Another year, another round of HFMD.
Yes, the three-year-old is down with this dreadful illness again. Poor baby has ulcers at the back of his throat and isn’t eating well at the moment. When he gives up three quarters of his chocolate biscuit, you know he is in great pain. He would never have given it up willingly in healthier times, hah.
The silver lining is that he is still, pretty much, himself. He’s happy and playful and still singing away.
Right now we are concerned with separating Aidan from Zac. The last thing we want is for the baby to get it too. And that’s where it turns dicey. We now have to activate our parents’ help – I can’t take leave because of classes and assessments while the man is juggling several projects. The logistics can be a challenge and this is frustrating for two parents who are working full-time.
At the same time, I am terrified of getting HFMD too. My last experience was nasty, I could barely eat or drink for seven days. It felt like I was swallowing shards of glass whenever I tried to ingest something. And then, miraculously, the ulcers disappeared on the 7th day.
Yup. HFMD as an adult is a terrible experience.
It’s been tough for the past year because we have been bouncing from illness to illness. It’s frustrating that we can only catch a short break before the next wave of illness comes, we are talking in terms of a week or two, at most a month. This is something that we accept as part and parcel of daycare life but it’s still difficult to live through. I’m tired of being sick, of my two babies being sick, of having to wake up a gazillion times at night to an angry, crying baby who cannot breathe through his congested nose, of having to clean snotty noses and rub phlegmy chests.
Well, everyone tells me that the first year of daycare is usually the toughest on the kid’s health. Fingers crossed that their immune systems would be strengthen soon as we inch towards that one-year mark.
We’ve entered June and the weather’s officially turned. Which means it’s hello to scorching days and sweaty humidity, hello to shorts and tanks and sandals, hello to escaping to air-conditioning.
We marked the first day of June by going on a ride down Lorong Halus to Punggol. Crazy, really, considering that we started so late (the littles took a late nap) and it was blazing hot. When we first started pedalling, I thought to myself, this is going down as one of those mistakes. Yup, we have had plenty of those. You know, when you do something which you thought was a good idea and then once you are in it, you kinda go, Hmm, yeah, NO.
Like when we thought it was a good idea to nap the boys in the car and go check out Some Random Place but the boys didn’t nap and they ended up overtired wrecks once we were out of the car. Or when we decided to go Somewhere Nice for dinner and they were slaying us with their worst behaviour.
I really thought it was going to be a disaster. Plus, Zac was screaming the entire way to Punggol. Don’t ask me why, I think he was just in a snitch. Sort of like, Dude, I was perfectly happy to toss toys all over the house and you strap me into this thing for what?! He wanted me to carry him but clearly, I had my hands full.
So there we were, pedalling furiously and there he was, yelling his lungs out, equally furiously. It was HILARIOUS. I was cycling behind husband, who had him in the bike seat, and I could see the heads of the passersby swivelling towards us to check out the screaming baby.
But other than Zac’s vocal exertion, it was a pretty fab ride. The moon was hanging low in the bright, clear blue sky, which thrilled the three-year-old to no end. And then on the other side was the setting sun: a glorious, majestic ball of fire. We quickly made our way to the beach, just in time to see it disappear over the horizon. The boys ate some banana pancakes that I had whipped up just before we set off, we rested our aching legs and we were quietly relishing the moment.
As the sky darkened, we made our way home. By this time, the heat had dissipated and the wind was rushing in our ears. Our legs worked extra hard so that we can get back as quickly as we could, since Zac had resumed his pissed off yelling. To placate him, we started singing as we cycled and so we became the band of singing cyclists. Only, our choice of songs were limited to Aidan’s repertoire and we were warbling, loudly, tunes about children rolling out of bed and Old MacDonald’s farm. And once we were home, the littlest one was quickly put to bed while the rest of us feasted on frozen pizza while catching the SEA Games on the telly.
So it didn’t turn out to be a disaster after all. And as I rode, all I could think of was how this is home and how these are the memories that I want my kids to have. We may not own anything fancy but these rides with mama and papa, these are the things that they will remember. Not the expensive toys or beautiful clothes.
I hope that one day, when my boys are all grown up and perhaps fathers themselves, they will recall that once upon a time, their parents took them cycling and they caught beautiful sunsets and they felt free, happy, contented and so, so loved.
(Okay, maybe Zac won’t remember that he screamed for most of the ride. He did feel loved and happy and free after we took him out of the seat.)
After our 7D6N “staycation” at Mount Alvernia Hospital, I said a silent prayer to the Big Guy Up There.
