Friday, May 15, 2015

Baby Mobile

About a month before Brendan was born, I had an inkling to make him a baby mobile. Call it my nesting instincts if you will.

So out I went to buy some pieces of felt. 

I googled for some patterns that I liked, traced them directly off the computer monitor and started cutting.

This fawn was the most labor intensive of the lot, but it's also my favorite :)

I wasn't sure at first how to mount the animals with whatever existing material that I had. I was too lazy to go hunting for sticks or wire. 

Today, I finally decided to simply stick them with tape onto the ceiling. 

I hung them over Brendan's diaper changing station.

Looks alright huh?

They are stuffed with my leftover cosmetic cotton balls.

I made sure to include almost all the colors of the rainbow. A purple heart was on the way, but then Brendan came first and I never got the time to finish up.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Babywise, Parker & Daily Life

From day one, Brendan has been a Babywise baby. 

For those who have never heard about the book by Gary Ezzo, it is basically a book on how to schedule your baby's day. In a nutshell, each feeding session is followed by a "waketime", before putting your baby down for a nap. According to the book, trying to follow their schedule will have most babies sleeping through the night by eight weeks of age. 

Of course results will vary baby to baby since each one is an individual.

I remember telling C while I was pregnant that I was planning to have my baby sleep through the night by eight weeks of age. She told me to be realistic because hers was not able to sleep through the night till much later.

However, I'm very happy to say that Brendan has been a relatively easy baby. From the very first day till now, I've been concentrating on getting him to have a full feed each time as well as quality sleep. I am glad that my efforts have paid off because he is now (at seven weeks), capable of sleeping from 11pm till 5:30am each night. 

Of course, some nights are exceptions, but I don't mind if he gets up an extra time in the middle of the night for a feeding because it is usually short (about 5-10 minutes) and probably due to a growth spurt. 

And how do I know if he is going through a growth spurt? It's pretty obvious to me by now. There will be one or two days/nights of increased feeding sessions and fussiness. Thereafter, I will observe very sudden changes in either his physicality (gaining weight) or mental abilities (social smiling, increased awareness of his surroundings).

If you're wondering, yes, I am fully and totally breastfeeding him. And I do get letdowns in the middle of the night. Still, my milk supply has not diminished and Brendan is still getting fatter by the day!

Last night, we went to Parker Korean Restaurant along Upper Thomson Road so I could satisfy my irrational Korean food craving. I had never eaten there before, but it was one of the closer restaurants to us.

My breastfeeding apron is a lifesaver when we go out.

I should have taken a hint when we saw that the entire place was empty at dinnertime. The appetisers were soggy and my bibimbap was barely tolerable (didn't even bother to take a photo). 

One thing positive about the place though- the staff are honest people. I had left my phone on the table as we were leaving, but they kept it for me until we returned to retrieve it.

One of my favorite sights these days is my dear baby's milk-drunk face. It's just the cutest thing in the world to me!

Brendan's diaper literally exploded today. I had never seen such an insane poo from him before.

In the afternoon, I like to take him downstairs for a stroll. He'll usually fall asleep by the end of it though.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

7 Weeks

My dear baby is growing so quickly... At 7 weeks, he is now making plenty of cooing sounds during waketimes and starting to lift his head higher when lying on his tummy. 

He smiled at me quite a few times today. Oh it warms my heart so to see it! 

Sometimes I wonder if I really do love him with the intense kind of love that moms supposedly have. You know, the kind that will make moms voluntarily jump into a fire to save their babies. Honestly, sometimes when he gets his saliva on my hand, I quickly try to wipe it off because I am kind of saliva phobic. 

Still, I know I definitely love him enough to change his diaper in the morning with a smile even though I am dead tired. A few years ago, you could not persuade me to get out of bed without at least three swipes at the snooze button. Now, all I need is a faint whimper from the baby cot and I'm up! 

Each time I look down on his sweet little face, I'm reminded of how innocent and helpless he is. If he needs anything, the most he could do is to cry until his throat dries out. He is totally and utterly dependent on me. What a scary thing it is to be a baby.

