by Grace Ko

A swelling of expectation
fighting fear with anticipation
A limbo zone, "no man's land" between the present and the future, 
With ideas and ideals of motherhood still embryonic
I await for my blind date
a room awaits him
festooned with hopes and prayers

Change is never easy
to accept with aplomb
A real grieving, letting go, surrendering
A longing to slow down the hands of time
A impulse to press the fast-forward

The contrasts that live in my heart
My mind a jumble
My body hungry for sleep
But pregnant with a palatial elation for the meet cute

of heart, mind, body and soul
of what life has meant, 
of what life will be, 
of dreams and visions
through new eyes
that will capture my heart

of ideas and ideal of love
A father's heart

Things you should NEVER say to a pregnant woman (that have been said to me)

by Grace Ko

As I approach the tail end of my pregnancy, I've come to realize that this pregnancy thing has taught me many things. One I am still learning and working on is brushing off comments from people, those that are close to me and strangers alike. 

So for pure amusement sake, here are some things I've had said to me that no one should ever say to a pregnant woman:

  • "Is she fat or is she pregnant?"
  • "You must be having a boy. Girl bellies are much prettier."
  • "You've gotten chubbier!"
  • "You look reallllyyy pregnant!" 
  • "Your face is swollen!" 
  • "You look tired."

I'm sure most of these comments were said with the best of intentions. But in all seriousness, when I was in graduate school for counseling, one thing my mentor/professor said in lecture that stuck with me was the importance of both intent and impact. When someone receives a comment defensively, we often excuse ourselves by saying, "Oh, but I didn't mean it that way..." (intent). Yes, we may not have intended for it to be received with hurt or offense, but I have learned both in counseling and in life, that we can't stop at intent. We also need to think about the impact of our words.

"I didn't mean it that way..." 


"I didn't mean it that way, but I'm sorry if you received it that way. I am sorry my words hurt you." 

On the flip side, whether these people meant to be offensive or not, or reflect on the impact of their words, I am learning to brush comments off and let them roll off my back and move on with my day. (I'm guessing this is good practice for when people start giving me their two cents on parenting, left and right.) 

And while I'm on the topic of things you shouldn't say to a pregnant woman, things you should say? 

  • "How are you doing?" 
  • "How are you feeling?" 
  • "You look great!" 

And while I'm at it, 

  • Tell her she's doing great 
  • Offer up your seat 
  • And... ask before touching her belly! 

37 weeks

by Grace Ko

Baby is the length of a bunch of Swiss chard and this mama's been finding it hard to sleep. I have been nomadic, migrating back-and-forth between the bed and the sofa at two-hour intervals, awoken by my bladder. I have been trying desperately to find a comfortable position that allows me to both lie on my side and prop up my feet but so far to no avail. 

Week 37 was significant, wrapping up 2016 but also wrapping up work (both part-time gigs) and other responsibilities. I guess I have entered my own little "maternity leave" until baby decides to arrive! 

I fit in some good quality time with the husband - a brunch date, a movie date and a hair treatment - a small group dinner to celebrate our last meeting, an Italian dinner out with Y's cousin's family, quiet time with the closest, and even a museum date to the National Folk Museum familiarizing baby to Korean culture. 

We ushered in the new year during Week 37. We celebrated with a small gathering at our house with lots of snacks, both the salty and sweet kinds. And after we sent "the kiddos" off, Y and I rang in the new year quietly at home watching "Roman Holiday", like an old married couple. My kind of night - an amalgamation of outlets for the extroverted and the introverted. 

Over the past few weeks, I have relished some intentional "me time" with journal and pen in hand, flipping back through my 2016 planner to jot down and record reflections on the past year and expectations for the new one. And what a year it has been! And what a year 2017 will be! 

Happy New Year, y'all! 

Dear Baby,

by Grace Ko

Dear Baby, 

I've been wanting to tell you about your dad. You see, ever since finding out we're pregnant with you, this wonderful, magical thing has happened (aside from the obvious of your growing in my belly, which has been nothing short of miraculous). I have gotten to see and know your dad in a new way and have been growing to love him more and more each day. 

I know you're going to meet him very soon but I wanted to be the very first to tell you about him. 

Your dad... he's a lover of life. He takes in the sound of walking through crunchy leaves in the fall. He thoroughly enjoys a good meal and will enthusiastically express it throughout the entirety of it. He likes to curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket and a good book but he also exuberantly joins in on the excitement of a rambunctious sporting event. 

Daddy and I have now known each other for 9 years - we met straight out of college and became friends, dated for 2 years, engaged for over a year and now we've been married for over 5 and 1/2 years. But I still remember, one of the first things that attracted me to him was his passion. He's an architect by training but what that means is that he's creative, an "out-of-the-box" thinker, flexible yet planned. He is a "go-getter", never settling for what is but always striving for more while striking the balance of simultaneously maintaining a thankful heart. He is a life learner, a lover of books. (I hope you know that your daddy and I read to you every night while you were growing in mommy's belly.) 

He loves people. With a knack for networking and connecting, you will often find him greeting newcomers at church or striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger on the street - young or old, he loves to hear their stories. He values every life and greets people on the elevator, even in stuffy, often cold Seoul city life. He says his "please" and "thank you's" because he genuinely cares. When mommy and daddy have people over, which we love to do often, daddy is the "king of hospitality". He preemptively thinks about other people's needs and is constantly "on-the-go" fixing up something in the kitchen or grabbing something to make someone feel more at home. 

Daddy also loves mommy and loves mommy well. His friends used to tease him when we were dating that he had set the standard too high for everyone. But you see, he's the type of person that is unapologetic for doing what he thinks is right. Daddy has always treated mommy well but he has gone far beyond expectations during this pregnancy. I want you to know that the main reason mommy has been so thankful and happy and content throughout this pregnancy has been because of who she has had beside her the whole time, your daddy. 

