Mombits: A Lot of Meaningful Nothingness

I went to school for seventeen years and worked in corporate America for seven more and none of that really prepared me for the most important work I’ve yet done in my life, which is to become the provider of nourishment and protection to another human soul. I look at his cheery little face and rapidly-growing chubby little body and am amazed and also freaked out to realize that I’m his lifeline, in the most basic sense of the word.

But. I’ve come to learn what every caretaker of small children already knows, that raising children is a lot of very meaningful nothingness. Mundaneness? I don’t quite know how to put it. What I mean is, growing up I always had this concept of work and usefulness that equated to doing something intellectually impactful to reach some goal. Cure cancer or end world hunger or save the whales. Everything beneath that goal, the daily routines of life, was secondary and only in service of that greater aspiration, something to rush through to get to the more important stuff of life.

But I remember when I got married and started taking care of not just me but also my husband, I realized from watching my mother and aunts and other women around me that cooking and cleaning are worthwhile and important activities too, that keeping a home pleasant and welcoming is a skill and a meaningful use of time. I learned not to rush through house work but to enjoy and take pride in it instead of resenting it.

Motherhood is that, but on a whole other level. Just before we left the hospital, our nurse said to me, “When you go home, focus solely on learning how to feed him. If that goes well, you don’t need to worry about anything else. Because what could be more important?” I’m glad she said that because I’ve thought about those words many many times these past several weeks. It’s been a lot of frustration and stress as I tried and failed to get him to latch properly (it took us a good six weeks to really get it down), groggy nights of feeding every two hours, a surprising amount of physical pain (sometimes enough to make me cry), hundreds of dirty diapers, and hours of sitting and waiting and holding this baby while he feeds and burps and sleeps. All of it so mundane and repetitive and exhausting but again, what could be more important? And in the same breath, what could be more trying? It’s so cliche but I now have so much more respect for other moms and caretakers of small humans.

I don’t know, just thoughts. I could probably have done a better job getting into this but I’ve been typing this post on my phone with one hand while feeding and that’s the best I can do for now.

This little face though!

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Mombits

Mombits: the collection of thoughts I have throughout the day that I want to write down, but don’t have time to weave into an actual complete and thoughtful post.

The perfectionist in me hates this. But days filled with important, if mundane, milemarks are flying by and I’ve been feeling really eager to write down and document this new mom life thing, because I’m learning so much, so fast. It’s crazy how much everything has changed for us in the past couple of months since we had Benji, and I don’t want to forget! But literally I have almost no time to write these posts. Or shower. Or even eat. I’ve discovered that especially in this sleep-deprived newborn stage, it’s a very real choice between getting anything done and stealing a few minutes of sleep while the baby is sleeping. And until now (8 weeks), sleep wins. Every second that he’s sleeping is a second that I can also be sleeping, and boy can I tell you how precious those seconds have become!

Feeling a little less frazzled now, so we’ll see how this goes. I’m going to try to just type out my thoughts as they come each day.

I’ve also been working on trying to write down my birth story.. whew! Coming soon.

That’s all I got for now. Baby’s taking his morning nap so you know what that means… zzzzzzz

Love,

Grace

He’s so big already..!

Growing a Human: Home Stretch

[Note: I wrote this post in mid-May, but never got around to putting it up for some reason. Here it is for the sake of chronology, because my next post will be our birth story!]

I thought I felt like a globe before, but now I know that that was nothing. Now I REALLY feel like a globe.

I’m now 35 weeks along, which means that in 2 weeks I’ll be considered full term, and then baby boy is free to come at anyyyy time. That. Is. Crazy. I talk to him whenever I remember, telling him “please don’t make me wait too too long, because mama is getting uncomfortable and we really want to meet you (preferably before you grow to be 10 lbs in my belly).” I think he hears me… right? ha ha

The other day I ate something spicy and was rewarded with a particularly sharp jab in the ribs. His kicks and squirms are a lot stronger/bigger now, so the feeling of foot-in-the-ribs can actually be really sharp and surprising. I don’t think I’m going to miss being pregnant that much (or at all), but it is a pretty cool experience to feel an autonomous being move around inside of my body. (Daniel, on the other hand, is grossed out by the feeling of limbs sliding around under my skin.)