I visited Lizzie and baby Alexander earlier today. I had not seen them since a week before I delivered, which was when Alex was born. Six days later, out came Brendan. 

It's really nice to have a friend who is going through the same lifestage as you, especially a Christian one. It's easy to listen to the world give you all sorts of advice, but nothing beats Christian fellowship- it's like chicken soup for the soul. 

In the evening, I hung out at Ah Yee's, where we discovered that Brendan could probably play the piano with his toes in the future if he wanted to. Haha! 

Anddddd that's it for the day. I put him down to sleep at about 10pm and spent the last two hours blogging, replying to emails and surfing Facebook. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Update On Spiritual Life

Being a mommy is no easy job. In between laundry, diaper changes, breastfeeding or just plain trying to feed myself, I find myself exhausted and in no mood for anything but perhaps some Ellen Degeneres videos. That lady can really make me laugh!

All this exhaustion is not merely physical, it's mental and emotional too. Today, Lizzie asked me if I ever felt inadequate as a mom. Like if I ever felt like I could have done better or done more. I told her that I don't feel that way because if I felt like I could do something better, I would just do it that better way the next time. But honestly, most days, I feel like I could have been a much better wife. 

I know that Jerry is trying his best to be a dad and a husband despite his busy schedule. Yet on most days, I find myself wondering, "why isn't he doing more?" or "why isn't he taking more initiative to help me?"

That kind of attitude usually leads to a general feeling of dissatisfaction. It's very easy to find fault with everything he does. 

Then when an argument comes about, it's that much harder for me to be gracious and patient.

When I am being a difficult wife, this thought would often enter my mind: would you want Brendan to be as bad tempered as you when he gets older? Would you like him to show others the same amount of grace that you are showing your husband now?

Obviously, the answer is always NO. 

Still I find myself falling short again and again and again.

Currently, I am facing another crisis in trying to resolve a conflict. It's like my heart has suddenly become so stubborn and stone-cold. I never could have imagined that anybody could make me feel this angry in my life! 

Again and again, I know God is calling out to me to forgive as He forgave me. Still, it is taking me time to get over it. Whoever said marriage is a crucible for the spirit is not joking at all. Man oh man! My limits have been stretched beyond stretching. God certainly will give us more than we can handle... I know He wants me to give this situation to Him because the burden is too heavy for me to carry. And yet, here I am, still adamantly holding on my load.

Lord help me.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Giving Birth To Brendan

Wow, I cannot believe that almost two months have already gone by since I delivered Brendan! Time really flies, especially when your days and nights are blurred into one long stretch of feeding, napping and diaper changing.

Anyhow, I figured that I'd better start writing about my delivery experience while the memories are still fresh in my mind.

Every mom has a story to tell regarding each child they've delivered. I just thank God that mine did not involve giving birth in the kitchen and having to cut my own umbilical cord or something like that!

Pre-Delivery (Sunday March 15th)

My expected due date was supposed to be March 21st. However, I was thinking that March 15th would be a nice date to pop given the nice number- 15/3/15 (in Singapore it's dd/mm/yyyy). Also, I had started to feel random contractions since Friday and they were just getting stronger. They were even strong enough on Friday and Saturday night to wake me from my sleep! So I got up on Sunday morning hoping that somehow, it would be TODAY.

I think Jerry and I woke up late that morning and did not go to church because we were so tired. That afternoon, Ah Yee (my aunt) had invited Jerry to go play a game of badminton with them. I tagged along and even had a few swipes at it in despite the pain. 

During the previous night, I had downloaded an app called Full Term to track the duration and intensity of my contractions. By about two in the afternoon on Sunday, my contractions would last anywhere between 15 to 70 seconds and were about half an hour apart. However, sometimes they would be a few minutes apart or an hour apart. Basically, they weren't regular enough to make me take them seriously.

