Why Asian American Parents Should Watch Fresh Off The Boat With Their Kids

One thing I want to do as a mother is share my stories to my children. I hope these stories, like little faint flashes of light, help reveal who their mother is, and all the people and experiences that made me who I am today. Maybe that will help them get perspective in life and understand that many decisions, people, and circumstances make people who they are. My life has a good number of sweet uplifting Hallmark Channel worthy stories, about friends who cared, a family who loved, and mentors and teachers who took the time. But in that mixture racism like a stormy cloud, hoovered over my most formative years in the mid 90's. I always wondered how I would tell this story about this time period in my life.

Now I am a mother of three, living in Hawaii and I'm pretty sure they will not encounter racism the same way I did. I know they may have trouble relating to what I went through in the 90's growing up in an all white suburb in New Jersey, but I believe the stories themselves can have a life of their own once handed down and will mean something. My son is now almost 5 years old and at an age where I am starting to share some of my stories about how I grew up in small digestible fragments for a 5 year old. When he gets to be a bit older I also plan on sharing about my experiences with racism. As my family is beginning this important stage with my son, a very rare and momentous thing happened. For the first time in 20 years ABC aired a sitcom starring an Asian American family called Fresh Off The Boat based on Eddie Huang's memoir by the same name, a book I read and thoroughly enjoyed BTW.

The show takes place in the mid 90's around the same time I moved from New York, where there was some diversity, to an all white suburb in New Jersey and  experienced the same type of racism that is portrayed in the show based off of Eddie Huang's experiences in Orlando Florida.

(source)

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Watching Fresh Off The Boat's pilot was like someone taking me by the hand and bringing me down memory lane, being the only Asian kid at school, trying to find where I fit in in a place where no one looked like me, the scornful looks at lunch, being called a "chink." The thing that struck me was, as Asian Americans these experiences are a source of pain and angst, and the show does not make light of these experiences but at the same time, there's a humor and lightness to how the story is told. I realized, when my son is a bit older and I am ready to talk about this phase in my life, the show Fresh Off The Boat provides a perfect medium to start that conversation.

In the scene when Eddie, played by Hudson Yang, is called a "chink," I love how Eddie fights back. The next scene cuts to him sitting outside his principal's office as a result. He doesn't cower at the word "chink," like I often did as a kid. He doesn't let it change how he sees himself, the way I let it change the way I saw myself. I also think that is why the scene can be funny because yes, racial slurs happen, it's a fact of life, but it doesn't need to affect how you see yourself. When my son gets older and I start to talk about this time period in my life, since he is growing up in Hawaii, he may not have any experiences that link that word with the same emotions I felt when I heard it, but I would like his reference to be how it is portrayed in that scene with Eddie. Then I can share that it happened to me, and in life things like that will happen, but it was a journey to not let those words debilitate me just like my son shouldn't let racial slurs or put downs of any sort define him, as it is exemplified in Eddie. 

You see, the show provides a portal into my experiences in growing up in the 80's and 90's, which is important because my son's experience as a third generation Korean American growing up in Hawaii, is going to be completely different. This also goes for all subsequent generations of Asian American's. For each generation the experiences as a whole are going to differ from one generation to the next. My parents, for example, were a part of an immigration wave that the Korean's Immigration to the U.S.: History and Contemporary Trends Study (1) from Queens College  calls the Acceleration Period. Due to economic uncertainty and political unrest in Korea during this period from 1976-1990 each year between 30,000 to 35,000 Koreans immigrated to the United States. Many of the second generation that came during this Acceleration Period were either the only Asians  or were one among few where they lived, like me. Now the second generation from the Acceleration Period are having children of their own. Our children's stories are going to be different. We as their parents are of Korean decent but we are American, we were educated here, we have established a place in society, and we understand the culture. Our kids will not need to be the liaison to the outside world for us. Our children will not need to translate letters for us. They will not need to sit in parent teacher conferences with us in case we misunderstand something the teacher says. Also it is also much less likely that they are the only Asians where they live. They will not have to carry the same burdens we did. Their experience growing up in America will be markedly different from our own but that doesn't mean they shouldn't know what we went through as second generation Korean Americans. That is why the timing for Fresh Off The Boat is crucial in that, as the second generation of Korean Americans from the Acceleration Period are starting to have children of their own in growing numbers, the show provides a window into our story for them. Maybe in knowing what we went through, they see they are a part of a bigger picture, that others paved the way for them. Maybe it will get them to understand why we do things the way we do as second generation Korean American parents. Maybe they will learn when they face any sort of opposition or discrimination that they can rise up and not let what the world says define them. We can be honest that our origins and our story started from our parents being "fresh off the boat," a term coined from discrimination and racism, but we can be proud our stories. The show is evidence of how far we have come as Asian Americans in that we can subversively use that term to illustrate that racism, opposition and troubles we may have faced, never set the demarcations for who we are, rather only made us stronger, as told in Eddie's story and ours.

