12.02.2014

milk army

Having a tiny person apparently interferes with blogging time. I have zero regrets, however.

To summarize the past 2-1/2 months [wow, how has it already been that long and, also, how in the world has it only been 2-1/2 months?!], there have been hours upon hours of diaper changes and nursing and dark room pacing and Away in a Manger humming. It has flown by and also crawled by. Each day is a lot like the last and often it is hard to keep track of what day of the month it is or even what day of the week it is. Days and dates don't matter much anymore as Lucas doesn't care for such things. Every day is a weekend filled with diapers and milk and naps. Lucas has quite the easy life, even if he isn't aware of it.

It is still a bit weird to me how each day feels completely filled but then at the end of the day I can't think of anything significant that I've accomplished, other than keeping a tiny person alive and semi-satisfied with life. Ah. Life is exactly how I have always imagined it.

Growing a person inside of me was neat. It was pretty crazy feeling this thing get bigger and bigger as each week passed. But, for all I knew, it could have just as well been the consumption of an odd burrito at week 17. And at week 22, it could have just been a schizophrenic goldfish. And at week 27, it could have just been a disturbingly large tumor. And at week 34, it could have just been an angry alien that had somehow been implanted inside of my stomach... Ok, fine, I knew it really wasn't any of those things. I knew it was a baby growing inside of me, but the ridiculous part of me insisted that I couldn't really know until he decided to poke his head out [literally].

But what is possibly even neater than growing a person inside of me is growing a person outside of me. Seriously. It is fascinating. This boy o' mine just had his 2-month checkup and he was a shade over 2 feet and weighed nearly 15.5 pounds. Now, here's the simple math: He was born a little over 7.5 pounds, so he is twice as fat now [I use the fat description in the absolute most loving/adoring/proud way, promise]. And the only thing this boy has consumed to make 7.5 pounds more of person is milk. And I am the milk factory. I eat things. I make milk. He drinks the milk. And he grows more person. He gets fatter. He gets longer. He gets more little-person-like. All from milk. This shouldn't seem weird or surprising, but it is endlessly fascinating to me. My brain equates it to a groundbreaking perpetual motion machine or some miraculous scientific discovery. We could make an entire army from MILK. People, a milk army. I have the proof, the prototype - he is slurping away the remnants of his last milk infusion [from his fists no less] at my feet at this very moment.

Each week brings something new with this kid. I would venture to say something new happens each day, but like I mentioned earlier, most weeks feel like one giant day and it is hard to differentiate between Things That Occurred Today and Things That Seemed to Have Occurred Today. The past week and a half or so has brought on voluntary smiling and giggling. It is pretty much the best thing in the world. I don't mean a lucky smile that you happen to catch on his face or a small upturned mouth kind of smile. I mean a giant, mouth wide open, eyes crinkling, head thrown back kind of smile that I can cause almost on demand [as long as he isn't cranky]. It makes my insides feel like exploding and all I can think about is how much I love, love, love being a mom.

I won't deny it - life is definitely still all about Lucas these days. But we do have other exciting things going on as well that shouldn't be overlooked. For instance, Jason has applied for nearly 60 faculty positions at schools in an entertaining geographic distribution. And the annual Christmas tree chopping adventure will be happening soon. The tiniest of lumberjacks will be accompanying us this year but, sadly, infant-sized hatchets are either not manufactured or greatly frowned upon in the US as we cannot find one. Thanksgiving was delicious as usual, and my mashed potatoes were appropriately mushroom-gravy-ed up. We had our first snow of the season, though it didn't last very long and was not epic enough to warrant bringing Lucas out. And lastly, tonight we are partying it up hard with some Red Robin as today marked Jason's last teaching day of the semester. Woop! He is such an amazing husband and daddy, I can't even begin to give him enough credit and gratitude. He is, hands down, the greatest thing on two legs.

Life is grand and sleepy and pee-filled. I couldn't ask for more. God is good.

Love. Exploding. Everywhere.

10.08.2014

literary bookends

The difference between the beginning of September and the beginning of October is like night and day.

I am no longer being rolled out of bed. Instead, I am now constantly [and unsuccessfully] trying to engage my seemingly non-existent abdominal muscles. I am no longer making the hard decision of "Should I or should I not drink this entire bottle of water before bedtime?" Instead, I am now enjoying not having to frequent every gross public restroom I see and endlessly amazed at my bladder's new capacity [so.much.room!]. I am no longer staring at my stomach wondering, wondering, what in the world a tiny Sharayson will look like and how in the world can something so tiny have such ferocious little kicks. Instead, I am now staring [constantly, all the time, 24/7] at this "ohmygosh, he's a real person" person and wondering, wondering, how in the world he ever fit inside of me, much less came out.

Ultimately, I am no longer pregnant. Instead, I am now a mom - a mom to an absolutely beautiful, Asian-eyed little boy. Unspeakable joy.

Sometimes you just need to take a moment and think about the goodness of God. The past 9 months have contained so many reasons to be extremely grateful, humbled, and awed. There were so many things, so many moments, so many fears/worries, that could have completely altered the course of this pregnancy, but every single thing worked out for good. God is in control became my mantra. Trust Me was the answer I received to every prayer I prayed. And while I know it would seem much more significant if I had had to remain strong through a pregnancy filled with scary diagnoses, unwanted interventions, or even just a persistent stream of annoying pregnancy side effects, I do not discount my inner journey in the least. I feel hugely accomplished and undeservedly blessed.

I still greatly, greatly dislike all things medical. Deciding to finally try to get pregnant [and not the actual state of being pregnant or actually having a baby] will probably forever remain in the Top 3 Scariest Things I Have Ever or Will Ever Do [the other 2 spots on this list are currently vacant]. But purely through the grace and mercy of God, I was given a picture perfect pregnancy and have a ridiculously precious little boy to prove it. The goodness of God is overwhelming. He obliterated every single fear and rendered every single worry pointless.

We got pregnant right when we decided to try for it. No abnormal blood work. All fingers, toes, and important organs seen and accounted for on the anatomy scan. No gestational diabetes. No group B strep. No induction, C-section, or hospital intervention. Due date turned out to be spot on, 40 weeks on the nose. No IVs, antibiotics, or needles involved. No drawn out labor. No tearing, no stitches. Perfectly healthy and alert baby, all natural and 100% USDA certified Organic. Yes, I know God made my body to be able to do this whole Grow a Person thing, but it is an entirely different thing to actually experience my body doing this whole Grow a Person thing and doing it like a pro.

God is beyond good and I have two chubby cheeks to repeatedly kiss to prove it.

