kim photo of jeanhee kim

September 27, 2005

that sweet baby smell

before the baby was born, luke’s mom asked me what i was most looking forward to. i told her i couldn’t wait to smell my little baby’s head.

i remember from my younger brother — who is only two years younger — how much i loved the smell of his head. i must have been only five years old or even younger when i discovered how special that smell is but the memory of it came back to me during the pregnancy.

today, chiara was so fussy that i felt a little frustrated that i hadn’t gotten much done except for feeding and bathing her. i sat in a bath towel for almost 2 hours because she cried during my five-minute shower and wouldn’t stop for anything except for a long nursing session. but after that, we had a nice quick lunch with dad, and i had a great, uplifting phone conversation with veteran three-time mom kate. finally, i motivated and took a walk outside for about an hour while chiara rode with me in her baby sling.

chiara was hungry by the time we returned but after nursing, she was awake but quiet, in what the baby books call the “quiet alert” phase. I held her high against by shoulder so that her stomach pressed against me, which helps her to burp out all the air she ingests.

in this position, her little head was next to my cheek and i just sat there on the couch, smelling her precious little head, thinking how lucky i am to have this precious little head to smell whenever i want!

Flower Child

jeanhee @ 5:54 pm

September 17, 2005

My Fierce Daughter

At this point, i’m not sure whether i’m just projecting or discerning Chiara’s personality. But i feel fairly confident that Chiara will be fierce. i don’t mean that she isn’t cute and smiley and gorgeous and all these other warm and cuddly things, but i sense that she will be someone able to take care of herself when necessary, and perhaps have an independent streak too.

i see her ferocity when she eats. even at this tiny size, she attacks her food source with determination and this fierce little look in her eye. it is an unmistakable expression. and every time i see it, i feel proud that she has this strength. and i feel a responsibility for nurturing it.

i hadn’t thought too much about what it would mean to bring a child into the world, least of all a daughter. but being a woman myself, i am sensitive to the ways in which the world tries to mold girls and women into soft shapes, erasing inherent bumps and hard edges. i suppose this is a process that everyone goes through to some degree, but i feel it’s my duty as Chiara’s mother to vigilantly guard against shaving off too many of those crags. too many people have ideas about what is “feminine” and what is “masculine.” but Chiara needs to be who she is.

jeanhee @ 8:44 pm

September 11, 2005

The Method, no the Process

One week ago, life changed completely.

Suddenly, Luke and I are responsible for a tiny new life, our daughter Chiara. She’s so small, and so perfectly formed, that I can spend an entire hour lying next to her, watching her sleep. She doesn’t move much, but I’m endlessly fascinated. I brush the fine hairs on her head with my fingertips, and run the back of my fingers against the soft skin of her cheek.

Chiara at 12 hours

We had a scare about four days into her life when we looked at the table we received at our breastfeeding class that listed how many wet and soiled diapers Chiara should be producing and when. We suddenly realized that she was way behind schedule, and that since I was breastfeeding instead of bottlefeeding, there was no way to measure how much Chiara was taking in, if anything at all. Suddenly, we panicked and I cried about how I had been starving her for an entire day, as she had gone that long without even a wet diaper. Luke was worried too, but he tried to be the stoic one for both our sakes. We called our pediatrician, who sent a nurse-practitioner over for a home visit. She was calm and unfazed and gave us some advice to make it through the night. But the next morning, with just one soiled diaper in 12 hours, we called and spoke with a pediatrician herself and heard the sanest thing: throw away the table! Don’t worry about diapers as long as she is proactive about nursing (she definitely is!). Eventually, whatever is going in is going to come out.

And, a day later. It all did. I’ll spare you the details, except to say that we rejoiced like drunken idiots over a monumentally soiled diaper at 4 a.m.

Sleep, ours, is of course one of the biggest sacrifices we’ve made to parenthood. The other night I found Luke sleeping soundly with Chiara on his chest. Not exactly a safe perch. I woke him and asked him to move to the center of the bed, at the least, in case she fell off. Then I asked, Luke, how did she get on your chest in the first place? (He had to have gotten up, walked across the room and lifted her out of her sleeper, then returned to bed with her.) And he replied, still dazed and half-asleep, “It’s the method. No. It’s the process. The method has changed.” He alternated nodding yes and no, and kept mumbling about the method and the process.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to teach myself to understand the baby’s signals. When she cries and how, and what she is seeking. I astonished myself when, after holding her during a crying bout, I said, “Shhhhh” in a soothing voice and Chiara actually stopped crying! I realized that I hadn’t spoken to Chiara at all since she’d been born. That since she’s not speaking, I hadn’t spoken either. But now I talk to her all the time, and she responds.

So, that’s week one of Chiara’s life. I’ll try to record the important little details for her to read about when she’s older. The most important details, though, are that she was born into a large and loving family. All her aunts and uncles, grandparents, great grandparents, grandaunts and granduncles have been waiting for her arrival and are so thrilled to welcome her to the fold. And it does take a village. Close friends have dropped by for a little bit of holding time or just to gaze at her. Love is all around.

jeanhee @ 11:11 pm