1 year old!

Baby A* turned 1 a few weeks ago!

It’s pretty amazing to think that a year ago, he was this crinkled scrawny baby and now he’s crawling around and getting into all sorts of mischief. Favorite things to do include removing all the ziplocs or tissues from the box and (very rarely) putting them back. Or putting stuff from one shelf into another. Or ‘reading’ books i.e. turning pages with the books typically upside down. Or playing with anyone’s phone/laptop/remotes. We’re trying to be better about using such things around him but well, we’re human. He still chews on everything but less than before. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

We’re now weaning him off formula which is .. rather terrifying actually. There was some comfort in knowing that whether he ate or not, he’d get nutrition. But he’s actually pretty good about food. His current favorite is blueberries but he loves anything with a strong flavor. Like marinated feta. Or anything spicy. Oddly after all my initial ambivalence about breastfeeding, I find myself reluctant to let go of our nighttime nursing ritual.

We’re now hunting for daycares and trying not to panic at the wait times. Or the cost.

Things have been so busy with apartment hunting, moving and new job that I’ve flaked on just about everything else. And.. running late for work now so more later.

 

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Life Updates

I’ve been MIA from.. everything for a while. Blog. Friends. Mostly I’ve been in heads down, crunch mode. Tons of studying and trying to remember stuff that I haven’t used since undergrad.

But it paid off — I signed an offer for a new job last week! It’s going to be a change from academia but in some ways I’m looking forward to it (hellooooo not working on weekends!). In other ways, I actually feel really guilty for leaving. Research is actually going well, I have tons of ideas, and I have great mentors. But also.. there’s only so long that I can attempt this track. For the most part, it’s a huge weight off me to now move onto other things — apartment hunting. day care hunting. summer plans.


Baby A* is growing like a weed. We got told that he was rather.. heftier than he needs to be (I’m not sure how I feel about the whole measuring BMI at his age). But it did give us the push to night wean him (which we had been wanting to do for ages but apparently my husband only actually gets on board after the doctor telling us to). So now he sleeps straight through the night. Umm, sorta. We give water when he wakes up sometimes. And he’s up bright and early trying to crawl all over us. Overall, I am not a fan of cosleeping.

He’s also (finally) started crawling by doing this weird army-crawl thing. But he’s been walking (with our help) for ages so I’m not sure that it matters. He’s also starting to pull himself up which is.. mostly terrifying.

These days, I go through the house to catalogue what we’re keeping. Mostly.. not much. Too much likelihood of things falling on top of him. God knows he likes pulling everything these days.


Funnily enough, while apartment hunting, one of the places we saw was in the same building as our fertility clinic. I just couldn’t… Too many memories and too much frustration. But also, time heals. I don’t feel the same angst that I used to there. Things did work out and I have a beautiful boy.

Envy

I used to envy one of my friends for how easily things came to her in life — her two pregnancies were easy to achieve with no pregnancy or L&D complications. And even outside of family.. things like job transitions seem to happen seamlessly (I know she works super hard, just that she seems to see less of the rejections that I and most others seem to deal with).

But now,she’s dealing with challenges the likes of which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Her youngest is facing a lot of very serious health challenges (who’s only a few months older than A*). At first it boggled my mind that she essentially quit her job so she could provide care for her youngest (this was a girl who was always super serious about academics, came up with her own major in undergrad, and proceeded to get fantastic residency, fellowship, and faculty appointments). Now as it’s getting more serious and complicated… now I’m just heart broken for her.

It’s a reminder to me how thankful I am for what I have — healthy and happy spouse, child, and parents. Sure I get stressed about work and whether I’ll ever find a job but that’s rather minor in the grand scheme of things. Having a healthy family who are all happy with whatever they’re doing (be it work or crawling) is such an incredible blessing.

I don’t even know how to support my friend – I check in and tell her that she can always talk if she wants to vent but I can also completely understand that sometimes you just don’t want to. Mostly I’ve been telling her that I’m sending love her way.

Donations

For the last several weeks, I’ve been dealing with trying to get stuff we have out of the house. Partially because we’ll move in the summer (not far but still it’s a move). Partially because I’ve realized that our current place is much bigger than we need and the extra space is just leading us to accumulate stuff . Partially because baby’s stuff is starting to take over the house. Partially because I’m realizing that between hubby lack of organization and just the stuff we have, it’s stressing me out. And yes, I might have watched a bit too much Marie Kondo 🙂

At any rate, first on the list are items that we truly don’t need anymore. Clothes that baby has outgrown. Postpartum care items. The co sleeper we used for the first six months. The infant car seat. Fertility medicines. And it’s been surprisingly hard to work out what to do with some things.

