don’t be so like that!

recently i caught myself having a defeatist attitude twice:

#1: husband on holiday

insyaAllah NG has a work incentive trip next year, and we’re planning a family holiday before or after it. initially i was quite gung ho: i thought maybe two weeks of the family together and then NG goes on the incentive trip by himself with his colleagues.

but then i realised — rather belatedly — that it would mean me being alone at home with Watermelon! means sending her to ifc, rushing to work, then rushing back to fetch her, and settling her down all by myself 😱

so i said, “i don’t think i can do it.”

then i felt a little disgusted with myself. like where is the can do spirit?!?! where is the strong and capable mama?!?!

so i corrected myself and said, “i think i can do it, in dire circumstances. but maybe not while my husband is on holiday. otherwise i would be raging every day.”

“raging every day?” he asked.

“yeah, like giving the Facebook angry face at all your holiday photos”

😂 dendam max.

#2: work projects A and B

every year, we undertake small project A and big project B. both are related to each other but not the same. previously, we’ve had the same vendor to manage A and B, or two vendors to manage A and B but another colleague/team does A while i do B.

this year, we’ve got two different vendors for A and B, and we have to manage them both and be the middleman. and it is oh so tiring and causing me a lot of stress. for a project that i would otherwise be looking forward to!

so i was lamenting to my manager and asking her if we can revert to parking both projects under the same vendor next year. answer is no, due to new budget constraints for project B.

i grumbled to myself thinking urghhhhh but this is soooo difficult … and then i caught myself again.

actually, it’s possible. i need to be more diligent, more responsive, and work smarter. again, it was the defeatist attitude speaking … gotta catch it more and then shake it off!

Advertisements

7 months is my favourite month

it’s kinda funny how my state of mind can change drastically over a few weeks. 3-4 weeks ago i was extremely unhappy with life, unmotivated at work, and wishing hard that things were different.

well, i still do. i wish some things are different, but now that i’m in a better mental space, i’m trying to reflect whether these wants are warranted and fair, or me being overly idealistic and/or greedy.

but yes, it feels so good to snap out of a dark phase.

anyhoos, updates. Watermelon is 7 months old and likes to kangkang (spread her legs wide open). good lord. one time we put her in the stroller and her legs immediately bent into an L shape, kind of like a cat. other times she could be waving her legs open, as though to show off her flexibility. well good on ya, girl.

we recently embarked on her solids journey, through baby led weaning (blw). we were off to a late start because until last week or so, Watermelon couldn’t sit well unassisted. now she does better, albeit in tripod position (i.e. hands in front on the floor). BLW requires for babies to be at least 6 months old and be able to sit unassisted. i was tempted to rush into it, but the name is called “baby led weaning” which means i’m supposed to follow her cues and not impose my standards on her. sounds logical on paper but gosh it can be really hard to practise in real life!

also, some babies are real natural at picking up food and feeding themselves.

unfortunately, Watermelon is not. hah.

there’s been some sessions where all the food ends up on the floor. she’s happy to suck on the food if i hold it for her, but that kinda defeats the purpose of getting her to self-feed. BLW groups say this calls for perseverance, so insyaAllah i will tryyy to keep offering food even if all she wants to do is push them around the table or within the plate … y’know, anything but lift them to her mouth 😒

backtrack to the agonising 2-3 weeks around her 6 months mark and slightly after:

i was more anxious that i like to admit about her progress in sitting up. previously she seemed to hit her milestones fairly early or on time, but somehow sitting up was one thing she didn’t seem to progress into. i was imagining that she would only be like 8 or 9 months before she started on solids, which my head says is fine but my heart cannot take the fact that she might be left behind by her peers… chey so young got peers already.

now that she’s passed it, i feel part relieved, part silly for having worried so much. but really at that moment, it mattered so, so much.

on top of this, mama kraken was giving me a LOT of pressure to feed solids to Watermelon. every time we met her, she would bring up the topic on solids: when we were going to start, puree is the way, how pitiful it is that her cucu (grandchild) had only been allowed to try timun (cucumber — sounds more pitiful in Malay, y’know?), if we fed her then she would be more full then maybe she wouldn’t cry so often … yadda yadda yadda. coupled with the unhappy phase i was going through, i intentionally avoided her for two weeks or so cos ugh, i really didn’t need the pressure.

alhamdulillah all is good now. although mama kraken still makes stabs at me, like ohhh so poor thing my grandchild sleeps while sucking on her finger, luckily her finger hasn’t worn out. grandmothers! lovely people but oh so dramatic 🙄

on a more positive note

i think 7 months is my favourite phase so far. as my friend pointed out, Watermelon is starting to look more like a baby and less like a wrinkly tiny unexpressive newborn.

she interacts more with her surroundings. smile and giggles more often. even i can make her laugh now, not just her father! likes to stick out her tongue for fun. can rotate on the mat and do a bit of commando crawling towards objects of interest, such as our handphones or cloth tags on toys/pillows/clothes.

