Mothers day recap

To celebrate our First Mother's Day, we kept things low key... and decided to go to breakfast not too far from home. But before we headed to breakfast, I had to open my gift from Annabelle... which was this adorable shirt in her cute Small Fry onesie. I also got a beautiful card from her as well as one from Kota. The Hubby got me this great card that had four different cards in one - a funny one, a cute one, etc... Also for Mom's day - not pictured is the Iphone I will be getting in a few weeks LOL. This will help facilitate more facetimes with our family (not that we don't do that enough already LOL).

Annabelle wore a beautiful new dress for Mother's day... doesn't she look so cute?
And before we ventured out... we had our picture taken ... as a family (missing Kota)

We were the first ones at the restaurant... dining at 8:45am on Mother's Day apparently isn't the most popular time. By 9am, there were several other tables seated. Annabelle wasn't on her best behavior but she was still our perfect angel of a baby. We took turns eating (which wasn't an issue since my order was wrong anyways)... and I treated myself to my favorite drink... Guinness... Hubby thought i may be the only person to order a Guinness first thing in the morning... I told him "maybe here, but not in Ireland!"
All in all, we had a great day. We took several walks throughout the day with Kota to get him some quality family time as well. I hope y'all enjoyed your Mother's Day like I did! :)

4 Month Pediatrician Visit

Today we went to the pediatrician's for Annabelle's 4 month visit and vaccinations. We saw the doctor who founded and heads the practice. After this visit and several visits with many of the different doctors in this practice, I think from now on - we will stick with him.

The visit went much better than her 2 month visit. She still cried a bit from her shots but was not so inconsolable as she was at her 2 month visit. This time my trick was to give her sugar water (my neighbor told me about this!).

While it didn't completely calm her down, she wasn't hysterical which for me was a huge relief. Especially because I ventured to this appointment all alone without the hubby.

Annabelle was giving smiles all day today and even after the appointment, she was smiley. She didn't like her shots but she seems to be not as traumatized from the events as the last time. Now the question is - do we pierce her ears? Yikes... i don't even want to think about that right now.

At today's visit, the doctor said we should up her Zantac since her weight has increased. He also suggested possibly starting her on solids. This could help with her reflux. I'm still on the fence about this but am going to do my due diligence to see if this is something we should pursue.

The doctor also asked if I knew how long I'd like to breastfeed for (and he said "it's ok if you don't know or haven't made a decision yet") and also how she was sleeping and where.  He seemed completely happy with my answer "I'm probably going to take her lead on the weaning" and "she sleeps with me". I loved his no pressure attitude!

So Annabelle's stats for her 4 month visit is as follows:

Weight: 16 lbs 14 oz.
Height: 25 3/4 inches
Head circumference: 16 inches

This is an increase of 3 lbs and 14 oz in weight, 2.25 inches in height and 1 inch in head size in the last two months.

From birth she has gained 9 lbs and 13 ounces, 5.75 inches in height and 3 inches in head circumference since birth!! YAY Go Breast Milk! LoL. Seeing as breastfeeding came with some moments of doubt and challenges, I am so happy that Annabelle and I have been able to continue with the breastfeeding and been successful at it.

Our little one is growing beautifully and we've loved watching every second of it! The only downside has been that she hasn't been able to wear every new outfit she has received as gifts! :(

4 Months Old

Dearest Annabelle,

Today is Mother's Day but not only is it our first Mother's Day to celebrate together, you are also 4 months Old today!!! It's a happy day and we celebrated it by hanging out all day together as a family!

This month has marked a lot of changes for you. You have started to make a lot of developmental changes and its kept your father and I on our toes!

We are still exclusively breastfeeding but you are definitely starting to show an interest in food. You eye mommy if I'm eating in front of you. I also have noticed that you are still doing the tongue thrust reflex. In fact it seems you have found your tongue and are using it a lot more. It's exciting to watch you learn things about yourself.