So. Jason took care of the factual telling of the grand event in his last post, which pleases me quite a bit as now I don't have to worry about remembering all of the little details of the timeline and such and can just focus my memories on the probably-less-accurate-but-more-noteworthy-to-my-experience details. I will attempt to stem the rambling and rabbit-holey-ness of my mentionables by bullet-pointing [success rate: 17%?].
  • If I loved Jason an 11 before, I now love him a 19, and counting. Like the Duggars. [I have never seen the show so I have no idea why I used that reference... maybe since I saw it whilst browsing on Netflix?] He is a Man among men. There are no words to adequately describe his love or selflessness. None. I have never been more happy to have lost a rock-skipping bet all those years ago...
  • If I ever ask a pregnant someone if she's had any contractions and if she replies, "Not that I know of," I now know the response I will not give:  "Oh, you'd know it if you had any." Because there's always that off chance that she is as naive, uninformed, and clueless as I was and truly will not know if she has experienced a labor contraction. Sigh. For some reason, I was expecting contractions to be sharp pains radiating across my tightening stomach/uterus. I did not expect them to just be [by the active labor stage] super, super, super intense aches across my lower back. It was weird. I had been all prepared to give myself the "these pains are normal and are not doing some kind of irreparable damage to my insides" spiel, but I never had to actually give myself the talking to since the pains I was expecting never actually happened. I don't know if it makes any sense but since contractions ended up being achy [like waking up from a nap and realizing you've slept in a pretzel-like position for three hours. but x10] instead of sharp pains [like a knife wound or a broken bone or punching through a window pane (all of which, I admit, I have never experienced, so I could also be wrong about my perceptions of them as well)], contractions were much less scary or intimidating than I feel like they could have been. Pains can be an indication that something is actively hurting you while aches are just a passing sensation. At least, that's how my brain categorized things, and it made the contractions much, much easier to handle mentally. Possible drawback to backache contractions: I was never fully convinced [until Lucas had basically arrived] that the contractions were actually accomplishing anything. The visual of a contracting uterus squeezing the baby on down did not really fit with what I was feeling so it was hard for my brain to accept that the same results were happening with the backaches.
  • Another couple came in to the Birth Center a little while after we arrived. The news that their baby had arrived while I was finally getting to the pushing stage did not make me a happy camper. I remember vaguely hearing the midwife mention it and feeling a brief thundercloud moment and momentary episode of Life's Not Fair followed by a surge of "I don't care if you don't think it's pushing time yet, I'm getting this baby out of me now" rebellion. Interesting side note: This unintentionally infuriating couple had a water birth. Jason and I had been considering doing a water birth but finally decided I might not like being in warm water for any length of time [I am a Grumpy Gus when I feel overheated, which happens at a much lower temperature than normal people] and chose to pass on the experience. Well, as it turned out, this couple's first choice was [obviously] to have a water birth and if we had chosen to try it ourselves, they wouldn't have been able to since the water birth room is a First Come First Served situation and we had arrived first. So, you're welcome, Unintentionally Infuriating Couple. Consider the water birth suite my Welcome to Parenthood gift to you.
  • Pushing a human into the breathing world is absolutely exhausting. The last time I had this level of world-slowing, you-could-not-pay-me-to-keep-my-eyes-open sleepiness was the semester I took History of Quantitative Thought at ORU. So, Dr. Vickery and Babylonian mathematics apparently equals labor? ...moving on. I know a huge part of my tiredness was just sleepiness from having been up, more or less, since 4am the day before. But the real exhaustion set in once the pushing started. I had no idea how tiring it would be to get something the short distance from my stomach to the outside world. Whew. Luckily, and also interestingly [to me], once pushing started, the contractions no longer ached or hurt in any way. At all. It was quite handy and unexpected. Annoyingly though, contractions started spacing out during the pushing phase and I felt super impatient having to wait for each one.
  • The moment Jason told me he may have just seen part of Lucas's head, it was like a switch was flipped in my brain. Instead of intermittent thoughts of "Is this pushing even doing anything? Clearly this could go on for hours - let's just take a nap break and pick this thing back up in an hour or so," I immediately felt as if the work was over, the deed was done, Lucas was out of the oven. The feelings of accomplishment that are known to come when it's all said and done started at the moment Jason's breathless voice announced the possible sighting of Lucas. I have no idea how much time passed between the initial sighting and the actual birth, but it didn't even matter anymore. In my head, it was all over, done, accomplished - Lucas was practically in my arms. It made that last bit of pushing and waiting and pushing and waiting a bowl of peas [that is, easy peasy].
  • As soon as I had Lucas in my arms, my sleepiness and exhaustion disappeared completely. I know, I know, this shouldn't have surprised me. But it did. Because I had never before felt this level of exhaustion, ever. And for it to just suddenly up and disappear at the drop of a hat [and by "hat" I mean "Lucas" and by "drop" I mean "NO, I DID NOT DROP MY BABY!"]... it is just another thing to add to my ever lengthening list of Things That Astound Me, somewhere between How Are These Toes So Tiny and My Soup Has Alphabets In It. So perhaps the way to trick your body into thinking it has had hours upon hours of sleep is to birth a person..? Hm, seems counterintuitive.
  • Other odd discoveries that probably shouldn't have been odd to discover or that possibly are only odd-ened by my sleep-deprived memory of them:
    • When your water breaks? It's warm. Like chicken noodle soup that has been left on the counter for fifteen minutes. But messier. And without the poultry involvement.
    • You most certainly can fall asleep in between contractions. But when the contractions are about a minute or so apart, it's less like falling asleep and more like blacking out for 10 seconds. Surprisingly enjoyable.
    • The umbilical cord resembles a fat rice noodle. Speaking of, I seriously want some sushi. Please. Also, I felt a slight sense of winning-ness that I convinced Jason to cut the cord. Even if it did take him two tries. 
    • Placenta talk. [Close your eyes and skip the next few sentences if you are easily weirded/grossed out by placenta-y topics. Fair warning. Look away now. Now.] 
      • You know what would make a kinda-creepy-but-also-kinda-friendly-looking video game character? A placenta. It's so blobular. And gigantic. And epically "Whoa, that's super cool... and gross." How do you patent a potential video game character..? 
      • "Delivering" the placenta was actually... pleasant? I suppose after an entire person has been pushed out of you, having a large, blobby, pleasingly smooth and slippery bag of gloopiness come out was actually rather soothing. TMI? Psh. My blog, my choice of gross topics. Ok, fine. I'm done. 
      • Why, no, I do not have any epic plans in store for my placenta. Why, yes, you may do whatever you wish with it. I can always grow another one if I ever change my mind.
      • I successfully resisted the urge to knead and toss the placenta like a giant mound of pizza dough. I now slightly regret the lost opportunity. 
    • It may sound silly, but I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I wanted to wear during and after labor and delivery. I wanted something convenient, comfortable, and as "modest" as possible and something that I wouldn't mind getting gross. You know what the ideal labor and delivery outfit turned out to be? A pair of I-Don't-Even-Care's and a matching Mrrgl-Dorf top. It was an unbelievably insignificant detail. 
    • The shortness of breath that came after delivery was super weird. I hadn't known to expect it at all, so it was a complete surprise. I would have thought that all of the new space in my torso would produce the opposite of shortness of breath [which would be... longness of breath? many a breaths? smorgasbord of breaths?] as my lungs could theoretically expand to their normal capacity once again [though oddly enough, I never really experienced any major change in my ability to breath while I was pregnant... just moments here or there]. But just the short walk to the bathroom [to take a ridiculously refreshing shower] a couple hours after Lucas arrived made me hilariously out of breath. My chest felt hollow and concave and I needed to take several breaks from rinsing my hair to just sit [there was a shower chair!] and catch my breath. I found it immensely entertaining.
    • The answer is 15 pounds. The question is, "How much weight will I lose after I give birth to Lucas?" Only 10 more to go.
    • I attempted to flex my abdominal muscles once we got home that day. What a laugh. No matter how much I "flexed" and how deep I poked into my belly, there was just nothing there. At all. It felt like digging for gold in a bowlful of jello. I guess that is what happens when you stop using your muscles for months upon months. Luckily, at 3.5 weeks postpartum, I feel like I have finally stopped looking 5 months pregnant and I can now feel a smidgen of something when I flex my abdomen. It is either the beginning of my resurrected muscles or the massive amounts of food that I cannot stop inhaling [seriously, it's ridiculous how often my body screams for food now]. Either way, it's a win?
I'm pretty sure I could just keep adding on more and more random facts and thoughts and first time mom birthing revelations, but this post is quickly getting out of hand in length and relevance so I should quit while I'm barely behind. I'm sure if anything of memorable import comes to mind, I'll jot it down in another post, along with piles upon piles of New Motherhood Awesome Moments [like the completely involuntary but still heart-stoppingly adorable smiles that Lucas's mouth will drift into while he's sleeping... gah].

So far, being Lucas's mom has been an awe-inspiring, bodily fluid filled, giggly and grumpily sleep deprived, and unbelievably humbling experience. Every day I look at him and wonder how in the world Jason and I made this tiny perfect person from scratch. And then I remember... We didn't really, we were just the instruments that God used, and then it all makes sense. He is the ultimate creator, and I am so incredibly blessed that He has entrusted us with His newest and most wonderful creation of all. 

Dear Lucas,

I cannot even describe how much I love you. Every sigh you sigh, every breath you breathe, every diaper you dirty... It feels miraculous. You are perfect in every way. You have somehow gotten your tiny little hands securely around my heart, and you're squeezing, constantly squeezing, until sometimes I feel as though I cannot breathe and I don't even care. 

All I want is to make you happy. I know this won't always be possible, so let's try this instead: All I want is for you to know that you are loved beyond measure. I may not always be able to give you immediate happiness, but know that this is not a reflection of how much I love you. You are my baby boy and nothing, absolutely nothing, can make me stop loving you. It is an impossibility. You have stolen my heart - aorta, left ventricle, and tricuspid valve [which is more accurate than "hook, line, and sinker"].

I cannot decide if you are the wonderful epilogue to our previously excellent life or the beautiful prologue to the rest of our forever. I feel as though you are somehow both and so, so, so much more. We are so excited to share our lives with you, little guy. We are entering the beautiful times of autumn-y goodness, with Thanksgiving and Christmas and winter wonderland right around the corner. You have arrived at just the right time to share in our favorite time of year [you continue to show impeccable timing, which is quite pleasing]. Adventures await us!

I love you and your ever growing belly.



PS. I am a big fan of our blog's name change. Two thumbs up.

9.22.2014

how it happened

Friday, September 12
Contractions started in the evening, but we didn't know they were contractions. Sharayah just said she was having funny feelings. As we went to bed we timed them and found they were regular (about 30 seconds every 9 or 10 minutes), but since everyone said, adamantly, "you'll know they're contractions when you feel them," we weren't sure. There was a lot of "well what else could they be?", but how can you be sure when you've never had contractions and everyone says you'll definitely know from feeling them? At any rate, they were far apart and not too bothersome, so we went to bed.

Saturday, September 13
Sharayah was woken up at 4 am by contractions. Finally at 6 am she woke me up to let me know. At that point I think we were fairly confident (or at least I was) that they were definitely contractions. Forget what everyone said, you can have contractions and not know what they are. They were only slightly closer together and still about 30 seconds long, but they were intense enough to be uncomfortable, not just strange. For most of the morning and afternoon, they stayed about the same. We knew this was at least early labor, but weren't sure if active labor would be starting any time soon - some people have this early stage for a week, ugh. We relaxed throughout the day. Had some snacks. Tried to finalize packing our bag (that was actually a trick to get Lucas to come sooner - if the bag wasn't packed, maybe he would come sooner to teach us a lesson).

