Baby Talk

He’s here

On March 19th, our little boy joined the world.

Labor was about as bad as it can be. I didn’t have a long first stage of labor. It went from a barely noticeable first stage to active labor in a matter of moments. I had over 7 hours of 1 to 1 1/2 minutes of contractions just 3 minutes apart. I had to get an epidural because the back labor was insane.

He came out at 8 lbs and 2 oz, 20 inches long, with a head that’s 14 inches around. I have a second degree tear and a prolapsed hemorrhoid.

But he’s here! He is beautiful, and after 1 week we are learning our routine. He sleeps in a co-sleeper between us, and DH and I take turns waking up to change and comfort him.

I’m getting the hang of breast feeding, and I already lost 25 lbs! I feel good, despite a big tear and still bleeding, and I look forward to figuring out life as a family of three.

Family Drama, Ramblings

Some Creepy Shit, Right There

DH and I finally had a break through when discussing BIL and SIL.

I told him I have this deep fear, irrational on many levels, that BIL and SIL will steal our baby. It’s not going to happen, I’m about 98% sure, but… hear me out.

Let’s say you and your partner got a dog. You waited for the right time and got lucky and found the perfect dog. Your brother and his wife barely spent time with you, but talked to you (just the brother) on occasion.

The history isn’t great, as his wife pretty much hates your wife and made it super clear. Now, peace is finally here but there isn’t any closeness. His wife isn’t interested, so your wife has just learned to deal with it.

But, when they find out you’re getting a dog, they start talking about how excited they are about the dog. How they’re proud that you’re getting a dog, and you know that they really want a dog too. In fact, they voiced that they thought THEY should have a dog before you.

Well, the dog is here and suddenly, they are mad you won’t let them be around the dog as much as they want to. They think they are the most qualified to help you with the dog and want to be with the dog as much as possible.

These people, who were never interested in being close, now suddenly want to be around all the time. This only happened after you got the dog.

Now, do you think it would ever cross your mind that they only like the dog? That maybe they would jump at the chance to take your dog? Would you have these fears that they would one day just say, “We are much better dog owners than you, we can take him off your hands!”

Sounds awful, right? The only reason it’s different from a baby is because a baby is connected to the parents in a way a dog can’t (you can’t give birth to a dog).

DH realized that it’s a pretty accurate analogy of our current situation, and admits it’s pretty fucking creepy.

I’m just grateful they can’t take our baby and go enjoy people thinking it’s theirs. They’re both white and DH and I are a mixed race couple.

Of course, BIL and DH have the same DNA, so in a way our baby is BIL’s “alternate universe” baby. It would be what his kid would look like if he didn’t marry another white person.

Another level of creepy.

Family Drama, Mental Health, Ramblings

Get that Shit Out of Here

Some people are shockingly awkward. They lack any semblance of charm, aside from being charming with how awkward they are (if that is still a thing).

When I was younger, almost everyone was like that. Why? Because we’re teenagers who desperately want to fit in and be loved/involved in everything. We want everyone to think well of us and have serious trouble if anyone has a negative thought.

But now, I’m in my 30’s and I have well-learned that some people will just dislike you. There is nothing you can do about it.


Occasionally, I meet people who still carry that self-esteem killing baggage from our youth. They desperately want to be liked by everyone, and any time they are confronted with the reality that they are dislike, they get violent. Not physically, though sometimes physically, but emotionally. They lash out, they get accusatory, and in the end nothing is their fault or problem.

The worst part about these people is that they are so desperate to look like they have it together. They will put up any front to seem like they got it all. They tend to have those “magazine” homes, with perfectly matching decor, knicknacks, everything framed, and tons of photos of themselves.

The part that breaks my heart the most is their constant quest for validation.

But the part that loses my sympathy is how many of these people will take the validation and praise, but then never give any in return. In fact, almost everything they say is hopelessly negative.

Because being effusive and positive is so desperately uncool and will make them vulnerable.

