3-Month Letter

My lovely little baby girl,

You are turning 3 months in less than week, and I can’t believe how much time flies. Our labor story seems to be just a dream now, whenever I think about how we first met. It seemed like it was years ago that I was in the hospital with a protruding belly. It all happened so quickly, and it is true what they say — that after labor pains and all the blood-curdling pain of giving birth, you quickly forget because you are suddenly blessed with this new life. It is like being handed the whole universe, comprised in such a little package, 6 pounds 10 ounces.

You’ve already reached double digit weight in less than two and a half months. You’re growing so quickly, we can hardly contain ourselves. Your daddy and I can’t keep our eyes off you, and I find that I even miss you when I am asleep. I find that I can’t stay away from you for more than an hour at a time, which makes running errands and going back to work something like climbing Mt. Everest. I can’t imagine never feeling this way again. I forgot what it was like without you, before you were born. I don’t think it was possible, and I am led to believe that all these years without you were spent solely preparing for you. From the day I was born, I was put on this earth to love you, even before you were the size of a bean.

Oh baby, everyday you do new things that make us laugh and giggle and tear up. Everyday, you see me when you wake up and you have the biggest smiles on your face. You talk to me and I want to eat you up. You squeak and squeal at me and I want to know what you’re thinking and what you’re saying. You are such a happy, calm little baby. I am so truly blessed to be your mother. I am the luckiest mommy in the world. I can’t wait until I hear your laugh and giggle on a regular basis, I can’t wait until you can sit up on your own, take your first steps, speak your first words. And when you go off to school, I know I will be willing myself, though failing miserably, not to cry. I can’t wait for all those firsts with you. And I promise you, as the universe is my witness, that I will always be there for you, and I will always love you.

There are many things your daddy and I want for you. We have long talks about what we want to teach you, how we want to guide you, the types of values we want to instill in you. We talk about how we explain “spirituality” to you, and how it differs from simple religion. We talk about how we’re going to explain Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. We talk about how we’re going to talk about politics and war and peace with you. We talk about how we’re going to mold you into being a world peace keeper, because nothing would make us more proud. And yet, the more we talk, the more we realize that whatever you decide to be, as long as you are happy and you are passionate, we will be just as happy and just as passionate.

Do you remember yesterday you and I had a conversation about what you want to do when you grow up? I told you that whatever you decide, I will support you and back you up. Do you want to be a singer or a dancer? Mommy can’t sing and dance if her life depended on it, but I will be there for every recital, every class, every play and every lesson. Do you want to be a scientist? Mommy and Daddy will sign you up for science camp and buy you the latest and greatest science gadgets (much to your daddy’s incredible excitement, I’m sure) and we will spend hours and hours with you exploring what happens when you mix certain acids with bases. Do you want to be an astronaut, or a politician, or a therapist like your Mommy? Do you want to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a starving artist who lives with passion and not money? Do you want to be a professor, or a writer of novels, or a children’s book illustrator? Do you want to be a journalist, or a photographer, taking photos of how other people live their lives, or photos of nature in its beautiful serenity? Anything you want, baby, and we will do everything we can to support you.

The biggest lesson we want to teach you, baby girl, is that love is the question and the answer. There will be times when you get so angry you don’t know what to do with yourself. There will be times when you get so sad you think the world is ending and you wonder how everyone else can just walk through their days as if your heart isn’t breaking. There will be times when you are so happy that you think that “this” is it, that this is why life is worth living. And throughout all these times, you must know that every single emotion you feel is valid, every single want and need you have is true. They are yours, and you should never ever have to feel wrong or invalid for these feelings, even when they are “bad.” You are entitled to every feeling, and I will teach you how to be okay with them. I will teach you how to be sad and not feel shame. I will teach you how to be angry and not take it out on yourself or others.

We will teach you how to love despite feeling unloved, how to reach out despite feeling lonely, how to be okay despite feeling the world is going to end.

Baby oh baby, there are so many things you have yet to witness and go through and experience. I hope you will always, always know that regardless of where you are in this world, what you’re doing, what you’re thinking and feeling, we will always be your biggest fans.


Your Mama

37-Week Letter

Dearest Baby,

Today you are 37 weeks along, which means you are technically full-term now. You can be poppin’ out any time and all will be well. We are praying and visualizing “happy and healthy,” the most important two words that can and will accompany you for the rest of your life. Everything else is just icing on the cake. You will be here with us, happy and healthy. You will have various particular genes and details about you, but you are ultimately happy and healthy. Happy and healthy, you will be. And we will be so proud to hold you in our arms. In fact, everyone will be holding you in their arms. You are so impatiently waited for, it is amazing how much you are already loved. You have so many aunts and uncles who are just dying to get their loving arms around you. And cousins who are anxious to play with you. And teachers who are anxious to teach you. And lovers who are anxious to love you. And friends who are anxious to befriend you.

At 37 weeks along, your Mama is aching. Her pelvic area is on fire, getting ready to deliver you. You and I, Baby, we’re a team, aren’t we? We’re gonna go through delivery as smooth as … well, anything that’s really really smooth. We’re gonna fly through it together, patient and calm and wonderful and beautiful. It’ll hurt, I don’t deny it, and I don’t look forward to that, but I am so anxious to go through this experience with you, and I know I will never forget it. Happy and healthy, that is our goal, baby.

