Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'm getting tired and the baby isn't even born yet!

Our Chinese acupuncturist told us I had to step up my duties around the house. As I've mentioned already, my wife is in her late 30s, so we're doing everything possible to help her body bring this baby to full term. For me, that means household chores galore.

I'm actually okay with this stuff. Since we got married pretty late, I had to be a pretty self-sufficient bachelor. I can cook a decent meal, don't mind doing the grocery shopping, and I hate a messy bathroom and kitchen sink. I am, however, a pack rat and tend to pile things up on my desk and in my bookshelves. That makes me sort of a Felix Ungar/Oscar Madison all in one, I suppose. (Yeah, you Millennials out there need to Google that.)

The good doctor told Sophie no bending down to reach something like a pot in the dishwasher and no reaching up to grab something like a cup from the cupboard. The two actions apparently cut off the 'life support' to the child. So, I'm right there to grab and reach for whatever Sophie needs. I also scold her every time she does the Asian squat.

Because of morning sickness, and because this seems to help, I cut little apple wedges for Sophie every morning and put them in a Ziploc. I also prepare her herbal tea twice a day, and accompany her on our nearly nightly shopping trips to the market, since her cravings change so often.

But I gotta commend Sophie's mom on bringing us a care package of food almost every week. That's pretty sweet. Doesn't mean we always eat the stuff, but it's still pretty sweet.

This past week, we went to a restaurant called Totoraku in West L.A. It is probably going to be our last major dining indulgence for a while. We thought it would be okay for Sophie since the omakase-style meal is mostly beef, but it turns out that much of that beef is raw, so no, it wasn't so worth the price of admission for her. (That's beef tongue on the grill, BTW, and it was delicious. A third of the meat dishes were served (raw or seared) before the portable charcoal grill got to the table.)

We all brought wine to the dinner that night, so with eight people on our table, we had one bottle for every two people. Guess who had to drink an extra portion? Yup, it was the one night I did not especially enjoy having so much good wine.

This place is kinda exclusive, though I'm not exactly sure why, so good luck getting a reservation. But if you do go, don't bring your pregnant wife. She will not appreciate the lack of good ventilation in the place, and neither will the baby.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Did I mention I'm freakin' freaking out?

I absolutely don't know what to do with myself. I mean, if I were younger, this would be way too much for me to handle. Now that I'm older, this is only moderately too much for me to handle.

The first thing I did was think about all the dangerous stuff I have in my small one-bedroom condo. Pretty much all the furniture has sharp corners. This is crazy! I remember watching this baby boy playing with his mom in the waiting room in my eye doctor's office. The mom was saying, "Come here! Come here!" So the baby boy picks up his little baby feet, one by one, hesitates, then trips and falls head first right into the front edge of the sofa.

Heard this stuff from Home Depot
works pretty decently on most
furniture, and is cheaper
than the childproof foam.
You could not see this one coming. It began all so innocently. His forehead grazes the front of the sofa material. If it were my sofa, which is made of wood, that forehead would be gashed open and bleeding all over the carpet!

The boy starts screaming and crying and I think, dang, his neck could be snapped. But mom says, "There, there. It's okay. It's alright." It's okay? It's alright? I'd be freaking out if that happened to my son. Heck, I'm not technically even a dad yet and I'm freaking out.

I have a dangerously sharp coffee table that matches the sofa and love seat. That's definitely going into storage. I have a TV console with very sharp edges and corners that even I manage to ding myself every time I take something out of the drawers. All the bookcases, the desk in the bedroom, all the chemicals such as detergent in the bathroom cabinets — all dangerous to a toddler!

Sophie said we need to buy a house with at least three bedrooms. Okay, we're not exactly spilling over in our armpits with cash, so, no, the three-bedroom house is out for now. (It took me a few hours to convince her that now was not the time to be thinking of moving or buying a house.) I know, I know, house prices are low and interest rates are scratching bottom, but we're going to have a baby soon, and that means one of us (probably her) will probably not be working during that period.

This one is from Orbit Baby. I like
the fact that it's a child car seat also
and includes a car-seat dock for easy attaching.
Oh, what to do, what to do! We got taxes to file, a speeding ticket to contest, bills to pay, and so many things to consider. And get this. This morning, she tells me there's this really cool baby stroller that costs a thousand bucks. She says we could probably be fine with a $300 one from Target, but the $1,000 one will be forever in the back of our mind.

You know, the baby will never know the difference, I say. "That's not true! The $1,000 one is really comfortable!" she says. Something tells me we're going to be $1,000 poorer very soon.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking of all sorts of ways to monetize myself. You know, I've been a pretty lazy guy now that I'm in my 40s. I work one full-time job and do an occasional freelance gig on the side. I barely have the energy to do much else than Facebook and Tweet a few times a day. How the heck am I gonna have the energy to raise a child? No wonder my dad let my mom raise the kids by herself!

But no, one thing I am determined to do is not be like my father. I love the guy but he is not the father I plan to be. So in terms of monetizing myself, I'm gonna get my priorities straight first and be a good father first, an overachieving bread winner second. Go suck it, all you overachieving parents!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I'm freakin' gonna be a dad!

