2012

2012年就这么来了。真有点恍惚。

回头看看这匆匆忙忙就逝去了的2011, 竟然有些不知所措的感觉。这一年,我最大的收获就是Audrey。她的到来,让我对生活的感受复杂深刻了许多。在无尽的欣喜之余,我的每一天也充斥着无休止的疲倦。我的精神和身体压力在过去的一年之内登峰造极。各种内在外在的原因,让我变成了一个敏感易怒的人。以前,每每有人跟我说,有了孩子你的生活就会发生翻天覆地的变化,我总是觉得有些夸大其词。现在当自己身临其境了,才知道这句话有多么真实而且残酷。就好像化学反应 – 如果增加一个变量,原本自在平稳的景象就会立刻分崩离析成为一片狼藉。Audrey,就是我生活中的新变量。而我在她到来之后,却无法调整自己去适应这一切。对一个喜欢缜密计划每一步的我而言,要习惯有娃以后难以预期难以控制的每一天,真是很艰难。我想,如果我希望自己的2012年能够轻松一些柔和一些,我必须改变这种control freak的心态,不再总是徒劳地去计划一切然后在各种突发状况前手忙脚乱。Let go a bit, and let things take their own courses. My life could certainly use a little spontaneity. If I screw up once or twice, the world is not coming to an end!

所以,我的2012年最大的新年愿望就是 – 继续计划一切能计划的事情,但也要自信自然地面对不能计划的事情。更宽容温和一些,学会destress, 不让压力把自己变成一个sulky and easily irritated person. 最后,就是要学习如何变的quick witted – 多跟这方面的大师学习(e.g. Churchill, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw), 练习think quickly,掌握一些常用的clever retorts以备不时之需。

希望2012年结束的时候,我能成为一个更豁达更quick witted的人。

Tiger mom

I always thought my first parenting book would be a “how-to” manual — how to deal with temper tantrums, how to raise responsible children, something like that. However, I ended up getting my first peek into the whirlwind of a journey I just embarked on in a much controversial book of biographical depiction of Chinese parenting. It is titled “Battle Hymn of Tiger Mom”, authored by Amy Chua, a Yale law school professor. Basically, this book was Amy’s interpretation of the Chinese parenting style, evidenced by stories of how she reared her two girls. According to Amy, the key characteristic of Chinese parenting is being relentlessly strict and pushy, and she has manifested every bit of that throughout the whole book. I truly admire her devotion to her daughters and her tenacity in setting hefty goals for them and pushing them to accomplish those goals — she believes that children don’t really know what’s good for them, so parents have to make their choices in their stead. And she is rich, well, at least rich enough to pay for all the expensive teaching/training/tutoring that her girls needed to succeed. I don’t think there are a lot of parents that could afford that kind of personal and financial sacrifice. Maybe that’s why most of our daughters play soccer in the field, rather than play piano in Carnegie hall, when they are 8th graders.

Being a pushy mom means you will get a lot of push back from your kids, and usually the harder you push, the harder they push back. Amy’s younger daughter Lulu happens to be a little fire ball that pushes back all the time. When I read the explosive back and forth between Amy and Lulu, I couldn’t help but wonder if Amy was a little masochistic. I would never push Audrey to the unreasonable extent that makes her hate me for being me, and even worse, hate herself for being my daughter. It’s just not worth it – I’m perfectly happy being a soccer mom, and I don’t have the desire or energy to fight through endless kicking and screaming for a grand moment in Carnegie hall. A home shouldn’t be a war zone.

Still, there are many good points Amy made in her book that have become my valuable takeaways. For example – in order to be able to enjoy something, you have to be good at it first; don’t sugarcoat everything (or anything, more accurately); always reach for higher aims. Despite her extreme pushiness, Amy is a loving mom. The combination of her Nazi front and her deep well of love and strength has turned out two beautiful and sophisticated young ladies. In the book she included an article her older daughter Sophia wrote for her school newspaper about her experience of playing Juliet as a Young Girl in Carnegie hall, and it was such a well written piece that I could hardly believe it came from an 8th grader. There was a brief moment that I thought to myself, if Audrey could write with this level of perspective and logic, I wouldn’t mind being a tiger mom. Well, it was just a brief fleeting moment. I regained my senses immediately. I could never aspire to play in the league of tigers in the parenting world, but I will stay in the feline family. After all, I AM a Chinese.

