Friday, April 22, 2011


 On Friday, April 15, 2011, at almost 2pm, my life changed forever. At that exact time, as I sat in front of my faithful laptop, tapping away at the keys while listening to my iPod and celebrating that my MIL had finally left my house for the day, my water broke. The word "broke" is actually a bit of an understatement. It erupted. I stopped typing and sat very still, trying to decide what to do next. I was quite sure I hadn't just peed in my pants but then again, pregnancy does strange things to a girl. So, I decide to stand up and go check this out in the bathroom. As I do, my poor pants are suddenly flooded with warm wetness and it is entirely too much to be mistaken for urine. My heart begins pounding in my chest and I realize this is that moment Xiaolong and I have been planning for and waiting for this whole entire time. I attempt to sop up the mess while dialing his number. He's happy to hear my voice, thinking I'm just calling to say hello but I quickly interrupt him with an urgent plea:
"Honey, come home NOW. My water just broke."

He's as stunned as I am. "Really? Oh my God. Ok. DON'T MOVE!" I love how he says it too, like I'm going anywhere alone when I am streaming rivers of warm liquid. "I'm on my way!"

When he got here, it seemed like we were two chickens with our heads cut off, running about back and forth, trying to figure out if we had everything and if we needed anything else. Finally we get out the building and down the stairs. I am even more grateful he is with me as we had to walk all the way to the next major street (not a bad walk but 5 minutes which is a lifetime when your water just broke) in order to find a taxi.

At the hospital, they cart me off to our own hospital room in a wheelchair. That part was kind of fun. But then, all the annoying tests started. You learn quickly not to be embarrassed about random people looking at your lady parts. Even though they are trained doctors and nurses, it's still a bit humiliating. After some checking, I was not yet dilated and now we had to monitor the baby. Meanwhile, my husbands well-meaning but annoying parents showed up. His mom is trying to get me to eat and at this point, I've started having contractions. I don't want her in the room. I don't want ANYONE in the room with me EXCEPT my husband. He shoos her away, allowing me to keep my dignity for a shred longer.

The pain starts to come in as the contractions get closer together but I'm not dilated enough for them to administer the epidural just yet. So I must suffer with this pain but at least I've got a wonderful husband who is kind enough to rub my back the whole time. Night comes and I'm told we'll likely deliver in the morning. I'm also told to try to get some rest. Oh suuuuuure. No problem. It only feels like I'm being split in half. That's easy to sleep through for sure. Ugh. By 6am, they determine we're ready for the epidural and I cry (and puke) with relief. I'm carted off to the labor room.

But my relief is only temporary. My epidural doesn't take. It works for maybe 45 minutes, just dulling the pain and then suddenly, my pain becomes horribly unbearable. That's when they tell me the baby has turned around inside me and we need to try to turn it back. Oh good. Of course! So, they make me lay in certain positions but all of it spells pure hell with these contractions. Each one worse than the last and so close together I am in constant pain at this point. I have now been in labor for nearly 24 hours and there is a decision to make. And since my husband is now in tears because he cannot stand to watch me suffer in pain like this for another moment, we made the decision. Emergency c-section.

Off I'm carted into the operating room. I feel like a large fish getting ready to be filleted as they transfer me to an operating table. They tie me down and start to prep me for surgery. Everything feels weird and I am so cold. They administer some sort of pain medicine and keep asking me if I feel it when they poke me. Yes. Yes. Yes. How about here? Yes, I feel that too. And then suddenly, I feel awfully funny. As the mask comes over my nose the room spins out and I'm gone but I'm still there. I know what's happening, but I'm totally tripping. I feel like I'm bubbling over and I can't control it but I like it. My random trip continues and I can soon hear the baby crying. And somewhere I think I hear my husband telling me I did it and it's a girl, she's beautiful and he loves me. And then, I fade out again. It is April 16, 2011 at 11:28am.

