Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vignettes on sadness

I can't stop thinking about them. I can't stop crying. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I can't get excited about the holiday season. I know that I have so much to be grateful for, yet all I can think about is how unfair life is. And instead of appreciating my blessings even more, I live in fear that they will be taken away from me. I’ve been a bad mother and a bad wife. I am impatient, snappy, mean. I am frustrated, angry and exhausted. My family deserves better, yet I can’t find the strength to do better.


When my dad died, people told me he was in a better place now. And I believed them. He was no longer in pain. I hoped that he was no longer sad. I hoped that he could now see his grandkids any time he wanted—instead of missing them from half way around the world. I so desperately wanted to believe that to be true. But now I don’t.


On Thursday morning, I saw her for the last time. She was loading the crib and the high chair in her dad’s truck. Everything else went in the moving truck or in the trash. I spoke to her, asking once again if she needed any help. I wanted to keep it together, but I couldn’t—my eyes teared up and so did hers. We hugged and cried. I was hoping to see her again before she left, but I am sure she didn’t need any more goodbyes. I know I will never see her or hear from her again. She has my contact information, but I don’t have hers. I don’t even know her last name… Even if I did, I wouldn’t try to reach her. I don’t want to be a sad reminder of the life that was. But I do want one thing. I want to know that some day—some day—she will be OK. Because I really want her to be OK. And it makes me so sad to know that I will never know.


I am afraid this is going to be either a very sad or a very quiet place for a while, and I won’t be offended if no one stops by here for the time being. My heart is bursting with emotions, wanting to get them all out on paper. Yet my brain is starting to crack down on these outbursts, pointing me to my real-life to do list that overflows with holiday cards, Child’s birthday party, house guests, gift shopping, welcoming my new niece, decorating, Christmas parties, and on and on and on. There is no time to deal with your emotions, my brain says, there is so much else to be done. You will deal with them later. I don’t know how much longer I can wait.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


A little over two years ago, new neighbors moved in two houses down from us. They were a young couple, late 20s or early 30s.

I instantly liked them. They were a lot like us—except… a lot more hip. He had crazy curly hair and wore shorts and baseball hats to work. She was always dressed in hip clothes and had a funky haircut—and I often looked at her wishing I had the same sense of style. They often had friends over—grilling, cheering for the games on TV, drinking beer, playing catch in the common area behind our townhomes. You could tell they were free spirits.

As neighbors, they were very friendly, but not overly so—not the kind of neighbors that engage you in a 30-minute conversation every time you run into them while taking out the garbage in your pajamas. And I was secretly hoping that they would become our friends—they seemed like the kind of people I’d love to hang out with. But somehow we just never got around to getting to know them outside of friendly ‘hello’ and ‘isn’t it a beautiful day’ conversations.

After their first winter in the neighborhood, when layers of clothing were packed away in the attic, it became apparent that she was pregnant. We chatted about babies, deliveries, registries. In late May 2007, they had a baby girl.

This summer, a For Sale sign appeared in front of their townhome. Next time I saw him outside, I asked where they were moving to. He got a job offer in Ohio, a job that would allow his wife to be a stay-at-home mom. And being there would bring them closer to family. He was heading out there in two weeks, and his wife and the baby would stay here until the house sold. I saw her and the baby a lot after that—they’d go for a walk any time someone was looking at the house, and I wondered how tough it must be to have a house on the market when you have a young child.

On Halloween, I noticed that she wasn’t home. And I did not see her car for days after that. I figured they decided that the sale was taking longer than they’d expected, so she and the baby moved to be with him. I was sad that I didn’t get to say good bye.

But yesterday, I saw her outside. She and her dad (whose truck with NY plates I recognized right away—they came down to visit frequently) were taking a lot of stuff out of the house to the trash. They house must have sold, I thought. I saw her from the window of my living room several times and could not help but notice how sad she was. Even though it is an exciting change for them, it must be tough to say good-bye to the house that they brought their first baby to, I thought, justifying her sadness.

Eventually, I walked outside to say hello. ‘You look so sad,’ I said. And then I looked in her eyes, and before she said anything, I knew it was more than the sentimentality of leaving her home.

‘He died two weeks ago. He was walking home, collapsed and died. We are waiting for autopsy results. They think it was a brain aneurism. I was driving to see him. I was an hour away, and I got a call to go to the ER. I was too late.’

The grief is everywhere, and it is overwhelming. I will, eventually, come to terms with the death of my dad and my grandma. I feel devastated for my boys’ nanny, who lost her dad and her mom within four days of each other last month. But all of them lived long lives. But this? This I can not understand. I wish I was a more spiritual or religious person who could understand the higher purpose behind this, who could see this as part of a bigger plan. But I simply can not wrap my mind around it. I don’t understand why he had to die. I don’t understand why her life has now taken a turn she could have never imagined. I don’t understand why their sweet little girl has to grow up without having any memories of her dad. I am beyond furious... at God, the universe, whomever is in charge.

