Getting a C-Section: A Refresher

A little over one year ago, I published a few posts in my “Getting a C-Section” series (click here to read the first, second, and third posts) with the intent to finish the entire series by the end of April — Cesarean Awareness Month.

But, as sometimes happens in life, I became too busy with other obligations, and I never finished writing about my experience.

Now, as April 2020 comes to an end, I’m revisiting this time in my life and finishing the series.

Continue reading “Getting a C-Section: A Refresher”

Bright Spots: New Easter Celebrations

Typically, we spend Easter Sunday in a pleasant frenzy. Getting dressed up.  Coordinating gifts for the boys with the Easter Bunny. Serving at Mass. Cooking up something small to add to the feast we would inevitably share with my extended family, all 30+ of us crammed into some relative’s home to celebrate the holiday.

This year is, obviously, more subdued. I think it’s easy for me to mourn the Easter that could have been — and to feel annoyed with this pandemic and its effects on my life, particularly in light of this holiday’s importance to my faith and to my entire family.

And that emotional weight seems a bit heavier when I take into account:

  1. I haven’t seen my extended family in over a month.
  2. My grandparents wish that they could see my kids and me, since being around their grandchildren and great-grandchildren is one of their highlights of any holiday.
  3. I’m continuing to grapple with my sense of parental failure, particularly since I dropped the ball a bit and completely overlooked compiling an Easter basket for Tadashi and Hiro.

Going into this Easter Sunday — particularly last night, as I prepared to fall asleep — I wrestled with an overall sense of sadness, frustration, and emptiness. How could this day be special when it seems like everything has gone so wrong?

Continue reading “Bright Spots: New Easter Celebrations”

2020 Goals: Quarterly Check-In

At the beginning of the year, I shared that I had set a few goals for myself (you can read the full post here). Now, given that the first quarter of the year is over, I wanted to complete a quick check-in and share with you all my progress so far… So, here we go!


Check-In: My 2020 Goals

  • Achieve my goal weight of 140 lbs.
    • Progress: In an unfortunate turn of events, I had actually gained quite a bit of weight between January and February. Probably due to the free food at work? Nevertheless, since I started working from home full-time earlier this month due to coronavirus concerns, I’ve been more intentional about eating home-cooked meals, implementing intermittent fasting, and staying active. So I’ve actually lost a few pounds and a couple of inches since the beginning of this month! Still quite a ways away from my goal weight, but I’ll keep moving forward.
  • Publish 52 blog posts by the end of the year.
    • Progress: Given that this is Week 14 of the year, I should have published 14 blog posts by now. Sadly, this post brings my total published post count to five. Don’t worry: my COVID-19 creative sprint actually put me in a good place to publish a bit more content this month, so you’ll be reading more from me in the near future.
  • Practice self-care regularly: daily prayer/meditation, journaling, gratitude, exercise; monthly date nights with Reggie.
    • Progress: I know that I’ve skipped a day or two here and there within my different daily practices. However, holistically, I’ve made these different tasks a priority in my daily routine — even intentionally carving out time in my work-from-home schedule, given that I no longer have my one-hour commute to meditate, journal, and read. Overall, I feel positive that these daily self-care regimens have been helping with my mental and emotional health.
      Monthly date nights with Reggie, however, have not been a priority. Partly because quarantines don’t allow us to go out on dates. But also because, candidly, we’ve been struggling to balance taking care of our marriage with all of our other obligations (i.e., my work, Reggie’s work, our children, our home life, our extended families, this global pandemic, a complete shift in how we manage our family life since being forced to shelter in place, etc.), that carving out time to spend one-on-one didn’t seem like a possibility. Don’t worry: we’re not in crisis mode; however, we’ve realized that being stuck together in quarantine — without work or other people as distractions — is an opportune time for us to tackle some underlying marital woes. More on that later this week.

