Baby’s got wings

My littlest one is now almost four months old. I can’t believe that solid food is coming up in a couple of months. The days go by so quickly; everything is filled, and to a certain extent taken over, by this little bundle of sweetness.  Next round of vaccinations to come next week. Her TB shot is almost healed though it’s still shiny and pinkish.

She’s hit the 6.5 kg mark and loves to stand up and grab my hair. Hard. She keeps trying to crawl though she needs to figure out how to make her arms help her move as her legs and feet do all the pushing so she mostly just goes in a circle. On her back she wriggles like a fish to move around. She continues to sleep like a trooper and I’m slowly moving her bedtime earlier (it’s now 9pm from 10pm and I’m gunning for 8pm) and she sleeps a solid 11 hours.

New this month:
-lots and lots of talking – and shouting and screeching (no other word for it). She seems to be testing her voice as she’ll screech with her eyes closed then peek an eye open to see who’s watching her. It’s hard to pretend not to notice when I’m doubled over laughing at her not very subtle efforts to get attention.
-1/2 naps two hours after waking.
-grabbing my hair with a vice-like grip. funny thing is, when she touches her own hair it’s with an open palm and the lightest caress.
-went swimming for the first time which she took to like a duck to water. We got her a little inflatable donut so she can lie in it and keep her face out of water while still being in the right position to frog kick. She also really likes ‘walking’ in the water and jumping

-flirting with people – out and about she’ll look at waiters, doctors, anyone and smile at them until they return the smile then she’ll beam at them.
-sucking her hands and finding her thumb.

Amandine's first flight

We also took a little trip to Taipei to visit my friend Cam. It was a triple bonus – not only did I get to see Cam, who I hadn’t seen in over 10 years, I got to visit Taipei, where I hadn’t been for over 20 years, and had the pleasure of  the sterling company of my friend Alice who’d been travelling with Cam in Thailand before heading to Taiwan. It was also a good toe in the water for travelling with the little one as I had my two wingmen with me for the flight over as I joined them when they were transiting through Hong Kong.

Amandine was a dream on the plane and got lots of googoos and gagas from everyone. I had no idea how awesome it is to travel with a baby – the immigration officer literally melted like putty in front of us and ran around getting Amandine’s visa sorted for us (since I’d done it wrong) all the while saying “Auntie will make it all better for you”. When at Taipei 101 at the back of the long snaking queue to get to the observation deck, the security officer took one look at Amandine in her stroller and said that we should go up to the front by the lifts where they would ‘arrange things for us’.  The security guard by the lift asked us to wait, again said they would ‘arrange things for us’, then promptly let us on the next lift.  Pretty awesome.  I only wish I’d had the wits to ask for an upgrade when the Cathay ladies were making googly eyes at Amandine at the check-in desk.  😉

If you haven’t seen Janel Laidman’s new venture The Sock Report head on over there for their inaugural issue. It’s all about sock yarn love and has a host of of gorgeous patterns (including one for a wee owl!) and articles.  I love the Cambium sock pattern by Kristi Geraci – the texture is amazing. There’s even an article on how to make a shadow wrap heel and our very own Sokkusu is featured in two patterns – Marigold by Susanna IC, and Bivalve by Kirsten Kapur! Wooot!

Knitting continues apace, well, maybe less apace and continues whenever Amandine naps or plays on her own; these are the Knit Love Club socks for April (modelled by my lovely neighbour Melissa), The Tideway and Merrivale, both inspired by the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race in London.

The Tideway


9 weeks and a lifetime

People always say “they grow up so fast”. Time seems to expand and rush by at the same time when you can literally see your baby growing right before your very eyes. I can’t quite believe it was only 9 weeks ago that little Amandine took her first breath, and yet it feels like a lifetime ago!

She’s gone from a wee sleepy bundle

to a funny little thing who coos and laughs with us.

