Snot sucking: a true highlight of early parenthood

When a baby body care box that included a snot sucker (Nose Frida) was gifted to us from our registry, I figured that this manual snot sucking contraption would come in most handy if and when Kaia would fall ill. What I didn’t realize is that snot sucking would need to be a nearly daily task that I’d have to do for Kaia. And it would be especially hideous when Kaia would actually be congested.

Since Saturday, Kaia has had a little cold. She’s been stuffy, runny, and having endless snot stuck in her system. On the bright side, she’s still maintained good spirits and has still eaten well, so we haven’t been too worried. But I have had to increase snot sucker usage from once a day before bed to 3-4 times a day. On the worst night, I had to wake up three times in the middle of the night to clear her system out.

Today, I cleared her out before breakfast and again before lunch. Both times, it took longer than I would have preferred, which means Kaia was angry and trying to break free of our nanny holding her down in place, and I was getting out of breath and tired. And when you looked at the results of the snot sucker post suck, you’d really have to wonder… how can this much snot and nasal yuckiness come out of such a tiny human?

Vocabulary explosion at 15-months

In the last week, Kaia’s new words have just exploded. I was already having a hard time keeping track of all the words, but just in the last week, it’s gotten a bit out of control in a good way.

I keep a cup of water for myself by my bedside table each night, and I’ve also kept Kaia’s water cup on the same stand. Yesterday, she started charging toward the table to grab my phone, and I called out, “Pooks, watch out!” She looked at me and giggled, responding, “Watch out!”

She’s said, “oh no,” and “no, no, no!” more times than I can count. She points at her pacifier and yells out “paci!” She goes into her sock drawer, pulling all the socks out, yelling “socks!” over and over again. She pointed at my bowl of dinner and repeated “rice” many times. She knows what beets are and how to say them. She even said “mian,” Chinese for “noodles” multiple times, and said “xi shou,” Chinese for washing hands, when I brought her to the sink to wash up. When she occasionally tries to throw food off her tray and our nanny wags her finger at her to admonish her, Kaia giggles and yells back, “oh, no, no, no, no!” She says “e i e i o” after the “Old McDonald Had a Farm” song, almost at the right pitch. And she also sings the first part of the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” song — “Up above (the world so high).” When we practice walking together, and I say “up, up, up!” she repeats after me. She also loves to yell, “go!” And of course, she is never shy about asking for “more?” when it comes to her very favorite foods.

My chatty baby is learning so much and is a human sponge. I can’t even properly express in words how proud and happy it makes me. Sometimes, I look at her face, and I can’t believe how freaking lucky I got.

A trail of snot and boogers… in my mouth

Despite being very irritable and unhappy last night at her congestion, Kaia woke up this morning seeming as chipper and happy as she could have been. Just listening to her babble, giggle, and whine, I could tell she was still congested, but it didn’t sound as bad as last night luckily. I had to regularly rub Vicks vapor rub on her chest and under her nose to try to keep clear, as well as suck her nose with the Frida Nose sucker every 4-5 hours. Elsewhere, anytime she crawls around and/or sneezes, she seems to be leaving snot and runny nose liquid everywhere. I guess we have a lot of laundry to do in the next laundry cycle.

And well, something happened that I think a lot of new parents who use a snot sucker fear would happen. I was being lazy and wasn’t always replacing the Frida snot sucker filters that prevent the snot from getting sucked… well, into my mouth. I figured that Kaia had not been anywhere as snotty as she was as a newborn, so there wasn’t a need to use a filter each time. The annoying thing about the filters is that there’s only so many of them that come with the snot sucker, and so once you use them up, you inevitably need to buy more (win for the Friday baby product company, but a loss for every parent who buys Frida anything). And because I’m cheap, I don’t want to buy more. So it finally happened today: she had so much snot and yuck in her nose that I sucked it hard enough to get some of it IN MY MOUTH. I immediately realized what happened and went to the bathroom to spit it out. Chris was holding Kaia as this happened, so he sat there holding her, laughing at me getting our daughter’s boogers in my mouth.

Well, I’m amazed this didn’t happen to me sooner than the 15-month mark, so I am sort of pleased with myself that it took this long. I guess this is a rite of passage in some way?