(1) Pyong Gap Min: Queens College and the Graduate Center of CUNY (2011) KOREANS’ IMMIGRATION TO THE U. S: HISTORY AND CONTEMPORARY TRENDS. Retrieved from: http://www.qc.cuny.edu/Academics/Centers/RCKC/Documents/Koreans%20Immigration%20to%20the%20US.pdf

Life With Three Kids... So Far

I have officially survived two weeks as a mother of 3. Our life seemed to be chaotic before, but now we are in full whirlwind mode. Either one of us is with the baby, or the other two kids. It's what my husband likes to call "playing zone defense". I'll yell out "I'm going to feed the baby!" or "Diaper change!" and my husband will say  "Going to take the other two outside!" and back and forth communicating who what where and when. And in many ways it is everything I expected with 3 kids under 5... but in some ways it's very different. Even though I'm tired, even though my body is unrecognizable, even though I'm still swollen and in some pain... I feel joy.

Pregnancy number 3 was the worst. I felt like I underwent 10 months of torment, emotionally and physically. I was excited that I was pregnant and I felt baby number 3 would certainly complete our family... then the last trimester hit and I was in pain all over. It was like my body was scolding me for having 3 kids. My back ached all the time, heart burn was no joke, and I kept getting sick. One time I was hospitalized for food poisoning. I was in such excruciating pain that my Dr. had to put me on morphine (that stuff is awesome BTW). With each hiccup my Dr. assured me that the baby was healthy and fine with a really strong steady heartbeat.

So there was the physical pain but there was so much going on inside of me emotionally. Each night I tossed around exhausted and uncomfortable from a full day of chasing around two kids, I couldn't help but think thoughts like "What have you done Joy? How are you going to raise another kid? You are so tired and spent now it'll only be worse." These thoughts plagued be daily. It was like there was a nay sayer hidden behind each of the pleats in my maternity dress. Thoughts that haunted me, that I carried around with me all day and night.

But now she's here. Our beautiful daughter is here. Yes it is one more child added, but her arrival has changed the dynamic in our house. My four year old son is now an "oldest brother" always looking after his two sisters. He loves to hold her and my heart swells up with pride as I see him take on his new role with such confidence. My daughter Kaitlyn who was previously the baby, is now an older sister and her greatest joy is coming into our room in the morning to see her sister. When the baby cries I quickly hear the pitter patter of her little feet running towards the room. Before she struggled to get a grip around our door knobs to open the door. Now she can open it in an instant because she feels her little sister needs her. If she feels her sister's blanket is too close to her face, she'll gently fix it to make sure she's comfortable. While I'm changing the baby she'll be next to me handing me the wipes. Now every time I look at Kaitlyn I feel that she's changed, she seems so much older now next to her sister, it's like she grew up to be a little girl and an older sister in a matter of two weeks.

When I became a mother I noticed there are two types of mamas, those that love the newborn phase and those that don't. Previously I belonged to the latter party. I always wanted to get past the newborn stage and get to the cute chubby interactive baby stage. Now, that this is most likely my last time around in the newborn phase, I've been soaking up each moment. At night when I feel her steady rhythmic breath  on my chest, it's as if the whole world is still and it's just the two of us. I love how her breath smells like berries. With each breath it's like every negative thought and doubt dissipates into thin air. Those ten months of burden are done and now the fruit of it all is right before me. Those thoughts are negligible vapor compared to the living breathing beauty that is before me. With this little bundle of joy came a slew of sleepless nights and the typical post-partum woes, but that pales into utter insignificance compared to how she has changed and completed our family.