best of all, i have found a rabid fan in her. haha. she starts panting and smiling widely when she sees me, which can be quite heart melting and flattering. some of the time, at least. regardless, lovelovelove! ❤

 

 

 

 

the first month of returning to work

soooo the new working mum life: hectic, hectic, hectic. and a little stressful. i recently found that i didn't have the time to even sit down in front of my PC and sort out my monthly finances, eeps.

some of the biggest changes:

making a beeline for home

when i worked my first full time job at Starhub's call centre back when i was 19, i had SO much energy to go out after work. i remember one week when i was on day shift. i went out almost every night, going home at 10-11pm, and leaving for work again at 7 or 8 plus next morning. crazy or what!

as i got older, i learnt to tone down the going out after work to max 1-2x a week. and now as a new mum? i walk briskly from office to MRT station and again from MRT station to bus stop, and sometimes even cab home so i can fetch Watermelon on time. heh. i don't think i have time to drop by the supermarket or any of the shops in the malls anymore. sigh! what a huge change.

on cabbing, it's part choice part necessity lah. even if i leave work on the dot (which honestly i don't have a habit of doing because i'm usually late in the morning) i have to sprint from bus stop to infantcare doors so that i reach before 7.00pm. such is the life of an eastie working in the CBD. the other factor is about quality of life … i kinda like reaching my neighbourhood when it's still bright and feeling like i have a liiiiittle more time with Watermelon. all this means having to set aside money for a new cab fund 😬

mama kraken tried fetching Watermelon on my behalf once, in my first week. it didn't go very well because even though mama kraken fed her, Watermelon still cried 😐 susah ni. since then, i try not to rely on mama kraken yet. maybe when Watermelon's bigger or more used to this routine, things will be easier.

bedtime prison

speaking of which: babies, being the smart and intuitive creatures that they are, can tell once mum is back at work. i felt that Watermelon suddenly became extra clingy with me. when she's crying and crying at night, and i'm tired ish, a win-win situation is to nurse her to sleep in side lying. except i'd also fall asleep early, which means not much time to do other things.

we've been doing lots of side lying, which i didn't used to do, because i preferred to cradle then place her in the cot. but now sharing our bed with her throughout the night has become our new pattern. i miss having more space! sigh. also she's starting to protest when i move her to my cot. or maybe it's just my poor dynamite transfer skills. hur hur.

deep down, i want to revert back to the cot days, but i know that it's better for Watermelon to drink more during the night so that she won't be so hungry (and demanding) during the day.

pumping

pumping milk used to be a recreational activity at home, but it's now a CCA (co-curricular activity) at work. hah. i started out very stressed about my output — it seemed a lot lower than what i had to pass to IFC every morning. other than pumping at work, i also woke up extra early to pump in the morning. sometimes there would hardly be any letdown, which is …

a let down. haaa punny.

but slowly things stabilised and i realised i don't have to pass them as much milk as i thought i needed to, so that eased my stress a little. also i think my body started responding better to the pump, which helps. so now i do away with morning pumps and instead try to Haakaa, but still squeeze in a pump or more Haakaa time at night. plus still experimenting with pumping times and pump settings, etc. for example, if my last nursing is at 6.00am instead of 7.00am, i can get a little more output during my first pump session in office.

also not getting enough sleep takes a hit on my pumping output. but some nights i like to stay up coz it's the only time i get to do my things? 😢

the other things

i can't remember if it's always been this way, but Watermelon seems crankier at night, even when she's already at home with us. on top of sleeping early, it feels like i can't do my own bedtime routine without leaving her to cry it out. sigh.

then there's also episodes of stress and anxiety over work performance and the new demands of becoming a working mum. and feeling lonely from my little heartbreaks and struggles. and also feeling overwhelmed by the household chores that i need to push on with. and also the resentment when things feel very unfair. sometimes i feel so trapped, because there's no escape, nowhere to run to…

oh well. i don't mean to complain and i'm certainly not looking for suggestions … just wanna get real about how i feel about motherhood these days.

i learn a lot from my friend P who always seems to make the best out of her circumstances. i hope to one day truly love the perks of being a working mum and become a thriving one. until then, there's plenty of inner work i have to do. may Allah swt ease all of our affairs, aamiin.

with difficulty there is ease 2 comfort words

from one mother to another — breastfeeding

although breastfeeding seems like a “natural” thing, a lot of it surprisingly doesn’t come naturally to a mother who’s new to breastfeeding. it’s a skill that needs to be learnt — kinda like driving — and there’s a lot of theory to understand if you intend to breastfeed.

i’m no lactation consultant, but here are some pieces of information which i now know are useful for a new mum who wants to exclusively breastfeed in the first few months.

by the way, struggling to breastfeed a newborn is completely normal, even among women in a pro-breastfeeding culture, so don’t be discouraged!

