Aidan, Motherhood

Letting go

Aidan started school this week and it’s been a rocky start so far.

Oh, we expected it. There were tears and a lot of wailing. He has been extremely clingy to me. At night, he wakes up sobbing and asking for mama. In the day, he wants me to carry him and play with him and read to him and take him to the potty and wash his hands. Basically, he wants mama for everything.

It’s been hard on us too. I cried when we dropped him off on the first day. And tears rolled down my cheeks when I picked him up and saw him sitting on the lap of the teacher, crying his little heart out. On the second day, I cried at seeing his joyful smile when he realised that I was there to get him. On the third day, I cried when his face crumpled at catching sight of me peeping through the doors.

In short, I cried a lot. Even though I know that eventually, he will enjoy school and it will be a good experience for him. At the present moment, I am still feeling my heart crack at seeing my child in this state of uncertainty and confusion and sadness.

Remember that quote from Elizabeth Stone? “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

My heart wrenches when I see Aidan cry at being away from his parents at a new environment. My heart wrenches when I see Zac choke and sputter and then cry from reflux. My heart wrenches when Aidan waves goodbye and blows kisses at his teachers in the midst of his sobs. My heart wrenches when Zac wailed inconsolably on the bilibed.

It’s an awful feeling.

But then again, my parenting mantra has always been this: my role as a parent is to love them and nurture them, and then let them go. They need to learn to find their own way around in this big, bad world. I cannot hold their hands forever, nor baby them forever.

And so, in this little way, I am letting my son take his first step into the world by himself. I know, it’s only school and he is only 2 years old. But still, it’s a step towards independence and away from mama. And if I can’t even do that gracefully now, I will become that awful, controlling and overbearing mother who will insist on running my sons’ lives even when they are 50 years old.

I wish, though, that time would stand still and let me keep them so little forever. The way Aidan lets me cuddle and kiss him. The tiny newborn-ness that Zac is fast losing every single day.

Being a parent is so bittersweet, ah.

Aidan, Motherhood, Two of Us, Zac

Keep calm and parent on

Second time around, things are admittedly easier than before.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we are all exhausted. A typical night looks like this: bathe both boys, put both boys to sleep and then concuss at 10pm, wake up at 2am in alarm because I had forgotten to set the timer for my three-hourly wake up call to feed the baby, feed the baby, change his diaper, feed the baby again, place baby gingerly into his cot, sleep, wake up at 5am when baby fusses, feed baby, change baby’s diaper, feed baby again, place baby gingerly into his cot, sleep, wake up at 7am because toddler is up.

Some nights, Zac will not go back to sleep after his feed. Which means that we will be staring at each other for a good hour (or two, or three) before he conks out. If I am lucky, he doesn’t cry much. If I am not, he will be fussing and whinging and I will be all WHAT DO YOU WANT, KID.

But it’s cool. One night, both Mr Thick and I collapsed in our bed and laid there in silence for a little bit. And then I said, “Good thing we know that it is not going to be like this for too long.” He nodded and we shared a quiet laugh.

With two littles, there is no time for us to sit there shell-shocked, wondering what the heck is going on and how do we do it. We just roll up our sleeves and do. And having experience on our side helps, we know that eventually, things will get easier.

Admittedly, it’s tough during the day when I need to juggle the needs of Zac and Aidan at the same time. Thankfully, I have my mother over and she’s been a gem at helping me with the boys. She adores Zac and will put him down for his nap while I give Aidan some one-on-one attention that he craves. And when I am nursing Zac, she will feed Aidan, bring him to the potty and keep an eye on him.

And let’s not forget that I get all my meals prepared for me for a month. I have no idea how I will survive without her after this but mmm, let’s take it one day at a time.

So yes, having two kids has been great so far. Extremely tiring, but also extremely joyful.

(But no, this family is going to be a family of four for a long, long, long time.)

Bun in oven, Motherhood, Zac

Zac: A birth story

I thought long and hard about sharing the birth story of Zac. I wanted it to be kept a memory, our memory. But then, I had shared Aidan’s story and I think Zac’s deserves a voice too. Plus, I want people to know that it is possible to have a drug-free, natural birth after an emergency Caesarean.

So here it is, the story of how my second-born joined the family.

7 June, Saturday

We woke up, thinking that it was going to be a regular Saturday morning. The kid was rolling around in our bed with us and we were talking about going to the supermarket for a grocery run. I got up and went to the bathroom and then I saw it. Blood. Just a little bit when I wiped but enough to tell me that the time for Zac’s arrival may be sooner than later. My contractions were still intermittent but they were getting stronger.

“We are going out for a good breakfast,” I declared to husband. “It may be my last good breakfast for a while.”

