Thursday, September 27, 2012

My first baby

I thought about this the entire day and I just didn't know how to put it in words. Tonight, I lay in bed weeping until my hair is wet from my tears and thought I have to write this eulogy.

I used to have a Shetland Sheepdog named Alice.
I say "used to" because I rehomed her. This post wouldn't be completely understood without you reading these:
1) Why I had to rehome her.
2) Her rehoming story: who she was rehomed to.

Years before kids entered my life, Alice was my first baby and the centre of my universe. My world simply revolved around her. My days started and ended with walks with her, and weekends meant trips to petshops and dog runs.

On the afternoon where she leaned on my bump and I made a promise to her.

When I was pregnant with Adam, I remembered hugging her one afternoon and promising her that things will never change. However, from the moment Adam was born, everything for Alice has changed. Her pecking order was demoted, I sometimes forgot to fill her bowl, walks became far less often and she peed on the floor from being unable to control her bladder. Weekends were then spent bringing the human baby out. She was clearly neglected, but she had never blamed me. She greeted me every time I came home with the same enthusiasm as before.

One fateful day, Adam went to see the doctor for a chesty cough that wouldn't go away. The doctor diagnosed it as bronchitis and suggested that we give Alice away. You see, Alice had severe skin problems that required medical attention often. For a large part of her life, she needed steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs to control her skin problems, which would never be cured. She shedded a lot of fur and dandruff, and Adam, who just started being mobile, was going to ingest all of those.
Left with no choice, I rehomed Alice to my ex, Alan, whom I adopted Alice with.
The promise I made to Alice that afternoon became my biggest lie to her.

Yesterday , I received a text from Alan. He said Alice has been admitted to hospital for vomiting and was later diagnosed as having pancreatitis.
We were prepared for the worst, she was 11.
The inevitable topic of euthanesia came up and Alan & I both agreed we wouldn't play God, and that his family would take care of her if needed.
I discussed with Andy and he said I could bring her home to nurse her if I wanted, but later my gfs Charmaine & Meena knocked sense into me and said I simply didn't have the capacity to take care of a newborn, a toddler, and a sick dog. My girls were right. I thank them for their honesty.
The next thing I know, Alan informed me this morning that Alice has passed away in the hospital .

Alice always had a sweet temperament. I believe perhaps she chose to leave on her own and spare us the painful prospect of having to put her to sleep or watch her suffer.
It was too sudden and I didn't get to say Goodbye. I begged Alan to send me her last photo but he refused, and reasoned that he has to respect her even in death and he did not want to take a photo of her in that way. I respected his decision.
He then sent me some photos of her in the past year that he adopted her.
Here, she has clearly put on weight and her fur grew so thick.
So different from that day she had to go to her new home.

Suntanning was her favourite past-time and she got to do it daily in the backyard.
She was definitely living the life at Alan's place

I am thankful that Alan let me "be with him" every step of the way in Alice's last journey since I was not physically there with her.
He Whatsapped me photo after photo of Alice when she was alive, and he updated me what he was doing - he mentioned about saying Goodbye to Alice on my behalf, about asking me to pray that she would go to Heaven, about making payment to the hospital, about filling in a blue form with choices on what to do with the body - he ticked on the box which says to have her ashes back.
An hour later, he told me he was still there with Alice's lifeless body because he couldn't bear to leave her. He said she just looked like she was sleeping.
After that, another Whatsapp came in, he told me they had brought her to the cold room.

I know it must have been harder for Alan than it was hard enough for me.

We have made arrangements with the hospital for her to be cremated and have her ashes collected.
We do not know what we are going to do with her ashes yet but she hated water and baths so we would likely not sprinkle them into the sea.
Good bye my baby girl, and thank you for not letting us having to make the painful decision for you. You are my first baby and will always live in my memory.
12 July 2001 - 26 Sept 2012.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Baby carrier

Hi Rac, thanks for reading my blog. Here is the Baby carrier review you wanted, I hope it is helpful to you!

For my first child, I did not use a baby carrier. In fact, buying a baby carrier for Adam has never ever crossed my mind because mainly I am very petite (read: short & skinny) hence I did not think I could handle all that weight on my shoulders and back. Also, I drove everywhere if I needed to get out with Adam and I had a lightweight one-hand-fold stroller (Combi Miracle Turn) in my car boot at all times.

