Tuesday, March 26, 2013

About Ashton

Hi all, this post was typed and saved as a draft in my blog for months.
I was overwhelmed and never got down to posting this.

Shortly after Ashton was born, I woke up from GA wanting to see my newborn.
Our paediatrician came in and told us he saw a "slight dent" on Ashton's lower back, and brought Andy to the nursery to have a look because I was too drowsy from the GA. You know that sick gut feeling you have when you hear "...But" from your doctor? Yeah, I felt it and till today, the fright is very real.
"He's fine.... BUT...", "He's beautiful.... BUT...."

After that, when the nurse pushed Ashton to me for breastfeeding, I unwrapped my newborn and saw a little dimple the size of a green-bean just above his butt-crack with my very own eyes. Our PD recommended us to get an ultrasound scan done, just "to be on the safe side", though he did mention that he "didn't think it was anything to worry about".

Somewhere when Ashton was few weeks old and when I was still doing my confinement, we brought him back to Mt Alvernia for his ultrasound.
I stood in the sonography room holding my infant, and chatted with the sonographer because like what our PD said, I thought there wasn't anything to worry about. At that point, I felt it was just another routine scan like my many Antenatal scans, just to be sure.

She scanned and scanned over and over, and my squirming, crying infant wasn't helping matters.
Afterward when I thought she was finally done, I asked her "So how is it?" and she told me to wait while she got the doctor in. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest!
A doctor came in and repeated the scan, and eventually he told me he thought there was something wrong with my baby's spine and that he will wait for my PD to explain to me. I wouldn't buy any of it and nearly went hysterical. Actually I refused to budge from the room and asked the doctor what exactly he thought was wrong. He said something about surgery was probably recommended to rectify it. Can you imagine how I felt!
My world just turned cold and dark as I stood there, holding my wailing baby in the dimly lit room, I felt like bawling my eyes out as well.

So finally, I met our PD, Dr Simon Ng, with the scan reports, and from there we were referred to a Neurosurgeon, Dr Seow Wan Tew, at KKH who was a Specialist in dealing with paediatric spine surgery.
As an MRI would be more accurate than an ultrasound, we went for an MRI as well.
Ashton was diagnosed with what was called a "tethered cord", whereby there is a fatty issue tethering his spinal cord down to his spinal bone and preventing the spinal cord from moving freely within the spinal column. I have never ever heard of a "tethered cord" in my life before!

From a simple scan which the PD "didn't think was anything to worry about", we were then talking endless doctors appointments, MRIs, Urodynamics tests and SURGERY. All on a tiny few weeks old baby. A lot of information was thrown to us, but I could hardly digest anything.
I spent most of my maternity leave shuttling between hospitals and getting appointments in order. He had to see his Neurosurgeon for the tethered cord and also his normal PD for the usual jaundice-checks, vaccinations etc.
On top of that, I also had my Adam, who needed as much of my attention as my little Ashton.
During my multiple antenatal scans, nothing was detected. We even confirmed this with my Gynae when I went  back for my postnatal PAP smear.
But as Andy & I discussed this over and over, even if anything was detected, nothing would change our decision to keep our infant and bring him into this would. Personally, I think dealing with and trying to overcome "problems" was much, much easier than terminating a life!!! From 1 single cell of either parent, a whole human being was created. If life isn't a miracle, I don't know what is.
I can't even bring myself to put my dogs to sleep, let alone kill my own flesh and blood!

From there, we had no choice but to take everything in our stride. Sure, I was petrified as hell.
I mean, com'on, we're not talking about surgery for circumcision or even hernia-repair here!!!
When I initially learnt of the diagnosis, there were times I hid in my room crying till my vision was blur, but it wouldn't solve anything and so I turned to God.
Through God I found a lot of strength.
When I told our closest friends, they were shocked, and asked me why I had kept things from them until now.
Truth be told, I have been contemplating for a very long time (almost 6 months at the point of Ashton's surgery), whether or not to post this on my Blog, not because I am scared of people knowing, but I wanted to protect Ashton's and our privacy especially during his growing up years.
I asked Andy to read this draft before posting, and he said I could post it if I wanted to, so I guess there is not much harm in letting my readers and relatives know (our closest friends, relatives and close colleagues have been asking for updates).

