Monday, January 29, 2007

Tummy Time and other adventures

For non-parents or parents who parented before there were 10,000 books on how to parent (who knew how many parts of speech the word parent could be?), "Tummy time" is an activity you are supposed to do every day starting from the day you bring junior home in order to cultivate his upper body strength. We have been working on this with Jack for only a few weeks because I haven't read any books on developing motor skills and therefore, did not know about tummy time (gasp). What can I say? I thought it just happened. I don't see a lot of people who can't hold their head up .. but I digress. I am pleased to report, Jack is beginning to rock the tummy time. You may think this isn't that great but for several weeks we called tummy time 'lie on your face and cry time.' So we are pleased.

This weekend, Ryan's parents visited. This was their first meeting of their second grandchild and they were thrilled. We took them to the new sculpture park. We all loved the park but Jack seemed bored and fell asleep almost immediately.

Earlier this week, jack had his first sort-of play dates. We met with Cyrus and his mom, Jo. Cyrus is only 5 days older than Jack. We also met with maggie and her parents, megan and ben. Maggie is only three weeks old and we forgot to take pictures but you'll see them again.

Jack's favorite activity is still sleep and he is so cute when he sleeps that by the time he reaches his first bday I won't be surprised if we have taken 1000 asleep photos.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Knock on wood

Today we went to see our family doctor for the 2 month well child visit. Jack weighs 10.5 lbs and is 23 inches long. He is in the 30th percentile for weight and 50th for height.. which is probably exactly where I was before I was pregnant. jack also got his shots.. 5 to be exact. I was planning to stagger the shots and only get the DTaP today but the doctor talked me out it. My fear was that jack's little immune system would be overwhelmed especially because I am not breastfeeding. The doc's argument was that while they would never give adults 5 shots at a time, babies can handle it. He reassured me that he has vaccinated hundreds of children and "never had a problem, knock on wood." So we did it. I felt like I was going to cry when the nurse brought in the shots with their big needles. But I learned many lessons from watching the family members of sick people in the ER.. the most helpful to the patients were those that did not fall apart -- the ones that were strong even though emotionally, they must have been terrified... and this show of strength is far more important for young patients. So I held his little hands and looked calmly into his eyes as he screamed. It sucked.

He has been sleeping since.. so hopefully, knock on wood, no issues.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Joaq-star

Sometimes we call jack the joaq(wok)-star. Today he is wearing his joaq-star shirt. Thanks Livi!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The comparison game

When you play the comparison game, you always lose .. a jesuit from seattle u said more than once. It's true because you never play against someone you can beat. When I go to the support group with at least 20 other moms and babies I find myself thinking 'wow, that baby is only 4 weeks older but she weighs 5 more pounds than jack. why is jack so small? will he always be small? will he have problems on the playground with bullies? if he does, i will definitely talk to the principal because bullying is very serious. maybe i should enroll him in tae kwon do ..' and on and on. I never compare Jack to the 3 week old baby born 4 weeks premature because then where would i go? 'damn, jack is big. he'll probably be a great athlete. where will the olympics be in 2024? ' no. i never think like that.

i always laughed when parents talked about their concerns for their children when compared to other children. Every kid is different because they have a different set of genes and parents, so why bother comparing? But I see how natural it is and how important it is to be aware that I am doing it.. because while it is silly it very easy to start believing your neurosis.

Here is a photo of Jack looking fierce in the pumas his aunt katie gave him:

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sleep Deprivation and Psychedelic Dreams

Normally, Ryan and I divide the night feeding duties. Ryan takes care of Jack from around 9 or 10 to around 2 or 3. Then I take care of him from 3 on. Occasionally, he'll fall asleep after I feed him and not wake up until 6 or so. Usually, he wakes up every hour between 3 and 7. I fall asleep quickly and during those 45-60 minute periods, I have a very vivid recurring dream. It is usually full of crazy detail -- last night I was in an underground city that was part of the USC campus. (I have never been to USC) But the theme is the same. In each dream I am looking for Jack and I cannot find him. I don't know where he is. It's not a scary dream but it's an anxiety dream... similar to the one where you have a test and forgot to study ..

It's weird.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Advice for soon-to-be parents

Today I went to a baby shower. The soon-to-be mom is 34 weeks pregnant and one of the activities of the shower was to write some advice for new parents. I have only been a parent for 8 weeks and 1 day but I feel full of wisdom about the topic. I have learned so so much in a very short time and yet, I still have so so much to learn.. I think this is one of the great aspects of parenting -- it is always challenging. You meet one challenge, have a moment to feel good or bad or guilty or whatever about it, then that challenge is over and a new one presents itself.

My advice was to always remember that whatever you experience as a parent is temporary (of course, this is true of everything in life) and it truly does get easier with each week that passes. After some thought I don't think the easier part is true. It doesn't get easier but you have more confidence and that makes it seem easier.

