Panda Mom

July 4th is a little different this year

Our family on July 4th, 2020. Been thinking a lot about what this holiday, America’s birthday, means to us as Asian Americans who have never been fully accepted in the US. I wonder it will be like for our daughters’ generation or if they will still be perceived as the perpetual foreigner like we are (despite being fluent in English and growing up in the US).

Cadence is currently the only Asian in her daycare class. Her best buddy seen here is White. They love hanging out despite their race. I’ve been reading about how kids see race at a young age so we should start having conversations with her about it.
Panda Mom

A Mom’s First Birthday

I recently celebrated my first birthday as a mom. And I have to admit, I wasn’t gushing with warm feelings of motherhood and turning another year older. In fact, I cried! Tears of exhaustion and self-pity. Not the happy tears of enjoying sweet birthday bliss with my husband and new baby. Was that not a perk that came with being a new mom? Hah!

Leading up: My mother-in-law had gone on a 10-day cruise, so I had been home with Cadence for 5 days straight… alone. And by Friday, when my husband suggested going to a nice restaurant to celebrate the big 3-3, my mind must have been mush. For in that moment, it seemed like a good idea.

With the 9-month-old in tow, we set off for a romantic dinner at a fancy schmancy restaurant along La Jolla Cove. Our first mistake was to go here at night, since it was too dark to enjoy the views (you are paying for). Secondly, we could not find a babysitter, so we brought the only baby in the entire restaurant. You know it’s not baby friendly when there are no changing stations in the restrooms. And lastly, we were about to spend over $100 on a meal that we could hardly enjoy.

Now to Baby Cadence’s credit, she actually did pretty well. She sat curiously on her booster chair and ate her Puffs cereal awaiting the restaurant food. We ordered two beers (it was a special occasion), then perused the menu for food items appropriate for a baby.

For appetizers, we started with pita/hummus and bruschetta. Unfortunately, they were so flavorful, she spit out the food immediately.

Fancy schmancy restaurants make fancy schmancy dishes

For the main course, we ordered a salmon dish and beef steak. Again, the flavors were so strong. The salmon dish was garnished with many ‘toppings’ (including pomegranates – what?!) leaving only a small sliver of fish which I mostly fed to the baby. We boxed up the steak largely due to the guilt that it cost $35. (My husband did microwave it and eat it the next day though and said it tasted better oddly enough.)

By the end of the meal, Cadence was getting antsy to leave. So we chugged our beers and asked for the check. In record time, we had arrived at the restaurant and left in less than 40 minutes. This was less time than it had taken me to curl my hair for the birthday dinner. We took a quick photo and rushed to the car. Aw yes, of course later, I would see I was wearing the diaper bag in the photo. #momlife

As we drove home, I sat in the back seat with baby girl. I could feel the tears coming. Is this what it’s like to have birthdays now? Rushed and hectic and guilt ridden. Always thinking about the baby, feeding the baby, entertaining the baby. Hurrying out of restaurants with no time for birthday dessert.

Suddenly from the driver seat, I hear ‘are you crying?’

‘No…’ as I tried to hide the sniffles. My husband Danny continued to inquire, ‘why are you crying?’

I felt so embarrassed because I couldn’t quite put into words what I was feeling. Because I know I am lucky. I am lucky to have this super caring husband and this sweet baby girl. And while I have such beauty in my life, I can’t help but feel I’ve lost a part of me too. So yes, birthdays won’t be like they once were. And romantic dinners aren’t a thing if the baby is joining. And all of that is ok. I am slowly learning I need to change my expectations and adapt to the new me. Still trying to figure out who that is.

Turned 33 this year and my life is pretty damn good. But next year, I’m thinking we just go to Red Robin for the free birthday burger and kid friendly ambiance.

Panda Mom

Cadence’s Birth Story – March 8, 2018


March 7, 2018 – So labor begins…

On March 7, 2018, there was a gas leak in San Diego that led to gridlock traffic around town when my husband (Danny) and I got off work. That day I started to feel back-to-back contractions and we sat in that traffic hoping it wasn’t time to go to the hospital yet.

When we got home, early labor began around 8pm with mild contractions at 10 minutes apart. By 10pm, I called Kaiser Labor & Delivery to let them know the contractions were getting closer and closer. I tried to sleep but the pain was becoming stronger and more frequent; I laid on the ground, wrapped myself around the pregnancy ball, etc. At 4am, contractions were every 4 minutes and I started bleeding (bloody show). It was time to go! I took a quick shower and my husband packed up. He dropped me off at the entrance of the hospital as I waddled in. Quickly, a staff member got a wheelchair and brought me to triage. I was 5cm dilated!
The nurse was impressed that I had waited at home so long. Since I was already in active labor, I decided to get the epidural then. By 5am, we were waiting in the delivery room and contractions were intense! It wasn’t until 7am that the anesthesiologist came to our room, leaving me with two hours of intense contractions and lots of time to reflect on how my mom gave birth to my siblings and me naturally. How did she do it? Respect.
I had a hard time slouching my back down and relaxing (in between contractions) so he could get the epidural needle in. I kept flinching every time he’d touch my back… to the point where he yelled at me about the seriousness of holding still. I was nervous I was going to botch this, my ticket out of pain island. But eventually, he did it and the epidural kicked in. I could see contractions come and go on the monitor, but no pain. It was magical.
Since I had a normal pregnancy, we were asked if we were OK with a midwife delivering the baby. Yep! So they sent in Karen who checked my dilation again at 9am. 8 cm dilated!

Continue reading “Cadence’s Birth Story – March 8, 2018”

Baby Bump, Panda Mom

10 Ways to Involve Your Husband [or Partner] in Your Pregnancy

First, yay and congrats to all pregnant mommas to be! Wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy. If you have a partner, boyfriend or husband to embark on this journey with, this post is for you. When my husband Danny and I found out we were pregnant, he was ecstatic! I’m very fortunate to have a partner who has been so involved [and genuinely wants to be]! Most of these ideas were things he did on his own. If you need some inspiration or creativity on how to include your partner (who may feel left out or disengaged), read on…

[1] Have your partner rub belly oil or cocoa butter for you

I heard other couples doing this, and when I proposed the idea to my husband, he was all about it! We now include this in our nightly routine, where he helps rub belly butter on my stomach before we go to bed. I’m eight months pregnant, so it’s also a chance for him to touch my belly and feel the baby kicking. (We didn’t start this routine until month five).


I’ve been using two products: Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter ($12) and Bio Oil ($9). I’m pretty diligent about using the belly butter so I’m almost out of the 6.5 ounce jar. Will need to order more or switch to the Bio Oil only. To be honest, I have no idea if these are working or will work in the long run, but other mommas have given them good reviews. I’m nervous about stretch marks so trying to cover all my bases here — I will find out post pregnancy! Continue reading “10 Ways to Involve Your Husband [or Partner] in Your Pregnancy”