Introducing…

at birth_name

Born on Tuesday, September 10

9:29 a.m.

3.6 kg/8 lbs

Mama and baby are both doing well, and our little family is simply overjoyed and full of love as we start to get to know each other and try to figure our way through the challenges of this whole parenthood thing. I can’t believe it’s already been a week since he arrived. Tomorrow, I’ll share more photos and details, so stay tuned!



A Coffee Chat

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If we were meeting for coffee today, I’d invite you in to my home, and it’d become immediately apparent that everything is in a state of transition. There are boxes waiting to be used or broken down and stored. There are baby items out and organized, but shoved in random corners as they wait to be put in their final place. There’s all my parent’s stuff waiting to be transported over to their new home. And somehow, in the midst of all this, I keep trying to create pathways and maintain a functioning home.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel though. My parents have been spending every day this week over at their new home, getting it ready, with the promise of being able to move in within the next week or two keeping them motivated. It’s been a trial for them too as there is always some fresh disaster to deal with, like the workers pouring paint down the bathroom drain, ruining the drain, and causing it to need to be replaced, or the girl who came to sweep up the construction dust deciding it was a good idea to just shut the doors to various rooms instead of sweeping up in them. (Out of sight, out of mind?)

My parents come home each day and collapse in front of the TV, clinging to the life-giving force of their beers.

Just a few more finishing touches and the crib will be ready.

Just a few more finishing touches and the crib will be ready.

In other news, if we were really meeting over coffee, I’d have to tell you about this couple I met this weekend. I went shopping at one of the big local supermarkets to get diapers and wipes and a few other items that I’ll need for myself during the hospital stay and postpartum healing period. As I was perusing the newborn nappies, a worried-looking couple came up to me and asked me for my help selecting diapers. (Don’t ask me how I manage to look like I know what I’m doing with any of this…I don’t know!) I think they might have been Burmese, or maybe from one of the local ethnic hill tribes, because although they could speak Thai, they clearly couldn’t read it. The wife was asking me about a type of diaper and what age-range it was appropriate for, and I explained to her that it depended on the baby’s weight. Before I knew it, I was going through the whole baby section with them, trying to explain to them in my less-than-perfect Thai things like the difference between laundry detergent and fabric softener.

The whole time, I felt so sorry for them, because when you look down the baby aisles here, everything DOES look the same. By packaging alone, if you can’t read, the detergent is indistinguishable from fabric softener, as is baby wash from shampoo or lotion or oil. They asked me which detergent to get, and things got even more complicated when, following my knee-jerk reaction, I suggested they use one that is perfume-free in case their baby is sensitive or allergic to it. But I wasn’t sure which brand was the best because, truthfully, I bought Woolite because I used it in the U.S. and trust it to be gentle enough for use while our baby still has that sensitive newborn skin–but that’s only available at the expensive grocery store and cost about three times what the other detergents cost.

It reminded me of when I first moved here and what it was like to look at all the unfamiliar brands and have to re-learn how to shop. As bewildering as that was though, I didn’t have nearly the kind of stress they did because at least I could read English, and a lot of the packages have at least some English on them. Between the English and the pictures (and maybe a little help from the English-Thai dictionary in my phone), I could figure out most of what I needed. The only time I recall having to ask a clerk for help was when I was looking for a detergent without perfumes for myself because the one we had been using was making me sneeze.

I mentioned this episode to Toby and he speculated that our advantage and relative ease also came from having a basically normal middle-class upbringing: that we could tell what various products were because we were already well used to buying them and have had plenty of exposure to the differences between things like liquid detergent and fabric softener…unlike the experience of someone who might have only ever bought the generic laundry soap available at the little village convenience store.

I wonder how much that is true. Maybe it’s a poor assumption on our part. Either way, this episode stood out as a poignant moment to me, a kind of eye-opener to simple challenges others face in situations we might easily take for granted.

I made a little mobile to hang over the crib

I made a little mobile to hang over the crib

Anyway, all in all, things are chugging along here. I’ve been reading birth stories from a book on natural childbirth to reassure myself that things can and do go well, that my body is built for having babies, and that it’s possible to have a positive experience of it. More and more, my trepidation is turning to anticipation for that first moment they lay my little man on me, tummy to tummy, skin to skin. I don’t know for sure the whether and how of getting there. One never knows how these things will go. But I am starting to really look forward to getting there.

