All of a sudden, our little man can hold his head up high when we flip him onto his tummy.
My baby is growing up!
(And I am getting a little sniffly about it.)
Also, captions are welcome.
One of the reasons why I was all miserable and thoroughly depressed was because my kid doesn’t sleep in the day.
Husband used to think it was funny until he experienced it one weekend, when Aidan gave it everything he had. There was all that wailing before he went down for his nap, the waking up 15 minutes later, followed by the WHO DARED TO PUT ME DOWN FOR A NAP crescendo crying. And then rocking/walking/patting/singing/cussing for the next hour (or two. Or three. We lost count.) until the little tyke decided he was finally tired enough to sleep again.
The parquet floor in Aidan’s room is pretty smooth by now.
For many weeks, I dared not leave the house because I kept thinking that I had to get him to sleep. I had to, because all the experts say that babies his age require 16 hours of sleep and he was clearly NOT getting anywhere near that number. I had to, because he would fuss otherwise and I didn’t want to have to put up with his crying in public by myself. I MUST stay at home, because he HAD to sleep in his cot and he HAD to go to sleep drowsy but awake.
I have come to realise that no matter what I do or do not do, my little man will sleep when he can. I CANNOT force him to sleep, no matter how long I pace the room. And if putting him in the Boba wrap or holding him in my arms will put him to sleep, then that’s what I am going to do. He will learn to go to sleep eventually. His naps will consolidate one day. He sleeps awesome at night, without my help, and that’s a fantastic thing. We won’t have to rock/pat/walk him to sleep when he is 18 years old.
And just like that, I became a happier person.
In the past week, I have brought Aidan out for daily evening walks in the stroller. Inevitably, the rolling motion knocks him out and he takes a quick catnap. In fact, he slept long enough for me to power walk to the interchange and buy dinner one evening. I’ve also schlepped him along for errands, met the Squirt for breakfast at Ikea (yummy and cheap!) and attended my first mothers’ group meeting. He would doze off in the wrap and let me enjoy some adult conversation.
And when he was in a snitch because of lack of sleep, I plonked him onto my chest and we both took a nice 45-minute nap in the cool, air-conditioned comfort of the room. When we woke up, he was in a chatty mood and we had a funny conversation about his dream (he dreamt that he was a footballer and scored a hat trick against Manchester City).
No guilt. No expectation.
For the coming week, I am determined to go out at least once a day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stroll in the park or a jaunt to the nearest cafe for a cup of coffee. I’d continue attending mothers’ group, even if I don’t know anyone there. I might hop into town and meet my love for lunch.
In short, I am going to let go of everything that has been preventing me from being happy and enjoying my time with my baby.
Anyone wants to date me?
(Baby not sold separately.)
(Obligatory photo of cute baby, who was all of one week old here.)
Thank you for your kind words in the previous post.
I went through days when the urge to sob uncontrollably would surface every so often. Really, I felt like something was broken in me. I was all prepared to seek professional help, believing that I was suffering from post-partum depression.
Oh no, it wasn’t as bad as what many women went through. I wasn’t suicidal, I didn’t stop loving my son. All I needed throughout the day were little breaks. I would walk away from Aidan, sit down and take a deep breath. When I felt more in control, I would go back to caring for him. And that was how I got through most days. At the same time, I was trying to come to a decision regarding Aidan’s caregiving after my maternity leave ends. I had made a choice that made financial and practical sense but left me unhappy. That contributed to the frustration I was feeling.
But it’s okay. I’m okay. I’m back to being me again. Of course, Mr A’s daytime sleep is still as crappy as ever and it is hugely annoying when he wakes up 10, 30 minutes after I put him down. Oh I have tried everything: drawn curtains, swaddle, white noise, rocker, AC, fan, cot, bed etc. Nothing works. I am pretty convinced that this boy is just not into napping. Gah.
But when this face gazes up at me, how can I stay down?
You guys rock. Thank you.
I’m afraid that I am broken.
I spent much of Friday in dark thoughts and sobbing with my crying baby, who just could not stay asleep, no matter what I did. In the end, I cuddled him and he slept on my chest for two hours.
