Aidan

The first impression

It’s raining babies!
Well, not really. It’s just that in a matter of weeks, we have had two wee ones born to dear friends. I have always had a tendency towards hyperbole.

And I have forgotten how teeny tiny newborns are! And the instant rush of love and affection that you feel towards them, even if they are not yours. Those little noises and the adorable way they stretch…I have missed that. It makes me want to chomp them down. Like siew mai. Or xiaolongbao.

Obviously, I do not miss the crazy ass period when I was up every three hours fulfilling my mudderly duties. Wait a minute, I HAVE been doing that for the past weeks.

Oh, and I made that word up. MUDDERLY. Awesome, innit? Sums up everything.
Repeat after me: MAR-DER-LY. MUDDERLY.

Anyway, amid all that talk among us parents about the first thoughts we had when we laid our eyes on our newly emerged child, it brought me back to that moment when Aidan was dragged out of my cut up body (I know, sounds gory and gross when I put it like that, sensational stories sell afterall).

My first thought was: Aiyoh, not handsome at all, looks like Mr Thick.

Mr Thick’s first words to me: Our son has a lot of hair!

My first text to my cousins on our WhatsApp group chat: Say hi to Aidan! He’s not very handsome, looks like the father, but never mind lah hor.

Clearly, this mama’s eyes, as they say, has stamps pasted on them because LOOK AT THIS BABY. He’s OVERFLOWING WITH TEH CUTENESS.

Should have known better. Any child birthed from my nether regions will never be ugly. Am Fabulously Gorgeous afterall.

What were your first thoughts when you saw your baby for the first time?

Motherhood

No means NO

Sometimes, I feel that in bringing up Aidan, I am constantly battling both sets of grandparents.

Early on, they questioned my decision to breastfeed Aidan and insisted that we should supplement with formula for his own good. This, despite the fact that he was piling on the kilos and hitting his milestones.

Currently, they are on a mission to start Aidan on solids, despite the fact that he is only 4.5 months old. Now that both sets of grandmothers are taking turns to look after the little man in the day while I am at work, they have had a taste of how little he naps and how my days used to be like. Them being them, they jumped to the conclusion that he doesn’t sleep much because he is hungry and breast milk is no longer enough to satisfy his needs. And them being them, they have taken to exerting pressure on us to feed Aidan solids, believing that doing this will improve his sleep.

Complete. Utter. BULLSHIT.

Babies who eat solids (and/or formula, for that matter) are NOT better sleepers. Also, the idea that babies’ appetites for milk increase as they grow is hogwash. For the first six months of their lives, the breast milk intake of babies remain constant; it’s the composition of breast milk that changes to keep up with their needs.

This means that medically, there isn’t any basis for me to feed Aidan solids before he reaches six months.

There are many reasons why breastfeeding Aidan is important to me. For starters, the World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breastfeeding infants for the first six months of their lives, up to two years of age and beyond. And on a personal level, I want to ensure that my baby’s gut flora flourishes.

In a nutshell: babies have an “open gut” up to about six months of age. This is where the space between the cells in the small intestine are large enough for big molecules to move into the bloodstream. While this allows all the antibodies and goodness of breast milk to be absorbed by baby easily, this also means that bad stuff like allergens and pathogens have an easy path too.

The “holes” in the intestines are covered by gut flora, which contain loads of good bacteria and prevents the bad stuff from passing through. Breast milk helps to promote the development of these good bacteria, which inhibits the growth of bad bacteria and improves digestion.

But – and this is a huge BUT – once formula or solid foods enter the system, the entire gut flora is stripped, allowing allergens to flow freely into the bloodstream. Susceptible babies are more likely to suffer from common allergies like asthma and eczema.

(This is not a scientific explanation and here are two in-depth reads.)

Can you blame me for wanting the best for my baby?

Honestly, it irks the shit out of me when well-meaning grandparents try to run our lives. What makes it worse is the lack of appreciation and respect towards me, the mother of their precious grandson. They complain about Aidan’s lack of sleep in the day – have they not realized that this was what I had to deal with, on my own, for 3.5 months? My mother has the helper for company while my mother-in-law has TWO helpers to handle ONE baby.

What’s more, as any working, breastfeeding mom will assure you, pumping milk is one of the more tedious tasks in the world. It really sucks – pardon the pun – to have to take time out to express. And let’s not forget the amount of work required to wash and sterilize the pump parts.

Rather than bemoan the fact that the little man is only on breast milk, how about showing some appreciation to this poor cow here?

I’ve already told both sets of grandparents firmly but politely that we will NOT be introducing the little man to solids until he turns six months. I would tell them to STFU too but unfortunately, that would be a little too much. And it drives me nuts that they are not giving us the space to bring up our child the way we want to.

And this is only the beginning.

Motherhood

Back at work

A pregnant woman has been making the news recently and she is none other than Marissa Mayer, the newly appointed CEO of Yahoo! Mayer has also announced her pregnancy at the same time, stating that she plans to work through her pregnancy and maternity leave.

