today i went to costco to pick up our holiday cards because i've been putting it off, and also because i truly didn't realize how close to the holidays we really were. i decided to pick up a few things as long as i was there, and because it was so hot i totally broke out into a sweat just trying to load up the car. again, it just doesn't seem right that it's this warm.
but my thoughts go out to those of you who are getting too much of a white christmas. i know how troublesome it can be to have too much snow. but at least it's picturesque from the inside of your house and it feels right to be wearing a sweater at your christmas/hanukkah dinner instead of a t-shirt and shorts!
anyhoo, just wanted to say thank you to my friends who have been so supportive since i said i was feeling blue. really, i have very little to complain about considering how blessed i am, but i just needed to vent a bit last week. and i appreciate that you've let me do that.
i have been feeling better most days, but i still get unexplainable bouts of the blues. i'm tired and cranky and that makes it worse. like today, i was so tired that i got really snippy with ian because he didn't put the lid back on the glue stick (poor guy bears the brunt of my bad moods during the day). and when maya cries, which is often, it makes me want to cry too.
but i am better. i can still find many reasons to laugh. i still have the desire to be creative. i love my family. i can't help but want to lavish my children with kisses. and, at the end of the day, that's what it's all about, isn't it?
lately, he's been farting uncontrollably, usually on the couch right near someone's face. frankly, it's annoying (and stinky). the other night i got so annoyed with his constant farting (even though i know he can't control it) that i told him he needed to go away to pass gas because no one enjoys smelling someone else's farts.
since then ian has been jumping up out of the blue and running to the other side of the living room to fart. and he will do this over and over again throughout the evening.
- tapping her on the back calms her down immediately
loves to poop while she eats sleeping better at night doesn't like spicy breastmilk (i.e., korean kochujyan flavor) first restaurant outing (aforementioned korean food) 12.04.05
[i also managed to lock us out of the house today -- right after reading that new teach did it too. thank goodness both kids were outside and my in-laws were around to keep us company while we waited for the locksmith. but, gosh, i felt stupid!]
it's weird, actually. this week has been better in that maya is sleeping more and the nights have gotten a bit easier. we haven't had any problems with the breastfeeding and she's eating well. JR has been very helpful around the house, making dinner and watching the kids in the evening. and, yet, i'm feeling out of sorts.
i know it's the hormones and the exhaustion from the lack of sleep, but i can't seem to get my butt in gear and get things done. JR is fine if i rest all day long (which is what i do) and don't do housework. but i'm not okay with that ... i know, crazy, huh? can you believe i'm not okay with the housework not getting done?!
i just feel like i should be able to do the simple things to keep the house at least slightly orderly. do a load of laundry and the dishes, sweep up, write some thank you cards, that kind of thing. but i'm finding that the day zooms by and i've spent many an hour sitting on the couch. it bugs me that i can't get up and throw some laundry into the washing machine. it bugs me that i can't get up and watch my son do his homework. it bugs me that, at the very least, if i'm not going to do housework i should be napping and i don't.
i just sit there, holding maya, but not really interacting with her. i sit there and feel very little. and what little i do feel leans towards the negative. don't get me wrong, i don't have postpartum depression; it's not that bad. but i'm clearly not feeling happy. i read somewhere that the baby blues are more common in second-time mothers, and i definitely feel it more than when ian was a newborn.
i also know that things aren't good because i'm finding myself reading my comic books a lot. to me that's a sign that i'm trying to escape reality. i know it sounds rather melodramatic, but i know me, and when i'm in this mood with a comic book in hand it means i'm trying to shut out things in my real life. not a good sign.
JR has been asking me if i'm all right for the last few days. i don't know what to say to him, so i just shrug and say i'm okay or i've had better days, but i don't elaborate. he doesn't press the issue and things go on their merry ol' way. i probably should tell him what i'm feeling, but 1) i don't know what i'm feeling, 2) i don't know what i want him to do about it, and 3) i don't want to get annoyed with him if he doesn't say/do what i want him to say/do (which would be difficult because i don't actually know what i want him to say/do). and he's already picking up the slack around the house and i guess i don't want to burden him with this.
in any case, i'm thinking about taking a little break from blogging. just a week or two to "regain my composure" and start feeling better. of course, if i have something to blog about i'll log in, but i don't want to feel like i have to blog when i don't really have a lot to say. instead, i hope to do some things to make me feel better -- maybe scrapbook or read or design our holiday card. i don't know yet, but i'm sure i'll think of something.
so i'll "see" you guys in a little while.
started wearing size 1 diapers i think the caffeine i drank last week made her disagreeable (to put it mildly) her fingernails grow in quick and sharp; she scratches her face and makes herself scream she likes to go on walks her fist is finding its way into her mouth more often her hair sticks up in a mohawk-y sort of way she's starting to smile more ... although i'm skeptical they're real smiles
can that be right? it seems awfully heavy ...
when i saw the teacher, she said, "we need to talk" in the most serious of voices. i was like, uh oh, what happened? but it turns out mrs. R feels like she's not servicing ian well enough. apparently, this week they're learning about the letter F and they were talking about fingers. but then ian had to go and say that you could also call them phalanges (although, the definition really refers to the bone of a finger or toe). he is just like his mama -- always spewing out facts and being a smarty-pants. she also heard him telling the other students about fencing.
to be honest, i know my son is smart and i didn't actually expect him to learn too much in kindergarten. i told mrs. R that i felt the socialization process was more important in kindergarten (at least for ian), but she said he already knows how to follow directions and be a good student. so then i had to open my big mouth and say that lately i haven't been able to spend too much time doing enrichment with him but he can open up a book and read a lot of it on his own. she said that it was all him and nothing she's done. (but she does assign a lot of writing for homework, which i think is great, and ian has benefited greatly from it.)
anyway, to make a long story short, we're going to discuss this during parent-teacher conferences later in december. i had been thinking about bringing up the subject of extra enrichment for ian, but i didn't want to sound like the over-zealous parent who thinks her child is gifted when he's not. however, since mrs. R brought it up i feel safe broaching the subject about giving him differentiated work, even if it's just for homework.
but what kind of enrichment should you give a kindergartener, and how much should you expect from a 5 year old? i don't want ian to get too far ahead so that we have this problem again in first grade, but i don't want to hold him back if he's clearly ready to learn more. what to do? what to do?
