Bun in oven, Letters to, Motherhood

A letter to my pregnant self

Dear 37-weeks pregnant me,

I remember that when the photo for that week was taken, I was so full of joy and excitement. I didn’t know what awaited me, except that I was oh so looking forward to meeting my little man.

I also didn’t know that barely a day after the photo was taken, I would go into labour. Nor that my prayed for labour never happened.

Eight weeks on, I am older and wiser. My life has been taken off its hinges and spun 360 degrees around. It hasn’t settled yet, no, far from it, but at least I feel more or less like myself again. And looking back at the time when I was still pregnant, I wish somebody had told me what I am able to tell you now.

1. Enjoy pregnancy
I was fortunate to have a pretty smooth pregnancy and despite some of the aches and pains, I have tried to stay positive and happy. I loved every moment of being pregnant and if there is one thing that I do regret about the early delivery of Aidan, it would be that I never did enjoy more of my pregnancy.

So treasure that bump. Immerse in every hiccup, every little kick that the baby delivers from within. Sing to baby, dance with him. Imagine and daydream of your life with him.

You will miss being pregnant.

2. Enjoy couplehood
You wouldn’t believe how much parenthood can transform your relationship with husband. It’s been eight weeks and our marriage, while intact, has definitely changed. There are so many things I miss about being just us: going out on a whim, watching a movie together, chatting about politics and other topics not related to baby, sharing details of our day, watching telly together while having our dinner. If somebody had told me that I would give birth to Aidan at merely 37 weeks, I would have done more, luxuriated more in being just the two of us.

At the same time, I am grateful that we made the decision to have a little Hong Kong holiday last December. There were lots of lovely memories and it will forever be a trip to remember.

(Funny how things always happen in Hong Kong for us.)

3. Be open to help
Back then, I was adamant that I could handle everything by myself after birth. How wrong was I, how STUPID, how NAIVE! In the end, I was a complete wreck and right now, the dreadfulness of the first four weeks have become hazy to me. Selective memory, I say. Motherhood is tough shit and the lesson that I have learnt is to never say never to help.

4. Be firm but flexible
The one thing that I love about me is that I research to death and then make my decisions on how I want to lead my life. It’s a strong trait and something that has guided me through many tough times.

I was insistent on hypnobirthing. I was insistent on going drug-free during labour. I was insistent on many things.

We all know how that panned out.

So yes, we can hold on to our beliefs but we cannot be blind to other options as well. Always go with the flow and do not cast decisions in stone.

5. You WILL fit into your clothes again
Honestly, that should be the least of your worries. Right now, I can squeeze into my pre-pregnancy bottoms. There might be an extra kilo here and there but it’s not a big deal. You CAN afford to put on a bit of weight.

Don’t fret. You WILL don those gorgeous frocks again, sooner than you think.

Oh, and that nose? GONE.

6. Wear your eye bags with pride
You won’t look the same anymore. Those eye bags that you have been desperately wishing away your entire life? THEY WILL GET WORSE.

But it’s okay, if it means that your little man will get all the goodness of the breast milk that you can offer. And nursing is NOT forever. Enjoy it and forget about how shitty you look.

(There’s always Botox.)

Mama me

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 6

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Sunday, March 5 (continued)
In the meantime, Mr Thick went with our son to the nursery to be cleaned up and he later recounted to me that our little man stayed alert throughout, looking calmly at his surroundings.

When I came to, I was in a ward and Mr Thick was with me. The nurses bustled around me, making sure I was comfortable, before leaving us alone. And as we drifted off into sleep, Mr Thick sitting next to me, he held my hand. Every time a shivering fit hit me, I would grab hold of his hand and he would squeeze back gently in return.

At 6am, a nurse brought Aidan in and asked if I wanted to try breastfeeding him. I said yes and amid the shivers, I put him to my breast and he started suckling like a champ. After a while, they took him back and as my shivers subsided, I fell back asleep.

Two hours later, Dr Y came in to check on me. He explained that the umbilical cord had wound itself around Aidan’s neck and every time Aidan tried to descend, it must have tightened and caused his heart rate to fall. The cord was also thin and short, which explained why he wasn’t able to descend at all. If the cord had been longer and thicker, it might still have been possible for him to be born vaginally.

The aftermath
Immediately after the birth and for the two days after, I had problems falling and staying asleep. Whenever I drifted into slumberland, my body would jerk uncontrollably, waking me up. Or I would dream of falling off from a cliff and wake myself up. I suppose my body had taken a toll and these were the repercussions.

