Monday, October 20, 2014

How I met your mother--your daddy's version.

Dearest Chloe,

I can't believe it. It's already mid October of 2014. 10 more weeks until your second birthday and the year 2015, which is year I have looked forward to since I made the decision shortly after your birth to leave you with your grandmother, my mother.

You are now 21 months. You are definitely your own person. You have your own personality. You make it known what you like and what you don't like. You definitely don't like strangers. You love ice cream. And even if I only see you on the weekends (not counting Skype), you definitely know I'm your mom. You say "umma" and my heart breaks into a ten billion little pieces. It explodes with such pride, joy, and love. 

But because you've gotten so smart. You broke our deal. Remember in one of my old entries when I told you that it felt like we were always going on a first date.? Every weekend, I would have to convince that I'm your mom, you'd eventually believe me and come Sunday, we'd part ways. This was on repeat for perhaps the first 18 months of your life but now it seems like you really know who I am. You cry and scream out "umma" every time I leave. There are times I can't stand it and would rather wait for you to fall asleep than leave Irvine. I spend majority of time on the drive back to San Diego holding back tears and sometimes I just can't. I try to stay strong to not upset you or grandma. I put on a brave face, kiss you, hug you and just tell you how much I love you and I hope and pray that's enough. I know you're too young understand why somebody who's suppose to be your mom only sees you so intermittently. 

So here we are..its been about 600 days since my maternity leave ended. When you were about 6 months old and 4 months into this back and forth relationship, I realized we had 100 weeks left until mommy took boards and I would bring you down to San Diego permanently. We are in week 67. 33 more weeks. It was suppose to be 33 more first dates but it looks like you've realized that's not what it is and it's actually 33 more weeks of our long distance relationship. During my drive last night, I thought about this and felt compelled to blog to you. 

But I don't want to make this a sad post. So I thought since we're on the topic of first dates, here's the story your dad wrote about how he met me. He wrote this for our wedding website and he doesn't like to write so I treasure it quite a bit. So let's move away from the sadness and focus on moving forward. But every once in awhile, we got to visit to the past. So here it is.

"It was just a routine day as Chuck stepped out of the hospital and walked towards the Bachman parking lot. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a beautiful girl on the opposite side of the street. Chuck took a second look without the girl noticing and quickly entered the parking structure. For some reason, the image of that girl never left Chuck’s mind. Chuck thought it was silly and nothing better to take the stress away than a heavy workout. Little did Chuck know, that girl would appear on the Stairmaster across the room facing the bench press. So, to create a chance for conversation, Chuck worked out for an extra hour in hopes of running into her in the free weights section of the gym. It was Chuck’s lucky day, the girl got off the Stairmaster and headed toward the triceps machine. “Hey, didn’t I see you at the hospital earlier? I’m Chuck, one of the surgical interns.” The girl looked surprised and replied, “maybe, my name’s Geri, a 3rd year med student.” The rest of the conversation revolved around her horrific experience with a medicine resident. Chuck offered his number with the excuse of “call if you have any questions about clerkship,” an excuse in retrospect sounded extremely lame since what can a surgical intern offer in terms of help about a curriculum that he never experienced? To Chuck’s pleasant surprise he received a text that read “I think I’ll take you up on your offer :)” The first date seemed like a blur to Chuck because something about Geri made him lose track of time. Chuck knew this girl was different but he still had no idea of what’s to come. Almost immediately, Chuck and Geri became inseparable and to Chuck, Geri’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him. The rest of the story is history…"

So there it is. and here's something else I want to add. After 6 months of dating and pretending to be cool that there was not yet the "girlfriend" label, on October 11th 2010, exactly 4 years and 9 days ago, your father finally asked me to be his girlfriend. If I only I knew then that he would propose in no less than 5 months later and then we'd be married 3 moths after that. That was our whirlwind romance where when you know you just know. So today, I thought I would also share some pictures of your mom and dad--pre you and earlier into our training, in case you wonder why we look so much younger.

Our first Photo Booth photo. We became "official" boyfriend girlfriend later this day.

One of our date nights. 

no real significance to these photos. just your daddy being silly.

The proposal 03-13-11 (4 days before Match day!)

Match day 2011

Our engagement photos

Engagement photos part 2 fob style

Rehearsal dinner 06-17-11

Our wedding 06-18-11

So what do you think? Your mommy and daddy were once young and just a couple kids who fell in love. 

