Category Archives: Marriage and Family

Wife Wisdom

My Lord, forgive me for taking so long to write another entry in my online journal.  You are so generous with the grace you give me.

I praise You and thank You for leading me back to Give Us This Day [website].  I believe it’s structure is a good plan for daily prayer.  It will certainly help me on my spiritual journey, guide my own prayers and, hopefully, guide me to more knowledge of you.

You opened up my heart this morning to the wise words of my wife.  She said that we cannot always give Maya what she wants because it will not make her happy.  If it is time to sleep, and Maya asks to get down from bed and I give in, then she will ask to go out of the room.  She will then ask for one thing after another, often contradicting herself (“play, no play; read Dora book, no book; Elmo DVD, no DVD; etc.”)  She doesn’t know what will make her happy, but we as parents know that she will be happier after a good night’s sleep or a scheduled nap.

As parents know what will make their child happy, so God do You know what will make me happy.  Praise the Holy Spirit for entering my heart with this Wisdom.

Story of Maya’s Birth

I thought I almost couldn’t make it.  I was in the City of Chino, giving a presentation to 30 companies about the export market in China.  I received a few missed calls around the time Anne Marie had our appointment with the OBGYN.  I have gone with her with every visit, except for today.  Of all days, it had to be today.  But, I made a commitment to Erica and the City of Chino.  If I didn’t show up, then I would have been disappointing a lot of people.  I spoke.  Everyone learned a lot and felt the China market was scary.  Many people complemented me on my presentation.  All I cared about was Anne Marie.  I checked my messages.  Anne Marie was crying, saying she had to be admitted to the hospital.  I couldn’t make out anything else she was saying, except that she wanted me to come immediately.  So, I left.

I didn’t know how to get there from Chino.  Driving in the general western direction, I was going through many country roads.  I was hesitant to use the GPS on my BlackBerry, fearing that the battery would die out again while Anne Marie needed to reach me.  I took the risk and found the 60 West.  While driving from the 60 to the 57 North to the 210 West towards Huntington Drive, I prayed.  I prayed and prayed and prayed the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the Glory Be, the Fatima Prayer.  Over and over again, I prayed.  I asked my saintly friends in Heaven to join me in prayer: Saint Thomas More, Saint Joseph, Saint Jose Maria Escriva, Saint Therese de Liseux.  I was afraid that Anne Marie would give birth before I arrived, but not my will, but God’s be done.

I arrived and Nurse Skye was taking Anne Marie’s blood pressure.  It was in the 170’s over 110’s.  She was at risk of a seizure if she did not find some way to lower her blood pressure.  Oddly enough, her blood pressure started going down soon after I arrived.  It was down at the mid 160’s and high 150’s.  Dr. Fong eventually showed up and explained the situation.  We would have to induce labor, but we can still have a vaginal birth.  No episiotomy.  We would try to have as natural a birth as can be.  Even the magnesium sulfate would be held off until the last moment, so it would have the least affect on the baby.  But the IV drip would be necessary, as well as continuous EFM and the monitoring of Anne Marie’s blood pressure every 30 minutes.

My mother-in-law was with Anne Marie the whole time that I was not there.  After I arrived, she stayed in the background, brought us dinner.  She was a godsend.

Anne Marie took the Cervidil at around 10pm.  She ate her last solid meal at 9:30pm.  Bad choice.  She threw up later in the night.

The Cervidil was a low 25gram dosage that is inserted much like a tampon.  It slowly releases a chemical directly on the cervix that would “jumpstart” contractions.  At around 2am, Anne Marie woke me up saying she was having severe menstrual-like cramps.  They were non-stop.  So, it couldn’t be normal contractions.  Besides, we were told in our childbirth classes that contractions start at the top of the belly and moves down to the cervix.  These cramps were strictly located in the groin area.  Anne Marie’s menstrual cramps hit her like a constant rush of painful waves.  If they were contractions, it would have been pointless to keep track since there was no telling apart when one ended and another began.

