MicroblogMondays: Stay-At-Home Parent

Ever since I wanted a baby, my plan had always been to return to work part-time after a six-month maternity leave . Well, that was my plan with having one baby at a time.  When we had our twins, the plan was still for me to end my maternity leave after six months, which would have been March.  When my in-laws decided to come in April, my instinct was to be at home so I would have control over how the babies were cared for.  Bob had no problem with me delaying my start day.  My office is totally flexible and my boss just let me make my own decision.  Since Bob still has two weeks of new parent leave that he won’t be able to take until late June/early July, I told everyone that I’d return to work some time in July so Bob and I could take the babies on a trip during his break.  My boss came for a visit and asked me if I still felt good about going back to work.  I said, Of course!  But I was stressed about finding childcare.

I never looked into daycare early on, because, well, taking care of twins takes a lot of time and effort.  I had some intense internal debate about nanny vs. daycare.  With one baby, it would be a no brainer.  Daycare would be the way to go because it’d cost way less than a nanny. But with twins, things change.  The couple of daycares that I spoke to charge more per day for part time than for full time.  That times two equals a hefty sum.  Plus I’d have to do the whole getting two babies to get out the door and drop off and pick up thing, which adds to the stress of the day.  The next choice is hiring a nanny.  I knew that a nanny for two kids would be pricey.  I had a hourly rate in my head that I’d offer thinking that it would be affordable for us.  I signed up for one online service to search for a part time nanny.  I received many applications but none of the applicants speaks Cantonese, which would be my first choice.  A twin mom friend of mine referred me to an agency.  The agency lady matched us with this Chinese nanny.  I didn’t think it was going to materialize into anything.  But once I spoke to the nanny and met her in person, I actually liked her a lot.  She has been working for a family for eight years helping raise three children.  She’ll be available when the youngest one goes to preschool in July.  She doesn’t have experience with twins but she did take care of these kids simultaneously.  The family she works for wrote her a wonderful reference letter.  I came to find out (from a little Gool.ging with the information that she told me) that the father of the kids was my high school classmate.  It is indeed a very small world.  This nanny came to meet the babies and my mom, and to my surprise Miss I-Will-Cry-When-I-See-Strangers A.K.A. little Bunny warmed up to the nanny right away and played with her without any problems.  It would be perfect, wouldn’t it?

I totally thought that everything was meant to be.  However, the subsequent two days I did the math over and over again and it just didn’t seem right.  The nanny would have to come for 10 hours a day from when I leave for work to when I step into the house.  I get paid 7.5 hours a day at work.  After paying my taxes and after paying her taxes, I would contribute absolutely no money to our household income.  What is the point of me rushing to work and rushing back, trying to put dinner on the table, and rushing to bed time if I don’t bring in any extra money to the family?  Just for my career and my own personal satisfaction?  Leaving my babies with someone else and missing them and their milestones?  It had never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t go back to work.  For the first time ever, it occurred to me that maybe going back to work is not in my family’s best interest.  I seriously considered this whole situation for a week then finally it became clearer and clearer that staying home with my babies will be the way to go.

I gave my boss my verbal notice.  We both teared up at the end of the phone conversation.  I have been there for almost 15 years.  It gave me my job satisfaction and stability.  However, my life has moved forward and this work place is no longer the place for me.  I will miss the people and the work and my sit-to-stand desk, and I don’t look forward to clearing out all my therapy materials and toys.  However, I am excited about being at home with my babies taking care of them the best way I know how.  Who knows?  When the babies go to preschool, maybe my career will take on a whole new direction?  It is an opportunity for me to stretch myself once again when the time comes.

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MicroblogMondays: Blood Test Results that Scared Me

The babies saw Dr. Easygoing for their 9-month check up last Thursday.  Can you believe that they are 9 months already?  I’ll have to plan for their first birthday which will be here in less than three months.

The twins are doing very well health-wise.  To my surprise, both of them went up on their percentile for weight.  Okra is now at the 36th %ile, and Bunny is at 23rd.  Ever since they have become more mobile and their formula intake has been inconsistent, I kept thinking that they must have been lagging behind in their weight gain.  Dr. Easygoing reassured me that they are well.  He said some babies’ weight gain flatline when mobility increases.  Okra is 29 1/4 inches and Bunny is 28 3/4.  They are long and lean babies.  Dr. Easygoing commented on how social, interactive, happy, and healthy they are.