Playing the Waiting Game–in Life, Marriage, and Motherhood

Strung out on a line

Strung out on a line

When I was in college, the largely unspoken, but prevailing belief seemed to be that smart, strong women could have plenty of fun dating around, but would want to get their degree and all their career ducks in a row before settling down. For some, random hookups were the mode de jour; for others, dating was one long stream of bad men. Only a few had really long relationships. And motherhood? That was for way later, if at all. Pregnancy would practically mean the end of your life. Taking birth control was the only smart choice.

The trouble is none of us had any idea how difficult it could be to find a good partner after college. When you join the work force, you enter a pool of widely varied, but highly limited options. There’s usually a huge age range—which makes finding unmarried age-mates more difficult, and when you spend the vast majority of your life in one office, meeting people outside that milieu gets incredibly hard. If there aren’t any suitable mates among your coworkers (and let’s not even get into in all the potential trials of an office relationship), you can be hard-pressed to find the time or place to even meet anyone else new.

I remember when I was a teenager, I used to dream that I’d go to college, get a fancy career started, find an awesome apartment in a big city, and then find my future husband, whom I’d marry, preferably around the age of 28. After a couple years of marriage, we’d have our first child, probably when I was around the age of 30. Thirty sounded like a good child-bearing age. That still would give me a couple of years to have my second child at 32 or so, and be done well before that fertility drop-off at 35.

I assumed getting pregnant was easy because all you hear, when you’re young, is about the girls who got pregnant even though they only had unprotected sex “that one time.”

I don’t know if it’s by luck or by choice, but I never had a string of bad men or bad relationships. Sure, I dated a jerk or two and a few guys who, though nice, weren’t going to captivate me long-term. But those were always obvious from the start and I never was one to stick around with a losing bet (I distinctly remember one relationship that had a shelf-life of “Four Tuesdays”—my best friend from college will get this reference; there were lots of fun, crazy memories from that episode in our lives). My relationships either lasted a few weeks or a few years—the long ones, even the ones that didn’t work out, were great while they lasted, and important learning experiences in preparation for marriage.

It turns out, I met my husband in college—though neither of us was anywhere near ready for marriage at the time. But we fell in love, probably to both our surprises, and we stuck around each other, even though “not ready” was a big light flashing above both our heads. Toby took a year to travel the world after he graduated college, and in the interim, we had both grown a lot. By the time he came back, I knew I was ready to think about marriage, even if we weren’t anywhere near ready to marry each other. We loved each other; we knew that much. I probably broke a slew of dating rules by doing this, but I told him, in no uncertain terms, that if we were going to be together, it would be with an eye towards marriage. Though we both knew there were no guarantees in this trial run, I wasn’t going to waste time with someone who was only in it “just for now.”

Luckily for me, he was on the same page, more or less, and the years following were a steady learning experience in which we tried out what marriage might look like, what commitment meant, and what it would mean to devote ourselves to another. By the time he proposed to me, I was 26 and we were ready. We had grown into marriage together. We had become ready together. When we did exchange vows, I had just turned 28.

But marriage isn’t the only odyssey one embarks on—there’s also parenthood. Having just gotten married, I wasn’t in any rush to have a child. There was my doctorate to finish and a career to start. Toby was only just getting his career off the ground, and a job in the tech industry at that time seemed volatile and uncertain. We lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and had other dreams too, namely involving travel. Maybe living abroad for a while. There was still adventure to be had and a baby seemed more like a huge complication and intense responsibility than the next inevitable step in our life progression. The biological clock had started ticking, but I ignored the bell toll.

Though I had heard that fertility decreases with age, I still assumed it would be easy enough to get pregnant. I did have one friend who was trying to get pregnant and had started fertility treatments. She warned me getting pregnant could take time. I heard, but didn’t hear.

When I turned 30, I finished my doctorate and we made plans to move to Thailand. Work with The SOLD Project was already lined up; all I had to do was get to northern Thailand. We were leaving everything we knew behind. That wasn’t the time to start thinking about babies.