For Ashton however, the logistic situation in our household is a little different now.
With 2 kids under the age of four, I need hands-free and hassle-free when getting out and about.

I consulted Hubby's cousin for her opinion on baby carriers - she has a baby one month older than Ashton - and she said it was a great purchase because it is so convenient.
She is using Manduca carrier, which is made of organic cotton.
Speaking of baby carriers, there are just so many in the market, many of which I have never even heard of! Ergo, Manduca, Beco, Combi nina-nana, you name it.

I popped by the nearest Kiddy Palace to take a look at their carriers, and they only had Combi and Baby Bjorn, and some other lesser-known brands. I ended up getting a Baby Bjorn Active.
Just Baby Bjorn brand alone has several models, I found a Baby Bjorn buying guide here detailing the differences of each model.

Purchasing the right baby carrier is a very personal choice - in my Google searches on "Baby carrier reviews", so many results turned up, including topics like "Baby Bjorn vs Ergo", "Baby Bjorn Active vs Synergy" etc etc. The more I read, the more confused I became!

Bottomline: There is no right or wrong carrier, you have to find one which fits you.
I chose Baby Bjorn because it is an established and trusted brand and I see many parents using it.

Personally, I have only used this one and only Baby Bjorn Active, so my opinions would be biased, but I find it a good enough carrier. It can be used for baby up to 13kg as stated, though I am not really inclined to carry a 13kg anything on me for that long.
I used my Baby Bjorn yesterday and today to go from my home to my in-law's, and it is quite a dream.

Here's a Youtube video on Baby Bjorn usage instructions (embedding was disabled).

I strongly recommend you to get one with lumbar support as the basic requirment, so that you wont have the weight of baby bearing down on your shoulders and back.
You may also want to check out Motherhood forums and eBay as there are many pre-loved ones in good condition selling for a fraction of the retail price, and you can always sell it again once you are done with it.

Happy babywearing!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Errands day

Spent my morning running errands. Being confined at home for the past month, I had lots of backlogged stuff to mail out / collect.
Picked up my haul - 2 pairs of skinny jeggings from New Future at $25/ea
and royal blue dress from
Tracyeinny. Dress here.
SGD$30 only.
Outfit: Cream sequin blouse from MNG
Red shorts from MNG
Red watch from Fendi
Beige bag: Chanel GST
Beige flats: Ferragamo

And finally!

I finally went to campus to pick up my Degree. Entering the familiar grounds and meeting my administrator, it was an emotional time for me. While all my cohort classmates have already attended their graduation, I had to give it a miss because of my pregnancy.
The delay has been almost a year.

Holding my hard-earned Degree, I feel the greatest pride and sense of achievement.
Thank you my dearest Husband and my beloved family, for all your help and support, for being with me in this journey.
From the time Adam was a wee infant to when he was two years old, that was how long my Part-time studies took.
I worked Full-time and studied Part-time. I rushed from work to evening classes and survived on sandwiches in the lecture halls. When classes ended, I rushed home from Clementi campus all the way back to Tampines to be with my precious baby.
Some nights when I came home, he was already asleep, when I left for work in the mornings he was not awake yet.
There were days where he didn't get to see me even though we lived under the same roof. It was hard.

Being a wife, a full-time working Mom, and a student was very tough, but it was my goal and I was determined to achieve it. And I did.

Today, I finally get to hold and caress it in my arms like a baby. Thank you once more Hubby, Adam and my family. Without you all, it wouldn't have been possible.

Planning Ashton's Full Month shower

** Edit to add: Photos from Ashton's Full month party HERE :)

I spent a good part of my confinement month planning Ashton's Full Month shower.
Armed with only my laptop and i-Banking token, I sourced, paid and arranged everything while being cooped up at home. The wonders of technology!
This blog post will include the bits and pieces of the Party planning process, along with vendors' websites/contacts for your easy reference.

This is the invite which I created using Photoshop for all our invitees.
Pretty invitations can be received by your guests by just an MMS or Whatsapp away.
** The full version has the venue printed.
*** credits to Baby shower authority and Photocard chef for the graphics.