And then I headed over to the in-laws’ for dinner and all it took was thoughtless and insensitive words spoken and the waterworks begun all over again. I hid in the bathroom as tears rolled down my cheeks. I needed help and I texted the first person I could think of: my godsister.
When I came home, I headed straight for the bathroom and continued sobbing.
Something’s clearly broken inside me and I need to put myself back together again.
I’m afraid that like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put me together again.
But I will be fine.
This, too, shall pass.
One of the things that really get to me during my so-called maternity leave is that it can get awfully lonely during the day.
Picture this: I’m home alone with Aidan all day. If we are not nursing, I am trying my darnest to get him to nap. That can take HOURS, during which he can be screaming the house down. I’m walking, rocking, soothing, singing, patting. And when he finally caves and falls asleep, I heave a sigh of relief and go settle my basic human needs like PEE or SHOWER or EAT. But because the little bugger is such a shitty sleeper, he is up 30 minutes later and I have to shovel the last bit of instant noodles or rice into my mouth and go comfort him. That takes 30 minutes or, hmm, another hour. Maybe TWO. Sometimes it works and he goes back to sleep. Sometimes it doesn’t and we end up wrestling till it’s time for him to have his boob juice again. And then the whole cycle happens all over again. In between, I change his diapers, wipe his ass clean, bathe him, burp him and kiss his cute cheeks.
By the time Mr Thick arrives home, I am exhausted beyond belief and ready to drop the baby into his willing arms.
Rinse, repeat, for the past nine weeks.
It’s not surprising that many women suffer from postpartum depression, really.
These past nine weeks have been like an extended roller coaster ride for me. The highs are rewarding and exhilarating but the lows are debilitating and painful. Some days, I find myself curled up in a fetal position next to my crying child, wondering what I can do to make this go away. When he is fighting sleep for the third hour, I wish he could just close his eyes and slip into slumberland.
And in the past nine weeks, there have been moments when I felt so stupid and anti-intellectual. I don’t know what is happening in the world, my hours and minutes and seconds center around my little man and I haven’t cooked or baked at all.
So no. Maternity leave is not LEAVE at all and it gets me mad when people automatically assume that new moms are having cushy lives.
And motherhood can be a very lonely journey.
At this very moment, you are not yet two months old and I am already typing the letter to you! Compare that to last month’s late letter, well, I say we have improved. Of course, it helps that you are happily napping at the edge of the bed while I am writing this. Erm, okay, it sounds worse than it really is. You woke up from a nap, I held you, my arms got tired, I dumped you on the bed to rest my sore biceps and whoops, you fell asleep. In situations like these, I am all LET SLEEPING BABIES LIE.
These past four weeks have been trying, challenging and enriching for all of us. Sometimes, it feels like parenthood is an elaborate dance: one step forward, two steps back. Just when we thought we had you figured out, something comes along and changes the rhythm. For instance, you were contentedly sleeping for longer stretches at night, requiring only one feed in the wee hours. We were getting better at putting you to sleep.
And then we said hello to the 6-week growth spurt and everything went to pieces. A week later, Wonder Week 5 swung into action and BAM! we were back on that roller coaster ride all over again.
But that’s parenthood. It gets easier but not necessarily better. I still lose my patience with you, when I can’t figure out what is stopping you from sleeping in the day. Your dad still gets mad when you can’t stop crying. But we try and we try to get through to you, hoping that whatever it is we are doing will help you eventually. That you will realize, despite your incessant crying, that we are here for you and we love you very, very much.
We are making progress though, in tiny bits and pieces. Just the other day, you woke up from a nap and stared at me with your beautiful big eyes. I decided to leave the room to get a drink before coaxing you back to sleep and when I returned, you were fast asleep in your cot. You should have seen the mental leap of joy I took.
And oh, the little coos that you are making now! I no longer feel like a babbling idiot, telling you what I am having for lunch and what’s hanging on the wall. You coo and you gaa and you make funny faces at me. And that impish, cheeky smile of yours! These fleeting moments make my day and erase all the frustration and exhaustion instantly.
