AFSP Out of the Darkness Manhattan Walk – 2021

After the 2020 pandemic year when the AFSP Out of the Darkness Manhattan walk was cancelled (well, it was “virtual”), AFSP restarted their OOTD walks this year, and the Manhattan one was located again at Pier 16 downtown. I actually raised more money this year than I did last year, which I wasn’t sure about since this is the eighth year I’ve done this, and sometimes people get donation fatigue, but this year I did decently well. The walk had a pretty good turnout for the crowd, larger than I had imagined, but it was less involved: they ran out of t-shirts by the time I arrived, so they said they’d be mailing me one. A lot of the previous booths that were set up weren’t there this time. No snacks or drinks were provided, either, but I didn’t really miss that anyway. It’s always one of those sad but empowering events every year for me. It’s sad to see how many people have lost loved ones from all walks of life at these events, but it’s at the same time inspiring to see people who actually care and want to make a difference for people suffering today and in the future.

It’s been eight years since I lost Ed. Every year that passes, I get farther and farther away from remembering what he was like, what his voice sounded like, what his being was about. But I still try hard to remember. This event seemed different for me personally though, because at this event, little Pookie Bear came along, too, snuggled up inside my womb. This year, she walked for her uncle’s honor and memory. And next year, I hope she will be able to come, too, in her stroller that her dad will push, to continue Uncle Ed’s legacy in her life.

28-week appointment

I had my 28-week OB appointment today, so I decided, as with pretty much every other visit, to walk across the park, which usually takes me somewhere between 40-50 minutes depending on how hot it is outside and how tired I feel. Today, almost as soon as I entered Central Park, I could feel a weird pressure on my bladder. It wasn’t like I needed to pee right away, but it was obvious that at some point in the following hour, I would need to pee.

When I got to the appointment, I did my usual routine of peeing into a cup (see, that pee comes in handy!) so they can check all my usual levels of things like protein, blood sugar, iron), then had a chat and a quick ultrasound scan with my doctor. I told my doctor that I always need to pee now, even more so than before, and she showed me the baby’s position: the baby is currently head down, but her head was resting directly on top of my bladder, which was creating all that pressure and need to pee.

That little twat, I thought to myself. This baby is getting so comfortable in my uterus that she has no idea what discomfort she is causing her mama. Regardless, I am just feeling thankful that she seems to look and sound okay. Her heart rate is on track, and she’s now weighing approximately 2 pounds, 10 ounces. She’s got a lot more growing to do before she comes out, so I will relish these moments of pressure on my bladder and her random kicks that make me breathe heavier.

Baby hand-me-downs and re-gifts

I’m currently in the process of creating a baby registry, as I’ve been told by many people that regardless of the situation, people are going to want to give me and my baby gifts, so I might as well make it easier for them by curating things I actually want. The last thing I want to be doing postpartum is going to stores and returning things, or going to the post office to mail back returns for refunds/store credit. As I’ve started this process, I’ve also been grateful for some of the things others are willing to regift or hand me down that their babies have outgrown. I have zero problem stretching the use out of an item as long as it’s in decent condition, even though my mother immediately scoffed at anything that was even worn once or used at all (“it needs to be new! You don’t know how dirty it could be!”).

One friend has offered to give me her bassinet that her baby is currently using since her baby has almost outgrown it already. My cousin has offered to give me a brand-new, still sealed play mat since he was gifted two more than he actually needed. There are also buy-nothing and mom groups in Manhattan where moms are eager to pay it forward by giving away lightly used clothes or other toys.

2nd and potentially last Costco trip this year

Our usual cadence of going to Costco is about once per quarter since I started using my dad’s membership, but given our move last month, it didn’t really make sense to go in June or July of this year, so we decided to wait until this month. Chris decided to rent a Zip Car and take us to the Edison, New Jersey, location, which is obviously a very heavily Indian area, which means that the local Costco would cater to its local clientele. And that it surely did: walking through the aisles, you could see the South Asian influence with multiple varieties of 10-20 lb. pack lentils, different types of basmati rices, instant dal, paneer, and even a decent selection of Indian teas.

We weren’t sure if we’d be coming back to Costco again this year, especially with my due date in December (who knows how mobile I will be come November, as if all goes well, I will likely be waddling around and unable to be of much help with anything!), so we stocked up on a lot of things we probably wouldn’t normally get as much of. Instead of getting one 6-pack of Harmless Harvest coconut water, we picked up two. I got a large bottle of avocado oil even though I’m only half-way through my current one. We also stocked up quite a bit on chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, and fish, which will likely be more than enough to carry us through the beginning of 2022 (and, which has definitely made our freezer space quite snug and full!).

