what’s going on

feels like I haven’t had much to blog about, short of updating about the mundane stuff like what I feed Watermelon for dinner (not much), how many teeth she has (zero) and if she can walk (no, not yet).

the most exciting update is probably our plans to perform umrah soon-ish, InsyaAllah. the plan is for three of us plus my MIL and FIL to go in mid-January. we chose an off-peak period since none of us are tied to school holidays. omigosh please help to pray that Allah swt will ease our affairs! my biggest worry is how Watermelon will behave when I’m joining the congregational prayers. as cute and pouty as she is, she can be clingy/insecure when she doesn’t have her hand on any part of my body so … good luck to us girrrl. other things I’m worried about are whether we can keep her sufficiently warm in the cool temperature, and how she is going to behave on the plane and on the long bus rides 😔

if anybody has tips on performing umrah with a 1 yo baby, please share! 😘

we went to KL late last month, for a super short 2d 2n trip with friends. 9mo Watermelon on a plane ride is much different from her 4mo self when we went to Krabi. this time she didn’t want to sleep and instead was very interested in the various flyers in the seat pocket, including the bak kut teh ad at the back of the magazine. astaghfirullah sis, mengucap! anyway, luckily it was just a 45 min flight but I already dread our next flight…

because we had limited time in KL, we planned a super packed programme on our full day there. it was so long that Watermelon got maaaad cranky at the end of it. even all that babywearing couldn’t save her. I learnt that babies will always need a safe and quiet place to retreat to. there’s a limit to how long you can bring them out for, even if you keep them close to you in a carrier.

what else… ooh, Aunt Flo appeared in my life again! at about 10 months post partum, not bad huh. what this means is baby number two, here we come!!! ok, ok, I kid. hold on, let me scoop NG’s heart from the floor and put it back inside him. I mean, I would really love a number two (and three! and four! cue major 7.0 on the Richter scale eye roll from my husband) but I don’t think we’re ready, if we can help it. of course if Allah swt should decide that it is our rezeki soon, then I would say Alhamdulillah, now let me shop for a newborn woven wrap… #buyallthewraps

lastly, I figured some time back that since I don’t have enough themes to group my thoughts into blog posts, I could turn to … microblogging. hee. I’ve been tweeting at @krakentweets. so that’s where all the mundane stuff have been hiding, actually. hope to see you there?

Advertisements

an honest conversation about work (part 1)

october/november is the time of appraisals, and it’s been made clear to me: i haven’t been doing well since returning back to work. i’m not as alert and thorough as i used to be, and it’s been noticed by some higher ups. eeps.

needless to say, it has been an uncomfortable and depressing place to be.

the last time i struggled in my career was when i had just switched jobs, but back then it was, i suppose, more understandable that i had many new things to learn and adapt to.

i have it harder now because my bosses compare me to pre-working mum kraken. and i don’t have favourable factors surrounding me. i took no pay leave which meant my team had to “shoulder heavier workload” for me. we have a new CE who was brought in to clean up our org’s dirty skeletons, so he definitely won’t tolerate low performance. we have a new deputy CE whom my director reports to, so that is an extra boss to please. plus we are going through a re-org next year in which my director will be in charge of new departments, which means she won’t have as much time for us, which subsequently means 1. she will be less patient and tolerant of mistakes and 2. now that she’s higher up in the chain, she expects us to produce higher value too.

my one true blessing is that my manager has been very gentle with me, though there’s only so much she can help to defend.

the other thing that came into discussion was the fact that i don’t have a helper, which means i don’t have help on the home front, which means my work front would have to take a toll. it’s hard to deny this because i’m not able to stay back late as often anymore, and perhaps i have been extra tired from chores on top of the night wakings, etc.

it makes me a bit depressed to think that for a working mum to thrive, you “have” to have a helper. what if your family values don’t align with having one? it sounds easy to say at first that you’ll let your career suffer, but honestly there’s only so many scoldings you can endure before your morale and self-esteem sink and you question your existence :/ it’s sooo unpleasant, ya know?

regardless of whether i stay or leave this agency, i want to at least bounce back to where i used to be. i’ll have to very quickly figure out systems on managing house chores, working out an after-work childcare arrangement, cutting down my mental load (there’s probably a bunch of BST noise i could live without, heh), keeping up with breastfeeding, getting more rest somehow, and squeezing out time for exercise every week.

hopefully i’ll have happier updates to share months from now. meantime, tips and duas are welcome. may Allah swt ease all of our affairs! 😌

my reviews on baby products

Watermelon is 9mo and homg does time fly by or what. 9mo is a delightful phase coz her cheeks are fluffing up, she smiles lots and giggle lots, she can sit up but can’t crawl yet (i.e. Hurricane Watermelon has not landed yet) … in general super cute. sorry to gush about my own daughter, hope i’m not making you puke! i realise that when i say other people’s babies are cute pre-kids, i meant other people’s 7mo-9mo babies are cute. and not the newborn stage or younger, ya know what i mean? 😉

anyway, today’s post shall update about how my baby fair purchases are doing. i had two posts from last year (here and here), and i thought i’d do a quick review one year later.

