Love of autumn squash is not shared

Although I dread autumn arriving every year, mostly because I know that means that cold, miserable winter is around the corner, I do look forward to the autumn and winter squash. I’ve never really been a fan of summer squash; I am lukewarm to zucchini and think yellow summer squash is totally overrated. However, Kaia was obsessed with zucchini and yellow squash. She could easy have an entire plate of both if we gave them to her. I thought maybe it could mean she’d also embrace autumn squash… but we haven’t quite been as aligned on this.

I bought a bunch of butternut squash, kabocha, and honeynut squash and lined them all up at our window sill by the dining table. I steamed some butternut and roasted butternut and kabocha and set a good portion aside for Kaia. Kaia liked the butternut when roasted (it’s definitely sweeter and nuttier this way), but avoided it when it was steamed. And the kabocha? Well… she ate a few bites of it when she was observing me eat it, but after I stopped eating it, she wouldn’t eat anymore. And unfortunately, I cannot mandate that our nanny eat the food while feeding Kaia.. because that seems a little mean and overly demanding.

Well, I guess she can’t like everything. But hey, I’m not giving up yet… She has to have this repeatedly before we can conclude she doesn’t like the kabocha. I love kabocha so much – ugh!

The cold is coming

This past Monday morning, the nanny showed up at 8am, dressed like a snowman. I’m not exaggerating: it was high 50s that morning, and she showed up in waterproof, lined winter boots, a puffy goose down jacket, and a thick hat. I laughed when I saw her and asked if she was preparing for a blizzard.

“I’m Jamaican!” she exclaimed, half laughing, half indignant. “I do not DO cold! I will wear 10 layers to avoid being cold!”

As someone who hates the cold, I don’t blame her. Every time autumn rolls around and we enter September, I always feel a little annoyed as the temperature noticeably cools down. The first morning when I wake up and feel like I need to immediately put on a sweater — that’s when I know it. Winter is around the corner. And I’ll be in hell.

That was also Monday morning when I had to throw on a zipped hoodie. No more jumping out of bed to do my thing without having another layer on! It also means that with my pumping, I can’t just pump wearing any old shirt anymore, as it means my stomach will be exposed and be cold. So I’ve started wearing my pumping/nursing tanks again to keep myself covered in the midriff. It’s definitely one downside of pumping in cold weather, even when you do pump indoors. You still want to be warm and comfy and not exposed. And you have to think about layers when it gets colder… even indoors.

Hot and sour soup

While I have been documenting all the raw ingredients and spices that Kaia has been exposed to, I’ve now created a new list of “dishes” she’s eaten, so things like… sesame noodles, peanut noodles, moong dal, black bean soup, etc. The latest soup she has eaten is my homemade and very chunky hot and sour soup, and it was the very first time she had finished something… and cried for more, as though furious that she was only given what she was given to eat. It was almost indignant – the look on her face and the way she yelled out. She happily had multiple spoonfuls of the soup I offered her, eagerly looking at me for more spoons full. And when she was done, she actually started yelling and trying to hold out to reach the bowl that the soup was in! I gave her a couple more spoonfuls. She finished, then yelled for even more, again!! Good thing I had set aside more of the soup that was unsalted, otherwise my demanding baby would have been very angry with me!

It was the first time she’d ever been upset at finishing something I’d given her to eat, solids-wise. The older she gets, the more opinionated she will get about what she eats, so this is the first taste I’ve had of her opinions. I’m just happy she’s embraced food this much so far.. and food that has had strong, bold flavors. I can only hope this will continue and she will be a true tiny foodie.

Sharing the Murasaki Hojicha Diagonal Thi Google Sheet Tracker

Most first-time parents, to track their newborn’s poops, pees, and feeds, use a mobile app of some sort to track, at least for the first few months, at the request of their child’s pediatrician. A lot of parents stop tracking after the first 3-6 months. In our case, Chris didn’t want to use an app like Huckleberry because he wanted to own the data, so he went ahead and constructed a massive Google Sheet complete with a raw data tab that links to multiple charts and pivots. I added some rudimentary tabs tracking breast milk output, solids introduced, and associated pivot tables. And this is how Chris has been, in real life and real time, making “data driven decisions” for our daughter. We still update it daily; Chris wants to update it until her 1st birthday. I will likely keep tracking my breast milk output until I fully wean, and I want to keep track of her solids introduction for as long as I can.

I reference the sheet occasionally to my colleagues, and two of them this week asked to see the doc. So I shared my screen to show them, and both of them had their jaws literally drop. One of them had a look of fear on her face.

“Ohmigod, this is unreal,” one of my colleagues said. “Chris did all of this? And you guys update it… EVERY SINGLE DAY?”

I insisted that it was really just a raw data tab that needs updated, that everything else gets automatically updated. But they all looked in awe of the tabs, charts, and pivot tables, saying that this document was really “#goals” as a parent.

