Friday, April 5, 2013

6 weeks: Firsts

As first time parents, everything is new. We've had some of our important firsts in the past week.

This week was full of activities. We had our baby's one month Dr's appt as well as my 6 weeks checkup. Both Dr's offices are quite a drive from where we live, so it was a mini family road trip. Dave and I are getting better at packing our diaper bag and predicting her schedule - every trip feels less daunting. We also had our first family walk in the neighborhood today, which was just a short walk to pick up some coffee (decaf for me) from a few blocks away, but it felt like SUCH a big deal. I wore my baby in the K'tan carrier and topped it off with my maternity parka to protect her from the wind. She's gained more than 4lbs since birth, so she felt pretty hefty, but it felt so good to walk outside. In a weird way, I felt like my old self again.

I was super cautious about bathing her. Of course, the first concern was the umbilical cord. But even when the cord stub came off, I didn't feel ready. Her skin seemed too delicate, and I was afraid she'd get cold. I watched videos on bathing babies over and over, trying to get comfortable with the idea. And in the meantime, I just wiped her off with warm, wet wash cloths. In preparation,  I ordered a thermometer rubber ducky (a must have!), which put me at ease about water temperature. We ended up washing her over the kitchen sink in a small plastic basin, using way too many towels because I kept drying her off just in case she's cold being wet. Our little girl looked confused, but she didn't fuss or cry through the whole process, which makes me think she might be one of those bath-loving babies like my niece, who refuses to get out of the tub sometimes. I feel like we crossed a big hurdle. 

I think I noticed for the first time this week that she seems more tired at nights. She still gets up very frequently, but it went from every hour to sleeping almost 2-2.5 hours straight (tho only once a night)! I really should take advantage of the opportunity to sleep, but I can't get myself to do it. Everything feels too delicate, like I have to watch her every second. If my husband is not up with her, I don't feel comfortable sleeping. Even if I lie down and close my eyes, even if I doze off for a minute or two, I'm right back up as soon as I hear her move or make a sound. I know I am being the waaaaay-paranoid-new-mom, but I can't seem to snap out of it. Perhaps it'll get better once she hits that 2-month or 3-month mark, where doctors say things are "safer." 

Being a first time mom, I feel paranoid about everything. My husband seems more lax about the whole situation, which is sometimes annoying but mostly helpful. I'm hoping my paranoia and fears will subside as my baby gets older and stronger. I'll get used to things, I'm sure.

I really need to chill out. Maybe it's time for me to get a gym membership again...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

5 Weeks: late night thoughts of a newbie mama

It's around 2AM. Another long night has begun. I've just fed my baby, changed her diaper, and successfully put her to sleep in my K'tan baby carrier. My husband took the night shift last night because I wasn't feeling so well. And now, he's completely knocked out - looks like I'm on my own for a while! I'm rocking side to side in my chair to keep my baby sleeping for the time being. She'll be up again soon. She's going through yet another growth spurt/cluster feeding, which consists of short and frequent nursing and fussiness - very labor intensive!

I see why this stage of parenthood is often described as dreadful. I've heard so many horror stories about this period - about the sleeplessness, the crying, the never-ending feedings, the diapers... It's a completely new territory for first timers like myself. There's a learning curve. But you get better with practice, and things get easier - hopefully anyway.

Some parents say it only gets harder as you go because babies get bigger and more complex. And oh the dreadful teenage years! Everybody who's been there loves to warn you about the teenage years.

I believe it. It will only get more complicated. And right now - with this newborn who's so tiny and completely dependent on me - will be the easiest thing in hindsight, so I should enjoy it while it lasts. I agree, and I am. That's how life seems to go. Whatever I have right now will not ever be back, or be the same. I have to absorb it now, or it's gone forever.

I knew early on a baby changes everything. Duh. But I mean, it really changes EVERYthing. And I used to be one of those young people who's scared of the changes. I was never eager to start a family. I only vaguely knew I eventually wanted children. But for a long time, I feared the commitment. Wouldn't it take away my independence? My freedom? My precious solitude? What about my youthful body? Wouldn't a baby ruin everything?

