Two years. Wow. Have they flown by so quickly?
I have been a mother for two years. And everyday has been a joy for me. Some days are longer than others and some nights more wakeful. But not a day goes by without me being thankful that I have the opportunity to be a mother to this little buddy of mine.
It’s a cliche uttered by all parents but man, can time slow down and let me enjoy being a mother to my baby (read: toddler) just a little more?
I love everything about this phase. He’s in a delightful age where he is trying to string complete sentences, enjoys cuddling up to me (“sit on mama lap!”, “mama carry!” etc), loves reading books, dances to music awkwardly but oh-so-passionately, finishes the sentences from his favourite books and laughs all the time. He kisses us readily, leans his head so lovingly on our shoulders and grins widely when I pick him up after work.
Sure, there are the usual tantrums. There are the odd outbursts which we cannot account for. But these incidents are generally the exception, not the norm.
Over the past weekend, we celebrated his birthday with our families. There is no fancy set up, no elaborate party, no artistically arranged cake/dessert table, no expensive goody bags, no professional photography. We kept it simple, deliberately: just food, the people who love him and us, and cakes. That’s what I remember of my childhood birthdays and that’s how I want him to remember his.
Call us crazy but Mr Thick and I also decided to make him a cake from scratch. Hah, us? He loves trains, so we thought we’d made a train cake. The internet made it look so easy! I baked the lemon pound cake and made the swiss buttercream frosting. I coloured the frosting and then turned everything over to the cake engineer. He sat at the dining table and painstakingly sliced, cut, drilled and frosted the cake.
The result? A really awful looking cake. REALLY. UGLY. Absolutely nothing like what we had intended. My girlfriend jokingly called it the “Pinterest fail”. But hey, we had fun doing it together and had a good laugh at what terrible bakers we make.
And then, MAGIC. Aidan laid his eyes on the cake and shouted out in glee, “Oh train!”
He couldn’t keep his eyes off of the cake, as ugly as it was, and dug at it with his spoon happily. And over the following days, he would open up the fridge and ask for “Thomas train cake”.
And this was how I knew that this is our family: the imperfect love that makes us us.
Happy birthday to my boo boo. Mama and Papa love you to the moon and back (multiply by infinite times).
I was lying on Aidan’s bed just now as he slept under the crook of my armpit. It was quiet in the room, with only the sounds of the air-conditioning and Brahms Lullaby on repeat mode. He was still, on his side, arms cradling his little bolster and one hand on my belly. I didn’t dare to move an inch.
Suddenly, my belly jumped. Ah, Two. My second child who is most active when I am still. Unlike his/her brother, who used to be a one-baby circus act in my womb. I laid my other hand on top of where the flurry of activity was and breathed.
Having gone through those two years of infertility, I am acutely aware that my two babies are nothing short of a miracle and a blessing. How many can say that they conceived a child naturally, after failing eight rounds of treatments? Plus, Two came to us so quickly and so unexpectedly, despite my initial pessimism and fear.
Every day with my two beautiful children – one growing so rapidly in front of my eyes and the other’s kicks growing stronger in utero – is a reminder of how lucky I am. And every day, I tell myself that.
Never mind that Aidan doesn’t sleep through the night and needs one of us to be with him.
Never mind that he sometimes refuses dinner and tosses everything out of his high chair.
Never mind that I no longer have the luxury of reading to Two or simply enjoy the primeval act of carrying a child when every spare moment I have is spent with Aidan.
Never mind that I am always exhausted and have no time for the things that I want to do.
I am a lucky, lucky woman.
I suppose it is doubly poignant now that I am pregnant with my second, and last, child. This will be the last time I carry a child in my womb, to feel my baby’s kicks and hiccups from within. Everything that I feel now will never be felt again.
And so I laid there for an extra moment. To breathe in my little man’s sleepy scent and to enjoy the funny tap dance that my baby is putting up in my tummy.
Valentine’s Day is pretty much a non-event for us every year and I wasn’t planning to pen anything down at all. Many years ago, we decided that it was an overpriced, commercialised phenomenon and we wanted to have nothing to do with it.
But then, as fate would have it, I was asked by my students to help them out as a guest for their radio talkshow assessment today. And the theme? Why Valentine’s Day, of course.
As I looked through the list of questions that they had prepared for me, my horror grew.
Tell us about your first valentine’s date (if you remember)
What’s the most extreme thing you did?
What’s your favourite memory/sweetest thing your husband did
NOTHING. CAME. TO. MY. MIND.
Seriously. I dug and dug around in the archives of my mind and I came up with NOTHING.
Of course, the fact that I am extremely sleep-deprived and therefore has an impaired memory (it’s been medically proven!) doesn’t help. And, err, we haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day in, like, forever. Plus, our first Valentine’s Day was over 14 years ago.
