23w0d 6 months!

Your baby’s the size of a cantaloupe!

Your 10.5-to-11.8-inch fetus weighs about 12.7 to 20.8 ounces and every week he gets closer and closer to being ready to survive (and thrive!) in the outside world.  He cuts a pretty lean figure at this point, but his body is filling out proportionally and he’ll soon start to plump up. His brain is also growing quickly now, and his taste buds are continuing to develop. His lungs are developing “branches” of the respiratory “tree” as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help his air sacs inflate once he hits the outside world. His skin is still thin and translucent, but that will start to change soon.

(Source: The Bump and Baby Center)

Dear Baby Z,

Happy 6 months birthday bub!  I know that I sound like a broken refrain, but I can’t believe that you’re six months old already.  In less than 4 months, Dad and I will finally meet you, and we can’t wait.  We’ve been very busy preparing for your arrival this month!  It look us a little while to figure out everything that you will need when we bring you home (footies, gowns, onesies, rompers – here I thought that they were just called shirts and pants), but I’m happy to say that we’re finally done with your registry (thanks to some very good friends and family) and we’re quickly on our way to learning what half of them means and how they work 🙂  For such a little person, you sure need a lot of stuff.  So far, you have a car seat (even though we don’t own a car, haha.  Get ready for your first NYC taxi cab ride!), a dresser, a mattress sheet (but no mattress) and some baby clothes (an apple hat and a bear outfit).

I know…we’ve still got a long ways to go.

Dad and I have also been busy converting our study area into your own room.  I hope you like blue and grey, because you’ll be seeing a lot of both colors for a while.  Your Mom is also possessed with decorating fever, and she’s been drawing and designing pretty pictures for your nursery wall.  I hope you like them!

There is still so much to do – your Dad and I are trying not to get too overwhelmed, and stick to just getting basic things that you will need (like pretty pictures, obviously) and figuring out the rest along the way with you.  It’ll be an adventure and a learning process for all of us.  In the end, we know that you won’t care which brand of stroller you have or how many toys you have in your room – all those are nice extras that are secondary to being fed, changed, and most of all…loved.  And you are most definitely, unconditionally, and unequivocally loved.

See you in T minus 3.5 months, my Baby Z.

Love,
Mom

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14w6d Dear Baby Z

Dear Baby Z,

I can hardly believe that tomorrow, you will be 4 months old!  And in just one week, Dad and I will find out whether you are a little boy or a little girl.  We can’t wait!  It’s funny – I’ve been convinced for the past few months that you are a little boy, but for the past few days, I’ve been picturing you as a little girl growing in my belly.  Speaking of growing, Baby Z, I think I felt you move for the first time this week!  Your movements are not noticeable to the outside world yet – not even to your Dad – but I can feel you ever-so-slightly swimming in there, usually in the evenings.  I’m humbled and amazed each time I feel your little flutter.  Your Dad gets a little jealous that only I can feel you and I always reassure him that you will make your presence known to him soon enough, but secretly, I love that for now, your periodic swimming lessons are something special that only you and I share.  I hope this is only the beginning of many special moments that we will share together in the years to come.

I’ve been thinking a lot about you and me this week – mainly, what kind of person will you think I am, and what kind of Mom will I be to you (other than a kickass one).  Will you think that I’m funny?  Smart?  Strict?  Boring? Silly?  Will you like my cooking?  Will you hate it?  Will I embarrass you in front of your friends?  Will you think I nag too much?  Don’t nag at all?  Will you want me to be your friend?  Your confidant?  Will you, heaven forbid, want to call me by my first name, like I see so many kids do nowadays?  (Actually, I’m ruling this last possibility out right now.  Whether you like it or not, you will call me ‘Mom’ or ‘Mommy’ and that’s that.  I’m not carrying all 1000 pounds of you in me for nine months for you to call me by name as though I’m like everyone else. I’ve earned the Mommy title, darnit!)

