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Archive for the ‘When he was in me- May 2007’ Category

Dear Sophia,

even if you will turn four in three months; even though I can see you
growing tall and sweet; even if you are saying more often “I can
help”, you must know that you are forever, ever, ever, ever my sweet
little baby.

So my sweet little darling baby, please do not cry. Do not cry when I
shake my head and say, “I can’t” when I am sitting on the floor and
you want me to carry you and stand up and then make my way downstairs.
It is getting hard, even if just for mama to raise herself and her
pregnant belly off the ground. It is not because I no longer love you;
it is not because my love is getting less; and it is NOT because you
are no longer my darling baby. I LOVE YOU, and when I say I can’t, I
really cannot. If I can jump through hoops of fire, if I have to run
over burning coals, if I have to strike a bargain with the Devil, I
will, because mama loves you so much. So much, so much, no
mathematician nor scientist can ever fathom or make a calculation of
that. There is no quantifying it. Mama’s love has no limits. You have
to believe it. And really, if now, right this second, you really need
me to carry you on my shoulders and run across the land, and if that
is what will convince you of mama’s love, I will do it. I will sit you
securely on my shoulders and I will make big, bold steps that shake
the whole earth, sending cracks across the Universe, echoing the whole
planetary system with our stomping and laughing and joy.

You must believe me, my little one.

You still make my heart skip happy loops when you allow me to hold
your hand. Your little hand, so firm and warm in mine. It grounds me
and makes me proud to be a mother. I love how we played in the water
last week in Mexico. You have no idea how much joy it gives me to see
your entire face light up in joyful glee, getting in and out of the
water; to hear you say, “ONE MORE TIME, MAMA!” and I gladly do it one
more time, and another, and one more time, and one more time. I will
play in the water with you till every single drop of it dries up and
till the sun no longer rises and sets. I swear my blood glowed inside
of me as we played so carefreely, with you, my darling, as my play
companion.

So, don’t cry, my darling baby.

In mama’s mind, you are held and cradled forever. I will always
remember carrying the mysterious weight of you in me; how you squirmed
and kicked inside of me; the evening that you were born to me, and I
always remember clearly the strength of your suckle at my breasts. I
am honored to be your mother, this lifetime, on this earth. If my soul
will allow this memory, it will carry on for an eternity.

Will you ever know how much I love you? Maybe one day when you become
a mother yourself, and grow swollen with love and life, and birth like
a warrior and nurture a life of your own, you will know. You will know
I love you so much and you will no longer cry, nor be afraid.

My heart aches to hear you cry. To watch the tears flow so freely down
your face, and to see your little fists rubbing your eyes, and your
fingers wiping away the tears. It’s a torture. I hold you and I kiss
you a million times, and I whisper, “I love you, I love you, I love
you. Know that! Remember that!” and you do not believe me. It breaks
my heart. Mamas cannot hear their babies cry like that. It is like
having their heart carved out of their bosom, and having it hung up on
a tree for the birds to peck at.

I know, from where you stand and look, things may not be what they
seem. But you have to believe what mama says. Mama says, I love you
forever and ever, and you are always my sweet little darling baby.

Believe me, and shed your precious tears no more. Believe that my arms
are always here for you and I carry you in my bosom always, every
second of my breathing life. At night when I sleep, hearing your
breathing next to me helps me breathe too. I fall asleep in a smile
knowing if I will just reach out, I will feel the warmth of your sweet
existence- your cute little toes, your hands, your lips, your hair. I
love you, my darling. And to hear your laughter, oh! It sends me to
heaven and I wish I can make that laughter more tangible, so I can
hold it. Make it into a cold popsicle so I can gleefully lick it and
relish its golden beauty. You have no idea, my love, what a joy you
are to me.

I know when your little brother comes, things will change and you may
no longer be able to sleep with me. But it will not be for long. I
promise. And I promise with my life that it will in no way change
mama’s love for you. Remember, and remember it always! Mama loves you.
Forever. You are my precious little gem.

Don’t cry. My darling little Sophia. You must know that mama’s love
cannot be taken away by any means. It is locked, safely, inside of
mama, where no one can reach. It is in a very secure place, adorned
with sparkling jewels and that love only grows stronger everyday and
gets locked even more securely in mama’s heart. No thief however suave
or smart can steal away with it. You can be as sure of that as our
shared love for good chocolates.

Mama loves you to pieces. Mama’s love is so much and so heavy it
sometimes hurts and squeezes tears out of mama in unexpected moments.
I just need you to believe in me. Please do. Please at least try.

Cry no more, my sweetheart. I love you forever, and you are always my
sweet little darling baby.

