I was trying to sleep after feeding Alistair in the afternoon, but Amy came into the room again (for the hundredth time) to disturb me. I tried to ignore her and hoped that she would entertain herself with the iPad, but she stood up and opened the curtain, which allowed in the sun light and unbearable heat right onto my body.
I threw the blanket away and stormed out of the room. Amy cheerfully followed behind me.
I stormed downstairs. Amy was singing songs as she tailed me.
I angrily moaned to everyone downstairs that Amy was disturbing me and I couldn’t sleep. Amy was still happily following behind me.
I stormed into the kitchen, and, not knowing what to do in my silent anger, grabbed some drinks and tried to eat a piece of Twiggies.
The hubby came in and asked me to go sleep while he handled Amy. At this point, tears already flooded my eyes and all I could do in reply was shake my head, swallow the bite of cake in my mouth, and go to the toilet. I shut the door and bawled my eyes out.
Even as I was crying, I felt silly. Why was I crying over the lack of sleep? It seemed to be such a trivial, stupid reason.
Oh but I was so exhausted, you have no idea. I haven’t had sufficient sleep since Alistair came home. I know it’s supposed to be “normal” for new parents to have that deprivation of sleep. But, a busy sleepless night coupled with a busy sleepless day for the past three weeks was beginning to take a toll on me.
Sure, some days I would get to sleep a whole TWO HOURS STRAIGHT. That is such luxury you know? But it’s simply not enough.
Locked inside the bathroom, I did ask myself if I was experiencing postpartum blues. I guess it was possible. Or I was simply too exhausted.
Anyway, I could hear Amy calling out for me from outside the bathroom (cheerfully still, bless her soul), and I waited till the redness left my eyes before going out.
I really wanted to be upset with her. But one look at her cute, cheerful face beaming up to me… My heart melted.
And so I took a deep breath, and girded myself for another day.
One day at a time. One moment at a time.
All the while reminding myself that these exhausting days will pass before I even know it. Soon I would be able to sleep in all I want.
And the reason for my current tiredness is more than worth it: the privilege of having and raising my two precious children.
p/s: The first time I cried that day was also due to lack of sleep. My rest was constantly interrupted first by Amy then Alistair then Amy then Alistair then Amy… you get the drift.
It’s a ‘confined’ Chinese New Year for me this year. Even though I really don’t feel like I’m still in confinement anymore, considering all the rules I’ve broken and the amount of things I’ve been doing…
My elder sister has been nagging at me to follow as many rules as I can, but it’s difficult. Some rules were broken by choice:
a) I’m not supposed to shower and wash my hair. Eww. I showered in the hospital the next day after giving birth and have been showering every day since. I wash my hair every alternate days too. Just cannot stand being dirty, especially since I’m breastfeeding.
b) I’m not supposed to drink and eat cold stuff. I’ve been trying to adhere to this, but there was that once or twice that I broke it because I was too thirsty and it was too hot, I really needed that cold cup of 100 Plus…
Other rules were broken because I had no choice:
a) I’m not supposed to go out. But within days I already had to go to the hospital multiple times because Alistair was admitted for jaundice. And then I went out for dinner. And then grocery shopping.
b) I’m not supposed to walk a lot and climb stairs. But if I don’t, then who’s going to serve me?? I have no confinement lady, and I am not Harry Potter, so I can’t wish my way for food to come to me or for things to happen.
c) I’m not supposed to touch water. Well. As mentioned above, I showered. And then I have to bathe Alistair too. And occasionally I have to bathe Amy too. And we are supposed to wash our hands with soap before touching baby every time, so…
I’m not belittling the Chinese beliefs and traditions, but some of the rules are really not do-able. I think the confinement month and rules are made to pamper and take care of mothers, and it’s quite a sweet gesture. But I think it’s OK too if you can’t follow them, as long as you are not medically harming yourself.
(I have checked with my doctor about the walking and climbing stairs thing, because I was worried about having prolapsed womb. She said it won’t affect, but if I’m worried, I can always do the pelvic exercises.)
Since Chinese New Year falls within my confinement month this year, I’m not supposed to go out and everything. But we still dressed up for pictures!
