jeanhee
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November 26, 2005

A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Things I Have Broken or Lost Since Chiara Was Born:

A box of clothes (before Chiara was born): My last regular-person clothes before I started wearing maternity clothes. I seem to have put them away, but where, I have no idea! They are not stored under the bed, or in our storage locker, or at Luke’s mom’s garage or at my mom’s storage locker. They were loose-fitting, so I particularly miss them now that I am still 15 pounds heavier than before pregnancy. They are also cold weather clothes, so would be perfect to wear now. Est. value: ??

Japanese rice bowl (first week): one of a set of four that Luke and I bought at a store that has since gone out of business. Est. value: $5, but irreplaceable

Ceramic bowl (first week): Actually, this was a bowl that Luke broke, but i’m listing it here just because it was memorable that we both broke bowls within the first week. And this bowl was a handmade ceramic I bought at a crafts fair. It cleaved neatly into three pieces and was easily reparable, but we were so sleep deprived and had no time that after a 2 weeks of leaving the shards on the kitchen counter, we just threw it out. Est. value: $40, but irreplaceable

Computer keyboard (around the 6th week): I spilled a Japanese rice milk smoothie while sitting at Luke’s desk and nursing Chiara. The amazake spilled all over his track ball, but barely at all on the keyboard, and only on the end with the numbers so I thought it was fine. But I was wrong. I short-circuited something and the space bar no longer works. Est. value: $150, replaced with a noisy “tactile” keyboard with some noticeable bugs.

Digital camera (11th week): kind of sat on it, but with my knee rather than my bum. It was a wedding gift! Est. value: $400, but replaceable, still evaluating whether it is reparable, and at what cost.

Ceramic platter (11th week–what a week!): part of a set, that came with a bowl and pitcher, all made by a ceramic artist. Also a wedding gift. I’m going to crazy glue it all back together and hope that it will look nearly as good as new. It is beautiful, and it’s such a shame that I broke it! Est. value: $50, but irreplaceable

Also, for the record, I broke one other thing that I don’t wish at this time to disclose (since I haven’t admitted to it publicly yet)! Est. value: $150ish, but easily replaceable

I can’t even list the number of times i’ve spilled drinks, but that has gone way up from my pre-Chiara days. Clearly sleep-deprivation has made me very clumsy.

But the cost-benefit analysis is easy. Like that old commercial slogan: Chiara in my arms? Priceless.

jeanhee @ 12:17 pm

November 15, 2005

Travelin’ Babe

Our little family unit is in Seattle this week, staying with our dear friends Anthony and Liz in their beautiful and comfortable new home.

We were warned by both of Chiara’s grandmothers that other passengers on the plane to Seattle might not look too kindly upon our arrival with baby in arms. And my mom also prepared us for feeling frustrated and finding it difficult to travel with a small baby with lots of required gear, such as a car seat.

But happily, our experience was much better than expected. We used a car service to get to the airport — a huge factor in our trip’s success. As usual, Luke and I hadn’t given our trip details much thought until the day before, and we have always taken the subway to the airtrain or the shuttle bus. But after my mom offered to pick us up and drive us to the airport, we realized the ludicrousness (is ludicrosity a word? how about ludicrity?) of trying to lug all of our stuff: 2 suitcases, a carseat, a diaper bag, a computer bagpack and a bag filled with food for our trip and for our hosts.

Our driver, Jose, was so wonderful. No one honked at us as we fitted and secured the car seat into the town car. i had forgotten what it is like to ride in a town car — the leg room is incredible! Luke and I both fell asleep during the ride since neither of us gets enough sleep these days. Chiara, of course, was asleep nearly from the start.

The flight was pretty uneventful. We were delayed by more than a half hour on the tarmac as the traffic congestion for flights leaving JFK was thick. But Chiara was pretty content sucking on my finger, snuggled up in the baby sling. When that no longer worked, I nursed her and that settled her considerably. I wondered how she’d be on take off and landing, but had been reassured by other parents that since Chiara’s fontanel, or soft spot on top of her head, has not closed yet, she would not be plagued by the air pressure pain that adults and older babies get. In any case, I was positioned to nurse her through the pain if necessary, but it wasn’t.

Changing her in the airplane bathroom proved to be easier than in the airport’s bathroom. Since I had a changing table as well as a small counter nearby, everything I could possible want was well within reach, including the sink.

Toward the end of the long flight, I was more fidgety than she was, and anxious to get off the plane. The flight crew were warm and friendly toward us, and told us that Chiara was the youngest passenger they’ve ever had — a dubious distinction, I felt. Perhaps she’s too young to be taking across the country? Nonetheless, I cheerfully accepted the wings they gave her and will put it in a scrap book or her baby book to mark the milestone.