With that discovery, it seems you can blow raspberries now on command. Whenever mommy or daddy does it to you, you always seem to smile. Whether its a lips zubert or tongue zubert, you giggle when we do that at you and then you try to imitate us. You also love it when we blow a little air your way.

You now have realized you have a mouth and tongue and with that, you've also realized you have your hands. Those hands can get anything and everything into contact with that mouth! So, that's the other stage you are in. Everything gets put in your mouth and if its not a thing, its at least your hands!

You are constantly trying to imitate us and it makes us very happy to watch as your observational skills seem to grow. You seem to notice so much more around you, even Kota! You will often just stare at Kota when we walk him together on his afternoon walks. You also hold people's gaze now and will shy away or stare lost in your own thought. You have so many smiles and giggles for us at home but when we go out, you seem to put on a poker face.

That poker face seems to extend even to our family. Daddy and I jokingly say you are racist against white people because you seem to cry a lot when anybody who isn't Asian tries to hold you. Your Halmuhni (maternal grandmother) seems to think it is because you now recognize and know your mother and father, so when it is someone else holding you, you start to fuss. However, b/c Halmuhni looks like mommy, you don't fuss as much. Either way, we are hoping its a phase you grow out of b/c many of our family and friends want to hold you!!

You seem to have a love of sports. Whenever the TV is on with sports, you sit back in your bouncy chair and just stare at the TV. It's pretty amusing and definitely fitting considering how much your father loves sports.

In other physical development, you are still trying to push up on your legs and stand. Also trying to roll over. You are great with your tummy time and get frustrated easily when you can't seem to move yourself, but we watch you excitedly as you groan, grunt and moan while trying to move while on your tummy!

This month you are still in your size 2 diapers (from week 6) but we have transitioned you into your 3-6 month clothes and almost out of them. The length of the pants for 3-6 months is too short or tight, so we are trying to keep you in 6-9 months for long pants. You still seem to fit well with the shorter clothes but in the next week or so that will change.

We have transitioned you out of the infant car seat and into the convertible car seat. You still seem to hate the car seat, but we are hoping the transition will help.

Sleep wise you are doing great. We had a few weeks where you were sleeping 8-10 hours a night without even waking to feed. The past week we've been waking once or twice to eat. Mommy thinks its a growth spurt, so i'm happily waking to feed you and we fall right back asleep together. Either way, some days you are sleeping really well and other days you don't... the only time you truly fuss is when you are tired. You still try to resist sleep but once it comes you are out! Sometimes when you sleep too long, mommy starts to wait for you to wake since I miss you so much during this time!

We weighed you at home and think you are about 16 lbs and 12 ounces. We can't be positive of the height but think its somewhere around 25.5 inches to 26 inches.

This month was busy with family and friends as we had your christening. We also celebrated your Baek Il (100 Days). Our whole family got together in New Jersey to celebrate with you. At about the same time, you in all the hubbub of celebration, you developed thrush. Mommy and you are working hard together to get rid of the thrush!

Here are some more photos of you!

We love you so much Baby Girl! Things are finally starting to feel like we have found our groove and its been so wonderful to learn the things that amuse you and make you smile! Thank you for this wonderful month! We can't wait to see what this next month has to offer!


Daddy & Mommy

Happy Mother's Day

This is my first true Mother's day (as opposed to mother's day for our pups) and I'm so thankful to be a mother. One of the main reasons is because I feel that I truly understand my own mother's love for me better...

On FB I came across this photo... I don't know the origins so i can't source it properly but if you do, please let me know...

And along with this photo is a letter:

"Letter from a Mother to a Daughter: 

"My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. 

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”... Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep. 

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl? 

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way... remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day... 

the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. 

If I occasionaly lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you. 

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. 

When those days come, don’t feel sad... just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. 

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you... my darling daughter."

Happy Mother's Day to all of your moms out there! They deserve big hugs and love!! 

