It's January 9, 7:10 pm and all is quiet in Room 370 at Trillium Health Centre, with the exception of the clacking of keys as I type this post.  Thinking back six and a half years ago, I was doing precisely the same thing, writing the chronicle of Adele's birth.  When Athan and Audrey are old enough to read and understand, they will be wondering why their father didn't write one about their birth.  Athan and Audrey, I apologize...I have no excuse!  But this doesn't give me a reason not to write one about Anne's birth.

Do You See It?
If you've had a child, you would know that you typically get 2 chances to see your little one before his/her birth.  The first ultrasound session occurs at around week 9 and the second at week 19.  The week 19 session is typically the one where the ultrasound technician would be able to tell if the baby is male or female.  Unfortunately for us, Anne was being shy that day and hid her important parts from view.  So, we didn't end up finding out what gender she was.

Then, a few weeks ago, when Renee went in for her weekly checkup, the doctor thought her tummy was on the small side.  It could have meant either of two things: the baby's head is down in the pelvis and hence, causes a the tummy to be smaller, or, there is some complication with the placenta that the baby is not getting enough nutrition, which could mean that Renee would need to be induced for an early birth.  So, the doctor referred us to a 3rd ultrasound.

When Renee went in, she told the technician that she didn't want to find out the gender but that I did.  So, when I was called in, the technician said she would show me.  I told Renee that she should find out at the same time, but the technician insisted that Renee didn't change her mind because of me.  So, she turned the screen towards me and asked, "Do you see it?"  Yes, I can see a screen with black and white patterns, but not much beyond that.  I did see 2 round shapes that looked like what I thought were testicles with a longish thing close to it (sorry for being graphic here).  So, I concluded that it could be a boy and I said to the technician, "Yes, I see a shape," hoping that she would confirm whether it was a boy or a girl.  However, all she said in reply was, "Ok, that's good."  So, we were about 70% leaning towards a boy.  And now, as we all know, I wasn't made to be an ultrasound technician...

Waiting and More Waiting...
Renee's due date was January 3.  All three of our kids were either on time or early.  So, I thought this time would be no different.  As the days approached, I started shifting more office hours to be at home in anticipation of Renee going into labour at any time.  As the due date came and gone, there was still nothing.  In fact, during the visit last Monday to the OB's office, Dr. Rogers said that there was still a bit of room between the cervix and the baby's head.  Renee was then scheduled for induction the following Monday, January 11.

Finally, on the morning of January 8, when I woke up at around 6, Renee told me that she had had contractions since 3 am that morning. This sounded pretty much like the previous births and I figured that this was the day.  Already at 6:00, the contractions were coming every 5 minutes and lasted for just less than a minute.  As every father knows, that's the signal to start heading to the hospital.  So, we both took a quick shower and got ready to leave.

That same morning, Adele woke up with a 39.5 deg C fever.  So, we didn't end up leaving until after 8:30 am.  Seeing that the contractions had not progressed, I figured it wasn't going to be a fast and furious delivery after all.  With Audrey's delivery, it took about 6 hours to get from 2 cm dilation to 6 cm dilation, and then maybe 2 minutes from 6 cm dilation to birth, after the water was broken.  So, we knew that the key to birth was breaking of the water.

We got to the hospital at around 9:15 am and Renee didn't get assessed until around 10:00 am.  The nurse, Natalie, found that Renee was 2 cm dilated, which was the same dilation that Dr. Rogers found four days ago!  We were told to get something to eat, walk around and would get checked in another 2 hours.  After much walking around, Renee got reassessed at noon and the result was the same.  The nurse spoke with Dr. Schuefler, the OB on call, and the doctor told us to go home due to the lack of progress.  It was kind of ironic, because for the first three kids, we were never asked to go home.  We knew that getting to a greater dilation would take long, but the actual birth would be really quick once the water was broken.  Renee asked if we could stay and since it wasn't a busy day, we were allowed to retain the room we were assigned.

Surprises All the Way
We did so much walking that day that we reached our goal on our Nike Fuelband activity tracker pretty quickly.  The contractions got closer together and also stronger.  Renee started sweating from the pain and from experience, when Renee started sweating, it meant it was getting close.  Finally, at 4:10 pm, Dr. Schuefler assessed Renee and she was 5 cm dilated, with a "+2", which I guessed meant baby's head was 2 cm pass the cervix (?).  Dr. Schuefler broke the water and I was asked to go to the desk to sign the paperwork to have Renee formally admitted to the hospital.

This was when I got a little bit nervous, because the last time Renee's water broke, Audrey was born after 1 contraction!  Luckily, Renee waited for me to get back to the delivery room.  We had a few nurses and a 3rd year medical student, Susan, help in the delivery.  Susan did a lot of the hard work, grabbing onto Anne's head and catching her as she was coming out.  At 4:28 pm, Anne was born!

I then took a quick look and saw that the baby was a girl.  I said to Renee in a rather excited voice, "It's a girl!"  We both laughed, probably because we just packed blue clothes to the hospital!  Anne, you're just full of surprises, right from the beginning.  You keep Mom and Dad guessing at every turn!



Running Out of "A" Names
We had settled on a name for a boy and a name for a girl.  If the baby were a boy, he would be named Atticus.  We toyed around with names like Augustine (a favourite saint of mine), Abraham, Aubrey (this was merely a joke), but we liked Atticus the most.  For Renee, she liked the sound of the name, but for me, I recalled the character Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.  I don't recall many characters from fiction books (Holden Caufield from Catcher in the Rye being the other), but Atticus Finch was one of them, because he was such a great protagonist.  We also found out yesterday that January 8 was the feast day of St. Atticus (yeah, a little freaky!).