让未来像从前

有娃以后的生活和以前真是有了本质上的变化。我的一个朋友说,自从她儿子出生以后,她和她lg的交流,基本上都是以儿子为主题,现在她儿子已经13岁了,有一次出去summer camp一个星期,她和她lg在家居然都没有什么话说。她说等儿子上大学以后,她和lg得重新互相认识彼此才行,不然就真成了最熟悉的陌生人了。当时听她这么说,我就暗自下决心,一定不能重蹈她的覆辙,但孩子生下来之后,才发现要真的做到很难。宝宝已经快三个月了,这期间我就和feimo一起去看过一场电影,即便如此,心里还百般惦记家中的宝宝。平常,我们连一起坐在餐桌上吃饭的时间都很少,以前二人世界的种种温存甜蜜就更难重温了。难道真的得等18年以后才能重新享受feimo每天给我吹干头发,和我一起倚在沙发上看电视,躺着嬉笑聊天的日子么?那该是世界上最漫长的等待了。或许等孩子稍微大一点,每年结婚纪念日的时候可以暂时让昨日重现一下,即使为人父母了,二人世界也是可以偶尔为之的。不是么?

Cheer up

I started going to my zumba class again last weekend. One solid hour of dancing and sweating almost made me feel like a new person. Who knew being able to resume your favorite form of exercise after a year could be so liberating! Although having a baby poses all sorts of challenges to my time and stamina, I’m determined to make zumba a regular part of my life. I have to. The gestational diabetes I had during pregnancy has left me scarred – my blood glucose tolerance has been impaired because of it and I’m now diagnosed to be pre-diabetic, a condition that has a high risk of developing into type II diabetes. A  healthy diet (in other words, a practically sugar-free diet) and regular exercising will by my only salvation. I certainly don’t want to fall prey to the debilitating disease; if it means I have to forgo some palatal delights and sacrifice a few hours of sleep to workout, so be it. This is a time both my body and my mind will endure life’s dare, and hopefully I’m ready for it, eventually conquer it.

Here she comes (3)

We spent the next two days in the hospital – the most tiring yet sweetest two days of my life. Unfortunately, my post-partum recovery was as challenging as my pregnancy (if not worse), so we hired a nanny to help us out after we came home. I never expected childbirth to be so damaging to a woman’s body – my joints and bones have all loosened and they get injured very easily. I have pain all over my body, thus couldn’t care for my little girl as much as I wish. She’s almost seven weeks now — my wrist/thumb pain has prevented me from bathing her and holding her in certain positions, my lower back pain has made it difficult for me to breastfeed her while sitting, and my bruised ankles and heels have dimmed my hope of carrying her around and rocking her to sleep. There’s nothing more defeating than these shackling physical challenges. When can I be free from them?

Frustration aside, I’m determined not to let these difficulties get the better of me. I will remain upbeat and have faith in optimism’s healing power. I’m a mom now, aren’t I? The way I live my life and the way I overcome the challenges it presents are going to be the beacon of light in my girl’s formative years, so no more whining, frowning, sighing and crying in front of her! Toughen up Mommy, and smile!

As I’m about to conclude this babbling piece, I just realized that I never mentioned my little baby by name – Audrey. The name was chosen for three reasons: 1. I like names starting with letter A; 2. It means “noble strength” according to the old English origin, which I wish my baby girl have; 3. I want her to be as elegant and graceful as Audrey Hepburn, my favorite actress. Of course I hope she likes the name I picked for her as well. But I probably won’t know that until she’s in grade school. J

In two weeks, our nanny (experienced, kindhearted but controlling) will be leaving and I will be on my own taking care of Audrey. Though it will be daunting because of my physical restrictions, I actually look forward to that. In the past few weeks, Audrey sleeps with the nanny in her room, still, I can’t help but miss her when she’s only ten feet away. Sometimes I toss and turn in bed, wondering if she’s sound asleep or wide awake. I would then look at her pictures in my cell phone – the cute little face melts my heart every time. Soon I will be able to have her to myself at night. Physically my sleep deprivation will be more severe, but emotionally I will be much more peaceful.

Today, my dear Audrey has come to this world for 48 days. She’s brought infinite joy to us, and I just want to tell my little angel – mommy loves you so much, to the moon and back.