Pookie catches her first cold

After her mid-morning nap today, I noticed that Kaia didn’t sound completely clear. She sounded as though she had some congestion, and when I looked up her nostrils, she definitely had a lot of snot up there that needed to be removed. It wasn’t that clear that she had some sort of cold, though, until bedtime, when I sucked her snot with the Nose Frida and saw exactly how MUCH she had stuck up there. We decided that tonight, I’d sleep on the air mattress on the floor next to her to remove any separation anxiety and to finally get her acclimated into a full night of sleeping in her crib again — or so we hoped. But after 3.5 hours, this attempt was cut short because of her stuffiness. When I first went to lie down next to her, I noticed her snoring, which usually isn’t normal for babies her age unless they are congested. Eventually, she woke up at around 11pm and was clearly distressed. She had this look on her face that was half confusion, half panic: she started coughing, wheezing, and crawled over to me and buried her face in my chest. When she cried, it was like a feeble cry: super crackly, congested, and weak sounding. I knew she had some blockage and brought her back to our bed so that Chris could hold her while I sucked her nose with the Nose Frida again. We rubbed her chest and under her nose with baby Vicks rub, and then Chris had her lying slightly upright to keep her nasal passages a bit clearer.

It was sad and initially a little scary to hear her this way; in the last fifteen months of her existence, she’d never really gotten any real congestion or respiratory problem, and so this was all new to us. No parent of a baby wants to see/hear that their baby is having difficulties breathing; if anything, all of us try to reassure ourselves that our babies are breathing while sleeping all the time — by watching to see if their chest or back (if stomach lying) is rising and falling. Babies are so tiny, which means that their nasal passages are so tiny, which then means even the tiniest blockage can cause things like wheezing. Thankfully, Kaia is an older baby at 15+ months, and so she can learn through trial and error to breathe through her mouth; younger babies (less than four months old) simply don’t know how to do this, so when they get colds, it’s just that much scarier.

I also had thoughts of — how has she gotten sick yet again after hand foot mouth relatively recently? Is it all just because she’s getting exposed to more things? Is it because of the time of year with winter and cold weather? Or is it because now that I’ve weaned, she doesn’t have the protection of my antibodies anymore through consuming my breast milk? The mommy guilt slightly sat on top of me when thinking about this. It seemed futile, but I thought about it anyway and wondered.

We just wanted her to be comfortable and to monitor her more closely, so she slept between us on our bed once again. I hope it’s just a little cold that she gets over quickly. I hate to see my baby confused and not sound like herself.

When baby embraces vegetables

I didn’t care that Kaia’s “toddler selectivity” started around the time she turned 1 year old. All these mom colleagues of mine teased me and said that there would come a day soon when my child would not happily shovel broccoli and asparagus into her mouth, when she would not embrace all food simply because I presented it to her. Annoyingly, the day came sooner than I was hoping, but I did not care: I was NOT going to face defeat with this. I was NOT going to stop giving her vegetables simply because she expressed disinterest at a handful of meals. I have gone through far, far harder things than this. I had to deal with my brother’s mental illness and suicide. I had a dysfunctional family growing up. I dealt with workplace politics, toxicity, and borderline bullying. I went through IVF and a natural birth. I exclusively pumped for 14 months and battled a love-hate relationship with it. I was tougher than this and was going to get through this!

So even when she repeatedly refused things, I still gave it to her. I still made sure she saw it on her tray. I made sure she saw us eating it. Even if she only touched it, that would still be a win because touching leads to eating. And this weekend, incredibly, she didn’t refuse anything we gave her. She at least ate a little bit of everything. She especially embraced her asparagus, which she hadn’t had since last summer; she sucked all the “meat” out of them until just the woody, fibrous pieces were left. She tore up her broccoli and shoveled it into her mouth. She even started accepting finger-fulls of hummus straight from my hands.

While many would say we are blessed with a good eater, I would say it’s partly a blessing and partly perseverance. This stuff takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work. And I remain committed to ensuring Kaia Pookie is a true omnivore.

Baby’s first words

In a lot of baby memento books and scrapbooks, you always see lists of “baby’s first words.” The truth is that since around 10 months, when Kaia first said the word “diaper” about 50 times, I have lost track of all the words she has said. Part of me is a bit wary of even recording them because it’s never been clear to me whether she understands the words she actually says, or if she simply repeats words we say because she hears us say them.

Either way, these are the words I’ve heard her say in some form. We will never quite know whether she understands the words coming out of her mouth at this stage, but hey, I suppose that’s what being a baby is all about, right?

