Aidan, Letters to

2.5 years of Aidan

Dear Aidan,

You know, it’s kinda funny. Time crept up on us so stealthily that we hadn’t realised just how big you have grown so far. I mean, it’s like we have been keeping pace with you and we knew you were growing but suddenly, when we see you with your little brother, we discovered just how far we had all come together.

You, my boo boo, are an amazing little fellow. The past few months have not been easy for you but you have grown through it with such joy and unbridled love. You have shown me how strong you are and how much I really, really love you.

We started June just hanging out, you and me. Oh, we did loads of stuff together: we went to Ikea and had tea, chilled at the playground and looked at photos together. We read books and played with trains. We took naps together and woke up happy.

And then Zac came along and your world changed. Suddenly, you were thrust into the unknown and here’s a tiny human demanding so much of your parents’ attention, especially mama’s. Suddenly, all these weird big people were telling you to hug and kiss that tiny human, saying stuff like “if you don’t do XYZ, I will give your Thomas train to didi”.

Of course you acted out. You are only two years old. You are meant to act out at this age. And you did. There were loads of tears and illogical tantrums and strange demands. But those, those I could handle. What I could not handle was the sobbing: big, fat tears accompanied by cries of “mama! Mama!”. It nearly broke my heart into two, it made me wonder if I had been selfish in wanting to have a second child when clearly, my first-born was in despair. All I could do was to hold you, stroke your back, shower you with kisses and tell you that it was going to be alright and I loved you.

Three months on, you have blossomed into the loving and warm big brother that your papa and I had envisioned. You love Zac and say the funniest things to him. Like, “Zac, we go the NTUC, okay?” and “Mama give the num num to Zac”. You love to hug and kiss him, and then tell me to “take photo! Take photo!”

Of course there is still jealousy, of course you still want whichever parent is holding on to Zac. But that’s natural and to be expected. Bit by bit, you are entering the realm where you cannot remember how life was like without Zac.

You started attending school and oh boy, it was so tough in the early days. You cried your heart out when we left you in the new environment. I could not stop my own tears from falling when I saw you sitting on the teacher’s lap and sobbing. I wished I could help you to understand why we had to do this, I wished I could help you through your confusion and sadness.

But look at you now! There are still tears, true, but they go off pretty quickly. The teacher tells me that you are a happy little chappy who loves to sing, and you have a hearty appetite. Sometimes you tend to wander off and do your own thing but you know, that’s so you.

School taught you independence but it also gave you the “gift” of bugs. You caught a nasty bug and you never really recovered from it. For two months, you coughed and sneezed your way through life and we despaired of ever having you healthy again. Throughout this period, though, you remained your happy self and you never let the illnesses bring you down.

So yes, it’s been an eventful three months. Life has changed so much for you but you have been such a super trooper. I’m so proud to be your mama and so glad that you are ours to love and adore.

Don’t ever lose that wide-eyed wonder, okay?

Love you to the moon and back,
mama

Letters to, Zac

Three months of Zac

Dear Zac,

Oh what a month it has been! It sure hasn’t been easy for us and it sure as hell hasn’t been easy for you too. But you have proven to us that you are a super trooper and a brave little thing.

You’ve been sick for a while, no thanks to a nasty bug that hit both you and your brother when you were all of six weeks old. It stayed and lingered and loitered around, until it turned into two nasty infections that your little body had to fight off.

It wasn’t pretty, the night you were admitted to the hospital. My heart broke into a million pieces when the nurse brought you to me after they had inserted the drip into your tiny hand and taken vials and vials of blood for tests. You were shell-shocked, your heart rate rocketed to more than 200 bpm and you were stiff. No amount of coaxing or cuddling from me could calm you down. I was scared, so so scared. Finally, you allowed me to nurse you and you fell into a restless sleep.

That night, you slept in my arms while your brother slept at my feet, clutching my legs for comfort. That night, the nurses and doctor worried about you, administered oxygen on you and took x-rays. That night, I hardly slept. That night, I felt real terror and understood what it meant to have my heart walking outside my body for the first time.

But then you bounced back. You fought the infections like a brave soldier and you were back to your normal self in a week. You remained the happy baby that you have always been and the nurses loved you so. And you made me so proud to be your mama.

So you haven’t exactly had the best start in life but we can only hope that this means things can only get better from now now.

