Saturday, May 28, 2005

Who says that making a baby is easy?

When I was still a single, I always thought that one day I will easily produce a baby. I don't think this idea solely belong to me. A lot of my friends are the same. They thought that making baby is easy. Taking care of baby is easy. Maintaining a marriage is easy. Well guess what people??? You are dead wrong!!!

If you read my previous entry about " how I met my husband ", you will found out that we were meant to be together according to God. I believe this, but boy... in this journey on having a baby my faith on him was sorely tested!

We were married in 1998 and like any other young couple, we decide to have fun with ourselves first before "baby making time" arrive. So on 2000, we start getting busy thinking that everything is going to be easy and fun. We are sooooo naive....

Since we are both loves to read, we did enough preparation for our baby like get a rubella shot first, stop taking the pil months ahead too. Then we both took multivitamins daily and start eating right. My husband even exercise more for this big event. Since we want to have a boy, we read a book on how to decide the sex of the child. After following the dos and don'ts on that book for 4 months we are officially pregnant !!!!

It was a glorious moment to realize that inside me, now we have our child. My husbands already prepared a name for him 2 years ago, right after we got married. He planned to name his first boy, Michael.

Entering 8 weeks of pregnancy, while I was on the phone with my parents, all of a sudden there is a big gush of blood coming out from me! Out of nowhere, it just coming out not like drip by drip, but more like peeing nonstop. I had a small heart attack that time. I called Richard and we rushed to the doctor. After the observation was made by Dr. Weil, he found out that I have Incompetent cervix. Which means my cervix; the opening that separates my womb from my vagina was open when it suppose to be tightly close to prevent the baby from falling down. He did an ultrasound and we found out despite how much blood I lost, I am still pregnant and the baby looks fine.
He told me to stay on the bed from now on and my pregnancy was just beginning. Not only that but he also schedule me for a surgery to close that cervix through my vagina on the 12th weeks of my pregnancy.

Back home, I never stop crying because I was so scared and feeling absolutely hopeless. I want my husband to be my hero but he is human after all and that pretty much make me more upset.

On my 12th weeks, we went to the hospital to have the surgery. First, they put me in my surgery gown. Then a nurse came to put the IV needle in my hand, but she only succeeds doing this after her 4th tries.
Then they send me to the surgery room to have an epidural. Epidural is when they inject the space between your spinal disk with 10cm long needle to deliver the anesthesia. But first they have to numb the area by scrapping your skin off with something. Very painful but you will need it because even though they already numb the area, it still can't cover the sharp pain that you will feel when that giant needle just poke your spine! If the doctor misses the spot... guess what? You will be a cripple. It took 2 tries of poking me with that needle before they found the right spot. How it feels? Try imagining having your tooth drilled by a dentist without any anesthesia and this is happening on your back where no matter how much in pain you are, you can't move at all or risking yourselves and becoming a cripple.

Then the surgery began, it's called cerclage. Dr. Weil sew closed my cervix. All the while I was watching him doing it through the reflection on the stainless steel lamp above my head when I lay on that surgery bed and hearing my blood being drained into a container. My husband was allowed to stay with me on this surgery and he can't take his eyes off from the blood. The surgery only took 40 minutes and then I was sent to my room again where they will keep me for the rest of the day only just to monitor if I have a contraction after the procedure.

Back to my bed rest at home, the doctor allowed me to walk around the house but pretty much try to take it easy. I did off course but I am still terrified that no matter how good I am, it won't be enough to keep my baby.

I put a calendar next to my bed and everyday I cross one day with a black pen. And every morning when I am awake, I prayed that God will give my child one more day to stay inside my womb. And at night before I sleep, I say my thanks to God for giving my child one more day. I never miss a day at all. But despite my good effort, when my pregnancy enter its 24th weeks, the doctor found out that the sutures are broken from the weight of the baby and because my cervix dilated too much. So he scheduled me again for my next surgery. A more progressive surgery where he will did almost the same thing to my cervix except this time the location will be higher, nearer to my womb.

I am back to full bed rest mode. With my husband mostly missing from home because he is almost getting his Master degree and he is also working as his teacher assistant. Oh how much I hate him at that time for leaving me alone most of the time when I need his support so much. See... even with a soul mate, you will still have to face this kind of moment.