We ended up at one of our favourite joints, where Aidan kept demanding “pancakes and banana”. And we did do a grocery run before heading back to put the little man down for a nap. He ended up taking a long 2.5-hour one with Mr Thick, before I woke them both up.

On hindsight, I should have taken a nap too! But a contraction woke me up just as I was falling asleep and I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. Boo.

We headed out to National Museum for Children’s Season and, at the very last minute, I decided to go to Vivocity to get my eyebrows done. Just in case I go into labour soon! Priorities, people.

After dinner, we went home, put Aidan to bed and then chatted for a bit before I decided to hit the sack at 11pm.

8 June, Sunday

Unfortunately, sleep was NOT forthcoming. Every time I drifted into unconsciousness, I would get hit by a contraction. And as it died down, I would try to go back to sleep, only to be hit by another one. Slowly and groggily, it dawned upon me that I was well and truly in labour. Gah!

I started timing the contractions and they were coming about 20 minutes apart. Thinking that I wasn’t going into the hospital anytime soon (I was gunning for the frequency to be about three to four minutes apart), I tried to force myself to sleep.

And so this went on, me drifting in and out of sleep, while being woken up by contractions. At about 1am, I realised that the frequency had increased to 10 minutes and the “biggie” contraction was REALLY PAINFUL.

“We are in labour and I want an epidural,” I announced to an astonished husband, who was geeking out in front of his computer in the living room. We marched back into the room and started packing our things for the hospital stay. And then we sat and waited.

AND THEN THE CONTRACTIONS WENT BACK TO 12 MINUTES APART.

Okay then. At that moment, Aidan woke up in his room and Mr Thick went in to soothe him. I stayed in our bedroom and tried to get comfortable. I couldn’t walk because the pressure down my back was too great, and going on all fours did not help. I could only lie on my left or sit up and hug my pillow.

I remember reading somewhere that how you usually respond to pain would be how you are like in labour and the writer was right. I ended up internalising the pain: I would tell myself that every contraction is helping me to dilate and to move baby down. I would tell myself that this is nothing, this is not a “biggie” (I was getting a labour pattern of two small contractions and one huge one). And when the “biggie” hit, I would tell myself that it’s okay, I can get through this, OUCH OUCH OUCH.

After a while, time seemed to pass so slowly. I was still timing my contractions and they went back to being eight minutes apart. It was so frustrating, I thought that labour was stalling because they were just not moving faster. In frustration and denial, I stopped timing and tried to go to sleep.

To make things worse, I started throwing up at about 4am. At the peak of every big contraction, I would rush to the toilet to hurl. Sometimes, it was just dry heaving. Other times, I was throwing up bile. The pain from the contractions, I could take. But the vomiting was just too much, I could not imagine myself throwing up all the way till baby was out.

I needed that epidural. NEED.
Continue reading “Zac: A birth story”

Motherhood

Twice

I was lying on Aidan’s bed just now as he slept under the crook of my armpit. It was quiet in the room, with only the sounds of the air-conditioning and Brahms Lullaby on repeat mode. He was still, on his side, arms cradling his little bolster and one hand on my belly. I didn’t dare to move an inch.

Suddenly, my belly jumped. Ah, Two. My second child who is most active when I am still. Unlike his/her brother, who used to be a one-baby circus act in my womb. I laid my other hand on top of where the flurry of activity was and breathed.

Having gone through those two years of infertility, I am acutely aware that my two babies are nothing short of a miracle and a blessing. How many can say that they conceived a child naturally, after failing eight rounds of treatments? Plus, Two came to us so quickly and so unexpectedly, despite my initial pessimism and fear.

Every day with my two beautiful children – one growing so rapidly in front of my eyes and the other’s kicks growing stronger in utero – is a reminder of how lucky I am. And every day, I tell myself that.

Never mind that Aidan doesn’t sleep through the night and needs one of us to be with him.
Never mind that he sometimes refuses dinner and tosses everything out of his high chair.
Never mind that I no longer have the luxury of reading to Two or simply enjoy the primeval act of carrying a child when every spare moment I have is spent with Aidan.
Never mind that I am always exhausted and have no time for the things that I want to do.

I am a lucky, lucky woman.

I suppose it is doubly poignant now that I am pregnant with my second, and last, child. This will be the last time I carry a child in my womb, to feel my baby’s kicks and hiccups from within. Everything that I feel now will never be felt again.

And so I laid there for an extra moment. To breathe in my little man’s sleepy scent and to enjoy the funny tap dance that my baby is putting up in my tummy.

Little man leaning in to”baby kiss”.
Motherhood

Just 30 minutes will do

The husband left for a business trip in the early hours of Sunday morning.

