Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paek il

(Today's post is a guest post by Dad.)

Today's the day! Chloë is officially 100 days old.

The Korean culture includes the months the baby spent in the womb when calculating age. 100 days after the birth is approximately 1 year from conception. The baby's first birthday.

The Korean word for it is "Paek il" and it's defined as the celebration of baby's first 100 days in which money and other gifts are given to parents for the baby.

After the baby is properly dressed, they are seated in front of a large table. And on the table you will find different types of food and fruits. You will also find threads, books, calligraphy brushes, ink, money, arrows or daggers, rice, needles, and scissors. After the baby is seated with the objects in front of her, everyone attending the ceremony waits patiently to see which object the baby will grab. It is believed that the object which is picked up first will foretell the baby's future. For example, if the baby picks up a calligraphy brush or a book, then it is believed that she will be a scholar. If she picks up an arrow or a dagger, she will be a soldier. Finally if the baby picks up the money or rice, it is believed that she will be blessed with wealth. If the thread is chosen, it is believed that the baby will have a long life. Guests usually bring gift of money, clothes, or gold rings. After the ceremony, the departing guests are given rice cakes.

Here are some facts about the Korean tradition:

1) In the old days, there were significantly high infant mortality rates and a baby surviving the first 100 days had a significantly higher chance for survival into childhood and beyond.

2) Traditionally, for the first 100 days, only very close family are to come in contact with the baby and the baby does not go outside at all.

3) When a baby girl is born, the birth is announced by hanging a white cloth (or a string of peppers for a baby boy) at the front door of the house. It tells visitors that there is a new baby in the house and it is respectful to refrain from visiting in fear of the baby's health.

4) Baby wears only white clothing during the first 100 days, because white cotton clothes are the easiest to sterilize by boiling. On the 100th day the baby wears colorful clothes for the first time and other adults can hold her.

5) On the morning of the 100th day of the baby's birth, either the mother or the grandmother (of the baby's parents) prepares rice, seaweed soup, and other white items and prays to the ancestors to bless the child with long life and good fortunes. Then the rice and the soup is fed to the birthmother.

6) Typically, the baby's hair is cut and tied in a lock and kept in safety until the baby comes of age (age of majority). The hair is returned to the grown child to remind her of the eternal love of her parents. The child would keep the hair as a reminder of the thanks to the parents bringing her into life.

7) Prepared white and other rice cakes are shared with as many people as possible to spread the blessing. People who share the rice cakes present gifts to wish happiness and long life.

8) Although the baby already has been given a name for the records, adults may see the baby for the first time and give her a baby name as a sign of adoration. Typically this baby name is used only inside the house.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Status report: Month 3

Chloe is three months old today. This feels highly significant, although I think that's because it's the age when babies can hold up their heads and boy howdy, does that make a difference. She does it very well. I'm not sure when that transition happened but now when I put her on my chest to try to convince her to nap with me, up pops her head; she looks around and mewls that she doesn't want to nap, she wants to be awake! and look at things! like the quilt! and the window! and the plain blue wall!

She just got her very first cold, unfortunately; she was snorfling all last night. She sounded miserable but has been pretty happy today, Miss Mimi told me when I visited daycare at lunch. Her first week there has been very good; there are two other babies in the infant room and the teachers claim that she's by far the happiest and most calm. Also, apparently she falls asleep whenever they put her down for tummy time. I guess the scenery isn't as interesting there.

Her hands have been a big thing this month; she's been sucking on them a lot for comfort, and just in the past few days she's taken to holding her fist up and staring at it. Her hands are the marker I use to detect that she's really getting bigger: they're so much larger than they used to be, and the fingers are getting pudgy. She used to keep them tightly furled all the time, and they're still often that way. But sometimes they're outstretched, and I love how her fingers swirl and mark the air and sometimes remain hanging in midair for no particular reason.

She bats at and grabs toys now, and likes her Tigger and teddy bears and things that rattle and crinkle. Whenever we go for a ride we turn on the pink elephant above her carseat, and she stares at it and smiles. She watches it intently as it swings back and forth, her head cocked to the side now that we've removed the carseat's newborn head insert.

She likes to stand, held in place for balance only, and look around. She likes sitting a lot, too; I put her upright against a pillow and she grins. This may be one reason she's liking baths better; we put her in the sitting part of the baby tub instead of the reclining one for infants. She sits in my lap while we read, and grabs at the pages. (Now I know why board books are useful even before babies are putting everything in their mouths.) She also grabs at my hair; it's time to either cut it or put it up regularly.