I hugged her, I cried with her, I held her hand, I offered my help with anything she could possibly need. And as I walked away, I kept saying to myself, ‘I can not imagine...’ and I waited for my husband to get home. And she went back to her house to empty out the memories.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Today is my first presidential election as a U.S. citizen. Today I cast my vote without any reservations, without feeling that I have to pick the lesser of the two evils. Today I vote in a swing state, where my vote will matter.

Four years ago, almost to the day, I cast my vote for a person who I believed could transform my old country, my country of birth. That election turned into much more than just an election—it became a revolution, a peaceful revolution, one for the history books. The man I voted for was eventually named President. I still have a lot of respect for him, but it has become painfully obvious that one man, no matter how genuine and good, is powerless against a hundred years of corruption, brainwashing and fear-mongering. I believe there is a bright future for my country, but it is generations away.

I don’t want to be disappointed again. Not today, not tomorrow, not a year from now.

Today I can smell the change in the air.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The fastest year of my life

Over the last few days, on more than one occasion, I found my mind drifting off to “a year ago today…” The contractions that woke me up one night and then faded away within a couple of hours. The movie screening we went to on October 25. The heart-shaped banana-bread ‘birthday cake’ I made for Husband in the morning. Getting my hair cut and my toes painted a year ago yesterday.

And a year ago today, just a few minutes ago, meeting my Baby for the first time.

He is my perfect baby. My miracle baby. I love him something fierce. And if I dared to ask for anything more from the universe, I would only ask that the time would not go so fast.

Happy birthday, my sweet Baby.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 15

Today is the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Today is also the day that two years ago we conceived the baby that we never got to meet. I remember that day—Husband came back from a business trip that afternoon, and I was leaving for a trip the next morning. We had one shot that month, and the fact that it worked—after months and months of ‘unexplained secondary infertility’ failures—made that pregnancy such an amazing miracle. And maybe that’s what made the loss so tough to bear. Only within the last few months I stopped thinking about that baby on a daily basis. Maybe it is the passing of time, maybe it is the new sadness that plagues me these days.

But I will always remember that baby. I will always remember how overwhelmingly happy I was to see that + sign and the afternoon I spent trying to figure out a creative way to tell Husband. I will always remember how devastatingly chilling it was to see no flicker on the gray ultrasound screen.

And while I am not a religious person, I really want to believe in life after death. I want to believe that my dad got to meet this baby and the babies he lost. And that he is there to comfort them and play with them until the rest of us get there, long, long time from now.

Friday, October 03, 2008

11 months

This past weekend Baby turned 11 months old.

A month from now, he will no longer be considered a baby. He will be 1, and he will be a toddler. This is his last non-birthday birthday, the last time we count his age in months instead of years. One, three or six months from now, we will tell people that he is 1, not 12, 14 or 17 months. The end of his babyhood is no longer a distant dot on the horizon. It is here, right in front of me, and I am overwhelmed by how fast we got here.

This realization has caused me to hold him a little longer each night before putting him in his crib, to comply more frequently with his requests to be picked up, to spend a little extra time giving him a bath, to kiss him even more, to rub the little peach-fuzzy head a little longer as he nurses. I am trying to soak it all up, to breathe him in, in an attempt to hang on to this fleeting babyhood.

Friday, September 12, 2008


On my flight back to the U.S., I was reading an article in this magazine about coping with loss. It said that the five stages of grief don’t necessarily come in order, and you can keep skipping from one stage to another and back again. This describes precisely how I have been doing—from feeling fine, to feeling completely devastated, to being angry at the unfairness to it all, to wondering if this is all a bad dream. Most of the time, I feel so emotionally exhausted that I am numb.

The four days and some odd hours I spent in my home town were the most emotionally exhausting days of my life.

Two hours before I landed, my grandmother (my dad’s mom) died. She was 93. Her mind has been slipping for quite a few years now, and when I saw her in the fall of 2006, the last time I was home, she could barely remember my dad, who was taking care of her. But she remembered me—and she remembered so many details about my life that my dad and I were stunned. Grandma and I shared a special bond. She always made me feel so good about myself. She was so proud of me. Even when her memory began to fade, any time my name would come up, Grandma would begin her sentences with “In a foreign land, in a foreign language, my amazing Kate built a life for herself.” We teased her that she sounded like a broken record, and she just smiled and looked at me, shaking her head as if in disbelief that I am real.