So much love,
Mama

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I am not sure what to put in for the title of this one, but these are thoughts that came to me during our vacation in Rocky Point, Mexico. We were actually poised between the desert and the ocean, but we spent a lot of time near the sea, so it felt like it was the watery world that drew out all these thoughts in me… …

The first two days we were there it was very windy, but the sea was never as “stormy” as i had known in some other seas. I greedily feasted my eyes on all the blues. It is a sight I have always loved and relished. From the expanse of blue sky, down to that line that tells us where the horizon is, to the varying hues and sparkling tones of the blue sea. And then there is the big mystery that lurks beneath all that blues and greens. Life within. And death too. A myriad of activities going on, while the waves surge forward to shore, and then recede. We may be dipping our toes in the cool water, scouring the beach for shells, getting burnt in the sun, observing the amazing seabirds, repeating “No, gracias” to the vendors roaming the beach trying to sell us condos, fireworks, tattoos, pottery, kites, jewelery…. perhaps to them they offer us a small bit of happiness. But anyway, whatever we do on shore, the life beneath that blue body of water keeps surging. This sea, the Sea of Cortex, is a unique one, as we learned during our visit to CEDO, the Intercultural, binational center for the study of oceans and deserts. After that tour, every time I look out to the sea, I wonder what is going on out there and down there. This is a young sea, just five million years old. Of course, everything is relative. Time is such a fascinating concept. I looked out to the sea and wondered about the age of my soul. I wonder what people guess my age is when they see my face. Or perhaps they look at my legs or my hands and think I am older than my real age. But what is my real age? Other than that number that increases by one every year when my birth day rolls around. I have always been obsessed with my soul’s age because i believe in reincarnation and I have sought out fortune tellers not to foretell my future, but to look into my past. Can they tell me where I have been? What animals were I before? Was i once a man? Did I once kill and had blood on my hands? Was I once a healer? A daughter? A son? Did I live by the sea or have I once flown across the sky, a feathery existence…? Perhaps I have been stepped on, a smooth stone weathered and smoothed out by time and the elements. Perhaps I had been spat on, but a beggar on the street, with no honor, no pride, and no shame. Maybe I was once jeweled from head to toe and everyone had to kiss the ground I walked on, and then indeed what was I honored for? Beauty? Bravery? Or the wisdom to rule benevolently? It is curious how I am getting to know my face in this life and yet looking so fervently over my back. They say you need to focus on the present, the now; but others say without knowing the past you cannot know the present or look into the future.

I do not know what i do with knowledge of my past; and what if I knew the places I had been to in another life. I think it is just a yearning to feel a deeper connection to this world. To understand where our threads connect and how our paths overlap. To think that I once stepped in the dust of the past.

One afternoon at one of the beaches, we were exploring tide pools and looking for shells. At one point I got tired and turned back to find where I left my backpack so I can have a drink of water. The girls had met a new little friend, who was staying in a condo nearby with her parents. they live in Peoria and the three girls were excited to have found each other. I sat down on the beach to rest my feet. I was also feeling drowsy from the heat and from looking at that large pool of blue. I leaned back on my arms and gazed at the sea over my belly. That was a calm day and the waves were gentle and sleepy. I felt the waves rushing into my belly and then flowing out. I imagine the fluid within me merging with that great body of water without. I closed my eyes and listened to the song of the water. I imagine the little one within being soothed by the ancient sounds of the waves; perhaps within those sounds he hears a song of the past. The waves come towards me again. I took a deep breath and thought, “Come, come. Come flood me with energy and spirit and soul from your five million years. Show me the wisdom and wash away my fears and doubts.” I dozed off a little sitting there and dreamed of being taken underneath the blue surface. Sinking. I thought of a watery grave. Fishes swim past me, nibbling a little, and then darting off. Seaweeds. A strong beam of sunlight shooting into the bottom of the sea. Bubbles.

I woke up again, squinting my eyes from underneath the brim of my hat. I sighed and I think the sea sighed with me. How many women had stood by the edge of the sea, wondering what is out there and yonder? Did they also feel the waves and tides within themselves, rushing, surging and receding with the moon? Such is the mystery of life.

The Sea of Cortex is an extremely rich one. At the bottom is its sediments that once was the other half of the Grand Canyon. Where did that hole at the Grand Canyon go to? They did not fly to the stars, but were over many years washed by the waters of the Colorado River down to the Sea of Cortex. Our enthusiastic “guide” at CEDO, Sophia, waved her arm over the sea view we had from where we were sitting, smiled widely and said, “Welcome to Part II of the Grand Canyon!” because of the richness in minerals, the sea feeds a grand variety of sealife and the sea of Cortex is absolutely teeming with life, overflowing with it. It felt so good to sit there, the cool wind urging goosepumps on our arms, to hear of abundance. To hear of life. To hear of five million years being so young. To understand once again that there is life, and decay and death. But always hope. Even as Sophia talked of species that are facing extinction, she never portrayed any sense of discouragement, nor did she touched on the evil nature of humans. She just believe we need to learn, and spread the knowledge and conserve and do our best. I bet a million dollars she believes in the goodness of human nature. And we cannot conserve by putting a fence around something, she said. We need to let people come and see and learn; only with that kind of first hand knowledge would people want to throw in their support for conservation. What gems of wisdom from a young girl. I could not help but liked her. And I also hoped her enthusiasm, positivity and wisdom will rub some off of us. This is the beauty of life. We spent perhaps an hour with her and came away with much. Perhaps even a memory worth a lifetime. An enlightenment and a smile in our hearts, knowing that there is hope. In the context of five million years, we merely brushed by each other. But it may have resulted in a seed of thought that will carry on for another five million years.