At 37 weeks along, your Mama can barely walk straight. I look down and I no longer see my feet — which, by the way, are swollen. There are many things that people have not told me, or rather, perhaps it is that I was not listening fully when they tried. Such things include: pelvic pains and “round ligament pains” are incredibly painful and achy. My skin has odd discoloration break-outs in odd places, like on my neck and face. I’m breaking out with acne at every given chance, no matter how much water I drink or how many fruits and veggies I consume. And, most of all, the unexpected stretch marks towards the tops of my bum area. I didn’t see that coming at all, having put lots and lots of cream on my belly and sides. I didn’t realize you also stretch out my bum. Go figure, eh?

Oh, but baby oh baby, all these pains are so worth it, as long as I can get to hold a happy and healthy little baby bean in my arms when you make your debut.

Speaking of which, would you like to give me a hint as to when you want to do that? We’re almost done with your room — just got one more shelf to put together (your daddy has been very good, even though I have been very impatient and my nesting abilities have become more or less of a superpower). He will teach you well the meaning of “patience.” I, on the other hand, will teach you the meaning of “doing it now so you don’t have to worry about it later.” Heh. You will get your pick on how you want to function in this world. Perhaps somewhere in the middle would be most sufficient for you.

Oh baby, oh baby, how we are all looking forward to you. I can’t wait to see what color your eyes are, and what color your hair is, and whether or not you have inherited my flat Asian nose or your daddy’s taller European nose. I can’t wait to kiss your little fingers and your little toes. I even can’t wait to change your stinky diapers! Everything is almost set up for you. We have all your newborn clothes in one drawer (boy are they ever so cute! I can’t believe you will be that small). We have all your stuffed animals ready for you on the shelf. We have your super-special hypo-allergenic, organically-made mattress all made up for you. We have origami butterflies floating all over your bedroom walls, promising colors and happiness in your life. We have the rocking chair by which to rock and sing and read you to sleep on nights when you are fussy and agitated. We have baby books for you to learn your colors and numbers and animals. We have all sorts of diapers — from cloth to pampers to biodegradable flushables. We even have a toy chest that your Nana (your daddy’s mother) made for you. Oh baby, oh baby, we’re so excited to meet you!

It is nothing short of preparing for a really important first date. I have questions booming in my mind that are rather silly but kinda cute: will you like me? Omg, what will I wear on the first day I meet you? What will YOU be wearing? Will we hit it off right away? Will you recognize me? Will you recognize your daddy?

Whatever the answers to these questions are, one thing is for certain: I am already in love with you, and I know I will fall deeper in love with you when I see you and hold you.

Now, if you please, spare my ribs and pancreas and lungs as much as you can. You can have my bladder – I’m used to peeing 30 times a day by now, but I kind of need my ribs and lungs and pancreas, darling.

I love you and can’t wait to see you!

Your Mommy

Advice to the Womb

My darling Baby Bean, there are a few things your mother knows, even given her young age and her not-so-collected wisdom. There are things I want to tell you, and “secrets” to life that I hope would be useful to you later on. Knowledge will begin to build the second you are born, and you will learn many of these along the way, but hopefully they won’t come too much of a surprise if I tell you beforehand. Everyone’s experiences are different, and yours will be different from mine too. Given that you are a girl, I am hoping that I have some pieces of wisdom that you would find useful in your growing years as the female sex.