forming a support network

  1. finding sisters who have breastfed, are breastfeeding, or are going to breastfeed is super important. as a first timer there will be many, many questions and many, many unfamiliar situations. having people to discuss these issues with will teach a lot and keep you sane. there are breastfeeding facebook groups out there, but i think best is to find people you know in real life whom you are comfortable texting.

establishing milk supply in the first three weeks

  1. breastmilk supply is essentially about demand and supply. your breasts are containers, and the more you empty them, the more your body will refill them. some of us have bigger “containers” than others, and these differences come to play when comparing pumping output, but as long as you continue to latch or pump, insyaAllah your body will provide enough milk for the baby. by the way, our capacities have nothing to do with breast size, because it’s about the number of milk ducts we have, not the amount of fatty tissue.
  2. the first 3 weeks after delivery is the most important period for our bodies to establish our milk supply. if we keep emptying our breasts, our bodies will know to keep producing milk. so keep latching, and try not to offer formula milk yet, otherwise your body won’t be receiving an accurate signal of how much milk your baby needs. it’s a vicious cycle: the more you supplement, the less you nurse. the less you nurse, the less you produce.
  3. our parents lived through a pro-formula milk era where advertising was aggressive and rampant. it’s not uncommon to hear them ask or declare that our “susu tak cukup” (milk not enough) or pass comments like “kesian dia, asik gantung sebab dia minum tak puas” (poor thing, baby has to keep latching cos he/she’s not satisfied at the boob). such comments are not only inaccurate but also hurtful. ignore them and stick to your guns. this is where having your husband’s support is crucial!
  4. my nurse told me that newborns aren’t born hungry because they’ve still got some nutrition from the last few days of being in our wombs. if your colostrum has not kicked in, latch anyway so that baby can help stimulate production. don’t despair! in any case, babies want the comfort of being close to their mothers’ bodies. it is normal for milk to kick in only a few days later. colostrum is super beneficial for babies, so don’t worry about when milk will come in. trust your body to do its thing. our job is to keep latching.
  5. there’s going to be a lot of leaking in the first month! buy a Haakaa pump, a cap or stopper for the pump (they’re sold separately), and milk storage bags, and collect leaking milk from The Other Boob. this milk will come in handy for bottle training.

establishing a good latch in the first two weeks

  1. it takes time and guidance for babies to establish a good latch (watch video here; plenty of diagrams elsewhere). in the first two weeks, your nipples may feel sore, and that’s normal. however, cracked and bleeding nipples are NOT normal. if your baby seems to have a good latch but you’re still hurting, see a lactation consultant immediately. if it turns out that your baby has tongue or lip ties which prevent him/her from latching well, you can get them corrected asap so that you don’t have to suffer any longer. these problems are unlikely to go away on their own…
  2. if baby is unable to latch well, there’s also the option of exclusively pumping. however it’s more work and requires passion and a truckload of perseverance. personally i would set aside money to consult an expert (lactation consultant) to try salvage direct latching.
  3. breastfeeding positions — at NUH, i was taught to use cross-cradle which i found very useful because i would support Watermelon’s head and place my thumb and finger on her ears, and then guide her to the breast. when she got stronger and more pro, cradle worked fine. i didn’t try football hold, but i imagine it’s also a position that allows you to closely guide baby’s head to your boob.
  4. as long as your baby pees and poops regularly, you’re doing great momma. here is a good chart summarising how often you should feed, baby’s tummy size, how many wet diapers to expect, etc.

Guide-to-BF-chart-copy

Credits: Perth District Health Unit

jaundice

  1. apparently it is common for doctors to advise mothers NOT to offer breastmilk when a baby has jaundice. they could not be more mistaken. you can read Dr Jack Newman’s explanation here, but in short, KEEP BREASTFEEDING. in his words, “Do not stop breastfeeding for “breastmilk” jaundice. “Breastmilk jaundice” does not need to be treated. It is normal!”

breast vs bottle

  1. drinking from a milk bottle and drinking from the breast requires two different skills from babies. the flow from a milk bottle is faster and requires less effort. so if you introduce a bottle too early, the baby may prefer the milk bottle and start to get frustrated at your “slower” breast.
  2. if you intend to return to work, you should introduce the bottle shortly after the baby has learnt how to latch well. during my prenatal classes, we were advised to introduce around 3 weeks. i introduced it at around 7 weeks and luckily for me it went okay. if you introduce too late, the baby may reject the bottle, which will lead to other going-back-to-work problems.

my favourite resources

Ina May has a book on breastfeeding (affiliate link). she’s well known for her book on gentle birthing. it’s a super detailed read, but she writes with a gentle and loving “voice”, something that i really welcomed.

Stanford University produced a super helpful video on hand expression.

Nancy Mohrbacher is a well-known IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who has plenty of good breastfeeding articles on her website.