Thankfully, my recovery from the Caesarean was smoother and quicker than expected. By noon on the day of Aidan’s birth, the glucose IV drip was removed from my hand and I was drinking milo. The nurses also removed my catheter and I was able to get up and walk to the toilet to pee that same evening.

The following days were a bit tough, especially in the mornings when I got out of bed and the wound hurt like crazy. But I was determined not to stay in bed and tried to walk around as much as I could. By Wednesday, I was walking out to the nursery to see my little man, albeit hunched like a wizened grandmother walking at a snail’s pace.

When I got home on Thursday, the pain had all but subsided, save for a few twinges now and then. I was just so happy to be home, I think, that the pain was erased from my mind.

Unfortunately, Aidan developed jaundice while we were in the hospital but that is another story for another day. We have been trying to get him settled down and while the first night was extremely trying – he had crying bouts from 230am to 730am – we are both doing the best that we could.

So yes, the birth went nothing like we had planned. It was everything I didn’t want. A Caesarean, however unpleasant, was necessary in our case and I have accepted this as our birth experience. More importantly, Aidan is fine, and so am I. And that’s all that really matters.

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Sunday, March 5 (continued)
Thankfully, there was another emergency C-sect happening at the same time so we didn’t have to waste time waiting for an anesthesiologist to go down to the hospital. I was stripped off, shaved (Urghs) and prepped for the surgery with no sense of dignity at all. Everything was about speed and faster, faster, faster.

When I was wheeled into the operating theatre, Mr Thick was led away to be prepped since he was to be in the theatre with me. In that cold, cold room, Dr L, the anesthesiologist told me gently but urgently to bend my knees towards my belly and tuck my chin down as low as possible. I then felt three sharp stings down my spine – “ant bites”, as Dr L assured me. Oddly enough, I wasn’t fearful or anxious. In fact, I remember feeling calm and at ease.

And then the curtain was drawn above my chest, Mr Thick appeared by my side and the surgery began.

To say that it’s bizarre to have people tugging – none too gently, I might add – at my insides while I was conscious is an understatement. At one point in time, Dr Y asked Dr L to help push down at my stomach as she stood from my shoulders.

“Since you are not pushing, we are doing the work for you,” she explained.

And then shortly after 4am, our son was born.

“No wonder! His cord is around his neck!” Dr L exclaimed.


The nurses and doctors started congratulating us and I felt like weeping. Finally, after those two dreadful years of infertility and despair, after that nightmarish labour, he was here. But the urge to cry was subdued by a sense of surreality: I have a baby? I finally have MY baby?

He didn’t cry, like most newborns do, but was quiet. The nurse asked Mr Thick to have a look at his son and he went off to the checking station with a camera in tow. According to him, our little man was alert and his eyes were checking out his new environment. Only when the paediatrician started to examine him then did he let out an indignant wail. But once his daddy was by his side, he quietened down. The good news was that he was perfectly fine and had an APGAR score of 9.

Meanwhile, Dr Y was removing the placenta from me and stitching me up. It was also at this time that the side effects of the epidural kicked in, and I started shivering uncontrollably. It felt really, really dreadful to be shaking every minute and have my teeth chattering. Dr L asked me kindly if I wanted to be sedated for the next few minutes while the doctors did their work and I said yes. She injected the medicine into my IV and I was out almost immediately.

The following period was a haze to me. I remember waking up and Dr Y congratulating me again. And then my little burrito bean was placed on my chest and somebody took photos of the three of us.

Hello Aidan, I said. This is mummy. Can you recognize me? Your name is Aidan and I love you very much.

And then I fell into darkness again.

To be continued…

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, March 4 (continued)
At about 1am, poor Dr Y rushed into the room, looking all frazzled and harried. After performing a VE (sigh) on me, he grimly informed me that my cervix had not dilated any further. He told me that the baby could be in distress and that he was putting me on a low dose of Pitocin to kick start the labour process. Hopefully, that would do the trick and my body would take over from there. At the same time, I had to be hooked onto the blood pressure machine. He assured me that he would be staying the night to monitor me and then left me to labour.

Time passed by very slowly. I was still lying on my right in that strange angle, an IV drip on my left hand, the fetal monitoring paddle on my belly, an oxygen mask on my face and a blood pressure cuff on my right arm. I couldn’t move an inch, for fear that it might affect my little guy. The surges were fast gaining intensity and speed, thanks to the Pitocin, and were moving from three to four minutes apart to one to two minutes apart.