Her death was the last drop for me. I didn’t have as tough of a time accepting her death as I did with my dad (she was in her 90s, after all, and I expected that she may go soon), but what hurt me beyond words is that I did not get a chance to say goodbye. Not to my dad, nor to my grandma. I missed both of them by a matter of hours. I could have called my dad at the hospital before he died… I could have caught an earlier flight that would have brought me home before she died…

Two funerals. Two cemeteries. Two coffins with people who looked nothing like my dad and my grandma. Too many tears. Too many anxiety attacks to count. Too few hours of sleep. Going through their apartment, sorting through decades of memories, deciding what to keep, what to toss. How do you decide? In three days, that entire side of the family—gone. Our last name is no more.

There is a lot to be said—or written. A lot I need to come to terms with. But where these words belong, I am not sure. Here? In a folder on my laptop? In my head? I’ve been putting these thoughts aside. I have been focusing on the kids and work and the day-to-day of temporary single-parenting. My husband returns tonight after being away for a month. And for better or for worse, this means that the flood gates can now open.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


My mom called this morning while I was on the way to the office for an hour-long meeting. You better pull over, she said. I did. Your dad has cancer. He had surgery yesterday, completely unrelated, and they found cancer. Very advanced stage. They could tell just by looking at it, without running any tests. You should be prepared for the worst.

I cried, called Husband who is away from home for a month. What should I do? Should I go now? I want to see him before it’s too late. I want to bring the kids, at least Baby—he hasn’t met Baby, and I know it would mean so much to him. But Baby doesn’t have a passport, so I need to figure out a way to get one soon.

Let’s talk about it this weekend, Husband said, when all of us are together for Baby’s baptism.

The plan was for me and the boys to fly to Midwest tomorrow for Saturday’s baptism, spend a week there to help break up my five-week single-parenting stint, and come back home on Labor Day, with Husband returning home two weeks later. OK, I said, OK, just keep breathing. I got myself together and walked into the office.

And hour later, my mom called again.

Your dad just died.

I have SO MUCH to say about how I feel. About how much this hurts. About how the memories I suppressed from my parents’ divorce 20 years ago are resurfacing now. About how the guilt for not keeping in better touch with him is tearing me apart. About how completely unprepared I am to deal with a death of a parent; most people my age are just starting to lose their grandparents, not parents. About how hard it is to fall apart in front of your kids without being able to fully explain to them what’s happened. About how much I’ve simply needed a hug today, a simple human touch.

But I have to pack. Not the kind of packing I was planning to do for a leisurely week at the in-laws' house, but a suitcase full of black, full of grief. We are still heading to the Midwest tomorrow, but right after the baptism, I will be getting on the plane alone to go half-way across the world to bury my dad.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On breastfeeding

[Note to anyone who may stumble onto this post: Sensitive subject ahead. If you wanted but were not able to breastfeed your baby, you may want to skip this post. In it, I talk about my struggles with breastfeeding, but the fact is, I was able to nurse my child for nine months and counting, and I fear that women who were not able to nurse their babies at all may find my rant pointless, insensitive and ungrateful. I fully realize how lucky I am to have made it this far, and I don’t want to offend anyone.]

Today, I did not bring my breast pump to work. And unlike the time when I forgot to put it in the car during the morning rush, this time I actually meant to leave it at home.

My already meager supply has really taken a dive in the last six weeks. The week I spent away from my boys was the beginning of the end. I tried to pump as much as I could, but that’s difficult to accomplish when you are running a conference of more than 20,000 attendees. But even after that, especially on weekends, there were many a time when making a bottle was so much easier than finding a private spot to nurse him. For the last month, I’ve been down to one pump session a day, plus nursing him in the morning and at night.

About a month ago, after trying to nurse with great frustration, he finally pulled away, reached for his pacifier and turned away, calming down immediately. My heart ached and I quietly shed a few tears. He no longer needed me for comfort. My mid-day pumpings dropped to three ounces total, less than half of what he takes in one feeding. So it shouldn’t have come as a total surprise when yesterday he refused to nurse at lunch. He gave it a quick try, and when it resulted in nothing, he pulled away. “Be patient, baby, it will come,” I tried to coax him, but he would have none of it. At bedtime, he seemed unusually frustrated while nursing and then had trouble falling asleep, making me wonder if he was still hungry.

So this morning, I decided to leave the pump at home. What’s the point of spending 20 minutes pumping plus washing, when the results are meager? But the voice inside my head is casting doubts, “If you just try harder, if you increase the number of pumping times, you can make the numbers go up.” But why? What for? He is almost 10 months old; I’ve made it so much longer than I thought I would.

I am not entirely sure why breastfeeding is such an obsession for me. I suspect it’s the baggage that I am carrying from breastfeeding Child. Bouts with mastitis in both breasts, the never-ending thrush that wasn’t responding to medication, continued pain even after the infections had cleared (now I realize it was the result of his tongue-tie), round-the-clock pumping—six months of this physical and emotional nightmare and feeling that I failed him so miserably. When I finally emerged on the other side, I wondered why I didn’t quit earlier. I could have been a better mother if I weren’t pushing myself so ridiculously hard. I would have enjoyed my newborn so much more. I promised that I would not put these ridiculous demands on myself again. If it doesn’t work, I will stop. But I secretly hoped that I would do it right this time, with this baby.

