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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guess how much we love you?

Yes, she really is this perfect.

And no, we still can't believe we made her... :)
"I love you right up to the moon- and back."
-Big Nutbrown Hare, Guess How Much I Love You?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All wrapped up

Loving the Moby!
Originally uploaded by ghetto of our mind
We're not sure if it's a developmental thing or if it's just general fussiness but for the past 10 days or so, Sophie's been having difficulty sleeping at nights. Specifically between the hours of 10pm- 2am, she's either really fussy and cries uncontrollably, or just wants to be awake and play. She's also taken to wanting only to fall asleep in our arms and doesn't like it when we put her down. It's odd because she's so very sweet in the day- playing, feeding, and sleeping without much fuss. We spoke to Dr. Youssef, her pediatrician, who says that this will pass by 8-10 weeks-- the night-crying especially-- and that for now, we should just do what we can to soothe her when she fusses and pick her up whenever she cries. Despite popular belief, in the first 3 months, there really is no such thing as spoiling a baby. Besides, it's hard for me not to pick her up when she cries so badly- it's like a small part of me dies a little every time I hear her plaintive wail...

So to get round her not sleeping, we've started using the Moby Wrap to soothe her into a deep sleep first early in the night and then transferring her to her crib later. The wrap keeps my hands free so I can still do some work when she's inside. She already loves it as it is- she sleeps extremely well and long in it, and it comforts her because she's so close to our bodies. Actually I think it comforts me, knowing that she's warm and secure, listening to my heartbeat lulling her to sleep. Invariably, she's also always clutching on to my blouse with her tiny hands whenever she's inside and that always makes my heart sing a little... :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Waking up is hard to do...

In video- 3:49pm, Saturday, Sep 26, 2009: Miss Sophie Yew seemingly content waking up from her afternoon nap.

Not in video- 3:50pm, Saturday, Sep 26, 2009: Miss Sophie Yew VERY UNHAPPY to have woken up from her afternoon nap...

A start of autumn song - "East" by the weather station

As the mercury starts to dip, the leaves turn color and when a definite autumnal mood is in the air, I thought that I would share this gorgeous track by the Canadian band, the weather station. Much meaning in the lyrics as we begin to ponder our next steps after the PhD.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Passport photo- FAIL!

This is what happens when you try to take a passport photo for a 6-week old with a white bed-sheet and her bouncer...

[click for full effect]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Working mom

So my maternity leave ended this week and I'm technically "back at work", although that doesn't have quite the same meaning for a grad student as a full-time working mom. It basically means I'm back to working 20 hours a week as a research assistant and can no longer spend my days sitting in front of the TV with Sophie sleeping next to me on the couch, or spend my nights Internet-ing from our bed. The professor I'm working for is really understanding though and apart from the weekly meetings I'm obligated to attend, she's allowing me-- for the most part-- to work from home doing data analysis and writing so I don't have to worry about childcare for Sophie, at least till the end of this calendar year. It's going to be a challenge to juggle taking care of her, my research assistantship responsibilities as well as finishing writing my dissertation, but people have done it before and I'm confident Jude and I will manage.

Here's how today-- officially my first "back to work" day-- unfolded:

8:00- Woke up wondering why Sophie hadn't woken up for her morning feed yet and debated whether or not to go back to sleep. Decided to wake up and freshen up before she did rouse and demand breakfast.

8:30- Nursed Sophie for about 20 minutes while Jude made coffee and breakfast.

9:00- 10:30- Had some active awake time with Sophie, playing with Chickie, reading a couple more pages of Make Way For Ducklings [it was riveting stuff- where will the Mallards make their home?? Sophie can't wait to find out what happens next... ;)], and cooing and talking with her as she sat in her bouncer (for those of you who follow our photos, yes, she's finally taken to the bouncer- yay!).

10:30- Just as Jude went off to school, Sophie nursed and promptly fell asleep. I had planned to just put her to bed in her crib upstairs and turn the baby monitor on as I worked on my desk downstairs but decided to just let her sleep in her bouncer next to me just so I could keep an eye on her. She didn't seem to mind and fell into a deep slumber after fussing just for a little bit.

10:30- 5:00- This was basically my most productive stretch of the day. Sophie stirred to feed twice but went right back to sleep (we did have a brief 20-minute mother-daughter bonding moment but our little girl decided that sleep was more important than whatever crazy antics her mother wanted to engage her in...). I forced myself to be as efficient as possible in finishing whatever it was my professor wanted me to do (on the list today: work with some data in Excel, critique a couple of journal articles, and prepare a manuscript for publication) because I knew once Sophie woke up in the evening, I wasn't going to be able to get much done till she went to bed at night. I even had lunch in front of the computer.

