To Worry Is To Be A Parent

“This is your first…isn’t it?”

 

These were the parting words the walk-in doctor said to my wife and I, as we were about to leave clinic with my sick daughter.

I don’t think he meant ill with his words –my wife even described his approach as “suave” (I think smug was more fitting) — but it did make me question where I stand as a parent.

 

Was it right to come here?

Are we just overreacting over a little Cold?

Should we not have taken her to the hospital the night before?

 

I really didn’t have a clue. Being only 19 months new into this parenting gig, this was the only way I knew how to be.

 

An over-worried parent.

Continue reading “To Worry Is To Be A Parent”

The Day My Parents Confirmed I Was An Accident

It all began with an observation my wife made:

I don’t know, a 7 year gap is pretty wide between you and your brother. Are you sure you weren’t an accident?”

I might have responded with: “Hmmm, that’s an interesting point…” But I didn’t really think much of it after she said it – I just brushed it off and moved on.

Then half a year later – just two months ago – this happened during our regular Thursday night dinner with my Parents…

As I went in for that last bite of rice, I casually asked my parents in Chinese:

“Hey, can I ask you guys a question?”

I look up at my at both my parents, and they gaze up to look at their 31 year old son, sitting next to his wife and 16 month old daughter.

They both had a genuinely curious look on their faces, and probably thought I was going to ask them about something trivial, like how did they cook the tofu, or what time are they going to come over next week.

Instead, I hit them with this bomb:

“I was wondering…Was I an accident?!”

If this was a movie, this is where my folks would comedically spit out their soup. That didn’t happen – but it might as well have – for what came out was a rapid fire succession of responses:

“No, of course not!” stumbled my mom.

“No…You see, it was so tough back then after having your brother…” my Dad chimed in. “…we were in a rough financial situations too…” He stammered on.

The funny thing was the more he spoke, more and more reasons of why I was an accident came to light.

At this point, I remember looking at my wife, and she had the biggest, ‘WTF is wrong with you?’ expression on her face.

I was loving every moment of it, because I had already known the answer. Since my wife’s comment six months before, this was something that I thought of for a while and come to terms with.

Unlike my parents, I was ready for this conversation.

“…Aaaand our house was so small too…work was tough…”, my dad continued.

I’m willing to bet that over three decades ago, when they found out they were having me, my folks had a conversation like this:

“Okay, the day he asks if he was an accident, here’s what I’m going to say..and here’s what you should say…”

Unfortunately for them, the gameplan that they devised was locked away and buried deep like a faded note inside a time capsule housed in a rusted tin container.

The gameplan, though was solid when planned, couldn’t hold up to the test of time thirty years later.

After I grew out of my teens, they probably thought the coast was clear, and that they wouldn’t have to deal with this awkward conversation – especially to an emotional  teenager. 

And we all know that if there’s one common Chinese family stereotype, it’s that we love avoiding awkward moments where we have to express any feelings or emotions.

They probably thought, well, if he wasn’t going to ask now, he’s not going to ask ever.

Ha! I sure showed them!


After the dinner, I felt pretty good about myself. Sure, I basically sucker-punched my parents with my question, but I felt pretty at ease.

Can you imagine telling this version of me that her was an accident?

In most stories that I hear regarding someone finding out they were an accident, the main character is usually embarrassed or devastated by the news.

I, on the other hand, was not phased by the discovery.

Perhaps if this were say ten years ago, learning about this would likely have bothered me.

But not today.

I think a lot has to do with the fact that I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished so far in life, and I sense that my parents feel the same way too.

I’m proud to be an accident, and thinking about it further, I’m even more proud with how my parents handled my upbringing ensuring that it never crossed my mind.

Never have I felt unwanted, and never have they expressed that I was a burden to them and their lives.

I always felt loved and cared for from the both of them – at least as “loved and cared for” as possible in the Chinese family sense, like that “What Asian Parent’s Don’t Say” video.

In any case, I never questioned whether I was planned or unplanned.

