October 29, 2011

One Month and counting

You are one month old today. How can the world change so much in such a short amount of time? How have you impacted our lives?
  1. When you’re falling asleep at night, if I’m not next to you when your eyes flicker open, you start to cry. Having your father next to you trying to soothe you doesn’t seem to be enough. I have to finish feeding you, put you into your co-sleeper (Dman and Singer gave us an in-bed cosleeper), and then remain next to you until you’re in deep sleep before using the bathroom, brushing my teeth or running down stairs to refill my water bottle. It’s a strange feeling to know that I’m someone’s magnetic north. I’m deeply humbled and awed when I think that I will define comfort, safety and home for you. I’m enjoying being that for you so far, but the ongoing implications are a bit daunting.

  2. Over our 14 years of marriage, Jrex and I have journeyed from being each others’ best friends, to being co-habitating adversaries, then eventually making an emotionally charged journey back to being on the same team. My biggest fear in becoming parents was that we’d drift into different worlds and lose that sense of being in each others’ corner. Instead, as proved by how we’ve handled the Mom K visit, we’re definitely working well together. Our philosophical approach--that you’re important and valued, but you’re not in charge, we are--is the same. We agree on mostly trying to do a schedule and give you structure without being hardliners about it. Thank you for giving us the chance to parent you together.
  3. You bring out your father’s silly side. He loves to tell you his plans for you: teaching you four-syllable words by the time you’re three, that you’re not allowed to have a Texas accent, that you’re going to be a north-easterner even if you’re being raised here and that you’ll treat your mother well (love that one!). Appa loves your dramatic hand gestures and makes up music or monologues to accompany them.

  4. I’ve always thought that I’d be a mother someday and be good at it. There have been many times in the past 14 years when I feared that kids would never happen. That was the saddest thing I wrestled with as I waited, prayed and endured the hard times in this marriage. After a pregnancy where it was hard to believe we’d end up with a live, healthy kid, it’s been wonderful to discover that mothering you comes naturally. Sure, you’ve had your inconsolable days when I’ve had to put you down and walk away, but overall, we’re a good team.

  5. Your poor Halmoni keeps asking us what we’re going to do for your one-month birthday and for Christmas. We’re obviously disappointing her when we say, “Nothing. He won’t remember what we do or don’t do at this point.” She shakes her head, “At least you do and take picture! It’s his first Christmas, you have to do something.” Hopefully, not having those pictures isn’t going to scar you forever...

  6. You are a reminder that one can survive much suffering. Having your diaper changed appears to be almost as bad as having a finger cut off; yet you survive and smile soon after.

October 27, 2011

Race is in the eye of the beholder

Both OTRmama and my father have been clamoring for a blog post. I've had this one in mind for over two weeks now, but it's hard to find the head space to write. Having one's day cut up into two hour blocks with only an hour of free time within the two is more challenging than I thought.

Mom K is here through mid-November and it's hugely helpful that she takes care of Brex in-between feedings. I'd worried about so many things with her here for a month, but it's been good. She's letting me be the Mom (i.e., my bossy self) and follows my directions with Brex. Also, she's more than happy to hold him any time she can.

When OTRsis was here for the week after Brex's birth, we both thought Brex looked really Asian. This is a picture taken while she was here. (That onesie is for my father's benefit! Dad is Michigan born and bred)

We even had a conversation with Jrex where OTRsis insisted that Brex had black hair. We both shook our heads, No, definitely brown.

A week ago, a family we're friends with came for lunch (Jrex and Dman were at Hopkins together, they both work down here now). Dman and his wife, Singer are both ethnically Taiwanese and have two kids, Eager Girl and Mellow Boy.

Here's Muttola waiting to welcome the visitors...

While they were here, Singer exclaimed about how light Brex's hair is. "It's blonde!" Jrex and I laughed and shook our heads, "No, definitely brown." Yet, it was true that our Hapa boy looked more white when seen with Asian kids.

We've found out that the local public elementary school is an immersion program with bilingual English/Spanish classrooms. Two teachers, half the kids native English speakers and half native Spanish. We're excited for him to grow up at least bilingual, and if we can figure out a way to squeeze Korean in there, somewhat trilingual. Of course, in a Hispanic context, he may even look Latino!