[i'm sorry -- i didn't mean for this post to sound like i'm bragging about ian. it's just that i know ian has tons of potential to do so much more than what a standard kindergarten curriculum requires. i just don't know what to do.]
i recently got a letter from the california scholastic press association, which hosts a summer journalism camp. my friend NW and i went the summer before our senior year. i don't know about him, but i had a good time and learned in a most heinous way that sports writing is very difficult. i also made some pretty good friends considering we were only together for two weeks. over the years we've all fallen out of touch and i sometimes wonder what they're up to ... have any of them actually become journalists? as for me, i don't even remember if i ever wanted to be a journalist "when i grew up." and i was never much of a journalist anyway, as you can tell from my poorly written blog!
seeing the group photo of us reminded me how young and silly i used to be. can you find me in the 1993 photo?
yesterday, JR and ian raked the leaves that fell into our front yard from the neighbor's tree. ian was excited about jumping into the leaf pile and JR got some good shots of him playing in the leaves. (they're so cute, in fact, that i plan to scrapbook the pictures ... eventually.)
fall is my favorite season, and it was especially wonderful while JR and i were away at college in upstate new york. the leaves would turn into rich shades of yellow, red and gold, the air was crisp, and the skies clear. unfortunately, the beautiful fall weather didn't last too long before the bitter cold set in, but it definitely left a lasting impression on me.
today i took maya out for a walk after dropping ian off at school because it was such a nice day. i had on my favorite knit sweater -- the first one i bought my freshman year in college that's so comfy and worn. and despite being exhausted from the lack of sleep, i enjoyed a brief stroll around the neighborhood.
- she eats and eats and eats some more
- i cannot put her down for a moment; she
loves to beinsists on being held & cuddled
- she's starting to get baby acne on her face
after what i assume was an "uneventful" c-section, JSC arrived wednesday evening, weighing in at 10 pounds 3 ounces and measuring 21 inches. what a blessing to have a baby during the thanksgiving holiday; i'm sure they're very thankful for JSC's safe arrival.
we are so happy for the family -- congratulations and welcome to the world of parenthood!
and, i have to admit, the third reason why i avoided the whole bath thing was because ian hated being bathed (he's still not too fond of it) and it was a real process and a half to give him a bath. i was afraid we were going to encounter the same thing with maya.
since we don't have a baby bath for her, and JR poo-pooed my idea of giving her a bath in the kitchen sink (it's really large and the faucet has a shower nozzle), we decided to take her into the regular shower. we wrapped her up in a hand towel to reduce slippage and keep her warm and also turned down the water pressure. i prepared myself for a scream-fest, but when i took her from JR and tentatively sprayed her body with water she didn't let out a peep. it still took two of us to manuever the showerhead and get her completely washed, but maya seemed perfectly content; in fact, she fell asleep part way through the shower. i was sooooo relieved and happy about this! now, i'm not sure if she'll be this peaceful during the next shower, or the one after that, or 2 years from now, but i'll take what i can get.
turns out chabuya (unfortunately, i don't have the address, but it's on sawtelle -- surprise, surprise!) just opened a few days ago. i mentioned it to JR and he was excited too. now, when will we be able to go??
"auntie K" likes to spoil ian on his birthday and this year was no exception. in fact, this year she went crazy despite my (half-hearted) attempts to stop her. she had seen on ian's amazon wishlist that he wanted the star wars lego ps2 game. but i told her not to get it because we didn't have the console. so, instead of getting a boardgame like i had suggested, she decided to get a ps2. she said it was partly for JR as a reward because he had "stuck with" me -- what is that supposed to mean?!
anyway, here's ian opening up his package and seeing with delight his new toy. it also came with a teenage mutant ninja turtle 3 game.
ian's class just finished a unit on "goldilocks and the three bears." he came home with this adorable hat(??) he made and some paper puppets. he put on a puppet show, doing different voices for each of the bears, and it was one of the funniest things i'd ever heard. i wish our darn camcorder worked so i could save it for posterity.
on saturday, our friends D & P came over with food (ribs!). while they were here, my aunt, uncle, and grandma came up from orange county. since my parents hadn't seen them in a little while, my mom and dad dropped by, too.
saturday was ian's last soccer game for the season. it's kind of a shame since he's gotten quite good, especially at defense. at this game he blocked the ball quite a few times. he has such a look of intense concentration and purpose while he plays; i know he's putting everything he's got into the short 10~15 minutes he plays each week.
after the game the team headed to mcdonald's for the team party. (we were rather disappointed about this because we do not take ian to mcd's ever and we did not want to take him ... but he couldn't miss the team party!) i didn't go because i stayed home with maya, but according to JR he had that proud look on his face when he received his trophy.
ian's still not sure if he's going to play again next year. me, personally, i'm not as against this whole soccer thing as i was at the beginning of the season. i think ian's improved greatly and he probably did learn something about trying his best and sportsmanship.
(sorry for the late posting)
she's getting to be a bit chunkier forget the hairy shoulders ... her entire back is hairy! she's still cross-eyed, but much more alert she will punch JR in the chin given the opportunity she's a poopy machine! everyday she blesses us with a 3~4 hour stretch of sleep ... we just don't know when it will be she's loud, just not in front of guests
and it was three days since i last showered. yes, you heard me right: three days. i finally felt like i accomplished something today when i got to shower before 10am, i did a load of laundry, checked my email, went to the library with ian, made dinner and did the dishes. not bad, right?
there's just so much to do but i have no energy to do anything. so, don't be surprised if i don't get around to blogging very often. i'm going to try, but i don't think i'll be online everyday ... at least, not until i start having withdrawals!
i'll be using our pink chick cushion every week to show how much she's grown -- thanks to lily's rooster once again for making it!
p.s. her umbilical cord came off yesterday and fell on the floor. we wouldn't have known had JR not stepped on it.
i've had the pleasure of lavishing all of my attention on just my boy for almost five full years. i'm blessed to be his mom; i really couldn't ask for a better son. he's sweet, smart, sensitive and funny. i know he'll be a great brother to maya because he's just a great person, even at five years old.
happy birthday, big guy!