I also like Breastfeeding USA’s compilation of evidence-based research articles. A lot of the content overlaps with Nancy Mohrbacher’s, but I like how they categorise the articles.

okay this is all i can think of, for now. feel free to add! might be an information overload, but that’s motherhood for newbies right? 😀

the fifth and final month of maternity leave

homg guys i can’t believe we’re here already … the fifth and final month of my maternity leave. nooooo! on the first night of my maternity leave, i was rolling my hips on my exercise ball, talking to Watermelon inside my bump about how i can’t stand the fact that i didn’t know when she was coming out, but that i’d try to be patient, relaxed, and submit wholeheartedly to Allah swt’s plans. that very night, my waterbag leaked. and 5 months later … here we are. alhamdulillah, and masyaAllah 🙂

i think of maternity leave as a really sweet period in life: when else am i going to get paid while staying at home?! it has been really, REALLY nice being able to sleep in, spend lots of time with Watermelon and NG, and not worry about work. alas, life has to go on, and i’ve to throw myself into a huge series of changes as i experience for myself what it’s really like to be a working mum of one.

anyhoos, highlights for this month:

infantcare (!)

when we toured the infantcare centre last year, the principal mentioned that it’ll be good to enroll our baby early, before she starts recognising faces and/or developing separation anxiety. hence we enrolled Watermelon this month so that she’ll get a gentle transition into infantcare, and can slowly get to know her new caregivers.

on paper, they said that one parent is allowed to accompany the child until 1.00pm on the first two days. it was going to be me, and i was planning to bring her back early. however, they ended up letting both NG and me in on her first day, though NG dragged me out after an hour because he felt that we were imposing on the principal who was layan-ing us, AND that i was starting to ask ngada2 questions like requesting for them not to put Watermelon in their Bumbo seats and asking why almost all the babies had runny noses 🤷🏻‍♀️

the second day, i went again because i wanted to observe the shower process (Ngiao Mother alert!) but i had to rush back due to some unforeseen circumstances, so boo. when i fetched her though, i hung around while they fed her (it happened to be close to her feeding time) and i played with the other kids instead. the older ones were super friendly and fun to play with. hopefully once Watermelon is their age, she’ll be friendly and independent too.

y’know, before infantcare started, i imagined dropping off Watermelon at the centre and then hiding behind one of the pillars to cry. but actually never leh. Watermelon has not cried (yet) when we drop her off. mostly she looks blur/confused, lulz. so what actually happens is that i’ll drop her off and then go home to SLEEP. i love her and everything, but it was also really nice to have a few hours to myself. a part of me wondered whether i’d regret not spending every possible minute with her while i still can, though another part figured out that i’m in a better place when i can have some me-time and then take care of her again in the afternoon when i’m more recharged.

it’s barely been a month but so far it’s been quite good alhamdulillah. i really like the principal — and Watermelon likes her too! — because she’s bubbly, approachable, and engages well. like she’d update me about how Watermelon adapted that day and say some encouraging things like “she’s okay with all the teachers here” or “she can play!” apparently Watermelon gets very angry, like “can shake the earth” when she’s hungry. and refuses to let go of her milk bottle even when it’s empty 😳😂

most importantly, i’m comfortable with our arrangement. although i hate it when people comment “kesian…” (poor thing…) when they find out she’s in infantcare. like please don’t pity my daughter, insyaAllah she’s in good hands.

ramadhan 2017

wow, this year’s ramadhan experience is much better! last year, i was feeling all bluek from morning sickness and prenatal blues. so it’s nice to be thriving again. fasting while breastfeeding was okay for me, alhamdulillah. water parade is a must: i aim to drink close to 3L of water from buka till sahur every night.

i also had to start pumping milk since infantcare started. i often fall short of my own targets, and it’s not like i even aim for much, so i have to squeeze in extra pump sessions 😦 though i read that i should just serve Watermelon how little expressed bm i have, so that she can get the cue to drink more when she’s direct latching. but with the repeated feedback on her hangry-ness, i think i better chiong on my pumping lah eh.

i finally learnt (after all the internet articles!) the importance of the nutrition quality of our sahur and buka. one time we went out to The Ramen Stall at 4.30am for sahur, thinking it was nice to #yolo and enjoy the empty streets. by 9-10am though, i was filled with regret coz the amount of sodium in the ramen was totes dehydrating my body. eeps.

