Sunday, January 31, 2016

Week 35: Getting to the Finish Line, Hand Me Downs, & Strangers

Getting to the Finish Line

While we're still 5 weeks away, we've been busy checking items off the to-do list!
  • We're so close to finishing all our home improvement projects, the last of which was installing recessed lighting in our family room, office, and nursery. Our contractor finished that yesterday so Jeff just needs to patch up the two holes in our family room and we are done! 
  • The crib is built with the mattress set up and covered in a protective waterproof cover and sheets. 
  • The pack and play is set up in the family room. Not sure if I need to buy a special sheet for the pack and play though.
  • Baby clothes are washed and ready to go in the dresser. It turns out we have so much newborn clothing and very little of anything else, so I bought a few things on clearance from to make sure we have a few things that can extend beyond the first month.
  • We're done with all our baby classes! We took all the classes our doctor recommended - Infant and Child CPR, Breastfeeding, Infant Care, and Childbirth Preparation. While some of my expert parenting friends thought it was excessive to sit through almost 20 hours of classes, I found it extremely helpful as a first time parent with no idea what to expect at each stage. This is where you can ask all the questions you need and get information that helps you feel more prepared and less anxious for birth, parenting, breastfeeding, emergencies, etc.
  • I'm hoping to make more time for prenatal yoga in the last few months. Given my joint pain, it's not that feasible to do as much walking as I would like so yoga is basically the only other type of physical activity I can manage. I'm only now discovering that the poses and techniques from yoga are meant to help alleviate and distract from pain during the early stages of labor. It only took me 20+ weeks to figure that out!
  • While we've locked down a daycare, I don't want to put all our eggs into one basket. We're currently on three other daycare waitlists so just in case something happens with our current one, we hopefully still have a plan B.
  • I'm trying to be more diligent about applying stretch mark cream these days, as the stretch marks are starting to come in. I'm trying not to freak out about it but I am a little bummed that I lasted this long, only to fall prey to them towards the last month. At least my belly button is still an innie right now. But in the meantime, onwards and upwards - there will be plenty of time to obsess about body image postpartum. 
Hand Me Downs

I am not opposed to hand me downs at all, since kids outgrow things so quickly it doesn't make sense to buy everything brand new. However, I find it awkward that so many parent friends have been saying that they have hand me downs to pass onto us since they found out we were expecting...and then radio silence. It's not that anyone owes us anything - it is wonderfully gracious and kind of them to think of us at all! But now I'm not sure if I should continue to wait for their items or just buy them myself. I'm not the type to expect or feel entitled to these hand-me-downs so I'm inclined to just prep my own way. Jeff believes people wouldn't offer if they didn't really mean it so he thinks we should wait and remind politely, which makes me cringe. I know that some are just busy parents that may have forgotten but I think others may have found other people to give these items to or sold them online for a pretty penny - which they have every right to do! I just wish they would say so. In the meantime, I hope swings, high chairs, toys, tummy time play gyms aren't really necessary because I don't have any of those things...yet.


While my family, friends, and colleagues have been awesome, I wouldn't say that strangers have been any nicer to me since I got pregnant. People have no problem taking the last seat while leaving me to stand on buses, waiting for tables at a restaurant, etc. One man almost sat in my lap trying to swipe the last seat on a Hertz rental shuttle in Hawaii! Another mom saw me coming for the last seat while we were all waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant and called her daughter over to claim the last seat. No one offered to help me with my bags when I was traveling alone. A lot of this occurred while while I was in my third trimester so it's highly unlikely they couldn't tell I was pregnant! I'm really grateful that I've been pretty mobile and active throughout most of this pregnancy so I've been able to manage through the blatant rudeness and oblivion. And what a great reminder to be mindful of others that aren't as mobile and could use our help getting around!

Prague, Czech Republic, March 2011

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Week 34: Last Ultrasound, Car Seats, & Physical Symptoms

Last Ultrasound

Our latest (and likely last) ultrasound shows that baby Lucas is already over 5 pounds! In our families, babies don't come that big so to be over 5 pounds at a mere 34 weeks sounds humongous to us, even if that's just average for this stage. But more importantly, he's healthy and tracking to his due date. He's been super active and squirmy so we didn't get a good look at him.

Car Seats

I made an appointment with our local AAA office to have our car seats checked out next week. I definitely want to make sure Lucas is safe so I'm glad there are car seat checks available! I already have both the infant and toddler car seat because they were 25% off during Black Friday and I figured it would be easiest to have one car seat for each car and the toddler car seat capacity starts at 5 pounds. But most parents seem to tell me I have jumped the gun with buying it too early and I should have just bought another infant car seat base. I'm not sure why that is the case though? I'm not sure what I'm missing here...hmm. I guess I'll ask AAA about this.

