play with her when we get home (although, when she insists on cramming all her feedings in at night, there really is not much playing going on), and wakes up to eat when we need to get up for work. She’s a grouchy little moon at 6:30 a.m., which I can relate to, and we can be grouchy in bed together while she eats her first meal of the day.

Bedtime Laziness

We moved Little V out of the co-sleeper and into her cradle after her first 10 days or so, and she’s done well. The best is when she passes out while eating, and we effortlessly transfer her into her cradle for the night. Otherwise, she does fuss a little if she’s awake when we put her to bed. We swaddle her with a Velcro swaddle, and she’ll usually do some coos, grunts, and thump-kicking for 5-15 minutes before giving into sleep. During this time, we find a little ocean wave background noise and rocking the cradle to be helpful.

Rather than get out of bed and stand there rocking in the dark, I tied a long strap of leftover tulle from our wedding to the cradle to enable rocking while lying down. I was quite impressed with my own creativity, but this might earn me some kind of laziness award.

When He’s Away

Earlier today, Husband left on a work trip to New York City for a few days, and it’s the first time he’ll be away overnight since Little V was born. We will both miss him.

When my husband is gone, there’s no one to make sure all the balcony sliding doors are closed and all the “rape doors” are locked.

The house is quiet and I notice sounds I don’t pay attention to when he’s here, like the sudden, unfamiliar hum of the neighbor’s air conditioning unit.

There’s no one to share a small bowl of cereal with before going to sleep, the bed feels too big, and the air seems cooler than usual.

I almost want to close the french doors in our bedroom because the lovely breeze that creeps in at night when he’s here feels like a lonely breath when he is gone.

We miss him already.

Little V’s Week 2

We’ve gotten into a routine, and the best way to describe it is Little V eats and sleeps non-stop but not at the times and intervals I would prefer. She is conked out during the day, sleeping through vacuums, telly, music, chatter, car rides, etc., but becomes fussy when it’s actually bedtime.

She quickly regained her weight and surpassed her birth weight by the 2-week doctor’s visit. Eager to compensate for the previous B(-) in weight gain, she put in her most extreme efforts and literally gained a pound in a week. She was about 7 pounds when weighed at the first lactation group I attended, and was over 8 pounds when I returned to the group a week later. She literally developed a double chin in a matter of about 2 days, and her limbs quickly grew chunky. While the lactation consultant advised everyone babies should have at least 6 dirty diapers a day, Little V had twenty two on her busiest day this week. We went through multiple packages of diapers and baby wipes, and it’s been a bit baffling.

This week, we made it to the grocery store with her, and also met some friends and their 3-month old at a cafe to listen to some live music. Little V slept through all of it. We also attempted twice to go on a walk with the jogger. The first time, she screamed her head off again, but the second time was a success. Hopefully, it sticks.

She’s smiling more and more, and occasionally even laughs in her sleep. She also frequently has a concerned look on her face, as if she’s not quite sure what to make of this world.

First 24 with Baby V

The first 24 hours at the hospital in hindsight feel like a fast-forwarding DVD, in that I remember everything that happened, but it felt like it was on super speed.

You barely can handle the excitement from being responsible for a tiny human and the new information and activities just come flooding in without respite, including blood tests, hearing tests, breastfeeding advice, medication administrations, birth certificate paperwork, etc.; it’s a nonstop, intense learning experience. People complain about not being able to sleep because of disruptions from nurses coming in and out, but honestly, we were able to sleep through anything at that point, and when I couldn’t sleep it was from being too excited, not due to external stimuli.

The first thing I did after transferring from the labor suite to the recovery room was take a shower. I felt like I’d hiked Mount Whitney and a hot shower never felt so good. In her first 24 hours, Little V got a hepatitis vaccine, received a vitamin K shot, had a blood draw for various required screening, passed her hearing test, and had her first visit from a Pediatrician. Both sets of her grandparents also came to visit the lucky lady just 4 hours after she was born.

This was my first time staying in a hospital and it was interesting seeing nurses and care providers execute various processes in real life as opposed to reading about them at work. The nurses in Labor & Delivery were great with helping us learn to swaddle and get breastfeeding started. They also took Little V to the nursery for a couple of hours that night so we could get a smidgen of uninterrupted sleep after probably the only double all-nighter we’ve done.

We had the option of staying an extra night at the hospital, but things appeared to be relatively smooth and straightforward, and I really felt it would be more relaxing to be at home. Plus, the hospital food was pretty mediocre. After we felt we’d received enough instruction from nurses on breastfeeding and swaddling, we left the hospital early afternoon and returned home to finish off Labor Day weekend.

The Waiting Game

I’m on day 2 of week 40. Home stretch. At least, hopefully. I really don’t want her to be too late, but if she does not come by her due date, I’m working from home until she does. All my friends’ babies (all five of them) this year came early. Although there are only 5 days until my due date, according to this neato labor probability calculator, the odds of me giving birth by my due date is a mere 20.34 percent. The odds of me giving birth by week 42 is actually not that high either, at 85.03 percent! Ugh! I barely feel capable of making it through this week, much less 3 more.