I helped Anne Marie detach her cables, get out of bed and hold on to her as she walked to her own private bathroom.  I stayed with her to help her sit down and get up.  The doctor wanted a 24-hour sample of Anne Marie’s urine.  So, each time she peed, it had to be caught in this plastic bowl in the toilet, where the contents would then be transferred into this one gallon orange jug.  I did the honors.  Anne Marie filled up two gallons from the time she was admitted at 10:30am on Thursday, Sept 9 until delivery the following day.

It turned out that Anne Marie’s non-stop cramps at 2am were actual contractions.  Those three hours before then was the only sleep I got.  Anne Marie had not slept at all due to nervousness.  From 2am until 7:38am, I was by my wife’s side, coaching her breathing, massaging her, reminding her to relax her muscles.  We thought that the cramps were the result of the Cervidil.  If the cramps were this painful, then the real contractions would be horrible.  As it turns out, a little after 6am, Anne Marie said she couldn’t take it anymore.  I was torn: on the one hand, we had hoped to avoid an epidural; on the other, I did not think Anne Marie would be able to survive the real contractions if these cramps were hurting her so.  I agreed and we asked for an epidural.  The nurse came in and checked her cervix.  It was dilated at 6cm.  I was confused.  How could this be?  Does this mean we were going through the contractions after all?  I told Anne Marie if she was sure she still wanted the epidural since this could mean we were in the transition period, less than an hour until the actual pushing stage.  We weren’t confident that we were in the transition period.  So, we still wanted the epidural.  We were still waiting for the epidural when Anne Marie said she wanted to push.  I was confused, but I knew she shouldn’t push at just 6cm.  We could delay labor by hours or more.  So, I desperately coached her to breathe and relax.  One of the nurses turned Anne Marie onto her side.  I continued to help her breathe and relax, but she was pouring sweat.  I thought someone poured a glass of water on the side of her bed.  Every few minutes, Anne Marie would tense up, look at me desperately in the eyes and said she wanted to push.  I would immediately take a deep breath with her, rub the hair stuck to the sweat on her forehead and remind her not to push.  She could not help but push.  One of the nurses said she saw miconium.  That’s bad news.  I hoped Anne Marie did not hear that prognosis.  I did not want her to get more nervous and increase her blood pressure.  By the time the technician came at 7am, Anne Marie’s cervix was already fully-dilated and effaced.  There was no time for an epidural.  The baby was coming.

Anne Marie continued to get uncontrollable feelings to push.  I asked her to look at me.  Our faces were only inches apart.  When we heard that she was fully-dilated and effaced, I smiled at my wife and happily said that we would soon see Maya!  I told her how much I loved her and what an amazing job she was doing.  I held her hand and cupped her face and looked deep into her eyes each time she got a break from wanting to push and smiled at her.  My love smiled back.  I couldn’t believe she could smile back in spite of all that pain.  One of the nurses called for one of the ER doctors to prepare to come down in case our OB doctor couldn’t make it.

Dr. Della Fong arrived at around 7:20am.  She was cheerful and reassuring.  All the nurses were busy around us converting the bed that Anne Marie was laboring in into a delivery table.  There were soft plastic stirrups that were designed to support the calves.  There was a table covered in hospital linen with all sorts of tools and scissors.  Bright lights turned on in the ceiling from wells that I never noticed before.

Dr. Fong asked me to hold on to Anne Marie’s left leg.  A nurse held Anne Marie’s right.  As I changed position from my intent connection with my wife, encouraging her not to push, I noticed that there was a pale sliver of hairy growth protruding from my wife’s vagina.  It was Maya’s head.  She was crowning!  I saw Dr. Fong massaging Anne Marie’s perineum.  I saw her pour buckets of this thick clear goo that I assumed was lubricant.  I held Anne Marie’s hand and kissed her forehead.  I continued to coach her in her breathing and relaxing.  Dr. Fong said not to push, but let the contractions push the baby out.  Every time the desire to push came, Anne Marie’s legs and arms would tense up.  I reminded her to relax and my wife tried her best not to kick the doctor in the face or pull herself up from the bed while holding my hand.