It was possibly the worst night of my life.
And it got worst.

Twice, the baby’s heart beat fell and twice the warning beep filled the air. By then, all Mr Thick and I could do was stare at each other in growing despair. This was not how we had envisioned the labour and delivery. Where was our calm, serene labour? And is our son alright? By then, it was 3 am and we were both exhausted.

My frustration grew and then disappeared over the night, to be replaced by resignation. Initially, I couldn’t understand why the labour was not progressing despite our best efforts. It made me wonder if the little man was not ready to be out. And yet if he wasn’t, why did the amniotic bag rupture? Why? Why? Why?

These questions kept haunting me as I laid on the bed but the repeated warning beeps from the fetal monitor eroded my anger. All I wanted was to have my son out, safe and sound. I couldn’t care how. Mentally, I was prepared for an emergency Caesarean and even asked Dr Y to have an epidural administered at the same time as the Pitocin. But he told me to give my body some time and see if the Pitocin alone would do the trick.

Obviously it didn’t.

When the baby’s heart rate fell for the fifth time, Dr Y came in and told me that it was obvious my little guy wasn’t doing very well inside and he needed to have him out fast and he needed to have him out NOW. We had no other options but to have a C-sect.

Things kicked into top gear after that decision was made.

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 3

Part 1
Part 2

Sunday, March 4 (continued)
At the delivery suite, the nurse cheerfully hooked me up to the fetal monitor for 20 minutes to check on the baby’s heartbeat and time my contractions. She also did a VE on me (!!!) and made the announcement that I was only about 2.5cm dilated. Shortly after, Dr Y popped in and told us our options were limited: I had to go on an antibiotics drip to prevent an infection since my water had been ruptured for almost 12 hours, and that I had to be hooked to Pitocin to augment the labour since my progress was so slow. The baby had to be delivered within 24 hours of the rupturing of the membranes.

I tried to bargain my way out of the Pitocin, knowing that it would come hand in hand with an epidural but he was adamant. And so Mr Thick and I were left to ourselves for the next hour before the drips were to be administered at midnight.

In a strange way, that one hour proved to be one of the best in my life. It was just me, Mr Thick and our unborn son between us as we hugged and swayed to the music that was playing in the background, which helped me through the surges. It was a special Labour Day playlist that I had put together and it had all the songs that we loved: U2, Travis, Coldplay etc. We were just two people who are deeply in love and contentedly anticipating the birth of our child.

Monday, March 5
All too soon, midnight came and the wonderful nurse came in to administer the antibiotics drip, and to take three vials of blood from me for the banking of the baby’s cord blood at Singapore Cord Blood Bank. She was gentle, warm and reassuring, and for the first time in my life, the IV needle didn’t hurt at all. I was put back onto the fetal monitor and the sound of my little nugget’s swooshing heartbeat filled the room.

But shortly after the IV drip started, the sound disappeared, to be replaced by the warning beeping of the machine. His heart rate had fallen out of the safe zone of 110 to 160 bpm to the 80s region.

I could sense the anxiety in the nurse’s eyes but she remained calm and reassured me that it could be the baby shifting around. She moved the paddle around my belly and finally located the heartbeat again. She apologetically performed another VE on me to ensure that it wasn’t a cord prolapse that had caused the drop in heart rate and thankfully, it wasn’t. Instead of starting the Pitocin drip, she decided to monitor the baby’s heart rate for a while before deciding if Dr Y needed to be informed of the situation. She also had me put on an oxygen mask, just in case my nugget was in distress and needed the extra oxygen.

We were left alone and not more than 10 minutes later, the warning beep sounded again. This time, the nurse was clearly worried as she made me lie on different angles while she tried to locate his heartbeat. It took a while and the tension grew thicker and thicker. What was happening to my little man?

Thankfully, the sound of his heartbeat came back again but we knew that it was getting serious. She did another VE (!!!!) and assured me that it wasn’t a cord problem, before leaving to call Dr Y. All I could do was to lie there on that awkward 45 degree angle on my right side with a drip on my left hand and an oxygen mask.

To be continued…

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 2

Read Part 1 here

Sunday, March 4
While making coffee at about 1045am, I suddenly felt a light gush of fluid flowing down and I stopped, thinking that I was still bleeding from the VE. Cursing and swearing, I headed to the loo to change my panty liner, only to find myself staring at a wet liner that was free from blood.


