April 3 and 4
Jean-Noël Roy, a.k.a. Jeong Keun-sol, was born Tuesday, April 3, at 3:13 p.m., Korean time, by caesarian section. He weighed 3.7 kilograms at birth and measured 52 centimetres in length. He has a full head of black hair, dark brown eyes, big hands, large, round eyes, and a relatively long nose. He's chubbier than most Asian babies, and is apparently a light sleeper, awakening frequently to the slightest noise. His blood type is A+. As Sun-duk herself pointed out, Jean-Noël would seem to resemble his father in many ways, both past and present.
It's now April 4. I'd been expecting word from Sun-duk since last night, almost immediately following Sun-hwa's phone call from Pusan at around six. (Sun-hwa was very brief; all she could tell me - all that her older sister Sun-nam had had time to tell her from the Green Hospital in Mokpo - was that mother and son were doing fine, and that Jean-Noël had round eyes and a big nose!) She finally called at 11 p.m., and we talked for about fifteen minutes. To say that I am currently experiencing mixed feelings is an understatement. As I write these words (it's now midnight), relief and joy are most definitely underscored by an almost overwhelming sense of grief and guilt over my absence from my family's side. My sole consolation is that this solution was, in the end, the most appropriate, and the one which other Korean couples living in Mongolia avail themselves of. (All the missionaries and doctors we've met in the Korean community send their pregnant wives to Korea for several months.)
My perfect, darling wife was in quite some pain following the operation, but is feeling much better today. She can get up, and will start walking tomorrow or Friday. She is able to see Jean-Noël several times a day, but cannot yet hold him properly, on account of the IV in her left arm. Sensing my desperation, the first thing she said to me as I answered the phone was that the hospital had taken Jean-Noël's picture and put it up on their website - something they do with all the babies they deliver. If you see him here now, it's because I was successful in navigating the site despite my inability to read Hangul with this Mongolian computer.
I had planned to empty my three-year-old bottle of Bordeaux, last night, in celebration of what has thus far been the most momentous event of our married life, but then I realised that I did not have a corkscrew. I'll try to find or buy one by the time I get the first pictures of Jean-Noël and his mother, though. In the meantime, I went to Pizza della Casa and celebrated alone, with my wife and child at my side, at least spiritually. I met Monique and Douglas on my way back home, but it was difficult putting on a smile; my heart just wasn't in it. I'm sad, desperately sad... especially when I think that I'm sacrificing one of the most important times of my life for students who could care less about English or translation.
Well, I know I'm being a little harsh. As I said, we're not behaving any differently from other Korean couples living in Mongolia; I'm able to make twice as much money here as I could in Seoul - an important consideration with an additional, adorable baby boy mouth to feed, now; and some students do care... Bayarsuren from 3A came to my office and presented me with a small gift and card expressing her appreciation for my efforts. The gift is a small wooden Mongolian couple playing the traditional Mongolian horsehead fiddle. So thank you for brightening my day, Bayarsuren!
In conclusion: I am an exceedingly happy father and husband, incredibly proud of his wife and overawed at everything she has had to go through these past nine months. Together, we have created a beautiful tiny being, a living symbol of our deep love for each other; but most of the credit, if not all of it, should go to Sun-duk, as it must to every woman on earth who has ever borne a child. All I can do is promise to do my best from here on in, and strive to keep a positive attitude until our reunion six weeks from now, when we will at last begin the most exciting and fulfilling chapter of our lives.
Another sleepless night... I haven't had a good night's sleep since Sun-duk left, but the last few days have been just awful - just three or four hours a day. Wracked with worry, elation, guilt, pride... I'm behaving just like a father living with a newborn, only the baby and the mother aren't here. I don't think I can get by with just a phone call a week from Mokpo...
I spent all morning at the Soros office, and lo and behold! Sun-duk had sent me a couple of e-mails! One of them was the URL for the homepage the hospital created for Jean-Noël, but as it turned out, I didn't need it. Last night on the phone, Sun-duk had given me the hospital's internet address, and from there I eventually found the page containing the URLs of every baby delivered there since March 22. I scooted on over to April 3, but couldn't make out which one was Jean-Noël's, since the computer interpreted the hangul as a series of jumbled symbols.
I saw I had no choice but to click on every link until I found our boy's page. Like the piece of a Ouija Board, I let the mouse guide my hand. It roamed about the pad of its own volition and finally settled on a URL near the bottom of the list. I pressed the left mouse button, and as fate would have it, I WAS RIGHT ON THE MONEY !!! In a few seconds, I saw the image of a baby with a fairly large nose, before my eyes turned towards the vital stats to the right, and immediately glimpsed 3.7 Kg, 52 Cm, and 15:13, and I thought this had to be the place (to paraphrase David Byrne). An auspicious beginning, don't you think?
I immediately saved the page onto my floppy disk, and the picture, as well. It wasn't long before it graced our homepage and the e-mails of several relatives and friends. I printed it out, too, so I could look at it wherever I went and whenever I felt like it.
But then I was shattered by the realisation that I had to go to school. I slept-walked through the afternoon, resenting my Lumps (so many no-shows yet again) with all the pettiness my broken heart could muster. They’re lucky I can't speak Mongolian very well, otherwise I would have laid a guilt trip on them the size of the Gobi Desert.
I returned to the Soros office as soon as class ended and found another letter from my better half (and I mean that literally). I wrote back several e-mails to cheer her up, because she seems a little bored at the hospital. The baby can't room with her, and she's too weak to go walking about. (If you know Sun-duk at all, you're cognizant of the fact that she's always on the move.) I stayed there until eight o'clock, hoping she would be on-line this evening, but no such luck. I dragged my sorry carcass home, swallowed a baloney sandwich, and had, for the first time in a while, a relatively good night's sleep.
At 8:30, I was at my post, awaiting word from my Jagi. It didn't come until 1 p.m., during which time I wrote long replies to friends and relatives congratulating us on the birth of Jean-Noël. Her e-mail was disturbing: she was having trouble breastfeeding, and asked me to look into the subject and give her some advice.
Following lunch with Kelli at the Korean restaurant just across the street (we had ja-jjang myun, oo-dong, and kim-bap - BIG portions), I made a quick trip home to fetch our baby book and was soon sitting uncomfortably at Soros desk, transcribing all the useful information I could find. I then spent another hour searching the net for breastfeeding sites with pictures, until I found the La Leche page. It had some useful photographs, but a URL on its links page led me to the most wonderful site with instructional videos - dozens of one-minute clips, showing all a mother had to know about breastfeeding. One video showed the don'ts - nearly as important as giving the dos, in my opinion.