We also noticed that baby wipes and diapers were on mega sale, so Chris insisted we buy these. Even though I’m already into week 23 of pregnancy, I still feel a bit uneasy about buying things so far ahead of baby’s arrival, but I figured… I can’t live my life in fear, and I have to remind myself that to date, everything has gone well, so we need to start “nesting” and preparing for the little one’s arrival. So that took up a LOT of cart space for us, too.

It was probably our fullest Costco shopping cart yet. Although we did pick up a huge bottle of avo oil for a friend, it was also our biggest Costco spend to date, at just over $500. And of course, we ended the Costco visit with a 100% berry smoothie.

Baby prep choices: there are way too many.

 Today, I woke up at my parents’ house and looked out the window. Another dreary, disgustingly grey day in the Richmond District here in San Francisco greeted me outside. If I had to wake up to this every single day as my place of residence, I would likely get seasonal depression and have to seek treatment… or, just MOVE. Not seeing the sun or blue skies every single day is so depressing, especially in a time of year that is supposed to be summer.

Yesterday, when I arrived back in the Richmond District, while it was sunny and warm downtown, it was more overcast as the car drove further out into the Richmond. The temperature drop was notable, but it was still a comfortable 66 degrees once I got out here. When I got into the house, my mom complained about how hot it was. “It’s so hot and humid here!” she cried. “I can barely take it!”

I had no idea what she was complaining about. If she thinks 66 F is hot, she seriously is so out of touch with reality that her comment warranted zero response.

I met up with two of my best friends today, and to defrost, we went down to the South Bay and had Singaporean food at a restaurant with outdoor seating in Palo Alto. It felt so good to wear a light dress without a jacket and walk around without my teeth chattering. It also felt good to be away from the negativity of my family.

After lunch, we spent some time chatting and bantering at a nearby park, then went window shopping at the Stanford Shopping Center. One of my friends has an 8-month old at home, and so she was showing me all kinds of potential things to pick out for my baby: strollers, car seats, bedding, mattresses, cribs, bassinets. She was trying to be helpful, and while it was good to be able to see and touch these things in person while also getting advice from someone who actually has experience with this stuff, I could feel my head spinning. Why does picking out baby stuff have to be so complicated, I thought to myself. Why can’t someone else do all this for me? While we generally believe that having choices is the best, sometimes, there are just SO many choices to make, especially in the baby department, that the entire process becomes so exhausting. When our other friend suggested going into shops to look at purses and accessories, I could feel immediate relief. There’s no stress looking at handbags or earrings, especially when compared to picking out the right stroller or crib for your baby to ensure optimal safety.

Goodbye to a matriarch

This afternoon, we received the sad news that Chris’s paternal grandma had passed away at age 92. Last year, she celebrated her 91st birthday, and about 20 years of living independently on her own in the house she once shared with her husband, who died in 2000 from cancer. Shortly after that, she suffered a fall at home and decided the time had finally come to move out of this home and into an aging care facility. She seemed to have been in good spirits about it all, and from photos we’d seen, she looked to be in relatively good health. But in the last couple of days, she had been hospitalized for a high fluid build-up, shortness of breath, and extreme fatigue. Her heart has a leaky valve, and so the doctors said she needed hospital care. Despite her fluid levels decreasing and her breathing becoming more easy, she didn’t make it. And after requesting a shower, she peacefully passed away on a chair in there, with the nurses finding her.

It is sad that this global pandemic prevented us from seeing her last year. It’s sad that she wasn’t able to see a lot of her loved ones as often as she would’ve liked last year due to COVID-19. Chris always said that each time he saw Nana, he feared it may be the last time he’d ever see her. And in December 2019, it really was the last time we’d ever see her in person again.

