Bun in oven, Letters to

Under pressure

Dear Tiny Human,

A couple of nights ago, your dad had his hand on my tummy and whispered something to you that made me want to cry.

You’re the only bright spark in my life that I am looking forward to.

He’s having a tough time, your dad, and it’s hard because I don’t know what I can do to help. But I know that we will get through this together, just as we always do.

But his words sparked off something in me. It made me realise just how much your arrival is being anticipated by people.

Both your dad and I have been wishing and hoping for your arrival for more than two years.

Your grandma has been praying for a grandchild for the past 10 years, so much so that she made it a point to announce loudly to every household that we visited over the Lunar New Year: “My little Dragon will be here next year, all of you had better prepare your red packets for him.”

Your grandpa just went through a tough surgery and your birth will undoubtedly bring him some cheer.

It scares me.
It does.

The pressure that’s on your little unborn shoulders is simply too much. You are just one child.

I should be happy that the family is rallying behind your arrival but sometimes, I want to protect you from the burden of being the only baby in the family. Everybody has expectations of you and I do hate it so sometimes. Also, I want to raise you to be a good, filial, kind, happy, independent child, not someone who is spoilt silly and constantly cooed over. I want to be the sort of mother who will let you find your own way and fall down, but I will be there to dust your knees and help you up, should you need me to. I don’t want anyone to be hovering around you 24/7, turning you into a timid, pampered little brat.

I don’t know how things will be like when you are born but I am hopeful that we will be able to strike a good balance. We will have the first four months of your birth to hit our stride and find our style. And then it’s a matter of communicating how we would like you to be brought up to your caregivers.

In the meantime, I am enjoying having you all by myself in my belly. I know that it’s a bit of a squeeze right now but hang in there, you will be exiting your watery home in no time. And then it’s going to be such a strange world that you will be experiencing! No food to be given to you intravenously; instead, a boob will be shoved into your face and you will need to learn to suckle for your survival. The temperature in your environment will not be regulated, your naked bits will be covered up by things called clothes and there will be lots and lots of people making funny faces at you and expecting you to respond.

It’s a whole new world, baby!

And your dad and I are looking forward to exploring it with you.

Love,
Your Mama

Bun in oven

My pregnancy must-haves

I have loved every moment of being pregnant. Even as my body is being stretched to its limits and causing me some grief, I have enjoyed this journey of ours.

That said, it IS amazing how incubating a little person can change your body profoundly. At 36 weeks, I am finally feeling the impact of how uncomfortable pregnancy can get. And sometimes, pregnancy can make you feel downright unglamorous and unpretty. The following list contains a few things that have made me feel better about looking like a beached whale.

1. Clarins Huile “Tonic” Body Treatment Oil
I know, stretch marks are mostly genetic and no amount of oiling will prevent that if you have the genes. And I DO have the unfortunate genes. I mean, my poor ass is full of white lines from adolescence. I started using this once I was past my first trimester and my tummy is free from marks. It was a gift from my Cousin Wan and since it’s so pricey, I alternate it with the cheaper Boots Expert Stretch Mark Oil that I had bought in Thailand.

2. Burt’s Bees Rich and Repairing Cocoa Butter & Macadamia Nut Oil Body Butter
The hormones really threw my body out of whack and turned it into the human equivalent of the Sahara Desert. The body butter has helped to protect my arms and legs from the blasting dry air of the air-conditioner at night without that oily, sticky feeling. Plus, it’s made from plant-based ingredients!

3. Motherlove Birth & Body Oil
Every night, husband rubs a little of this onto my calves before kneading the tightness away. It’s organic and smells very faintly of lavender, which I adore. Once the little man is out, this can be used on him as a massage oil and is said to be excellent for treating cradle cap. I got mine from iherb, together with the organic bath products for the nugget, and if you order using this discount code OTI683, you’ll get 5 percent off your first purchase.

4. Muji Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser + essential oils
We bought this during our Tokyo trip back in 2009 and it’s been a godsend so far! The integrated LED light is dim and perfect for winding down the day, and I like to drift off to sleep pretending that I am in a luxurious spa. Some of the essential oils that are in rotation include Royal Doulton’s Sleep Easy blend, lavender, bergamot, The Body Shop’s Divine Calm blend and the Sensual Aromatic Blend from Thann. It’s now available in Singapore.

5. Birkenstocks Madrid sandals
Now that I am waddling into my last month of pregnancy, I find that nothing but Birkenstocks will do for my lower body. It’s so tiring carrying this little tenant of mine everywhere! My legs ache, my hips ache and my back ache. I practically live in my Birkenstocks these days and I should have bought them much, much earlier. I got these in patent purple – my favourite colour!

I hope this list will help some of you during your last stage of pregnancy in some way. And if you have any pregnancy lifesavers, please share! I’d love to know what they are (and maybe they can help me ignore that pain in my hips).

