I’m writing this post with 2.5 hours left of my flight back to Hong Kong from New York and I can’t believe that I almost didn’t go.
Just after the New Year, K found out that he had to go to a conference in Orlando, Florida during the week of Feb. 26th, and would have a layover in New York just because there were no direct flights to Orlando from Hong Kong.
He kept urging me to join him for two reasons 1) he didn’t want to be away from me for such a long time at this point in my pregnancy (the trip would be close to 1.5 weeks long), and 2) he knew that I would feel bad about not being in New York while he was there.
He was right of course – about reason number two specifically.
For those of you who know me, it’s a no-brainer. I love New York. Aside from Chicago, which is where I’m from, New York is home. So why was I hesitating so much?
There were two reasons: 1) we would be heading to Australia for our babymoon just a week after the New York trip and I wasn’t sure if I should be doing two long round trip flights in the later half of my second trimester, 2) I thought that I should be using this time more wisely to work. I’m due in June and that’s when the balancing game gets even harder.
Sure, my OB could answer number 1, but what about number 2?
Two weeks before K’s trip, I chatted with a friend and told him about my confusion on whether or not to go to New York. His immediate reaction was that I had to go. His rationale was something that I hadn’t realized: I needed a break! He reminded me that I was actually working a lot and could use a breather. Going to New York might be exactly what I needed.
He was right.
Landing in New York and not going “home” was so hard for me. Not that I hadn’t realized it before, but it was a true reminder that we no longer lived there.
Living in New York is like being in a really emotional relationship. There are days when the mutual love is so extreme that it feels amazing, and then there are days where you just want out. That Friday, while walking around New York for the first time in three months, it felt like it was holding me in the warmest embrace. It felt like I had never left.
My mother-in-law landed later that evening so we went back to our in-laws place to relax. My sister-in-law’s cousins were also in town and were insisting on getting pizza so I figured I’d stay up for a little longer just to have a slice. But instead of pizza, in walks my lovely sister.
I could hardly believe my eyes. I was so stunned to see her especially since I had booked my travel so last minute. It made me so happy.
Jet lag kept me awake for most of the night, but I was able to squeeze in a 2 hour nap on Saturday after going to one of my favorite cardio classes ever – Doonya. The rest of the evening was relaxing. We had a family dinner at Quality Italian followed by a movie at my in-laws that I can’t remember because I fell asleep. I did, however, wake up to eat a cookie that we got delivered from Insomnia Cookies at 1am – only in New York!
On Sunday morning, we had plans to meet one of my best friends for brunch. She just had a baby so I was even more excited to see them. But my mother-in-law wanted to do a quick Indian, Tamilian ceremony called a Nalangu for my pregnancy beforehand.
My mom felt bad that she couldn’t have a baby shower for me, so it was really nice that my mother-in-law could meet us in New York and do this instead. My parents had just gone back to Chicago the weekend before after being with us in Hong Kong for two weeks, so unfortunately couldn’t join us in New York.
The purpose of the ceremony is to bless the mom-to-be, cover her in turmeric to make her glow, and decorate her in bangles so that the baby can hear them as she moves. The ceremony was short, but sweet. We video-chatted my parents so that they could see it all too.
While I was enjoying the ceremony, I was also getting nervous that we were getting late to brunch. I kept bugging K to message my friend to let her know what was going on.
As soon as ceremony was done, I quickly washed up and ran to Lil’ Frankies for brunch.
We walked in and were lead into the back room where I was stunned again for the second time that weekend.
Standing in front of me were as many of my close New York friends as could join, especially given that my trip was so last minute. It was a surprise baby shower!
According to my family and friends, my surprised look is more like a ‘hmm what’s going on here’ look, but I was definitely surprised. I really didn’t think I’d have a baby shower given that we’re now in Hong Kong and majority of my friends and family are in the States. It amazed me that K and my friends were able to pull this off so quickly. I was so touched.
Between the family and friends who were able to make it in person, those that video chatted because they couldn’t be, and those who coordinated even from afar (including from Hong Kong), it became another moment in my life that I’ll never forget.
That afternoon gave me a high that lasted through the rest of the week. I didn’t sleep much unfortunately because of my jet lag, but it was worth it.
I got my hair done by my amazing hairdresser Coco, had two shoots with some of my favorite people, lunches, brunches, dinners and snacks with more of my favorite people, went to my sister-in-law’s choreo class, more Doonya, attended some meetings, and had morning coffee sessions with my sister-in-law. It was a whirlwind of a week to say the least, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
I mentioned earlier that landing in New York and not going home was tough, but leaving was much harder. The past three months in Hong Kong have been an adjustment. Getting used to life in a new city halfway around the world, being pregnant, and forging a new career path for myself; it’s all been a bit overwhelming to say the least. A trip back to New York was the perfect refresher as it reminded me of who I was and why I was doing what I was doing. And I can’t thank my friends and family enough for contributing to that.
I’ll see you again soon New York, and this time, with a new little girl in tow!
Blog edited by: Betty Ho