My son’s difficult birth story- when two became three

My son’s difficult birth story- when two became three

I don’t tell my son’s birth story without taking a pause.

It was not an easy breezy or cinema-like birth… 

In fact, there were times where it was downright nightmarish. 

I’ve decided to share a watered down version of it, both for my healing and for others who may relate to the type of birth. 

April is cesarean awareness month, and while the birth of my wonderful son was something I’ll love forever, it came with its share of challenges. 

My pregnancy was pretty easy for the most part. My husband and I had the opportunity to spend time with one another in the aftermath of the height of the pandemic. I worked from home and had the ability to have home cooked lunches with my husband and even take naps during some lunch breaks.

While we loved our tiny paradise, there were times that it was lonely. We were strict on being careful, so our social lives were put on a slight hold and it took a great deal of adjusting. 

My baby shower was over zoom, and it was wonderful – but sometimes I wish we could have had the freedom to do it in person. 

As my due date got closer, my husband Kevin and I cracked down on our rules of safety even more (if he got Covid-19, he would not have been allowed to attend the birth of our son).  

People understood, but at the same time, we knew they really didn’t at all and thought we were being hyper about our decisions. 

But…when it came down to it, they were our decisions, the right ones, and they were for us. 

After 10 days past my due date, we pushed for my birth to happen (no pun intended)…it was time. The hospital told us they were at capacity, but we went in anyways. My water broke while we were in triage, and the 4 day labor began. 

My son was pretty comfy in my belly, and didn’t feel like coming earthside until he was good and ready. I did 3 days unmedicated, until my exhaustion took the reins and my body & baby needed an emergency c-section.

I remember the tears of defeat and feeling like I failed. I remember my husband being the only person who knew exactly why I was crying. It was a weird comfort having my support person understand the state of it all both from an outside (he wasn’t in labor) and inside (he was the father of the baby) point of view. 

As I was taken away from the cocoon-like hospital room we had called home for 3 days, I thought about the last few days and how I’d powered through them…. And then I thought about how powerless I suddenly felt, and how I couldn’t do a damn thing about whatever was happening next. 

While I laid exposed on the table, hearing the roll call of all the staff present for the surgery, I remember feeling my son squirm around, almost hugging his home for the last time. 

My son was born, a 10 lb boy and healthy as could be. The moment he was shown over the curtain, I could feel the love gush through me. 

He was here. He was safe. He was ours. 

Moments later, complications arose, and my husband & son were escorted away from me. I knew from movies this wasn’t a good sign. People were silently moving fast around me, and I began to lose the moments I wanted so badly to keep soaking up. 

When I woke up, I had someone painfully pushing on my stomach – and I knew it was the beginning of the uphill healing process of my cesarean. 

I won’t get into the details. But my body was put through it…and it was beyond tired. 

The next few days we navigated being new parents on the overflow floor. Because of the Covid policies we couldn’t have visitors and we relied on facetime. We missed those precious moments of sharing our beautiful son with the ones we loved most. 

While at the same time, we soaked up the time being a new family of 3, and sharing the moments all on our own. 

Today, we are so grateful for our little family. I still have days I feel the pain and anxiety of it all, sometimes even physical pain. My body has forever been changed, and my mind has too. I have a different level of appreciation for what my body can do and what I can endure. Every night I fall asleep loving the family we built and every day I wake up to my sweet boys (cats included).  

Throughout our journey as a couple, we made many well thought out plans. Good ones too – spreadsheets and all – but life often chose something different for us…and I’ve found that the unplanned events are the ones that have become the most precious moments that we wouldn’t change a bit. 

“”Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon 

Do you want sympathy or a solution my love? 

Do you want sympathy or a solution my love? 

My husband and I have been married for a couple years now, and I feel like every day it gets better and easier. 

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – “good for you” – cue Kristen Wiig’s famous “you doooo” scene from Bridesmaids…. 

But really! I am telling you the truth! 

Let me explain. 

A while ago, I came across a post during one of my many insta tunnels. Which, if you don’t know, is when you open ONE reel and somehow an hour later, you’ve ended up watching a BILLION. Has this happened to you? It’s so easy to do, right? 

Anyways, the post said something along the lines of – when having a conversation with someone, or in our case sometimes more like a vent session – ask whether the person wants sympathy or a solution. 