“I hope I can build something similar when I have a child!” a colleague marveled in total admiration.

Cutting a baby’s nails = total hell for all

Last night, I was attempting to cut Kaia’s nails, and she screamed bloody murder pretty much nonstop, even when I was just trying to hold her hand… and even when I stopped to take a break and was just sitting on the bed with her. I don’t even think the nail cutting is actually what she hates the most: she really just hates not being in control of her own hands. The idea that someone would take control of her hands really drives her mad.

Other than the two night nurses we hired, who were both happy to help cut Kaia’s nails, no one other than me has cut Kaia’s nails… ever. Our nanny refuses to do it (she says she’s scared she will hurt her), and Chris refuses to do it. And as if Chris’s parents ever would have offered to do something that would require that level of detail. So really, this means that the stress of cutting her nails and the wrath she unleashes is totally on me. Given that my right wrist flared up after I knocked it yesterday, it made me feel even more miserable. There I was, in pain, trying to cut my baby daughter’s nails and dealing with her screaming nonstop as a result of it.

This moment actually made me realize exactly how easy of a baby my daughter has been to date, though, and how grateful I am for it. She’s fairly predictable, and she rarely is upset without a reason, unless it’s teething. I hear other people complain about their babies – not eating, not sleeping, screaming a lot, hating people. We’re so lucky she’s been this easy going. It’s made the transition to parenthood that much easier and more enjoyable for us.

Mommy pain continues

Since Kaia’s birth, my cubital tunnel has flared up again. All the holding and picking up/putting down of a baby really wears at your hands, wrists, and arms. And then, in late March/early April, I started getting mommy thumb in one hand. Then, I got it in a second hand in May! What joy! While I’ve splinted, taken ibuprofen, and iced, the pain comes and goes. Certain things trigger it, and when I least expect it, some action I take aggravates it, and it feels like a tendon in my wrist snaps. As that probably sounds, it’s really, really painful — a sharp pain that makes you think… FML.

This afternoon while grabbing something while feeding Kaia solids, I accidentally knocked my right thumb against the wall, which then caused a sharp pain to shoot into my wrist. From that point forward, the thumb side of my right wrist has been hurting. Even putting on a sweater sleeve makes my wrist feels tender, as pathetic as it sounds. So I finally contacted Galileo Health through work to see if I can get a referral to see an orthopedic specialist who may be able to give me a steroid injection. I was hoping I could avoid it, especially with gradually weaning down my number of pumps (hand expression is definitely contributing to the thumb/wrist pain), but it seems like the condition doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, sadly.

I wonder what it will be like, to be able to move my wrists and thumbs again without the threat of a sharp snapping pain. It will feel like I’ve been reborn if this actually works!

First pancakes for baby

I had been looking forward to the day when I could make Kaia baby pancakes. I’m a huge pancake lover and hope she would be, too. So the first pancake I made her is quite simple: it’s just a mashed banana, an egg, a little semolina and all-purpose flour, plus some ground up walnuts for extra protein and nut exposure. I cooked them on a buttered pan and served them to her in small pieces so that she could practice her “pincer” grasp (putting her pointer finger and thumb together) this morning. She hasn’t been a huge fan of bananas to date, so I wondered if she’d detect the banana flavor in the pancake. She didn’t seem suspicious at all, though: as soon as I laid the pancake half and pieces of it in front of her, she immediately grabbed the pieces and started eating.. and eating, and eating. She kept wanting more. At the end, she had about 1.25 pancakes, which was more than I thought she’d eat. She loved the pancake! And she got her fill of banana, too!

The next pancake I want to make for her is pumpkin pancake. It is autumn officially now, after all, so why not introduce her to pumpkin, yet another solid food, plus some pumpkin spices mixed together?

Total amnesia of dysfunction

With my parents, while they like to hold grudges against pretty much everyone, the convenient hypocrisy of all of this is that they always seem to forget all the dumb things they do to upset and annoy everyone, including me. And when you try to bring it up, they react with such horrid shock and disbelief that it seems that you are doing something to offend them just by mentioning that they could potentially be imperfect beings who do imperfect things. The audacity!

It’s been about four weeks since we were in San Francisco, and it’s been feeling really good not only to be in an uncluttered, choking hazards-galore space, but also to be free of their constant dysfunction. My mom called this week and said how much she and my dad have been enjoying the baby videos I’ve been sharing. Well, it’s good that they enjoy the videos because they aren’t going to get to see the baby much in person for who knows how long. And frankly, I think my dad may prefer to see videos and photos of Kaia rather than see her in person; he barely interacted with her at all other than a few funny and kissing faces.

“When are you coming to visit again?” my mom asked. “You should come back soon and stay longer.”