I was so proud of my discovery! Being able to help my family in some way, even from afar, made me feel useful, involved. I was actually experiencing the act of fathering, however tenuously, and it plucked me out of the dusty Mongolian doldrums.
Back home, at roughly 11 o'clock, I was graced by my beloved's voice; unfortunately, it was choking back tears. The initial elation of birth and baby has worn off, replaced by a sense of frustration and loneliness, the lot of first-time mothers everywhere. It may be a case of post-partum depression, but my absence surely does not help. The fact of the matter is that we have very little choice but to keep a positive outlook for the next four or five weeks. After fifteen minutes of mutual cheering up and vows of eternal love, we reluctantly hung up and went to bed...
P.S. Sun-duk was transferred to a room with other mothers, yesterday. There are six beds, but only three or four are currently occupied. She enjoys the company.
Sun-duk's mother is with her all the time, even sleeping on the floor next to her bed at night. (This is common practice in Korean hospitals.)
Jean-Noël yawned, hiccoughed, and sneezed for the first time today! He was, by all accounts, extremely cute!
Koreans ignorant of Sun-duk's marital situation are amazed at the size of our son's nose!!!
To everyone’s astonishment, Jean-Noël opened his eyes for the first time just a few hours after being born. (Most babies don't do so until the second day of life.) Sun-duk's mother swears she has never seen a newborn open his eyes so early.
Visitors simply adore Jean-Noël's big, round eyes!
My heart is aching for pictures showing all of the above, but Hye-young has the digital camera, several dozen kilometres away, and is himself on pins and needles over the impending birth of his son, who's already a week overdue. He usually joins Soon-joo in Seoul on the weekend, so it doesn't look like I'll get any hospital pictures, or any pictures at all, until the middle of the month. Sun-duk will have to find someone else with a conventional camera, or have her sister buy a disposable one - although I wouldn't get to see the pics until I arrived in Korea, since no one in Mokpo or Pusan knows anything about scanning and attaching photographs to e-mails.
TO VISIT JEAN-NOËL'S HOSPITAL HOME PAGE, go to http://baby.babymam.net/gr010789/1/. You can even leave a message! If you or your computer cannot read Korean, then follow these instructions:
1. Scroll down a bit until you see, to your right, the word Congratulations! written in English.
2. Click on the pencil icon.
3. You will see a box with four fields. In the first one, to your left, you must type in your name. The second one on the right, slightly shorter in length, is for you to enter a password, in case you want to modify your message at a later date. NOTE: You must enter a password, or you won't be able to leave a message. The third field - the long, skinny one - is reserved for the title of your message. The fourth, of course, is for your message proper - but you already knew that just by looking at it!
When you're done, click on the pencil icon at the bottom. It's the second one from the left, next to the little house.
Sun-duk would really appreciate your leaving a message! Thank you.
Jagiya! Him naera! Naega kod Hanguge issul koya... Ku ttae uriwa Keun-soriga kajokuro nuhmoo haengbokhage toel konunde... Keun-sorun kippun jagi uhmmaga piryohajanha... Aga uhlgurul pomyunsuh uri yungwonhan sarang saenggak hae ba... Aduri uri sarangui kajang k'ugo sojunghanun sangjing inji hangsang kiuhk hae…
Sun-duk called me at about 3 a.m. (April 9, actually), Korean time. A lot has happened in the two days since we spoke...
First and foremost in today’s news is her success in training both herself and Jean-Noël to breastfeed properly. Her milk is flowing, and Jean-Noël, after a lot of effort, has learned to extract it from a nipple significantly more resistant than what's to be found on a bottle of formula.
One of the most difficult things to accomplish in this day and age is teaching a newborn to breastfeed. Harried nurses and frustrated mothers will often give up and pop a bottle into baby's mouth as soon as he cries out in hunger - but cow's milk, as everyone knows, is not a substitute for mother's milk, which contains essential antibodies, less fat and protein, and is more easily digestible.
Today, Sun-duk was determined to give our son the best nourishment Mother Nature has to offer, and brought Jean-Noël to her breast whenever he began to cry. He had difficulty drawing enough milk to satisfy his hunger, and cried throughout the morning and afternoon; but by day's end, the technique had been mastered, to everyone's satisfaction. I'm very proud of my wife and boy; a first hurdle has been overcome with pluck and determination!
Sun-duk described Jean-Noël's features to me, which have changed considerably since his first picture was taken, just a couple of hours after he was born. First, his skin, bruised by nine months of swimming in amniotic fluid and his rather abrupt eruption into the world, has healed and become fair and smooth. His face and head, so round at birth, have grown slightly longer and thinner. His eyes and nose are still mine, but his mouth and ears appear to be Sun-duk's. He is still possessed of very big hands and long fingers, which never fail to make an impression on newcomers.
As for his behaviour... He eats like a pig! (Those are the nurses' very words!) The hospital won't let Sun-duk breastfeed Jean-Noël at night, so they give him bottled cow's milk, which he chugs down like there’s no tomorrow! The spitting image of his father...
Jean-Noël has also grown accustomed to his surroundings. Whereas he used to wake up and cry at the drop of a pin, he now blithely sleeps and eats through all manner of noisy activity.
Sun-duk and Jean-Noël will check out of the hospital Monday afternoon. Because of her incision, Sun-duk hasn't been allowed to bathe or shower (sponge bath only)... and she's dying to wash her hair! Now that she has to nurse Jean-Noël 'round the clock (between eight and twelve feedings a day), she won't be able to leave the house and check her e-mail anymore - which means we're down to two or three ten-minute phone calls a week for the next month. Aigo... I asked that she call me when Jean-Noël cries, because I want to hear his voice!
Sun-duk has been busy taking pictures with a disposable camera and filming our little bundle of joy with the handcam. Unfortunately, Hye-young hasn't been around to take pictures with our digital camera, so it'll be another week or so before I can see how much Jean-Noël has changed.
Ah, Korea... Sun-duk told me that Hye-young's son was born in Seoul last Thursday, but that his boss (Hye-young's a government employee in a town near Mokpo) wouldn't grant him leave on account of "urgent business". In fact, Hye-young had to work all weekend, and has seen even less of his son than I of mine! I mean, at least I've got a photograph; but the hospital where Soon-joo gave birth doesn't have a web site... Poor Hye-young! Poor us!
Sun-duk called me last night in a bit of a panic: breastfeeding had not only become very painful, but Jean-Noël didn't seem to be getting enough milk from her, and had to be bottle-fed every so often in order to quell his hunger pangs. I gave her some advice I had remembered from our baby book, and added that I would write to Josee for some first-hand help.