I sat down on the bowl to pee and to think, and I realized that I was “peeing” fluid from my vagina too. Uh oh.

I was leaking amniotic fluid.

Shoot. This wasn’t how it’s supposed to happen!

Since the plan was to labour at home (and be as far away from the hospital as possible), we decided to get on with our day and see if the leaking continued. Mr Thick vacuumed the house down, we went to the in-laws’ for lunch, headed to school to sort out my work and then proceeded to my mother’s place to have tea with her. By the time we reached home, it was almost 4pm.

And yet, my surges were still irregular and I was leaking amniotic fluid intermittently. My little man was active and moving quite a bit, making me wonder why he wasn’t as engaged as he should be. I tried to get the surges going by changing my labouring positions but nothing worked.

At 5pm, I texted Dr Y, who asked us to go into the hospital at 7pm. We bargained and got it moved to 10 pm, since I was trying to steer clear of any active management of my labour. In the meantime, we had dinner and I even washed and blew dry my hair. The surges were still sporadic and lacked intensity.

Finally at 915pm, we reluctantly left our house and drove towards the hospital. In my heart, I knew that something was wrong and I might not get the birth that I had wanted so badly.

To be continued…

Aidan, Bun in oven

Aidan: A birth story, part 1

My birth plan was simple: to avoid all interventions unless absolutely necessary; to be allowed to labour and deliver naturally; and to only have a Caesarean as my very last resort.

Since Murphy is my best friend, of course nothing would go the way I planned. Here is Aidan’s birth story.

Friday, March 2
We had our 37th week ultrasound at Dr Y’s clinic and the nugget was happily in the right position for birth, with the cord nowhere near his neck. During that visit, I mentioned the lower posterior pain that had crept up over the past few days. He suggested doing a vaginal exam to see if the discomfort was caused by my cervix opening up and I agreed.


VEs are STUPID. MEDIEVAL. BAD. Surely with technology, you would think that there is an easier way of measuring dilation. During the exam, Dr Y asked if I was certain I didn’t want an epidural during labour because this was how VEs would feel like and I swear I could have killed him then and there. The VE also caused me to spot quite heavily for the rest of the day.

Anyway, it turned out that I was about 1cm dilated and my cervix was indeed soft and ready for birth. Dr Y predicted that I would definitely be delivering within the next two weeks and won’t hit 40 weeks. Oops! But then again, the number had no impact on me because you can be 5cm dilated and still not have the baby for yonks.

Saturday, March 3
I woke up bright and early (for a Saturday, that is) and decided that it was time to tie up any loose ends we had for the bubs. First, we had to settle the cot problem because our kid’s bed had still not been delivered.

To cut a long story short, we popped over to the shop in Ubi to demand an explanation and was told that we could have the cot that we had ordered BUT the latex mattress would be delayed. The lady boss assured us that she would “loan” us a new foam mattress should the nugget pop out before the mattress arrived. Mmmkay.

Next stop was back to the Mothercare annual sale at Harbourfront because I hadn’t gotten a discount that I should have received on a product. We dove into the madness, got our money back and picked up a fabric book that I had been searching high and low for, for the longest time. Yay!

Feeling accomplished, we headed back home where I proceeded to put together the nugget’s room, folded and sorted out his clothes and yelled at the cats for jumping into his clothes hamper.

All this while, I continued spotting, and I blamed it on the VE. Bloody hell.

To be continued…


Hello, Aidan

World, meet Aidan.

Aidan couldn’t wait to exit my womb and popped out to say hello on Monday, March 5, at 4am.

He’s a teeny tiny 2.5kg at 37 weeks + 3 days, and we are thrilled that he is here with us, safe and sound.
Both mama and baby are fine.

I’m still recovering from the unexpected birth and I can’t wait to share his birth story with you.

In the meantime, we are basking in the sweetness of our baby and trying to stay awake.

Bun in oven, Letters to

Under pressure

Dear Tiny Human,

A couple of nights ago, your dad had his hand on my tummy and whispered something to you that made me want to cry.

You’re the only bright spark in my life that I am looking forward to.

He’s having a tough time, your dad, and it’s hard because I don’t know what I can do to help. But I know that we will get through this together, just as we always do.

But his words sparked off something in me. It made me realise just how much your arrival is being anticipated by people.