This way of thinking before responding has been amazing for us. A game changer in a lot of ways. 

First, it makes you take a minute to think about a response, not just a reaction. Second, it lets the other person know you are still listening to them, and WANT to respond. 

Having a partner or a “your person” type of relationship is so amazing for many reasons. One of the perks I love most about it, is having that person to talk about anything with. My husband and I are always there for one another, and our ability to incorporate communication hacks as we’ve grown together – has made us more in sync.  

Using the screening question of whether or not the person wants the other person to just hear them out (because sometimes that all you really need), or help them find a solution, has helped dodge unnecessary arguments and misunderstandings. 

During Covid, we realized just how compatible we were. I mean, what better way to find out if you’re a match than a global pandemic that forces you to spend every waking minute together?  

But for real, having these little conversation tools like the one I just described has made us better at communicating and much closer. 

Adding a child into our lives and the way we communicate has also been a huge learning curve. One we have truly enjoyed of course, but a learning curve nonetheless. We’ve had to redefine our lives quite a bit, but more on that another time…

So, if you have a person you like sharing your world with and your stories – you are a lucky duck! 

And if you think that “your person” doesn’t know how much you appreciate them, let them know. It never hurts to remind them.  

Try this out. Sympathy or Solution? So simple. So easy.

Being pregnant while adopted, and how the colliding worlds bring peace

Being pregnant while adopted, and how the colliding worlds bring peace

I have been on a slight hiatus from my blog – and this is due to finding out I was expecting a wonderful new addition to my little family. My husband and I are expecting our baby at the end of the year, and we simply can’t  wait! 

For the past 5 months I have been able to reflect and enjoy the remarkable world of being pregnant. Being pregnant is wonderful, terrifying, and amazing all at the same time. There are relaxing days where you forget that at the end of the journey, you will have to push a tiny human being out. While on other days, the realization of that is quite intense and often a nap is needed. 

I am so thankful for being pregnant, for being able to get pregnant, and for having a wonderful life partner and father to be in my life. It’s not everyday you find someone so great that you want to make a person with half their genes. 

I frequently think about how life has unfolded for the both of us. My husband and I were both adopted at young ages into wonderful families. It sometimes baffles me how we found one another. Our paths crossed at just the right times and places for us, and I often think about how the timing played such a key role for us to match.

Being pregnant as an adopted child is sometimes odd. 

I get to experience and feel everything my birth mother felt with me. First flutters, kicks, and hiccups. I remember the first time I saw my baby and listened to the heart beat. I remember feeling immense joy and fear all at the same time. It was then that I also realized I was experiencing something my birth mother had, and it was something I was not prepared for. On top of that, I was experiencing something for the first time with my wonderful husband who also got to experience something his birth father may have experienced. It felt like our life tracks were paused, and a new life was truly acknowledged, and life pressed play again. 

Growing up, understanding why my parents gave me up for adoption was something that took time. I LOVE the family I have today, and everyday I am so thankful for them. But there will forever be the unanswered questions about how I got to where I am today, and why. Throughout my life, there were of course ideas of what might have happened. For example, there was a one child law in China when I was born, so maybe I was their second. A lot of times Chinese families preferred sons, so maybe I was the daughter they were willing to pass up in hopes of a boy the next time. They could have simply not been ready for a baby, or maybe they wanted to ensure that I could have a better life than they could have provided at the time. There are a million reasons I may have ended up where I am today, and the answer to those questions will forever be my own personal cliffhanger. 

Understanding those around me is a huge part of who I am,  and putting myself in others’ shoes has always been something I’ve attempted to do to accept the actions of others. Now, being pregnant myself, I imagine that for my birth parents it took a great deal of selflessness and faith to let go of someone they created and nurtured. The thought of giving up the countless hours of rubbing my belly to connect and talking to the baby is unimaginable. Though, to be honest, I feel grateful that beyond anything else I was given the chance to live the life I am living today. 

People often ask me – why not do the 23 and me test and get some answers? 

I am usually puzzled by this, only because it won’t answer any of the questions I want the answers to. My genetics won’t tell me why I was given up for adoption, it won’t tell me what my parents were like, and it won’t tell me how my life could have been different. It would tell me things that most people take for granted knowing – medical family history and family tree. Going to the doctors has always been the same routine for me. Whenever there is a family history section, I write in big letters – adopted/unknown. It’s so normal for me that sometimes I forget it’s not the norm. 

