Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Had a Miscarriage

I went in for my follow-up scan and prenatal appointment. The news continued to be bad: the baby has not grown at all and at this point my pregnancy is considered a miscarriage. Since I still haven't had bleeding of any kind, I need to have a procedure to remove the pregnancy sac and other byproducts of pregnancy. It is currently scheduled for this Friday.

Surprisingly, I wasn't that upset to receive the news from the doctor, as I already strongly suspected this would be the case, and had already largely worked through my feelings of disappointment and depression. It was more just a confirmation of something I already knew. When I told my mother the news, though, she warned me that I might feel very sad directly after the procedure itself (she had a miscarriage herself, and had a similar procedure, so she speaks from experience), which is something I will be on the lookout for.

Even though I don't feel especially devastated, I am still disappointed. I was really looking forward to having a small baby to love and care for, and to feeling as if our family was finally complete. My main hope now is getting pregnant again as soon as possible, which is the primary reason I chose to have the procedure done (as opposed to waiting for nature to take its course, or taking a course of medications to induce bleeding).

I hope that it won't take too long (since so far I have been able to get pregnant quickly). Thankfully for me, it is possible to get pregnant right after a miscarriage; in fact, there is some evidence that getting pregnant shortly afterwards results in better outcomes. If I am lucky, I could have a baby by the middle of next year: later than I hoped, but still not that far away. This is my main consolation at the moment (besides being able to travel for Christmas with my family in the United States), so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be lucky, and won't have to wait too long for my dream to come true.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

R Tries Tae Kwon Do

R is not a shy, retiring child. I will always remember R being teased by two older boys (maybe two years older?) on the playground. Her response was to start slinging insults back--"Well, you're stupid!"--in a completely unfazed, undaunted sort of way until they retreated from her back to the safety of their parents (who burst into laughter at R's chutzpah). At her age, I would have cried and been traumatized for the rest of the day.
One of her favorite alter egos is that of a "fighter pup". She pretends she's a dog named Roxie (I don't know where she got the name, she came up with it herself), who defends the "babies" and animals against bad guys. Roxie is ready for action, with a wriggling tail (R's leg, which she will hold up in the air as she crawls around on all fours) that has a tendency to kick/smash people and things.
In general, R isn't especially aggressive, but if another kid starts something, she will definitely respond in kind, even if that includes a physical altercation. She is definitely feisty, ready to stick up for herself at all times (it always surprises me how ready she is to ask strangers for things she needs). Usually this is good, but sometimes it is expressed in less-than-desirable ways, like pushing other kids out of the way if she wants something.
Based on her personality, I thought she would enjoy tae kwon do, as a way to positively express her more aggressive impulses. So I signed her up for several months of classes. She liked it at first, but it turned out to be too structured (and involve too much disciplined waiting) for R at this point. Maybe we will try again in a few years. Watching her in her little uniform was pretty darling though.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Imaginarium at the Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum (which we have visited multiple times) has hosted an annual contemporary art exhibition for children for the last five years. We have been to the last three, and they have all been great shows for kids, with lots of cool interactive exhibits and projects.
This year the exhibit (entitled Imaginarium) is no exception: we have been twice so far, and had a fantastic visit each time. Most of the works are really interesting, like Chiang Yu Xiang's We Built This Estate!, a room full of Tetris-shaped giant building blocks kids can use to create massive structures (a huge hit with R).
Her other favorite, Lee Jeeyoung's Dream House, features a house reminiscent of the Hansel and Gretel witch's cottage, in that it looks like it's made out of candy. Inside is a huge bowl filled with "candies" (little cellophane-wrapped ornaments) which kids can take to the neighboring "forest" and use to decorate the trees. R spent about 20 minutes here (which for her is a loooong time) carefully hanging the candies. Such a creative and cool idea!
To accompany the exhibit, the museum hosts a whole slew of public programs giving children the opportunity to create their own artworks. On our second visit, we attended a workshop allowing R to make her own "house" out of different papers and glue, which she really enjoyed.
Overall, the exhibit is absolutely worth a visit if you have small children in Singapore, especially given the price (free if you are a citizen or permanent resident, $10 otherwise). Highly recommended!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Feeding the Parrots at Jurong Bird Park

Thinking about birds
We go to Jurong Bird Park quite a bit, since it's close to our house and we have a membership there, making visits more-or-less free. Last time we visited R had a good time doing the usual stuff: running around in the water play park, admiring the strange and interesting birds, and eating popsicles (her favorite treat there, even though they also have ice cream: is she really my child?).
R at the 30-meter-tall waterfall inside a different aviary
R also took a big step in finally daring to feed the lories, small colorful parrots from Australia. The bird park has a really cool exhibit of them, a 9-story-high enclosed aviary where the birds roam freely. For a minimal fee, you can buy a little cup of white watery mush to feed them, which generally attracts at least a few birds.
R timidly putting the food out for a lory
Talking to the lory and encouraging it to eat
She has always been too afraid to feed them herself on our previous trips (she is generally quite shy of animals, partly because she doesn't get any exposure to them in everyday life: even pet dogs are not that common here, as compared to the US). I was very pleased with her for being so brave!
Finally daring to actually hold the food for the lory
I fed them too and (luckily, since it would have terrified R) the lories really liked me. At one point I had at least five crawling all over my head and shoulders. They wouldn't even get off when I walked around and I had to literally shake them off.

