Little pockets of heaven

One of the things I learned last year was to put importance on self-care. It’s what helps me produce a strong enough patronus to keep those pesky dementors at bay.

When you’re on a living wage, with a growing family AND aiming to be a home owner soon, the reality of living in America makes it difficult to find the time for self-care. IF your idea of self-care is going out of the house by yourself for a few hours to do whatever it is that you want to do JUST.FOR.YOU.

There were weekends when I’d plan a self-care trip – go for a short drive to Starbucks, buy coffee (or green tea latte), and just sit on one of the bar stools and read a book or crochet. Some weekends go according to plan. But on those particular weekends when things spin out of control at home, I instantly feel myself spiralling out of control, going further and deeper, until I find myself plagued by anxiety and depression. 

The fact that I’m now 32 weeks pregnant and no longer able to fit in the driver seat comfortably makes this πŸ‘† idea of self-care impossible to do. One day, I realized that my idea of self-care suddenly became another weekly goal that was no longer applicable, something that would set me up for failure week after week!

Ironic, isn’t it?? 

I had to reshape my way of thinking in terms of self-care. What was my goal on weekend self-care trips? 

To be ALONE.

So, one Saturday, I found myself asking my husband for a few minutes of time alone in the bath with my new body scrub. No knocking on the bathroom door to ask me questions, no toddler screaming for me.

And it was THE BEST THIRTY MINUTES I COULD ASK FOR.

It was a far cry from a quick drive by myself, but it was a much-needed 30 minutes of alone time to gather myself in one full sweep and come out rejuvenated and, well, literally fresh to conquer another day.

With a second baby coming soon, little pockets of heaven, like this time alone in the bath, is the self-care I know I’ll need.

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Mental health

April 7, 2017 – After more than a year of sessions with a psychologist, I “graduated” from psychotherapy. 

Yes, before my little girl turned one, I finally admitted to needing help and sought it. I never thought I would need it. I was too proud. And it didn’t help that there’s this stigma on mental health concerns.

I don’t talk about it, but I am very glad I took that first step of admitting I needed professional help. It was the best decision I made for myself.

During my sessions, my therapist helped me navigate my inner thoughts/voice using the method called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Basically, it’s a mental tool that helps me sort through all the thoughts that go through my mind in the speed of light. It helps me slow down and pinpoint what triggers the thoughts/ideas that I am not good enough to be my daughter’s mother and/or husband’s wife, which, in turn, helps me rationalize in my own mind that I AM good enough.

The therapy sessions, and also the constant practice I did on my own, helped me figure out where this idea of not being good enough and where this need to be the perfect mother and wife came from. It was primarily cultural – that as wife and mother I NEED to make dinner no matter what; I NEED to be the one taking care of my kids; I NEED to serve the family; I NEED to keep the house clean and organized, because the appearance of the house (and everything else) reflects on the mother/wife.

Yeah, in an ideal world – or at least in a house where parents are able to afford to pay for househelp – that’s doable.

But those standards I set for myself based on what my culture dictates are not attainable in our current set up. It’s just not. And if these standards are so high, I’m setting myself up for failure. 

Every. Single. Day.

And so my therapy revolved around changing my mindset on being a mother and wife. Even though I graduated from the therapy sessions in April 2017, I’m still dealing with the constant nagging in the back of my mind. As what my therapist reminded me – self-care and mindfulness exercise is something I need to do on a daily basis. No matter what. It’s something I learned in Oct 2016, when I thought I was fully cured and found myself spiralling out of control again.

This is the first time I ever put my mental health struggles out in the open. Why am I doing it now? I want women, especially new mothers, to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Help is available when you need it. You can get help. And it is OKAY to need help. 

I wish you all the best as you navigate your way through those murky thoughts. I pray that you will find the best help for you. 

Two Write Love On Her Arms has great resources – https://twloha.com/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available on the web https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or on the phone 1-800-273-8255.

If you live in NYC, the city has a mental health hotline 1-888-NYC-WELL (692-9355), and a text line – Send WELL to 65173. They are also available on the web https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/en/

And, like physical emergencies/danger, you may call 911 for immediate assistance on mental health concerns/issues.

When playtime becomes my mirror

One day, I found our daughter playing with her dolls – Cherry (the panda dressed in cherry blossoms robe), Kiko (the monkey), Bunny (obviously a rabbit lol!), and Sweetpea (the other panda holding a heart, which was my gift to her papa when we were still in a long distance relationship).

She arranged her friends in one line, seated next to one another on the sofa. Then she took one of her cups and let them drink water. I could hear her sternly say “sit!” and “dink!” (translation: drink).

And just like that, Isla’s playtime became an opportunity for some self-reflection. I know I’m just trying to discipline Isla, especially during mealtimes, but I don’t want to sound that strict, the way Isla was to her friends at playtime.

Finding that balance is really difficult. There are SO MANY parenting books available for me (I’ve read a couple of the gentle parenting books of L.R. Knost). In the end, it all comes down to how I want to parent my child, what fits our dynamics and my child’s personality. I know there’s no one-size-fits-all concept for parenting. Along the way, I’m hoping to find the balance to being a parent and my daughter’s friend.

Here’s to hoping!

And here’s to more playtimes that become a mirror to my parenting ways.

The worst is over!

I’m not pregnant anymore, and I feel relieved. I’m no longer carrying a blighted ovum (aka an empty pregnancy sac). I thought expelling a blighted ovum would be like getting my period, only more cramping and more bleeding. I didn’t expect to:

1) Cry and writhe in pain from cramps that come and go every 6-10minutes, as if I’m in labor.