I am also finding I am more and more content with knowing what I know. My life really wouldn’t change much if I knew the answers now. I would still be the person I am today. I might have more to write on medical papers, but that’s it, and I am okay with it. 

Having unknowns is not all bad either. Our child’s family history begins with my husband and I. We get to write the story of us and our family. At the end of the day, it’s exciting to begin this amazing chapter of our lives.

Divorced, but not apart

Divorced, but not apart

I come from a divorced family, but I hardly view it as such. Even though my parents divorced when I was young, our family has never truly been separated. In the early days of the divorce, my parents managed to stay friends (no matter how tough it was) and were able to hold conversations about our lives. And to be honest, the initial transition was really tough for us to navigate. Growing up, my sister and I would switch between houses every other day, then every other week, and when we were old enough, we simply got to choose where we went. And over time, we began to gradually spend our major life events in a group. This includes birthdays, graduations, engagements, weddings, births, and holidays. 

It’s odd when I think about it, but when I was old enough to discuss divorce, it wasn’t some no-no subject. Almost all my friends had split families, and none of us viewed it as abnormal, because it was our normal. We all grew up with multiple lifestyles, and I think in the long run, it helped us learn to adapt to the continuous changes in life. 

My family may be rare in the way we live our lives, but truthfully, I can’t imagine it any different.  I know, sounds strange right?  But I can’t really imagine a life where my parents were still together. If I were to imagine a life where my parents were together, I would also have to imagine a life where all of my step family members and all the people who came with them were non-existent, and that is tough. 

Being newly married myself has shown me that love and marriage can sometimes be broken up into categories. I also learned that marriage is a choice made everyday, and not just on the day you say “I do”. Everyone deserves to live a life filled with the people they love, and a life where they love themselves. I believe that’s what happened when both my parents found love for a second time. They built a beautiful family, and they loved us and themselves enough to add to it over the years. My circle is immeasurable and it feels like it’s always growing for the better.  

I don’t like the term “broken family”, and this is why. While the world has been better about simply accepting the different classifications of family, I think that normalizing and seeing the beauty in the cracks of family is next. My family reminds me of Kintsugi – the japanese art of repair. Kintsugi is when cracks are filled with gold. It is based on the idea that the cracks and imperfections can actually make things better. My family is filled with gold, and is stronger for it.

A glimpse

A glimpse

If you have siblings, you already know the insane range of benefits and well, drawbacks of being the younger one, this post will focus on the benefits.  My husband and I are both younger siblings, and we got lucky with having our sisters show us the ropes on certain things in life. And sometimes, they were even kind enough to show us examples of what NOT to do. We get to peak at the blue print of growing up, and make educated choices on how we might change our own lives. Sometimes it is as simple as, don’t do this, because mom and dad will react like this. 

One thing I love about being a sibling is being able to watch my sister grow into the mother she is now. I obviously learned a lot about being a great mother from my own mom, but there is something really special and fun about watching someone you used to fight over the TV remote with, become a parent. 

Since marrying, I now have 4 nieces and nephews and I am so grateful for all of them. Each one of them are great kids, with big hearts, great senses of humor, and they are on the right track to being some of the most amazing future adults. My sister and sister-in-law make it look so easy, but I know that they have worked very hard to become the role model mothers they are now. I feel like parenting is like a crash course and an extra credit project all at once. You have to know what you’re doing immediately after delivering, but if you make a mistake, you have time to make up for, learn from it, and change course. 

I often get to hang out with my sister’s kids, and it’s one of the best things I can think of to do. When I have free time, I get a glimpse of parenthood. Note, I am very aware it is a glimpse- because no way does 3-4 hours with the cutest kids constitute as full on parenting.  Parenthood is around the clock, and I really love that I get to enjoy snippets of what is in store for me. I think it’s one of the best and only things in life that is so unpredictable, but also constantly available to learn from. And as a bonus, you often get to learn from people you really love and admire. 

Someday I hope to also experience the full time whirlwind of being a parent, but for now, I am content with getting to know some of the sweetest kids I get to call family. 