Of course I thought about our dear precious baby within. All the water that seems to surround us only brought me to thoughts about him, floating inside my womb. I wondered if he will want to exit my womb into another body of water, or would he prefer another choice, a different route? As I laid on the beach, reading and looking at the girls, I wonder where his little feet will wander when we one day bring him to the beach? Will he rush into the waves, like his older sister Valerie? Or will he stay and dig his toes into the sand, and build sand castles and run after the hermit crabs? I am a land animal, I like to stay on land and feel the earth firmly. His father is an amphibian; loving the land as much as the waters. Either way, our little boy, our children will have parental company, even if they choose to fly. No matter where our children goes, our hearts leap and follow. We are bound. Separate, but really bounded for life and an eternity.

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I was impatient for Sophia’s birth. I think it was the heat. And being so big, not being able to fit into clothes anymore. And people telling me I look huge, and that I should be popping any day now! Ralf’s uncle and aunt from Germany visited us about a month before my due date and they were amused that a belly can get that big. They kept saying things like they don’t think i will reach my due date, because I think they think the belly is going to explode in a few seconds. I felt so not nurtured and just frustrated, and I must have felt pretty pissed off too. I made and froze foods for Ralf and Valerie and the cousin Corinna.

Cannot really remember if it was a day before, but we decided to go to the mall and walk around as i was not experiencing much contractions. I was anxious for the baby to be out. We walked and walked and I felt a few contractions but nothing that was going to throw me off or set the clock going. I guess the baby was just not ready and I was just so not plain listening! I was anxious, antsy, impatient. I wanted some action, not just waddling around, puttering around, rolling over like a turtle on its back. We got home and rest.

Probably a day or two later I started feeling contractions more regularly. In the evening things started to feel more painful, more regular. I drifted in and out of sleep, trying to time the contractions, trying to get some rest. Early in the morning, maybe about 5am, we called our midwife Jan. It was the day of the projected due date. Jan felt it was time and said she was heading over. I put down the phone and the contractions seemed to taper off. I started to feel panic and regret. Is this a false alarm? Maybe Jan will come check me and tell me I am not ready at all. Deep down, I had the feeling the baby was not truly ready. I was just overly anxious and impatient.

For some strange reason I remember the house being neat and clean that morning. So weird, how did that happen? I think I nested a lot in the last weeks, cleaning things out and decluttering…. maybe we also cleaned up that morning after knowing that was the day and people were going to come over.

Jan arrived and checked me, and i was at 4. Same as when I arrived at the birthing center two years ago… her assistant arrived soon after and I basically just puttered around. Contractions came and went, sometimes it felt intense but never to the point where I felt out of control, or as if someone was hammering nails into me. At one point I had a vision of a round clock on a bare wall and the time was three o’clock. I told my friend (who came over briefly with her gals to keep me company, but we lost our friendship about nine months later when we decided to give up vegetarianism) and Jan and her assistant that I think the baby will be born at 3pm.

But contractions slowed down and stalled. I was stuck. Just like the last time. I paced all over the house, walked sideways up and down the stairs, and I remember Corinna coming back from school, and myself being very tired, frustrated and annoyed. I remember now during my first labor at the birthing center, when labor also stalled, the midwife suggested that we try nipple stimulation. URGH! We were left to our privacy in the room and Ralf got to work. Well, I was NOT in the mood to be touched, or worse, stimulated! It really made my hair stood on end and I had to resist the urge to push Ralf away, or slap him! This time, after several hours, Jan decided to give me an acupuncture that will help the baby descend and come faster. Hmph. Since the process was pretty much painless, I do not remember much of it. I guess I did feel a bit amused.

Not long after the acupuncture, my water broke. Hopefully things would move along then, and it did, albeit slowly. We took some time out to just relax and connect, Ralf and me. Everyone else was downstairs, just squatting around and waiting. It was taking so damn long and I know my energy level was going down. Val was also getting restless but eventually she did fall asleep and was brought to Corinna’s room.

At about seven in the evening (yes, 3pm came and went and Sophia was not born) I started to swing into the intense part of labor. Contractions were strong and I got into the water tub after what seemed like centuries for Ralf to prepare it. I was in pain, and by then, terribly tired after walking around and wondering all day long and not having the appetite to eat. I also started to worry if Val will wake up in the middle of birth and cry. I felt the need to bear down but I did not have the strength. maybe the water was buoying me up to much. I tried to make sounds to move the baby down, but ended up yelling and screeching instead. I guess if I was graded for performance on that part, I got an F. It’s like the test was to ask me to count from one to ten and instead I was singing from Z to A. Totally off the mark. Jan thought I was panicking and gave me some homeopathic Aconite. I felt drained of energy. After the event I thought it was because of the acupuncture I had a few hours before; I remember the Chinese doctors always warned that the patient not go home and take a shower after such a treatment. Something about the pores having been opened and should not be exposed to water, and cold air. Jan tried to get me to focus, and I wanted to. Damn, I wanted to! But I just felt so tired and wanted to die. I tried again. And again and again, bearing down, trying to make low sounds, but always ending up screaming and pleading that I could not do it.