Stuff like the cosleeper or carseat are easy — we had hoped to have another child and at any rate, aren’t sure if we’re done so we’re packing those away for the future. Outgrown baby clothes go into a pile to donate and one to keep for future use.

But some of the other stuff is hard. Postpartum care items — I have piles of perineum ice packs, an unopened set of adult diapers, and an unopened box of breast pads. I don’t need them anymore and it’s not the sort of thing that I intend to carry from house to house for a second child. And it’s also the sort of thing that must be useful to someone – a women’s shelter maybe? A couple of hours later (and many web searches, emails and phone calls), I realized that it’s surprisingly hard to donate such items. For reasons that make no sense to me. Ok, I get that some places only serve a certain age group and postpartum is a very specific one. The one local place that did accept them, I’m not sure I want to donate to (their website language reads very anti-choice and I’m not sure I want to support that). Eventually I found a place in Maine (!) that accepts (unused) medical supplies for donation to developing countries. All my space needles from fertility treatments are going there too.

Another pile of stuff I wanted to donate was my insulin – I have a few vials when my doctor prescribed them but then I switched doctors and never used them. Given the cost of insulin, I didn’t want to just throw it. Eventually found a place in Florida that accepts diabetes supplies – test strips, insulin, needles, lancets, the works.

And the last round of things – my fertility meds. I ended up being really bad at this. I didn’t feel comfortable donating them until I was in the third trimester — during most of the pregnancy, I was worried that something would go wrong and wanted to keep the meds in case we had to do another cycle in the fall. This is irrational of course – I would have still had insurance coverage for meds and by the time that ran out, these meds would have expired. But there you have it. By the time I got around to trying to donate them, most had expired. Mostly I’m just annoyed at myself that with all the need for these medications, I didn’t do a better job of filling in the gap where I could.

This whole process has been rather depressing actually. I know I’m not the only one with surplus items that should be of legitimate use to others. And it’s just frustrating to realize that the way the system is set up, the easiest thing to do is throw them out. I spent some of my childhood in India, and in some ways, I think the system there is better able to reduce waste. There are always those in need for food/clothes/medical supplies. Electrical items that don’t work first go through attempts at repair in these tiny roadside electrical shops. Ditto with clothes/shoes/pretty much everything. Here it’s often cheaper to just buy a new one. As for repairing them myself, face it, even if I have the skills to repair one of those things, I certainly can’t do all of them.

I do think that there’s a need for a centralized donation pool of some kind to at least know where to best donate different types of items and it still surprises me that nothing seems to exist.

Baby A* at 8 months

Wow. I cannot believe it’s been 8 months.

Mostly things are chugging along. After months of worrying why he’s not turning, suddenly baby now turns. I’ve yet to see him do it but I’ll leave him for a minute and I com back and he’s on his stomach trying to wreak havoc.

He has definitely reached the wreak havoc stage. Last night, he started rummaging through things on the nightstand and knocked over the baby monitor. And he has a walker which he’s figured out how to maneuver so he can reach whatever he wants. Yesterday I caught him at the tea shelf trying to grab whatever boxes were there. And when that failed, he started pulling the wire rack. We are not ready for this. We haven’t childproofed and were not planning on it since we’re likely moving in a few months.

He loves food! He’s always willing to give something a try though he might refuse it later. Also this kid knows when he wants food and when he doesn’t. If we try and give him more formula and he doesn’t want anymore, he’ll let us put the nipple in and it’ll just… sit there. Or he’ll smirk at us as if he’s trying to say ‘nice try’. We really need to teach him sign language because he currently just grunts whenever he wants something which could be any of food, sleep, new diaper, being picked up, different toy, general boredom…

I feel like for the last few months, I only really write about the good. Perhaps part is that I feel so guilty for the bad. There were (and still are) parts of motherhood that I do not like. And many moments when I wonder if I’m cut out to be a mom. Or whether I’m good enough. Some moments of wishing I was back in my old life where I had sleep. And a lot of guilt over everything – guilt over not having undiluted joy in motherhood, especially when I’ve worked towards it for so many years. Guilt over enjoying work and realizing that I really don’t want to be a stay at home mom. Guilt over not enjoying co-sleeping. Guilt over feeling like I’m the bad cop (maybe this one I can put on my husband. Everyone who knows us knows that he’s going to be the sucker who lets the kid get away with anything). Guilt over getting angry with baby, especially when I’m exhausted and sleep deprived. Guilt over not just liking working but not wanting to take a step back and go for a lower pressure job.