Both your dad and I have been wishing and hoping for your arrival for more than two years.

Your grandma has been praying for a grandchild for the past 10 years, so much so that she made it a point to announce loudly to every household that we visited over the Lunar New Year: “My little Dragon will be here next year, all of you had better prepare your red packets for him.”

Your grandpa just went through a tough surgery and your birth will undoubtedly bring him some cheer.

It scares me.
It does.

The pressure that’s on your little unborn shoulders is simply too much. You are just one child.

I should be happy that the family is rallying behind your arrival but sometimes, I want to protect you from the burden of being the only baby in the family. Everybody has expectations of you and I do hate it so sometimes. Also, I want to raise you to be a good, filial, kind, happy, independent child, not someone who is spoilt silly and constantly cooed over. I want to be the sort of mother who will let you find your own way and fall down, but I will be there to dust your knees and help you up, should you need me to. I don’t want anyone to be hovering around you 24/7, turning you into a timid, pampered little brat.

I don’t know how things will be like when you are born but I am hopeful that we will be able to strike a good balance. We will have the first four months of your birth to hit our stride and find our style. And then it’s a matter of communicating how we would like you to be brought up to your caregivers.

In the meantime, I am enjoying having you all by myself in my belly. I know that it’s a bit of a squeeze right now but hang in there, you will be exiting your watery home in no time. And then it’s going to be such a strange world that you will be experiencing! No food to be given to you intravenously; instead, a boob will be shoved into your face and you will need to learn to suckle for your survival. The temperature in your environment will not be regulated, your naked bits will be covered up by things called clothes and there will be lots and lots of people making funny faces at you and expecting you to respond.

It’s a whole new world, baby!

And your dad and I are looking forward to exploring it with you.

Your Mama

Bun in oven

My pregnancy must-haves

I have loved every moment of being pregnant. Even as my body is being stretched to its limits and causing me some grief, I have enjoyed this journey of ours.

That said, it IS amazing how incubating a little person can change your body profoundly. At 36 weeks, I am finally feeling the impact of how uncomfortable pregnancy can get. And sometimes, pregnancy can make you feel downright unglamorous and unpretty. The following list contains a few things that have made me feel better about looking like a beached whale.

1. Clarins Huile “Tonic” Body Treatment Oil
I know, stretch marks are mostly genetic and no amount of oiling will prevent that if you have the genes. And I DO have the unfortunate genes. I mean, my poor ass is full of white lines from adolescence. I started using this once I was past my first trimester and my tummy is free from marks. It was a gift from my Cousin Wan and since it’s so pricey, I alternate it with the cheaper Boots Expert Stretch Mark Oil that I had bought in Thailand.

2. Burt’s Bees Rich and Repairing Cocoa Butter & Macadamia Nut Oil Body Butter
The hormones really threw my body out of whack and turned it into the human equivalent of the Sahara Desert. The body butter has helped to protect my arms and legs from the blasting dry air of the air-conditioner at night without that oily, sticky feeling. Plus, it’s made from plant-based ingredients!

3. Motherlove Birth & Body Oil
Every night, husband rubs a little of this onto my calves before kneading the tightness away. It’s organic and smells very faintly of lavender, which I adore. Once the little man is out, this can be used on him as a massage oil and is said to be excellent for treating cradle cap. I got mine from iherb, together with the organic bath products for the nugget, and if you order using this discount code OTI683, you’ll get 5 percent off your first purchase.

4. Muji Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser + essential oils
We bought this during our Tokyo trip back in 2009 and it’s been a godsend so far! The integrated LED light is dim and perfect for winding down the day, and I like to drift off to sleep pretending that I am in a luxurious spa. Some of the essential oils that are in rotation include Royal Doulton’s Sleep Easy blend, lavender, bergamot, The Body Shop’s Divine Calm blend and the Sensual Aromatic Blend from Thann. It’s now available in Singapore.

5. Birkenstocks Madrid sandals
Now that I am waddling into my last month of pregnancy, I find that nothing but Birkenstocks will do for my lower body. It’s so tiring carrying this little tenant of mine everywhere! My legs ache, my hips ache and my back ache. I practically live in my Birkenstocks these days and I should have bought them much, much earlier. I got these in patent purple – my favourite colour!

I hope this list will help some of you during your last stage of pregnancy in some way. And if you have any pregnancy lifesavers, please share! I’d love to know what they are (and maybe they can help me ignore that pain in my hips).