Less than 12 hours to go

In less than 12 hours, I’m going to be meeting my baby girl.  That’s such a wild thought!

There will be no drama of contractions or labor pains this time.  I’ll have a full night sleep tonight, shower tomorrow, get ready, show up at the hospital, and 2 hours later expect my baby to be in my arms.  That is going to be drastically different from the experience of having Joshua 2 years ago.  At a minimum, this time Cliff and I will both get to witness our baby being born.

I know I really should be in a mood to celebrate today, because tomorrow is going to be an exciting day for us.  But to be completely honest, I am feeling very emotional.  I’m sure it’s just the hormones.  I’m worried about how Joshua would do while I’m away for a couple of days, and how he’ll react to a new baby when we get home.  I’m worried about if Savanna is healthy.  I’m worried about how my marriage is going to survive through the sleepness nights and more hormone changes.  I’ve just bursted into tears a few times today with these thoughts, and I can’t explain why.  So I am very excited, and also very worried at the same time.  I didn’t have all these worries last time with Joshua, but mostly because I was just naive.

Today we all spent the day together.  We picked up some last minute supplies at China Town, and hung out at Granville Island for the morning.  Because my diet will be very restricted in the next 30 days, I let myself enjoy some homemade muffins, three cups of decaf coffee, pizza, a super tender piece of prime rib, calamarie, and a coffee ice cream dessert today.  For the next 30 days, there will be no coffee (not even decaf), no fatty pizza, no fried food, no beef, and no ice cream. 

Alright, this will be my last full night of sleep for a while.  I’m off to bed.  G’night!

 

 

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The Chinese postpartum care

When I had Joshua almost two years ago, my mom came all the way from Taiwan to provide me with the Chinese postpartum care treatment.  It was the first time I had to eat up all sorts very nasty tasting herbs and soups for the sake of taking care of my body after having a baby.

Did I really benefit from it?  I am not sure if I can tell.  But, I guess it’s better for me to believe in the system than to totally ignore thousands of years of wisdom and tradition.  So I asked my mom to come here again to help me out this time with the birth of Savanna.

The basic idea of the Chinese postpartum care is that you need to take very good care of your body for 30 days after giving birth, and it’s supposed to help build the foundation of a healthy life after having your baby.

In order to achieve the objective of taking care of your body, you’re supposed to:

1. Not wash your hair or shower for 30 days.

2. Not leave the house for 30 days.

3. Not lift anything heavy, or read the newspaper, or watch TV, or use your computer, or read books for 30 days.

4. Be in a very good mood, get lots of sleep, and have others help take care of you and your baby.

5. Eat all sorts of Chinese herbal soups and brews, made with Chinese rice wine, chicken, liver, pig feet, peanuts, dates, goji berries, ginger, brown sugar, etc.

There are purposes to all the things you are supposed to do.  The basic idea is that you cannot afford to get sick with a cold or flu, you must rest as much as possible, and you must eat all the herbal soups and brews to rid the toxins in your body and put in proper nutrients.

So am I going to follow all the principals?  Uh, NO!  If I can’t shower or wash my hair for 30 days, I may as well be dead now.  Anyway, the only one principal I’m sticking to is the last one: the herbal soups and brews.

To make all the soups and brews, we need a HUGE amount of Chinese rice wine.  The rice wine is a base for all the liquids I have to drink in the next 30 days, including soups and teas.  Rice wine is easy to come by when you’re in Asia, but here in Canada all the rice wine has been salted due to government regulations and you can’t use that for the herbal soups.  It’s not easy to find unsalted rice wine.  Essentially, we had to buy it underground.

Yup, that’s right, underground Chinese rice wine.  Just like the prohibition days!

Once we got the rice wine, we have to cook it and reduce it down by 50%, which is referred to as the “rice wine water”.  The rice wine water is then used to cook all my herbal soups and teas.  We bought a bunch of gallon glass jars to store the rice wine water, and my apartment smells like alcohol!

In the next 30 days, I’m going to be eating up 80 litres of rice wine.  That’s right, people, EIGHTY LITRES.  I am going to be drunk the next 30 years!

Kidding.

When you cook the rice wine to reduce it to “rice wine water”, most of the alcohol has evaporated.  When you further cook the soups and teas, it reduces the alcohol even more, so there’s barely any left by the time I ingest it.

That jar of white stuff on the far right is fermented rice in rice wine.  I’m supposed to eat that as dessert.

Are you jealous of my life yet?  Are you?  Are you?

I bought the Chinese herbs when we were in Taiwan last time.  They were already packaged for each type of soup or tea.  All I have to do is soak the packages in the rice wine water, cook/brew the soup or tea, and eat it up.  It is the modern convenience of a traditional torture.

Here’s a picture of one of the packages of herbal soups soaking in the rice wine water.  This is THE WORST tasting one.  I can’t even describe how bad it is.  It’s all sorts of bitter and nasty tasting herbs combined.  I made some tonight in preparation for the next week.  I offered some to Cliff just so he can have a taste of what I have to go through.  After one sip, he said he really appreciate all the hard work I have to go through and sacrifices I have to make to have our baby and he’s going to work his butt off for the rest of his life to treat me like a queen.