Now, we are taking everyday as a blessing (truly!) and taking things a baby-step at a time.
Ashton's surgery was performed on 25 Feb 2013, when he was 6 months old, by his Paediatric Neurosurgeon Dr Seow Wan Tew.
My 30th Birthday was on 27 Feb, and I had spent my Milestone Birthday in the High Dependency Ward of the hospital with my own flesh and blood who had undergone major surgery to his spine.
In my life I've only ever gone under the knife to take my babies out, and now I'm letting somebody touch my baby's spine. How crazy is my life?
When you think my birthday wishlists, probably Chanel or Hermes would come to mind in a heartbeat. But this year, all I wanted was for my baby to be Ok, and alive.
Nothing is more important than being healthy and alive.
Too many people get so hung up about what they cannot have and don't realise for a second what they already have.
You woke up this morning alive and well, thank God for it.

So far, we have been to 2 more appointments after his surgery - to remove his stitches and also to follow-up with Dr Seow, and he thinks everything is looking good.

Thanks to all our friends and family who have sent your thoughts, wishes and prayers.
Thank you to the wonderful people in my church who prayed in proxy for Ashton even though they did not know us.

I've said this before, and Imma say it again - Mummying is the toughest job in the whole wide world.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Lunch at Ritz Carlton

Met the Twiss' for lunch today. It's been a while since we last met after our Perth family trip.
At Ritz Carlton.... on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.... there was great food and greater company.
Paul & A have just started learning Mandarin and can converse in pretty awesome short Mandarin sentences!

We had oysters by the dozens...

and copious amounts of lovely sauvignon blanc.

Hubby and I both wearing leopard tops. Matchy-matchy. Rarrr!

I came from work so the boys weren't with us, which was just as great because I had a peaceful uninterrupted lunch. Lovely.
Leopard blouse: Mango
Black shorts: Mango
Shoes: Ferragamo black patent Carla heels

All Black errthang today!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Sponsored review: KOSÉ Infinity whitening

Guess what came from the courier man today??

A sponsored set of KOSÉ's newly launched whitening range - Infinity Realizing White Lotion and Infinity Realizing White Serum.
I'm excited and extremely thrilled at this timely gift because Adam has just started swimming lessons not long ago and I've been under the harmful noon sun since.

In their pristine packaging which I absolutely cannot bear to open... Hee!

Homework for Mumzilla: reading the product information they sent me.

I will review it after I'm back from my family cruise and fishing trip with the husband.... so do stay tuned :)
Have a happy weekend Mummies!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beauty review: Dr Jart+ from Luxola

Hello fellow Mommies. What is the condition of your skin?
Is it somewhat dry with oily T-zone like mine, and speckled with freckles / pigmentation?
Ever since I became pregnant some 5 years ago (4yr old Adam plus some 9 months gestation), my skin has become prone to freckles and also very dry on some areas (corners of lips, eyes, cheeks) and oily on others.

Recently I received Dr Jart+ samples and found them to be not bad so I purchased some products from Luxola.com to try.
Superb next day doorstep courier with COD option from Luxola! I ordered Dr Jart+'s new range: Pore Medic. Bubble foam, Peeling gel, and Re-tightening mask.

I'm gonna try them that very night... heh.. My after-work face: with mineral makeup on since 7AM this morning - more than 10 hours of a dirty, oily face!

After using my Origins oil-based makeup remover which is tough on my smudge-proof Shu Uemura liquid eyeliner, I used Dr Jart+ Bubble foam. I love that it lives up to its promise of cleansing thoroughly without stripping skin of moisture. No tight and parched feeling on my face after rinsing off.

Description of bubble foam: Experience deep cleansing and thoroughly wash away the day’s damage with Dr. Jart Pore Medic Bubble Foam. This gentle yet effective skin-friendly cleanser uses an original dual-bubble mechanism that creates both large and micro bubbles specially formulated to help your skin feel its best. Large lather cuts through dirt and oil, while the smaller bubbles clean pores, creating a pore tightening effect. Patented ingredients control sebum and help to reduce the appearance of large pores, leaving skin fresh, firm and ready to go!

After that, I actually skipped the Peeling Gel and went on to use the Re-tighening mask because the instruction says to leave it on after washing face for 10-20 min before washing off with warm water. Therefore I applied and left it on while I showered and washed my hair.
** This was my FREE gift-with-purchase from Luxola, yeap, a full-sized mask. Happy! Thank you www.Luxola.com  :)

Description of re-tightening mask: This all natural, deep-absorbing clay mask has been specifically formulated to target the T-zone and other oily areas to control sebum, black heads and tighten pores whilst supplying moisture and nutrition to maintain brighter, smoother and clearer skin.

This is my scary face fresh off the shower and without any makeup. Can you see my freckles at the corner of my left eye?? Pregnancy-induced or result of being driven home at 5PM, I'm not sure.