Physical Symptoms

I am starting to feel soreness and aches in my hips - now I know why pregnant women waddle! All that pressure on the pelvis makes it hard to walk normally. This particularly sucks since I need to get up and go to the bathroom all the time. He's also running out of room to move so instead of those cute kicks I felt in the second trimester, his movements now make me feel like an alien is trying to bust out of my body.

While I haven't felt any contractions yet, I have a feeling that given my impatient personality and my family history (my mom gave birth to my brother, her firstborn, at 37 weeks), I will be delivering on the early side as well. So this is the weekend to launder all the baby clothes and accessories and pack my hospital bag! Jeff read about how expectant mothers start nesting feverishly towards the end - he says he can't imagine how much more nesting I can do. I told him I am certainly capable of much more nesting. The baby room isn't even set up yet - it's just piles of clutter and boxes at this point! It's funny how we have such different perspectives. :)

Hobbiton, New Zealand, November 2014

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Exploring Childcare Options

While I touched on childcare in this earlier post, this topic seemed meaty enough to warrant more follow-up! Since one of my New Year's goals is to try my hand at being a working mom (and Jeff has no plans to stay at home), childcare has been something we've been thinking about since we got pregnant. We started off open to both nanny and daycare options, understanding that both come with pros and cons. While we have a plan for what we are going to do, we know that things could always change so all we can do now is cross our fingers and hope for the best! Please note, this post only reflects our personal situation (and neuroses!) so it may not apply to you or your preferences. :)


A lot of parents I know choose to keep their infants at home with a nanny until their babies were at least 1-2 years old. Afterwards, they transition their children over to some kind of daycare or preschool. Many of them told me how much easier it was to have a nanny - you don't have to worry about daycare germs and you don't have to worry about the hassle of getting your baby ready and out the door every morning.

I was a little worried about nannies for two reasons. One, the cost is obviously much higher for the individual 1:1 attention. Two, having a nanny requires a huge leap of faith and I'm not sure what it would take for me to feel comfortable having a stranger alone in our home taking care of our only child. You can't possibly have a nanny cam everywhere and who has time to sit around watching anyway?! The only way to get over number two is to get a really solid recommendation from someone you trust but this one is tough, given the short supply and high demand of great nannies. I even half-jokingly asked friends with parents in the area if any of them would want to be our full-time nanny.

Short of having a nanny recommendation from someone I trust, I was beholden to trusting internet sites like mommy groups on Facebook, Next Door, and The nanny recommendation posts online are always flooded with dozens of follow-up messages from anxious moms desperate to find good help!

With, I received almost a dozen messages from nannies looking to start working right away within 12 hours of signing up. So while seems to be a great resource for finding a nanny, it seems better for just-in-time searches. Not sure that would work for a planner like me! I'm trying to do as much as I can now pre-baby, as this is probably the most free time I'll have in a long time.


For the reasons listed above, I have been a bit biased towards daycares. I like that there are more regulations and processes governing daycares. I also like the fact that there are more caregivers, even if they are spread out among more children. Plus, when Lucas gets older, he will hopefully benefit from the interaction with other children. There is a risk of him getting sick more but I figure baby illness is inevitable and I really can't keep him in a bubble!

I started with looking at the larger facility daycares in our neighborhood. Many of them had great online reputations and neighbors on Next Door raved about a lot of them. I naively assumed that since they were large, they should have plenty of open spots so I didn't start my search in earnest until 3rd trimester. Big mistake - these large daycares have long waitlists, often with waitlist fees, and it's not uncommon to wait years for a spot! I started to get very discouraged and berated my inner planner for not getting started on this process sooner. It seems like I should have put my name on the waiting list as soon as I was even thinking about being pregnant.

My friend Sara had recommended looking into a home daycare. As the name suggests, these facilities are run out of people's homes and tend to be smaller, since the state will regulate how many kids they can have at a time, given the space and number of caregivers. Sara's daughter spent her first four years in a home daycare and has enjoyed the cozy family feel of it.

Through Next Door and Nurture List, I found quite a few smaller home daycares with open spots. It was pretty hit and miss though. While I don't expect daycares to have a formalized teaching environment, I do want to see caretakers proactively interacting with all the children. One home daycare seemed to keep the babies by themselves in high chairs or pack and plays for most of the day, which made me incredibly sad. I understand that this helps to keep babies safe, but how will my baby learn if no one talks to him or engages with him regularly? Luckily, we found a hidden gem last week, thanks to some enthusiastic neighbor recommendations on Next Door. The owner was friendly and knowledgeable about child rearing, her house was clean and well-designated for children, and her interactions with the children seemed interactive, gentle, and caring. She also scored major brownie points for speaking to the kids in Mandarin. As soon as we left, Jeff and I knew that this was the one. I just paid the deposit to reserve our spot yesterday and checked a major item off our to do list! I am so excited to have childcare nailed down before baby Lucas is out - it's times like this that Jeff really appreciates how neurotic I am about planning ahead. :)


As I mentioned in my post, there are a few invaluable resources I turned to while exploring our childcare options.