Having just had my first baby after being married for almost nine years, I've gotten a lot of questions and comments from various places about this topic of babies and parenthood. It was annoying as heck, and I still think it's really none of anyone's business. And I personally think all these fears are valid and should not be ignored. I took my time, and I'm glad I did.

I marvel at this tiny, beautiful creature on a daily, or more like.. hourly basis. There's a constant, overwhelming sense of love. Yes, I'm exhausted. And I realize my days of being spontaneous are pretty much over. But surprisingly, I am not bothered by it. I am quite at peace with all of it. Life flows, and I'm moving along with it. It feels right. Things are changing as usual, and I am still me - fortunately, a version with enough perspective to not dwell on the past or the future, able to take in the good stuff. And this, right now, is good stuff.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

39 Weeks: 4 hours before my water broke

It's interesting to look back at what I did right before I went into labor, not having any idea it'll be so soon. My husband and I went out on a little dinner date two nights before to our favorite neighborhood restaurant. People seemed to be especially nice to me that night. Not having been out a lot during my pregnancy, I was enjoying all the attention from strangers, including the free ice cream sundae for two. :) Also knowing we'll be stuck at home for a while once the baby comes, I wanted to go out again the next day, aka the day before baby came. But we opted out because I was feeling exhausted. I said to my husband, "We have another week. Let's go out tomorrow." So wrong. But I'm glad we stayed in because I needed all the rest I could get before that long stretch of work head of me.

I was writing a blog entry that night.  I remember not finishing it because I didn't feel so great. In hindsight, I was in early labor. This is what I wrote:

February 21st, 2013 12:49am
"Most people apparently go into labor between 39 and 41 weeks, and a surprising number of my friends had their babies before their due date. Earlier this week, I had a day of feeling like I was going into labor. Something felt different. Also, I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, which I was sure was going to transition into a real labor. Of course, it hasn't happened just yet.

My sister and her family are coming from California this Saturday to be here for the birth. They'll be here for a couple of weeks to help out with the birth and the aftermath. We're hoping my baby girl will arrive while they're here. My husband and I were there for my niece's birth two years ago, and my niece arrived a few days after we did - perfect timing.

Our parents won't be at the birth, unfortunately or fortunately. I know having a lot of family around during birth is usually great but also could be stressful. Our circumstances aren't so much voluntary, but I'm at peace with how things are going to go. My husband has been really available throughout this whole process, and I trust him completely to be as supportive during labor and delivery. And my sister, already a mother who's been there/done that, will be around to help out with the transition. And her supportive husband will be here with my adorable niece to take care of her. It's going to be two weeks of craziness, but I am really looking forward to it.

In preparation for this baby's birth, I've been doing a lot of research on natural products for my baby, and I tried making my own lip balm, which I could tweak to use as baby diaper balm. I cooked it up tonight, and it was so quick and easy. And working with little pippettes and tubes totally reminded me of my days in the lab. I think I'm going to continue to do this. It's great knowing exactly what goes into what I'll be putting on my baby's skin.

I keep having dreams about breastfeeding. I wake up thinking baby's already out and on my boob. My mind is moving ahead of my body. I gotta get this baby out first. But I'm thinking more about what comes after. I still do read birth stories, which relaxes me. It helps me visualize what I might experience. This might sound weird, and I might totally take this back later, but I'm looking forward to experiencing labor and delivery. I visualize the moment my baby comes out into this world, and I already get choked up thinking about it. This baby is coming at the perfect time. She's going to be so loved. What a blessed child."

Well, I guess I was ready to move on, and I was right. I don't take back what I said about looking forward to experiencing labor and delivery. As intense as it was, I'm so glad and grateful I got to experience it the way I did. And the moment I saw my baby girl for the first time was one of the most emotional moments of my life.