At some point in the early afternoon Sharayah managed a nap. My parents sent out a group text to us and my siblings (and their wives) about everyone sending in guesses on when Lucas would be born and what he would weigh. We stayed pretty quiet on that front. The earliest anyone guessed was the 16th, so I guess we didn't spoil it by accidentally dropping hints. We watched some of Sharayah's favorite Friends episodes (at least, episodes that at the time came to her mind as ones she thought were funny). We saw the one with the moo point, bamboozled, the pyramid game show, and the one where Joey speaks French (or, more accurately, doesn't speak French). Apparently, Joey being a dope is funny to laboring Sharayah. And we waited to see if the contractions would reach that critical point (1 minute long, 5 minutes apart) where it's time to call the birth center.

Finally, around 8:30 pm, they had been 5 minutes apart for some time but were still only about 45 seconds long. We decided to call in. The midwife thought perhaps they were actually longer (since we stopped counting when the intensity started to decrease, rather than when it was completely over), but told us that it may or may not be that night, so we should just relax, get plenty of rest, and call if they get a lot closer. At least she confirmed for us that this was most likely actual labor, and we'd probably see active labor that night or the next day. She told us to take a break from timing contractions until they seemed closer or longer.

Some time around 10 pm, while things seemed to be the same, we went to bed and put on Muppet Christmas Carol. We still weren't sure whether we'd be sleeping through the night or not. At some point during the movie we fell asleep. I woke up to Sharayah groggily telling me she thought her water broke. I felt something warm, and for some reason I was surprised. Water was clear (a good sign) and Sharayah got in the shower. We tried to time contractions for a few minutes while she was in there so we'd know how long they were when we called the midwife after the shower. It was tricky. Contractions were suddenly much more intense - I had to help Sharayah stay standing during some contractions. For me it settled in that this was definitely the night. It was pretty late though, so obviously birth would be the next day.

At 11 pm we called in the water breaking and the rate of contractions which were hard to time since she was showering (I think that slowed them down, as well) and we hadn't been keeping track while we were asleep. She said basically that tonight was probably the night but she'd call back in a half hour to get a better read on the timing, or we could call sooner if anything changed. Things started to get blurry and intense. Sharayah needed me to put pressure on her back throughout contractions to make them bearable. I was (probably frantically) gathering everything up so we could leave - we had a few more things to put in the bag, as well as getting the car seat and who knows what else; it seemed like a lot of things to get ready but now I don't remember anything we hadn't already gotten ready. Contractions were getting really close - under 3 minutes apart and always at least a minute long, very close to the final stage of labor - and really intense. Lots of excitement mingled with fear flooded the whole apartment, I think. At some point in there the midwife called and told us to come in. I don't know if she actually waited a half hour. I finally got everything ready to go - at the end Sharayah had to tell me she'd have to do a few contractions on her own while I finished, because it would take too long if I spent over a minute of every 2 minutes helping her through contractions. I got everything in the car and we left. Sharayah was a trooper on the way there. I couldn't help through contractions but she just breathed through them and fell asleep in between.

Sunday, September 14
Shortly after midnight we arrived at the birth center. It took two contractions just to get to the second floor where our birth room was located. I was doing all I could to comfort Sharayah. It was very emotional for me from here on. Up until water breaking, the contractions weren't too uncomfortable, and from water breaking to arriving at the birth center it was a whirlwind of getting things finished and adrenaline and excitement, but from here it was waiting and watching Sharayah fight intense aching pain for 60 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of exhausted rest. When we got to the room, the midwife checked Sharayah's dilation - 7 cm - and said everything looked good and we just needed to wait it out until 10 cm. By 1 am we were in a steady rhythm of breathing through contractions and resting between them. The midwife was impressed by Sharayah's relaxation technique and asked if we'd taken a hypnobirthing class (we hadn't, but out breathing was really good, if I can pat myself on the back for something like breathing).

The hours from 1 to 4 am were incredibly hard. Sharayah was exhausted and just wanted to be done. Progress had been really swift and was suddenly at a stand-still. Several times the midwife checked Sharayah's dilation and thought it was still just a touch under 10 cm, the point where you start pushing. At some point during those 3 hours we walked up and down the stairs to help Lucas move down the pelvis, Sharayah took another shower (during which she slept deeply between contractions) and we continued breathing and waiting. The pain was debilitating for Sharayah, and it was very hard to watch her suffer so much. All I could do was apply pressure to just the right area on her back, breath with her, and give as much contact and soothing words as I could. I found that I really enjoyed her crushing my hands or whatever else she happened to grab during contractions. It made me feel more a part of what was happening. I didn't tell her at the time but she repeatedly rendered my fingers numb. Just to be clear, there's no satire here, I really, truly relished her crushing grip. I only had to ask her once to let up, when she had my thumb at a particularly bad angle and I truly believed it was on the verge of breaking. I waited as long as I could, whispered, "my thumb," and she let up a little. We spent a lot of time with Sharayah propped up on her side on the bed and me beside the bed/half in the bed supporting her. I never really felt tired, but I could see the fatigue wearing Sharayah further and further down. I comforted her and prayed with her and waited with her. I told her we were almost there, and we'd see Lucas soon, and we could finally hold him and see if he had lots of hair and find out whose eyes he had.

Not long after 4 am, it was finally time to push. The midwife didn't think it would be too long from there, since Lucas's head was so low already. In many ways the pushing stage was a relief - the waiting was finally over, and we knew this was the last stage we'd have to go through. Still, Sharayah was already more tired than I've ever seen anyone, and at the end of each push she seemed ready to pass out. She asked a lot how much more she'd have to do. She was incredibly brave and pushed again every time she was asked, every time there was a contraction. Eventually I could see the top of Lucas's head. I thought, just maybe, I could see hair. After an undefinable amount of time, after pushing and waiting and praying and pushing and waiting and praying, enough of his head was out that he clearly had a whole bushy head of hair. This might seem insignificant to many, but it was just one of those things Sharayah had been hoping for. She had dreams where Lucas was born bald and she was devastated (in the dream) about it. Here, now, finally, I could give her some good news to carry her through. He's really here. He's coming. I can see his head. And he has hair. Lots of hair. Beautiful black hair, just like his mom's. She actually smiled when she heard me say it.

I've never seen anyone show more resolve in anything than when I watched Sharayah give birth to Lucas. She so wanted to stop, to rest, for it to be over, for Lucas to be there and in her arms, but she just kept going and going. I've never been more proud of anyone than of Sharayah for pressing on and getting through that labor. When we got to the end, in my memory the amount of time between that final moment when his head was out and I could see his ears and (closed) eyes and mouth and nose to the time they told me to cut the cord and put Lucas in Sharayah's arms was under a minute. I'm sure it was longer than that, but that's all I can remember. He was finally here, the great struggle was over. I never got why the shoulders are easier than the head, but once his head was out he really just slid right out. Out came Lucas at 5:46 am. I don't remember why it came up, but I never went to the bathroom from the time Sharayah's water broke to the time Lucas was born. I just didn't want to leave Sharayah alone. Once Lucas was out, he breathed immediately - not cried, just breathed - and he was beautiful and he didn't look like a worm or a prune or anything, he was just pink all the way to his hands and feet and he got a perfect 10 on his Apgar. They wrapped him up and gave him to Sharayah. We just looked at him for a month or so, or maybe an hour, or a year, and he fed at some point, and they came back and weighed him (7 pounds, 10 ounces) and did other checks of various things, and we just sat with him. Around 12 pm we went home, having eaten and gotten paperwork and done who knows what else. I don't know how we looked at him for so long in only 6 hours, but we did. At that point we had only slept a few hours since waking up on Friday morning, so we were completely exhausted and elated and going home with our own little guy who was somehow our child.

So, approximately 36 hours after the first contraction, just under 7 hours after Sharayah's water broke, and after just over an hour and a half of pushing, we finally had our little miracle. So far as we can tell after knowing him for a week, he's perfect in every measurable way.

Dear Lucas,
The time has come, and now everyone can pronounce your name correctly. Apparently kpluBlet is not as straightforward as your mom and I thought. This past week of getting to know you has been the most amazing time. Being your dad is the coolest thing I've ever been, for sure. Your tiny little shining eyes, just like your mom's, are so easy to stare into for ages.
I love you like 10 pounds of bricks (you'll have to get used to the weird love metaphors from your mom and me). This is the least sleep I've ever gotten in a week, and I don't even care. You're so loved. We don't even know what to do with ourselves, we love you so much. We can't wait to learn everything about you for years and years.
Love,
Dad

9.02.2014

a pitter patter kind of month

*insert a paragraph of ramblings about how in the world did September arrive already*

Many things will happen in September. Many. At some undetermined time in the future, there will suddenly be many more aunts and uncles and grandmothers and grandfathers and most likely one particularly grumpy feline. As if by magic. Magic, I tell you. And the weirdest part about it? The simultaneous appearance of all of these new-status-wielding people will be solely caused by one tiny little person. Who knew a kpluBlet could be so powerful? His Asian powers are already coming into play...

September:  The month of the pitter patters.

