New Year, Who Dis?: My Commitments for 2019

Dear Readers,

Another year has come and gone, and I inadvertently abandoned this “beanbrain” blog about a quarter into 2018.

My apologies for that one. I hate making excuses as to why certain goals, especially my creative projects, fizzle out as the year progresses. But I’m just going to put my justifications out there. And you are welcome to pass judgment (or not).

  • Work became insane. I actually went through a pretty tumultuous professional year shortly after returning from maternity leave last January, which resulted in my moving into two different jobs throughout the course of the year. Both roles within the same company, both ultimately great moves for my long-term professional career — they just made my day-to-day schedule (and managing a blog) a little more challenging.
  • I found out I was pregnant again. Yup. I’m actually about 33 weeks along. I’ve been growing steadily larger and becoming more and more tired. And Reggie and I are just counting down the days until our little family grows a little bit bigger. So, of course, managing a second pregnancy and taking care of an increasingly rambunctious toddler leave little room to blog (and also made my fitness and weight loss goals pretty much nonexistent).

But…

It’s a new year. And I’ve committed to making 2019 my year of no excuses.

Continue reading “New Year, Who Dis?: My Commitments for 2019”

Mother’s Day 2018: A Quick Ode

It’s my first Mother’s Day. And while the weekend was both low-key and eventful (main highlights: a lot of downtime at home with my three best guys and an emergency visit from the paramedics when Tadashi* had an allergic reaction to formula), it’s also given me an opportunity to reflect on motherhood in general and, specifically, what that means within my life.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I want to recognize that who I am as a mother has only come to fruition because of a few notable individuals around me. So here are a few thank-you notes to a few important people in my life…

On my first Mother’s Day, I can’t help but feel extra grateful for everyone who has helped shape me as a mother — especially my baby boy.

To my mom…

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Getting a C-Section, Pt. 2: The Weirdest Delivery Imaginable

To all those people who’ve said that a C-section is “easy,” I have one thing to say in response: sure, I may not have pushed a baby out of my birth canal, but getting a C-section has undoubtedly been one of the most surreal and hardest experiences of my life.

People would ask me about my C-section, if I felt any pain, if I were conscious, how the surgery progressed and felt. And all I could say in response was: it felt sterile and all too medical.

But, before I talk about my operation, I think it’s important to share how I felt in the few days leading up to Tadashi’s birth…

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Bright Spots: Discovering the Ocean

This past Saturday, Reggie and I took Tadashi* on a day trip to Monterey and Carmel. Reggie had a beachside engagement shoot scheduled with a couple of clients that evening, so he asked if Tadashi and I wanted to spend some time together on the beach while he worked.

I happily obliged: I can never pass up an opportunity to walk barefoot in the sand.

When Reggie and I separated so he could get to work, I strapped Tadashi to my belly, took off my shoes and socks, and paced the shoreline as the sun slowly but surely dipped toward the horizon. I savored the coarse sand on my soles, the biting ocean water lapping over my toes, the cool breeze on my face.

Close to sunrise at Carmel Beach…

And, after much longer than I probably should have realized, something dawned on me: this is the very first time Tadashi has seen the ocean.

And I immediately shifted my focus from the distant horizon to my wide-eyed son. And I smiled at the pure wonder and curiosity on his face. “That’s the ocean,” I told Tadashi. I explained to him that this was the home of all the creatures we saw earlier at the aquarium. I pointed out the waves, coming and going in a steady rhythm; the kelp scattered around the shoreline; the seagulls gliding overhead.

But, mostly, I tried my best to simply observe him. How, as I walked along the shore, he turned his head from side to side in order to keep a close eye on the water. How he kicked his feet in joy as dogs raced past us in the sand. How he craned his neck and reached his chubby little fingers toward the trees above us. How he blinked rapidly and stuck his tongue out at the ocean breeze, maybe to feel the wind on his tongue, maybe to taste the salty air.

This is the first time Tadashi has seen the ocean, I realized. And I am so grateful that I am with him right now.

Because, in the midst of all the chaos of first-time parenthood, I sometimes forget that I have the privilege of witnessing a little human being experience the world for the first time. And that is an awe-inspiring thing.

Getting a C-Section, Pt. 1: Breech Babies and My First Feelings of Failure as a New Mom

“Still breech,” my OB-GYN exclaimed, as she glided the ultrasound probe over my belly.

It’s been two weeks since my standard 32-week prenatal checkup, where — in addition to analyzing my urine, asking about my exercise and diet, and addressing any concerns about the quickly approaching birth — my doctor checked the baby’s position. If the baby were head down, then he’d be in perfect position for childbirth. If not, then we would have to make some decisions.

During that appointment, after rubbing my rapidly growing belly with ultrasound gel, my doctor also proclaimed that my baby was in breech (feet down, head up, and an unsafe position for a vaginal birth). We had some time to explore next steps at that point, so my doctor reviewed some options.

Continue reading “Getting a C-Section, Pt. 1: Breech Babies and My First Feelings of Failure as a New Mom”

Getting a C-Section, Prologue: #CesareanAwarenessMonth

I woke up last Thursday morning to an Instagram direct message from my mom: an illustration of a woman cradling a newborn and sporting a slightly crescent-shaped scar across her lower belly. April is Cesarean Awareness Month, the message read.