Wishing all of you a prosperous and happy year ahead! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
When I nurse Alistair, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Grateful for this baby. Grateful for another child. Grateful that I am able to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is such a big thing for mommies these days. During our parents’ time, it was all about feeding babies formula milk. And now, it is all about “breast is best”.
In a way, it’s good. Mommies now are more educated and more aware about the benefits of breastfeeding, and there is also a lot more support and encouragement for breastfeeding. However, the dark side of that is the immense pressure that mommies are put under to breastfeed.
I know a few mommies who admitted that they felt such pressure to breastfeed, and such judgement if they did not. But breastfeeding is not an easy feat. Some mothers really struggle with low supply. Some have a tough journey – cracked nipples, inverted nipples, mastitis, etc. Some just choose not to breastfeed because, well, they have the freedom of choice.
Whatever they choose, these mothers should be supported. As long as their babies are fed well and nice, it’s good! Motherhood is already such a tough and challenging journey; why do we want to impose even more unnecessary pressure on mothers?
When Amy was born, I too felt the pressure to exclusively breastfeed. The struggle was real, and during the first few weeks, I was teary-eyed due to the fatigue, pain and the ruthless commitment. When she was admitted to the hospital for phototherapy (she had high jaundice) in her first week, I felt ashamed that I couldn’t pump out as much as milk as she had needed.
Thankfully, my milk supply gradually came in and I was able to continue my breastfeeding journey without much problems.
When I was about to have Alistair, I told my husband that we should prepare formula milk because he would most likely be admitted for jaundice as well, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pump out as much milk for him, since my milk would only just be coming in.
True enough, he had to be admitted for phototherapy when he was 4 days old, and by then, the most I could pump out was just 1.5 oz. He needed at least 2.5 – 3 oz per feed, due to the phototherapy treatment. There was no way I could pump out as much, and I couldn’t stay over at the hospital with him due to various reasons. So, I gave the nurses a box of formula milk to feed him when my milk was not enough.
Did I feel guilty? For a brief moment, I DID. I almost felt emotional that I couldn’t meet my baby’s needs and that I had to give him formula. But then, I quickly snapped out of it. Why did I feel guilty when all I was doing was to ensure my baby had enough milk to help him flush out the bilirubin in his body?
While he was in the hospital, I continued pumping at home to ensure my supply keeps coming in, and whenever I could, I went to the hospital to breastfeed him. I am thankful that, since he was discharged, I am able to resume breastfeeding exclusively, and so far it’s been a relatively smooth journey.
What I am trying to say is:
If you are a mother who wants to exclusively breastfeed, I am supportive of you! You can do it! It can be really tough and demanding and painful at times, but you can do it sista!
If you are a mother who wants to breastfeed and supplement with formula milk, go for it! Don’t be ashamed, because you are doing your best for your baby.
If you are a mother who wants to forego breastfeeding and feed your baby with formula milk instead, do it! I believe you have already done your own research before making any decisions, and you only want the best for your child.
Anyway. This post was supposed to be about breastfeeding essentials, but I guess I went ahead of myself.
So, since this is my second time breastfeeding a baby, I felt that I was a little more prepared, and I wanted to share with you the things that helped me kickstart a relatively smooth breastfeeding journey.
#1 Positive Mindset
It is true that you have to start with a positive mindset. Because the first few days can be a huge pain. Especially if you do not have supportive people around you. Besides the usual doubt about whether or not your baby is having enough to drink, the engorgement can be terrible, and the commitment to feed your baby round the clock can further aggravate your post-natal blues. But if you have decided to breastfeed, you got to keep yourself positive, and remind yourself that the pain will pass! (But if the problems really affect you, please look for a lactation consultant or a midwife or experienced friends who can help you)
#2 Nipple Cream
I use the Medela PureLan 100 nipple cream, and it’s been my life saver for both Amy’s time and now Alistair’s. I start putting it on the moment my baby started suckling. Even if my nipples were not yet bruised or cracked, I kept putting it on after every feed to prevent bruising and cracking. After awhile, you kinda develop iron nipples, then you’ll be OK, but in the beginning especially, this cream IS THE BEST.
#3 Massage Your Boobs
When you milk first come in, you will most likely experience engorgement. This can be extremely painful. Plus, your newborn may not have the skills or the strength to suck out all the milk yet. So, you really need to massage your breasts before, during and after your feed. Warning though: it can be really painful. But you need to just endure the pain and press out all the milk, so that you get relief and so that your baby gets all the milk he or she needs.