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Providence St. Vincent Hospital


On my 16th weeks, I had a full ultrasound check up to see if the baby is fine. That day, we found out that we are having a boy, just as we wish. It was an amazing feeling but it also a scary feeling because now I know I am having a boy just as I want to and he might not survive because of my condition, my fault, not his fault.

On 26th weeks, I was back in the hospital again. And like before, it takes several tries to put the IV needle on my hand and when it's time for the epidural, I got an idiot doctor. She scraped my back 8 times then she failed 2 times to inject my back before she give up and called for help from her senior. I was in pure agony.
And just like before the surgery only takes 40 minutes. But this time, Dr. Weil did not want to take a chance at all and he placed me in full bed rest mode in the hospital until the baby was born. I am only allowed to walk to the bathroom in my room and back to bed again. Days... turn to week... week turn to months... and every time I asked any doctor on when do they think my son is born, their answer are always the same, any second. I know they are being honest with me, but just imagine my suspense on thinking my son can be born anytime and his chance to survive is almost zero.

Since the doctor told me that the youngest baby that can survive and live in pretty normal condition (not cripple) is 28 weeks, I set my goal to survive this pregnancy until my 28th weeks.

Pass my 28 weeks; my next goal is 32 weeks..... all the while I feel so alone in the hospital bed even though my parents and my mother in law always come to see me everyday but the loneliness never disappeared. Once every 2 weeks or less they will wheeled me out to the ultrasound room for check up. But pretty much I was kept in my hospital room.

Everyday I ate the most fattening food in the hospital because if my child born early he won't have enough brown fat to survive. So I need to eat those fatty foods to make him fatter so his chance of survival is slightly higher.

Dr.Weil previously told me that if everything going normal, he will open my cerclage when I entered my 36th weeks or pregnancy. He said that with my severe incompetent cervix condition, most likely my son will be born within the hours of opening the sutures. So on that day, we were so happy that not only for sure he is big enough to survive, but we know the delivery will be quick.

I am back to the operating room again when, again, more IV needles being poke in, then more 10cm long needle being poke in my back again. Several times again. It takes even shorter time to cut those strings that held my cervix closed these past few months. I don't remember the exact time. But later Dr. Weil told us that from all those strings, only one was still in place. The rest were broken like before and no doubt it's a miracle. One string to hold 6 lbs baby safely inside.

After that, I was told to walk a lot in the hospital for the first time and my legs feel so weak. Just walking slowly and I already lost my breath. But after a while and still there was no sign that my son wanted to come out, Dr. Weil send us home. I feel so good to be back home again and knowing that now I will be like any other normal pregnant woman who will anticipate their baby birth with joy. I couldn't wait to have my water broke! Just like in the movie where we will rush in to the hospital and we will finally meet our son.

It turn out, not that easy. On my 38th weeks, I went back for a check up to the hospital. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure sky high ( over 140 )and my legs are both swollen so big like elephants legs. It would be dangerous for me and my son to wait any longer so I was sent back again to a room, more IV needles being poke to my hand. A doctor came and broke my water and now we just have to wait. When the water broke, my cervix directly dilating into 3cm, then 4cm, and when it was open to 5 cm, I make a request for an epidural. This time they want to make sure I won't suffer as many as before, they sent the best anesthesiologist to do it and it only took once. And when the cervix opened more than 8cm, I said that I want Dr. Weil to deliver my son. I don't want any other doctor. But since Dr. Weil was doing a C-section, I have to wait longer even though I felt like the baby was already peaking out of me! There is something good that I wait that long because the baby head slowly came down and with the pain lessen with the epidural, I can use Lamaze breathing lesson to save my energy and slow down the pushing feeling. So when finally Dr. Weil showed up and found out that I am already fully dilating and he told me to push. I only need to push 15 minutes and Michael ( Kai Kai ) was born. It was a very easy delivery after a very very very hard pregnancy. Dr. Weil did not even do an episiotomy on me; episiotomy is when the doctor cut the vagina so that the baby can come out faster. This would be another story, but scientists now think it is bad to do episiotomy just so they can save time on delivering the baby. It takes much longer for the cut to heal too.


