Showing posts with label Renee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Renee. Show all posts
Hope You Had a Merry Christmas!


It seems like I've settled on writing once every few months, and sometimes in bursts. Life, as a father of five, as you can imagine, is busy, but that's no excuse for not getting things done. As the saying goes, "if you want to get something done, ask a busy person." (It is with great pride to say that people often ask me to do things for them.)  Prioritizing and extreme focus are keys to achieving goals in a busy environment. However, I sometimes lack either or both. So, while it has been an eventful year, I wish I had been more successful in doing the two things above.

This post has been greatly inspired by our friend, Stella, who has been very religious in sending us an annual update of their family during the Christmas season. I love reading them and thought it'd be a good idea to do something of my own here.  I hope you will enjoy this long one!

Let's start with the kids, shall we?

Amelia Was Born


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Of course, the biggest event of 2018 was the birth of Amelia in January!  She has been a wonderfully easy baby. Either that or we've gotten into the groove by now... Or probably both! :)  Her older siblings adore her and are so helpful in keeping an occasional eye on her while we cook, clean, etc.

Amelia is a happy baby. Anytime anyone speaks to her, a glowing smile would appear on her face and she would get so excited. She has been saying "mama" and "baba" for quite some time now. Also being very mobile, she's crawling and cruising everywhere and putting anything that's in her path into her mouth! Yikes!


Cutie Pie Anne

Look at Those Big Round Eyes! <3

Anne just turned 3 in January and has developed quite a vocabulary. She's pretty much fully bilingual now, but is still a bit more proficient in Cantonese. Our favourite phrase that she would say, when she can't find a book she's looking for, is "Perhaps Daddy donated it (可能爸爸捐咗)."  We couldn't stop laughing.  She said this because I'm constantly asking the kids to pick out some of the 2000 books they own to donate.  It's so cute to hear her speak in very coherent sentences.  When we went to take pictures with Santa, Santa asked her, "and what would you like for Christmas?"  As she shyly looked at him with her big round eyes, I wondered if she knew what he was asking. To my surprise, she answered with a short and sweet, "Princess!" I chuckled softly at that.


Audrey the Mischievous Girly Girl


In Front of Cinderella's Castle

Audrey is in SK this year. She's now able to read simple Seussian sentences like, "The hat is on the cat."  She started school as a very quiet student but now has warmed up in class. Being the middle child, she's very dramatic at times. She's a girly girl and wants to wear dresses all the time. She's also gotten the artistic genes from mommy and likes to draw.  Just last weekend, she received 2nd place in a colouring contest at Chinese Martyrs.  I feel like she'll grow up to be the girl that everyone wants to hang out with, because of her fun loving nature.


Athan the Maturing Young Man


His Tastes are Definitely Grown Up!

Athan has matured quite a bit. When he was 3 and was going to Montessori, the teacher once sent home a letter complaining how he would not listen in class and can't seem to keep his hands to himself. We were very worried and continued to worry about him until his SK year.  It has been a gradual but very visible turn for the better. He even got the All Round Performance award in his class last year! This year, he started piano and is enjoying it so far.  The most impressive thing is that he's often the first to wake up by himself on a school day, gets dressed and finishes breakfast before mommy is even out of bed (although the motivation is to play video games before leaving for school '-_- ).  We're really happy with his progress!


Adele the Big Sister


Little Young Lady

Without a doubt, Adele is the big sister.  She is super responsible and is always helpful.  "Adele, can you get your sister buckled?...Adele, can you look after Amelia for a minute?...Adele, can you brush Anne's teeth?"  These are often our requests and she would have no problem helping us.  We're so thankful for her help.

This winter, she got interested in Harry Potter and have been reading the set of books.  She has now far exceeded our reading speed, plowing through the 800-page novel in a day...how is that even possible??  Many parents want to encourage their kids to read more, but we're faced with the problem of Adele reading too much!  She would even walk up the stairs very slowly while reading a novel!  I recall when I was still doing my Master of Theological Studies at U of T that I struggled with all of the reading assignments.  Each week, we would be assigned hundreds of pages of readings and on top of that, write pages of reflections.  I'm sure she will be more like my fellow students, who had no issue with the readings, than me, who struggled to read half of the assigned readings!


Trip to Orlando

In September, just a week after school started, we took a week off to go to Orlando.  Why in the middle of September after school started?  Well, earlier I met up with my old boss, Michael, from ATS, and he told me about how he brought his wife and 7 kids (!!) to Orlando the week after school started and it was awesome.  If that man can recommend going the week after the start of school, who am I to question his wisdom!?!

