3.16.2013

Baby arriving soon. No more college-style?

The baby is now 37 weeks, which means he can arrive at any time now. Sometimes I put my hand on Jameelah’s stomach and can feel him moving around, a feeling that is both exhilarating and emotional and also very creepy. It’s like that one movie where the alien bursts out of that woman’s stomach, but instead of an alien, just replace it with one of the Care Bears. Maybe Funshine Bear.

For the past few months, we have been getting ready for this little critter. We sat through a three-hour class on breastfeeding, which detailed the horrors or nursing. For example, there is such thing as “inverted nipples.” Plus, if not regularly released, mammary glands become impacted and rock hard, resulting in horrible pain in both the mother as well as any partner who decides at that unfortunate moment to say something like, “Wow, I’m glad men don’t have to do that; I’m going to go watch Iron Chef now.”

We have also been dealing with well-meaning relatives, many of whom grew up and birthed babies in a much different era, thus they are not always up to date on the latest practices. My older sister, for example, is horrified that we are giving birth in water (Since it’s Seattle, it’ll be organic, gluten-free artisanal water poured in small batches). Of course, she grew up in Vietnam, and we certainly do not do that.

Jameelah’s grandmother, meanwhile, is also concerned. Nanna is a wonderful person who now has four grandkids, all mixed. This will be her first great-grandchild. She’s been concerned that Jameelah is turning “too Vietnamese” and our baby might be too. When told that we would be having the birth in water, she asked if that’s the customary practice in Vietnam. That’s hilarious. If I weren’t so fond of Nanna, I’d tell her that all the children are born that way in Vietnam. We take the mother to the ocean, where the baby arrives into the world and immediately swims to catch its first fish, which we use to make a symbolic fish sauce. When people live too far from the ocean, they just give birth in a tub, but they add lemongrass and star anise to the water for that delicious pho aroma.

As the days count down, I’ve been experiencing mixed emotions. Definitely strongest is this excitement about meeting the baby for the first time and holding him and singing him to sleep with a soothing lullaby rendition of "No Diggity". I also start to realize that my life will be changed forever, and that the days of doing things college-style are numbered. No more clubbing. No more inviting friends over at 11 pm to watch a movie. No more staying up to 4 am playing video games while eating Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, which are like crunchy morsels of happiness. It is bittersweet, knowing that I am getting older and that the things that make me happy may change. I must become more responsible now, since it is no longer just my life that I must look out for. I must become a better person.

But then I think, Oh helllllll no, as much as I love this baby and will do what’s best for him, I am not going to give up on everything that I love for his sake. What sort of message will that teach him, that once you’re a parent, your life is over? The key is balance. I’ve started lining up babysitters so that Jameelah and I can still go out from time to time. Friends can still come over; we’ll just need to move our booze to a higher location. We will find family-friendly bars. We are not going to be parents whose lives revolve around their kids, chauffeuring them around to karate and soccer games. We will provide love, lots of it, but I am not giving up my favorite TV shows.

I know, I am not a father yet, so I have little experience in how babies change people’s lives. But still, this kid is my son, and I have a responsibility as his father to teach him what I think is important for his happiness. “Huy Jr.,” I would say, “there is much awfulness in this world, but also so much joy and kindness and humor. Even when you have your own kid, give up on some, but never all, of the things that make you happy…Now, Nanna is coming to pick you up for the weekend, so go rub some lemongrass on your face.”

7 comments:

  1. Actually it's the other way around. You kick your friends out :X cos they can't respect Baby and her lifestyle. At least, that's what I did. We are still villains for this among our former friends. And don't worry, you will be up at 4am regardless so you may as well play videogames. I played and finished Final Fantasy Tactics and Pokemon during breastfeeding. Meanwhile, my husband advanced 30 levels on World of Warcraft. I remember cos I got real mad at him for it. Hormones, ykno?

    Best wishes to you three!

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    1. Dude, I love Final Fantasy Tactics! I've beaten it three times now. Thanks for giving me hope, jnguyen.

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  2. Lol..this is a cool story,

    I was thinking about the part where you was talking about Jameelahs grandmother.

    I was thinking about both my grandmothers.Both of them we're women from an era where mixed marriages wasn't considered cool in the day . My late maternal grandmother didn't approve of mixed marriages,while my maternal grandmother is like "You can marry out,but I won't" and respect their choices.

    Far as mixed kids, oddly they were all good with them..and they should be as you're about to understand why.I have all sorts of mixed race people on both sides of the spectrum.While they didnt/don't approve of mixed marriages, they had no problems with the kids.

    My parent have no problems with mixed unions though my mom always thought that I should date at least one Black man before my time is up .Not that I haven't dated/ married one (engaged/date two of them).Far as kids, it may/may not be a big deal to her...idk..but I'm like
    this: I like who I like. I simply wouldn't want to marry or have kids with a guy because of who he is but rather what he just happens to be. Jameelahs grandma may be old school.Some may see it as finishing the bloodline or in some extreme cases, see it as a symbol of full blackness not being seen as being good enough but I don't see it that way.

    I've often wondered about doing natural childbirth weighing in on how much better/not better it may be. I don't know if I could deal with the pain,but once the head is about to come out, the pain goes down. I admit, I'm with your sister on the water part. I wouldn't rather see my kid being birthed and washed than for the baby to be birthed under water.That scares me.

    Don't think that just because you and Jameelah have kids that it will be the end of the good times for the both of you. Oh no! You can still do it,but like food you have to do it in moderation. I have had friends to do this,but they didn't forget about their parental priorities. You definitely don't want to live your lives in the house. Not only will become too lax being in there, but your kid may become attached there as well.

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    1. Thanks for all the great advice and perspective, M. I notice also that parents who have challenges accepting their kids' mixed relationships can be very loving with the grandkids. Maybe it's evolutionary; we're programmed to love anyone who shares our DNA.

      Good point. We'll be sure to take the baby out of the house.

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  3. Balance is essential. That's the key to keeping a marriage together post-baby. Once you stop being lovers and friends and are only concerned with the kids, things get bad. Relatives who want to give the baby time and attention are like gold! Just don't do like I did and submit a 20 page printout of how to care for the baby. My tips included a lengthy tutorial on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and admonitions not to let the baby play with knives or poisons. Lol!

    Congrats to you both. I hope the birth is speedy and not too painful.

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    1. Thanks, joyful. Hilarious about the 20-page printout. Jameelah and I have to talk about under what conditions we will allow another person to hold the baby: "They have to be sitting down, can't smell like smoke, and Mercury cannot be in retrograde..."

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  4. f I weren’t so fond of Nanna, I’d tell her that all the children are born that way in Vietnam. We take the mother to the ocean, where the baby arrives into the world and immediately swims to catch its first fish, which we use to make a symbolic fish sauce.

    *dead*

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