NG and i started the month enthusiastically cooking our own meals, though we soon grew lazier and started getting takeaways or relying on our mums. oh well, it was nice though when we were semangat about meal planning and grocery shopping. don’t know what’s the chances that we can keep it up once work starts.

final reflections

i’m really glad i extended my maternity leave by about 6 weeks, and got to spend ramadhan at home. otherwise i can’t imagine how overwhelming it would be to adapt back to work life + get used to a pumping regime + establish our own sahur and buka routines since moving into our own home, etc etc.

now that this stay-at-home phase is ending, i’m suddenly missing the confinement period. the first month was hard; all the learning, adapting, struggling. but it was also the sweetest, as NG and i started trying to figure out this parenting thing and marvelled at the novelty of having a newborn at home. plus i’m proud of us for mostly managing it on our own, partly thanks to NG’s flexi work hours. otherwise i’m not sure i would have lived on to blog this right now. ok, i exaggerate. 

these days Watermelon’s growing so fast. she’s developing motor skills rapidly, and that unfortunately includes pinching and scratching us owwwwww. it’s going to be a blink of an eye before she starts crawling, walking, and suddenly becoming a toddler with a mind of her own. and i’ll look back at this phase thinking about all the sweet memories we had when she was in the first few months of her life.

just a few months ago, i couldn’t see myself as a person who could gush genuinely about motherhood because it’s no walk in the park. feels more like a boot camp to me, to be honest. only Allah swt knows each of our struggles eh. but today, i look back and think: alhamdulillah, masyaAllah, subhanAllah. thank you Allah for lending us Watermelon. she has truly been a blessing in our lives, from the very beginning ❤

 

krabi with baby

i’ve been dreaming about going to krabi for a long time now (like since before marriage), and thought about it again when i was pregnant. considering that i usually have to seek 2-level clearance before applying for vacation leave at work, i wanted to take the opportunity during maternity leave to squeeze in a trip somewhere. like so shiok to be free to go anywhere i want for as long as i want except … carter’s was right in their latest eDM: baby changes everything.

trip highlights

1. island hopping in our private longtail boat

most of the tour companies offered a 4-island hopping package, but we were hoping to do just 2. with a baby, we thought it would be better to settle down at 2 beaches than move around a lot. the only way to do this is to book a private longtail boat (Thai version of bumboat), which would allow us flexibility to decide on our programme depending on how Watermelon’s doing. however it’s a lot more expensive (THB 2,200/SGD 90) than if we joined group tours (THB 800ish/SGD 32 for two of us?), but we had no other choice since we were not comfortable with group tours. we ended up going to all 4 islands anyway, though we didn’t get down at the last one because it had begun to rain super heavily. the three of us got soaked to the skin, and had to ride back in choppy waters. Watermelon didn’t seem too bothered though, perhaps coz she was exhausted from missing her morning nap due to our constant movements. i wrapped her in a towel and she fell asleep in my arms, like a koala bear alright.

oh and she seemed okay with sand but not the sea. we brought her to the edges and she got all nervy.



2. visiting the night market

we slept in (after returning from island hopping) and missed the bus, which meant we had to book our own private transportation, again! ok lah but this one our fault, lol. the private car worked well in the end because Watermelon started crying about an hour in, so we cut our visit short, comforting ourselves that “there’s nothing else to buy.” plus, i could nurse her comfortably to and fro.

we had really good and really cheap food at the night market though. was fun while it lasted. a pity that it continued to rain, so there weren’t many people out at the market which is great in a way, but also made the atmosphere less merry? and the tables and chairs were wet, so it was a little inconvenient having to eat while standing around.


3. bringing baby for her first swim!

Watermelon’s first swim was supposed to be at a family chalet in April, but back then we didn’t know there were such things as swim diapers and recommendations that swimming pools may not be safe and may be too cold for newborns. fast forward one month later, we smartened up and bought her a Charlie Banana swim diaper from Mothercare, and also rented a wet suit from a mama on Carousell.

verdict: she was alright with the water. not particularly overjoyed but silent enough to entertain us while we took way too many photos of her, and even tried to dunk her once for the sake of an underwater photo. obviously she wasn’t pleased, hehe.

4. going for two massages

during her post-swimming nap (macamlah she swam laps gitu) we went to a massage parlour where they gave us the family room with 3 beds. we swaddled her and left her to sleep on the third bed, while we got our massages done. later that night, we squeezed in leg massages pulak. i haven’t been for massages (i mean, the postnatal one don’t really count yah) since getting pregnant so it was nice to go back to an old activity again 🙂 really glad we managed to do this despite the baby!

what we learnt

in summary, we learnt that travelling with a baby means very likely having to pay  “convenience fees” for the flexibility when booking activities. and perhaps, it also makes us have to isolate ourselves?

for example, at the night market, i caught sight of grilled fish which looked soooo good. however we were already full. so i thought to myself, if only our group of friends were here with us. each person could buy one type of food and we all can share2 to try. but as we left the market early, i wondered, if our friends had been there, does it mean they leave early with us too? or NG and i have to find some corner in the night bazaar to soothe Watermelon while the rest of them continue roaming? bearing in mind there are no easily available seating areas. difficult questions, aye.

all in all, alhamdulillah it was a good trip. the flights were okay too; the trickiest part for us was figuring out the infant seat belt. the stewards didn’t enforce it strictly, so i nursed her during take off and landing both ways with the seat belts pretty loose. and thankfully she didn’t poop while in the plane. would haaate to have to change her diaper in the aeroplane toilet. i’m not that high level yet eh.

p.s. have a blessed Ramadhan, everyone! may Allah swt accept our deeds during this Holy Month, aamiin.