Check-In: 20 Things to Do in 2020, a.k.a. My Annual Bucket List

(listed in no particular order)

To-DoStatusNotes
Sign up for a library card.PendingUnfortunately, didn’t get a chance to do this before the current shelter-in-place order impacted the local libraries’ operating hours. TBD on whether or not I can do this by year’s end.
Plant and maintain a terrarium with the boys.In progressPlanted a little terrarium kit with Tadashi* and Hiro* some time in January. Terrarium is currently sitting on the window sill by my desk. Is the plant alive? Questionable.
Take a calligraphy class.PendingI was hoping to do this in-person, but I think I should research some virtual options at this point.
Complete a Couch to 5K program.In progressJust started my Couch to 5K program this week! 7.5 more weeks to go…
Run a 5K.PendingI intended to sign up for a formal race. However, I may be a bit more flexible and count an “unofficial” 5K, a.k.a. running that distance on my own time, given the potential that formal races might not occur for the rest of the year.
Go to a live concert.PendingSame concerns as above.
Buy a house.In progressYes, “in progress”!
Get triple lobe piercings.PendingSame concerns as above.
Get a tattoo with Vinh Huynh at Ironwave Ink.CompleteGot this done in mid-January!
Get a tattoo with Sai Li.In progressI initially had an appointment scheduled with Sai this Thursday, April 2nd. However, we had to reschedule due to the shelter-in-place orders. I’ll reschedule as soon as Sai confirms when she can reopen her tattoo studio.
Read at least 20 books.In progressCurrently reading my ninth book of the year! I definitely need to thank my Book of the Month subscription for making this bucket list item so easy to maintain.
Listen to one album a week.In progressFeel free to leave any album recommendations in the comments!
Re-learn (and memorize!) Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor.PendingI’m happy to share that I’ve been playing a lot more piano recently, since I have more time to spare during the day. However, have not yet cracked open Rachmaninoff’s Prelude.
Travel to a city I’ve never been to.PendingI was supposed to go to San Antonio last week for work, which would have completed this to-do. We’ll see if I can still make this happen this year.
Take an overnight trip with Reggie (no kids!).PendingSame concerns as above.
Dine at a Michelin star restaurant.PendingSame concerns as above.
Visit Disneyland during Christmas.PendingGod, I hope that Disneyland reopens by Christmastime…!
Complete a 30-day plank challenge.PendingI’ll tackle this after I complete my Couch to 5K program.
Host a private movie screening.PendingHopefully movie theaters reopen by the end of this year…!
Complete my 2020 bullet journal — artistic spreads and all!In progress… And I am oh-so-proud of how my bullet journal looks so far! I’ll share some spreads on here in the coming months.

And that is my progress so far this year. I admit that I haven’t completed as many things as I had hoped to do by this point. But I’m going to give myself some grace and recognize that, within this past month alone, my whole life (and the world, in general) has been completely upended. We all deserve a bit of a reprieve and some allowance to adapt to this new normal.

Looking at the month ahead, I’m committing to a sense of positivity. I’m prioritizing my personal (physical, mental, and emotional) health, focusing on my marriage, and aiming to keep my children healthy and happy. If I maintain this focus, I know that — organically — I’ll make more progress on my goals.

To all of you, readers: hope you’re all staying safe and sane and healthy. If you’ve had any goals set for this year, please let me know how you’re doing, as well, and let me know how I can support you! I know that 2020 has seemed like a dumpster fire of a year so far. But we still have nine months ahead of us and opportunities to create something positive.

Bright Spots: Birthday Celebrations

Your special day was more subdued than I envisioned.

I suppose “subdued” is what I should have expected, though, in the midst of a global pandemic and a regional directive to shelter in place. There’s only so much you can do when restaurants are closed, nonessential traveling is discouraged, and gatherings of 10 or more people are essentially banned.

Truthfully, I had hoped to throw you a huge shindig. Not necessarily in terms of the guest list (because I know you prefer to keep things intimate). But definitely in terms of energy. A party full of laughter and beer and burgers and donuts and all the people that you like to have in your corner.

I’m saddened that I couldn’t give you that celebration this year, especially since this is a milestone one for you. Amidst all this craziness going on in the world, I recognize that my reaction is selfish, probably a little misplaced. After all, there are bigger things going on in the world, right?

