I Love You, Bros

Oof. Lots of pain. In the news. In friends’ lives. Just too much these past couple weeks.

In our own home, too, when Kevin and I just cannot communicate effectively or hear each other since we are fixated on getting heard and understood first. Built-up resentment. Disconnection.

I want to thank the two dudes who help me to pause. Drink in their juiciness, their innocence. Force my heavy heart to shift during those moments I gaze at them.

My boys.

You TWO. TOGETHER.

First of all, my Ellis. I have to confess that when I found out at your birth that you were, just as I had suspected, another boy, I thought you’d be Micah 2.0 and that it would be a case of, “Oh, I already have one of those at home!” Blessed but not as exciting.

Quite the contrary. You look nothing like your brother, for one. Although…you look exactly like my mom. You’ve shown yourself to be my first Ellis, my only Ellis. The roundest, cutest circle eyes like Puss in Boots and a comical pout. You are more anime than flesh and blood boy.

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I have a tendency to record my harried moments with you guys more than the perfectly delicious moments.

Thought I’d at least capture a couple brother moments with Micah nearly 3 1/2 and Ellis 1 1/2.

Oh, how you both love John Mayer’s “Heartbreak Warfare.” You both squeal with delight and throw yourselves on our bed, entranced while the CD has a few second delay before the track begins. Ellis even beams and says, “shhhhhh!!” before the song comes on, with his little pointer finger to his pouty mouth.

A few weeks ago, you guys were so quiet, which I thought could only be a bad thing but when I walked into our bedroom and saw you both sitting on our high, King-sized bed, in deep thought. You were studying on your own, Micah his Jesus Storybook Bible that he loves so much, and Ellis staring at his Story of Easter book, at the page with the Asian family singing at church. Oh, my little Korean Flanders boys. What a sight.

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At that moment, I wanted to pull out another sibling from my womb just to see him/her perched along with you two, on the big spacious bed. Who am I kidding? There have been plenty of other moments, too.

It warms my heart to see you guys as best friends already. Even as you run around with other little cuties at the playground, no one is your Boy, like only your Bro can be. You hug each other so tightly that you end up on the floor of our lobby, with passersby having to go around the small heap of Korean boys.

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You guys hug at least four times in the morning, as if Micah is going off to war instead of 2.5 hours of school.

“Bye, Baby! I’m going to miss you, Baby! I see you later with Mommy, OK?!”

I love that your second name is Baby. Actually, we hardly ever call you “Ellis.”

When I mentioned to Micah that Ellis cried at Mommy’s Women’s Bible Study meeting for the first time, Big Bro asked if it could have been because he missed his brother too much.

When Ellis accompanies me to pick up Micah from his school, Micah is so proud and announces, “This is my baby brother Eh-wiss!” as if the teachers and classmates hadn’t known that already.

I recently corrected Micah’s pronunciation of “Eh-wiss” but I do regret it now. Preschool speech need not be corrected in its unadulterated, adorably imperfect state.

You guys want to horse around so much that I paused mid-stroll to reconfigure the stroller seats so that you guys can face each other. Of course you guys promptly began to swat each other and kick, my two stooges.

You two imitate each other and yelp whenever you are reunited. Micah likes to do fake falls from his little scooter so Ellis started doing the same. Micah eggs Ellis on to say “Ahpuhdah!” (Korean for “it hurts!”) even though I ask him to at least give him a more positive message to mimic.

I never knew that brothers would bond this deeply and this early, while one is still a roly poly baby (at least in my mind). It is a type of cuteness that makes my teef itch.

I am blessed to be able to watch your moments daily. Feeds my soul though I do get crazed by all those spills.

I hug and kiss you guys about 77 times a day. Though Micah asks me, “Mommy, do you really love me?” almost everyday, I hope you do know that I am so very in love with you both.

Thank you for being my sons. You are my only Micah and my only Ellis. And I don’t mind one bit when you guys get obsessed with me because I know that I will yearn for these days soon enough.

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4 for 7

“I would take out minimally three mortgages on my home so I can pay for her to go to therapy four times a week for the rest of her life,” said K.

“Wow, you nice. I would disown her. Fine, too harsh. I would just make my friends adopt her even if she is 26,” I responded.

We were watching a gem of a show on ABC called “The Bachelor Pad.” This beautiful girl named Jamie was so delusional in her one-sided romance with a guy who did not value her in the least. She would follow him to his bunkbed and beg to makeout with him even when he had shoo’d her away before. And even after he had been making out with another gal on the bottom bunk as she fell asleep on the top bunk, knowing what was going on. She obviously did not value herself. This seemed to be a recurring theme among the quality reality shows we tune into.

“These shows are really making me scared to have a daughter,” admitted K.

For better or for worse, we’ve committed to not finding out the sex of our Belly Baby this time around.

