Motherhood, Werk

The work/family dilemma

Officially, my maternity leave ended on Sunday and I should have been back at work on Monday. But at the point in time when I was making a decision regarding work, I chose to take an additional two weeks off to spend with my little man.

Initially, I was toying with the idea of resigning and caring for him full-time, or work part-time. Like many mothers who work, I was loathed to place my son with caregivers five days a week while I worked. I wanted more time to spend with my baby, I wanted to be with him, I wanted the opportunity to watch him grow and develop. It was especially poignant to me because given our circumstances and our difficulty-ridden journey to become parents, I felt that this could be my one and only chance to spend time with perhaps my one and only child.

I may never have the chance to baby another baby.

And yet, I was torn. I love Aidan, don’t get me wrong, he is the light and joy in my life. But I also enjoy what I do. I like interacting with the kids, I like having adult conversation with someone other than my husband on a daily basis. Plus, part-time work would mean half the pay with the same workload. And more importantly, I was doing well and I know that this was a role I could grow in.

In the end, practicality won out and I made the decision to go back to work full-time. It was a no-brainer, really: we needed that full income; Aidan would be in good hands; I wanted to give myself the chance to see if this is a career I can shine in. And I know that I will be a better and happier mother by continuing to work full-time.

But a part of me feels…sad. I wish I could be there for Aidan when he flips or crawls for the first time, or takes his first step, or says his first word. I know that my heart will die a little when his caregivers share with me about his milestones that happened while I am at work. I know that this perennial debate between family and work will rear its head every now and then. I know that I will question my decision each and every time Aidan does something new.

Looking on the bright side though, I’m glad that I have a job that allows me to leave on time. That means I can be home with Aidan before seven every weekday, a luxury many working parents don’t have. We can have our own routines in the mornings and at nights, and there are always weekends to spend with my little family.

And even if I can’t be there with him for his milestones first, we can create our very own firsts.

The first time he swims. The first time he tastes chocolate. The first time he calls me mama. The first time he plays with sand. The first time he takes the plane. The first time he sees the beautiful sunrise. The first time he kisses me. The first time he plays with the cats.

There are endless firsts that we can have together as a family and I am looking forward to making these memories. As a working mother. For now.


Carpenter and Cook

Thanks to Rachel, I knew of Carpenter and Cook before it opened.

The concept was intriguing and especially alluring to me: a cafe and vintage shop rolled into one. Sheer, utter perfection.

And so, last week saw me heading to this lovely nook three times. The first time was on the shop’s opening day, which was packed with friends and family members of the three lady bosses. Then, the Squirt mentioned that she was keen to check it out so I hopped onto a cab and met her, as well as Miss Ene and her bff there. Last Saturday, we were off dropping stuff into the donation boxes of Praisehaven when the very astute husband asked if I wanted to go back.

I married the right man, I really did.

What I loved: the whimsical, mismatched interiors, the fact that everything you sit on/drink/eat from can be purchased, the lovingly made savoury treats and that charming trip down memory lane. What’s more, I think it’s amazing that this shop is the shared dream of three young ladies, who worked hard to turn it into reality. How many of us can say that we fulfilled our dreams?

I am not exaggerating when I say that I want to buy up everything from the shop. I love, LOVE vintage.


Maybe a typewriter for our wedding anniversary, oh wonderful, delightful, loving husband of mine?

Carpenter and Cook

Interior of Carpenter and Cook

Latte and passionfruit meringue tart from Carpenter and Cook

Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate tart from Carpenter and Cook

Lemon Cream Tart from Carpenter and Cook

And no writeup is complete these days without a photo of our little man. Oh heck, let’s make it two photos.

Aidan approves of Carpenter and Cook

Aidan at Carpenter and Cook

Mr A clearly likes Carpenter and Cook too, like his mama.

Oh and that chair that he is sitting on in the second picture? Costs a cool $1,200.

Carpenter & Cook
19 Lorong Kilat #01-06
Tel: 6463 3648

Aidan, Motherhood

The bugbear named Sleep

Ah, sleep. The love of my life (sorry, husband) and the bane of my life (sorry, son).

As you probably already know by now, from my uterus came forth a son who does not nap. Well, he used to, until he simply didn’t. Those days of him happily snoozing for an hour or more in the day are over. OVER. DEAD AND GONE. On good days, I can get him to go down for two or three naps of 30 minutes each. On bad days, he simply will not sleep. WILL. NOT. SLEEP. His built-in height sensor kicks in automatically and he screams bloody murder if we even attempt to put His Royal Potatoness down onto his cot.

To get him to nap, I have to resort to tricks: placing him onto my chest (which is fast losing its effectiveness), sticking the boob into his mouth (works 50 percent of the time), holding him in my arms (works for about 10 minutes), going out with him in the stroller (works until the stroller stops) and stuffing him into the Boba baby wrap and going out for a walk (WORKS! WORKS!).