#4 Nurse Everywhere
When I had Amy, I was shy. I restricted myself to breastfeeding her in the privacy of my room where nobody was around. And when we went out, I always nursed her in nursing rooms. That actually made me quite depressed because she was nursing ALL THE TIME, and it meant that I always had to be in solitude or away from people. After awhile, I felt like all I was doing was nursing and I had no life.
So this time with Alistair, I became quite open. I nurse him everywhere and anywhere in my house, even though I am now living with my in-laws. I will just announce that “I am feeding him here!” and sit at a corner to nurse him, while I continue to watch TV or play with Amy. And when we go out, I am now learning to master the usage of a nursing cover, so that I can continue to nurse him anywhere while I hang out with friends.
#5 Nurse on Demand
You can’t really avoid this. If you want your supply to be established, you need to meet the demands of your baby – even if it’s round the clock. Amy used to want to feed every 1 to 2 hours. It was crazy! But the crazy feeding schedule usually only lasts the first one or two months. By then, your baby would have settled into a pattern and your milk supply would also be enough to last your baby for a couple of hours. (fingers crossed) But then again, occasionally they would go through some growth spurt, then they might want to nurse every other hour again.
Those are all that is in my mind for now, and I’m also being distracted by Amy, and Alistair is going to wake up soon for his next feed, so…
If you have chosen to breastfeed, I hope you will have a smooth and enjoyable breastfeeding journey. Enjoy the bonding with your baby, and when it gets tough, remember that this breastfeeding period only lasts for a while. It will be over before you know it, and you’ll be missing it!
When I was pregnant with Alistair, I constantly wondered about two things.
Firstly, will I be able to love both kids the same? What if my love for Amy lessens? Or what if I could not love Alistair as much as I love Amy? Would I be unfair to them? How would I be able to give them equal time, equal attention, equal love?
(I have no answer yet for any of the questions above.)
Secondly, how am I going to introduce Alistair to Amy?
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I told Amy about it. However, as she was barely 2 years old at that time, she knew nuts about what I was talking about.
As my belly grew, I constantly talked to Amy about baby Alistair. I told her there’s a baby inside mama’s stomach. Soon, she was able to repeat that: “Babyyyyyy inside mama’s stomach.”
In the last few months, she was even able to remember that baby inside mama’s stomach was baby Alistair, and she would sometimes voluntarily caress and kiss my belly.
Yet, I doubted that she understood the reality of it all.
A few months before Alistair was due to be born, I started planning the best ways to introduce them and to help Amy adapt to the new addition to our family.
Unfortunately, the first moment of introduction was kind of spoiled. I had envisioned a nice, intimate setting where Amy and her papa would come visit Alistair and me in the hospital, with just the four of us, and she could have that magical moment of meeting her brother.
That only happened in my mind.
I delivered Alistair in the morning, but by the time Amy was brought to the hospital to visit me, it was night, and I had a lot of visitors with me in the room at that time. So when her papa carried her into the room, she was extremely shy to see all the visitors. She was happy to see me, but didn’t dare to run over to me. And I could only do a quick “Look Amy, this is baby Alistair! He’s your brother!” while all the other visitors looked on.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated my visitors coming to see us. I was just disappointed at the timing that Amy came in to see her brother.
We also did a gift exchange. While I was still pregnant, Amy and I sort of chose a toy for baby, and I wrapped it up for him. Unbeknownst to Amy, I also wrapped a gift for her “from baby Alistair.” So at the hospital, we did the gift exchange. Honestly though, I don’t think Amy knew any of the significance. She was just happy to get a present and couldn’t wait to open it up.
So anyway. The reality really hit when Alistair and I returned home. I guess Amy suddenly realized that this baby is here to stay, and he has brought about change in the family. She now has less attention, and more people are fussing over the baby.
She has been nice to Alistair, but her tantrums have escalated. She is suddenly even more opinionated and stubborn (and she was already very opinionated and stubborn before this), and would go into uncontrollable screaming and crying over small things (and sometimes over nothing). We try to be patient, but sometimes she does get on our nerves. Yet, I remind myself that she is just a 2-and-a-half-year-old. It’s tough for her to suddenly have to share mama and papa.