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My Little Helper

My son is now 4 and 1/2. He's different now. I remember an unnie (older sister/friend) once told me, "4 is a different world." I was skeptical. I thought I would be spending the rest of my life managing one tantrum-meltdown after another. If it's your first time on Daechoong Mama, maybe a little preface is in order. Basically my son drove me crazy the last two years. He was an absolute dream before 2, but then his sister was born and it was game over. He started testing boundaries all the time. He became picky with his food (he still kinda is). He started HATING sleep and naps. If he didn't get his way it would lead to insufferable tantrums, often in public. But then he turned 4 in March and I started to see changes in him. Then, when the school year started in August, it's like a light switch turned on.

He started listening when we asked him to do things. He started understanding boundaries. When we told him simple instructions, he started to follow them, and not disobey just to drive us crazy. Also, he loves to help . He's taken ownership of his role as an older brother. He understands that because he's the oldest, it's his job to help. I remember reading in Babble or one of those hipster parenting blogs about "getting your toddler to help." I tried to get him to help me make a sandwich or something when he was 3, and it ended up being a whining-tantrum-filled fiasco, resulting in an inedible sandwich and piece of my soul dying.  "Hipster parenting blog, ruining my life!!" I thought, and I vowed never to let him help me with anything ever again. Then he turned 4 and having him help me is fulfilling, fun, and at times a God-send!

He started to help me cook. I noticed the Crock-Pot is great way to introduce kids to cooking. I don't have to stress about burns etc. I typically cut up the ingredients and he puts it in the Crock-Pot and will help me mix it. Afterwards he's so proud of the end result and will go on and on during dinner about how he made the food we are eating.

I noticed there are plenty of ways he can help, like pealing carrots.

When we make egg salad sandwiches for lunch he'll cut up the egg whites with a butter knife.

He's got a butter knife and he knows how to use it!

Another amazing thing is that he'll eat salad now!

When his sister finds kiddie siscors and decides to hack apart the silk flowers, it's big brother to the rescue... vainly picking up the pieces and trying to put it together.

Just before I took this picture he grabbed his sister before she ran into the ocean.

Gathering seashells for his sister.

After breakfast on Saturdays they'll have chocolate milk. Joey will grab one for him and his sister and put the straw in for her.

When we go to the mall and Kaitlyn runs around the stores, Joey will usually grab her just in time.

 Just 6 months earlier I used to dread taking him to the bank. He would run around the bank trying to get on top of the teller counter like he was about to perform a heist. Now while I'm at the bank Joey will sit with his sister and feed her snacks.

I took these pictures over the course of a few months. I noticed, each time he was able to help me cook, or help with his sister somehow, over time I soon expected it. Now I expect him to be helpful and be an extra pair of hands and eyes with watching his sister. I realize also, that the last two years are a blur. I remember while I was going through that time I felt like it would be forever.

I was recently backing up my hard drive and I went through some old videos of him. Some videos of him crying and whining, trying to piece his words together and get attention, he still had some baby fat in his cheeks. I strangely felt sad that it seemed like such a distant memory, almost like I was watching another child. I felt like I missed those times, even though they were filled with frustration and strife.  I couldn't help but think, "Is that how he looked? Did he really use talk like that? Did he really act like that?" I look back and I wonder did I handle that phase as best as I could? I remember losing my cool so many times. I remember it took every last drop of patience (and I have very little) to keep from shouting at the top of my lungs on a daily basis. Did he mellow out because we were always disciplining him or was all that unnecessary and all I needed to do was wait till maturity took over? I'll never know for sure. All I know is that although I love this new found chapter in seeing my son mature, seeing his distinct personality take form, seeing his love for learning, his love for his family, especially his sister, and his overall optimism that is so unique to childhood... the last phase is gone. Nothing I did can be undone.

I'm realizing motherhood is a train without stops or breaks and once you ride through one phase, if you don't take a close look around you, breathe in the air and enjoy the scenery and appreciate everything about it, before you know it, it's gone. Though there's always looking over the horizon to what the next phase has in store, it's a journey that's always looking forward. I need to keep that in mind with every new territory motherhood takes me, lest I pass through and not remember or appreciate where I was.