She always says this as though the last time I visited, it was just… simply marvelous. We loved every moment of each others’ company and found each other so damn enriching. But that could not be any farther from the truth as we all know. The constant passive aggressive comments. The uncalled for and totally out-there outbursts. The constant criticisms. She has total amnesia and seems to prefer it that way. In her head, she is the perfect mother. My dad is the perfect father. We have some perfect family where everyone gets along. That is not true.. at all. It never was, and it never will be true. We had zero conversations about anything. My dad and I barely spoke. I would say good morning to my dad, and most mornings, he didn’t even respond. What joy at us all being together!

“When Chris comes for work, you and Kaia should come, too,” my mom went on. “Then we can all spend more time together. And I can look after her.”

I reminded her that she’s not fit to be a caregiver for anyone. And she insisted she could simply “watch” her, and when she needed to be fed or changed, then I could do it. Wow, what a great offer to babysit!

It’s always going to be this senseless with my parents until the very end. There’s really no end to the delusion, amnesia, dysfunction, or tyranny.

Freezing breast milk – conflicting feelings

Before I gave birth to Kaia, I had this little fantasy in my head that I would have so much breast milk left over from her nursing sessions (thanks to using the trusty Haakaa!) that I’d already have built a small freezer stash of breast milk by the time I returned to work. I had two sample breast milk freezer bags as a part of a registry welcome gift box. I left it on the shelf of my bedroom closet as a motivation. While I had put a 100-count pack of Medela brand breast milk freezer storage bags on our baby registry, no one purchased them. And that was probably for the best because if someone had, every time I would have looked at them in the first 3 months of Kaia’s life, I’d likely feel guilt and shame that I was never able to use even one of them.

Well, fast forward to 9.5 months later of exclusive pumping and a long, unsuccessful attempt to nurse her, and we’ve finally come to a point where she is pretty much exclusively eating breast milk, along with her solids that she’s enthusiastically embraced. Her milk consumption has decreased as a result of two hefty solid meals a day, and now, every time I look at the top left shelf in the fridge, I’m a little overwhelmed when I see how much breast milk is there. I’m essentially pacing 1 to 1.5 days ahead of her eating. Breast milk is safe in the fridge for up to four days, at which point it either needs to be frozen or discarded (yes, there’s no pasteurization of breast milk being done here! And definitely no preservatives!).

“You should really consider freezing some breast milk,” the nanny said to me today, wide eyed while looking at all the bottles of breast milk in the fridge. “Kaia can’t keep up with your production!”

I looked into freezing again. I looked into the brands of pre-sterilized bags to buy and what would provide safety and also be cost effective. I also read about how much the nutrition of breast milk decreases after freezing. Fresh milk is the best milk. One day old milk is better than two days old milk, and so on. Refrigerated milk is better than frozen milk. And what goes into the freezer first should be the first to be removed for a defrosted feed. Antibodies for COVID (among other things) are still retained in frozen milk… but it starts to degrade after just one month of being frozen. So that was annoying to learn. All those moms who have huge freezer stashes… their milk is likely in the freezer for 4-6+ months. And while the nutrition doesn’t degrade entirely (it’s not like it becomes water!), it still degrades. And so that made me feel conflicted. I rather feed Kaia 2-day old refrigerated milk than feed her 2-3+ month frozen milk that has far less nutritional value due to the chilling. But I also want her to still have breast milk when she’s 15-16 months old.

I never thought I’d be conflicted about freezing breast milk. I thought I would get excited by it and be so proud of myself. But instead, I now feel confused about what I should do.

Exclusive pumpers are out there!

I was having a chat this week with a colleague who has two kids, ages 5 and 2. She asked me if I was still breastfeeding, and I said yes… exclusively pumping. Her eyes lit up, and she revealed to me that she exclusively pumped for both her kids. For her oldest, a boy, they had latching problems that frustrated her to no end, and he wasn’t gaining weight in the beginning, so she decided to switch to pumping completely and to forget about nursing in its entirety. She realized it liberated her so much from being the only one to feed him that when she had her second, she decided she didn’t even want to try nursing, and after birth, she asked the nurses to immediately bring a hospital grade pump to her room. She said she didn’t really care to nurse the way many moms initially intend; the direct breastfeeding didn’t really interest her anymore, and if anything, it stressed her out a lot during the first few weeks of her oldest’s life. And she didn’t want to stress over that. With exclusive pumping or “EPing” as we call it, she had total control: she knew how to build her milk supply at the most critical time, in the first two weeks of her child’s life. She didn’t have to deal with the trial and error of getting a baby to “learn” how to eat properly. She had done EPing with the first, so she knew exactly how to do it for her second and had nothing new to learn. The nurses scoffed at her, saying she really needed to at least try direct boob feeding, but she refused. And she went on to feed both of her kids pumped milk for 14 months.

I rarely meet people who talk about EPing, so it was comforting to have her share this with me, not just about her first experience, but how she willingly chose to do it for her second child. Most of the time when you hear about moms who EP, it’s because of issues like latching, poor milk transfer, weak suck — all the things I’ve heard of and have experienced first hand. So it was good to hear of someone who actually wanted to choose this path for herself and her baby.