Right now, you are the funniest little darling. You are happy to dish out smiles to anyone who would smile at you, and you love it when we respond to your babbles. Whenever I plonk you onto my lap, you break into the biggest smile. You just love it when we look at you and have conversations with you, Mr Social Butterfly. And when you are not a happy camper (because nobody is talking to you), you complain oh so vocally.

Even at this age, I can see glimpses of your personality. You can be impatient, getting frustrated when you can’t fall asleep quickly enough or when the milk flow isn’t fast enough for you. And yet you are a chill little fellow – you are happy to stay for prolonged periods in the stroller and you don’t fuss or cry much. You are also going to be a handful, I predict, judging by how active and physical you already are.

Sigh. Go easy on your poor parents’ ageing limbs, okay?

Oh my little Zac. Stay little for just a bit longer, please? You are mama’s last baby so do let me enjoy your babyhood for as long as possible? Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, baby boy.

Love you to the moon and back,
mama

Letters to, Zac

Two months of Zac

Dear Zac,

Woah, how is it that two months have passed by so quickly? What exactly have we been doing?

Oh wait, I know what we have been doing. Nothing and everything.

Every morning, we spend time doing nothing. While your papa takes Aidan to school and heads to work after that, we lounge around in bed. Sometimes, I sing to you, we have a bit of a natter and I try to take loads of photos of you. And then it’s off to the bath for you and once you are clean and sweet smelling, I try to get you to take a nap.

Most of the time, you do fall asleep (yay!) and then I’ll cook/eat lunch, shower and do some work. Sometimes, you oblige me by sleeping for two hours (hurrah for tummy sleeping). Otherwise, you are up after an hour and I’d try to put you down for a second round of napping.

Before you know it, the morning is gone and it’s time to pick up your brother from school.

I love mornings like these when we are lazing around and have no agenda. Mornings are when you are at your happiest. I get to indulge in your babyness and enjoy your coos and smiles. I get to spend undivided time with you, giving you all of my attention. I get to enjoy being a mother of an infant, something I really didn’t do much of previously.

You see, with your brother at this stage, I was constantly on tenterhooks, wondering if I was doing everything correctly. He hardly napped and did not go to sleep easily, and I was always trying to troubleshoot it. It was like walking on eggshells and there was equal amounts of joy and anxiety in parenting him then.

But with you – all of that anxiety, fear and worry go out of the window. I trust in my own parenting abilities this time, I let you and your progress take the lead.

So while your brother gave me the gift of motherhood, you, my darling, offered me the chance of a redemption. To redo everything all over again, and to enjoy myself thoroughly this time.

Of course, the past month has not been easy on you and me at times. Unfortunately, you picked up a nasty virus from your brother and it developed into bronchiolitis. You have no idea how it breaks our hearts seeing you cough like that, your little body hacking away. It’s been two weeks and you are improving, albeit too slowly for my liking. But there is nothing much we can do but to nebulise you regularly, and hope for the best.

You have been a brave little man throughout though. You hardly cry and you are still full of smiles and coos. I’m so very proud of you, my happy little chappy.

We love you to the moon and back, thank you for completing our family.

Don’t worry bubba, it’s just the photo. You are usually more smiley than this. 😉

Always,
Mama

Letters to, Zac

One month of Zac

Dear Zac,

It’s been almost six weeks of you here with us and I am only starting to write this letter to you. It’s partly because mama is a bit of a procrastinator and also because things have been chaotic around here. As expected, with a baby and a toddler in one household.

Life with you feels complete and I am so glad that you are here with us now. I was telling your papa that it feels so right to say “my boys” and “my kids”. And even though we opted not to know your sex before your birth, I sort of had a hunch that you were going to be a boy. It’s pretty odd, actually. I was having a nap with your brother one weekend afternoon and I woke up dead certain that I was carrying a “Zac”. I just knew.

And now the pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly.

Maybe I am biased or perhaps it’s the experience talking, but you have been an easy baby so far. When you wail, we pretty much know why or have been able to pacify you somehow. And when you are not wailing, you are either sleeping or sitting quietly in your rocker (a gift from mama’s cousin, how blessed we are!). You are able to focus your eyes on us when we have a chat with you and you coo back at us too, sometimes.

