Thursday, March 30, 2006

Baby Model

I know I should be getting some rest, but I can't seem to force myself to go to sleep. I've had 2 spoonfulls of chicken soup and I feel like throwing up. My temperature's still a little high, and I'm getting awfully tired of getting in and out of the covers (in because I'm freezing, out because I'm sweating like a pig).

With that said, Ethan's been such a good boy today. Only made a noise close to a fuss when he got hungry, entertained himself on the swing during his quiet time, and actually soothed himself to sleep as soon as I put him down on the bed (he's been sleeping in daddy's spot). It's as if he knows mommy's not feeling too well. He slept most of the day, which made it a lot easier for me to steal quick naps here and there.

But even though I'm sick, and it took a LOT of energy to go downstairs to grab my camera and crawl back upstairs to take this picture.. it was all worth it. The kid's only 9 weeks old, and his picture's probably been taken more than the president's ---(okay, slight exaggeration, but only to make a valid point). The photo ops have obviously been reduced since I went back to work, and that makes me feel guilty sometimes... although I probably ought to start bringing my camera to daycare at lunch so I don't get so behind.

But who could resist that face? At 9 weeks, he's definitely getting cute. He's plumper, and softer, and rounder. His legs have straightened out, his little hands no longer clenched in angry fists, his cheeks bulge defiantly with big sucking muscles. Not that he wasn't cute when he first popped out. In fact, if you watch the video of my delivery, you'd hear the first thing that came out of my mouth when I first held him was "Look, he doesn't have a conehead!" -- which by the way, was ridiculously a HUGE concern for me. I didn't want my son to come out with a pointy head. It makes for very scary hospital pictures.. not to mention, you get stuck with diplomatic remarks like "What a precious baby.. he looks SMART...."

Now Ethan's actually getting baby-food-label cute, all round eyes, chubby cheeks and funny waving hands. He looks us in the eye now instead of somewhere off into middle space, and his smiles make Mike and me pull on the metaphorical hip-waders to go mucking about in baby goo and mush....

Mike: "Look at his face. He's so cute."

Me: "Let me take a picture!"

My exciting night at the ER

Just my luck.

Somehow, I've managed to get infected with strep. Late yesterday afternoon, I started to feel a little worn down accompanied by a really annoying headache. Figuring my immune system is probably just shot from the lack of sleep of the previous nights (Ethan had been cranky since he got his first set of shots Monday), I popped a couple of Tylenol Extra Strength and kept on trucking. I was extremely exhausted by the time I had to pick Ethan up from daycare that I nearly fell asleep in one of their rockers, but decided I would show up anyway (like I said I would) to a dinner event I had been invited to at the catholic church by our house before heading home. I figured it would at least spare me from having to cook dinner or settle for fast food. And by the time Ethan and I got home at 8, I was ready to go to bed.

I woke up shivering an hour and a half later, which baffled me a bit since it's unusual that you would find the fan off and me tucked under the comforter. It felt like forever before I could muster up the energy to get out of bed to put a sweatshirt and some thick socks on. I knew then I must be coming down with something. And when the digital thermometer read 103.7, I was about ready to pass out I could hardly even get the Tylenol bottle out of the medicine cabinet.

Conveniently enough, Mike has been out of town for work and won't be back for another couple of days. It didn't help much talking to my mom and her telling me that this is what I get for moving so far away, although I'm sure her intentions were fair. By midight, Mike had made an executive decision to have one of the guys from his work come and drag me to the emergency room, which was the last thing in my mind... People don't go to emergency rooms because of fever, do they?

I HATE hospitals.

I HATE the emergency room even more.

I've seen people with blood gushing out of a head wound waiting in emergency rooms, yet it's considered "normal" and expected. It confounds me how hospital staff service is always at its worse when you seem to need it the most.... when you're the only one sitting in the waiting room and it takes the girl behind the cheap plexiglass 30 minutes to call your name and take your information down, and then she spends another 30 minutes exasperatingly pressing buttons on her keyboard (which by the way, irritates the shit out me. It's 2006. People who still use DOS programs should be hung and burned at the stake), while inbetween she manages to joke around with the other girl who's apparently not doing very much of anything either.

