Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baby Blunders and a Liberating Day...

I've mentioned in past posts about Guam Liberation Day. It's a big holiday here, much more celebrated than the 4th of July. This is the day that American forces took back the island from the Japanese during WWII. I've only been on island for it once before, my first year here. And I know that some people didn't care for my new-to-Guam "haole" view of it. Well, to be fair, it was mostly gut reactions, partially inflammatory for the sake of being interesting to read and my own views have changed quite a bit since then. Being the first time in 4 years that I'd be on Guam for Liberation Day, I thought I would go. But...

It also is the day that Anna's mom chose to go home. Because I love to play to stereotypes, I've made all sorts of remarks regarding living with my mother-in-law. I am probably the only guy in the world that took his mother-in-law with him on his honeymoon to Maui. So when Anna's mom chose Liberation Day as the day to go back to Vietnam I joked with my acquaintances that it truly was "Liberation Day" in more ways than one.

We drove her to the airport this morning for a 5am flight. By the time we got home, we were too tired to sit at any parade. Maybe we'll see the celebration next year.

Maybe having a wife and baby has softened me some, but rather than continue my facade of unabashed funny man, I have to admit that she will be missed. Anna and I have been able to sleep through the night thanks to mother-in-law's willingness to stay up with Maia. And when I go to work all day, Anna has someone to speak to. It can get lonely at home with an infant all day. And mother-in-law is always ready to do laundry, dishes or cook a meal. But...

The critical funny man can't stay away for too long. Frankly, I'm glad babies are made of 90% rubber the first year. Because if not, I would be afraid to leave Maia alone with those two.

Anna's mom is an OBGYN in Vietnam. And she specialized in baby delivery. She is also a mother. So, naturally, you'd think that she would be a natural for taking care of a baby, right? Hm, maybe not. I wonder how Anna survived. Seeing Anna and her mom struggling to figure out diapers, I just sigh and walk away.

Early on I'd notice that Anna would just rock or put Maia down after a feeding. Her mom would often take Maia and hold her. I noticed that nowhere in the feeding process was anyone burping anyone. I had to explain to then that a burping should come with every feeding. It was odd being the one with the maternal instinct. That was when I first realized that maybe I should stick by just in case.

Anna is a first-time mother and only child. So, her exposure to children is very limited. And since Anna is an only child, her mom only scrapped by once. She just delivers babies, she doesn't take care of them afterward. I imagine her mom helped out a lot with Anna.

It took them both to bathe Maia. With mother-in-law gone, I assisted Anna today. While rinsing her up I asked Anna if she got Maia's armpits. Anna replied that she couldn't because she didn't want to bend her arm wrong. So, I reached in and suddenly skin was rolling off like dried rubber cement. Somehow, despite the two adults over a two month period of frequent washings, Maia had never once had her armpits cleaned. I will have to explain how joints work later.

Despite the regular minor infractions to child-rearing 101, I was a bit amused watching two of the three stooges at work. It almost reminded me of the Aborigines and the Coke bottle from "The Gods Must Be Crazy." Anna being topless all day helped solidify the comparison.

I did get a bit upset when I found out that Anna's mom thought Maia was thirsty, so fed her water rather than milk. Do I really need to explain this one? I later found out it was only a spoonful, but still.

I've now said enough to get Anna thoroughly mad at me. I should probably switch back to my maudlin, sentimental voice...

Anna's mom has come and gone. And despite it being Liberation Day, I know that with her absence, I am anything but liberated. All of the help and tireless assistance she offered has left with her. The stereotype demands that I don't get along with my mother-in-law, but I just have to buck tradition here. The language gap isn't what kept us from squabbling. Anna's mom is very giving. She is caring. She is thoughtful and friendly. And why would I expect anything else? After all, look at how great Anna turned out.

Now, how do I set up internet surveillance so I can keep an eye on Anna with the baby?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Just Felt a 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake...

Just felt a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that originated between here in Guam and Saipan. That's where they dumped Megatron in "Transformers." Be vigilant...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Baby (and Daddy's) First Blessing...

In the LDS faith, we have a custom of blessing a baby within the first few months of life. It's a ritual that probably most closely resembles a Christening. Only, we do have a full immersion baptism at age 8 and there's no water in the baby blessing.

The object of this blessing is to present the baby before the Lord, give him or her a name by which he/she will be known by the records of the church and an initial blessing. One of the interesting things about being a member of the LDS Church is that unlike most every other church, the lay members of the church can hold the Priesthood, or authority to act in the name of God.

Being a holder of the Priesthood, I had the privilege of performing the blessing. I've used the Priesthood many times before. And I've administered priesthood blessings more times than I can remember. But this is the first time I've done this particular ordinance and as this was not just a baby, but my baby, I was extra nervous. To add to the pressure, this blessing is done during sacrament meeting, before the entire congregation, and amplified through the sound system so that every throat clearing and oral nuance is articulated.

I followed the protocol just fine. When the time came to go "off script" and do the blessing as guided by the Spirit, I found my voice decided to wiggle and wobble beyond my control. And although I had some idea of what sort of things I would say, I found my mind a blank slate. I am pretty sure I repeated some things a few times. None the less, the blessing was completed appropriately.

It's not appropriate to take pictures or video in the chapel, so there's no record of what I said specifically. Although my sister, Lacey, did give us a handy baby book with LDS milestones included, such as baby blessing, which has some notes in it.

Part of the tradition is to have the baby in a white outfit. A dress for a girl, white suit for a boy. Since cameras are discouraged in the chapel, there's always a photo-op outside to follow. Since none of my family could make it for the blessing I had to post the pics online so everyone could see the baby in her white blessing dress which she'll likely only wear once. Here you go.

The Whole Lot

Nguyen Girls

Maia and Mommy

Maia and Daddy

Maia Alone

Bodine Family

I'm sure you noticed Anna's mom in some of the pictures above. She is still with us, but leaving back to Vietnam soon. She doesn't speak more than 6 English words, but I think the experience and exposure to our faith has been positive.

So, I've completed my first baby blessing. And it was Maia's first blessing as well. I'm grateful that I was able to be the one to bless her. Like I mentioned above, it is unique to allow the general members of a religion to hold the priesthood. Although I've held that power for years and used it to bless others many times, it was something else to do so for my own child. That experience gave me a new appreciation for it. If only I could go back and do the blessing again with a little less vibrato in my voice...