Lastly, don't you ever forget that life without you is now unimaginable. You were our biggest and most perfect surprise. Don't you ever forget it.

Love, mom

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What? Less than 11 months now!!

Dearest Chloe Bear,

It's been awhile since my last post. I told myself I would update this on a monthly basis but it's been a little hectic these past couple months. I'm going to be better because I think it will really be special for you to read this when you're all grown up.

So what have mom and dad been up to lately?

First of all, I was able to change the header of this blog! Woohoo! Mommy is now a third year radiology resident and your daddy is now a orthopedic chief resident! We're getting closer to being finished and hence, the title of today's entry! What? I can't believe it! You are now almost 19 months old and in less than 11 months, the day I've been looking forward to since you've been born is approaching.

First of all, I want to go into details about what you are up to in your life recently. You are becoming quite the talker. You have added some English to your vocabulary. Some recent words include baby, bye and hi! Some new Koreans words includes dark (you say ggam gaam), which you say when we turn off the lights, mung mung (for dog), bird, ball and po guh (which means it is po's, which you picked up from us saying that when you try to steal all of po's toys!). You are down to one nap a day. You sleep a great ten hours at night. You've always been a great sleeper! Here are some photos :)

You love making funny faces!

You went to baby bible camp with grandma and this is from your last day where you had your first stage experience! So sad I missed it. :(

I absolutely love it when you hold my hand!

We recently went to the beach! 

We are still going to gymboree classes!

You are becoming quite your own person. You are so smart. You definitely know what you want and definitely have no problem letting us know. You know that your daddy is the weakest link and when you want TV time or ice cream time, you approach him first. You have him even more wrapped around your finger it's ridiculous.

You had your first visit to San Diego since your last visit when you were only 6 weeks old! It was great. We're bringing you again this weekend and we're going to the zoo! I spent the past 3 months making your little girl room and it has made me so happy to set it up again.

On our way to San Diego!

First time in your San Diego little girl bed!

I remember distinctly coming back from maternity leave and the pain of taking down your crib.   I remember being OCD and buying things such as a bumbo seat and high chair while you were still inside mommy. I remember bringing these things to grandma's as you would need them as you got older. I felt as if the physical reminders that I had a daughter were disappearing one by one.

There is a hole in my heart for every moment I am not with you. The first year of your life was very difficult for me. Most people believe it's simply sleep deprivation when I mention just how hard it was in the beginning. It was so much more than that. It was the cause of sleep deprivation, which I find hard to explain due to the unique situation you and I are in. It was the overwhelming guilt that I felt that I was not fulfilling my duties as your mother.

It took me a very long time to truly believe that completing my residency and leaving you with grandma was ultimately the best choice for both you and me. As the days get closer to you being with me permanently and as I get a taste of life with you as your primary caregiver, I feel the hole getting slightly smaller. I believe rebuilding your room into a little girl's room was one baby step to making me feel complete again.

It was simply divine watching you sleep in your room. I would just stare at you as you napped and before I knew it, my eyes filled with tears. For the first time, I had tears of joy. I have spent a good amount of your life filled with tears of heartache, guilt and pain. But now, I am going to spend the rest of these less than eleven months with a different approach.

Thanks to your grandma and my mom, you have grown up into such a happy and healthy almost nineteen month old. You have surpassed all of my expectations and life without you is now unimaginable.

I try to think about what would have happened if I hadn't met your dad and how then there wouldn't be you and then there wouldn't be our family. I can't imagine it. Our family consumes my every thought and being your mom brings me the utmost happiness. I realized due to my guilt and my fears of letting you down, I have not allowed myself to enjoy the true joy of motherhood, which is simply being in love with being a mom.

I experienced this feeling during your weekend in San Diego. As I watched you sleep and through my tears, I had an epiphany! I, Geraldine Chang, am defined by being your mom and that makes me so incredibly happy. I am so honored to be your mom and I can't wait to watch you grow up.

I really can't wait baby bear! But there are some more important hurdles I need to get by first! I'm applying to fellowship currently and I'll hopefully find out where I'll (We'll) be going by October. Your daddy is going to Yale for spine surgery. I am so proud of him! We both need to take boards. I'll be taking mine in June and he'll be taking his in July. I already have 2 potential pre-schools lined up for you. My last year of residency is going to be great. I'm petrified and so excited at the same time!