So I sent Mr Thick an SOS text. And he was as equally clueless as I was.
I thought I was going to ruin the students’ assessment because I would have nothing to say, seeing how I remember nothing. But, as it turns out, I did have things to share and as I was talking, it struck me that I, and we, have really changed and remained unchanged over the years.
Back when I was much younger (UH-HMM), I had these silly, fancy notions of love and romance. You know, the grand gestures – dinner, flowers, the works. But now that we are older and wiser (and really tired because the other love of our lives DOES NOT SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT), my ideas of the perfect relationship and the perfect date have changed.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what I do with my husband. We could be sitting down on the sofa and watching Glee together, or sitting down for a cup of coffee while the littlest of us all slept in the stroller, or lying in bed and talking about our day. It’s all very simple, and mundane, and boring, and nondescript.
But it doesn’t matter. Because we are doing it together.
And my idea of the perfect relationship? When two imperfect souls meet and fit perfectly well together.
I don’t know why I never realised it earlier but it struck me one night that hey, when he starts telling me about a joke or making a funny remark, I instinctively know where he is going. We can complete each other’s sentences. And we pick up each other’s slack. When one is sick, the other takes over automatically. And we are always fighting – to let the other charge his or her phone, to let the other have the last juicy bit of dinner etc.
We fight – but for each other.
And that’s what really counts, at the end of the day, even more so than beautiful flowers and lavish gifts.
Happy Valentine’s Day to the best partner I could ever ask for. <3
For various reasons that I won’t go into, Mr Thick and I have decided that we will not be finding out the sex of Number Two before delivery. Throughout our visits to our obstetrician, we made it clear to the doctor that we are not interested to know if baby has any hanging appendage and he has kindly obliged us thus far.
“Makes my job easier!” he says.
Until the detailed scan. (This. This should remind you of what the detailed scan is all about.)
We were sitting in his office discussing the results of the scan (all good) when we got to the measurement of the baby’s head.
Dr T: It’s consistent with all the other measurements, an average number.
Me: Oh! And I thought baby has a big head.
Dr T: The measurement actually falls in the middle.
Me: Oh, my son has a big head so naturally, I assumed that this one’s head is big too.
Dr T: Well, maybe this is a girl then.
Dr T: I don’t know, I’m just making it up.
Me: Nooooooooo. You can’t say stuff like that.
Dr T: (laughs) I really don’t know, I am just saying.
Me: No no no no no, don’t say anymore!
For the record, we still have no clue. And we aim to remain clueless!
Dear Number Two,
How are you? How’s life in mama’s cosy, watery womb?
While I haven’t been updating the world about your every move and every flutter, I don’t want you to think that it’s because I love you any lesser. We have had moments, you and me and papa and gor gor, but I just never got round to penning these moments down.
Let’s talk about this afternoon. It had been an exhausting day for me, having sat through four hours of assessments. I was this close to putting my head down to sleep but I had work to do. As I was powering through my slides, you started reminding me of your presence.
You started bubbling away in my belly, first here then there. And it was so adorable. You are at the stage (20 weeks) where you flutter around oh so gently, because you are still teeny tiny. And as you pop around under my skin, I started tapping on the belly and you would respond.
It was a good moment.
Just the other morning, your papa and Aidan were snoozing in the other bedroom. It was just me and you on that big bed of ours. The morning was cool and there was a gentle breeze. The sun was slowly rising over the horizon and the day was blissfully still.
I laid on the bed, saying nothing, doing nothing. And then you went POP! Before I knew it, there was a trail of “bubbles” running across the belly. I smiled and said hi to you, and you continued fluttering for a while.
And then the door opened and your brother burst into the room with loud pitter-patters, and the moment ended.
It was a good moment.
And then, there was the other night. Papa and I were trying to put Aidan to bed. That boy, he loves, LOVES to kiss you. At ever opportunity that he has, he will ask to “kiss mama baby”. It was exactly like that, that night.
I was lying down on his bed and he asked to kiss my tummy. I said, yes please and he obliged with a MMMMM-MUAH. Only this time, he kept going at it, kissing and giggling at my belly. Papa and I laughed at his gleeful smile, and there was so much love and happiness enveloping the room.
It was a beautiful moment.
Right now, I am relishing this: the feeling of you in my tummy, carrying you everywhere with me. I daresay this is something that all mothers love and miss the most. (Also, the baby is here but not throwing tantrums! Or pooping at the wrong time! Or crying incessantly!)
We are at the halfway mark, Two. Hang in there, we still have just a little bit more to go.
Love you always,
So, I’ve unlocked some of my previously-private posts on Number Two, if anyone is remotely interested in reading.
Unlike the first pregnancy, I have not been writing much. Partly because I was absolutely gutted by the first trimester twin terrors of morning sickness and exhaustion, and also partly because I have had my hands full at work.