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While I was feeling lucky that the doctor did not perform episiotomy on me, then the doctor drop the bomb by telling me that I need to be sent back to the operating room fast because I bleed a lot. The cause of the bleeding was because after so many sutures being applied around my cervix, it caused the tissue around that area to pucker up and become scarred tissue. And then when my son head push through, it pretty much blow the cervix apart. So now my cervix needed to be fixed fast. So while my family basked in happiness of holding Kai Kai, I was wheeled back to the operating room. And since the epidural is still working to numb my body, they don't need to give me more. The doctor said maybe it will only take about 20 minutes to re-construct my cervix.

My only consolation was knowing that my son is finally born and he is so healthy, perfectly healthy despite all the ordeal that I had to go through. With the drugs for surgeries, steroid shots to help maturing his lungs, the anti-contractions medicines that I took daily, etc. So while I lay back once again on the surgery table and staring at my reflection on the stainless steel lamp above me. Hearing all the noises around me, all of a sudden I felt pain start shooting around my lower body. I was quite groggy but I manage to let the nurse next to me know about that. It turn out that my cervix condition was much much worse and it took twice longer for the doctor to fixed it and in the mean time the epidural start to wears off. Now I can even feel when my body is being sewed and pulled and tucked. They can only help ease my pain by keep injecting me with lots of morphine until I am so light headed and stop feeling any pain.

Despite my traumatic night, I thank God that KK slept so peacefully that night ( he was born on midnight )and the next morning I feel much better and I was able to walk to the bath room myself. This is the good thing of delivering a baby through vagina instead of C-section like what most Indonesian people prefer to do lately. I took a bath myself on my second day before I went home with our son for the first time. 4 days later in the night I had a very weird situation where I felt so much pain all over my body until I have a high fever for 2 days. It was worse than my contractions because at least at that time I got help from the epidural. I sweated like crazy those 2 days too. Later when I told the doctor, he said that’s normal because my hormone just changed from pregnant mode to not-pregnant mode. And he remind me that he already gave me high dose pain killers that I did not take because I thought I won’t need it.

Is this the end ? not by far ...

When Kai Kai was 7 months old, we found out that I "accidently" pregnant again. And when I just gave birth to KK, my doctors told me that if I am pregnant again in the future, they will need to do more aggressive cerclage to close my cervix permanently. And this is the most aggressive approached; they will have to do a C-section while I am still pregnant around 12 weeks because the miscarriage chances are lower after the first trisemester of pregnancy. Then for every pregnancy that I have in the future, the deliveries will have to be done by C-section. No more vaginal delivery.

So on my 12th weeks, I was back in my hospital again for more aggressive surgery. Here is the chance to be thankful to God always in everything. Let me explain that to you. I know that it’s not a coincidence that my husband took the first offer from Portland State University to take his Master there and that caused us to move to Portland. It’s not a coincidence that he also take some classes in another college that give us a better health insurance coverage so even though the cost to deliver KK is over US $ 200,000, but we ended up only need to pay $ 1000. It’s not a coincidence that we met wonderful doctors such as Dr. Weil and Dr. Kennedy. It’s not a coincidence that I ended up staying in a very good hospital that specializing in high risk pregnancy. At that time the youngest surviving baby (born in 26th week) was there. It’s not a coincidence that The Inventor of this permanent cerclage happens to live in Portland! Even though he is in his 70s and already retired but he freely offered his help to be there to supervise the surgery himself!

I was introduced by Dr. Weil to the doctor who will be in charge of the surgery. So total I will have 4 doctors watching after me. Dr. Weil, my OBGYN. Dr. Kennedy, the high risk pregnancy specialist doctor. Then this doctor who will perform the surgery itself, he was invited because he is a great surgeon. Then off course the inventor of the system himself.. But when I saw how big the surgeon is, I just knew it that he is going to open my tummy so big to accommodate his giant hands!