I am going to be a "single" mom doing residency with a 2 and half year old. But patience is a virtue. I suck at it but I know in our case, patience has won. I couldn't be happier with the way you are growing up and residency is going well for both me and your dad.

We're getting there. You'll be here with me in less than 11 months! Daddy will be done with fellowship in 2 years. I promise you after that, we are never ever going to be separated!

I love you to the moon and back baby girl!!!

Love, mom

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Truth about motherhood!

Dearest Chloe Bear!

I cannot believe it's already May. You are a little over 16 months and I have determined that you are the funniest human being in the world. Your personality is becoming so apparent and it's amazing to see me and your dad in you.

Before I start, I'll just go over some of the milestones you do now! You're running! You have a pretty extensive vocabulary for someone your age with words including mom, dad, food, peekaboo, no, grandma, grandpa, and po. You are attending gymboree classes on Sunday with mom! I love it. You have a lot of stranger anxiety which makes me a little worried about you starting pre school next year but at the same I love how you make me feel special when you want me and only me! You have a very strong opinion on what you want to do and what you don't want to do. You love jewelry and you're always trying to making any thing thats long enough into a necklace! I can go on and on. But bottom line is that you're becoming your very own person and watching you grow up makes me feel so honored and blessed to be your mom.

So before I go into the "truth about motherhood," some recent pictures!

So the reason, I titled this blog entry, the truth about motherhood is because I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my thoughts on being a mom and in light of recent mother's day just really reflect on what it takes be a mom and just how grateful I am to my own mom, your grandma. This will just be a list, all of which are true regarding motherhood. So here it goes, your mom's version on the reality of motherhood!

1. Pregnancy is the easy part! I feel as if society is fixated on the whole pregnancy part of having a baby but nobody really talks about what happens next! Yah, you'll get fat, have some reflux, get a little nauseated and in my case, even get appendicitis. But it is a piece of cake compared to what's to come. Because, well go to #2!

2. Your life is no longer your own. Up until you have your first child, your time is all yours. You're free to do whatever you want, whenever you want. But the moment that child is born, your needs are no longer priority. This tiny little human being needs you to keep him or her alive. It's a humongous responsibility.

3. You do not sleep. Sleep deprivation takes on a whole new meaning. A little human being is constantly attached to your boob because you are his or her's only food source. You will look at your husband sleeping peacefully next to you and thoughts of wanting to punch him to face will happen. (Insert apology to your dad; Sorry babe! I know you read this.)

4. Baby blues are definitely a real thing. Hormones crash and I mean crash after having birth. They don't just plateau and your body definitely goes haywire. A combination of crazy hormones and sleep deprivation can really take a toll on somebody. It definitely did with me because on top of that I had the guilt of returning to work after only 7 weeks of maternity leave. And by work, I mean residency. The guilt consumed me and I never could forgive myself in those moments when I felt I was failing you as a mom. It took a long time for me to feel better. But now seeing you happy and healthy, I really cannot ask for more in life. 

5. You lose a ton of hair. Hair just falls out tremendously for the first six months. I would find chunks of hair in the shower, on the bathroom floor and on the pillow. It was gross. It freaked me out. But on a side note, because of this, your dad was so sweet and got me a hair conditioning treatment for valentine's day this year to assuage some of my insecurities with all this hair loss! Your dad, he's a true keeper!

6. You bleed a lot. This is probably way too much information especially for your dad who's probably the only person that follows this blog avidly. But just saying, on top of sleep deprivation, hair loss, becoming a human cow, you also have to deal with a ton of bleeding for up to month after having a baby!

7. I like to call the newborn phase the "blob" phase or also the "brainstem" phase. You do a lot now! You're like a total acrobatic show compared to what you did a newborn. It's really hard to get excited over a newborn other than the fact oh yah, that blob is mixture of you and your significant's other DNA. But like I said due to the numerous other stressors in your life at the time, you don't really focus on that but you focus on this tiny little human being that looks more like an alien who only eats, poops, and sleeps sporadically.  Humans need positive reinforcement and a newborn is totally incapable of saying "hey mom, you're doing a great job!" But yes, despite being the cutest "blob" in the universe, I thrive on positive reinforcement so this phase of your life was especially hard.