Shots were not part of the schedule for the 9-month check up, but blood work was.  I didn’t realize it but Dr. Easygoing usually orders lab test for a complete blood cell count, food allergy panel, and lead for 9 months.  Since Okra threw up twice after he had avocado in the past, Dr. Easygoing also threw in an order for avocado allergy.  Fortunately the clinic has a lab there so we didn’t have to go anywhere else.  Okra was the first one to be poked.  He already started crying while being held down prior to any needle going in his arm.  Bunny started pouting and crying when she heard her brother.  She also screamed when it was her turn not because she was poked but because she was restrained.  The good news is, they got over it quickly and stopped crying once we were out of the lab.

The lab results for the allergy panel came back the next day.  Both babies’ blood did not show elevated value for the common items for food allergies.  Right after lunch, I checked my email and found this from Dr. Easygoing.  It was regarding Bunny’s blood test results: “Her blood test to check for anemia was inconclusive and she had some cells not typically seen on a normal blood smear.  I want to recheck her blood test at our office and be certain everything is normal.”  My heart was about to jump out of my chest when I saw it.  What did that all mean?  I took my phone out of my purse and found a missed call and a voicemail from Dr. Easygoing.  He was asking me to call him when I had a chance as he wanted to talk to me about the kids’ lab.  He said there was nothing to worry about but he just wanted to repeat the lab test for Bunny to make sure that everything was okay.  He ordered another blood test and if I could bring Bunny in for it it’d be great.  At that point, I was truly worried.  So I called him back several times but he didn’t pick up.  I paced the living room and was trying to think what it could mean to have “some cells not typical seen on a normal blood smear”.  I was trying not to freak out.  Finally, Dr. Easygoing called back and spoke to me.  He said that the machine that ran the blood picked up on some atypical cells but because the machine doesn’t classify what kind of cell, it often marked it abnormal.  The machine does it about once a week, and 99 out of 100 times it’s nothing.  But to be safe and to rule out anything abnormal, he would like me to take Bunny in the same afternoon so we could get the results on the weekend.  He said something about white blood cells and such.  Honestly, I did feel a sense of urgency from his voice but I trusted that Bunny was in good hands.  I canceled a visit from an out of town friend and drove Bunny to the clinic when she woke up from her nap.

Baby girl did very well this time.  She struggled for a little when I held her down but she did not even make one peep when the needle went into her arm.  She just stared at the tiny tube that had her blood flowing through and was acting totally normal throughout the whole thing without being even upset for one second.  It was amazing to watch.

Then we waited.  During that time, my mind ran really far with all the possibilities of what this might mean.  I got scared at one point wondering what if she has cancer?  Do we have to contact the donor to request additional family medical history?  What will it mean for our family if she is sick?  What if I lose her?  I was freaking myself out and was trying not to freak out.  It was very difficult to wait.  But at the same time, I had to remember to pray for God’s peace that transcends all understanding.

Fortunately, Dr. Easygoing didn’t make us wait.  We had the blood work done at 1:45.  He called me at 5:20.  The first thing he said was, good news that everything turns out great.  Bunny is healthy.  Nothing is wrong with her blood.  Then he went on to explain what happened.  The lab’s machine picked up on some “abnormal” white blood cells on the first blood sample.  A hematologist looked at the blood and saw white blood cells that looked like cancerous cells (!?!?).  Dr. Easygoing got a call from the lab with those results.  He was alarmed and called up his trusted colleague who is a pediatric hematologist and showed her the results.  She told him to just tell the family (us) to return for an additional sample to rule out any problems.  He contacted me and tried to keep me as calm as possible but he himself was alarmed.  When the second blood sample got sent for analysis, the pediatric hematologist went to the lab to take a look at it herself.  This blood sample was totally normal.  It turned out that the first sample contained some white blood cells that were the results of the body created antibodies to fight out the cold virus that Bunny had in the last week.  Somehow the first hematologist (who apparently only looks at adult blood usually) mistook the cells as cancerous.  Dr. Easygoing apologized profusely for worrying us unnecessarily and burdening me to take the baby in for another unnecessary blood draw.  He said he’d talk to the clinic director about waiving billing for the second blood draw because it was the lab’s mistake and not ours.