And in honor of my own mother, whom I love so dearly... Thank you for loving me!

Weekly Round Up

Here are some photos from this week of Annabelle :)

May 7
May 8
May 9
May 9
May 9 Evening
May 10
May 11
I am having so much fun with the picture collage app... can you tell? Enjoy your weekend y'all! Hope its a great one!

No, I am not Mom Enough...

Lisa Belkin on Huffington Post says what I want to say in regards to the Time Cover...(Please read her whole article, I'm just highlighting the parts that I really feel speak for me!)

"No. I am not Mom enough....

I am not Mom enough to take the bait. To accept TIME's deliberate provocation and either get mad at this woman for what I think I know about her from this photo, or to feel inferior, or superior, or defensive, or guilty -- or anything at all, if it means I am comparing myself to other mothers. 
The breastfeeding conversation is not titillating. The TIME cover is. 

Breastfeeding is not a macho test of motherhood, with the winner being the one who nurses the longest. In fact there ARE no macho tests of motherhood. Motherhood is -- should be -- a village, where we explore each other's choices, learn from them, respect them, and then go off and make our own. 

Women who breastfeed their children for three years are outliers, but they are not spectacles, and we shouldn't hold them up as either Madonnas or freaks. Women who do not breastfeed are not monsters, and we should not condemn them, or really have any opinion about their decision at all. 

So, let's talk about that. But let's not wrap it in the tired trope of my-way-is-better-than-yours and parenting-means-choosing-a-camp and cool-we-can-put-a-breast-on-our-cover-if-we-say-it's-a-social-schism. 

I refuse to see either a heroine or an extremist in TIME's cover photo. I won't condemn her or praise her. I will not stoop to the level of pretending that we are so unidimensional that we can be divided by a lifestyle choice. 

I am not Mom enough."
And just to add my two cents to this. I know that I speak about my own experiences raising Annabelle from birth and beyond, and while I try to thoroughly explain my decisions and what may have prompted me to make those decisions, I am in NO WAY saying my choices are the best choices for everyone or that my way is the only way. If I ever refer to the "right" way or the "best" way, it is in the context of our family and not a general statement. I will not judge others for doing things differently and I only ask the same in return. 

I hope that all my readers know that I have opinions about pretty much all issues dealing with birth and parenting, but my opinions are about the methods or actions, or non supportive culture we live in; and never about the parents. We have a hard enough time dealing with our own mommy guilt for each decision we make, we don't need to judge each other and give one another a harder time!

Why I bed-share

is not for any crazy reason. It's not for the good of our child's emotional, mental, or physical health. It's not to promote breastfeeding. It's not because we don't have space to sleep apart. It's not because parenting and mothering doesn't get the night off. It's not because the steady sound of her breath matching mine reassures me that she is fine. It's not because most cultures and countries (except for the US/UK) find bed-sharing to be the norm. It's not because I read articles and studies that tell me how beneficial it is or because i'm rebelling against scare tactic ads of babies sleeping with big kitchen knives. It is not because i'm some hippie mom who wishes to live on a commune. It's not because it's what my parents did with me.

The reason I bed-share with Annabelle is because anything else just doesn't feel right.

We live in a 1 bedroom Condo with limited space. So before Annabelle arrived we knew we would be co-sleeping (Sleeping in the same room). I was advised co-sleeping is best for at least the first 6 months because of SIDS so it was our intent to keep Annabelle close. We got our selves a nice Arm's Reach Co-sleeper and also had a bassinet prepared for this wonderful journey once Annabelle arrived.

The first night we weren't prepared with the co-sleeper (since she arrived 17 days early) so we used the bassinet. I was a wreck. I couldn't sleep and I was constantly checking on Annabelle. Her breathing was so inconsistent. The noises were so new to me. Even though I had been up for over 24 hrs birthing her the day before and was dead tired, sleep would not take over. It did not help that she seemed unable to fall asleep as well. Eventually, I laid her down next to me. Scared that I would smush her b/c of all the scare tactic ads i had seen online and everywhere else, but not knowing what else to do, I laid her next to me. Her head near my breasts, me on my side with my one arm curved around here. We slept. Soundly. Very Soundly for a couple hours. 