Honestly, I am not sure why there is such a big deal made about this. Some mothers are just happier when they are not just mothers but also working professionals. If she loves her job and is able to manage both career and family, then great for her. This balance should be seen as a norm and not the exception.

I am not a CEO or some other high powered career woman but speaking from personal experience, I’ve been back at work for the past two weeks and I am really happy to be able to do so.

For the past three and a half months, I had been looking after Aidan by myself in the day. It was tough, one of the toughest things that I have ever done. Being the sole caregiver of a wakeful baby is not easy and I was battling depression, sleep deprivation and a sudden loss of self.

When your days and nights revolve around a little being, it can feel awfully claustrophobic. Suddenly, I felt as if I had lost myself even as I was thrown headlong into the role of a “mom”. Instead of sipping tea and reading Frankie, I was changing poopy diapers and willing a wailing baby to sleep. I barely had time to pee and have lunch, let alone get onto the mat for a yoga session. Immersed in being a mother to my baby, I stopped doing things that I used to, pre-baby.

On hindsight, I became a shadow of the person that I used to be.

Of course, I could have left A in the care of my mother or mother-in-law and take a few hours off to do “me” things. But I’m built like a stubborn mule. I felt that A was my responsibility and I didn’t want to palm him off to someone else other than his father (now, that happened a lot!).

And so, for the duration of my maternity leave, Aidan and I were practically joined at the hip. Wherever I go, there he will be. I don’t regret that, I enjoyed my stint as a pseudo stay-at-home-mom and every moment spent with my little man was precious.

But now that I am back in the office, I do feel a sense of liberation. I can have a leisurely lunch with my colleagues and NOT talk about the baby (much). I’ve started popping into the gym during my lunch hour for classes. I’m planning my lessons for the next semester and feel confident and happy.

Best of all, I can do all these things and not suffer from Acute Mom Guilt.

Before I gave birth to the little man, I entertained notions of becoming a SAHM, But having gone through four months of that, I can scratch that idea off. I like being at work, I enjoy earning my keep, I like putting on pretty clothes and makeup and having big people conversations. Some women, like myself, are just happier to wear other hats apart from the MOTHER and WIFE ones.

And a happier me means that Aidan will have a happier mother.

Geek Girl

The emperor’s new clothes

It’s really of no surprise that I get bored of my blog’s theme pretty often. I mean, I get bored of my wardrobe on a regular basis, to husband’s chagrin.

But he, being the wonderful, loving partner that he is, indulges in my whims. And this is why my blog has a new outfit – the good man bought me a new theme!

Between work and the little man, I have precious little time and energy to fiddle with it right now so it looks a little threadbare at the moment. I love tinkering with CSS and HTML stuff (basics, please) and it will take a little while before this place looks more me.

Pardon this minimalist look while I go about fixing it and in the meantime, if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Aidan, Motherhood

Gah! No sleep!

Just when I was congratulating myself for having a kid that sleeps mightily fine at night, His Royal Potatoness threw us all into a zombified loop by waking up in A Royal Fuss every two hours.

That’s Every. Two. Freaking. Hours.

I’ve just been smitten (no, not the coffee place, more of, like,being thumped heartily) by the God of Infant Sleep.

So yes, it looks like we’ve been hit by the infamous 4 month sleep regression. Or it could be due to his approaching Wonder Week 19. Whatever. Along with his epic 20-minute naps, he now sleeps like crap at night too. Whee. Good times.

The two things saving my sanity: co-sleeping and breastfeeding. Oh, all the parenting sites/books will tell you that I’m breeding a co-dependent, whiny child who will never grow out of these bad habits blah blah blah. I haven’t seen an 18-year-old kid needing to go to sleep by nursing (EWW) so there. I need my sleep and if sticking a boob into my crying baby’s mouth is going to work then so be it.

WHATEVER WORKS.

Posting will understandably be light for a while.

Oh wait. I am back at work! That means I can stil blog. Yay! Guess you’ll be hearing from me soon.

Sleeping beauty

Once upon a time, there was a baby who napped like an angel. And then he simply stopped. The end.

PS: that’s my boo boo at 10 days old. ❤

Aidan

Boo boo grows

From this:

…to this:

I can never tire of marveling at his development and growth.

Poor darling though. All along, he’s been one misunderstood potato! Here I am, thinking that my baby is a chunkster when his weight (6.5kg) actually puts him at the 25th percentile. Oops. I suppose it doesn’t help that he is in the 10th percentile for height. Stumpy little fellow.

Wonder where he got that from. Can’t be me, obviously, as am Fabulously Gorgeous with supermodel long limbs.

Aidan, Two of Us

Matchy matchy

We usually don’t do cheesy things like wear matching clothes but ah well, love makes us do stupid things.

These Threadless tees were procured a couple of months before Aidan was born with the sole intention of looking all matchy matchy at the little man’s first month party. Mr A’s newborn onesie has long since been stashed away – I have grand plans of framing it up.

Also, I suppose it’s logical to assume that I am the cow in the picture. That makes husband the…chicken?