and i'm taking this opportunity to reveal the kids' names because i'm getting a bit tired of calling them "the boy" and "the girl." besides, the girl's name is clearly written on the meimei paper my mom calligraphed: maya. the boy's name is ian. JR remains JR 'cause it's easier that way!
and how did we choose the name maya? well, it was the girl name we picked out when we were pregnant with ian. and the reason we picked it the first time around? because my parents had considered using it for my name when i was born. it's the name of a mountain behind my hometown in japan (kobe), which has a temple dedicated to the buddha's birth mother, whose name was maya. the name works in english and japanese, which is what we wanted.
and, in the end, i relented so she has JR's last name and my last name as her middle name. i guess it's less confusing that way, but still ...
for the boy's birthday JR and i decided we just couldn't do a birthday party this year because we weren't sure when the girl was going to be born. instead, we gave the boy the option of going to legoland with JR or taking some friends to see a movie. the boy chose legoland, which would be his first trip to a real amusement park.
i was totally bummed that i couldn't go with them. i've taken the boy on almost every major outing (except sporting events) and i couldn't believe i was going to miss this one. i insisted that JR take lots of photos (i must've reminded him like ten times to take the camera and extra batteries). all day friday, while they were gone, i was kinda sad, but at least the boy had a great day.
on the way home they dropped by JR's grandparents' house for dinner. the boy received his birthday present -- the newest addition to our family -- an R2D2 voice-activated robot! (the same one your family has, grudge girl!)
one of the best parts about getting home was that there was a package waiting for me from grudge girl. sweet, sweet grudge girl had sent gifts all the way from indiana for everyone in my family. there was an adorable hat and wonderfully girly degas book for the girl; star wars stickers (chosen by her son) and a fabulous david macaulay book for the boy; rice bowls for each of us (fyi, GG: the boy claimed the green monkey bowl as his own ... and i think i'll take the yellow kitty one!); and two great chicky mini-buttons, which i'm going to attach to the girl's diaper bag. i was totally thrilled to get such great goodies from a friend i made online! thank you sooooo much, grudge girl!
the girl and i are still trying to figure out the best sleeping arrangements -- the first night we slept in the bed, but i had to leave the light on and i know neither JR or myself got any good rest. so the last two nights we've been sleeping on the couch, which is pretty darn comfortable. but when the boy wakes up early in the morning i have to move back to the bed. tonight we're going to try sleeping in the girl's room on the futon i borrowed from my parents. hopefully that will work out for all of us.
tomorrow JR goes back to work. i have my doubts that things are going to go "back to normal" but i'll do my best: getting up in the morning to get the boy ready for school, getting some chores done (not!), getting dinner ready, and, of course, blogging!
why did i decide to do this? well, number one, i'm lazy and i always jump at the chance to have someone else take care of me. who better than my mom? and, number two, JR made a boo-boo the first time around and i wasn't going to stand for that again.
i tell this story all the time but i have to repeat it here, too. after the boy was born JR immediately got sick with a cold. that, coupled with the stress of being first-time parents and having to sleep on an uncomfortable cot at the hospital, made it worse. so, when we returned home from the hospital with the boy, JR was totally sick. he slept in the bed and the boy and i slept on the couch for three nights. not that JR requires a lot of attention when he's sick in bed, but i had to take care of a newborn and a sick spouse while dealing with my own afterbirth issues. as you can imagine, i didn't want to have to do that again. not that there was a guarantee that JR was going to get sick again with this birth, but you never know.
when i told JR my plan to go to my parents' i think he thought i was kidding at first. then he realized i was totally serious. but he didn't object. honestly, i don't know how feels about my decision to do this because he never told me, but i'm sure he wasn't totally happy about it. so, for the last three days i've been staying with my parents around the clock while the boy and JR come to see us during the day before going home to sleep. JR takes the boy to school, comes over to my parents' house to spend a few hours with the girl, goes to pick up the boy, runs some errands and comes back in the late afternoon to be with us and have dinner.
i know it can't be easy for JR. not only is he driving around all over the place taking care of business at home, but he's not spending a lot of time with the girl. i'm actually depriving him of the crucial bonding time with his daughter that he should be having while he has time off from work. and, being a typical mom, when he offers to burp her or just give me a few minutes without her, i say, "that's okay, she's fine where she is" and i continue to hold her.
i'm totally grateful that he's going along with this without uttering a single complaint. it's allowed me to recover without worrying about any of the housework. because i know if i was at home i'd be overdoing it, trying to get things done and worrying about the boy. this way, i know i'm in good hands with my mom, the boy is in good hands with his father, and i can concentrate on the girl.
originally i thought i would stay here for about 10 days. but i miss my boys. i really miss them. and the more i think about it, the wronger it seems that JR isn't with his daughter 24 hours a day and i'm not available for the boy when he needs his mom to be there during this transitional time for our family. so i'm going to go home soon. after all, my parents' house isn't my home anymore -- i have my own home and my own family. that's where i should be.
lastly, i have to say that i seriously couldn't ask for a more understanding, cooperative husband. thank you JR. i love you.
during that time i sat around the l&d room by myself until my parents showed up. i was on an emotional, natural high. of course i was tired, i was sore, i was overwhelmed. but more than anything i was just excited that the girl was finally here. i had given birth again ... it's just such an amazing, unbelievable experience. and when it's such a whirlwind experience you can't help but stop to think about how crazy it was and be startled at how much your body can tolerate and withstand.
and i started really thinking about how this tiny little creature was going to change my life and the lives of her father and brother. i hadn't thought about it too much while i was pregnant. i knew rationally how our everyday lives would change, but i had deliberately avoided thinking too hard about how our lives would change on an emotional level. i'm not sure if i was scared to think about it; i've been so comfortable with where we were as a family, the routines we had, the dynamics of just three people. and all that was going to change.
but i put off thinking about it too much because i was just so tired. at around 3am they moved me to the regular hospital room. unfortunately, the maternity ward was so crowded that they put me into the "overflow" area, which are the older double rooms (the new rooms were singles that were remodeled last year). it was just me in there but there was no room (and no cots) for JR to stay with me. although reluctant, we decided that it would be better if JR went home to get some uninterrupted comfortable sleep so he could take the boy to school in the morning. i was sad that we would be separated on such a momentous night, but practicality won over sentimentality.