2) Feel sore, as if I intentionally pushed something out (I didn’t. My body just expelled the thing by itself with every “contraction”).

3) Feel light-headed from dehydration after (maybe) 2hrs of intense bleeding. (I ate a banana and finished 1L water after the 2-hr ordeal).

4) See the actual semi-solid 3-month contents of my uterus which, by the way, won’t fit in a huge coffee cup/cereal bowl because it will overflow! (Yes, gross – the reality of miscarriages!)

5) To feel weak the next day. And, with the best of luck, still feel cramps! (But thank God it’s no longer as intense as the night before)

I want to say that the worst is over. I believe the entire contents were expelled. As of this writing, I’m no longer bleeding as intensely as Tuesday night. But I do know I have to see my doctor to make sure I don’t need surgery. Hopefully I won’t need it.

I’m pregnant! (Technically)

By all accounts, I’m pregnant. But I’m carrying a blighted ovum.

What does it mean?

It means the sac inside my womb has no embryo. No fetus. No baby.

Strange, huh? But according to my doctor, it’s not an unusual occurrence.

I’ve been carrying an empty sac for 3 months now. So, technically, I’m 3 months pregnant. But Ed and I know that (literally) nothing alive will come out of my pregnancy. My body will get rid of it naturally. And, based on the frequency of abdominal cramps I’m having, it will happen soon. It’s just going to be like getting my period, only heavier and may be more uncomfortable because of the cramps.

It’s easier to talk about it now that last month. And, for some reason, when I found out that what I’m carrying has a name, it was easier to fully accept. I don’t know why.

I’ve been trying to get back to my usual physical activities. There’s no treadmill at home, but there’s a Gazelle. I ride it for about an hour while watching a Korean drama (Descendants of the Sun). Being active helps me feel like myself, and the Kdrama is a welcome distraction from the cramping and the knowledge that I’m carrying a blighted ovum.

I’m really hoping it comes out soon. The sooner it’s gone, the better for my psyche.

Falling in love with stars

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Source: IMDb

Have you heard of and watched the Korean drama “Goblin”?

If you haven’t, look it up and watch it. You wont regret it, trust me! (I watched it with English subs)

But I’m not here to write a commentary about the drama.

I’m here to write about how I’ve fallen in love with the actors Gong Yoo and Kim Go-eun.

Yes, I’ve fallen in love with movie stars after a long long time.

Gong Yoo. Where do I even begin. Let me just say that I didn’t find him attractive enough, not until I watched the second or third episode of Goblin.Β The same goes for Kim Go-eun. It took me a while to see how beautiful she is. Her beauty has a simplicity to it that draws you in slowly, especially when she smiles and wrinkles her nose at the same time. And when you’re in, you can never turn the other way.

See, I don’t know Gong Yoo and Kim Go-eun (I don’t follow news about Korean stars), so it’s easy enough for me to associate the actors with the characters they portrayed. And I think that’s when trouble begins.

For example – I haven’t seen “Train To Busan” or “A Muse”. Someone who has, but hasn’t seen Goblin, may have a different perception of Gong Yoo and Kim Go-eun in their minds.

Another example – When news comes out that the actors did something “out of character” in real life. Some would react violently, scream their disappointments (cry?) Who says it was “out of character”? What was that judgement based on? Is it based on how they personally know these people? Or maybe on how they perceived them based on the characters they portrayed?

Like that one time when Kim Go-eun posted a selfie in Instagram, where she wasn’t wearing any make-up (I think she was lying on a hammock then, while on vacation). Β She received a lot of flak for it, from comments about how very unlike an actor she looked to how ugly she was.

Come on, people! These actors are normal human beings who happen to work in front of the camera for a living! (For the record, Kim Go-eun is beautiful, with or without makeup.)

But that’s not the crazy part. The crazy part is how we (yes, including myself) let our minds keep thinking that Gong Yoo = Kim Shin and Kim Go-eun = Ji Eun Tak. (Or whatever character). It IS difficult to separate the actor from the character he/she portrays, but at some point we draw the line.

I try my best to do just that when I realized I fell in love with stars again. I know that by drawing that line, I will be able to love their work more, rather than just how they look. I’ve already started making a list of Gong Yoo’s and Kim Go-eun’s shows/movies. Yes, I plan to watch them all.

But after my rescreening of Goblin. I’m not ready to let go of Kim Shin and Ji Eun Tak just yet.

HAHA! β™‘

Sexist and you don’t know it

You’ve heard of how sexism is prevalent in our society, but it’s different when you experience or hear it firsthand. Other people are intentionally sexist, but I think it’s sadder when someone doesn’t even realize he or she is being a sexist. I think that goes to show how sexism is deeply ingrained in us.

Sample scenario: While talking about a future sibling for Isla, someone says he hopes it’s a boy so that he can learn (insert sport involving a ball, like basketball or tennis).

My immediate reaction: Hey, Isla can learn that, too.

Well. It’s true! Whatever she wants to learn, she can. She’s a human being with a functioning brain and, as far as I can tell, a strong physique. She can certainly learn anything she puts her mind and heart into, and she can excel in them.

I admit, I’m guilty of sexism at times, too. And I beat myself up when I catch myself stereotyping women or men. But I do hope that our daughter (and our other kids in the future) understand that their gender will never define what they can do.