An hour later, a male nurse finally escorts me to one of the beds, while Tran (Mike's friend who came and took me to the hospital) stayed in the waiting room with Ethan. By that time, I think I might've been hallucinating or just plain exhausted (or a combination of both), but I couldn't stop thinking about the male nurse and Gaylord Focker... and how he looked awfully fruity in those green scrubs.

Anyway, the only thing I probably like about going to the hospital is the feeling of that warm blanket on your skin for the first few minutes... I must've fallen asleep waiting, and I was still a little bit woozy when the doctor finally came in another hour later to stick a swab down my throat. He said my lymph nodes on my neck were swollen, and I've got white pus on my tonsils ( YUCK ) so he suspected it was strep, which the swab test later on confirmed. I've never had it before, but it sure sounded bad. When he said I'm going to feel worse before I get better, and that it'll take at least 36 hours before the penicillin they shot in my butt will even start doing its job and another 4-5 days before my symptoms go away..... I just groaned.

I had been thinking that I sort of miss spending time with Ethan at home, but these conditions weren't exactly what I had in mind. I called the pediatrician first thing this morning though and they said that I should be fine to be around my baby... and that I could even continue breastfeeding so long as I don't have a fever.

I guess it's the perfect way to end possibly one of the worst weeks ever. And my ass still hurts from that shot.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Shit Shit Shit

Ever have those times when you feel like your life has turned to shit, and you’re just waiting for the final flush? I always tell myself that when that happens, I just need to wait just a little longer and it will turn around again. It's amazing how fast your state of mind can go from enjoying the best to expecting the worse...... fraction of a milisecond, really. And in my experience, life has always somehow managed to turn itself around. Someone must be really fond of me up there... Though sometimes (sort of like now), it sure seems like it takes forever.

And where are the people who are supposed to help you go through the shitty episodes of your life when you need them? The truth is, I have been so utterly befuddled I've managed to repel all forms of help. Friends. Even family. Message Boards.

What makes you think a professional will be able to break me down?

Most people have figured out, either by trial and error or through an auspicious accident, their own way to channel their frustrations. And for me, I think that's what blogging has infectiously become. First, it started out as just a little escape from the tedium, but it has gradually evolved to something much more worthy of interest. At least to me anyway.

But I digress.

Where was I ?

Ah, yes. Life can be awfull shitty sometimes, but someone told me once (and oddly enough, it wasn't my mother) that I'm a survivor. So in honor of Gloria Gaynore, I WILL SURVIVE.

And then there were two

So it's just me and Ethan for a couple of days while Mike is in Virginia for some Army business. The timing on these things are never convenient. I've never felt so alone.

In the small picture, it probably just means 4 days worth of either take out, cereal, or TV dinners for me. At least, I'll consistently be getting very little sleep.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Rainy Day

The skies aren't the only ones crying. For the past four days, I've been consumed with irrepressible emotion, it wasn't a surprise that I sobbed at the pediatrician yesterday too. I was sad when Ethan got his shots... there was a piercing look of betrayal in his eyes while I helped the nurse hold his legs down... and afterwards there was a look of disappointment almost that I couldn't make the pain go away. But that's not why I cried.

I cried after the doctor explained to me that at this stage, my own child won't remember who I am if I am to be away from him longer than 3 weeks. It's nature, he said. He's so young that he just isn't able to retain information for very long. Now I don't blame nature, nor do I loathe the doctor for telling me the truth. But a part of me wished that the doctor would tell me that yes, there is a magical bond between a mother and a child that keeps them connected no matter what -- a bond unbreakable by distance... unweakened by time. It breaks my heart that there's a chance that there might be a time in his life that he won't know me.

As adults, we have a cognitive understanding of what's going on, but we still have our primal emotional reactions to separation. When love ones are separated, we can still 'detach' because of the pain of missing. The thought of being away from Mike breaks my heart just as bad. But at least I can endure with the thought that he won't forget who I am.