With Mom K, every day she sees something different in him. One day he looks white to her, the next day, 'just like Jrex'. Brex definitely has his father's hands and feet (which makes me really happy), and his individual features look more like Jrex, but his face and expressions look just like my baby pictures.

I'm enjoying having this ever-morphing kid. It's going to be fun to watch others' perceptions of him and his perceptions of himself take shape.

October 6, 2011

Notes from the other side

For the past week, my fabulous sister has been here. Because of her know-how and ability to get Brex (Baby Rex--love it!) to go to sleep (as well as her willingness to change diapers!), I've felt like I have training wheels for this new parenting deal. She's also helped clean the house, make dinners and do dishes. Between her and Jrex, I've felt like all I have to do is figure out Brex. For the most part, I've been happily surprised by how the overwhelming love for the little one outweighs the exhaustion. Much of that however, is due to my sister taking Brex whenever he's been fussy and then getting him to go to sleep. If I try to get him to sleep, he's too busy rooting into my arm or shoulder to settle. I keep looking at him and mournfully asking, "Don't you like me for my personality?" Based on the scrunch-faced tears I get right after the question, I'm guessing the answer is no.

Throughout the pregnancy, I kept finding out that my theoretical hippie approach was outweighed by my pragmatic streak. The one area where I didn't plan to do the 'hippie' version was with the baby's sleeping habits. Knowing how much I need sleep, my plan was to give Brex a couple weeks, maybe a month sleeping in the co-sleeper that Jrex's sister gave us. Letting Brex sleep in the same room as us, but not our bed seemed like a fair compromise. Overall though, I was going to aim for a schedule and sleep in the nursery crib as soon as possible. As it turns out, if Brex is next to me, he eats/sleeps in four-hour blocks, if left in the co-sleeper, I'm lucky if he eats/sleeps in a three-hour cycle. Despite my theoretical pragmatist, it's so much easier to have the baby in bed and do easy feeding and sleep cycles. Definitely not our long-term plan, but for now, he's hard to resist.

OTRsis leaves Saturday and then it's just us for the next twelve days before Mom Kim comes. I think those days without outside help will be challenging, but good. My hormones finally dropped a bit today (I got very weepy when faced with a few challenges) so if that continues, then next week will be even more of an adventure. Jrex is planning to just do a couple hours each day in lab so that he can be around to help.

Before now, I've always called the first three months of a baby's life The Blob Phase. I just haven't found them all that interesting. Good thing biology kicks in and I find this particular Blob utterly fascinating. His facial expressions crack me up, even the way he warms up toward crying is amusing. Jrex seems similarly affected which is really fun to watch.

Mom K has asked for pictures, so I'm trying to send her a "Daily Brex" via text message. My sister pointed out that my Dad and brother might also enjoy that. I asked if she wanted one, too and she did. I guess that means that I've already become one of THOSE parents, huh?

October 1, 2011

More details than you really want!


The doorbell is ringing and the mutt starts whining and barking. I’m upstairs and rush to change from pajamas to something presentable. Whoever is at the door keeps banging on the door and ringing the bell. The dog is in a frenzy. I hurry down the stairs and Muttola comes to meet me. We get entangled and I land on the floor on knees, elbow and dog. It didn’t feel like I hit my pregnant belly though my stomach muscles felt a little achy from the jostle. I answer the door to find one of the workmen who’ve been repairing our front porch.

The rest of the day I work from the couch with my feet up and ice packs for my knees. Throughout the day I feel the baby moving and have no cramps or discharge, so it doesn’t seem like anything happened. Phew!

I end up working until 2 AM to whip the presentation for Friday into shape so the team can review it.

(the beginning of potentially too much detail...)

After my late night, I sleep in until 9:30, completely taking advantage of working west coast hours. I step into the shower at 10:20. While in the shower, it feels like I’m wetting myself, which is weird since I used the toilet just before getting in the shower. I finish cleaning up and use the toilet again. It still seems like pee. However, when I get up to put moisturizer on, there’s liquid trickling on my legs. Hmm...well, if it’s amniotic fluid, they have to get the baby out within 24 hours, so I put an overnight pad on, get dressed, head downstairs and upload the files I’ve been working on so that a coworker can take over the project. I email my teams that I’m heading to the hospital, call the doctor’s office, call Jrex, load the car and head out.