I was determined not to make the same mistakes: not to let him comfort nurse so that my nipples wouldn’t crack and let in infection, not to wear too much lanolin, which can trap moisture and let yeast grow; not to scream in pain every two hours for weeks before calling the doctor; to massage out every plugged duct to keep it from turning into mastitis. But while I worried about me, I forgot about him. I was happy to let him sleep longer because it gave my achy breasts a break when he should have been eating. I ignored the fact that he looked a little yellow—he just has his dad’s olive skin, I told everyone. And two weeks later, when he was still almost a pound lighter than his birth weight and his bilirubin was way above normal, I, once again, felt like a failure. We went on a two-day feeding spree, feeding every two hours and pumping after every feeding. I slept a total of 4 hours during that time (as a side note, I doubt complete lack of sleep does any good for one’s milk supply), and the pain was unbearable. I bit my lip and stomped my feet on the floor at every latch (causing my mom, who slept in the basement, to run upstairs in panic in the middle of the night, worrying that the thumping noise of my feet was actually me dropping the baby). But his weight barely budged, and the dreaded words came, “you have to supplement.” I have nothing against formula, but to me, these words meant that I failed once again. A few days later, a dear friend sent a lactation consultant to my house. She took one look at Baby and said, “Did anyone mention his frenulum?” That’s where the pain was coming from. After she left, I called a dozen ENTs, hoping for a next-day appointment. Every single one offered to get me in in four weeks. I could not wait that long! I finally found a place that had an opening in five excruciatingly long days. After the appointment, the relief didn’t come immediately, but within days, things improved. I was not longer screaming at latch-on, just wincing. But I still had to deal with the supply. I researched dozens of ways to increase supply, and I tried many of them, but I would lie if I said I did my best. I could have pumped more, but it’s tough to do when you have a four-year-old running around. Looking back, I blame myself for not trying harder. Maybe if I tried harder, I could have built up my supply completely, and he would not be frustrated with my low flow now. If I didn't ignore his cues in the days after his birth, maybe I would not have had a supply problem to begin with. Having a low supply issue with a second child while there were no such issues with the first is very unusual, from what I've read. I could have avoided all of this if only I tried harder. At least I kept the promise I made to myself four years ago that I will not let the pump run my life.

I will continue to nurse him morning and night as long as he still wants to. Anecdotally, I know it’s possible to continue doing this for a while. But somehow I doubt he will want to for much longer. And I have to come to peace with this. However, the simple fact that I found it necessary to tell this entire story tells me that I am far from being at peace with this. And honestly, while my heart is breaking, my brain tells me that it's irrational to feel like this: I was hoping for an easier time this time, and I got it—I hated the entire six months of nursing Child, and I loved all but the first month of nursing Baby. My mistake was hoping for a perfect experience. And what hurts is that most likely, I will not get another chance.

I no longer do this for him. I do it to satisfy my selfish desire to keep him a baby a little longer, to keep this connection between just the two of us. It’s just another way I am having a tough time letting go.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


At half past midnight, I crept into the dark room.

In the glow of the moon, I could barely see them. One curled up like a little ball, his face pressed against the side of the pack-and-play; the other sprawled out on the big bed, looking so much longer than I remembered him. They were wearing their striped pajamas, the only matching set of clothes I’ve ever bought for them.

I laid down on the big bed, trying to take up as little space as possible so that I wouldn’t disturb him. Creaky floors, creaky bed springs, and then finally quiet again, only the swooshing of the ceiling fan interrupting the silence.

Several hours later, as he was changing position in his sleep, his hands brushed against my shoulder. He froze for a second; then his hands moved again, trying to figure out the obstacle in his way. When the hands reached my hair, so much thicker and curlier than his grandma’s or aunt’s, he finally said, “Mommy! Mommy, it’s you!” “It’s me, baby.” “I’m so glad you are here.” “Me, too, baby. Let’s sleep now.”

Several more hours passed, and when the sound of the fan could no longer muffle the songs of the birds outside, the pack-and-play next to the bed began to move. Its little occupant was tossing and turning, eventually giving way to soft coos. As I sat up on the bed, he looked at me cautiously, and as I stood up and approached the pack-and-play, he began to cry. After a week away, he did not recognize me. But as I leaned down to pick him up, he stopped crying. “Hi, baby. It’s me.” When I picked him up and held him, his whole body literally melted into me. Every minute or so, he would lift his head off my chest and look inquisitively at my face, as if to confirm it was still me. Then he would smile and lower his head back down.