Truth be told, I don’t know what kind of Mom I will be either.  Will I be strict or lax?  I have no idea.  Will I embarrass you in front of your friends?  Probably.  Will I nag too much or not at all?  Hopefully the latter, but your Dad will tell you not to bet on it.  I have a general idea of the kind of parent I wish and hope to be, but there’s no way of telling how the cookie will crumble when push comes to shove.  So Baby Z, this journey will be as much of a discovery process for me as it will be for you.  I already know that I’m going to make a ton of mistakes.  Maybe this is un-Mommy-like of me to admit, but I’m really dreading changing your diapers, waking up many times in the middle of the night to feed you from my body (I don’t even know how this is going to work), and doing your laundry multiple times in a day.  And Lord help me if you’re a huge crier.  I don’t do very well with tears and/or loud noises.  I’m also super clumsy, and I’m already having some nightmares about accidentally sitting on you or dropping you.  It’s going to be a miracle if you make it past your first month.

I guess all that I can promise you is that I will do my best to not screw you up too much.  And although I may never learn to love doing your laundry or changing your diaper (but c’mon, who likes handling poop!?), I’m hoping that I have lots of other redeeming qualities that you’ll come to appreciate.  For one, I think your Mom is a pretty good cook.  I know your diet will consist mainly of liquids for a while, but I am really looking forward to the day when I can make you a special meal of your favorite foods.  I already know the very first food that I want to introduce you to:  Snickerdoodle cookies!  They are my favorite – simple, unadorned, sweet, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a hint of delicious cinnamon.

That’s my hope for you too – sugar and spice and everything nice.

I love you, Snickerdoodle baby of mine.

Always,
Mom

13w4d Henry

Dear Baby Z,

It struck me last night that I’ve been horribly remiss on this blog by neglecting to introduce you to a very important member of your future family – our dog, Henry.  Although I’ve mentioned Henry before on a few posts, he plays such a major role in our lives that he deserves a special post of his own.  After all, we’re hoping that the two of you will become the very bestest of friends!

The story of our dog starts two years ago, when your Dad and I were vacationing in Chesapeake Bay over Memorial Day weekend; it’s our little annual family tradition to take a road trip each Memorial Day weekend to wherever the wind blows us – and that year, the wind was blowing your Mom towards all-you-can-eat Maryland blue crabs.  We were staying in the quiet, quaint little town of Oxford, Maryland (where reportedly, there are more benches in the town than there are people to sit in them); we had just finished dinner and were strolling down the street towards our bed and breakfast when we saw an elderly couple sitting on a bench (where else?) with the cutest, fluffiest dog that we’ve ever seen.  He was a Coton de Tuléar, a breed that your Dad and I had never heard of at that point, and he took a sudden interest in licking every inch of your Dad’s face.

Afterwards, I slyly looked over at your Dad, who was still dreamy-eyed from his unexpected face bath, and asked him, “Do you want to get one?”

Your Dad never stood a chance.

When we got back to the city, your Mom was on a one-woman mission to find the perfect apartment dog.  First, our future hound had to be no more than 30 pounds (our building restricts dogs to under 35 pounds).  Second, we wanted a dog that did not shed, or shed very minimally, because we weren’t sure if your Dad was allergic to dogs since he’s never owned any growing up.  We figured the less doggy dander, the better.  And lastly, he can’t be too much of a yapper or a guard dog because we lived in an apartment building and we didn’t want our neighbors to complain of barking.  With these restrictions, we ruled out adopting a shelter puppy, which was what we originally wanted to do, because it was more difficult to determine a shelter puppy’s eventual size and temperament.

After weeks and weeks of research, I finally found the perfect breed for us – a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle – or more commonly known as, a cockapoo.  According to several breed websites, cockapoo are smart (like their poodle ancestors), small to medium-sized, affectionate, loving, playful and score low on both the barking and shedding scale.  And best of all, they are HOLY FLUFFY AND ADORABLE.

I won’t bore you with the crazy details of my subsequent search for a reputable cockapoo breeder, but fast forward two months and, on August 22, 2010, Henry the cockapoo puppy joined our family!

Your Dad flew out to Indiana to personally pick our then 9 week old puppy up from the breeder.  This was the two of them at the airport:

In the meantime, your Mom prepared our apartment for our newest arrival.  I laid out blankets in Henry’s crate, hid all our cords and wires from view, elevated anything small and/or breakable to higher shelves, and carefully laid out food and water bowls in the kitchen area.

Come to think of it, this is not unlike what Mommy and Daddy will be doing for you in six months time.

