Friday, May 30, 2014


Someone is really passed out (not me). Quinn and I caught another nasty cold this week so she's sleeping it off here. I have some updates from the birthday that should be coming soon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

That's Better

So we've past the 6-week mark where things will "magically" get better (ha). Quinn hasn't had a horrible case of fussiness, though I have short circuited her by mostly having her close to me in the baby carrier or by co-sleeping. Who can complain when you're being cuddled constantly. Well most people would call that smothering, but babies love it. Who knew.

Dek has also been adjusting to big brotherhood a little bit better. He's recently asked Q to be allowed to sleep next to him, or come read a story at bedtime. He's also saying adooorable things like, "Quinn, you're the best!" I guess we probably say this to him too much (spoiled much, yes).  He's wanted to hug and kiss her alot. We now know to tell him to do this on TOP of her head so he won't give her too many germs. Dek is having some potty problems - oh how I long for the days that I gloated that he could poo by himself when he was 1 - which may be tied to being at school and with a new sibling. Hopefully the roughest part of the adjustment period is over and things will settle in for a little before changing yet again.  We did move up his bed time to 7:30 and its amazing that its usually the time Quinn will start her long stretch of sleep for the night. Speaking of which, I should go lay down and sleep now since both kiddos are zonked out.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

Just hold still and look "neutral"!
State Department has very specific parameters of what can be submitted as a passport photo.  In fact, they require it be:
  • In color
  • Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper
  • 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size
  • Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. View the Photo Composition Template for more size requirement details.
  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
  • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
  • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
So it only took us about 100 photos, plus a lot of recropping and retouching (though we were not able to edit out her baby acne). Here are some shots from day 2 of trying. Q is a pretty alert baby so surprisingly getting her with her eyes open wasn't too tough. Turns out her head in the frame was huge. Also, she's showing some male pattern baldness in these photos that she may not appreciate in the future...

Anyway, we got the photos snapped but then getting the passport application was a bit of a longer pain. The folks at GW had mispelled her birth certificate. So I had to make the fun field trip of going up to DC to get an amended version from the Department of Vital Records. Not fun in the rain. Next, almost all Arlington Passport Acceptance facilities are post offices which require appointments. None of the Post Offices pick up their phones so we drove to 3 post offices to make appointments which didn't have availability until early June, which would force us to expedite the application. The only place in DC that allows walk-ins is the Brentwood Office in NE, near Noma/Union Market area. So we had to truck her into the city to get it processed. Luckily, the line was short that day - we waited hours with Derek it seemed - and she slept through the whole thing. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tantrums Galore

 Here is Dek with pal Naomi before he suffers one of his more coloring tantrums of late. Usually it goes something like this:
"But I don't want to share."
"It's mine."

Gets worse through tears/whining/s
"I want (guest's name) to go home."
"But I don't like (insert person and/or activity e.g. saying hi to grandma)."

But I don't want to!

Dek after 3.5 years of nearly cry-free existence, we have arrived at 3. Other parents warned me. I ignored it thinking if we had sailed through the terrible 2s with not so much of a glitch (or at least that's how I remember it) and minimal meltdowns. I didn't want to ever mention it because I was always waiting for the streak to end and lo-and-behlold, here we are at the end.

Just like 6-week fussiness in babies, its started to subside but during Quinn's first month, Dek had a pretty rough go of it. I think its a combination of socializing all day at daycare and then coming home and not getting the 100% attention rate he once enjoyed. Luckily over the last few weeks, things are starting to even out of a bit.

Monday, May 12, 2014


Dek has formed quite his little barcada (I think that's tagalog for clique/gang/group of peeps). Our family/friends had lots of boys back in the 2008-2013 period so Dek is never far from playmates at a family event.  Sadly, some of our good family friends are moving to Hawaii - actually its pretty awesome - but, we'll miss them and their boys.  Here they are hanging out at Q's one-month ceremony and celebration.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


"Why is my hair like that?"

I freakin' hate the word WHY.

I knew this phase was coming. I did. But its driving me absolutely up the wall. On average, Derek must ask why about 300x a day. Alright, I may be exaggerating, but it really seems that way.

Its worst than a tantrum. Or potty accidents. Or complete total meltdowns. Sometimes Mike will see him ask me why for the 10th time in a row and I'm about to pull out all my hair.

Unlike those more catastrophic events in the life of a toddler/preschooler, the word why is just this nagging little whine that can be repeated hundreds, if not thousands, of times per day.  Every sentence that we read in a book, will be followed by the word why. Then its every statement or phrase that we say to him. I try to do the yoga breathing or just ignore him asking, but the little sucker is persistent. Why, mommy, why? That's when it intensifies - he both starts and ends a three-word statement with the dag word.