Things I miss doing: sleeping on my back, bending over, rolling over in bed, breathing normally, seeing my knees when I look down.. I’ve stopped weighing myself, and actually closed my eyes when I got on the scale at the doctor’s office because who needs to be extra depressed?? Not me. Also, driving has become oddly challenging. First, because it’s hard to get in/out of the car without making odd squeaking/panting noises, and because sitting in that position makes it really hard to breathe. By the time I get to the office in the morning (about a 40 minute drive), I’m over it and want to go straight back home for a nap.

But in spite of those mild discomforts, I’m so thankful that we’ve made it this far and baby is still doing well, as far as we can tell. We’re getting excited/nervous to meet him, and I’m in particular just trying to prepare myself mentally/physically/emotionally/spiritually for the labor of bringing him out. Daniel asked me the other day if I feel ready to be a mom. I think I have the capacity to feel ready for whatever tiny step is next, and that’s it. Right now, I’m ready to be full term. And slowly I’m getting ready to give birth. And after that, I’ll be ready to be a mom to a newborn. And after that, an infant, a big baby, a toddler, and so on. I think that’s key for me to not become anxious about the whole entirety of motherhood descending upon me. Because I have absolutely no idea what I’m getting myself into..!!!

Okay, breathing. Laboriously.

Other thoughts: this weekend at church, Justin (our pastor) preached a message on Sabbath rest. I think it’s a message a lot of people in Silicon Valley need to hear, because we live in a culture of nonstop work-work-work. I see my coworkers work into the evenings and nights at home, and sometimes even over the weekend. It’s so normal to do that that people don’t think twice about it, and in fact it’s not a stretch to say that you’re probably looked down upon to some extent if you don’t answer emails after hours. I’ve known people to get reprimanded for not responding to things in the middle of the night. And it’s not brain surgery or rocket science.. it’s an email that can wait until morning.

I try my best not to let that culture seep into my life by drawing pretty strict lines between work time and home time. But I’m not immune to the anxiety that comes with wondering how we’re going to make things work after we have this baby. I’m planning on taking a few months off after he’s born, then going back to work and picking back up with school in the fall. I’m pretty uneasy about that, to be completely honest. I’m starting with a light load of school, but I know there will be at least a couple of nights every other week when I will be out of the house all day and late into the evening. I’m worried about how the baby will cope, how Daniel will cope, how I will cope.. There are the financial questions–tuition, childcare, rent, living expenses, insurance, etc., etc. And paramount to all of that, the physical/emotional/mental/spiritual well-being of our brand new human weighs on me. Will he be okay? Can we raise him to know that he’s safe, secure, loved, and cared for?

It’s a lot to think about, and there are moments when I’m really worried about what lies ahead. Those moments make me want to get up and start trying to create contingency plans for everything that might go wrong. But I’ve also come to recognize how much of a gift this pregnancy has been to me. Being physically incapable of doing everything I want to accomplish has forced me to make peace with relinquishing a lot of control. I acknowledge now, as our pastor said last weekend, that there will always be things left unfinished. And that I need to find rest in spite of that. My security can’t come from being able to successfully finish my work, because that will never happen. It comes from knowing that Christ finished HIS work on the cross, and in the end it’s not me but He who holds everything together.

 

Growing A Human: Third Trimester!

I can’t believe it but.. we’re now officially in trimester 3. Time has been a-flying! The first 20 weeks of this pregnancy felt like an absolute eternity, but now that I’ve been a lot more comfortable, time has been zooming by alarmingly fast. Almost every Friday, I wake up and say to Daniel, “Can you believe it’s the weekend again? It feels like Sunday was yesterday..??” Life feels very full, what with the extra energy it takes to do absolutely everything. Time is of the essence.

I’m 28.5 weeks along now, and today in the elevator at work, a complete stranger asked me when I was due. Safe to say I’m past the point where politeness would stop you from asking, in case the belly was just a belly 😛 How am I feeling, you ask? You might well ask, since everyone has been. I’m feeling great! Eating well, sleeping well (minus getting up to pee 3-4 times a night), and doing my best to get my 10k steps in every day. I can’t do too much else than that, because I get very winded and my feet/ankles start to feel like swollen potatoes after sitting at my desk all day, but I do my best. Baby is slowly encroaching my lung space, and eating only makes that real estate smaller. After dinner I like to lie down in the fetal position for a bit to catch my breath.