I have long since given up trying to rehabilitate him, I don’t think it’s something that we can fix. And thanks to the wisdom of Moxie and her readers, I’ve learnt that some babies are just not natural nappers. Short of sleep training him, there is nothing I can do except wait it out.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a painful process. Some days, it’s frustrating and I find myself circling the little garden at our estate a gazillion times just so he can sleep for a bit more in the stroller. Or I’d be pacing the floor of the bedroom, hoping against hope that he will doze off. It takes a lot of self-preservation and positivity to ignore the crying and get a grip.

It’s hard.

And now that I am going back to work soon, I am starting to worry about how my mother will handle a wakeful baby, on top of having to take care of a rambunctious toddler. Sure, we have hired a helper to give her an additional pair of eyes and hands but it’s not going to be easy.

I can say that I wish Aidan is an easy baby when it comes to sleep but I won’t, simply because he makes me a grateful mama on so many other levels. He’s a happy baby most of the time, when he isn’t fighting naps (or the lack of) and he is chatty and fun. He’s good when out with us and has been so fantastic when it comes to nursing. And more importantly, he is HERE. He is MY son.

Perhaps we will sleep train him in future, perhaps we won’t. Right now, I am just gritting my teeth and praying that we will get through the 4-month sleep regression in one piece.

Ah, sleep.

Health Goddess, The organised chaos

The long and winding road

This morning, I received some bad news.

A dear friend of mine, who has been on the same infertility journey as I have been, found out that her latest IVF attempt had failed. When the text came in, I was sitting on our bed, playing with our little man. He had been crying and I was trying to make him laugh by pulling him up from a reclining position to a sitting one. It was a hot morning, the air-conditioning wasn’t switched on and his hair was matted to his head. He hadn’t had his bath yet and carried that slightly sour, sweaty but still oh so wonderful smell. Husband had just stepped out from the bathroom and was smiling at the sight of his wife entertaining the little one.

I read the text and my heart fell, remembering that feeling of the world shattering down upon me only too well. I thought about their past struggles and the heartbreaks that they had been through. I thought about how much they deserve their slice of happiness too. I thought about how that used to be us and how we are no longer on that exhausting, pain-riddled road.

I closed my eyes and kissed the top of Aidan’s head. I breathed in the smell of him and told him that I love him, that he was the miracle in my life.

Because he is indeed a miracle.

Nobody, nobody would have ever imagined that we would be where we are today. If you had told me a year ago that I would be cuddling a baby everyday – MY BABY – I would have laughed in your face. I was broken, and I was trying to pick up the pieces and move on. In my most terrible nightmare, I believed that I was destined not to have a child.

And here we are today.

What had kept me going was the belief that things happen for a reason, and that everything had its time and place. I don’t know why they have to go through these trials and tribulations but I believe that they will get their happily ever after.

I just know it.

Aidan, Motherhood

Out and about with baby

Ever since I snapped out of my pessimism and depression over staying at home alone with a baby, I have found myself hitting the streets with baby strapped onto me every single day.

Before I was a mom, I already knew that babywearing was the way to go, having seen how mobile and independent my girlfriends were. Is it any wonder, then, that somehow I ended up with three different baby carriers? Oops. Somebody call the babywearing police!

My first carrier is a Pupsik pouch sling, thoughtfully gifted to me by Yuling. She herself had loved the pouch when R was a little girl and thought that I would like it too. Unfortunately, Mr A had other thoughts. He wasn’t particularly happy at being stuffed into the pouch, loudly articulating his objections, three out of five times. But now that he is older and has stronger neck muscles (and is super duper kaypoh to boot), I have been carrying him in the front carry mode. He loves swiveling his head to check out the environment, the cheeky little bugger.

BUT. Because the weight is distributed over one shoulder, it isn’t great for times when I am running around town by myself for a long period of time. I mean, my little man’s chubby cheeks alone probably weigh a full kilogram.

The next carrier we have is a Beco Butterfly 2, a soft structured carrier. Again a recommendation by babywearing advocate Yuling, this has become husband’s go-to carrier. It’s easy to adjust, distributes the weight equally on our backs and shoulders and has pretty patterns to boot. Obviously, aesthetics has EVERYTHING to do with our choice. I picked the Ginger design and the man was all, JUST GIMME THE THING, I DON’T CARE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.

Love the man.

I hardly use the Beco these days because I find it a little bulky for Mr A at this moment. He still needs the infant insert and looks dwarfed by it.

Enter the Boba Baby Wrap.

This is, hands down, my favorite carrier. It’s simply a long piece of stretchy fabric that you wrap around yourself, slipping baby in between the folds. It’s easy to wear, lightweight, distributes the weight evenly and best of all, Aidan ALWAYS sleeps in the carrier. This was a recommendation by our friends, whose little girl is just as wakeful as Aidan is.