Then Val woke up. I was relieved to see her. I was worried about her, She was quite calm but wanted to get into the water with me and we told her it is not possible at this point. She wanted me to carry her and I hugged her from the side of the pool. I sang to her and held her, feeling afraid, worried, anxious. Jan started to feel that I was being distracted and wanted Val brought away and Corinna tried to occupy her. Oh, it was so hard!! I felt a little angry that Val was not given due attention and support. I was afraid she felt excluded but I was unable to include her then. I was just helpless, almost drowning. My feet touched the bottom of the pool but I was sinking, sinking, sinking in energy, in spirit, in my courage and in my will.

Jan decided things need to move along. She got me out of the pool and onto the birthing chair that they had managed to bring upstairs into our bedroom. I sat on it. It set me up in a good pushing position. Now I needed to push, push, push!! That was it! I pushed like hell. I truly felt I must die. I summoned every little ounce of energy I have left, commanding every muscle I still have will over and I pushed! It was painful, and hard and even seemed futile. “I cannot do it! I cannot!!” I whimpered. “Yes, you can!” Everyone yelled back at me, as if I am trying to slack off. I had no choice. I am on the chair and I guess come pee, come poop, I gotta stay there and push till the baby gets out! I really had no strength. I don’t think I had any glucose left in me, and any energy left in me was fast dissipating. “Push, push! She’s coming out! Feel her head!!”

Feel her head, yes, feel her head… that moment is always such a quivering one. Heart-wrenching too. I reached down and I felt something wet and warm. My legs were quivering, my hands were shaking. My whole body was going out of control. Ring of fire! Rest, pant…. trying to hang on, trying hard not to fall off the chair, not to just give up and plead for the baby to just be yanked out! Jan asked Ralf to prepare to catch the baby.

OK, time to push again, just a few more times! I felt my body was going to break apart. Explode and blow into a million pieces. “I CANNOT!!” I repeated again. I need a bath, a long relaxing bath and good nourishing food and a new start in the morning. But heck, that was not possible! “Push, push!” everyone was shouting at me again. I felt like spitting. I pushed. I looked up and saw Val, standing alone, staring while everyone else in the room seemed to have gone crazy and in a frenzy. I wanted to reach out and hug her. Why is Corinna not holding her and assuring her? But I had no time nor energy to give commands then. I had to goddamn PUSH!!! I cannot remember how many pushes there were but finally, Sophia was born! She was out of me and into this world, this world of rolling red dust… …

She cried. Loudly. “Oh, my baby! You are here, you are here! You are fine… you are going to be ok, Mama’s here!!” I cried and put her to my breast. Immediately, Val roared into tears as well. I have written about her piercing scream before, that night in the room, when she saw her new little sister take to my breast, who before was her sole right. I hugged her close and told her to look at her new little sister, and I let her nurse the other breast. I was shaking all over. I needed food. I needed to lay down.

After I expelled the placenta, I had to lay down. I could no longer walk or stand or do anything. I must be almost dragged to the bed because everyone was tired too. I laid down so Jan could examine me. Another tear. And not small, nor minor. Jan took some time to stitch me up while I laid and nursed the new little one, and Val as well. I think I may have even fallen asleep a little. I was really exhausted. Bone exhausted. And extremely hungry.

Finally, the stitches were all done, and I can’t remember much else of anything except that I just wanted to sleep. Wanted to eat something warm and sleep. Poor everyone else went downstairs and made dinner- theirs, and my special menu. Soon Ralf came up with the first meal for the confinement. Rice with eggs fried in a ton of julienned ginger and sesame oil. And that herb tonic I’m supposed to drink for five days that helps dispel all the “dirty” blood after the birth. I could not really move. Ralf had to help me sit up in bed and my bottom felt very sore and I ate. I cannot remember much else, except for that night and the day after I could not get out of bed unless Ralf helped me. Everytime I had to stand, I felt faint. Everything everywhere inside of me hurt like hell.

That was how Sophia came to me. So long, and hard. I wondered often what went wrong. I “blamed” many things. Not asking for support. The drift between Ralf and myself then. The tension of having Corinna there. The concern for Val and some guilt for bringing her a little sister a bit too early. Not waiting long enough for the body to be truly ready for the birth. The acupuncture and then getting into the water afterwards. Arrogance. Lack of will. Not taking care of my body well enough during the pregnancy. Etc, etc, etc.

But, even as I work now to process everything, and ingrain trust in my body and the Universe and its plans for me, I sometimes find it futile to analyze all these “should have”‘s and “what if”‘s, because in the end, no matter what, I was gifted with another precious being. Sophia is my heart. She’s that piece of my heart that is the most tender, and that smiles the most and that is the most playful and mischievous and wonderful.

I recall now the days after as a crazy patchwork of all kinds of emotions and experiences. Tender times, tough times… …they all do have a meaning and a purpose. Nothing is in vain. Nothing is futile. (Though I cannot really appreciate having to be re-stitched three days after my birth! I wish this not even upon my worst enemy…) The second time was tough. The transition was very hard, and probably why we decided “two is enough”.

So then where came the courage, if foolish courage, to have a third? To go through again, that rite of passage to bring another tender new life into this world, and into our little family? To go through another transition that will impact us on so many levels?