Since first visiting Australia with Chris in 2012, I’d seen Nana nearly every year, with the exception of 2017 when we went to Hamilton Island for a cousin’s wedding, and 2020, when we were prevented from going back due to the global pandemic. Every year, I marveled at how healthy, happy, and alert she seemed. Despite her advanced age, she was always so sharp. She knew where the smallest and most insignificant things were in her house. She shared very detailed memories from Malaysia and her time adjusting to living in Australia. She still cooked and cleaned and gardened. She had the help of a family friend nearby, plus all her family. She was fortunate and blessed enough in her 92 years to live in three different countries, raise three children, who each had their own children, and some of those children were able to give her great-grandchildren. She lived a full and happy life and was always so positive. She’s definitely an inspiration not just to her family and friends, but to those who knew her. Every time I saw her, I thought, wow. If I could grow old to her age and feel that accomplished and loved and full of life, I think that will be a life well lived.

I’m sad that this little baby that is growing in my body will never be able to meet Big Nana, and that Big Nana will never have the chance to meet her. But I know for sure that Nana has left quite a legacy behind that this future child will hear plenty about.

8 years.

To my dearest Ed,

It’s been eight years since you departed this life. This is the first year that, in the weeks leading up to your death anniversary, I did not feel a great anticipation of seeing you again. Every year up until this year, I’ve always gotten a sense that I would “see” you again, whether that was through my dreams or through some sign you’d send down to earth, letting me know that you were still out there watching over me. This year, I did not feel anything. Maybe it’s my subconscious’s way of expressing that I’ve finally and fully accepted that you truly are gone. Granted, I’ve never been in denial that you were gone. It’s more that I always got the feeling that your spirit was still nearby, especially while I’d be at home in San Francisco.

A lot has happened in the last year. My relationship with our parents is further strained. This country is even more torn apart than it already was. People are somehow still dying from COVID-19 because they don’t believe in science and refuse to get vaccinated. I went through IVF and finally got pregnant (lucky you, you will never be acquainted with the total hell and roller coaster that process is).

I’m still pregnant; every day I wake up, and every night I go to sleep at night, marveling at the fact that I got pregnant and am continuing to be pregnant. I can’t believe how lucky I am. Each night, I give thanks for what I have and what my body is carrying and nourishing. When I found out I was originally pregnant with twins, I got so excited. One of my first thoughts was of you and what your reaction would have been like. I imagined your face breaking out into a huge grin, marveling over the idea that you’d be an uncle to identical twin girls, in shock at the idea that this was actually real. I teared up thinking about the fact that you will never get to react. You always liked babies, and you especially liked little girls. I just thought it was another sign that it was meant to be. And when one of those twins’ hearts stopped beating, I was just shattered. I wondered if embryo baby angels go to heaven, and if they do go to heaven, do they get to meet people like you, who actually lived a real life on earth and have since departed? Do you know where the embryo baby angels go?

I always knew you’d be a great uncle, the kind of uncle who would always want to spend time with nieces and nephews, the one who would spoil them rotten with all the gifts they wanted, even if it was against my own wishes. It really breaks my heart that you will never meet this baby, this little human I am growing. You will never get to hold her, feed her, kiss her, spoil her. I will never know what it’s like to have my child meet her mama’s brother and have a relationship with him. The world robbed you of so much, and by default, it’s robbed me and my future child of so much, as well.

As this pregnancy has progressed, I’ve reflected a lot on our shared childhood and involuntarily had a lot of flashbacks of awful situations that happened between us and our parents. As we all know, no parent is perfect, but I am especially and painfully cognizant of the effect that they had on you. I want to take the good that they did and emulate it, but I especially want to take the bad that they did and learn to never repeat the same mistakes of the past. I don’t want to continue the cycle of dysfunction and tyranny. I want your little niece to feel supported and unconditionally loved. I think at the core, that’s what every parent wants; whether that is actually the result is a completely different story.

I hope you will look down on me and help give me the strength I need to be the best mama I can be. I will make sure to tell your little niece all about the great uncle she will never meet. You will still be a part of her life, even if you aren’t here on earth with us. Every day, I wonder if you are watching over us, giving us your blessings to continue with this pregnancy and ensure the baby is happy and healthy. I hope you are with whatever abilities you have; I need all the help and good vibes I can get — seriously.

I miss you. Every day, I think about you and miss you. I wish you could still be with us in a happier and healthier state than you were last in when you were here. The world still goes on, though, even when great individuals like you leave us. But I will never forget you. How could I possibly forget you? It still makes my heart ache thinking about all the sibling bonds that are out there, and how we no longer have one here in this world to actively continue. But I still feel you — just in a different way. I love you, Ed. I hope to see you again in my dreams soon since it’s been quite some time. So, when are you going to come again?



