about 3 years ago

Josephine is 10 months! Time flies. It really does.

As with all babies in the first year, many things have changed. Now she is very proficient at commando crawling, but can also crawl on all fours a bit slower. She cruises along furniture. She recently learned to get off the bed (which is now just a mattress on the floor) butt first and climb back up. She claps her hands and raises them over her head. She says "ooooo" and "mmmmm~~" and "ma~" (which is "horse" in Chinese) and pretends she can talk. She will dance whenever music is on.

She is less anxious when I leave her for a brief moment to get something from the kitchen or go to the bathroom. She will complain --- make crying sounds but no tears --- to specific people about specific events. She thinks Saga sneezing is the funniest thing in the world.

She is --- you know, just growing up!

And I've changed, too. I guess I've stopped growing a long time ago, but I still have the ability to change.

A subtle change in mind

Going back to Taiwan in late April, when Josephine was turning 8 months, was a turning point. It was there that I broke my cautious way of giving her food. The lack of access to Whole Foods, kitchen, and being constantly on the road, demanded that I become creative with feeding her. The end result is she got decently good at eating table foods that I cut up with baby food scissors. I don't know why in the US parents don't seem to know about the scissors. It makes eating almost everything possible for a baby with no teeth!

But what was really transforming was my mentality. I got very little sleep in Taiwan. Jetlag + baby + Ian who doesn't speak Chinese but has a lot of opinions + eating out every meal = me getting almost no sleep, being severely jetlagged, but still really really hyper from being back in my hometown. I was exhausted but happy, which was unlike when I first had Josephine, I was exahusted and depressed.

I realized, from the trip, that I can live on even less sleep if I am happy and eat good food. Of course it's not sustainable, but I learned that mental happiness makes everything easier. Once I got back to San Francisco, after the initial first few days of time zone adjusting, I started to sleep better. It's not how many times she did or did not wake up that dictates how well I sleep --- it is simply how relaxed I am that determines how well I fall asleep, stay asleep, and fall asleep again if I wake up to nurse or pee.

Yes, it is a little ironic that I am writing this at 6AM in the morning and I have been awake since 3AM. But I actually woke up to pee and decided to work a little. And I have been decently productive for the last 3 hours and only now decided to write the blog as a treat for myself.

My work productivity saw a huge spike after I dropped all pumping at work. Pumping really sucks. All the things they tell you that hinders productivity for normal adults cannot compare to how much pumping disrupts your work. A good 30+ min is wasted on ducking into a private room, turning on the pump, start pumping, clean bottle afterwards, and remembering to bring the milk home at the end of the day. Try to do this once a day, and you more likely wasted one hour already because no one can context switch that fast. Try doing this twice a day (or more, if your work/commute hours are longer), and you're damned if you get anything done. Nursing at home is a little easier, but it is just as distracting. Oh and did I mention you should also eat your lunch and remember to drink lots of liquids? Because if you only eat a salad at your desk and down one cup of coffee at work, chances are you won't be producing much milk.

I know some people can squeeze in a meeting or do some work while pumping, but frankly, when you're low on sleep and anxious about milk productivity and your tiny bitsy baby, all you want to do when you pump is read crap on your cellphone. I usually read a Kindle ebook or trolled the parenthood forums.

After the Taiwan trip, the nanny noticed that Josephine was drinking less and less of her lunch milk. We decided to drop it, and she didn't care one bit. Now her BF sessions are down to breakfast, snack (5-6PM), bedtime, and any night wakings she decides to do. I can't tell you the relief and big AWWWWW sigh that came out of me when I returned the rental breastpump to ToysRUs.

For a long time, my mind was often occupied by worrying thoughts about raising a baby. I worry that I'm not doing things right. Now after 10 months, I feel like I'm gradually getting the hang of it. The trick is to let go.....and not care. Forget the books, the consultants, how other moms and kids are doing, or the "right way" to raise your child. Whatever makes you and your kid happiest is the way to go.

Josephine's 10 month schedule

A quick perousal of the sample 10-mo schedules from BabyCenter shows just how different every baby's life is by 10 months. Josephine's schedule is just right in there. It's neither typical nor atypical.

This is Josephine's typical day:

8AM - 9AM: Josephine wakes up around this time. She usually wakes up before I do. I'll nurse her and she'll play by herself in bed until I get up. If Ian hasn't left for work yet, they will read a book together or play the piano while I go tidy up in the bathroom.

9AM: Nanny comes. Sometimes Josephine is very happy to see her, sometimes she gets very upset because I am leaving. Nanny will give her breakfast around 9:30AM which is almost always yogurt and oatmeal.

9AM - noon: Josephine plays at home. Nanny dances with her, play instruments, read books. Whenver Josephine gets sleepy, nanny will put her to bed. Some days she falls asleep as early as 1030AM, but most days she naps around noon.