 

the fourth month of maternity leave

helluuuu. once again, the month started out wonderful: Watermelon was smiling and cooing more, and even started to giggle! the first time i heard her giggle, i was like, “what is that sound? is that a new cry?” only to realise that ohhhh, she is laughing lah. (with her abah, who else? 🙄) (he wasn’t even that funny) (all he did was ask where she was) (and she LAUGHED!) (whuuud) (clearly she does not know who the funnier parent is)

also as usual, we ran into a rough patch somewhere in the middle of the month. her beautiful sleep habits got ruined. nooooo! on one bizarre night, she woke up at 3+ am for a feed and remained awake, chatting away. i was like hello??? it’s 3am??? normal people go back to sleep???

on other tough nights, she refuuuused to sleep or cried lots in the wee hours, which is not her usual behaviour. still don’t know what caused that. could have been a vaccination side effect; growth spurt; the infamous 4 month sleep regression; or very likely, all of the above.

but! to have a smiley and occasionally giggly baby is really sweet lah, masyaAllah. so i say this milestone overpowered the fact that she was fighting sleep like an MMA gal. 

things have suddenly improved dramatically and she’s sleeping for longer stretches than before. yay alhamdulillah, what a nice treat 🤗 though they say it ain’t over till it’s over, so who knows when things will change again. plus her next jab is coming up soon, so not looking forward to another regression  😕

also, team work with the spouse and a sense of humour goes a long way during tough times!

other exciting happenings: i’ve been introducing dangling toys to Watermelon (e.g. the baby gym that i bought super early in my pregnancy) and it’s been lovely observing her stare up the toys before tentatively reaching out for them. she still hasn’t been able to grasp or appreciate the (non-dangling) stuffed toys i got her though. hopefully soon!

in spirit of our 2nd wedding anniversary earlier this month (yay!), i signed us up for a family photoshoot. and got myself a make up artist teehee. it rained lots on the scheduled day, though. i was facing the windows as my MUA @cleochangmakeup worked on me, watching as it poured outside. in my heart, i prepared myself for the worst: that the make up would be for nothing; that the money i paid her to doll me up would go to waste; that i would have to pay for a makeover again if we had to reschedule the shoot. but syukur alhamdulillah the weather improved, and so the shoot went on at Coney Island.


her latest thing, playing with saliva bubbles


the weather cleared up and we got to shoot against gorgeous light through the trees!


planting a giant yawn into my tudung. also, i got some babywearing shots done!


NG doing his funny thing to make her laugh 🙄🙄


two little kisses for our daughter!


her toes against the light 💕 so glad i rushed to wash this dress the night before

Mira from Tiny Toes (a spin off from Colossal Weddings) was absolutely lovely to work with. she works hard, she has a good eye for great corners to take photos at, and she gives simple and clear directions to help with the posing. will totes recommend to anyone looking for a maternity shoot.

ya actually her package is for pregnant mamas, but i ownself turned it into a family shoot coz i wanted nice photos of Watermelon while she’s still a tiny squish. and of me and NG while we’re young and healthy. hopefully these will make nice photos to look back on say 10 years from now.

what else … oh yes, i’ve been very anxious about whether i can pump enough milk for Watermelon once i return to work. i believe i have enough supply for her whenever we direct latch, but for some reason my body doesn’t seem to respond well to my breast pump. i mean, i see photos of filled-to-the-brim bottles of expressed milk, usually on those lactation cookie instagram accounts, and think to myself that my current yields are so far from that.

so i spoke to an experienced mummy friend and did some reading on Breastfeeding USA and lactation consultant Nancy Mohrbacher’s blog and learned that research has found that babies aged between 1 to 6 months drink on average 90-120ml of milk per feeding. this is a lot more doable, and means that i don’t need to pump full bottles (~150ml) per session. i guess i’m stressed because i don’t know what i don’t know, and i really hope that everything will balance out and work out perfectly. like maybe she’ll drink more whenever she’s with me to make up for any shortfalls in my pumping. above all, i just don’t want her to cry from being hungry while at infantcare, which would create undue pressure on her caregivers there and eventually, on me. 

as it is, mama kraken keeps giving me the Tepung Talk (milk powder talk) and i have to keep insisting that we’re doing fine. 

as for Korean dramas, earlier this month we watched Signal. omg omg omg it is SO GOOD. a little intense at some parts, the plot twists are riveting, and there’s real good acting everywhere. plus all the main characters are so likeable. so glad our friend recommended it to us. 

