News and Views from the Oshika Gang

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The Post Pregnancy Body February 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — oshikagang @ 3:25 am

Well, I’ve been just one person for over three months now, and I started doing a little assessment in the shower this morning. It wasn’t the nakedness that got me started; it was the hair loss. So let’s do a little head-to-toe rundown of the damage.

Well, the hair. Many pregnant women find that the cycle of growing and shedding hair stops while they’re pregnant, resulting in thick, full, healthy hair. Unfortunately, once baby is out and all the hormones start to settle down, all the hairs that *should* have been come out during the past year do, all at once. As a result, we find ourselves losing handfuls, even clumps of hair. I’ve heard that it can be a bit scary, in fact. This is what got me started in the shower this morning, because I try to prevent it from going down the drain, so by the end of my shower the collection on the side of the tub looks rather similar to one of those long-haired guinea pigs that you have when you’re a kid.

Another observation is all the grey hair. Now, this could be from all the stress and anxiety of a screaming newborn, or it could be genetic (my grandmother was apparently completely white by 25) – – regardless, being pregnant has REALLY accelerated this process. This bothers me far more than the hair loss, as I’ve always felt frustrated by having too much ‘body’ in my hair (read: poofy). The most frustrating part of the whole situation is that the white ones aren’t falling out and all the other ones are!!

Next: face and skin. So-so. I had a few wrinkles before and I have a few wrinkles now. I got a few blemishes before, and I get a few blemishes now. I can survive that. I DO have more of that annoying extra flesh under my chin and flopping around on the backs of my arms. I don’t like that one bit.

Next: the ‘girls’. This and my belly are where the true differences lie. Breastfeeding has made its mark, and apparently it’s permanent. I now look like I’m not wearing a bra when I AM wearing a bra, and you can only imagine the horrors when I’m not.

As for the belly, well, it’s pretty nasty. It’s like a little floppy pouch, covered in brown wiggly stretch marks. It’s soft and poofs out whether I’m sitting or standing.

I’ll skip the region between my belly and my legs, but suffice to say that the midwife, the husband, and I are all satisfied with how those stitches healed up.

My legs are substantially hairier than they were before I got pregnant. “What?” you ask? “Does being pregnant make you hairier??” No. I just don’t have any time to shave them anymore. And when I was pregnant, I couldn’t reach them.

Finally, my poor feet. When I was pregnant I could feel the tissues in my arches tearing as I walked, and my feet grew at least a full size. I am delighted to report that while my arches – like the rest of me – will never be as taut as they once were, my feet can now fit back into my pre-preg shoes. Hooray! Of course after a year of not wearing heels, I can only stand about 5 minutes before I want back into my sneakers.

So that’s the sad sad story. But let me offset my grumbling with the following, just to reassure you that it is soooo sooooooo worth it:





 

Pics by Pros February 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — oshikagang @ 8:12 pm

A couple weeks back we got some professional photos taken of Aili. We went to Bopomo on West Broadway. They have some really nice work and are reasonably priced. They also have a great branding scheme, if you’re into that sort of thing.
There are designated child-amusers to make them smile while the photographers do their work, and they try lots of different settings. After the shoot, the pictures are all downloaded and you can sort through them right then and there on big lovely iMacs. It’s HARD to choose the ones you want, and VERY tempting to just buy them all!
Finally we whittled down our options to only three; it took considerable restraint! But we figure we have limited wall space, and there will be lots of opportunities for more great shots in the future.

So without further ado: pics by pros.



 

Happy Weekend February 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — oshikagang @ 5:19 pm

Auntie J brought the sunshine, and a great weekend to boot.

I took noooo pictures at all on Saturday. And do you know why? Because I left my camera – and the baby – at home while J and I went SHOPPING in the US! Freedom! It was heaven. Of course the only one who got anything out of the big spree was Aili, but it was still fun to get outta town. I have got to do that more often!
(Don’t worry, Johnny took pictures…)

On Sunday J and I hung out with Little Ms. Muffin while Johnny went snowshoeing in the sunshine. Of course we watched the Oscars, critiqued the dresses, and ate junk food.

