Little V Is One Month Old

October just arrived and I took some one month photos of Little V. She was a little fussy about it, but complied after a change and two feedings. I had fun with some cat ears a dear friend sent along for Little V, as well as a skull I bought from a bone church in the Czech Republic. Here comes the Halloween season!

As I write this, we are having another typical day. I read poetry from the Tang Dynasty to her, did some tummy time, and we are listening to music again. Dear God…Did you make disease and the diamond blue? Did you make mankind after we made you? And the Devil too! Followed by something a little lighter, Bebel Gilberto’s version of Girl From Ipanema. 

Ah, por que estou tão sózinho?
Ah, por que tudo é tão triste?
Ah, a beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha
Que também passa sozinha

This week, Little V’s neck strength improved significantly, and we were able to take her out to exercise on steep hills in the neighborhood in her jogger without her head constantly flopping forward. It feels like this happened overnight; half a week ago, I aborted the workout because I constantly had to adjust her head while walking up the hill.

We took her to a few social outings, including to the park to meet some friends (she slept through the whole thing), and to grandma and grandpa’s house to hang out with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. She has continued to do tummy time at home with grandpa, and was a bit of a showoff with her bottle skills when friends came to visit over the weekend. Apparently, she likes needs an audience to prove her competence.

Little V also went to the beach for the first time on a clear, bright, Monday, with mom, dad, and grandpa. She experienced southern California beach life on a week day morning – not a soul about (not even a surfer) except for us and a couple of dudes who were likely non compos mentis, yelling at seagulls and ranting nonsense to each other.

Week 40

My mind is tired, perhaps because I did not sleep well the night before, or maybe just general fatigue from feeling like a really fat old person, huffing and puffing up hills and “ohhhhh my bones.” I did some yoga on Monday, followed by triceps dips and wide squats with a 20 pound weight.

Packed 3 conference calls in on Tuesday. I may schedule some things tentatively for after my due date in the (likely) event Fetus is late.

8/24/17

Thursday, while on a conference call at 5:00 p.m., I felt some a sudden onset of low back pain and tightness and thought I’d better wrap a couple of things up in case I was going into labor. It was better by the time I got home, so I did some light yoga to stretch things out, and then we walked the hill across the street a couple of times. Some variation of this sensation continued throughout the night, but with less intensity (woke up a few times but slept through most of it).

8/25/17

When I woke up in the morning I thought I better not go into work and just do some work from home instead. I had just one major thing to finish up, but I felt it would be just fine quickly wrapping it up from the comfort of home. Of course as soon as I sent out an email saying I was working from home, I stopped feeling anything for 2 hours, remote access to my work computer failed to initiate, and I found myself twiddling my thumbs (writing this) at the kitchen table with a cat glued to my lap. Very good use of time.

So I dumped Yona off my lap, swept the floor, took out the trash, and put away some dishes. On my way back from the dumpster, our neighbor gave us some cat toys that his cat did not happen to fancy, so I came back and entertained Yona with them.

I ended up putting in a full day of work, and we did some hill walking at night.

Weekend

The weekend was a bit of a blur. I started to have sort of minor contractions, that felt like a combination of cramps and back pain, which woke me up a few times at night, and then started happening every 20, then 10 minutes. I used this as an excuse to be lazy. We took a really brief walk on the beach and did some meditation.

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.

Week 37

Things are escalating quickly. I am waking up 3 times a night to pee (ugh – for about a week now) and Fetus’s movements continue to feel like she’s rearranging my organs, or worse, kicking my spine from time to time. I beg to differ with whoever claims babies move less at this point because they have less space! She has plenty of space and is having a great time in there. It’s like the alien movies where someone’s body has been invaded by an alien and it starts trying to break out of their abdomen and you can see it wriggling and moving and poking underneath the skin.