People had been warning us to have our bags packed. I’d sort-of done a bag for myself and one for the baby, but I was missing a bunch of stuff recommended in the birthing class (Depends diapers for one. Ugh.). Fortunately, I HAD installed the car seat base. So, my pioneer life/Amish pregnancy continued as I drove myself to the hospital. Since I wasn’t having any contractions, it was much less harrowing (or studly) than it sounds.

Jrex joined me in triage where they figured out it WAS my water breaking and admitted me. My fabulous OB met us in the room and inserted a device with meds that would help soften my cervix. There’s a scale for how inducible a woman is, they prefer to give Pitocin when she’s at 8 and I was at 2 (out of 10). The med would stay in for 12 hours and then, pending the result, they’d start the Pitocin at 4 AM. I started contractions around midnight: I could sleep around them, wake for them and then go back to sleep. By 4 AM I was 1 cm dilated, so a much better candidate for the induction.

I’d told the doctor I wanted to try natural, but I also knew that Pitocin induced labor would be fairly intense, so wasn’t holding natural childbirth too tightly.

With the Pitocin, at first I was able to geek out and use the contraction counter app on my phone to help. It was comforting to know I was at 30 seconds of the pain wave with only another 30-45 seconds to go. At first I lay in the hospital bed, but then they brought me a ‘birthing ball’ (i.e. a balance ball). It helped to be able to rock during the contraction. Of course, NEXT Monday was the birthing class on breathing, but I made something up that seemed to be helpful. Eventually the contractions were coming every 3 minutes for a minute long. I actually was falling completely asleep between each one, which was a little freaky given that I sat on a balance ball with my arms wrapped around a pillow on the bed. I had them switch the hospital bed to a birthing stool formation. Sitting in that meant that sleeping was easier between the contraction, but more painful during.

During the contraction, I kept thinking of things I wanted to tell Jrex, but then I’d fall asleep the instant the contraction finished. Eventually I was able to get out that if I was less than 4 cm when the Dr arrived to check me, I wanted drugs. I couldn’t imagine hours and hours of the pain wave.

Poor Dr N arrived to check me at 10:30 AM. He had to wait to do the check when I was between contractions. At that point, I had NO restraint in me and I exclaimed, “Ow, ow, OW!” the whole time he was checking me. When he was done he pronounced me completely effaced, but only two cm dilated. Without censor or care, I blurted out, “Fuck that! I want the epidural!” They all burst out laughing.

Within five minutes the doctor with his beautiful drugs rescued me and I fell asleep.

A few hours later, I was able to chat on the phone with my sister and send out text updates. A resident checked me at 3:30 PM and I was at 7 cm. Dr N arrived at 5 pm, found me at 10 cm and declared it was time to push. He left me with Jrex and our nurse. At 5:20 or so, they each grabbed a leg and helped coach me through pushing through the contraction. Jrex was awesome about having his arm completely behind my back and forcing me into a strong crunch position. I think it’s to his credit that after only an hour, Dr N and half the hospital were back in the room for the catch.

I believe my famous last words when I saw the purple cone-head child emerge were, “Look, Jrex, it’s a person!” The baby’s head was so big that his cone-head actually had a bend in it! They put him on me to say hello while Jrex cut the cord. Then the nurses and Jrex took the baby over to a warming station to clean him up while Dr N and a resident stitched up my 2nd degree tear (which was NOT bad for such a big headed baby).

When they brought the munchkin back and most people had cleared the room, I tried to nurse. Feeling a bit like a little kid who puts a doll to her chest, I went through the motions I’d seen in the videos, and to my shock, it seemed to work! He latched on really well and seemed to get a good drink from both sides.

We arrived upstairs at 7:30 pm. and the beginning of ‘your life will never be the same’ began!

It’s now Saturday morning and we’ll head home soon. My sister arrives this afternoon for a week (I’m very excited to hang out with her during this transitional week. She’s got lots of practical wisdom and is also a lot of fun. The next immediate adventure is introducing the baby to the dog!

How can you help? I need a name to use on the blog for the baby! Any suggestions?