November is Prematurity Awareness Month

World Prematurity Day November 17

In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes,How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues

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Last week at How Do You Do It? a brave bunch of Mum’s of Multiples (MoM’s) shared their stories of premature babies. There are birth stories, NICU stories, stories dealing with pain, and loss.

Please drop by and join the campaign to spread the awareness for prematurity. I have two posts up, the first is my emergency delivery story at 31 weeks gestation in Hong Kong, and the second post is a compilation of SMS’s I sent to Maher, Houda (my mother in law), and my parents from the NICU, updating them on the babies progress.

This is one that Maher wrote as part of a series: Parenting and Practicing Yoga. Against All Odds focussed on the period when our babies were in the NICU.

Thanks for dropping by.

 

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Rahul, Day 3

Rahul, Day 4

Rahul, Day 4

Rahul, 2 weeks

Rahul, 2 weeks

Leila, One month

Leila, 4 weeks

Leila, 5 weeks

Leila, 5 weeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga and Travel : A Guest Post by Wesley Vonn

Wesley – Blogger and Health Aficionado

Yoga and Travel – The Connection is Deeper than you Think.

Yoga is more popular than ever before, and many people rely on yoga as a means of staying in shape and of maintaining top mental health. However, the benefits of yoga often go beyond what even its practitioners realize. Here are some of the ways that yoga affects travel and some techniques for those who wish to travel while maintaining their yoga study and practice.

Yoga Eases Travel Burdens

Vacations are fun; traveling may not be. Fortunately, regular yoga practice can make traveling more pleasant. Those who are taking long trips by car or by airplane will benefit from the better circulation that yoga provides. In fact, some doctors even recommend yoga as a means of avoiding potentially dangerous blood clots that may develop while sitting still for lengthy periods of time. In addition, yoga being largely meditative in nature, learning to meditate can ease the boredom of especially long trips.

Yoga is Portable

Compared to other forms of exercise, yoga is easy to do while away from home. Even without a mat, it is possible to create a great space for yoga even in a small hotel room, and many hotels now offer yoga classes for travelers who wish to practice yoga with others.

Make sure to perform some due diligence before booking a room in order to find the right hotel that does offer these classes complimentary.

On my most recent trip to Las Vegas I used a hotel review site to find the best hotel in the area that suited my needs for fitness coupled with the right price. Doing this search helped me find the right Las Vegas hotel for my particular personality.

Travelers may also wish to take a trip to local yoga facilities when visiting a new area; working with different instructors can lead to new insights. Some airports even offer rooms designed to allow yoga students to practice while waiting for their flights.

Yoga Relieves Travel Stress

Often, travelers visit areas for business purposes, and business meetings can lead to considerable amounts of anxiety. By regularly practicing yoga and continuing to do so while preparing for a meeting, students will be able to enter the meeting in a relaxed, focused state. Doing so may lead to better outcomes. It is little surprise that so many businesses encourage their employees to practice yoga, and those who focus on the meditative aspects of yoga will reap rewards for their practice.

Although yoga has evolved for thousands of years, yoga’s popularity today has made it far more accessible to travelers. On your next vacation or business trip, see for yourself, those who practice before and while traveling will likely enjoy their vacations and business trips more than those who do not.

Minimalism in Education: A Guest Post by Erica Killick

Erica: I am a Primary school teacher in Hong Kong. I’ve recently started a blog on moving towards a more minimalistic lifestyle. One of my hopes in living a simpler life is the freedom to be able to make a living doing my passion as opposed to being tied to a system I don’t believe in.

This blog post was inspired by my growing desire to break free and find out what freedom really means to me. You can find the same blog post and others at my blog: The Minimalist Makeover.

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These times of transformation are exciting. But they are also challenging. I’m in that time along Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey where you’ve just set out and you feel hopeful and excited for the novelty of your new surroundings. But all of the sudden you realize, you’ve only just been called to your adventure and haven’t yet crossed the threshold and you’re still in the ‘known’ world; the mundane, boring and infuriating known world. Here’s a little recount of how my minimalist makeover rocked the boat on a boring old work day.

I was at work on my lunch break. Usually I would watch a make-up how-to video for 10 minutes or so on YouTube, while I ate my peanut butter sandwich. But seeing as I have made a rule for myself to not watch any make-up or fashion related videos in an attempt to curb desires for material objects, I have had to look for alternative videos to chill out with over lunch. Of course I realize the real next step is no videos at all and just mindfully eat my sandwich (something I have done for periods of time in the past) however today was not going to be that day.