I suppose we have reached the infamous waiting game point of pregnancy. I am generally not very good at the waiting game, but I think it will be worth it this time. I am doing my very best to just rest in the fact that our little mister will come on the day he is supposed to come. It is surprisingly comforting to only let myself dwell on the thought that God already knows the kpluBlet's birthday. Down to the very second. It isn't something I need to worry about or be anxious about; the birth day is already ideally set and we just have to wait for the surprise party announcement. Yep, it may sound a bit cheesy, but sometimes the truth is in the [smoked gouda] cheese. Or... something.

With the days ticking down until the Big Day [which sadly did not happen on Labor Day, as awesome as that would have been... (we clearly did not plan this correctly)], we have been going over the "Are we ready for him?" checklist. One of the last remaining to-do's is pack the bag we'll be bringing with us to the birth center. I have read multiple lists of expert-recommended items to include in this important bag. I have read more than a few "Here is what been-there-done-that moms highly suggest you remember to bring" lists. I have gone over the list of things that the birth center thinks are vital to a good birthing experience. So, thus armed, one would think that packing this seemingly critical-to-all-of-humanity bag would be a piece of cake, something we could whip up in an hour or so and then sit back on the couch completely confident that we are ready for this baby.

But no. That is apparently not how we roll.

I like to think that our procrastination with this last task is actually going to encourage the arrival of the kpluBlet. You know how it sometimes goes:  When you're least prepared, it's go time. So if we have absolutely nothing inside of our duffel bag, then... the little guy should show up out of the blue, no? I'm not sure if this plan will be entirely effective as we do have most of the bag's potential contents strewn about the apartment, so packing it all up shouldn't be too much of a hassle, and perhaps the kpluBlet is on to us and won't fall for the fake procrastination. Hm... He may already be wearing his tiny smartie pants.

As this may very well be the last post I write before I become officially momma-fied, I suppose now is as good a time as any to reflect on what it has been like growing a person. It is a little weird how normal it has felt for the majority of the time. I am sure a lot of the normalcy can be attributed to how symptom-free this pregnancy has been, but I also think it has felt so normal simply because it is so normal.

I used to think the craziest thing a person's body could do was see underwater or form the chasm that is a bellybutton [a runner up in the crazy category would be how, no matter how hard I stare at and command them, the three middle toes on my feet refuse to move independently of the big and little toes]. But now, the growing of this person inside of me has, by far, topped the list of remarkable. It is mind boggling and awe inspiring and... normal. Every single time I feel this round little butt jutting up and out of the top of my sometimes hilariously asymmetrical abdomen, I am amazed. Every time I can literally feel the outline of a tiny limb trying to shove its way out of my side, I become as excited as if it was the very first time. But at the same time, it feels completely normal.

A good comparison example would be when I rode a horse for the first time. It was something I had wanted to do for years upon years. It was new and exciting and the cause of a bit of apprehension. What if I wasn't good at it? What if something tragic happened? What if it didn't live up to my expectations for it? And yet... as soon as I was on top of Frosty, everything was just... right. And normal. and natural, and as exhilarating as I had ever imagined it to be.

And that is basically what being pregnant has been like. It somehow feels completely normal and natural and yet also has this ever-present element of "Whoa, this is the craziest, most miraculous thing ever." I can only imagine these feelings will be magnified by quite a few degrees when the kpluBlet finally comes out to meet us in person. Breathtakingly miraculous, yet wholly natural and normal and right. My brain cannot quite grasp how this works, but since when has it ever been able to fully fathom the complexities of God's design?

I cannot wait to hold my little buddy.

Anyway, all baby-ness aside, September also marks the arrival of... FOOTBALL. May the nail biting and smack talking commence. [And no, college football does not count. Come on, son!] We have subscribed once again to NFL's Game Rewind and I think it would be absolutely fantastic to go into labor on a Monday, which is when Game Rewind allows us to watch Sunday's games, so I can labor to the background noise of grunting men in tight pants and the familiar sounds of Peyton's "Omaha!" We shall see.

Dear Tiny Little Half-Asian kpluBlet,

If I could hold my breath until you arrive, I would. That is how excited I am by your closeness. We are so close to meeting face to face. I may as well warn you now:  Your dad and I are nose kissers. Noses are just perfect places to kiss. So ready yourself, little one, your button nose will not escape. No amount of face crinkling will help you.

Thank you for being my little boy.

Come and greet us, little guy.

Why, no, this is not at all how I picture the kpluBlet... Of course not... That would be... ridiculous.

8.25.2014

heads or tails?

So we went in for our 36ish week visit this past week, and at that point they check to see whether the baby is head down or not. In case it's not obvious, you really want the baby to be head down, so they come out head first. They've been checking just by feeling Sharayah's belly for the last several visits, but this was the more official check. Every time they've checked, they've said he was very obviously head down. They tried to show us, but we couldn't feel any difference. From the outside, I guess a baby head feels the same to us as a baby butt. Anyway, he was always head down, at least as far as they could tell by that method. The last time they checked before 36 weeks, it was a little harder for them to tell (usually it was instantly), but they eventually decided that, yes, he still felt like he was head down.

Now we come to the 36 week visit. At this point they have to do a more thorough check, and if he's not head down then you have to talk options. Ultimately, if he's not head down by labor time, you can't deliver at the birth center (breach is not low risk). So, first they check like they always do, by feeling Sharayah's belly. Very strangely, he seemed to be butt down. He was too wide at the bottom for it to be his head, and they thought they felt a head up. More evidence from his heartbeat, which was much easier to hear around her bellybutton. This was not good. He was supposed to be head down, and they said it was very rare for a first baby to flip after being head down. They were starting to talk options for trying to get him to flip. She thought maybe it was his shoulders down below and his head was too far down to feel from the belly, but the heartbeat seemed to be against that theory. Heartbeats are not in the butt.

Well, of course, feeling the belly isn't perfect. They still have to check the other way (you don't want to know). And, thankfully, using the more reliable way, they were 99% sure he was head down. He had just lowered enough that his shoulders were all they could feel through Sharayah's belly. I guess he's getting prepped to come meet us. Of course, the heartbeat was still odd (hence 99% instead of 100%), so they sent us for an ultrasound just in case.

We like ultrasounds. You can barely see anything and it's still just the coolest thing ever. Every tiny little glimpse of him is amazing. You spend most of the time just looking at black and white blobbiness, but there's tiny little moments where you can see he's a baby, and he's in there, and he's your baby, and oh there he was again, oh man, that was a foot, and look at his fingers! He has a nose!

Yes. So, we like those. Not to mention we got immediate, definite confirmation that he's head down, ready to go. *hoof*

From here on, it's just a waiting game. He's now officially allowed to be born, but it could be several more weeks. It's any-day-now-but-probably-not-for-a-while. So we're getting our last few ducks in a row and waiting for that awesome day.

I have made my first Dad joke:
Q: What does it sound like when a duck barks?
A: QUACK!

I'll let you know how he likes it.

Dear tiny little half-Asian kpluBlet,
We're getting more ready for your arrival all the time. We got all your clothes washed and sorted. Your socks are seriously really small. Are your feet really that little? The socks are pretty cozy so I think you'll like them. Warm feet are happy feet.
I got to see you again! It was pretty cool. You have your mom's wavy lines. I'm glad you've got your head down and bottom up. But this reminds me of a talk we need to have, and now seems to be the appropriate time. We had to talk about this eventually, but now that we know your bottom's up... In the words of Homestar Runner, "When someone says 'What's up?', don't tell them about your butt."
Love,
Dad

8.18.2014

the 'shroomiest of moods

So, I think we have reached the point where it is safe to declare that Pregnancy Food Cravings is yet another thing I apparently will not be experiencing with the growing of this kpluBlet. The jokes of "...who knows? Pregnancy may make you crave bacon!" can officially be put to rest. [Not even a tiny little human can persuade me to eat a 4-legged animal. Whew!]

I still like all of the same foods I have always liked. I have not had even one abnormal food desire [mustard and sauerkraut sandwiches are "normal" pre-pregnancy cravings for me]. I consume about the same portion size as always. I suppose the only thing that may have changed is the amount of time that passes between the moment I finish one meal and the moment that I begin anticipating my next meal. Pre-pregnancy, this amount of time would fluctuate between one to three hours, with the exception of breakfast anticipations which [logically] could begin at bedtime the night before. Now, however, I find myself finishing second breakfast, digesting it for about 10 minutes, and then feeling the tendrils of excitement for elevensies nearly immediately. It's not that my stomach is immediately hungry, but my mouth/brain is. You know how it is. Luckily, with the growth of this tiny person taking up all kinds of space in my normal food storage area, I am forced to wait an appropriate amount of time before consuming my next meal just for comfort's sake. Truth:  There is a finite amount of space inside of my torso.

Anyway, so yes, general desire for food has increased, but room for said food and/or strong desires for specific foods have sadly not been present. I say sadly because I was actually looking forward to experiencing the stereotypical "Husband, I don't care that it is 3 a.m. Go fetch me wasabi-flavored cheerios!" phenomenon. It sounded like fun. Sigh. I suppose I will have to settle instead for these strong feelings of food enjoyment, which is to what I attribute my constant thoughts of food: Everything just tastes delicious, so I want lots of it allthetime allthetime! It makes grocery shopping quite a task as Jason has to guide me through Costco and try to keep me from buying one of every new product. He's a talented man.