Does a weekend ever get better than this?
______________________________

Story time with Auntie J:



Aili regards her new neighbour – and future best friend – Baby Zoey, only 7 weeks younger.


Naptime!
Why do all babies sleep in this position??


Some of Johnny’s snoeshowing shots.
Check out that giant tongue… it looks bigger than his head!! I just can’t figure out how he manages to pack it all away and actually close his mouth.


What a beautiful place we live in. How lucky we are.


Mr. Handsome.


Not to be outdone, here is Ms. Fat Cat bird-hunting. Sort of.


Let’s get a close up of that girth:

 

Three Part Posting: Part III – Hooray for Auntie J! February 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — oshikagang @ 4:04 am

Today Auntie J came to stay! She hasn’t seen Aili since Christmastime, so it was fun to catch up on all the new developments!

Brunch at the White Spot:


Correction: J and I ate brunch. Aili ate her hands.


“This is a baby.”


They must be related:


It might just be that Aili has had ENOUGH of having her picture taken.


What with all that hand sucking going on, J was able to witness another developmental milestone: Aili finally figured out that she has fingers. She has started sucking on individual fingers instead of her whole fist, and even managed to put a couple of them in her nose. As a parent I don’t know if I should be proud of this accomplishment or not!

 

Three Part Posting: Part II – Bedtime Routine

Filed under: Uncategorized — oshikagang @ 3:43 am

We’ve started to have the loveliest little bedtime routine. Apparently if you do exactly the same thing every night, they come to know what to expect, and wind down as the steps progress. We start around six or so, sometimes a bit earlier or later depending on what’s going on that day.

First, there’s a bath. Little Miss Wild Thing has discovered the fun of splashing. Uh oh. Now I bathe her while wearing my ‘Will Cook For Shoes’ apron.


After the bath I carefully try to dry out all the fat folds, or she gets skin irritation. When you’ve got that many folds, it can take some time to get to all of them, especially those tricky ones under the neck! Then it’s pjs and sleep sac time. The sleep sac gets her agitated, because she knows what’s coming. Clever little thing.
She forgets the fussing when she has her midnight snack. Appetite has never been a problem, and eating supercedes everything (except the vaccinations)!

After the snack, it’s time for a story. I didn’t think she’d really be into this quite yet, but I read to her every night regardless. I figured that she could look around the room or stare at her hands the whole time if she wanted, but eventually she’d take to it. She IS a Freedman, after all, and what Freedman isn’t a voracious reader? In fact, I was delighted when she became very interested right away: she looks at the pictures with great seriousness, and seems quite engaged in it. A future reader, I hope!



After our story, we turn off the lights and end the day with a prayer/dance/cuddle. How can this be, you ask? Well, Raffi has the most lovely little song of gratitude. It’s a quiet and slow little song, and I hold her close and cuddle her as we dance. Someday she may even understand the words, and someday, long beyond that, she may recognize how enormous and grand this simple little song really is.

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the sun in the sky
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the clouds so high

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the whispering wind
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the birds in the spring

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the moonlit night
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the stars so bright

Thanks a lot
Thanks for wonder in me
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the way that I feel

Thanks for the animals
Thanks for the land
Thanks for the people everywhere
Thanks a lot
Thanks for all I’ve got
Thanks for all I’ve got

Every night I put her to bed, and I kiss her and tell her ‘Your Mommy and Daddy love you so very very much’ and I walk out of her room, feeling oh so thankful for all that I’ve got.

 

Three Part Posting: Part I – Busy Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — oshikagang @ 3:22 am

Yesterday was a busy day!

