wife, mother, ph.d. student, hot stuff.

Monday, December 08, 2008

things I have learned about baby care in the first 3 months

I was writing a card to a friend who is expecting a baby in a couple months, and realized that some of the advice I was giving was worth putting down here as well.

- Even if you aren't going to cloth diaper, get a pile of prefolds. Those things soak up liquid like no one's business! Use them for burping, and for covering every surface the baby lies on, cause babies leak from practically every orifice. And keep them handy for diaper changes, cause YES, he WILL pee as soon as the diaper comes off. Speaking of which....
- Peepee Teepees don't work. I don't speak from specific experience, but lemme tell you, there is serious force behind baby piss. I laid a baby wipe on top of my son, and he peed... and the stream went THROUGH the wipe, and up a full inch above it. A Peepee Teepee would go flying.
- Humidifiers are useful both for moisture, and as a source of white noise to lull baby to sleep.
- Slings = insta-nap. I like the Maya wrap, or any other ring sling for newborns. Now that Julian's quite a bit bigger, we've moved on to a Kangaroo Korner pouch.
- Take advantage of baby's suck reflex - there's a reason pacifiers exist. It's like baby opium, totally calms them down. If you are convinced that pacifiers are evil, then you could also use a finger if desperate.
- Babies are adept at picking up your mood. Try to be cool and collected even if he is FREAKING OUT. If you are freaking out yourself, and just need to cry for a bit (totally ok!) give the baby to someone else to hold for a bit.
- Turn your cell phones off after 8pm to guarantee you and your partner a less interrupted night.
- Put a size reference in photos of your baby. I saw a series of photos of someone's baby next to a loaf of bread, and really wish I had done that.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Julian -

You turned 8 weeks old on quite a momentous day - Election Day 2008. Your father and I voted, as we have in the past two elections, but this one was different. It wasn't just that the guy who won happens to be half black, or that he is a Democrat, or even that his election triggered massive celebrations in the streets all over the country, and even the globe.

It was that we voted with your future foremost in our minds.

I was brought to tears as we watched the news coverage of the crowds cheering in Times Square and Grant Park, but mostly because I was hugging your father, with you in snug in a sling in between us.

Hope is a much stronger word, now that you're here with us, little one.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Discovering/remembering muscle movements

Julian is learning to smile; he is most likely to start grinning first thing in the morning, and in general, after he eats. It's very different from his little gas smiles from previous weeks; these grins open up his mouth, and crunch up his eyes. The first couple of times he smiled like this, we startled him by cheering and shouting at him. Now, he grins at us all the time, and it's SO CUTE.

In the meantime, I am officially allowed to exercise again, and tried to ride my bike the 10 minutes to the Caltrain. It took 15 minutes, and I was nearly dead by the time I got there. I shouldn't have been so surprised... I hadn't even broken into a jog/run since, oh, sometime late July. Of course I am horribly out of shape!

Friday, October 17, 2008

milk issues

First, a hilarious photo of the men in my life. I wonder if Julian will decide to imitate Robin's scorn towards cameras once he has conscious control of his facial expressions.

I am both allergic to milk and lactose intolerant. Thankfully, these conditions are on the mild end; I can still eat cheese and yogurt and ice cream without much consequence. I just can't drink milk straight. As such, I'm not used to the taste of plain milk; I have never liked lactaid, or goat's milk. So when Julian was born, it was very weird to suddenly be a milk spout. I know I know, cow's milk does not equal human breast milk, but it sure looks similar.

Unfortunately, it seems that Julian is sensitive to my breastmilk when I eat dairy products. So I am now abstaining from my daily cheese/yogurt intake. This is not too huge of a deal. However, since becoming pregnant, I have a newfound appreciation for ice cream. The idea of not being able to eat ice cream filled me with angst.

So I decided to take a hint from PETA. I already had plenty of expressed breastmilk in the freezer and fridge, including a bag of milk that was expressed before I stopped eating cheese, and couldn't give to Julian anyways. If this stuff is good for my baby to eat, why can't I eat it? So we made a batch of vanilla ice cream. And it is delicious.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Julian is 3 weeks and 2 days old, and we're all still adjusting. Every few days, as Julian grows, the game keeps changing. I like to think that his extreme activity in utero prepared me for interrupted sleep, but every once in awhile, we have a rough and weird night. The first or second night we were home from the hospital, Robin woke me to feed Julian and I did not even recognize him as my own baby; I groggily asked "why are you giving me Joe Biden?" (I was clearly listening to too much NPR.) Last night, Julian was waking to feed every 1.5-2 hours instead of every 3 hours, as I had gotten used to over the past week, and my body did not like it. At one point, I woke to his crying, and it took me 2 minutes to remember that he needed to be fed. (At least I recognized him as my own son!)

