Tag: family

To Have Children or Not

Most girls grow up mapping out their life and creating a timeline for when everything will happen. For some, everything works out according to plan for the most part. For others, not so much. I never really started planning out the rest of my life seriously until I was 23. At 23, I was just ending my gap year teaching in South Korea with Ryan—my then-boyfriend of six years, now husband and together for a little over ten. We both had our minds set on law school; Ryan had been accepted to law school, and I decided to re-take the LSATs because I refused to settle for schools I didn’t want to go to. I knew I could do better. So Ryan and I prepared for our third round of a long-distance relationship. I retook the LSAT, got into a school I wanted, and we moved back in together where I took a full time job until I could start school.

 

By that time, I had a lot of time to reflect on what I wanted. I met one of my best friends through Ryan’s friends at school. She had just married and moved out to San Diego, too. Spending time with her while Ryan and I were in law school made me really think about what more I wanted out of life. For so long, I had put my career in life as the most important thing on my mental totem pole. I never realized there was so much more to life than accolades, prestige, and even more than that– what people (family and friends) expected of me.

Happiness. My own happiness; I never truly considered what that meant to me. So, I sat down and thought about my life timeline. I knew without a doubt I would be ready to marry Ryan by the time I was 25. I wanted to be married by 27, enjoy a good three years of married life, and then if I wanted kids, I would have my first one by 30. And I always told myself if I had a kid, I would want two because I wouldn’t want the first to be lonely. (Also, maybe having my children be one boy and one girl would be pretty neat.) BUT, of course, life doesn’t roll that way. I was engaged at 27, and married at 28. Now, I’ve just turned 29, and I’m still trying to just enjoy married life because I’m trying to sort out my career.

 

 

For the majority of my life, I was decidedly against having children. It was only up until two years ago that I came around to the idea of having children. I struggle with so many thoughts about having children, and I’ve read other blogs that discuss both sides. There are the bloggers that say they are happily married and decided they were against having children, and then there are the bloggers that say having children is the best thing in life and they’ve always known they wanted to have kids. Then there are the flat out scary articles that say they decided to have children and they feel indifferent or they just completely regret it and feel bad about the thoughts they have. It’s all so overwhelming and, truth be told, it scares me to death. I don’t think I could ever regret having children even if I was on the fence about it. I wholeheartedly believe that if I had them, it’s because they are a product of the most abundant love between husband and wife.

My pro-con thoughts currently are (and some, if not all, are completely ridiculous. Maybe too blunt. Go ahead, roll your eyes.):

PROS

  • I would love to have kids to see what Ryan and I made. I just know they would be beautiful. (Yes, you may cringe.)
  • When I’m alone, I’d love to have them around to make me laugh and drive me crazy and remind me of Ryan when he’s away.
  • I’d also love being selfless and devoting my time to something other than myself—a precious human being that I know would be so special.
  • I want to see what kind of people they will be based on how we raise them – hopefully upstanding, innocent, kind, generous, honest, and compassionate people.

CONS

  • I’m a little selfish and feel like I never have enough time with him. I just want all the time in the world to be in love when we’re not working. Doing nothing and everything. When we were in law school, we hardly saw each other due to work, internships, and crazy school work. Most days, we woke up, go through our days by texting constantly, and then winding up passed out in bed. So the time we have now after work together—even if it’s only a few hours—means a whole lot to me, and it sort of makes up for the past several years.
  • There are so many places I still want to travel to (without kids), and there’s no way I could be done traveling by the time I’m 30, or even 32.
  • I don’t want to have my kids when I’m in my mid-thirties because I still want to be a young mom.
  • I’ll miss being able to do whatever we want whenever we want. Late night coffee runs, staying up late to watch Netflix, playing video games, waking up late on weekends.
  • I feel terrible for possibly not wanting kids because I know so many people struggle with conceiving and go through painful procedures, take medications, have hard meetings with doctors and countless nights of tears and praying, and I know children are such a gift.

It feels awful to know that I have to decide quickly what I want to do. My body is a ticking time bomb, and yes, I could freeze my eggs, but that is incredibly expensive. It’s not something I want to do, although I had thought about it before. I just hope some time soon, something in life will help me realize what I want to do. Like maybe my wedding planning business takes off. Maybe I find an amazing law job like the one I love right now. Just some sort of sign to let me know what direction I should take. It’s hard to not think there’s something wrong with me for thinking this way.

Whatever I choose… WE choose… or however life lays itself out before us, I know I don’t want either of us to regret it. I won’t let others judge us for a decision one way or the other. I’m just trying to finally live my life. No school, just enjoying my work doing law and wedding planning, making time for friends and family finally, and finally enjoying my significant other without homework!

 

What It’s Like to Provide Hospice Care to Your Own Family

Death happens in so many ways, and many of us handle it in different ways. The first few times I knew of someone dying, I was either too young to understand what was happening or I was intentionally far removed from the situation. I remember trying to get on my tippy toes to see who was on the hospital bed, and I remember how pristine the room was with family crowded around behind these flimsy curtains. I also remember seeing someone I knew — a family friend — who used to be warm, loud, and welcoming just laying peacefully at a funeral. I was too young to process the entire ceremony or even the process leading up to death itself.

