No matter how many people are around me and how supportive of a partner I have in this new parenthood process, there's still a very solitary, very one-person battle with motherhood. From the c-section healing to the slow deflating of my water bloating, the boobs, lack of sleep, neural haywire at every cry, and never ending worry of whether my daughter is fed, rested, and rash free - it's an incredibly hard and overwhelming experience only a mother can understand.
In psychology, one of the biggest beliefs with pain and suffering is that it is a solitary process because no one can truly understand your experience and no one can suffer for you or with you. Every single day the actual pain experience is yours and yours alone to face. People can empathize as much as they want to or say how they understand but really, they can't.
Motherhood is like that. From the gush of joy she smiles in her sleep to the pain and changes my body is going through is all my own to experience. There is really no other way to explain the visceral nerve shock that bolts through my entire body with her every single cry and my gut reaction to soothe every single grunt because I unconsciously equate each grunt with suffering and I don't, I can't stand the thought of her ever suffering.
Breastfeeding is also one of the toughest challenges a woman can endure. Each night as I wince at the raw chaffed skin against my shirt all I see is 10 different alternate windows inviting me to take another route. Just pump and feed with bottle. Formula. Feed with bottle until it heals. Etc. Seriously, modern day inventions make motherhood so much easier but I feel like I would be cheating myself and my daughter out of the intimacy only a mother will understand. It's easier for someone else to say go formula or go pump and bottle feed. But once again, it's a solitary experience only a mother would understand on why I would forever hold myself guilty of not wading through the rough process.
I used to be the skeptic that reads mommy forums and go wow, why are you so neurotic. I TOTALLY GET IT NOW.
Give every single mother a freakin' medal. It's tough enough putting your own body through 9 months of immense change and impact, and it's another to delivery a baby from your womb into the world.
Up until about 4 hours before my daughter was born, I was still a pretty firm believer in an "all natural" delivery - the cocktail party argument as my anesthesiologist later on put it. For months, Tiem and I discussed and re-discussed what I wanted for the day-of. I was pretty firm on saying "all natural" is the only way. I wanted the whole ordeal minus the tub in the middle of my living room. No medical interventions, best delivery position as historically dictated, baby on me the minute she comes out, breastfeed only, etc etc. Seemed like a valiant and heroic badge of honor I could later say I fully experienced childbirth.
However, before the advent of medical interventions, women also died in childbirth at a much higher rate. But let's not mention that - it makes the crunchy mothers angry.
Everything was going according to plan, we even skipped over any literature or lessons that mentioned any medical intervention. Then my water broke at midnight on Sunday. 3.5 hours later, I was laying in a hospital bed waiting for labor to "naturally" start. My body was being stubborn. I even refused an IV line even though they said it was just in case. No, I wanted to do this on my own, naturally.
An hour later, my OB called it in to get me hooked up with Pitocin because my body refused to start contractions and time was ticking. Pitocin helps kick start or strengthen contractions and boy did it start. It was no longer a gradual pain that builds like a natural labor would. It was like, HELLO PAIN. For women, imagine the very worst menstrual cramp you've ever had. Now times that by 100 + shards of glass shooting up and down your spine and stomach. That escalated quickly.
I really didn't want Pitocin because according to a birthing class, it has some adverse effects on milk production, it makes me pumped up with fluids and water weight, yada yada.
At 2 pm on Monday, my OB suggested I get an epidural because it apparently relaxes your body and often times helps labor along way faster than people expect because of the muscle relaxation. My contractions were super strong and painful but somehow, I was not dilating. Once again, ticking time bomb before something bad really starts happening since the baby is no longer bathed and protected by fluids. I refused. I needed to do this on my own. I needed it to be natural.
By 6pm, I phoned it in after a nurse checked again and my body was just refusing to budge. I guess it didn't want to give up the baby. The baby's head was by that time stuck at the opening, but the dilation wasn't big enough yet. It was just looking horrible. Then I started getting really really cold and chilly. My lips clattered nonstop and my whole body started to shake uncontrollably, no matter how many layers (I think there was 7 max at one time) of blankets they gave me. Crap. The so-called "infection chance" has caught up to me. I was running a fever by that point and couldn't even speak a full sentence. I needed to know if Baby was going to be okay. According to the monitors her vitals were still good. I was not. I couldn't play hero anymore and that was crappy. The epidural was way better than I had anticipated and I really was hoping it would help move labor along. I even wanted just a medical reason to have an epi. I was no wuss, this epi was not for comfort sake.
Not gonna lie, get the freakin' epidural, women. One can only try to manage so many different things going on in her body that one does not need the extra pain coming on every couple minutes to distract. If I had refused, I wasn't going to be a hero anymore, I was going to be the idiot that was too stubborn to accept modern medicine and put myself and baby at risk.