She weighed in at 5.9 kg at her doctor’s appointment yesterday. She’s growing well and was very brave when she had her two vaccination shots. Poor lamb cried but give the gal a diaper change and all was right with the world again. Enough to even coo and smile at the doctor!  This past week she’s also dropped her night feedings altogether (woohoooo!) – moving from a 4am wake up call last week to wakings around 730/8 am where she talks to herself or looks at the stuff around her crib for a little bit. Hubby was away on business for half the week – I think the little Almond knew her papa was away and so gave her mama a break and slept in to almost 9am on Wed Thur and Fri! I’m going to have to remember how grateful I am and give her a little slack when she’s 15 and pitching a teen fit.

New this week:
-discovering that Amandine’s circadian rhythm dictates a 10pm bedtime. She’d been regularly falling asleep and staying asleep around 10pm for a couple weeks, but it took us a few beats to realise this was her bedtime.   We put her in her crib, she watches her lamaze black and white crib hanging and zones out.  Asleep within 15 minutes.
-morning naps about an hour or two after her breakast for 3 or 4 hours
-dropping her night feeds, sleeping through the night from 10 to 8
-starting to have playtime and discovering that she can touch things and make them move
-establishing an evening ritual – bath time, feed, then good nights from her cow, and Mr. Bear, Raccoon, and Birdie from the crib hanging, and then Deucie, Meimei, Papa and me.
-morning rituals – opening the curtains so she can look at her cow, bear, racoon and bird. Then good mornings from the whole crew again. She gives me a big grin when we do this. So sweet!
-going out and about in her ergobaby performance carrier. Love this thing. So much less hassle than the wraps – and with coolmax and breathable mesh hopefully much cooler in the heat too.

Ongoing Efforts
-figuring out her afternoon rhythms – still all kind of haphazard. Usually a couple meals interspersed with playtime and shorter random naps. No patterns emerging yet
-trying to convince her that papa loves her poopy diapers and that she should always save her poops for when he does the nappy change. Not sure how well this is working, though telling her how much papa loves poopy nappies always gets a smile from her.

Amandine got some lovely surprises in the post – a HUGE box of Dr Brown’s bottles and accoutrements including orthodontic soothers, a bottle rack and a very cool bottle cleaner – all awesomesauce from Amandine’s super cool Auntie Jenny (a classical pianist, marathon runner, DIY expert and detonation physicist). Totally on a tangent but you know my obssession enjoyment of the TV show Bones? I’m dying for the next season to be released on DVD/start on FOX Asia so I can watch it. Anyways, they had an episode where Bones and Booth go on the vomit comet and go weightless with an astronaut they are interviewing. I literally was jumping around going – my cousin has been on the vomit comet! My COUSIN was ON the vomit comet! a la Buddy in Elf when he shouts ‘Santa! Oh, my, god! Santa, here? I know him. I KNOW him!” when they announce Santa is coming to the toy department. A fan girl moment. 😉

Auntie Carole sent a gorgeous knitted top, a tea set and the cutest monkey sleepers (so cute!). Auntie Tricia sent a knitted jacket which is perfect for the current weather (esp the hood when it starts to spit), and owl pjs.  Amandine also received a knitted blanket from Auntie Anne which is totally gorgeous. She is such a lucky girl.  I’m pretty darn lucky too – there was chocolate for me from Tricia (which was all gobbled up!) and yarn from Carole, neither of which I intend to share with anyone. 😉   And a gorgeous Les Abeilles shawlette from Anne & Cookie in Anne Hanson’s new Bare Naked Alpaca & Merino yarn from the march offering of her Bare Naked Club.  Anne’s Fall in Full Colour club is opening again for sign ups soon. I was a member of the 2011 club and totally loved it.