"Derek, please put your dishes in the sink."

"But why?"
"Because you're done eating."
"Why am I done eating?"
"Why are we not eating dinner anymore."
"Why is daddy still eating?"
"Why, mommy, why?"

That's the really good part when there is a multiple why question follow-up to one thing we say. I have not really ever asked for a phase, good or bad, to hurry up and pass because I've heard all the storied advice from experienced mom. Enjoy the good and bad phases - don't wish away this very valuable time in your young child's life. So I have done my very best to be present in all of it. Even when Derek had terrible ezcema rashes, bumped his head everywhere when learning to walk, or tried to stick anything smaller in his mouth or up his nose. But the why is killing me.

Here is why (har, har) its likely annoying me more than usual.
1) I feel compelled to answer and explain everything. Though I now realize that no matter how thorough my explanation, it will not be complete to a 3-year old.
2) The whining accompanying the why is especially nagging.
3) It happens all the time and it feels like we cannot get three words out before being interrupted with why.
4) I'm functioning off fragments of sleep and also trying to meet the needs of a small baby while answering these inane requests for more information.

I know. One day, I'll think this is really cute and look back on it fondly. But really, I'll just be thinking why?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Q is One Month Old!

(Sorry don't have any of those cute onesies stickers that everyone sees to have so went the old school route of a piece of paper. Check out that poor penmanship.)

Our little pumpkin turns one month old!  She's been sleeping most of the first month, but we've gotten some serious faces as well and sleeping giggles from our little lady.

The first month has been a pretty good one minus all the illness. Here's the report out on the first month for the well-child check up.

Weight: 10 lbs, 1 oz (60th percentile)
Height: 21.5 in.
Head: 14.5 in.

Blowout poos: None!
Times she's peed on us during a diaper change: less than 5
Number of times sick: 2
Number of ER visits: 2 (within a 12-hour time period too!)
Number of times Derek has asked why: COUNTLESS
Percent of time Derek likes having a sister: 30%

Nursing had been great. She latched on from the start. My let-down has been difficult for her to
control at times and I think that discourages her from comfort nursing. Unlike Dek who would just hang out and eat for hours. Q likes to only nurse on one side for 15 minutes, gets burped and goes back to sleep.  She's ruthlessly efficient. I offer other times in between but it doesn't seem that she's that interested which disappoints my pro-breastfeeding side.

Her weight gain is adequate but I'm guessing it would have been better if she didn't get sick (twice). I am beating myself up about not being able to shield her from germ-factory Derek. I wonder if its sometimes my fault despite copious amounts of hand washing.  Dek had this amazing run of almost never getting sick. He had a fever at 2 months and then the next time he was sick was a stomach virus at 15 months. He is 3 and never had an ear infection or been on antibiotics.  I always chalked it up to him being a robust breastfed baby/toddler. He nursed until 2.5 - really.  But suctioning Q's nose constantly and hearing her sniffle during nursing is just so, so sad. Seems such a small baby shouldn't have to have constant sniffles.

Ah everyone's favorite topic. She is really great. By no means is she sleeping through the night and I have no expectations of her for doing so for awhile, but she will sleep in 3-4 hour stretches. This is something that Derek rarely did. So if I get 2 blocks of 3 hours of sleep, I feel like a million bucks. I've scaled down alot this time around in terms of visitors, going back to "normal" life and have enjoyed our cuddle times and staring contests. I've really taken to heart what people say about how short the newborn and baby period is (because its so true!) and instead of resenting having to hold her all the time - I really love it. Sometimes I don't want to put her down at all and let her just sleep on me - though I'm pretty sure that's what contributed to my  mastitis. The co-sleeping this time has really saved me some sanity and sleep.

Other tricks:
  • Smiles! Though Q seems to be pretty serious for the camera, we do get to see her smile and it just melts us (of course).
  • Neck support - Q started holding up her neck around 3 weeks.
  • Tummy time: hates it after about 2 minutes.
  • Yelp! She's been a pretty quiet baby. Not a lot of crying, but she does do this cute little yelp thing when she is unhappy with something. She is cooing a bit and learning to do something besides yelping. 
  • Pooing - everyone's favorite topic! Let's say she goes with regularity (every diaper change!). I think the Anti-Colic diet my midwives recommended has been hugely helpful.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Q's First (and Second) ER Visit

 So we can't seem to stay healthy here. Derek keeps bringing home the germs from daycare and somehow in the course of 24 hours, he dragged down Mike and Quinn with him.

Saturday morning, Mike woke up with more than the usual allergies and the snot that makes you think, I should go to the doctor. Though his doctor is usually open on Saturdays, his calendar was booked so he headed to urgent care and ended up with antibiotics for a sinus infection. 