For better: We want the experience of being surprised as a few friends have shared that the surprise was the most amazing, thrilling event of their lives. (Here, Kevin wants to point out that the pronoun should be “I”, not “We,” as he was all for finding out).

For worse: I don’t think we’ve purchased a single thing for this baby even though we know there are some gender-neutral options out there. When we are out shopping, we just freeze when we see boy/girl options for clothes and accessories (and Kevin unfreezes just long enough to shake his head at me though he was initially into this surprise business.) And the suspense (that yes, we created), even though we know that there are only two options, Lord willing.

To not know whether we are going to have another son or a daughter is a strange stage, a new experience we created to make our second pregnancy stand out from the first. (Again, I’m sure Kevin would like to insist that I use the “I” pronoun for accuracy). We end up fretting about the potential problems specific to girls when we don’t even know if we’ll ever have a daughter.

On the way to the gym one day, Kevin saw a teenage boy trying to hit on a teenage girl. He watched their interaction and worried that one day he will be cringing at the sight of someone trying to pick up his little girl. If he has a girl.

When I was carrying Micah, I didn’t have time to wonder TOO long as I found out Week 17. The night before, as we were about to fall asleep, I said, “C’mon, Que Bin. Let’s close our eyes for a few seconds in silence and then on the count of three, tell me which name you see on the wall of our imaginary nursery. One, two, three…” We both said “MICAH” even though we were still name-shopping. We both thought “boy.”

The next day, at the anatomy scan, we were holding hands tightly as the sonographer lubed up my belly.

“Can you tell me when you’re actually gonna tell us ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ because I want to brace myself. Otherwise, I’m just gonna stare at your lips intently to see if they’re gonna form a ‘b’ or a ‘g’ sound. Thanks for bearing with me. I’m just too excited,” I said.

Few seconds later…

“OK. Are you ready? I’m going to tell you now.”

“Yes, we’re ready!”

“It’s a boy!”

I started to cry. Kevin got verklempt.

“How sure are you? Can we tell the grandparents?”

“90% sure.” She moved her gadget on my belly a little bit more. “100% sure.”

After the visit, as we’re about to call our parents, I took out a boy’s onesie I had brought in my purse to show Kevin, “Booyah! I had known all along!” I had just felt it but wasn’t sure if it was wishful thinking as gut feelings are not 100%. Then I went on to have a Joy Luck Club conversation with my MiL who said something about how NOW, I can really lead the Kim family since I am producing the fourth generation first son. (Cue “Lion King” song).

This time around, I really don’t know. In a way, I can’t imagine either. I can’t imagine another boy because when I think “boy” I can only imagine my beloved Micah. But I also can’t imagine a girl because I can’t imagine my womb producing a different product from before. I do know that their sonograms look nothing alike. Micah was rounder, this baby is pointier, sharper. Pregnancy symptoms and the way I’m carrying is pretty much the same, not that those are conclusive.

I am pretty surprised at the reactions I’ve been getting from our family and closest friends about our not finding out the sex this time. My mom has begged me to quit doing this because it is just too frustrating and contrived to not find out what is readily available. She said back when I was born, there was no choice but to not know until the birth, but now, for me to look away during the anatomy scan and not find out was ridiculous. My mother-in-law went on a recent trip to Korea and said she couldn’t buy this baby ANY gifts since we don’t know the sex of the baby. My close girlfriends have taunted me, saying on the one hand, this is so not me, but on the other hand, why I gotta make everything such a dun-dun-dun event, and let’s just break into your online medical file.

I admit it’s driven us crazy here and there especially because my medical file is online, always available with my username and password. Yet, it has made our second pregnancy feel less like a mere sequel. It’s been fun hearing people’s theories and hunches, based on their own experiences or general wives’ tales.

For instance, after one of my o.b. appointments, a Black man come up to me on the F train while I was devouring some S’mores scone crumbs from inside my Alice’s Tea Cup bag, making sure I got every last bit. He stared right at my face then at my belly, then back to my face. “GIRL! You having a girl!”

“Is that right?” I asked, wiping the crumbs off my chin. “How’s your track record? How many times have you guessed correctly?”

“I have seven kids. Four by my wife. I guessed right four times. You having a girl.” He was honest. Didn’t lie about his less than stellar track record.

Another time I was running after Micah at Barnes & Noble when I noticed a tan Asian woman staring at me. I wasn’t offended at her long stare because it seemed like she was readying to strike up a conversation.

“How excited are you to have a girl this time?” she finally said.

“Really!? We actually didn’t find out the sex this time but what makes you think that?”

“You’re carrying so wide like I did when I had my daughter. You are having a girl! I’m Indonesian and we know these things.”

And finally, I met a gorgeous mother of four gorgeous, well-behaved boys today. She guessed girl as well but admitted that she thought she was having a girl the fourth time around. Her girl turned out to be her now three-month old son, Luke, the only blue-eyed child among her brown-eyed brood.