Instead I stumbled upon a YouTube Channel called ‘Be Your Potential’ where a man named Matthew, his wife Toria and their 6 month old baby, Indigo are walking The Camino De Santiago or The Way of St. James in northwestern Spain.

They have been ‘vlogging’ daily along the way and so I got quite sucked in and watched 4 days in a row. I was so immersed in the pilgrimage through these YouTube videos that by the time I stood up to take a bathroom break, I was almost shocked to find myself in my present surroundings. I think I thought I would walk along a small path and take my washroom break in the bush. And that’s when something hit me.

I opened the door to my classroom and stood there, looking out at my view. It was no Spanish landscape that’s for sure. I’m in a concrete prison, and the children I teach are trapped inside with me. It was recess time when I stepped out my door and my classroom exits directly onto the ‘playground’. The playground is in fact a pavement square with some basketball nets and white stripes on the ground for races.

There are approximately 900 students going to school here and they were all wandering around aimlessly. It’s a primary school, ages ranging from 6-12 and I was struck by the kind of education they are receiving. And it’s the same education that in many ways brought me to where I am today. They are taught to stay in one building from 7:30am until 3:30pm. Bored, frustrated and lazy students, meandering around in front of me, with nothing better to do then tease or chase the student nearest them.

The juxtaposition between the video of sprawling Spanish hills and rushing rivers and the pavement playgroup the children were playing on was too much to bear. This can’t be the only way to educate the next generation! And it didn’t just hit me that the children are in a pretty mundane situation, I was also deeply disturbed for myself.

This is what I do, day in and day out. And it’s grating on me. I’m not teaching what I’m passionate about, I’m not working with my own natural rhythms or teaching the students while considering their natural rhythms. In that moment as I opened the door for a bathroom break, I felt the urge to break out of the school compound and run up the nearest mountain…to freedom.

I don’t know what the answer to this problem is (yet). Sure there are plenty of independent and alternative schools popping up, but will these ever be the mainstream? And I’m starting to even question whether or not school is the way at all.

The videos of Matthew and his family were so enriching, the lessons these two parents were learning and feeling in their hearts during this journey, the love and comfort their young son was experiencing by being able to physically be near them all day and all night was so beautiful and inspiring to watch.

I know this post might seem rather radical (especially coming from a primary/elementary teacher). I’m just sharing my experience and my emotions from today. Hoping my feelings are not only my own, but are potentially shared by others.

Let’s start a dialogue. I want to feel these things, think these things and let the feelings change me and the world around me. I don’t want to feel it, notice it and then push it away and hide it in the mental box labeled ‘too extreme and weird’. So here it goes out into the world-wide-web!

The videos of Matthew and his family walking their pilgrimage somehow inspired me to think there is another way to bring up the next generation; a way to teach our children and help them teach their children how to love the Earth, how to spend quality time together, how to care for and respect animals (and all living beings). The pilgrimage left so much time for the family to reflect on their experiences, share their feelings with each other, meditate, pray and bless their food, be grateful even during the times you think there is nothing to be grateful for. Isn’t this what ‘school’ should look like?

Matthew’s YouTube Channel. Follow this family on their Hero’s Journey.

Teaching Your Kids Yoga Early: A Guest Post by Dana Vicktor

Dana Vicktor is the senior researcher and writer for duedatecalculator.org. Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in communications and sociology. Her current focus for the site involves ovulation pain and the menstruation cycle.

Teaching Your Kids Yoga Early

Yoga has many benefits for everyone. It can help to relieve stress, improve circulation, and tone muscles. It can promote greater heart health, improve digestion, and provide greater energy.

Yoga has many excellent benefits for children, as well. Yoga can help:

  • Promote balance and flexibility
  • Build confidence and self-esteem
  • Improve concentration
  • Promote calmness
  • Build strength

You don’t have to wait until your children are grown to start teaching them how to practice yoga. Here are a few tips for how to teach your kids yoga early:

Get Started Right Away
You can start teaching your kids about yoga from the moment they are born. “Mommy and Me” classes lead you through yoga exercises with your baby — though baby’s main role is to lie there and look cute. Later, toddler classes start showing your kids how to do modified versions of some of the moves with you.