Indeed, we had an awesome time.  Since September was still Hurricane season and school had just started, the crowds were so much smaller than at other times.  The longest line that we waited in was an hour at Space Mountain.  All other lines were under 45 minutes and sometimes, none at all, when using Fast Passes.  And in terms of weather - perfect!  The days were hot, but surely not as hot as in July and August, and it only rained for about 30 minutes the entire time we were there.  We did get a bit anxious seeing Hurricane Florence just miss Florida and made landing in the Carolinas instead.  But speaking with locals, they say that Orlando is actually very well situated; most hurricanes land either north or south of the area, which may be why Disney World and other attractions were built here.

Anyway, we won't go into too much detail about Disney or Universal here...but I did want to talk about how we got there.  I had been watching airfares for a better part of the year and was recently made aware of Frontier Airlines, which is a budget airline that flies mainly in the US.  There were some fairly good deals throughout the year, but for this trip, I found one that was simply unbeatable.  My first choice was to fly out of Buffalo for obvious reasons, but the flights were still not as cheap as I'd like them to be.  I then increased my search radius and that gave me 3 more airports to search from: Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, all of which were about 4-6 hours drive away.  Then I found it, the impossible fare!  I found a direct flight from Pittsburgh to Orlando for $40 USD round trip!  With luggage, we ended up paying $350 USD for the entire family - 7 human beings!  To top that off, my travel credit card gave me a rebate of $100 CAD for luggage fees.  In the end, we paid about $60 CAD per person.  So, go ahead and visit Frontier Airlines and send me a cheque for all the money you're going to save!

Lastly, here's a super funny video of "Meet the Raptor" attraction at Islands of Adventure.  It was so well done!

Meet the Raptor at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Surf's Up!




Battling Darth Vader at Hollywood Studios

Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure

Fireworks Were Worth Staying Late For!

My Favourite Attraction: Meeting Princesses!

Swimming at Resort

In Pittsburgh Just Before Flying Out


Stay Tuned!
There's much more to 2018!  Stay tuned!

Good morning!  It is 10:15 am on January 24, 2018, exactly 22 hours after Amelia was born.  Both Renee and Amelia are sleeping right now (this is usually when I write these posts).  We are actually all well rested.  If there was one word that would describe this delivery, "smooth" would be the word!  We hope this continues to carry forward to the next few months, but now having said this, I've probably jinxed it! Lol!

Anxious Over a Blessing
Many of you know that we use the Natural Family Planning (NFP) method as a natural means of contraception.  It is the only way that is morally acceptable in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  I wouldn't actually call it contraception, because it's really not.  The way it works is entirely through abstinence (i.e. not having sex) during the days when the woman is fertile.  So, it's not like you're having sex and the method prevents fertilization of the egg.

NFP is highly scientific based and claims high success rate (95%+, similar to using a condom).  Basically, we have to monitor the vaginal secretions to determine when Renee is fertile and abstain on those days.  It's actually quite simple.  However, it turns out that we're not very good at it!  Lol!  With Adele, we successfully delayed pregnancy.  We got married in August 2006 and then only started trying to conceive in mid 2008.  So, it worked quite well for about 2 years.  However, I think it's always difficult for parents to have their first, and subsequent children seem to be easier, but that observation is entirely anecdotal.

Fast forward to the conception of Anne.  Her conception was, well, unplanned.  I don't think it was due to the failure of NFP, but rather on our part to adhere strictly to the method.  I'll be the first to admit that NFP is not easy.  Just like fasting during Lent, one needs to exercise self control and discipline.  Looks like we lack either or both! Lol!

With the conception of Amelia, it was also unplanned.  This time, we thought we had followed the rules, but perhaps we did not make our observations well enough to determine whether Renee was actually fertile or not.  So, for us, NFP has not worked well in the practical sense.  And reflecting on it, I can certainly understand.  Since both Renee and I are easy-going, carefree people, I can see how a method requiring discipline would not work well for us! 😅

So, when we found out that we were pregnant with Amelia, we were obviously very anxious.  Questions like, can we handle five?, can we afford having five?, how will we make it work?, etc., started surfacing up.  We were also worried about putting too much stress on my mom, who is super-grandma and helps us in so many ways.  It was never a question about whether we wanted more children.  We love them to death; it was more about our ability to support them.  It is again, at this time, that I needed to read and re-read Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?"

Over the course of the entire history of humanity, a new life has always been seen as a blessing.  It is only in the last century that children have become a burden, rather than a blessing.  Actually, I want to be a bit more precise in my wording.  I believe it is actually the thought of a new life that is a burden to families.  Eight months ago, both Renee and I were so anxious after having found out that we were expecting.  Now, all we can feel when we look at Amelia is joy and gratefulness.