Why resort to something as scientific and accurate as a sonogram when I can have all this fun speculating for up to two more months?

belly baby is 20 weeks and (fermented) bean curd memories

While waiting for my 20-week sonogram, I looked around the room at all the comfy shoes on the other expectant mamas. My own distressed gold leather Clarks flip-flops (thongs?) from my surprise trip to LA were serving me quite well, though my toenails were quite a sight. Behind me was a lady dressed in a pretty floral (still stylish) dress, holding her husband’s hand, exclaiming, “I am so excited, I am so excited!” She was very thin, not showing yet, visiting the water cooler multiple times to fill her bladder for the appointment. How precious – first time parents. Scrubs! Camcorders and suped up cameras all ready. I, on the other hand, was thinking, “I hope they KNOW the top of my water bottle that I just refilled SO didn’t go anywhere near the tip of the water dispenser spout! I wouldn’t do that!”

I also had time to reminisce a bit more about my first stroll down pregnancy lane. How we had arrived at the hospital shortly after midnight on Thanksgiving 2010 and immediately sent to triage. They gathered that I was, indeed, having contractions about five minutes apart. The medical student (I forget whether they are interns or residents) had to ask me a bunch of questions, as my contractions only intensified.

“Did you eat anything?”

“Yes. Dinner. A few hours ago. Wait, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

“What did you eat?”

(Catching my breath. Eyes closed.) “Um, bean curd. I guess it’s called fermented bean curd? With bits of potato, zucchini, mushroom, and AHHHHHHHHH anchovies. Also a side of fried zucchini in egg and flour batter. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! OH MY GOD! AHHHHHHH! SOME PERILLA LEAVES TOOOOOOO!” (I had had dwenjang jigae, hobak-jun, and gget-neep, y’all. I have a fear of going hungry, even before what turned out to be labor and delivery).

“Oh, wow,” (looking at Kevin), “You gotta love her details!”

Kevin: “Yes, she is VERY detailed.”

Now I was about to go in and see my Belly Baby at 20 weeks along. Halfway mark. Feeling so very blessed that I get to do this all over again. I met my sonographer, a sweet, informative lady, who led me to my room. She began to check out the baby’s heart, abdomen, and limbs when I said, “Uh-oh. I’m so sorry but something is wrong with me.” I started sweating profusely, more than my usual.

“Are you going to be sick? Do you feel nauseous?”

“Not nauseous but like I’m getting stabbed in my lower back? I have a really bad back. It feels like it’s all tangled up in a weird kink.”

She let me shift about just a bit, but not too much because she had a really good angle to take pictures of the baby.

“Aww, I’m so sorry. I’ll turn on the A/C for you.”

I stopped sweating from the pain and my back worked itself out after shifting a bit.

“My back is better. Thanks so much for cooling down the room. Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I feel weird again.”

“Oh no, I’m so sorry. Is it your back again?” (She was so sweet. She kept cooing “aww” and “sorry” during the visit even though I’m sure she’s seen so many mamas and their belly babies.)

“I’m not sure what it is. I…Ow, my stomach hurts now. OMG, I know. I think I have to jump off and do a big poo, actually!”

Thankfully, the moment passed and I was able to stay put. I was able to see my baby playing with his/her umbilical cord and pat its head with a small fist. Also play with his/her knees. (Micah was mostly playing with his feet in Happy Baby Yoga Pose from what I recall.) The baby was VERY active, even more so than Micah. Moved around a lot like it’s his/her JOB! (This having to say “his/her” is annoying.)

For the reveal of the baby’s sex, the sonographer warned me and I looked away, very dramatically. I was SO very tempted to just say, “OH JUST TELL ME! This is crazy that YOU know and I don’t!” She had to leave the room for a second and I really had to keep myself from looking at her electronic report in touchable distance from my face!

She told me that I may have to come in the next week if the baby doesn’t get in a certain angle for some money shots. Oh no, I rarely have childcare. Please, please baby, spare me another visit. I only had five more minutes left in the appointment as the hospital tries to be very punctual to the other patients who had appointments after mine. She gave me a small box of cranberry juice and told me to cough a few times to get the baby to cooperate. Just in the nick of time, the baby rolled over to the side we needed and also unclenched his/her right fist so that the sonographer could get the last pictures she needed of the right hand and other parts.

Of course, after my sonogram and subsequent doctor’s visit, I read into everything as a sign revealing the sex of the baby. Hmm…whaddid I see when I got home? My Asian-American neighbor in her 30s walking the courtyard with her toddler boy and newborn boy, exactly 23 months apart JUST LIKE MINE WILL BE? Is that a sign? But really, truly…I am SO zen about not finding out. Gotta logout now so I can do the Needle Gender Predicting Test to see if the sex has changed since yesterday’s Needle Test. Google it.