Everything I’ve read and heard from friends, fellow bloggers, and basically everyone seems to say that a lot of these are normal. So I don’t talk about it much and mostly it’s fine.

And there are plenty of wonderful times. Like at some point last week, I was looking at baby and just so overcome with love and thinking about how lucky I am that he’s here and healthy and thriving. And I started tearing up (happy tears). And baby saw that and immediately started getting upset and worried because he saw his mamma crying and he was so confused. It was such a wonderful moment.

On a different note, I turned 33 this week. And it was lovely. For the first time in many years, even with my job in major flux, I was fairly content with where I was in life. I ended up going out to this new boozy dessert place which was awesome. And enjoying a night out without baby.

 

Baby A* at 7 months

On the home front, baby is amazing! He’s so happy and smart and altogether lovable. I’m still rather in awe that all of the work of the past several years created this amazing being with his own personality and way of doing things.

Sleep training is so far an utter fail. He at least doesn’t get up for food at night (well, he gets up once around 11pm but that’s doable). So we get decent-ish sleep from 11pm till 6pm when he wakes up. Compared to a couple of months ago, that’s a massive improvement. The downside – he only sleeps like that when he’s in bed with us. And so, I find myself co-sleeping even though it’s not what I wanted to do. Mostly I want my space back without having to do gymnastic to not squish baby. But then, as my husband said, we spent years yearning for him to be a part of our lives so maybe we should just let go and enjoy it.

eatingHis top teeth are starting to come in now so he’s a bit early on that front. He sits comfortably and can pull himself up to sitting or standing using me as a prop. He’s super independent and has been holding his own bottle to drink for a couple of months now. And prefers feeding himself though that’s always a messy proposition. Favorite foods – apple/pear and yogurt. We’ve tried a couple of finger foods (like softened toast) but mostly we’re too worried about choking. I know I know, gagging is not choking but it’s a mental block for all of us that we need to let go a bit more. It’s funny but somehow I revel in the mess (It’s usually not as bad as this picture. I decided to use the smeared yogurt to create a face mask to help his ridiculously dry skin). I suppose the way my husband thinks about co-sleeping, I think about food and the mess it creates. It’s a sign of joy and exuberance for me – that there’s a child joyfully living in the house.

He is rather demanding at times. One of our nicknames for him is Maharaja (which means king). He’s also going through an i-need-mommy phase which is both heartwarming and reassuring and also frustrating. I have to sneak out for work without seeing him because otherwise, he cries and demands that I pick him up. Still, he’s learnt to hug me which is so unbelievably lovely. Also I’m starting to feel the need to teach him some version of sign language because he clearly knows what he wants but everything gets articulated as a grunt-whine.

Perhaps strange but sometimes I wonder why he loves me. I certainly don’t feel worthy of it. In terms of people who care for him, my parents and husband are just as involved (more so sometimes). I protect my me-time far more than any of them do. And I don’t know how self sacrificial I feel towards him. Then again, my mom was telling me not to sell myself short and that I’m being biased in my evaluations and whether I consciously think that or not, I am doing a lot for him. Mostly, even now, I feel like moms are amazing and I don’t know if I’m living up to that example.

Life Updates

For better or worse, most of what’s been taking up my mental bandwidth is work. It always makes me feel like a bad mother when that happens but also.. that’s who I am.

Some of it is grant deadlines, some is I decided to apply for industry jobs and see where it leads. Since last summer, work has been a roller coaster in a way that family life hasn’t. In retrospect, I started back way too soon and I think I should have tried to insist on longer leave, even if it was unpaid. And then Nov and Dec were bad, really bad, at work. I work closely with a labmate on this project and we kept hitting walls and weren’t really sure why and weren’t getting concrete enough feedback and kept getting criticism for why we weren’t further along. We pushed through that but echoes of it show up every so often.

This is why when things clicked about how an academic track might work out, it was unexpected. Now.. well, mostly I go back and forth. There’s a lot of things I’m constantly considering and some of it boils down to personal vs family trade-offs. So we’ll see – if a job comes through that I’m excited about, I will probably just go with that.

I will say that I always thought that by 32 (33 next month), I would have figured out my career and not still this confused.

IVF in the news

I was pleasantly surprised to read this today: https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/01/infertility-workplace-pregnancy-challenges-2019.html

They do a pretty good job outlining (some of ) the challenges and how it affects things like time off. Of course then I read the comments which ran the gamut from “just adopt” to “we shouldn’t subsidize designer babies”. Oh America, you really need to beef up your science education.