I will never forget the way Henry bounced into our home for the first time.  As soon as your Dad put him on the ground, Henry made a beeline for me down the hallway and jumped all over me as though he’s known me his entire life…and promptly peed all over me.

But it was love at first pee.

Baby Z, it’s only fair to warn you now that our dog is not the best-behaved dog in the history of the land.  Despite the many, many doggy obedience books Mommy has read and puppy training classes he has attended, Henry still pulls on the leash, jumps on strangers, and can’t catch a ball in his mouth to save his life.  He’s also incredibly lazy, a terrible swimmer, a slow runner, and a picky eater.  He gets startled easily for no reason, growls at invisible objects, and hates getting groomed with a deep and abiding passion.

Daddy and I love him dearly.

   

It’s now hard to imagine our lives without Henry in it.  My favorite part of every day is when your Dad comes home from work, and both he and our dog greet each other as though they haven’t seen each other in years.  Henry does a silly paw and tail wagging dance – and your Dad does a human version of basically the same.  Even Mommy doesn’t get that kind of welcome (from Henry or from your father). Geez.

A few people have asked us “what we’re going to do about Henry” when you arrive in this world, and to be honest, your Dad and I are always a little confused when asked this question.  To us, Henry is a part of this family now and always, just like you will be.  When we made the decision to get him, we made an unwavering commitment to his lifetime care.

That said, we really, really hope that you will love our dog just as much as we do.  And of course, Mom and Dad will make sure that you will have lots of time to adjust to each other.  But we’re not worried.  Just look at this face – this is a face that’s super eager to do a paw and tail wagging welcome dance for you, just like we are!

We can’t wait for the two of you to meet for the first time in six months.  Be prepared to pose for a lot, a lot, a lot of photos – your Dad has been preparing his camera for this moment for years.

Love,
Mom

11w2d when the cat is away…

Dear Baby Z,

Your Dad went to Atlanta this weekend to visit your grandmother, which can only mean one thing…FREEDOM!  No one to nag me to take my prenatal vitamins, no one to monitor that I’m eating enough fruit, no one shoving broccoli down my throat.  We can do whatever we want!

So your Mom did laundry, cleaned out her closet (because sadly, you’re growing too big for Mommy to fit comfortably in her clothes anymore), watched Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I (a movie your Dad would never be caught dead watching with us), took Henry to get groomed, vacuumed the whole apartment, ate a box of Cheez-Its, and played Angry Birds until 1 in the morning.

Okay – so we didn’t exactly walk on the wild side, but we sure had fun!

Except this morning, Daddy sent us an email that simply said, “I miss you and baby and Henry.”

That’s the thing about your Dad – sometimes when you think you can enjoy your life more without him, he says something that reminds you how much you like having him around – nagging and all.

Your Dad and I met almost five years ago at Central Park Zoo, where his former law firm was throwing a fancy summer party for all the lawyers (this was before the economy took a dive in 2008), and Mom was crashing the party with her friend Sarah, who had just joined your Dad’s law firm.  Dad and Mom were introduced to each other near the penguin exhibit, and your Dad made a series of jokes in poor taste (something you’ll learn that he does quite often – you get used to it), and Mommy wasn’t too impressed by what she heard and saw.  So we didn’t see each other again until a few weeks later, when surprisingly, I ran into your Dad again at my 26th birthday party.  Your Dad, not one to take a hint, decided to crash Mom’s party with at least 8 of his friends (some of whom are your honorary uncles today).  Mom wasn’t too pleased.

Another six months passed, and because Mom was recently single at the time, Mom’s friend Sarah decided to play matchmaker.  She set Mom up with a guy from her law firm, and it was none other than your old man Dad.  I will never forget our first date – because it was a total disaster.  Your Dad took me to a pretty cheesy bar near NYU – let’s put it this way, there were university students in this bar writing papers on the their laptops.  Not exactly an ideal place for a first date.  Afterwards, instead of going to dinner, your Dad took me to a yet another bar where the floors were sticky and there were paper confetti sticking to, I mean adorning, the ceiling.