Go ahead and ask any parent out there who have children who were unplanned this question: do you wish that you had never given birth to your unplanned child?  I'm willing to make a serious bet that you would not find one parent who would answer with a "yes".  Sure, it's not easy raising a kid.  Sure, you would have to make countless sacrifices.  But to me, bringing any one of my children into this world was truly my greatest achievement in life.  Raising them up to be good, kind, and responsible adults will be my second greatest achievement.  Would you be surprised if you heard further good news from us?! 😉

Back to the Story...
Amelia's due date was January 24th.  Both Renee and I are natural procrastinators.  We had largely gotten ready with one exception: Amelia's crib is a large storage bin currently.  That's a small thing, but at least, we were somewhat successful in clearing some of the stuff that have accumulated in our room over the past 2 years.

On Monday, the kids had a PD day.  I was planning to work half day and then take them skiing in the afternoon.  However, once I was in the office, meetings became more meetings and I didn't end up leaving until 3:30, which was essentially a full day after having started at 7:15 in the morning.  Anyhow, Monday was a very, very foggy/misty day.  Visibility was about 5 meters in Milton when we went skiing.  Coincidentally, we were planning on naming Amelia 曉嵐, or literally "dawn mist".  When we left for the hospital at 7 am, it was very misty as well.  So, I think God is telling us that He likes the name as well.

Interestingly enough, when Adele was born, we wanted to name her 曉月, or "dawn moon".  The morning we left for the hospital, the sky was very clear and we saw a setting full moon.  I think God likes that name as well! 😄

No Walking Required
Renee's contractions started intermittently at 8 pm on January 22, which became more consistent at around 3 am.  By the time it was 6 am, they were occurring about every 7 minutes, with some shorter and some longer.  When Anne was born, we almost got turned back home because Renee was only 2 cm dilated.  So, we took our time this time.

Once we got to the hospital, we walked up to the birthing unit.  Before getting to the desk to sign in and get admitted, Renee had a contraction in the hospital hallway.  A nurse asked how she was doing and what baby number this was.  When we said five, the two nurses freaked out and asked us to go into the delivery room just beside where we were standing.  I asked whether we needed to get signed in first and she said, typically yes, but since it looked like she could pop any moment, we would go into the delivery room first.  When the nurse examined Renee, she was already 7 cm dilated!

The nurse who ended up helping us was Louise.  She was a middle aged lady who was very assertive and just funny overall.  When she learned that Renee was tested positive for GBS (Group B Strep infection), she got very anxious.  Since antibiotics needed to be administered at least 4 hours prior to birth, she was afraid that it wouldn't be enough time.  If there was not enough time, Amelia would need to have bloodwork done and potentially stay longer for monitoring.  Louise was determined to delay the birth as much as possible.  So, she ended up not examining Renee at all, as to not inadvertently break the water.  Getting to 12:30 pm would get us to 4 hours.

This ended being a relatively easy labour (sorry, I know that's an oxymoron).  Renee was instructed essentially to lie in bed and just try to delay the birth.  Once she was in bed, the contraction slowed down and averaged around once every 10 minutes.  The strength was also quite bearable.

At about 11:45 am, Renee's water broke by itself.  After that, the contractions started getting significantly stronger.  It was apparent that the birth was imminent.  When it was around 12:10 pm, Louise was fairly sure that Renee would deliver soon.  She said that it was ok to give the 2nd dose of antibiotics 15 minutes early.  She got that all set up rather quickly and administered the dose.  About 1 minute later, Renee felt a lot of pressure and Louise got to work, asking her to push.  At that time, the OB, Dr. Liao, was in the operating room doing a C-section and was not available to deliver.  A resident doctor, Dr. Maude was just on her way in.  There was also a medical student who was helping out, but it was Louise who delivered the baby...and with one hand, because she didn't even have time to put on both gloves.  Louise was our hero!  Even with the resident and medical student there, Louise was commanding the room!  It was quite a sight!

It was quite a smooth delivery.  Renee only needed to push once and there was no tear.  Amelia was born at 12:15 pm and weighed 6 lb 2 oz at birth.  She was about 100 g shy of the passing mark for weight, and like all of our previous kids, she has to stay in the hospital for 36 hours for monitoring of blood sugar levels.  This means we'll be going home Thursday morning.


So Far So Good
The first night went very well.  Amelia has been a good eater and sleeper.  She latched on well immediately after birth and has been eating well.  Also, she has been sleeping quite well.  I actually feel well rested after last night.  Her blood sugar levels have been consistently well above the threshold.  We're really hoping this continues!

