Motherhood

A little positivity

There are days when I feel that motherhood is a thankless job.

The late night feedings are getting to me, I am perpetually tired. Aidan has suddenly stopped sleeping in the day, no matter what I do. He fusses and yells at night when it’s time for bed. The Tiny Human is still not at the age where he can interact with the Big People.

Every day, I wonder if I know what I am doing. And I find myself struggling like I have never struggled before.

But then I look at Mr Thick interact with our boy and I smile. He loves our little man unequivocally. He cradles our crying son with such tenderness at five in the morning, when all I want to do is bury my head into my pillow. He thinks that every little fart that the little fart emits is hilarious.

His love for our son is unconditional.

Yes, it’s not easy. Yes, some days I would feel like crying. Yes, it feels as if there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.

But all I need to do now is to plow on. Take everyday as it comes. Learn to embrace parenthood and my new identity as a mother. Let go of my need to control and just be there for my son.

He’s just a little person who is getting used to us and the world as much as we are getting used to him.

And then I heard this performance on Britain’s Got Talent and it reminded me of how long and arduous our journey to parenthood has been. Now that we are finally here, I should learn to see the joy in things.

As my friend P says, the days are long but the years are short.

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 6

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Sunday, March 5 (continued)
In the meantime, Mr Thick went with our son to the nursery to be cleaned up and he later recounted to me that our little man stayed alert throughout, looking calmly at his surroundings.

When I came to, I was in a ward and Mr Thick was with me. The nurses bustled around me, making sure I was comfortable, before leaving us alone. And as we drifted off into sleep, Mr Thick sitting next to me, he held my hand. Every time a shivering fit hit me, I would grab hold of his hand and he would squeeze back gently in return.

At 6am, a nurse brought Aidan in and asked if I wanted to try breastfeeding him. I said yes and amid the shivers, I put him to my breast and he started suckling like a champ. After a while, they took him back and as my shivers subsided, I fell back asleep.

Two hours later, Dr Y came in to check on me. He explained that the umbilical cord had wound itself around Aidan’s neck and every time Aidan tried to descend, it must have tightened and caused his heart rate to fall. The cord was also thin and short, which explained why he wasn’t able to descend at all. If the cord had been longer and thicker, it might still have been possible for him to be born vaginally.

The aftermath
Immediately after the birth and for the two days after, I had problems falling and staying asleep. Whenever I drifted into slumberland, my body would jerk uncontrollably, waking me up. Or I would dream of falling off from a cliff and wake myself up. I suppose my body had taken a toll and these were the repercussions.

Thankfully, my recovery from the Caesarean was smoother and quicker than expected. By noon on the day of Aidan’s birth, the glucose IV drip was removed from my hand and I was drinking milo. The nurses also removed my catheter and I was able to get up and walk to the toilet to pee that same evening.

The following days were a bit tough, especially in the mornings when I got out of bed and the wound hurt like crazy. But I was determined not to stay in bed and tried to walk around as much as I could. By Wednesday, I was walking out to the nursery to see my little man, albeit hunched like a wizened grandmother walking at a snail’s pace.

When I got home on Thursday, the pain had all but subsided, save for a few twinges now and then. I was just so happy to be home, I think, that the pain was erased from my mind.

Unfortunately, Aidan developed jaundice while we were in the hospital but that is another story for another day. We have been trying to get him settled down and while the first night was extremely trying – he had crying bouts from 230am to 730am – we are both doing the best that we could.

So yes, the birth went nothing like we had planned. It was everything I didn’t want. A Caesarean, however unpleasant, was necessary in our case and I have accepted this as our birth experience. More importantly, Aidan is fine, and so am I. And that’s all that really matters.

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Sunday, March 5 (continued)
Thankfully, there was another emergency C-sect happening at the same time so we didn’t have to waste time waiting for an anesthesiologist to go down to the hospital. I was stripped off, shaved (Urghs) and prepped for the surgery with no sense of dignity at all. Everything was about speed and faster, faster, faster.