When Dr. Fong announced the head was out, I took a brief glance and returned to my wife, exclaiming with joy that Maya’s head was out.  As I finished saying it, Maya was out completely and the doctor handed this pale, gangly and wobbling baby onto Anne Marie’s belly.  The nurses came and covered them with a cloth.  They wiped Maya down and somehow got Anne Marie completely naked so the baby could be skin-to-skin with her mother.

To Be or Not to Be Our Parents

A young Ned seen with his beatnik parents
A young Ned seen with his beatnik parents (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We grow up to be like our parents. Is that true? Could be. The better question is, “Do I want to grow up to be like my parents?” I am as unsure of my answer for that question as I was for the first one.

I have always maintained that the whole of myself is the best of both worlds that my parents each represent. My father, for instance, is forward thinking and very intelligent. When he sits quietly looking out at the lawn or at the fish tank, I know he’s thinking about the future. I know because once I asked.

“Nothing is wrong, Dad?” I asked in Cantonese. He was staring at the fish tank for such a long time, not reading his newspaper as usual.
“No. I am just thinking about the family’s house.” He was always worried about how the mortgage was to be paid. The family depended so much on him, the money that he worked so hard to bring home.

Being a child, when he told me of his troubles, I knew not what to do. There was not much I could do but be a good boy — and I don’t think I succeeded at that very well, either. Well, I am more eager to be a good son now if I was not much of one back then. More importantly, the point I was trying to make is that I am also very forward-thinking. And, being a good son is a goal in which its value would not have been realized if I did not have my dad’s critical self-reflection.

My dad has a coherent code of ethics because of that self-reflection. He doesn’t adhere to the rituals of the family’s religion, Mahayana Buddhism. No words actually declare this, but his behavior and facial expressions clearly say it’s a “crock of shit.” About the rituals of any religion, I have also come to the same conclusion: they are perfunctory. I think I inherited the same cynicism towards religion that my father has. Yet, even without the fallible guidance of a priest, monk or rabbi, I have developed a code of ethics of my own that I live by.

My mother has a high interpersonal intelligence. She is honest and does not put on any air of superiority (probably because she hasn’t the riches to justify it, hehe…). She is sincere. That sincerity in her actions with other people make trusting her a very comfortable thing to do. This sincerity, I think, I inherited from her.

My mom is also empathetic. She is no Gandhi or Mother Theresa, but she feels for other people’s suffering as (what I have come to learn) good people should. Without this influence from my mother, I don’t think I can cry at sad movies or care about the many disenfranchised people in this world.

Mother-Teresa-collage

So, there are many good characteristics of my parents that I like in me. Yet, I fear I might have inherited some bad traits, too. Don’t we all?

My anger, for instance, is very explosive. My dad’s anger, likewise, is very explosive. Neither one of us is physically violent. My father has never hit my mom, and I am vehemently against domestic violence. Yet, our loud, deep voices become very threatening when we shout. The tension in and the extreme contrast from our general jovial faces both have a very imposing effect to the receiver in a conflict. I never liked my dad when he was mad. He was scary. Similarly, the few people who have seen me angry have commented on its intensity.

My mom is very emotional. When she gets stressed out, she cries. When I get stressed out, I cry. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but crying isn’t very manly, either.

There is a point that I am trying to make, but the night is getting late and I want to go to bed. I suppose I conclude that I like how both my parents are, but I am concerned about certain traits such as my dad’s anger and his stonewalling when he argues with my mom. I want neither to be unconstructive with my anger nor stonewall my significant other when in conflict. Is recognizing the tendency enough to keep it in check? Perhaps. Wanting to be a good husband, I certainly hope so. Divorces will get pretty expensive in the years to come.