Kaia’s first words that I can recall in this moment, in no particular order other than the first word:





got it




hi / hey

Weetbix (haha)










Breast milk benefits and the sadness of weaning

It’s been over three weeks since I last pumped milk. It’s been three weeks since I last had to clean pump parts, three weeks since I heard the “brrr!” sound of my Spectra S1 Plus pump, which I used to joke was like my second baby. It took a few days to over a week to finally get used to not pumping before bed, to actually having time… to MYSELF before bed, but it finally started feeling okay about a week ago. It felt strange, but my new normal finally sank in. Sometimes, when I am in the shower now, I still squeeze one of my breasts to see if any milk comes out. And alas, I do get some drops. It’s still a nice white color, but it’s a lot thicker now, almost like the colostrum I originally produced right after birth. I don’t know how to store the drops because they are so small, and it’s not like the quantity is that much, so I end up just washing it away. But it would be nice to save it for Kaia somehow, especially since it seems like after her little hand foot mouth disease situation, she also got another fever somehow.

No one wants to see their baby in pain or suffer. But if there is some benefit to her getting some breast milk drops, then maybe it would be worth saving them for her in some way. One drop of breast milk contains about one million white blood cells that can protect a baby from infections. It’s almost like a super power in itself.

I used to have this silly fantasy of nursing until my baby was past two, of being THAT mother who still nursed in public at a toddler age and would get slightly embarrassed because her toddler would actually ASK for “the boobie.” I thought about it because I just wanted my baby to reap as many benefits from breast milk as possible, and I thought it would also help our bonding. Well, that was never to be in our case. I wish I did have some milk to share for her, though. Sometimes, it still makes me sad that I never froze even a single bag of breast milk for her for the future… even though it doesn’t logically make that much sense since I know that after 3-6 months of being in the freezer, most of the breast milk benefits drop off heavily. But I still think about it. Mom guilt has a million different forms.


Back in late January when I got that stomach bug, I had no idea what caused it. In total, it probably lasted about two days. On day three after, I started feeling like more of myself, but I felt exhausted just from being sick those two days. The extreme body fatigue and ache wore me out, as did the stomach pain itself. After reading some recent news, Chris suggested that I could have gotten norovirus, which seems to be spreading quite rapidly throughout the U.S. In most cases, the symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and body aches. I didn’t have the first three symptoms, but I definitely had the last two.

The thing that confuses me about whether I got it was… how would I have even contracted it? In the few days leading up to my getting sick, I was barely around any people at all, especially since I work from home. It seems like now, I just have to expect to get sick simply because I have a young child at home. It will be a wonder (and potentially a total nightmare) to see how much I get sick once Kaia is in daycare/school.

Pumping all done, and then what?

It is a strange feeling to be fully weaned and done pumping. For the last 14 months, my entire schedule and life revolved around pumping. I couldn’t wake up or go to sleep without thinking of pumping, pump parts, or how much milk there was in the last session or in the fridge. Now that I’m completely done, it feels very strange. It feels strange to go to bed without pumping, to wake up and not have to get connected to my pump. It’s weird not to see all my pump parts sitting on the kitchen counter, to not see my pumping bra on the side of the counter, waiting to be put on for pumping. It’s almost like there’s a void that needs to be filled. My body and mind need to get used to not pumping anymore. I am free now, though “freedom” has many definitions. Pumping, something that was so much a part of my identity and reason for being in the last fourteen months, is now over. So I am still getting used to my new normal of having my breasts and body back, of being liberated of the “shackles” of my breast pump. I am trying to embrace it. And every time I look at Kaia Pookie’s face, I remember why I went on that long, arduous, intense journey, and it was all worth it. It’s now becoming a slowly distant memory now, but one that I will always remember with love.

When eating a piece of bread feels like knives going down your throat

I knew my HFM was getting worse when on Friday morning, I attempted to eat a piece of bread that wasn’t even toasted, and it felt like I was trying to shove and swallow knives. Everything going down my throat felt like my throat was being shredded to pieces. I had no idea how a sore throat could possibly be THIS painful. Was I going to have to resort to smoothies and pureed food just the way Gerber and all those nasty baby food companies intended for tiny humans? Even drinking hot ginger tea with lemon and honey hurt. Anything citrusy or even remotely acidic made my entire mouth and throat burn. The lesions were just waiting to scream at me, mocking me for even attempting to eat anything with flavor. It was miserable.

Today, despite knowing it would hurt, I still ate the delicious Boomerang Bites Aussie mini slices that Chris ordered. Yet somehow, even the tiny bits of cherry in the choc-cherry slice burned my mouth. Then, the CARAMEL in the sticky date bite wanted to murder mouth. Pretty much anything that tasted like anything hurt to either be in my mouth or go down my throat.

So, this is what hand foot mouth disease is, I thought to myself sullenly. I can only pray that I never get this again. Yet somehow, I have a feeling that this will NOT be my last time. This is what it’s like to have a young child who is getting exposed to every germ possible in the world. This is a mama’s life. I’m going to just take it one day at a time, even my throat feels like it’s going to close up completely and kill me.