I originally thought it was for Amandine (sort of blanket/shawl) and was, I hate to admit it, kind of jealous! The shawl is so so very soft – I thought the yarn might have cashmere in it as it was so soft – but it is actually 50% merino, 10% nylon and 40% alpaca (I think).  Anne has a hit on her hands with this beautiful yarn. I’m definitely getting some to make a cardi.  When Cookie told me it was for me I am ashamed to say I was absolutely 100% gleeful that it wasn’t for Amandine! I will, however, share with her as it’s a perfect little cover up for her when it is a bit chilly.  Funny how much more generous I feel about sharing knowing it’s mine.  ;P

One month!

Our little one is now a whole month old. The days run into each other, from one feeding and nappy change to another it’s hard to distinguish between them. But what we do mark are her little changes – from smiling in her sleep to laughing in her sleep. She’s started to smile when we talk to her, and we’re looking forward to when she’ll be laughing when she’s awake too.

Amandine & I went for a walk up to the Peak on Thursday with our neighbour M – it took us an hour to walk up but less than 30 minutes to walk down. My legs are stiff and I’m walking funny (waddling, like my pregnant days) but it was so worth it. A misty morning, perfect for a stroll through Pokfulam Park breathing in the green of the trees (incense trees and hawthorn) with a Starbucks at the top for a little rest and a drink. It’s a great route to do with the dogs so DH and I are going to give it a go before the snakes come out of hibernation.

My days are now split into little bites of 3 hours. It’s an adjustment but little Amandine so far is playing nice. She’s sleeping through the nights now which is awesome and we’re enjoying it for however long it may last. She’s awake a little more – and sharing her toys already with the furry monkeys. Both Deuce and Meimei love her jungle gym. Meimei likes to lie on it and play with the dangling animals, and Deuce likes to chew on the leaves on the mat which make crinkly noises.

What’s in a name? A helluva lot of negotiation!

It took DH and me a rather long time to settle on a name we both liked. Much discussion and negotiation was called for, as we were pretty much on opposite ends of the naming spectrum, DH leaning towards turn of the century English names (very Downton Abbey) while my tastes run a little more exotic. I loved the name Ziva, but once Blueberry was born, my forerunner names just didn’t seem to suit her. David’s choices didn’t suit either (he really really liked Caroline, but I just couldn’t imagine my daughter as a Caroline). So we spent a few intense days trying to agree a name. Funnily enough, we both spent 5 minutes really liking Dakota (which is totally out to left field in DH’s choices), but ultimately opted against it, as I’m not a fan of naming a kid after actors and the English meaning of the native word is weird (it’s a plural).  Mireille and Avenie were favourites but apparently Mireille is a bit of a grandma name in France (our friend R said that whenever he introduced his friend Mireille, people always asked her what did she do to upset her parents at her birth for them to give her that name), and we couldn’t agree how to pronounce Avenie.

Well, we finally settled on a name, but wanted to test it for a week before making it official, just in case we changed our minds. Test period is up, so let me introduce you to our daughter Amandine Isobelle Cotton-Yu.  Amandine is pronounced long a as in ahhh, mun, long e as in deen, with the accent on the deen.

The past week and a half out of the hospital has been a blur – my parents left on Wednesday and DH and I have been learning the rhythms of our new household and working out how to manage our appointments with Amandine.  The first one was yesterday when I had to go back to the hospital to get my c-section bandage taken off.  DH stayed at home with the wee ones.   I was amazed that 1) there were no stitches at all (I still don’t know if they dissolved or I never had any to begin with – I certainly didn’t see any when I was discharged from the hospital) and 2) the scar is really faint already.

Amandine has been an angel – she sleeps solidly after a feed, and doesn’t fuss much – which does make it alot easier for us to run errands.  The pups love her – well, Meimei loves her and always comes to say hello and give her a little sniff and a kiss when I’m feeding Amandine, while Deuce just tries to squoosh up next to Amandine whenever he can.

We take Amandine out most days, for a walk down to Cyberport (where I get a bubble tea). Next Monday we’ll probably head into town as DH has to do a medical for insurance and we need to pick up a baby gate and some bottles for Amandine so DH can feed her too.