After we got settled in Thailand, and Toby’s work situation seemed solid, I was getting integrated at SOLD and halfway through writing a manuscript, I began to listen more carefully to that biological clock. I went off the pill slightly before entirely ready, thinking it would take a few months for the pill’s effects to clear my system, so that, fingers crossed, I might be 100% ready when it did.

Then, I didn’t get pregnant. Our jobs got even better, visitors came and went, we had grown into life in Thailand…I still didn’t get pregnant. My best friend from college was also enduring her own trial of fertility problems, and my best friend from grad school had suffered miscarriages, and another friend was going through a divorce…so by this time, I was really hearing it: Yes, it can be freaking hard to get pregnant. We traveled to Hong Kong and saw more of Asia. I still didn’t get pregnant. We spent a month in Europe, I didn’t get pregnant. We went back to the U.S. for a month…if I didn’t get pregnant soon, we’d have to think about fertility treatments. I didn’t even want to know what that cost would look like. My mother and sister had both had miscarriages before being able to carry a child to term. My cousin is 40 and still unable to get a baby to take, despite almost a decade of treatments. I knew that even if I did get pregnant, it might not work on the first try, and I had to steel myself for that possibility.

It turn out that it was only when we no longer had a stream of life and travel plans that, after more than a year and a half off the pill, I got pregnant. I’m turning 33 next week, and my dreams of having two kids are now looking more like I’ll be blessed to have one. I’m okay with that, and even saying this, I want it to be clear that I’m not complaining. I doubt I’d make different choices even if I had the chance. I love the years Toby and I have had together, and I think the stability we’ve built and the life experiences we’ve had, having had that time, will only serve our child better.

But I feel incredibly lucky. I feel like it’s only partly our choices, and mostly by chance that things have worked out for us (so far—I don’t want to jinx this!). I look at women I know who’ve been trying for years and years to get pregnant, or friends who’ve suffered miscarriages, or others who still can’t find a life partner, and I know how easily it could have gone a different way.

It’s a myth we tell ourselves when we’re young that we can somehow control life and when and how it happens to us. We make plans for what sounds like a good age to marry, and to have children…and these days, that “perfect age” is getting later and later. Instead of right after college, many push it off to their late 20s. Some women, realistic about demands certain careers make, push it off into their 30s, or even later. We don’t factor in the potential for complications. When we make our timelines, we don’t consider the possibility of divorce. We don’t consider the possibility of infertility.

Though I did get married at 28, the truth is I met the man I would marry when I was 20. It took us 8 years to get where we needed to be. If I hadn’t taken my feelings for him seriously way back then, when I still felt I had other life goals to meet first, or vice versa with him for me, who knows where either of us might be? Maybe we would have found other people to love. Maybe there is such a thing as soul mates, and we really are the only ones for each other. Who can really say? Meanwhile, people perpetuate this fear that marriage really hampers one’s freedom and independence. We’ve found this to be entirely untrue for us. Marriage has given us each a strong foundation from which we can both fly—both separately, and together. It’s made us stronger than we would have been alone.

We tell ourselves, when we’re young, that to be real strong, smart women, we have to put education and career before absolutely everything else. The truth is, life goals can exist side by side. You don’t have to put your ducks in a row…sometimes, you just kind of herd them along together. The trend now is to stave off marriage and family until you’ve lived your life first. What makes for “the right time” is an incredibly personal decision and it varies widely from person to person, but I do think we women do ourselves a disservice when we don’t make clear to each other that there are potential tradeoffs when we put off childbearing; that while you’re busy living your life, it can become increasingly harder (and harder than we think it will be) to be able to bear life. We underestimate how fragile life can be, and how uncertain fertility is. We all popped our birth control pills every day for years, each of us never knowing if we’d be the one who’d get pregnant on the first try, the one who would need years of fertility treatments, or the one who couldn’t get pregnant at all.

We can’t control when life happens to us, but we can be honest and informed about the consequences of our choices, and we can listen carefully to our inner guides about who is right for us and when we’re ready. From an employer’s perspective, there’s never a good time for a woman to get pregnant. But your life is your own. External deadlines matter little compared to the timeline we feel ticking along inside.

*   *   *

This post was inspired by this one, “26 and Already Pregnant,” by Kate from Eat The Damn Cake. If you’re interested in more fun facts about delayed marriage and child-rearing, check out this post, “The Sweet Spot for Tying the Knot,” by Susan Walsh at Hooking Up Smart.