Your coos are just about the cutest things in the world, I tell you. Actually, all your newborn sounds are really pretty damn cute. Your angry yell when I try to burp you against your wishes? Cute. Your little “eh eh eh” when nursing? Cute. Your sailor burps? Cute. Your little sighs after a good feed? Cute.

The only time your sounds are not too cute are when you are making a hell lot of them at night in your sleep. Good god. You have no idea how many times I jumped out of bed, thinking that you were awake and grizzling, when you were really just growling in your sleep.

When you came home with us, you weighed a grand total of 2.7kg. Granted, that was probably a whole 300g heavier than you brother, but you still felt so tiny and fragile in our arms. And now, you have crossed 4.1kg. Still small but so much plumper than before. Those chins! And wobbly cheeks! But I already miss your lightweight baby days.

I could stare at you the whole day, I could. And sniff at your little noggin. And cuddle you in my arms. And kiss your bouncy cheeks. I am so in love with you and so is your por por. She is besotted with you and it’s too adorable to see her shower her love and attention on you.

And so is your brother. He asks to carry you all the time, and is always clambering towards you to “sayang baby” or “kiss baby”. I’m so proud of him, and I hope that the two of you will always have each other’s backs.

It’s now 11.20pm as I write this and I am exhausted. I should be heading to bed soon. You are currently snoozing in your little crib at the foot of mama and papa’s bed, and you’ll probably be looking up at me, wide-eyed, in a few hours’ time.

I’ll scoop you up from your little bed, nurse you and then see you fall dead asleep soon after. I’ll cuddle you upright for a bit (reflux, you see) before placing you gently back into your own bed. And then rinse, repeat, in about two hours’ time.

Ah, all in the day (night) of a mother’s life.

My dearest second-born, welcome home.

Love you to the moon and back,
Mama

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, Letters to

To my firstborn (25 months)

Dear Aidan,

I am sitting here typing this to you while 32 weeks pregnant with your younger sibling. And it’s a rather bittersweet feeling. Because, as I was telling Papa, we are having so much fun as a family of three, that I feel slightly guilty for changing your world completely.

Oh, I know that you probably won’t remember the years that you spent with just the two of us. You won’t remember just how we would sit on the floor, building towers and trains of bricks with you. You won’t remember how we read Where We Go and Out in the Sun with you every night before bedtime. You won’t remember standing in your learning tower, stirring your yogurt in the kitchen with me. You won’t remember lying with me on the sofa in the evenings, listening to your favourite songs (currently Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, live version, “uncle song with clapping,” you say) while your hand gently sits on my big belly. You won’t remember curling up next to me as you fall asleep, your hand reaching back to hold mine.

Right now, you are the sweetest, sweetest boy in the world. You look up to me as we walk and say “hold mama hand” in your adorable voice. And you kiss and hug us so lovingly and generously. You insist on kissing the baby everyday.

Just the other night, we were out way past your bedtime for the Electric Run. You were sitting in your stroller in that sticky, suffocating heat, quietly absorbing the atmosphere. From time to time, you would call out for mama to seek reassurance.

Meanwhile, mama was feeling miserable. We had been standing for almost an hour just to get to the starting line, and I was irritated by the hot temperature and the crowd. My calves were in spasms, my back was aching, I was this close to losing my temper. And we haven’t even started the 5km walk yet.

I stood by your stroller, bent forward to relieve the ache in my lower back. Tears sprung into my eyes. I felt like a total failure for being a party pooper when everyone else around me was in such high spirits. I just wanted to go home.

And then suddenly, I heard your little voice pipe up, “Mama? Mama?”

I turned to look at you and you were staring at me with those big eyes. You reached out and patted me on the arm. And in that instant, I wanted to cry.

I wish I can encapsulate every moment that we spend with you and you alone. The process of watching you grow up is so magical and beautiful that I wish time wouldn’t move so fast.

But time is indeed flying by. In a blink of an eye, I am 32 weeks pregnant and, as mama’s colleague reminded me today, we could become a family of four in a month’s time. Especially if your little brother or sister has your propensity for arriving into our world ahead of schedule.

When I was waiting for you to join us, I wasn’t afraid. I was ready to face whatever challenges parenthood would bring us. But now, I find myself worried and slightly anxious. Because this time, the change would not only affect us but also you.