I come to in our room. My in-laws are there fussing over a bundle of blankets I can only assume is my baby. My husband is standing by my side lovingly and the doctors are checking my vital signs and monitoring my heart, commenting that all seems to be normal and has gone very well. A nurse takes my baby to me and puts her to my breast to start her feeding. I become quite afraid inside. I have to take care of this little person from now on. Me! I focus through the haze of the drugs and look at her and my fear just disappears. I'm weak so I can't hold her myself but I long to. My husband tells everyone the name we had chosen for a girl, which we kept secret until the birth: Raelynn Sharon Qu. She's named for 3 very special women in my life. My mother, Rae, who passed away when I was a little girl; my stepmother, Sherry Lynn, who came into my life when I was a teenager and no matter how difficult I was, loved me and was there for me (and still IS there for me too); and for Pixie, whose real name is Sharon. She was my mom's best friend and long after Mom was gone, Pixie has always looked after my brother Phillip and me.

Our boy name was really cool too, and someday we hope to be able to use it. For now, our little Raelynn is our world and we're just beyond overjoyed to finally be home with her. We were in the hospital for 5 days. In China, your family members empty your catheter bag and you have to bring your own diapers and towels and shit like that. It's rather absurd. By the afternoon of my third day there, I was made to attempt walking around the room, with my husband of course. And then forced to pee without the catheter. I have to admit, after 9 months of getting up every hour to pee (sometimes more than once an hour) it was so nice not to have to do that. But I had to get back to being my usual self. So began these little trials. Unfortunately, my husband's boss needed him for some projects so he had to go off during the day. Which delighted MIL of course because in their culture, it's her duty to come care for me and the baby. If she doesn't do it, the neighbors will gossip, so I am told. I'm not making this up either. They truly believe this and she thinks she'd die of shame if she didn't fulfill this duty.

Indeed, she was trying to help but she kept getting on my nerves. Being trapped in a room that small with her was more painful than when Raelynn turned the wrong way inside me, believe me. But the story of how she's been annoying me from the hospital and beyond is for another time. And it's a good one. But Raelynn needs her mommy right now and I'm praying to God it's not another explosive poop bomb that she fired away, somehow launching it out the side of the diaper legs, right onto her monkey-patterned onesie and on through to the big baby blanket my parents bought her. She's worth it though. I look at her and I see my husband's sweet face. He says she looks like me. We both can agree that we are completely smitten with her though and it seems that while we were very close and in love before all this, the bond Xiaolong and I share is even more incredible and strong. I never imagined someone could ever change my life so much. Thank you, Honey, for making my life an amazing one.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Goodbye Sanity. Hello MIL.

There goes my idea of a peaceful day.

Despite being horribly tired as I’m about to enter week 38 of pregnancy, I forced myself to clean the house from top to bottom. I know my days are numbered before the baby comes and I just want everything to be as clean and orderly as it can be. That said, I expect anyone that enters this home, my husband included, to pick up after themselves and to keep up my standards of clean. It’s not easy to clean like this anymore but I do it anyway. It makes me feel in control of something since I cannot control when the baby will come out. It also makes feel better when I know everything is truly clean. Plus, it’s pretty good exercise. 

I spent 2 hours after breakfast washing dishes, vacuuming, dusting, mopping and putting things into their rightful places in every room of our home. I also made sure to clean the baby’s room again which I don’t do every single day but if I go into labor tomorrow, I know that room will be nice and clean. I was actually contemplating a nap at 11am. I need all the rest I can get at this point and I tend to listen to my body when I feel tired. 

Suddenly, I hear knocking at the door, then unlocking, then entry. And I cringe and groan. It’s her. My MIL. My husband had promised me she’d only come twice a week. She’s already been here twice this week. I do not wish to look at her. When I texted my husband about this, he said he told her to come and that it’s good for her. Um, hello? Did he hit his fucking head? I’m the one who is about to give birth to your first child. It should only matter what is good for ME AND THE BABY. Not your mom, who fucked up my pristine, sparkling tile floors with her muddy fucking shoes as soon as she entered. I pointed this out to her and she starts apologizing. She grabs the mop and when she’s done, there are STILL footprints on my damned floor. What the hell is wrong with her? Let’s even give her the benefit of the doubt…maybe she can’t see so well anymore. Even with that, you’d still not be able to miss the mess. It wasn’t like she left a small spot of dirt on the floor. SHE LEFT ENTIRE FOOTPRINTS! 