I always wondered what contractions would feel like. When they first started early on Friday, it was just a sort of dull ache like a mild period cramp. In fact, I really thought they were just some sort of cramp in my abdomen. But by Friday night, they started to feel like a bad period cramp. On Saturday night, that cramp had progressed to feel like a really bad period cramp. On Sunday morning, it was a very very bad period cramp and a lower backache. The pain would come suddenly, last for a short while, then go away. Eventually, they got so intense that it would feel like a VERY VERY VERY bad period cramp, lower backache coupled with gas and stomach flu type pains. 

So while Jerry was playing badminton, I was sitting in a chair and occasionally having to grip the sides of the chair when a strong contraction started. I'd grit my teeth and focus on starting and stopping the timer on my phone.

The funny thing is, I still didn't take my contractions seriously then. So happily, we went for a family dinner at Boon Lay after badminton. Dinner was so scrumptious! We had all kinds of seafood stir fried in sambal chilli. In between bites, I would start and stop my timer. 

By this time, some of my contractions were so painful that I could not eat or talk. I would grit my teeth, close my eyes and try to block out the world. Ah Gu (my uncle) who was sitting next to me, would talk to me sometimes and get really confused when I suddenly stopped listening to him. I explained to him that I was having contractions. 

My contractions were about 15-20 minutes apart by 8pm but still irregular. Ah Yee guessed that I would deliver on Tuesday or Wednesday. All of us went home from dinner that night without expecting that it would be a lot sooner!

So it's almost midnight on Sunday and Jerry and I are getting ready to go to bed. Unfortunately for me, the pain was more than I could bear by this point. I had to hold on to the baby's cot next to my side of the bed for support or pace about the room whenever another contraction started- which was about every 10-15 minutes now. Still, I tried to lie down to sleep LOL. 

When I realised that there was no way I was going to be able to sleep because of the pain, I called the hospital and asked them whether it was time (because I really couldn't tell). They told me that they could not assess my situation over the phone and to come in to the delivery suite anyway. 

In a very surreal moment of disbelief, I turned the lights on and woke my soundly sleeping husband (I know because he was snoring already :D ) and said "I think I'd better go to the hospital". I expected Jerry to jump up from bed immediately, but guess what was his reaction instead? He calmly said: "ok", then promptly plopped his head back into the pillow. ZZZ!!! 

Feeling another strong one coming, I sat there for a while until it went away then proceeded to wake him again. 

"Dear, I really think we should go to the hospital now. It's too painful."

Delivery (Monday March 16th)

Finally, Jerry went to wake Ah Gu to ask him to drive us to the hospital. At this point, things started to become more real to me. The very kiasu (afraid of losing/missing things) me started stuffing more things into my hospital bag which was already packed. 

Before we left, Jerry and I prayed for a smooth delivery and for God's perfect timing. The contractions were only about 7-12 minutes apart now. Ten minutes later, we were out of the house and on the way to Mount Alvernia. ETA: 1.30am, Monday 16th.

The amazing thing is, Ah Gu told us that he had taken sleeping pills at around 11pm because he had trouble falling asleep. But for some reason, the pills were ineffective and he was unable to sleep. He was actually still awake when Jerry knocked on his door past midnight!

The drive to the hospital was really smooth. Ah Gu was gentle driving over the humps on the road and there was literally no traffic the whole way.

When we got to Mount Alvernia's drop off point, two security guards were sitting at the entrance. I wobbled out of the car and one of the guards quickly jumped up  to get a wheelchair for me. At first I had declined it, but was really thankful later when he insisted on getting it as he saw me crunch over in pain. The guard wheeled me to the delivery ward and Jerry followed with my hospital bag. I think Ah Gu went home after that.

When I got to the reception, the ladies there didn't ask me many questions. I was given a consent form for an epidural in case I wanted one later. Then they wheeled me off to a ward and had me change into a hospital gown while Jerry stayed behind to fill in all the paperwork. 

