Just like that, she’s one. Luna’s sisters, Eva and Isa, helped her blow out her birthday candle. But Luna took charge of the doljabi ceremony, which went differently than Isa’s. (The tradition is that on your first birthday you choose an item from a “destiny platter” representing a future career or life.) Isa went straight for the microphone and held on tight. Luna touched the soccer ball, and then something else, but dropped them quickly before choosing a wad of Korean money and really committing to it.
All our babies were smiley, but Luna is probably the smiliest. She’s also the picture of serenity. She’s surrounded by a sustained level of chaos in the form of her sisters at all times, but she just goes on, stuffing strawberries in her face, trying to share them, padding around on all fours, trying out new toys by putting them in her mouth, all completely unaffected by whatever screaming fits or tantrums are going on her around her. These days Luna enjoys trying to walk by cruising around, holding onto furniture, chasing our cat Caesar, and feeding herself — she has always been interested in feeding herself while her middle sister Isa still loves it when other people feed her. People have different preferences.
What I’ll remember: The feeling of newborn Luna’s wispy hair tickling my chin when she nuzzled on my chest to sleep. Her tiny Gremlin noises in those first weeks. Her dive-bombing a boob for a snack. Her simultaneous hiccup + fart situation that went on until she was about three months old. Her star turn in the most popular of the Elise Tries videos.
This is the first time since October 2014 that I have not been pregnant with, or nursing, a child. I feel a new freedom and a sentimental melancholy at once. I’m adjusting to being “just me” again and so grateful for what my body has produced, ceaselessly, for three-and-a-half years. So much production of one thing or another! I probably should take vitamins.
I am almost halfway done with being pregnant with my third daughter, who is due in April. We were a little shocked surprised by this news. Because let’s face it, I didn’t expect to be having a third baby so soon after the second, even though we had wanted another Hu-Stiles at some hypothetical point. That point is now, yikes, so here we are. But being pregnant with your third kid is profoundly different than the first. Some examples:
First Pregnancy: Download an app to track each week of the pregnancy and the changes that come with it, fascinated by developments of the fetus.
Third Pregnancy: Unable to tell anyone how far along you are because well, you honestly aren’t paying much attention.
First Pregnancy: Hyper-aware of any changes in body that might indicate pregnancy symptoms, fascinated by the process of incubating tiny human.
Third Pregnancy: Internal monologue upon feeling queasy is more like “OH DEAR GOD A PREGNANCY SYMPTOM.”
First Pregnancy: Announce news to many friends, get huge “Congratulations! How are you feeling?”
Third Pregnancy: Announce news to a friend, he replies, “Are there no condoms where you live?”
The bosses at NPR handed me the keys to our ‘All Tech Considered’ blog, which requires a lot of considering. So I’ve spent what time I have left on the important things: binge-watching Orange is the New Black, meeting up with friends at bars (naturally), and forgetting to blog on HeyElise.
Have I mentioned Orange is the New Black? I love, love, LOVE this show. So much to love. Last night I started a Twitter friendship with one of its actors (the dude you plays Bennett). He’s a hottie, but that’s not what makes OITNB so great. I don’t want to say anything else because you should just go watch it on Netflix.
At work, we had to say goodbye to NPR’s irreplaceable Director of Design, Dave Wright. Twitter (perhaps you’ve heard of it) lured him to San Francisco. Dave also happens to be one of the handful of people who made Washington so fun for us over these last two years. He’s such a special talent and hilarious human — I’m going to miss our long venting sessions and fast lunches and just general shenanigans together. To see just how much he meant to us, check out the quick video that Friend Claire and I made for Dave’s goodbye shindig at work. (Password: dwjr)
Oh, and thanks to a last minute invite from my bestie The Beam, I got to check off a bucket list item by seeing Paul McCartney. Just me, the Beam, and about 50,000 people under the stars.
I’m now at that stage of pregnanthood where I feel like the Kool-Aid man, about to bust through a wall going “OH YEEEEAH.” But Fetus is not scheduled to arrive for another two weeks, which means I’m maintaining my regular work schedule, minus the air travel.
For those who have been through this sort of thing or are just curious, here’s what we know: The baby’s active and his head is down, in the optimal position for delivery. He/she is still getting properly oxygenated, and midwife is estimating he/she is at about seven pounds right now. (It didn’t stop some various pals from guessing birth weights at 27 lbs, however. Stiles data-vizzed our pals guesses for birth date, weight and sex.)
