Three Weeks In…

The hard part about all of this is, you think you notice a pattern, and then baby switches it up on you. She’ll sleep through diaper changes one day (awesome!), then scream through them the next (damn!). For a couple of days, she was nursing for about 20 minutes on each boob, then 2 days later was doing 10-minute spurts. She certainly is keeping us on our toes, and it’s a constant learning process to say the least.

I’ve started walking the hill regularly and working squats back into the exercise routine. I lost about 9 pounds after giving birth, and weighed about 132 pounds in the first couple days after returning home from the hospital. I’ve been eating normally and lost another 7 pounds over the next 3 weeks. 16 down, 14 more to go. Yet, all the weight loss in the world won’t do anything for my angry stretch marks, which are worse on my left side because Little V threw most of her weight on that side when I was pregnant. It’s amazing how they seemingly developed overnight. I had not a single stretch mark up to week 38; they seemingly appeared out of nowhere and then exploded with the fury of a thousand suns.

I started this post a week ago, and I write this now, I realize stretch marks were the least of my problems. Late last week, I developed mastitis, and had all kinds of horrible symptoms like terrible breast pain, body aches, chills, hot flashes, and a low-grade fever. I’ve never received a flu shot because I honestly cannot remember the last time I had the flu, and this experience confirmed my decisions. They say mastitis causes flu-like symptoms, and I felt weak and horrible in a way that felt quite unfamiliar. I was like oh shit, is this what the flu feels like? What the fuck. All I wanted to do was pound ibuprofen and sleep, but Little V wanted to feed nonstop from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. that night and I definitely cried.

Fortunately, antibiotics acted quickly. I took the first dose at 9:00 p.m. and felt better by Saturday morning. Just in time for an old friend’s wedding reception/anniversary party. This is a friend with whom I’ve made trouble since sophomore year of college, and I had been looking forward to this celebration for some time. The event was held at Syrah, where I had spent many a drunken night, e.g. Halloween, New Years Eve, birthdays, and plenty of times for no particular reason, including one night during law school when I took too many tequila shots and fell asleep briefly in the adjoining parking lot at the end of the night.

In what seemed like a wonderful alignment of lucky stars and good teamwork, my dad was able to watch Little V at a friend’s hotel room only 2 minutes walking distance away from the party venue, Little V caught onto bottle feeding after having been introduced to it just 2 days prior, I felt much better, and we were able to make an appearance and celebrate. I fed her in our friend’s hotel room right before we left, and Husband left the reception an hour in to bottle feed her. All in all, it was a highly successful evening.

Week 39

Monday

I met a friend, who is also pregnant for lunch at Panera. She’s in the process of switching over to my OB-GYN because she was somewhat displeased with her (mine has been awesome up to this point!) Work flew by because I charged through a couple of projects I wanted to wrap up before leaving. After work, I did a couple of yoga videos.

Tuesday 

Work went by fairly quickly again, and I met another friend for lunch. I don’t usually eat out for lunch very often, but I figured now is the time to make last-minute time for good friends before Fetus makes her appearance. (Hey, think of all the money I’ve saved by not drinking alcohol these past 9 months!)

I’ve been trying to eat healthier, but I decided YOLO and suggested Persian. It’s not that Persian food is necessarily unhealthy, but I love it a lot and tend to go overboard. We met at this place with a sweet ass lunch special. They give you a small basket of bread and olives as soon as you are seated, and then the salad bar alone is glorious;  I treated myself to cucumber and tomato salad, tabouli, dolma, pickled veggies, and dates. The two of us shared the eggplant stew and a koobideh kabab that came with the usual roasted, juicy tomato and buttery saffron rice. Yeah, you try ordering this stuff and not going overboard.

The lunch was so lavish and abundant I even had leftovers to take home for husband, who enjoyed it as well. To think, there once was a time he hated Persian food! I’m glad I turned him away from a life of sure deprivation.

This put me in a great mood the rest of the day, and I compensated after I got home with some weight exercises (triceps dips, wide squats with a 20 pound weight, wall sits, bridge lifts) and a little bit of yoga.

Wednesday

Very tired. I successfully limited my liquid intake after 8:00 p.m. the night before and did not wake up much to pee… but did wake up for no reason at 3:00 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. We went to a doctor’s appointment, and I’m not dilated, though she said this is not any kind of predictor as to when I would go into labor. I was not particularly motivated to exercise after work, but managed some triceps dips and about an hour of yoga.

We went through a big box of baby clothes our neighbor kindly gave us, and sorted them by size. Most of them were boy items, but it’s not like babies really care. Girls can dress up as frogs and bears too. Although the onesie that says “Lock up your daughters!” really might be a little odd.

Thursday

Had lunch with boss and clients at Bentley’s. I ordered a Cobb Salad with the Mandarin ginger dressing instead of bleu cheese dressing. It came in epic proportions, but I think with the hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, and veggies, it was still a healthier choice. On the other hand, the baked Brie appetizer with onion dip and berry jam were not.