I don’t know. Maybe it is just the lust for life. The yearning of holding virgin flesh in my arms again. To offer my breasts to nourish and grow a life. Maybe the naive bravery to test the bonds of our family. Life is calling. It sings to us all the time. And gets increasingly enticing everyday. Maybe Life does not want us to just wander along like this. Perhaps we need a big detour to go in another direction. More ripples in our stream of life. More love. For our hearts to expand further. For me to truly believe that love will multiply and not get divided. To understand that contractions and expansions go hand in hand.

This took so long to write, amidst all the distractions, with all the painful memories being drawn out, and not wanting to really recall the rather long, dark period in my relationship with my husband. Not wanting to write something that does not feel glorious that is a homebirth. But eventually coming around, and just accepting, and throwing it all to the wind. Let the wind take it all. Let the water dissolve it all. It is in the past, yet it will always be in the present as well. It’s deep set in my cells and will never leave. It’s just what I choose to do with it. And while I feared it, I now love it with all my heart, because after pain, a heart rejoices more deeply and gratitude runs deeper. I am thankful for the experience, and ever so grateful for my daughter that came to me in darkness and in pain, for then I see how bright a light she is.

I think I am quite ready for the Third time.

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Stop… everything is wheeling and spinning; ringing and buzzing; slamming and turning.

I need Time to stop. Rather, not go so fast. How can this be week 31 already? I need more time with my girls. I feel the same feeling. That loss of “just us two” to now “just us three”; me and my girls. Now we are going to add a boy to the mix. I need more time to figure this out! I am a bit worried how I deal with “boy energy” though I know surely I can pick a boy up by his collar and throw him across the room should he misbehave. But, that is perhaps the last thing I should demonstrate to his sisters?! (Did I just say perhaps and not certainly?!) Last week at the Herpetological Society Tour, there was this three year-old boy who was absolutely vibrating with energy. He will drive me nuts. I may put him in the freezer to chill out if he is mine! At one point, he and Sophia were sitting next to each other, actually, squatting, and listening about tortoises and turtles. All of a sudden, he just lashed out and hit Sophia across the face! I was FURIOUS! For no reason at all! I am not proud of my reaction,. First I hugged Sophia, then I asked him, “What was that for?!?!” Urgh, very immature, but I was feeling hot, and the last thing I need is to see my precious daughter’s face scrunched up in pain and shock and crying. Really, I was thinking, “WHAT THE HELL?!” Everyone standing nearby was shocked too and I feel like feeding him to the alligators but I breathed and focussed on how I want to just be there for Sophia and make her feel safe and ok again. Duh. Situations like this makes me wonder how a boy in our mix will change things. I think it all depends on personality. He may love pink and dress-up and shopping and tea parties, but he may also be fully buzzing with energy and wanting to wrestle all day. I may lend him to the zoo, I think.

But I really do need Time to slow down. ***I*** need to make **my** time slow down. Breathe deeper, and longer. Remember where my feet are, feel the ground beneath, and not get into panic attacks so easy and fast, like it’s an addictive, fun, roller-coaster ride!

I cannot help it when I see the house in such extreme disarray. I really wanna clean the house before we leave for Rocky Point tomorrow morning but I am so darn tired already. The thing is, no one seems to notice the house needs to be cleaned? Hello? Does anyone else live here? Sigh. I am not even a perfectionist. Really, I think if my family comes visit me they will send me to some Home Economics Refresher course of sorts to remind me what a proper, decent house should look like. Neat. Clean. Tidy. Orderly. Dinner cooked by 630pm (ha, ha, ha!!!) Kids should be bathed everyday. (No way.)

I need to stop the thoughts that keeps swinging back to all the “What if”‘s? I need to stop worrying about every possible thing that will go awry for this birth. From not getting the tub up in time (NO! though it is just what it is meant to be, remember Que Sera Sera??); to not getting INTO the tub in time; to the girls going crazy during the birth; to the baby going crazy during the birth; to ME losing it during the birth (or worse, even before labor kicks in!); to how we are going to cope (2 adults versus 3 kids; and I find when children are not in sync, when they are pushing their boundaries, it seems they sprout three extra heads, with snakes as hair; and six arms and they can cry really loud too)? What if something is wrong with the telephone line and we cannot reach our midwife? (Well, I guess then we have the unassisted birth we thought we might have!)… … What if a thousand million things; What if every single thing under the sun that is bad bad bad. This negative energy is no good. I need a gin tonic. I have been craving it the past few days. It must be the heat. I need to stick my head under a hill of snow and chill out.

So many crazy thoughts that needs to be let go and allowed to gallop into the clouds and drifted away….

Hopefully our trip to Rocky Point tomorrow will help. I HOPE! It’s just four short days, but we have decided to just chill out as a family. Connect. Actually, Re-Connect. This will be our last vacation as a family of four. It feels so exciting. The girls are dying to see the beach, hear the waves, look for seashells, explore the tidepools. I just wanna feel sand and salty water between my toes. Chill out. Maybe I will even get to read a book on the beach! Ralf will go kayaking with Val. I told him I wanna too, esp early in the morning, so I can spot the dolphins. But he looked at me like I forgot I have a big bulging belly. What?! And he is limping around moaning like a pregnant woman. Duh. We shall see. But we will take it slow. I really need to take it slow. I have just been zipping around, dragging the girls behind me jumping from one thing to another. After this trip, after the Farmers’ Market, I am locking us in the house. No social activities and obligations. De-clutter. Re-Connect. De-gut. Re-charge. De-stress. Re-Peace.