5:00- Sophie woke up to feed and basically stayed up till bedtime. When she was done nursing, we-- well, she-- spent some time on her crib under the mobile watching it for a little. Now that her head's a little steadier, I think she's more able to engage with the mobile better. That didn't last long though and it was back downstairs for more Make Way For Ducklings (yes! The Mallards found a place to nest on the Charles River! And they get peanuts from Policeman Michael! Sophie was at the edge of her (bouncer) seat!!...) and incongruous babbling on my part to try to make her smile for the camera. Jude came home about an hour later and we went for a walk outside. The weather was really nice-- albeit a little humid-- and Sophie seemed to enjoy the fresh air after being cooped up inside the whole day. We came home for some tummy time- yay, Sophie!- and then she fed again.

7:00- Dinner involved basically reheating a fraction of the buffet my mom cooked up that is now stored in various containers in our fridge and freezer. We ate while Sophie watched on, sitting quietly in her bouncer. I wonder sometimes when she's in that quiet alert state if she's actually thinking, entertaining actual thoughts in that little growing brain of hers. What goes through her mind? How she can weasel more milk out of the lady in front of her? Or get the guy sitting next to the lady to change her diaper more often? Oh, and burping. Burping's good...

7:45- It's time to bathe her and put her to bed. It's become a nightly ritual ever since she was a couple of days old that bathtime signals bedtime, and surprisingly, Sophie loves it. In fact, it's the one time of the day that we're almost guaranteed a happy, chill baby. She really seems to enjoy being changed and wiped, having a warm towel wiped all over her face and lavender baby lotion slowly massaged into her little nooks and crannies. Like Cleopatra, Jude always says, with both Mama and Daddy synchronously bathing, drying, moisturizing, and dressing her :)

8:00- now- As Sophie sleeps, Jude works in the study while I continue with my work downstairs. The baby monitor's on which is a little disconcerting because it amplifies sound which makes her every whimper sound that much louder. I'm trying my darndest not to run upstairs at the slightest rustle.

I think I did good considering I'm still feeling a little wistful that my parents have left. I tell myself that we managed that first 4 weeks without them and that we'll see them again soon- we just have to ease back into our schedule and we'll be back into the swing of things.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Till Christmas, Mom & Dad...

I miss them already. *sniff* I can't remember the last time I cried saying bye to my parents. Even when Jude and I made our first big move here in 2003, it didn't really hit me this hard. But something about the past 3 weeks was different. And it didn't have to do with all the stuff they bought us (they practically restocked our bathroom and kitchen supplies) or cooked for us (my mom made enough food to last us at least 2 weeks). I'm not sure what it is but I was genuinely sad to see my parents walk through the gate this afternoon :( Coming home from the airport, there was an unmistakable stillness- no smells of ginger and sesame oil wafting from the kitchen, soups simmering away, my dad pottering about the house trying to keep things tidy, or the TV perpetually tuned to the Food Channel because my mom's a little besotted with Barefoot Contessa.

I think part of it has to do with how I feel my relationship with my parents have evolved somewhat. My friend Tanya says that having children sort of redefines your relationship with your parents. Because not only do you see how much they love your child, you realize that everything you're doing and feeling for your child, your parents have done and felt (and still feel) for you. Like finding out how my mom had to painstakingly deal with me crying through the nights, or that my dad was the one who changed me and got me ready for the day when I was a baby because my mom had to leave for work early. These gestures are universal and elemental, and they transcend time and age. My mom spent the last 3 weeks practically planted in the kitchen cooking up soups and tonics just so I could reap the health benefits; she would also sometimes be the last to have dinner and watch Sophie for us just so we could eat in peace and not worry. And my dad- constantly worrying about whether or not we have enough paper towels or teaspoons, and so eager to help with re-arranging our room just so the two of us and Sophie would be most comfortable.

I'm profoundly embarrassed to say this but I don't think I've appreciated my parents as much as I have these past 3 weeks.

Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sophie by any other name...

...would be as sweet :) What is it about giving babies nicknames? We call Sophie by her given name, of course, but from birth, she's also acquired her fair share of pet names we've come to use:

Peanut: Her first nickname used by almost everyone who saw her-- the nurses, especially-- that first two days in the hospital. At the rate that she's growing, we're not going to be able to call her that for much longer though.

Princess Poopypants: Given to her by Daddy for the sheer volume of dirty diapers she was producing in her first week. She continues to make that name proud today...

En En: Derived from her Chinese name, we call her that once in a while just so she gets used to the sound of her other name.

Susu monster: "Susu" means milk in Malay. Sophie feeds really well which also means that she wants her milk when she wants it and will let it be known to the world when she doesn't get her meal. Because of her ravenous appetite, the nickname susu monster was born.