But I have to be strong right now. And I have faith that God will help me through... just like He always had.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

If the Army wanted you to have a family, they would have issued you one

I was contemplating today about the need to update my blog. And I was going to write about how the restructuring of our cubicle farms at work will result in me losing my "bigger than others" cubicle to a more modest shoebox, at best. But that seems all too trivial now.

Yesterday afternoon, after deciding to cut my workday a little short in order to steal some mommy time.. I was introduced to one of the worst feelings I think a human could ever be subjected to.... the feeling of abandonment....

The worst fucking feeling ever.

"I can't be married to a deserter", he said.

I have no notion of being a hero, nor am I fed with intense patriotism. The only thing I miss was the comraderie. But at this point in my military career, (for what it's worth) I feel that I have done my time. Write me up another counseling statement and deluge me threats of involuntary separation.

But I am NOT leaving my child.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Crazy Camera Lady


n : a picture of a person or scene in the form of a print ortransparent slide; recorded by a camera on light-sensitive material

I walk around and I see people as portraits, very much like I view daily life in frames. I know that some people think that a photo captures their soul, and in a way I believe it does... but not in a negative manner. I see it as preserving a moment, documenting life as it happens... The camera is the tool that allows me to immortalize that moment, capturing its essence in its most artistic expression.

And so, I have a new partner in crime. A VERY expensive partner in crime. One that I hope will eventually rescue me from the unrelenting curse of working only to make ends meet, but give me a fighting chance to be able to do something I actually love.

For now, I take pleasure in taking pictures of everything and anything. So if you see me around taking photos of the sky, the run down building down the street, or you nonchalantly trying not to look like a Calvin Klein ad... don't mind me.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


California sunset
West Virginia sunset

Monday, March 20, 2006

Date Night

One of the most common advice I've heard for keeping our marriage healthy is to schedule a "date night" with my husband. And for two people who have very demanding schedules, I guess it makes sense, although I hardly think that applies to those who have a newborn in the house. Since Ethan was born, my energy level's been barely enough to change my bra, which has forced the concept of sitting through dinner and a movie to find itself a lonely home at the bottom of my MUST-TO-DO list. Lately though, I've realized that not only do we deserve one, I LONG to go on a date with my husband.

Mike often kids me about being a "cheap date" because I can be fine with a hotdog and lemonade (for a $1.50) from Sams Club and a back rub, but that's because my priority isn't some wild romantic night with him, but just some alone time with him. Sometimes, I think that that's where things go astray -- when one expects a date to be all wine and roses when sometimes it could be a cuddling hour of watching a CSI rerun. And since the lovely addition to our family, that "alone" time has come from far inbetween to almost non-existent. But this past weekend, with every intention to secure a default babysitter (thanks to Grandma Mary), Mike and I went actually managed to leave the little one behind and go on a date.

Dinner and a movie might sound too cliche but that's exactly how our night started. He took me to a quaint Italian restaurant across the community college he used to attend, and enjoyed a superb chicken and veal marsala. Mike wanted to order wine, which sounded really nice, butI was inclined to pass since I'm breastfeeding. Later on, I told him it was because I couldn't stand the smell of alcohol (which is partly true), but it was mostly because I didn't want to be stuck with guilt later on about consuming alcohol and having to delay feeding my son until I was certain it was out of my system. After dinner, we might as well have tossed 18 dollars to the trash since we spent that much on one of the worst and plotless movies we had ever seen. Still, we took pleasure in cuddling in a dark room for an hour and a half with the armrest folded out the way. We found ourselves at the bar after that and later on migrated to the dance club upstairs. Even though it wasn't just us anymore, we very much enjoyed the freedom of worry-free dancing and hanging out with some friends until 2 in the morning. Though I have to admit, I was tempted more than once to call and check on my baby (but resisted), knowing he was in good hands anyway.

I woke up the next morning happy (being able to sleep in until almost noon was just icing on the cake), knowing I got to spend even just a couple of hours alone with him. But I worry that it'll take us another 2 months before finding the time (or the means) to go on another date!! I sure hope not....

