Bun in oven, Letters to

Soon enough

Dear Two,

Sometimes, I wish that my belly comes with a built-in camera.

You see, mama here is awful with all things spatial. While the doctor was able to tell us of your position simply by gently touching my tummy – you are currently engaged and in the most optimum position for a vaginal birth, and that’s unlikely to change, he said – I can never really picture you in that position. I know that your head is down in the pelvic cavity, your back is curved somewhere around the middle-left of my belly and your legs are tucked inwards. Which is why I won’t feel your legs kicking, the good doctor said.

But try as I may, I can’t seem to imagine it. How is it that you are in that position and I can feel your movements all the way to the sides? Was that your hand? How does it feel to be you right now? Why is it that when you hiccup, I feel the motions on my right?

How I wish I could see through the layers of skin, flesh and muscle to see what on earth you are up to in there! And how I wish you have the ability to tell me all of this!

It’s pretty cool though. I’ve always loved the movements of my babies in my belly. The notion that I am incubating my little ones is a powerful one, and a memory that I will always hold very dearly.

As they say, every baby is different and so every pregnancy is different too. Aidan was a cheeky, squirmy baby who was always on the move. I used to call him the in-utero human circus act. He would respond so vigorously to the food I eat, the caffeine I imbibe and the words that I say.

You, on the other hand, have calmer and more measured movements. Right before I go to sleep at night is when you are most active. And you most definitely respond to your brother’s words and touch. Which is super, super cute.

I don’t expect the two of you to be best of friends, I think that is asking for too much. But I really hope that you will be each other’s pillar of strength, guidance and encouragement.

And most importantly, I hope that both of you will always have each other’s back, no matter what. One day, both your papa and I will no longer be around and it will just be you and him in this world.

Just the other day, something hilarious happened. Mama was in the loo, emptying what needed to be emptied. Suddenly, the bathroom door opened and your brother walked in.

“Aidan, mama poo poo,” I said.

He ignored me completely, of course. He walked straight to me, lifted up my shirt, and then leaned in to rub his cheek against my belly.

It was the sweetest moment. And the oddest too. I mean, I was sitting on the loo.

“Aidan,” I repeated gently. “Mama poo poo.”

He looked at me, pulled my shirt down and promptly walked out of the bathroom. I sat there laughing at the hilarity of it, and shed a silent tear of love.

This boy, he has the biggest, warmest heart and I have no doubt that he will love you oh so very much.

As do we all, Two, as do we all.

Almost 39 weeks, my darling. It’s going to be a crazy ride when you get here. Be gentle with us, be patient with us. We’d figure this out together: you, me, papa and your gor gor.

Love you to the moon and back (already),
mama

Aidan insisted on taking a photo with “baby” (and yes, I was wearing pants)
Aidan

A quick note for my memory

We’ve hit 38 weeks and I’m just so physically tired these days. But it’s all good – everything that we need for Two’s arrival has been put in place and I’m finally, I think, ready for him/her to be here.

At the same time, I am also relishing in the company of my first-born. Knowing that his life could change any moment now, I have been spending as much time with him as possible. And I try to dole out cuddles, hugs and kisses to him as often as he will let me.

And oh, my little man. He’s simply been amazing so far. At almost 27 months, he is the most delightful little person to be around.

Sure, there are the usual tantrums and occasional outbursts. But we’ve always managed to smooth things over without losing our temper or resorting to shouting. And I don’t say that to show that we are model parents.

No, on the contrary, it’s because of his temperament. Aidan is a sweet, gentle, warm and loving toddler. When he doesn’t get what he wants, he cries. But he never gets unreasonable, we’ve always been able to make him see sense somehow.

He says the funniest things and is so full of love and affection to those around him, even when we are stern with him and tell him, no you cannot have another Oreo cookie. Maybe I am biased because I am his mother but man, this boy makes me laugh EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Just this evening, we were in the car heading home after dinner. The Pretenders was on the radio and Chrissie Hynde was belting out a song. And, typical of my little man, he asked for a change of song.

“Can you wait until we get home?” I asked.
“No!” he insisted. “I want the ‘aunty song’.”
(‘Aunty song’ = Regina Spektor’s Fidelity. I know, poor Regina Spektor.)
“But this is also aunty singing,” replied husband.
“No, I want the aunty song,” said A indignantly.
“But this is also an aunty song.”
“No papa, this is uncle singing.”
“No Aidan, this is an aunty.”
Poor Aidan. He sounded genuinely perplexed when he answered, “No, this is an uncle.”

My beautiful boy. How I love you. You are a joy to behold and we are so lucky, lucky, lucky to have you. I hope that you will never lose this spark, this gentle sweetness, and this kindness. You are just so easy to love and I pray that you will always, always be like this.

Bun in oven, The organised chaos

Crossing 37+3

Not too long ago, I delivered my firstborn after a rather short gestation period of 37 weeks and 3 days.

