First Night

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Dear Niko,

Tonight, it took me all my courage and acting skills not to cry in front of you.

It all began last Monday. You and I went to Target and you found yourself drawn to a coffee machine toy (you and your love for food and drink toys). You asked if we can buy it and I said we’ll buy it if you ever sleep in your own bedroom. You agreed and asked to add one more toy to the deal, preferably a Transformer. I said okay, thinking it’s too soon anyway. You were still too clingy to not sleep in the same bedroom as me. We left Target without buying any toys.

Then, today, we had to make another Target run. You mentioned the coffee machine toy again, that Fisher Price rip-off of Keurig. You remembered our deal. Coffee toy plus a Transformer = you’ll sleep in your bedroom. I was amazed that you remembered and apprehensive you’d keep your end of the deal. So, I negotiated you open the coffee toy today and if you sleep in your bedroom, you get to open the Transformer tomorrow. If you don’t, we return the toys. We did a pinky swear because those are sacred to you.

We bought the coffee toy, a Transformers toy and walkie talkies (this was my idea – hoping we could use it to talk from different bedrooms). Your papa installed the toddler rail on your new bed and relocated your humidifier/night light to your new room.

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You were excited at first then you were afraid. We reassured you that we’ll stay with you until you fall asleep. Being around us, you were hyper for a bit but finally, you’ve fallen asleep.

Part of me is so proud of you… of what an awesome negotiator and brave little boy you’ve become. But part of me is also wishing you’d wake and come running back to our bedroom, back to me like a little baby.

You’re growing up and becoming more independent so fast. Way too fast for your emo mom.

This is super selfish but I still wish time would slow down for us. When you’re a teen and feel like hating me, I hope you read this. When you’re a grown man and want to leave the nest, I hope you read this.

Love you forever, Baby Bear. As long as I’m living, you know the rest.

Love,

Mama Bear

Second Birthday Blues

Hi Niko,

It’s your birthday.

You turn two today.

Time goes by so fast. I’m happy you’re growing into a smart, handsome, kind (sometimes crazy) boy. But at the same time, I feel bad that so much of your life is passing by without me at your side.

I often wonder how other moms do it. How do they go about with barely any sleep, cook all the meals for the family, keep the house clean, do the laundry, do budgeting, spend 50-60 hours working and still care for a young child?

Truth is, without your father and Tita (and/or Grandma) – I really don’t believe I can manage. I either go nuts trying to get work done or I feel extreme separation anxiety when I am unable to spend more time with you. So yes, the house is constantly a mess and the next meal is always a mystery. For someone who plans ahead and manages a lot of projects at work – I just plain suck at managing a home.

Often, I come from work tired out of mind – that I am not even able to give our family quality time.

But know that if I had a choice, if we can afford it (this state, and country in general is insanely expensive), I will leave the corporate world in a heartbeat to care for you full-time. I am not sure if I will be any better at keeping up with chores but I know I’ll be the best damn mom that I can be, not half-assing like I am right now.

Know that I keep working not only because I want you to have a better life, the best life. I also keep working because I want to excel at something (in addition to being your mom). So that when you grow older, you’ll know that at some point, in some other way, your mother rocked. Then, maybe, I could hope to inspire you like you continue to inspire me.

I love you, Son.

Hope you have a happy birthday!

Love,

Mama Bear

Mama’s Boy

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Dear Niko,

You are currently at an age of extreme attachment to me. During your earlier months of life, you seemed more like a Papa’s boy. But recently, what a big Mama’s boy you’ve become. It fills me with pride when your eyes brighten whenever you see me. You probably just associate me with food, milk, clean diapers, books and sleeping time but I manage to convince myself that you must love me.
I have to admit though that as much as I love you and as cute as I’m finding all this, it’s been a struggle to do anything other than attend to your needs. Every time you spot me, you reach for me… and every time I walk away, in the absence of distractions, you cry for me. My heart breaks each time you cry for me. I tried the whole saying goodbye properly thing with you and it didn’t work. So, on weekdays, I’ve had to revert to wishing you don’t wake up around the time I leave for work.