So yes, it’s getting easier. I feel more confident, more at ease. Most days, I still don’t know what I am doing but I am trusting more in my instincts now. And I am trusting that eventually, you will grow and learn. To sleep. To soothe yourself. To calm down.
You growing up is a bittersweet experience for us. While we are looking forward to the day we can hold a conversation with you, we also cannot believe how fast you are leaving your infancy behind. You were so tiny once and so precious and fragile. We can only take photos and shoot videos as a reminder of what you were once.
Every time I hold you in my arms, I tell myself to breathe in the sweet, sweaty baby smell of you. And when you nurse, I drink in your adorable, drunken expressions. On days when you decide that I am your bed and you sink into deep sleep on my chest, I cuddle you and revel in your small body and cute fetal position.
Because one day, you wouldn’t want to nurse anymore. And you will no longer smell the same. And you will outgrow my chest and sleep ‘properly’ in your crib. You will rather explore the world than to be draped all over me.
And then I will look back and miss all these wonderful moments.
I love you more than I could ever have imagined. Happy two months, baby boy.
Dear 37-weeks pregnant me,
I remember that when the photo for that week was taken, I was so full of joy and excitement. I didn’t know what awaited me, except that I was oh so looking forward to meeting my little man.
I also didn’t know that barely a day after the photo was taken, I would go into labour. Nor that my prayed for labour never happened.
Eight weeks on, I am older and wiser. My life has been taken off its hinges and spun 360 degrees around. It hasn’t settled yet, no, far from it, but at least I feel more or less like myself again. And looking back at the time when I was still pregnant, I wish somebody had told me what I am able to tell you now.
1. Enjoy pregnancy
I was fortunate to have a pretty smooth pregnancy and despite some of the aches and pains, I have tried to stay positive and happy. I loved every moment of being pregnant and if there is one thing that I do regret about the early delivery of Aidan, it would be that I never did enjoy more of my pregnancy.
So treasure that bump. Immerse in every hiccup, every little kick that the baby delivers from within. Sing to baby, dance with him. Imagine and daydream of your life with him.
You will miss being pregnant.
2. Enjoy couplehood
You wouldn’t believe how much parenthood can transform your relationship with husband. It’s been eight weeks and our marriage, while intact, has definitely changed. There are so many things I miss about being just us: going out on a whim, watching a movie together, chatting about politics and other topics not related to baby, sharing details of our day, watching telly together while having our dinner. If somebody had told me that I would give birth to Aidan at merely 37 weeks, I would have done more, luxuriated more in being just the two of us.
At the same time, I am grateful that we made the decision to have a little Hong Kong holiday last December. There were lots of lovely memories and it will forever be a trip to remember.
(Funny how things always happen in Hong Kong for us.)
3. Be open to help
Back then, I was adamant that I could handle everything by myself after birth. How wrong was I, how STUPID, how NAIVE! In the end, I was a complete wreck and right now, the dreadfulness of the first four weeks have become hazy to me. Selective memory, I say. Motherhood is tough shit and the lesson that I have learnt is to never say never to help.
4. Be firm but flexible
The one thing that I love about me is that I research to death and then make my decisions on how I want to lead my life. It’s a strong trait and something that has guided me through many tough times.
I was insistent on hypnobirthing. I was insistent on going drug-free during labour. I was insistent on many things.
We all know how that panned out.
So yes, we can hold on to our beliefs but we cannot be blind to other options as well. Always go with the flow and do not cast decisions in stone.
5. You WILL fit into your clothes again
Honestly, that should be the least of your worries. Right now, I can squeeze into my pre-pregnancy bottoms. There might be an extra kilo here and there but it’s not a big deal. You CAN afford to put on a bit of weight.
Don’t fret. You WILL don those gorgeous frocks again, sooner than you think.
6. Wear your eye bags with pride
You won’t look the same anymore. Those eye bags that you have been desperately wishing away your entire life? THEY WILL GET WORSE.
But it’s okay, if it means that your little man will get all the goodness of the breast milk that you can offer. And nursing is NOT forever. Enjoy it and forget about how shitty you look.
(There’s always Botox.)