So there you have it.  That’s what I’ve been busy with for the past couple of days.  Cooking down rice wine to rice wine water, and making nasty tasting herbal soups.  If you come visit, I’d totally offer you some too.

The pregnant witch

Let me skip over the part about how much build-up of frustration I’ve had for the last few weeks about everything, and just get to the part about my Halloween costume idea.  For this Halloween, I am going to dress up as a pregnant witch.

 

Today is the first day of my maternity leave.  We had planned on going south of the border to do a bit of shopping to stock up on our favorite Trader Joe’s goodies, and pick up a few parcels.  Everything went as planned.  We even got to celebrate a little after reporting $800 of purchases at the border and not being asked to pay any taxes.  So you would think that is a good day, right?

We got home just around lunch time.  I had Joshua in my arms when we entered our apartment.  As soon as we came in, Joshua pointed to something on the kitchen island and said, “Joshua want that.”  I didn’t really know what he wanted.  So I pointed to the tube of finger paint and said, “Is this what you want?”  He said no.  I pointed to the snack cup and asked, “Is this what you want?”  He said no, and started to pout a bit.  I pointed to the box of tissue and asked, “Is this what you want?”  He said no, and now he’s starting to do this quivering with his lower lip like he’s about to cry.

I put him down on the floor, as I could no longer handle holding onto him to figure out what he really wanted.  Now he’s mad.  He starts to cry.  He points up at the kitchen island and said, “Joshua want that.”  Well, I’ve already gone through everything on the kitchen island. So I repeated through them again, the finger paint? No.  The snack up?  No.  The box of tissue?  No.  Well, there was nothing else there!

Now he is wailing, like I’m hurting him.  “Joshua want that!!”  Ugh.  I try to take a deep breath, and said, “Joshua, what do you want?  Please use your words.”  He responds with “Waaaaah…Joshua want that!” with his right index finger still pointing up at the kitchen island.

He has been doing this quite often in the last couple of weeks.  He’ll want something, but it seems like whatever option there is available is not good enough for him.  It’s not even that I won’t give him what he wants, but it’s more like whatever he wants does not actually exist and he just punishes me for it.  I’ve really tried to be patient, telling myself not to take it out on Joshua that I am so tired and at my wits end with everything.

But today, I lost it.  I threw my purse on the floor, and left him there standing next to Cliff and crying.  I went to the bathroom, slammed the door shut, and stayed inside.  He was still crying by the kitchen, and repeating, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.”  Yes, I know I am so going to win the mother-of-the-year award, particularly in the gentle and loving category.

So that was the incident that inspired my costume idea.

 

How to make a pregnant woman grumpy

A while back I wrote a tutorial on the things you should say to a pregnant woman.  Those are definitely things to make her feel great about herself.  Please review that post and practice.  This post, however, is more on how to make a pregnant feel even more grumpy than she might already feel.

Tip #1: Make unsolicited comments.  This one comes from a real life example.  Last week, I was standing by the printer at work, waiting for my print job to be completed, minding my own business.  Some guy I’ve never met came right up to me, pointed to my belly and said with a big confident smile, “You must be having a boy!”  I said, “No, I’m having a girl.”  And I was thinking to myself, who the hell are you?  Do I even know you?  He said, “Oh, no, you must be having a boy, because I heard that when your belly sticks out this far, it must be a boy.”  All I could think of is how I can claw his eyes out without anyone noticing the blood on my hands.  He must have read my tutorial and was practicing the art of being an ass.  Good for him!

Tip #2: Touch the pregnant woman’s belly without asking permission or receiving invitation.  This also comes from a real life scenario.  Yesterday I got in the elevator with my boss to go downstairs for a coffee.  Another lady got into the elevator with us.  She reached out and touched my belly, and asked, “So when are you due?”  I didn’t answer her question, but said calmly, “Can you please not touch me?”  She then reached out and touched me again, and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I just love babies.”   I physically took a step back and said, “You’re not touching my baby.  You’re touching me.  Having a big belly does not mean an invitation to touch.”  Then later I found out she told other people at work that I yelled at her in the elevator. For the record, I did not yell.

Tip #3: Tell the preggo to suck it up when she’s exhausted.  Come to think of it, this also comes from a real life scenario.  Man, am I just surrounded by asses?  I’ve been working about 50 to 60 hours a week for about a month straight, yet still getting the pressure from the bosses that we’re not making enough revenue.  In the last trimester of pregnancy, this is not an easy task to manage.  The feeling of exhaustion is so familiar that it really wears my spirit down, and I constantly feel like a stretched out elastic about to break.  I understand that if you’ve never been pregnant, you don’t know what that feels like.  Today I was talking to a colleague on-line, I said I have a lot to do before going on mat leave, and I’ve been working X number of hours each week.  She said that’s nothing compared to what her department has to go through.  She proceeded to tell me how few hours I have on each file on average, and to just “suck it up and do it”. And for the record, I said something back to her that I cannot repeat here.