As I stood there, I wondered how my heart could keep from bursting when it was so full of love.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


This morning, my husband and my sons got on the plane to travel half way across the country to see Husband’s family, where the boys will be spending a week while Husband and I, as we do every June, work at our company’s largest conference. After taking the three of them to the airport, where I quietly shed many tears as they boarded the plane, I came home to an empty house, and it has been nothing like what I expected. I knew I would miss them. I knew I would feel sad. But I was also looking forward to this time, two days—48 hours!—at home on my own before I leave on Friday morning to travel to the conference. I thought about how much I could get done: organize the closets, upload some pictures online, set up the crib (yes, Baby is still sleeping in the bassinet, even though he is way over the weight limit), replant a bunch of plants, get a haircut, get a pedicure, put away maternity clothes and outgrown baby clothes, and the list goes on—not to mention hours and hours of uninterrupted work time (I work at home most days). For two days, I will be a free woman, I thought to myself.

Instead, I sit here, feeling completely empty.

I caught myself looking at the clock to see how soon 5 p.m. will be here so that I can go pick the kids up at the babysitter’s—before realizing that at 5 o’clock, I won’t need to go anywhere. I reminded myself to return my friend’s phone call tonight, thinking that I could do it around 8:30, immediately after the kids go to bed—before realizing that I have no one to put to bed tonight.

It’s amazing how certain things become so ingrained in our minds. After four and a half years, motherhood is more that just part of my life. It is my life. It is in everything I do. I am more than a mother, but I am a mother first and foremost. I know that not every mother feels the same way, and I really respect that. Looking back, I think this may have been the toughest transition for me when Child was born. I felt like I was losing my old self, that it was being ‘invaded’ by the demands of motherhood. But with time, it became more comfortable, more natural, so when Baby was born, I was able to delight in the joy that a new baby brings instead of dwelling on what this addition is doing to the ‘real me.’ The ‘real me’ is very different now, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Today, in an empty and quiet house (exactly the type of house I crave so often in the chaos of everyday life), I feel so completely incomplete.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

This time will pass quickly

“Enjoy your newborn. Sleep when your baby sleeps. This time will pass quickly.”

This was written in bold at the bottom of the hospital discharge instructions from my midwives’ practice. My guess is that most women see the last sentence as an encouragement of sorts, a pep talk: when you feel like you can’t take one more minute of this, remember that this will pass and things will get better.

But perhaps that’s not what the midwives mean at all.

“This time will pass quickly...”

...and in a blink of an eye, your baby will be six months old, and you will wonder where half a year has gone.

Half a year. With Child, I was always looking for the next thing. When will he roll over? When will he crawl? When will he stand? When will he eat finger foods? With Baby, I celebrate these milestones, but I am not waiting for them with anticipation. I delight in the now. I want him to remain a baby as long as possible. I realize now how fleeting this baby stage is.

This half-year point marks my three-month anniversary since returning to work. I dreaded the return to work, and I was right. I have been away from Baby on a daily basis for half of his life, and it breaks my heart. A parent’s decision to return to work or stay at home is such a personal thing, and I honestly believe that there is no right answer. The so-called mommy wars—stay-at-home moms vs. working moms—frustrate me greatly, and I have no interest in debating this issue. But for me, right now, being at work does not feel right.

When I went back to work after having Child, staying home was not an option. Back then, we recently purchased a house in one of the highest-priced markets in the country, and living on one income was out of the question. I started a new job after my maternity leave, and although it was incredibly difficult to leave my four-month-old baby boy at a daycare on that first day at work, I never considered the alternative. I was sad, I cried, I thought about him a lot, I hated the fact that he didn’t smell like my baby when I picked him up at the end of the day—he smelled like daycare, and so I cried again. But somehow, it got easier with time. Maybe it was because the time I spent on leave with Child was far from blissful. Breastfeeding was an absolute nightmare, what with mastitis in both breasts and the never-ending thrush and incredibly painful latch-ons that eventually forced me to pump exclusively, which, OMG, takes so much time because you spend 20 minutes bottle feeding, then 20 minutes trying to get the baby to sleep, then 20 minutes pumping, and then the cycle begins again. But I digress... Maybe part of me was eager to get away from that—and being at work provided a much-needed break.

This time, with Baby, it may have been possible for me not to return to work. I never actually sat down to do the math, but with some major cutbacks and fewer trips, we could probably make ends meet without my income. But I had to return to work for a different reason. As we contemplate moving out of this area in the very near future, my job provides stability. I could do my job from anywhere in the world, and being able to keep the same job when we move will be a major benefit for us. So I never let myself go too far down the road of contemplating staying at home.