Hey look! Here’s a photo of my dad NOT telling me I was an accident!

Coming back full circle –  as my wife and I constantly ponder whether or not we want to have a second child –  knowing this I think helps put things into perspective. I don’t think we’re ready for a second, and I don’t know if we’ll ever be with how content both of us are.

However, upon learning of my origin, there is solace in knowing that even in the difficult circumstance my parents were in, they ended up raising an unplanned child that grew up feeling wholeheartedly and conditionally loved and wanted in this world.

Of course, if by fate or fortune we end up with an unplanned kid, I’ll at least know to rehearse my lines, and be extra suspicious if he or she casually asks me a question during a family dinner thirty years later.

I’ll just simply get up and leave the dinner table and let my wife answer the questions. She did afterall, caused all of this with her innocent observation allowing me to confront my parents and realize that it’s actually okay to have an unplanned kid.

Dear Me From One Year Ago

Dear Me from One Year Ago,

 

If you are reading this your life will change in a week. I know by now both you and your wife have been trying to conceive without success. I want to tell you both to not lose hope. By now both of you have learned that getting knocked up is not as easy as it seems like on TV and in movies, and both of you probably feel pretty down on yourselves.

Don’t worry.

In one week when your wife goes to the doctor to check up on pelvic pain, you’ll both realize that she did not pull or strain anything, and that it’s really her lady parts doing some Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for a new inhabitant.

 

Yep that's your kid
Yep, that’s you holding a photo of your kid

Sorry to spoil the surprise a little but hear me out: Your life is about to change as things will never be the same, but the funny thing is, things will also feel so right.

Let me get some things out of the way. Your hometown Raptors will get swept in the playoffs, so don’t waste time there. I mean still cheer, but just know that it’s not the end of the world when the Wizards dismantle your team. The only significant thing about the playoffs is that you’ll find out she’s pregnant in at the doctor’s office while you stream the game with headphones on. The wife will come out, and give you a look that you’ll never forget.

Remember and savour that moment as I still do.

From the moment you find out, you’ll go through a lot of changes. Not nearly the same as your wife, but enough for you to realize that pregnancy is truly a shared experience.

For starters you will become the food police. Seriously, everything your wife puts in her mouth you’ll do a quick google search to see if it’s poisonous for her and the baby. My advice is to be reasonable but firm.

You’ll also learn that your wife will have crazy food swings, and get this: she’ll hate eating chicken. WTF right? How can she hate chicken? That’s your favourite animal!!! It’s just the hormones man. So stop reading and get an order of Popeyes in your system while you still can, cause the next nine months you can put a hold on eating poultry.

You’ll also buy a lot of crap. I mean a lot. Some stuff you didn’t even know existed. But don’t fret, most of the junk you buy is actually useful, so just smile and nod when she asks you if it’s okay to buy whatever. When you are shopping just don’t forget to have fun along the way. I know you will…I mean check this out:

Dad-to-be testing...oh geez.
You’ll make shopping fun…and embarrassing

Yep, you’ll still pull crap like this…And even though I’m warning you not to be an idiot, I know you’ll make it a goal to definitely do it.

Oh one final thing about buying stuff: your baby will be a little bit bigger, so just ease off on the newborn stuff.

So far, things sound okay, right? Well, here’s where you need to pay a little closer attention as I’m warning you now, not everything is as light-hearted and peachy.

You yourself will grow up more. I know you may think that you already know everything there is to know and that you are already mature. But something inside you will change, and you will somehow become more appreciative of life. You will appreciate your wife more, and definitely appreciate mom and dad more than ever. This is because you will begin to think like a parent and understand what they went through.

You're going to want to get comfortable searching on your phone on your back
You’re going to want to get comfortable searching for stuff on your back

What does “thinking like a parent” mean? Basically you’ll begin to worry about things. A lot of things. You’ll have some insecurities about your role as a husband and father. You’ll have many nights of waking up and googling answers. You will dig though forums and message boards to see whether what your wife is experience is common. Let me tell you this, the more you read into it, the worse it becomes. But you have a big role in all of this. The thing is you need to keep your wife sane and calm during those moments, so be the strong, calm, optimistic husband that you are.