But after yesterday, after our “subdued” birthday celebration at home, I would have to say: no, celebrating you on your day — just the five of us, with the empty takeout boxes piled on the counter, with Henri whining for crumbs or potentially a big bite, with the boys’ chubby faces lighting up to sing you “happy birthday” and devouring their pieces of cake and ice cream — is the biggest thing going on in the world for us right now.

So, happy birthday to you, love. Thank you for being you. Thank you for weathering this storm. Thank you for always thinking about what’s best for me and the boys. On your 30th birthday, I hope we were able to give you the best, too.

Birthday cheers with my favorite guys…

My Shelter-in-Place Creative Sprint: How I’m Creatively Dealing with COVID-19

Ah, what an interesting time we live in today…

With the current, constantly escalating situation with COVID-19, my little family and I (just like everyone else in the world) have felt the impact of the pandemic on our home life.

Professionally, my employer decided to temporarily shutter all of our global offices. So I’ve been working from home since last Monday, March 9th. I’ve had different business trips and projects either canceled or postponed until Q3 of the fiscal year – which means that (1) I’ve been tasked with identifying new, virtual ways of getting my job done and (2) a much busier August than I initially anticipated. Plus, I’m grappling with a general sense of uncertainty around how long this temporary remote work situation will last — and when I can expect to return to my work “normal.”

Personally, my home life has been disrupted. I find myself constantly reassessing how I spend my days (What structure can I put into place to make sure I get everything done? How can I make sure that I’m still taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally when my daily routines have been upended?). My little family and I are frequently realigning how we coexist within our three-bedroom apartment: how we can capitalize on spending more time with each other, how we can ensure that we carve out crucial times we need to be by ourselves, and how we can ensure that we’re still providing a sense of normalcy to our toddlers who, quite frankly, have no idea what’s going on.

Continue reading “My Shelter-in-Place Creative Sprint: How I’m Creatively Dealing with COVID-19”

Motherly Confessions: I Like to Be Away from My Kids

Harsh truth time: I’m a mom who likes being away from her kids.

I came to this realization when I was a little past the halfway point of my maternity leave after I had my second son Noah. I was one of the lucky few people in the U.S. whose employer offered a generous maternity leave (i.e. paid and longer than a few weeks): in all, I had roughly six months total of paid time off both to recover from childbirth and to bond with my newborn baby. And throughout that time, I had an opportunity to reflect on my motherhood style.

I undoubtedly cherished every minute of my leave (and, for the record, I would never exchange that time off for anything in the world, and I fundamentally believe that: one, this country needs to mandate paid parental leave for all types of parents, and two, we need to destigmatize parenthood, particularly pregnancy and motherhood, in the workplace… but I digress, as that is a topic of conversation for another, much meatier blog post). However, I realized during that time that I’m a better mom, a better wife, a better head of household, and, in truth, an all around better person when I spend some time away from my kids.

Continue reading “Motherly Confessions: I Like to Be Away from My Kids”

Happy New Year: 2020 Goals

Ah, here we are: at the start of a new year.

It’s funny: thanks to my favorite feature on my Day One Journal, my end-of-year journal entries automatically resurface through an “On This Day” recap, and I’ve had an opportunity to read through all my new year sentiments from the past six years or so.

There definitely were common themes.

I haven’t accomplished everything I’ve wanted to… but I will next year. I’m going to lose that weight. I’m going to get healthy. I’m going to write more blog posts. I’m going to be happy. I’m going to take care of myself.

Forgive me, but this blog post is also going to be filled with some of the same stuff… We’re creatures of habit after all, right?

Continue reading “Happy New Year: 2020 Goals”

Raising Two Boys: What I Hope to Teach My Sons

A little under two months ago, I gave birth to my second son.

It’s a funny thing because, while I’d always envisioned myself as a mother, I’d never thought that I’d be the mother of two boys. I guess I’d always assumed I’d have at least one daughter (not to say that isn’t an option in the future; I’m just not really thinking about another baby anytime soon).