When Sun-duk phoned back this evening, I was ready: the book was open at the correct page, and my sister's e-mail reply shone before me on the computer screen, her arguments buttressed by the experience of many friends who had also nursed.
As luck would have it, though, Sun-duk had found a solution on her own, one of several tactics Josee herself had adopted for her children: she changed position. Instead of sitting upright and cross-legged, adding stress, pain, cramps, and numbness to her limbs, back, and shoulders, she lied down on her side. Not only were both mother and baby much more comfortable, but the milk flowed more easily and quickly filled Jean-Noël up. How about that! My Jagi's taken to motherhood like a duck to water. Still, I'm grateful to her for calling me and asking for my help; a father wants to be of use, even from the depths of Mongolia.
DETAILS: I heard Jean-Noël's voice for the first time, Tuesday night. He was fussing a bit after feeding, observing his surroundings before drifting off to sleep. He sounded like any other newborn, but hearing him made me feel all funny inside. I mean, this was my boy's voice, darn it! And his tiny gurgles were accompanied by Sun-duk's gentle Q & A ("Weh kureh, Keun-sora, weh kureh? Moggo shipji, uri saranga?"), as she caressed him oh-so-tenderly and reassuringly with her words, hands, eyes, smile...
Jean-Noël is a very well-behaved baby, rarely crying except when hungry. His routine usually involves a feeding, followed by several minutes of looking at the world around him from the vantage point of the floor (he sleeps on a yo) before succumbing to the sandman for a couple of hours. He is endowed with a voracious appetite, eating much more than his cousin Dong-hyuk in Pusan - but then he's much bigger than the average Korean infant, as I've pointed out before. His eyes are almost black, according to his mother, but his hair is still very light - almost brown - and thinner than that of other Asian babies. He also passes a lot of air - loudly!
Although Jean-Noël's proboscis remains prominent, Sun-duk has become less sure of the shape of his eyes. His eyelids are, and always will be, folded, but the corners seem to have tightened a bit. Sun-duk would prefer he had round peepers like his father, but I admit to having a penchant for orbs tempered with a soupçon of Asian almond. When I look at Tiger Woods, Naomi Campbell, Paul Kariya or any number of my Mongolian students with obvious Caucasian strains, I see a touch of the exotic that enhances, rather than detracts from, that person's physiognomy.
BAD NEWS: Don't expect any new pictures of Jean-Noël and Sun-duk before the end of the month. Hye-young's idiot of a boss has kept him working overtime for the last two weeks. With a bit of luck, he'll be able to visit his newborn son for the first time this Saturday, then maybe Sun-duk on a weekday.
BEAUTIFUL BOY : I turned in early and tried to catch a few winks before Sun-duk's midnight call, but I was much too anxious to hear her voice, and Jean-Noël's, and was unable to fall asleep. I got up, turned on the television, watched an old fifties movie with Bourvil, then shook my head in disbelief as Christine Bravo's guests on Union libre, young Maghreb comedians Eric and Ramzy, behaved in the most boorish manner. At last came the long-awaited jangle, and I jumped off the couch and dashed towards the telephone before it had rung a second time.
The first thing my Jagi told me was how Jean-Noël's features kept changing. Last week, he still looked more or less like a Korean baby, nose notwithstanding. In the last few days, however, his hair has become ever lighter, and is now, for all intents and purposes, brown. His complexion is taking on a definite Caucasian tint, and his face, head, and cheekbones are assuming Western proportions, as are his eyes. Sun-duk, with tenderness, sincerity, and obvious pride, described our son as a truly beautiful baby ("nuhmu jal saengyuhta"), and is already envisaging him twenty years hence as a dashing, debonair young man! Of course, this made me want to see him all the more; and Sun-duk promised I would have pictures by the end of the week - hopefully, before I leave for my seven-day trek across the Mongolian countryside.
The breastfeeding issues have been completely resolved, with baby eating his fill and mother experiencing no discomfort or pain whatsoever. (In fact, perhaps as a result of the new position, our son now prefers to sleep on his side!) Between two and six a.m., though, Jean-Noël gets powdered formula from his grandmother while Sun-duk recuperates from a full day's work nursing. I heard him cry a bit as he woke up, ready for another feeding. Unfortunately, that meant mommy had to hang up, and the moment of bliss was short-lived. Luckily, my "tour of duty" ends in three weeks' time (see below for more details); so with Sun-duk urging me, as always, to be extra-careful, I too lay down the receiver - not, perhaps, brimming with joy, but at least seeing light at the end of this long, long tunnel.
As she had promised, Sun-duk called at 11:30. Jean-Noël was asleep, so I didn't get to hear him at all, tonight. Any news? Yes!
One: Jean-Noël bit - or rather, gummed - his mother hard while feeding the other day, bruising her breast and necessitating a trip to the hospital and a dose of penicillin. While at the hospital, Sun-duk decided to give Jean-Noël his second-ever checkup, and his first-ever booster shot. His vital signs, as befits the child of a couple as healthy and robust as us, are normal.
Two: Hye-young came over and took pictures with the digital camera! He's sending them to me today, so by the time you read this, there ought to be photographs of Jean-Noël all over the place - in the diaries, in the Children's photo section, in the Korean-Canadian Couples' Children's section, and, of course, on the portal page. Sun-duk said that he had trouble getting "good" pictures, because every time Jean-Noël opened his eyes, he usually made a face!
Three: Sun-duk phoned a travel agency in Seoul and inquired about airplane itineraries and ticket prices. She said that Air Canada (or is it Canadian?) flies to Montreal via Vancouver; tickets are between C$800 and C$850 for adults, only C$80 for infants (for baby seat rental). She forgot to ask about the dates and the length of the stopover in Vancouver. If the latter is too long, we'll stay an extra day or two to let Jean-Noël recover from jet lag and fatigue. She'll call back later this week - maybe as early as this evening - so that we can buy the tickets as soon as possible, before they’re all sold out. Hmm... I have to remind her not to get seats in the middle of the plane; according to our baby book, that's the worst place for babies.
Four: A Korean won the Boston Marathon for the very first time, today; and Ottawa's upcoming Tulip Festival was previewed on Korean TV, this evening! Apparently, the festival begins right about the time we're due to arrive in Canada, in mid-May. How about that?
The wheels have been set in motion: Monday and Tuesday, Buman and Ganaa did what they had to do to get me out of Mongolia on May 6. By Friday, I should be in possession of both my airplane ticket and exit visa! Could it be? Will I really be in Korea just two-and-a-half weeks from now?