The organised chaos

Honey, I buanged the car

The last time I sat behind the wheel, I scratched my father-in-law’s car.

I had gotten my driver’s license back in 2007 but didn’t drive much because I didn’t have a car. And really, you don’t want to test your newly acquired driving skills on the car of your then-boyfriend’s father.

But when we got married, my in-laws were very kind and insisted that I practise my driving so from time to time, I would take over the wheel and prowl the roads, with husband sitting next to me. Unfortunately, my lack of spatial skills meant that I was terrible at parking and in carparks. And while driving up the multi-storey carpark at our estate, I scratched the side of the car along the wall.

And since then, I have had a phobia of driving.

It’s just so much easier to not drive. We bought a flat near the bus interchange and MRT station so that we wouldn’t have to buy a car. Plus, when you are married to someone who can drive with one hand and one foot and his eyes closed, it’s far simpler to let him take over the driving duties.

But with the impending arrival of the nugget, we have had to get our own set of wheels so that we can ferry the bubs to my mother’s place when I return to work after my maternity leave. And since I am the one who gets to have free parking in school and leave work on time, I would naturally be the chauffeur.

Which means I have to get used to driving. EVENTUALLY.

So the car was purchased just last week and I decided to christen it Zeus today. And clearly, the Greek God wasn’t pleased that I was using his name on our sleek chariot.

Because I dented our new old car. TODAY.

I was on half day leave today and wanted to head over to the Squirts’ and my mom’s after work. It made sense to drive and I talked myself into getting behind the wheel for the first time in three years. And it went well! I drove to school, parked and heaved a sigh of relief.

That sense of relief continued when I got myself and the car in one piece to the Squirts’. And thereafter, I drove to my mother’s place successfully. The technique of driving was coming back to me and I was getting used to handling the car. All in all, I was feeling mightily pleased with myself when I drove into the freaking carpark opposite my mama’s block.

I made my way gingerly up the slopes of the multi-storey carpark (DO I SENSE A PATTERN?!) and was contemplating parking on the second floor instead of the fourth, which was linked directly to her flat. But I decided that it was a good opportunity to practice my navigation skills since there weren’t many cars around. As I was carefully preparing to go up the penultimate slope that would take me up to the fourth floor, an Indian worker carrying a water hose suddenly appeared in my direct path.

WTF!!
I was stunned.
And my hands froze and stopped turning the wheel.
And the car lurched heavily into the wall.

The fellow actually stared me down for a good five seconds before moving out of my way. I slowly reversed and turned the car into the correct angle to go up the slope while my heart was pounding and my brains were going OHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT. I managed to get to the correct deck and parked – albeit sloppily – and got out to survey the damage.

There it was: a dent in the bumper.

It doesn’t appear to be anything major, the car was fine (save for that dent) and so was I. But I was so miserable at ruining our car on my first drive out. I felt like such a BLOODY FAILURE.

Husband was very nice about it: he waved away my offers to pay for the damage out of my own pocket and even gave me loads of consoling hugs and kisses. And the gang was sweet about it when I texted them – they didn’t laugh at me and told me it was okay was long as I was okay.

But I couldn’t help recounting every moment of that crash, right down to the sickening crunch of metal against concrete, the entire night. I kept thinking to myself, if only I had stopped and parked on the second floor, dammit.

Ah, hindsight.


I had on Jem’s Just A Ride on repeat mode the entire day; I kept telling myself it’s just a car ride and nothing to be scared of

Foodnotes

Happy meal #35: Baked cod fillet

Thanks to the generosity of my mother-in-law, our freezer has been stocked full of cod and salmon in recent weeks. The only problem was that I was either too tired or in too much pain from the posterior pelvic pain to actually prepare a home-cooked meal. And so the fish stacked up higher and higher in the freezer.

Last week, I came across a ridiculously simple recipe for baked cod and decided to try it. Holy cow! It was GOOD and I ain’t blowing my own trumpet. I modified the recipe a little and made it three times (yes, we do have that many pieces of cod in the freezer). And it tasted pretty damn good every single time. Even the carnivore in my home approved.

For those of you who are looking for fuss-free dishes that can be cooked up on weekdays, look no further.

(It doesn’t look very pretty – OKAY it’s the PHOTOGRAPHER – but it tasted better than it looked.)

Baked Cod Fillet
(Serves one)

What you’ll need:

  • A cod steak or filet
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs or panko
  • 1 tsp melted butter
  • Dash of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Sprinkling of paprika

How to make:

  • Preheat the oven to 220 degree Celsius. Place cod in a lightly greased pan or plate
  • Combine lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt and pepper in a bowl, and spread it over the cod
  • Sprinkle paprika on top of the mixture
  • Cover the surface with the breadcrumbs and then drizzle the melted butter over
  • Bake in oven for about 25 minutes
  • THAT’S IT!
Bun in oven

The 35-week belly

Just five more weeks to go!