If you wonder why we had chosen the name Amelia, here is one of the stories of St. Amelia.  We think that's a pretty awesome story!  The name also means "industriousness" or "defender".  Donna was Renee's late aunt's name and we named Amelia in memory of her.  In my limited time with Aunt Donna, she was always so caring and generous.  I distinctly remembering her taking us to a restaurant (大平館) in Hong Kong, which was famous for their invention of their "Swiss Chicken Wings"  We pray to the Lord that Amelia will grow up bearing the traits of her patron saint and great Aunt!


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!
Tonight, Renee and I went to a Latin dancing session.  She was invited by her co-worker to this event held by the Toronto Chinese Business Association.  The first half of the session was a networking session, mainly aimed at helping their members meet people for business purposes.  We obviously weren't there for the networking, but we met some nice people and had some good conversations.  We met a gentleman who helped people invest in real estate (i.e. buying a property, finding a tenant, etc.).

The latter part of the night was a Latin dancing lesson.  It was taught by Renee's co-worker, Josie, who teaches dancing on the side.  She was really good.  So, we learned a little Merengue and a little Salsa.  Honestly, it was more fun that I had expected.  I actually didn't want to go at first...partly because I don't particularly enjoy dancing, and partly because it was a busy week.  So, anyway, this was fun.  It was my first time learning how to dance and I think I wouldn't mind taking up more dancing if time allowed.  Maybe in a few years when my various commitments taper off.

So, if you're a guy and your girlfriend or wife asks you to go dancing, try it out.  It may be more fun that you imagine!
This December has not been good in terms of health for our family.  I was literally sick for 3 weeks, starting at the end of November.  Then, about 4 days ago, Adele came down with a fever and a cough.  Since this happened over Christmas, there were some mandatory family events that we could not miss.  So, we dragged her with us to a couple of parties, and even to my own birthday party (which was a surprise, by the way...but more on that in another post).  This is the 4th day that she's had the fever and we're starting to get a little worried.  My brother, Eric, who's a family doctor, took a brief look at her and thought she was not in too bad of a shape.  But he didn't have his "tools" (what are they called anyway?), so he couldn't properly examine her.  In any case, she's just constantly tired and is sleeping probably 80% of the day.  It sort of worries me what infection she's got.

Her cough is also not helping.  Because she's so young (almost 20 months), she doesn't really know how to control a cough.  So, for the past couple of nights, she's gagged herself during coughing and threw up in bed.  It's the most painful thing to see...the poor little girl going through all this pain.  I never understood why my parents always hassled me to see a doctor when I was sick, but I guess now I do.

To make matters worse, Renee seems to have contracted the infection from Adele.  She's feeling dizzy and has a headache and a sore throat.  They're now sleeping upstairs.  And what can I do to help?  I just feel so helpless and useless.  I remember reading or hearing somewhere (believe it's originally from St. Bernard of Clairvaux...after some googling) that there are 4 degrees of love, in ascending order:

  1. Loving self for self
  2. Loving other for self
  3. Loving other for other
  4. Love self for other
The least selfless love is loving the self for the sake of the self.  E.g.) I buy an iPad for myself because I want to own an iPad.  The second degree is loving another person for sake of self.  E.g.) I love my wife, because I feel good when I love somebody.  The third degree, often thought of as the highest degree, is loving the other for the sake of the other.  E.g.) I love my wife and sacrifice for her so that she would be better off.  However, that is not the highest degree.  The highest degree is loving the self for the sake of others.  And here is where it applies to my situation.  I must love myself (i.e. take good care of myself) for the sake of Renee and Adele.  Since they are both sick, I need to care for myself first, because if I also become sick, then that would do them no good.  So, the love of the self is in fact, a selfless love.  It is the highest degree because it may be most difficult, but yet, the right thing to do.  The direct application in "real" life is during an airplane safety video, "when the oxygen masks drop from the overhead compartment, put the mask on before helping others with their masks..."

So, I'm going to go to eat some fruits, take a nice hot shower, shave (yeah, I shave in the evenings...weird!), and go to bed early tonight, because I need to love myself!  And to all you caregivers out there, please take good care of yourself too!
To Renee, my daughter's mother. You are the love of my life and from you comes the second love of my life.

And
To Susanna, my mother;
To Anita, Renee's mother;
Without you, we wouldn't be here!

And
To Mary, our heavenly Mother. Without your intercession, I would not be writing this!