By practicing yoga with your kids early, you help them to develop a love of the practice so that they can make it a part of their own routines later.

Start Small
You don’t have to introduce your kids to yoga by showing them how to do shoulder stands or other complicated moves. You can start with the basics: chanting and breathing.

When you are waiting at the doctor’s office, or you are driving in the car, or you are getting ready for your day in the morning, take advantage of that time to practice together. Get your children to mimic you, and talk to them about the benefits of these practices.

Keep It Age-Appropriate
Young children have short attention spans. Don’t try to fight that, but rather, work with it. Limit the time for each exercise to no more than a minute. Take frequent breaks during your yoga practice with your children so that they don’t become too bored or restless. Speed up the pace of the routine, as well.

The key is not to overwhelm kids or to push the limits of their patience. Yoga should be enjoyable, not feel like a chore.

Make It Fun
Yoga shouldn’t feel like exercise or something that kids are forced to do. It should be fun! Help make it fun for them by including silly songs, fun challenges, or even props. Use a silly voice when you call out the moves, invite their favorite doll to “practice” with you, or use fun names for some of the poses (some of them are already pretty funny…).

Do whatever you can to make yoga a fun practice for your children, and they will learn to love it and will be more likely to practice it for years to come.

Be a Role Model
Children learn best by watching you. Show them how fun and rewarding a yoga practice can be by enjoying your own practice in front of them. Don’t treat your practice like exercise or like a chore, or your children will learn to view it in the same way.

Make yoga  a regular part of your life so that you may show your children how regular practice can benefit them.

Teaching kids how to practice yoga will have a number of benefits for them, such as promoting their self-esteem and confidence while also improving their strength and flexibility. Teaching kids this wonderful practice early will make it more likely that they will continue to practice it later in life, when it will also help them to relieve stress and protect against disease.

Do you practice yoga with your children? How old were they when you started?

The Role of Yoga in your Child’s Wellbeing: A Guest Post by Danny Mitchell

Danny Mitchell writes about yoga, fitness, parenting at www.travelinsurance.org

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years both as exercise and for spiritual meditation. It is highly controlled athleticism that allows the body and the mind to connect. It is great for adults and it can do wonders for children too, in both mind and body. In fact, yoga will help children learn to control themselves in every facet of their being.

Also, they will become more athletic, thanks to difficult poses that need strength and endurance. They will become mental warriors, because they will have to learn to reach a mental state that will allow them to both push themselves and stay calm at the same time.

Childhood is the best time to teach children skills, so here’s why you should get started NOW!

Flexibility and Stamina
For many, the main reason for children to practice yoga is to improve their flexibility. Being limber helps a child improve their ability to play sports and games. In addition to this, it is great exercise for a child who does not like to run around too much. It will increase their stamina.

Patience
Children will learn patience with the slow rhythm of yoga. They are not dancing or moving around. Instead, as they learn, their muscles will become stronger, thanks to determination. Yoga is a great way to make sure that your kid is patient and determined at a very young age.

Self Awareness
Becoming aware of their mental and physical spirit at a young age is a fabulous thing for any child. Through yoga, they will develop skills such as thinking before acting and recognition of limitations. Furthermore, a child will become aware of how much more powerful the mind is over the body. If they believe they can do a difficult position, then it will happen.

Mental Serenity
Yoga is renowned for its calming capacity. It is a form of meditation. Your child does not need to reach their limit each session, but a good workout followed by a quiet rest can teach a child about both the value of hard work and moderation. In this rest (known as Savasana), kids also can learn how to push stressors out of their mind for the time being, which is perfect for kids who have tests and adolescent troubles to worry about.

In conclusion, yoga is one of the best ways to improve your child’s well-being, both mentally and physically. They will become stronger and more limber after each session. They will learn that being calm and quiet is not a chore. In fact, it is rather relaxing and it can help calm a child’s apprehension over school, dating, family, etc.

Yoga is a way of being. If your children learn how to control their mind and body at such a young age, then there is no telling what they can carry out down the road!

Why you should Guest Post: A Guest Post by Debra Johnson

Debra is a blogger, editor & an experience holder of nanny housekeeper.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: – jdebra84 @ gmail.com

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Why you should Guest Post

As a blogger you may already have a hard time keeping up with your own personal blog, so suggesting that you guest post for a another blog sounds silly. But before you throw the idea out, consider a few of the many benefits to guest posting:

Practice: It’s like that old saying, practice makes perfect and with blogging that can be very true. The more you write the better you get. Not only does your grammar and punctuation get better but also the way you form your ideas and link words together. Guest posting allows you to practice elsewhere than on your personal page.