After lunch, I stopped by Champagne Bakery, located in the same shopping center. I used to go to the one in Irvine all the time in high school, when a friend of mine worked there. I’d hang around and chill toward the end of his shift and wait for him so we could hang out. He introduced me to French desserts such as Creme Brulee, for which I have developed a lifelong love, meringues, and custard brioche. He eventually was fired for stealing from the cash registers, but my best friend in high school later also worked here, so I continued to be a regular fixture for some time.

On this occasion, I stopped to get desserts for our wedding anniversary. Although I had planned a trip to the Cravory, which has oddly flavored cookies that are amazingly tasty (e.g. balsamic rosemary – who knew this could be so delicious?), I changed my mind and was drawn to Champagne instead. I got husband a slice of Princess cake and a berry tart for myself. It was tough choosing between the berry tart and Creme Brulee. Creme Brulee usually wins over all else, but maybe pregnancy has had an effect on my taste? Also, the berry tart is just aesthetically quite a bit more pleasing. I also bought a raspberry macaron for myself and ate it on the way back to work. Stayed tuned for weight gain.

We walked a nearby hill 3 times for exercise, then rushed to the Bahn Mi place for dinner before closing time. The sandwiches were delicious and we could not believe we’d taken so many years to finally try this place.

Weekend

Friday, I went for a foot/body prenatal massage combo and it was amazing. There’s a place I’ve gone to a couple of times now that is sort of a good mix between discount massages and a spa experience. It’s more money than a cheapo Asian place, but the skill level and atmosphere are also better. The atmosphere is not quite at the level of a more professional spa, as I’ve never been to a luxury spa where the masseuse is wearing shredded denim capris or smells vaguely of cigarettes, but I’ve seriously gotten two of the best massages ever here, irrespective of price, so I’m a fan.

Saturday, I did some stretches and we did the  steep hiking trail hill by our old house once, which was nice. Later in the day, we went to the beach and did some meditation practice and I did some more stretching on the beach. I haven’t gone to Yoga class since I finished up my 10-class package, but a lot of the poses and stretches I learned in class have been immensely helpful, particularly toward the end of the third trimester.

Sunday, I walked the same hill twice and it was a big mistake. It tired me out for the rest of the day and made me grouchy. For the future, I will remember the oft-repeated advice regarding not pushing yourself too much during pregnancy. It is not the time. I think it’s good to push myself to get some type of exercise even when I’m feeling lazy, but maybe not to push it to uncomfortable limits e.g. long hikes, too much cardio, too much heat. Certainly it’s not harmful and it might be helpful for staying in shape, but the toll it takes on the rest of the day and sometimes the day after is not worth it. Sort of like a bad hangover. Except I didn’t have the pleasure of drinking, and instead of dehydration and a headache, I’m grouchy, irritable, and tired.

Taiwanese Bakery Treats

We celebrated our 12 year anniversary together by going to an amazing Russian/Georgian restaurant in North Park. We actually also celebrated our 7 year anniversary here. Afterwards, I was craving 菠蘿麵包 (pineapple bun), so we stopped in the Convoy area to get some yummies at 85 Degrees c. They did not have anything labeled in Chinese (not that my Chinese is that great), but it gets confusing when every Taiwanese bakery insists on naming the damn 菠蘿麵包 something different. It was “Bolo Bread” at Sunmerry in Irvine. Here at 85 Degrees it was “Boroh Danish,” which was particularly confusing because I do not associate it with Danish-style pastries at all, and there is no filling inside. I also saw 太陽餅 in the check out line and had to have that too.

The 太陽餅 was awesome, the 菠蘿麵包 was not as good as the Sunmerry one. Maybe it has to do with being pregnant but I’ve really had a tooth for Taiwanese bakery treats recently. Too bad all the good stuff is a 30-minute drive away from our place. Or maybe that’s a good thing. I really think Asians are increasingly starting to move into San Diego County, but it still feels like this:

 

???

As I near the end of pregnancy, I feel the old doubts of having children surfacing. I’ve spent the last several months treating this entire experience like an important project, with plans, research, classes, books, etc., so I thought I’d resolved such anxieties, but I suppose that is not the case after all. One would think the last 7 months of preparation would have served as a gradual transition, but it seems the impending due date only highlights the severity and certainty of this decision.

I used to be utterly freaked out by the idea of giving birth; that’s still somewhat the case but infinitely overshadowed by the fear that I won’t enjoy being a mother. I’ve had to make many lifestyle changes and compromises since December 23, 2016 but of course none of it can compare to what lies ahead. It seems like having to rebuild an entire life from scratch (mine).

I think my husband and I have built a special life together. I don’t mean “special” in the sense that we’re particularly unique, interesting, or superior compared to others, but 12 years together necessarily results in something irreplaceable and I could easily live another 12 years like this, or the rest of my life.