It wasn’t a Hallmark delivery, clearly. I laboured for 18 hours before being wheeled into the operating theatre for an emergency Caesarean. Much of my time in the hospital was spent in nightmarish conditions. And while I had accepted that this was my son’s birth, I have always wondered at the back of my mind if it happened because my labour was mis-managed.

And now that I have crossed this milestone with Two today, I could feel myself heave a silent sigh of relief. It’s like checking one item off my list of worries.

There’s been a lot going on and I haven’t been able to slow down to catch my breath. Work is crazy busy and I am chugging on full steam ahead until next Friday, right before I head into week 39. My schedule is packed EVERY SINGLE DAY with lessons and meetings and commitments. In fact, I am booked for eight solid hours next Monday, with only an hour’s break for lunch.

Sometimes, I wonder if I was crazy to think that I could carry on a full load till the end.

But I am trying my best.

It’s hard, though, trying to juggle work and home, on top of being heavily pregnant. So much to think about.

Have I packed adequately for my hospital bag?
Two still doesn’t have any diapers.
Will Aidan be alright with the transition?
Hopefully we have made the right choice with our new helper.
How are we going to cope with the costs?
Is Two doing okay? Will he/she be too big/small?
I need that VBAC to happen, I really do.
I don’t know if I can last till next week.
I just want to stay at home and sleep.

Just yesterday, I had a meltdown. A was non too cooperative at dinner time and I just about had enough. It wasn’t his fault, frankly, he was just being a two-year-old trying to make sense of the world but I was just done. When husband came home, I went into the bedroom and allowed myself a little cry.

He took over the nightly routine and hauled the little man to bed. I continued to lie down, and texted my girlfriend for some moral support.

(Thank goodness for girlfriend. She gets me every single time, she lets me ramble on about my fears and my anxiety without interruption or being judgemental/patronising/sanctimonious, and then she makes me laugh. And it’s pretty awesome that all our kids are/will be of the same age!)

I hadn’t realised just how heavy my emotional load has been and I needed that outlet to let it all out.

So yes, it’s been 37 weeks and 3 days. We have gone past that and fingers crossed that Two will continue to stay inside until he/she is ready to be here with us. In the meantime, I’m taking a deep breath and living one day at a time.

Health Goddess

The long goodbye

Just the other day, I went through the contents of my bedside drawers.

It’s a simple Muji chest of drawers. The topmost drawer contains my toiletries like a box of tissue, lip balm and assortment of body lotions. The one below it holds my essential oils. The third one holds odds and ends like light bulbs and power plugs.

It is the last drawer that I have not had the – for a lack of a better word – guts to clear out. This last drawer had once held my hopes and dream, and was also the home to my pain. It contained my Puregon injection pen, the remaining needles, cartridges, syringes and alcohol swabs. They were neatly stored in a little bag, left untouched since I discovered that I was expecting Aidan. My books on fertility and IVF were also housed there.

I never threw them out. I suppose at the back of my mind, I always thought that I would have to rely on them once again. You can say that even though I left infertility behind me as I embarked on the journey of becoming a mum, infertility has never left me.

Even when we were hoping to add to the family, my subconscious was preparing me for the jabs and hormonal lows all over again. We went through blood tests again. I didn’t dare to go through the drawer or put them into the bin because I believed that I would most likely be using them again. I was being pessimistic and pragmatic at the same time, let’s just say, and I didn’t want to have to go through the whole cycle of trying and hoping and then having my dreams fall flat on me all over again.

And then Two came along, unexpectedly. Which left us as gobsmacked as when we first discovered that Aidan was conceived.

And yet it has taken me 36 weeks to finally clear out that drawer and throw everything out.

Like I said, infertility has never left me and I don’t think it ever will.

Because, you see, every time I look at Aidan, I marvel at the child that he has become, the blessing that he has been, the bonus that we have never expected to receive. Things could have gone oh so differently indeed, we never take that fact for granted.

Even with Two, I feel exactly the same way. Look, pregnancy is physically hard for most of us. But I also know that being pregnant is a privilege, something that many women long for but may not attain. So I always remind myself that I have no business complaining about how tough it is when there are others who would literally die to be in my shoes.

We remember. All the time.

There are still so many of us struggling out there. And every time I hear their stories, my heart breaks a little. Because I have been there, I know what it’s like and I know how fucking painful it can be. I remember crying in the bathroom, crying in my sleep, crying when watching TV. I remember not wanting to go near a pregnant woman because I hated that they are glowing and that I was so bitter. I remember how I could only confide in a few girlfriends because they were going through the same journey as I was and they were the only ones who truly, truly understood.

Nothing like infertility to bind you together, really.

I don’t know if anyone is still reading this blog, since I got pregnant and became all bright and shiny (HA HA HA). But if you are someone who chanced upon this place while goggling “infertility Singapore”, know that there is someone who is thinking of you and praying that you will get your happily ever after – no matter what form it takes.