DH and I were talking to BIL and SIL, and DH was telling them how much the baby classes have meant to him. He talked about how he felt much more prepared and how he learned how to swaddle.

Their reply: We won’t be taking those, we don’t need to. SIL knows everything about babies. (Then SIL chimes in) Swaddling an actual baby vs. a doll is totally different. Much harder.

DH and I were talking about how far along I am, I told them 37 weeks and ready for this to be over.

Their reply: Well he’s fully formed and ready to come out whenever! He can come out now and be just fine.

Yes, thank you for telling me, the pregnant woman, that my baby is ready to come into the world. Thanks for letting me know that from a medical standpoint, he is healthy enough to breathe and function on his own. I had no idea, as someone who has been pregnant for the past 37 weeks, about the stages of fetal development. I had no clue.

But the worst part? The part that makes us wince/cringe and has made our parents look aghast and weirded out?

Their constant vocalization of how proud they are of us. For having a baby. They’re proud of us for having a baby. The various reactions from our parents?

MIL: What, like he had a hand in any of this?

My Mom: Why is he so weird? What a weird thing to say.

My Dad: You know… just ignore him.

FIL: *bemused smirk* Proud?

They say a lot of weird things like that. I think it is their way of balancing their indignation that we are having a child before them. Their immediate reaction was, “It should be us!” and now, to not be assholes, they are expressing their pride in the fact that DH and I are having a child.

The reality is that they are painfully awkward people, and because they refuse to acknowledge how awkward they are it shows that they completely lack any charm. They are truly unforgettable people.

I’m not even joking. When I first met DH’s extended family, BIL and SIL were engaged. DH’s uncle and I were hitting it off as we discussed sustainable crop rotation (he is a scientist) and then he suddenly asked me, “What is the name of BIL’s fiancee, again?”

He’s known her for over a year at this point. I told him her name, he nodded and said, “Is she having a good time?”

His guess was as good as mine, as I’ve known her for two months at this point. She was sour faced, sitting in the corner, arms crossed. BIL was hovering around her, whispering to her as she just shook her head or nodded. He literally had his arms on either side of her chair as he hovered and kept whispering.

I assured him that she was, and we went on to discuss how hops grow.

When we would go to functions where we are forced to interact, people would first assume that DH and I were his brother and fiancee. Why? Because they thought we were the couple that was going to get married due to the way we behaved.

Over time, people began to ask if DH and I were coming to events and would always mention, “They are just the life of the party.” There was no inquiry as to whether BIL and SIL would attend, and they often didn’t because she likes spending time with her family over the other side.

The bottom line?

Life is what you make of it. It’s the biggest lesson my father ever taught me and one I hope to pass on to my child.

If you wish to carry a raft around with you at all times, because once you came across a roaring river, then it is your choice. But don’t start complaining and whining about how slow the journey has become or how heavy the raft is.

You can let go of the raft at any moment, but you choose to hold onto it in your misguided belief that it will keep you safe.

If you let go of the raft, you run into the risk of needing it again later on in life. But you have gone for miles and days without a single roaring river in sight. Maybe a few quiet ones, a creek or two, but you managed to cross it without using the raft.

Don’t be afraid of living without the raft.

Don’t be afraid of other people’s judgments and opinions of you. They are about as important and relevant as you wish to make it. You’ve got one life to live. Don’t spend it letting anxiety and fear rule your life.

The more you embrace your authentic self, the more people will respect you for it.

Family Drama, Korean Roots, Pregnancy, Ramblings

Taking It Easy is Not in My Blood

A lot of people have voiced the opinion that DH should be “doing more” for me, because I am currently 38 weeks pregnant.

Many of DH’s relatives think I should just put my feet up and eat and do nothing. While it sounds nice (ish), I don’t really feel the need to do that. I’ll do a lot of resting once our son is here, not sleeping but resting, and I have time to do nothing but focus on our baby then.