Sun-duk phoned again last night to tell me that Air Canada has daily flights from Seoul to Montreal, via Vancouver. She forgot to ask how long the stopover in the West was, and she still has to find out whether I need a visa or not. I think people staying in Korea less than a week or two don't need them, but better safe than sorry...
It was a very short conversation, interrupted by Jean-Noël's greedy cries for milk... Aigo! So we had just enough time to talk about the gorgeous baby-and-mommy pics and pleasantly argue about whose eyes and mouth our son has! The eyes seem more Asian than Western, and the mouth consists of what appears to me one full bottom lip and one thin upper lip - which would indicate a Roy, not Jeong, gene. His ears are most definitely Sun-duk's - notice the slightly outward curving tips and lobes. In any case, there's plenty of time yet for second-guessing!
What struck me most, though, was Jean-Noël's hair, which is brown verging on red. Sun-duk assures me that it's only brown, but my own mane has red highlights, especially visible in the sun or a camera's flash... So don't discount the Archie Andrews factor just yet! But wouldn't that be wonderfully unusual - a red-headed child with partial Asian features?
I spent part of the afternoon resizing, uploading, and programming the pictures into the homepage, and a solid two hours just admiring the little miracle Sun-duk and I have worked...
PICTURES! PICTURES! Hye-young sent me the balance of Jean-Noël's pictures, and I spent all afternoon just looking at them... He's a cute kid! Of course, you'd expect a father to say that, but objectively speaking, I think my son is cute. So there! ;-)
East and West are both well represented in little Jean-Noël. Yes, he does have folded eyelids, and yes, his eyes are pretty round... But they fold at the corners just like an Asian's.
He has most definitely inherited Sun-duk's ears and eye colour, but the nose and lips belong to me. His mouth, though, seems to come from his mother - or maybe that's the Seguin overbite at work. Brown hair, pink skin - that's me. Chin - unknown; could be from either one of us. My hands, my fingers, and, as far as I can tell (in a picture I haven't uploaded and thumbnailed), my feet - his second toes are shorter than his big toes. As for the rest, we'll just have to wait and see!
(If you have trouble navigating the site, than just click here to see the pictures.)
WE’RE GETTING THERE… At 12:30, Sun-duk and I discussed when to leave Korea. Because the weekends - i.e. Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Mondays - are such incredibly busy times for travelling, we decided to leave on a weekday. We settled on one of three possibilities: Tuesday the 15, Wednesday the 16, and Thursday the 17. Sun-duk will think about it over the weekend and call the agency on Monday to find out about ticket availability and baby-friendly seating. Then she'll make reservations and give some money to Hye-young, who will purchase the tickets for us in Seoul while visiting his wife and child.
As for my arrival in Korea two weeks from now, Sun-duk advised me to take a shuttle bus from the international airport in Inchon to Kimpo, whence I am to fly to Mokpo. (The ticket is only about US$45.) There I will be greeted by my wife and son, and we can all have a good cry together...
AND... The Air Canada flight from Seoul to Montreal will take about 17 hours. The stopover in Vancouver is two-and-a-half hours, and the flight to Dorval lasts four. Sun-duk is worried about Jean-Noël; but apart from possible pain due to takeoffs and landings (easily remedied by nursing him - the sucking and swallowing will release the pressure he will feel in his ears), he should be all right. He'll only be six or seven weeks old by then, and sleeping most of the time.
I AIN'T MISSIN' YOU AT ALL: During the four weeks leading up to Jean-Noël's birth, Sun-duk was pretty lonely without me, and called often from Korea, sometimes teary-eyed. (She knows it was just as hard on me.) That's all changed now, of course. Since leaving the hospital, her existence has evolved into a constant series of two-hour shifts consisting of nursing and napping, nursing and napping, nursing and napping... She hasn't had the time to miss me. With our reunion just 16 days away, she has even grown chipper, looking forward to May 6 as though it were Christmas!
And me? Still experiencing mood swings. I was elated by this week's pictures, then downright morose when I thought of the fun I could be having with our son. Hearing his voice on the phone again tonight didn't do much for my morale.
WARNING! Before hanging up, Sun-duk always begs me to be careful - not to be out late at night (especially alone), to ignore taunts from drunks and punks, to tread lightly, both physically and metaphorically, wherever I may go... We both have great happiness within our grasp, and this is not the time to let it slip through our fingers. I remind myself of this every day...
By the way, in case anyone was wondering: Sun-duk is using cloth diapers!
THIS MUST BE THE PLACE: I plugged our page on the discussion board of the only other Korean-Western couple site I know of, Matthew & Won-ok's. This married couple haven't updated their homepage since moving to Philadelphia over a year ago, but the forum has become the premiere cyber-gathering place for Korean women dating, engaged or married to North-American men. It gets dozens, sometimes hundreds, of hits per day - although to be frank, and generally speaking, only two topics ever seem to be discussed: how to get a work, spouse, or student visa, and how to reconcile linguistic and cultural differences.
In three days, the announcement of our Korean-Canadian baby diary received 300 hits and 53 downloads (meaning 53 people saved our post for future reference) and brought an additional ninety visitors to our homepage. I think it's important that Korean-Western couples know about our site, because it's the only one in the English-speaking world - at least as far as we know - that gives an in-depth, detailed look at a successful, and evolving, Korean-Canadian family. Koreans are intensely curious people, and Korean women involved with Western men, as I know through experience, have an insatiable appetite for anecdotes and shared experiences. Sun-duk and I hope that our story, set in words and in pictures, and unique in the internet world, will bring hope, pleasure, amusement, and comfort to those like us.
Sun-duk took the bus all the way to Kwangyang, 200 kilometres away, with Jean-Noël and her mother in tow. There were no problems to report, as Jean-Noël normally sleeps like a log during the day. She had wanted to register our son with her hometown officials, but had forgotten that as a result of our official (as opposed to symbolic) marriage in Seoul, all of her files were transferred to the capital. For some reason, a Korean baby must be registered in one of his parents' hometowns. I'm not sure why that is, but perhaps it's to ensure against marriage within one's clan, i.e. inbreeding.
So while the main purpose of her visit to Kwangyang became a non-starter, Sun-duk and her mother were able to console themselves in the company of relatives, of whom many still make the city their home. Everyone thought Jean-Noël was very cute, and, in their opinion, the spitting image of his father! Well, I don't quite agree with that. However, I was able to see most of the new baby pictures Hye-young had taken and sent me during my absence, and Jean-Noël certainly appears to be more Western than Asian. Right now, only his eyes give his mother's origins away. Later, as he loses his baby fat, we may see some more prominent Asian features, such as high cheekbones and straight hair.