130PM - 2PM: Josephine wakes up from her nap. Nanny always gives her lunch after her morning nap. I prepare her lunch every 2 - 3 days. It is kept in individual glass jars that the nanny heats up. Right now she eats pasta, cut up meat slices, veggies, and rice. We essentially eat the same food. I already take the salt and most seasoning out of our own cooking, and when we go out, I ask food to be cooked without salt, less spices, or sauce on the side. I also keep a stash of baby food pouches for additional snacking and easy fruit access.

2 - 5PM: Nanny takes Josephine out for a walk in the stroller. I think they go to the nearby park. Then they come home and do more dancing and playing.

5 - 6PM: I come home and take over. Josephine gets to nurse.

6 - 8PM: If I am going to circus center for class, then I take Josephine in the car and meet Ian at circus center. While I take the class, Ian walks around with Josephine. She usually takes a 1-hr nap at this time. If Ian is the one taking class, then I just stay home and play with Josephine. Sometimes she will nap in my arms while I watch TV (been watching HBO "Rome" recently); sometimes I will take her grocery shopping; sometimes I will nap together with her in bed.

Dinner happens some time between 6 - 9PM. It really varies because on the days I do circus, I can't eat dinner until after the class. I'll give Josephine a small snack to keep her alive until dinner.

Josephine is remarkably adapting to this fluctuating schedule. She is usually very patient with waiting for food and have only been upset due to hunger only a handful of times.

9 - 10PM: Josephine takes a bath or shower. Usually I go into the shower first while Ian waits with Josephine in the bathroom. Then, I take her and shower/bath her. Ian takes her out to dry, put on diapers and pajamas. I put on skin care and lotion while Josephine rolls around in bed. When it's time to sleep, we put her in the sleep sack, turn on the twilight turtle, lights off, and I nurse her to sleep. Or, if I nurse her and she still doesn't sleep, she stays up in bed for a while until she eventually falls asleep by herself. More on this later.

Our general guideline for scheduling Josephine is...no schedule, but plan ahead. We don't aim to have her always nap in bed. On the weekends she is almost out for the entire day, so she naps in the carrier, the stroller, the car seat, or sometimes just in our arms. She is usually very excited when we are both with her, so she tends to nap less on the weekends and make up for it when nanny comes in Monday. In fact, I notice she tends to NOT want to sleep when I'm around. Sometimes the nanny brings her back at 5PM and she's sleepy, but after giving her a 15-20 min nursing session she is completely reinvigorated and crawls around with the vigor of an Energizer bunny, only to crash gloriously and precipitously afterwards.

Sleep, sweet sleep

When Josephine wasn't born yet, I didn't understand all the hype about baby sleep. All those sleep classes, consultants, methods, theories, ....

If you want to know how ridiculous it gets, just read this Reddit thread. There's an entire universe centered around baby sleep. There are acronyms (CIO for Cry It Out), eponyms (to let your kid CIO is to 'Ferberize' the kid), achievements (STTN for Sleep Through The Night), speciality garments (swaddles & sleepsacks), gadgets (sleep sheep, fisher sea horse), mystical non-medical medical-sounding terms (sleep regression).

Surely, this is a joke, right? Just get a crib, put baby in, end of story.

Right....

Every mommy friend I know has a different sleep story by now. And it never is "I put the baby down in the crib and he/she slept and did not wake until the next day."

But by now, their story most certainly ends with "This is where we are and that's the way it is."

In the great sleep divide, I am on the co-sleeping side. I didn't start out this way --- I tried to go the other way --- but this is where I ended up, and it works for us. And I don't want to fix something that isn't broken.

The "Us" in parenting

The schedule does not fully convey the amount of caregiving "dance" that happens between all the caretakers. Some days Ian actually takes Josephine for a whole day. Some days the nanny is unavailable and I have to hire a temporary sitter (I love Wondersitter for making this possible) which means I need to stay home or close to home to help the new-ish nanny with access to food, stroller in the garage, and general routine. On the days I work from home, I try to squeeze in laundry and cooking. Now Josephine can sit at the highchair by herself, she eats with us, but it wasn't always so. It used to be that only one of us could eat, so Ian will hold or play with Josehpine will I eat and then we switch. Even now that we all eat together, after we eat, Ian has to entertain Josephine more while I put the dishes away.

Going "solo" is always possible. The nanny, Ian, and I have all had our share of taking Josephine alone, which meant being very efficient about eating our own foods while keeping an eye on her. But it most certainly is less stressful to have an extra pair of eyes.

Gone are the days where each one of us goes about whatever we want, whenever we want. Our schedules before 9AM and after 5PM are discussed in detail at the beginning of each week. Who has to home by what time all have to be planned out in advance.

I think this is probably the greatest difference I've noticed from my pre-baby life --- the fact that I can't do as much carefree roaming as I used to. It took some time to adjust, but now I have a better handle on it.

And I wouldn't call it loss of freedom. It's called responsibility.

I guess I'm an adult now, huh?

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