To have a sibling

What do you do when your child is jealous of another sibling?

Amy has sometimes been having bouts of jealousy. It is not all the time, but sometimes she gets upset. She gets upset when I carry Alistair. She gets upset when I feed him. She would demand that I put him down and carry her instead, or play with her instead.

At times I am able to reason with her. At times I am able to distract her. But sometimes I have to just let her cry. And sometimes I would end up scolding her.

One night, while I was putting her to bed and was in the midst of telling her stories, I could hear Alistair crying really loudly downstairs. My in-laws were tending to him, so I continued telling Amy stories. Unfortunately, Alistair’s crying did not stop, but only grew louder. I couldn’t concentrate on my storytelling.

Finally, I couldn’t take it any more, and I looked at Amy with pleading eyes. “Amy, Alistair is crying really badly downstairs. I think Mama needs to go down to see what is wrong. Mama will get yeh yeh to come up and tell you stories OK? He will tell you the story of the eagle that catches the little black chicken OK? (it’s one of the stories he always tells her)”

Her brows furrowed as if she was in deep thought, just for a second, before she put on a big smile and said, “Yeh yeh tell story about robot who is looking for apple tree!”

I breathed a sigh of relief. “OK I’ll tell yeh yeh to tell you story of the robot who is looking for apple tree.”

I kissed her forehead and thanked her for being such an understanding sister. As I walked out of the room door, I stole a glance at her, and saw that she was looking at me walk out. My heart ached a little, yet, I was also immensely proud of her.

She is not even 3 years old. I know it takes a lot from her to share her mama and to be a big sis.

How do I choose between my children? How do I give the same of myself to both when they both need me? It seems as though whatever I do, I can’t escape the mummy guilt.

But I remind myself: very soon, Alistair will be bigger and they will be able to play together. They will read together. They will laugh together. They will fight together (please let this be few and far in between. Yeah right.). They will grow together. They will have each other.

The relationship between siblings will never be the same as the relationship between a parent and a child. A sibling can journey life with you in a way that a parent can never do.

I pray that they will have a strong sister-brother relationship. That they will love each other and always protect each other. That they will be kind to each other and always be genuine and sincere. That they will support each other through ups and downs, and walk through life together.

 

Love,

Natalie

Life with two kids

(First of all, excuse the quality of my pictures… My camera is not with my at the moment so I could only resort to iPhone pictures hehe)

So… Life with two kids. How is it? Definitely looks nice and fun on Instagram. But what is it like exactly?

Scenario #1

I rushed home from work because Alistair had refused bottle and was now hungry and crying for milk. But the moment I parked my car and got out, Amy greeted me at the door, jumping and shouting “Mama’s home!!! Mama!!!!” Then she promptly took some toys and asked me to play with her. But Alistair was crying. And hungry. I had to tell her, “Mama needs to feed Alistair first OK?” and looked as her face fell. My heart ached.

Scenario #2

Since Alistair is still an infant, he sleeps all the time. Now he has a bit more awake time, but normally it lasts about an hour or so only, and half of that usually goes to feeding time. So any time to play with him is precious. Finally, he was awake. I really wanted to play with him, so I walked over to his cot and carried him up. The moment she saw me walk over, Amy said, “Mama come sit down and play Lego with me.” I told her, OK, let’s play together with Alistair. She had the most innocent expression on her face as she pointed to the cot, “Mama put baby Alistair down. Mama put baby Alistair down here in the cot.” My heart was torn.

Scenario #3

It was bedtime. I was tucking Amy in and telling her bedtime stories, but suddenly my father-in-law came up to tell me that Alistair was crying for milk already. So, I had to leave Amy to feed him. Amy cried and cried and cried. My heart broke.

Scenario #4

It was bedtime. I was tucking Amy in and telling her bedtime stories. Again, Alistair started crying for milk before Amy fell asleep. I told her I needed to go downstairs to feed Alistair, and she could choose to sleep with papa or yeh yeh (grandpa) first. She said, “Um… Papa! OK mama go down. Mama go down feed Alistair.” My heart warmed.

 

Scenario #5

We took the kids out for a meal and did a little shopping together. It was chaotic. Madness. Tiring. But at the end of the day, the hubby and I looked at each other and said, “That is parenthood!” Our hearts were blessed.

Scenario #6

We took the kids out for a meal with friends. It was strangely peaceful. Amy behaved so well throughout the dinner. Alistair slept through. The hubby and I looked at each other and said, “Wow. Unbelievable.” Thank You God.

Scenario #7

I had finally rocked Alistair to sleep! My arms and back were starting to hurt because I had been carrying him for almost two hours. But now, he was finally sleeping! I put him down and sat myself down on the couch, ready to rest a little. Then Amy threw her toys down. Or laughed super loudly at ‘Angry Birds’. Or threw a tantrum. And Alistair woke up. And I had to do it all over again.

Scenario #8

Alistair had finished feeding, so I was carrying him and trying to burp him. I also took the chance (as always) to smell him and kiss him and enjoy him. Then, suddenly, Amy fell down from the couch and landed on the floor. She cried in pain. I was shocked and quickly put Alistair down in the cot so that I could attend to Amy. Alistair was shocked, and cried. I now had two crying babies.