I’m done with all the reading I intended to do (including Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, heh) and we also finished infant care and breastfeeding classes.  We took a CPR class over the weekend, which is the last thing on the schedule. I sort of feel like I’m cramming for finals here. A lot of the information is not at all intuitive and it’s a marvel what kind of education and learning is required when it seems most other animals can figure all this stuff out by instinct.

Still continuing to exercise:

Monday:  I walked the hill by our old house twice, but had to pee like crazy the entire time. This is not a long exercise, and I went to the bathroom right before we left the house!

Wednesday: Walked the stairs at the beach 5x, did 3 sets of 24 lunges, and a couple of wall sits. My knees are irritated at me so I might cool it on the squats for a little bit.

Thursday: Prenatal Yoga

Saturday: Yoga at home

Sunday: Walked the hill and did three sets of squat jumps.

Late Third Trimester Exercise

Week 35

Monday: Prenatal Yoga

Tuesday: Hiking by our old house. About 3 miles round trip, 45 minute hike, nice view at the top. One of my favorites for a quick hike because of the short distance (didn’t even have to pee once on the hike!) and decent elevation gain.

Wednesday: Weights. Triceps dips, bridge lifts, squats with 20 pound weights, wall sits, low squat jumps.

Friday: Aspired to walk the stairs at the beach, but did not get very far. I only made it 5 times because I was tired and my legs are starting to hit my belly when I take two stairs at a time which is uncomfortable and annoying as fuck.

Weekend: Really tired, did nothing. Walked around Comicon on Saturday to people watch and go to bars for a few hours (and yell at an anti-abortion protester to shut the fuck up) and that was too much excitement for me.

Week 36

Monday: Prenatal Yoga

Tuesday: 3 hill sprints, 2 sets of 13 squat jumps, 25 regular squats

Wednesday: Triceps dips, squats with weights, wall sitting, bridge lifts.

Weekend: Does lounging around the pool in the desert or going clubbing count for anything? Probably not. On Sunday we walked up a hill near our house 3 times, but that wasn’t too intense and didn’t really counter the weekend sloth.

???

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…

 

Week 35 Workouts

Exercising has become a constantly evolving project. I tried doing my regular hill sprinting (6 times) around 30 weeks or so and wasn’t feeling so hot. I felt stiff, crampy, and achy and laid off sprints altogether for about a month. However, I decided to see if I could work them back in and am currently alternating 3 hill sprints with 3 sets of 12-15 squat jumps and a couple of Yoga stretches for a quick workout.

Hiking has become increasingly challenging. In the first couple of trimesters, the cardio aspect was harder, but in the third trimester, I basically have to pee constantly on hikes and really start to wither in the summer heat. I’m still hiking… it’s just a lot less pleasant. We did a 4-mile hike last weekend during which I had to pee twice, thought I was going to melt, and then needed a nap afterwards.

The hill I used to jog is still in the repertoire, but I started walking it twice instead, except for this past weekend, when it was too hot and I walked it once and did three sets of squat jumps instead of the second round. The squat jumps are my all-purpose filler to replace anything I can’t do  comfortably, but those (and squats in general) are starting to be a bit hard on the knees, so we’ll see how long I can keep those up.

I’m still working in some stairs by the beach every week or so. As with the hill, I can’t jog them any more, but I go up two steps at a time and do 8 sets while enjoying the lovely ocean view. Unfortunately, with the increasingly warmer weather, there is more foot traffic at the beach and on the stairs, but for now, this is a pretty reliable workout.

Up until week 34 I was doing one day of weights a week, including some butt lifts, squats with 20 pound weights, wall sits, triceps dips, biceps curls, and shoulder lifts. Weights didn’t happen week 34 just because I was busy doing other stuff, but hopefully not too much has changed in a week and a half and I can resume it as usual this week.

I am doing prenatal yoga once a week, which is still pretty gentle, but as I am able to do less, I might start going twice a week. I still suspect Yoga is the reason my hips are bothering me less in my sleep and is responsible for at least some degree of overall well-being.