Then at 10pm my doctor talked to me about different options. He said we have several. First option is a c-section. I nodded profusely because I was running on -50% energy at that point, body shaking horribly to warm myself, fever high, baby has been in there without amniotic fluid for almost 24 hours and the ticking time bomb is about to go off. It was getting to that danger zone where modern medicine is supposed to play a role in making sure we survive.
Couldn't believe it as I drifted in and out of consciousness as they wheeled me into the OR and prepped me for surgery. All I could think about was I'll do whatever it takes to make sure the baby is okay. I'm no hero if my stubbornness on being natural caused some permanent damage to my child. 40 minutes later, my daughter was pulled out of me via my stomach, I had a major slit 8 layers deep into my uterus and I'm bloated like a water balloon from the extra fluids and anesthetics.
I have absolutely no regrets. I would do everything again - drugs, epi, c-section - everything if it meant my daughter was going to be safe and healthy. In this day and age when women unintentionally guilt trip each other into thinking we are inadequate mothers if we chose medical intervention to give birth - the most primitive obligation a woman has - we can be so opinionated for the wrong reasons. And for the partners and would-be dads to emphasize or insist that their pregnant partner go au-naturale, I say you go grow a baby inside your uterus and then have that uterus pump immense amounts of shards of glass and pressure into your abdomen so badly you cannot even stand straight. Then tell me that modern medicine is wrong.
Final conclusion - I have no guilt associated with how things went down. I have a healthy happy and amazing baby girl and my recovery has been phenomenally amazing after major surgery. What I do consider myself a hero on? Breastfeeding this kid. Any woman that breastfeeds, give her a damn medal. And if you want to know what it's like - it's basically someone giving you a really really bad hickey for 30 minutes on your nipple. 8 times a day. every day.
My sister, 12 years my junior, is turning a year older today!! Happy Birthday, dearest Lydia, we are so proud of you and your witty and genius intellectual commentary. You're the smartest most talented girl we know and nothing describes our relationship better than this:
We love you! Happy Birthday!!
Wow has it been a long time since I last updated and blogged. It really speaks to just how busy it has been and how much has happened. We've also started carrying our cameras around a lot less and capturing less moments, which kind of sucks but at the same time, are able to actually just enjoy it more.
Since March, I've ramped up My Water Bloggle and took a job as an editor for an online magazine while still doing therapy and psych testing. Being on the computer writing notes all day and blogs and articles all night has left me with no desire to write even more than I have to. It's a shame because it's a great way to track how things have been.
Basically, Tiem and I went back to Bangkok to celebrate Songkran the nationwide water fight festival in April.
In May we got ready our one-bedroom apt to accomodate my entire family of 6 (including Tiem and I) and travelled to Vancouver to celebrate Alice's graduation from Undergrad! In June, my family including my two sisters hung out in SF and went to Chicago to attend my graduation. In July, my sisters stuck around so it was all food and entertainment. It was also a time of much reflection, job applications, and interviews for me. Then comes August, which was great because Josh and Ruthie came to visit SF so we ate tons and had a load of fun having amazing friends around. Oh and also I got a job. And it's not psych related.
I knew earlier on in this training year that I would be stepping away from psychology for an indefinite amount of time but it was also scary to consider what lies ahead, would anyone in the tech and media world take me, a heavily trained in psych person? Those were trying times. However, I had to be realistic about my expectations of where a psych career would get me a year from now after I'm done with a post-doc that I would be greatly underpaid for. And you know? The outlook was grim. I had to pivot, even if it means starting completely over. I just knew if I could get my foot through the door and really prove myself with the same fervor and work ethic that I would be able to make the transition seamless.
And here I am, the night of my last day in psychology, feeling oddly weird and unsure of what to do with myself. To say it's been an emotionally taxing journey is a drastic understatement so perhaps that's why suddenly I feel more exhausted than I have ever felt (Psych note: make note of that next time you suddenly feel exhausted. There's always an emotional component reigning over the physicality of the situation). But I am so so happy and grateful. Grateful to amazing friends that have helped open doors and grateful to the amazing family who have supported my every move, uncertainty, and journey. Most of all, grateful that Tiem was there all along, catching my tears as they fell and calming my nerves as they lose control from uncertainty. This is a leap that could not be delayed and I am so glad I did. For my own sanity, emotional health, and relationships.
So come next Monday, I start my new life fully with a team eager to make a change in a field new to my expertise. I will no longer be a peon to a field that totally undervalues the work and will be another colleague that works hard and gets stuff done. I like feelings of new adventures. You should try it some time. Take the leap...it'll feel awesome.
This morning, Tiem woke up, said good morning, and proceeded to say "I hope Maru is alright". Love you too, honey.
And this picture showed up on BuzzFeed.com...looks like Tiem wasn't the only one worried about the youtube celebrity kitteh. Talk about priorities, people!