NG had a super long 3 week reservist cycle this month. an interesting experience because (i) i practised driving after a long time, (ii) i practised driving with Watermelon alone behind, and (iii) his fixed schedule made me feeling feeling SAHM (coz normally, his work hours are flexi). verdict? i was motivated to be more hardworking and while it did feel nice, i’m not sure i have the sanity to be a full fledged SAHM. i got left behind alone with baby from morning till night for two days in a row and already felt burnt out and was whining 🙊🙊 so here’s a salute to all single and stay at home mums!

the third month of maternity leave

so, the month started well: Watermelon was generally easy, and i was getting a better hang of things. we began to understand her different cries. she had a predictable poop pattern, which gave me a peace of mind when we went out, coz i only had to worry about wet diapers.

week 10 rolled by, and then the growth spurt happened. oh lordy. it was a huge test of my iman. instead of crying, she was freaking yelling the house — no, i mean the block — down. she fought naps. and refused to sleep in her cot, by waking up every 15-30 min in the early night 😩

i raised the white flag and let her sleep in our bed again, after a month of her sleeping well in the cot. sigh! it felt like ten steps backwards into square one. plus i slept better as a heavily pregnant woman than as a new mummy squeezed into a thin slice of the bed, careful not to crush Watermelon into pulp.

thankfully the phase passed, and she returned to sleeping inside her cot. she still gets clingy and fussy every now and then, during which i try to be veeeery patient.

***

this month, we went out A LOT! for instance, after we collected her passport from ICA Building, we went straight into JB. and have brought her twice more, with mama kraken as well. also started doing morning stroller dates with mummy friends around bedok reservoir, i love love being there during off peak hours. such a luxury!

i feel like i grow a lot as a person whenever i bring my baby out alone. it pushes me out of my comfort zone, and i have to learn how to get comfy, fast. i also have to strategise about a lot of things that i never had to worry about pre-Watermelon e.g. stroller vs ring sling, back pack vs tote, etc.

the first time i brought her alone was to Tampines interchange. in the feeder bus on the way there, she already started crying in the ring sling. ooh, awkward… i tried to remain calm while eagerly anticipating for the bus to reach the interchange, thinking that maybe she preferred me to be walking. then i zipped around the mall running my errands to buy this, and to buy that. before long, she was wailing loudly again, attracting onlookers’ attention. so i popped by the nursing room before heading home. i was terrified of the bus ride back, and even contemplated walking home which honestly might have killed me given the shopping bags, but thankfully she slept throughout. phew! what a memorable first experience though.

the gahmen allowed open strollers on buses earlier this month, and so i tried it once. it’s still not very easy, because there was a medium sized gap between the bus and bus stop kerb. i froze at the exit doors, not knowing what to do. luckily this kind uncle who chatted me up about Watermelon also happened to alight at the same bus stop, and he helped me carry her stroller over. another phew! moment. that’s when i learnt that when i have the stroller, i have to be a bit more smiley and look more approachable and hopefully attract the good vibes of kind strangers who offer to help ✨ plus the moment i got home, i practised carrying the stroller with Watermelon inside lol. gotta know where to grip!

going out with baby alone sends my stress levels through the roof, espesh when things can’t go as planned. but once i’ve reached home safely, i think to myself: let’s do it again! it’s like a sick addiction.

we also brought her to watch a movie ….. Fast and Furious 8. our friend volunteered to hold her throughout the movie, a request that NG and i gladly agreed to. Watermelon slept through most of it, and stirred herself awake towards the end. she body surfed two bodies down to reach me. i was a bit gancheong trying to latch her swiftly in the dark, and alhamdulillah did not have to struggle much. so we survived the experience, but i’m not sure i would do this again.

***

i’ve also started pumping what i call freedom milk. each bag signifies my freedom to be away from baby. i’ve cashed them in for a movie date with NG (beauty & the beast — thought it was alright, like not much value add from the animated version? whoops), zumba sessions (just two so far — my postpartum fitness level leaves much to be desired) and the best one of all, a trip to the salon. woohoo! i really dressed up for this one, even though i was going alone. haha.

i guess i’m a little more used to pumping now, than when i first started out. i aim for once a day, though sometimes i miss sessions. or sometimes i don’t pump, and instead collect milk in my Haakaa silicone pump throughout the day.

bottle training went relatively smoothly, though i had to “downgrade” her teat from the 1 month old’s to newborn’s. all these from the Avent Newborn Starter Kit (Natural) which i bought from my first baby fair. i was worried i was introducing the bottle too early at 7 weeks, but on hindsight, it was a good time, otherwise a little late. i’m using the smallest bottle size because i’m paranoid about Watermelon swallowing too much air. plus i’m not the most diligent mama when it comes to burping the baby…

this month’s Korean drama pick was Hello Monster, mostly so i could watch more of Park Bo Gum. *melts into goo* well i quite enjoyed it, loved how the villains were smart and cunning, and a fair match for the smart policemen. 

