Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents – the book

Since Kaia was born, I haven’t had much time or energy to read any books. I figured it would be temporary and that eventually, I would start reading again since I’ve always been a reader. Only recently have I started listening to podcasts again, and though I’ve attempted to sit down to open a book, it hasn’t really worked out. Part of me doesn’t want to spend time reading when I could be spending it playing with and watching my baby grow. Every day she’s growing so quickly and doing new things, and the idea of missing out on something new she does always makes me a bit sad.

Well, I had a book I was waitlisted for via the NYPL / Libby app since last summer that I finally got off the wait list for, and it was a book that I read about called Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents. I think it got mentioned in one of the parenting groups I’m in because a parent was really scared about repeating the same mistakes of her parents. I think one part of how to tackle this is first beginning with self awareness, recognizing that not everything your parents did was “right” or what you want for your own kids, and having checks in place to ensure you do not repeat the same behavior. With parents of the previous generation, a lot of growing up was just about survival, especially if you were the child of immigrants who were just trying to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table. They didn’t have the time or energy for self reflection on how they could do better than their own parents; they focused simply on the physical aspects of shelter and food.

I started reading this book. A lot of the examples provided are very much centered on the white family experience, but I can see how it could be adjusted slightly to account for cultural differences. At the end of the day, I believe that the majority of parents try their hardest to raise their children to the best of their ability. But many do not think about what they could improve, and instead raise their kids how they themselves were raised. I think that’s what my dad did: his parents worked all the time, so they never had the time to teach him anything, so he took it upon himself to learn everything he knew. That’s why he had no patience to teach Ed or me even the simplest things, like how to tie our shoes or ride a bike, or the more complex, like changing oil on a car or driving. He just expected us to learn on our own. He communicated mostly by yelling; that’s what his parents did with him. His parents criticized him constantly; that’s what he did to Ed and me. He knew no different, so he did the same with us and perceived that as “normal.” My mom got disregarded completely as the 10th and last child of her mom. She experienced zero affection or love from her mom. She tried to learn from that and showered me with love and affection, but alas, it ended up becoming more suffocating than anything. So while I get frustrated with both my parents, I recognize that they were just limited by the experiences they had, and they thus lacked the emotional maturity to improve how they parented. But because they are emotionally immature, they will never recognize or admit their faults. The book also describes how children of emotionally immature parents tend to have a higher level of compassion and empathy. I guess that’s one way Ed and I benefited from having unrealistic and immature parents.

The book gets redundant with its examples, though, and it doesn’t give much in the way of coping mechanisms. I thought the whole point of the book was to help identify toxic behavior and then address how to deal with it all and live a healthy and happy adult life?

103.8 F fever – COVID vaccination side effects

After getting the COVID vaccine yesterday, the baby seemed to take it all pretty well. She was still babbling and playing away. Everything seemed fine. That is, until today, about 24 hours later, she became unusually warm, and Chris took her temperature to find out that she had a fever of 103.8 F, the highest she’s ever had. We gave her a cold compress and tried to feed her some baby Tylenol, but she gagged when the first squirt went into her mouth by syringe and ended up throwing up. It got everywhere – all over the baby’s top, bib, Chris’s shirt, my shirt, the pillow we propped her up on, the floor. I felt so terrible for her. She really hates medication, and the syringe is definitely like an enemy to her. After cleaning her up, we ended up putting the baby Tylenol solution into a shallow bowl and feeding it to her with one of her silicone feeding spoons, which she has a far better association with. It worked, though I could tell that she could smell the difference between the spoon with the water vs. the spoon with the medication. We also gave her a bath today, even though today is not normally bath day, so she’d get some indulgence and fun in.

Everyone has talked about the COVID vaccination side effects for adults, but whenever a baby has side effects or a fever, the reaction of course is always different since babies can’t tell you when you aren’t feeling well, and you just have to use your own best judgment in terms of reading them to see how they react. But just going on this, it becomes a little more nerve wracking, and you hope everything works out for the best.

COVID-19 vaccines for babies

The COVID-19 vaccines have finally been approved by the FDA here in the US, and so while we contacted our pediatrician’s office to see when we could schedule an appointment, they were a bit on the slow side and still had no update for us this week. Chris got impatient and instead, signed up our baby to get the Moderna vaccine at a COVID vaccine site in midtown. As expected, when he took her there this afternoon, the area was mobbed by anti-vax protestors, and they had to exit out of a separate area to get away from the mobs. The nurses all gushed over Kaia and wanted to play with her. She might have been the youngest patient they had come in all day and were obsessed with how cute she was, not to mention how well she took her little jab.

Our baby has handled all her standard vaccinations well; the most she’d ever exhibited was extra fatigue and wanting to sleep more, and eat a bit less. She’d never had any additional fussiness or fever as a result, so we were hopeful she’d handle this vaccination okay. She seemed relatively normal after the shot, but because she got a bit warm when we checked her temperature, we gave her some baby Tylenol just in case. It was the first time we’d ever given her any medication after any vaccination.