With the end of August in sight, and Fall right around the corner, and holiday season excitement just peeking above the horizon, and Food Brain on full steam ahead, naturally I have been constantly thinking about Thanksgiving and all of the tastiness that comes on that grand day. Mashed potatoes, crunchy stuffing, melty corn, green been casserole, sweet potatoes, tofu salad, wasabi-ed sushi, banana nut bread, fried rice with bean sprouts, jalapeno cornbread, lentil stew, flaky potpie... Huh, I think I accidentally got off the Thanksgiving Bus and ended up in Sharayah's Food Wonderland. My pregnant self apologizes. ANYway, Thanksgiving foods have been on the brain. And out of nowhere, I realized what was missing from my ideal Thanksgiving spread: 'Shroom Gravy Goodness.

Now, I know absolutely nothing about normal gravy. I don't know what it is. I don't know what is in it. I don't know how it is made. I don't think I could ever identify the taste. It's one of those things that actually makes me reflexively crinkle my nose when asked if I want it, even though it has never been a nose-crinkling experience whenever I have tried versions of it. At Thanksgiving, it is put into the same category as the turkey: I will probably try some, but I could take it or leave it. My mouth and stomach's happiness would not be drastically affected if it was not on the table.

But. Mushroom gravy. Now that, that, is another story. Despite not having had it for years, as soon as I realized what was missing in my life, it was all I could think about. The mouth watering could not be contained until the 'shrooms were gravy-ed. The 'shrooms had to be gravy-ed NOW.

As mentioned earlier, I had zero inklings about the gravy-ing process. This necessitated some quick skimming of interweb gravy recipes and I was set. Mushrooms were purchased, chopped, and dumped in a pot with a little butter. Onions and garlic were liberally added. Some spoons of flour were thrown in. A couple cups of broth and various dashings of herbs later, I settled down to wait. The apartment filled with the intoxicating smell of Thanksgiving Fungi Heaven. Oh.My.Gravy. I felt like a salivating dog and Jason can attest to my hopping and squeaking. It was intense.

When I get an urge to cook something in particular, it really is pure speculation whether it will come out how I envisioned it to look, smell, and taste as I have an aversion to following recipes. Squinching my eyes and just throwing a hodgepodge of things into a pot is how I prefer to cook, so I realize I'm solely to blame for the less than ideal meals that I have created. They have all, mostly, been completely edible, however, so I feel little need to change my style. I just have to deal with the possibility of being saddened by the chasm between What I Imagined and What Actually Resulted.

But. This mushroom gravy. OhGoodness. My hypercritical self couldn't find one single disappointing thing. It was absolutely delicious. The flavor was perfect; there was even a nice little kick from the cayenne and red pepper flakes that I felt compelled to add towards the end. The consistency was 100% recognizable as gravy. It was exquisite. Yes, one of my concoctions turned out exquisite. I wanted to eat it by the spoonful. I poured it over some baked red potatoes and then slipped into a coma of deliciousness.

Now I believe I will be able to make it to Thanksgiving. My palate has been appeased.

To top off the perfect cooking experience, I have some leftover gravy that I think will go ridiculously well with some ravioli or a nice bowl of rice. Yes, 18 hours later, I am still ecstatic. And I cannot stop thinking about what I will have for dinner. Spoiler:  It will undoubtedly contain mushroom gravy.

I must stop typing about my gravy else it will become my afternoon snack. New topic!

Another reason I am in a particularly exhilarating mood is because.. I am officially on Vacation. Yes, vacation. I transcribed my last report this past Friday. I tipped my figurative hat in the direction of Miami, Florida, and bid farewell to the handful of doctors* whose dictations have made the past few years rather enjoyable work-wise. I shut down my Firefox browser [whilst better than IE, it was still annoying to have to use Firefox for work everyday since my work program didn't support Chrome] for the last time. I closed out my drug reference program and exited the little timer in the bottom left corner of my screen. No longer is my task bar filled with a dozen open applications. It looks a tad lonely with just Chrome and Skype open, but my insides are rejoicing. Vacation has begun.

Yes, I already hear it in my head. The well-meaning laugh and the inevitable remark of "Just wait until the baby comes. I don't think 'vacation' is how you'll describe those first few <period of time>." And, in my head, my response is to chuckle knowingly and remark, "Oh, yes, it is. Trust me."

I'll be honest. I don't really care for the "Just wait until...!" comments. You know the ones. The ones that are given with the good intentions to spare new parents from being surprised by all of the not-so-positive or not-so-happy things that occur when you have kids. The ones that are made to make sure you realize that having a baby may not be as rosy and perfect as you seem to think it will be. It is done out of kindness, I am sure, but I still don't care for them. [I am aware that I am sometimes guilty of doing this kind of comment (about various other topics, not babies/parenting), and I feel this is sometimes why they tend to irk me more than they possibly should. It is a trait I am working to fix.] It may sound rather offensive, but I let 99% of the "Just wait until...!" statements just float in one ear and out the other.

Do I have an unbelievably positive and giddy and perfect view of how life with a kpluBlet will be? Most definitely. Do I have an unquenchable excitement about the plans galore that are in store for this little person? Oh, indubitably. Do I think life will be filled with balloons and exclamation points and bright green pogo sticks? YES.

But I am also 100% cognizant of the flip side of parenthood. Will annoying things come up? Sure. Will many of my plans get derailed? Most likely. Will there be inconveniences and frustrations and sleepless nights and molehills of both founded and unfounded worries? I know better than to assume otherwise. But does this have any kind of meaningful effect on all of the positive, awe-inspiring, squeal-inducing aspects of parenthood? For me, every single negative thing that can be conjured up in a "Just wait until...!" statement doesn't affect even an iota of my outlook on the adventure that is ahead of us, an outlook that I firmly believe is completely realistic and practical.

There are going to be ups and downs, but how is that different from any other part of life? There are going to be feelings of utter elation and utter exhaustion, but who says they have to negate each other? Mistakes will be made, but who cares? In the big picture of things, life will continue to progress as life has always progressed. But instead of my world consisting of two people, there will now be three. It will just make things that much merrier and that much more fulfilling. I'm not expecting an easier life when the kpluBlet comes along, just an even more joy-filled one. When I declare how perfect life will be once the kpluBlet arrives, I 100% believe it. However, my definition of Life Perfecto realistically includes the exhaustion, the frustrations, the mistakes, the inconveniences, and every single one of the poopy messes. I am looking forward to every minute of it. I really am.

So yes, back to the commencement of Vacation. With my last day of work in the books, I am in full-time vacation mode. It is such an incredible feeling to know that vacation will last for the indefinite future. I get to use all of my time in dreaming about and then, in a month or so, living out my life ambition. Yep, being a mom is sure to require some work, but it will be "work" with a purpose. Vacation doesn't have to mean napping all day. Can a vacation consist of climbing a mountain in harsh weather? Can it consist of setting up tents and foraging for food? Can it consist of a grueling task that you have dreamed of conquering your entire life? It can. And mine does. My much anticipated indefinite vacation from work consists of pushing a person into the world and then making his life as joy-filled as possible, even in the midst of cleaning up his poop and him subsequently spitting up on me and not letting me sleep as thanks. It's going to be so much fun. Seriously. I love vacation.

To celebrate the beginning of vacation, we went to Longwood and explored their new meadow area. It was lovely. They've added a couple miles worth of trails through the meadow and it is such a peaceful place to be. It was a gorgeous day and we had a lovely time.

That dimple is the property of the Asian.

Mr. Butterfly posed for me!



So, that's that. Happiness and 'shrooms all around.

*You probably don't know who you are, but surely you must suspect. Because you are excellent dictators and have saved my work week dozens of times with your timely influx of dictations during my shifts. You deserve fireworks and cakes in your honor. 

8.06.2014

the great pumpkin

You may remember that last fall we went to a pumpkin patch and got ourselves a couple pumpkins. What we didn't tell you was that these were not just any pumpkins.

They were... *dun dun duuuuun*

Magic pumpkins.

But I've gotten ahead of myself. So, last year we bought a couple pumpkins. There was a little one, and a medium one. We figured the medium one would be some kind of decoration, and the little one could be used in some sort of pie, or bread, or maybe also just as decoration if we never got around to cooking anything with it. Well, that's what happened. We didn't make anything, but they were nice to have in the apartment - made the place look all autumny. That's autumn-like. It's not a word, I just added a "y" to the end of autumn. We just wanted them to make our place look more festive.

So there we were, with a couple of regular pumpkins. Right? Well, it seemed like that for a long time. A long enough time that it started to seem like maybe they weren't regular pumpkins. Eventually the little one got a bit droopy, and we sent it on to the next stage of pumpkin life. That is, we put it outside under a tree. It stayed there for a long time too, but eventually the weather took it. But the medium pumpkin... That pumpkin never aged a day. A couple days ago we took a picture of the pumpkin:



It's kind of unreal how much it still looks like it did last year. The picture through the link above (or here, if you can't be bothered to scroll up) is the same pumpkin last September. Somehow this dude has survived almost a year. This led us to conclude that perhaps the medium pumpkin was, as I said before, magic.