the girl came back to the room after awhile and i fed her and looked at her. i have to repeat this, but it's just such an unbelieveable experience to look at this brand new, tiny little life and truly understand that she came out of your body. she's your child forever. it really is the miracle of life.
the next day i got a roommate. the poor woman had just had a c-section, her baby was 2 months premature and in the nicu, the meds were making her vomit, and she had to come to this dingy room and share it with a girl who had a very easy birth. i felt so bad for her that she couldn't have her own room so she and her husband could have some privacy. (if i get a chance i'll elaborate on her circumstances.)
i was feeling pretty good. the hospital staff wasn't overly attentive, even though i had heard really good things about the nursing staff at this particular hospital. i have to say that i had a much better hospital experience with my first birth. but it really didn't matter since i was recovering quickly and i could go to the bathroom and walk around the maternity ward on my own. the one thing about the staff that i appreciated was that they were willing to take the girl to the nursery pretty frequently so i could get some sleep. this was particularly helpful since most of the time i was alone and didn't have anyone to keep an eye on the girl while i dozed off.
the one thing about the girl that we were concerned with was that she snorted A LOT while she breathed. it was like the opposite of most people: she snored while she was awake and breathed quietly while she slept. it was kinda funny because she sounded just like a little piggy, but it was also disconcerting because we wanted to make sure she could breathe easily and not aspirate. that was the one thing we had the doctors check for us over and over again.
JR came back the next morning, my mom came in the afternoon, and my in-laws brought the boy to visit after school. the first thing he said was, "she's so small!" he had that "awwwww!" sound and expression and the gigantic-est grin on his face. it was really sweet to see him excited. i know it's going to be hard for him in the future because we're going to expect a lot and ask him to sacrifice some things while we raise the girl to be as independent as he is. i'm relieved and happy that at least his first impression of the girl has been positive.
we were discharged on saturday afternoon. the boy chose to miss his soccer game that day so he could come to the hospital to get us. i was really glad to get out of there, even though i wouldn't have the luxury of the nursery staff taking the girl off my hands for a few hours every once in awhile. we could finally start our lives as a family of four!
the easiest thing to do, of course, is to wait at home until the very last moment possible and then rush to the hospital. that's essentially what happened to us:
after the ob appointment on thursday morning i started to think that this girl was just going to take her time in arriving. my regular ob was on vacation last week and i had met with another ob in her group that i'd never met before. after informing me that i was 2cm dilated she didn't mention anything about signs i should watch for or to call her if i started feelings contractions, and she said i should come back in a week. so i just went home to get on with my day and lead a "normal" life until the time came.
i went to target to buy diapers (and the new 'star wars' dvd), i blogged, i helped the boy with his homework, made roast chicken for dinner, and settled in for a night of movie-watching with the boys. while watching 'revenge of the sith' my friend JM called. she's my best friend from japan who recently moved to jakarta. she and her family were visiting los angeles for a few days to go to disneyland and we were hoping to meet up during her brief visit. i informed her that nothing had happened with the baby so we could meet on saturday. i then half-jokingly said that i'd try my best to get her out while she was at disneyland so she could meet the girl.
the boy fell asleep part way through the movie, but JR and i finished watching the movie. i even did the dishes. sometime around 9:30 we started watching 'pirates of the caribbean,' which was on tv. we were just hanging out, enjoying each other's company and relaxing. but then at 10 my stomach started to really hurt. i mentioned it to JR and he was the one who insisted we start timing the pain if it returned. he didn't trust me to make the right decisions about whether the pains were contractions (i have a certain history of thinking my contractions are not real). the second pain came about 15 minutes later. the next one was 8 minutes later. it hurt, but it wasn't unbearable; it could've been gas for all i knew.
i decided to go to bed at a little after 10:30 but the pains continued. i tried to lie down but i couldn't hold still during the pains. JR was convinced these were contractions and i was starting to think the same. i became convinced when i felt like i had to go to the bathroom. that's what happened with my labor with the boy too; i felt like i had to have a bowel movement. so i was running in and out of the bathroom for awhile while JR continued to watch the clock and start finishing up the hospital bag packing. if i wasn't in the bathroom i was roaming between the bedroom and the living room, breathing hard during the pains, and grabbing anything i could to get me through the pain.
JR called the ob sometime after 11 (at this point i wasn't in any condition to watch the clock) and left a message with the after-hours service. but the ob never called back and i was hurting. we decided to just go to the hospital. we had called my mother-in-law to get the boy and she arrived at midnight. we took off for the hospital and arrived 20 minutes later. during the car ride my contractions were four minutes apart. i was pretty scared that we weren't going to make it to the hospital on time because during my last visit to the toilet before leaving the house i had a huge urge to push. that got me off the toilet right away -- i wasn't going to have my baby on the toilet! i even contemplated telling JR to pull into the firestation on the way to the hospital because i thought i wouldn't make it.
but we made it to the hospital and checked in at the maternity ward. the nurses were pretty casual and weren't in any rush to get me checked. maybe i looked okay because it was between contractions but they took their merry old time getting me into triage. the nurse wanted me to give her a urine sample before changing into a gown, and i was like "i don't think i can give you any pee at this point!" but i tried and again had a huge urge to push while i was in the bathroom. i had a contraction and when the nurses heard me grunting and moaning through it, i think they finally realized that i was farther along than they realized. they checked me and when the nurse saw that my water bag was about to burst she really kicked into gear. they were going to move me to labor and delivery, and the second i sat down in the wheelchair my water broke in a huge gush and i had another contraction. that's when they started to run down the hall towards the l&d room.
when they got me there the nurses rushed around getting me hooked up to a fetal monitor, an iv, and an oxygen mask. they kept telling me to breathe deep for the baby and i tried so hard during the contractions not to push but it was incredibly hard not to. i focused on a sticker on the light on the ceiling and grabbed on to JR's hand. i remember JR's hand being cold and slightly damp. he wasn't saying much but i could tell he didn't know what to say because he was worried. [actually, according to JR, he was more scared of me than for me. during my labor with the boy i snapped at him a lot because he was bugging me and he didn't want to repeat that performance.]
then i had a huge urge to push and when i did, i felt something starting to emerge. but since the nurses had been telling me to keep breathing, i thought i wasn't supposed to push so i sort of stopped. but at that point JR said, "you're doing it" and the nurses said to push so i exhaled hard and finished the push and felt something slip right out. "you did it. you did it." i remember JR saying that twice.
without asking us, the nurses cut the umbilical cord and whisked the baby off to the heat table. i heard her healthy cry and i just felt tired at that moment. i held JR's hand and closed my eyes. i'd been hooked up to the fetal monitor for seven minutes; it was 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital. there was no time for a epidural. there was no ob there. it was just me, JR and the nurses.