Banana Ice Cream

So I'm in my last trimester and my sweet tooth is no joke. I crave all things sweet. At the end of each meal I feel it is incomplete without dessert. Which is really not good for baby, I know. I'm actually amazed that I passed my glucose test, a real miracle if you ask me. So I found this recipe for banana ice cream and I know its been done over and over again. It's nothing new but I was majorly skeptical. "There's no way it'll taste anything like actual ice cream!" I thought. But I tried it and it does. It really tastes like ice cream. So all the sweet deliciousness without the major guilt.

I took some ripe bananas and I cut them up with a butter knife straight into a gallon ziploc bag. People suggested leaving them on a tray separated in the freezer but that's way too much work and I have no room in my freezer for all that. I just laid the ziploc bag down flat in the freezer so the pieces will be somewhat separated. I left it to freeze overnight and then had it ready for my lunch-dessert time (know there is no such thing as lunch-dessert but there is when I'm pregnant).

Frozen and ready to go! Then I stick them in my Ninja Chop, about 2 cups worth and add 1/4 cup of milk. I just kept adding bit by bit until the bananas were able to be blended. Careful, it's a fine line between banana milkshake and ice cream, so just add a little bit at a time.

Then I blended it until it was nice and smooth.

I had to stop and mix it a few times with a spatula. Then I added a couple drops of vanilla extract.

Creamy and ready to go. I had to take out the blades.

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Time to scoop out.

I then put a bit of chocolate syrup on it. Ok so not totally guilt free...

So I gobbled this up in 2 minutes. It was rich, creamy, sweet and it hit the spot. Warning! It only tastes like ice cream as long as it's not melted. Once it starts melting it tastes like liquified bananas. Gross! So you must eat it quickly. One time I added peanut butter to it and it was amazing too. You can also added walnuts or almonds, whatever you like. Either way you're fooling your body into eating wholesome fruit!

6 Reasons Why My Life is Like The Lord of The Rings

It's been an eventful few weeks in our house. I keep telling myself I need to write a post but when I think about how things have been, the only thing that really comes to mind right now is The Lord of The Rings and the amazing parallels..


1) Because most days I wake up looking and feeling like Gollum.

2) Because my daughter eats like a hobbit. Here's the daily hobbit meal schedule:


7:00am – Breakfast
9:00am – Second Breakfast
11:00am – Elevenses
1:00pm – Luncheon
4:00pm – Afternoon Tea
6:00pm – Dinner
8:00pm – Supper

So move everything up one hour and change that tea into orange juice and yep that's pretty much her schedule.

3) Pinterest and DIY mothers are like elves. They are other-worldly crafty creatures that make you all the more aware of your humanness. Pretty sure the rules of time and space do not apply to them. What I mean is... Can I be like you please??

4) Because I feel like my life is all about cleaning cheerios off the floor. The sight of it brings out a Sauron-like wrath in me!


5) Because everyday is like a daily trek to Mordor to get rid of or overcome the Ring, which is crayon marks and cheerios on the floor, toys scattered everywhere, a sink full of dishes, and a meal I need to prepare in 5 minutes lest my hobbit daughter has a Peregrin-Took-melt-down.

This is what my daughter looked like at 10am this morning...

My little hobbit eating egg whites and oranges... her second breakfast. She looks like she's ready to sing a verse.

6) Because at the end of the day the speech I say to myself is a lot like the speech Aragorn gives a the Black Gate (in the movie). His speech is a War Speech. My speech is an acceptance speech. So much of motherhood I feel like, is accepting the fact that things do not go the way you would like or according to plan but that's fine. Tomorrow is another day.

source http://cinetropolis.net/the-lord-of-the-rings-21-classic-moments/

His speech:
"Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship; but it is not this day! An hour of wolves, and shattered shields, when the Age of Men comes crashing down; but it is not this day! "

My speech

"Mother of Joey and Kaitlyn! I see in your eyes you are weary and you're sweating your heart out in this heat and humidity. A day may come when your house does not look like Gollums cave, when your furniture is not scribbled all over, when you make a dinner that everybody enjoys, and all the toys in the play room are organized, and everything you planned on getting done, is finished. An hour of rest and feeling accomplished, when everything doesn't seem like it's crashing down but it is not this day!!"….

There may come a day when things are easier and I'm not a harried mess but not today and that's ok….

 

Now unto Elvenses... I'm beginning to lose track...