At the same time, some of her reactions have been really cute.
She saw me breastfeeding for the first time, and gave me such a look of shock, horror and disgust. (I was like gee thanks Amy, you were a breastfed baby too okay)
I told her baby is drinking milk. And she said, “Baby drinking milk. Amy dowan milk,” while shaking her head vigorously. So I said baby drinks from mama’s breasts while Amy drinks from bottle because Amy is a big girl now. From then on, she loves to say “Baby drink milk from mama’s nen nen. Amy drink from bottle!”
We took out the baby cot in preparation for baby, and Amy became super interested in it. She has been asking to go into the cot, and said she wants to lie inside the cot like baby. And when we put her in, she would just enjoy herself inside.
She sometimes still points to my tummy and say “babyyyyyyyy”. Then I would explain that there’s no more baby inside my tummy, and that baby Alistair is already out. And I would show her Alistair. She would look confused and just walk away.
Well, life has certainly become more interesting now with a toddler and a baby. I have no confinement lady, so I’ve been hands-on with Alistair since the day we returned from hospital. My parents-in-law are helping me out with Amy as well as with cooking and some housechores. But whenever I can, I will spend time to play with Amy, or change her diaper, or put her to bed.
Needless to say, I’m exhausted! And sometimes I wonder if I would be able to finish this month of confinement in one piece. But then again, I would never trade this for anything else. And actually, I found that I could really enjoy Alistair’s newborn stage this time round. (During Amy’s time, I was freaking out as most new moms would haha)
Every day I remind myself to enjoy Alistair’s every milestone, and also not to miss Amy’s development. They grow up way too fast.
What a beautiful start to 2017 it has been. My dear boy, Alistair Jianlei Yong, has been born.
Due to the history of my stillbirth with Alexa, my doctor and I had already agreed that we would induce delivery for this pregnancy, just like how we did for Amy. So throughout my pregnancy with Alistair, I knew that I would be delivering at my 38th week.
The weeks building up to the induction were a little bit stressful and tense for me. While I was less fearful compared to when I was pregnant with Amy, I was still unable to totally let my guard down. The tiny question of whether I would be able to bring my third baby home still nagged at me.
Also, this time round, I found myself a little bit more apprehensive about the whole process of labour and delivery. Perhaps it is because I already knew what to expect – the pain, the needles, the stitches, the NOT pushing and then the pushing…
Well. I did find that the entire experience this time round was a little more difficult and traumatising. Let’s start from the beginning.
Just as the clock struck midnight on January 10, 2017, I was admitted to the labour ward for my induced delivery. At this point, my dilation was already 2-3 cm, so I was quite hopeful for a quick labour! The nurse said I could start the induction at any time, but weirdly, I was a bit hesitant. I guess it was because I knew that once the process was started, there was no turning back or pausing, and the pain will begin!
But anyhow, I knew it was all inevitable, and another part of me really wanted to have baby Alistair out in my arms as soon as possible too. So at 2.45am, we started the induction by inserting half of the tablet (don’t know what it’s called) to soften my cervix.
As only half was inserted, as opposed to one full tablet during Amy’s time, I found that the process progressed a little slower. My contractions started becoming regular, and started to build up at 4am, but they were still very bearable. I could even sleep a little here and there until 6am.
At 6, the nurse came in to check on my dilation again, and she said the words that totally demotivated me.
“It’s still the same.”
What?! By then, my contractions were starting to be very painful and they were very regular, coming in at every 2 minutes.
So, even though my dilation was still 2-3cm, but because my contractions were so regular and so intense, the nurse decided that it was time to prepare me for delivery. They had to insert the “line” for IV drip (just in case of emergency) in my wrist, which was one of the things I dreaded because I really really really hate needles.
And then, my worst nightmare happened.
The needle went in, but couldn’t be totally pushed in. The nurse said it was a short vein, whatever that meant. So she had to take it out and look for another vein. She got another nurse in to help, and they found another vein. Again the “line” went in, and by then I already wanted to faint because I could feel everything and I really really really hate needles.
They told me my vein was a little small, so they would be inserting some fluid to wash out the vein a little bit. A few seconds later, they said, the vein seemed to be too small because the fluid was not going in. So they had to take it all out again and look for another vein!!!