Bun in oven

One versus Two

The difference between Aidan and Two
The difference between Aidan and Two

Is it me or does Two look a tad bigger than his/her older brother?

Anyhow, I feel more like a whale this time around. I think it’s because I have put on more weight than I did with Aidan!

(I also put in two separate online orders of a grand total of – DRUMROLL PLEASE – FOUR SKIRTS. For myself. I don’t even know if I am ever going to fit into them. Maybe my child-bearing hips – HAR HAR HAR – will stay with me FOREVA!)

But thankfully, I am physically more agile with Two than I was before. I can still rush between classes, climb stairs with relative ease and the aches don’t shoot down my bum anymore.

In the meantime, I am thankful that I have escaped the whole “wake up to pee in the middle of the night” plague once again. And thanks to the ministrations of Mr Thick every night before I turn in, I don’t get woken up by leg cramps either.

Confession: I get him to knead my calves, feet and butt even on the nights when my legs feel fine. Precautions, you see. Look, for all the physical discomfort that I am putting up with, a mere 10-minute massage of my legs is absolutely nothing. NOTHING, I tell ya.

Arts & Entertainment

Imaginary Friends by Melanie Lee

I first heard about Melanie Lee‘s whimsical and sardonic e-book Imaginary Friends: 26 Fables for the Kid in Us a year ago. But I didn’t grab a copy then because, frankly speaking, I had neither the energy nor the time to read then.

The e-book has since then transformed into print and Melanie kindly offered me a complimentary copy – how could I say no? So during the weekend, when the little man was napping and the chores were done, I sat down for the first time in a long, long while and read the book.

As I plunged into the stories, I started smiling at first, and then laughed out loud. I love that the highly satirical stories were not explicitly funny, at least not in the crass HAHAHA sort of way. Rather, they were out of the world, ridiculously imaginative and exudes a sense of humour that is hilariously dry. I must admit, though, that there were a few tales that were lost on me and which ended oddly to me. But by and large, I enjoyed the stories very much and loved the truth and wit behind them.

I mean, you cannot disagree when the moral of the story is “in the hustle and bustle of life, we all could do with more sleep”, can you?

At the same time, the stories were superbly matched by the illustrations of Arif Rafhan, a Malaysian-based artist. He had taken the characters created by Mel and given them a visual identity that was so distinctive and, well, sort of mad. The characters have bulging eyes, thick lips and slightly bloated, misshapen bodies – not quite cute and yet oddly endearing. My favourite of the lot is Elly the Egotistical Eraser: what a badass she is!

I will definitely grab a few copies of Imaginary Friends as gifts to friends who may be in need of a good tale (or 26).

You can connect with Mel and Imaginary Friends on Facebook or grab your copy at Books Kinokuniya and MPH Bookstores for $10.80. You can also purchase it at BooksActually or from its online store.

Bun in oven

Friday, it’s coming!

Oh boy, it’s been one of those weeks.

My work week usually starts off with a 6-hour teaching day and I am always, always so drained by the end of it. And then I’d be slumped on the sofa, wondering why I was crazy enough to think that I can teach all the way until I pop this baby out.

So yeah, I think I am kinda exhausted.

Everyone’s been asking me when I am due, and when I tell them that I have under five weeks to go, they look a little surprised. Some tell me that my belly looks too small for that gestation period and I always wonder why people think that it’s perfectly okay to tell an expectant lady that. And when they find out that we don’t know the sex of the baby, they look even more startled and decide to offer me their (unsolicited) guesses.

So far, we have had guesses ranging from boy to girl to boy to girl. Some say it’s a boy because my belly is pointy. Some say it’s a boy because my belly is round. Some say it’s a girl because I don’t look awful. Some say it’s a girl because my belly looks like a girl belly.

Mmmkay. We shall find out in due time. 😉

But it’s all good so far. Two has definitely piled on the pounds recently – I can’t speak without going all breathless now and my stomach has shrunk drastically! He/She seems to be a little lower too, I can now feel the squiggly wriggly movements low on my pelvis. The Braxton-Hicks contractions are definitely increasing in both frequency and intensity – the doctor did warn me that these will be more painful the second time around.

We’ve been going for our fortnightly checks at Dr T’s and Aidan has enjoyed every single visit. Every night, he would pull out that rubber tubing that came with the air pump that we use for his swimming floats, hang it around his neck and tell us that he wants to “scan the baby”. He then gently rubs the end of the tubing across my tummy. He also loves to rest his head on the belly and say that he wants to “sleep with baby”. And let’s not forget the kisses that he doles out on the belly every day.

It just makes my buttery, pregnant heart melt!

Fingers crossed that he will remain as loving towards Two when he/she is finally out.

Can’t believe that the little one will be joining us soon!

Psst, that’s me at 35 weeks two years ago!