Dear Andy

Dear Andy,

It is a cool quiet night here in Hawaii. The kids are asleep and I have a few moments of peace before I head to bed. As if your impression is carried on the slight breeze coming through the room, your memory is evoked randomly, as is usually the case. I've become used to your memory showing up in my thoughts unexpectedly over the years, little things seem to conjure them up now and then and often.

I'll be listening to an awesome worship song and I'll wonder what you would think of it. I remember while you were working in the city you had Tower Records on speed dial and they would deliver whatever new Christian Contemporary songs or worship CD that came out to your office. I remember you telling me you would be on the phone with them "What's new? Polka?? ....ok... Bring it in!" You said you did that because we, as poor youth group students, wouldn't have the means to buy a whole bunch and sift through the best ones, so you would do that for us. When you found an amazing album you were the first to tout it to all of us. Your services wouldn't be needed anymore in this day and age when I can hear a sampling of any song I want on iTunes but this act of love and many others are what, till this day, cements your memory in my heart.

The fact you would dedicate whatever free time to hang out with immature, ungrateful youth group students continues to impact me. You would drive us back to our homes, be available to chat or IM anytime we needed it, and you also would not shy away from giving us a good dose of truth in love when we needed it.

You've left an indelible impression on my life and on the lives of many others.

As my thoughts whirl around my head each day I never know when your memory will be stirred up like tonight. For the past 12 years its been like this. Funny though, when I remember you it's not what you did, how you sacrificed, how you loved us that comes to mind, it's the little things, like your laugh. I remember your laugh was so deep and loud it seem to bellow through the room. I can still hear it like it was yesterday. The depth of your laughter was almost indicative of your ability to make others laugh. Laughter pervades almost every memory I have of you. I remember always learning something from you. You knew everything from pop culture to sports, to theology and that you had the perfect tension of being in the world but not of it. I remember you leading praise and being ushered so close to the presence of God it's as if I could feel His breath on the back of my neck.

Interestingly, each year as I go through different life stages, your memories stay the same, but they reverberate differently as time goes on. I remember when I first started working full time and feeling absolutely spent, and then remembering how you worked full time but put in every effort for those around you and for ministry. So many times my fatigue and excuses become diminished and petty when I remember you. And so many times, even today, I find myself peeling off my bed, picking up a late phone call, putting in one more ounce of effort, because you taught me that effort, the interactions, and sacrifice mean something. Your memory reminds me that maybe my efforts could one day mean something to somebody the way your efforts and heart impacted my life and many others.

I don't know why it had to be you in the north tower on September 11, 2001. I don't know why someone that was capable of loving so much and giving so selflessly had to be taken from us that day, someone we all knew and loved as a brother. Maybe because your passions were too deep for the shallowness of this world, maybe because your laughter could not be held in a fleeting shadow (Job 8:9), and your ability to lead others in worship was fit... only for heaven. I look forward to the day we'll all worship together again.

 

Sincerely,

Joy

Really random picture of Andy at the BYG Retreat at the Streamside cafeteria circa 1996... I think.



Postpartum Drepression: My Story

Postpartum Depression is isolation, fear, loneliness, and sadness.

Now that I'm pregnant with our 3rd child I've been pondering upon my postpartum experiences with both my children. Since time has past, I'm able to look back and get a clearer picture of what I was going through. When I gave birth to my son in 2010 the subsequent months were a dark and lonely time in my memory. When I think about how I felt and the way I acted, it's almost like I'm looking at another person. The person I became is so unlike the person I normally am, I can't help but think, "Was I really like that? Was that really me?" what gives it away is the tight knot that forms in my stomach whenever I think about it.

The thing is, I thought I was prepared to be a mother. I read numerous books, watched a million YouTube videos on child birth and nursing. We had the nursery all ready to go and every baby product that was necessary. But nothing prepares you to be depressed. A few months before giving birth I remember reading about Postpartum Depression and talking to people about it. I remember people saying "Some women get so depressed they want to abandon or hurt their baby." It's funny how when we talk about Postpartum Depression or read about it, people always equate it with its most extreme dark form, when those cases are a miniscule percentage compared to the massive numbers of women who deeply love their baby but are depressed after giving birth. When we attach PPD with only its worst form, we don't talk about it for what it is. All we do is stigmatize the people suffering from it. Now I know, you can still love your baby more than life itself and try to be the best mom you can be, and still suffer from it. In reading its harrowing descriptions I quickly dismissed it thinking, "That will not be me."