New ideas: The great thing about guest posting is that you can guest post for whatever blog you want to. If you have a passion for cooking, you could guest post for a cooking blog. In addition to fun new ideas, each blog has a different set up and writing style. Most blogs you guest post for will have rules and guidelines that they want you to follow. Some of them will request a certain format, style, word count and font. You may gather some ideas on the look of your blog too.

Get your name out there: The more you put yourself out there the more coverage you will get. When you guest post your name and link are listed. A reader can click and go straight to your blog, instant new reader! The more blogs you post on the more readers you can gain in return. Make sure your guest post content is full of great information so that it entices the reader to visit your blog.

There are many more benefits to writing guest posts than these three. Take the time to guest post and guest post often. Find sites that are similar to yours as well as ones that intrigue and interest you. Have fun with it and explore!

 


Parenting and Practicing Yoga: From Pregnancy to a Year Old by Marisa Findlay

Marisa is a photographer specializing in baby and maternity photography. You can see some of her work on her Facebook page or her website.

From Pregnancy to a Year Old

You are reading this post three days after my daughter, Yara, turned a year old.

My journey with yoga began about 11 years ago and has been an on and off love affair that has gently carried me to where I am now.  Along this journey I trained as a Sivananda yoga teacher in Kerala, India and dabbled in a bit of teaching both in Zambia, a place that will always be home to me, and Brighton, where I currently live and have subsequently discovered Scaravelli yoga which I absolutely adore.

If I could play a sound track to you as you read this post, it would be Monsoon Point by Al Gromer Khan & Amelia Cuni, so perhaps you could play it in another window as you read.

I discovered this music while I was pregnant with Yara and preparing for my planned ideal home water birth.  Some of you after reading the previous sentence already have an inkling that this story isn’t going to reveal the ideal birth, but instead the birth that was meant to be.

I loved being pregnant and marveled at my ever-changing body giving space to this little being growing inside of me.  My yoga practice took on a new dimension, which I loved and my body really understood on a deeper level what it needed to do in order to release the spine.

I practiced under Marc Woolford, my first Scaravelli yoga teacher in Brighton, during the first few months of my pregnancy.

Despite me practicing yoga, learning tai chi from my partner Edward, and all the mental preparation I did during my absolutely idyllic pregnancy (most of which was spent in the sunny Turks & Caicos islands) it all changed at 35 weeks when I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.  After a 5 day stay in hospital I was put on a heavy concoction of medication to bring my blood pressure down and then at 37 weeks I had to have an emergency c-section.  I am so grateful to the knowledge that yoga has given me to handle this extremely stressful time and remain somewhat centred.  During this time I had a fantastic doula, Lucy Skelton, who is also a yoga teacher and was able to gently guide me through the process.

On the day of Yara’s birth, all within the space of an hour I had to transform my mindset from having a routine check at the hospital, after which I had planned a leisurely lunch in town, to deciding to be operated on immediately for the safety of my baby. Focusing on the breath and being present to what was, helped me regain my centre after the initial shock and panic of the unexpected news. After delivery it was my breath that got me through three hospital-bound days sharing a room with three screaming babies.

Lucy came to my house when Yara was about one week old to help me do some gentle stretching and mainly work on encouraging my shoulders away from up around my ears where they had found a new home after the terror of the experience.

When Yara was 8 weeks old we started attending a weekly mother and baby yoga class taught by my doula.  It was a challenge to be ready to head out the door across town for the 10:30 start, yet it was so worth the experience.  Meeting other mothers and their babies and feeling the connection through our common experience.  Sharing the delights and concerns as well as creating the space to allow our bodies the chance to ever so slowly stretch and strengthen once more.

The course only ran a month and then with the arrival of family from abroad, Yara’s ever-changing routine, and my efforts to start a photography business while improving my knowledge of the craft…yoga slipped away.  I would have snippets of it as I reminded myself to breathe while nursing Yara or attempted a sleep-deprived practice on the mat.  If I was particularly lucky I managed to escape for a yoga class with my delightful teacher Dot Bowen and came away feeling Marisa again, yet it was not enough to sustain me each day.