I ordered this banner from Rachel who runs an online craft shop MY BEANSPROUTS. Website here. Her email is:
Go take a look at what she has to offer. Rachel's very gifted with her hands. From DIY personalised banners to Cupcake toppers, you should find your party needs there.
She charges $2.50 per panel (of banner), so it's really not very expensive.

Gift favours:Favours! My favourite! I try to make sure no guest leaves my children's parties empty handed.
I found these gift favours at BACHELORETTE PARTY SUPPLIES. Website here.
If you are looking for affordable and unique favours for your guests, Rachel (a different Rachel from mybeansprouts) has them for weddings and baby showers.

I ordered 120 pcs of favours for all our guests in a mix of Rocking Horse candle and Rubber Ducky handsoap.
Due to the short notice, Rachel did not have the quantity I wanted, so she had to place an order with her supplier and thankfully the favours arrived on time and she personally delivered them to my doorstep. Talk about excellent service!

Our favours delivered!

Bouncy Castle rental:
We rented a bouncy to contain our guests' mini-me's otherwise their parents won't be able to eat and chat in peace!
There are many Toy Rental companies in Singapore with a wide range in terms of shapes, sizes and price. We chose Singapore Toy Club for the price and size (we wanted one which wasn't too big to be set up at a corner of our function place but still large enough to fit up to 10 kids).

They have a Buffet menu specially for Full Month parties here.
They also have tables & chairs for rental if you intend to hold your parties at function rooms.
Hope you find the list useful for planning your own parties.
Ashton's baby shower will be held this weekend. Excited!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Sunday with my boys: Mid-Autumn festival celebration.

Happy Sunday everyone! I spent my weekend with my boys, and you'll be surprised to find out my 29-yr-old keeps me on my toes as much as my 3-year-old. I'm the go-to person in the entire household, ranging from milk demands to asking where are the [insert objects] kept.

My life after confinement has been a little (very) crazy. On the first night that Adam came home to sleep, I ended up shuttling between his room and my master bedroom.
I must've woke up about 700 times that night, from breastfeeding to changing diapers, to changing clothes for Adam who wet his bed, and then trying to put them all back down to sleep again.
I was so tired that I didn't even have the energy to change Adam's sheets. Guess what? I laid a towel on the urinated patch and urged him to go back to bed.
By daybreak, our sleeping arrangement became like this - Adam & I on his bed, the baby on a mattress on the floor.
And I wonder why I'm perpetually tired?

I'm so glad it's the weekend because I promised Adam that I can finally bring him out!
Here're some photos from our Sunday

Going out for Lunchie with my lovely boys.

You have no idea how glad I am to be able to step out of the house!
My yellow fellows

By the way I found a CUTE thermal bag by SKIPHOP to store my Breast pump essentials.
So love!!
In the evening we went to our estate's Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. We got goodie bags, lucky draw (didn't win), mooncakes and lanterns! Adam had fun running around and playing with candles.

 I swear I live in the most happening estate in Singapore. Every occasion also got events one!
Ok I'm going to bed. One whole month of being cooped up at home leaves me with many errands to run next week. I'm contemplating buying a baby carrier so I can go out with Ashton hands-free to run my errands.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Full month Ashton!

Ashton celebrated his Full month on Friday 21.09.2012. As a rite of passage, he shaved his hair and eyebrows then offered prayers to our ancestors.

With my Aunty LY.

The staff from Hua Xia came to shave his hair which will be made into a caligraphy brush.

Fourth generation!

Do watch this space, I'll be sharing his Full Month shower planning in a seperate post. Happy Full month, Ashton baby dearest! and Happy weekend all!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Postpartum issue: Losing that baby fat

Hi everyone! Thank you for your kind words of support and encouragement left under my blog comments and Facebook PMs. I'm really touched that there are people out there who actually do enjoy reading my posts and leave happy wishes for my family & I, as much as I enjoy writing about my (boring) life.

As I tend to write about the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly side of Motherhood - I would like to share with my Mummy / Mum-to-be/ trying-to-conceive friends and readers about a topic that concerns postpartum women most: losing the baby weight.