Aidan

4 months of Aidan

Dear Aidan,

How is it that four months have zoomed on by so quickly? It seems like only yesterday that I was cradling you on my chest for the first time.

How did you get so big so fast?

Oh yes, you are a hefty one. Your dada and I were just reminiscing about how we could carry you with just one hand once upon a time. Now, putting you down for a nap can put my arm to sleep. Back then, you draped lightly over my chest during those late night feeds. Now, your neck is strong enough for you to guide yourself towards the food source, although your aiming still needs work. It’s kinda funny, actually, to see you bobbing your head forward, trying to go for the nipple but failing.

Speaking of nursing, you are quite the acrobat these days. It’s not uncommon for you to pop your head off, arch backward and stare at my Muji aromatherapy diffuser (which doubles up as a night light). Sometimes, you smile and babble to it as if it’s your friend. It would be funny if it wasn’t happening SO MANY TIMES in ONE feed.

Also, ouch.

Just the other day, you discovered your laugh. We were sending Por Por home and I was just holding you up and praising you for being a good boy when you started chuckling! And you continued chortling for a while as I carried on singing your praises.

It was simply electrifying, that moment. All three of us were smiling broadly and I am pretty sure our hearts were bursting with joy and pride.

That’s a first for mama to savour. Thank you for sharing it with me.

At the same time, though, you have also learnt to complain. It literally happened overnight, right after your latest developmental leap. You started going “ah bu bu bu” in this mellow tone with a little frown between your eyebrows and saliva bubbles bursting out from your rosebud lips. We’d repeat it after you and you would respond in an even more animated manner, your frown deepening. Oh dear.

The past month has been so joyous that I can’t help but feel a little sad that our days together are ending. I will be going back to work next week and you will be with your grandmas during the day. You have no idea how much that gnaws at my heart, how much I will miss our days together while I am at work.

The way you babble contentedly to yourself in the cot while waiting for someone to get you in the morning. The huge grin that breaks over your face when you see me peeping over the cot and saying “Good morning, sunshine!” to you. The sweet breathy baby voice of yours as you chat up a storm next to me in bed while I try to sneak in a few more minutes of sleep. The drowsy fog that envelops us as we nurse. The tentative yet vigorous way you kick your legs in the bathtub when I tell you to “splash!”. The cosiness as you nap on my chest in the air-conditioned comfort of the bedroom. The conversations we have once we wake up from the nap.

In the past four months, you have taught me so much about life. There’s a humility in me now that never existed before. You’ve toughened me up, made me a much wiser person and allowed me to grow along with you. Though the early days were painful and dealt a mind blowing shock to my system, I have appreciated every single minute of our journey together.

And every day, as I kiss the top of your head and breathe in that unique baby scent of yours, I thank the big guy above that you are here and you are ours.

Happy four months, baby. I love you so very much.

Love, mama

Everything Else, Photography

Gardens by the Bay

This week being my last week of maternity leave, I was keen to do something with my mama before I head back to work. Coincidentally, she was ‘on leave’ from her full-time job as caregiver to my nephew since the sista and her family are currently holidaying in Melbourne. My mom loves all things flora and requested to check out the newly opened Bay South Garden of the Gardens by the Bay so off we went on Tuesday afternoon.

It being a weekday, the garden was thankfully free from crowds. This meant that we could stroll at leisure and take our own sweet time in taking pictures (and plenty of parking lots for me!). Since I was carting the little man around with me, we decided to skip the paid conservatories and just focus on the exterior gardens.

The rain in the morning made the weather blissfully perfect for strolling outdoors. It wasn’t humid but was cool and sunny. Which was fabulous because towards the end, Mr A needed to nap and he would not do so in the stroller, which meant he had to go into the Boba baby wrap.

As a new mother, I very much appreciated the availability of nursing rooms littered around the grounds. Plus, the architects had incorporated lifts and wide, gentle slopes into the design, which meant that it was very wheelchair- and stroller-friendly. I could pop Aidan into our monster of a stroller – the UppaBaby Vista – and still have an easy time maneuvering it.

I loved, loved, loved the open space and it was like a piece of serenity in the middle of our bustling city-state. The gardens is a gorgeous, carefully designed piece of art and the view was, of course, spectacular. We enjoyed exploring the grounds and finding different angles to the same sight. And when we were tired, there were benches thoughtfully placed on the grounds for us to rest our aching feet.

After dinner, we were treated to a delightful light show at the Supertree Grove. Unfortunately, because it was way past the little man’s bedtime, we left before it concluded.

All in all, it was a wonderful day spent with my mama. The only thing that marred the experience was a terrible tea break at the Hill Street Coffee Shop. We got there slightly after 4:30pm hoping to get a cup of tea and some toast to fill our tummies but was told that the kitchen had stopped serving bread at 4:30pm since the bread menu was only meant for breakfast. HUH. The only food available were heavy (and overpriced) items like rice and noodles. Worse, my iced teh-si was watered down and bland and cost me a princely $2.20. What kind of lousy coffee shop is this? AVOID.

(More photos here.)