Just as promised, I did not know anything about the surgery because I chose to sleep the whole time. I don’t want to witness any sight or sound of the surgery anymore. Then I was woken up by an unbearable pain around my stomach. I was so groggy that I can’t even form a sentence. I can only repeat one word only to the nurse in the room. “pain…..pain....pain”. Then she give me more morphine to dull the pain. But I still feel a lot of pain. After she give me more for several time, I heard she called the doctor with slightly panic voice that she already gave me my maximum dose of morphine but I am still in so much pain. I guessed the doctor told her to give me twice the previous dosage of morphine because all of a sudden the pain is considerably less. I asked the nurse on why I felt so much pain. Then she explained it to me that my tummy was cut open wider because the doctor needs a lot of room to work on my cervix without disturbing the baby or it may cause a miscarriage. Just as I thought it would. Then another reason why I felt more pain also is because when the doctors open my tummy, they found that my left ovary was so wrapped up in a fibroid that they decide to just cut it off completely. So now I am awake with so much pain and with one less ovary.

After that I had to stay for 4 days in the hospital before they released me home. The pain was so terrible and when the nurse force me to walk on my second day I cried because I could not even move my legs without feeling this much pain. Even my husband was so upset with the nurse. But later we learn that this is an important step of recovering. I need to be able to walk after a C-section because the body will build up gas in the tummy and the pain from having too much gas is so bad. Unless you force yourself to move and this will cause the body to release the gas, you won’t feel better.

So the next 1 month went pretty calm. I stay on the bed mostly.

On the 16th weeks, like usual we have to go back to the hospital for a complete ultrasound for the baby. To measure if the baby growth is normal. We were so happy because we expected today to know the sex of our child. We were smiling a lot at the beginning, until when we saw how serious the face of the doctor who did the ultrasound. I also had a bad feeling when I saw the shape of the baby's head. It's like a lemon shape instead of an egg shape like Kai Kai's before. I asked what’s wrong, but he refused to answer instead he called his superintendent to review his finding again in case he was mistaken. He was not. They told us that our child has what’s called Spina Bifida. Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that happens in the first month of pregnancy when the spinal column doesn’t close completely. The effects of spina bifida are different for every person. Up to 90 percent of children with the worst form of spina bifida have hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) and must have surgery to insert a “shunt” that helps drain the fluid—the shunt stays in place for the lifetime of the person. Other conditions include full or partial paralysis, bladder and bowel control difficulties, learning disabilities, depression, latex allergy and social and sexual issues.

When we heard all that information, we thought what is the odd that maybe our child condition wasn’t that extreme and maybe we can still keep the child and learn how to raise him/her. But they shot our hope by telling us that in my case, it’s very extreme. In fact it was so extreme that most likely the child will die in the womb and it may cause more complication with me. They told us that we only have one option, to abort the child. And since I have my cervix sewed close permanently, they have to perform another C-section to remove the child.

We went home not believing that we are going to loose our child. I was scheduled to have the abortion on my 21st week. It takes me 10 days just to realize that I am going to loose this child. Then when the realization came down, I just bawl… and bawl… my heart out. I told God that I can’t take any more of this. Why me God? I thought that He promised me He will never challenge me more than I could bear.
Then a voice came inside me saying “What if you can?”.

I realized that for some reason God allowed this happen to me. I learn one thing that time. Is that no matter what happen to me, I will still trust in Him. I will have a blind faith where I don’t even need to know why this thing happened to me as long as I know He is still with me. I realize that my God is not only a baby who is born in a manger small and cute. But He is the Lord that created the whole universe; He is just too amazing to comprehend. He is God. He can do what ever He wants and I am just a human who is totally depended on His mercy. Who am I that God owed me an explanation? So I told God that if He allowed this to happen to me then I believe it’s for a good cause.

In my 21st weeks, so it’s only a little bit more than a month since I had my C-section. I was being prepared for another C-section. I felt like my body is being open then close then open then later close like a zipper. Since the Catholic Hospital did not allowed any type of abortion for any reason to be done in there, this time, I was moved to a Christian Hospital.

The first person who greet us was a female priest. She is so gentle and so kind to us. She asked if we wants our child to be Baptist. And when we said yes, she said then she will wait outside of the operating room and as soon as the nurse hand her the baby, dead or alive, she will take the baby back to the room where my husband would wait so she can Baptist the child in front of my husband. I cried but mostly I felt numb. So they wheeled me into the operating room. I did not remember much after that only after they send me back to my room and then my husband handed me our dead child to hold for the first time. And … he was sooo small, we named him Samuel. I saw that indeed there is a big hole on his back where the spine should have been closed. The priest told me that right after the baby was taken out from my tummy, the nurse handed him to her and she ran as fast as she can all the back to my room because the baby was still alive that time and she wants my husband to hold him while he is still alive. Samuel died on his father’s arm that day, just right after we Baptist him in Jesus’ name. Then my husband rocked him for a long time while he cried and cried. And the priest gave him his privacy and left the room. And couple hours later, I was sent into the room. That night, I hold my son’s body next to me as if he was still alive. All night long. Even until noon the next day. Then I gave his body to the nurse. I said my love and my goodbyes to him all night long.