Anne was the girl name we had settled on.  I have a few constraints that we had to work within.  Firstly, the name must be traditional or have some history to them; invented names like "Brayden" don't work for me.  Secondly, it must be a biblical or a saint's name.  Thirdly, the name can't be too common, at least at the present; "Aiden" or variant would be ruled out.  Fourthly, and most obviously, it has to start with an "A" (we hadn't planned on this, but when we named Athan, we kind of started a trend).  So, we didn't have a long list to pick from.  As time passed, the name "Anne" really grew on us.  In Hebrew, the name means "grace".  We thought it fit very well with the names Adele and Audrey, and it gives a nice, elegant feeling.  Elizabeth, Anne's middle name, was also a name we liked. It's very traditional and sounded elegant as well (if a queen's name doesn't sound elegant, I don't know what would!).  Lastly, Anne now has the names of the mother and cousin of our Lady, which is an added bonus!

The Lord is Wonderful
When we first found out that we were going to have a fourth child, things seemed a bit daunting and scary.  It's still scary now, but we've come to place our trust in the Lord, and would really not want it to be any other way.  Just today, Renee said, having just three never really felt complete (referencing how the Chinese preferred even numbers), but if I may, I'd like to kindly remind her that she was pretty happy with three before Anne was conceived. :)  I think this just goes to show that the Lord sometimes have greater plans for us, and when we do choose to accept His plan, He will help us not only get through the difficulties, but also learn to see the beauty in His plan...and we've only seen 2 days of that wonderful beauty that He had just sent us!

Happy New Year!  Another year has flown by (sorry, a little cliche...)!  We are still expecting our little one to come, any minute now!

New Year Resolution
Last night, as we unceremoniously celebrated the new year, Renee asked me what my new year resolution was.  I gave it maybe five seconds of thought and then answered, "To exercise more...to go to bed earlier..."  But I didn't really feel good about that answer, but I wasn't in much of a contemplation mood; so, I decided not to think about it too much.

Then, today, when I was at mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, as the father was saying his homily, my mind drifted (it never happens, I swear!).  I was thinking back to last night and then the answer came to me (it must have been the Holy Spirit).  As you have guessed, my resolution for this year, and probably for the rest of my life is the title of this post: "Live each day as if I had five years left to live."

It's really a spin on the almost cliche "live each day as if it were your last" motto.  I never really liked this motto, not because I didn't agree with it, but as a practical guy, it just didn't resonate with me.  I get it that the intent of this motto is for us to filter out the noise and live life to the fullest, but if one were to live this motto out literally, it would be quite disastrous.  First, if I knew I only had 24 hours to live, I'd probably call in sick, tell Renee to call in sick, take my kids out of school for the day, and just go have a good ol' time, before my time is cut short on this earth.  It wouldn't really work out if I did live out each day like that!

So, my version on this motto is really just to satisfy my desire to have more precision in the semantics.  And I do admit, it doesn't roll off the tongue quite as easily...

Why Five Years?
So, why five years, instead of two or ten or twenty?  Well, I didn't end up with five years due to any mathematical proof, but rather, I thought five years was a long enough time that I would have to continue with my day-to-day life, but yet, know that my days on this earth are limited, which is the more interesting part.  

This would change my behaviour drastically, because I know that in five years, my family would lose their primary provider.  Yes, Renee would be able to pay off the mortgage with the insurance pay out, but I would want them to be financially secure, even after that.  Five years is not a long time, but it's not a short time either.  I would work extra hard and in new ways to secure their future, in whatever form that may be.  Perhaps it's starting a business that can be continued even after I'm gone.  Or maybe it's taking some risks that I might not have taken were I to live to 85.

I recently listened to the audio book version of the biography of Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.  It was an inspiring read...I've been telling a lot of people about it.  The one thing that I love about Musk was that after starting and selling 2 companies, with more than $100 million in the bank, what did he decide to do?  Start another 2 companies at the same time (SpaceX and Tesla), because he didn't want to just take it easy in life.  He wanted to do something great for humanity.  Perhaps I would aim to do something great for humanity as well.

What Else?
Of course, I would also love more fully.  Knowing I have only 5 short years to create lasting memories of their father for my kids, perhaps I would take my eyes off my phone when I'm with them. Maybe I would spend more time with them.  Or perhaps I wouldn't lose my temper so easily when they act like they're...kids.  Perhaps I would teach them more about God and about how one should live one's life.

Perhaps I would even tell my parents that I thank them and I love them more often (媽,爸, love you!).  Or visit my brother and his family more often.  Or take my in laws to dim sum more.  Perhaps, I would reconnect with some old friends and stay in touch with newer ones.

Lastly, perhaps I would love Renee more.  Instead of taking her for granted like I do all the time, I would appreciate all the little and big things she does for me and the family.  Perhaps I would take her out for sushi or go to see a romantic comedy at the theatres a little more often.  Perhaps I would love myself a little less and her a lot more.  Perhaps, I would start writing her love letters again.

So...
And so, this is my new year resolution and maybe also my life motto...cutting out the noise and focusing on the essential.  It's really what is meant when people say, live life to its fullest.  Forget the useless office politics, toxic gossip, keeping up with the Jones's...and just live!
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