I was really sad to see my folks go – my mom was a huge help during my last uncomfortable weeks pregnant and once Amandine was born, and of course, they were great company.  It feels quite empty in the flat without them, and I know Meimei is also missing my mom as she’s a little quieter than normal (she’s currently lounging on the sofa next to DH).  DH though has the next week off which will be great as I was really dreading having to work out how to manage Amandine’s schedule, myself, and the two pups on my own.  Before my folks left we all went for a heavenly brunch  at the Verandah in Repulse Bay – I had lots of runny cheese and foie gras. Yumm! Amandine did what she does best at the moment – she slept the whole time in the corner (her car seat folds down flat so she can sleep). Good girl knew to let her mama pig out undisturbed!




Sometimes nothing beats a nice hot shower

I am so touched by all the comments, emails, FB posts, and tweets from everyone welcoming little Blueberry into the world.  So many people have said they teared up, and many have been just as anxious as my mom awaiting her arrival!  We got a beautiful bouquet from family friends here in Hong Kong which arrived as Blueberry was making her debut, and today a lovely bouquet from DH’s work was delivered (that’s the Jockey Club racecourse in the background).

My mom and dad have been ferrying stuff back and forth between the flat and the hospital, including this gem from my cousin J.  I so could have used it last night but now am prepared! Yay!

Mom has been taking Meimei and Deuce on their three times daily visit to the park – where Meimei has been growing in confidence day by day. She will actually go up to a new dog and greet him, though she still runs away once she’s done this, she’ll come back after a bit.  It’s really nice to hear. Apparently she has taken to herding Deuce as well since Deuce tends to hang back alot – she will run back to him and bark at him as if to say ‘hurry up’ then they’ll both run back to my mom.  So sweet!  I feel so relieved and pleased that Deuce has a friend in Meimei and that they are little compadres.

They have pretty tight security here – I mentioned before the matching wrist bands, but baby and mom also have matching security tags – mine is on my wrist and Blueberry has a matching but smaller version around her ankle.

If she is taken off the 28th floor the security tags will sound the alarm, and I presume the same would happen if I were to leave the 28th floor.  Good to know as I had been thinking about heading out to pick up some lunch or just got for a wander.  That would be rather embarrassing if I strolled out of the hospital and had to be hauled back by security!

I found out today I’ll be discharged on Wednesday and that I won’t have any stitches anymore then. Whether that means they are taken out or that they are in the process of dissolving, I don’t know.  I kind of prefer not to know as it means I can pretend it away (you probably gathered hospitally needly scalpelly things aren’t my forte).

Staying at the hospital has been really relaxing (after the drama/trauma of delivery) – my mom and dad taking the burden of literally everything else, and leaving me and DH to get used to having the wee one and learning her rhythms and preferences.  DH has been staying here with me on the sofa bed in the room, which has meant some quality time together bonding as a family.

He’s reading to her in the photo above – from Max Hasting’s “Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord”.  You can see it has put her right to sleep. Haha.

The pediatrician is pleased with her progress – apparently she hasn’t lost any of her birth weight which is usually what happens when babies are born. She’s stayed the same. All her blood tests are good, she’s had her vaccinations and whatever other testing there is to be done.  Her pediatrician comes every day to check her, which is awesome since I’m completely clueless and they are just getting on with it and have a file with all her records.  My OBY has been in to check on me too and it seems I’m doing fine too. I was up and about on Sunday after having the IV and catheter taken out. I really hated the IV.  I went off the major painkillers (the 12 hour ones) last night since I didn’t feel I needed them anymore, and now on ones I can take four times a day – but today have only had 3 doses. The discomfort is bearable – and is just that, mostly discomfort.