1. moo moo kow kow changing pad — it’s a thin changing pad without any cushion. we use it to alas (protect) our bed whenever we’re dressing her up after a shower. when she was younger, i would also lay this under her whenever she slept on our bed coz i was worried about stains. glad i found some use for them, since i much prefer my JJB one when i’m outside.

2. maclaren quest stroller — we started using this when she was about 2-3 months. alhamdulillah she takes to it pretty well. nowadays we don’t use our stroller as frequently because a) she can sit in high chairs in restaurants and b) i fell into the rabbit hole of babywearing. nonetheless it’s a great stroller for our needs; no regrets!

3. k-mom wipes, detergent, nail clipper set — i’ve stopped buying their wipes coz they’re more pricey. using pigeon wipes now. we still have the clothes detergent, softener and bottle/food cleaner from our first baby fair. with refills in the store. so yay! nail clipper set is decent though i’m that horrible mum who leaves it to her teachers to help us trim her nails 😬

4. parklon bubble playmat — oh yaaas, one of our best baby purchases. has become a main feature of our living room. we often plonk her on the playmat to layan diri (self-entertain) while we run off to do our errands around the home.

5. pigeon breast pads — i hardly used these! and i find them coarse and uncomfortable to use. these days i use moo moo kow kow’s bamboo washable breast pads if i have to. will recommend these because they’re more comfortable and you can save the environment 😀

6. avent milk bottles + bottle brush + milk bags — alhamdulillah she took to the avent bottle since we introduced it to her at 7 weeks. the set i bought came with 4 bottles, 2 short and 2 tall. she has only needed the short bottles so far, though i suppose i could not have known that last year. the bottle brush i want to complain. it’s quite rigid and not suitable for narrow-neck bottles, such as the medela storage bottles that i use with my breast pump. i recently bought dr brown’s bottle brush and find it more suitable for us. i still use their milk bags though lansinoh has a smarter design that minimises wastage. guess i am illogically brand loyal lulz.

7. jarrons & co cot (preloved) — serves us fine. she doesn’t want to sleep in it at night (sigh!) but we still transfer her there for naps or place her inside while we get dressed, so that she doesn’t risk falling off our bed. the wheels are a bit wonky though :/

8. maxi cosi car seat (preloved) — ok please do not buy a second hand car seat. supposedly it’s not safe because you don’t know whether the previous owners have been in an accident. also we had no manual which made me suspicious and tawar hati with it. waiting for her to outgrow it before we buy a bigger one. sometimes we find the angle too steep such that she has to sit up straight instead of reclining, which makes her cranky and unwilling to sit inside. we have 60% success rate of getting her to sit in the car seat without wailing.

9. breast pump — the Spectra S9+ is a decent pump, but i later upgraded to S2 and it is amaaazing. well i exaggerate, a bit. i recommend S2 (or S1 which is the same but with a rechargeable/portable battery) if you don’t have to pump on the go. the suction is more comfortable and i get better yield.

10. diaper changing station — i love ours! turns out it came with a tub, which we used from birth until recently when we upgraded to bathing her on the floor. the station also acts as storage for diapers and towels.

11. jujube be right back bag — i love this too! it is admittedly a little heavy even when empty. i’m happy with the black and white print i chose that makes it unisex enough for NG to carry. JJB is a thoughtful brand and i’d say the hype is REAL. sure, the grey market for tokidoki prints can be daunting, but if you’re not looking for those then prices are loads better 🙂

12. Combi rocker, Roanju — served us well for about 4 months. we placed Watermelon in for naps. we gave it away recently though, because i didn’t want to continue using it as a high chair. firstly it’s covered with fabric which is kirim salam tks for me, and secondly it’s quite complicated with levers. nonetheless i loved that Combi’s rocking mechanism is smooth, unlike those from other brands that i’d seen 😬

13. Philips 3-in-1 steriliser — Serves us well, I suppose. nothing to rave about because personally i’m not too fanatic about sterilising bottles, hee. #malas If I had another baby, I might consider the UV ones which can sterilise and dry bottles. only problem with that is that it takes up more precious kitchen counter space 🙅🏻🙅🏻

14. Fisher Price Kick and Play piano gym — Omg highly recommended pls. It was fab at entertaining Watermelon somewhere between 4mo to 8mo. every time we put her down on it, she would play and reach out for the toys like she’s never seen them haha. nowadays she’s into plastic bags and pegs so I’ll think about selling this set off or giving it away soon 🙂

15. Mamypoko diapers — The newborn set did its job well. i especially liked the winnie the pooh prints lolol #masih. but since the initial batch ran out, we’ve switched to Goon. Love it, hasn’t given us problems. i still prefer to order her diapers in cartons online via Lazada. home delivery ftw!