My pediatrician didn't seem to mind that we co-slept. He said "you seem normal and level headed. You don't seem like a drunk or a drug user. I think co-sleeping will be great for you." My husband listened intently and finally seemed at ease with this idea.

I love sleeping next to our Daughter. It is the best sleep I get. Don't get me wrong. At times my body ached from not moving for so long throughout the night. I would slowly stretch and try to quietly alter positions to the other side of her on the bed. I still awake several times a night. When she moves I wake. She moves a lot. I drift back to sleep. It is not the most comfortable way to sleep physically but it is the ONLY way that I sleep comfortably. It is the best sleep I know.

Today, 3.5 months later I am finally ok with this decision to bed-share. For weeks, I was torn between doing the "right" thing (which in our society is to not bed-share) and doing what felt completely natural to me. I would put her in the co-sleeper some nights and some nights in the bed next to me. But today, I'm 100% ok with and honest in telling the world that I share my bed with our precious baby girl.

Bed-sharing does promote breast-feeding especially for the long haul (read this article). Bed-sharing promotes our child's emotional, mental, and physical health in ways I can't comprehend or explain. Bed-sharing done safely, reduces the risks of SIDS. Bed-sharing is good for my own peace of mind and promotes a good night's sleep for me, even if that sleep is in 3 hour increments or 6 hours. We do not have lots of space, but even if we did, I would not have her sleep anywhere else. Bed-sharing is good for our souls as we fall asleep together and breath in harmony.

But all that aside... we bed-share because anything else would not feel right. 

Maybe I am crunchy... I've never considered myself a "hippie" but the natural and intuitive route seems to be the way I am inclined to follow... and if that does make me crazy, I embrace it whole heartedly...

And for all you other crunchy, crazy moms who also bed-share or co-sleep, I came across this beautiful book that helps to illustrate to children how lovely and normal co-sleeping and bed-sharing can be... there aren't a whole lot of children's books out there that do that, so I thought i'd pass the info along!

Source: Here

A year ago

yesterday, you were nothing but a strong desire. Something that your father and I discussed, planned, and were excited about. The future was unknown and we still had only hopes.

A year ago today, you were just a tiny embryo searching for a home for the following 37 weeks and 3 days.

A year ago today, you fulfilled our wishes and dreams.

A year ago today, we were officially no longer DINK (Double Income No Kids)!

We couldn't be more thrilled that our lives changed year ago from today.

Today, you are this beautiful blossoming little girl who forever puts a smile on our faces and warms our hearts like no one else can...

We love you baby girl.... to the moon and back!

Daddy and Mommy

Our Small Fry

in her adorable onesie that her aunt's got her from Shake Shack...

Big Fry with our Small Fry!
Isn't that onesie just the cutest and so perfect for our little Annabelle! :)

Why we chose to avoid a hospital birth...

when we first decided to opt out of the normal hospital birth option, a lot of the responses we got were mostly questions? Why? What's wrong with you? Trying to be a martyr? and so on...One person even asked me "why don't you just want to do it the normal way?" and while i posted the reasons we were using a birth center early on (read that here), today I came across a post on titled "Candles not required" written by Jenna Hull (here's her blog) that instantly grabbed my attention.

"I am not the product of hippie parents and I don't consider myself righteous. I am not an atheist, a liberal, or a neofeminist. I am not crazy nor am I from Mars. Yet these are typical assumptions people make when I tell them that my child was born at home. Intentionally.

I did not have the baby in the dead of winter, in some remote locale, alone and stark naked. I did not light candles, play new age music, chant to a birth goddess, or have a séance. I did not have my baby while hugging a tree or squatting in a rice paddy (not that there is anything wrong with the those scenarios). I simply labored, delivered, and birthed at my home."