Today my mom and I compared notes on c-sections – she had me by c-section too, and I have to say her story is one of the main reasons I had been so freaked about having one.  She had a horrible experience, under general anesthetic with mean nurses.  She was in and out of consciousness for 3 days, and kept panicking because every time she asked to see me, she’d pass out. She’d wake up again having not seen me and started to think there was something wrong with her baby.  She was amazed I could get up and walk around the day after – it took her a week just to get on her feet again.  What a difference advances in medicine can make.  And the nurses here are super sweet – maybe a little too kid glove – they won’t let me change Blueberry’s diaper – even if I say ‘oh I’ll do it’ they say yes, then they’ll insist on carrying her to the change table and then proceed to change the diaper themselves! If I walk out my room to the nursery room, much to my bemusement they insist on ‘assisting’ me in walking the three steps from my door to the nursery door hovering around me just in case I slip and fall.

I was desperate to take a shower today, so my c-section bandage got covered in a waterproof band-aid (aka plaster) like thing and I was able to shower to my heart’s content.  It was bliss I tell you, sheer bliss, being under the hot water and being able to wash my hair! Man I felt nasty.  I washed it twice, and was going to go for a third time but thought I better not waste all my shampoo on one shower.  LOL.  Thanks J – it was heaven in a bottle. 😀

DH asked me how I felt now, with baby out, compared to having baby in and being itchy and cranky all the time.  I really did not enjoy being pregnant, and hated the itching. Really hated it – it was like torture; relentless, frustrating, never ending… and labour was awful until I had the epidural then it was an afternoon of watching Bones and sleeping.  After the first debilitating contractions which had me literally begging to not have to have a baby, and then whimpering for the hard drugs, my contractions weren’t regular enough so they had to dose me up with pitocin.  The c-section in retrospect was a very quick, efficient and undramatic affair. 10 minutes for baby to come out, then maybe another 20 minutes for stitches and a little time for recovery and back to my room awake and relatively perky.

I don’t mind the waking every few hours – since I’d been waking every hour in the last month or so due to itching and sitting up for 15 minutes at a time nearly in tears at a loss of what to do for comfort, being able to sleep in stretches of 3-4 hours is a treat.  And while I’m a terrible patient and no good at going with the flow when it comes to forced changes to my body, I find that I really enjoy being a mom. It feels intuitive. It helps though that she seems to be a very calm baby.

And I love the cuddles. Totally heart melting.

Now if DH and I could just settle on a name……


At 4pm I still hadn’t dilated enough – only 2-3 cm. Same at 430, then 5. My OBY came back around 530 to poke Blueberry’s head up, since she hadn’t engaged either, hoping she would settle in a better position. Because she wasn’t super happy (a little meconium came out with the waters) my OBY said if she hadn’t settled in a better position by 6 we would do a c-section. So at 6pm after determining Blueberry was in no better position, and I hadn’t dilated past 3cm, it was off to the operating theatre for me.

Of course, having planned on a natural delivery this was somewhat of a bummer. At the same time, the idea of being cut open scared the crap out of me. As I was being prepped and wheeled into the operating theatre, I was trying very hard to keep it together, but when they put me on the operating table, and then started to incline me downwards I admit I freaked a little. I got pumped up with epidural stuff, then couldn’t hear very well (everything got muffled), couldn’t really breath upside down, and I panicked. Thankfully that is when DH came in and I grabbed his hand like a lifeline. As they did their thing on the other side of the curtain, DH held my hand. I asked him to tell me a story – he looked a little like a deer caught in the headlights. But he rallied, and started to tell me about Aragon – a vanished kingdom which used to be somewhere in Spain. I can’t really remember much of the story, except that Aragon is the reason they speak Catalan in Sardinia. Anyways, Aragon kept me level and calmed me right down.

In 10 minutes, little Blueberry was out and being cleaned up. I’m not so sure she was so happy to be evicted from her comfy little nest.

She was brought over for DH to hold and we got some lovely photos of the two of them with me looking like a toad (that’s what happens when one is almost upside down!).  I cut me out of the photo (but you can see my hair on the bottom right of the photo above).