These days, I pull on the wrap, tuck Aidan in and dash out of the house with our diaper bag and onto buses, trains. No heavy strollers to pack and unpack into car boots, just me and my little man on public transport. When he is fussy, I simply pull him out and sit him on my lap while having a conversation with my companions. And when he needs to nurse, I unravel the wrap and put it back on again when it’s time to go (I haven’t figured out how to breastfeed with him in the wrap but it can be done). That can be a little troublesome as it’s a very, very, VERY long piece of fabric but it’s not a deal breaker. After a tumble in the washer, the wrap is as good as new.

In due time though, when Aidan is bigger, I would probably switch to the Beco. But right now, the wrap is awesome and perfect for me and him.

Two of Us

To my son’s father

Thank you for getting up every single time to soothe our baby when he fusses at night, just so I can sleep, even though you have to go to work in the day.

Thank you for taking charge of nighttime diaper duty.

Thank you for playing the role of a pseudo single parent during weekends so that I can have the time and space to breathe.

Thank you for the kisses and murmurs of reassurance after all those middle of the night feeds.

Thank you for putting our little man to bed every night.

Thank you for picking us up and sending us home everyday when we are out.

Thank you for thanking me everyday.

More importantly, thank you for being such a devoted, loving, hands-on father.
I’ve always believed that you would be a good father.
Now, I know that you are a great father.

Happy fathers’ day, my love.


Smitten by Smitten

I am a boring person. Once I find something that I like, I keep going back to it over and over again.

The same books. The same magazines. The same dishes. The same hair stylist. The same brands of clothes.

And once I discovered Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar – thanks to the recommendation of Yuling – I find myself wanting to go back there again. And again.

I like the unpretentious vibe of the place. The cosy and intimate set up. The friendly people running the joint. The good coffee. The delicious cupcakes from Plain Vanilla Bakery (hazelnut is my choice of poison). The fact that I can sit there for hours, and feel comfortable and at ease.

Is it any wonder why it’s the first place I think of when I am craving a good cup of java?

Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar
The Quayside
60 Robertson Quay #01-11
t: 98762347

Aidan, Letters to

3 months of Aidan

Dear baby boy,

The past month has been nothing short of amazing for me. Yes, I still struggle with your lack of naps. There are times when I doubt myself and wonder if there was anything I had done wrongly to lead to this. I wonder if I could have tried harder to instil a routine in your life. I wonder if I should have worked harder at making you an independent sleeper.

But I am learning to let it all go. I have done everything I could possibly have. All I can do now is to hope that this is a phase that you will outgrow and work around this quirk of yours.

And I have been so much happier since! True to my word, I have taken you out of the house every single day. We have gone for walks around the neighbourhood, had breakfast at Ikea, chilled at Raffles City, shopped at Orchard Road, explored Tiong Bahru, attended mothers’ group and visited Daddy in his office. You’ve been an absolute angel, sleeping soundly in the Boba wrap and nursing under the poncho that Aunty Yuling had thoughtfully passed to Mommy. When we meet up with Mommy’s friends, you turn on the charm, smiling and ‘chatting’ to them.

Oh the chatting! How you love to talk! The mornings are magical. You wake up grouchy from hunger but once fed, you turn into a chatterbox. You babble in that sweet, breathy baby voice of yours and smile with such unadulterated joy. Once, after a middle of the night feed in the midst of your 3-month growth spurt, we put you between us in our bed, fully expecting you to crash into exhausted sleep as we were intending to but no. You started talking out loud, as if you were having an animated conversation with, hmm, the ceiling lamp? It would have been hilarious, if not for the fact that we were dead tired!

(For the record, you only fell asleep after I ‘force fed’ you. Don’t ask how.)

These days, you seem to finally recognize that I am your mama and not just a pair of milk taps. Your eyes follow me and you turn your cute, over large head to keep me in your sight. You cry rather loudly and sadly when I leave you to attend to my human needs and you reserve your cheeriest smile for me.

I look at you and I think back to that night when I realized that we were expecting. That positive pee stick, the little blob on the ultrasound – it was you. And now here you are, lying sweetly in my arms. How surreal.

And I’ve been doing my best to remember all these little moments with you: the peaceful sigh you emit right before you sleep; the way you stare at your legs and move them around, trying to piece together the fact that those chubby things are YOURS; how you suck at your fist loudly and enthusiastically and then cry when you move it away unwittingly; your big smiles and the energetic way you wriggle your body when I sing to you; your puppy eyes and pout right before you bawl.

All the mamas told me that the first three months of your life are the hardest and that it gets better. They were right. This IS such an amazing, fun and wonderful period in your life and I feel so privileged (albeit really, REALLY tired) to be sharing it with you. I am going to be missing you so terribly when I go back to work.

How I love you. I love, I love, I love you.

Your mama