Milky Spice: This is fairly self-explanatory although it's not only because of Sophie's milk addiction. She's also familiarizing herself with moving her arms and legs and so it often looks like she's dancing while lying down. In an alternate universe, she could be a pop sensation in the making.

Ang Ku Kueh: A traditional Chinese sticky confection stuffed either with bean paste or peanut, we've taken to calling Sophie ang ku kueh because every time she stretches, her faces turns a shade of red from the blood flooding her teeny facial capillaries. Plus her cheeks are growing delightfully chubby, turning her face round and confection-like :)

Sweet sweet: What Grandma's been calling her. As much a description of our precious little girl as a throwback to the last baby in our family-- Sam-- 16 years ago. Sam's Chinese name sounds like "sweet" in Chinese and because we used to call her sweet sweet when she was little, my mom started calling Sophie that too.

Siew Mai: Another food-related nickname (with parents like us, are you surprised?...). This has to do with Sophie's faux-hawk that makes her look like a little dim-sum dumpling. I actually think this might be her most endearing nickname yet :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blueberry Girl

For the past couple of weeks, we've taken to reading to Sophie whenever she's awake. I know she's not comprehending any of the content but I'd like to think that reading even at this stage helps her cognitive and emotional development and starts introducing her to language. Besides, I love the closeness it fosters when we read to her. So far, we've read her "I Love You Through and Through", "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!", and "Olivia". Today, a new book arrived that I can't wait to read to her. Thanks to our former student, David, we now have Neil Gaiman's "Blueberry Girl" to add to Sophie's growing library. It's truly one of the loveliest books for parents and parents-to-be of daughters and I had to fight back the tears while reading through it this morning.

It started out as a poem Gaiman wrote for a friend who was expecting a daughter and he ended up making copies of it for various other people. It wasn't until he let illustrator Charles Vess (of Stardust fame) read the poem did they decide to collaborate and turn it into a book. In this note, he shares his sentiments on the development of "Blueberry Girl". Enchanting, beautiful, lyrical, and fantastic, it's a poem, a prayer, and a blessing all rolled into one. It has to do with wishing for your daughter hope, wisdom, self-esteem, and enjoyment of life- truly, truly exquisite, and we wish it all for our dear Sophie...

Here's an animated peek into the book with Neil Gaiman reading:

"Words can be worrisome, people complex,
motives and manners unclear,
Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right,
free from unkindness and fear.

Let her tell stories and dance in the rain,
somersault, tumble, and run,
Her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep.
Let her grow like a weed in the sun.

Ladies of paradox, ladies of measures,
ladies of shadows that fall,

This is a prayer for a blueberry girl."

-Excerpted from Blueberry Girl, Neil Gaiman

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Sophie taking her first bottle

Since she was born, Sophie has hit all her developmental milestones almost on the dot (I mean, the moment she was ready to pop at 37 weeks, our girl was all set. Talk about being punctual...): growth spurts at 7 days and 3 weeks, lifting her head 45 degrees at 3 weeks, and making eye contact at 4 weeks- she's done it all. Yesterday, as she turned a month old, Sophie turned another two corners, so to speak- 1) she finally outgrew her Newborn diapers and has moved up a size, and 2) she's grown too big for her Newborn clothes and had to start wearing her 0-3 month onesie today. It would seem that Mama's milk is doing our little girl a whole lot of good :)

Speaking of milk and milestones, another one that Sophie accomplished today is taking to her first bottle. I go back to school in a couple of weeks and Jude will be home on my meeting days to watch her so I'll be expressing and storing my breastmilk so he can do her feeds. Also, we didn't want to wait too long to try or it'll just make the transition even tougher for her. Our breastfeeding instructor recommended that we start introducing the bottle 10 days before and to start with just an ounce to see if she'll take to it. And so this morning, with the grandparents by her side cheering her along (literally!), Sophie was given her first bottle by Daddy. We were told that she may not take the bottle if she senses me nearby so I sat on the stairs watching from afar. And crying. First it was from the anxiety of seeing her initially reject the nipple and not getting the milk she craved, but once she latched on and drank merrily away, I started crying even harder at the prospect that I was no longer her sole provider of sustenance :( If it's possible, I think I actually felt a twinge of resentment against the bottle, in all its well-designed BPA-free glory...

Now that I've regained some semblance of perspective though, I'm really glad at how it all worked out and so proud of what a little trooper Sophie was. Also, I comfort myself by saying that I'll still be breastfeeding her whenever I'm home and Jude and I will switch out for night feeds so that things will be a little more sane for me. Like our friend Tanya reminded me, I'll always be her Mama, and a silly little bottle isn't going to change that... Besides, now that we know Sophie will take the bottle when she has to, Jude can be a real part of her feeding experience and not just the person who carries her to me in the middle of the night :) Daddy-daughter bonding FTW!