Voluptuous

I’m getting round. While I haven’t put on much in the way of poundage, I’m definitely rounder. My breasts are fuller, my hips are widening, and my stomach in verging on rotund – especially after eating, or if I haven’t pooed in a while (It’s true! I’m short…there’s only so much space up in here.)

I can still hide my pregnancy if I wanted to (it would not be comfortable), but when I stand in front of the mirror and look at myself, there is no mistaking the development.

I am Venus.

While my body probably looks more like Botticelli’s version…

…there are plenty of days I feel more akin to the Willendorf variety.

Earlier today, I watched a BBC documentary called, When God Was A Girl, and it was about the history of religion and the important and powerful role women played, how humans used to believe in woman as the creator of life…and death…and the fertility of the earth was linked to the fertility of woman. That is, of course, until male patriarchy came into play and eradicated that train of thought.

I looked on at the statues and imagery of women, and they were all voluptuous and round. Full breasted and rotund, and even at this distance of time and space, they seemed to exude power. These were no waifs (which got me wondering whether the new societal ideal – it is relatively new, historically speaking – of the stick-figured woman is another form of patriarchy, holding up weak, undernourished women as sexy because they appear more easily dominated….but that’s a whole nother topic…). No cute little missies in history. No the powerful women of history could hold up their space.

It’s ironic that I spent the vast majority of my life obsessing over every inch and pound, wanting to get rid of several of them. And now, I run my hands down the sides of my breasts and over the fullness in my belly, and I feel vibrant. I feel alive. There is new life inside me and that is a heady feeling. My husband explores the new curves and weight and kisses where the babe grows inside. I enjoy the roundness of my body because it echoes the fullness of life, connecting me to the millennia of women before me, connecting me to Mother Earth herself.

I am woman, and that is a beautiful thing. It’s life-giving.

For the month of March, Bigger Picture Blogs is celebrating the turn from winter toward spring with the theme: Rejuvenate! Come join us: Rejuvenate your heart, rejuvenate your soul – pick up your pen, your camera, and your spirit!

Find all the ways you can blow some fresh air into life and link it up with us at Bigger Picture Blogs!

Live. LoveCapture. Encourage.

That Thing I’m Not Sure I Want to Talk About

Or more aptly put: a post about the fact that nothing is happening. But one, some dear friends encouraged me to share this; two, bigger picture moments aren’t always a celebration, but are rather a marking or noticing of time; and three, sometimes the things that make you want to hide under your writer’s desk are precisely the things you need to write about. So here it goes.

Warning: if you don’t like reading about “women stuff” you might want to go ahead and skip this post.

The calendar pages flip ever inexorably towards May, an innocuous month as far as months go, except for the niggling little reminder in the back of my head that in May of last year, my husband and I decided we were ready to officially go “TTC.” I was gung-ho about it at first, marking and timing, tracking and predicting every possible sign of fertility with scientific precision – I got that doctorate for something right? – until it began to dawn on me that a decade of artificial hormones would not leave my body without a trace, as I suffered the worst cramps of my life and bleeding sufficient enough to send me to the doctor convinced I was having an early miscarriage. (I’d read all about them on WebMD.) A consultation, ultrasound, and internal examination later, the doctor calmly explained to my very red face that what I was experiencing was called my period, otherwise known as menstruation.

I gave up tracking and just submitted myself to the wait for my body to regain some sense of decorum. But the months were ticking by. The more time passed, the more normal my body became, but closer we were getting to Things We’d Like to Do If I Don’t Get Pregnant. Like travel to Hong Kong in January. That trip came and went. Now it’s flying to Berlin to visit Toby’s family. This fall, it will be a trip back home to the States to visit family, go to a writer’s conference, and take part in our friends’ wedding. It’s a tricky time where, if I don’t get pregnant, we get to do awesome and important (to us) things. But that means I will still be walking around sans bebe. It leads to an awkward stage where we’re trying, but kind of not.