I wish I could just go somewhere and not have to deal with her today. Want to invade my clean house? FINE. I’m out of here! But I can’t. I will be 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow, and to wander around a city like this alone at this stage of pregnancy is a pretty stupid idea. I could take the bus or a taxi but then what would I do when I get where I’m going? I have to pee so often, I might as well just stay in our bathroom. Everyone I know here is at work so it’s not like I’d even have good company. My husband thinks his mother coming over will help me to not be lonely but it makes me even more lonely having some boring old lady coming into my house, messing up my things and making things that smell like farts in my kitchen. 

She should be the one that leaves. I shut our little stupid 70’s privacy curtain to show her I am in no mood to deal with her today. I wish she’d take the fucking hint. I don’t want to go into labor with her here. I would so much rather be alone and have to deal with everything myself than to have her pestering me while I’m having contractions. The thought of this makes me downright stabby. I was much happier when I thought I’d get to enjoy my day to myself. I could be napping right now! Then, I could have woken up after my rest and ate lunch from the savory dinner leftovers that I made last night (fabulous baked chicken breasts stuffed with tomato slices, mozzarella cheese and rosemary, which my husband had declared were “Excellent” between mouthfuls). Watched some old Simpsons episodes or even a cheesy American movie from my DVD collection. All this is ruined. Well, perhaps I could still watch my DVDs but I’m just too angry now. I don’t understand why she just won’t fuck off and why my husband seems to have fallen into a spell of amnesia regarding my wishes for some privacy before the baby comes and I never, ever get to sleep again. But hey, it’s good for HER to come over and annoy the living shit out of a ready-to-pop pregnant woman who just wants to be left alone and watch movies in her own native language of English and not exhaust herself further trying to talk to someone who is as exciting as drying paint in a language that will take her more than just 6 months to master. SERENITY NOW!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another Idiotic Idea From My MIL

 Mom does not always know best, as my husband well knows. While I try to tolerate my MIL and can laugh at the many strange things she does, there is one other thing that I refuse to let her do in my house. And that is to tell my husband what to do with our family. 

As I’ve mentioned, my in-laws are not very smart people. They’re very kind and generous people, but not at all educated. This isn’t their fault. It’s something they didn’t choose. The government here forced them to give up their education after middle school to go into the working world. Luckily for both of them, they eventually wound up with good factory jobs. They saved every penny and used the money to send their only son, my husband, to college. My husband is the only person in his whole entire extended family to ever attend and graduate college. He graduated with a 4.0. After college, he still wanted more out of life and decided to leave China to study abroad in Korea. When I met him in Seoul, he was about to graduate from graduate school, where he also earned another 4.0 GPA. Yes, his parents might not be smart but he is incredibly bright and a relentlessly hard worker.

The friction on this subject started several months ago when my husband had gotten a job here in China but he didn’t like it so he left it in pursuit of something better. I’ve never once feared my husband couldn’t support the baby and me, though I did tell him to be careful with changing jobs so much. I didn’t want it to reflect poorly on him. Whenever he has changed jobs, I have never once doubted his capabilities and have proudly stood by my man. And I’ve been rewarded with a husband who has given me everything I could ask for and who puts my needs before his own.

My MIL seems to lack faith in her son.  She yelled at him and told him she didn’t know why she’d wasted her money sending him off to school. Then, in the same breath, she went on to suggest he should go drive a taxi or become a furniture mover. When Xiaolong translated this to me, I became quite livid. I then told him to tell her that no husband of mine would take such remedial jobs that he is overqualified to do. If she had a problem with this, SHE could go drive a taxi or move someone’s furniture.  That was the end of that, and then just days later, my husband had another new job. One that required him to use the skills she sent him to school to learn, which paid quite a lot more than what a taxi driver and furniture mover make…combined.

