All about the babies, and a son to be

Maggie and I are in our final week of a 5-week visit to Canada, and it has been a whirlwind — both physically and mentally.

It has been wonderful being home for the holidays, and a visit that has been full of firsts. It was Maggie’s first time seeing British Columbia (as we flew into Vancouver rather than Toronto, simply for the experience and to visit family out west). It was also our first opportunity to meet my 20-month-old nephew who was born shortly after our last visit to Canada.

My nephew is not the only new addition to our clan since our last visit. My cousin and my step-brother have both had children since we were last here, and being home has given me a chance to sit down with all the somewhat-new parents and pick their brains on being first-time parents.

That experience alone has made this visit home invaluable. We have lists of recommended reading, bags of baby gear, advice layered upon advice and, perhaps most valuable, the opportunity to spend some up-close and personal time with babies and little kids — something that has given us both a much stronger sense that, despite the regular fears I imagine all new parents-to-be have, we are ready for this.

Hands down the best part of being home though came in the form of a short trip to a small office in Oakville on December 23, 2009. For Christmas my sister and my mom decided to take Maggie and I to 3D Baby Vision, a fetal imaging clinic that specializes in keepsake 3d ultrasounds.

We got the works; a 30-40 minute 3D ultrasound session, a DVD recording of the session, a CD full of images of our unborn baby, and — most importantly — gender assessment.

Due to Chinese families (particularly in rural areas) favouring boys, and because of the country’s One Child Policy; Chinese doctors and ultrasound techs are legal restricted from revealing the sex of a child so as to prevent parents from aborting the baby if it is a girl.

While there are always ways around this, having the assessment done while we are here in Canada was a simple solution, and one we were quite eager to take part in.

It’s a boy!

Or rather it will be… or should be. Due to the position of the baby, the tech could only give us 90% certainty, but said that in the 5 years of the business, she had never received a call saying she had gotten it wrong.

I was asked a lot prior to knowing the sex what I hoped he would be, and I always said I was completely impartial. More than one person told me I was lying and deep down I had a preference. I really didn’t, and still don’t. I see the benefits and challenges of either — and at the end of the day I’m just thrilled to be a dad.

That said, now that we know I can focus on what having a boy means — basically, a little me. I’m in a lot of trouble. 🙂 Of course I’m kidding. I’m excited to take part in all the “father-son” things that I took part in with my dad. Playing catch, going to games, etc.

I’m also pretty keen on the fact that as the only male child in my family, having a boy means that my family name with carry on (provided he doesn’t go on to hyphenate it — but who does that, really?). 🙂

Sadly, the holiday cheer and baby excitement has been overshadowed a bit the last few days. My paternal grandmother died just after Christmas, and we’ll be attending her funeral tomorrow.

The grief of losing a family member is terrible. It was barely more than a year ago that my maternal grandmother died. The most painful part when she died was being so far away from everyone. In that way, I am glad we happened to be here now.

I have a wide mix of emotions over her death, and don’t have the experience with death to properly put it all to words. However, the one feeling I am confident in is that to me her death was anything but a tragedy. I cannot begin to imagine a way in which it is a tragedy for someone to live 93 years; seeing, experiencing, creating, loving and giving all that she did.

I will miss her more than I can even guess at now; I can’t even fully comprehend that she is gone. But I know that I will always remember her as the amazing person she was and the infinite number of ways her life positively influenced my own.

It is a, ultimately life-affirming, conflict of emotions feeling the kick of my unborn son one day, and losing someone I love dearly the next. Truly, c’est la vie.

And with that in mind, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy New Year. May we all discover things in 2010 which make us more fully appreciate our lives and the way we live them. My best to all of you.

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