This trying-but-not-very-hard means I don’t know if I actually have a fertility issue, or if we’ve just managed to avoid getting me pregnant. It also means I’m left wondering if, despite all doctors’ claims that it is a nonissue, the pill was a bad choice after all and maybe I should have stuck with options that didn’t involve messing with hormonal imbalances. {Insert guilt.} I also wonder if, irony of ironies, waiting those years to get educated, financially secure, settled in marriage, and emotionally ready to be great parents meant I missed the fertility window for motherhood. {Did I mention guilt?} And I wonder if the fact that we want to take these trips to visit family we haven’t seen in nearly two years means I’m still putting selfish desires in front of a (hypothetical) baby and therefore still unready to be a mother. {Oh hai, Mme. Guilt! Come sit by me.}

Most days, I try not to think about it and what with moving to a foreign country, a healthy supply of visitors, working on my book, and doing work with SOLD, I’ve had enough on my plate to keep me distracted. But then I’ll be in the grocery store and spy a colorful little worktable and imagine myself sitting down with a large-eyed, towheaded son or daughter and a palette of paints or scrap wood dino construction kit and I feel a twinge. Or I’ll see a sakura bloom sling and imagine our little one in a sling of our own, and there that twinge is again. Or I’ll look at my husband and wonder what blend of his features and mine we would produce, and the twinge becomes more like an ache.

Most days, I manage not to be too worried, thinking we still have time, and we’ll get really serious about trying after our trip in the fall. I know there are fertility clinics too, and options. This isn’t the 1800’s where a woman having difficulty getting pregnant is labeled “barren.”

But some days that word, barren, is exactly how I feel.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.” 
- Author Unknown

What moments stole your breath away this week? 

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up at Hyacynth’s!

Pinnacle Moments {Hyacynth}

Welcome to this week’s edition of Pinnacle Moments, where we share the moments that have shaped our lives. This week’s moment comes from the lovely Hyacynth, of Undercover Mother. It’s a poignant one. I hope you’ll stay to hear her tale. Here it is.
 

From Hyacynth:

His two-year-old footprints shimmer in the sunlight dancing on the wooden floor as we both sit in a tangled heap crying, his small body draped over a rather pregnant stretch of baby beneath my skin.

In a moment of twoness that I just couldn’t understand, he scampered across the freshly mopped floor for a fourth time in so many minutes.

In a moment of selfishness, irritation he just couldn’t understand, I forcefully reached out, grabbed him by the arm and all but yanked him from the still-soaking floors while yelling loudly and denouncing his repeated attempts at puddle splashing.

Eyes wide, full of surprise, he looks at me stunned. He’s never heard that mommy before, never felt an ungentle touch come from her hands.

But I keep scolding anyway, hot from emotions and the exhaustion of scrubbing floors and being eight months pregnant and keeping up with a spirited toddler.

I hear the harshness in my voice. I see the panic spread across his brow, creep into his normally joyful eyes.

And at the same time he bursts into scared tears, I snap back into the reality of the situation:

he’s a two year old exploring our world, not a teenager defiantly staying out past curfew.

In his unique verbalization of two he cries, “Mommy soooo mad. I sorry. No more splashing on the floor. Mommy scary like a monster.”

The words mommy monster burn into my brain. It’s my turn for hot tears to spill past heavy lashes, for panic to creep into my heart about what kind of precedent I’ve just set, what kind of experience I’ve allowed him to harbor as a memory.

In a moment of Divine Grace realized, I’m reminded that no one is made of perfection; but everyone is bathed in forgiveness if only they ask.

So his body gathered in my arms, I dry his tears and my own as the floor’s wetness, too, evaporates and ask him simply, voice full of remorse, “Mommy is so sorry I yelled at you. Could you forgive me?”

Though he cannot yet speak the real meaning of apology or forgiveness, he feels the working definition of both in his heart after seeing the regret across my face, feeling the warmth of my arms and voice; he wraps his small arms around my neck, while nodding his head yes.

I feel his forgiveness, and I understand forgiveness in a whole new way through his embrace:

it doesn’t stem from being right, nor is it something that can be earned or bought; rather it’s given freely out of love.

And through the child-blessing of an oldest son, I suddenly know a little better the heart of the Father who gifted him to us.

What a moment! Even without a child of my own, I recognize that same part in me that Hyacynth so bravely shared with us today. Pinnacle Moments will be taking a break for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, but will return the week after. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series so far! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
 

decisions, decisions

My sister came in the back door, girls wet from the pool in tow. “Here. Kaelyn’s shoes,” she said to my brother.

