Thursday, January 24, 2013

Laws of Pregnancy

Your hormones are crazy. 
You are going to cry. 
You will cry over spilt milk. 
You will cry when someone dies in a movie. 
You will cry when long lost lovers in a book are united.  
You will cry when someone says you're beautiful, if someone you love is hurt, 

and when your Pandora radio station plays "Can You Feel The Love Tonight." 

Stock up on tissues.

Monday, January 21, 2013

On Dating Chinese Men: My Three Chinese Romances

Jocelyn Eikenburg over at Speaking of China has asked that some of her blogger readers speak about what it is like to date a Chinese man. Understanding that dating a Chinese man in China and dating a Chinese man in America are two completely different topics, I’d have to say that Chinese men are pretty much like all the other men out there. As I understand it, there is a different set of rules for dating in China, but since I have no firsthand experience on that topic, I’ll stick to what I know.

When it comes down to it, Chinese men are just men. Perhaps they say things differently, show love differently, but I would never try to put all Chinese men into one large category. My three Chinese romances were vastly different.

James was tall, rich, good looking and very full of himself. When he took me to the Valentine’s Banquet my sophomore year of high school, he wore his own tuxedo. I knew he was trouble, but I liked him. He professed undying affection for me and told me I was different from all the other girls. What 15 year old can’t like that? But I knew he was trouble, and so when he asked me to be his girlfriend, I said no.

Turns out, it was a good call. The next day I saw him holding hands with my best friend. Apparently, they’d been “talking” for quite some time and I was the only one who didn’t know. I suppose that was my first “Chinese romance.”

Joe was shy, which made sense because he spoke very little English. He understood more than he could speak, though. I could tell by how agitated he’d get when we all talked about Mr. Least-Favorite-Professor between classes. If a Mandarin speaking classmate were there, he would burst out a short stream of intense feeling to be translated to the rest of us. A conversation with Joe was slow, but always worthwhile, and I enjoyed being with him.

I’m afraid, however, that I frightened the poor guy. I was anything but shy, always willing to share my opinion or jump into a conversation. I tried to be subtle about my interest, but I’m afraid that anyone as shy as Joe would have been scared off by my forwardness. He remains a good friend, but nothing more.

It was almost four years until my next (and final) Chinese romance. In fact, I didn’t expect it to be a romance at all. A blind date with an older man I’d met online was already a bit sketchy. The fact that he was Chinese made him an even less likely candidate. By that time I had encountered a myriad of Asian men, and I found them to be reserved, formal, and a bit awkward. I braced myself for an uncomfortable evening.

The man I met that night completely obliterated my expectations. He put me so at ease that our date lasted well into the morning. After a few weeks of him taking me out to dinner, getting to know my friends, and telling me how beautiful I was without trying to get into my pants, I realized we were falling in love. Of course, the rest is history. I got pregnant (oops), we decided our love would last, and now we’re married with baby #2 on the way!

You can’t generalize about the men of one race. Each man is different. Sometimes I think it would be easier to explain why Mengyao is so wonderful by saying, “Well, he is Chinese,” but the fact is that he is just a guy. Sure, he happens to be Chinese, and that is a big part of who he is, but that’s not what makes him wonderful. He is wonderful because he is wonderful, a fact that would be true if he were Chinese, Taiwanese or Scandinavian.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Parenthood is...

...gently saying, "Okay, put down the knife. Now put down the bunny," because tea time is done, and it's time to take a bath.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Parenthood is...

...making a huge pile of pillows in the living room, because it makes everything more fun.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Laws of Pregnancy

Always have a can of Bush's baked beans on hand. 
You never know when the desire 
will strike.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mean People

Being in the early stages of pregnancy has brought back a few painful memories that I wasn't able to hash out publicly last time because it was too close to home. Now, almost 3 years later, I think I can go back and talk about them. My purpose here has always been to be raw and honest, and this needs to be talked about. Women who get pregnant before marriage are persecuted.

I'm also going to address abortion, because that is something I get asked about a lot. It was never an option for me. For reasons that I cannot completely explain, I believe it is wrong. There have been debates and arguments about when a fetus acquires a soul, and isn't birth control just an abortion pill, and to be quite honest, I don't have the answers. And I'm not going to discuss them either. They are irrelevant in this conversation. When put on the spot, I use my husband's words, "Abortion is morally riddled."

I should follow that up with a small tangent, because I also feel strongly that abortion should not be outlawed.  Being unwed and pregnant can be a desperate situation, were people do desperate things. A woman who desperately wants an abortion will get one whether it is legal or not. That opens the problems of untrained practitioners, procedure complications, and the risk of infection. Legalizing abortion provides professional care to the women who want it. 

(I've heard some say that if a woman gets an abortion, she deserves to die. Shut up. You're a jerk. Who are you to choose which lives are sacred?)

Anyway, to the primary topic.

The second post that I ever wrote was Dealing With Mean People. I didn't talk about those people, or how they were mean, or what the consequences were for me. It hurt too much, and in fact it still hurts today. When certain people found out that I was pregnant, they persecuted me.

Some of them didn't mean to. The woman who emailed my mother to console her since I had "fallen into sin" surely thought she was being kind. As did a (former) friend when he expressed sorrow that I had been "trapped by the shame of fornication." I suppose, in their minds, it was their duty to provide comfort to my parents during my shame. It never occurred to them to pass along a hello. They never thought to ask how I was doing, or if there was anything I needed. As far as they were concerned, I was a lost cause, better to be abandoned.