But I also think back to my mom, her mom, and all of those women that came before. I often think of my great-grandmother, who left Korea to come and look after me and my siblings and then after my cousins.

She went back when we were all in school, and I saw her once more before she died. I remember carrying a watermelon inside for her, as she just broke her arm. She marveled at how tall and strong I was, and all I could do was feel overwhelmed that here she was, so old and living alone in a small cottage with a tiny garden.

She grew that watermelon for us, because my mom told her we will be coming. She was an amazing cook and a loving, doting great-grandmother. She didn’t mind that we spoke English and were disconnected from the past. She was proud that we didn’t have to struggle like she did.

And did she struggle.

She was married at 14, had a child right away, and then for five years she had miscarriage after miscarriage. The War tore apart her country, her home, and all she could do was try to survive it.

She taught herself how to read, because she was plucked out of school at age 8 to help with the family farm. She went through so much hardship, and I know that the War and famine resulted in those multiple miscarriages.

I know she worked up right until the day her six children were born. She never took a break, and always thought of how she could help and be there for others. Her heart was always full, her back always bent, and her hands always busy.

I take pride in knowing that I come from her, from her blood and from her courage. She saw through the worst possible moments in her nation’s history, and she did all of that for the future. For me, and for my child.

I want her to be proud that I am working, not as hard as her of course, and that I cook my non-Korean husband many different Korean dishes. I make my own pickles, I make dumplings from scratch (that they are all beautiful), and how I give my grandmother (her daughter) money every New Year to show my gratitude.

I want her to know that my son will know the same tastes, sounds, and experiences as I did. I will keep him as rooted as possible to the past, and he will know of her strength and sacrifice. He will know that he is here and I am here only through their courage and determination to survive.

They refused to be extinguished.

So while I appreciate those in DH’s family thinking that I should be pampered, DH says I am too stubborn and too determined. He knows asking me to stop doing things and limiting my actions will only anger me, and that he trusts me to ask him to step up or take care of things if I am not able. He never questions me.

When his family asks why I won’t take it easy, he simply tells them that I am full of han and jeong. When they ask what that is, he says that there is something that runs through all Koreans, no matter where they are.

It is the co-existing feeling of hope, sorrow, and love. It compels us, it defines us, and it unites us.

Family Drama, Ramblings

Everyone Has Advice, Whether You Want It or Not

More adventures with my BIL!

Yesterday, DH and BIL had a long talk about DH’s issues with FIL. BIL gave advice on how to handle it, and how BIL is in a good place with FIL and doesn’t understand why DH and their sister aren’t in a good place.

DH admitted to him that when BIL met his future wife, he completely checked out with the family. He pretty much left DH to handle it on his own – and through no fault of either of them – with two parents that are very emotionally needy. ESPECIALLY their Dad.

His dad is twice divorced, depressed, anxiety, selfish, and very emotionally needy. He needs constant validation, and he only really understands love through gifts and acts of service. Words of validation are helpful, but he doesn’t care about quality time unless he wants it. He doesn’t like giving any of those things as a method of love, and instead just wants to receive it. Bottom line: he’s a taker.

BIL basically gave FIL requirements to be in his life. Buy him stuff and don’t overstep. So FIL buys him gifts, gives things to him and his wife, and is always on his “best behavior” when over. But he doesn’t like spending time with BIL, of course BIL doesn’t know this. He just goes over because he’s lonely, but would much rather (he’s said it himself) come and spend time with us.

I pointed out to DH, who wishes he said this to BIL, that if BIL’s solution to the problem only works for him, then maybe he doesn’t have the same problem as everyone else.

BIL was always more emotional (i.e. angry), more difficult to deal with, and ultimately their parents just relied more on DH. For DH to do the dishes, throw out the trash, be an emotional support, come to family events, etc. So when BIL met his future wife he just became more aggressive about his space and the value of his time.