I need so much OM right now. Somebody make me a big pot of OM to inhale. To drink with greed so it fills me up totally. If only OM is water, I have been guzzling that so much of late. I wonder if my belly is all that water. It feels so big. It will be fun to hear the waves sing and shout and dance, together, with this little one within. Maybe it will inspire a new dance for him, for us. Rocky Point is not exactly out of this world, but I just so need a change of space. To be in a different time zone. A different dimension. No rushing. Just Being. No having to be at a certain place at a certain time, just Being.

No matter what, there is still 9 weeks. Still time. I know Baby within will wait. You hear me, don’t you? You are also busy preparing. Me too, except I need to make my “busy business” a peaceful, mindful, conscious one. Help me, help me find that Calm and make it stay.

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Yesterday afternoon I realize all of a sudden I had something that looked like a big patch of bruise on the back of my left leg, a little above the ankle. I was folding laundry in the tailor-sit pose and thought there was something dirty, or I had a bruise. then I realized it’s a mesh network of broken veins. I have no idea how it got there. I was dismayed; yet at the same time felt a sense of resignation.

Since young I have had to deal with scars and marks. Mosquitoes swarm to me and leave bitemarks that takes a long time to heal. I have stretchmarks mysteriously appearing on the outside of my thighs when I was about eleven. At that time everyone wondered if it was ringworms or a skin disease of some sort. Uncle TY brought me to the doctor and he said it’s stretch marks. — but at that age? He asked if I have had a sudden weight loss. Huh? No. I hadn’t reached that age yet when I was just eating cottage cheese and Wasa crackers. The doctor had no explanation and we just went home and live with it. I have also been through phases when I had serious acne problems, getting really big boils on my face and trying everything under the sun (well, almost). Since the first pregnancy, I have gotten more stretch marks, of course, and more broken veins. I think it affected me somehow but there also wasn’t much I can do unless I lunch and dine and tea with cosmetic surgeons, I guess. But I also reached a phase where I thought, what the heck, I am going to wear shorts even if everyone will see all the stretch marks and ugly broken veins! I am not going to cover up in this heat just so I can pretend I have a flawless body underneath.

Another thing though happened during my first pregnancy. Fifth aunt was on the phone with me urging me to NOT drink too much cold water as it really affects the baby’s health (baby will be prone to colds and coughs). She also talked about other foods, and then she paused and told me, “You know, your mum ate really badly when she was pregnant with you. And now she has a lot of guilt about it. You were unplanned and she was going through a bad time with your father and had a very bad temper. There was also not a lot of money as your father was in and out of jobs, and she mostly ate rice with just soysauce or chili sauce. She thinks that’s why you have such bad skin. She cried when you were having those large acne; she thinks it’s all her fault for eating badly during that pregnancy.”

I was shocked to hear that. And not sure exactly the reason for it. I guess i do notice I have skin that takes a very long time to heal. Acne I thought people just get, maybe it’s genes also but my mom actually has very good skin. At this age she still has very tight smooth skin, and never had a single stretch mark in her life. I felt like maybe I found a “reason” for my skin issues, but I also saw how much a mother’s mental psyche can affect her child.

But I also admit I am not one to spend a lot of time looking after my skin. I am not sure yet why. Maybe resignation from a young age? Right now it’s just a matter of time and budget constraints. I used to put on a lot of facial masks at home myself, and grandma will watch me entering and exiting the bathroom washing my face and applying a different mask, and she will say, “You are going to peel all your skin off! Look at my face! I never used any of those stuff and my skin still looks good.” It is true, grandma has good skin. Genes, I suppose. Good genes. That I lack, but I hope the girls have Ralf’s good skin genes. His good skin he attributes to not using anything on it. Just water. Shower gel also used very sparingly. And when I was slathering on the lotion in winter he told me I ought to give the skin some time to adjust and “make their own oils” before smothering my skin with lotions loaded with chemicals. Hmph. Right now, I seldom have time to apply any masks of any sorts! If I have time, I just want to lay down and read a book or just close my eyes! Not file my nails or color them or pluck my eyebrows. Isn’t this contradictory? You have people out there insisting that if you do not take time to take care of your skin, it is going to wrinkle and crumble on you. Then, there is the other school of First do No harm, or even better, do nothing and let Nature take its natural course of beauty.

I am losing my thread of thought though. I wanted to write about how my feelings about physical bodily “marks” had changed over the years. When I was much younger, i will see, on some older women, their loose skin, their stretch marks, cellulite, large patches of broken veins, varicose veins, and all such similar “marks” on a body and I used to feel scared. Fear. Afraid I will get that one day. Afraid to grow old and look like that. Sometimes I also felt it was because they neglected their bodies. Sometimes those varicose veins and spider veins even looked dirty to me. It’s like, “yucky stuff”. It was “EWE, how did they get that?!”