Really healthy and smooth situation over here. I haven’t had any back pain or skin weirdness and usually my shoes fit fine. (The exception is after my chili cheese dog binges, which are normal in my diet.) We are generally set with our baby stuff, thanks in large part to the two showers from this summer, and my online shopping problem.
I switched to midwives instead of an OBGYN practice about four months into the pregnancy. (If you are interested in the reasons why, reach out to me anytime.) The midwives are fantastic and they catch babies at the hospital, so there are surgeons nearby should they be required. But our hope is to let everything go as spontaneously and medication-free as possible. Now we wait.
The Fetus has yet to arrive, but he/she is pretty lucky to have so many aunties and uncles around. Not to be outdone by the Texas BBQ Shower, my old friends Sudeep, Beam, Fiscus and Andrew (some of those are not their legal names, natch) hosted a travel-themed fete in our new hometown of DC to prepare our future jetsetter for all his (or her) adventures. This was fun times, y’all. And it’s already earned many superlatives, like “the most irreverent/funny/inappropriate” shower that guests had ever been to.
Instead of the traditional all-girl affair, my closest gay pals joined the gal pals in this fete for Fetus. So we were DQ-treated to such entertainment as Friend Dave, a veteran DQ employee, explaining the art of making a Buster or Dilly bar from scratch (it’s all in the wrist), internationally-themed cupcakes and food, lots of Mommy-Loves-Vodka jokes, airline mini-bottles for party favors, and raucous debate about the ethics of circumcision. (And apparently there are different ways to cut — the “bald eagle” versus the “shaggy dog.” Yep.)
As an added bonus, Friend Denise is not only a friggin awesome baker (her German chocolate cake was a huge hit), but a talented photographer. She took some pics to show off all the detail these hosts and hostesses put into throwing a truly fun, boozy afternoon. Thanks again my friends. We’re so grateful.
I’m constantly awed by the generosity and kindess of my loved ones, but especially my gal pals, who are a group of gorgeous women who are constantly giving of their time and talent. It was in full display on Saturday, when I returned to Texas where eight of my girlfriends hosted an amazing, classy baby shower that did not involve cheesy games or awkward gift opening sessions and was so-well orchestrated that my pal Blake called it “a sight to behold, those eight women putting that shower together.” Another pal, Brett, joked, “It was like watching a group of Amish women put up a barn.”
How awesome are these hostesses? Let me count the ways: I learned Saturday that Melissa put together an idea board with the color themes and plans for decor (including some badass balloons she ordered from Etsy) so that all eight women could coordinate according to a general plan, Virginia had my fave chicken salad flown-in on dry ice from Shreveport, and knowing how much I love Texas BBQ, they arranged to get Franklin BBQ (best brisket in Central Texas) picked up for barbecue slider sandwiches. Laura made insane cake balls. Nisha opened up her perfect party home and headed up an “optional craft”. Crystal, knowing it has been torture for me to abstain from drinking, created “mocktails” so that no one else would be drinking, either. As a surprise treat, the girls got their geek baby-daddy’s data visualizations printed onto onesies.
Being aligned with cosmic forces is important in Chinese culture. The year of the dragon is supposed to be particularly fortunate for babies, marriages and businesses. Those born as dragons are “the strongest, smartest and the luckiest—supposedly,” says Yibing Huang, a professor of Chinese literature and culture at Connecticut College.
Chinese often schedule important life events to take advantage of the luckiest times. A recent lunar year that spanned two springs spurred a spike in weddings. And even though births are trickier to plan, in 2000, the most recent year of the dragon, 202,000 more babies were born in Taiwan than a year earlier, according to the Taipei Times citing government statistics.
I was personally way less interested in a dragon baby due to my own zodiac sign: the dog. It is the sign that’s least compatible with the dragon, and I already have one dragon to contend with — my husband. Now, barring unforeseen events, I’ll have two dragons to go up against. Grrrrreat.
Observation: My going vodka-free has created cascading problems. But the fetus has been awesome to me. Wouldn’t have been able to enjoy Costa Rica, assorted work travel and/or all the SXSW magic — Jay Z, Radiohead, etc — while sick. Fetus is always game to party. “Of course it is,” Fiscus said. “It is YOUR baby. Even if it looks like Matty.”