Scenario #9

Alistair was chilling by himself in the cot, staring and talking to the ceiling fan. Amy was playing by herself nearby, with toys and books. I was relaxing by myself with my drink and book. This might only last for 5 minutes, but it was bliss anyhow.

Scenario #10

Life was all about schedules. When to feed Alistair, when to feed Amy, when to cut Alistair’s nails, when to cut Amy’s nails, when to bathe Alistair, when to shower Amy, when to wash the bottles, when to shower myself, when to take Amy up for nap, when to change their diapers, etc.

Scenario #11

Amy asked me to tell her stories, and I said, “Why don’t you tell Alistair stories?” She promptly turned to Alistair who was in the cot, and told him her own made-up stories.

“Once upon a time, there was Mr Sun. Mr Sun was in the sky, and then the dark clouds came and covered Mr Sun. Oh no, it’s dark. Oh no, it’s raining. Everybody ran away. Mr Sun fought with the dark clouds. He fought and pushed and fought and pushed, and finally, he pushed the dark clouds away. Hurray! Mr Sun is back in the sky! The end!”

That was actually the story I told her and she could recite it totally now. Sometimes she would replace Mr Sun with TV. Or Monkey. Or whatever she fancied at that moment.

Scenario #12

Alistair was protesting and complaining and crying a little in his cot, but nobody was attending to him because everyone was busy with something or another. Amy climbed up a stool, sat on it and pat Alistair, saying, “OK K K K K… it’s OK K K K…”

And then she looked at me as I approached her, “Mama sit down here. Mama sit down here, rock baby Alistair.”

 

There are so many other scenarios. Some of them make me laugh. Some of them make me want to cry. Some of them make me say “Oh help me God.” Some of them make me say “Oh thank You so much God.”

Life with two kids is definitely a handful. When the days get crazy, I’ll take a deep breath and remind myself to take one hour at a time (haha). But most of the time, I find myself smiling at the both of them, and giving thanks to God for blessing me with these two little munchkins.

 

Love,

Natalie

The fate of the seconds

Just realised that my last update was quite awhile!

Lately, I’ve rediscovered the joy of journaling the old fashioned way – through pen and paper. In this case, a notebook. I’ve almost forgot the joy of keeping some thoughts private 😛

Growing up, I had always been journaling and, although I have kinda lost ALL my journals, it was fun reading back some of them years ago. So, I thought, why not restart my habit? It’s also a good place for me to jot down random ideas without being judged haha. Anyway, the real reason I decided to get journaling again was because I received a really pretty notebook for my birthday and I didn’t know what to do with it but I didn’t want to discard it nor did I want to leave it to rot somewhere, so… yeah.

Now on to the other thing I’ve been up to: mothering my little baby and toddler. But what I really want to talk about is: the fate of the seconds.

Amy was my first child (not including Alexa, you get what I mean). With her, everything was more carefully planned and more excitedly put together. I would spend hours researching the best activities and games to do with your newborn, 1 month old, 2 month old, etc. I would carefully select toys that would best encourage her sensory development. I would sing to her and tell her stories, and try to be the best perfect mother I could be.

Then came Alistair. The poor second. I would put him down in his cot and encourage him to look at the ceiling fan to entertain himself. I would let him play with the handkerchief to develop his sensory development. And I would turn on the nursery rhymes channel on TV for Amy, and let Alistair listen to it too to ‘kill two birds with one stone’.

He is so neglected, poor boy.

But like my friend said, that’s why the seconds are always the survivors. Haha.

Then again, besides the fact that second-time mothers are generally more calm and relaxed, we are also much busier and tied up with the first ones. Amy is such a handful! Thank God Alistair is a happy boy with an calm temperament. One strong-willed child in one household is more than enough thank you very much phew.

But all is not lost for the seconds. Because they have a relatively more calm and relaxed mom (haha), they get to enjoy more freedom. Their needs are met quicker and better too, because by now, mothers already know the basic needs of a baby.

I am also able to enjoy Alistair more because I feel more in control. Bathing him is a breeze, changing him is easy, playing with him is fun and breastfeeding him is relaxing (although also tiring due to the hours).

Compared to when Amy was a baby, I was a total mess then! I was easily worried and scared, and it didn’t help that she was an angry, demanding baby (sorry Amy, I know you might read this years later… but it’s the truth)

But I wouldn’t change a thing. I love everything about Amy, even though she drives me up the wall constantly. And I love everything about Alistair. I do feel like sometimes I need to clone myself or divide myself, and when I couldn’t, the mom guilt hits. But I’ve learned to take things easy and just enjoy every minute I have with the both of them.

 

Love,

Natalie

The last straw

It was the second time I had cried that day.

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 snapped.

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.

 

Love,

Natalie

Breastfeeding essentials

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!

 

Love,

Natalie

Amy meets Alistair

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.

Scenario 1: 

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!”

Scenario 2: 

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.

Scenario 3:

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.

 

Love,

Natalie