My parents have been total stars. Mom cooked and cleaned for us (and I’m sure it’s her cooking that contributed to Blueberry being a whopping 8lbs 12oz!), and has also taken over the dog walking duties.  Good thing she loves dogs cause Deuce & Meimei are just in love with her.

And here’s me with my little one.  Isn’t she sweet? Welcome home Blueberry, welcome home.

The Big Day… so far….

Here I am, sitting up in one of those adjustable hospital beds, waiting on Blueberry. Well, waiting on my cervix really to dilate already. I’ve got an IV in my left arm, an epidural catheter in my back, a blood pressure thingie on my right arm and my laptop in front of me.

The day has been interesting. Checked into hospital last night after a lovely sushi dinner. Had a run in with a Nurse Ratchet type. Having been told to go register early so I would get a private room, I duly showed up on the 27th floor labour ward reception to fill in all the paperwork (of which there was a crap ton!)

Only to be told by Nurse Ratchet that she couldn’t guarantee anything while the nice nurse told me they had my room already reserved. NR was just being a PITA. Anyways, I show up again pre dinner with my luggage, the room was ready, but Nurse Ratchet refused to let us store the stuff in the room, saying she would be breaking hospital policy and that no one could check-in before 8pm. News to me! Finally after dinner we got there at 8pm, with a whole boat load of people checking in (clearing the 8pm rule was one she made up) but the nice nurse found someone to take us to 2805, my room on the 28th floor by the nursery.

We settled in, they gave me a wrist band (the last time i had a hospital wrist band was when i was born), and showed me two other identical ones that are to go on the baby’s wrist and ankle. The room is sort of a hotel room with a hospital bed. Huge TV, a dvd, a recliner chair, a great view of the Jockey Club racecourse and Hong Kong skyscrapers. Sadly no bathtub. They gave me a tablet to soften my cervix around 11ish, and I slept on and off as the attending nurse popped in every couple hours to check the baby’s heart. Just before 5 am I started to walk around, and the contractions started in earnest just before 6.

Never having had contractions before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect them to be so bloody painful! Wow. They ended up coming thick and fast (2 min apart for 40 seconds at at time at one point). Um, they hurt. Like hell. And all I kept thinking was… crap. This is just the start?? OMG what the hell is proper labour going to be like??

You know how I was all freaked about the epidural – ultimately all about fear of needles – well by 9 am I was like GIVE ME DRUGS!!! (a decision helped by a very comforting message from Jodi a sock club member and an anaesthetist to boot) Poor DH had to deal with tears and hysteria. LOL. They arranged for me to head back down to the labour ward in a wheel chair – even that was an unpleasant journey. Got to my delivery room, and while I was squirming and shrieking they gave me some gas which was pretty cool. Made me feel light headed and drunk and took the edge off. Finally the anaesthetist arrived, got me prepped and shot me full of drugs. I shook uncontrollably for 10 minutes, shrieked some more (along the lines of ‘why isn’t it working yet???’) then finally finally the pain subsided. I also got very very sleepy which was awesome. Slept most of the morning away.

Mom and dad arrived around 9 – having held the fort at home for us. Poor Deuce was distraught last night when he couldn’t find us, and my mom ended up having to let him sleep cuddled up next to her to comfort him. They waited around, went for lunch with DH, and waited some more.

My OBY (and my dad’s doppelganger) arrived around 2pm to check me – cervix is still pretty long and baby still pretty high. Waters were broken (interesting. wet. and gross.) The next check is at 4pm. If I’m dilated to 3-4cm then my OBY thinks Blueberry will be delivered around dinner time. I certainly hope so!

In the meanwhile, I’ve got Bones Season 1 keeping me entertained as well as lots of supportive missives on FB too (thanks everyone!!). DH is sitting in the lazyboy armchair by the bed reading Vanished Kingdoms. Almost like being on holiday…. well for him at any rate.