Hye-young took twenty new photographs in all, and they offer a much greater variety in settings and moods. We see in them Jean-Noël sleepy and sleeping, cranky and crying, eating and resting - with his mother, on Hye-young's lap, and on the "yo" my sister bought us. No bathtub pics yet, but I did get several snapshots of Jean-Noël's hands and feet! I really wanted to see whether his fingers were as long as mine when I was born.
Sun-duk had more trouble breastfeeding while I was gone. No one at the hospital had bothered to mention that she would probably have to express milk at some point to relieve occasional painful engorgement. She stopped nursing Jean-Noël for a couple of days until she found a doctor that told her what the problem was and gave her (well, probably sold her) a pump to relieve her of the extra milk. Everything's fine now, though Jean-Noël will continue being bottle-fed at night - his mother is just exhausted from lack of sleep.
TEE MINUS SIX DAYS... Sun-duk reserved tickets to Canada for the 23rd. Unfortunately, she was only able to book one, but the travel agent assured her that there would a cancellation soon enough. I certainly hope so, because there's no way the three of us are going to Canada on separate planes! I asked Sun-duk to reserve a pair of tickets for the longer, alternate flight (Seoul - Tokyo - Toronto - Montreal, instead of Seoul - Vancouver - Montreal) just in case.
CALLING ULAANBAATAR: Sun-duk has called almost every night this week, as we coordinate our efforts for Sunday's big reunion. The travel agency still hasn't faxed over a copy of my reserved plane ticket for Canada, which has me worried. Customs officials in Korea are, to put it mildly, intransigent; what if they suspect me of wanting to work illegally as an EFL teacher and ship me back to Ulaanbaatar, without even allowing me a phone call to Mokpo or the travel agency in question?
AND... Jean-Noël went to the hospital today for some more booster shots. Sun-duk has the list in Korean; we'll have to translate it into English and French when we get to Canada.
Jean-Noël's skin is almost as pink and pale as mine! That surprises me. He's also got my cleft chin. The new pictures I got this week shed a bit more light on his appearance, and me all the sadder for not having been there the past month - especially as today was the one-month anniversary of his birth. The longest three days of my life are just ahead of me, and then we'll still have to wait, what? One? Two? Three months before we can live alone as a true nuclear family.
I read a long, very long thread in Dave’s ESL Café on why there are so many Canadians teaching English abroad. Again, the replies were almost unanimous: no jobs, at least for those without a degree in computers or the sciences. Some others also cited the deteriorating social fabric of the nation, and a few have said to be living the happiest days of their lives raising their family in Japan. The cities are much safer and friendlier, a not unimportant consideration for those raising young children. And, they say, the general quality of life is much higher than in Canada. Food for thought...
Upon arriving at Mokpo Airport: ... And there was Sun-duk, holding a swaddled and invisible Jean-Noël in her arms! I immediately noticed her new hairstyle (short and Carole-Bouquet-like), maternity clothes (red t-shirt and blue jogging pants), and ever-twinkling eyes, always brimming with joy and optimism. Hye-young stood next to her with our video camera, filming every second of our retrouvailles. Seeing that no "grown-ups" were there, I wrapped my arm around Sun-duk's shoulder, looked at her, then Jean-Noël, then kissed her on the cheek - already a breach of Korean etiquette, but one which Sun-duk and society can bear.
Jean-Noël was sound asleep, and people milling about, jostling and pushing, so we quickly made our way to the parking lot, where Hye-young's minivan was parked just a few metres away. He had pulled down the second-row seats so that the three of us could ride in the back with our legs stretched out, as though we were sitting up in a large hospital bed.
Then Sun-duk handed me our son and I was finally able to look at him in person. Sun-duk and I held hands as we gazed at Jean-Noël's adorable little face and body. She filled me in on all his little behavioural details, and what was left to do this evening before putting him to bed for the night. It was a quiet moment shared between two proud, loving, and grateful parents.
This is not the place for me to wax eloquent, maudlin or sentimental, so I'll simply describe what we did when we arrived at Sun-duk's home. I watched Jean-Noël wake up. I watched Sun-duk nurse him. I watched Sun-duk and her mother undress Jean-Noël, give him his bath, and slip him into a fresh change of baby clothes. I gave Jean-Noël his bottle. I took instructions from my wife. I watched Jean-Noël fall asleep in my arms. I let his mother take him from my arms and lay him down on his section of the yo, resting his tiny head on a tiny bunny-shaped pillow. I looked at him for a long, long time, admiring the beautiful life our love had created. I asked Sun-duk for more details, more advice - I wanted to catch up as quickly as possible in order to ensure that before we left Korea, I knew everything Sun-duk did about Jean-Noël. I wanted to make sure that by the time May 23 rolled around, I was firmly entrenched in his cute brown eyes as the second most important peson in his life. I wanted to hone my fathering skills, lose all inhibitions and hesitation that plague new parents. I will succeed...
I cannot adequately put into words the gamut of emotions I've gone through in the last five days. I have neither the time nor the inclination at present to search for these words; even when Jean-Noël is sleeping, I'd rather watch him than do anything else. My powers of concentration are focused on the trio we've become, and nothing else matters much anymore. The following notes, then, are for me only; I doubt anyone but immediate family will find them worthy of their interest.
The learning curve has been steep indeed. I now handle Jean-Noël with confidence, holding him, dressing him, bathing him, changing him with as much aplomb as Sun-duk. I know how hot his formula or bath water has to be. I have my own large repertoire of lullabies and play songs. I know how long he can wait before no amount of distraction will take his mind off food. I know how to soothe him, stop his tears, pat and rock him just right. Which positions he enjoys being held in most. His particular feeding rhythms, at the breast and at the bottle. The meaning of each little coo, sigh, burp, hiccough, and grimace. I have witnessed almost every single feeding, even at night, and spent almost every second, sleeping and waking, with Sun-duk and Jean-Noël, lending moral support and a helping hand. Most of all, I look into his eyes as he looks into mine, and I never miss the opportunity to smile at or talk to him. I have the feeling that I have already become an important part of his life, that he actually knows me and enjoys my company.