This past month we moved apartments (success!), went to IKEA 4 times, and have been slowly unpacking and organizing. We’ve reduced the amount of debris in our living space to a manageable level, but we’re still working on it. Crazy how much stuff two people can accumulate in just a couple of years. Purging and downsizing feels so nice. Hopefully by the time junior comes we’ll have a teeny bit of space for him (ha ha). I’ve mentally committed to being a minimalist parent, because the thought of adding a ton of plastic toys and baby things to the pile of things to organize in our small space stresses. me. out. I keep telling myself, kids all over the world grow up without x, so my baby will be fiiiine. Just the basics – my mantra. I know nothing about parenting, so this might all go out the window once he gets here, but for now that’s what I’m sticking to.

Daniel and I also went to Portland in mid-March for our babymoon. Initially I was kind of sad that we couldn’t go do something more exciting – we’d been talking about going to London last year – but once we got there, I was glad we were somewhere so chill. Mostly because I found I couldn’t handle more than a couple hours of walking/sightseeing at a time, and I think a bigger trip would have felt like a waste. We were away for four days, and it felt just right. We did our best to just chill, eating, napping, exploring, and staying up late. It was a luxury, taking time for just the two of us. It’s exciting to have a baby, but I feel a little wistful thinking about the good times we’ve had as a family of two. I’m thankful that we’ve had the time we’ve had to grow and get to know each other.

What else.. I wanted to share some “deep thoughts” in this blog to keep you interested, but I don’t really have many deep thoughts as of late. I’m mostly practicing thankfulness for small things, and learning to rest in not being in control. As we get closer to labor and delivery and parenthood (!), I’ve been practicing giving my fears and worries to God. I’ve always been terrified of giving birth, but lately I notice that I’m not so scared anymore. I have no idea what the pain will be like, but I don’t want to be afraid. I’ve also been dealing with some of my fears about being a parent. Some things I’ve been working on in therapy lately are my negative associations with childhood in general. I was a pretty unhappy kid, and I think I’ve carried an aversion to young children and things having to do with childhood for most of my life. Weird things like the smell of crayons, the sound of baby toys, children’s tv programs, and baby paraphernalia in general have always filled me with a vague dread. Knowing that that will be my life for the next several years if we have more than one kid, I’ve been dreading those triggers. But I’m giving that to God, trusting that I will love my child enough to move past that. People say it’s different when it’s your own kid. Is it?? I’m curious to see. Do I sound like a totally inhuman unloving person, saying these things? Possibly. But that’s the truth. I know parenthood will jolt me out of a lot of my self-centeredness in a way that even marriage has not. Oddly enough, I’m looking forward to that experience.

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Taking in the sights.. Multnomah Falls 😛
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Doing nothing in our hotel and loving it
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Salt and Straw!! I want this RIGHT NOW..
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He does love me!
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See? Also: me looking very swole
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Fixing the stove light in our new apartment
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Me looking like a goober. Ignore the mess behind me, we’re still mid-unpack. I could have tried to crop but.. nah. #reallife

Growing A Human: Six Months In

My goodness. It’s been a while!!

I’ve had several moments in the past few weeks when I have thought to myself, “I need to blog!” But always at a time when I couldn’t at that moment, and then the thought would dissipate and float down the river, as most of my thoughts do these days. My last update was midway through January. What’s happened since then..?

Oh yes – we found out we’re having a boy! I’m sure you know this already, but if not, there you go 🙂 I have to say I was really surprised. For whatever reason, even though I had no indication either way, it solidified in my mind that we were having a girl. When the ultrasound technician showed us our baby’s VERY OBVIOUS little boy parts, I was so shocked. It took me a few days to wrap my mind around it, but now we’re so excited to meet him!

(And no, we don’t have a name yet. Naming a person is hard!)