He was cremated and we spread his ashes in Canyon Beach, Oregon……

On 2004 in Canada this time, I was pregnant again. And this time I felt that this time around, everything will be alright. I was wrong. First the doctor told me that the placenta location was too low on the wall of my womb. Then because of my previous history, my doctor here did an extensive check up on me to make sure that I carry a healthy baby. First I had to take a triple screening test where from my blood test they can tell if I have a chance to have another baby with Spina Bifida syndrome. The test shows that I had 20% chances of having another baby like Samuel. So on the 16th weeks, I had an extensive ultrasound to measure the baby growth. And once again…. my hope was crushed. I was told that my child has Spina Bifida syndrome again. And once again, it was as bad as the previous one. My husband wasn’t there in the doctor office when he delivered the bad news because my husband just started a new job and he has to work that day. Usually he was the one who drove me to the doctor. Only Lucy, my cousin was there to accompany me, and it doesn’t make it easier because I don’t want to upset her so I tried to act calm when in fact I felt like dying.

I told God that night that my heart is broken but my love for Him is not. I beg Him not to test me again…..but no matter what, let His will be done not mine…..

On my 19th weeks of pregnancy, I was back into surgery room. But this time I don’t have the familiar feeling since I only met my surgeon that day. He looks so terribly young. All this time I have a strong feeling that I am pregnant with a girl. So we only thought off girl names. But just one minute before I was sent to the surgery room, I told my husband, in case I am wrong, and the baby is a boy, I want him to be named James, after my father’s Baptist name and James is also my son’s 2 best friend names.

When I woke up, the first thing I saw was James. I don’t know why but this time, I could not keep my eyes open for longer than 5 minutes. I fell asleep and never seen him again.

I kept his ashes in the drawer next to my bed for a whole year.

On May 29th, I spread his ashes on the beach here in Stanley Park because I love this park, it’s beautiful. Kai Kai said a prayer to God " Thank you Jesus and goodbye James…" Even though Kai Kai cried when James was born, but today he is full of smile because he knows that James and Samuel are waiting for him in heaven. He knows,I knows, and Richard knows.


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What have I learn so far…? That God is good. All the time. And I felt that He wants me to experience these pains so I can help others who suffer too….

You out there… be strong….love God still.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Why Do Canadians Still Salute to the Queen of England?

On May 23rd Canadian is celebrating the Victoria Day where we still pay tribute to QueenVictoria of England. And one of my husband co-worker explains why Canadian still pay tribute to the Queen. Well, he said because Canadian are trying to find any excuse so they can have an extra holiday to enjoy!

Whether that is right or wrong, I don't know, but on this holiday that happens to be a long weekend, Richard decided to go to Portland again. We used to live there and we even got married and had a baby there too.

Since on Saturday Kai Kai has to go to his Chinese Class until noon, we started late around 3 PM. Originally we planed to drive nonstop to Portland but on the way there we got side tracked by the new Premium Outlet Stores just 1.5 hours from our home. Boy... talk about temptation.... We ended up spending over 2 hours there !

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So from there Richard drove straight to Portland but because it was too late, we decided to sleep our first night in Dean's home. Dean is my husband's co-worker before. We used to have a house that near to each other too. Dean's wife is the flight attendant in China Airlines ( Taiwanese Airlines Company) , unless you have the dough to buy first class ticket, you won't see her there though.Their daughter's name is Amelia. Kai Kai loves to play with her and be her big brother.



Next morning, we went to shop some more in Downtown Portland because we knew where the best bargain was! This is the best thing about visiting your old home area, you just know where everything is!


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From downtown, we went to the Zoo. When we entered the zoo, the weather was ok, then before we walked further down, we went to the bathroom for few minutes. And when we went out guess what?? It was raining heavily mixing with hails !!!! I was lucky that it's only less than 15 minutes since I bought the tickets so I got full refund on them.