I hope that if you ever read this as an adult, know that we love you very much and all we ever want is the best for you. I hope that you will grow to love your sibling and to rely on one another. I hope that you will realise just how important you are to us, as our firstborn and the one who made us parents.

Remember that no matter what, you will always be loved. No matter what.

Love you to the moon and back,
Mama

Bun in oven, Letters to

Moments

Dear Number Two,

How are you? How’s life in mama’s cosy, watery womb?

While I haven’t been updating the world about your every move and every flutter, I don’t want you to think that it’s because I love you any lesser. We have had moments, you and me and papa and gor gor, but I just never got round to penning these moments down.

Let’s talk about this afternoon. It had been an exhausting day for me, having sat through four hours of assessments. I was this close to putting my head down to sleep but I had work to do. As I was powering through my slides, you started reminding me of your presence.

You started bubbling away in my belly, first here then there. And it was so adorable. You are at the stage (20 weeks) where you flutter around oh so gently, because you are still teeny tiny. And as you pop around under my skin, I started tapping on the belly and you would respond.

It was a good moment.

Just the other morning, your papa and Aidan were snoozing in the other bedroom. It was just me and you on that big bed of ours. The morning was cool and there was a gentle breeze. The sun was slowly rising over the horizon and the day was blissfully still.

I laid on the bed, saying nothing, doing nothing. And then you went POP! Before I knew it, there was a trail of “bubbles” running across the belly. I smiled and said hi to you, and you continued fluttering for a while.

And then the door opened and your brother burst into the room with loud pitter-patters, and the moment ended.

It was a good moment.

And then, there was the other night. Papa and I were trying to put Aidan to bed. That boy, he loves, LOVES to kiss you. At ever opportunity that he has, he will ask to “kiss mama baby”. It was exactly like that, that night.

I was lying down on his bed and he asked to kiss my tummy. I said, yes please and he obliged with a MMMMM-MUAH. Only this time, he kept going at it, kissing and giggling at my belly. Papa and I laughed at his gleeful smile, and there was so much love and happiness enveloping the room.

It was a beautiful moment.

Right now, I am relishing this: the feeling of you in my tummy, carrying you everywhere with me. I daresay this is something that all mothers love and miss the most. (Also, the baby is here but not throwing tantrums! Or pooping at the wrong time! Or crying incessantly!)

We are at the halfway mark, Two. Hang in there, we still have just a little bit more to go.

Love you always,
mama

Bun in oven, Letters to

Hey you! Yes you!

Dear Number Two,

HELLO LOVE!

You, my darling, have finally been made. After all that teenage angst and drama from your mama here, you slipped into our lives quietly and unexpectedly.

We had a quick look at you at the doctor’s about a week ago and it was beautiful. You are just a round little blob on the ultrasound but you are here, with us, reassuringly.

Just like your brother, you are a lesson for me to learn. Initially, I had been pessimistic. You see, with our history, I didn’t think it was going to be easy conceiving you. I didn’t dare to be optimistic at all, for fear of having my heart broken all over again. And this time, I knew that I didn’t want to go through fertility treatments to have a child. There was nothing for me to fall back on.

So I fretted and sighed. (Whenever I had the time to, that is. Between work and your brother, I hardly had energy to even watch TV!) Ideally, I wanted to have you in March or April, so that I could spend extra time with you before going back to work in time for the October semester. And when you didn’t arrive in time for March, nor in April, nor in May – I was sad.

And then it hit me that three women I knew had their babies due in March. Now that made me mad.

Didn’t God know what I was hoping for? Why was it that He gave it to other women but not me?

Boo.

I was pissed off. I ranted to your father – just a little bit – and decided that sod it, I wasn’t going to care anymore. If we never had a second child, then SO BE IT.

Two weeks later, my period was late, I peed on a stick and BEHOLD. Your presence was announced to us, loud and clear.

I believe that the lesson God intended for me is that of patience.

Your brother was in the bathroom with me when I did the test – is he ever NOT in the bathroom with me, I wonder – and I told him to bring the stick to your dad. After cleaning it, of course. He ran, shouting PAPA! and shoved the stick into your father’s hands.

This means…? he asked.

I smiled. And then the grin on his face grew wider.

Welcome, my little one. We love you already.

Love,
mama

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.

Always,
Your mama

Aidan, Letters to

2 months of Aidan

Dear Aidan,

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.

Love,
Mama