Bedtime has been getting better; she now goes to sleep between ten-thirty and eleven. (Getting up at six probably helps.) I'm nursing her to sleep a lot, partly because it's reliable and easy, partly because I'm a little afraid of putting her to bed because it's been such a struggle so far and I don't want to lose my sleep to coaxing her to sleep. (I know I need to get over this.) I had thought she'd be moving to her crib around now, but I think we're going to stick with the bassinet a little longer. It's nice to be able to get to her in the night before she cries. However, when she sleeps with me she seems to wake up more often than when she sleeps alone, so I don't know how long she can actually go; hence, we need to start putting her to sleep in the bassinet instead of letting her sleep in the bed.

She's a big girl now, chubby and long. She's outgrowing the only socks that really stay on, which makes me sad, but she's able to fit into an awful lot of new cute stuff, which makes me happy. I went shopping for baby clothes with Carol the other day, the first time I did any serious clothes shopping for her, and had a great time. She anticipates food now, seeming to know what I'm doing when I put her in position and lift my shirt. She coos, and is doing some babbling, and the other night started mimicking Eric as he made different vowel sounds. As Carol said recently, she's a lot more there now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The nose knows

After work yesterday I held my love close, enjoying the contact after a long day of separation. I inhaled--and recoiled. "You smell like...another woman!" I accused.

She cooed.

There are apparently studies that show that a baby can identify her mother's breastpad and will ignore other women's, and that women can identify their babies by smell alone. I wasn't so sure I believed that, since humans hardly ever use their sense of smell compared to other mammals, but now I think I do. Yesterday was Chloë's first day at daycare proper, and when I picked her up after work she did, in fact, smell like another woman. Actually, she must have smelled like at least three of them, since different teachers were there when I dropped her off, nursed her at lunch, and picked her up; and the smell might have been partly the place itself--and it was mixed in with the milk that collects in her neck when she gets bottles. But it all added up to Someone Else Has Been Handling My Baby, and I didn't like it at all. She got a bath last night. It was time for it, but I might have insisted on it anyway, just so she'd smell right again. We'll see whether I can handle the residual scent tonight, or whether her two- or three-times-weekly bath will become a nightly ritual.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mother's milk, lifeblood

I had an appointment to give blood the day before I went back to work. I also had an appointment with a counselor that day, and I took Chloe to both. It made the counselor's day, she said, especially when I asked her to hold Chloe for a minute so I could put my appointment card away and get my jacket on, and the Red Cross ladies were delighted with her as well. (They were appalled that she was barefoot until I explained that she had had a big blowout as we came in and her socks got messy, and while there was a spare onesie in the diaper bag I hadn't thought to pack spare socks. I'd wrapped her up in her blanket, but they fetched a warmed one to put her in anyway until my ten minutes at the canteen were up. There are now spare socks in the diaper bag.) Apparently Miss Overlord plans to gather new minions by beguiling them with her charms, at least to start with.

The screening questions included whether I'd been pregnant in the last six weeks, but not whether I was nursing. I passed the hematocrit (which hasn't always happened) so I was allowed to give my blood. I didn't get faint or anything (which has happened), but I didn't feel quite well afterward. "Double up on your fluids for the next few days," the woman in charge of me told me as I was getting off the bed. I tried to remember how much extra fluid I was supposed to be drinking for nursing, add it to the regular 48-64 daily ounces, and double the entire amount. It was a lot. As Dad later suggested, I should have done it the day before; I felt vaguely ill the rest of the afternoon and not-quite-well into the next day. It may be permissible, but my body doesn't seem to like the double (triple?) duty. Other nursing mothers be warned.

Friday, October 16, 2009


"Somehow, my minion, I thought you'd be...taller."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The first day of the rest of our lives

"This is the Bob and Tom show," barked the radio at 6 AM this morning, waking me for my first day back at work.

The morning from 6 to 7:30 was the Chloe show: waking her, feeding her, changing her, dressing her, and washing her face and neck (which she hates but is necessary because of the milk dribbles that collect between her second and third chins). Edith arrived to pick her up for the day. I kissed Chloe, then armed Edith with a full diaper bag and a handful of bottles and left her in the rain to figure out the carseat. (She said I could go. Honestly.)

The traffic on the way to work was unfamiliar--not that it was a lot of traffic, but I haven't been driving during rush hour for almost three months now. Work was also unfamiliar--they remodeled our office space while I was gone and only moved back earlier this week, so I had to inquire where my desk was. (Though my boss had marked it with my plant, so I should have noticed. But I had figured that plant was dead and so wasn't looking for it.) I'm pleased to be back at work. These last couple of weeks at home with Chloe have been nice, but the first ones were a bit stifling and soul-wearing, and I'm glad to get back to my old routine and be able to talk to other adults. Money is good, too, of course.