PHOTO at 39 weeks: 
This is the last picture of myself pregnant and in my apartment. It was taken on my way out to go to the hospital!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 4: Sleep No More

I've wanted to write about my experience on a daily basis, but it's been virtually impossible to sit in front of my computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Someone said newborns sleep a lot, so you should go out often in the first few months.... Well, apparently not my baby... She sleeps frequently, but not in any kind of long stretches. She's always eating tho, meaning she's always ON me, which makes it hard to type. This girl's very vocal about her wants/needs - she screams and/or starts crying (such a loud voice from such a little person!) if we don't respond promptly. My girl knows what she wants! I've been nonstop nursing, taking very short naps in between - no "real sleep" whatsoever. And I'm typing with one hand right now in a very awkward position with my hungry baby girl glued to my chest.

I was told newborns need time to establish a pattern and should be fed "on demand," which I have been doing. I was also told newborns usually feed every 2-4 hours (start of feeding to the next start is how you time this gap). For us, it's been mostly every hour, two if lucky. This in reality means I have about 10-30 minutes in between feedings, during which she always needs a diaper change. Fortunately, Dave is on fulltime diaper duty, so I actually get that 10-30 minute break. But still... That's not a very long time. After a few weeks of doing this, I thought maybe something is wrong. Fortunately (unfortunately in some ways...), when I asked our pediatrician the other day, she said some babies just do that. It could be gas discomfort, preventing her from eating more at a time, but nothing serious if she's pooping and peeing fine, which she is. I also asked about our baby's grunting, which she does whenever she tries to poo or pass gas. Apparently, she's just in the process of learning to do these things efficiently. Newborns are so underdeveloped and helpless. Pooping is such hard work for her!

Some mornings, I feel demoralized in my sleepless delirium. But I've been able to snap out of it after a nap, during which my husband feeds our girl with my pumped milk in a bottle. And every time I wake up - however short, I'm so happy to see my husband and my baby. She is just so damn cute. BTW, I'm now typing with two hands. I tried on my new K'tan wrap for the first time, and I think my baby likes it! And my hands are free!

Time is already going by really fast. My baby is more than 3 weeks old and 2+lbs heavier than when she was born. Her cheeks are getting chubbier every day. However cranky I get at times these days from not sleeping much - sorry husband - I am enjoying this sometimes dreadful initiation into parenthood. I say we're doing pretty well as newbie parents so far, even if every grunt, every small noise from my baby freaks me out, which I'm told is unnecessary. I will learn tho. Newborns make weird noises. I get it. But I can't help it yet that I respond to every little thing to make sure she's okay. Motherhood is definitely not easy, but it's more than worth all my time and effort, as every parent before me has told me. So I happily say (while I'm feeling relatively sane after a nap) goodbye to sleep - for a while anyway. See you later. It was nice knowing you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

41 Weeks (and a day): The Aftermath

I'm in a new mom time warp. Two weeks and a day have passed already since my baby girl came out, and I have no clue how. I'm constantly asking what time and what day it is. It's apparently impossible for me to keep track while in the never-ending short cycles of breastfeeding, pumping, burping, and changing diapers. Newborns don't sleep in long stretches, which means I don't either. The first few days back home were really challenging because I was pretty beat up from labor & delivery, and recovering from something like that usually requires a lot of sleep, and I wasn't getting any. But thanks to my husband, who at some point took over the few critical night hours, and my baby who has no trouble going between bottles and breasts, I've had a chance to recuperate. No more sleeping for more than 4 hours at a time, which now is considered a luxury, but I was never expecting anything more. And I'm happy to oblige as a new mom to a beautiful, healthy baby.


I've always wanted to exclusively breastfeed. In preparation, I did my readings and went to classes while still pregnant. But I didn't have any expectations in terms of what will happen because I've seen numerous moms struggle through it; I knew it didn't happen easily for everyone. I was mentally prepared to supplement with formula if my body didn't cooperate. Even when the lactation consultant at the hospital checked out my breasts and enthusiastically said the words, "You're made for breastfeeding," I was skeptical because I was still only producing colostrum, and my milk was yet to come in.

Then the day I arrived home, I started experiencing the MIRACLE of a new mom's body. It's so fascinating to me how this transition happens. The engorgement, the pain, the latching, and the bonding - they're all happening. I didn't expect the initial engorgement to hurt so much, but I was happy to feel the pain that screamed 'MILK!' My girl is also latching on really well, and her cheeks have gotten fuller. My baby is growing!