Thursday, March 16, 2006


"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car that I drove... but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

An unexpected visit

If they gave out ribbons for mothers who bravely embark the challenge of traveling alone across the country with a 7 week old infant, I should definitely get one. Ethan did generally well during the transitions (we had to change planes three times each way), attentively admiring the blaring terminal lights and coyly smiling to strangers who came up to say "how cute". He did even better on the plane. I was worried that he would have difficulty with the take offs and the landings, but surprisingly, he hardly fussed at all except for when he got a little chilly from the cabin's scarcely leveled temperature.

Of course, it wouldn't be complete unless something went wrong. Enroute to our connecting flight to Chicago, somehow they lost the stroller and the carseat that we gate-checked in Los Angeles. They were supposed to deliver it to the gate where we landed in Chicago, but it never came. I was LIVID. I probably wouldn't have been so fumed if the counter agent would have been a little bit more helpful and sympathetic to the fact that I then have to run across 2 terminals to catch our connecting flight while carrying a 7 week old baby and a 10 lb carry-on. Instead, she smugly told me they didn't know where our stroller and carseat went... and said"next". If I wasn't carrying Ethan, I probably would've kicked her ass and then some.

Other than that, our spur of the moment visit to California went as smooth as it could be ,although we are disinclined to admit that we might've brought the cold weather along with us. It was rainy the first 2 days we were there (ironically it was warmer in West Virginia that weekend), but the sun finally let up the day before we left.. leaving me just enough time todrive to a beach I had never been to and introduce Ethan to the ocean.The next time we take him to the beach, he'll be old enough to crawl on the sand. Aside from my mom and my sister (who were the only ones who have already seen him since they flew out here to West Virginia when I delivered), Ethan's debut was a spectacle to everyone.. and I took pleasure from everyone taking turns to carry him during the day while I enjoyed the "brief" break by taking photos with my new camera.

It felt good to be back. At the same time, I felt a little guilty because Mike couldn't come with us, although we're all going there again for one of my best friends' wedding in July and to celebrate my mom's birthday weekend.

But as our plane ascended back towards what we now call home, I looked back at Los Angeles and my heart sank a little. Perhaps someday, the only time we'll be looking back at Los Angeles is if we're going somewhere else for a visit.

Until then....

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I had decided that I would go back to work way before Ethan was even born. My main reason being my sanity (aside from tending to my son, I get bored having nothing else to busy myself with)... but the decision also carries the verity of necessity. I had been okay with the whole idea so far.. that is up to today when it all of a sudden hit me this morning as I was trying to sway him back to sleep after a 6 am feeding...

and I just couldn't stop crying...

Even with a great deal of preparing for it mentally and practically, I am left with a loss for words. Combing through a ball of emotions, I think I mostly feel guilty. As if I'm about to "pawn" my son to someone else to be taken care of... but I know that this arrangement is what's best for everyone right now. Although I know it's wrong to even nearly entertain the idea that wanting a life outside changing diapers doesn't make me a bad mother... I can't help but expect many days of 15-minute breaks spent crying in a bathroom stall. On one hand, I don't want to miss the first words and the wobbly steps, and wipe away the tears when he bruises his knees... but on the other hand, I dread being "stuck" (for lack of a better word) in a domestic treadmill where the greatest satisfaction is being able to finish the second load of laundry that day.

It's tough especially when my support system, outside my husband, has been degraded down to delinquent long distance phone calls and sporadic messages from distant friends on myspace. When I go back to work, colleagues will ask about how I'm coping and offer sympathy... sadly, it'll probably be comparable to the kind of sympathy one would get if someone close to you died. I'd personally rather do without that...

I feel helplessly wedged in an emotional tug of war.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Gump's mom is wrong

How many times must we hear the infamous "Life is like a box of chocolates.. you'll never know what you're going to get" before we realize that submitting ourselves to this exact kind of bullshit is what will break us... not make us.

On the contrary... I believe that life is in fact not like the unpredictable chronicle Forrest's mom depicts it to be... BUT it is very much like a candy shop... with limitless array of choices and possibilities waiting for us to decide on.

Our very existence relies on the daily choices that we make (and that includes choosing NOT to choose), because that freedom is the grand design of it all. Fate only exists to give us the options, not decide for us.


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