Wow, hooray! Cassian Archer Yang was born the day after my last recipe post, 4 days before his due date, and tomorrow he’s 2 weeks old! Bringing life into the world was nerve-wracking since it’s so unpredictable (even the healthiest women have complications when delivering), painful (obviously)- but what I didn’t realize was that I’d feel the most pain through recovery as I can still barely walk for longer than 20 min. As they all say, all of the pain is worth producing life and you basically forget it all.
On 3/18 at 3:30AM I woke up from an abdominal cramp and by the third contraction, I started thinking I was having contractions and nudged my sleepy Oly who reminded me to observe and count it for an hour. After a call to our hospital + OB, we gathered our bags and Oly calmly drove me to Providence St Johns by about 6:30AM while I asked him to talk about anything to distract me from the ongoing waves of pain (Wordle, which was appropriate). We drove by my office and I decided to text Dylan my coworker since that day wasn’t the day I was going to grab banh mi with Dylan, but the day I possibly may bring life into the world.
Until my cervical exam, I was anxious that we’d be “rejected” and resent home; I’ve heard too many of these stories of pregnant women being resent home due to false or too early labor. The staff wheeled me into labor and delivery and although a nurse poked me with needles until my arm oozed out blood and misevaluated how dilated my cervix was, the sweet supervisor came in, re-evaluated my cervix, and ordered them to transfer me to the delivery room since my cervix was actually 7cm dilated.
I was relieved to see my sweet OB Mana Baskovic visit. Even though they were surprised that my pain level was 5/10 with these contractions by then and assumed I’d be fine for the actual delivery part, I still opted for the epidural because I didn’t know how much more (pain) there was to go and I was feeling slightly irritated and tired of the contraction waves getting stronger from 3:30 AM. With this being my first childbirth, I didn’t want to remember childbirth as a horrendous experience of me lashing out at Oly, staff, and loved ones.
That morning while James the badass anesthesiologist had me sit upright while he stuck that needle into my spine (a rush of cool vibes ran down and gradually I wasn’t able to feel any contraction/pain belly button down)… my nurse Valery asked me if I wanted boba after my labor. Being offered boba honestly lit me up and while I entrusted all the staff, science, Oly, and my body to handle everything fine, the offer of boba felt too great to be true. I am so thankful that I watched the Youtube videos of various childbirth/doula experiences and participated in some Lamaze and Maven classes because everything helped me understand what was going on; I didn’t have the energy to ask and my mind was such a blur.
Many times, there’s a lot of waiting. Oly tried to get the HDMI cable to connect our Switch, but since it wasn’t working, we decided to switch to B plan: watch Guardians of the Galaxy. Once we finished the movie, my OB Mana came in to break my water (yeah, it wasn’t as epic as Pam’s water breaking at the office) and by 3:00 PM they asked me to start to push.
I had so much mental pressure to get our son out, (not the physical, painful pressure one may feel when actually pushing since I had my epidural) First I prioritized putting my headphones on and began my “push it” playlist. Then, I held Oly’s hand (thankfully I literally cut my fingernails the night before) and imagined trying to push as if I were pooping. Soon my OB and nurses told me to just have the music blast off my phone. Because my face kept scrunching up, it was much harder to exert significant energy.
Yet after watching this crowd of Oly on the right of all these nurses/my OB, I was getting frustrated with all the “almost there’s” since his head just kept coming in and out (literally, famous words of Ali Wong) If there’s one thing I hate, it’s wasting everyone’s time and energy of trying to motivate me, with me losing progress over and over again. I was so sick of it by 4:00 PM, that I gave everything I had and shot out our baby like a cannon that neither Oly nor me saw him come out. Weezer’s Perfect Situation was playing, then Weezer’s Hold Me. How appropriate, right?
Warning: some of the photos down this post may be a little graphic with some blood.
The 1/4 sugar milk tea boba Valery and James got me was hands down epic and one of the best boba I’ve ever sipped (not the shitty, watered down and tough boba). Every other time I pampered myself to get boba, but this time I felt like I really deserved it and won in my life. I look like absolute shit here but it accurately displays how I felt from being in labor for 13 hours and not eating anything for 11 hours – a drained yet deliriously happy champion.
Nobody really knows exactly what to expect after giving birth, but what typically happens is the placenta coming out with the baby and the umbilical cord, possibly the partner (in my case, Oly) cutting the really thick cord, and a lot of crying and hormones just being dispersed all other the damn place. I looked like shit, and before when I was so nervous about breastfeeding it felt natural to weep with my baby brought to me, weeping on my chest and quickly breastfeeding him to calm us all down. Once Oly lowered down and hugged us, tenderly kissing my head, I cried more as it was a very sweet moment for our very own family. I continued to keep Cassian on my chest for the recommended hour for that precious skin-to-skin mother and baby bonding time, and they proceeded to check his weight, height, and vitals.