I’m now at 24.5 weeks, and happy to update that I’m feeling MUCH better lately–energetic, cheerful, sleeping well, and HUNGRY. Like, fifteen pounds hungry. People have been asking if I’m having cravings. Not really.. all food is wonderful, especially after 20 straight weeks of nausea and not being able to stomach anything. I’m experiencing the sheer delight of being able to eat and not feel terrible afterward! BUT I’m now the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, and boy, am I feeling it. The bottoms of my feet ache after standing or walking because it’s like I’m carrying around two ten pound dumbbells with me everywhere I go. It’s extra hard to get up from sitting, and sometimes I ask Daniel to push me into a sitting position when I want to get out of bed 😀 It’s a weird feeling!

Another weird feeling: the baby kicking, punching, and flipping. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure whether what I was feeling was the baby or just gas moving around my stomach. But now, it’s much stronger. I can feel him kicking and flopping around in there like a small slippery alien being. I feel him move most after I eat, and when I’m lying in bed at night. It’s a strangely pleasant feeling, minus when he’s kicking at my bladder, because I now need to go to the bathroom one million times a day.

I also now know why pregnant women are always touching their bellies. I always thought that was kind of weird–you don’t normally rub your stomach while walking around in public. But I find myself doing it too now. I think it’s the sheer oddness of having a part of your body become so big and round. It’s alien. It feels weird. And it’s kind of awesome. I’m now at the point where when I walk around at work, I see peoples’ eyes flick momentarily downward at my stomach before they flick back toward my face.

What else.. we’re getting ready to move this weekend, which has been kind of overwhelming. Packing up and saying goodbye to our first home as a married couple is a little bit sad. I’ve been reminiscing about all the good times and bad times we’ve had, getting to know each other, fighting over the way we live, making up, getting closer. I threw many tantrums in the beginning of our marriage, I’m sorry to say. But it’s been good times! We were at a wedding this past weekend, and someone commented that I look like I’m having a happy pregnancy. I really am–I don’t know if it’s the hormones or if it’s just that he’s been so great, but I feel incredibly and undeservingly lucky to live with Daniel. I get emotional thinking about it lately. I’m just in awe that two people as different as we are can become one unit and enjoy it as much as I (and hopefully, we 😛 ) do. He puts up with a lot from me, for which I’m so grateful. Marriage is truly a God thing, no joke!

I think that’s enough for now.. hopefully I’ll be more regular about updating, since I’m sure things will be picking up more as we go into trimester three in a few weeks. I shall leave you now with some very attractive photos of me being pregnant 😀

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Eating a Valentine’s macaron from my Valentine.. also just eating all the time
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I feel like a globe

Growing a Human: A Practice in Gratitude

9:43 PM on a Sunday night. Current status: trying to find a comfortable position to lie in on the couch, as it seems my insides have been nudged from their homes by my growing uterus and are wandering about within me trying to find their new places. Daniel is next to me, knocked out. We were halfway through an episode of Planet Earth II (which I highly recommend!) when he started snoring. David Attenborough puts him to sleep. Also, I think I exhaust him–though he never complains, the sweet man.

Speaking of which, our church is going through a series on gratitude, and today’s sermon gave me pause. Am I thankful? Are there areas where I lack gratitude? On reflection, I know there are, because I’m prone to complain. Especially about work, where I sometimes feel that I’m the very worst version of myself.

But also I’ve noticed lately, to my surprise, that I’ve become more and more grateful for the life I’ve been given. With age comes perspective? I have moments of misery when I need to have a good cry. But even then, I’m thankful that I can cry and let it out, that I have a safe place to be myself, that I’m accepted in spite of the mess that I am. That is a freedom and privilege that many people don’t experience. I am incredibly grateful for my my people–my family, my friends, my church. I’m not the type of person who has many friends, but I deeply value the relationships I have; they make me a rich person. I realize too that I’ve grown up with every material need met, when others have not. I don’t get why I got that privilege and protection, it’s so unfair and undeserved. I’m thankful for bodily, mental, and emotional health. I no longer take those things for granted.