Which ultimately leads us to where we are today. BIL giving us parenting advice.

DH said he has concerns about how he and FIL will have a relationship going forward, as he has to think about our son and what our son will see. He doesn’t want our son to learn from FIL about how to be a man or a dad, and doesn’t want our son to be negatively impacted by the strained relationship.

BIL, very wisely/stupidly said, that our son can at least see that FIL has good intentions. He can get excited about stuff, but only if he cares about it. So that means it’s either about his work, fishing, nature, or anything else that interest him. If he doesn’t share the interest, he is completely checked out.

DH pointed out that a child won’t understand good intentions. At best, our son can figure that out when he’s in his 30’s if he really sat and thought about it. Of course, by then FIL would have long passed away.

BIL then said that we can always pass down the habits and lessons we want our son to learn. THAT made me laugh, hysterically.

Kids are sponges. They will absorb whatever they want and whatever they can. Typically it’s all the stuff you WISH they would skip over. We can’t pick and choose, and we can’t just make him forget and not learn. That’s not possible.

We have to present him with the best world possible, and just try to navigate the shit that gets in the way. We will just need to accept that he’s learned our bad habits and hope that, when he gets older, he will realize how bad they are. But for a long, long time, there will be nothing we can do but try to lead by example.

BIL thinks he’s an authority on children because he’s a school teacher. He thinks his wife, SIL, knows EVERYTHING about babies and pregnancy.

DH and I are at the point where we just laugh and say, “Well he’ll sing a different tune when it’s actually happening to him.”

We hate to be those people, but moral of the story is:

Your opinion/advice is like having a penis. It’s great to have one and you can be super proud of it. But don’t be surprised if people freak out and get mad if you whip it out and try to shove it down our throats.

Pregnancy, Ramblings

Trading One Identity, for Another

Motherhood is a unique transition in life. Not only is there a little life who depends on you, who will quite literally leech off of you to survive, but you also change in the eyes of others.

Growing up in a Korean American household, I knew many of my Aunts or distant relatives by the title of “[Eldest Son’s Name]’s Mom.”

When you first marry, you are known as “[Husband’s Name]’s Wife”.

Before that, you are known as “[Father’s Name]’s [eldest/youngest] Daughter.”

Your identity is always in reference to another person, and almost always a man. Unless you have a mother/grandmother of notable distinction. I grew used to introducing myself as my father’s second daughter.

My mother was my brother’s mom. My Aunts were referred to by their eldest son’s name, if they didn’t have any boys (which was a great pity) they would be referred to by their eldest child’s name.

Unless your husband died, then you were known as his widow.

So it shouldn’t have been such a shock or even upsetting when my mom and aunt teased how I will be called “[Son’s name]’s mom.” I was surprised, though.

I live with one foot in each world, in the American/Western culture and the Korean culture. I don’t really belong in either, but I also am comfortable in both.

When I married a white man, my family had no objections. While most women in American culture now take the option of keeping their maiden name, it was surprising to my dad when I told him I don’t plan on it. Simply because he never thought I would keep my maiden name. It’s his name, but he was fully prepared for me to shed it and assume my husband’s family name.

My mom told me, years ago, that when I marry I must do so in good faith. Not just for the love of my husband, but for loyalty to his family. His family will become mine, and their problems will be mine. If I ever want to be fully embraced, I must be willing to do whatever it takes. Above all, I must be willing to give up my former identity.

I am no longer just me. I am my husband’s wife.

When I was younger, I thought she was just old-school and nuts. But now that I am married, with a MIL who kept her maiden name, it’s funny to see how much it means to them that I took my husband’s last name.

When I asked my MIL why she never changed it, even though they are now divorced, she just said she never got around to it. But she then expressed how happy it made her that I made the effort.

From my experience with American culture, my identity will also be erased. I will become my son’s mother, and he will be their grandchild. Their main focus and love. I am simply the person that brought him into the world. I am a mere means to their end.