I was in distress by this time. Not only were my contractions kinda killing me, but the entire needle experience was really making me upset.
They finally found a cooperative vein on my right hand, and the “line” was finally settled in. But then when the nurse checked the monitor (we were monitoring the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions all this while), she said there was an episode where my baby’s heartbeat dipped. So she had to connect me to the oxygen mask and drip me up for hydration, to ensure that baby could get all the oxygen and hydration he needed.
Listening to that made my heart fall. My husband and I were suddenly quite anxious. Will Alistair be OK??
The nurse told me that it could be due to various reasons. It could be head compression, cord tangled around the neck… Or it could be just that I was anxious or stressed and it affected the baby. So I had to not be anxious or stressed.
Listening to that made me even more anxious and stressed.
The nurse gave my doctor a call to give her the update, while I continued to lie down on the delivery bed, battling my contractions and trying very hard to stay calm and relaxed.
At about 7.20am, my doctor walked into the room and told me everything was fine. Immediately, I felt assured. I asked her about the baby’s heartbeat dipping, but she said it was OK since it was only one episode and since then baby’s heartbeat was more than fine.
My contractions were still coming in at every 2 minutes and the pain was really intense by now. My dilation was almost 5cm, so my doctor gave it a little stretch to help things move along faster, but it was oh-so-painful!
She seemed very happy with my progress and said my delivery will be a quick one. I asked her, how quick?? She said, I would probably deliver at about 9.
I looked at the clock and my heart sank. 9?! But it was only 7.30am then, and my contractions were already getting unbearable!
At 8am, I finally asked for the painkiller injection (that I took both during Alexa’s and Amy’s delivery). I also told my husband to keep time, because I was extremely sure that after the jab, I would give birth within an hour, just like my previous deliveries.
Sure enough, within that one hour my contractions shot up and I began to have the crazy urge to push. The nurse said I was 8cm, and I was like, nooooo… I really wanted to push. So she helped stretch me as well (though I really didn’t know how), and then called for my doctor to come in.
Within minutes, my doctor appeared and told me I could push when I next feel the urge to. Those were the sweetest command I heard all night!
So I pushed! And pushed and pushed with all my might. But then, after a few pushes, when I could feel baby crowning, my doctor told me to hold it and stop pushing. I could feel my pelvic bones opening and baby’s head coming out halfway and the pain was crazy and my whole body was dying to push and I had to HOLD.
The NOT pushing is always the hardest in delivery. Not the contractions. Not the pushing. It’s the NOT pushing.
And I had to do it three times! Push push push… OK hold… Push push push, OK hold…
I later asked my doctor, why did I have to hold? She told me it was to let the baby’s head ease out on his own, to prevent me from tearing too much.
Anyway, even though it felt like eternity to me, the pushing only took a few minutes because by 9.14am, my handsome boy Alistair was placed in my arms.
While stitching me up, my doctor kept telling me that my delivery was really fast. She said I could have another four children.
I looked at her and went like, “Are you crazy? I need time to forget this whole painful experience first.”
She laughed and said, “Yours was really fast. Oh you blessed woman of God.”
I am blessed. Thank You God for another bundle of joy. Until now, I still can’t believe that I have been given another child. My little Alistair.
His name, by the way, is a Scottish variant of Alexander, which holds the same meaning as Alexa – defender of man.
Thank you everybody for your support and prayers for me and with me throughout this pregnancy. I truly do not take for granted that I have so many of you cheering me and my family on. 🙂 We are very very blessed.
The last few weeks have been a crazy whirlwind. But as per my annual custom, I want to take some time to reflect on what a year 2016 has been, and what has happened in the past 12 months.
I left BFM (again) early this year. It was a good one year of part-time arrangement with them, but I decided to leave this year as, on top of my TV3 engagement, my church offered me a part-time role as well. After weighing my options, I decided to go for my church’s offer instead of staying on with BFM.
And so far, I am enjoying my role at church. I’m helping out with the creative department, so I get to be really involved in the drama ministry – in conceptualising, training, and directing. I enjoy this a lot, because now, beyond just acting, I get to have hands-on in the entire storytelling process. I also get to stretch my capability by producing videos with the media team. It was something I openly told my pastor that I did not know if I could do, as I didn’t think I was a very creative person in that sense. But I’m learning on the job! Apart from that, my role also requires me to write a lot: scripts, devotional materials, etc. So far, I really have no complaints, and I’m very blessed that my pastor decided to offer me this job.