On the other hand, as impatient as I am getting, I’m also nervous about labor and birth. Maybe this is the mental dissonance that is causing me to lose sleep in the middle of the night.

My parents arrived over the weekend and I was showered with more cute baby clothes, pineapple cakes, organic snacks from my Aunt Sylvia (dried pineapple, dried guava, glutinous rice with dates, almond tea, etc.), and chicken soup from my Aunt Amber and Uncle Alfred. All the way from Taiwan. I’m very excited about these foods, which are supposed to be good for the postpartum period so at this point I’m excited to give birth just so I can start eating these things.

I’ve developed a bad sweet tooth. I was in an irritable mood the other day and self-medicated with a pineapple cake and strangely felt better immediately after eating it. This has never happened to me before with sweets. Maybe with a beer, but never desserts. People give alcohol a lot of shit, but drinking an IPA after a crappy day costs you 140 calories, and you get some antioxidants in the mix. Eating cookies/cakes/creme brulee costs a fuckload more calories, sugar, and fat. I hope this is a phenomenon limited to pregnancy because otherwise, it is extremely dangerous.

I had a relatively smooth third trimester for the most part, but first trimester seems to be repeating itself in these final days. I randomly feel nauseated during the day, and wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep for hours. I woke up at 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday and could not sleep so I finished up some laundry.

Week 38

Monday

I woke up 3 or 4 times to pee the night before, and the 4th time, I think my body was like, “Oh, you keep waking up. I guess you don’t really want to sleep, then!” and I was unable to fall asleep for over an hour. It was pretty lame and I was pretty grouchy and tired all Monday so after work, I completed a short prenatal yoga focusing on leg and core strength, did some meditation practice, and we ate leftovers for dinner.

Tuesday

I woke up 4 times to go pee the night before, but at least I had no issues falling back asleep each time. Anyway, it was still a tiring day and I was not capable of much beyond some yoga. I did a power yoga video, and called it a day. It was actually pretty hard.

Wednesday

I drank my regular 80 or so ounces of water a day but did not drink beyond two sips of liquid after 8:00 p.m. the night before and only had to wake up twice to pee! Victory is mine! It was a good morning. We had a doctor’s appointment and it was all good news. Fetus is still head down despite her totally insane movements that make me feel like she’s doing acrobatics, grating on my spine, and trying to punch a hole through my uterus. Again, I think of aliens inhabiting people’s bodies and trying to burst out, like this:

Unfortunately, the decadent eating and Taiwanese bakery treats caught up with me and I somehow gained 2 pounds overnight. Literally. I was 139.6 pounds on Tuesday morning, and 141.6 pounds Wednesday morning, which made me really irritable as my thoughts immediately floated to thigh cheese. The good news is, in the absence of freakish weight gain in the next 3 weeks, I should still fall within the recommended weight gain range, and will be successful in heeding my mother’s warning to avoid gaining 45 pounds as she did.

I went to Lazy Acres for lunch to switch things up a bit, and had an amazing salad with salmon poke, beautiful purple radishes, beets, peas, garbanzo beans, sweet peppers, and greens. Yeah yeah yeah. Raw food is so unbelievably delicious sometimes, especially in summertime.  I have not been very fond of cooked salmon since eating it while having morning sickness, but that slight distaste has not translated into the raw version. I thoroughly enjoyed the buttery, cool, cubes of salmon in my salad and savored the lovely texture.

Thursday

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and could not sleep for 2 hours, so that blew balls. This day sort of sucked so I treated myself by skipping my workout to go shopping after work. I tried to return some baby clothes, but they said I had to exchange the clothes that day and use store credit. The whole point of returning the clothes was because I believe we have more than we need and I did not want to buy more clothes without really knowing how many of each type of clothing is necessary, so this was a fruitless endeavor. I browsed some winter coats and was enamored by this faux suede, faux fur-lined hippie vest,  but it was $32! As if!

I also looked at some baby accessories, but the only thing I found useful was a pair of infant sunglasses, which were $10. They were tortoiseshell patterned and cute as hell, but I was like fuck this… $10 is like what I pay for my own adult sun glasses the fuck am I going to pay $10 for infant sunglasses? Ridiculous. No!

Later in the evening, I mixed some henna powder to prepare for use. The directions I found online said it may take 24-48 hours for the dye to release. We’ll see if I can execute this successfully.

Friday

The no liquids after 8:00 p.m. thing really does work. Only woke up twice to pee again, which I consider the second win of the week. I wake up feeling like a rock every morning because my bones feel tight and heavy. I also found stretch marks on the underside of the left side of my belly which was really sad and awful.

I was angry and and sad so I did some sprints, followed by triceps dips and then some prenatal yoga focusing on leg strength.

We don’t have any more major baby preparations or purchases to make, but I am trying to squeeze in some more piano, another massage, and a pedicure before she comes. My wonderful husband has asked me if there are any fun things I’d like to do before the due date, but La Traviatta and Magic Flute aren’t playing at the opera this season, I can’t find any recent Swan Lake performances, and anything else I can think of probably involves drinking. Regardless, it will be nice just to take it easy and spend some time together over the next two weekends.