My good husband recently did a search online and engaged for me a Malay makcik (aunty) for Postnatal massage. For my first birth, I did not engage any massage lady because I had a Csect and was scared of the pain and also mainly because I lost all my baby weight by the time Adam was 1 month old. I had put on 10kg for the entire pregnancy.
Ironically, I only put on 9kg throughout my second pregnancy, but somehow I seem to have alot of loose flabs around my tummy, arms and hips.
I was 26 when I first became a Mum. Now, I'm 29. Old already!!

Some women are lucky, some women need some help.
This time round I belong to the latter.
So anyway, Hubby got me a massage lady, and I did my 1st session of Postnatal massage today by Mdm Mas and all was good.
To make small talk, I asked her what are the benefits of Postnatal massage, and she told me the following points:
- Lymphatic drainage
- Helps blood circulation
- Relaxation
- Push uterus back into shape
- Helps flush out "dirty" blood
- Breast massage to unblock clogged ducts (my BM flowed freely after this and my supply increased. This really works.)
- and of course, regain pre-pregnancy figure!!

She concluded the session by doing a cloth wrap for me which I kept on for 12 hours.

Layer after layer after layer of cloth! I could really feel the tightening feeling, the kind when you try to squeeze into undersized jeans and almost cannot breathe after a buffet. Yeap those kinda feeling x 12hours, and due to the humidity in Singapore, I kept sweating, and I HATE to sweat. But I endured. No pain, no gain and I knew the end result must be worth it!

12 hours later, I peeled off the layer after layer of binding to reveal this...

This is after just ONE session. There you are, my first virgin Postnatal massage session.
I still have some bulge on my tummy but I can see it's really flattened significantly. *happy chicken dance*

Things to prepare for Postnatal massage:
- a mattress (any kind will do, even a yoga mat. If you are worried of breast pain when lying face-down, you can cushion with a pillow)
- 2 towels
- a box of tissue paper

Mdm Mas' charges: $50 per session, regardless of how many sessions. She doesn't sell her services by package so you can pay per session, and can determine how many sessions you want, it's entirely up to you. I know she is one of the cheapest Makciks around. Most charge $500 for 7-8 sessions.
She is non-pushy and she uses a traditional home-blend massage oil which has no smell and not too oily.

Tips for Mummies engaging Postnatal massage: bathe before your massage session because you will have to endure the wrap.
Also, best is to arrange your massage session in the afternoon or as her last client, so that you can go to bed with the binder on (ladies doing confinement can only bathe ONCE a day or wipe their bodies so imagine if your appointment is first thing in the morning then you will be sticky and sweaty all day)
To see faster results, use a girdle after you remove the wrap. Buy your girdle one size smaller instead of just-fitting size because when you have lost some weight you don't want the girdle to be too loose.

Ok, that's all. It's 12am now and I'm seeing stars. I hope you found the post useful. Good night!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Big brother, little brother.

I told Adam not to be rowdy around the sleeping baby but he wouldn't listen.
As punishment, he's been made to cajole a wailing Ashton.
He tried patting him, didn't work, so he leaned forward to plant a sloppy kiss on his little brother.
Ashton looks peeved and ready to box Adam with his smelly mittens!

I swear when he's not being naughty (rarely), Adam is such a sweetheart.
He is so protective of his lil brother, which really melts me much.
I never expected such displays of affection from my child, but now I know we need to give our children more credit than they are due.
Adam, your Mama is so proud of you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Maids Salary review

Hiring an Indonesian maid will be more expensive by year's end.
Employers hiring such maids from November will have to sign a contract with a clause stipulating that the maid must be paid at least $450.
Another clause will state that if she works on all her four weekly rest days each month, she has to be paid another $70, or $17.50 for each day off she works.
These two clauses will be in the contracts issued by the Indonesian government. But how far they will go to ensure Indonesian maids are compensated fairly depends on the rigour of enforcement - and the Indonesian Embassy's record in this has been patchy "

Screenshot taken from the above website

Hubby emailed me this link above to share with me the new policies on hiring Indonesian maids w.e.f. November 2012, and then he promptly said "Heng we employ early".

Currently, our helper is drawing a salary of $420 with 1 day-off per month, up from her previous contract of $360 without days-off/mth from her previous employer.
$420 is not much difference from the $450 which the clause stipulates, but bear in mind that nowadays most agencies charge $450 as starting pay for non-experienced maids.