My husband wound up changing jobs a couple more times since then and has now found one that pays him well, plus is quite flexible, although we feel his boss might be a bit shady and is possibly cheating on his lovely wife with his secretary. A secretary who sends email instructions to other employees in languages that they don’t speak, knowing that these employees don’t understand it (but this is a story for another time).  Xiaolong also gets to work from home rather often which is nice in that we can have lunch together and that he can keep an eye on me when we are so close to going into labor. Yesterday, my MIL showed up and when my husband returned from repairing our printer, she nagged him about going to work for a factory. A factory. Taking a factory job here is something people do when they have no education whatsoever. Like his parents. It seemed a rather absurd and stupid thing of her to even suggest when he’s got a job that pays well over factory salary, not to mention one that allows him to work remotely. This would be like my father spending all that money sending my brother Phillip and I off to college, and then while we’re working decent jobs in our fields of study, telling us we should really go take that job at McDonald’s. 

Xiaolong knows better of course, and he’s learned a lot from his American wife. He smiled politely at his mother and told her plain and simple, no. She’s ultimately worried about her return on her investment in him. But sending him to take a factory job would just fuck us all up in the end. By working a job like he has now, he’ll develop the skills he needs to work internationally. And he’ll make way more money in the long run. Money that we can use to make sure his parents are well taken care of long after we move away. But I’ll keep her idea in mind when it’s time for her to go to an old folks’ home. One more suggestion like this and you can be sure I’ll send her to the glue factory instead.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ancient Artifacts Discovered In My Home!

Once upon a time, people long ago didn’t have the luxury of going to the store to get food or the tools necessary to prepare that food. Museums around the world amaze us with their displays of primitive items that those who lived way back when made themselves to help make their lives easier. When you see these things, you can’t help but be impressed, as well as relieved that you and I can walk into just about any store in today’s modern world and buy the things we need.  

So, what ARE these tools in the picture above? The first razors ever developed? Why, it’s two very archaic vegetable peelers.  And this wasn’t on display at some museum. Oh no. I discovered these rusting relics in MY kitchen. Yes, my MIL has actually been using this shit to peel fruit and vegetables when she cooks in our home. These corroded fucking things! We have a real, modern vegetable peeler that is not rusting away and works beautifully. She had no idea how to use our rust-proof one. Um, the same way you use your primitive peeler? Dear Lord! It honestly looks like something my FIL might have fashioned out of metal scraps while they lived in the countryside many years ago, before China really began to develop.

Thankfully, these prehistoric pieces have now been removed from my kitchen, presumably to the nearest museum!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Stupid Stick

Now presenting the newest member of our family…the stupid stick!  Oh, and you thought we were going to announce the baby! Ha! Not just yet!

We call it the stupid stick because the Korean name for the product is very similar to the Korean word for “stupid” which is pronounced “babo” or “pabo” depending on who you ask. We took to calling it the stupid stick.My husband and I totally had to have this thing when we saw it on one of the Chinese home shopping channels. We were completely mesmerized by the infomercial. He could of course understand every word. As for me, I was just captivated by the demonstrations. Knowing that time will fly after the baby arrives and we’d soon be introducing solids, we figured this would be a wise investment. And really, it truly is, though it took some trials to figure out what we were doing.

I let my husband be in charge of the experiments here. The directions and accompanying complimentary cookbook are all in Chinese so I have to learn how to use it from what my husband tells me to do. We ripped into the packaging and laid out all the accessories. Then my husband lovingly declared he was going to make me juice. We had some tangerines on hand and he grabbed a bunch of them. I should have known this would end badly as we normally devour all tangerines upon entry to our home. But these he’d bought the other day were not at all sweet. In fact, they were downright bitter. Still, maybe they’d make a better juice. My husband peeled about 5 of them and shoved them into the mixing cup. Then he thrust the stupid stick at them and ground them into one thick and pulpy mess, which you can see from the following photos.

He is such a total ham!

And now, for a close-up of the contents:

The tangerines are now being pulverized...

That doesn't look too tasty though, does it?

And now, for a taste of this fruity goodness...

My personal favorite is this one right here, after the first taste:
Priceless! The face says it all! Total juice fail! My poor husband!

Over the rest of the weekend, Xiaolong experimented some more. He made tomato juice which was a bit thick but very good. Apple juice, which was more like apple sauce but still, the taste was good. Some sweet spicy Korean meat dish from the recipe in the book that came with this appliance. And a yellow bean soup, also from the complimentary cookbook. By Sunday night, my husband was working it like a pro.  And ever since, we’ve been enjoying the fruits of our labor, mostly in the form of fresh juice.