The most interesting side effect of me nesting with Julian is watching the big things happen in the world on as Robin, Julian, and I deal with dirty diapers and midnight feedings. It reminds me of college all over again; what a bubble we are in! Hurricanes, financial meltdowns, political machinations.... There are big adjustments going on in the world, in parallel with the smaller ones affecting my new little family. I hope that it will be a better world for Julian, in the end.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

and then there were three

It had been a running joke amongst Robin's family that Julian would be born on 9/9; after all, Robin's grandpa was born on 1/1, Robin's dad on 8/8, Robin on 10/10... and sure enough, Robin's son waited 4 days past due date, to be born on 9/9 (in labor and delivery room 9, no less). My parents were thrilled with the date as well, as 9/9/08 are good numbers in the Chinese language; 9 sounfd like forever, 8 sounds like prosper. Interestingly, the Chinese name we chose for him, Wing-Kei, means "forever, rare jade".

Labor was maybe 20 hours, with an epidural about 12 hours in; that almost seemed like cheating, as it turned labor into a simple waiting game, but I'm so glad I got it. The Lucille Packard hospital staff was absolutely wonderful; every doctor and nurse with whom we interacted with was so patient, so nice, and it made our hospital stay a really positive experience.

Robin has been, of course, a great partner and father. The first day after birth, while I was really
out of it, he completely took over taking care of Julian. To this day, over a week later, he still changes almost every diaper (and boy are there a ton of diapers... glad we are doing cloth, I shudder to think about the sheer volume of disposable diapers one child would contribute to a landfill). Robin has one more week off work, then 2 weeks on half time; I will really miss him when he's back to work full time.

As for me, recovery has been, as I anticipated, harder than labor (the lack of sleep doesn't help) but is going smoothly. Julian eats like a champ, so the wacky schedule is worth it. It's really nice to be able to roll over in bed again. And I wish I'd had these sized breasts 10 years ago!

I head back to school when Julian is 6 weeks old, and my mother will take care of him till he is 10 weeks old, at which point he heads to daycare. While I am absolutely loving this new little man in my life, I am also looking forward to getting back into a (likely scaled back till New Year's) routine in lab. In the weeks immediately prior to Julian's birth, I was slightly worried that I might want to quit my ph.d. pursuit after he arrived, which would be a shame, given how much effort I and my thesis advisors have already put into it. But, a week post partum, I can definitely detect that I miss science, and I am sure that I will not lack the motivation to work on my thesis. In a way, I am really thankful that the desire to work is still there. My life is obviously changed, and I fully embrace motherhood. But the other aspects of who I am are still there, I'm still Wedge. Which is great; I rather like who I was and what life was like before I was pregnant, and Julian's arrival is only making it better.

Friday, August 01, 2008

5 weeks to go, 5 year anniversary

I've known Robin for almost 11 years now. Tomorrow, we will have been married for 5 of those years. /boggles

What a crazy, wonderful 5 years it's been! While we've always known we wanted kids, I'm grateful that I've had these 5 years to enjoy just being with him. We haven't traveled extensively or anything, but I do feel like we've really lived these past 5 years. Of course, I'll probably think, after the mouse is born, that "how could we have lived before this baby came?"

Robin's been especially supportive and amazing these past 2 weeks, as I've grown increasingly bigger, more uncomfortable, and emotional. He's moved his schedule around so that he can drop me off at the train in the morning, and pick me up in the afternoon. As I've become less and less mobile (I am apparently one of the lucky women with especially bad pelvic pain), he has, without a word of complaint, picked up most of the housework, retrieved dropped items (a common occurrence as I get more and more clumsy)... he even helps me roll over and get out of bed. But most importantly, he makes me feel so much better on the days I get discouraged and upset at the line of random people who, upon seeing me, ask if I'm due next week. (I have 5 more weeks to go!) I might come home feeling huge, uncomfortable, and irritated, but by the time I go to bed, he always makes me feel beautiful and happy.

I hope the mouse grows up knowing what a lucky guy he is, to have Robin for a dad.

Monday, July 07, 2008

about 2 months to go....

After 10 years of maintaining almost the exact same figure and weight (I still have some high school clothes that I fit into as of last fall), it's very bizarre to have gained 30% of my original body weight in the space of 7 months. Only about 4 lbs of that is baby! Many people have told me that I don't look like I've gained anywhere but my belly, and I wonder if they are all lying or if the belly just blinds everyone else to other parts of my body. My parents, upon seeing pictures of me, say I look healthier than ever as my face is actually filled out, which cracks me up. Robin just calls me fat before kissing me and my belly. At least he's honest.

