Babies are Hard on a Body

Prior to having children, the only times I severely injured myself were when I tried to impress the boy I liked at the moment. I broke my arm my senior year in high school because I thought it’d be cool to jump up from my stairs and hang onto my second floor balcony only to fall unceremoniously onto the ground and break my right arm. He was not impressed. I did get a pity kiss on my wrist though, which had swollen to the size of a tennis ball.

My sophomore year at UCLA, I broke my foot because I thought I could jump over a couch but instead I slipped and broke my foot. I tried to brush it off by doing a series of cartwheels immediately after. This guy was a little worried, but when he saw that I was doing cartwheels, assumed I was ok. I knew I broke my foot because my body reacted the same way it did after I broke my arm. Total nausea and a dull, throbbing pain.

I have yet to break a bone in front of Hapa Papa. Whether that means I don’t try to impress him or I don’t really like him, only time will tell.

HOWEVER. Since I’ve had children, my body has become a wreck. So much so that Hapa Papa constantly asks me why my body is so broken. My fellow mommy friends. Am I the only one?

Here then, is a list of my maladies since birthing Cookie Monster:

1) General incontinence. I know this isn’t that rare, but I either have to brace myself or wear a pad when I have a bad cold because all that coughing and sneezing? PEE EVERYWHERE. One time, Cookie Monster saw me put on a pad and he asked what it was. I told him it was a small diaper. He looked at me and shook his head sadly, saying, “Too big, Mama. You’re too big.”

I know, son. I know. It makes me sad, too.

My friend tells me to do my Kegels but I feel like a dirty old man when I do them. She says she does them all the time. At traffic stops. Brushing her teeth. Doing random stuff around the house. She doesn’t leak pee when she laughs. But still, I can’t bring myself to do it.

2) Dislocated patella. One day, I was kneeling down to wipe Cookie Monster’s butt while he was on the potty. Next minute, I was sitting on the ground, screaming in pain, holding my knee. Thankfully, my knee cap popped back in, but it popped back out again later that day. The doctor recommended I not kneel so much. (TWSS!) That was a bit difficult while potty training a toddler and lugging around an infant Gamera.

3) Stress fracture in foot. Right before we were going to head down to Disneyland last year for Cookie Monster’s birthday, my right foot wouldn’t stop hurting. I finally went in and a stress fracture showed up on the X-ray. The doctor said I most likely got it from having back to back pregnancies and breastfeeding since my bones seemed super thin. I had to go back and check to see if it was the foot I broke in college. It wasn’t. Same bone, though.

Too bad I had given away my moon boot so I had to buy another one. 😦 Who would’ve thought I’d need it again?

Then, earlier this year, my foot was hurting again. After a day or two in the moon boot, it got better, but GEEZ.

4) Two pulled muscles in my right rotator cuff. My latest injury. My right shoulder started hurting a few weeks ago and finally, one day, I raised my shoulder and it made a painful click and the pain was gone (momentarily). I think my shoulder had been slightly out of joint for the better part of two weeks. Since then, it’s slipped in and out and has limited my range of motion. The doctor said I pulled two of the muscles in my rotator cuff and now I have to take two Aleve twice a day for a month and do physical therapy 3x a week for a month. If that doesn’t make it better, they may have to consider other options. She said I most likely got it from lifting my kids or sleeping on it wrong.

WTH, body? It’s not like I can stop lifting my children. Nor can I stop sleeping.

I’m not including the pain I had for 18 months at my Cesarean section scar or the fact that I have to roll up my boobs like pantyhose in order to get them to fit into my bra. Nor am I including my stretch marks (at least the ones I can see) or the general poochiness of my belly from being stretched out three times. I consider those to be facts of life and pregnancy and I wouldn’t trade my children for the body I used to have.

Not that I would trade a single child to not pee in my pants, either. But you know, sometimes, dry underwear can sound incredibly appealing after a long day.

It’s funny how you think your body should just work and not break down but hey, entropy! It is surreal. It’s not like I’m a pitcher throwing 100+mph fastballs. I’m just doing stuff that I think my body should be able to do on a regular basis. I’m young. In reasonable shape. (I call it lumpy. It’s a valid shape!!) Please tell me I am not an anomaly!