This was until about two months ago when I discovered this blog and was deeply inspired by a post about committing to 5 sun salutations for a month.  I went easy on myself and committed to 7 days to see how I would go.  I realized it was the first time I had consistently practiced yoga probably since my teacher training 6 years ago and I felt fantastic for it!  It wasn’t about how long I did or whether I completed the 5 sun salutations – it was about rolling the mat out each day and giving my mind and body the chance to reconnect.  Each week now I recommit another 7 days and marvel each day as I notice the change, the strength developing and most of all the chance to reconnect to myself.

I’ve realized that my yoga practice doesn’t have to involve the candles, relaxing music and solitude that I knew prior to being a mother, but rather takes the form that the day presents. If I have the energy I rise before everyone is up and relish the peace, however if not I grab a moment during the day while Yara plays around me or wait until the day is complete and I have my mat time.  I’m so grateful to have found a way to incorporate my yoga practice back into my life and the irony of it all is that now as I have less time for myself, I’m able to have a more consistent and fulfilling practice.

Parenting and Practicing Yoga: Always get Back by Petra Carmichael

Petra is a yoga teacher and the owner of Divya Yoga Studio in Zagreb, Croatia.
She is currently based in Boston, travelling and managing the yoga school in Croatia.  She is also studying at Middlesex University of Ayurveda London.

Always get Back

I’ve been practicing yoga for a several  years. Do I really have the right to say that considering it’s a 5000 year old practice? Anyway let’s just say I have some experience.  I can definitely say that it’s something  I’ve been looking for my whole life.

Yoga teaches you to focus and aside from the physical exercise, it takes you away from the everyday activity in to your own space.  A space where you can see the real values helping to step besides your own little world and realize there is more to everything. Now this might be a little confusing. First I said it takes me into my little world and then besides it.

About a year and a half ago I found out that I was pregnant.  As you practice yoga you definitely develop some sensitivity towards the changes in the body.  I remember the time when I felt that something was different.  I took a home test and it was positive. That moment was amazing – I was happy and scared. At the same time I kept the big news to myself for another couple of days.  Straight away I stopped practicing asanas trying to take the best care of myself.  I really loved being pregnant.  It’s a special time in a woman’s life.

When my pregnancy was stable I came back to the physical part of yoga, to the asanas, and I must admit, it felt great.  My back especially, but the whole body and mind were almost screaming for movement.  When you are pregnant people sometimes treat you like you are sick or disabled.  I definitely took precautions and was very careful with what I was doing with my body.  But I was on my mat everyday.

The practice was completely different from what I was used to. It was soft and gentle all the way into the ninth month of my pregnancy carrying a big baby.  My little son (10 pounds 6 ounces – so much for little) was born six and a half months ago.  I felt more love than I have ever felt before.

He was a strong healthy baby, but he didn’t pass the hearing test. That really scared my husband and me.  Further testing showed that our little one is profoundly deaf.  That moment when you find out such news is indescribable. First you start questioning what you have done wrong. Why you. Why your baby.? There is no answer to these questions.  I know I didn’t do anything wrong.  It’s simply how it is.

But to come to that point of understanding it definitely takes some time and energy.  The practice helped. I got back on the mat 10 days after my C-section; only tiny stretches to keep myself sane.  It wasn’t easy not to be able to touch my toes and to go through pain as the body was slowly getting back into shape.  But it definitely kept me out of my mind and of the situation.

I hear a lot of parents complaining about how they can’t keep the practice because of the child.  It’s not easy and I am very lucky to have a calm child who watches me as I practice, with a smile. But it’s not always like that.  There are days when I have to assist him many times, get off the mat and feed him or change a diaper, but the important thing is to GET BACK ON THE MAT.

My Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher, dearest Narasimhan, told me if there is someone at the door, go get it, do what needs to be done but then return and continue with your meditation.  I think that’s really what it is and it doesn’t only apply to parents.

So I have  one suggestion for every soul fighting with tapas – the daily practice.  Just get on that mat every day no matter what happens, and keep returning.

At the moment we are in the process of getting cochlear implants for our son.  Hopefully he will be able to hear his first Om in late July this year.

Parenting and Practicing Yoga: Golden Child by Catherine Platt

Catherine first came to China as a student in the 1980s and has lived in Chengdu, Sichuan, with her family since 2004. She and her husband both work on development projects with Tibetan communities across China.