all in all, the month started well but sadly could not stay that way. moments, whether bad or good, pass quickly. some days i’m like “yeahhh i did it!” and other days i think i’m not going to make it as a new mum. motherhood is a tough teacher … it makes me sad and bitter sometimes. i know i’m not alone but yet, i feel alone.

picking up her infantcare registration forms earlier this week gave me a jolt, though. as tough and rapidly changing things are, it’s not going to be easy going back to work and being away from her for most of the day either, so i better appreciate and enjoy all of this. we’re only in her third month of life, and i’m already missing the first.

the second month of maternity leave

i was hoping that the second month would be easier since i already have one month experience, but no. our second month was as hard, or maybe harder.

some highlights / lowlights:

1. had to settle my own meals. my confinement food catering ended, so in theory i had to start cooking my own meals. in practice, i ordered some meals online, or NG cooked for us, or we ate out. haiz. i’m not the sort to be excited or curious about cooking, and to be honest the kitchen terrifies me. so there is a huge inertia for me to cook. i’d love to cook malay dishes, but i look up the recipes and get turned off by the long list of ingredients … some of which i don’t recognise, heh.

recently, Aida Azlin shared in one of The Shawl Label’s love letters that she wasn’t a good cook when she first got married, but she cooked consistently and eventually got better. reading it gave me some motivation to cook even if i suck at it. i can learn from my mistakes as i try to cook more, so hopefully i’ll get better. in time for ramadhan, especially.

2. babywearing begins! and not to a good start. Watermelon continued crying when i put her in my stretchy wrap on one particular clingy and tough day, and i felt horribly frustrated and paralysed. so i called a babywearing consultant, Nurjanna Ng from Jars of Fluff to my house for a 2h session. she taught me how to wear a stretchy wrap, ring sling, and how to do the FWCC on a woven wrap. she is suuuper nice and friendly, and i really enjoyed our session. i’ve tried watching YouTube videos, but having someone to guide and critique my attempts was so much better. after our session, i sent her photos of my ring sling attempts (it’s harder than it looks, boo) and she gave helpful pointers on how to improve. so i highly, highly recommend her services 😊

Continue reading

tahnik, aqiqah & majlis kesyukuran

tahnik & cukur rambut – applying honey into newborn’s mouth & first shave of hair

we did her tahnik at home when she turned a week old. we got Uztaz Abdul Aziz from Darul Ghufran Mosque to help shave her head and feed her some honey. he then estimated the weight of her hair and the corresponding donation amount, and we passed him the money to kirim to the mosque for administration. since Ghufran is raising funds for their re-construction efforts, i thought we could have donated to them instead. however, one thing we learnt is that donations from tahnik must go to the poor.

anyhoos it was a good session coz we also chatted on the origins of the sunnah, and discussed tips to help make her hair grow faster hee. we also sought his help to confirm how to write Watermelon’s name in Jawi for her birth certificate registration. luckily i didn’t make my own attempt, i would have been sooo wrong!

here’s an IG story that i wanted to share here coz y’all get watermelon references, and some photos of the tahnik. alhamdulillah Watermelon slept through the shaving until she got jolted awake by the sweet sweet honey.

aqiqah – sacrifice of animal on the occasion of a child’s birth

for aqiqah, also done on her one week, mama kraken helped arrange it through a relative who has contacts in Cambodia. they were erm, very enthusiastic. they promptly sent us photos to show the sacrificed sheep, and also the subsequent meal session organised for underprivileged kids. the funny/cute/not really cute thing is that in each photo they had a placard with Watermelon’s name on it and … blood splatters! keeping it very real 😳

majlis kesyukuran

we also held a majlis kesyukuran for family and friends on Watermelon’s first month anniversary. it’s an idea we’ve toyed with for months, and also meant it to be an open house since we’ve not invited relatives over yet. it was purely a makan-makan session with no marhaban since we already did the tahnik and cukur rambut earlier.

wellll as hosting open houses go, it was pure madness for NG and me! tried to catch up with guests as much as possible, but even then i’m sure there were some who fell through the cracks 😦

thankfully Watermelon was not overly fussy during the event though i felt bad that her feeding times were delayed. after latching her in my room, i’d throw on my nursing cover and go back outside to catch them guests. think she was so tired that she would fall asleep immediately despite me being sweaty and the warmth from the crowd.

alhamdulillah, although the idea was to share some rezeki with guests out of gratitude that Watermelon has been safely delivered, our guests shared rezeki with us instead ❤ may Allah swt multiply their rezeki back! aamiin.

oh yes and i got to order a huge 10 inch thai iced milk tea birthday cake for NG and some chocolate/salted caramel pods from my baker friends. love it when i have an excuse to order sweet treats heheh.

regret not taking a family photo with NG and baby before the event started 😦 so here’s my favourite photo of Watermelon instead. this was taken by her dad in our bedroom back when she was less than a week old. can’t wait for her hair to grow back! ⭐