As for the whole bottle experience, we were expecting a real struggle with this transition and so afraid of how many bottles we'd have to try before we find one that Sophie will like. Thankfully, we started right away with the Adiri Stage 1 bottle and we couldn't be any happier. Designed with the help of moms, doctors, and lactation consultants, and with a nipple that's molded like Mama's breast, the Adiri bottle is highly recommended by many of the mommy websites I've been perusing. It's a little costlier than regular bottles, but judging from how quickly and easily Sophie took to it only after a minute of fussing, we're not complaining- it's totally worth it!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Celebration Part Deux

1. Sophie turns a month old!, 2. Dyed red eggs to celebrate Sophie turning a month old!, 3. Sophie turns a month old!, 4. This is how a one-month old looks like :)

Our little peanut's a month old! We're counting each and every blessing that has come with being her parents! :)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Celebration Part Un

Finally, for the first time in six years, we were able to do something with my parents for their wedding anniversary :) Since we've only ever been home until August in the summers, we've never celebrated their anniversary with them in person. This year, not only were we able to, there's the added joy of having Sophie around! The day started off with brunch at Cafe Zola which always satisfies- if you ask me, nothing says C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-I-O-N like a spicy Bloody Mary, breakfast fries, and eggs boiled, baked, crêpe-ed, and fritatta-ed. Oh, and let's not forget the basket of luscious pastries and breads that came with my Dad's Turkish Brunch, most of which ended up in a brown paper bag that's now sitting in our kitchen...

We had wanted to make a reservation somewhere nice for my parents so that they could have a nice dinner on their own, but the doting grandparents wanted to stay home with their grand-daughter so Jude & I made them a steak dinner instead. We had bought two generous New York strip steaks from Sparrow Market over the weekend and there was farmshare veggies to be had, so dinner was oven-roasted steaks (the weather thwarted our plans to grill), scorched kale with lemon and bacon, and a Caprese salad with tomatoes and basil from the farm. There was nary a morsel of food left by the time we were done and my dad even felt compelled to wipe up the last of the chiffonades of basil floating in balsamic vinegar...

At the end of the day though, I don't think the food mattered as much to my parents as the fact that they're here with us, especially with Sophie, and that they're able to be with us, anniversary or not. It really doesn't matter what our little peanut is doing-- sleeping, playing, smiling, crying, pooping, bathing-- they, like us, hang on to every one of her antics as if she's the only baby in the universe capable of such precious, profound feats. Sophie will be a month old tomorrow and while there will be another small celebration of sorts, again, it wouldn't matter. Everyone in this house is just happy to be together, whatever the occasion may be :)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

When love comes to town

My parents are here. Yay! My parents are here. Did I mention that my parents are here? I love that my parents are here... For one, they've been a great help around the house. Just in the 24-hours alone, they've reorganized our kitchen, folded our laundry, bought us a brand new rice cooker (apparently, we've been living in the rice cooker Dark Ages- rice *isn't* supposed to stick to the pot...), an electric kettle (our small REI fast-boiling kettle did not perform satisfactorily), and a 5-cup coffee maker (because my dad needs his coffee in order to be functional in the morning and an espresso pot is just asking a little too much of him pre-caffeine...), and made us the kind of food that satisfies in the way only mom's homecooking can (a simple steamed fish never tasted so good...) Oh, and my mom felt the overwhelming need to help us clean our Herman Miller chair too. The whole back and bottom of it. Given the chance, she would have cleaned our entire house (basement and all) and then make dinner for the whole neighbourhood.

But more importantly, it's been magical watching them fall in love with Sophie in person, seeing them fawn over her every coo and whimper and the sparkle in their eyes when she responds to them :) Like us, they can literally sit and watch her sleep all day. Truly, there are few things in the world as precious...

1. The happy grandparents, 2. How's it hanging, Grandpa?, 3. Making Grandma very happy :), 4. Holding both grandparents' hands

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Snap happy

Because Sophie's only awake for short pockets of time a day, whenever she is up, we go stir-crazy with the camera. Like this afternoon when I took a string of at least 25 photos within a span of just 10 minutes. If I'm not careful, our daughter's going to grow up thinking her mother has a camera for a face...

1. Portrait of a young lady, 2. I vote to take no more pictures within the next hour please..., 3. Mid-yawn, 4. The first of many more embarrassing posed photos, 5. Bemused, 6. Concerned, 7. With I Love You Through & Through, 8. Oh Puhleeese..., 9. We live for expressions like these :), 10. Away with thee, paparazzi!, 11. Default post-nap expression, 12. Furrowed brow