One thing's for sure, I'm trying Dr Jart+'s V7 VitaLaser high performance whitening treatment to target freckles and pigmentation.

Description of V7 VitaLaser: This super concentrated treatment helps to improve the appearance of pigmented, uneven skin tone. It reduces the appearance of blemishes, freckles and irregular pigmentations while working to brighten up dull and dry skin. The powerful combination of 7 vitamins encourages the regeneration of new skin cells while protecting damaged and sensitive skin.
A regenerative blend of 7 essential vitamins help restore damaged skin back to normality
Key ingredients:
+ Vita 3 Complex – Helps to reduce the appearance of pigmentation caused by acne, sun damage and delivers high levels of anti-oxidants
+ Vitamin B3 Niacinamide - Improves skins resilience, improves cell renewal
+ Vitamin B5 Panthenol - Aids wrinkle prevention
+ Vitamin C Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate – Helps to protects the skin from UV damage, helps maintain skin resilience with anti-oxidizing agents
+ Vitamin E Tocopheryl Acetate - Anti-oxidant agents help prevent skin ageing and improves elasticity of dry skin.
I've only just started using this VitaLaser for about a week, and the Pore Medic range today, so hopefully I will see some improvement on my skin condition and freckles lightened after 1 month usage.
Mommies are often out and about in the sun because that's where our children often end up being! No matter how strong or how good my Sunblock is, it is inevitable to be exposed to some harmful rays due to sweat and prolonged exposure.

We're packing up for a cruise and subsequently a fishing trip come April so that means even more fun in the sun! Hope to come back with reviews after my continued use of Dr Jart+'s products!
P.S. Will try the Peeling Gel next to remove dead cells :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: LolliBox.

As you might have read from my previous post, we bought our first LolliBox from Smartkids Asia 2013. Here's our review:

A nice surprise for children - goodies filled to the brim to keep those active brains and busy hands occupied! In case you're wondering, we got the Itsy Bitsy Bugs box.

Adam checking out each packet of activity with keen interest.

He chose his first project - Incy Wincy Spider. Consists of a roll of black yarn, pipe cleaners, plastic plates and googly eyes. Comes complete with colorfully illustrated step-by-step instructions to enable parents to work together with their young ones, or older kids to comprehend on their own.

Adam pasting on Incy Wincy's googly eyes.

After Incy Wincy Spider was completed, we went on to make other itsy bitsy insects from LolliBox.

We made a Ladybug and grasshopper with the assorted colorful plasticine provided.

We saved the best bit for last - a glow-in-the-dark bug. Adam is thrilled!

Adam is pasting the wings on the Firefly.

The dark moment he's been waiting for all evening. Finally can see the glow-in-the-dark effect of his hard work!

and finally, a badge of honour to reward Adam!

Thank you, LolliBox. Adam enjoyed his first activity box loads. He made me do all the stuff with him in one evening and it gave us a lot of good, clean fun learning:
+ Math (counting number of googly eyes, legs, wings),
+ Science (insects, their habitats, nature),
+ Hand-eye coordination,
+ Development of Fine motor skills,
+ Problem-solving and Logical thinking (following instructions to build things from scratch with allocated resources).
Hope you found our review useful and interesting. We definitely look forward to future LolliBoxes!
You can go to their website HERE: http://lollibox.sg/

**Get yours today to keep your tots busy this March holidays! :)

Event: Smartkids Asia 2013.

Have you brought your kids to the Smartkids Asia 2013 exhibition yet?
If you have not, you still have tomorrow as the last day to go!

Where: Singapore Expo Hall 5
When: 15 - 17 March 2013
Admission is FREE but EPS Parking at Expo applies.

Be prepared to join in the hordes of people for lots of fun-filled, educational activities for your kids.
There are many booths providing hands-on activities like craft, Lego-building, games, and lots of freebies and samples.
There is also a carnival and wall-climbing for the active children. No matter what your child likes, there is something for every kid.

Are you ready to brave the crowd?! Me posing with my free mylar balloon teehheee.

Now who loves freebies? Or rather, who doesn't?? 

The organic fragrnace-free sunblock which I'm gonna use on Adam for his swim lessons every Sunday.

Multivitamin supplements

Free magazine and Karihome goat milk sweets.

Sign up for LolliBox, a monthly-subscription project box for your young ones.
Each month is a different theme. Eg. The Little Pirate, Moon & Stars, Dinosaurs, Grow Plant Grow etc.