Although I knew I was going to be a mess, nobody told me that I’d get second-degree vaginal tearing, wouldn’t be able to pee for 2+ days, and would have some of the worst vaginal/abdominal pain for ~2 weeks. Getting a catheter inserted into me multiple times was extremely painful since I was so swollen; my favorite nurse on my second day even called it a “train wreck” and struggled to insert the catheter in me with other nurses because it was so swollen. When the most intimate and sacred body parts throb in pain and the most basic human releases of peeing/ pooping are stripped away, it’s extremely humiliating but humbling. I honestly didn’t know it’s so recommended to breastfeed my newborn every 2 hours.
I said it then and I’ll say it again:
I thought that after the epidural wore off, I was fine to move to the postpartum recovery area with our next nurse. When I got up with another nurse to try to use the restroom (who told me to not look down), I fell into the temptation of staring down at my vagina, which literally looked like two hanging dicks, side by side (think Ali Wong again) Amused, I called for Oly to come over, but by the time I stood up and looked at myself in the mirror, all colors and shapes started to fade away and all I saw were a bunch of dots. I was dizzy as hell and started to feel I was going to vomit. I hate vomiting and started to fall into a chair but was brought to a gernie with several nurses quickly giving me an IV and cranberry juice. Because of that, I wasn’t transferred to my postpartum room until around 930PM that night where Oly and I finally also enjoyed my first meal that day: Cassia.
While I originally was hoping we could leave the hospital ASAP (the second night was horrendous with Cassian cluster feeding) I am so thankful we stayed for another night. Many thanks to the nurses and hospital staff who cared for us, equipped us with recovery gear and resources to help me figure out how to breastfeed, encourage me and laugh with / hug me when my body was able to pee. Science is amazing, the human body (especially a womans’) is so badass, and Ali Wong’s jokes were never so raw and real to me. They were always right.
Celebrating Baby Yang’s baby shower was much more blissful than I expected; I first thought of hosting a baby shower but was concerned with 1) how friends and family would respond to me having an in-person baby shower during this pandemic 2) the cost 3) the effort having to host one 4) my guy friends being too awkward about joining in something traditionally “for women only”
As I was closing in on my last month “the final stretch” I decided to invite and host family and friends over to our home for an in-person baby shower because 1) I’ve been really, really missing hosting gatherings 2) I’ve been missing my family and friends throughout the pandemic (I am still disgusted that it’s been 2 years and there’s a lot to go) and 3) I was and still am bummed that I just had 1 family member, 5 friends join our own wedding after all of that anticipation growing up and planning for the big day. My coach also reminded me that this day of memories could “replace” those memories – and fast forward, it has fulfilled all of those holes.
It was a total relief that the weather was sweet and dreamy, not too cold nor too hot for friends and family to easily hang out in our patio and/or freely into our home (while also seeing and sharing advice on our baby room set up). I wanted to make sure everyone felt safe and welcomed, so I had a mix of activities, food, and refreshments outside and inside our home from 9AM-5PM. I get that wedding food and baby shower food don’t need to be spectacular, but it was important for me to support some local businesses without having to make anything myself that could be appropriate for brunch/snacks/sweet tooths depending whenever our guests dropped by.
Thank you so much again Capri and Hangry Bakery for the delectable treats (and Tammy for doing my hair and makeup!) Instax worked really well because as much of a sucker I am for memory keepsakes, I didn’t want to be walking around snapping photos with everyone and worry about getting perfect shots but legitimately catch up with friends and family I haven’t seen in years.
As I’ve been reading more about labor and epidurals and Oly and I’ve been also watching more parenting educational videos, my belly has also protruded more to a point that it’s been much more difficult to move (yes, I feel more like a penguin than a pregnant woman sometimes and waddling is real) As I’ve been struggling to fit into my own clothes, I decided to rent a few RTR outfits including this Rachel Pally dress to save some closet space and not have to commit to buying maternity clothes.
My mother in law being a yacht enthusiast really worked out for party supplies; she has a gorgeous tiny boat model, a classy life ring, and various other nautical props. Facebook marketplace also proved to be wonderful in snagging hand-me-down server trays and being 1/4 mi away from Trader Joes proved to be wonderful for bundling a few of my favorite plants (Eucalyptus and pampa grass) and finding a new favorite like these Eryngium blue flowers.
Since my dad left for a more senior-appropriate home, we’ve turned his bedroom into our baby room – which has been an enjoyable work in progress that we like to work on a little every day. Although I was super enthusiastic about creating this Eames inspired mobile, Oly came to my rescue in finishing it up for me (I guess pregnancy hormones colliding with the anxiety of getting closer to my 3.22 (or the physical labor of delivery) colliding with more physical discomfort is catching up more and more)
By the end of the day (Thank you Weiyi/Vivien for coming at 5:30PM and asking about where everyone was), Oly and I were particularly relieved and exhausted. Opening up our home to our coworkers, family, and friends to celebrate baby Yang (a 2 in 1 housewarming and baby shower) was so pleasantly perfect that I think it made me happier to celebrate this milestone with Oly than our own wedding celebration. It also helps that Oly and I are such morning people and would much rather have friends and family trickle in than a dense crowd of friends and family at night. Was it worth it? Hell yeah.