And since the weather was terrible, we went to Beaverton. This was also where we used to live. It's just one of the suburb area in Portland Metro Area. It's where Nike and Intel headquaters are. Basically we were just driving around the memory lane. Telling our son like this is the hospital where you were born. This is our old rental home before. This is where mommy used to shop for the grocery. My son loves it.



Then after the memory tour ended, I called my cousin Liza whose house is what we were suppose to sleep in last night so she can meet us in Target Store's parking lot because I am planning to take her to eat Korean food in a very very tiny restaurant that has no name ! Yeah.. that's why she needs me to find this spot! But when we arrived there, we found out that there are new owners there now. Luckily the food not only still taste great but they have more food in the menu. Before only about 15 choices. Only Koreans people know this spot. And not all of them. And only hardcore Korean Food Lovers like us who will take the trouble of asking every Koreans who live in Portland where their favorite restaurant is !!!! We ordered so much food but we truly enjoy all of them. Even the noodle was freshly made in front of us by the chef ( a lady).

After stuffing ourselves silly, we drive back to Liza's home, except for my husband who wants to see his old co-workers again.

Let me tell you about my cousin's home. She bought an older home in a great area near the exclusive area in Portland. As you know,usually the older the house gets, the uglier it gets as well. Not with my dear cousin's though. I mean... every time I went to her home is like her home's get another face lift ! It's just getting better and better everytime I went there ! She always has another home improvement project going. While doing all this home improvements thing, she still manage to care for her son so well, cook amazing dishes, and please, don't even let me started on how clean her home is. I am talking about you can probably use the floor as your plate when you eat ! It's not just about sterile, it's about cozy as well, because she is an interior decorator major before. Her house is ecclectic, even the photos on the walls that I thought she bought from the store were actually hers and her husband's, Sani. While if you go to my home and you open my freezers (2 freezers) you better step behind fast before there is an avalance of frozen meats fall and crush your toes ! It just happen last week actually, and I am still limping..... so sad. Or if you open my pantry and try to find something, you really have to take most of them out first before you can locate what you want because I do have tons of stuff there. But when I open my cousin's boy... it's so neat and none of them expired. She did garage sale regularly to purge her homes from mess ! Unbelivable but actually when I was there, she just have another garage sale again. She is amazing. A down to earth Martha Stewart without the jail thingy. She is my idol for being the best house wife in the world! If you want to see her cooking, you can visit her site at the links on this page. Before I forgot,she also taught me how to carefully monitor your financial and how to save your money wisely so you are able to afford all those travels and home improvement projects like she is ! Jeez.... is there anything that she can't do???? Amazing. Every time I met her I learn new thing important.... FYI she is only 2 years older than me.

Anyway.... back to my trip, the next day Liza took me to see the exclusive houses around the Lake Oswago. It was fun because she knows where we can stop and take lots of pictures.


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Then she took me the local shopping district.


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Over there our sons play in the water playground until wet...wet...wet... but since they have so much fun, that's ok, plus I also have tons of fun taking their pictures.


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Then we eat ice cream

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and Liza bought me custom made chocolate that is just so beautifull that so far I have not eaten yet because.... they are so pretty and I like looking at them again and again.... hahaha.....no, that's not true, I am eating them right this second while my hands are busy typing this entry.... so ( munch... munch...munch ) some of them are shaped like little puppy and kittens, some are dusted with real gold leaves, they are pure indulgent. Thanks Liza !

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About my nephew Nathan. He has the cutest smile on a little boy. When he smile, his whole face lit up. And if you see him from the side, he has a very cute profile and made me wish I am a painter. He also has a very tender heart, very gentle. Since Sani's mom is part caucasian, Nathan skin is amazingly white and pink ! Beautiful skin ! Both our sons loves to play with each other so much ! And I think they are good to each other. A good match.

So after that we separated, she return to her home with my nephew Nathan, and we went to the zoo. This time the weather is perfect. They have 2 new attarctions, one is the butterfly garden, the other is parakeet house. They are both fun to visit since those butterflies and parakeets are flying and perch on your body. You can feed the birds with juice too. They love it. Then it's time to go back to Vancouver. My husband drove all the way home nonstop and we finally arrive in our home around 11 o'clock at night.

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