  • Friends / family: As soon as we started telling people we were pregnant, we also started telling them we were looking for childcare options - friends, colleagues, church members, etc. We did get some good recommendations but unfortunately all the daycares and nanny suggestions were too far from us to be feasible for our situation.
  • My prenatal class recommended this route and I could not be more grateful! This is how we ended up finding our home daycare. They also had a ton of good recommendations and insights for the larger daycares too.
  • I actually found this site from a parent's recommendation on Next Door. Is there anything that site can't do? :) Nurture List has a concierge service that lets you put in your desired services and dates and daycares can respond to you based on how their availability matches up with your needs. I connected with a lot of home daycares that I otherwise wouldn't have heard about this way, but none of those ended up being a great fit for us. 
  • Mommy groups: I'm only part of one mommy group on Facebook, and since it covers the entire Bay Area, many of the posts don't apply to my area. It's really my fault though - I should really go find a group more specific to my area so that I can get more relevant information.
Maui, Hawaii, November 2015

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week 33: Baby Classes, Cord Blood Banking, & Childcare Options

Baby Classes

We opted to take most of our doctor recommended baby classes in our 8th month so that we wouldn't forget anything. Of course, it means we're cramming a lot in a short amount of time. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably spread it out a little more! We scheduled the last of our classes to be 4 weeks before our due date so we should be okay but it would be nice to have a little more buffer, just in case.

So far, I have found the classes really useful - particularly the infant and child CPR class. I can't believe I've survived this long without some of these basic survival skills! I think everyone should know basic CPR, not just parents.

Cord Blood Banking

I blogged about some of my cord blood banking research earlier on in my pregnancy. While I still think it's expensive and unlikely to be helpful, we decided to bite the bullet and get the minimum package. In the end, I felt like in the off-chance my kid could potentially benefit from it, I wanted to have it just in case. I guess this is how these companies get you! Since we have to pay for the storage each year, we can always re-evaluate this decision on an annual basis.

Childcare Options

I started looking into daycares last month and already I wish I started earlier. The good ones have limited open spots - it can take years for one to open up! So in the meantime, you pay to be on a waitlist and follow up diligently (because some of them won't follow up with you to let you know when a spot opens up, even though you paid a waiting list fee!). While most parents don't feel comfortable with their young infants in daycare, I like the idea of having more caretakers around, even if that means more kids. I also like the idea of a more structured program run by (hopefully) experienced teachers.

On the other hand, it's been too early for the nanny search to start. Most nannies are searching for a job immediately, not months down the line. While I'd prefer the 1:1 attention a nanny provides, I would have to feel exceptionally comfortable to leave her alone in our home with our precious child! I'm not sure if a random nanny I met off would cut it - I would prefer referrals from parents that had great experiences with their nannies. Hopefully we'll figure this all out when the time comes!

Hakone Gardens, January 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Week 32: Unsolicited Advice & Our Maternity Shoot

Unsolicited Advice

Ahh...the joys of unsolicited advice. So free and yet, so unwanted! Some of the advice I find most frustrating is around SIDS precautions (and how I should ignore them). Many of my friends have told me that it is perfectly fine to use loose blankets, stuffed animals, and crib bumpers with our baby because their children used them as infants and they're "just fine". Nothing maddens me more than that phrase. Yes, your baby was fine but what happens if my baby is not fine because I listened to your advice? Are you going to bring my baby to life? Are you guaranteeing the health and safety of my baby? Why don't we just rewind 30 years and forget about carseats because we didn't use them back them and we're all "just fine" now?

Yes, we may be overly cautious these days. But we also know better and we have more advanced technologies and education to protect us. Why would we knowingly ignore easy precautions that many parenting books and reputable health organizations strongly advocate for?

Maternity Shoot

As I mentioned earlier, we did a maternity shoot at the Hakone Gardens in Saratoga this week. While it pained me to pay a photography fee when we have so much natural outdoors beauty in the Bay Area, most of it is barren and un-photogenic at this time the year. Hakone Gardens is one of the few places that's well-maintained with some greenery and foliage in January so it was worth the $80/hour fee. I love how the pictures turned out! I don't know if I'll have the opportunity to be pregnant again so I'm glad we are documenting this special time in our lives.

Hakone Gardens, January 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Happy 2016!