O and I originally wanted to get married 6/20/20, which then was pushed earlier to 6/6/20 for the sake of hosting our wedding at our preferred venue. Who knew that with a year of planning and being so schedule oriented (heavily organizing everything on Google sheets + checklists) we still had to scrap everything? With COVID heavily affecting our lives day to day and concerned overseas family/friends inquiring about our wedding… we decided to postpone our wedding.
I was in complete denial that we’d have to postpone because 1) we’ve scheduled with our vendors and organized so efficiently over Google sheets, so postponing wasn’t “possible,” 2) we spent 9 months planning + coordinating and I was exhausted 3) I was going to pick up my customized wedding dress that I bought with $$$ and 4) I believed that we’d have enough time with beaches reopening in May and our wedding being just barely “safe” in early June. (Hoorah! right?)
Yet after reading that fashion runway shows and concerts originally scheduled for the fall were postponed/cancelled, I realized that a June wedding was too optimistic and incredulous. I couldn’t expect our friends and family to come celebrate with masks by June. I also wouldn’t want to remember my wedding day being filled with hand sanitizer/masks. After screaming into a pillow, we emailed everyone that we were postponing our wedding (and continued to scream into my pillow). While some friends sighed in relief that they could make the ones a few weeks/month after me, I was definitely bitter about being the cut off.
Tip: There are only a few wrong responses you can say to a couple who has a postponed wedding because of a pandemic… and that is one wrong way.
But ultimately, this whole pandemic is a life or death matter; to even think about possibly “going on” with our 80+ person wedding, possibly infecting someone (anyone) and them possibly have symptoms is terrifyingly selfish. Really, love is patient, love is kind – (insert all other biblical definitions of love here) … No matter how many masks /hand sanitizer/ social distancing practices we use….
Pandemics don’t pardon parties – and parties can always wait.
With a friend suggesting that we just do something happy and personal on our designated wedding day, we tentatively decided to at least (possibly) get legally married with paperwork on 6.2.20 as the latest option for that month period of when we contacted the OC bureau via phone. Because LA’s bureau was closed, I didn’t want us to keep having to call the OC bureau, and COVID + black lives matter protests changing every days’ curfew, we decided to just try to go for it and have the required check in with the bureau the day before our scheduled legal marriage date.. Many of our friends and family were confused thinking that meant that we’d completely scrap a wedding ceremony/reception where they wouldn’t have the opportunity to ever join (def…no!)
After researching more extensively, I realized that this wasn’t the “end” of it but a very strange and hopefully fantastic beginning – life is all about improvisations, right? I also have friends who saved thousands of dollars to purchase a house first – then respectively threw their well deserving party with everyone the following year(s) later than when we’re all poor-er. As a woman approaching her 30’s… hey, I get it.
Fast forward to 6.2.20 – 2 days after I flew back from NYC, 1 day after I dyed my hair from blonde to brown and received my first haircut in 1 year… we made it. My fabulous photographer Mike/Villa Visuals saw my announcement of getting legally married at Honda Center, contacted me telling me that he could actually swing by to snap some (stellar) photos of us since he’s nearby, Oly assembled his gopro for us, we tested it late that morning, I did my makeup as best as I can with eyeshadow for the first time, and I slipped on my Bali dress. My mom picked out flowers and assembled it herself and drove me over to meet with the rest of our family in Anaheim’s parking lot. A sheriff scorned a few couples incl. us for mingling with supportive family/friends, so we had to leave our parents/dogs/O’s bro in the car. By our designated time slot, O and I walked up to a kiosk with his mom as our witness.
Was it weird? Obviously yes. I never thought I’d literally get married by some random officiant in a kiosk and mask kissing in a parking lot of a hockey stadium which I knew 0 facts about; I’d like to say that that’s just a part 1 and a circumstance to step into another phase of our lives. In a way it felt magical … (as magical as it could be to “have” our family/friends around via a gopro and being paranoid about the black lives matter protests/curfew) Quite cheesy, but at the end of the day, love… is love.
One perk of something I’ve been looking forward in being a Mrs. Yang is easier reservations. No more repeating my name 5 times, no more “it’s line without the e” it’s “lin” not “rin.” … but more importantly, it’s really nice being officially stuck with Oliver. Oliver is as peaceful as his name means + he’s been a great friend for the past decade + a compatible roommate for the past 3 years. We can be heroes.
Fast forward to a 1+ month later after getting married… is life that different? No, not really. I pretty much feel like it’s still June with the exception of my birthday coming up. I’ve become numb to the facts that I’ve missed my bachelorette party in Mexico City, wedding in Malibu Beach, and am currently missing my honeymoon in Europe + our other friend’s wedding in Germany (that was cancelled). I’ve passed the point dreading of how “2020 is shitty” because I’m just (trying to be) thankful for my blessings like being alive/healthy with Oly, and hoping the best for my friends and family out there + those in the research and healthcare industries. Surely, America sucks terrible right now. But we can make it suck less.
We take it day by day and are extremely thankful for our photographer Mike for capturing these and making us look 100x better with our furry little friends and family. From the bottom of our dear hearts – thank you friends and family around the world for the constant support and love. We genuinely hope everyone just keeps wearing masks + stay safe. We WILL celebrate with everyone when things settle down. XOXO.