Edith said she'd call, but she didn't. I wasn't heartbroken, but I would have liked to hear how Chloe was doing. When I got home it was evident she was doing very well; she was happy and playing and had, apparently, slept most of the morning and been an angel. She was pleased to see Eric. She cried when I held her. Apparently she didn't miss me. That'll make tomorrow even easier.

Friday, October 9, 2009

State of the baby

Chloë now holds her head up pretty reliably. We've got a booster seat thingy for feeding instead of a high chair--a seat that reclines, then goes upright, with an attachable tray--and she likes to sit in it now, buckled in, looking at toys or rattles or the mess on our dining table at mealtimes. She watches us put food in our mouths, though she doesn't seem interested in trying it herself yet; apparently her fist is tasty enough for now. I'm looking forward to starting her on solids, though with her tongue thrust issue she may be a late starter. (The books all say the time to start solids is after the baby has lost the reflex to push any objects in her mouth out with her tongue.)

She also now Miss Truly Drooly Julie. Alternately, Rabid Baby, because she froths at the mouth, mainly at night (we're not sure why). I'm surprised her chin isn't raw with all the moisture and all the wiping. I'm kind of afraid of what adding solids (well, as much as rice cereal and mashed bananas are solids) will do to this mix, especially since her chin fat folds already trap milk and create a nasty residue if we're not diligent about cleaning it out.

She's starting to be interested in toys and music; we've got a bright wobbly thing with a rattly chamber that turns (how do you describe baby toys?) and she likes turning it with swipes of her fist; and there's a pink elephant that hangs in my car that she adores. It plays music, a little bright "Mario Brothers"-type tune, and her face lights up when we turn it on. Which makes our faces light up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


We went to our chosen daycare today, Chloë and I, to get the paperwork going since I go back to work next week. The teachers who had been there when we toured before were there. "She's grown so big!" one of them said. "She's like doubled in size!" Another offered to take her to the infant room while the administrator and I talked, and when I declined admitted she just wanted to hold the baby--"I love girl babies!" she said--so I let her take Chloë.

This daycare deals with a lot of Child and Family Services-assisted families; the administrator, Linda, seemed a little surprised to hear we would be "private pay." She asked how many hours we were looking for, and I told her around thirty-two, eight hours a day for four days a week. "The rate for Lucas County is $186.70," she said, showing me a sheet. (It was less for Wood Country. She didn't know why.) "But the best I could do for you is $130. I try to work with our private pay folks." I felt a little guilty about taking that price, since we could afford the other one; but I accepted, of course. I hadn't asked for a discount.

We've got to get a signature from the pediatrician and fill out a ton of paperwork, and get a cash or money order for the first week and the application fee (apparently they had a lot of trouble with bad checks and now don't take them), but we're looking in good shape to be ready for me to go back to work. And I pulled out the appropriate-sized pants from under the bed, so I'll even be dressed for the part. I have a box of Kleenex, too, which people are telling me I'll need. We'll see how it goes next week.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hush, little baby

The bedtime modification experiment is still going very badly. I'm now trying to nurse Chloë to sleep at around 11:30, the theory being that once she's used to an earlier bedtime we can try other ways of getting her to sleep, but that doesn't always work anyway and usually ends up with the two of us falling asleep in bed. It's not horrible to have her in bed with us, but it's not the goal either and I'd like to be able to turn over in the middle of the night sometimes. (Though she's a very nice sleeping companion. She's a little radiator, for one thing. She likes to cuddle up with the closest R.I.N.D.S. like it's a teddy bear.)

Getting up early, on the other hand has been going fine, except that she has now started crying almost inconsolably in the evenings, which she didn't before. It's a little late for colic to develop (though not impossible, I'm sure) and Mom has suggested it's probably sleep deprivation, which I've been worrying about but not sure what to do about, since part of the problem is that we can't reliably get her to go to sleep. This includes naps, and when she's fussy putting her down makes her especially upset, and rocking tends to calm her but not lull her to sleep.

My main frustration with this process is that I don't know for sure what to do. It's not a matter of waiting for the correct course of action to take effect; we don't know what the correct course of action is. All first-time parents go through this, of course, but that doesn't help me feel any better about it.

Still, she does eventually get to sleep every night...somehow. And she likes to sleep in her swing; that's usually where she starts her naps. I wonder if they make them for teenagers.