 It is really fun to feed them and well worth the few dollars it costs!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Burma 2014

In April 2014, we took a week-long trip to Burma (or Myanmar), which I never got around to posting about. This isn't because I didn't like the country: quite the opposite!
One of the numerous gold-covered pagodas
Of all the countries in Southeast Asia that I have visited, Burma is by far the least Westernized. It has a complex political history, including rule by a military junta until 2011, which resulted in numerous economic sanctions by the US and other states. Burma opened up to foreign investment and tourism recently, in 2013, but remains relatively uninfluenced by the West in some ways: for example, there are almost no international brands like McDonalds and Apple in evidence. Men wear skirts (the traditional longyi), women smear a beige plant-based cosmetic all over their faces, and tourists are still a novelty.
Typical street scene in Yangon
We visited only the two most touristed places in the country, Bagan (home to thousands of temples built around 1000 years ago) and the capital Yangon (or Rangoon), and flew to both, meaning we didn't see much of the rest of the country. Even in these places, R tended to collect a crowd wherever she went, to the point that even the usually social and extroverted R got overwhelmed. Both were fascinating and full of beautiful, gold-embellished temples (the Burmese seem to be a very religious people). The food is good, if a bit oily, and the people were lovely: so friendly, hospitable and warm.
Buddhist monk with a cell phone, man wearing a longyi and woman covered in thanaka: but R is the attraction
I would love to visit Burma again someday, to see Inle Lake and Mandalay. Maybe I will be lucky enough to do so before we leave Singapore.
Woman carrying wood, Bagan

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bad News at the Prenatal Appointment

I had my first doctor's appointment for my pregnancy yesterday, which included a scan of the developing embryo.

It did not go well. The pregnancy sac is measuring at 5 weeks, but according to my memory I should be around 9 weeks pregnant. Either I made a big mistake with calculating the pregnancy, or I have what is called a "failed pregnancy". I suspect it's the latter, though I have another scan and appointment scheduled for next week, when things will become more certain.

I feel sad and very disappointed. I so wanted to be pregnant, and was really looking forward to having a second baby. My fears about this pregnancy have come true. It also feels unfair, because I have suffered through multiple weeks of feeling pregnancy-sick, and now it turns out it was all for nothing. I didn't really have an emotional attachment to the embryo in itself, but to the idea of being pregnant I definitely did, and it is so deflating to realize what I longed for isn't going to happen, at least right now.

B points out there are some upsides to the situation, such as that now I will be able to visit my family over Christmas (before I would have been too pregnant). He also tells me that since I got pregnant so quickly the first time, I will probably get pregnant again soon and it will just be like it took a little while to conceive. He is right of course, and I am trying not to get too sad and discouraged, especially because it negatively impacts the rest of the family.

Disappointment and the end of a dream are hard to deal with sometimes, though.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Boating on the Perfume River, Hue, Vietnam

 Hue is dominated by the Perfume River, which charmingly winds right through the middle of town (I love the name too, so picturesque!). Not suprisingly, there are a lot of options for river exploration.
 One day we rented a swan-shaped paddleboat and had a very fun couple hours tooling around on the river (we would have stayed longer but I was worried about sun exposure for R).
This was one of the highlights of the trip for R: look how happy she is! She loved steering even though she wasn't very good at it (luckily it didn't matter at all, so we were glad to cede control to her).
 Another day we rented our own motor boat (ours is one of the boats docked at the roadside) and sailed down the Perfume River to view nearby palaces and pagodas. This is a very popular trip and available everywhere (though like most tourist-oriented things in Vietnam, it's buyer beware: be careful not to overpay or accidentally get booked on a tour with a hard sell of additional services/products).
R and I playing a Jake and the Neverland Pirates game
 The boat was great as we had it all to ourselves and R had plenty of space to roam around. I was happy it was completely roofed (and even had curtains) to help keep her out of the tropical sun. Part of our boat rental included lunch prepared and served on the boat, which was both nice and convenient.
 We bought R a little Vietnamese style suit at the first stop, at her request: she liked it because it was pink. So cute to see her in it though!
 The first stop on all these tours is the Thien Mu Pagoda, at seven stories Vietnam's tallest. The pagoda is right next to the river, so boating there is both easy and fun.
 R riding one of the huge memorial stone turtles, a symbol of longevity. She just liked them because they were animals.
R gave a hug to one of the temple guardian statues
Next stop on the tour was the Tu Duc Mausoleum. Motorbikes will meet you at the place boats dock and for an additional fee will give you a ride directly to the mausoleum (less than 10 minutes). We chose to walk instead, which in retrospect was not a good idea. It was too hot and sunny, and the path is not clearly marked so that we got lost. Trudging along blazing hot pathways with an increasingly grumpy three-year-old is not any fun at all.

Luckily we found a small store (really just someone's house where they were selling some cans of soda occasionally) and rehydrated in the shade of their veranda, hanging out with the owner, the owner's wife, the owner's son (none of whom really spoke English, but all were very friendly and charmed by R), goats, dogs, chickens, and cats. We got directions of a sort and soon found our way to the Mausoleum after all.
It is a huge complex--the emperor used it as a retreat for himself and his court during his lifetime--and full of beautiful old trees and atmospherically crumbling buildings.

The roof architecture is especially decorative.
Happy doing my favorite thing, visiting historical sites!
We took motorbikes back to our boat, having learned our lesson the first time. We had rented the boat for a full day but were so tired from our hike and tomb viewing that we skipped seeing the other tombs and just returned back to Hue around 3 pm. Still a really fun day out, and a perfect close to our time in Vietnam.