Weeks 6, 8, 20, and 25 will be scary and both you and your wife will go through some heavy stuff. But just know that after each of these episodes, your bond with your wife will become even stronger, and both of you will be able to talk and laugh about these moments eventually. I’ll spare you the details, but you’ll quickly learn that pregnancy is f*cking scary.

You’ll also figure out that most people who share great news about pregnancy on social media are not trying to brag about their happiness, but rather they are simply celebrating all of the little triumphs after facing the scary moments.

 

Your perspective will change and you’ll never fear and doubt so much in your life, but that’s just the process of it all. Just protect your wife and yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.

This was me in NYC, ditching the wife to do a photo shoot. I will never live this down.
That’s you, and the last cool thing you’ll do in a while. Thank your wife for letting your ditch her for this.

You know how you think you’re so cool in taking street photos? Well that part of your life will draw to an end. Bummer right? Well not quite, you’ll quickly find a new photography outlet, and trust me: it’s wonderful. And if you’re not convinced, let me tell you this: you’ll have a last hurrah so to speak with taking pictures. In fact, you’ll ditch your pregnant wife to go to New York for something photography related, and it will be one of your best moments but also one of your tougher moments. You know what I said about appreciating your wife? You will really appreciate her after this, so never forget it even if she eventually does.

One thing I want to warn you about is to go to the movies while you still can. I can tell you that the last movie you’ll watch before becoming a dad will totally be worth it, and your wife will make it through the entire movie. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Han Solo. (Oops spoiler). Just relax and try to watch the movie without worrying that her water will break. It’ll still be a few days until it really happens.

Here’s a warning though, it might be a good idea to stock up on spicy Korean noodles around the time she’s due. Just saying.

At this point you are probably wondering about the finish line. Well, let me just tell you that your wife will have a smooth labour and delivery. However, both of you will be faced with some complications after the delivery. It’ll be scary, and both of you will be tested. Just know that you’ll both tough it through. Simply trust in your love for your wife, and trust in your strength as a husband. I know you hate asking for help, but you will need to swallow your pride and ask for help. So just face it now: your family and friends will pull through, huge.

I know what I told you sounds frightening, but I am not trying to scare you or warn you to change course.

As a matter of fact the journey you are about to embark on is totally worth it.  As I type this now both your wife and baby are sound asleep and everything just feels right. There’s no better feeling than what I am feeling right now, and I’m damn excited for what you are about to face in the coming year.

Enjoy every moment you are about to experience, because in one year’s time you would want to remind yourself all the awesome you just went through.

Sincerely,

You From One Year Later Today

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P.S. For whatever reason you’ll deciding that “growing” a “beard”  is a great idea. Well this photo might convince you otherwise:

Don't kid your self
Don’t kid yourself Wolverine, use that razor.

 

Prenatal Class 2: Shoving Things Into a Pregnant Lady

 

Back in my public school days I would remember how we as kids felt about Sex Ed when we were learning about contraceptives.  It was awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing, but all the kids would hide their discomfort by playing it cool and laughing things off.  Most of us would just joke around and not pay too much attention.

Well according to stats can, in 2005 from ages 15-19 the rate of pregnancy was 29.2 per 1000 women.

That’s actually quite high, and I suppose kids should’ve paid more attention.  Or maybe they should’ve been provide with a stronger deterent.  I mean one-third is nothing to laugh at.

 

hmmmm….

 

I think I might have a solution to drastically reduce that number.

How about we…

TAKE THEM TO A FLIPPING PRENATAL CLASS!!!

Forget the science centre or the zoo, they should load up the kids tricking them into thinking they going on a field trip and just drop them off at the hospital for a prenatal class.  Better yet, just let them roam the maternity ward and watch a live birth.