I was introduced to pumping at the hospital when the lactation consultant came by. It helps to regulate milk supply and also helps to have backup for times mommy's away. I hadn't bought a pump for myself yet, and it felt overwhelming to pick one from so many choices. Thank goodness my sister and her husband were here to help with the breastfeeding/pumping transition, getting us the pump they recommend, sterilizing all the bottles, and setting us up and guiding us through the feeding/pumping routine. 


Having to feed the baby every 1-3 hours is exhausting as I've been told. There is no real time for rest, and sleep is elusive. But I have been absolutely loving this unavoidable, frequent skin to skin time with my baby. She looks up at me with her amazing newborn eyes, and I can't help but to marvel at her every single time. This is nothing new. Everyone knows about childbirth and breastfeeding, yet experiencing it firsthand feels like it's something I've never known. Watching my own little baby feeding on my breasts just seems crazy. Right after delivery, when my hormones were 'out of control,' I held her and sobbed in pure bliss - I couldn't believe how happy I felt. Going through this initial phase of motherhood has been such an incredible high for me so far. 


Once I gave birth, my body stopped producing as much heat as when I was pregnant, making me really cold at all times. Our heater is on at about 5 degrees higher in temperature than usual, and I'm always wearing extra layers of clothing, sipping on hot drinks. I actually started crying in my half-asleep state at one point because my husband turned down our bedroom heater, and I felt so cold but had no strength to do anything about it. I was also in pain, and the shivering didn't help. It took us a few days to register that my needs have drastically changed from pregnant and sick to postpartum and recovering. 

At two weeks, my body doesn't hurt as much. Much of the swelling has subsided, and the muscle pain from laboring is gone - no more ibuprofen needed. And I've managed to sneak in a 4 hour nap somewhere - thanks husband! - which I think was vital in feeling revitalized. Fortunately, I haven't felt any signs of postpartum depression. All I feel is enormous gratitude. 


I'm about 20 lbs lighter than when I went into labor two weeks ago. My belly is shrinking on a daily basis, which is really fascinating to watch. Losing all the pregnancy weight will probably take some time, but that's just fine with me. I'm too busy being amazed at all the crazy changes this body of mine has gone through to produce another human being and is still going through to nurture my baby girl - all with so little sleep. I feel like a rockstar. :)

PHOTO of my sweet family:

Friday, March 1, 2013

40 Weeks: So In LOVE

I have skipped my Week 39 entry because THAT was a CRAZY day: MY BABY ARRIVED!! They say most people go into labor between 39 & 41 weeks. I had an inkling I'd be going into labor before my due date, which was today, but I was in denial even when I started noticing what felt like menstrual cramps - my labor had begun. My sister was coming in two days to be here with me for the delivery, and I wanted this baby to wait!

They also say water doesn't break the way they do in the movies when a woman goes into labor; only 10-15% women experience it this way. And even when the water breaks, it may take a little while for labor to begin. But what happened to me was just like in the movies. My water broke at 5am, and my contractions began to progress quickly.

I was surprisingly calm through the whole process, mostly excited, but also disappointed that my family wasn't here yet. It was just the two of us. But that was okay. I was ready, and so was my husband. We felt prepared.

My labor and delivery mostly went smoothly and as I had hoped, with the exception of the last two hours, when things got potentially dangerous. I'm sure I'll write about it soon, but it got pretty intense. I was in what I could only call some kind of trance with pain and exhaustion. My husband was a mess, and my midwife and her assistants were calling our backup doctor. I was in and out of consciousness as I heard bits and pieces of their discussion. I couldn't help but to feel defeated. But perhaps it was this specific little push-comes-to-shove moment that gave me enough strength to finally finish the job. My beautiful and perfectly healthy baby girl came out as the doctor arrived at the hospital parking lot. Even the NICU staff that came in for newborn emergency care left as soon as they saw the baby because she was perfectly fine. Her Apgar Score was 9.9/10!