Over time, I have come to appreciate how our body creates all these marks to tell the stories of our lives. I recall those Sherlock Holmes stories I used to love. How he would observe the hands, the skin, the postures, and predict (accurately) their lives and who they are and what they did, either recently, or for years on end. My middle finger on my right hand is crooked because of the way I hold my pen when I write. And I have seen other similar hands too. I know one of the broken spider veins I have on the back of one of my legs is because of how my leg had to press against the edge of the wooden chair as i support the weight of my babies while nursing them in the kitchen. I know where the stretch marks on my belly comes from. All these lines, and marks and discolorings, they tell our lives…. now, when I see a woman with imperfections on her skin, on her body, I do not feel averse anymore. I do not feel scared. Instead, I feel compassion. I feel the urge to pull on her arm and stop her and just give her a hug, because I could tell she had carried and nurtured a baby. I feel a connection, from us having walked through earth, and time and space, being a person, a woman, a mother, a human.

I still feel dismayed about those broken veins. I know I am still some ways from full acceptance of all these “imperfections”. But I also know I am getting there. It sometimes makes me heart beat so fast to see stretch marks all over, on myself, or on others. That’s because it feels so raw and primal to me at times. It feels like a naked Truth. I think it was in the movie “The Truth about Cats and dogs” where there was a photo of a woman’s body with stretch marks all over and it looked beautiful because it was so honest and true and plain. Those stretch marks glare back at you, almost like a challenge for you to be judgemental. They seem to will you to see the beauty behind it. To capture the story and beauty behind the physicality of it all. To make us think about what stretch marks really mean, and if they should imply anything, if at all.

Sure, I envy those long, slim, young, perfect legs I see walking around. But I know mine, with all its markings and imperfections, have done important jobs. They have walked, they have ran. They have supported my babies and carried them around. My babies have been cradled in my legs too. I have walked the earth and seen beautiful places on these legs. Scars, or stretch marks or not, they have not failed me. I now feel grateful.

I still sometimes wish wistfully for better skin, better looking legs or breasts or this or that. But these are passing moments. This is the only body I have, the only vehicle for everything I will do on this earth, in this lifetime. And often for so many things I take for granted, just walking, sitting, running, holding things, baking and cooking, writing, hugging people, or even just to exist. I know sometimes how my body looks is also a story of what I have been eating, and if I have been loving myself. Other times, it is just a mark that Time makes to help tell a story. I think I will be sorry to have to erase everything, for then I may well lose some precious records of my life. Maybe five thousand years later it doesn’t matter what story I have to tell, or does it? What of the skulls and bodies we have dug up from years ago? We could tell what they had eaten and we have been able to imagine their lives. Do I want to erase my own footprints? Do I want to deny myself of my own existence? Do I want to forget the part of my life when I once carried and nurtured a life within me, so precious, so delicate, and so miraculous?

I will have to love myself as I am, there is no other way. These stories, they have to be told.

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Dear baby,

my thoughts are so crazy careening, zipping here and there, screeching, turning, spinning. Like a crazy nut. I have been told that’s what I am, and at times I even believe that. I must be nuts for all these many things, because I never ever make up my mind. I wanted to be a doctor; I wanted to be an actress, a singer (ha ha ha! when you hear me sing, you’ll know why i laugh so hard!); a journalist. You know why I wanted to be a journalist? Actually, a TV reporter. I was watching some big news on TV when I was young and there was this Chinese lady who said, “This is blah-blah (can’t remember her name now), reporting from blah-blah (also can’t rem the place), for CNN.” Oh, it sounded very cool. I wanted to be in the moment of history-making, you know? Then I got into the medical stream in junior college but dropped out because my Chemistry grades suck, and, I did not have the guts to dissect the frog. I switched from Science to Humanities, and I loved all those literary stuff! It was like an escape for me, reading about other people’s pain and loss and love and triumphs and philosophy. From literature i got into visual arts and I thought I would do that for the rest of my life. Maybe I still will. I don’t know? At times during my life as a mother I had thought maybe I will teach something to young children, or be a cook. A Chef. Do you realize they are very earthy things? I don’t think about flying to the moon, or stuff like that. I guess I am true to my zodiac sign the Rat. I am very grounded. Sort of, I think. After watching Cirque du Soleil I wanted to try the German wheel. It all relies on gravity and yet it seems to defy gravity. I still want to do it. Lets do it together!

Oh, but other things that make people think I am crazy- homebirth, electing not to have an epidural, choosing to stay at home and be a mum, relying on a man for money. You can decide for yourself. maybe you like a crazy mum. Sometimes i like myself this way, and sometimes, not too much. But, whether I like it or not, I am proud of my choices. My son, you tell me what you think. I would so love your thoughts from your perspective. A male of the twenty-first century. Wow. Some have said with two older sisters you will be taught how to respect women. I hope you do, this is a fervent hope of mine. But then, not just women. Maybe women should be a soft spot in your heart, because you will think of your old mother and your cool sisters when you interact with the opposite sex, but I hope in general you find yourself an essential component of humanity at large, and will be able to live much more mindful and conscious than I have. This morning one of my yoga teachings was, “Believe that everywhere you go, beauty follows in your footsteps and healing happens.” That’s a very big thought to hold in one’s mind and heart. But I hope that can happen. I hope, by being mindful and conscious of my words, actions and thoughts, beauty follows and healing happens. You know, beauty is everywhere. We just need to look. And be awake. Sometimes I feel I need to walk around with my hand on my heart all day, to remind myself of who I am, and what I am doing here. I went outside after yoga to water the plants. There was a cool breeze blowing, and it was just beautiful. The plants are doing well and it was just beautiful. It felt encouraging too, to see life and growth in our neglected backyard. I thought of you, growing inside.