When I was wheeled into the operating theatre, Mr Thick was led away to be prepped since he was to be in the theatre with me. In that cold, cold room, Dr L, the anesthesiologist told me gently but urgently to bend my knees towards my belly and tuck my chin down as low as possible. I then felt three sharp stings down my spine – “ant bites”, as Dr L assured me. Oddly enough, I wasn’t fearful or anxious. In fact, I remember feeling calm and at ease.

And then the curtain was drawn above my chest, Mr Thick appeared by my side and the surgery began.

To say that it’s bizarre to have people tugging – none too gently, I might add – at my insides while I was conscious is an understatement. At one point in time, Dr Y asked Dr L to help push down at my stomach as she stood from my shoulders.

“Since you are not pushing, we are doing the work for you,” she explained.

And then shortly after 4am, our son was born.

“No wonder! His cord is around his neck!” Dr L exclaimed.

Ah.

The nurses and doctors started congratulating us and I felt like weeping. Finally, after those two dreadful years of infertility and despair, after that nightmarish labour, he was here. But the urge to cry was subdued by a sense of surreality: I have a baby? I finally have MY baby?

He didn’t cry, like most newborns do, but was quiet. The nurse asked Mr Thick to have a look at his son and he went off to the checking station with a camera in tow. According to him, our little man was alert and his eyes were checking out his new environment. Only when the paediatrician started to examine him then did he let out an indignant wail. But once his daddy was by his side, he quietened down. The good news was that he was perfectly fine and had an APGAR score of 9.

Meanwhile, Dr Y was removing the placenta from me and stitching me up. It was also at this time that the side effects of the epidural kicked in, and I started shivering uncontrollably. It felt really, really dreadful to be shaking every minute and have my teeth chattering. Dr L asked me kindly if I wanted to be sedated for the next few minutes while the doctors did their work and I said yes. She injected the medicine into my IV and I was out almost immediately.

The following period was a haze to me. I remember waking up and Dr Y congratulating me again. And then my little burrito bean was placed on my chest and somebody took photos of the three of us.

Hello Aidan, I said. This is mummy. Can you recognize me? Your name is Aidan and I love you very much.

And then I fell into darkness again.

To be continued…

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, March 4 (continued)
At about 1am, poor Dr Y rushed into the room, looking all frazzled and harried. After performing a VE (sigh) on me, he grimly informed me that my cervix had not dilated any further. He told me that the baby could be in distress and that he was putting me on a low dose of Pitocin to kick start the labour process. Hopefully, that would do the trick and my body would take over from there. At the same time, I had to be hooked onto the blood pressure machine. He assured me that he would be staying the night to monitor me and then left me to labour.

Time passed by very slowly. I was still lying on my right in that strange angle, an IV drip on my left hand, the fetal monitoring paddle on my belly, an oxygen mask on my face and a blood pressure cuff on my right arm. I couldn’t move an inch, for fear that it might affect my little guy. The surges were fast gaining intensity and speed, thanks to the Pitocin, and were moving from three to four minutes apart to one to two minutes apart.

It was possibly the worst night of my life.
And it got worst.

Twice, the baby’s heart beat fell and twice the warning beep filled the air. By then, all Mr Thick and I could do was stare at each other in growing despair. This was not how we had envisioned the labour and delivery. Where was our calm, serene labour? And is our son alright? By then, it was 3 am and we were both exhausted.

My frustration grew and then disappeared over the night, to be replaced by resignation. Initially, I couldn’t understand why the labour was not progressing despite our best efforts. It made me wonder if the little man was not ready to be out. And yet if he wasn’t, why did the amniotic bag rupture? Why? Why? Why?

These questions kept haunting me as I laid on the bed but the repeated warning beeps from the fetal monitor eroded my anger. All I wanted was to have my son out, safe and sound. I couldn’t care how. Mentally, I was prepared for an emergency Caesarean and even asked Dr Y to have an epidural administered at the same time as the Pitocin. But he told me to give my body some time and see if the Pitocin alone would do the trick.

Obviously it didn’t.

When the baby’s heart rate fell for the fifth time, Dr Y came in and told me that it was obvious my little guy wasn’t doing very well inside and he needed to have him out fast and he needed to have him out NOW. We had no other options but to have a C-sect.