He pulled open the refrigerator door. “Little girls gin yang?” he said. Did the little girls eat yet? “No? Okay, I make you something.” And he pulled out some food to make for my two nieces, Kaelyn (age 6) and Jacqueline (age 5).


Kaelyn is my brother’s daughter, Jacqueline, my sister’s. They are cousins but are raised more like sisters. It was such a simple little moment, but it stood out to me as a moment to remember and carry with me, for it spoke volumes for how my family operates. It was so seamless, so unselfconscious, how my sister took care of keeping track of the girls’ things and how my brother made food for them. The shared love and the shared responsibility. It’s not: this is my kid and that’s your kid and I’ll take care of my kid’s food and you take of your kid’s shoes. It is: these are our kids. Not just on special occasions like the 4th of July, but every day.

I suddenly realized there’s a very subtle but powerful hierarchy for raising children in the family (my German in-law calls it a “clan”, in a way that I think might be equal parts sarcastic, impressed, and curious). All the adults have a role to play with raising the children, and all adults are respected equally. Everyone remains aware of where the kids are and what they need (whether it’s food, kisses, or a gentle warning) and addresses them as simply as breathing. For special treats, like spending the night at a cousin’s house, the parent always must be asked for permission and is the final authority. My mom, the grandmother, is the one all the grandkids go to for a both sympathetic and wise ear. She is the person to talk to when you don’t understand or don’t know what to do. When you need friend and counsel. Or just a really good bowl of noodle soup. Grandpa is the one you really don’t want to mess with. But it’s okay because if you tickle him just right, he turns teddy bear. As a kid, if you do good, there’s a whole caboodle of people to puff up your ego. If you mess up, someone will tell you straight up that what you did wasn’t cool. But there is always someone else you can run to who will understand and tell you it’s okay, we still love you. (If everyone tells you you messed up, then you really know!) There is always both discipline and forgiveness to be found. And there is always someone to offer food and love and something fun to do.

Even when part of the family is broken…a divorce…and the part that left tries to spread bad thoughts and feelings about our family to the child stuck in-between (and can I just tell you how much that makes my blood boil?)…the family rallies together. It does everything it can to heal the wound, to teach love for both mommy and daddy, no matter what. It does not try to spread the foul back. Every one of us just tries to show by doing what our family really is about. The child may be confused and hurt now (and we are all forever sorry for that). But one day the child will be a teenager. And one day she will see for herself what is truth and she can decide what is right for her. The love is tight, but each individual is free: free to be themselves, free to discover for themselves.

And every time I go home, I am overwhelmed by the desire to be more of a part of the lives of my nieces and nephews. To them, I am always gone away, to some mythical place called Santa Barbara. I come in and out of their lives to play for a day and then I am gone again. I want to be more constant than that.

But there lies the rub. Where my family lives. The actual city, the county? I can’t stand. I don’t like the atmosphere, I don’t like the society, the way people behave there. It’s fake most of the time and mean underneath, mostly because people there are just plain more afraid. My mom says she fled from Bangkok because it suffocated her. Where my family lives suffocates me. On top of that my husband hates the area too and refuses to ever live there. We can visit as much as we want, for we do love the family. But living there? His answer is “hell no”. Up until now, I’ve agreed. Wholeheartedly. Bring kids into the picture? Now I’m not so sure.

My mom keeps saying when I’m ready to have kids we really need to move to the same home town, to raise the kids with family. At first I thought she meant help with babysitting and taking care of the kids that way, which I’m sure after a.m. feedings, and crying, and diaper changing, and never-clean house and oh-my-god-can-I-just-get-a-break, there will be moments I’d really love/need that. But now I see there’s more. There is so much more. Of course it is totally possible to raise absolutely wonderful children without all that and millions of families do it all the time. But I do see its worth. And growing up away from that, our kids won’t have the same closeness to their cousins that their cousins share. They’ll miss the everyday camaraderie. They’ll always be just a little bit outside. Loved, for sure, but a little bit outside. I know because I am.