The dreaded work-life balance

(Before I write this, I’m congratulating myself on finally making it back to microblog mondays!)

One thing I’ve been struggling with is balancing all my work and and personal commitments (and still staying sane). Surprise! I feel like this is a topic I’ve been thinking about and talking about with my friends since my early 20s, long before kids came into the picture.

I know someone looking from the outside at my life would think that’s its easy — my parents are around to help and do a ton of work at home to keep things running. A lot of it is coming up now because I’m wondering where to go career wise.

Late last year, I had pretty much decided to give up on academia and look for a ‘coasting’ industry job by which I mean something I could work at from 9-5 (or whatever) and not get stressed about and still be doing well. But then I had a conversation with my PI in January and .. suddenly something clicked. I saw a path forward for myself and how I would pitch myself as a researcher/potential faculty member. And so now I’m wondering whether to pursue this.

There’s so many trade-offs on either side that I have no idea what to do. As one of my colleagues said when I was discussing this with him, it’s down to whether I’m doing my family a disservice by pursuing this path. And there are many reasons for this — the hours, the money, the additional stress. Are all those trade-offs worth what a research position would bring? And here, I think it’s less clear for me. For my husband, he’s always been very clear on what his job gives him and why he wanted it. For me, the same reasons are less persuasive. And then there’s the other part of whether academia wants me.

Sigh, it’s all so muddled up and confused and I want to say that being a parent is a factor but now that I think about it, I’ve been going round and round these same issues for years. The only difference now is that I see a realistic potential path.

In which I talk about weight

Weight’s been a weird thing for me. And this is going to be a rather TMI and personal post but what has this blog been if not plenty of that.

I spent most of my life underweight and rather skinny. When I started college, I didn’t even fill out size 0 (in retrospect, that was probably a brand that ran too big) but the point remains. My main concern when I was on dorm food was would I get enough nutrition since I was vegetarian and watched my weight to make sure I didn’t lose any. I did gain some weight in college so I ended it at 115 lbs.

And then I got diagnosed with PCOS. I don’t know if it was the PCOS or adulthood or eating out more but ever since I’ve gained 3-5 lbs a year. Fast forward a decade and.. well, you do the math. I never worried about it since it was never a sudden weight gain but by my late 20s, I was actively trying to bring it down. I couldn’t understand why I kept gaining weight since I generally eat healthy food and I don’t eat a huge amount. One of my doctors kept saying that everyone always underestimates what they eat but no, I had done logs and for the most part, ate 1800 cal/day. By this stage, I had also learnt that PCOS is associated with weight gain in a way that made it even harder to lose weight.

The summer I was 29, I went through a summer trying caloric restriction and zero added sugar. It was supposed to be enough to lose 1lb/week but I was losing less than half of that. And so I went from being 115lbs when I was 22 to 157 at 32, right before getting pregnant.

And then I got diagnosed with gestational diabetes. That was it’s own stress but a few good things came of that. For one, I only gained 15lbs through the pregnancy. I lost all that and was back to pre-pregnancy weight 10days postpartum. I suspected that “I” had lost weight and “the pregnancy” had gained weight so once I lost the pregnancy weight, I would actually be at a net loss. I think this is roughly true. Fast forward to 6 months postpartum and I’m a solid 15 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight.

For me… this is amazing. I’m at a weight that I last saw when I was 27 or so. And unlike last time where I had to be so so careful about what I ate, now, I only roughly pay attention.weight_by_date_pregnancy_postpartum.png

One thing that I think happened is with the GD, I worked out some of what type of diet really truly works for my body. And I learnt how to stick with it and what are the ok cheats. Since then I’ve read a book (“The Obesity Code”) whose message roughly matches what I observed in myself — keeping blood sugars low is the key (technically his message is keeping insulin low is the key). And I had learnt to do that because I was measuring myself after every time I ate.

I’ve loosened a lot of the rules now and probably need to get back to a slightly stricter version. But for the most part, these aren’t hard rules for me to observe. I do indulge but  try and make it a rare event and not a regular thing (byebye chips with a sandwich). Given that the hormones running through my body now are massively different, I don’t know if the same diet will still work as well but so far, it seems to be.

Do I think this will work for everyone? – no. For one, I think this addresses some very specific issues that I was dealing with. I don’t want to be that person who’s obsessed with weight but I do feel younger (though that probably has to do with the fact that my younger self was skinny and so I conflate the two).

Mostly I’m rather grateful that I managed to learn a little more about what works for my body.