While the horrible, sick feeling of nausea has mostly abated, I still get the occasional heave ho. Which is incredibly awful, considering that I am already in week 17 (or is it 18? Can’t recall. Maybe 19?).
Anyway, Two. My beautiful in-utero baby. My second chance to experience a “normal” pregnancy – less Dead Baby Thoughts, less paranoia, more joyful tears.
I love you already.
Exactly 22 months ago, you were born. And in the past 22 months, our lives have changed irrevocably.
The you of today have grown so much since that moment when you were born and your father exclaimed to me, “Dear, he has a lot of hair!” And being part of this transformation has been such a privilege, joy and amusement. Okay, it hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows, to be honest, and you can be quite the PITA but in general, you are an exuberant, happy little man. There’s never a dull moment with you around.
I don’t know how much of it is nurture and how much of it is nature but you are one of the chattiest little persons I have ever known. You say the darnest things and you are a parrot that’s soaking up every word we utter. Just today, you heard papa’s GPS instructing us to turn left ahead and you started repeating in the car, “Turn left. Turn left. Turn left.” We gave each other THE LOOK and told you you were like some faulty GPS that just wouldn’t shut up. And then we started laughing.
Oh, the words that you say! I wish I could record every single funny thing you utter. The way you ask us “any train?” when we drive near the MRT tracks. The way you shout “AIRPLANE KAI!” when you spot an aeroplane up in the sky. The way you cheekily request for “col-gurd” (yogurt) and “pu tao” (grapes). The way you demand for “MUSIC!” no matter where we go and what we do. The way you bossily tell me to “keep shoe” when you would rather wear your “BOOT!” (wellingtons).
(Yes, you really talk with exclamation marks.)
One of the things that I love about you is how affectionate you are. You dole out kisses to mama and papa willingly and you LOVE to hug us. We can always count on you to run towards us to bury your head in our legs.
I told you once before that “mama’s baby” is in my tummy. And from that day on, you would come to me and say, “Kiss mama baby” every single day, before planting a loud and wet “mmmmmmm-muah” kiss on my swelling belly. You have no idea how much that makes my heart melt, my darling manja boy. Your father says that you will be a good older brother to the littlest and I’m pretty sure he is right.
Right now, I am relishing in our little unit of three. I know that you won’t remember this period, the first two years before your sibling arrived, when it was just you, me and papa. But we will know and remember.
Right now, the three of us are as tight as thieves. We do almost everything together – we go for walks at the beach, we muck around at the park, we dig into our prata, we explore new cities, and we dance to Christmas carols before dinner. And I am loving the times we spent together.
Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited that you are going to have a little brother or sister to boss around soon (and we KNOW you will boss him/her around). But right now, I am loving every moment spent with you, my firstborn.
There are two more months to your birthday and we have no clue how we are going to celebrate. Perhaps a quiet one, just the three of us.
Just the three of us. Let’s enjoy that for just a little more.
Love you to the moon and back,
Last year, I wrote that 14 is going to be even better than 13. And I was right. Because this year has been so damn wonderful.
We started out the year as exhausted parents of one and we are ending the year as exhausted parents of one, with another on the way. But it’s not just our roles as parents that have made this year a marvellous one, it’s that you and I are still crazy in love with each other.
It’s so hard to imagine. 14 years we have been with each other, that’s 14 years of dealing with all those insecurities and mismatched expectations and external frustrations. The insecurities and expectations, we have long gone past that. And what’s left is still the undeniable truth that we make each other laugh and love.
When I was a kid, I wanted to marry a handsome jock who would buy me a house and treat me like a princess. When I grew up, I married a geek who adopted two cats with me, bought me an iPhone docking system and treats me like an equal. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because you make me laugh so damn hard, every single day.
Because I still look at you and think, damn, I love this man so much.
Because we complete each other’s sentences.
Because we understand each other’s crappy, lame jokes.
Because you have stepped into fatherhood so perfectly and naturally.
Because you buy me ice-cream and milkshake when you sense that I need one desperately.
Because you rub my feet and calves when I am tired (and you have even taught our son to do it!).
Because you make me hot ginger tea when I am feeling sick with nausea (like last night).
Because you are the shining example to our boy on how to treat a girl right and with respect.
Because you let me get that 10 minutes of extra sleep while you take Aidan out of the room to feed him breakfast and change his diaper.
Because I buy too many pretty plates and you merely shake your head at me.
Because we have such fun cycling dates at night for ice-cream.
Because I never feel alone – never ever – when I am with you.
Because you think I am awesome and super capable and the Best Mum In The World.
Because you love me so damn much and you let me know it.
There – 15 reasons for the 14 years that we have been together. I have outdone myself and you are waiting for me to go for our anniversary lunch.
To many more adventurous, crazy, laughter-filled and lovely 14 years ahead of us.
Love you many many.