But, I don't know if its a combination of being up all night when the rest of the world is sleeping, or being sleep deprived, or the hormone changes, or the stress and the burden of being a new mom, maybe it was all those things, but after my son was born I found myself deeply depressed.

I remember staying up at night clutching Joey and suddenly my heart would palpitate and I would get so scared. I thought I saw things and heard things, that (I know now) were not there. I remember crying hysterically for absolutely no reason. I remember listening to David Archuleta songs and crying thinking "He really understands! These songs are so deep!" I still have his songs on my iPhone and every time they play, I laugh at how ridiculous those thoughts were.  I remember watching 50 First Dates on Netflix one night, and weeping when Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore broke up. I remember every time I nursed my son I felt like every last drop of epinephrin or Oxycontin or whenever hormone makes you normal and happy, would get drained from my body. I tried looking up information on it, but couldn't find any information online about being depressed after nursing. I remember pinning after my old life, when I was free, and my husband and I had all the time to ourselves. I lamented the end of date nights and romance. I bemoaned the end of my youth. I felt the toxic cocktail of all the the above mixed with a deep sense of inadequacy as a mother. I remember my husband grabbing my shoulders and looking at me with eyes filled with concern and saying "It's going to be okay. I need you. Your son needs you. We need you." Tears fell down my cheeks. I heard him but I wasn't listening. I felt like I was drowning and he was calling after me. His words were inaudible as I was sinking deeper and deeper into sadness and despair. Everyday I thought "My life is over.." I mourned the end of my life as I knew it and had no picture of the immense and immeasurable joy that was to be mine, living the life of a mother.

PPD went on for a few months. I remember when my son was 1 and 1/2 months, waking up in the middle of the night because he was crying. I was grabbing his diaper while holding him, half awake, I glanced his way and he was looking at me and smiling for the first time, a full bright smile, brimming with love and innocence. I'll never forget that face. For the first time I sensed he knew me, he recognized me and was happy I was there for him. I felt like someone took a pickaxe and chipped a hole in the concrete emotional prison I was in. The first piercing beam of light that was my son's smile became the first of many. Day by day his smiles, his recognition in who I was was, his interactiveness, slowly chipped away at the depression. By his 100th day it was nothing but a distant memory and the indescribable joy of motherhood took over. I realized I can take him places! Everyday was like a play date with me and my chubby beautiful baby. I realized that I alone, as his mother, was given unlimited access in discovering his unique personality. I  got to experience the world through his eyes and nurture him each day and each day I fell more and more in love with him. I think about that time period when he was 3 months to 2 years old, and it was an absolute dream. I have nothing but happy memories of that time.

I look back and I realize at the time I didn't identify what I was going through. I just thought "Of course I'm sad, I'm sleep deprived!" I kept my struggles deeply hidden, not only from the outside world but also to myself. I couldn't be going through PPD, because I felt that would mean I don't love my baby, it would mean I was a bad mother. Now I know nothing was further from the truth.

I think about how, after I gave birth to my daughter, I didn't go through the same depression. The funny thing is my postpartum was much harder with Kaitlyn. It took longer for my body to recover, she didn't sleep through the night until 6 months as opposed to 2 months with Joey. Also nursing Joey was cake compared to Kaitlyn. Nursing Kaitlyn was an absolute horror show the details are not for the weak of heart or stomach so I'll spare you.

Was I tired? Yes. Was I in physical pain? Yes. Was I depressed? NO.

It could be because I was so preoccupied with my son's adjustment to the new baby, or maybe it's because I made more of an effort to be around people, but if I had to pin point it I'd say it's because I knew the prize was well worth the struggle.

I look back and I strongly believe there is a spiritual aspect to why women go through PPD. Why is it that when we as women are tasked with the most important job God has placed before us, that we feel the most scared, alone, and vulnerable? If you know of someone that just gave birth offer your support in the form of company, a hot meal, an encouraging word, but most importantly offer your prayers. Pray that she'll be reassured, strengthened, and protected.