But in the Korean culture, the fact that I brought him into the world is a position of honor, respect, and reverence. To be known as his mother is to give me standing.

Yet in American culture, being known as his mother is just a fact. What matters more to them is that he is their kin, less that I am involved.

While neither is really preferred (I’d rather always just be me and I happen to have a child), I find myself greatly disliking the American viewpoint.

Immanuel Kant said that human beings should be treated as an end in themselves and not as a means to an end. But the way my husband’s family is approaching everything, they only want the child and I just happen to come with the child.

But in the culture of my ancestors, the fact that I have a son is an aspect of me. It doesn’t erase me, but is an addition to me. Once my husband and I married, I was no longer a child. I was now a woman, with opinions and views that must be listened to. I had responsibilities, and suddenly, at 27, I stepped out of the shadows of my childhood and entered into my own light.

Where I may cast as long of a shadow as I please.

Now, with a coming child, and yes a son is “more special” (though that part of the culture has been abandoned due to social progress and the fact that my grandfather had 12 grandchildren and 9 of them were boys, my aunts and uncles think there are too many boys), my life has a new dimension.

I am me, but like nobles of the past, my name has another title. I am me, my father’s daughter, my husband’s wife, and my son’s mother. I am all of those things in one, and as my life progresses, more titles will be added to show that I have lived a long and happy one.


We’re almost there…

We are now 6 1/2 weeks from our son joining the world.

Looking back, I remember the despair I felt when we had no positive signs. OPK’s were useless, my cycle was completely irregular (sometimes 40 days long to 120), and when we got referred to a specialist, I started to wonder how far I would go.

Would we do IUI? Would I take hormones/medication to help boost my egg production/cycle? Some of them have terrible side effects, and IUI’s don’t always work. I was set to take a very involved test to see if my fallopian tubes are blocked. My SIL took it and said it caused a lot of pain/discomfort. She wound up needing to do IVF twice before she had her first little boy.

Then, just a week and a half after receiving the referral to the specialist, little did we know but we conceived our son.

The beginning was nerve wracking. Will I miscarry? Is he healthy? Every trip to the bathroom required a check to see if I was spotting. Every cramp caused concern. I kicked myself for taking ibuprofen before I knew I was pregnant.

Genetic testing was important to do, but I sobbed wildly one day when the results came late and I just knew that something was wrong. Four days after they were supposed to be due, they were finally released and we got the news that he’s perfectly healthy and… that he’s a boy.

Morning sickness felt like it was going on forever. Hypermesis is no joke, and while I had a “mild” version it still resulted in me losing 14 lbs and going to the ER for dehydration.

I remember asking my husband if I was “showing” yet and didn’t want to just look like I’m fat. Now, I am very clearly showing and it’s rather hard to hide. Everyone has comments on how I look, most of them are positive as I am fortunate to carry this pregnancy “well.” (Like I was made for this, my MIL said.)

We went from 1st trimester to 2nd, and now we’re in the 3rd. When we hit the 3rd trimester, I looked at my husband and panicked, telling him that there were no more “mesters” for us to go through. While there is a 4th trimester, recovery from all of this, the reality is that he will be outside of me.

The idea of labor and the pain that will come with it does not fill me with much confidence. But I am confident in our partnership, and I trust the doctors I am working with.

This has been the craziest thing I have ever experienced, and I can’t imagine doing this twice (let alone three times, like my mother did). But here we are… just 6 1/2 weeks away from his final due date, and in theory he can come at any moment.

We are staying close to the hospital now, and we have a go-bag packed. We have his first outfit, our first clothes, and so many other things packed and ready. The stroller is in our living room, a baby swing sits next to it. His crib is all setup, his clothes, books, and toys are organized. His changing table is ready for all of the dirty diapers.

But we are ready?

Only God knows.

But hey, we’ve made it this far. If life has taught me anything, it’s that I’m very good at bullshitting.