One strange thought the last two days was- thunderstorms. I don’t know why but that subject just struck into my head like a lighting and a clap of thunder. I think it’s because July is monsoon season, at least last year up in Payson it was like that. I started to think what if you decide to come amidst a storm? Then, then…. your poor father’s efforts to set up the tub outside is all futile. We may have to drag the tub in or abandon it outside. If it is filled with water we’ll have to drain everything , pull the tub in and fill it all over again. This can take hours, you know? What a drama it is going to be. I also imagined being outside in the storm, birthing, with rain falling over us. Kinda cool, but may be dangerous to the people involved! Lightning could strike. And you know what? You never know when the “ten-year flood” will come again. It is called the ten-year-flood but can occur at anytime really. Can you imagine us floating away in the tub down the stream, through the neighbourhood? Too hilarious. I have thought to talk to your father about the possibilities of heavy rain and thunderstorms, but other things have gotten in the way. Life can be so hectic!

And you know, the other yoga thought that caught my attention this morning was, “Feel you can let go of what is irrelevant in your life and be open to your destiny.” That struck me after what I wrote yesterday. It’s like the big gong to wake me up. All those expats and ex-girlfriend and many other things are irrelevant. So, why am I stuffing them into my mind? I should just abandon them. What matters is NOW. What I have now, what I do now, and what I say now. NOW. This moment. Once I have worked through those disturbing thoughts, they are no longer irrelevant. I can throw out all those old skeletons hanging my closets. Why does it matter? I have to learn to walk with my feet firmly in this red dust of this world, feel the dirt and smell the dirt. Not run back and forth like a frenzied lizard. I don’t think that many people know what their true destiny is. At least, I do not feel I really know yet. That’s because that is probably step number two. Step number one is to not dwell in the past and the irrelevant and to live in the present. Then destiny will present itself. I think that is how it is supposed to work. I can only try and see.

Dear son, you ramble like a thunder inside of me. I am conscious of that all the time. Sometimes I think you are working on a new tap dance routine in there. I love feeling you move inside. I imagine how you respond as I rock on my back, or when I sit and meditate, or when I am trudging up the stairs. I can feel you wincing when I raise my voice to hurry your sisters to the car, and I can almost feel a blissful smile spread across your face and radiating through your body, when I feel in bliss myself. Oh, soon, you will be in the same dimension as we are! In this same house, in the same car, and you may remember all those sounds you have heard. You will be experiencing all sorts of sensations, and moving through the same space as us when  i carry you around, as your family take turns to hold and carry you. It must be such a unique experience. I am frankly very curious about it and wish I can be so small and be carried around. I wonder if it makes you giddy to be staring at the ceiling as your body is moved through space? I wonder how a nipple looks to you from your perspective? Our faces must also look big to you, and our hands that reach out to you. Will that scare you, or make you feel protected? Are you going to choose a favorite among us? I know both your sisters are going to love, love, love you so much. And your father too, and of course, me! I am so looking forward to your arrival.

This morning I told your father I am starting to feel nervous about the birth, also a bit scared. I feel so unready. 12 weeks more to go, which is like a long way of and a short way there. I think I am a bit afraid because I am starting to feel heavy. I have very stiff hips when I want to be dancing through this labor and birth. Marybeth told me to do the Goddess pose to release the tension in my hips and groin. I tried it but my legs quiver from the weight. But I will keep trying. Then people tell me I *need* to get a birthing ball. We do not have one and I have never imagined it to be useful. I feel ungainly and cannot imagine balancing on that big round thing! And round things are never my thing, just so you know…. the only “ball” game I play and am good at is badminton, because the “ball” is a shuttlecock, and NOT round. Can’t deal with basketball, volleyball, football… all those round things. I am also afraid Sophia will cry for me when I am in labor. She is trying to decide if she wants more of me or let go a bit. Some nights she tells me she doesn’t want to sleep with me anymore (which totally breaks my heart) and some nights the first thing she says when we say “Bedtime!” is “But I wanna sleep with you, mama!”. She looks forward to being a big sister but she can get hysterical when small babies crawl towards her and wants to play with what she is playing with. So now, all those mums at the Little Gym with little ones stay away from Sophia because they know babies makes her cry. I know we will all have to adjust again. Like this game I played when young, called “Big Wind blow”. The big wind blows and everyone gets up and run around like crazy nuts and then sits down in a different place. We are going to have this game. Blow, blow , blow! Run, run, run! Then we sit down and start a new chapter in our lives. Or we can all collapse into a loving heap. Whatever it is, I am so waiting for you, so wanting to welcome you to this crazy world.

Love, and more love,
your crazy mama

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