I was also thinking about things that surprised me about labor. There is no point to telling any pregnant person this because every labor is different. My labor will prepare no one for theirs ( also part of my new wisdom). I was surprised by how calm I was.. I never felt any fear .. I never yelled or panicked. I was surprised by how difficult it was to push but then I by how strong I was. I was also surprised that I felt no joy after the process was over and that for two weeks I felt like I had been in a car accident ( the physical cause was likely from tensing every muscle in my body for the 2.5 hours of pushing and the emotional cause .. well I still have no idea why I felt like I had PTSD). Labor is just the first challenge .. I can think about it all I want but it's over and now I am on to new challenges.

Jack is a little more alert every day. His 'colic' or whatever you want to call crying for many hours in the evening seems to be less frequent. He is so darn cute -- he inspires us to make up lots of silly songs and exagerrated facial expressions to get him to smile. He also cried with real tears for the first time today which made me cry. All I want to do is make him happy.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Soak up the Sun

Today Jack was in our baby papasan which he normally hates. However, at his mature 7 weeks he seems to have decided it's not so bad. I turned around to turn on iTunes and the Sheryl Crow song Soak up the Sun came on. I turned back around to look at Jack and he had the biggest darn smile on his face. I grabbed the camera and luckily got him to smile a little more. It is amazing what his smile does to me physiologically. It feels like warmth emanates from my heart all across my chest .. I couldn't decide which picture I liked more so I put up both.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Baby fashions

The baby clothes are so darn cute. Jack has a very fashionable wardrobe for at least the next year because of the generosity of all of our hip and stylish friends.

Our dear friend Sandi gave us this very cute honey bear tee. Like most of his clothes, I wish I had one. Well, maybe not a onesie but this would be a great t-shirt.


Jack has gained a few new skills in the past week or two. He can smile, he lays down and just looks around (before he would just cry), he seems to be losing some of his baby reflexes like the limb shuddering he used to do. He also grew eyebrows. Overnight.

After we went to Astoria, he had a couple of rough nights. He cried a lot - more than usual. Some people offered that maybe he had been overstimulated on our trip. What does that mean exactly? After some thought I decided it's probably similar to my experience in Las Vegas. After a couple of days in las vegas, I have had it. I just want to lie in a quiet room with tatami mats, a small gurgling fountain and a cup of green tea. It's just too much of everything. But it's important to introduce babies to our crazy world -- now I can understand jack's pain a little more. It's like he has to go to vegas all the time. Fun at first but the recovery is rough.

Here is a little video of Ryan and me trying to get Jack to smile.. something we spend a lot of time doing these days:

jack smiling

You can't handle the truth

After the first weeks support group meeting many of the new moms go to a nearby coffee shop to chat. I was talking to a woman whose baby is a few weeks older than Jack. She wondered why no one ever told her how hard breastfeeding would be. We wondered why no one could ever adequately explain how hard all of it was going to be. She offered that maybe people felt she would not be able to handle the truth .. or, that if they told her and she fully understood maybe she, gasp, would choose not to have a child. We then went on a tangent about how condenscending that attutide was. But I was thinking later about how many times people had told me labor or baby "horror" (my word) stories and how I commiserated with other pregnant women about this strange phenomenon of people feeling compelled to tell us bad news. Now I think maybe they were just telling the truth and it wasn't what we wanted to hear. All of these stories came from other women.

I think my hormones have finally mellowed out and I am adjusting to my new life with jack. I know my blog has been depressing but many (not all) of my early experiences have been sad. I am not going to lie about that just so other people can be comfortable with my situation and think it fits in with some idyllic societal motherhood fantasy. Sadness is a part of life. That is the truth.

Me and Jack chillin

Monday, January 01, 2007

Big hands & small hands

one more pic of ryan and jack.

Happy New Year

Jack is 6 weeks old. We spent part of the new year weekend with our friends tammy and sean and their kids in astoria. Jack did great in the new location -- actually, he didn't seem to notice. Tammy's kids are 3 1/2 year old identical twins who love babies. They were very cute with Jack.

Tyler and Joey

Tammy, Sean, Tyler, Joey

Ryan and Jack

Jack on New Year's Day

The Mother Trip

I am reading a book by Ariel Gore called 'The Mother Trip.' I am seeking (and sought when I was pregnant) alternative views of pregnancy and motherhood. I do not know where I got the messages of what motherhood is supposed to be but they are very oppressive. The book I am reading traces some of the origins of the halo that exists around motherhood and why. In short, mothers are supposed to sacrifice everything for their children. My mom didn't do this so where does this come from? Why do I feel guilty about all of my short-comings? Why do I feel like I have so many short-comings? I was aware of the negative messages before having Jack but I am surprised by how deeply they affect me. For example, I have heard friends say in certain moments they feel like "a bad mother" when their kid cries or whatever. I always thought that was so strange. Now, I have experienced that feeling. I don't abuse or neglect my child, so what's up?

The book has the following passage:
Take a moment to imagine the perfect mother. No, wait. Take a moment to look in the mirror. She is you. You are enough for your children, no matter what the choir says, no matter who you imagine you "should" be, you are enough.

I spent a lot of time in my late teens and early twenties getting over our society's ideal of a woman .. someone who looks hot at all times or has no value. Now I have to get over this ideal of motherhood. The sooner, the better.