In a month’s time, she’d have her second dose and be fully vaccinated for COVID. She’ll also be ready to get on a plane and explore more of the world a bit more safely.

When you go through twice the amount of groceries with double the heads to feed

In the short time that Chris’s parents have been staying with us this trip, given we’ve had the baby and are a lot less mobile, we’ve been eating a lot more at home. What that also means is that given we have four adults as opposed to two, I’ve had to increase the amount of everything I’ve made. With that, it’s made me more aware of how much more quickly we’ve gone through everything, whether it’s toilet paper and tissues, fruit, or even eggs. Chris and I don’t eat eggs that often, and so normally, I might buy a carton of eggs maybe once or twice a month. After just one meal altogether, we went through almost a dozen eggs! So when we went to Costco on Sunday, I got two dozen, which I would usually never do unless I was planning to bake, or if Thanksgiving or Christmas were coming up, which would necessitate more eggs for both cooking and baking. I’m preparing chicken satay for dinner tomorrow, so instead of just marinating two pounds of meat, this time I marinated four pounds. I also doubled the amount of peanut satay sauce, which meant I used my entire bag of peanuts for this. On the one hand, it’s fun to make more food for more people to eat and enjoy. On the other hand, it makes you realize how much more expensive it is to have home cooked meals when your family starts to expand.

When your Zipcar doesn’t turn on during a trip

For this quick weekend trip, Chris decided to get a Toyota Sienna for us given the baby, her car seat, stroller, and luggage for all five of us. It gives all of us more room to be comfortable while in the car, as well as ample space for luggage and baby stuff. The Sienna rode pretty well and was very comfortable. We didn’t have any qualms with the vehicle… until we finished our last stop before heading home at Costco. Chris tried turning the car on, and it failed to turn on. After a long time waiting on hold for a Zipcar representative, multiple reps spoke to Chris to try to troubleshoot, yet nothing worked. It seemed to be a security issue that no one at Zipcar could figure out. The final resolution ended up being that we had to leave the vehicle in the Costco parking lot, empty out the van, and get two Uber rides back into the city to accommodate all five of us, our luggage, plus our big grocery haul. Needless to say, it was quite an unexpected adventure at the end of our Poughkeepsie/Beacon trip.

It was also an unexpected adventure for my breasts, too. I was planning to skip my 11am pump and pump when we got back to the apartment, which would have been around 4pm. That never ended up happening since we didn’t get back home until around 5, and I didn’t start pumping until 5:45pm since we needed to unload and organize everything we bought. So when I went to take off my regular bra and put on my pumping bra and hand express, it was really awkward: for the first time, my breasts were so full of milk that my nipples were nearly inverted. Milk was already leaking out. It felt awkward just sticking my nipples into the flanges! I also pumped a record amount at one time: over 315ml.

Pumping milk at a winery

Today, I brought my Baby Buddha breast pump connected with my Legendairy Milk cups while on the car ride and at the winery we visited. I always get a little self conscious wearing my milk cups out in public because they are huge; they make me look like I have D+ cup breasts, but hey, when you have to pump, you have to pump. So I pumped while there, having some hard cider, cheese, and crackers, and wondered if anyone noticed the sound of my pump or the fact that I looked a little disproportional. I’m sure no one noticed or cared, especially given we were outside enjoying the nice fresh air with our ciders.

I took a photo of myself with my D+ milk cups on and sent to my friend, and she said how hilarious and huge my breasts looked. “At least they give you the ability to be in public and pump!” she said in response. The convenience of these new pumping technologies actually makes us pumping mamas feel like we can really have a life outside of pumping milk for our babies. Even though the output still isn’t the same as my Spectra, I’ll take what I can get if it means I can be more mobile temporarily.

Poughkeepsie getaway

Since we didn’t plan an Independence Day weekend trip, we decided to take a long weekend the weekend before the 4th of July this weekend to the Poughkeepsie/Hudson River Valley area. This area is just about 1.5 hours outside of New York, yet it really does feel like an entire world away. Everyone drives. You can access hiking trails and wineries easily. The air is actually fresh air.

This will also be Kaia’s second trip away from home, and yet another crib/bed that is not her own that she will sleep in. So far today, she seemed like a really good little traveler yet again, sleeping almost the entire way in the car and happy and babbling a lot while at the winery we visited. So far, we’ve gotten really lucky with her adapting to new places and sleeping arrangements.

After having spent about half a day here, I totally get why people do weekend getaways to Poughkeepsie or Beacon. It’s so close to the city and even accessible via train. It feels very quaint and nature-y. It feels good to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city every now and then and do things at a slower pace. Then again, I guess once you have a baby, you have to go slower no matter how efficient you want to be.