Looking back on 2015:
  • TTC: We got pregnant! While it didn't happen right away, it still happened relatively quickly and we are so excited and grateful for what's to come.
  • Housing: Housing in the Bay Area is just too crazy $$ so we decided to stay put and remodel to make our house more comfortable and kid-friendly. Two new bathrooms, a fireplace, a fan, and living room recessed lights have made a big difference! We loved the new recessed lights so much we are looking to add them to a few more rooms. Hopefully we can get that done before baby Lucas arrives.
  • Career: The new position I started with last year didn't exactly turn out as planned. I embraced leaning in and landed a job at a completely new company with a ton of growth potential and opportunity. So while I didn't end up where I thought I would, I did learn and grow in a new job, so I think this one worked out okay. 
  • Life: I'm continually striving to live a life that is worthy of all the goodness and blessings I've received. It's a journey, not a destination, so hopefully I'll never feel "done" with this goal!
  • Travel: While this was not a specific 2015 goal, I feel the need to add it in because I don't think we'll be doing too much travel for awhile! This year, I managed to hit up LABoston, Maui, Santa Barbara, New York, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Kyoto, and Taipei.  
Looking ahead to 2016 Goals:
  • Appreciate Baby Lucas, even when it's really hard. Remember that this is what we desperately wanted and hoped for, even when we're tired, cranky, and upset.
  • Appreciate what a great husband and father Jeff is. I know that almost all couples fight more during the first year of parenthood. I want to continually remind myself of how much I love him for who he is and everything he does for our family.
  • Get in shape after giving birth. Hopefully I can get back to running regularly afterwards. Strangely enough, I kind of miss it!
  • Make it to my first anniversary at my new company. Even if my maternity leave is amazing and I love staying at home, I want to at least try the working mom gig for awhile to make sure that it's what I want to do. Luckily, Jeff's company has a great paternity leave policy that will give me peace of mind that Lucas is in good hands for 12 weeks while I get my first experience as a working mom.
  • Trying to take a trip with baby Lucas. I'm hoping we can manage a road trip or a plane ride down to LA at the very least. The stretch goal here would be to fly to Taiwan so that he can meet his extended family there. The in-between goal would be to take a few days off to somewhere just a few time zones away, like Honolulu. Let's see how this pans out!
  • Document his first year. I want to try and have a professional photo shoot once a year. Our photog got some amazing shots of the 2.5 of us during our maternity shoot so we're very much convinced that the experience is very much worth repeating for our growing family each year.
  • Have a plan for baby #2. I'm not getting any younger so by next year, I need to at least be thinking about this...and as a stretch goal maybe even trying for this if my body is ready? One of my good doctor friends Christina specializes in this field and said that realistically at our age (early/mid 30's), we don't have the luxury of waiting 1-2 years between babies. Gulp.
Hakone Gardens, January 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Week 31: Lalaland, Toddlerhood, & The Good Dinosaur


I took the last flight of my pregnancy (and 2015) to visit family down in LA this past week. This is likely my last flight for a really long time! The trip was great but definitely too short. Luckily there was enough time to hit up all my favorites:
  • Half and Half Tea House: I like their caramel iced milk with 25% sugar.
  • Porto's Bakery: A few of my favorites are pictured in this post from earlier this year here (guava pastries, potato balls, and the caprese sandwich). The lines are long but they tend to move relatively quickly - the longer wait is really for the food.
  • 101 Noodle Express - The best chicken noodle soup and juicy potstickers (see here)!
  • Chang's Garden - All the food here is really solid; I especially like their minced shrimp in lettuce cups.
  • Banh Mi My Tho - Love their meatball banh mi - this is my favorite banh mi place by far! There is always a wait but it's worth it.

My darling nephew is now 3 and a half and currently going through a very sweet and adorable phase. While I will definitely try to savor each phase leading up to, I really hope baby Lucas gets to such a great phase in toddlerhood too! Here are some new developments I've noticed:
  • Independence: He's learning to do more things by himself so his mantra is "I can do it!" I was worried it would get annoying and bratty but it's actually just hilariously cute. Getting dressed does take a lot longer as he insists on doing it himself but then ends up getting stuck in his sweaters for awhile. Rather than getting frustrated or cranky, he just perseveres on until he gets it right.
  • Affection: He will reciprocate I love you's and I miss you's. He also initiates hugs more. It broke my heart each time I had to turn down his request to hold him, with my ginormous belly and all.
  • Emotional control: Even though there were times that he was clearly upset, he did a good job of not throwing tantrums in public. He didn't get fussy or loud when we didn't buy him any toys at the store or when it was time to leave the museum.
  • Speech and conversation: Even though most conversations involve a lot of "why?" and "why not?" questions, it's still fun to talk to him and get an understanding of how his mind works. It's also funny (and dangerous!) when he imitates us, so we try to be a lot more careful of our speech around him.
The Good Dinosaur

It pains me to say this, since I love Pixar movies but this is not one of those Pixar movies that's good for adults. The plot is unoriginal and the story is slow - but that didn't stop me from crying at the end anyway. Oh pregnancy hormones! Still, it's a good movie for young kids that love dinosaurs. Some parts may be a bit scary though, depending on the age of the child.