My mother, by the way, gave them what-for, told them that a baby was a reason for celebration and that they could (more or less) can it.

Other people put me down by not doing anything. Nothing can help you sort out your friends like an unwanted pregnancy. Emotional support came out of the woodwork from the most random, unexpected and wonderful places. (My mother-in-law for one. Even though she didn't know me, and didn't really trust me, she constantly pushed weird foods on me and gave me diet advice, which I have now come to understand is her love language.) Still, the silence from many of my childhood friends was deafening. As if ignoring a problem will make it go away, or that affiliation may tarnish them, they have remained out of contact.

Finally there were those who had a more direct approach. At the top of the list was my husband's grandparents, who suggested that I got pregnant on purpose to secure myself a wealthy man. (Though to give them credit, they knew very little of me besides the fact that my family was not well off, and that I was studying the arts. We have come a long way since then, and I'd like to think that I have risen in their esteem.) There were a few people who pointedly stopped speaking to me. It was made clear to me that pre-marital sex is a sin, and that my sin had made me into nothing.

And so I wrote a post about mean people. I took my anger out on poor people who were not very good at talking about pregnancy, and the loud football players who lived above me, and myself. And now, three years later, I'd like to say what I truly feel.

To the people who persecuted me:

Not one of you is a bad person, but you are the reason that some young women have abortions. It is the shame you put on them that drives them to hide their mistakes. It is the misery you remind them of that makes their situation desperate. If you are truly strong to your convictions, you would celebrate me. You would congratulate me for facing the consequences of my own actions without flinching. You would hold me up as an example to other women because, even though it would have been easy, even though I could have gone on with my life as if nothing had ever happened, I chose to uphold the sanctity of life. In your eyes I committed one sin. You would have driven me to a second.

To the people who supported me:

I don't know if I would be here without you. Without the support of people like my [now] husband, my parents, my grandma, and the rest of my family, I might have been shamed into a lesser path. Without my dearest college friends, without the amazing support of my classmates, and those childhood friends who stayed by me, I might have betrayed my own convictions and sent myself into a true darkness where I would never have forgiven myself. It is because of you, and people like you, that some women choose life. You make life wonderful. You make the world a place I could not deny my child. You are the reason my wounds have healed. Thank you.

This has been an emotional journey for me, both in the three years it has taken to heal and in the two hours it has taken to write all of this. I'd like to end with an excerpt from my very first post. A message to all the young women out there who feel or have felt desperate.

Somewhere in this, the first post of this blog, I should tell you all what I hope to accomplish here. I think it's pretty clear that I'm not taking the short way out. I'm going to stick this out to the end. Whether that means keeping this child as my own, or giving it to someone else to raise, I don't know. I have seven months ahead of me, and I know that somewhere out there, there are other girls going through the same thing. So I hope that maybe they stumble across College Baby Bump in their web-surfing and know that they're not alone. I don't know where life is taking me right now, and it's frightening, but I'm going to be okay. We're all going to be okay. Trust me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

Today has been a sobering day for me. You see, it's my birthday.

Not that it hasn't been wonderful in many ways! My (sexy and hot-blooded) husband was home for the morning and let me sleep in, always a nice treat. My parents sent me a gift card and I was able to go shopping online, which is something I enjoy very much. And I had chocolate cake with purple frosting for dinner, along with a tall glass of milk and chocolate ice cream. It really has been nice.

What is so very sobering for me is that I am now 24, and for some reason I have never felt old before. On past birthdays, for instance my 16th or 20th birthday, my mom would ask, "So how does it feel to be 16 [or 20]?" and I would answer that it felt very much like being 15 or 19. 

But this year, I believe that I am 24. In fact, if someone had told me very seriously that I am actually turning 25 or 30, I might have been persuaded. For the first time... ever, really, I feel that adulthood has sunk in. 

I have a theory as to why. I look back at my childhood and think of my mom's birthdays. I can't really remember anything to mark them. I might have made her muffins, or perhaps Dad supervised a breakfast in bed surprise, but the fact is that after breakfast she got up, took a shower, and went on with her day. In fact, my birthday usually overshadowed hers and Dad's, since our birthdays are every other day: Dec 29, 31, and January 2. 

I also look back to my own past birthdays, when the thing I looked forward to most was to put on my favorite clothes and go to Chuck E Cheese, or the mall, or to a restaurant, or (later) a bar. 

But today, the best thing I could have possibly looked forward to was staying in my bathrobe until 1 in the afternoon, and eating chocolate cake with purple frosting at night. It's really all I wanted. And in between I did the grocery shopping, read "Green Eggs and Ham," did a load of laundry, and gave the dog a bath. 

I'm not disappointed. I want to be clear on that. But as I stood at the bakery counter today picking out my chocolate cake with purple frosting, I realized that this must be how my mom has spent her birthdays for about 24 years. And if this is how mom does it, then I must be an adult now. And that, my friends, is sobering. 

The good news is that despite my mother's (unmentioned) age, she claims that she has yet to grow up. This, for me, is why the chocolate cake with purple frosting was so important. So Happy Birthday to me, but here's a quick shout out to Mom and Dad for being awesome parents who have helped me get so far. Happy Birthday to you, too.