For the first time since Aidan was born, I found myself doing all the parenting. In anticipation of the lack of sleep, I asked to leave work earlier this week. All I needed was between 15 and 30 minutes of extra time off, and my supervisor, being a new mother herself, kindly agreed.

And what a world of difference this extra time has made.

For once, I didn’t feel like I had to hurry to pick up my little man. There was no rush for me to get him, bring him home, feed him dinner, bathe him and then put him to bed. Those precious extra minutes that I had were enough to keep me calm.

And once home, I had the luxury of taking him downstairs for a jaunt after nursing and before dinner. We had time to slowly walk around the path, explore the fitness stations, pick up fallen leaves to throw them into the rubbish bin, exclaim at dogs and be friendly with other kids.

I found myself thinking that all I needed was these extra 30 minutes a day to be a better parent. To spend enough time with him before his bedtime. To do things like pick up pebbles and throw them into drains. To look at cars zooming by in silent awe.

If only I had these extra 30 minutes.


Leaving work early meant I could see the nephew and A playing together at my mother’s.

Motherhood, The organised chaos

Pink Dot SG 2013

A long, long time ago, before we were even thinking of having kids, I asked Mr Thick how he would feel if our child told us that he or she was gay.

“It doesn’t matter, as long as he is a good person with the right values. He is still our child,” he said.

……….

When Pink Dot rolled around last year, Aidan was a teeny tiny bubs. We chucked him into the baby carrier and then walked around Hong Lim Park, soaking in the atmosphere and promising to return the following year.

We made good on that promise.

This time, we donned our best pink outfits and went down to Hong Lim Park again. Aidan was wearing his cute pink super hero teeshirt, I had on my fierce pink top (hah, the oxymoron!) and Mr Thick put on his spiffy pink shirt. We were quite the family, I’d say.

The mood at the park was electrifying and I was so glad that we brought Aidan there. He had so much fun, running around, grabbing balloons and looking around him in wide-eyed wonder. He was alternately charming and scaring the people there, and it was hilarious seeing grown men squealing in delight/horror at the sight of a toddler on the loose. (The women were all “AWW HE’S SO CUTE!”, it was the men who were polarised in their reactions, haha!)

It was important for us to support the cause. We want our child to grow up knowing that he has options and that he will be supported and loved by us, no matter whom he loves. We want him to grow up in a society that is inclusive.

Thankfully, 21,000 others shared our views. It may seem like a small number but progress has to start from somewhere.

I remain hopeful.

Motherhood

The funny side of night weaning

Thanks everyone for the kind words and comments on the last post. And lest you think that I am currently swimming in a cesspool, don’t worry, I am fine. I suspect that I am what the great Moxie calls a “tension decreaser“, which is to say that I release tension by crying so that huge meltdown was truly what I needed. My child, on the other hand…

Anyway, night weaning has its ups and downs. The crying drains you of any resolve that you may have. The insistence of the little man wanting to nurse. His frustration at not getting what he wants. The late night histrionics.

Actually, the histrionics are the funny moments of this tedious process. I may or may not have birthed a drama king. Hardly surprising, given that I tend to be a little dramatic myself. Hah!

So last night was Night 6 (or is it 5? I honestly can’t remember!) and the boy slept from about 915pm to 330am. Which was great. And then he woke up, demanding a drink from the tap. Mr Thick went in to get him and 30 minutes later, he came back with the boy, muttered “I can’t get him to go back to sleep”, handed me the boy and dove straight back under the covers and started to snore in under 30 seconds.

Men.

And of course, the boy being the boy, he started signing for milk and I said, “All done.” He was having none of it and yelled a bit. That is the key difference – the yelling. While it used to be an all-out I DON’T GET IT, WHERE IS MY MILK sort of hysterics, this time, the yelling was more of URGHS WHY IS THIS WOMAN SO FRUSTRATING? JUST GIMME MY MILK.

We did this little dance for all of 90 minutes, with me distracting him in all sorts of ways: “Look, cars!”; “Oh, turtle and stars!” (thanks, Aunty Yi Lin); “More bread?” He would take the bait but he never wavered from his goal, which was to nurse. I ended up lying on my chest next to him and counting sheep, while he pulled his hair out, literally, in frustration.

It was quite hilarious, I was stifling my giggles at one point, because I realised that my laughter made him madder.

After a while, I was so bored of this routine and needed a more comfortable bed. I hauled him back to ours and sat him in the middle, while I rested against the wall, eyes closed. At times, there would be silence but the second I opened my eyes to take a peek, his wails would begin again. Ah hah! Attention seeker!

Finally, at 530am, he sort of gave a yell and collapsed onto my chest. I held my breath (not because of the haze, I assure you) for a while before stroking his hair gingerly.

HE WAS OUT.

Victory!