I know it's too early to start announcing the news to all my friends and family, so that's why I'm broadcasting this to the world. Otherwise, I'm just gonna go freakin' bonkers keeping this stuff all to myself.

For one thing, we are in the danger zone: the first trimester. Anything can happen during this time, including the absolute unthinkable. I'm totally aware of this. My wife's totally aware of this. My in-laws are totally aware of this. It's a stressful time. EVERY DAY, I'M FREAKIN' FREAKING OUT!! I wake up, check my wife to see if she's still breathing. Then, I head over to the kitchen to prepare her herbs our Chinese doctor prepared for us.

Whoa, did he just say "Chinese doctor"?

Yes, and that's how we got here in the first place. We were trying to have a baby — not a dragon baby, any baby! — for over a year. You know, the natural way. Then the somewhat unnatural ways: leaving it in to make every drop count, putting a pillow under her butt, putting two pillows under her butt, making her stay in these positions for several hours, not letting her move for an entire night.

People said to get an iPhone app called Period Tracker. Check. People said to buy an ovulation kit. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. These things can get expensive after a while so we were on a subscription on Amazon. Then we got a little smarter and started our individual FSAs or Flexible Spending Accounts so that we could pay for these things using pretax dollars.

A year went by, still no baby. During this time, we went on romantic trip after romantic trip. Austin, Texas. Paso Robles, Calif. Napa Valley 1. Napa Valley 2. Napa Valley 3. New Jersey. Well, this one wasn't so romantic as it was a family trip to visit her grandmother in the hospital. We made a weekend of it, though, by taking the train into NYC. Unfortunately, we took the drunk train (last train out of NYC) back to our rental car in a Jersey suburb and got to experience the reality show as a reality, including a fight, three guys arrested, several pukings, a food fight involving pizza crust, dresses that were way too tight over bodies that were way too full (and how in the world do they keep from showing their coochies in those mini-dresses? wifee and I were constantly baffled!), a drug dealer who sat next to us while his three friends got arrested, a drunk girl in a skintight mini-dress who fell asleep on her seat while her goofy girlfriend went hunting for leftovers, three girls in the next seat who shot video of drunk girl while they made funny faces. Yeah, never again do we take the drunk train.

After my wife's grandma passed away, we had lunch in Koreatown with my wife's cousin. (Oh, wife's name is Sophie, cousin's name is Grace.) So their grandma had passed away and they were sharing some memories. Sophie remembered something her grandma said after waking up in her hospital bed. "Oh, you have a baby. But not right now. Later." Another time, she said to Sophie's mom, "You must be happy. Sophie has one son and one daughter." This last comment didn't make sense, and we began to wonder if she confused Sophie with another granddaughter who already had a son and daughter.

Grace mentioned she knew a couple who were having trouble getting pregnant. They went to a Chinese doctor in Rosemead and within a month of treatment, they conceived. Our ears perked up. This couple was pretty similar to us. The guy was Chinese, the wife was Korean. I'm Japanese, Sophie's Korean. They got married when they were pretty advanced in age, we got married when I was 42 and she was 34. We're now 46 and 38. Both of us checked out fine with our western doctors, and Sophie even had a few fertility treatments, but still no baby.

Nassau, Bahamas
We made an appointment to see Dr. Xie at Del Mar Health Clinic in mid-December. We also had a cruise to the Bahamas, roundtrip from NYC, scheduled between Christmas and New Year's, so we didn't start full-on treatments until the first week of January. These treatments included acupuncture on both the front and back sides of our bodies three times a week, plus herb tea after each meal that the doctor and his wife provided. Dr. Xie doesn't speak fluent English, so his son Benjamin did the early translations. But after a few weeks, we were able to communicate fine with Dr. Xie and his wife, who also happened to be a gynecologist in China. Benjamin is also studying to be a practitioner in Chinese medicine, and apparently the schooling and certification process is very grueling, to say the least.

After the needles are placed,
wires are connected to provide an
electrical pulse to the nerve point.
At first, Sophie and I met at the clinic after work around 6-ish during the week. But some evenings, the Los Angeles traffic was just too much, and we'd arrive closer to 7 or even 7:30. After a couple weeks of this stressful commute, we started to schedule our weekday appointments during our lunch break. This worked out much better.

By the way, if you click on the link above, you'll read my Yelp review of the clinic. In it, I mention Dr. Xie was so confident we would get pregnant that he used the word "guarantee." I work in the advertising business and we never use that word. Never. So when I heard him say that, I had no choice but to just trust him and let things happen. A bit of praying helped too, to say the least.

Finally, after Sophie missed her period, we started to wonder, Could she be pregnant?

You know those at-home pregnancy kits with the two pink lines that show up when you're pregnant? We did that after being about a week late. Twice, in fact, just to confirm what we were seeing.

After an appointment with a baby doctor, we saw the first ultrasound image of our little zygote. Yes, we're gonna have a baby. We were 5 weeks in. We're gonna have a dragon baby!