It's 12:54 am on May 12, 2009. I'm sitting here in Room 368 at the Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga. My wife, Renee, and my newborn daughter, Adele, are sleeping soundly beside me. As I reflect on what happened in the last 72 hours, I can't help but feel a little overwhelmed. I don't think I will ever fully understand a mother's love, but having seen what Renee had to endure leading up to Adele's birth, I think I now have a better appreciation for a mother's selfless love for her children.

I remember when I was young, in Chinese school we studied a famous essay called, "Motherly Love" (母愛). I never quite understood why so much emphasis was put on a mother's love, as opposed to a father's love. I now have a bit of an idea.

Renee's contractions started around 2:00am on May 9 (yes, the date is correct). They were not very regular, nor were they very intense. She didn't even wake me up at that point. They were, however, uncomfortable enough to have kept her up all night. The next morning, we canceled all of our events for the day, in hope that labour would begin shortly. The contractions did become stronger and more frequent, but not frequent enough (i.e. once every 5 minutes) to require going to the hospital. After dinner, the contractions became significantly more intense and we knew we were getting close. Just after midnight, both of us were fairly tired and wanted to see if we could catch a quick nap, but lying down only slowed down the contractions and so, we forced ourselves to stay up.

At 4:00 am, we decided to head off to the hospital. We went to wake up Rachel (Renee's sister) but found out that she was just lying in bed, having trouble falling asleep because of all the excitement. We got to the hospital at 4:20 and got assessed at around 4:45. At that point, Renee was 2 cm dilated, which was apparently not enough to be admitted to a delivery room. We were instructed to walk around the hospital until 7:00 am because walking helps the cervix dilate a little more quickly. So, that's what we did and we also went to the Tim Hortons in the hospital to grab some breakfast.

When we got back at 7:00, we waited in a room for 45 minutes until being assess again. This time, Renee was 5 cm dilated and was officially admitted. Our nurse, Annie, was really helpful and encouraging. To her, everything we did was perfect and Renee always made excellent progress. By 11:00, Renee was 7 cm dilated. At that point, I could notice that the contractions really started to become very painful. Before this, Renee was always walking, talking, and laughing in between contractions, but now, she mainly rested and closed her eyes while she could. And when the contractions did come, her grip on my hands were a lot firmer and I could feel the sweat in her palms.

At one point, Annie got a phone call that her daughter-in-law had given birth to a daughter, and naturally, she had to leave to see her new grandchild. Another nurse, Barb, came to replace her. Barb was also an excellent nurse. By this time, around 12:30, Renee was 9 cm dilated, but there was a lip at her cervix which prevented Adele's head from progressing farther downwards. Barb had to use a catheter to empty Renee's bladder to create more room. It looked like a painful procedure to me, but Renee didn't complain one bit. I was absolutely astonished by her endurance!

Finally, after 1:00, the lip on the cervix was gone, after Renee changed to a sideways position. It was finally time to push the baby out. I could tell it was the most painful part of the delivery because Renee said to me a few times that she couldn't push or that she was in a lot of pain. I felt so helpless because all I could do was tell her that soon it would be over and we would be able to see our daughter. I wanted to take the pain away, but all I could do was watch her experience it over and over again. I asked myself silently, how I could ever get mad again at Renee or give her attitude or be impatient with her, for all the pain that she has had to endure to give birth to our child. 

Then, at around 2:00, we saw the tip of Adele's head slowly emerging with every push. Finally, at 2:13 pm, on May 10, 2009, our daughter Adele was born. It all happened so quickly. I could not quite fathom how a baby of such size could be born in this way at all. I simply cannot imagine the pain that Renee felt. 

And there she was, Adele, my daughter, lying in front of me. You know the feeling when you're on a roller coaster when it goes down that first big hill? When your heart seems to want to jump out of your body? When your heart beats 200 times a minute? That was the feeling I had when I saw her there. I could not help but let tears well up in my eyes. Doctor Stein then handed me a pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord. My hand trembled so much that I missed the cord the first time. The nurse then put Adele into Renee's arms and she held her ever so tenderly. Doctor Stein had to stitch Renee up, and while he applied the local anesthetic with a huge needle, Renee's gaze was still fixated on Adele, smiling and tearing at the same time; she did not flinch one bit. All she cared about was that Adele was now here, in her arms. And this is the epitome of a mother's love!

Now, I understand why we should call our mothers more often. Now, I understand why we had to study the essay, "Motherly Love". It is for all of the sacrifices that they have made for us, not only during our births but over their entire lives. We fathers, will always ponder what it is like to give birth, but that is the privilege reserved for mothers, and we must forever respect that and be grateful. Now, go tell your mother you love her!
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