So there you have it.  Find that pregnant woman who is totally exhausted, tries her damndest to do a good job at work but whatever she does is never enough, and try out one of the above tips on her!  You are guaranteed to see the sparks fly!

You’d think I would know better by now

When I was pregnant with Joshua, sometimes I wondered what it’ll be like once he comes out.  I mean, I’ve heard people tell me over and over how wonderful it is to have a baby and how much you just learn to love it.  But come on, honestly, it was really hard to imagine what it’ll be like until you actually get there, right?

I had doubts of how I am going to learn to love another human by the required amount to qualify as a good parent. 

As soon as I woke up from anesthesia and Cliff put Joshua in my arms, I was madly in love.  There was no question or a hint of doubt that I’d give anything for this little being.

You know the movie, The Grinch?  There’s a scene near the end, once the Grinch learned how to love, that his heart grew by 3 sizes and he fell to the ground clutching his chest while this new bigger heart beat in his body.  THAT, was how I felt when I first laid eyes on Joshua.  It literally felt like my heart grew by 3 sizes that day, and I gained this new capacity to love another human being that I didn’t think was possible.

You would think that with that experience, I would know what to expect with the next baby, right?

Savanna is coming in less than 2 months, and I’m sitting here wondering how I’m going to love another human being as much as I love Joshua.  I know this sounds terrible, but it’s the truth.  I’m worried I won’t be a good mom to her because my heart is not big enough.  It’s hard for me to imagine anything outside of the current reality of life.  Right now my little kingdom is made up of Cliff, Joshua, and Sam.  They’re right in front of my eyes, and I have no problem telling you all the ways I love them to bits and pieces.  But adding another little human being to the mix is just hard to picture. 

Maybe my heart will grow another 3 sizes as soon as I get to see Savanna.

Things people feel compelled to say to me

If you are sporting a pregnant belly, people feel compelled to say things to you.  Like you are no longer entitled to personal space or privacy, because OMG! you have a belly.

That’s right, folks, pregnant women are ABNORMAL!  So you can’t treat them with regular curtesy like they are normal human beings.  Go ahead, take off that filter, and say whatever you feel like!  And remember, you can be a complete stranger, and still get to say whatever you want to any pregnant woman you see.  This works best in a crowded elevator at work, or at a park, or at a grocery store…anywhere public where everyone else can hear you too.

Here are a few examples.  Feel free to add your own twist:

1. Oh my, you’ve really grown large.

2. You are starting to look really round.

3. Wow, how much weight have you put on?

4. You are so much bigger than so-and-so.

5. You must be carrying twins! Oh, are you sure you’re not carrying twins?  You’d better ask your doctor to double check.

 

Can you tell I’m a WEE BIT grumpy?  Don’t worry, I’ll save up the unsolicited belly rubbing topic for another day.

Third trimester

With this pregnancy, things seem to go by faster.  I’m already in my third trimester, and I don’t remember many occasions of sitting back and relaxing to enjoy the moment.  Life certainly is busier with an energetic toddler at home.  I have to make a conscious decision to sometimes just relax and enjoy all the kicking going on my belly.

We’re much more prepared this time.  Savanna’s room is nearly ready, and she’s not even coming for another 2 1/2 months.  All we need now is a dresser to double as a change table, and we’re pretty much set.

I never thought I’d say this, but I enjoy being pregnant.  Yes, I know it sounds crazy.  What can be so cool about having morning sickness and constant heartburn?  Most days I feel like a whale, feel fatigued, my back hurts and my shoes don’t fit.  But those things are short-lived compared to the awesomeness of a new life.  There’s something just incredible about having this privilege of growing a baby inside of me.  There’s a completely independent person stretching and kicking and rolling and hiccupping in my belly, and in a few months she’s going to come out and join our little family.  What a mind blowing concept!

Even as recent as 3 years ago, I was really on the fence about having a family.  Cliff and I were really enjoying each other’s company and all the traveling we were doing.  Life was pretty damn good the way it was.  Sam was our baby.  We were very content with life.  I was always quite adamant about not having kids because I was so afraid of screwing up a kid’s life.  But in the back of my mind, I always knew that Cliff will be an amazing dad, and I really shouldn’t take away his chance to shine as a dad.  At least if Cliff is the dad, our kids will have a fighting chance of turning out normal.  I guess only time will tell if that theory worked out.  So far I’ve got a 21-month-old who is obsessed with garbage trucks, ice cubes in his water, and chicken curry on rice. Oh, and he bites me.

I’m really looking forward to Savanna’s arrival.  She’s coming in the fall, one of my favorite times of the year.  The weather is generally good in the fall, but cool enough to make you want to cuddle on the couch in the evenings with your favorite person.  It’s time to go pick pumpkins and drink apple cider and stick colorful leaves on windows.  We’ll be making cupcakes and cookies to give to our neighbors for Halloween.  The excitement is in the air with Christmas approaching. 

I can’t wait to see what this girl will be like!