Well, until he woke up at 6-ish again and demanded milk. And since this was past the 6am window that I had set, I gladly let him nurse and fell asleep.

So this is Night 5. Or 6. I don’t know how long this process is going to take but I am hopeful that we are making progress, however tiny that might be. It’s tough, but I have to remind myself that the end goal is greater than whatever misery we are going through right now.

If you have night weaned or sleep trained before and have words of wisdom to spare, I’ll be more than appreciative!

Motherhood

Tough love

I held my baby boy tonight and wept alongside him.

The tears, they flowed fast and freely, as I begged, BEGGED him to sleep so that I can finally get the rest that I so sorely needed and craved.

My voice cracked as I told him that I am done with this, that I am so done with this. I am barely functioning as a human being anymore, I explained between sobs, and I am not a good mommy because all I can think of is how tired I am and how much I needed coffee.

Nobody really understands sleep deprivation like a mother. And it’s hard to confide in others because nobody cares and all you get in response is “Oh you poor thing” or “Been there, done that” or “Enjoy this period while they still let you cuddle them”.

I do, really, I do. I try to inhale the baby scent of my little boy as he sleeps even as I am kept awake. And I feel guilty for not enjoying every moment. Because, hey, I tried for two freaking years, didn’t I? And I got what I wanted.

But I am not.
I am certainly not enjoying this extended period of night wakefulness, when I am everything that he needs to go back to sleep. I resent my husband because he gets to snore his way through the night and wake up thinking that the boy had slept well, when I am woken up three, four, five, eight times. I lose my patience with the little man because, COME ON, I JUST NURSED YOU, FOR GOD’S SAKES.

I had really hoped that night weaning and some sleep training would help. And that his joyful, sweet nature in the daytime would translate into an easier transition. But it is not to be.

The crying, oh the crying. I caved, because I am so tired. And I need to drive and work the next day. I caved, because I feel so alone in this battle and I am sinking.

And so tonight we both cried together, my baby and I.

Motherhood

Every day is my day

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade but I’m not really into Mothers’ Day.

While my Twitter and Instagram feeds are filled with pictures of carnations and gifts and tales of husbands/kids behaving themselves, I have none of it. Instead, we had breakfast at Tiong Bahru market and headed off to the beach to spend the afternoon with my mother and sister’s family. The day ended with dinner at my brother-in-law’s.

It was…ordinary.

You see, to me, every day is Mothers’ Day. Every day that I get to be mom to the most awesome kid in the world is Mothers’ Day. And every day, I know that husband appreciates me and all that I do for the little man.

My lifetime of Mothers’ Day gift was handed to me more than 14 months ago, when the little man was born. Having battled most of the previous two years to be a mom, his birth was like a present handed to me on a silver platter. And since then, I don’t take any moment for granted.

Sure, it’s not like my life as a mother is a bed of roses and OMG AM SO DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY THAT RAINBOWS ARE SHOOTING OUT OF MY ARSE. (Can you just PICTURE IT! Hilarious and slightly disturbing image.) There are days when I am flat out tired or when I find it difficult to manage the kid or when the lack of sleep gets me down. There are days when I slump on the sofa, drained of every ounce of energy that I possess, or when I lose patience with him.

And yet.

Watching him grow is the greatest gift on earth, it’s the most amazing PRIVILEGE. To see him develop from this orange-skinned, frowny little fellow into a toddler who is ready to walk and conquer the world with his favourite things – banana, ball and that bee night light – is nothing short of MAGICAL. His hugs and smiles and love for me warms me everyday and brings me so much joy.

And so, every day is Mothers’ Day to me.

Oh, and there is no need to wait until Mothers’ Day to be pampered by husband – he fetches me a glass of wine and an ice-cream whenever. Hee.

(PS I did spend it with both my mother and mother-in-law. And also bought my mama a pair of purple sparkly FitFlops. Just cos hers were old and ratty and falling apart.)

Aidan, Motherhood

A little moment

I just wanted to pen this moment down before I forget it.

Last night, I went to pick up Aidan from my in-laws’ as usual. He was sitting on his Nai Nai’s lap and wanting for me. As I got out from the car, I saw his eyes light up in recognition and delight. He started bouncing up and down, pointed at me and shouted, “Mama!”

My heart melted.

Right now, the little man’s favouritest person in the world is mama and I am relishing it. I know that one day, he is no longer going to want to be a mama’s boy. One day, holding mama’s hand will no longer be cool, and neither is kissing mama on her lips. One day, he will want to hang out with papa, because they can do boy stuff together. One day, he will prefer to have meals and watch movies with his friends. One day, his parents will no longer be the people whom his world orbits around and we will be seen as fuddy-duddies.

But right now, he loves me unconditionally. And I, him.