It was definitely one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. And my body is definitely feeling it. But oh the love... All the love! And the joy of seeing this beautiful and perfect creature that looks like my husband and myself... This little miracle makes everything worthwhile. I'm puffy like I've never seen, and I'm sore everywhere from all the laboring and pushing. But I might seriously be the happiest I've ever been in my life. I haven't slept in a week, but it's been getting easier every day, and I'm getting the hang of it, especially as my body recovers. And I'm lucky to have my sister's family here to help for a couple of weeks, along with a husband whose nurturing side has been nothing short of amazing.

PHOTO at 40 weeks of my newborn baby girl's feet:
Newborns go through some traumatic pricking at the hospital. For my little girl, she had to get pricked extra few times to monitor her glucose level because of my Gestational Diabetes. And she also had some jaundice, which required several blood tests. My poor baby... But everything is fine now, and she's one beautiful, healthy newborn!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

38 Weeks: Weight Gain

Happy Valentine's Day! I usually take this day as an excuse to indulge in some chocolates, but I'm a bit limited in my sugar consumption this year... But that's okay because my life is definitely full of, if not overflowing with, love these days. This joyful anticipation of a baby girl is sweeter than any amount of chocolates!

Despite my no-sugar-eating, healthy diet, I've been gaining weight steadily - especially recently. The slowing down of the "last growth spurt" that's supposed to occur after 36 weeks hasn't happened for me. A pregnant woman's blood volume increases by ~50%, so I know a lot of it is water weight, but I've been gaining what seems like a steady ~1+lb/week. I swear I feel heavier every morning, and my belly feels tighter. I've been diligently doing my cat stretches, and I officially have a hard time bending over now - so much so that my husband helps me put my shoes on. And I'm such a first time pregnant woman - I'm constantly amazed at how big I'm getting.

Ever since being diagnosed with GD, I've been paying close attention to my weight, getting on the scale every morning as soon as I wake up and jotting down for my record. Though I'm not too sure about my accurate "starting weight," I'm pretty sure I've gained about 30 pounds so far. My weight sometimes fluctuates a bit, depending on how bloated I am, so I'm not sure if I'll gain more in total during the leftover duration of this pregnancy. A woman who starts at a 'normal' weight is expected/advised to gain 25-35 pounds, and underweight women more, and overweight, less. My first doctor suggested 35, and I remember thinking, wow, that's a lot of weight. But now I'm almost there...!! In terms of my measurements, my belly is right on target this week.

I've added a step to my belly moisturizing regimen. I use my regular Earth Mama Stretch Oil after showers, but I also use coconut oil before bedtime. I've heard that some women get stretch marks in the last couple weeks of pregnancy...! That would be a bummer, so I'm trying to  be careful - tho they say it's mostly your genetics and not so much the moisturizing. Still.. Better safe than sorry, right?

A bit earlier in my pregnancy, I used to have a lot of anxiety dreams, where someone is trying to harm my baby, and I'd turn into a beast and destroy all the perpetrators. Nowadays, I'm noticing my dreams have evolved into something more pleasant - well, I'm assuming because I don't really remember them. What does stay with me is that I'm always buoyant, and the baby is already out. I guess I'm looking forward to being lighter. As much as I think I might miss being this pregnant, I am definitely looking forward to being more mobile/agile/independent.

I started taking some GTF Chromium supplements at my midwife's suggestion. It's supposed to help with my insulin resistance, aka Gestational Diabetes. There aren't too many studies done to know the exact mechanism in which Chromium assists sugar metabolism, but it helps some people. She suggested I take 100mcg, twice a day. Being cautious about supplements in general, I decided to start with 100mcg/day after three days of reading about it. And to my pleasant surprise, it's helping. Not that my blood glucose was so out of whack before, but it's more stable now, even if I eat fruits in the mornings for example. I've been enjoying my apples, bananas, berries, and papayas more without worrying about my blood sugar. I even had some cookie the other night after a spicy dinner. Oh, and I might even have some chocolate tonight after dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day. :)

PHOTO at 38 weeks:
This baby could come any day now, and I definitely look it!