16. nursing cover from Milc — it served us really well! and then it got lost 😢💔😭 i don’t even remember how or when. waiting for her to release a print that catches my eye before buying another. meanwhile, i’ve tried the poncho/cape type of nursing covers but personally i prefer apron style.

17. solly baby stretchy wrap — sold mine off because Watermelon seemed to hate it and i got frustrated that it wasn’t good enough for her. since then i must have bought more than 10 woven wraps to replace, so let’s not go there 😆😆

i think this should cover most of the baby purchases i mentioned last year! on the whole, i’m happy with my choices. though i spent a lot, and sometimes unnecessarily so 🙊

but with some hindsight, the two things i think all pregnant mothers should also buy are the Haakaa silicone breast pump and the Nose Frida nasal aspirator aka mucus sucker. the former helps you collect milk from a leaky boob or can be used while you latch baby on the other side, and the latter helps to remove mucus from a stuffy nosed baby. it’s not as gross as i expected, and certainly provides relief to both parents and baby. thank you Mrs F for the recommendation!

if there was one thing i would warn people from buying, it’s those clothes gift sets that come in boxes. i bought some for myself because i wanted Winnie the Pooh prints but i found them to be generally poor quality! the items don’t hold well in the laundry. so yes if you really have to shop clothes for a friend’s or a relative’s newborn, it would be better to buy them from Mothercare, H&M, Cotton On Kids, Fox Baby, etc.

that’s all folks! here’s one of my favourite photos of Watermelon for memories 💕

keeping up with this changing life

hola! it’s been 3 months of being a working mum — oh wow, how time flies. it really does get easier with time, though the hard times were genuinely tough at that point in time.

some things have become so natural, like heading home straight. it’s not even a thought anymore about how sad it is that i can’t singgah shops at say, Bedok Mall on the way home. i’ve found a regular grab hitch driver that i engage maybe 1-3x a week. we chat a lot during the drive home, so it’s really nice.

pumping is also a tad better now. i generally have a better yield after a hearty meal although i don’t take chances and have some milk boosters at my desk. for now i’m relying on @mamalait’s brownies and Milo with oats, brown rice wheat and barley. i still have one pack of cookies from my earlier order from another baker but to be honest i’m dreading eating them because they’re bitter 🙊 i also have @bymommadee’s nursing aid and mother’s milk supplements, but i’ve not been actively using these two recently. heh.

i think it was last month that i panicked about my pumping output and my freezer stash that i went all out to boost my supply, including a weekend power pump routine. i also sought donations of frozen breastmilk from friends so now my freezer stash is bigger, and i’m less stressed about my yield at work and about leaving Watermelon with other caregivers during weekends. on one hand i often wanted a short break of me-time, on the other hand i didn’t want my freezer stash to run out. but all that isn’t an issue … for now, alhamdulillah. though i really should pump in replacement for the frozen milk offered, eeps. been really lazy, especially after receiving the treasure trove of milk 😬

other than that … Watermelon sleeps very late every night, and i’m trying to shift her bedtime earlier. it’s a little stressful talking to other mums about this, tbh. often have to remind myself to keep an open mind, and to consider our family’s arrangements and what works best for us. i’ve also had on-off success getting her to sleep in the cot again. maybe after my current peak period is over, i’ll have more energy to insist on cradle position for night feeds.

we’ve started bathing her without a tub! life is 10x easier once baby can sit up. key differences are that we can put her in high chairs in restaurants, and i can sit her somewhere while i prep my wrap when we’re outside, which was something i couldn’t really do comfortably when she was smaller.

on eating solids, she’s now better at feeding herself yay. but she’s still in the palmar grip days, so small and short stuff, she can’t quite handle yet. i wish i had more time and energy to let her explore more food, but urgh sometimes i’m just too tired after work or during weekends 😔

oh and back to work stuff — i’m trying not to bring home work, even if my plate is piling and there’s a gazillion things to do. i figured that there’s no point in working late into the night + having to wake up for night feeds + having to wake up early for work so that i can knock off early and fetch Watermelon. i might as well use the evening to recharge and spend time with her while she is what she is — a 6 month old, a 10 month old, a toddler. but again, it’s only been 3 months of this so i really hope to be able to keep this up for the long term. most importantly i want to remember to choose motherhood over career. so that i don’t get too emotionally invested over promotion issues and then turn negative and unmotivated if i get passed up.

that said, i’m thinking of changing jobs next year. part of me feels like it’s a crazy thing to do, rocking the boat when i already have a supportive team and good hours, but another part of me really wants to move on. so hopefully there’ll be some cool vacancies around the time that i’m planning to leave *cough after bonus cough*. deep down my dream is to run my own business or work from home, but i don’t have any ideas on how to get there, for now. this might sound idealistic, but i think i would love to have time on weekdays going playground hopping and organising play dates when Watermelon’s a preschooler, insyaallah.

let’s see how things go…

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!

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.