Maybe it was all the wine and beer I drank that night (without dinner), but sometime during the course of the night, I started to have a pretty good time.  For one, I found out that your Dad is incredibly smart.  He was valedictorian of his high school (and got a perfect 1600 on his SATs,  your Dad’s mom often likes to remind me), went to Harvard College, got his degree in Computer Science (this should explain why all we have so many computers and assorted random gadgets in our home), worked as a management consultant for a while before deciding to go to law school (your Grandma told me he studied for his LSATs during a five hour flight from San Francisco to New York – and aced the test), and joined one of the top law firms in the entire world as a corporate lawyer by age 25.  Not too shabby, right?  Your Mom was/is a sucker for smart men.

But more importantly, I found out on our first date that your Dad is also humble, honest, sweet, funny (don’t tell him I said this or the tasteless penguin jokes might make a reappearance), and…more-than-slightly awkward around women.  He was so nervous on our first date that he kept talking and talking and talking…only some of which made any sense.  He also let me win at darts – if you know about your Dad’s competitive streak, this was possibly the grandest romantic gesture that he’s ever made (and the one and only time your Dad has ever let me win at anything on purpose).

But what truly convinced me that your Dad was a keeper on that first date five years ago was when, at the end of the evening, after your Dad put me in a cab home (with an awkward hug goodnight), I realized that I had left my ear muffs at one of the bars we were at – except I had no idea which one.  I sent a text to your Dad asking him if he had my ear muffs, but unfortunately, he didn’t and he was also already on his way home in a cab.

I put the ear muffs out of my mind until two days later, when your Dad called to ask me out again – this time, for dinner (finally).

When I showed up at the restaurant, your Dad had my ear muffs with him. He had gone back to each bar that night and searched until he found it.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Or for another letter.

Your Dad and I don’t always get along.  Sometimes we quibble over the most ridiculous things – such as who is the better Scrabble player (me, clearly).  We don’t always enjoy the same movies, or read the same books, or enjoy doing the same things.  But your Mom likes to think that we agree on the things that matter.  We both love sleeping in on weekends, eating spicy food until we sweat, and bickering over board games.  We love taking long hikes and traveling around the world.  We love snuggling on the couch.  We love holding hands and aimlessly walking around foreign cities.  We love playing with our dog Henry.

But most of all, we love you.

Baby Z, you have one pretty awesome Dad.  If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years with him, it’s that your Dad is the most patient and kind man that I’ve ever met (because believe it or not, Mom can be pretty difficult at times).  And I know that if you ever lose your favorite toy or your favorite ear muffs, your Dad would hunt to the end of the world to find it for you.

Because that’s just the kind of guy he is.

Just try to remember that when he makes you eat your vegetables or tells you its time for a bath.  Or forces you to attend his alma mater.

We can’t wait for him to come home.

Love,
Mom

10w5d Dear Baby Z

Dear Baby Z,

You are almost 12 weeks old today!  Your Dad is so excited about your arrival that he went out and bought a red baby hat for you this weekend from Gap.  We both marveled at how teeny tiny the hat is…and worried that it may not fit your head, given that large heads run our family.  Hopefully Gap has a lenient return policy.

This week, as you are developing your fingers and toes (which we just can’t wait to tickle!), Mommy’s belly is getting noticeably rounder – or at least noticeable to me and your Dad.  Other than your grandparents, not many people know about your existence yet.  Dad and I love patting my belly at night knowing that for now, you’re our little precious secret that’s just between the two (three!) of us.  Sometimes, we talk about what we think you’ll be like – will you have your Dad’s laughing eyes and Mommy’s (smart) mouth?  Will you dislike the taste of celery (like your Dad) or hate the crunch of water chestnuts (like me)?  Will you love to eat (Dad) or love to cook (me)?  Will you have a passion for knowledge and facts (Dad) or a love for reading novels (me)?

All we do know is that no matter what you look like or whom you take after, you will always be beautiful and perfect to us.  (Unless you turn out to be a serial killer or a sociopath, your Dad wants me to add.)  You will learn as you grow older that love has a lot of faces to it, and it’s less what you look like but who you are inside that truly counts.  Our main wish is for you to grow up to be a kind, generous, fair-minded, and compassionate person, with a clear sense of who you are and the person you want to be.  (And hopefully it’s to be the first Asian-American Cy Young award winner,  your Dad wants me to add.)

There are so many things we can’t wait to discover about you and with you, and we’re both eager (Dad) and anxious (me) to start the next chapter of our lives with you in it.

Much love,
Mom