Quinn was a bit warm earlier in the day but I checked her and her temp was still in the normal range (around 99). Later that night before bedtime she felt warm, so I checked again. 100.7. Dag. Anything over 100.4 is a fever.

After a quick call to the pediatrician, he made the suggestion we go to the emergency room. Small babies under 2 months old with a fever can be at risk for some serious stuff, especially meningitis.  I remember Derek having a high fever around 2 months, so we'd been through this already but because she was only 4.5 weeks, they would likely want to do a spinal tap (!) as part of their routine care to ensure she didn't have meningitis. Bacterial Meningitis can be very scary for small babies since lead to serious brain damage, hearing loss and or (gulp) death. Though a rarity, the possibility of such a diagnosis meant that the ER would have to do the work-up and admit her if she had the fever and run antibiotics for 24-48 hours until her blood/urine cultures came back.


So to complicate all this, I had to go to the ER alone since Mike was sick and Derek was in bed already. Luckily my parents joined me. They had to leave a wedding early and looked a bit out of place in an ER, but I'm happy they came to help.  I'm also really glad we took her to Fairfax Inova's Pediatric ER.  We've taken Derek several times to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington and though the care is adequate, Inova Fairfax was a much better experience. For example, when he was 2 months old and we brought him in for a fever at VHC, it was really traumatizing that they couldn't get someone to take his blood and they ended up poking him several times and getting blood more than once before getting it right.  Plus Fairfax has free valet parking, its amaaaaaazing.

Sooooooo... Quinn and I head to the hospital around 10pm. The nurses and doctors were very helpful and thorough. The main frustrating thing is that when we got there she didn't have a fever.  I had not given her Tylenol and its weird that a fever would just disappear. I'm starting to feel like I am imagining things, but I clearly remember taking her temp twice and both times over 100.4. 

We were already there, so they still pinned her down for blood and urine. Of course, its heartbreaking enough to see her so little with an IV getting put into her arm. That little helpless cry and gulping for air makes me feel awful.  The nurse was a 77-year old Filipino man named Leo and he was amazingly efficient at getting the line in though. Though it was hard to watch, I was relieved that they did it very carefully. Nurses swabbed her nose for RSV, flu and even did a strep test. The intern doc mentioned it would be unlikely that we'd have to do a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) or chest xray. The issue was she was in a gray area, since she was 33 days old and their standard procedure for babies under 30 days old with fever is to do a  to test for meningitis. The pediatrician on-called mentioned we could talk about the spinal tap after her results and determine where we go from there.

So I'm feeling better that the work-up will likely not have to go further. Except...

Then things changed, intern doc comes back and brings the kit for the spinal tap. I'm taken by surprise and asked the course of action we discussed just an hour ago. You know the one where we'd wait and see her lab results. I try not to have a complete meltdown but basically want to know what has changed.

I requested to talk with the supervising doctor and stated I would really prefer not to do the spinal tap unless it was medically necessary, especially now that the fever wasn't showing up. Additionally, Q's rapid results for blood and urine all were good - no elevated white blood cell count and everything looking normal. I wasn't trying to be difficult, but I didn't want them to stick her spine given that things were looking pretty good.

So the doc and I reached a compromise that I would bring her back in the morning at 8am to check her temperature again, or earlier if her fever returned.  We agreed to no antibiotics for now.  And if there was any sign of fever, we'd have to do the procedure.  It made me realize how valuable it can be to advocate for a course of action and work with your doctor to reach an outcome that everyone is comfortable with. Its definitely a skill I learned during the birthing process and my squeaky wheel ways has helped me be more assertive. True we could have just gone with the flow, but it would not have been something I was happy with and if the doctor was OK with an alternate and equally effective course of action, then I'm glad I we went that way.

Alright, so we get discharged around 1:30am (again, amazed that they did this whole work-up, diagnosis, and got us out in only a few hours) and we go home. Mike and Dek are sleeping in quarantined spare bedroom. Quinn and I sleep for a few hours. Dek is up at 6am. I get up by 7am. My parents come to watch Dek so Mike and I can bring Q back to the ER.

ER check goes well - no fever, so no spinal tap. YAY. She's acting totally normal now, except for a runny nose so its likely that it is a virus. All that drama and it turns out to be a cold, again. Yup.

Oh, and when we followed up with our pediatrician on Monday, he tells me that he sent me to Fairfax knowing that I always like to negotiate out of anything interventionist. Well, in this case, it worked. Though LPs can save lives and help diagnoses meningitis, I'm glad it wasn't needed in our case.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

10-Day Dinner

Though most Vietnamese families gather after the first full-month, I started this mini-tradition of doing a family dinner at 10-days since it has a special meaning to our family.