But, of course, there are no magic pumpkins. And if you look at the back of that pumpkin (just print the picture and turn it over?) you'll see that, even though it lasted far longer than it should have (I read a pumpkin is supposed to last 8-12 weeks if it was healthy), it does look a little funny on the back. Not necessarily rotten, but funny. Maybe a little soft to the touch. So, after nearly a year of sitting up there, we sent the medium pumpkin on to the great beyond. That is to say, we put it under that tree to let nature do the rest. It's only a matter of time.

Speaking of pumpkins, the little-guy-on-the-way is currently between our two pumpkins in size. Hopefully closer to the little pumpkin. That's called a segue. Now we're talking about the baby instead of pumpkins. So.

Dear tiny little half-Asian kpluBlet,
When we got that pumpkin, you were so small we were still imagining you. Now you're so big you're almost ready to come out and see us! This year, we'll take you with us and find another magic pumpkin. We'll even let you pick it out. I'll just hold you over the candidates, and you drool on the one you want. Deal? Deal.
We're fast coming up on your arrival. It's all we can do to wait patiently to meet you. Then we can see your reactions to all the books we're reading you. Did you like New Cat? I don't really know. You wiggled, but you wiggle a lot. Speaking of which, your mom would really like it if you let her bladder go more than 5 minutes without being squished. Just a request.
Most important, just keep growing strong and healthy. We'll see you soon!
Love,
Dad

7.22.2014

all things small and tiny

I felt the desire to start off this post with an apology for the All Things Baby tidbits I'm about to jot down [and will undoubtedly continue to write about for weeks/months/years to come], but then I thought about it and decided that was silly and purposeless. I like to write about the Interesting Things of Now, and the kpluBlet is most definitely the most interesting thing going on in my life right now [spoiler: he (and his posse of siblings) will probably be the most interesting thing going on in my life for the next 20 years so... just a heads up]. So unashamedly, obsessively write about him I shall.

We have reached week 32. Ridiculous, I know. Sometimes I feel like I just found out about being pregnant. Seriously, it was just last month that we drove up to Connecticut, right? I still clearly remember the giddy feelings in my gut as I walked/hopped in circles in our hotel room wondering, oh wondering, if maybe just maybe just maybe there was a tiny little poppy-seed-size person inside of me. And now look at me. On Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I feel like a whale, whilst on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays I am convinced that I am somehow growing an actual whale inside of me. The time has flown and I can't believe how close we are!

It's a weird state of time, being 32 weeks. My head tells me that I have a good 8 weeks left or 2 months, because that's just simple math. Yet, somehow, this doesn't add up nicely as it is now the end of July and so there is only August between now and kpluBlet. And that is only ONE month. One ridiculously short month. What in the world. No, I promise I'm not freaking out. Yes, I did have a moment of mild <some type of tear-filled emotion> the other week as my brain was attempting to sort out a mess of things, but I shall use the Pregnancy Hormones card [fine print: one use only] to excuse that as I really didn't feel like the tears were connected to my emotions, if that makes sense.

Side note:  I periodically check with Jason to see if I have been unknowingly experiencing the high-strung mood swings that I hear pregnancy can pleasantly bring about. Thankfully, he always says no. Whew. I also don't feel like I've had any kind of change in moods the last 32 weeks [crazy intense blood-draw emotions don't count as they are also my baseline emotions], so I'm glad my perceptions line up with Jason's. It would be annoying to be That Crazy Pregnant Asian and not realize it. Stable hormones for the win.

So, our little nursery is coming together and I absolutely love it. I peek my head in multiple times a day just to gleefully squeak. I also like to just sit in there. I can't wait until we finish it. We're still waiting on a few more of our purchases to come in and then the fun will begin. Oh! By the way, it is like Christmas in July here right now. Every day I excitedly wait for a new package to arrive. I love, love, love packages. And it turns out that tearing open a box is even better when you know something tiny and adorable is inside.

There was a point earlier in the year when we looked at our rather substantial Amazon gift card balance and wondered, "How in the world are we ever going to spend all of this? Maybe we should be using our Swagbucks points for Paypal cash instead of Amazon gift cards." [Here is my "Swagbucks is awesome" plug.] Oh, silly us... As soon as we begin our baby shopping in earnest, we had absolutely no trouble bringing that balance down to a very sad $0. Sigh. Now, the re-accumulation of funds must begin anew.

But! On the bright side, we are currently expecting a large box of Super Exciting Things for the kpluBlet. And... Weirdest timing ever: The box just arrived. Like, this very minute. I must go celebrate another round of Christmas in July.

Much tearing of tape and squeaks of delight later...

Ah, the excitement! The colors! The cuteness! The diapers! Yes, yes, yes, I am unbelievably excited about these tiny adorable cloth diapers. It's a little ridiculous.

And this really is a perfect segue into my next topic:  Diaper decisions. What with all of the cloth diaper options out there these days, it has been quite a task nailing down exactly what to purchase for our little fellow's bum. We knew we wanted cheap, durable, and "easy" to launder. Flats/prefolds and covers seemed to be the most recommended for what we wanted. The only "downside" that seemed to be mentioned by some was that the folding involved with flats and the like might take some time to figure out, might take longer to actually execute, might be more annoying to do when you've changed a dozen diapers that day already, etc. Luckily, I do not consider any of these issues to be daunting and I have a Superman of a husband who is under the impression [accurately or not] that all of my plans and ideas are the awesomest of plans and ideas. So! May the Diaper Origami Time commence! I have full expectations that cloth diapering is going to be a wagonful of messy but accomplishment-filled fun*.

And seriously, the diaper covers are absolutely adorable. I cannot get over it. The kpluBlet will have an adorably covered tush. End of story.

Slightly switching topics [though, do not fear, I am going to be shifting back to World of Baby in a moment], 2014 continues to be the Year of Big Things with the exciting news of Jarred's engagement and his November wedding [and the kpluBlet's first roadtrip!]. I'm rather stoked. I always knew he was the kind of fellow who would make excellent husband material and I'm super happy he finally found a girl who sees his potential. Cheers for happiness!

Anyway, Jarred's weddingness along with Shawn's wedding this fall made made me think of bachelor parties. Which made me think of Childless Married Couple parties! It's brilliant. I don't know why this isn't a real thing. See, the night before your baby arrives [oh wait, I see problem number one...], you get together all of your childless married couple friends [oh wait, I see problem number two...] and go out and party it up with every single We Won't Be Able to Do This Once the Baby's Here! activity you can fit into a night that a 9-month pregnant lady is able/willing to do [oh... and there's problem number 3]. The idea has such promise, no?

And to wrap up this entire rambling post, I feel it necessary to note this following conversation that occurred a while back:

Me:  "The kpluBlet sure is growing."
Jason:  "I hope he doesn't grow too much before he comes out. I don't want to miss him being in that small and cute stage."
Me:  "Don't worry. I think human babies are like hamster babies. They come out like tiny erasers and eventually grow into the cute stage."

Life truth:  It takes a while to go from this...

  ...to this..

I may not know much about human babies [I can only remember "holding" one once in my life. And there is a reason the word holding is in quotes...] but I know plenty about hamster babies. They always start off like the erasers on the end of a yellow #2 pencil. And they bounce. Like mexican jumping beans.

I like how I can write an entire post about a whole lot of nothing. Tis excellent. To life!

Dear Tiny Little Half-Asian kpluBlet,

I feel you constantly now. You are quite a wiggler these days. Sometimes I think you know exactly when to most inconveniently make a ruckus in there. I don't know how you do it, but kudos to you, little mister. Mostly, thanks for making me 100% confident that everything is going well on your end of things.

I hope your thrice daily bout of hiccups aren't bothering you too much. I'll be honest, if I had hiccups that often and that regularly, I might just go crazy, but perhaps you're more patient than I am. Maybe you got blessed with your dad's patience and my head hair density. And speaking of head hair, I sure hope you're concentrating hard on growing out your peach fuzz to an adorable mop of hair. It will place you at a huge advantage over newborn hamsters, trust me.

Welp, little one, keep growing stronger. You're going to need all the strength you can get to survive the love that your dad and I are going to smoosh you with. As you'll soon find out, we don't have many hobbies and our social lives are comfortably lacking, so you are basically going to be the center of all of our attention. Prepare yourself. Every little thing you do is going to be considered Guinness World Record material and every little face you make is going to be picture worthy and every little breath you take is going to be gasped at in wonder. We are going to love the noodles out of you. And adorn your bum with tiny owl diapers.

You have my forever love.

Replace "Cheez-It" with "Tiny Human" and you have a very accurate picture of how I feel at Week 32.

*And if it does not pan out to be as much fun and as little hassle as I know it will be, I will have this blog post to look back upon and laugh at. :D

7.16.2014

progression

While Sharayah was helping me think up topics to write about, of course one of the things that came up was the short time until I'll be a father and the things we're doing in the next couple months to prepare. Then, for some reason, this exchange happened:

Sharayah: I give you permission for your first words to him to be "I am your father."
Me: But I think he says that after having just cut off his hand...
Sharayah: Well, just say it after you cut his umbilical cord.

I don't really know what to do with that, but it seemed like the world should know.

