Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Becoming a Father

It's taking a while to upload, but I'm managing to stay online through a single bar of free wireless reception from someone downstairs. Whoever you are 'bon3F,' I salute you for your radiowaves of generousity, allowing this young blogger to publish his updates.

Let's pick up where we left off...

A couple of Thursdays ago, it was Teacher's Day at our university. This year we provided mandatory gifts for our professors, which most of us would probably have bought anyway, given a choice. Nevertheless, the end result was that gifts were given to professors that truly deserved them.

As for the Teacher's Day ceremony, it was a rather nice affair, with the ever-present bottles of Minute Maid orange juice that tend to accompany such events (with paper cups).
Unfortunately we ran out of space around the perimeter of the desks, so some students had to sit in the middle during the announcements.


And then we held another student education session. We're popping these events out frequently to make the most of the international faculty's time here, which is due to end in June. The theme of the day was "How to create and defend a scientific poster," in time with the annual poster competition coming later this week.

During this particular session, there was acting involved for the edutainment of the students. Professor Fuller Bazer, on the left, is a rock of a man and holds legendary status in the field of livestock reproductive biology. He was roleplaying as an exemplary student with exemplary responses to questions from a professor.

And then we had Professor Tsang roleplaying a 'what not to do during a poster session' scenario. Note his definition of inappropriate attire for such an event, including his unmatching socks, which are sure to get a squint of criticism from an eagle-eyed professor.

Professor Tsang is an excellent professor, but he played the role of an aggressive, boisterous and generally obnoxious student very well.

Extraordinarily well, in fact.

Playing the role of the inquisitive professor on the right was Nisha Hazra, a Canadian exchange student who is joining our lab for the summer. She's bright, socially ept* and quite unbotherable by the complexities of Korean culture, a necessary requirement for survival at SNU.

*What I assume to be the antonym of the word 'inept.'

From time to time, there's also time for a drink at our timeless campus hof. A while ago, we launched the SNUGHATS (Seoul National University Global House Alcohol and Talking Society) drinking club, which we recently revived from winter hibernation.

Joining us that night was Glenn Danielson, a jazz musician and former Korean language school classmate of mine. He and his friend belted out a few extraordinary notes on the bar piano, and before long attracted the curiousity of two Korean kids who were too young to be in a bar at that time of night.

Or any time of night, for that matter.

And we also had our SRTM Spring Picnic on a dazzlingly fine day in May. Stealing the attention in the middle of this photo is Sungil's little kid, performing admirably, as kids do, by simply sitting down and staring at things in an unknowingly adorable way.

We plan on getting ourselves one of these soon too.

Thanks to our hard working Spring Picnic Taskforce, the event was a sunny success. We played some games and managed to get ourselves lightly sunburned, which I thought was a small price to pay for victory in the Word Game.

Here's Art Michalak, an intellectual marvel and physics pedagogist. While most people may justly assume that Art would be admiring the prettiness of the bubbles in this situation, I would alternatively surmise that he is staring as any physicist would stare at soap bubbles.


Kites were flown that day. I'm a big fan of kites, and whenever I see one I remind myself of the world's inevitable victory over people who don't like kites.

The Spring Picnic's second round grew spores and proliferated into a sixth round. The details of which are fairly guessable by anyone who has lived in Korea for more than two weekends.

Eat. Drink. Laugh. Repeat.

This bat-dog is Anthony's little pup, called Ocean. He's a Boston Terrier, a breed well admired for their irresistibly good looks.

And they say pets look just like their owners...

As soon as we hit the beachy sands of Busan, Anthony called us over to try some of his homemade pho. There are not many surfing Vietnamese Hawaiians living in Korea who can make good pho, but Anthony is one of them.

Anthony also bought himself a ukelele, as one does when one has such a busy schedule. What I think the world needs is a new word to describe the joy of eating pho while listening to a ukelele played by an intermediate beginner.

It should be either Phokelele or Ukephopho.

I don't know if dogs can be diagnosed with ADHD, but Ocean would be an interesting case study. When he's not biting my pant legs, he's either jumping on furniture or putting his sandy paws on my wife's pregnant belly.
This is one of Ocean's tricks. Very useful during an armed robbery.

And here's Ocean playing fetch with the Lady of the Hour.

Anthony is snipping his pho.

And so then I came down to Busan on Thursday to be with my wife. It has been an interesting time. We were originally expecting the birth to occur on Friday, and arranged our schedule as such. But nature has more important priorities than so-called human timetables, and although Big Baengy is stirring, she didn't seem to want to come out and see us just yet.
As a result, we sat around the living room with Heather's mother and niece for most of the day, and went for some walks. Light exercise is good for pregnancy, they say. Even more so when a cute little niece is running around and picking up leaves.

Little Ji-Woo is quieter than her older sister, but equally as playful. She doesn't say a whole lot, but makes a lot of gurgling sounds when she wants to eat something that she can see.

Why waste time with pesky word pronunciation, when you can just gurgle?

Here's one thing that Ji-Woo gurgles at, guksoo made by her halmoni.

I never realised that for some smaller members of the human race, eating is a task that requires considerable concentration.

Nor did I realise that a mere kitchen table could have so many sources of distraction.

But the considerable attention and ceaseless mouth wiping (with a spoon!) needed to feed a toddler all pays off with the brief flash of a miniature smile.

This was the last photo I took of us at home, with Heather packing up her mother's banchan. Note the size of her belly, representative of a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy.

And here I am now in the maternity ward. Time passes very, very... very slowly here. Sometimes it seems like the seconds on the clock are pausing to have a think before clicking onto the next second. We decided to induce labour via oxytocin drip last night, as the doctors said the baby may become too large. However, strong contractions are not arriving yet, so it's looking like the birth may not come until tomorrow.

In terms of starting a family and becoming a father, I'm managing to remain fairly calm, but am certainly not in my comfort zone. How does one prepare their mind for such an event? My thoughts are wandering fairly aimlessly, and I'm having a few odd ones. As an adoptee, our daughter will be the first biological relative of mine that I've ever met.  I'm a little worried and a little excited, with a bit of fatigue on the side.
One of the shortcomings of atheism is that there's little to turn to when things seem out of your own control. Instead I place a level of agreed trust in the laws of nature and an appreciative confidence in modern medical science. Stoic philosophy recommends contemplating possible negative outcomes in such situations, and I must admit I've thought a fair bit about what might happen if things go wrong. As our friend John Ngo would say, 'an optimist at heart but a realist by nature.' If something does go wrong, I guess it was bound to go wrong regardless. Best to hope not so.

What really shines through is the support bestowed upon us by family and friends. There are so many people wishing us well through various channels of communication, and no time to thank them all. I guess we'll just have to have their back when they need it in future. And Heather is doing extremely well. She isn't enjoying having her cervix painfully probed by the nurses every other hour (they're poking it to check how much it has dilated). But she is putting up with the discomfort and remaining cool.
If you are planning on getting married anytime, make sure you marry someone who you respect. It's worth the wait.

This is the final post until the birth, which is likely to occur sometime in the next 24 hours. I hope to follow up soon after, when mum and baby are resting well.

See you after the jump.


Choi said...

Great read and congratulations!

Aurora said...