Part of me wishes I knew back then what I know now. If I could go back I would say this to myself and to any new mother out there struggling:

It's hard and painful but that is not your fault. This time period, as stressful as it can be, is no indication of how amazing your life will be as a mother. Like the yellow brick road littered with jewels, motherhood will give you access to an indescribable experience, where the journey itself is a gift. You are not alone, do not be scared, you are a great mother, you are amazing, just take it one feeding and one sleepless night at a time.  Slowly you'll see the bright colors and the sparkling jewels in discovering how unique and amazing God created your baby. As Robert Frost says "The only way out is through." You will make it through, better, stronger, and in love.




Pregnancy Update: Lysteria Hysteria and Hurricanes

So I'd have to say this is the most eventual pregnancy so far. Pregnancy events that unfolded thus far:

First Trimester

I had terrible morning sickness. I'm 16 weeks now and in a couple weeks I go in for my ultrasound to find out the gender of the baby. If I had to bet on it, I would say it's a boy. The extent of the morning sickness was very similar to when I was pregnant with my son. I think morning sickness, like labor, is one of those things about child birth that God allows you to graciously forget like some sort of vague distant memory (lest the earth never populate) ...until you experience it again. Every morning I woke up feeling like "O there you are again my old enemy, morning sickness!!"

2nd Trimester so far..

Lysteria Poisoning:

So after the morning sickness was over with and I entered into the grand "golden" 2nd Trimester, I was so happy to not loath the smell of onions and garlic and get my appetite back. I remember going to Costco with my family to do some shopping and have dinner. The next morning I devoured one of the peaches we had bought at Costco. Then a couple hours later I felt terribly sick. I was throwing up, I felt dizzy and I had a fever. I couldn't hold anything down. It was a strange combination of food poisoning symptoms mixed with the flu. I kept trying to figure out what I had eaten that no one else had eaten... and I couldn't figure it out. I thought I must of had some bad gelato at Costco or something. Then a week later I had the same exact symptoms again. I couldn't digest food and I was feeling miserable. Then I get a voicemail on my cell phone from Costco. It was an automated message stating that the peaches we had bought were likely infected with Listeria. It really never occurred to me that the peaches I had been yummily consuming consistently for over a week, could be the cause of my symptoms. I looked up the symptoms for Listeria and it was exactly spot on. I called my doctor and at first he sounded blase about it.

He said "Well if your baby was infected, the fetus would have miscarried... so you should be ok."

"Ok... So I have nothing to worry about?"

"No you should be fine."

So I was relieved. Then the next day my Dr. called again and I heard panic in his voice. "I changed my mind you need to be treated for Listeria..."

So he put me on a round of antibiotics. I think it's because he got wind of all the news reports and realized this was really a big deal. Not long afterwards I saw he wrote a post on his blog about peaches and Listeria.

So I started on the medication but my body was still not at 100%. Sadly I have not had a single peach since the incident.

Hurricanes:

So almost immediately after I finished my meds and started feeling normal again Hawaii was on high alert over two hurricanes that were set to hit landfall on Oahu. The first hurricane, Iselle was set to hit Oahu on August 7. So earlier that week I had a tight knot in my stomach. I think I watched too many videos of Hurricane Iniki hitting Kauai in 1992.  We stocked up and filled every kimchi/ pickle jar with filtered water, which all had a slight kimchi flavor. I kept thinking I would wake up on Friday to see that the roof of our house blown off.

The whole thing blew over, literally. Hurricane Iselle quickly dispelled before it hit Oahu and Hurricane Julio, fortunately completely missed us. I am so glad that we were not without power or water as a result. Considering my daughter loves to put food in her hair and that I need to give my daughter a shower after every meal, the thought of going without water sent chills down my spine. As we were checking the news and seeing if the hurricane would hit, my daughter was doing her usual eating-all-day. I took some pics of her eating a bagel with cream cheese and turned them into hurricane memes.

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Since then I've realized that between my two kids and all the things to do each day this pregnancy is is completely devoid of any romanticized feelings. I remember when I was first pregnant with my son, I rubbed my belly all day, and at times listened to soothing classical music hoping that all the good feels would be making its way via osmosis. I took numerous baby bump selfies and  cherished each kick and flutter till the final day came. Now with baby number 3 I hardly even remember that I'm pregnant. Its kinda like "Baby number 3, I'll just see you when you're ready!" I've been feeling guilty about it. Hopefully I'll be just as ready and joyous when the final day does come, and now it won't be just me and Joe welcoming the bundle of joy, but a big brother and sister too. That's the last couple months so far, this pregnancy has been unsentimental but not uneventful!