Editor's note: I didn't ask for permission to say that. Neither of us are Star Wars fans. I'm not sure why she even came up with that. Spoiler alert: I probably won't say it.

Back to the topic of preparing for the baby. We've been trying to make sure we get everything we're going to need. Sometimes it's hard to know if you have everything. We've made lists and tried to keep track, but of course we'll get home with the baby and think, "How in the world do we not have X? It's so obvious we should have bought that. What were we thinking?" It's inevitable. But still, it seems like we've got most everything covered. Things purchased online are going to start coming in during the next few weeks, which should be exciting. The baby's room is pretty much done. Things are coming together nicely.

Things have also been moving along with my research. By the end of summer I'll probably have submitted two more papers, bringing the total to three. I've been working on two different problems with two groups of people, and it's been hectic at times but also kind of nice. When I get stuck on one problem, I just go to the other for a while. I'm really proud of these two much more than the first one. I think I was a much more important part of the work on them, as opposed to the first paper, which I think would have gotten written just fine without me.

Now I'm in the home stretch of my quest for a PhD. At this point, I have enough research done to finish. From here, it's just a matter of how much research I can do before I have to call it and start putting it together as a dissertation. It's been a long, very difficult road, but the end is in sight. Just in time, too, since apparently I'm almost a dad.

6.29.2014

the big nutshell

June has not been much of a blogging month. I'm not entirely sure how the month is almost over already... To make up for the lack of words that I have written this month, this post will undoubtedly be a long one. Feel free to eat it in two bites instead of one.

Life:  Part I
For various reasons, Jason and I have decided to get rid of one of our cellphones and just use our Google Voice numbers as our secondary numbers. I rarely leave the house without Jason [this may sound lame to more independent folks, but trust me, it's actually just pure awesome], and when we do go somewhere, we just grab whatever phone is closest to the door, so it's not like we currently need two phones or are attached to having individual phones. We could have done this months upon months ago but just never thought about it. Thinking about things is revolutionary, I tell you.

I remember when my family first got a cellphone back in the day [yes, I can say back in the day because it was over a decade ago]. We were living perfectly comfortable lives. Yet, suddenly, with the arrival of this little handheld device, it was a tragedy if we didn't have the phone with us when we were out and about. I don't know why. It didn't make sense. Suddenly, potentially life-threatening emergencies were everywhere and only having that little gray phone could hold them off! Humans are funny like that, I suppose.

This little toy with all 5 of its contacts and the ability to use voice commands to mistakenly dial the wrong person was new and neat and somehow endlessly entertaining. And it quickly went from Nonexistent to Unquestionably Essential. But sometimes, even then, I would think about how, just a mere month ago, we had somehow managed to survive without it, so why all the fuss if suddenly the phone wasn't available? Ah, the subliminal tentacles of Convenience Turned Necessity. Crafty creature, that is.

Anyway, I often still have the same thoughts about cellphones. Yes, they are convenient. But no, they are not necessary for many people. I believe I currently fit in the realistically-not-necessary category of people. Which is good, because if I did feel compelled to always have a cellphone with me, I might have to start using some kind of purse/bag/trendy cellphone belt clip/large-pocketed man pants. Whew, bullet dodged. Instead of my own man pants, I shall continue to use Jason's man pants to hold all of my things, and our one cellphone.

Anyway. In order to properly retire my lonely cellphone, I had to empty it of all the random stuff that had accumulated on it. Various pictures of ears and price tags and men's legs and shopping lists and finger comparisons all needed to be transferred to my computer. And then there were the notes.

Now, Jason is a decently funny fellow to the general public, in my opinion. But to me, he is hilarious. [I may have a really low standard for humor or I may just have a bad case of I Like Your Face So You Are Basically a Stand-up Comedian.] He says things and I can't help but laugh. Sometimes my brain tells me that the world would also like to benefit from something he said that was particularly entertaining. And so, when he says one of these things, I jot them down in my phone, if it is available [this, of course, means that 72% of his funniness is lost forever], and post them on Facebook afterwards if I remember.

Sadly, I often do not remember. And then, if I do happen to remember, I will have forgotten the context to the remark or conversation. And then I have to decide if it is still worth posting. It's a process, people!

Anyway, I apparently collected a few handfuls of these types of notes on my phone. I considered deleting them, but that really seemed like a shame. So instead, I will type them out here in our blog and they will be duly head-scratched/chuckled at for generations to come. Let us begin.
  • "You cannot be promoted from bat boy to player." -- Says who?
  • "We're cavalier; we dirty the counter and then eat off it!" -- We're trying to do better. Really.
  • "Puma, shut up and stop climbing up my leg." -- These are two commonly spoken desires.
  • "Did you know shampoo is just shamoo with a p?" -- Some people insist hamsters are spelled with a p, and some people think Shamu the whale is still alive. The fight for truth is a daily battle.
  • "I think you know all of common knowledge." -- It's all relative.
  • "Ok, lady, if you think making your husband look stupid is funny then.. you're hilarious." -- I accept this compliment.
  • "Can we be Amish by day and use the internet by night?" -- This is our backup "once we turn 50" plan.
  • "I don't know how to do Amish face." -- That'll do, love. That'll do.
  • "I wouldn't have married an Asian if I didn't like rice." -- There is a fine line between liking and loving many things. However, for rice, there is a chasm.
  • "Are you just going to leave it there? ...But that's not where you found it!" -- You cannot always mask the OCD.
  • "Every time I see a sweater, I think, 'He's not wearing spaghetti straps!'" -- Context is nice, but no context is even better. Trust me.
  • "The kpluBlet is going to come out and not recognize your voice because you're not yelling anymore." -- We are currently working under the assumption that the birth of the kpluBlet will magically create that much longed for volume control that I have always lacked... I have my doubts.
  • "I don't know why you mind having short limbs. It just separates you even more from monkeys." -- Some things you just have to let slide like a greased pig.
  • Korean:  "I like when you smile at me. Even though I know you're just laughing at me in your head." Non-Korean:  "Oh, I'm laughing at you out loud. You just can't hear me." -- Reason #873 why I love him.
So, recap:  We are now a one-phone family. Jason is Mr. Funnyman. I like to take pictures of men's legs with white tube socks.

Digest.

Life:  Part II
The past week and a half have been like that super rickety wooden roller coaster that you know gives you a headache and back twinges if you ride it, and yet you ride it anyway. Or someone forces you to ride it. 

This past week and a half, I was forced to ride the wooden roller coaster. If I knew how to throw up, I might have done it.

Of course, since pregnant people are legally obligated not to have fun, I did not get to ride an actual roller coaster. Instead, my wooden coaster consisted of week 28 glucose testing. Ingest dyed sugar*. Get stabbed with needle. And, if you're unlucky, repeat with twice as much dyed sugar and get stabbed with four times as many needles.

I was unlucky.

To make a long, fear-filled story shorter, let's just say that I do not care for things puncturing through other things. Whether this is something "normal" like blood draws or something fantastical like Wolverine's claws appearing or even something completely mundane like pushing a pin into a pincushion... The thoughts that flood my mind when I see/hear/sense/imagine that pushing through of something sharp into that slightly resistant material... My hands immediately get sweaty and all I want to do is curl up in a ball. It's debilitating. I don't know what's wrong with me.

When the puncturing is happening to someone or something else, I just get extremely uncomfortable and have to look away and hum loudly to drown out the imagined sounds of tortured screaming [that tomato pincushion has quite the nerve endings, I know]. But when the puncturing has to happen to me... Oh dear gravy, I am an absolute mess. And poor, poor Jason has had to deal with this mess for the past week and a half. 

My husband is amazing. You don't even know the half of it.

It took a week just to get up the nerve to ask Jason to schedule the appointment for the first glucose test. Merely thinking about telling him to schedule it would work me up to the point of tears. I wish I could blame pregnancy hormones/emotions, but I fear this would not be completely truthful. I physically dislike needles, but I mentally abhor needles. In fact, typing all of this is making my hands all sweaty again and the inside of my elbows are starting to ache. So, we will quickly fast forward.

Test one happened two Fridays ago. I'm pretty sure the feelings of wanting to throw up were the results of a week's worth of dread and anxiety, though I also suspect it had to do with sitting through the Twilight movie in the waiting room. I can't even. Why is everything blue? Why is everyone so deadpan? Why does it make your insides feel like you're drowning in a thick pool of high fructose corn syrup? Anyway, luckily for everyone, I am not sure I even know how to throw up. So all of the pent up feelings stayed inside my stomach. Whew.

I seriously had no real concerns about passing the 1 hour screening test. I consider myself to be a relatively healthy person who eats pretty well and the idea that I could be a candidate for GD wasn't all that present. Despite all of the anxiety about the blood draw itself, I was never really concerned about the result. And then Monday came. And I got an email from the lab with the horrendous news that my blood sugar was high. And I knew four more needles were in my future. I completely crumbled.

Jason is a rock. The sweetest, most caring, selfless rock who, interestingly enough, is still soft enough to cuddle a distraught Korean for hours on end. You don't even know the half of it.

So. I was mentally frantic, unable to focus on work at all, praying desperately for peace, and attempting to get some sort of grip over my anxiety. Friday was just around the corner and I knew there was nothing I could do about it. I was going to have to be stabbed, clogged with dyed sugar again, and then be stabbed thrice more over three hours. I was in a living nightmare.