[i almost forgot that the afterbirth was possibly worse than the actual birth. the nurses wanted me to keep pushing to get the placenta out. i was making noises and trying to push but i could tell my abdomenal muscles were done working for the night. so the nurses starting pushing on my belly really hard to get it to come out. it was quite painful since the nurse kept jabbing at my belly button over and over and over again in the same spot. i still feel bruised there. meanwhile, another nurse showed us the umbilical cord: "look how long and curly it is! it looks like a telephone cord!" the nurse found it pretty amusing and kept holding it up to show us. JR didn't get a picture of that!]
the ob finally arrived about 10 minutes later. she didn't really say anything to me, which was weird because she had been quite chatty during our appointment that morning. one of the nurses mentioned that i tore a little during the delivery. when the ob checked i heard her say, "that's not just a little!" and so she started the whole process of "sewing up my bottom," as she put it. i think the stitches took longer than the actual delivery, probably because of my "impressive hemorrhoids" that the doctor had to work around. while i lay there JR got to hold the girl and show her to me. just looking at her newborn face and talking with JR helped me to relax during the stitches. once the doctor was done, she said congratulations and left. that was it. crazy, huh?
[i finally got a chance to hold the girl after the ob left. she felt so tiny and soft. i was startled at the amount of hair she had. it was so black -- much darker than the boy's hair was at birth. she definitely looks like me because she's much more "asian-y" with that shock of black hair. but at this point it's hard to say who she "really" looks like. i got to breastfeed her for a little while before the nurses took her to the nursery for her tests and bath.]
JR got a chance to call my parents during the stitches. i hadn't had the time or energy to let them know we were going to the hospital (my mom was supposed to come with me) and i felt bad that they missed the birth. they were good enough to come out to the hospital to see me while i recovered. i'm also thankful to my in-laws for watching the boy that night and making him feel special as the big brother.
[story to continue ...]
each week they have two dishes pitted against each other and they prepare them during the show. (for example, the october 27th show pitted wonton ramen against chashu ramen -- i would've loved to see that one.) a panel of guests has to decide which dish they would rather eat. they get three chances during the show to "vote" for the dish that looks better at that point. after the third "vote" whichever dish has the more votes wins, and those who chose that dish get to eat it. the panelists who chose the other dish have to sit there and watch the others eat (japanese game shows are cruel that way).
it's really fun to watch the preparation of each dish and try to guess which one is going to win. i also like that they feature restaurants that serve the dishes. (the website has recipes for each dish; it's all in japanese, though.)
if you ever get a chance to see this show (it could be on other indpendent tv stations that show japanese shows), let me know what you think. i actually like it more than "iron chef."
i saw the ob this morning and after struggling to find my cervix (apparently it's waaaaaaay back there behind a few twists and turns) she said i was about 2cm dilated. and instead of losing my mucus plug in one fell swoop, apparently i'm losing it gradually. so no glob of mucus to look for unlike everyone else i know! (was that more info than you needed to know? i thought so.)
lately i've been thinking about eating a lot. part of it is because i now get heartburn due to the pregnancy and i have to watch what i eat. i never experienced heartburn until i got pregnant and it really puts a damper on meal time (and i finally understood how horrible it was for JR, who gets heartburn quite frequently). but regardless of the threat of heartburn i can't help but imagine food in my belly.
today i had a hankering for cha siu bao and other dim sum-y things. i've always liked cha siu bao, but today i REALLY had to have a hot one. i could just feel my teeth sinking into the chewy, but soft, bun and taste the sweetness of the pork on my tongue. and, of course, i couldn't just stop with bao -- i'd have to have some jiaozu (sp?), siumai and hargow too. and, to top it all off, i would get some congee, rice porridge, with 100-year duck egg. unfortunately, the closest place that has good dim sum is 15 minutes away and i just didn't feel like going out (especially since i have to fill up the gas tank in the car) or spending money.
instead, i found myself eating a can of chili from TJ's and then snacking on six mini snickers bars from our halloween bowl. sad, isn't it?
on a daily basis i've really been craving sushi. i know, i know, pregnant women aren't supposed to eat sushi, but i'm japanese ... i'm immune to whatever's bad in sushi! if there's one thing i know won't give me heartburn during pregnancy, it's sushi. the only thing stopping me from having sushi everyday is the cost!
other than that i love noodles. i haven't had it in months, but i often think about vietnamese pho noodles with meat, tendon and tripe mixed with tons of bean sprouts. i don't like to complicate the beef broth so i keep mine plain except for the addition of a few chilies. a side of summer rolls is good too.
but more than any other kind of noodle, i enjoy a hot steaming bowl of wonton mien, chinese egg noodles with wontons. i have yet to find a satisfactory bowl of noodles near where i live (not that i've been looking very diligently). i did, however, find a frozen kind that i'm content with at the chinese market. i just had the last of it on friday and after finishing off my bowl, i sat there in a daze for about 10 minutes just thinking about wontons.
and, last but not least, i always like ramen noodles. i'm particularly a fan of the tonkotsu (pork-based) soup, but lately i've also awakened to the spicy tantan-men. yummy! unfortunately, LA is not particularly known for its ramen restaurants. the special ramen at santouka in the mitsuwa marketplace in torrance is pretty good, and i know there are a few more places i should try out but nothing has jumped out at me as really good ramen. you gotta get the "real deal" in japan.
so, that's what's been on my mind as of late. i'm trying not to think about the baby ... just about what i'll eat after the baby arrives!
last night we headed off to J&D's house for a kid-friendly halloween party. J&D are probably the hippest people we know, but soooo down-to-earth and fabulous with kids. they don't have any kids of their own, yet they host wonderful parties for the little ones.