When grandparents are the primary caretakers

This week, since our nanny is away in Jamaica for the next two weeks, we have Chris’s parents watching and caring for Kaia during the day while Chris and I work. Since I work from home, I can still help with things like diaper changes and bottle cleaning, so they are primarily responsible for taking her outside (they took her to the play gym yesterday), feeding, and entertaining her. She seems to have adapted to them well; she even likes keeping them company on the bed after she has completely worn them out while they take little naps there. It’s pretty hilarious to watch.

And for the first time yesterday, Chris’s dad actually bottle fed a baby — our baby. According to Chris’s mother, their dad had never even bottle fed either Chris or his brother even once when they were babies, so this was the very first time he’d done a baby feeding. Granted, Chris’s mom burped Kaia, but this was still kind of a big deal. I texted Chris’s brother to let him know, and he was incredulous. “That would be a first!” he exclaimed in response. In fact, Chris’s parents were arguing over who was going to feed Kaia next at her upcoming feed! It was both cute and hilarious to witness.

When your baby doesn’t want mama’s boobs anymore

Since our night nurse stopped working with us at around the three-month mark, I’ve been putting Kaia to bed every night after Chris feeds her. Our usual routine is he will feed and burp her, then hand her off to me in the bedroom so I can cuddle and sing to her, nurse her (for comfort), and then she’ll pass out, and I’ll put her into the bassinet asleep. I’ve always looked forward to this quiet time every night together. Even though I’d made peace with the fact that she wasn’t getting nourished directly from my breasts, I still found comfort and love in the fact that she still wanted my boobs for comfort and security. So in the last week, when I’ve attempted to give her a breast before bed and she’s gotten fussy, I’ve been a bit taken aback and wondering if our nursing time together would be coming to an abrupt end.

It initially started with her rejecting my breast and yelping. Then I’d sing to her to calm her down, and then as she’d get more tired, she’d grab my breast to suckle and then pass out. That’s been going on in the last week. But in the last few days, she just wants nothing to do with my breasts. As soon as I whip out the boob and stick it in her face, she either turns away or starts to yell, indicating she doesn’t want it. It honestly hurt my heart. She was essentially rejecting me, and it didn’t make me feel good. I felt a sinking sensation in my stomach when she rejected my breast tonight, and I wondered if this was really the end. I always imagined comfort nursing her until at least one year, even if I couldn’t nurse her for actual food. But that may have been too idealistic of a fantasy on my part.

My baby’s getting bigger, I keep telling myself. She’s growing up. Soon, she won’t be a baby anymore. She’s not going to want her mama’s boobs once she’s a toddler anymore. And those are all normal things with normal child development. But it doesn’t mean that I feel nothing when all these changes happen. I still get emotional thinking how quickly she is growing and how she needs me a tiny bit less each and every day. Today, she won’t want my boobs anymore. Tomorrow, she may not want cuddles. And the next day, she’ll be running off with her friends and not wanting to spend time with me. Life moves forward.

Eating solids, continued

Pediatricians and baby eating experts often say that regardless of when a baby starts eating solids, whether it’s at 4 months or 6 months, the majority of their diet should continue to be breast milk or formula up until the age of 1. Part of the reason for this is that the introduction of solids is simply that — an introduction. The baby will not be having a majority diet of solids for a long time after getting initially introduced. They have to get used to eating non-breast milk/formula. They are adapting to new tastes, textures, self-feeding, being feed from a spoon or from a plate and not through a bottle nipple or mom’s nipple. So in the beginning, the baby will likely play with and throw the food, taste and spit it out. Not much actual eating and swallowing will happen. That comes as a real shock to a lot of new parents who haven’t read much about introducing solids, and so they get really disappointed when the baby doesn’t actually eat and swallow (including Chris). But babies, like the rest of us, need time to get used to new foods. Just the exposure is a good thing in the beginning. Playing with the food, even if it’s just pushing it around the tray or throwing it, is still exposure. They are still interacting with the food, which is good. It’s considered a win or a “mini meal” if they have just the equivalent of one teaspoon of something, and then eventually, one tablespoon of something. So as you can imagine, introducing solids, whether it’s in whole food form or via pureed food, is going to take a crap ton of patience. The more I have thought about this, the more I have realized that introducing a large array of foods in different shapes, colors, and sizes, takes a LOT of time, energy, and patience; thus, it’s no wonder that kids end up becoming picky eaters. Their parents just didn’t have the time or energy to introduce them to eating the rainbow. In some cases, the parents are just being lazy (or imposing their own picky eating on their kids). In most cases as I’d assume, though, it’s because the parents were just too exhausted.

Babies have nothing to compare solids to in terms of taste, other than breast milk or formula. So they don’t have any pre judgments about whether mango should be tastier than broccoli or brussel sprouts. So far, we’ve introduced Kaia to avocado, Alphonso mango, broccoli (steamed, roasted, pureed), and asparagus (roasted, and lime (a wedge). She has no reason to prefer any of these things to the other, and my hope is that she will eventually embrace them all. But we just need to be patient and not impose our own judgments of these foods onto her.