I'm curious - Is it considered heng (lucky) to incur $800/mth ($450 salary + $170 Govt levy + misc for food/toiletries) for that extra pair of helping hands in the household?

Here are what a couple of my Mummy friends think:

It may be hard to believe, seeing as what a sybarite I am, but on average, my monthly credit card bills hardly exceed $500 and my hp bill is only $70/mth ($50 subscription + $10 iPad tag-on SIM-card + caller ID). Therefore, I don't even spend $800 on my bills, but I spend this amount on my helper every month.

Even if I engage my Part-time helper to come in twice weekly, it will only be half the amount every month. Moreover, I do not have to worry about feeding and clothing her, her getting pregnant, contracting STDs from casual sex on her days-off, lack of privacy in the house, and attitude or behavioral issues and the like.

More importantly, it appears to be a steep uphill task for Singaporean couples who want to start families. Obviously, a child will need taking care of for at least 10 years.
For many Singaporean parents, the task of caregiver is often on domestic helpers.

Do you think you will continue employing maids if their salaries increase significantly?
For those considering starting families, will you delay or even stop having children?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hubby goes on TV!

My dearest Husband is on TV. The program is the Chinese 前线追踪 (Frontline), which is aired every Friday night 10:30PM or re-telecast on Tuesdays 1:30PM.

This is the video which I recorded on my iPad. Hubs and our estate's football club are featured at around 3:30 minutes.

Some screenshots:

In case you are wondering, in summary, the feature is about promoting sports and racial harmony in Singapore.
Hubby plays with these uncles (yes, my Hub is an uncle) every Sunday for some exercise and good clean fun, but who knows they will get an accidental shot to "stardom" ?
What a comical thought, heh.

Thanks for letting me share and hope you enjoy the weekend that is coming up soon!
One more week to the end of my confinement and I'm free to get out of the house =)

Monday, September 10, 2012

(More) Baby Ashton

Our special delivery: a gift from God.

a contented baby in luxury sheets

So... I've been sucked into a brutal routine of feeding, pumping, burping and diapering.
Fussing over this tiny baby, crooning him to sleep, relishing in his faint milky scent.
I nearly forgot how it feels like to have a newborn.
Thank you Ashton, for enabling me to fall head over heels all over again.
Throughout the span of my pregnancy, I often wondered how I could love another child as much as I love Adam. How am I going to share a love so profound when Adam has already occupied every molecule of my heart?
The moment I lay my eyes on you, I knew that the capacity of a Mother's heart knows no boundaries.

So do I love you both differently or equally?

Adam is rambunctious, Ashton is delicate.

Adam was a difficult baby - one who had problems keeping milk down, and had to be held upright for at least an hour everytime after a feed. If he stretched or so much as burped, milk would regurgitate out of his mouth and nose. It was scary for a first-time Mummy, and during his early days, Andy & I would just stare at him while he was sleeping just to make sure he was breathing.
I even kept a log book just to record how much milk he drank and how much he regurgitated.
I pumped hard & furious just so I could measure how much milk he consumed.
Then there was the colic. My best friends were Dentinox Anti-colic drops, Ru Yi oil and tummy binders. I always had them within reach, that was how obsessed I was.
Adam also had problems sleeping. First week of his life, he had day-night confusion and kept awake at un-Godly hours. After that was solved, we found out there was a bigger sleep problem awaiting us - nap time! There were days where he didn't nap!!
And we all know it too well - if a baby doesn't sleep, you don't sleep and not only that, you can hardly get anything done at all.
Adam was (and still is) demanding and over-indulged. Very typical of a first child. Ohh, the novelty and special feeling.

In comparison, Ashton is a much easier baby. He feeds and sleeps and poops like clockwork - predictable and oh-so-bliss. And due to Adam's presence, Ashton has to take the backseat and be contented just being part of all the Adam-ism. He also has to make do with Adam's hand-me-downs. Ashton is our last baby and I doubt we will go overboard with all those shopping and fancy gadgets again. I'm grateful and thankful that he doesn't care. And I also thank God for an easy baby, and pray for this to last.

If I said I loved my children equally, that would be both the truth and a lie.
Because in all honesty, I love them differently, but I also love them all the same.