they had jack-o-lantern carving, cookie baking, movie watching, mac-n-cheese eating, craft making, and lots of picture taking activities waiting for us. we also got to see the boy's friend, C, who was an absolute doll dressed up as dorothy (her mom was glinda). the two of them are just a couple months apart in age and play so well together (maybe because they only see each other four or five times a year). it's always sweet to see two kids who just naturally click regardless of how long it's been since they last saw each other. and, to think when they were infants the boy was deathly afraid of C!
the boy went in his darth vader costume, and who should be there but a doggie version of princess leia. so, of course, we had to snap this picture! it kinda made me laugh that the dog was a boy and its danish-hair wig kept falling off.
tomorrow the boy's school has a halloween parade around the block and then he's off with JR (dressed as obi wan) to go trick-or-treating with some friends. i'll probably join them for a little while and then head home to pass out candy ... unless, of course, the girl decides she wants to be a halloween baby!
i splurged and bought all kinds of new stuff for the boy to put in his overnight bag. it's kind of a "you're the special big brother" bag. i got him some new clothes, pj's, star wars underwear, a toothbrush, books, a bionicle, that sort of thing. i hope he likes it!
frankly, i'm suprised. i thought that by now i'd be at least a little bit dilated. it's not real pain, per se, but i'm feeling all kinds of stuff that i don't recall feeling with the boy. it just may be that my body went through some changes after the first birth and is now allowing me to experience a different kind of 9th month pregnancy. like my pelvis, for example. it hurts all the time -- when i walk, when i sit, when i get up, when i lie down, when i stand. is it going to continue hurting this badly when i'm actually going through labor? if so, this birth will not be so pleasant. (is it ever?)
perhaps i should rethink my prediction of when the girl will be born ... although, once the contractions actually start, she could come pretty quick. an acquantaince suggested i drink lots of raspberry tea to speed up the process. she got this advice from a friend in london, where, apparently, it's a very popular method.
but then i was reading a post about a pretty horrible birth on a medical school student's blog, which was almost disturbing. i know these kinds of births are rare, but still, you don't want to know about them right before your due date!
p.s. one piece of good news: i actually lost some weight! it's not unusual for weight gain to stop or decrease at this point, but it didn't happen with the last pregnancy so i'm quite thrilled! one less pound to worry about post-pregnancy.
so, anyone want to make predictions on when she'll arrive? here are the predictions from our family:
me and the boy: this saturday, october 29
JR: either this week or the week of november 14
now comes the hard part: what to do about her middle and last names. JR's family is jewish so they use the baby's deceased great-grandparents' names as middle names. hence, the boy's middle name is JR's paternal grandpa's name (which, luckily enough, had a japanese equivalent). now, we could use JR's paternal grandma's name as the girl's middle name. but JR has two younger siblings and three cousins who could also potentially use the name for their future children. i personally don't think we need to feel obligated to use the name just because we're the first to have kids. granted, the name goes pretty well with the girl's first name, but i'd like to honor my heritage as well. you know, to make it fair. after all, she's my kid too.
so i had an idea. JR, of course, shot it down and said it was crazy. but hear me out, folks. what if we used JR's last name as her middle name, and then used my last name (i kept my maiden name)? the girls in the family would have the same last name and the boys would have the same last name. but just so people wouldn't get too confused, the girl would still have the identifying mark of her father's last name as her middle name. and i would have the joy of having a child with my name. and, who knows, when she gets married she may choose to keep her maiden name and allow my last name to be used for at least another generation. that would mean something to me, especially since my biological father lost his only son and wouldn't have anyone else to continue the family name. it's an idea, don't you think?
the days seem to be passing quickly and i'm down to 17 days before my due date. that seems awfully soon, but not soon enough.
i've been keeping myself busy by doing some more applique (pictures to follow once it's completed), thinking about future sewing projects (my current "obsession"), and getting things ready for the baby on occasion. and our weekend schedule is quite full since we're trying to cram a lot into our last few free days.
i started off this weekend by going out to brunch with my friend AY and her son D (that's them in the picture) at s&w country diner in culver city. i indulged in some good ol' southern food while swapping birthing and child-rearing stories with AY. gosh, i like her. after parting from their company i went to a scrapbook store down the street from s&w and bought a few sheets of pretty paper, even though they're totally overpriced. they were just so pretty!
tomorrow we're off to the natural history museum in the morning to see the "collapse?" exhibit with our friends R and A. we've been planning this museum excursion for months and we're just now getting around to it.
[the exhibit was actually pretty lame. i found the museum website's information on the exhibit just as informative as the actual thing. there just wasn't a lot to it. however, the fossils were good, as always. the boy took the blurry picture of R next to a triceratops donation box the boy affectionately dubbed "the vault."]
afterwards, JR and the boy are off to the ucla-oregon state football game at the rose bowl. no way in hell i'm going to that. instead, i plan to do some sewing and eating at my mom's house.
sunday will be just as busy. we have to get the boy registered for t-ball and then i plan to see my baa-chan, my grandma on my dad's side, since i won't be able to see her for awhile after having the baby (she's in a retirement community and doesn't travel well).
then the boy has a soccer game at 4; he's going to be exhausted and cranky, but hopefully that won't deter him from playing offense again this week (ever since the ball in the face incident he's preferred to play defense near the goal).
[the boy had a fabulous soccer week. he played offense, ran back and forth on the field numerous times at top speed, chasing the ball and kicking it. he also made a goal!! well, almost ... it hit the goal post and bounced towards the net, and then his teammate nudged it in. he's finally gotten over his fear of the soccer ball and seems to be enjoying himself.]
right after that we're off to dinner with my folks at a wonderful little french restaurant in little tokyo.
so, where in this schedule is there time to pick out paint for the girl's room and patch up the gigantic holes in the wall?? someone, please tell me!
instead, i'm worried that i haven't finished embroidering the initial on the girl's birdie applique. i'm worried that i won't finish the chick & hen applique i'm making for the boy. i'm worried that i haven't started prepping the girl's birth announcements (some of you may not know but, as a side business, i make stationery).
i guess my nesting instincts are more about crafting than actually preparing for the baby.