In love in Daegu. Dec 2017 PC:  Mariyah G

In love in Daegu. Dec 2017 PC: Mariyah G

He cares deeply for justice. One of mommy and daddy's favorite people is Dr. MLK Jr. and he once said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." And this is not just a quote for daddy. He cares about injustice anywhere. 2016 was a meaningful and special year finding out we were having you. Bringing life into this world gets you thinking about what kind of world you're bringing life into. Truth be told, sometimes it's a scary and unfair, unjust world out there but daddy and I hold fast to a just and loving Father that knows far better than we will ever. With this in mind, your daddy took an ultrasound picture of you giving us a thumbs-up and rode across this motherland of ours, Korea. He rode his bike from Busan to Seoul, that's a whopping ~550 km (over 340 miles!) riding against trafficking, praying for justice and falling deeper in love with this country. He did this with you in mind, baby, praying for a better world for you and praying you would have this heart for justice, too. 

Daddy has prayed for your health, your strength, your happiness but he's prayed most that you would have a heart of justice. He prays that you would become a man that stands up for the weak and isn't afraid to fight for what's right. He prays that you would have a heart for counseling others, like your grandpa. 

There's so much more to be said but I want to leave room for you to get to know him on your own, in your time. 

We love you, baby. And can't wait to meet you. 


36 weeks

by Grace Ko in ,

Welcome, final month of pregnancy! 

As I have Mozart tickling my ears and there's a light dusting of powdery snow on the ground outside, with precious baby clothes gifted to us by a small group member strewn all over our couch, I am taking in every moment. I'm taking in this moment - our mini Christmas tree still twinkling , new plants greeting me here and there, the quiet lull of a winter's day. Pregnancy has taught me to take it slow, to show myself grace, to embrace rest, to embrace this season, to brush off comments and to hold onto what's true. The current challenge is to balance holding fast to the present while embracing the impending future, to prepare dutifully for what's to come while remaining in an attitude of gratitude of what's here now. 

At 9 months~

Baby's size: A head of romaine lettuce! 
Pros: Meeting baby soon! 
Cons: Feeling heavy and super emotional! 
Craving: Blueberry muffin smoothie! (Recipe found here) Been making myself one every morning
Outlook on the coming of baby: After a very informative Lamaze class, I am channeling what was previously nerves and anxiety about labor & delivery into anticipation and excitement to meet baby! 
Feelings about husband: I most appreciate his verbal affirmations and encouragements lately. He randomly leans in and tells me, "I'm so proud of you!" "You're a trooper!" (I am also very grateful for his foot and leg massages.)

Week 36 was spent soaking up quality time with my parents, soon-to-be grandma and grandpa! I eased into each day, woken up by the scent of my dad's morning coffee lingering in the air. And together, we crossed off our mutual "Family Christmas to-do" list: a Handel Messiah concert, a trip to Gwangjang Market for warm and toasty Korean comfort food, the LED flower show at DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza), a Renoir exhibit and a walk through Changdeok Palace where royalty roamed and played and even an impromptu mosey around Yangjae Flower Market. 

Bebe's second time at 예술의전당 Seoul Art Center - this time for Handel's Messiah with grandma and grandpa! He was having a dance party in my belly throughout the performance! 

Bebe's second time at 예술의전당 Seoul Art Center - this time for Handel's Messiah with grandma and grandpa! He was having a dance party in my belly throughout the performance! 

Dad's first time at 광장시장 Gwangjang Market. We feasted on 떡볶기 (ddukbokki), 순대 (soondae), 마약김밥 (kimbap), and 녹두빈대떡 (fried soy pancakes) and I requested a 호떡 (ho-dduk) and what pregnant woman requests, pregnant woman shall receive. I washed it down with a fresh strawberry/pineapple/banana juice. (The lady was sweet and threw in a kiwi in my juice, saying kiwis are good during pregnancy.)

A walk along 청계천 Chunggyecheon

A walk along 청계천 Chunggyecheon

Beautiful LED flowers at DDP

We crossed off my dad's Christmas wish: to walk around the "Secret Garden" at 창덕궁 Changdeok Palace when it snows. It was a Christmas miracle and snowed on that day!

Y & I even managed to fit in a breastfeeding class on Christmas Eve. It was hilarious - let's just say it involved the teacher donning a "breast vest" for demonstration purposes. The class taught me a lot and gave me a lot of food for thought to munch on - mainly to communicate with baby, to focus on loving and comforting him, and that baby needs and wants mom most. There was something truly reassuring about these realizations. I hadn't realized I had been focused on the logistics and details of pregnancy/motherhood/breastfeeding but the class helped me take a HUGE~ step back and to look at the big picture. 

We wrapped up Christmas weekend with the most exquisite Ugly Sweater Potluck Party at Le Garden hosted by the loveliest. There were homemade dishes, desserts, photo shoots, a friendly yet competitive round of White Elephant and a mix of the goofy, the serious and sincere. All in all, the best kind of night with beautiful people. 

With Asian Santa! Just a side note: My husband takes the "ugly" part of the ugly sweater party very seriously, my faux fur vest (not shown) made it into his OOTN. 

With Asian Santa! Just a side note: My husband takes the "ugly" part of the ugly sweater party very seriously, my faux fur vest (not shown) made it into his OOTN. 

So much happiness in one picture 

So much happiness in one picture 

Christmas evening was spent napping on the couch to recharge to end the night with the first friends Y & I made here in Seoul - a special group of people indeed. Over chicken and beer (water for me) we laughed until our stomachs hurt, making the most of our time together. We parted saying our goodbyes and good lucks as it would be the last time this said group would be altogether for a while. Much will have changed in a few months' time when we're reunited.