But the thing is, I hate it. I don’t hate my job, but I hate being away from my boys. I miss them, and I will admit that I miss Baby more than I miss Child. Child loves his preschool, and I know that he is having more fun there than he would at home with me. So although I would love to spend more time with him, I am more content with him being away from me because I know how happy he is in school. But Baby—oh, how I miss him. I know he is happy with our wonderful nanny, a woman who’s been with us for more than three years now. I trust her completely. But selfishly, I miss my time with him. I want to be the one feeding him as he watches the spoon so intently and opens his mouth wide in anticipation. I want to be the one holding my hand on his belly as he drifts off to sleep. I want to be the one listening to his happy cooing as he wakes up. I want to be able to nurse him during the day and watch him get so excited about a meal that tries to latch on to my bra. I want to be the one taking him for walks and watching him observe and react to the world around him. I want to be the one hearing the compliments from passer-bys about how gorgeous and happy he is. I want to be the one playing with him and listening to him babble and giggle and laugh. I miss him horribly, and I resent being away from him. I hate, hate, hate the breast pump. Most of all, I hate feeling like I don’t have the ability to do anything right. When I work, I worry about missing out on my boys’ childhood or about finding enough time to pump between endless meetings and unfinished projects. When I am home, I worry about how much work I have to do after the kids go to bed. When they are in bed and I am frantically trying to do the laundry, pack lunches and wash bottles, I worry about how little attention I give to my husband. When you spread yourself too thin, you feel like you can’t give your 100% to anything.

Right around the time I returned to work, I read this post by Dutch (from Sweet Juniper), a former lawyer now stay-at-home dad, describing a day with his daughter. “I still have anxieties, concerns that I am ruining any chance at a career. But I can only hope that there will be enough years to try to recapture what I've lost by leaving the working world, and trust in the fact that there will never be any way to recapture any of this.”

Right now, my boys love being with me. Child begs me to play with him. Baby smiles the second he sees me. In a blink of an eye, six months have passed. Another blink, and my boys will be much more interested in hanging out with their friends or playing video games than spending time with me. I can’t recapture this time later, and I don’t want to regret it. I don’t want to miss it.

This time will pass quickly…

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Five is the new magic number

Dear Baby:

On Sunday, you turned 6 months old. But before I go reminiscing about this half-year mark, let me tell you what an amazing month month 5 was. Five has been the months of firsts.

Around the beginning of month 5, you discovered your feet and the fact that you can grab them and bring them to your mouth while lying on your back. This newfound knowledge successfully ended any hope that we had for you rolling over. Now that you have something to do while lying down, you’ve realized that rolling over is highly overrated. Now when we force tummy time on you, you don’t even attempt to roll over anymore—you simply cry with great frustration.

Also at the beginning of month 5, you started learning how to sit up, and by the end of the month, you have perfected this skill. We still put a Boppy around you at times, but you are fully capable of sitting up on you own, and over the last few days, I have seen you even reach for something away from you and then pull yourself back up to sitting. You seem quick keen on sitting up, so you now have very little patience for your bouncy chair—the recline on it is just too boring for you.

Two days after you turned 5 months, you boarded your very first flight to embark on your very first vacation to our favorite city—San Diego. You did a wonderful job on the plane, and you were a real trooper on the trip. You did not care too much for being in the stroller, so we ended up carrying you a lot (thank goodness for Baby Bjorn and Moby). You love to watch people, and being in the stroller must have not given you a good vantage point for people watching. You handled being away from home and the transition to a different time zone as if it was nothing.

When we returned from vacation, you had another first—your first solid food. While many babies (your brother included) have a tough time at first figuring out how to eat solids, you acted as if you’ve been eating from a spoon for years. You knew exactly when to open your mouth, how to get the food off the spoon, how to swallow it and how to open your mouth again in request for more. So far, you’ve had rice, peas, pears and oatmeal with great pleasure (although I am sad to say that you had a mild allergic reaction to oatmeal, so we will have to hold off on that for a little while).

As if to say, “now that I am eating solids, I could probably use a few of these,” two days after you had your first solid meal, you grew a tooth. Two days later, another tooth appeared. They did not seem to bother you much—or perhaps we were blaming your mild crankiness and ear pulling on recovering from travel when it was actually teething pain.

To celebrate these accomplishments, you figured out how to clap your hands, and you exercise this ability quite frequently and very skillfully—to our very enthusiastic “yay’s” and “bravo’s.” You always have a huge smile on your face when you clap your hands.

You continue to be completely captivated by your brother. These days I find it difficult to feed you with Child in the room because you always want to know what Child is doing and get really distracted. So I shouldn’t be surprised that it was your brother who elicited your very first belly laugh. You’ve giggled before, but this was a full-out, long laugh in response to a silly song Child was singing. Of course, hearing you laugh made Child laugh too, which made you laugh even more, and two of you kept laughing at each other for a long time until I realized that I should grab a camera, and by the time I turned it on, both of you stopped. I wish I could record this moment in my mind—the two of you laughing together—and play it back when I feel down. There is no better medicine.