Things kicked into top gear after that decision was made.

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 3

Part 1
Part 2

Sunday, March 4 (continued)
At the delivery suite, the nurse cheerfully hooked me up to the fetal monitor for 20 minutes to check on the baby’s heartbeat and time my contractions. She also did a VE on me (!!!) and made the announcement that I was only about 2.5cm dilated. Shortly after, Dr Y popped in and told us our options were limited: I had to go on an antibiotics drip to prevent an infection since my water had been ruptured for almost 12 hours, and that I had to be hooked to Pitocin to augment the labour since my progress was so slow. The baby had to be delivered within 24 hours of the rupturing of the membranes.

I tried to bargain my way out of the Pitocin, knowing that it would come hand in hand with an epidural but he was adamant. And so Mr Thick and I were left to ourselves for the next hour before the drips were to be administered at midnight.

In a strange way, that one hour proved to be one of the best in my life. It was just me, Mr Thick and our unborn son between us as we hugged and swayed to the music that was playing in the background, which helped me through the surges. It was a special Labour Day playlist that I had put together and it had all the songs that we loved: U2, Travis, Coldplay etc. We were just two people who are deeply in love and contentedly anticipating the birth of our child.

Monday, March 5
All too soon, midnight came and the wonderful nurse came in to administer the antibiotics drip, and to take three vials of blood from me for the banking of the baby’s cord blood at Singapore Cord Blood Bank. She was gentle, warm and reassuring, and for the first time in my life, the IV needle didn’t hurt at all. I was put back onto the fetal monitor and the sound of my little nugget’s swooshing heartbeat filled the room.

But shortly after the IV drip started, the sound disappeared, to be replaced by the warning beeping of the machine. His heart rate had fallen out of the safe zone of 110 to 160 bpm to the 80s region.

I could sense the anxiety in the nurse’s eyes but she remained calm and reassured me that it could be the baby shifting around. She moved the paddle around my belly and finally located the heartbeat again. She apologetically performed another VE on me to ensure that it wasn’t a cord prolapse that had caused the drop in heart rate and thankfully, it wasn’t. Instead of starting the Pitocin drip, she decided to monitor the baby’s heart rate for a while before deciding if Dr Y needed to be informed of the situation. She also had me put on an oxygen mask, just in case my nugget was in distress and needed the extra oxygen.

We were left alone and not more than 10 minutes later, the warning beep sounded again. This time, the nurse was clearly worried as she made me lie on different angles while she tried to locate his heartbeat. It took a while and the tension grew thicker and thicker. What was happening to my little man?

Thankfully, the sound of his heartbeat came back again but we knew that it was getting serious. She did another VE (!!!!) and assured me that it wasn’t a cord problem, before leaving to call Dr Y. All I could do was to lie there on that awkward 45 degree angle on my right side with a drip on my left hand and an oxygen mask.

To be continued…

Motherhood

Confessions of a new mom

I’m less than two weeks into this new gig but already, the sheer magnitude of motherhood coupled with the fluctuating hormones have already brought me to my knees more than once. Plus, Aidan was warded in the hospital for an additional three nights due to jaundice that was attributed to our different blood types and you can see how this mama turned into a wreck.

I thought I’d just jot this down because I need to tell myself that it’s okay to feel this way, it’s okay to be scared and stressed and worried and anxious. It’s okay to cry, as long as I get back up again.

(And if I don’t, I should seek professional help pronto.)

I miss being pregnant sometimes.
In the days immediately following Aidan’s birth, especially when I was in the hospital, I would get twinges in my tummy. Thinking that it was still my baby in my belly, I would reach down to rub it lovingly, only to be met with soft flesh. And then I would realise that I am no longer pregnant and that my little man is sleeping in the cot next to me.

And I would miss it so.

The bond between a mother and her in-utero baby is so strong. I miss his little kicks and his tiny movements. I miss our little evenings winding down together, him and I.

And I do miss being pregnant, selfishly, because my life hadn’t changed then. I was pregnant and still living my life, and Mr Thick and I were still just a couple.