The things you see at these classes you cannot unsee. 

Now I understand as a father I will see all the goods when my wife eventually delivers but man, the instructional videos and information they provide about vacuums, forceps, vaginal slicing procedures go beyond one’s capacity.

I’m all for knowledge is power, but truthfully, ignorance is a bliss.

To be fair, we did pick up on useful tips, such as when do we know we should go to the hospital (five minute interval contractions that are one minute long), or which areas f the body to massage whe she’s in labour.  But that’s what Google is for.  And at least Google gives the option of only showing safe-search on images.

At one point the instructor was showing us the hook that punctures the bag of water.  She even joked, “for you ladies that crochet, it is actually quite similar to the hook that the doctor would use.”

Great.  Just great.

Not only did this class ruin conceiving, it’s ruined crocheting.  I will never look at a crochet hook the same way!  It’s purpose is no longer to make awesome knitted dolls, it’s now used to poke into my wife’s you-know-what to open the flood gates of Ewww.

Well, that's ruined.
Well, that’s ruined.

 

And to my wife’s credit she tried her best to tough through the class.  I mean it must suck to know in advance what the possible scenarios are.  Like I said, not knowing might be better.

It’s almost like sitting down at a restaurant only to be told by the waiter that you’ll get explosive D after this meal, and you don’t have the option of not eating the food.

At least if you don’t know you’ll get food poisoning, you’ll unknowingly enjoy your meal, only to find out later on.

Suffice to say, my advice would to be to steer clear of the prenatal classes, especially if your wife is already stressed about the process.  But we still have two more to go.  So we’ll see what terror next week brings.

In any case, if there was a saving grace to this class, it would really be the fact that we were able to tour the maternity ward and hear the sounds of babies.  To think that in roughly three months we’ll be in that environment with our own baby is quite…special.

Maybe it was a good thing we got the sex ed we got, cause at the end of the day, despite all the scary details about the birthing process, it should be worth it.

Prenatal Class 1: Piledrive That Baby

What is one sure-fire way to freak out a pregnant woman?

Put a bunch of pregnant women in a room and have them watch videos on how painful and excruciating labour is going to be.  Adding to the freaking out would be to have the already freaked out pregnant ladies witness the looks of shock and incompetence on their husbands faces (present company included.)

Yeah that sounds about right.

Yes, as a commitment to becoming awesome parents and more importantly getting my Dad Mode On, we’ve agreed to participate in four, three hour prenatal sessions for the next month to prepare for the decisive moment.

With the intention of educating new moms and dads, they are really going about it wrong with this class.  Near the end of the first class, my wife was already feeling nausea from the discussion topics and discomfort from sitting on plastic chairs.  This was more like a “Scared Straight” session for soon-to-be parents.  But instead of having hardened criminals lecture troubled teens, we have seasoned and hysterical new-moms sharing their birthing experiences.

To be fair, I did learn quite from this first session and so did my wife.

For instance, I had committed to memory the ideal baby position your baby needs to take inside of the womb in preparation for labour.  The way for me to remember it is to think Haggar from Final Fight pile-driving the crap out of someone.   Replace someone with baby and there you will see the ideal baby birthing position.

piledriver
Seriously this is the ideal birthing position

This piledriving position is actually the ideal position to reduce back pain on the mom, which is kind of cool if you ask me.

I also learned an assortment of massage positions and stances to take shape in.  My favourite one is called the “Slow Dance” where the birth partner is basically petting the backside like a junior high kid trying to get to first base.

I suppose the main purpose is to get your wife as comfortable as possible, but as I said to my wife after the session, the husband can basically be replaced by a door-frame and still service the same purpose.

Fine to be fair we do wish to be helpful in massaging different areas, but we would only become useful is we Sharpie’d the body parts to push or massage.

I kid you not we just might sharpie in my wife’s hip bones so that I can push upwards to provide back support.

With session 1 out of the way, I guess it can only get better right?