Just switch out the words "home" for "birth center" and I feel that i could have written those exact words.  I continued on to read her story and it was much like mine. I went from getting pregnant and reading "what to expect" to realizing how little that book teaches you and how there is a whole industry behind babies and birth. After doing my due diligence (which I encourage ALL mothers to do regardless of if you think you know how you want to birth), I realized that these norms about birthing today are just social norms of modern times but there was NOTHING normal about it.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying it is wrong to birth in a hospital. And there's nothing wrong with informed decisions to induce, get an epidural, or any other interventions. I make no judgments on someone else's  birth decisions in any way. I'm simply stating why WE chose to avoid a hospital birth.

Initially it was simply to avoid the snowball effect of interventions into an unnecessary c-section as highlighted in The Business of Being Born (the c-section rate in the DC metro area is pretty high).  Then after speaking with my own obstetrician at our 13 week appointment, i was left with a bad taste in my mouth (figuratively). When I asked about delayed cord clamping and was met with the response "I'll accommodate you within reason", I knew instantly that working with this practice would be an uphill battle in the state that I was in. And while these obstetricians were very skilled in their profession (I knew first hand after my hysteroscopic resection and laproscopic removal of dermoid cyst that went wonderfully well with these trained OB's), I knew that I shouldn't be seeing them in the current state I was in. They (Ob's) are professionals trained in obstetrical surgery and medical conditions. What state was I in? A low risk, healthy, and normal pregnancy that did not require surgery or medical procedures with the hopes that I would be able to birth in the same manner - low risk, healthy, and normal vaginal delivery.

So to make a long story short, we birthed at a birth center. I would have preferred birthing at home, but our 1 bedroom condo and my skittish pup kept me from doing so. It was the best decision of our lives. And now looking back, I can honestly say that all the reasons I listed in this post about why we chose a birth center were achieved by avoiding a hospital birth.  Could we have achieved these things in a hospital setting? Quite possibly. Was I 100% sure we could have? Nope, so we didn't take that chance... 

Annabelle was "born free" and we were both treated like two normal human beings going through a normal process of life and not medical patients. Even with the gestational diabetes and my water breaking, we were not poked and prodded like some science experiment because we had knowledgeable and experienced hands at our sides (BirthCare is awesome, as is our Doula Claudia - Birthing Hands of DC). 

Annabelle was never once taken out of my sight. 

We had immediate skin to skin contact. 

We delayed her cord clamping to ensure she received all that was due to her. 

We delayed all examinations, Vitamin K shot, and erythromycin ointment until after she breastfed for the first time... after I was able to smell her, lock eyes with her, touch her, and examine every little toe nail and every little finger nail on her body. 

We did not bathe her or excessively wipe off the vernix that protects and coats her, instead we let that moisturize and continue to protect her skin. 

We were not treated like patients with a disease but rather like humans who needed a little guidance and some suggestions to get through the process. Our input was always asked and we were always touched with very gentle hands. 

In essence, we chose to birth outside of the hospital to minimize any cause or need of separation between mother and child (by avoiding interventions) and to minimize any hoops we would have to jump through to get the things we wanted (i.e., immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, examinations etc). If that makes me a martyr or a hero, a hippie or righteous, or whatever label you want to call me... that's fine.

As Jenna Hull said "For me, birth simply is what it is: a twisted, humbling, challenging, empowering path, which Mother Nature has designed and prepared me for perfectly." A statement I agree with wholeheartedly!

Read her whole article here!

Dealing with Thrush

If it isn't one thing... it's another.

On April 18 (2 weeks ago) I noticed some white spots on Annabelle's lips. I had noticed her tongue being white for a couple days prior to this but thought that was just milk and paid no mind. When I saw the spots, I immediately thought "THRUSH!!!"

We put a call into our Dr's and through no mistake of the lactation consultant/nurse (who received the message late), by the time we got the return call we were already on the road to NJ. We made an appointment for the following week upon our return.