That’s not to say that I don’t want the little man with me, of course. His cute little milk face, his grunts and yells when trying to take a dump…all these are precious moments that I have kept in my memories. And I am so very glad that he is finally here with us.

I don’t know what the heck I am doing
How many times have I wept in Mr Thick’s arms because I was overwhelmed by the notion of bringing up a child? Do I know what I am doing? Hell, NO.

Then there are questions like do I have enough milk supply for Aidan? Am I doing the right thing in following this routine? Am I screwing up his sleeping patterns by not doing so?

All I have is this sleeping-pooping-feeding little creature who cannot give me feedback on whether I am doing the right thing. Of course, he is all but 11 days old and I cannot expect anything much from him now.

Thank goodness for husband then, who has been nothing but a pillar of support. He rouses during my night feeds to tell me what a fabulous job I am doing and he always, always makes me feel better whenever the waterworks are turned on.

I am grateful for my mother’s help
I know, I know, I was all I don’t want any confinement help. But truth be told, it has been awesome having someone around the house in the day. I don’t necessarily follow nor believe in all the confinement rules and sometimes, I do stuff like bathing with herbs and drinking fish soup for breakfast just to make mom happy.

But it’s been great knowing that I don’t have to worry about chores and meals. And that if I need a sanity break, to sleep or to shower, I can rely on my mom. I am going to miss her when the month is over and she goes back to being my nephew’s caregiver. I predict that I will be spending many an afternoon at her place.

I am not a very nice person to be around now
Just the other day, I almost lost my temper with my in-laws and mother. I had just put Aidan down for a nap and he was still fussing slightly when the in-laws arrived and the three parentals started chatting loudly. They then came into the room and gushed over him at their normal volumes.

I got mad.

My arm was tired from patting him to sleep, he hadn’t slept well in the morning and I was hoping he would make up for it with the nap. When I tried to shh them and explain that he had just fallen asleep, my mother-in-law told me that it was good for Aidan to get used to loud noises when he slept. Which wasn’t wrong but when you are sleep deprived and anxious about your baby, that wasn’t going to go down well. And to make matters worse, Aidan started stirring and woke up right after the in-laws left.

I felt so guilty the entire day, wondering who was this grouchy, horrible person. And it made me want to cry, again.

So no, motherhood hasn’t been all peaches and roses and full of beautiful glow. On the contrary, I am sweaty, tired, in need of a haircut and falling to pieces sometimes. But the little moments are to be savored and these, together with the wonderful support of fellow mamas (like my friends P, Yuling and Squirt) are the timber that keeps the flame going and going.

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 2

Read Part 1 here

Sunday, March 4
While making coffee at about 1045am, I suddenly felt a light gush of fluid flowing down and I stopped, thinking that I was still bleeding from the VE. Cursing and swearing, I headed to the loo to change my panty liner, only to find myself staring at a wet liner that was free from blood.

Eh?

I sat down on the bowl to pee and to think, and I realized that I was “peeing” fluid from my vagina too. Uh oh.

I was leaking amniotic fluid.

Shoot. This wasn’t how it’s supposed to happen!

Since the plan was to labour at home (and be as far away from the hospital as possible), we decided to get on with our day and see if the leaking continued. Mr Thick vacuumed the house down, we went to the in-laws’ for lunch, headed to school to sort out my work and then proceeded to my mother’s place to have tea with her. By the time we reached home, it was almost 4pm.

And yet, my surges were still irregular and I was leaking amniotic fluid intermittently. My little man was active and moving quite a bit, making me wonder why he wasn’t as engaged as he should be. I tried to get the surges going by changing my labouring positions but nothing worked.

At 5pm, I texted Dr Y, who asked us to go into the hospital at 7pm. We bargained and got it moved to 10 pm, since I was trying to steer clear of any active management of my labour. In the meantime, we had dinner and I even washed and blew dry my hair. The surges were still sporadic and lacked intensity.

Finally at 915pm, we reluctantly left our house and drove towards the hospital. In my heart, I knew that something was wrong and I might not get the birth that I had wanted so badly.

To be continued…