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January 31, 2007

Surrender to Sleep

Chiara went to her very first class today, the pre-toddler class for 16- to 20-month olds at the Children’s Aid Society. She showed up looking very cute in a Yankees t-shirt with “Jeter” on the back. One of her teachers, Thomas, slapped a sticker with “Chiara” on it just below.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this class may be more for me and my peace of mind than for Chiara. Chiara loves to interact with adults, but she’s possessive and competitive with other children. I know this is normal, and I was reassured by the teachers again today that this is normal 16-month-old behavior, but I still would like her to hang out with other kids on a regular basis so that she can learn some more polite interactive skills.

One of the bummers of the class — one hour a week on Tuesday early afternoons — is that it is timed almost precisely when Chiara is likely to be napping. So for instance today she arrived asleep in her stroller and woke up for the class. Then she was so wired afterward that she didn’t nap again.

When I got home this evening, Chiara fell asleep nursing in my lap.

Luke and I debated what to do. It was a full hour and a half before her bedtime, and she hadn’t eaten her evening meal yet. So I put her in her high chair and were I not holding her head, she would have face planted on her tray. Luke called his mom who said, “let the baby sleep.”

When Chiara goes to sleep, she quite literally surrenders. She lifts her arms like goalposts next to her head. Her legs are usually splayed, too. She kind of looks like she’s making a snow angel in her bed.

As I watched her passed out on her bed tonight, I wondered whether I would always remember what she is like as a baby. Does my mother remember the way I slept as a baby? The way I used to talk and walk? I don’t mean, does she sometimes remember an incident or a moment, but when she’s talking to me, does she remember the baby I used to be? And will I see this beautiful baby when Chiara is the age I am now, hopefully with a fulfilling, challenging, interesting life, and perhaps if she wants one, a family of her own.

jeanhee @ 1:46 am

January 30, 2007

Chiara’s Paradox

All i write about now is Chiara! I’m not sure how I feel about this complete hijacking of my thoughts and creative energies, but she is so fascinating that I can’t stop myself. I guess she’s become my muse.

While I was feeding Chiara dinner tonight, she gestured to a grocery receipt just out of arm’s reach. I gave it to her and she clenched it in both hands, pulled, and handed me a finger-sized piece that she had torn off. Then she did this again, and again. The pieces got larger, thankfully, or we would have been sitting there until she was ready for college! Then we got down to a piece only about two inches long by a half inch (the original intact receipt was about 10 inches or so).

I started to think about Zeno’s paradox, not sure if I have the right name, where if you tear a piece of paper in half and then tear one of those pieces in half, you can continue to do this to infinity. Theoretically, it has no end. How would this end with Chiara?

She has such incredible dexterity for a 16-month-old. She tore and tore her little piece of paper, handing each piece to me, until it could no longer be torn because it was too small for her itty bitty fingertips. Then she stared at her little shred, about the size of the tip of a pencil eraser, and she handed it to me. The end.

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jeanhee @ 12:11 am

January 18, 2007

Happy New Year

As has been our habit the last couple years since we got married, Luke and I have been sending out holiday cards way later than we’re supposed to. But life has been a whirlwind since we’ve been together. A big fun adventure!

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jeanhee @ 12:22 am

January 17, 2007

The Way We Wean

I’m down to nursing Chiara twice a day, in the early morning and immediately after I come home. I’ve managed to wean her from her nurse-to-sleep session around 8 pm, which was a relief and much easier than I thought it would be. But these last two sessions are going to be near-impossible without a lot of tears shed, perhaps some of them my own.

Chiara is very attached to nursing. She nurses for comfort and to relax, which is something I promoted to her when she was really young, so all I can say is, I should be paid for my marketing skills! When she got her first few immunizations at the pediatrician’s, I brought her to my breast immediately. When she fell off the couch head first, then feet over head, landing face down on our rough sisal carpet, I picked her up, brought her to my breast, and stroked her head until she calmed down and drifted off to sleep. So, the fact that she burrows into my bosom, lifting up my sweater, then pulling off the straps of my camisole to get to my breast the moment I come through the door at the end of the workday is not unexpected. But, now that I’ve changed course and no longer want her to think of nursing as an essential part of her life, I’m frustrated!

Nonetheless, the weaning, although excruciatingly slow, is not going badly. Yesterday evening when I came home, she began her nursing demands, which consist of repeating in a plaintive tone, “Mamma? mamma? mamma?” the Korean word for “food.” I sit down on the ottoman and raise her to my lap. She starts heavy, rapid breathing that gets faster as she grabs and claws at my clothing and gets closer to my breast.

Finally, she reaches her goal and relaxes her body into me as she nurses hungrily. I can hear her swallowing and feel her temperature rise and her head get warm and damp with perspiration. She doesn’t settle in exactly, however, as for many months now she has been what I call grazing, alternating from breast to breast every two minutes or so. It’s irritating, but somehow I’ve gotten used to it and just move her body from side to side on cue.

But on this night, she stops after nursing once from each breast. She sits up on my lap, facing me and looks deeply in my eyes. She seems to be questioning me. “Can I keep nursing?” she seems to be asking me silently. I meet her gaze and am so moved by my daughter. For several days now I’ve been cutting her off before she’s been ready, because the more we cut down on the number of nursing sessions, the longer she’s been making each session, stretching on past an hour in the morning. At that hour, I’m nursing half-asleep and lying in bed so it isn’t the strain it would be at any other time of day, but makes me worried for my baby and whether I’m letting her learn the wrong lessons through my behavior.

Oh, how much longer will Chiara be the sweet chubby-cheeked, brown-eyed, babyfat wonder that she is? How much longer will our communications be through grunts, tugs, murmurs and spontaneous acts of lucidity like this? I can only look at her and say, “Chiara, yes, you can nurse a little longer, but just a little bit, okay?”

She leans forward, then, and nurses again, a little stiffly at first. Then she swings her legs to the side and nestles sideways in my lap. The familiar position I first cradled her into many months ago when she was just a few hours old and could nearly fit in the space between my palm and the crook of my elbow.

How much longer will I have moments like this? I feel they are fleeting so I savor this one. My baby and me.

jeanhee @ 10:55 pm