Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To The Day

We celebrated one month with Nicole Huelan today. Liz and I can't actually decide if seems like it's been a long time or whether time has flown by. A little of both I suppose.

Perhaps we really started bonding with her well before she was born, talking to her and getting ready for her arrival, making it seem like so much longer than a mere 30 days. Or maybe it's just our screwed up sleep cycles that have distorted our sense of time.

She has definitely changed a lot in just a month. We can see it in her face and body- she's no longer the puffy little bundle all wrapped up in a blanket. She is starting to make little cooing noises and gurgles that have me completely smitten. She can track our faces if we move slowly from side to side (and if she's in the mood). And she's eating more, which is helping her get noticeably stronger, heavier, and more active.

Some of the books we read tell us what to expect at 2 and 3 months, but that feels like a long way from now. We hope next month will be as fun as this one has been (except with more sleep).

Friday, January 22, 2010

The More We Change...

Being around an infant these last few weeks made me realize that there are some things we do as adults that we are pretty much programmed to do from the womb. For instance, people believe that the reason that newborns like to sleep all day and stay awake at night is because all day the mother in rocking them to sleep in utero by walking around and going about her daily business. They are soothed all the voices and sounds mommy hears, not to mention all the goings-on inside mommy's belly. Then at night, when mommy is sleeping and it's quiet out, they are more active. After they are born, we still rock them to soothe them, some people even resorting to placing them on a clothes drier or taking them for a drive. And as adults, those same gentle vibrations soothe us and put us right to sleep; how many people do you know who can't manage to stay alseep on a long car ride? How many people sleep better with a little white noise like rain falling?

Then there's the sucking instinct, perhaps the strongest instinct newborns have. Babies must be strong sucklers to stay alive, and they even want to satisfy their sucking instinct right after they eat, even when they are full. Maybe this is the origin of the oral fixation in adults- gum chewing, fingernail biting, cigarette smoking, and recreational eating?

Just a thought...

By the weigh- Nicole Huelan got up to 7lbs, 5.6 oz at her doc's visit this week.

Some more recent pics here

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ba Noi

In Vietmanese, the Ba Noi is the grandmother on the paternal side, i.e. what my mom is to Nicole. Nicole's Ba Noi was here December 22-25, hoping that she could coax Nicole out to join us. Unfortunately, Nicole waited another day and Ba Noi missed her granddaughter's debut.

So it was an agonizing two weeks for Ba Noi, made only barely more tolerable by phone calls and Skype, but she finally met Nicole Huelan last week. You've never seen anyone happier to hear a baby cry- she didn't stop grinning the entire time. Ba Noi delivered and raised plenty of her own kids, but it's been a while since she's held a newborn. Her and my step dad fought over the right to hold, soothe, and change diapers for 48 hours straight.
In the few minutes that she wasn't exercising her matriarchal right to spoil her only grandchild, she even had time to make us a few soups and other comfort foods. Ahhhh, everybody wins when Ba Noi is in town. We all had a blast and can't wait to get them together again soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Newborn Anxiety Disorder. If I could patent a pill for it we'd make trillions. The reason is that I believe anxiety is the most common, universal emotion for new parents next to love & affection. From the "What do we do now?" moment when the door closes after you bring your child home for the first time until they can effectively communicate, it's a constant guessing game of "What does this mean?" & "What does that mean?"

It's the uncertainty that is the most vexing. My buddy Michael said that when babies cry there are just three things they could need: food, diaper change, or hugs. Pretty simple sounding, but easy to agonize over. Is she getting enough food? Should we supplement with formula? Should we wake her to finish eating? Is she going through a normal number of diapers? Is the cream we are using right for her? Are we picking her up too much? Too little? What are the long term consequences of giving her a pacifier? Are we spoiling her? Seriously, it can be endless, and the crazy part is that it's often impossible to know.

One good anti-anxiety cure we have found is reading about newborns. There is a lot of information out there, and we tried to read some before Nicole was born, but it just didn't quite make sense to us then. Now, however, it's very reassuring to find a paragraph or two that aptly describes what she is doing and how she is acting- it's good to know that she's not doing anything too weird.

Really, though, we are very fortunate to have friends & family with a lot of experience who we can lean on. Nicole has already changed a lot in her 2.5 weeks on earth, and having people who can give us some insight on what to expect makes all the difference. We even have a personal Lactation Consultant who makes an incredible meatball tortellini soup (thanks Corina!).

When we're frustrated because we can't figure out how to ease her pain, it can drive us crazy and make us question what we are doing. I think that puts us in the same company as all the parents who have ever lived. Sometimes we have found that "I don't know," is the right answer and we are content with that. Cindy said something we really like- that it's impossible to spoil a newborn. So, when in doubt, we are going to err on the side of more hugs.

BTW- Nicole Huelan is up to 6lbs, 15oz and 20.75 inches. Some new pics here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mini, Funny Things

Pretty much everything a baby does is funny and/or cute. Even the most simple and mundane functions for a grown person are super cute when babies do them because it reminds you that they are mini people. Mini people doing mini things. Super mini.

This video is of Nicole Huelan at one of her more alert times- ready to nurse, but (just) before she gets vocal about it. She has the baby hiccups, yawns and sneezes. Hopefully you'll be able to hear her. Her mini feet are also kicking like a mini Pele. It's about 3 mins long.

Monday, January 4, 2010


When you pledge a fraternity, there is a stage called Initiation Week, or I-Week. It's a time where you're basically cut off from the outside world and taught the final bits of knowledge necessary for entrance into the fraternity. You are supposed to come out the other side with new new-found appreciation and bond, much of it brought on by some physical and mental hazing, augmented by sleep depriviation.

A lot like our first week with Nicole.

We have learned a lot this week, but just when we think we have her figured out, she throws us a curve ball. She has us ecstatic over the smallest actions and bodily functions, but she also has us up at all hours of the night. It's hilarious how Liz and I talk about what might be happening, how we guess at what some action or behavior means. "Maybe that means she's full." "Maybe that means she's tired." "Maybe that means she wants us to dress her up in her favorite outfit." It's a very amusing game.

And in just one short week, she has learned some new cries. In addition to the way she was born singing, she now has a low, throaty wail and a short, staccato one. There are some people who actually say they can decode them. We are not that sophisticated yet, but she's teaching us.

It looks like this initiation is going to last longer than one week....