The spots moved. Never stayed in one same spot on her lips. On one day it seemed to have cleared up all together. But then the next day it returned.

When we went to the pediatrician's office, we were correct in assuming it was thrush. Thrush is basically a yeast infection in the mouth. It is more bothersome than harmful but can cause pain when feeding if not contained. Annabelle was not bothered by it... yet.

Her pediatrician prescribed her Nystatin... just one more thing for her to take **sigh** Because it is something that we can pass back and forth to each other during nursing, I have Nystatin cream for myself and liquid Nystatin for Annabelle. Because it is not digestible (like the simethicone - gas drops), it doesn't interact with her liquid Zantac. But it can take up to 3-4 weeks to be fully out of our systems.

So the past week our days have consisted of the following...
  • Annabelle gets her liquid zantac 3 x a day on most days... depending on when that third dose is b/c she is sleeping through most nights now, i don't wake her to give her a dose.
  • I apply Nystatin to her lips and mouth 4 x a day
  • I apply Nystatin cream to myself 4 x a day
  • I use a vinegar water solution (1tbsp of vinegar to 1 cup of water) to her mouth, her pacifiers, her hands, to myself after feedings and to anything else she may come in contact with (nail clippers or toys). Vinegar kills yeast.
  • I use vinegar in the clothes washer and everything is washed in hot and dried in high heat. 
  • I wash all her burp clothes or hand towels daily and don't use them for more than half the day. 
  • I sterilize all her pacifiers etc in the sterilizer daily
  • I eat 5-6 probiotic pills a day
  • Annabelle gets bits of probiotics that i put on a wet finger and have her lick off my finger. 
  • When we bathe her, we make sure her towel to dry her face never comes in contact with her lower parts.
  • I am washing all things that come in contact with my breasts daily and on high. 
  • I am washing her sleep linens frequently on high. 
  • I am air drying after feedings as much as possible and limiting the use of breast pads.
  • I am changing my breast pads frequently - they are disposable.
  • I am trying to make sure Annabelle and I both get as much rest as possible so our body can do what it needs to, to balance things out. 
  • I am trying to abstain from sugar and sweets. So my huge Costco Jelly Belly container is staying 80% full for the time being!
  • And of course, washing our hands all the time.
We have yet to take a stronger course of action... either with the gentian violet, diflucan and/or other yeast killing medications. Right now it seems contained (knock on wood). There were a couple days where I started feeling a little worse - my nipples were sore and a little painful. However, I think with consistent and diligent monitoring, I was able to keep it at bay.

Annabelle still doesn't seem too bothered by it... but sadly, we may have to do this for another 3-4 weeks since fungus is hard to eradicate.  Hopefully, it will be gone before her 4 month pediatrician visit... our po' little girl. I feel bad for her but I'm grateful to know I am doing all that I can to make her better!

Annabelle's Christening & Baek Il (백일) {Solo Shots}

So here is the last of the photos from Annabelle's Christening and Baek Il. It was a great time and although she pooped herself right before she got christened and she look perturbed in half of these photos... the memories are priceless and i'm so grateful we were able to do this for her!

In the Reverend's arms... and a diaper full of poop :(
A little tired after the church
A beautiful photo of our happy girl
She is enjoying this tongue thing a lot lately. less than two weeks later and its always hanging out of her mouth!
Finally a photo that captures her eyes. She still has "baby eyes" so we don't know what color they will end up but they are currently a grayish blue.
After i "forced" her awake so we could get posed photos at the house.
Looking confused...
Wondering what the heck is going on
Our little monkey... adorable!
Somehow her dress ended up over her head... luckily the blanket kept her warm.
Exhausted after all the day's festivities... sleeping in her Auntie's arms.
Kristen from Catchlight Photography wanted to take more solo shots but Annabelle wasn't cooperating. She slept like a champ that day though :)