Here she comes (2)

The hardship of pregnancy made it difficult for me to enjoy being pregnant. As my due date approached, I started becoming anxious and couldn’t wait for my little one to come out. However, even in my 39th week, I still hadn’t felt her drop into my pelvis. Thus, I suspected that I might end up being overdue and have to be induced. Since I anticipated nothing to happen on my due date, I even planned to go watch Kung Fu Panda 2 the day before. But sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Around 4:30 am that day, I was awaken by a series of strong and regular contractions, and I knew the moment I had been waiting for finally arrived – I was in labor! I spent the next 20 hours monitoring the frequency and intensity of my contractions (many thanks to the free iPhone app  “contraction counter”), and around 11 pm, I reached 411 – contractions happen every 4 minutes, each one lasts 1 minute, and the pattern progresses for 1 hour. This was the point where I could finally go to the hospital. By the time we arrived, it’s a bit past midnight and I was already in a lot of pain.  When we were taking the birthing class, the teacher used the word “indescribable” to describe how much it hurts when in labor, and I couldn’t agree more.  I practically shuddered in fear as each contraction hit, and I eventually succumbed to the need of anesthetic intervention after being in pain for more than 20 hours. But just like every coin has two sides, while the administering of epidural freed me from the abyss of pain, it significantly slowed down my dilation and made it more difficult to push my little one out. I ended up pushing for two hours and forty five minutes, which resulted in some serious tearing and swelling. But all of this ordeal felt like nothing the moment my baby came to this world. She put a scare in us at first because she wasn’t breathing, and the nurses called over the NICU doctor to check on her. But as soon as the doctor arrived, she started crying and her cry was so loud that all the nurses and doctors in the room commented on it. One of them even said she’s going to be a drama queen. Is she? :-)

After she’s cleaned and measured, they wrapped her up like a little burrito and placed her on my chest. I looked at her and my mind just went blank. I didn’t know what to feel. It was such an overwhelming moment and all the words in the world seem to have lost their meanings; I just held her and caressed her little face. Surprisingly I didn’t burst into tears like a lot of first-time moms do. Maybe I was still in awe of the amazing new life that Feimo and I created and didn’t think of expressing my feelings with tears. But later when they told me her blood sugar was lower than normal because of my diabetes, my eyes welled up immediately. I did everything I could to keep my blood glucose level well controlled during the pregnancy so she wouldn’t turn into a “linebacker” baby (and she didn’t), but how come she’s still affected by the ungodly disease? The nurse told me that there’s nothing I could’ve done to avoid this, but still, my heart was wrung out by immense guilt and I just couldn’t stop weeping. Now looking back, this incident might have been my first taste of the “dark side” of motherhood – incessant worries, even worries for no reason.

Here she comes (1)

I’ve always wanted a baby, but I never felt maternally ready. So I waited and waited, until I was almost past the best child bearing age and couldn’t wait anymore. However, getting pregnant was a rough journey for me. Months of fruitless trying and a heart-broken miscarriage made it so tormenting to be hopeful. Yet, it finally happened. While I was engulfed in the huge wave of relief and happiness, I had no idea this was just the beginning of another rough journey leading toward motherhood, much rougher than the preceding one.

In the first trimester, the 24/7 sickness practically drove me insane. Even a sip of water made me nauseated and end up vomiting. I tried almost all the remedial methods but none of them worked. The only foods my stomach was able to tolerate was rice porridge and watermelon, which remained my source of sustenance for almost three months, until the sickness frenzy was finally over.
The second trimester is often termed the “golden trimester” as it’s supposed to be the most comfortable period during the entire pregnancy. I was joyous to be free of the constant nausea and puking and to regain my appetite. But that didn’t last long. Around 26 weeks, I was diagnosed of gestational diabetes, a disease that only happens to 5-7% pregnant women. The placenta in my body was producing a hostile hormone that impedes my pancreas’ capability to generate insulin, so I had to follow a strict diet to keep my blood glucose level under control. Oddly, I wasn’t too dismayed learning this diagnosis. I didn’t have much craving anyways, thus, giving up certain foods wasn’t too big a deal. On the up side, a strict diet was also good way to keep my weight under control. I’m genetically predisposed to weight gain, and I gained almost 50 pounds while on diet. I can’t imagine how crazy my weight would’ve been otherwise.

Because of my “glass half full” attitude, I was able to live with the diabetes pretty peacefully. But the challenges of pregnancy didn’t just end there. Soon a new roadblock was thrown in front of me – my left foot was bruised from excessive walking. I needed to fast walk for 30 minutes after every meal in order to bring down my blood glucose level, but my feet couldn’t handle the pressure from the extra weight and eventually one of them just gave in. With one foot hurting, I had to resort to a clutch to maintain my regiment of walking, and it wasn’t fun at all. After a few days, my other foot started showing signs of soreness, and I was so concerned that this might be the precursor to another injury that I decided to stop walking all together, and replace it with some leg exercises on the floor. But this was not the worst part – not being able to walk meant not being able to leave the house, and nothing could be worse than being a prisoner at your own home, which I did for over a month. I was quite frustrated during the housebound days, and the only comfort I had came from watching a very good TV show – The Shield. I finished all seven seasons in my confinement and that really helped taking my mind off my immobility.