[Yes, this probably sounds melodramatic to those who don't think twice about blood being drawn. Trust me, though, this is the un-sensationalized version of this past week. (Again, poor Jason...) Phobias are so annoyingly irrational.]

Lesson:  Never count out the goodness of God.

We had our appointment at the Birth Center and in I went sweating profusely and on the verge of tears as I knew that the inevitable outcome of the visit was that dreadful laboratory prescription sentencing me to debilitating mental anguish. The options presented to us on review of the first screening were what I expected:  Go through with four more blood draws or just assume the GD diagnosis and act accordingly, which would include multiple blood sugar fingersticks a day. Neither option was rainbow-filled.

And then! Right when all hope seemed lost! The midwife thought of a third option. The option that saved my sanity. The option that nearly made me cry with relief [all of this crying business was just getting out of control...]. She remembered that a while back there had been another patient who also had a deathly fear of blood draws. They had ended up ordering some of the nasty dyed sugar and just administering the 3 hour glucose test at the Birth Center with fingersticks. And, it suddenly occurred to her, there might still be an extra bottle of the drink somewhere.

She went to check.
There was a bottle left.
It was not expired.

What did this mean? This meant that I would not have to go in to The Place of Nightmares [known as LabCorp] and spend 3 sickeningly stressful hours with only Twilight to soothe my soul. This meant that I would not have to be strapped into a chair that is too tall for me [OK, so they don't actually strap their patients down, but they may have needed to if I had had to endure the 3 hour test...] and have my arms mutilated by uncaring lab technicians. This meant that I would not have to wait some undetermined period of time worrying about the results of the test.

What did this mean? This meant that I could come to the Birth Center and spend 3 hours in the homey birthing room with blue walls. This meant Jason and I could relax [as much as can be expected during such a test] in the rocking chairs or on the bed or sprawled out on the couches. This meant we could play whatever music we desired, spend the hours doing whatever we wished, and just be allowed some peace and quiet in between each hourly fingerstick. This meant no harming of inner elbows. This meant Jason as close to me as possible. This meant instant results.

God is good.

Sure, there was still anxiety about getting jabs in my fingers. And yes, there was still mild concern about the potential results and worst case scenarios. Oh, but the big picture was so much brighter. The debilitating fear dissipated. The lack of appetite was gone. The inability to smile and laugh disappeared. If I have ever experienced that proverbial load of bricks falling from my shoulders, it was in that moment when the midwife offered the glorious third option.

God is beyond good.

So, that Friday morning, we drove to the Birth Center. We settled into the Blue Room. We rocked in our rocking chairs. We played a few games. We read a few books. We listened to Tenth Avenue North and Phil Wickham [yes, even/especially his Christmas album]. And I drank more grossness and endured four fingersticks.

Fingersticks sting more than blood draws, but my fear of needles isn't really based on the pain aspect so the extra sting was well worth it.

The nurse was friendly and kind. The room was quiet and peaceful. And the results... well, they were excellent. No GD diagnosis here! Just a Korean with four little dots on her index fingers and an extremely grateful heart. Yes, yes, I know this all probably sounds so ridiculous and blown out of proportion. But since when have ridiculosity and I ever been that far apart? Thankfully, God answers even the most ridiculous of desperate prayers. He is ever deserving of praise. Ever deserving.

So, that's June for you. And this post, as promised, is unbearably long. I shall now wrap up.

Oh! This needs to be mentioned: The kpluBlet's arrival aside, the thing I am looking forward to the most is sleeping on my back and reading whilst on my stomach. I cannot wait.

And I bid you adieu.

How my heart felt leaving the Birth Center.

*Allergy information on bottle:  "Gluten Free. Dairy Free. Does not contain orange juice, only artificial orange flavor." Gag.

6.18.2014

assisted

So, today I was having some trouble writing a blog. I have my thoughts, but it's hard to get them on "paper" in a way that anyone would want to read. For example, I wrote:

Baby room preparations are in full swing. We've been clearing stuff out of our extra room (since it's not extra anymore!) to make room for baby stuff. We've been getting baby stuff to put in the space made by clearing out stuff. We've been building furniture, or mostly just partially building furniture until we notice some of the pieces are damaged so we have to have replacements sent. Still, the room is shaping up. We have a crib, a rocking chair, one of those storage cube things. That last one is actually built completely. I think we've got the layout all planned. It's starting to really look like a baby room. Which is good, since we're less than three months away, now. Yikes.

It's not bad information, but oof. You have to slog your way through it with a snow plow. Sharayah, being the loving wife that she is, volunteered to help me through this difficult time. In her words, "Here, you rub my feet while I write your blog for you." So, I rubbed her feet and she wrote a blog for me. The real plan was for me to just take each paragraph or topic and rewrite it as my own blog post. It would just serve as a framework or outline to get me going. When I read it, though, I realized it was my best blog ever, and I couldn't just erase it and rewrite it. So I'm leaving everything she wrote, and I'll add in some commentary/detail after each bit. (Her parts are block-indented if you can't tell who is who just by the writing.)

I'm going to be a dad in under 3 months. I have a lot of jokes to start storing up. I'm going to be the funniest dad. How many jokes can you learn in 3 months? How soon can you toss a baby high into the air? Or when can he ride on my shoulders and use my ears to steer? One thing I already know:  I'm never going to "let" him win at anything. It will be good for his character. Plus, since he's going to be Asian, there will soon be a time where he will be better at everything anyway... I might as well get my winning in now.

Ok, well a lot of that is solid. I'm not doing so well at storing up jokes (I keep forgetting them, I can only seem to keep 3 or 4 in my head at a time). Still, I think they'll come back to me at opportune times. That's how dad jokes work. As far as not being able to win at anything because my son is Asian, well... I'll have to get back to you on that in a few years. I sort of thought if I had blood relatives who were Asian, that would make me part Asian and help me compete a little better. We'll see.

My hand is nearly as big as kp's foot. I think she has a dwarf foot. But then, I haven't yet seen the kpluBlet's foot. His foot is going to turn my brain into mush.

This is actually a combination of tiny kp feet and large me hands. It's hard for me to imagine walking on something only an inch longer than my hand and not falling flat on my face. I'm not sure how she functions, really. The tiny kpluBlet feet may put hers into perspective, though. We bought some baby socks. I'm not sure a human foot can fit in them. How small would the toes be for the feet to be that small? It makes me dizzy.

Speaking of mush brain, I went to a math conference at Villanova. I met a Canadian. I ate chocolate desserts every day. I took naps during math talks. I had my picture taken with my hero (and an Asian guy). I drove through a lot of traffic. I don't like traffic.

The Villanova conference was actually really good. I presented my research and it was well received. I met some cool mathematicians (some of them famous, but when I say famous I don't mean that normal people have heard of them...) and heard a lot of good math talks. I definitely did not take any naps there, although I was completely exhausted by the end of the week. I'm really glad my talk was on the first day when everyone was still alert. By the last day everyone was so tired they barely seemed to be paying attention anymore.

My adviser had someone take a picture of him and his two students (me and the Asian guy). Sharayah found this very amusing, apparently. I'm not sure why it's so funny to her.

The traffic was intense. It was the week that the I-495 bridge was condemned unexpectedly. That just happened to be the route I was supposed to take. Monday I drove both ways on that bridge, and Tuesday it was closed because they thought it might fall down at any minute. It's still closed. I'm not sure how they plan to fix it. Anyway, the ~45 minute drive took about 2 hours each morning, which was rough since the conference started at 9. I think Sharayah summed it up well: I don't like traffic.

All of these adult activities looming on the horizon makes the future seem gigantic. There are many decisions to be made. Babies, jobs, homes. At this very moment, we are planning our lives for the next... who knows how many years. No big deal. Our life is going to be grand, no matter what all the little details look like right now. There are 3 doors in front of us:  Behind one is a brand new car. Behind another is a picket-fenced cottage. And behind the third door is a goat. Which will we choose? Luckily, it doesn't matter since even the goat would thrill the kp. Win win win.

Yep, we have a lot going on right now. Figuring out where I'm going to work, where we're going to live, which is where we'll be raising our kids. The 3 doors are supposed to be a reference to the Monty Hall problem, I think. I'd say you're always supposed to switch doors, but if you actually don't mind winning the goat then you should maybe stick with your first choice.

So that's the blog Sharayah wrote for me, and the extra thoughts from me that it inspired. For the most part, she hit the nail on the head. I guess she sort of knows me pretty well and understands what I'm thinking about and going through. What a cool lady.

Dear tiny little half-Asian kpluBlet,
Really soon you'll be here. It's the weirdest combination of scary and exciting that I'll get to meet you so soon. I hope you like having your feet played with, because I'm going to count your toes a hundred times. When you're big enough, you better believe I'm going to toss you way up high and catch you. I hope it'll be one of your favorite games. Do me a favor, once we start playing more competitive games (you know, where someone wins and someone loses), maybe let me win a few from time to time?
While you still live in your mom, we're doing the best we can to make a good place for you to live once you get out. I can't wait until you're here!
Love,
Dad