NOTES: Jean-Noël only has one bowel movement every two days. He's been going through a growth spurt, which has made him hungrier and crankier than usual. I think he's trying to smile, now. He feeds every two or three hours. His milk intake is roughly half mother's and half formula - Sun-duk's breasts are so engorged that her milk is not flowing as much as it should (we haven't found a machine that will express her milk to our satisfaction), and with Jean-Noël's growth spurt demanding extra nourishment, the bottle is the only way to satisfy his hunger. We're using the smallest Huggies available, going through five a day (he produces so little urine at this age, relatively speaking, that the diapers can easily handle two discharges). He moves and kicks about like the devil, and hates being swaddled. He sighs and coos in the softest, sweetest, most adorable little voice when he feeds or falls asleep. He loves taking a warm bath, and will just lie in the tub with the utmost satisfaction while we slosh water over him for fifteen or twenty minutes. He loves having his father play with his legs, and a trip around the room, held tightly against his daddy's chest, immediately puts an end to all crying. He prefers being rocked left to right rather than to and fro. He loves sitting up, can't stand lying down. Likes tummy rubs and being burped. Will probably be an "innie". Only cries when he's hungry or can't fall asleep.
We spent Monday at Hye-young's house, just talking babies with him and Soon-joo. We had the opportunity to look at their son Joon-ho. He was born two days after Jean-Noël, but is two weeks older than he, developmentally speaking (Jean-Noël is a premie, Joon-ho was late). He's a bit bigger than Jean-Noël, and in fact we call him Jean-Noël's "big brother".
We've been out a few times with the baby - to the restaurant, the beauty salon, the train station, the dong office. We don't have a stroller or carriage, so I carry Jean-Noël in my arms in a sort of baby basket/blanket. As expected, people, especially the elderly, strain their necks trying to get a glimpse of Jean-Noël when we walk by!
MORE JEAN-NOËL NOTES: Like his mother, he just can't stand staying still. Lying down is torture, even when he's really tired. He'll cry until we pick him up and rock him to sleep. Normally, Sun-duk and I would be inclined to let him cry a bit before resorting to the Shoulder Sling, but with so many other grumpy people trying to get some sleep, patience in Mokpo is not a virtue of which we can avail ourselves. Rashes routinely break out and just as quickly disappear on Jean-Noël's face. Our book says many babies have immature skin that do that. We always know when Jean-Noël is having a poo: his face gets all red and he strains for a few minutes; because he only has a bowel movement every two days, it takes him a while to push everything out. Jean-Noël has started making his first non-crying, non-sighing, non-sneezing vowel sounds; he's also begun forming his first tentative smiles. We needed some passport pictures of Jean-Noël for our trip to Seoul, but we had to go to the photo shop twice before he would wake up. We asked the photographer to hurry up, because after three hours of snoozing, he would also be demanding nourishment. When Jean-Noël is exhausted, he simply refuses to nurse; only the quick-fix bottle will do. Jean-Noël sometimes likes to sleep on our stomachs while we lie on our backs; that's cute!
MOTHER'S NOTES: Sun-duk's breasts are three times their normal size, growing from B's to D's; and her stomach still looks like she's five months pregnant (her words, not mine!). She's a very patient mother, and never gets frustrated or angry when Jean-Noël fusses and cries or won't go to sleep. She went to the sauna and washed for the first time in five weeks; it felt good! Sun-duk manually expresses milk several times a day, but without much success; Jean-Noël's bottle feedings have lowered her milk production, and the extra work he has to put into getting enough to satiate his appetite may be driving him to the bottle (that sounded funny!). We absolutely need a proper electric pump to get her milk flowing big-time, full-time, but we can't get one here in Mokpo, and they are not inexpensive.
We appear to be cleared for take-off...
The train ride to Seoul was smooth as could be; Jean-Noël seems to be lulled into a virtual coma by vehicular motion. At first, we were pleased at his good behaviour, but over the next three nights, we realised that this was a grave disruption of his sleeping schedule. He remained wide awake from midnight to four or five a.m., unwilling to lie down quietly and demanding to be fed and entertained. He was full of energy and needed to get rid of it in a stimulating manner. Normally, we wouldn't have been bothered by this, but we were much too busy to take recuperative naps in Seoul; we were always on the move, dotting the eyes and crossing the tees in the run-up to our departure for Canada. The four-day trip ended in exhaustion of apocalyptic proportions. Well, that's an exaggeration; let's just say that we got our parental baptism of fire, if not our just desserts.
Jean-Noël is smiling more and more, especially when nodding off. He's so cute!
Hye-young's office superiors have offered to buy our digital camera from us for the same price we paid for it. Sun-duk and I said yes, since we only really bought it so I could see Jean-Noël from Mongolia. Oh yes, and Hye-young had the camera at his office the whole time I've been here, so that's the reason there haven't been any new photographs. In fact, we probably won't have any more baby pics on the homepage until early June. We're going to do it the old-fashioned way, by developing conventional film and then scanning our favourites. My parents have a scanner, and we could probably buy a good one for under C$200.
We spent the weekend packing for Canada: a half-dozen suitcases, several carry-ons, and one big box to be shipped overseas. Sun-duk has developed a case of moving-itis, and unless I get a plum job in Europe, will insist on staying put for the next few years! She wants to live the Canadian dream, with the big two-storey house, the spacious yard, the fresh air, etc.
Sun-hwa and Yong-gyu arrived from Pusan, Sunday, with Jin-hee and Dong-hyuk in tow. Jin-hee is still as cute, adorable, and shy as ever. Her little brother looks just like her, except for one thing: his hair. He has the strangest hair I've ever seen on a baby, and it was so funny to watch everyone else's reaction to it as they came in after us - Tae-jin, Hye-young, Soon-joo could not suppress a laugh and a smile! The closest I can come to describing it accurately, until our pictures come out and I put them up here, is to remind readers of Bozo the Clown! And I'm not kidding!
ABOUT JEAN-NOËL: He reached a nadir two nights ago by not falling asleep until 6 a.m. He was full of vinegar from 12 to 3 - that's when I played with him in the hope of wearing him down -, but the wee bairn just couldn't fall asleep, and cried for the next three hours. Last night, though, with all the visitors about, he behaved like an angel, sleeping when supposed to, and in high spirits when awake. What a darling! We can't wait to get our pictures developed in Canada and post them on these pages.
Jean-Noël's favourite song - the one that makes him smile the most - is Alouette!. He just loves it when I "pluck" his head, his nose, his cheeks...
While in Canada, we'll record some wave files or something of Jean-Noël cooing or nursing. He makes the cutest sounds of satisfaction!
He loves to stand up; sometimes sitting up just doesn't cut it. We have a feeling he'll be walking by the time he's eight or nine months old, maybe sooner.
His big toothless grin will melt your heart... I was feeding him last night, singing to him quietly, when all of a sudden, his whole face - eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, lips, gums - opened wide and he gave me the happiest, most appreciative smile I've ever seen him make, with the nipple still stuck in his mouth!