Also, if I keep getting injured and have to have parts replaced, am I eventually going to become the Bionic Woman? That might be worth it.


Creating the Family I Always Wanted

I can remember the exact moment when I decided I wanted four kids. Up until that moment, I had always assumed I’d have two kids, a girl then a boy, about four years apart. (Funny how that is exactly the order in my family. What can I say? I lack imagination.)

It was June 2006 and I was in Taiwan for a family friend’s wedding. I was at my Second Aunt’s house, which was at the end of a cul-de-sac and directly across the street from my First Aunt’s house. A bunch of my cousins happened to be home and just between us cousins, we were already a small gang. (I have twelve cousins on my mother’s side and only two much younger cousins (like a whole generation younger) on my father’s side.) We were going out to see Superman Returns and I realized we had about six people going – and it was all family.

I suddenly had a pang of such sadness. Because I grew up in CA and they grew up in Taiwan, I missed out on so many family activities. I’d only seen my maternal grandparents less than ten times in my entire life. I felt as if a huge, integral part of my life had been stolen from me and I realized that my family had been so alone and lonely.

My paternal cousins were in Texas and I think I saw them twice in my life at that point. Plus, they were babies at the time. Not really that exciting. My paternal uncle visited us only twice that I remember (all before 1989) because he and my father had a falling out. My paternal grandparents, although they were with us a lot when I was younger, also stopped visiting and stayed in Texas. I rarely visited them.

Basically, the only family I had in CA was my maternal grand-aunt, my mother, and myself. My brother was on the East Coast and my dad was who-knows-where in China. I felt adrift and cut off from my family – no real knowledge of either side’s history and stories.

Right then and there, I knew I wanted four kids. That way, even if all our family was in another state or country, they would at least have each other. They would be an automatic party of four wherever they chose to go together. It would be beautiful and they would love each other and never fight and live down the street from one another. Plus, at least one out of the four kids would take care of me in my old age, right? RIGHT?!

Anyhow, I know in reality, there will be hardships due to a large family (least of which is affording all of these children and their activities, etc.) but I KNOW it will be worth it. I see my family as a way to redeem all the lousy suffering I went through as a child in a broken home with a violent and inconstant father. Thank God Hapa Papa is in no way violent, always faithful, and a wonderful father.

Now obviously, creating a family is more than just birthing lots of babies. (If only it were that easy!) I try VERY hard to make sure that even though our family is spread out all over the world, that we make connections anyway.

Since Hapa Papa’s family is in LA, we try to take a big week long trip to LA every year so his brother and sister can see the kids. We fly up my mother-in-law at least once every 2-3 months so she can get to know the children – which is a big deal since she can sometimes be a recluse. (They LOVE her. She always brings the BEST toys.)

Even though my brother is in DC, we have promised to see each other at least twice a year. They’ll fly out here once and we’ll fly out there once. Of course, there are tons of pictures and videos flying back and forth in the wireless phone ether. My kids LOVE my nephew and talk about him all the time.

My grand-aunt comes over to help babysit when I have doctor appointments and is present at parties and family events. And of course, there is my mother who comes over almost every weekday to play with the kids. She is the most constant person in their lives other than Hapa Papa and I.

As for my paternal cousins, they adore the kiddos from pictures on Facebook and have been so vital in re-connecting our families with their unbridled love and enthusiasm. And speaking of Facebook, that has connected us more to Hapa Papa’s family in Hawaii as well. We even have found out that his cousin lives in SF so we get to see them every now and then, too!

Finally, because the majority of my maternal family is in Taiwan, I am attempting to visit Taiwan every two years or so – or at least, every time I have a new baby. My grandfather is still alive – and I very much want him to meet the kids more than once. He’s in great health, but you never know.

This is all just a rambling way to say that it’s not so much having the babies that is important to me – it is the closer family feeling that I’m trying to capture. I know not all families are close and happy like they show on TV and Hallmark ads, but if I can get my family to look a little more like this happy fiction, then I will have done my job.

I want my kids to feel connected to people other than themselves in this world. That there is a whole web of people they are related to – and that anywhere they go, they have that net to fall back into. Now, I just need to see if there’s a way to connect to Hapa Papa’s family from Ohio. 😀

What about you? How do you go about creating a close family?