JR and i were chatting before bed the other night about what special things we can do for the boy after the baby is born. we're kinda concerned about him feeling neglected/left out, especially since his 5th birthday is coming up in mid-november. we don't want that special occasion to be eclipsed by the girl's birth. as it is, JR already feels like he's doing more for the girl than the boy because he has to spend so much of the weekend preparing for the baby instead of playing ball with the boy. while JR's toiling away in the garage and moving furniture, the boy is often playing soccer or football in the backyard by himself. i think it hurts JR that he can't spend what little time he has on the weekend with his son.
i feel the same way. i feel wrong, after all these years of having just the boy, doing things for the girl first. and i don't want to make something for the girl without making something for the boy. i don't want to buy tons of cutsie baby clothes for the girl when the boy actually needs new clothes for the winter.
and, although i want things to be balanced and fair, i know that in reality it's not going to be that way for awhile. the girl is going to require much more attention in the beginning and the boy is going to suffer the consequences. i just don't want my "first baby" to feel like we don't love him or that he's not special to us, because he is soooo special to us.
so, a question to all those parents with more than one kid: what do you do to make all of your children feel like they have a special place in the family?
we got a few minutes of video of her wriggling around, but she was pretty uncooperative. she had her hand in front of her face a lot of the time and then right after we put our video tape in, she decided to turn her back on us. so the technician only managed to get a picture of her foot. now at least we know she has one good foot! [sorry about the poor quality scan -- the foot is in the middle on its side with her itty bitty toes on the right.]
last night i woke up in the middle of the night because i have to constantly pee and couldn't get back to sleep. i decided to read up on the signs of labor (just in case) and, of course, that didn't help to put me to sleep. it only made me more anxious.
tomorrow morning JR and i are going to my ultrasound appointment to make sure the girl is growing all right. hopefully i'll have an image of her to upload afterwards. then on thursday i have my regular ob appointment, at which point dr. field may be able to reassure me that this girl ain't coming for awhile, or she's coming soon. i just want to know.
on a brighter note, my son read ten apples up on top! all by himself on the first try. it is an easy book, but he read the whole thing even though he got tired part way through it. it's an old copy from JR's collection, which we sorted through over the weekend. even JR, the not-so-prolific reader, has some childhood memories attached to certain books, this being one of them. it was cute to see him smile and reminisce as he went through his old books, and then to see him and his son reading his old book. awww!
i found an article in an old "martha stewart baby" magazine that had some cute farm animal appliques, and i figured, why not? i'm not particularly good with a needle and thread, so i did a felt applique instead (it doesn't require all of the prep work that applique with fabric that frays does). still, the handiwork isn't particularly good, so don't look too closely at the stitch work! but i did manage to applique the green grass, which is cotton -- turns out straight lines on fraying fabric are much easier to applique than curvy lines.
i plan to embroider the girl's initial above the chick and then put the whole thing in a small frame to decorate her wall.
as a total sidenote, we saw olympic ice skater michelle kwan at our local tj's, the second sighting this year! (she lives in a gated community nearby.)
i think i got off to a good start today by getting some work done. i actually did some translating work, which i do on occasion; scrubbed the kitchen sink and counters; washed the dishes; folded a load of laundry; tidied (tidy-ed?) up just a bit; dealt with my weepy son who couldn't draw a dolphin; and talked with my in-laws when they came to pick up the boy for their weekly afternoon visit.
now that i've written down what i did today, it doesn't sound like i did much. but, sadly, this has been one of my more productive days. see, i told you i wasn't much of a housekeeper!
this weekend will require that i do more work than usual: the girl's room must come together, if only for the sake of JR's sanity (he stresses a lot). he plans to put the crib together and move the dresser from the boy's room to the girl's room (it has a changing table on top). that means i have to move more stuff into the garage, sort the boy's clothes from the dresser, and clean the floor in the girl's room.
i still don't think it's totally urgent to get the girl's room ready -- it's not like she's actually going to care what her room looks like for awhile, but it is better to get it done before she arrives. i know it'll get done; it's not that much more work. but the first thing my mother-in-law said when she walked into the room was, "oh my god!"
is it really that bad? c'mon, be honest with me!
of course, i can see how difficult it would be to write an economics/stats book that's easily digestable by the general reading public and still be convincing to more academic types. but, in general, i thought it was a good, fun read and brought up some interesting topics to think about. (case in point, former secretary of education william bennett's "controversial" statement regarding abortion and the crime rate was triggered by a chapter in this book.)
i particularly thought chapter 5 -- "what makes a perfect parent?" -- would be of interest to readers of this blog. part of the chapter is based on a study called the early childhood longitudinal study, which was conducted in the late '90s and followed 20,000 elementary school aged children across the country. i don't want to get into the details of the study here because it could get long, but the data was subjected to a whole bunch of regression analysis to find correlations between the variables (a child's personal circumstances and his school performance).
in the end, based on the correlations, the authors say that the data, for the most part, show a student's success is more greatly influenced by factors which describe what the parents are rather than what they do. for example, the factor "the child has many books at home" is correlated with higher student test scores and the factor "the child's parents read to him nearly every day" is not.
it's kind of disturbing to read this because, as a parent, you hope that what you do for your child has some sort of influence on his success. in essence, this brings us back to the whole nurture-nature debate, which i still am sitting on the fence about. i look at my son and see the results of both his nature and our nurturing. but does our nurturing have a lot to do with our nature? hmm ... so much to think about.
when i spoke to her a couple of weeks ago she was telling me what she noticed about the boy. she's noticed that he's not rambunctious like the other boys and will remove himself from situations where other kids are getting out of hand. she also said that even if other kids bother him, he tries not to tattle so as not get them in trouble. she just worries that because he's so mellow other kids might try to bully him (especially since he's small in stature too). i hope that i've given him the skills to deal with situations like that should they arise. but it's also reassuring to know that the teacher understands my child's personality. that makes such a difference in the classroom.
as it says in my profile, my current occupation is "peggy hill" -- i'm a substitute teacher in the elementary grades. i enjoy it and i think i'm pretty good at it, too.
but before i became a sub, i worked in an elementary school for a couple of years. in the spring of 2004 i started to think about having a full-time career, and thought i would try my hand at being a teacher.
i applied to the credentialing/master's degree program at ucla. it's progressive, relatively close to my house, pretty cheap and a great program. well, i got wait-listed and then rejected. perhaps because my work experience hadn't been in urban education, which the program emphasizes greatly. who knows. so i was down for awhile, not knowing what i should do next.