Golden Child

One of Sam’s first words was “Buddha.” When he was just over a year old and could say maybe ten words, Buddha was one of his favorites. He would gaze up at the Buddha statue on the bookcase and draw the word out into two long syllables, “boooooodaaaaaaa”, then look at us expectantly for approval. Of course he received it in abundance, which encouraged the performance, and it is also an easy word for a young child to say. But beyond that, Sam has an innate interest in spiritual matters, which is quite different from his brother, a born rationalist and scientist. Sam asks the big questions: what is life, what happens after death, what is a soul, where does it go, where is God, when will the world end, and looks at us expectantly for answers.

I am not sure when he started sitting in the full lotus position, or how he figured it out. Certainly not from copying me. He has always enjoyed joining in my yoga practice, usually by lying on my mat underneath me, or climbing on my back and sliding down in downward dog. I think one day I must have shown him what the full lotus position is supposed to look like and he just effortlessly tucked his feet up into it, then closed his eyes and brought his hands together in prayer like the Buddha statue.

Any child might do it, but it comes naturally to Sam. He does it quite often now and tells us that he is meditating, though only for a few seconds at a time. Last month when we visited the giant stone Buddha at Leshan in western Sichuan, he closed his eyes in front of each of the Buddhas in the nearby temple and told me he was communicating with them. It’s the kind of behavior that, if we were a Tibetan family, would have him recognised as a reincarnate lama and whisked off to a monastery. Which I suppose goes to show why the Tibetan system works: you may not believe in reincarnation, but there’s no doubt that some people have an aptitude for spirituality and it manifests early, and those people are well suited to the monastic life.  Not that I expect this for Sam, he is full of curiosity and mischief and his current ambition is to be both a singer and a writer. But I do anticipate that he will have a rich spiritual life, and that he will grow up to love yoga.

Parenting and Practicing Yoga: Against all Odds by Maher Kassar

Maher lives in Chengdu with his wife Natasha, and children Leila and Rahul. An amateur runner and yoga practitioner; he openly admits the difficulty of balancing his activities with work and raising children.

Against all Odds

Hong Kong 2009. These were stressful yet exciting times. Times where everything was possible, yet everything was impossible. Times where we hoped for life, but feared death. Times where the most skeptical became believers. And I, among them, turned to my own invented superstitions.

It was during my 40 minute runs at the Happy Valley Race Course that I started singing my reggae hymn to Rahul and Leila. I would repeat it in my head over and over like a mantra. It was my own prayer to whomever.

First, I prayed for them to hang on as long as possible with their mother, inside her belly. Then, when they were in the Neonatal ICU, I prayed for them to start breathing on their own, to start eating, and digesting on their own. To put on weight and be strong enough to get out. I prayed for Leila’s test result to show no sign of intestinal necrotizing, and for Rahul’s apnea to stop.

I always carried 2 dollar coins with me. I would stop by the Frangipani trees inside the racecourse, kiss the coins and throw them at the feet of the two trees I thought were the frailest and neediest looking. And I would repeat my prayers.

Often, I would look up, and between the glowing skyscrapers try to spot the majestic kite eagles that fly the skies of Hong Kong. If I spotted two at a time, our day would go well.

It was then, in apartment 20F of the V-Residencies, Causeway Bay that against all odds, it happened. I didn’t expect it, and didn’t even expect to try it. It was awkward and ugly. But it was there undoubtedly: my first padmasana. In my eyes it was like a rare sporting moment when the ultimate underdog becomes the champion. Me, the stiff runner, from a notoriously stiff family; I suddenly found myself in the lotus pose.

Everything else happened as well. Rahul came out, and then Leila came out. The New Year came and all our relatives flew to Hong Kong. We celebrated with the twins at home. When they grew stronger, we returned to Chengdu. Slowly, normal life returned and the feel and memory of these strange times vanished.

I sometimes miss that edginess; the feeling of improbable yet realized hopes.

I remember the coffee in a jam jar and the triple layer peanut butter sandwich I prepared every Friday evening and kept in the fridge. Early the next morning, I would drink the ice-cold coffee in the car to the airport. I would board the 7:10 China Airways flight from Chengdu to Hong Kong. Up in the air, I would savor my sandwich. From Hong Kong airport it was straight to the NICU. Wash hands, facemask on, and I could finally see Rahul and Leila.