Highlights of Sophia’s development in her fifth month:
Sophia continued her cognitive and physical developments this month with incredible energy (ironically) as Michal and I were bleary-eyed (yet excited) due to either of us being ill and/or managing an unpredictable sleep schedule.
- She has gone from hating being on her tummy in her fourth month to loving it in her fifth month, constantly rolling like a bottle downhill. However, she struggles with wanting to crawl as she gets on all-fours but isn’t sure how to move next.
- She holds and grabs with more intention, especially with her pacifier and bottle.
- She is more aware of the details in the world around her, recently growing obsessed with the tags on toys or clothes.
- She is starting to have regular giggle fits when we tickle her tummy or toes.
- She has shown interest in eating some solids like mashed up banana.
Having Esther, one of my best friends who I have known since high school, visit me for an extended period of time during this fifth month was such a blessing. Sophia is still not sleeping well, waking three to four times through the night with inconsistent nap times during the day. It didn’t help that we suffered from jet lag for a while after returning from the States, plus everyone in our home had some form of illness at different points throughout the past month.
Highlights of sightseeing in Seoul with Esther in October
I am so grateful Esther was willing to become a third parent to Sophia while in Seoul. She endured the 14-hour flight from Detroit to Seoul and helped me get Sophia to sleep in her bassinet, went to the hospital with me while Michal was at work and Sophia had a fever, got up early each morning to play with Sophia while I showered and ate breakfast each day, taught a mommy and baby yoga class for Sophia and our friends, and even baby sat for us while Michal and I had a date night. This was a level of loyalty and generosity I could never repay.
Michal, Sophia and I had a lot of fun exploring the city with her, and we had a whole new perspective as Esther’s knowledge of Korean really enlightened us. For example, one day two older women on the subway spoke to Esther in Korean about Sophia. I assumed they were probably chastising me that she was too cold or too small, as I had heard others tell me in the past.
In contrast, the women were gushing over Sophia’s eyes – at how they twinkle and at how looking at her made them feel happy and young, and that they wished Sophia a lifetime of joy.
Esther even added that this was a rough translation and that their sentiments sounded even more beautiful and meaningful in Korean.
All in all, we packed a lot of activity into our days and nights, being tourists in our own town and discovering so much more beyond our fav spots. Our time together generally consisted of:
- 70 percent eating and drinking (ie. Great Korean Beer Festival, bottomless champagne brunch at the Conrad, afternoon tea at the Grand Hyatt, a variety of restaurants,cafes and microbreweries in Itaewon and surrounding area) -> Glad I still have all my stretchy maternity pants!
- 20 percent shopping (ie. Emart, Lotte World Mall, Apgujeong department stores like Hyundai and Galleria, Myeongdong‘s “Skincare Street”) -> Stocked up on tons of face masks, Honey Butter chips and choco pies!
- 10 percent traditional touristy spots (ie. getting lost in Bukchon Hanok Village, taking a cable car to the top of N Seoul Tower, wandering around Gyeongbokgong Palace, walking along the Cheonggyecheon Stream and Han River, watching street performers and visiting themed cafes in Hongdae, browsing in Gwangjang and Dongdaemun markets) -> Walked more than 10,000 steps nearly every day!
On the other hand, we were also were able to just relax in our home when one or more of us in the household was sick, tired – or both. The three-week visit reminded me of the two years Esther and I had as roommates back in undergrad, complete with binge watching TV shows (now hooked on “Breaking Bad”), ordering tons of delivery and pulling those dreaded “all-nighters.”
Pressing the pause button on the present
During some downtime on her visit, we listened to a podcast of a homily from the Church of the Incarnation in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Michal and I used to attend before moving to Seoul while he was in business school. The pastor addressed the age-old dilemma of the need to focus on being content with the present, rather than dwell on the past or constantly yearn for more. He wisely said:
“God is here in this moment, with all its light and darkness, with all its pain and joy […] Scripture says there is an appointed time for everything […] Living in faith can be as small as living in the now.”
Esther related to this concept with her yoga practice: the act of concentrating on her breath, clearing her mind and setting an intention at the beginning of a session.
We all saw how Sophia’s current life easily adapts to this mentality, one that is so difficult for us as a adults. Having a child at infant stage is a consistent reminder of this life lesson. Babies are not thinking about the past or the future, but about the present and expressing their immediate desires: I am hungry now. I am sleepy now. I want to play now. Their constant movement and growth keeps us from lingering too much.
I’m excited to see her grow up but also cherishing her innocence and simplicity in her life at this moment. I wish to only “live in the now” just like sweet Sophia.