Somewhat unrelated to that...a note about recent events and the irony that we are living in in the western culture.
On Thursday night, Tiem and I arrived home from San Jose at around 11:30pm. By 12:30am when I checked my twitter, the news of the earthquake and tsunami had just broken and even before all the news outlets got wind of what had transpired, twitter was already buzzing. Following that, my mother called me at 6:30AM that morning, panicking, worried about our safety because a tsunami was headed our way. Then the whole day all I can hear are people complaining on the media about their precious yachts smashing against one another in the harbor due to a 3 ft tsunami. Really? Really. There is a nuclear meltdown and thousands dead on the other side of the world and you're complaining about a yacht? Someone order some sensitivity training for California.
This morning while reading through the sunday Times, I kept getting choked up with all the reports written about Japan. However, what I hated the most was when I would flip a page and BAM! BUY THIS HANDBAG! BAM! BUY THIS DIAMOND RING! It completely jolted me back from reality into a fantasy world of excess and lust. It disgusts me yet it was so in-my-face I couldn't avoid it save for stop reading.
When has consumerism taken over every last ounce of humanity? I guess I was holding on to the assumption of a better world and culture than the one that's shouting in my face.
This is an email I sent to Printrunner.com after receiving their usual marketing emails this morning:
I recently received this promotional email from you along with a link to an article with this paragraph attached:
"Have you seen that TV sitcom called "Outsourced?" It revolves around the antics of customer service reps who deliver customer service very poorly, whether they intend to or not. You may or may not like the show, but chances are pretty good you can relate to the unseen, unheard, unlucky person at the other end of the characters' phones – the customer who needs help but isn't speaking to a knowledgeable person."
This paragraph was one sentence away from being outright racistly offensive because it was clearly written by someone who did not watch the show and only assumed the worst of a CSR because they are Indian, therefore, "not a knowledgeable person." The show demonstrates great customer service with CSRs that are knowledgeable and most of the show circles around antics BETWEEN the coworkers more so than the interactions with customers. It shows PrintRunner's marketing ignorance and lack of respect for cultural knowledge and prejudicial assumptions. I am truly disappointed by the choice of words from you all because I USE printrunner and like your product. At the same time, I have had unknowledgeable CSR interaction with your own services, but I did not assume that I was "unseen, unheard, or unlucky", I gave the newbie the benefit of the doubt.
Please be more aware of what you post on your website and be more conscientious and informed before you begin making very rude assumptions."
The biases in this country need to be called out on. This is ridiculous.
On reality TV shows, it's become common knowledge that those that cause the most drama, headaches, agony, and frustration in others are the ones keeping, at least until the juices run out. On the news, it's so much easier to report on the "blood libel" that a certain madwoman spouts than to report the hundreds dying in Oceania or the life shattering earthquakes in Pakistan or even the millions of brave warriors doing their jobs and civil duties for the sake of our safety. Because it's sensationalizing, attention drawing, and just plain entertaining.
What has this country come to? It seems that people love to first criticize and then ask questions later. Criticize and then listen later. "Oh oops, that's not what you meant? Why I guess I should retract my overreaction or shut up and let the tides past." Oh the entitlement culture this country breeds is deplorable and disgusting.
Whatever happened to civility and just general concern over our posterity? It seems so common now that the new budgets are out that once funds need to be cut, the schools are the first ones to go. In the most recent Sunday Times, there was a very clear article stipulating that while other countries are excelling, American children are severely lagging in education. This is your future, country. Instead of trying to cut down on unnecessary spending, universities are cutting programs, courses, and instructors while funneling in money to hire people to raise more money. Tell me again...how is that supposed to exemplify "higher learning"?
It's a shitshow out there and boy does our generation have front row seats.
I made a list last year and really allowed me to reflect on the past year and all the things that have happened. Happy 2011 everyone!
Shortly after driving into SF, I headed back home to spend some extended time with the family while Tiembo's family visited SF. Not only that, Tiem also accomplished a grueling 5-week start-up incubator founders lab with Women 2.0, which he dedicated every evening after work for 5 whole weeks to learning about Start-ups and starting one!
I went home and looked at the aftermath of Bangkok Burning.
While it was really sad, it was also extremely uplifting to see the collaboration and love in Thai people busy rebuilding their city and their country. Just like how they responded to the tsunami. Amazing.
August was a huge month for us! It started out with our anniversary, where we took advantage of AMAZING weather in Napa and spent the weekend acquainting ourselves to the wine country.
Followed by a surprise awesome visit from my sister in SF!!
Followed by watching our friends get married in Austin, TX!
September is a little mellow with me starting work and Tiem being busy with his. Therefore, we didn't get much of a chance to take pictures. The key thing about September was the long running disappointment that is the UT Longhorns football.