  • You will have many “expectations” about how you should dress, how you should act, what you should say, and what’s “appropriate” for someone of your gender. I say to you this and this alone: be who you are and never be ashamed. Wear boys’ clothing (because we can get away with it more than they can get away with wearing “our” type of clothing), take advantage of your voice, never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something just because you’re a girl.
  • If you are anything like your mother’s side of the genetic pool, you will be a smaller form of humanity: you will be what your father endearingly calls me: “a little person.” Don’t let this ever get you down because this is the biggest secret of all: big things come in small packages.
  • When you go on your first date, never let your guard down and what you intrinsically know as “right” and “wrong.” Don’t let anyone peer pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do, even if you think everyone else is doing it. Most likely, they’re not.
  • Don’t be one of those “mean girls” your mother knows so well from her own experiences growing up, as well as from her career. Mean girls don’t feel good about themselves. Always be nice, always be giving, always be fair as much as you can. Don’t hurt just for the sake of hurting. It won’t make your day be better. Trust me, it will come back to haunt you.
  • You will learn this over time, but I’ll tell you now: when you make up your mind about something, always allow yourself enough room to change it, just in case. That’s how we grow, little one.
  • What doesn’t break you, will make you ten thousand times stronger. You will always be strongest in your weakest moments. Remember that, and you will be able to get out of any difficult situation.
  • No matter what type of love you encounter in your lifetime, the heartbreaks you will feel after a boy doesn’t call you, or when your best friend decides she doesn’t want to be your best friend anymore, know this one piece of truth: your mother will always love you. Always.
  • There is not a single thing you can say or do that will make me love you any less, or stop loving you. You will make choices that I may not agree with, and we will get into our arguments, but know this as though you will never leave my body, because you are my soul: I will always love you, unconditionally. Doubt everything else, but don’t doubt that.
  • Sometimes your mother is stubborn, and so is your father. Sometimes we will want you to do things and make choices based on what we think is right. Even in our most stubborn moments, please remember that we are trying our best and we only want what’s best for you. Gently remind us that we also want you to be happy.
  • Your parents will make mistakes. Please forgive us for them. You will blame us for many things, but we are truly trying our best and we would never ever want to stop being your parents. We are learning to be your parents just as you are learning to be our child.
  • Admit when you’re wrong, sweetheart. It will make you grow as a person.
  • We are known as the “crying gender.” We are sensitive, emotional, and some of us (as well as the opposite sex) will blame monthly hormones for when we are unreasonable. Regardless of the reason for your unreasonableness, you are entitled to them. Cry with all your heart, laugh with all your soul, and live with passion. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong to cry, or wrong to feel. It is not weakness: it is strength.
  • Find someone you love and who loves you back. That is the greatest gift of life. Don’t hold back when you find him (or her: whichever way you want to swing is cool). Give it all you got, even if it’s scary. That’s the best way to love.
  • Don’t depend on your looks, lovely. You will always be beautiful to us, and you will always be perfect, no matter what you look like. Your looks will fade, your beholder will change, but your mind and your compassion will always stay the same. Grow those, and you will be beautiful for life.
  • When you can help someone, please do. It will make someone’s day, and it will also make yours.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. It is your greatest weapon.
  • Never stand for abuse, my child. Never ever stand for abuse. I will be your biggest defender, your biggest army, but you will also have to make your own way to defend yourself. Never ever stand for abuse. Love with all your heart, and defend yourself with wit, wisdom, charm, compassion, and kindness. Never ever stand for abuse.
  • You come from a line of strong women, from both sides. We stand behind you every single step of the way. You have an army of strength. You will bleed, you will cry, but behind every drop of blood and tear is a strength that you have inherited from me and from every woman before me. You are strong. This strength I gladly and proudly bestow to you.

There will be more things I will teach you, lovely. Just you wait and see. I will teach you with love, with example, with kindness, with compassion. I will teach you with everything I’ve got.


Your Mama

Today is a Good Day

Dear Baby,

Today is a good day. I woke up at a decent time, after a decent sleep (which is really up for grabs every night — we never know if your mother gets enough sleep on any given night). For breakfast, I had left over fried rice from last night’s dinner, that your father so generously made for me. It’s surprising how much I love fried onions and the smell of it right now, while carrying you, especially given how much I claim to loathe onions before you even existed as a Bean. Your father’s fried rice is one of the best out there. And he’s not even Asian. You will be proud, baby, you will be proud of your father’s cooking. He definitely likes to do it more often than I do.

For lunch, your father treated me to some lovely egg and cheese sandwiches, all freshly made by his truly. You will love cheese, I think, seeing as how you already crave it even though I protest how much I dislike it on a regular basis. For whatever reason, you change everything that I have always known about myself. You take over me, completely and fully. The lunch was very good, and your father treats me very well while you are busy creating hair and plumping yourself up. I can’t imagine that this pattern of treating us well will stop after you are born. Your father has promised both of us that you will eat very well in his presence — with lots of good food that comes with lots of cheese (it must be the European side of him, and therefore the European side of you), maybe even some berries and strawberries to boot even though your mother abhors them. You will also love sauces, apparently, according to your father. And much to my dismay, I will try not to influence my bad eating habits onto you. I hope you don’t inherit my crazy eating rituals, and develop Picky Eating Syndrome.

Today is a good thing, Baby. You move lots, and you flip whenever you hear me preparing food. I am amused by your sense of humor and your absolute control over everything I do. There is no room to spare in this head of mine for anything else but you. And we are eating well, thanks to your father. Don’t forget to give him a smile and a kiss when you make your debut in a couple of months.

Your mother

Prenatal Class

Welp, are you interested in what I’m lookin’ like these days? From the skinny little itty bitty Helen to the big, bad, pregnant lady! At 31 weeks, I’m smaller than a lot of pregnant women still, but keep in mind that I’ve already gained approximately 23 pounds (since last I checked about a week ago).

Yesterday we went to our prenatal childbirth class at the hospital. We opted for the whole-day class versus the 6-week 2-hour-each evening classes. Some things could’ve been explained in 2 minutes versus half an hour, and I could’ve lived without having to watch videos on “don’t hurt your child” and “why it’s good to wear seat belts,” but overall, it went well. We learned a lot about different types of labor complications, how to tell contractions, what to do when they happen, when to go to the hospital, WHERE to go when the time has come, different types of medication and relaxation drugs during labor (if needed). They really helped in alleviating a lot of my fears about labor. We even got to meet a day-old newborn little girl. The nurse gave her a bath while we watched, and she taught us how to clean her and stuff. She was so adorable and her little screechy cry just melted my heart. It just made the whole experience that much more real.