I was just relieved that Bunny is still super healthy.  I am also glad that Dr. Easygoing didn’t mention the C word the first time.  I would have freaked big time.  I am also grateful that Dr. Easygoing was on top of things so we didn’t have to wait for the whole weekend to get the blood test results.  I hugged Bunny extra tight that day as we don’t have to worry about her healthy anymore.

MicroblogMondays: Back to Normal

We saw our in-laws off at the airport last Friday.  The 7-week visit finally came to an end.  All in all, it was a successful visit.  First of all, My mother-in-law and Bob did not get into a fight at all thanks to my husband’s amazing ability to be on his best behavior this time round.  Secondly, it was heartwarming to see the change in my father-in-law’s attitude towards the babies.  At first he was a bit overindulgent with Okra, our baby boy, but later on he spent about equal time with both babies.  You can tell that he loves them both equally.  Finally, I feel that they have also changed their attitudes towards me. Although we had the previous incident that left a bad taste in my mouth, my mother-in-law did come around a couple of days later and told me to call her “pathi” whenever I would like.  I appreciated her change of heart but I hadn’t called her anything since the incident.  Right in front of the security check point at the airport when we all said our goodbyes, my mother-in-law hugged me and kissed me on my cheek.  My father-in-law also hugged me and touched the side of his head on the side of my head.  It was a tender moment.  I was touched by their gestures.  I remember the last couple of times when we did the whole airport scene, I got a side hug from my MIL and a handshake from my FIL.  Time has changed and I feel that despite the cultural differences in things like how to address my in-laws, their gestures meant and “you are a part of our family and we appreciate you”.

The house felt empty after they left, but it also meant I got my kitchen back.  Most importantly, I have my clean kitchen floor back!  Cleaners came as we left for the airport.  My mother-in-law is the best cook but is not the cleanest or the tidiest person when it comes to washing and cleaning.  Let’s just say that the kitchen counter and the floor were constantly sticky despite my best effort to clean up after her.  The area around the sink was always wet.  The sponge for washing dishes lied in the sink soaking wet.  The different cloths for wiping hands, counter, and dishes were all mixed together and smelled the same.  My MIL worked hard to clean the kitchen on a daily basis after all the cooking at night, but a cleaning service was necessary to get all the grime off.  Bob can now walk barefoot on the kitchen floor without feeling like he has to rub and clean his feet all the time.

My mom came home the day after my in-laws left.  It is so nice to have her back.  The babies actually remembered her.  Bunny is usually the suspicious one when it comes to people, but she observed my mom for a few minutes and immediately smiled at her.  Surprisingly it took Okra a little more time to stop looking skeptical at my mom.  She commented on how both babies have changed: Okra is taller, his face is skinnier, and he has become so social and fun.  Bunny is mobile and crawling all over the place.  She is so smart and tries to figure things out on her own.  My mom had missed them so much and is now in paradise as she gets to spend time with the babies again.

Routines are back.  Meat is back in the fridge.  Life is back to normal.

MicroblogMondays: Fifth Year Blog Anniversary and Being Official

WordPress told me that I started my blog five years ago on June 2nd.  Including this post, I have published 468 times.  I would say I never thought that this blog would last so long and I would write so many posts.  How fitting it is that to celebrate this 5th anniversary, I finally received the babies’ updated birth certificates in the mail last Thursday.  This whole process of getting my name on the birth certificates took forever.  We finally got the orders from the judge in California for the step-parent adoption.  The orders got forwarded to our attorney in Annie’s state.  Our attorney and her paralegal took their time in getting back to us.  And finally we signed some paperwork for vital records to add my name to the birth certificates.  When I opened the envelope and unfolded the two birth certificates, I was feeling a bit emotional.  Although I know and feel like the babies’ mom, legally I was their guardian.  I had no right to apply for a passport for them so I couldn’t travel out of the country with them even if I wanted to.  Seeing my name on these birth certificates on this anniversary week of my blog is a very sweet thing.  It reminds me of God’s goodness and faithfulness for watching over us all these years.  When I started this blog, I didn’t know what was going to happen.  God had this plan for us.  I couldn’t have foreseen all the twists and turns it took us to get to this point.  Here I am.  I am so grateful for having these little ones in our family and to see my name and Bob’s name on their birth certificates finally.