As her daughter who delivered via cesarean section over half a year ago, my mom obviously wanted to send me a little acknowledgment and a little love.

And that message warmed my heart.

Firstly, because I didn’t even know Cesarean Awareness Month was a thing — and I thought that was freakin’ awesome. And, secondly, because cesarean sections (more commonly known as C-sections) are traumatic medical procedures that are fairly common yet still frighteningly misunderstood. And the women who undergo them — who have to endure ignorance, misconceptions, and judgment, in addition to lengthy recovery periods — need some acknowledgment and some love every once in a while.

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On Finding a Rhythm (or, Rather, NOT Finding a Rhythm)

I apologize for being MIA for the past couple of months. Once Tadashi got sick with the flu, Reggie and I, unfortunately, couldn’t get back into a life rhythm. So, understandably, my writing fell by the wayside.

And that’s what I want to focus on in today’s blog post: that struggle for new parents to find a rhythm. More specifically, a rhythm for self-care and self-love.

I wrote on my 28th birthday that taking time for myself and for my (physical, emotional, and mental) well-being was one of my top priorities this year. And that still stands. It’s just been so difficult for a multitude of reasons:

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Dealing with a Sick Baby

Tadashi* hit an unfortunate milestone this week: his first sickness. More specifically, his first bout of the flu. Which has made for a very tumultuous past few days in the C.B. household.

Looking back, it’s simultaneously funny and miraculous how we even discovered he was sick: it was because our DVR malfunctioned. For whatever reason, my recording of Sunday’s post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us” was botched. And, because I couldn’t bear to go to sleep and wake up to spoilers all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I re-activated my Hulu account and waited until midnight for the new episode to pop up on the streaming service.

And thank God that happened. Because, while waiting to watch the new episode, I realized that my sleeping baby was sleeping a lot longer than usual and was making an odd whistling sound while snoozing.

So, for whatever reason, Reggie and I decided to take Tadashi’s temperature. And lo and behold — he had a 104º fever.

That led to a bit of whirlwind night, filled with long phone wait-times with the Kaiser Advice Nurse, panicked conversations with my mom and my sister, and mini arguments about whether or not we should give Tadashi Tylenol, whether or not we should undress him some more, whether or not we should bring him to the emergency room…

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On the Anxiety of Leaving My Kid for the First Time (and How Much I’ve Grown Since Then)

All right, I did it.

I not only survived my first week back at work post-maternity leave but I also somehow managed to get through the days without a single tear.

True, it was a short week: I purposely asked that my return date be a Thursday to ensure as easy of a transition as possible. And, while I was physically present, I honestly can’t say that my mind was operating the way that it should have been — speaking coherently in a business meeting is proving to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated…

But I’m cutting myself some slack. And I’m outwardly admitting: Yes, I’m human, and I’ve spent the past nearly six months of my life operating in a way that’s drastically different from working in an office environment, so this transition is probably going to be a bit challenging.

And, thankfully, I’m surrounded by so many work colleagues that not only hear what I’m saying but are also supportive.

So, on this Sunday evening, I’m not feeling as horrible as you think I would be — and that lack of dread has made me reflect on the first time I left Tadashi…

He was a few weeks old. It was a hot summer day in Dublin, Reggie and I were both on maternity leave, and I was deep in the throes of a particularly bad bout of baby blues. My older sister had recently moved to the apartment complex across the street, and she (and the rest of my family) knew that I was going through a tough time, mentally and emotionally. I had not left Tadashi’s side at all since coming home from the hospital.

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Returning to Work, or Why I Had an Impromptu Cry Fest in the Middle of My Kitchen

It’s here.

After almost five and a half months of maternity leave, I’m finally returning to work. I knew that this day was going to be filled with a bunch of emotions — but, despite everyone’s warnings, I couldn’t have anticipated how intensely those emotions would hit me.

Honestly, there’s a part of me that’s eager and excited to return to work. That’s the part that suffered major cabin fever while on leave and yearned for some type of routine other than nursing my baby around the clock. The part that’s looking forward to conversing with other adults about things other than cradle cap care and feeding schedules. The part that can’t wait to see my work friends and be back in the city and work on something for me, for once.

Don’t get me wrong: I recognize how lucky I’ve been to stay with my baby for as long as I have. Nearly half a year of parental leave is a rarity in the U.S. And, bottom line, I would never exchange the opportunity I had to bond with Tadashi* for anything else in the world. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey, but I know that Reggie, Tadashi, Henri, and I are all a little happier because I spent this time at home.

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Enjoying breakfast at The Press on my last day of maternity leave

But I also know me. And I know that I would’ve always wanted something for myself in addition to being the best mother possible for my boy. Which is why going back to work always felt like an inevitability to me.

With that in mind, I woke up yesterday morning feeling a little anxious but mostly determined. I resolved to use my last day of maternity leave to spend some quality time with my little family (Reggie’s back on paternity leave for a month as I transition back to work) and to prepare for my first full workday. We grabbed breakfast together at a little cafe in Pleasanton and ran some last-minute errands.

Continue reading “Returning to Work, or Why I Had an Impromptu Cry Fest in the Middle of My Kitchen”