When I was changing in the bathroom, I realised that the REAL bloody show had come and that it REALLY was time after all! I was so grateful to God for this visible confirmation and for the fact that I had arrived at the hospital right on time. 

Next, the nurse gave me an enema to flush out my colon. I was quite scared at first when she explained what she was going to do. The first thought that came to me was that I did not need more pain! However the passing was very soothing and I was grateful for it later. 

After being checked, I was told that I had already dilated 5cm- that is halfway to the 10cm that is necessary. I couldn't believe it- I had actually spent the whole day dilating while playing badminton and eating dinner mat Boon Lay... Haha!

I think I lay in the bed later for about 20 minutes before Jerry finally came back to the ward. There must have been a lot of paperwork to be done. Then another nurse came by and asked me how I was doing. I wasn't groaning or screaming or anything, but I was gripping the side of the bed with my face scrunched in pain. I didn't feel comfortable making those loud noises you hear women make in the movies. I felt that it would be very disturbing to the other lady in the ward next door, so I just held it in.

 The nurse gave me gas and asked me to inhale it whenever I felt that the pain was about to start. I sniffed that gas like it was the best perfume in the world.

Soon, another nurse came and asked if I wanted an epidural. The administering doctor would take about 30-45 minutes to arrive so I had to let them know as soon as I could if I wanted one. To be honest, I did not really want one because I hate injections of all kinds. The thought of getting a giant needle inserted into my lower back was just too daunting- but that was before I'd felt the strong contractions. Finally, I signed the consent form for an epidural because the pain was just too much for me to bear. I thought to myself that if the pain was this bad at 5cm and it had taken me all day to get to this point, I probably would not be able to handle the pain of dilating to 10cm if it was going to take another half of a day. Not to mention, I was feeling really tired already from the lack of sleep on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Immediately after I signed the consent form, I felt a wave of relief sweep over me. Jerry was very supportive of my decision even though it was going to cost us more. 

The doctor arrived in about 15 minutes. Even though it was a male doctor, I really didn't care at that point. The pain had blocked out most of my thoughts by then. With the help of the nurse who had given me gas, they got me to turn on my left side and put me on an IV drip. I was told not to move at all and the nurse held my hand while the doctor prepared the spot where he would inject the medication. I was very comforted by the warmth of her hand because Jerry was not in the room at this time. 

I tried to think of everything else but the needle. Unfortunately, I was not able to do so. So while the doctor was injecting me, I was actually imagining the giant needle penetrating my skin and pushing medication into my spine. Still, it wasn't terrible. My contractions felt way worse than the discomfort of the epidural.

After the procedure, I lay there as the pain started to fade out and I felt my lower body go numb. I think it only took about 10 minutes for me to feel the pain leave me. In fact, the pain left me so completely that I fell asleep from 2.30am to 8.30am. It was the best sleep I had gotten in days. Jerry also went to sleep on a reclining chair next to me.

We woke up feeling well rested. Thank God... I had dilated to about 9cm by that time. My gynae then came in and said we were going to start pushing in about an hour. I was surprised that she actually starts her daily rounds so early in the morning.

So there I lay for about an hour more- waiting.

I did not feel anxious or nervous, but rather excited. I kept wondering what our son was going to look like and what we were going to name him after all. At that time, it was still a toss up between Brendan and Christopher.

At 9.39am, out he came!

The actual pushing only took about 16 minutes. Jerry held my shoulders and kept encouraging me to push along with the other midwives. The way he kept saying "puuuusssshhhh" was so funny that I almost wanted to laugh out loud!

Since my epidural was so strong, I could not feel anything when it came time to push. That was a bit of a problem at first because I could not feel where the baby was while pushing. I just tried my best to imagine taking a dump like the midwives asked me to.

When Ms Wen Lim, my gynae, took out the forceps, I was shocked. All my life since I was little, when my mom told me I was delivered by forceps, I'd always imagined them to be little things like the ones surgeons use to pick up cotton balls. You can imagine the horror/amazement on my face when I saw that the forceps she was going to use was actually almost the size of my arm!

