Dear Nuclear Baby

*I am writing this from a place of unwaivering love — place of zero judgement — and out of the realization that motherhood is perhaps one of the most challenging and emotionally tasking jobs out there.

**Please also note that I have become a big sopping soggy sac of mush since becoming a mama. If you can handle that, best not to continue reading.

Dear Nuclear Baby (a nickname my long-time friend so appropriately gave you),

I love you so very much and only want to cuddle you and welcome you into this world with love. I want you to view your home as warm and inviting, and for you to feel safe and secure. As we are reaching the end of your newborn phase and the fourth trimester, it’s hard for me to believe how fast the time has gone by and how much you have grown.

And when I say “grown”, I am not only referring to your emotional and cerebral transformation. I am speaking about your physical growth. You have exploded into this world quite literally. Today, you weight a whopping 18 lbs and I am both immensely proud and utterly destroyed. You are the weight of a 8 month old with the floppiness and needs of a newborn.

My instinct is to have you in my arms. To hold you and tell you that this world loves you. That both me and J love you. That you have changed our world completely. This modern world is filled with gadgets created specifically to entertain you and remove your need for our constant attention and reassurance (case an point, the SNOO). ¬†But I don’t want you to be raised by a robot. I want to be your anchor. I want to earn the title of “mama”. You want to be held, and I want to fulfill your need. I want to cherish this time before you learn to stand on your own two feet.

But every day it gets harder and harder. I can feel my weakness the longer we are together. Last week, J started grunting when lifting you out of bed and I knew it was not just the lack of muscles in my sloppy postpartum body.

Our time together feels bittersweet. Nursing is bittersweet. As your tiny little hands dance around and you smile, I savor these tender moments while thinking I am only fueling you to grow bigger. Each day I hold you a bit less. And when I cannot soothe you any longer, I feed you. And think to myself that you will only be heavier tomorrow.

So in the meantime, I will hold you for as long as possible. I will use you as motivation to become stronger. And I will learn that motherhood is all about letting go, even when you’re not quite ready. They don’t kid, folks. #momguilt is real.

Ali (mom)

Two Months

Littlest one, you did so well in your two month check up. You are a whooping 15 lb 6 oz, and 25 inches! Totally off the charts. So today, we officially retired your 3 month clothing and you are now the size of a 6 month babe (according to the sizing of the clothing industry).

No doubt you are one healthy baby. You’re challenging mama to get in to shape quicker than she was ready for. Time to hit the gym ūüėČ (and by gym, I mean youtube in my living room…)

You love to hang out and talk at night before bed.
You are starting to learn to stick out your tongue.
You do this weird thing where you bang your fist on your stomach.

In our bed – March, 2017

As life has changed in the past few months, I have been spending more time at home and have grown to love being in bed. After all, the first few weeks were spent mostly in bed with our new little one (partly due to snuggles, but mostly due to my recovery which was normal but something I was totally and utterly not prepared for). But this is not a post about that…

To mark my 31st birthday and first birthday as a mama, I wanted to take a family portrait of our all in the bed. It reflects our lives right now as a family. And I thought to myself, what better way to capture the passing of time and the evolution of our family than to take a monthly family photo. This is us pretty much in our natural state.

One Month

One month has flown by and we’ve learned more about ourselves as we learn about you. You are a trooper and are porking up pretty nicely. You’ve met your loving family and we celebrated your first month in this world (separate post to come).

You are just starting to stay awake past feedings and spend the day entertaining us instead of snoozing.
You are learning to coo and make more noises to add to your vocabulary, and are grasping for things within your reach.
You are super curious about the world around you. We hope you continue to hold onto that wonder.

You are going to be super sly. Since day one you have had a killer side eye stare.

Home with our little one

J and I decided from the get-go that we wanted time to ourselves with our new little one. No guests. No visitors. No one telling us how to take care of him. Just the two of us, watching over him and figuring out who he is.

For the first few¬†weeks, we stayed at home (mostly in bed) and adjusted to our new lives as parents. This teeny tiny human just entered into the world, and we knew we would never get these first moments back. I don’t want to mislead you. It was hard. There were tears and many moments where we felt overwhelmed. Still, it is a decision I am happy we made. These first few weeks are a time¬†I will want to return to for the rest of my life.

Each day he’s growing and changing at such amazing speeds. There are times that he looks like J, and every now and then, I catch¬†of glimpse of me. He sleeps with both arms overhead, observes the world from over my shoulder while burping, and pokes his head out of the wrap when I wear him so we can check each other out. He chuckles whole heartedly in his sleep and blows spit bubbles in the morning. Oh yea, and he spits up everywhere.

Time seems to be slipping¬†away since he’s come into our lives, and we are grateful to have spent this month with him all to ourselves.

I don’t want to miss any of it. Remember this. Remember him. Because with each day, he is new.


Week One

One week flown by and you are already starting to grow and change at such amazing speeds. We have been learning so much about what it means to be parents and you have been so patient with us.

You are a true foodie and eating way more than your wee body can handle (and we wouldn’t have it any other way).
You make the ultimate Zoolander face

We think you will grow up to be musical. You are constantly waiving your arms around like a conductor.