8. Newborns poop a lot. I think you pooped maybe 10 times a day and it was yellow and grainy. It was also very watery. You had unending poop. I can't look at dijon mustard the same way anymore. Enough said. 

9. Newborns make a lot of noise. Being the light sleeper that I am and also being super wired from the hormonal crash, I lost even more sleep to the weird grunting noises you would make as a newborn. You sleep like an angel now, by the way. But yah, now I reflect on those nights and think about how cute and innocent you were but then, truth be told, it was miserable because it would just keep me up all night!

10. But the most important part of all of this is that the moment you were born, my Chloe bear, I became a mom. I might not know what the hell I was doing but the moment you came into world and I held you in my arms, I took on the incredible responsibility of making sure you became a decent human being. I might have had all those struggles mentioned above but even in the very beginning when I looked at you and couldn't get over the fact that you were truly my daughter, I knew everything was worth it. It only became better with time with your first smile, with the first time you called me mom and now when you run towards me with your chubby little legs and give me a bear hug. Everything is worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. (Another side note, I would definitely not say the same for residency.)

The point of this entry is to not tell you just how hard it is to be a mother. But for it to serve as a reminder to me that being a mom isn't all about the picture perfect moments of what might appear on social media/facebook but it is about putting somebody else first. Being a mom is the ultimate act of seflessness and as a selfish human being by nature, I was so surprised at how easy it came to me. Every day is a reminder that it is one day closer to being done with residency. I remind myself every day I am doing this for you. Every day I tell myself that I would want you here but that you are living in the best possible environment with Grandma and you are happy and healthy. This pain I feel from being away from you is only temporary and it means nothing if it means your happiness and safety. 

If you ever need a reminder on how special you are, remember this Chloe, you made me a better human being. You made me into a mother and to me, I will forever be grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to raise you and care for you. As my firstborn and the only child I will have during residency, you will always be so special to me. I love you more than words can say.

Love, Mom 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Advice on love, marriage, and life from the 28 year old version of your mom

Dear Chloe,

You are now officially 1 years old! We celebrated your first birthday! I know you won't remember any of it but I will remember it for the both of us. It was a perfect day to celebrate both your birthday and my first year of motherhood. It was beautiful and you were the happiest baby! I want you to know I meant every single word I said in the slideshow that we showed you at the party and one day when you're older, I'll let you watch you again.

My vacation also ended so I'm back in San Diego doing the whole residency and missing you thing. Your dad is currently in Boston, Massachusetts for his fellowship interviews. Being alone (well, not completely alone since I have Po here) makes me realize even more just how lucky I am to not be alone in this world.

This entry is one that I wanted to write for awhile. As I get older, I am sure my outlook on life will change but I want to remember how I am as mom right now. In my daydreams, I always think of the future and your well-being. I think about how there is this huge responsibility now that I have brought this tiny little human into this world. You will ALWAYS be my biggest accomplishment and being your mom is the most rewarding role I have ever been blessed to have. Some of my thoughts go to what I hope to teach you and if I will be able to guide you in the right direction.

So here it is!

1. Travel the world! I can't stress this one enough. Do not be afraid to see the world. I will make sure you do. I am so lucky to have grandpa and grandma, despite not being the most well-off family during my childhood, show me the world. We had vacations every summer and at that time, I didn't really care for it but as I got older, it gave me the courage to explore the world on my own. I went to Spain in high school with my Spanish class, which showed me the world has so much to offer. Grandma took me on Korean tour to see all of Europe in 2 weeks in summer of 2005. It was awesome but it wasn't enough for me. I wanted to see more so summer of 2006, I went abroad to Cambridge, England. It was the one of the best summers of my life. Here is proof that your mom was once cool!

Cambridge University, Formal Hall


Tower Bridge in London, England

Paris, France
Eating snails in Paris

Trying gelato in Italy!

Platform 93/4 at King's station in London, England

Jumping photos in front of Versailles

Jumping photos in Madrid, Spain

2. Choose your friends wisely. I know when you're young that your friendships can only be superficial. Unfortunately, it will be a painful process when go through puberty and have to figure out who you are and what kind of person you want to be. As I got older, I realized that I can act like an extrovert but I really am not. I can function very well in social settings but I prefer the company of small groups or just one-on-one. I am lucky enough to have friends in my life that I can really depend on. You don't need 500 facebook friends but you do need friends who will hold you hair back when you've had too much drink, who will cry with you because the sashimi wasn't up to par, and who will be a part of every single important event in your life and want to grow old with you.