Aimed at a fun learning experience which incorporates 4 major components on how kids learn and engage: Create, discover, enrich, and award.

Ready for the surprise unveiling of our first LolliBox??

We got the Itsy Bitsy Bugs box!

Promotion: subscription rates for Smartkids Asia expo only.
Available in 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month subscriptions. Sign up for 12 months and get an additional box free (13 boxes for price of 12).

Your child is gonna be so excited to receive his/her parcel  in the mail and start working on the mini project!

Like the idea of LolliBox projects so much that you want to give them as favours for your chikd's party? Party packs available.
Do check out their website at http://lollibox.sg/about-lollibox/

Hope you have a great weekend!
Thanks for dropping by :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ashton update: stitches removed.

Ashton had his stitches removed today - Day 15 post-op. As Dr Seow is on leave, the STO was done by a couple of nurses in the treatment room and we have been given another appointment next week to see Dr Seow. Bummer!
On the bright side, I'm glad that I no longer have to do wound dressings and sniff out Ashton's bum for poop like a narcotics dog sniffing out heroin!

I met up with our care coordinator Lee Ping today to pass her a Thank You card and a balloon for her daughter and she was thrilled. She has been very helpful and forthcoming to us. As a matter of fact, the entire team of doctors, nurses, patient-care coordinator, right down to the clinic admin staff are very helpful and friendly. We are very thankful!

Hopefully things will continue to be uneventful for Ashton and our family.
Today will also mark the end of my 2-week-and-2-days leave as I will be heading back to work tomorrow.
After being at home with my cling-wrap children, I'm feeling a mixture of sadness but also joy.
Imagine this - after a long day of dealing with them, I try to relax on my Osim Uphoria but Adam climbs and clamours all over me and touches the buttons. I try to hide in the bathroom for some peace, but Adam knocks on the door and wants to use the loo.
When Adam is sleeping, I try to read my email, sort out my snail mail, and do some work, but shortly after Ashton cries for milk.

I salute all the stay-home mums because God forbid me to be one, lest I go insane.
I'm tired and need lots of sleep now. All I can think of tomorrow is - Good luck to my MIL and helper. Heh.

Good night :)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Adam goes for swimming lessons

Adam has been attending weekly swim lessons and enjoying himself.
This is the only extra-curriculum activity he is having at the moment. Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against parents who sign their children up for back-to-back enrichment classes - I'm just not too jazzed about subjecting my children & I to the logistics and costs involved, and burning everybody's weekends (we tried GUG for 1 term and are not going back. Too troublesome to hurry Adam to get ready, drive there, wait for parking lot, be on time for lessons, wait an hour, fetch him, go home for nap, precious Sunday burnt. ZZZzzzz). Having been through Monday-Friday of rigid routine, weekends are for leisure!
Not to mention, I think Adam is not musically inclined, prefers painting at home to his own imagination, and has zero interest in being confined in classrooms on weekends, albeit air-conditioned and expensive ones.

Adam, however, loves the water and he was the one who said "Yes" to swimming lessons when I asked him before signing up.
Besides, swimming is a very useful skill to acquire. It can save lives!

For the initial few lessons, one parent is advised to accompany the child into the water to reduce seperation anxiety.
Well, Andy wouldn't, for the life of him, show off his hunky figure (looking somewhat like Santa minus the white hair) so it doesn't take long to figure out who is the next (and only) option.
My problem is - I don't have suitable swim wear!! Holy macaroni! (a Mummy of toddler without swimwear - unimaginable).
Although my husband adores my breastfeeding jugs, I doubt the same can be said of parents of the other children.
Also, I can't bring myself to don one of those hideous looking one-piece spandex things which show off the camel toe, so..... I decided the next best thing to do would be to pull a T-shirt over my bikini and hope it passes off as appropriate "swim wear".

Baby Ashton is also having a whale of a time. My happy baby! We enlisted the help of my MIL and helper to join us at the pool. Part of the village who are helping to raise my children!
It is crowded on a Sunday morning. So many happy little swimmers!

The Water play area, which Adam is more interested in than lesson proper. Pfft.

You need to be at least 1.2m to go on the big water slide.

My wild water baby is confident enough to go without his arm floats now, though it'll be some time before he can really swim like a fish.

Our pig-out after work-out. Shared between Hubby, Adam & I. We are HUNGRY.

I love my prata with sugar. Fat die me.

Couldn't decide whether to eat Bak Kut Teh or Claypot chicken rice, so ordered both. Greedy me!
By the way here's an amazing video I wanna share with you. Swimming is an important skill for all children. It can save lives!