Family vs. family

Family vs. family

In the department of communication, my husband and I come from very different family styles. My family is wordy, they love planning a call, text, email, or even a visit at least once a week, if not more. My husband’s family is the opposite, a text, call, or visit,  once a month or every other month works great for them. There are things that are so starkly opposite between our families, that it often amazes us that we were able to find each other in the middle, and fall in love. 

A conversation with my family is like opening a large filing cabinet drawer, but accidentally opening the other drawer above it, because the file tabs are so full. Our conversations usually start one place, and end up on a completely unrelated topic. Sometimes it even feels like opening a web browser with a bunch of forgotten search tabs open – and in order to close the browser, you have to decide to close all of them or one by one. This often means lengthy conversations, that includes some range of emotions. My family is filled with social workers, HR representatives, nurses, teachers, and counselors. And yes, we are all in these professions for a reason. We like to talk, we like to help, and we like to connect about the past, present, and future- sometimes all in one conversation.. 

My husband’s family? Conversations with them are more like headlines, often only the important bullet points. Conversations have a clear beginning and a clear ending. His family comes from a background of engineers, techs, and other straight forward analytic professions. Conversations have a purpose, and once there is a found solution, case closed! There are times when there is a catch up call, but once everyone is all caught up, we are good to go until the next update. These conversations are not any less meaningful or special, but they definitely tend to be much shorter than conversations with my family. 

As a married couple, our worlds have had to collide and become one. My husband has learned how my family communicates, just like I have learned how his family communicates. It’s a learning curve for both of us, but it is one we welcome because we both prefer the split of communication styles. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a whole lot of love from both sides, and we realize we are lucky and so grateful for it. We have come to realize that  it’s helpful to remember we all have different ways of showing up for one another, and that’s okay! 

You learn a lot about your partner through their family, and a lot of times you will learn how to better your relationship with them, based on what you find. 

Where are you REALLY from?

Where are you REALLY from?

Okay, I’m going to answer that question right off the bat. I am adopted from China, and I honestly know very little about my original home town. I’ve seen pictures, heard stories, and even watched documentaries, but I’ve never experienced it. It’s been on my bucket list for a while. 

I don’t even remember when I found out I was adopted, it might have been self explanatory. In my early days, I remember being different, different hair color, eye color, and skin color. In many ways my family worked hard to make the differences an excuse to celebrate my uniqueness in our daily lives. For one of my birthdays my family spray painted their blonde hair black for my birthday (it sounds like it was in bad taste,but I loved it). 

My parents tried to keep me involved with cultural groups, like dance and language classes, but I was never into it. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I immediately fell into a category. Chinese girl, adopted into a caucasion family (my dance class was filled with identical situations). It felt more like a label than my race difference, and with time the classes slowly disappeared from my life. 

Growing up, I remember people asking where I was from, speaking to me in chinese, or thinking I didn’t even belong with my family group. It stung, and often took me back for a second, but I got used to it and learned to live with the constant replies of “I am from China”, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak chinese” (in my very american accent), and “I am with them”.

As I got older, friends were sometimes the worst. I often forgot my different looks, in my house it was never mentioned, but in school – I was asked the same questions that strangers asked me. The most popular though, was “where are you from?” or “WHAT are you?”

Friends would ask – do you ever want to be white? And I remember thinking about my response – it was often a short no (but in secret, sometimes it was… yes). My friends mostly consisted of non – asian individuals, so I was never the friend who was called the twin or the sibling. These little instances really hurt, but I learned to mask it and eventually learned to own my differences. This was definitely not over night, and took a lot of self love. No one can really make you happy about you, except you. 

Once I got to my teens the stereotype shifted into something more adult. There were times where the shift was thrown in my face, while other times it was less recognizable. Once my father took me to a restaurant after one of my choir concerts, and the hostess seated us in a private room. It wasn’t until we asked to be moved to the main dining room that it dawned on me – they thought I was only with him for the night. 

In high school and college I no longer knew if people liked me for me or if it was an “asian thing”. Sometimes it became self explanatory, a phrase like “I’ve never been with an asian girl” would eventually be verbalized or “can you speak with an accent?” and it would set off my radar.

As an adult – I still deal with these insecurities. The difference now is that I know where to spot them, and how to digest them, and eventually grow past them. Like all things, it ebbs and flows – with time, with news, and with who I meet.