Moving Day once again after 4 years

“This will be the easiest move of your life,” Chris said, as we started filling up large plastic storage bins and endless reusable cloth bags with our belongings.

We’re moving “very very far,” or, well, just a floor up in the same building into a larger 2-bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment. It will be the very first time since I was growing up that I’ll live in a place that has more than one bathroom, which is kind of crazy to me. Our apartment will have southwest exposure, which means we’ll not only have views of the Hudson River, but also views of downtown Manhattan. We hired movers just to move furniture, and we moved the rest of our belongings on our own. We didn’t have to package and tape anything, nor did we need to buy any one-time-use moving boxes, which was nice (and good for the environment). With the large storage bins, the luggage cart, and of course an elevator, plus easy access to two stairwells, although it took a lot of trips up and down, we were eventually able to move every single non-furniture item ourselves. Granted, I willl say that I emptied out the entire kitchen and the vast majority of the closets since Chris claimed he had to wait for the Verizon guy to show up (and because it was a stormy afternoon-evening, there seemed to have been a huge delay), so a considerable chunk of this “move” was me going up and down the stairs and elevators about a gazillion times to finally get most of our non-furniture belongings moved over. After about 14 hours of constantly going up and down between the two floors, emptying out storage bins and our endless supply of stuffed reusable bags, I was totally pooped. I can already feel my calves getting sore from all the excessive exercise. I should win an award for the most physical activity related to moving for a pregnant woman ever.

But now, we are in our new home, the third home we’ve shared, and the second home we’ve shared just with each other. I’m looking forward to new memories being made in this new, spacious apartment, along with the hopeful healthy arrival of our new family member.

Fetal movements throughout the day

I can’t believe I’ve made it this far: I’m now in my 19th week of pregnancy. It’s so crazy to me that I nervously went through my embryo transfer at the end of March and have somehow made it out alive and pregnant now that we’re already halfway through July.

I was able to detect fetal movements a few weeks ago, but they were so subtle and strange, like a combination of internal tickling and indigestion, that I didn’t really think much of it. Then, on our flight to Oklahoma, I actually felt what resembled an actual kick that really startled me. Sometimes, it feels like a lot of bubbles inside. And since then, there are specific periods throughout the day when I am fairly certain that it’s actual fetal movement. It tends to happen right after my morning workouts, anytime after I eat or drink a lot of anything, and then, funnily enough, right around bedtime, usually between 9:30-11pm. At night before bed, it is especially distracting: it feels like a combination of rolling and rumbling in my lower abdomen, right up to where my belly button is. I’ve even started sleeping with a pillow between my legs and pulled up to my stomach to provide some support for my gradually growing belly.

Every time I feel the movement, I get really excited. It’s like I’m detecting my baby’s patterns, and we’re almost bonding with each other. I’m not sure the baby feels that way, but I do. Every day, with each movement, I’m getting closer and closer to meeting my miracle baby.

COVID restrictions ending in New York

This evening, we went to our roof to catch tiny glimpses of the fireworks display further downtown. The New York governor had announced earlier that he was lifting most of the state’s coronavirus precautions after New York reached a 70 percent vaccination threshold. From our roof, we could see bits of the colorful fireworks going up into the air to celebrate the end of COVID-19 restrictions. Back in March 2020, when the COVID restrictions began, who would have ever thought that they would have lasted this long? Granted, I was pretty pessimistic given the orange jerk that was unfortunately in the White House at the time, and I had a feeling COVID would continue full speed ahead killing people around this country through the end of the year. But finally, over 15 months after the restrictions had begun, we’re finally ending them in New York state just over 15 months later.

We survived, I thought to myself, looking at the tiny bits of fireworks from our roof very far away from the center of the display. But unfortunately, 600,000 of our fellow Americans did not. Globally, there have been over 3.82 million people who have died from COVID-19, and who is to say the number of people who died not directly from COVID, but indirectly because they were turned away for supposedly less severe sicknesses at the time. This is definitely going to be a time in our lives we’ll never forget. In the back of my mind, though, I wonder when the next global pandemic will happen, as scientists are anticipating that this is not necessarily going to be a one-off in our lifetime and may become a more regular occurrence.

Although vaccinations are increasing, I’m still disappointed by all the people who still haven’t been vaccinated, as well as the anti-vaxxers who continue to spread fake news about the COVID vaccines. This country still seems so dismal. We cause all our own problems yet cannot seem to learn from it. This is what happens when you don’t study history properly.