Sunset Boulevard II

She misjudged, flooded her burning unrestrained veins, and while she fearfully fantasized she would fall in love to a symphony of bad songs again, her quiet friend in the corner was feeling a secret silence creep in from the corners of the diner. The flash of lights and obscene billboards of Sunset Strip beat against the surreal levity of everything else, melting into a smooth bleeding in their favorite wasteland.

The three of them fell asleep in bed together, in the room at the end of a small hallway of mirrors, an unfinished bottle of Hennessy left on the nightstand

One of them whispered but I want to continue my amphetamine romance as she drifted off to gray beach mists steaming around, a quiet, solitary expanse, and white breasts catching warm sun rays on a Mexican beach

When she heard her mother’s name called she opened eyelids to sunshine piercing its way through heavy blinds, spilling across the wall panes of glass

Imagine You’re Standing At the Shore…

I went to yoga again yesterday, even though I needed much more vigorous exercise after eating gummies, chocolates, goldfish, and other unfortunate snacks throughout the day. Toward the end of the session, our instructor had us relax and envision standing at the shoreline of the ocean. She asked us to take in the wide expanse of sea, and to listen to the rhythm of the waves.

The type of beach that came to mind immediately was in southeast Asia. I started in Phu Quoc, Vietnam, but a little jellyfish swam by my feet, so I migrated to Phuket, Thailand, but the water was a bit darker than I preferred. I settled on the shore of White Sand Beach in Candidasa, Bali, where I sipped on a large bottle of cold lager and ate an entire grilled fish, with a side of a local sweet and sour fish sauce-based dip while lounging in the sand. It suddenly occurred to me I will not likely be carefree and alone with my husband on a remote beach in southeast Asia, drinking and eating with reckless abandon any time soon, or indeed, for many years to come, and I sort of wanted to cry.

Of course, that was not the point of the exercise, and our “birth wisdom” tip sheets at the end of class fittingly reminded me to check negative thoughts at the door.

Work and Pregnancy: Be Careful With Your Professional Wardrobe

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I wasn’t feeling great. It was not awful, like it can be for some women, but I tired easily and would without fail start to feel nauseous in the early afternoon each day. Thus, unless I had to be at court or in a deposition, I started rolling into work in yoga pants and T-shirts. I’d like to say this is something I have only done in pregnancy, but that would not be true. However, the frequency of this certainly increased when I was pregnant. That’s one of the best parts about working in a law office 2 blocks from the beach – the casual atmosphere.

This worked out quite well for a couple of weeks. The night before I had a big conference to attend, I decided to try on my suits, just in case. Good thing I tried, because I found that in the 2 weeks I’d exclusively been wearing yoga pants, I had grown a belly in what felt like overnight. While I could zip up most my skirt suits and pants, I could not breathe in them if I sat down, which is not good for attending a conference during which you are sitting down 90 percent of the time. My shirts could be buttoned, but I was also pushing the limits in this regard.

I grew momentarily a bit frantic. Not only did I have a 2-day conference, I had an oral argument in court right after. Being suitless was not an option! Fortunately, I recalled a cheap suit I had from law school days, made of a stretchy polyester, which was up for the task. Lesson learned. This shit creeps up on you fast.

“I could barely button this shirt, but at least the skirt fits!”

Once I made it through the week, I immediately booked my ass to Ross and Target to buy some pencil skirts and larger shirts before the next stage in expansion caught me unawares. I found from browsing online that professional maternity wear is a rip-off, especially considering the fact I will be constantly growing for several months and will hardly get much use out of these items. I ended up supplementing my professional clothes with a mish-mash of shirts, dresses, and skirts from Target, Ross, and Wal-Mart. Some of these items were actually maternity clothes, while others I ordered were either a loose-fitting style or a larger size than I normally wear.

So far so good, but we’ll see what I’ll have to adjust once I get to 8-9 months. Or maybe it will be a good excuse to avoid court appearances and depositions? Just kidding.