The little guy’s clothes for the first six months of his life have been washed and put away. And man, does he have a lot of clothes! Thanks to hand-me-downs from his cousin Rai, as well as gifts from friends, we haven’t had the need to purchase anything at all. Smart mama here only bought a couple of items for milestones like his one-month parties (yes, PARTIES, it’s going to be a logistical nightmare). Beyond his first three months of existence, erm, that’s a different story altogether.

His room is still empty, save for the bags of toys and necessities that are also passed on down by friends. My mother is firmly against me doing anything that involves putting things together – old wives’ tale and all – but I’m not fussed. The kid’s going to be sleeping with us for the first few months anyway, and Mr Thick can do up the room once the nugget is born.

Physically, things are going pretty okay. The posterior pelvic pain that I had been having comes and goes. As long as I am wearing my Birkenstocks and don’t walk too fast/much, the pain stays away. I’ve also noticed that blood tends to pool around my calves during the day (my legs turn bright red, like I’ve got a sunburn) but again, it’s nothing debilitating. Thankfully, I have my personal masseuse AKA Mr Thick, who rubs out the kinks and tightness EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. by running his knuckles over and over the length of my calves. It’s going to sound quite masochistic but the pain feels oh so good! Yeah, I am the sort who likes massages with that OUCH!#@^&#@%# factor.

We went over our birth plan with Dr Y over the weekend and he’s agreed to stick to my wishes as closely as he can. Which is pretty awesome because a) I am standing quite firmly behind my birth plan and b) there are many doctors out there who aren’t respectful of their patients’ wants.

Erm I suppose we still need to pack our hospital bag. And fit the little man’s car seat into the car. What else? I feel strangely calm but I am pretty sure that I am missing out on something!

And oh, THE NOSE. Check out my honker, people. If I head butted you, that nose might just crack YOUR nose.

Two of Us

A non-Valentine’s Day

February 14 has mostly been a non-event in our lives. When we first start dating, there might have been a bouquet of roses and a romantic dinner here and there. But as time went by, we both realised the futility of bankrupting ourselves for a meal and a bunch of flowers that cost three times their usual prices and dropped the celebration altogether.

So we are not really hopeless romantics. Well, I think I can be but I am also a Capricorn, which makes me quite a practical, dull mountain goat.

(Also, we are the couple who celebrated our anniversary at McDonald’s one year. Can’t remember why but we did have a blast.)

This year, I wasn’t expecting anything from husband. Oh sure, I wouldn’t have protested if he had gotten me the lilies that I so love but I wasn’t holding my breath waiting for a delivery.

Instead, the man woke me up with a whispered happy Valentine’s Day and a kiss, and then scrambled out to make breakfast, as he always does on weekdays. I came out of the room to find a fried egg and melted cheese sandwich waiting for me.

Special, he said with a grin.

Before we left for work, he told me to forget about making dinner and that he would pick up something along the way home. Just because he knew I had been having posterior pelvic pain and couldn’t be on my feet for too long.

And how did we celebrate in the evening? Sitting in front of the telly, munching on our favourite Subway sandwiches and watching people die blood-splattered gory deaths in the latest season of Supernatural.

What’s more, he even got me my favourite drink from Gong Cha. Bonus!

We should tweet, he said thoughtfully in between bites, and say that the best thing about Valentine’s Day is eating dinner at home in our underwear and watching TV together.

Bun in oven

PITA, literally

I try not to whinge about anything pregnancy-related because, come on, after that year of sticking needles into myself and getting high (NOT) on hormones, I’m just pretty grateful to be pregnant AT ALL.

But this one, oh bother, this pain is just frustrating me to no end. Remember that “pop pop!” in my ass that I mentioned previously? It seems to have gotten worse. And it has a name. Read it out loud and let it strike the deepest, darkest terror into your heart: PELVIC GIRDLE PAIN.

Or so I think it is. PhD in Googling, remember?

Basically, it’s a pain in the ass for me. Like, LITERALLY. Every morning, I have to climb the overhead bridge to get to school from the bus stop. While I used to revel in the fact that I can bounce up those steps without as much as a huff or a puff even with child, these days, I courteously move to the side and ascend the steps one by one SLOWLY. And when I am travelling between classes, I stroll. My walk no longer has that defined purpose to it. And I am someone who walks really fast.

Because it hurts. The pain is concentrated on my left butt at the tailbone and it can be sharp and shooting. It comes and it goes and the only relief I get is by applying a heat pad to it. I don’t know what else I can do because some of the advice given by Dr Google are things that I have been watching out for.

My initial grand plan was to work till the kid is ready to vacate his watery villa but with this darn pain hanging out with us, I am having second thoughts. Thankfully, we will be seeing Dr Y next week and I just might ask if he could put me on medical leave when I hit full term.

In three weeks’ time. (cue hysterical screams)