I know this is just a phase. There will come a time when you will no longer ask me to hold you, when you will no longer jump with excitement at the sight of me, when I’ll be gone and you’ll no longer look for me. It makes me sad thinking about how someday, you will outgrow needing me – the same way you outgrew your clothes, your jumparoo, your carseat…
But until then, I will enjoy this moment. And even if you forget/deny ever being a Mama’s boy, I will always remember. And even if you reach a point in your life when loving your mother so much is not as cool anymore, I promise I will still love you.

Love,

Mama Bear

The Arrival of Baby Bear

When your father and I were still trying to get pregnant, I managed to waste a box set of 5 pregnancy tests in just a couple of days over a false alarm. It was the type of pee test where two stripes confirmed pregnancy while one stripe meant “Sorry, try again.” I used up all the tests thinking, Maybe that’s just a blurry second line, maybe I’m really pregnant. I wasn’t really pregnant, not that time at least.

It wasn’t until March 11th, 2015 that I got my first positive result. I just woke up to get ready for work and with my period delayed a week, I thought of peeing on a stick. This time I used the test for people like me that see invisible lines out of sheer optimism:

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I called your father and asked him to drive back home (he was still close to the house when all this unfolded). I had no elaborate plans to surprise him with the news. He walked in, all worried, asking why I called and I showed him the pee stick. I forget what he said but I remember how happy I felt when he smiled right before hugging me. It didn’t last very long (because he was running late for work) but it was the sweetest embrace we had ever shared since we got married.

Anyway, your father asked me to not use up a whole box of tests in one day to confirm the pregnancy. So, on March 14th, 2 more tests concurred that my hcg levels were high enough:

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I’ve already shared with you how I struggled with hyperemesis gravidarum during the first half of my pregnancy. I also mentioned some other pains I felt during the later half. But I don’t think I’ve told you that your father and I were planning a last little getaway before you were born.
We booked a weekend at a bed and breakfast where we were supposed to sleep in this room:

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…and dine with this view:

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But on the Friday leading up to the trip, your father and I ended up spending the night in a hospital. I was confined due to preterm contractions and was given medication to prevent me from going into labor. The next day, I was discharged and ordered to take off work sooner for some bed rest.

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Every week, the doctor was expecting me to go into labor already. But my cervix never dilated until the night of November 14th, one day later than your original due date. Even then, the hospital sent us back home because I was “barely” dilated.
On the midnight of the 15th, your father and I drove back to the hospital since the pain from my contractions had become unbearable. But according to the resident, I only opened 1 cm. I was put on morphine rest to help with the pain. Honestly, it was useless. The pain still barreled through me and the morphine only relaxed me enough to properly breathe through the contractions.
Around 3 to 4am, I had dilated to 7cm. I was in active labor and was administered epidural with my speedy consent.
Around 7 to 8am (forgive the inaccuracies – your mother was pretty messed up during this time), my cervix hardly changed and your head, my dear child, had not come down… at all.
Between 9 and 10am, it was decided that I would deliver through C-section. The operation started at about 11am. I didn’t hurt until anesthesia wore off much later. However, I did feel the poking and pulling on my insides, and I did shiver uncontrollably from what seemed like extremely cold surgery room temperature.
At 11:39am, you were born. 9 pounds and 2 ounces. The doctor said that you were such a big baby, there was no way my anatomy could have handled delivering you naturally.
Another doctor made a comment on your ultrasound weeks before. Based solely on your 4D image, he concluded that I would be having a beautiful baby. When I first saw you, first heard you cry, nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful I found you, how overwhelmingly thankful I was that you’re alive, you’re well and you’re finally with us.

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When you grow up, I will constantly remind you of how tough I had it while I was pregnant with you. I will also tell you about how tough I had it after giving birth to you – from a not-so-fun C-section recovery, to you catching a virus, to my run-in with gallstones (which I am still currently dealing with). But no matter what I tell you, know that you are worth going through it all… and that I love you very much.

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This post is a little bit late as I have still been adapting to your arrival. But welcome to the world, Nikolas Ryan!