100 days

by Grace Ko

They say the first three months of baby's life is essentially "The Fourth Trimester" when baby is rapidly changing and developing to adjust to life outside the womb. They say to swaddle and shush baby to emulate life in utero. 

Well, baby recently reached that three-month-mark and also turned 100 days! 

백일 ("baek-il"- 100th day) is a milestone of great significance here in Korea. It used to be that illness was common and survival rates of babies were low, so when a baby made it to 100 days in good health, it was met with thanksgiving and celebration. Nowadays, people in Korea often talk about 백일의 기적 ("The miracle of 100 days") when baby suddenly is no longer a newborn, when baby visibly seems to have adjusted to the outside world, when baby sleeps better. And though his sleeping has gotten worse, not better, it's still every bit of a miracle, watching this baby grow, learn and change each day. 

We celebrated this momentous occasion at home, small and intimate. My parents came up for the weekend; on the day of the celebration, they watched baby while Young and I went out for a doctor's appointment and a quick, efficient stop at the flower market. Once home, we set the 백일상 (100 day table), dressed baby in a dapper little outfit and snapped photos to cherish for years to come. 

These past 100 days have been filled with the discomforts of postpartum recovery, all kinds of emotions, sleep-deprivation, anxiety of being a new parent, desperation and humility like never before. It has also been filled with deeper levels of joy than I have ever experienced, a sense of wonder through the eyes of a newborn, and an embracing of this new identity in motherhood. 

Leading up to his 100th day, my dad gently suggested I reflect on these past three months and celebrate the developments and adjustments we've made in becoming a family of three. So in celebration of his 100th day, here's a brief recap of the past three months: 

At 1 month, baby:

  • Loves diaper changes and will let us know when he needs one
  • Loves baths, reading and music
  • Has a husky voice

We spent the first two weeks of baby's life as a family of three at a 조리원 ("joriwon"), a postpartum care center. With nurses around the clock, "room service" of three meals and three snacks, laundry done for you, room cleaned for you, we had it good. But it was a time of a lot of tears, being in a chronic zombie-like state not yet adjusted to the sleep-deprivation. Coming home was a bit daunting but with the love and support of my mom and my mother-in-law, I was able to learn how to take care of a newborn while resting and recovering. 

At 2 months, baby: 

  • recognizes mommy and daddy's faces
  • loves playtime and is happiest when he wakes up in the morning
  • loves music books 

Month two was filled with a lot of learning, on both baby's end and mine. I was (and still am) learning to love myself, to show myself grace, to fight mom-guilt. A lot of learning happened through trial-and-error, especially pertaining to breastfeeding. So many friends were saying, "Do what's best for you guys" but even figuring out what that meant required learning. Y and I also had to start learning what it's like to work on a marriage with a baby front and center. Unfortunately, this looked like a lot of arguing, miscommunication and misunderstanding for a bit until we realized we needed to take time to appreciate and affirm one another and communicate, even if that meant a little less sleep. 

At 3 months, baby:

  • is learning and growing so quickly. He discovered his hands, began smiling big, started laughing, talks up a storm, grabs things on his own. He loves being outside and looking up at the sky and trees, and staring at mobiles and lights. 
  • loves "swimming". We bought a tube that goes around his neck that allows him to float and occasionally we fill up the bathtub for swim time. Most recently, he started to splash water with his arms and kick to spin around. 
  • is getting better at tummy time. He now is able to hold his head up 45 degrees. He likes to turn right more than left. 

Month three has been filled with much silliness and laughter. Mommy and daddy have been caught doing all sorts of crazy things to get baby to smile and laugh. We have gotten into much more of a groove, each day starting with lots of baby babbling and smiles while FaceTiming grandparents. We have been trying all types of tactics to get baby to sleep a bit better, a bit longer so we can sleep a bit better, a bit longer - white noise, rocking, shushing, swaddling. We still haven't figured it out yet but we keep being told it gets better!