With all the turmoil going on in our country in the past week, I’ve felt like we have been blessed by your presence and have relished in being sheltered from the outside world as we¬†enjoy your transition¬†into our lives. I’m loving being holed up in our bedroom, just us three (and Lilou).


For about a week now, J has been at the ready. Just this past weekend, when I called to ask him if he wanted to grab lunch, he picked up the phone in a panic and proceeded to tell me that he now¬†automatically assumes that every time I call its “go-time”. The infamous hospital bag is packed. I believe we have everything to keep baby alive for the first few weeks (but don’t quote me on that). I have been feeling sad about not having time to assemble the ultimate Spotify playlist to remedy and soothe the pains of labor.

It’s Wednesday¬†morning (Jan 25th) and there are still some last minute errands I want to tackle so I get going and grab lunch and do some light shopping. I was hoping baby would¬†come today. It’s my mom’s birthday.

While at Walmart on the hunt for Scotchgard (to protect the house for the inevitable disaster that future tornado baby will wreak) I text J to tell him this is probably the last day I feel up to running around. I’m starting to notice how slow I am and how heavy I feel. I am a bit crampy and guess that maybe this is finally Braxton Hicks (but I still don’t understand what Braxton Hicks are supposed to feel like)

5pm: I get home and go to lie down. My tummy feels achy but nothing unusual. The house is a mess due to my current endeavor to Scotchgard everything. All couch and chair covers are off. Thus, I resort to the bed.

6:30pm: We debate about what to get for dinner and settled on Japanese. I ordered an Udon in hopes that warm soup will soothe my aching tummy.

7:3opm: I text Katie (our fantastic doula) about my cramps, and she tells me to relax, and get a good night’s sleep in case baby decides to come tonight.

9:00pm: Post dinner, I go back to lie down and the cramps get a bit worse, but still nothing compared to my usual monthly pains. We pull out the reading we have on the stages of labor, and J and I spend about 2 hours trying to assess and diagnose the situation. I am not sure what a contraction is supposed to feel like and we don’t want to wake up Katie unless we are sure this was it. J guesses that it is early labor (which our reading says can last for days). Or maybe it’s Braxton Hicks. All I know is that they are coming in waves, and close together.

12:30am:¬†After 15 minutes in the shower, I tell J to text Katie to try to get a better idea of what is happening. Everyone says “oh you’ll know” when your in labor. Thus, I keep assuming that this must not be it.

1:30AM: I finally cave and tell J to call Katie to come over. I begin to have a hard time with the pain of each contraction and simultaneously wonder if it is possible that this was early labor. I start to underestimate my ability to handle pain. (My plan is for an all natural birth, but I know my pain tolerance might have me resorting to an epidural along the way). My water has yet to break, so there isn’t a clear indication of active labor starting.¬†I can’t pull myself out of the comfort of the shower.¬†

2:00AM: The wonderful Katie shows up, feels my belly, and confirms that the contractions are strong. I get back in the shower and both J and Katie are helping me through each contraction like pros. I’m not sure what I would have done without either of them. We are still waiting for my water to break.

2:30AM: Katie warns me that if I feel increasing pelvic pressure during contractions to let her know, and I indeed was experiencing that. After a few minutes of her thinking it over, she suggests that we start getting ready to head to the hospital. And so begins the awkward process of trying to change clothes/prepare for the hospital in between contractions that were growing closer and closer together. At one point I hear Katie say “we should really go to the hospital” and I know it is time.

2:40-2:50AM: The worst 10 minutes of my life. I am crouching in the back seat and holding on for dear life. There are definitely curse words and screaming. J runs a red light. This alone is reason enough to want a home birth. Somehow, we make it to the hospital.

3:00AM: After being admitted to triage and checked, the nurse tells me I was 9.5 cm dilated! Woah. I guess it really is go-time.

3:15AM: Ok…what happens in the hospital when you get admitted is crazy-town. Maybe it is because I showed up so late in labor, but geez. While you feel like you are dying, people are trying to draw your blood, strap on monitors, and ask you silly questions like “what is your pre-pregnancy weight?”. Thank God to J for fielding those. And major kudos to my lovely team (J and Katie) for dodging my pleas for the epidural. I opted instead to have Dr. Ishimaru break my water to alleviate some of the pressure I was feeling and to speed up the process. Because if drugs weren’t happening, I needed this to be as quick as possible.

4:22AM: After about 20 mins of pushing, our baby was born into this world. It was so surreal to see him for the first time in the flesh and to know that somehow, magically, he was living and growing with me for the past 9 months. He is our¬†little bug — Miles Roland Chen.

I don’t have any photos of this whole crazy whirlwind of a process. Like the Spotify playlist, it’s something I thought we would relish in that fell to the wayside in the heat of the moment. I had originally envisioned labor to be a long and quiet time spent in our living room with my soothing non-existant magical Spotify playlist and some candles burning. But things don’t always go to plan.

Thanks to Katie and J, I have some wonderful photographs of Miles’ first moments in this world.