Besides TV3 and my church, I’m also open to other freelance job opportunities. This year, I am very fortunate to have gotten a few blogging jobs and partnerships. I got to work with Kidzania, MOF, Robataya, Lazada (and here) and Sothys (and here). It’s not a lot, but those are all great opportunities.
I also did one emcee job with Publika, and one voice-over job with Omesti. It’s been an interesting year!
I decided to re-launch NatalieSia.com this year, due to several reasons. Some reasons can’t be revealed just yet. But overall, I was feeling like I was at a crossroad, and one of the ways I wanted to ‘start the phase’ was by redoing my blog. I also had a new direction for where I wanted my blog to go, hence, the re-launch. (Unfortunately, my old posts also disappeared, but it’s OK! Let’s start fresh!)
This year I had my first viral post. While writing the post ‘8 Years After I Do’, I was actually going through quite a challenging patch in my marriage. I was reminding myself about my vows and my commitment, and how a marriage should be built. Interestingly, a lot of people connected with that post, and it was shared massively on Facebook. I think I had over 90,000 views on that post alone! It was crazy! But I feel so grateful that something I wrote could be of help to somebody.
One of my biggest highlights for 2016 was writing and publishing my book, ‘Alexa: A Mother’s Journey of Love, Loss and Hope’. After procrastinating for so many years, it is really a big accomplishment for me! Though now, as the book is being sold, I admit I am feeling nervous and a little bit vulnerable. I don’t know how it will fare, but I just want to be able to be of whatever help I can be to mothers who go through similar experiences.
Right after I finished writing my own book, I was approached to be a ghostwriter for two books. I have never been a ghostwriter, but I thought, it would be a great learning experience. It also came at a good time to help with our finances and fund my book-printing!
After not traveling abroad for a while, we finally flew this year! We went to Seoul, South Korea for the first time, and it was also our first time flying with Amy.
A few months after that, the hubby and I had a biking trip to Hatyai! It was a fun holiday. Biking trips are torturous and fun at the same time haha.
Then, I got pregnant, so, no more flying and no more international holidays.
To compensate, we had trips around Malaysia. We went to Port Dickson three times! Twice with my in-laws, and once with my elder sister and her family. We also had a roadtrip to Penang, which was definitely not as enjoyable as our trips to PD.
And then, just before we ended the year, the hubby took Amy and me down to Malacca with him for his working trip. It was an impromptu decision. His project site was in Malacca, so he was required to go down for support and work. But he would be traveling on my birthday. 🙁 So he thought, since I was off from work during this last week of December anyway, and my mother-in-law was going to Taiwan, why not Amy and I follow him down?
I said brilliant! We could just chill in the hotel, because I also needed to get work done anyway. In the end, my father-in-law joined us and everything was good.
I got to act in my church’s Easter stage drama, ‘Sometimes‘, earlier this year. It was an emotionally demanding role, but, as with most difficult roles, it gave me such satisfaction as an actor.
Oh, I also got to go for my first watercolour painting class with my pastor! I’ve always wanted to learn how to paint, so this was a memorable experience. I hope I’ll be able to improve and learn more, and be able to paint better soon!
At the start of the year, we decided to move in with the hubby’s parents. It made sense financially, and also gave us great help with Amy.
This year was also a year of ups and downs for my marriage (well actually, which year isn’t? haha). There were a lot of strains and challenges and tension, and the biggest explosion came about just before Christmas! Thank God, we were able to talk things out and solve our issues and end the year on a stronger note.
We also had a big scare when Amy experienced her febrile fit. It was her first hospitalisation, and it definitely shook us all.
And of course, the most important thing that happened in 2016 was: I got pregnant with baby number three! He will be born in just a few weeks time, and I really cannot wait. Praying and confessing every day that he will be born alive and well, healthy and strong, normal and happy.
So that was my 2016 in a nutshell. I can’t wait to start planning and setting goals for 2017. We have a lot of hopes and plans for next year… praying very hard that they will come to pass.