Happy 6 months, my sweet.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This conversation happened as I was putting Child to bed tonight.

Child: Mommy, what does this ring mean?

Me: It means I am married to Daddy.

Child: Oh [disappointed]... But I want to be married to you.

Me: But you can’t be married to me. You can’t marry your mommy.

Child: Not even when I grow up?

Me: Not even when you grow up. But when you grown up, I hope you will find a person whom you will love very much and you will want to spend the rest of your life with her.

Child: [tears in the eyes] But what about you?

Me: What about me?

Child: [tears now flowing down his face] But I don’t want to be away from you. I will miss you.

Me: [fighting back the tears] Well... Maybe you can still live with us.

Child: Could you please make sure Baby will live with us then too?

Me: OK.

For the next few minutes, as I listened to him listing all of the girls he currently knows and pondering to himself which one he would marry, I could not keep the tears from coming. His love is so pure and so unconditional it makes my heart ache. I know that some day I will be counting the days until we can get him out of the house. I know that some day he and Baby will fight and scream how much they hate each other. I know that living with your grown children is not anyone’s vision of a happy retirement.

But today... today the thought of being away from him is as scary and heartbreaking and unfathomable to me as it is to him.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Nights Husband is spending away on business trip: 3

Minutes spent last night to get everything ready for the day: 90

Children driven to preschool and to the babysitter: 2

Bags packed to be carried to the car: 8

Bags carried to the car in the morning: 6

Realizing, when you get to the office, that the two missing bags were your lunch and your breast pump: so flippin' priceless

Monday, February 04, 2008


I have never liked New Year’s resolutions—mostly because I really suck at making them a reality. A whole year seems like an awfully long time to make a commitment to something. I admire people who can stick to their resolutions, but for me, most of them go out the window come February. So this year, I am trying a different approach. First of all, I decided not to even bother making any resolutions until the month of February. Secondly, I am not committing to anything for a year, but three months seems like a more reasonable expectation. So here is what I am thinking.

1. I resolve to lose weight.
I gained about 40 pounds when I was pregnant with Baby (and up till now, I lost only 15 of them—and nine of those was Baby himself! I initially lost more, but my holiday cookie-baking extravaganza did not help matters, neither did my long-standing addiction to chocolate and complete absence of will power). Add to that the 10 remaining pregnancy pounds I never lost after having Child and about five pounds I gained during the pregnancy that went nowhere, and you will see why my pant size has pretty much doubled in the last five years. I am 40 pounds heavier that I was before children. I am not foolish enough to think that I can get back to my pre-children body, but I can at least make a dent on the scale (no pun intended). So I join Sarah in the weight loss challenge.

2. I resolve to be a better friend.
I’ve been focused on myself and my own misfortunes for what feels like a very long time. I have missed birthdays, anniversaries and graduations, and I feel very, very selfish. Sending a birthday card or dropping a “how are you?” e-mail doesn’t take much, but it may mean a lot to the recipient.

3. I resolve to spend more quality time with my husband.
In the next three months, I want to go on at least three dates. Just the two of us. We have a great relationship, but life gets in the way, daily tasks take over, kids take center stage, and we find ourselves moving around each other, not together. I think it is fairly normal when you have young children, and I am not at all concerned about us, but I would very much welcome more opportunities to reconnect, to get closer instead of moving in parallel lines. Because life is so busy and so full of responsibilities, every marriage runs a risk of transforming the two people into business partners. And I refuse to let that to happen to us.

4. I resolve to write about my children.
In the fall of 2006, I started a blog about Child. It is a collection of short letters addressed to him, with simple stories from his life. My memory is notoriously poor, so I needed something to help me remember. And perhaps some day Child would be interested in reading these stories, too. Using a blog as a vehicle enabled me to make entries from anywhere since I could access it on any computer. I wrote fairly regularly for a while, but my last entry was almost a year ago. So I need to get back to writing down these stories--and writing them for Baby, too.

…And to round out the list, one last very important item:

5. I resolve to floss my teeth every day.
Gotta take care of those pearly whites.

So in early May, I shall update you on my progress. Wish me luck. God knows, will power is not one of my strengths.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Two firsts and a last

1. Baby has his first official cold. Snotty, plugged up nose, inability to eat efficiently or sleep well (both courtesy of the aforementioned plugged up nose). If Child’s health history is any indication, I predict an ear infection for Baby in the next week or two. Oy. Overall though, I am pretty impressed that this is his first cold in 12 weeks, given the fact that his big brother brings all sorts of preschool germs home and is contantly giving him kisses.

2. Yesterday was Baby’s first snow outing. I have been begging for snow since that idyllic peaceful weekend in the mountains almost a year ago. I hate the cold weather, but I love the snow. I love everything that snow brings—sledding, skiing, snowshoeing, mittens, scarves, red cheeks, eyelashes wet with snowflakes, hot chocolate, hearty soups, cuddles under the warm blankets, school cancelations, snowball fights, the brightness of nights, the feeling of peace.