 From my white coat ceremony...

 to getting married...

to graduating medical school and to now, supporting me through motherhood and residency. I can't wait to grow old with these two.

3. Do not be afraid to be proud of yourself. I will teach you humility but I will also teach you to be proud of yourself. There is a fine balance. I believe that self-worth is how you become a secure person. It's how you know who you are and what you believe in. So you can bet if you bring home an A, it'll go on the fridge! But if I see you ever using your talents in the wrong way, there will be consequences! I have your grandparents to thank for how I turned out. They were always my biggest fans, supporting me every step of the way. They never had to say anything. I knew through their actions and their sacrifice. They were and are still so proud of me that I became and am now proud of myself.

4. Nothing in life worth having is easy. Trust me, baby girl. I tell myself this every single day. This blog in itself is for me to show you that this life you will eventually have did NOT come easy. Your dad and I are working every single day and it means so much more because you are in the picture. We have every intention of giving everything you need but there will be rules and constant reminders of all the sacrifices that were made to get to this point. I will never forget because this future that I envision for you is the only thing that is getting me through this time.

5. Do not be afraid to be different or to stand out. This piece of advice is also something I have to tell myself on the daily. People never root for somebody else to succeed. Unfortunately, that's the harsh reality of the world and human nature. On the outside, I know I look like I have it all and on the inside, I can tell you personally that I know I have it all. But like I said before, it's not easy and a path like mine can be very lonely. Nobody really understands what I'm going through other than your dad. People that love me are sympathetic but I always say there's a difference between sympathy and empathy. But I've gotten to the point in my life where I have that self-worth I was talking about and I am very secure. I love my life. I love just how different it is from everybody else's. I fight everyday to keep it and I will never stop fighting to be different. Doctor. Mom. Resident. Wife. I say bring it.

6. Do not take anything for granted. Have you heard this one enough yet? I will keep this one short. Life is short. Make it meaningful. Be grateful. You are so blessed. You were brought into world with so much love surrounding you. You have all the resources you need at your finger tip. It's up to you how you want to use it.

7. Be respectful. I will try not to pull the "I am your mom so you have to do what I say" card too often. But I am your mom. So you have to respect me. I don't mean just me. Respect your elders especially your grandma. You won't remember this time in your life but she's the reason that you are getting raised in an environment full of love. She's the reason that mom and dad are able to finish residency without any distractions. Be respectful to everyone, including your enemies. There are times where people will do you wrong. But let it go. Be the bigger person. Everyone makes mistakes. I do it all the time. But I try to be respectful. I recognize when I'm wrong and move on. At the end, as long as you're conscience is clean that's all that matters.

8. Respect yourself. There are so many people in this world rooting for you. Don't disappoint them. We don't expect you to be a doctor or whatever. Right now, all I can ask you stay a healthy baby. As you get older, all I can ask is that you respect yourself. It all goes back to that clean conscience. Can you be proud of who you are and what you do at the end of the day? You won't be a baby forever as much as I like. I want you to grow up to be lady (as much as I'd like to keep you as my baby...).

9. Never settle. My dream is one day for you to meet your prince charming and for you to have your happily ever after. I can say with confidence that I am living mine in my marriage with your dad. I don't mean with just boys. Don't settle with settle with anything. I could have been a pharmacist. My life would be hell of a lot easier but when I do something, I do it all the way. I have this mentality and so does your dad so that's why we get along. I don't want you to do anything that doesn't make you happy but when you find something you really like, go for it. Do whatever it takes. As for your future prince charming, you'll know when you know. Trust me.

10. We are always here for you. I can't emphasize this one enough. You are so important to me and your dad. You are never ever alone. No matter what happens in any moment, our love for you will never ever cease. We are your biggest cheerleaders, advisors, and supporters. We live and breathe for you now. You are our world. You make us a family. We love you so much more than these words can say. Don't you ever forget that!

My hope is that when you're a teenager or maybe a college student in your early 20's and you yell at me  at how uncool I am. I can show you this post. Hey, rude teenager or aloof college student, I wasn't that much older than when I wrote this entry so maybe you'll listen...

I love you so so so much.

Love, Mom