As a modern-day woman — and one who had grown up in a household with a 2:1 female-to-male ratio —, the thought of raising a daughter always seemed a lot more straightforward. I knew from direct experience the lessons I wanted to impart on her, the gender expectations I wanted to sidestep.

But a son? Let alone two sons?

There is a lot more gray area for me to navigate — and a basic lack of understanding of the modern male experience. Raising boys always seemed like an intimidating task to me.

Thankfully, I have an amazing partner who’s had his own experience navigating harsh expectations of what it means to be a man. And he’s been so integral in helping us prioritize how we want to raise — and, ultimately, define some key lessons that we want to impart on — our boys.

My three guys.

So, here are our main hopes in raising two boys.

Continue reading “Raising Two Boys: What I Hope to Teach My Sons”

A Letter to My (Unborn) Second Child

Dear Baby Bean #2,

First off, I apologize if Mommy and Daddy seem a bit preoccupied. Days, weeks, and months pass by, and I realize that I haven’t so much as read you a book or sang you a song or gave you a gentle love tap through Mommy’s growing belly.

I assure you: it’s definitely not because there are more important things going on in our lives. And definitely not because we don’t think about you or have forgotten about you.

That’s the furthest thing from the truth.

It’s nearly impossible for the days, hours, minutes, seconds to pass by without you, Little Bean, entering my thoughts. Especially because you never let me not think about you, with your constant kicks and dances.

I’m so grateful for how much you move. Every movement helps me to learn about you a little bit more and more. 

I can tell you’re going to be a bit of a firecracker, which both warms my heart and terrifies me to no end.

Daddy and I would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge that you’re going to keep us on our toes. It’s an inevitability.

When I think about your pending arrival, I get nervous. Not because I’m scared to meet you. Not even because I don’t think that Daddy and I will know what to do (not that we’re professionals — I just know that when I meet you, I’ll be able to figure out what you need).

No, I think I’m nervous because I know that I will love you so much.

My heart has already been full.

With gratitude and joy and unconditional love for the life I’ve had over the past few years. For the people that I’ve been fortuitous enough to surround myself. Especially your daddy and your brother and your fur-brother, your aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins. There are so many people that I have given so much love to; it’s hard to imagine having the capacity to love anyone or anything else at this point.

But I know that’s what will happen: my seemingly already-filled heart will inevitably expand a bit more to accommodate how much love I’ll undoubtedly feel about you.

That much love is hard for me to comprehend.

So, I’m just writing to let you know that I’m anxious to meet you. I’m eager to meet you. I’m counting down the days, Little Bean (but also, selfishly, crossing my fingers that you’re cozy enough in my womb that you’ll wait those five more weeks until you’re “supposed to” make your grand entrance into this world).

We’ll see you soon. And we can’t wait to love you — with all our bodies, minds, and hearts.

Love,

Mama Bean

My Second Pregnancy Struggles

Disclaimer: this blog post is super ranty and whiny and does not, in any way, shape, or form, represent my feelings toward my soon-to-be-born second child.


I’m a little over 34 weeks into my second pregnancy, and all I have to say is this: it has been a huge struggle.

My sister, my doctor, my mother, my aunts, my co-workers — basically every woman I know who has experienced multiple pregnancies — have assured me: feeling this much physical discomfort and pain during my second pregnancy is completely normal. Which, I guess, is supposed to be a comforting sentiment.

But, admittedly, my increasingly disgruntled (and, therefore, increasingly pessimistic) self just can’t help but grumble: this sucks so much.

I’m sure I’ve shared this with you all before, but I’ll say it again: I’m honest with myself and know that I’m not one of those women who particularly enjoys being pregnant. Granted, I love my children, and I’m so thankful that this nine-month journey ends with a little being that I somehow simultaneously love so much and can’t seem to love enough… But the journey itself?

Yeah, I’m not a fan.

Continue reading “My Second Pregnancy Struggles”