We met on a rainy night in February painted by the haze of alcohol. The friend who introduced us accidentally set something on fire at a party, after which we quickly made our departure, and I was so drunk I spelled my own name wrong when I entered it into my husband’s cell phone. We didn’t start dating until a year and a half later, because only Fools Rush In.

When I first moved in with him, the living arrangements could best be described as a small fraternity house nestled in the heart of suburbia, inhabited by gamblers and students who drank too much, joined by unruly dogs, and then our equally recalcitrant cat.

During my first year of law school, my husband quit his engineering job and became a professional poker player, so the summer after my first year, we leased our room in the house, and left the country for two and a half months. We rented an apartment in the suburbs of Barcelona, and he funded our trip with poker while I promised to undertake some domestic tasks while he worked. The “tasks” were an adventure in and of themselves, as I enjoyed every moment of Barcelona, including regularly walking 25 minutes to the grocery store (we did not have a car), where I could buy unfamiliar foods and practice Spanish. We fell in love with the city, but moved on to Prague, Milan, Rome, Tuscany, and Yellowstone National Park the rest of the summer.

For the duration of law school, I packed all my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I could have 4-day weekends every weekend, and there were many trips to Vegas with free hotels, compliments of my husband’s card-counting days. When I unexpectedly was notified I was the recipient of a $32,000 merit scholarship I hadn’t applied for, we took tequila shots all night at a bar in Cardiff-by-the-Sea that now longer exists, and I jumped into the ocean with all my clothes on.

Eventually, we moved into a two-bedroom apartment by ourselves, in a neighborhood characterized by beach bums, dirty hippies, quirky stores, and drug use. Our complex was built in the 1970’s, and rumor has it the communal hot tub was built of an epic size because the complex used to be a swinger’s colony. The neighborhood has since gentrified and I miss some of its formerly bummy, disheveled, and unpretentious elements.

After I took the bar exam, we celebrated with an Asia trip to Taiwan and Thailand. We scootered through the canyons of Taroko Gorge and indulged in decadence on Thai beaches. In the first couple of years after I started working, we traveled to Kauai and hiked Mt. Whitney with his family, and I started paying down substantial amounts of law school debt.

We got married in 2013, 2 weeks after our 8-year anniversary in a ceremony officiated by a dear friend. We wrote our own vows and exchanged them in the glow of the southern Californian sun, and at the reception, through a series of small mishaps, many guests got unbelievably drunk. Two weeks later, we honeymooned in Bali, Macau, and Taiwan.

In 2014, we went to Colombia, where we ate ceviche on Cartagena beaches, hiked a beautiful national park, and walked the romantic alleys of Santa Marta at dusk. I took a picture outside the former residence of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and constantly had a Colombian beer in hand to counter the Caribbean heat. We spent one night in some of the worst accommodations I have ever experienced, and when I was awoken at 4 a.m. to roosters, cats, and dogs brawling in the streets amid human yells, 90 degree heat/90 percent humidity with a broken fan, and a broken bed, there was nothing to do but laugh at the outrageousness of the situation.

In 2016, we picked Vietnam over Greece and had a dream vacation at beach side resorts, daily all-you-can-eat buffets of Vietnamese breakfasts, luxurious city hotels, lush jungle retreats, and scooter rides in Saigon, Hue, Hanoi, and the Vietnamese countrysides. We took the longest cable car ride to the highest peak in Indochina and enjoyed the view as lone passengers in a car designed for 30 people with a 360-degree view of the valleys, rice terraces, and mountains of Sapa.

We drink, cook, hike, exercise, and laugh together. We’ve taken painting classes, dance classes, and played on a soccer team. We own a house and a condo together, refurbish old furniture sometimes, save for early retirement, and spoil our cats. We are very different in some ways and have been at each other’s throats yet are fundamentally so well-suited for each other that if I weren’t an atheist I’d chalk this up to fate.

Our years together have not been extraordinary in and of themselves (plenty of people hike, drink, and travel), but for me, the last 12 years has been characterized by little pieces of magic here and there, and everywhere.

When I was little, I was prone to impractical daydreaming. I would daydream of being a rock star or sprouting wings and flying, for instance. On the other hand I rarely contemplated much in detail about the specifics of my future life. My eleven-year-old self didn’t care to think about what kind of career, husband, house, kids she’d have, or vacations she’d take, beyond assuming that there would eventually be a job, a dude, and an abode in the mix on an abstract level, because that’s what adults do.

So what I mean by “special” is, it’s special to me, and if my eleven-year-old self was given a glimpse into this future, she’d be pretty damn smug and content, implausible fantasies of growing wings and flying across oceans aside.

Having a kid is supposed to be the “next” step, a higher level or deeper stage, but sometimes it feels more like we’re tearing parts of a great creation down and rebuilding it to be something completely different and unfamiliar.

So, what will the next 12 years be like? Stay tuned…