I’m thankful for the little life growing inside of me. This more than anything is a practice in gratitude for me right now. Meaning, I have no idea how this little being is forming ears and eyes and limbs despite my inability to help it. You can’t make a baby; you just host the miracle of the making. I knew that, but I didn’t know it until it started happening to me. I hear its tiny heart beating and am filled with wonder because I’m not the one making it beat so steadily, stronger every week. Its rhythm is entirely different from my own. He or she is being formed by a hand wiser and stronger and altogether more capable than mine.

Thank goodness.

Most important of all: I’m thankful that I know Whom to thank for all of these things. That I’m known, loved, redeemed, forgiven, and accepted by God. God. Not the anonymous universe, or good luck, or my own ability to procure good. I’m neither deserving nor lucky. Just chosen. Makes. no. sense.

Thank you, God…!

And in spite of all that, I still complain! It’s perverse, this human nature. Daniel reminded me that it’s a discipline to practice giving thanks in the moments when I’m feeling the very opposite (read: when people send irritating emails at work). I’m going to work on that; at the very least abstaining from complaining, because it’s a habit of the mouth as well as the heart, and I’ve become very good at it.

So, to the neighbors upstairs who are currently (and constantly) stomping about like a pack of rhinos and making our walls shake at all hours of the day and night… I bless you 😛

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Not tonight, but a similar occurence 😛

Growing a Human: Update 1/3/18

Passing through Target’s toy section two nights ago:

Daniel: A boy will be fun..

Me: Yeah? You think?

Daniel: ..because then I will get to play with all these toys.

-.-

Update: I’m now 15 weeks and I think officially out of the thick of the first trimester sickness woods! I don’t want to speak too soon though, because I’ve still been quite bleh at night and in the mornings. But for the most part I’ve been keeping my food down and finally gaining some weight. Never thought I’d be happy about weight gain, but it’s fascinating how my mentality toward eating and food has changed. I used to try  hard to eat “healthy” mostly to avoid gaining weight. Now I just eat things that will act as a buffer between me and stomach acid (aka BREAD and lots of it), and also whenever I can manage it, things with actual nutrients that will help keep this baby healthy and happy. I felt a lot of guilt over my crap diet the past couple of months (inexperienced preggo here), but my doctor told me the baby is doing a good enough job taking everything from me to survive until I can eat better. Fortunately I’m able to eat a lot more fruit lately, because I seem to crave cold sweet things when I wake up in the morning, and salads to try to keep things moving in there, if you know what I mean!

If you can’t tell by my tone, I’m a lot more upbeat these days. Mostly from being able to function more normally. This past weekend I managed to: semi- clean the apartment, clear out the fridge, go to the grocery store and breathe through my nose (except when I made the mistake of walking past the meat counter), and cook and eat breakfast twice(!) without gagging. Big steps, people.

Holidays this year were nice and low key. A lot of rest. We ambitiously planned on maybe venturing out into the world and maybe going to the city or the ocean to get some fresh air. But each morning of our two long weekends we woke up and decided to just stay put. It’s been a nice change to rest at home without the pressure of go-go-go. A lot of that pressure comes from me, internally. Being ok with not doing a whole lot is a different mindset for me, but I think a good one for a change. For now. (Gogo Girl is still there underneath). School starts again next week, and I WILL get through this semester!!

Daniel’s sister got us a heartbeat monitor for Christmas, and it’s really interesting! I was dubious as to whether it would work, but we goo-ed it up the way the doctor did, put it on my almost-bump, and were able to find baby’s heartbeat pretty easily. He/She is pumping away at a steady 160 BPM, and it’s fascinating to hear it, like an alien transmitting from underwater. Daniel put his face close to my stomach and half-shouted “are you a boy or a girl?” at it in Korean ..No answer yet.

On a more serious note, I’ve been wondering how to pray for this baby. I don’t know what to ask for, beyond mutely holding him/her up to the Lord and then asking for whatever is His best will. Everything else seems kinda self-serving and wishful, because how do you pray for someone you don’t know yet? I want advice on this one. Moms, what did you pray for when your baby was in your belly? And after your babies were born?

To end: a now-more-relevant-than-ever polaroid of my dad and mom just after I was born. I’m the squishy blob also pictured. My dad looks so fresh and happy! My mom looks like she wants to smack whoever is making her pose for a photo just after giving birth. 😛

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