Please, I whispered in my head, let this cycle of mad illnesses end here now.
Three days later, Aidan was diagnosed with HFMD.
So yeah, there is a sense of WHAT THE FUCKERY lingering around here. When we heard the dreaded four letters from the GP’s mouth (that’s HFMD and not TOTO), Mr Thick and I visibly sank in our Birkenstocks. Back home, he looked at me in despair and said, “When are we ever going to catch a break?”
Because, poor man. He had a 10-day sabbatical leave and we were meant to do all sorts of romantic and sexxxxay things together. Like clear out the storeroom. Redo the boys’ room. Clean our study table. Install the invisible grilles in our balcony. Repair our aircon. Have coffee every single day. Have a meal here and there. Sleep. Go for a family vacation. But he ended up shuttling between our parents’ homes, our home and the hospital everyday. Not only that, he was also permanently attached to his work laptop during those 10 days because, obviously, the company would absolutely DIE without him.
But you know what, there are little things to be thankful for in life and I am not going to sit here and whine about how crappy and sucky it has been. I mean, it HAS been ridiculously crappy and sucky around here.
It’s also been good.
Aidan turned 2.5 years old and his verbal and comprehension abilities astound us so. (His toddler angst astound us too, though on another end of the spectrum.) He says the funniest things and has an amazing memory. Zac, oddly enough, is now three months old. I say oddly enough because I look at the itty bitty babies snuggled in the arms of their mothers at the hospital and wonder where my little squish has gone. He now resembles, in my very unbiased opinion, a garden gnome. Mr Thick and I still make each other laugh and we have not harboured thoughts of stabbing the other with a fork. Yet.
At the end of the day, we are going through this together as a family. Hopefully, nobody will need therapy in time to come.
Photo by The Beautiful Moments Photography
For the past three nights, I have called the hospital home.
I lay on the chair-bed that’s hard as stone and go to sleep to the sound of my baby’s oxygen mask. I wake up whenever the nurses come in to take his temperature, feed him his medicine or nebulise him. Inevitably, I will have to carry him to soothe him or, if he allows, nurse him.
Every evening, I bid farewell to my toddler and my husband. I know my son well – he says goodbye to me cheerily and kisses me. But once home, the notion that mama isn’t home with him sinks in and he cries for me. I so long to be there for him when he wakes, to kiss his sweaty forehead and say goodnight to him.
It’s so hard.
I miss my family, whole and healthy. I miss my home. I miss our daily routine, as mundane as it seems.
And yet I have to stay here so that my littlest can recover from that nasty virus.
It’s been a difficult, challenging month. Enough already, please?
Get well soon, bubba.
We love beautiful photographs, husband and I.
When we decided to get married, one of our priorities was photography. We knew that we didn’t want just anyone to shoot one of the best days of our lives. Oh forget about the expensive gowns and jewellery, we were willing to pay for photography. And we found it in Eadwine.
And then we got married and we decided that the fun was not over yet. Since my wedding dress was hanging in the wardrobe doing nothing much, we decided to do a trash the dress shoot with my friend Alywin.
Two years later, two (finally) became three and I thought, hey, we should update those photo albums. So Alywin came in to take photos of us and our newest addition – Aidan.
So with the birth of Zac, I could not NOT have a shoot done, couldn’t I? But then my friend Alywin had to move to Shanghai and leave me stranded without a photographer friend. I was searching for a photographer when a friend shared with me Joshua‘s crowd-funding endeavour. To help someone achieve his goal and to get a shoot out of it, why not?
Mr Thick and I are not fans of studio shoots and we never have – we find those too repetitive, too unnatural, too predictable. And, most importantly, there is no natural light. Without batting an eyelid, we decided on an outdoor shoot for this particular one as well. As the day drew closer, however, I started to panic slightly. Handling two kids on a humid summer day? What was I, insanely optimistic?
Thankfully, the weather held up and both boys were on their best behaviour. I mean, nobody cried and NOBODY POOPED. That’s like striking lottery! Plus, Josh was a very nice chap who made us feel all comfortable and the shoot went better than expected.
Even if the matching tees that I got for the boys were actually purchased from the girls department. (BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT!)
We kind of weren’t really expecting much, just a couple of pictures of the family. But what we got from Josh in return was so, so, so much more. We are so chuffed by the album. He definitely made us look more beautiful that we really are, thanks, in part, to the gorgeous light (see, natural light). You can’t even tell that I am absolutely gutted by the lack of uninterrupted sleep.
Also, Photoshop is our best friend. Here’s to being Fabulously Gorgeous forever!