When Brendan finally came out with the final push, they put him on my tummy all covered in birth fluids. I was a little in shock. I didn't know how to react because my brain was still adjusting to the fact that he was no longer in my tummy. I also didn't really feel like touching the gooey stuff.

The midwives noticed Jerry's and my aversion to the gooey stuff, so they promptly whisked Brendan away to clean him up.

As I lay there, the first thing I asked Jerry was: "so, what is his name?"

"Hmm, I think Christopher"

Umm... Yeah... That only lasted for about 10 minutes. 

After they got him cleaned up, I was really excited and happy to hold him in my arms.

I started breastfeeding as soon as possible. 

But as Jerry and I gazed down on Brendan's face, we both realized that he looked nothing like a Christopher and everything like a Brendan. 

So that's how Brendan was named.

At this point, my brain still could not fully register that Brendan was out. I still felt like there was a baby inside me and I tried not to place Brendan's weight too much on my abdomen.

His feet were so tiny. I noticed that he got my feet. Jerry's second toe is longer than his big toe. Mine are not.

I was amused that the hospital tagged both his feet. In case I wasn't sure if both legs belonged to my baby?

Each time Brendan came close to me, my electronic tag would identify him and start playing a unique melody.

His was "Rock A Bye Baby". 

Everyone was surprised by Brendan's full head of hair. It is soft and fine like mine, but thick like Jerry's. 

The first visitors were my dad, Aunty Michelle and sister. They were so excited to meet Brendan that they came right after I delivered.

Initially, I had opted for a double-bedded ward. But when they wheeled me in there, I realised that the room was too cramped to give Jerry and I any sense of privacy. There were also some really loud renovation works going on. With all the drilling reverberating through the walls and ceiling, I started getting a headache. We immediately requested for a single room and were so blessed to get the very last one available!

Thankfully, the epidural was still in effect even hours after the delivery. I did not feel pain from the stitches as a result.

As I held Brendan in my arms, I kept thinking to myself: so this is what he looked like while he was floating around in my tummy all day!

I could not eat much of my first meal because I was so tired and nauseous (side effect from the epidural).

It's such a shame because the food at Mount Alvernia's maternity ward is SO delicious!

He barely opened his eyes on the first day and had a small scratch on his left cheek.

I loved gazing at his sweet face has he lay next to me in his little mobile cot.

Finally on the first evening, my appetite returned, and it returned in full force upon the very first delicious spoonful!

Brendan must have slept about 5 hours on the first night. I only got up to feed him again when they wheeled him in around 4.30 a.m.

I spent the entire day lying in bed because the epidural had worn off and I was starting to feel the pain from the stitches. The gynae had also inserted a catheter to drain my bladder and that was a strange kind of uncomfortable.

In the evening, Brendan had more visitors again.

Here's grandpa with his little grandson :)

Everyone had a turn carrying Brendan.

I was ultimately really grateful that we had chosen the single room in the end because that meant Jerry could sleep over. He took three days of leave and slept on the couch next to me. It was really heartwarming to watch him carry Brendan in his arms.

On the last morning, I finally felt free to walk around since they had removed my catheter. Breakfast was tasty as usual. I was sad to leave the hospital because my stay had been so comfortable. It was like living in a hotel!

We came with one hospital bag but left with a whole bunch of gifts.

I was really touched by all the love showered on us over the past few days by both the staff and all the visitors. Then again, I was also glad that I limited the number of people who came by because I really needed to rest.

We checked out of room 365 at around 12:30 p.m. on the third day since delivery. It was the first time I had stepped out of the door at all. I was amazed that our single room was in the corner next to the exit because we had prayed and asked for a quiet place to rest. This was the furthest room from all the renovation noise and I was so grateful for the peace it provided.

Here I am sitting downstairs by the reception with all of our lobang (stuff). People were staring at our loaded cart, probably wondering why we needed to bring so much to the hospital.

By 1.30 p.m., we were back home from the hospital.