Jean-Noël is quietly mastering the art of thumb-sucking. Contrary to old wives' tales, sucking one's thumb will NOT harm a child's mouth or dentition until his permanent teeth start growing in at the age of 5 or 6... By which time school and peer pressure will have rid him of the habit, if he still had it. I, for one, am glad that his hand-eye coordination is improving so quickly... and it also keeps him from crying at night when he wakes up!
In making up lyrics and songs, I've stumbled across Jean-Noël's nickname: Jeannot (or Jean-No). It'll do until he's a teenager...
He's also starting to turn over on his own - a milestone normally reserved for babies several weeks older. 'Way to go, Jeannot!
When he's in a good mood, he'll coo and burble for half-an-hour. He loves to hear himself "talk", and often smiles as he does so.
My mother-in-law was in seventh heaven, this morning, as she got up before everyone else and just sat in the main room looking at her brood: three grandchildren, two daughters, and two sons-in-law, all lined up in a row like sardines, sound asleep and lovely as can be! It's a shame that we'll all be gone by Tuesday. She probably won't be able to see us again until 2002 or 2003. I hope she'll want to come to Canada instead of having us return to Korea. It's simpler (and cheaper) that way, and much more comfortable for everybody - no matter what kind of job I get, our place will undoubtedly be bigger and nicer than her home here in Mokpo.
Well, this will likely be our last entry for a few days. We're leaving for Seoul tomorrow with Hye-young, Soon-joo, and Joon-ho. (Poor Hye-young! Soon-joo has to return to her job at Yonsei Hospital this week - only two months' maternity leave, can you believe it? - so her mother will take care of Joon-ho in the capital. This means that Hye-young will only see his family on weekends for the foreseeable future.) We'll stay at Soon-joo's mother's house, near Yonsei, and hopefully meet Keenan, Matthew, and maybe a couple other former colleagues from Kyunghee U. before the big leap over the pond.
Y'all come back next weekend, y'hear? We'll have lots of pictures for everyone!
TAKIN’ IT EASY… We’ve been spending the last week sleeping and trying to catch up on our sleep! What with the jet lag and the baby’s attempt to adjust to a steadier schedule, we’ve had to content ourselves with taking naps throughout the day. We’ve done some work regarding visas and health cards, but mostly, we’ve just relaxed.
Thursday, May 24. My father, Sun-duk, and I went to Zellers and bought an electric breast pump, two pacifiers, two large milk bottles, and a large can of Similac (baby formula). The breast pump works very well (the ones in Korea did not, and expressing milk by hand is a very long and painful process). Now Jean-Noël will have mother’s milk almost ‘round the clock, either from Sun-duk’s breast or a bottle.
Friday, May 25. Josée loaned us her green plastic baby tub and Fisher-Price baby monitor (the walkie-talkie things that let parents listen to a baby while in another part of the house). Sun-duk was so enamoured of the monitor that she wants to buy some for Hye-young and Sun-hwa; but they’re pretty expensive (to buy and to send), and Korean apartments are so small that they’re not of any real use over there, anyway.
My mom and dad fixed up a half-broken stroller (of the slight, $15 variety – not a big expensive one), and we took our first Canadian nuclear family walk around Rosedale! Sun-duk admired the houses and lawns. She had lived in an older part of Chicago that wasn’t quite as open and “countrified” as Eastern Ontario, so it was more or less a revelation to her. She had seen everything once before, in 1999, but that was in winter. The neighbourhood looked much different then, cloaked in snow and ice. With the present lush greenery, Sun-duk had the impression of walking through suburban paradise, and can’t wait until we get our own house. She’s already making her architectural and landscaping preferences known!
Later in the afternoon, we hopped over to a British woman’s home just a few blocks away and bought her playpen. It’s a little small, but it’s sturdy (metal, not plastic) and will not tip over, even when Jean-Noël is older.
Saturday, May 26. My mother, Sun-duk, and I went to several garage sales in Cornwall and Long Sault. Sun-duk knew of this North-American tradition, and loves it – it makes so much more sense to pay cheaply for slightly used items than to play keeping-up-with-the-Jones, nouveau-riche Korean style.
The first place we visited didn’t have much. Sun-duk wanted to buy a boxful of wine and alcohol glasses; I thought that kind of purchase could wait until we actually had our own apartment of house! I bought some Canadian history books (very scholarly!) and a cheesy, kitschy pseudo-novel from 1960 starring Annette Funicello!!
Sun-duk found a corduroy jacket and white angora sweater at the next house – $1,50 for both of them! What a bargain! The house, moreover, was the Swiss-style one she had admired yesterday during our walk across Rosedale.
The third place turned out to be our El Dorado. A young woman with a three-year-old son was selling all of her boy’s toys and clothes, and we really cleaned up. We bought a play gym, a passel of toys (plush and plastic), lots of summer and fall clothes, and two child carriers – one for normal outings, another for hiking. We paid fifty dollars for the lot, which probably cost upwards of $300 originally.
We went to a few other sales in Long Sault, but found nothing interesting. When we got back home, we unloaded our booty and patted ourselves on the back for a job well done. What a haul! And a colourful one, at that. We filled up the playpen with toys, and then placed Jena-Noël under his gym. He liked it right away, and before long started batting Big Bird and Cookie Monster about.
Monday, May 28. We went to our federal MP’s office to pick up Sun-duk’s immigration application form. Bad news, though. (See below.) We also went to the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital so I could get my OHIP card renewed (this is Ontario’s universal health card, which offers all of the province’s citizens free medical care). The officials told me I would have to make an appointment with them through the Ministry for Health and Long-Term Care, and gave me their toll-free number. All roads lead to Toronto, it seems.
My father, Sun-duk, and I spent an hour at Wal-Mart shopping for the baby - and Joon-ho, as well. I also took out a hundred dollars at the ATM and discovered that Soros had paid me my last installment. My chequing account now has quite a nice round sum in it, and I’ve yet to deposit the US$600 left over from the local salary I received in Mongolia.
Sun-duk is still trying to lose the fifteen or so pounds left over from the pregnancy. As soon as the weather comes back to normal, we’ll be able to go out walking much more often and indulge in some sporting activities. We both need to get back into shape!
CITIZENSHIP PROCEDURE FOR CANADIAN CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE CANADA:
1. Jean-Noël automatically became a Canadian citizen at birth by virtue of having a parent with Canadian citizenship.
However, to get a citizenship certificate made – and it is essential to have one in order to apply for all sorts of goodies back home in Canada -, you must fill out a form that includes two official passport pictures. This means that the photographs must:
a) have been taken within the last twelve months;
b) measure between 25mm and 35mm from chin to crown (maximum 35mm x 53mm finished size);
c) have a plain white background;
d) have a plain white signature strip (no more than 10mm and no less than 6mm deep) at the bottom;
e) be produced on single weight matte paper;
f) have, on the back, the name of the photographer or the studio, the studio address, and the date the photos were taken.