But although we haven’t experienced the return flight home, or the aftermath in terms of jet lag, I think so far the trip has been a successful experience. Chiara is an easygoing baby for the most part, or perhaps it’s just that we are easygoing parents and don’t mind holding her or nursing her through difficult periods. But I suspect the truth is that she is so young and her needs right now so simple, that this is an easy time to travel with her.

And being able to introduce her to our Seattle-area friends and family is worth the effort! Liz and Anthony have been so great with Chiara — who is cooing and smiling and being very cute for them. Tonight we will be bringing Chiara to her maternal aunt and uncle’s house in Redmond.

jeanhee @ 2:02 pm

November 10, 2005

Sleep!

Like a lot of babies, Chiara does not go to sleep easily. It’s past noon today and Chiara hasn’t had a nap, after waking up around 7 this morning. She would shut her eyes long enough that I would put her in her bed, but within 15 minutes she would begin the repetitive “eh, eh, eh” kind of crying that means she wants to be picked up and held.

Who blames her, really? I wouldn’t want to go to sleep for hours every day when exciting things are happening all around and it’s light enough that I could watch and see everything.

Chiara’s cries, though, are such an expressive communication system. I am frustrated because I can’t distinguish them or understand what she wants most of the time. I find myself translating, but not really knowing whether my interpretations are accurate.

Today, for instance, she cried while kicking her heels out and straightening her legs so she was stiff as a board. Meanwhile, she screwed up her face and let out a few grunts. Seemed to me that she might have to go, right? So I went to check her diaper. As soon as I unsnapped her bottoms and unvelcroed her diaper, her wailing increased in volume and urgency.

“Are you so lacking in imagination that you go right for the diaper whenever I cry?” she seemed to be conveying. “What about my feelings? My dignity? Maybe I just want to sleep but I can’t sleep because so much is going on. What about that, huh? What can you do to help me sleep?”

What could I do, really? I just held her while she squirmed and cried and finally, her cries got slower and fainter and her breathing heavier.

So I put her down on her bed. And instantly her eyes opened. “Waaaaaa!”

Uh oh. So I opened her bottoms again to check her diaper. Again she escalated her cries.

“Back to the diaper?! What did I tell you the last time? Have you no imagination whatsoever? I am just sleepy and tired but you’re awake and doing stuff so how do you expect me to sleep. Why can’t I do stuff with you?”

So, I picked her up again. She calmed down after a few moments this time. And slowly fell back asleep. I checked on her sleep depth by lifting her hand from my shoulder. Her grip tightened. Ah, she is not fully asleep yet. So I held her some more, rocking back and forth. I even snapped some pictures of the sleeping beauty by standing in front of a mirror.

I sat on the couch and started to go through my email with one hand, which means just reading but not responding to messages. Her breathing was regular, and deep. I got up and walked over to her bed and lay her down.

“Wa.” She let out a small rebuke of a cry. Then she shut her eyes.

Ah. Sleep. At last.

jeanhee @ 12:41 pm

November 4, 2005

the tug between big and little

with each day, chiara grows and changes. it’s amazing to watch her face fill out, her limbs get longer, the changing patterns of her hair. she is becoming more expressive and animated, too, as she slowly gains control over her nervous system and her muscles and learns a little more every day about the world and her little place in it.

all of this is wonderfully affirming. i am so happy to get such an intimate and close-up view of another human being growing. but i can’t help but also feel a kind of ambivalence that i suspect i may feel for the length of my life as a parent. as much as i thrill over chiara’s every advance and accomplishment, i mourn the chiara she was yesterday and the days before. it seems ridiculous to say this about a baby who is not even nine weeks old yet, but she was so tiny and perfect, and, curled up, practically fit in my hand when she was born. i used to stare at her for hours, watching every twitch in her lips, her eyes and her body.

the truth is, each day that passes, she is almost like a new person, so i find myself missing the old one, too. such as, the chiara that cried a little baby cry that compelled me to pick her up, but that didn’t come with real tears and a beet-red face and scrunched up eyes and the fist that pulls at the hairs on top of her head — where did she learn that? no one in this family does that! or the chiara whose face goes into unconscious tics as she’s falling asleep, smiling at one moment, looking devilish with her eyes rolling to the side the next. she is still doing that, but i can tell that it won’t be long before she outgrows it. to be totally honest, i think what i miss most is her tinyness.

at the same time, i love every new thing each day brings. such as chiara’s new sounds that seem almost like a language. she has her soft little burbles and mews, her purrs and her snorts. and yesterday, she even made a noise that — i swear — sounded like she said “thank you.” i know no one is going to believe me, but i said thank you to her after she gave me a smile, holding her close to my face and gazing at her, and she responded with a two-syllable baby burble. and i was so excited, i repeated thank you, and she repeated her two-syllable burble.

even my own mom doesn’t believe me. oh well!

here’s a picture of chiara last weekend, on the day she turned 8 weeks old and was the youngest guest attending the 80th birthday party of a very dear family friend. in a couple days she will be 9 weeks!

jeanhee @ 12:46 am