The first real death I understood and processed was when I was in my first year of college.  My grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Every summer, I would go to Hawai’i to visit relatives, and this summer was no exception. The only difference was that now, my grandma couldn’t do the things I was used to seeing her do such as cooking us dinner, walking around, and running chores in the backyard. This time, I had to help my dad wash her on the couch, she had a bag attached to her so she could eat and use the restroom, and my father and I would have to clean this bag often. It was definitely a little hard to see, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t swallow.  She was hardly tired.  I knew she was a strong spirit, and this wasn’t going to stop her boisterous attitude. By the end of that summer, she seemed to be improving, but just in case, I said my goodbyes. Not long after I flew back to California, she passed away suddenly, and I was not expecting it. Two months later, my grandfather passed suddenly, and of course, that was hard on me.  He was in amazing health when I had said goodbye to him. I’d spent every single summer with them since I was a child, and the period in which they passed wasn’t long enough for me to digest either of their deaths. It was a difficult rest of the year to say the least…

Around that same time, my other grandma was diagnosed with dementia and it progressed quickly each year. I made trips back home often to help my parents care for my grandma– feeding, clothing, showering, walking. It was a ’round-the-clock responsibility that we chose to take on as a family because my mom and aunt were nurses, and I don’t regret it.

Fast forward to ten years later. About four weeks ago, I got a phone call from my mother saying that my grandma had suffered a major heart attack, and the doctor said that before this, she had (over time in the past year) been having minor heart attacks. No one knew because my grandmother didn’t know what was wrong with her and likely forgot almost as soon as it happened so she never voiced anything. Since then, only 25% of her heart has been functioning.  I flew home the next day I received the phone call to help my mother because we were going to begin palliative care as the prognosis was essentially that she did not have long to live, and my dad had just had cataract surgery rendering him helpless as well. No other relatives were around to help care for my grandma. That week, I spent all day every day next to my grandmother. Feeding her, changing her diapers, bathing her in bed, brushing her teeth, taking her on walks when she felt well enough. On those walks, I’d walk her down the same streets she’d walk me every day for seven years to get to school. It was just us two, and I would stroll her in silence taking in the sunlight.  We both love the warmth of the sun.  Those were our moments, and I’m lucky I got those moments. At night, my mother and I woke up every 4 hours to give her medication and change her diapers. During the entire week and a half, she still knew who I was and was able to talk to me, and she seemed more alert than before. As soon as I got to the airport to go back to my new home with my husband, I fell apart. I cried the entire way home and well into the night in my husband’s arms. But I thought at least, I got to say my goodbyes, and she knew who I was when I left.  I didn’t need to go through the heartbreak again.

Then just a few days ago, my mother said she needed my help again because she needed to work. The day arrived, everything seemed just as it was when I left. My grandma was still eating, could sit up, and look at me. But as the night took over and my mother and I continued our four hour routine, we noticed my grandmother had taken a turn for worse breathing harder. At times, we saw her stop breathing for seconds at a time before we could proceed to rotate her. The only time she would open her eyes completely was when she was in pain and couldn’t breath. When my mother would walk out of the room to get water for her, she would look at me wide-eyed when it was just the two of us in this huge living room, and it completely broke my heart. I was so helpless.  She was telling me with her eyes, “Help me, I can’t breathe.” Just her eyes struck at my heart.  At this point, I had never dealt with death this closely, and I could have lost it then and there, but I needed to keep it together for my mother. When my mom walked back into the room and my grandma gasped for air, my mother knew she needed to give her pain medication, and it was the first time she ever needed to use it. By morning, my mother and I looked at each other and knew she was starting to actually go.

My grandmother, as of this morning, can no longer drink liquids or eat baby food. Instead, we have to brush a sponge filled with water to wet her lips and make it easier for her to suck on it. We grind her pills with liquid, and she can barely even take it. She can no longer speak, and her eyes roll to the back of her head and stay closed. Her breathing stops more often, and when she gasps for air, it pierces my heart every. single. time.  With her congestive heart failure, liquid is filling her lungs, and she can’t cough.  When she breathes, you can hear the gurgling. She turns her head left to right in agitation trying to breathe.

After only one day, my heart can’t bear it. I’m ready to collapse, burst in tears, and my heart is panging. But seeing my aunt and mom crying, I know I need to be strong. We know the end is nearer than we thought, and she could go at any moment.  I don’t know how I am going to be able to handle this or move forward. I’ve never dealt with death on this level. Providing hospice care for a family member is incredibly hard– having to watch them suffer like this every second of the day, getting worse every hour and you can’t take away their suffering. Having to provide comfort to them while watching them die. I would not wish this on anyone. I’m not ready to deal with this at all… I didn’t think heart break could get any worse. Just moments ago, I walked into her room to get something and that huge lump in my throat and the tears just hit me.  The piles of clothes she wore were on her bed, her wheelchair that she had used just a few days ago was there, she used to sleep in there, but her clothes… her clothes. As I walked back out of her room and into the living room to sit next to her and seeing her so helpless, I am losing it this second.

I can’t help thinking that she knew I would be back without my even knowing it, and she held on just for me to come back. But that breaks my heart even more. I don’t know how I will face the rest of this night or even tomorrow, but all I can do is pray.