A snow fall in this area is a fairly rare occasion—and it is very fleeting. It is not unusual for winter temperatures to dip into the 20s, but for some reason, when it snows here, the temps always hover around 32-34 degrees, which makes the snow turn into slushy dirty mess pretty much as soon as it hits the ground. And this leaves a very limited window of opportunity to enjoy the snow. So right after preschool, Child, Baby and I got ready to enjoy the newly fallen snow. With Baby safely tucked in the Baby Bj.orn in his snow suit and Child squealing with delight in his sled, I felt so very happy (and got quite a workout, I tell ya).

Now the snow is melting, and I am melting down, too. Today is the last day of my maternity leave. I am so not ready.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Two-month checkup

At 23 ¾ inches and 13 lbs., Baby is growing like a champ and falling between 80th and 85th percentiles. He charmed the doctor with all sorts of coos and smiles, but then they had to ruin it all with four shots plus an oral vaccine. Baby’s reaction to shots, if I could put it into words, would go something like this:

Shot 1: “Whoa, that hurts. You better knock if off, lady.”
Shot 2: “I said I do not like this, lady. What did I ever do to you?”
Shot 3: “What part of KNOCK IT OFF do you not understand?”
Shot 4: “YOU MOTHER F***ER!!!!!”

With all the wonders of modern medicine, why can’t they figure out how to give several vaccines with just one needle stick? I mean seriously, four different sticks? I would be pissed, too.

Following the appointment, instead of drifting off into a stress-induced sleep coma for several hours, like Child used to do after all of his immunizations, Baby insisted on continually telling us how pissed he was about the whole ordeal for the next 48 hours. Poor guy, I really felt sad for him. And boy, I surely am not looking forward to the next round of shots at the four-month checkup.

He is developing right on track, and with his weight, we should be able to start solids at four months if we wanted to. His head and neck muscle control is great, although I have been pretty lax with giving him tummy time (because he hates it so), so I need to do better. Like all babies, he has the sweetest toothless smile, which he gave only to his dad for the first couple of weeks and then finally began doling them out freely to anyone (including me) (I can’t say I wasn’t a little jealous about that).

The best part is (and yes, I know you will hate me for this—and rightly so, I would too), beginning right before Christmas, he started sleeping through the night. From 9 p.m. until 7 a.m. With no sorts of sleep tricks on our part. Child began sleeping through the night at about 2 ½ months, but only with the help of dream feeds (courtesy of the Baby Whisperer book). But Baby actually slept worse when we tried the dream feeds, so we stopped those after a few failed attempts, thinking he was not ready, and lo and behold, he began sleeping all night long. Of course, there are some nights when he doesn’t sleep that well, but those are few and far between. You know, I am almost afraid to post about this, thinking that I will jinx myself. The thing is, he does not sleep during the day. A few 20-30 minute catnaps is all we get. Once in a great while, he can nap for an hour—and it feels like Christmas, I tell ya. Needless to say, I have not been showering much these days. But we do get out of the house a lot, especially with this gorgeous 60-degree weather we’ve been having the last couple of days. So I am stinky, but at least not as exhausted as I used to be. This should be a huge plus when I return to work on Jan. 22. (Once again, really hoping I am not jinxing it).

No more silence (maybe)

Am I the only person in the blogosphere who finds it difficult to post any sorts of updates now that Baby is here? I mean, I don’t have a really good track record here, but in the past, my lack of posting had more to do with having nothing new to say (or some stupid excuses like too much work). Now, I have so much to say, so much that I want to talk about, so much that I need advice/support on, so much that I simply want to have as a written record so that I don’t forget… However, I find it nearly impossible to find a decent amount of time to write. Part of the reason is the fact that Husband doesn’t know about this blog, so when the kids are in bed at night and I actually have some free time, I feel like I am sneaking around if I were to post. And during the day… well, there just isn’t any free time during the day (which is definitely a topic for a post, as Baby appears very much against sleeping during the day).

I have composed so many posts in my head while nursing, but by the time I miraculously (like right now!) get a free block of time to write, the issue either becomes irrelevant or outdated. I think I need to let go of my perfectionism and just write what’s on my mind instead of finding the right way to say it. After all, that’s why I started to blog—to write down whatever was on my mind in hopes that writing would help me find an answer or at least get it off my chest. So please forgive me if my posts from now on will become poorly written, unedited and just plain boring. Then again, maybe that’s how they’ve been prior to now…in which case, there is lots more poor writing and boringness to come. Here’s what’s in store: my never-ending struggle with breastfeeding, the dreaded return to work, sleep—or lack thereof, parenting second time around, 2-month check up. Thanks for sticking with me.