Thankfully I don’t have to make this decision yet. This decision is at least a year or two away. But it’s on the horizon and on my radar. I feel it weighing on me. And my hubby and I will have some figuring out to do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How does your family operate? What decisions have you had to, or will you have to make?

jess

One of my good friends is 37 weeks along, y’all. 37 weeks! And honor of all honors, she asked me to capture this moment of their lives for them. I’ve never done pregnancy photos before, but with such a gorgeous subject, who could fail right?

Isn’t she stunning, y’all?

The baby is coming so soon and I’m so excited for her and her husband (and her adorable mother) for this next phase of their lives. I know it will bring in change, but I have every confidence that it will all be for the better and it will turn out to be an amazing time for them. Life transitions are never easy, and they can be downright nerve-wracking. But as my parents just told me, I’ll now say for them: focus on getting to happy, whatever happy means for you. Forget about what anyone else thinks or wants, shoulds ifs or oughtas, and just do what your heart tells you is right. Whatever decision you make from the heart, it will be the right decision.

Love,
J

happy mother’s day

A rose for a roseMothers are tillers of the earth,
Where we are but the roots.
We grow and stretch and reach and strive.
But as far as we may run away,
Beneath us, in us, under everything they lie.
In the end, we all come back.
It all comes back to Mother.
Deep in the heart they unyielding dwell.
Solid, strong, unwavering and rich,
They are the foundation of all, ourselves.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. Your love makes the world go ’round.

i kid you not.

Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok

Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok

The biological clock is ticking and my hubby and I are thinking we’re getting close to being ready to try for kids soon (by soon, I mean probably sometime next year – after we get settled, organized, gather our wits about us, etc.). However, given our plans to move and everything, there is a very distinct possibility that our first child will be born in Thailand (but, through us, can still have US citizenship). Since I have an anal tendency to obsessively research everything, naturally I’ve already looked into this.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time already looking into childbirth and care in the U.S., reading up on how there are some very important hormonal and developmental things that happen between mother and child during the birthing process and cesareans hijack and prohibit them from occurring. Of course cesareans are a godsend in times of need, but there’s growing evidence that a whole slew of unnecessary interventions occur because the mother isn’t going through labor “fast enough” for hospital desires and wishes. There are a lot of decisions to make and options to learn about, but I think one thing is clear for me and that is I want to avoid a cesarean as much as possible (you know, assuming everything goes along as it should).

Thailand is known for having top-quality care available, at rates much more affordable than the U.S. Many of the top doctors in Thailand trained at top medical universities like Johns Hopkins in the U.S., and then go back to Thailand and work there. (Even the King of Thailand was actually born in Cambridge because his father, Prince Mahidol, studied medicine at Harvard – and later became a figure revolutionizing health practices in Thailand.) We hear a lot of stories about people from western countries flying to Thailand for surgeries, with great success, and – flight included – still end up paying less than they would here. My hubby’s even planning to have lasik surgery done while we’re there. So my initial reaction was not to worry about my ability to find good care in Thailand – especially since, in Thailand, for the right price you can basically get whatever you want.

But then I found out something that freaked me the eff out. So, as a reference, the WHO puts a healthy national cesarean rate around 5-10%. There has been a movement to raise awareness and concern about the U.S.’s cesarean rates that are skyrocketing upward from about 4.5% in the mid-1960′s when it was first measured to a high of about 32% in 2007. In Thailand, that rate is around 34% nationwide, and as high as 51% in private hospitals.

I started to worry that it would be difficult to find a doctor who would present me with clear information about my options. I started to fear that I would get pressured into something because it was better for the hospital, but that I’d be too far in pain to think clearly about it. I started to worry about all the precautions and extra arrangements I’d have to make to come back to the U.S….flying while pregnant, staying with parents, possibly being separated from my husband, the extra costs…let the panic attacks commence.

But then I talked to my mom (who was born, raised, and well-educated in Thailand) about my concerns. And she laughed. She said the reason cesareans are so high in Thailand is because women ask for them. They want cesareans so they can plan their child’s birth to fall on a “lucky” day, astrologically. Or, like even some members of my own dear family, they opt for them to keep their special woman parts looking pretty(!).

Oh, said I.

Well, in that case, I think I can stop panicking. I’m pretty sure a “honeymoon” va-jay-jay is not at the top of the list of my concerns.

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