then, lo and behold, i get a call from the university intern program at ucla asking me if i'd be interested in applying. i would start working immediately and take classes at night and on the weekend to get credentialed (the program takes about 2 years to complete). i jumped at the chance, thinking this would be the perfect way to get everything done at once while making a salary. so i interviewed, got accepted and started looking for a job at an urban elementary school. i called over 200 schools to see if they were hiring and faxed off dozens of resumes.
within a week or so i got an interview at two schools, one in watts (yes, the same watts that had the race riots in the '60s) and one in downtown los angeles. i don't want to mention the schools' names, so i'll just call the watts school, school X. the school X interview was first and it went really well. the principal was new, having just replaced the previous principal who retired. it was his first year as principal. he was enthusiastic about hiring me but told me to go home and think about it because the school's not in a good area. i left with a good impression of him and the school. as i was driving away i was already 85% decided that i was going to accept the position, even without interviewing at the other school. i honestly don't remember the discussion i had with JR that night about my decision. but i think my mind was already made up by that time, and i called the principal in the morning to accept the offer.
a few days of jumping through bureaucratic hoops at the district office followed, and then taking a week-long new teacher course before starting the extensive staff development they offer at school X. i was already very busy a month and a half before school was to start. there were about 12 other new teachers at school X that fall so we got to know each other pretty well as we tried to set up our classrooms, understand what it meant to teach at school X (there were some pretty stringent guidelines because school X is part of a special program run through the district), and running from staff development class to staff development class.
i was totally excited about this new step in my life. i was going to have my own classroom, my own "kids," i was going to make a difference.
then school started and everything fell apart. i was unprepared -- all that staff development hadn't done anything to truly prepare me for the reality of teaching in an urban school. i was used to something completely different and i panicked. but that's just an excuse. the bottom line is that i didn't prepare myself enough to handle the beginning of the school year in the proper way. i didn' t have a plan to set up routines and effective discipline, which these kids desperately needed. i totally started off on the wrong foot and it was extremely difficult for me to right that wrong.
goodness knows i tried to "start over." i tried so hard to find ways to get the kids to be successful. i sought help from my principal and instructional coach. i observed veteran teachers. i prepped at home from 4am until i left to go to work at 6:45 every morning, and stayed at school until 5. at that point i made myself go home to see my son. but the harder i tried, the more pressure i put on myself and the kids, and the more i felt like a failure. i was having anxiety attacks every morning, throwing up, not eating, and only being able to sleep when exhaustion took over. i was so frustrated and confused -- the more i tried the more i floundered.
and i was letting everybody down: my students, my principal, my family, myself. i wasn't able to give anything the proper amount of attention to do anything satisfactorily. at least, not to my standards. and that just added to the pressure.
and then i did the worst thing. i quit. i couldn't handle it well enough that i felt i would ever be successful. and i was truly neglecting my son and husband. JR knew it would be hard and he would have to pick up a lot of the slack around the house, but i just couldn't stand not being there for the boy. i didn't see him before leaving for work and when i picked him up from daycare at 5:30pm i was too tired to do anything fun with him. i fell on the couch and my mind was just mush, thinking about work, work, work -- how horrible the day was and the prep work i still had to do for the next day. the boy would ask me to play and i just couldn't. i was giving other peoples' children more attention than my own, and no job was worth that.
so i quit one month into school starting. i knew i disappointed a lot of people, and i felt horrible abandoning the students. but i also felt that, as first graders, they deserved a better teacher to get their elementary education started. it's the hugest failure of my life, but i don't regret the decision. i still believe i did the right thing in the long run, even though i quit so quickly. and, to be honest, i was kinda embarrassed that i couldn't cut it and quit like that. but i had my priorities and my reasons for doing so and i wasn't going to allow other people to make me feel bad about it.
i still think about the students (it's just recently that i've stopped thinking of them as "my kids") a lot, wondering how their year went. i still feel compelled to apologize to the principal repeatedly. i still think of how i could've done things differently. and i'm still afraid to commit to becoming a teacher. i still fear failure ... again.
in hindsight, i rushed into things without thinking through what it means to be an educator. i made a huge mistake by getting caught up in the excitement of having my own classroom, instead of focusing on what it means to be a truly good teacher. i've admired teachers always, but this experience has increased my admiration a hundred-fold. teachers aren't nearly respected enough, paid enough, or listened to enough.
and, one good thing has come of all of this: i was able to get pregnant with my second child because i wasn't working full-time. so maybe things work out the way they do for a reason ...
i'm hoping this one will be just as "easy" [note: childbirth is never easy]. after all, they do say subsequent births are faster and easier.
there were some small hints today that perhaps things will go well when the time comes. at my ob appointment i found out i've only gained about a pound in the last month (half a pound since my last appointment two weeks ago) and i'm measuring smaller than the number of weeks i'm pregnant. so the doctor ordered another ultrasound, which i will probably do next week. she's not really worried because i have another month until my due date, but just to be on the safe side. i don't mind at all having a small baby so i'm not particularly worried either. in fact, it'll be nice to get another ultrasound if they're going to give me a printout. i'd like to see what the little girl looks like at 37 weeks!
p.s. we also checked to make sure her head is down, which it is. she has a nicely shaped noggin. :)
i went to the boy's school to volunteer this morning, completely forgetting there's a sub. i tried to be as deferential to the sub as i could be -- truly, i tried. i held my tongue for as long as i could but the poor sub (an older gentleman) didn't know the morning routine and the kids were just going bonkers trying to tell him what to do. the mom and substitute teacher in me just couldn't stand by and do nothing. so i started acting like a sub myself, telling the kids to behave and coming very very close to taking over the class.
the sub, mr. B, didn't seem overly bothered by my interruptions. after all, i know the kids a bit better and i've been around the classroom enough to know the routine. still, i felt bad doing it. but i also knew that if i didn't chime in there would be more confusion, talking, and unproductivity.
however, even i was a bit exasperated by my inability to control my teacher-ly instincts. i'm sorry.
lily's rooster was kind enough to make the boy a blue birdy snappy patch after i told her how much he looooooves birdies. he took the picture below to show his new little pal.
once the baby's room is in order i'll post some of the other chick/birdy stuff the boy and i have collected over the years.
oh yeah, check out lily's rooster's other merchandise at www.lilysrooster.com -- she makes some really cute bat totes that would be perfect for halloween!