Most importantly for children born in non-English- or non-French-speaking countries, sponsors must supply a translation and an affidavit from the person who completed the translation. Affidavits from family members are not acceptable.
So if you’re reading this in Korea, you should bring your child’s birth certificate to a fluently bilingual or trilingual Korean and have him/her sign an official affidavit. I think this is actually easier to do in Korea than finding a studio that can take the kind of passport pictures the Canadian government is asking for!! The only place we’ve ever found is located on the ground floor of the Kolon Building in Chongno, Seoul – home, of course, of the Canadian embassy. That’s where I had my passport photos taken to renew my passport back in ’99.
JEAN-NOËL: Lessee now, how’s he changed the last week? Well, he’s gotten a lot better at sucking his thumb. He was still poking himself in the eye a few days ago, but he’s got it pretty down pat, now. He sticks his thumb into his mouth and holds the other four fingers over his face, then makes loud sucking noises. He only does this when he’s somewhat cranky and we’re not fast enough with the pacifier. (By the way, thumb- and pacifier-sucking is NOT bad for a child’s mouth or dentition until his permanent teeth start coming in at the age of five or six – by which time, peer pressure at school will have cured him of this potentially bad habit.)
His coordination and motor skills are coming along fine. He will purposely hit (though he’s more likely to miss) the toys he’s aiming for in the play gym. It’s really cute to see him develop; every day seems to bring something new – something that is slowly becoming “personality”.
His appetite has increased significantly since last week. He’ll often drink 100mL of milk instead of 60mL. Another growth spurt? In any case, he’s upped his “poo quotient” to one dump a day, and his Huggies just can’t handle the extra “tonnage”. We’ll have to move him up to the 6-to-8 kilo group!
He burbles and smiles more and more. He’s really taking a shine to “conversing” with us, letting out dulcet-toned Agueu’s and giving us that big silly toothless grin of his all at once!
Jean-Noël was sick for the first time in his young life, this weekend. A cold, with sniffling, fever, and plenty of discomfort and crying. It all began on Friday, June 1st, we think...
It was a gorgeous day, and the five of us decided to go to Lamoureux Park along the St. Lawrence River for a walk. We took the tiny stroller out of the car trunk and basically walked from end of the park and back, going around the bandshell and behind the Civic Complex before settling down at the Marina with its assortment of boats and yachts. A strong breeze was blowing in, and in our joy of feeling the sun on our skin for the first time in nearly two weeks, we might have been unable to factor in the wind chill factor and its effects on newborns.
We noticed a slight cough from the baby that night and the next morning; by Saturday evening, fever had set in. Sun-duk and I hardly slept at all for the next two days, as Jean-Noël couldn't, either. By Monday, however, his condition had improved: his temperature had gone down to almost normal, his appetite had returned, and he slept soundly, with nary an interruption, until the following day.
The illness had worried Sun-duk, but we Canadians took Jean-Noël's cold in stride, a sort of baptism of fire, if you'll forgive the irony. If it had continued for more than three or four days, though, we definitely would have brought him to a clinic.
We're very happy to finally have an honest-to-goodness, high-tech, heavy-duty, tank-size stroller to walk around the neighbourhood with. It's chockfull of goodies: reversible handle, brakes, a "sun roof", an extra piece of cloth in case of rain, a small trunk, a shelf between the wheels, and a gear that allows a baby to sit up, recline, or lie down. What luxury!
We took our first walk with our new stroller. Felt like a "real" outing. Sun-duk took a lot of pictures of us and the neighbourhood.
Sun-duk, Jean-Noël, and I had ourselves a good old-fashioned picnic at Guindon Park by the lake. We brought over some subs with us and fed the seagulls and Canada geese. Sun-duk was enamoured of the area and took many photographs. Later, we drove around some of Cornwall's ritzier neighbourhoods and looked at the houses. Someone - but not me - is making a lot of mental notes!
JEAN-NOËL: Another semi-incident: he was constipated for four days! The last two were pretty rough - his poor insides were all cramping up on him, and he cried a lot. It finally came out, in two installments - morning and night.
This week was a hard one for him; maybe it was the new formula, which is rich in iron (mother's milk doesn't contain enough of this all-important element, and we want to avoid feeding him supplement drops. He cried a lot for the first time in Canada, and surprised my parents, who think he's an exceptionally good (i.e. quiet and well-behaved) baby. They added that his father was the same, but that his aunt was a little more fussy. As for Sun-duk... I've stopped asking her questions about her infancy, because a) she has never been interested enough to query her mother, and b) her mother can't remember a single detail of any of her babies' early lives, save perhaps those of her two sons! I find that strange, because both my grandmothers, who had six and eight children each, love to regale others with such details.
Jean-Noël's got this thumb-sucking down pat, now, curling his fingers into a fist and sucking his thumb several times a day, very loudly. Very funny to see and hear!
The picture on the right, by the way, is how, by Canadian law, ALL babies under 20 pounds (eight kilogrammes) must travel by car - always in the back seat, facing backwards, and with two seat belts securely fastened.
JEAN-NOËL: He's starting to clutch things, like his shirt and several toys. He doesn't grab them deliberately, yet; the only willful thing he can do, so far, is punch the swinging figures on his play gym.
His smiles have become much more frequent, and he's even started laughing - although he can only manage a single grunt in lieu of a chuckle! And he does look so Asian when he breaks out into a big grin! In fact, it's funny how many people here in Canada tell us Jean-Noël looks like Sun-duk, while every single Korean swears he's a little Westerner! Folks here only see his almond eyes, whereas back in Asia, they look at his nose, chin, and skin and straight away pronounce him wegoog-in!
We're also told that he's a big baby for his age, that his feet are large, his toes long, etc. We can't really compare him with any other baby, and being with him every day, we don't notice the physical changes - except perhaps for his hairline, which is beginning to fill in!
Assorted facts: Jean-Noël's ear wax is wet and sticky like a Westerner's.
He hardly drools at all or sticks out his tongue in the fashion of other three-month-old infants.
The new diapers (Pampers, BTW) work marvelously well: water-tight and capacious enough for the biggest poop.
He enjoys nursing less and less. As of now, Jean-Noël only accepts the breast at night, when he's very sleepy. The rest of the time, he craves for the bottle, so Sun-duk is busy expressing milk at least half-a-dozen times a day, ensuring a steady supply of the world's best baby food.
He's gotten a little chubbier in the face and extremities. Did you know a double chin looks funny when it's also cleft?