The X Factor: Some Thoughts On Having 3 kids...

I'm now 15 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child. In some cases when I told people, they've raised their brows in a "Oh wow you are brave" type fashion. One waitress at a restaurant saw me with my two kids and asked me if I was pregnant. My immediate reaction (in my head) was "Great! I'm only 14 weeks and showing!!" When I told her that her observation was correct, she clapped her hands and gave me a big hug and said "I get so happy when I see women like you." Her congratulations was well received and I know she meant well, but that made me wonder "What does she mean women like me??"

This made me more aware of the fact that we as a society come to conclusions about people based on the number of kids they have. It made me wonder, "What if I had 4 or 5 kids? How much more would that be the case, if I'm getting reactions from just having 3?" Long gone are the days when you would pop out as many kids as possible, raise the first kid right and have each child raise each subsequent child (Today my daughter ran into the wall with a shopping bag over her head and my son just jumped off the couch b/c he thought he could fly...so they're not ready). Through this pregnancy at times I feel overwhelmed with anxiety.

My concerns can be boiled down to 3 categories.

1) Money

My husband is a pastor, I'm a stay at home mom. The unbelievably high cost of living in Hawaii for food/ gas/ household items etc, compounded by the fact that USA Today projected college tuition to be $44,000 per year for PUBLIC SCHOOLS by 2030 makes me think that we just might have to win the lottery to raise 3 kids.

2) Fatigue

I think about how tired I am stretching myself between two kids, I don't know how much more stretched I can be before I snap.

3) Feeling Insufficient

When I told my parents, they were happy for us but you could also tell there was clear concern for me. I could tell they were worried, considering they only had two kids (my brother and I) and yet had to work so hard to provide for us. I also think about my mom. She raised two kids and I know I don't have half the resolve, strength, and determination that she has.

All these thoughts and concerns plague me at times. If I were to count the reasons, the dollars, while looking at my own abilities and if I were to only see what I had in my hands...the odds are glaringly against me... but I'm reminded there's an X factor that throws out the whole equation and tips the scales.

FAITH

Ultimately I have to put my faith in God and His provision. I don't know how we'll make it through but my husband and I are 1 month away from celebrating our 6 year anniversary and if there's one thing that God has taught us the last 6 years is that he is always faithful in His provision. There have been times in our marriage where things were tight, spaghetti and peanut butter sandwiches were our main fare. There were times when there were things we needed but couldn't afford and He provided so graciously and abundantly, our doubt and worry was made petty and shameful.

Recently I had been wanting a new couch really really bad. The only "couch" we had was a 6 year old futon that has seen better days. It was uncomfortable to sit on and slowly becoming more like a bench than a futon. My dream couch was a La-Z-Boy full reclining sofa but I would have gladly settled for anything that didn't made my back kill every time I sat on it. A new couch would have been way too expensive so I did my Craigslist search but found nothing. Apparently there are a lot of people out there that think people will pay money to buy a couch that looks like it was shared with a family of raccoons. Then my friend texted me randomly acouple weeks ago asking if I wanted a couch. He sent me pictures and it seemed nice, clean and comfortable. My husband went to pick it up and lo and behold. It reclined! It was clean! It was a full size and sooo comfortable. I looked at the side lever and on it was the La-Z-Boy logo. It was the full reclining couch of my dreams, the one that I had wanted but lacked the faith to ask for.

The moment I saw it, I knew again God was telling me and reassuring me, that he provided in the past, provides today and will continue to provide for us  in the future. I know if faith weren't a factor I don't think I would want more than two kids. I think all my concerns would be overwhelming and I would need things to add up.  Faith allows me to get on board to start an adventure I wouldn't normally agree to and my only task is just to be faithful with what He has given me. In the many ways I lack as a mother and as a person I also need to have faith that God can come through in my weakness, that He'll provide a community and grace to fill up all the areas that I lack. How are things going to work out with 3 kids exactly? I don't know, but I feel all the assurance I need because of the X-Factor =)

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I've been terrible with taking pictures. All I have to show are my instagram pictures. Follow me @daechoongmama!