The mouse has continued his daily and nightly acrobatics, leading me to suspect he's going to be an extremely active kid. He spends most of the day attempting to jam his feet straight up into my ribs, and most of the night flinging his arms and legs outwards simultaneously, pushing out at the sides of my belly. The only thing that seems to calm him down at night are voices; mine, Robin pressed up against my belly, or our clock radio next to my stomach with NPR turned on. The latter is most useful when I'm trying to get to sleep. I'm looking forward to him waking Robin up and not just me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

pros and cons

pro - People don't look at me wacky when I eat a lot (to be honest, I don't think I am eating that much more than I usually do, I've always had a large appetite and quick metabolism.)

con - the mouse is getting big enough that he is squishing my stomach, so I can't really fit enough food in me in one sitting to feel satisfied.

pro - my pregnancy has been quite normal and healthy so I am able to travel to 2 weddings next month, even though I've officially hit third trimester.

con - I have to find a dress to wear that won't make me look like a circus tent.

cons - I think I have heartburn, I have to sleep with a gajillion pillows all around me to keep my pelvis from being agonizingly painful during the day, my ankles are swelling, I feel like a furnace which isn't helped by the summer heat, any sort of physical exertion seems to trigger Braxton Hicks contractions, I can barely reach my feet now.

Big Fat Pro - WE'RE REALLY HAVING A BABY! He kicks and squirms all day long to assure me he's there, and he's growing, and I'm pretty much on cloud 9.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

it's a boy

And a very active one at that. I spend much of my day at lab, feeling him thump me whenever I am sitting at my bench, or at my desk, and then spend much of my evening laying on the couch with my shirt tucked up, so I can watch my belly quiver and quake as he dances.

(ultrasound at 19 weeks)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Nokia N800 review

When I first received the N800 for trial, it had an older version of OS installed (I can't recall what version) which was VERY buggy. Specifically, it would have some major hiccup issues with usernames and passwords. For one particular site, I accidentally saved an incorrect password, and it absolutely would not let me manually enter the correct one: I had to go to the options and clear all my saved passwords. However, I flashed the latest OS2008 onto it, and that seemed to correct these issues.

In general, the device is pleasant to use. It feels great in my hand. The sound effects are cute, not at all irksome like some default windows sounds. It was really convenient to use while I was sick on the couch, and unable to rest a laptop on my lap/stomach. My brother in law and I had particular fun with the marble game; we spent a whole day passing the N800 between each other, attempting to solve new levels. I was also able to open up pdfs of journal articles that I wanted to read and peruse it on the train to school.

There are a few fundamental issues that detracted from the utility of this device. The main thing is that it requires wireless, which is not always accessible where I live... even in Mountain View, GoogleWifi just flat out sucks. The majority of the places that I could connect were places where I already had access to a computer. If the N800 connected via satellite, its utility would go way up. The other limitation was it's input method. Ultimately, I found myself frustrated by the touch keyboard and the handwriting recognition. Perhaps it is me, but those types of input are too slow. Having a keyboard would make text much faster to input, and increase the N800's potential as a communication device away from your computer. Additionally, while the little webcam is super cool, I ended up not using it because the one person I know who uses video chat uses MSN, which I don't think the software could connect to.

conclusion: The N800 is great for opening up pdfs when you have wireless access, then keeping it open and reading stuff on the train. It's good for surfing by clicking. Because of lack of button keyboard, it's not so great for communication unless you're better than I am at touch keyboard/writing recognition. This device would be more awesome if it connected via satellite. It's certainly a fun toy, but needs a few improvements to be a truly versatile tool.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

a long delay

I've been meaning to write up a long post since beginning of January. After I got my thesis proposal finished, I was given the opportunity to trial a Nokia N800 wireless handheld device. I love little toys as much as the next nerd, so I definitely had fun with that. But getting around to writing the review and sending it back has been a challenge.... because Robin and I have been EXTREMELY distracted since the New Year.

yup. After more than 10 years of being a couple, and 4 years of marriage, we're finally having a baby! Our little "mouse" is due to arrive around September 5.

January and February were simultaneously exciting and frustrating. I've had no complications to speak of, and the "mouse" is developing just fine. But I've had pretty terrible morning sickness, which put a major damper on my productivity. It's been a struggle to keep up with my one class, and to do any labwork at all (which is really frustrating since I'm finally getting to start on my thesis work). But this week, I seem to finally be in the clear.

So stay tuned! I'll have a review of the N800 up by the end of the day, and updates on the "mouse" when they come!