First, we tidied the house. That meant that finally I put the Christmas decorations away (finally!!!), and brought out our Japanese ‘Hina-matsuri’ (Girls’ Day) ornaments. Japanese families set up a display of ‘hina dolls’ in the house at the end of February to bring happiness and health to their little girls. The dolls are dressed in Japanese ancient costumes and are displayed on a red carpet until Girls’ Day on March 3rd (or in my house, until Halloween).

My hina dolls:

My other doll:

Then we were off to have a reunion with Tracy, the midwife who delivered Aili. They hadn’t seen each other since Aili was 6 weeks! It was great to catch up.


After that reunion, Aili and I met up with Lise-Anne and Lucy for a lovely stroll along the West Van waterfront. We hadn’t seen them in over a month! It was a lovely afternoon. It’s also fun to talk about and see another baby that’s about the same age (Lucy is 2 1/2 months older.) You get used to looking at your own, so seeing another is so interesting! Also, it’s fun to see where we’re going to be in a few months’ time. (Lucy can suck on her feet. Aili doesn’t know she HAS feet.)

As you can see, Lucy has a much fairer complection than Aili, with wispier eyebrows (Aili has quite the Freedman monobrow going), blue eyes and hair that seems to have some red in it. As you can see, the contrast between them is striking. I keep forgetting that Aili’s colouring is darker due to her Asian genes!


Then Auntie Alexa came over for supper! After a week away in New York, it was our third reunion of the day. Apparently Aili was just tired out from all the excitement. Normally she adores her Auntie Alexa.

 

Reflections on Humanity February 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — oshikagang @ 1:23 am

It’s fascinating to watch a baby blossom. They start out as small, folded up wrinkled little things that have no awareness of anything outside themselves. Any displeasure is communicated by crying. As they mature, the crying starts to be more clearly correlated to things. It’s the first way they can express frustration, disagreement, or preferences. Unfortunately for confused parents, it can sometimes be tricky to figure out exactly what it is that they disagree about!

When Aili was a few weeks old, she looked at herself in the mirror for the first time, and wouldn’t look away. Johnny was holding her at the time, and as he turned away slowly, she would move her eyes to keep them fixed on her own image. Vanity aside, it struck me as a fascinating phenomenon. She had a preference: to look at something. And for the first time, she changed something (moving her eyes) to satisfy that preference. The ultimate definition of the human experience: free will. Choosing what we want. Changing our environment, if necessary, to satisfy those choices.
Now, she’s becoming ever clearer about her preferences and starting to make changes – if they’re within her power – to satisfy them. For example, she HATES getting skin lotion put on her face, and recently she’s learned how to use her arms and hands to push me away while I’m doing it.

She’s starting to use her hands and arms more often now. At the beginning she kept her hands in tight little fists and rarely spread out her fingers. It was very hard to trim her fingernails. In the past weeks, however, she’s really opened up her hands and is starting to reach out to touch. She hasn’t yet mastered grabbing with an open hand (although I’m quite confident that it’s right around the corner!) but she does reach out towards things that interest her, and manoeuver things into her mouth using her hands and arms. I’ve watched her transition from having no awareness of the world, to looking with wide eyes, to reaching out to touch. Those very human opposable thumbs, the five-fingered hand, the way we interact with the world. The means by which we discover.

Another one of her recent developments is talking. She chats and coos and talks all the time now; I sometimes hear her talking to herself at five in the morning. (But not crying; hallelujah!) She seems to understand that making noises with our mouths is a way to express and communicate. Maybe that’s not right, because I’m not really sure what she understands – – let’s say that she seems compelled to follow some sort of hard-wired instinct to talk. It’s clear that she responds to my talking to her, and enjoys our ‘conversations’. Another interesting observation is that she knows to look at my eyes while we’re conversing: not my chin or my chest or at the dog, but directly meeting my eyes. Why would this be? How does she know?
Obviously she can’t form words or convey concepts yet, but I am struck by the sense that this is not nurture; this is how she was built, and something she was designed to do. It IS a language instinct. Steven Pinker would be proud.