Mother’s Day thoughts 

I was suppose to share at church service this morning but chickened out last minute. So thought I might just share it here instead as I sat and wrote this early this morning.

Throughout my pregnancy my head dived through the pages of a book made famous by a movie called “What to expect when you’re expecting”. In it were detailed step by step knowledge of what exactly to expect such as the changes of your body and the baby within.

But things changed when I delivered. There was no more book of what to expect. Thus far, motherhood has been full of things that I did not expect.
Here’s a short list of it.

1. I did not expect the degree of pain during delivery. Ironic to say as I speak of one being trained specifically in the field of obstetrics and I should know of it and be prepared for it. Suffice it to say, it exceeded my expectations.

2. I did not expect nursing to be difficult, tedious and never stopping. Another one aspect of motherhood, i thought with ego should be a piece of cake given that it was expected in my job to advocate and train mothers to nurse. The opposite quite happened. The early weeks were a pure struggle. My poor family had to endure my tears and fears.

3. I did not expect motherhood days to be long and the nights even longer. I imagined confinement days to be easy going, with lots of rest with time for maybe a book or two. In reality, I could not believe that it was time for the next feeding (because Chloe was crying) as I felt like I just nursed her 10 minutes ago.

4. I did not expect that I had to practice the level of patience I never knew I had. Being one with a temper, a baby (and now a toddler with quite a tantrum) can certainly tests your patience. I didn’t know that I could have that much of patience, for it is surely not mine but God-given.

5. I did not expect to experience this level of joy. In the biggest irony of all time, I did not expect that Chloe could one minute, make you feel like screaming and immediately the next, that feeling instantly fizzles off and you feel like laughing instead. The way she walks or talks or stands or dances.

6. I did not expect myself to be able to love someone that much. I’m sure all mothers will testify to this. It’s like almost every minute of the day is about my daughter. What’s she doing, is she ok, does she have enough etc. and the best part? She loves reciprocally and equally back without condition. The hugs and kisses she gives are priceless.

Motherhood has been full of unexpectations but also one I could never have gotten through without my big support group. So here are my list of public thanks.

Thank you God, for allowing me to the blessed opportunity to be a mother. Through this role, I have learnt so much about myself, but I have also learnt so much about You, the love and patience you give as a Father to us.

Thank you, Adrian, for being equally so patient and tolerant to my everyday struggles. You have been my pillar of strength, comfort and sanity. Thank you for your love and commitment especially through the endless ridiculous drives back and forth throughout the past one year.

I am also very blessed to have my parents full on alongside me in my parenting journey. Thanks, mom and dad for helping me with Chloe. You know that there was no way I could have gotten through this without both of your helping hands in taking care of her. Chloe is super blessed to being showered with love by so many around her. Thanks especially to my mom, who graciously took on the responsibility to looking after her while I worked. Mom, thank you for your sacrifice. Before this, I’ve understood why you did the things you did for us as children, but now I definitely understand it with a different perspective. Thanks for your years of sacrifice for us. I’m sure that if Tim and Phoebe were here, they would have said the same thing too. We love you.

In closing, yup, motherhood is full of unexpectations, and I guess it’s okay. We’ll get by – as long as we continue to trust and obey the Lord.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Becoming a Dairy Diva

As we enter the month of September, my beautiful daughter has turned into a whooping 8 month old little girl. Time has certainly flown by. As I looked through our immense collection of photos from her newborn days, it feels pretty amazing to see how far we’ve come through (even though it’s only been several months since).

Parenthood, the least to say is an incredible, unforgettable experience journey. There are days when I’d feel like everything is going so smoothly and all is well. There were also days when I’d just feel helpless and in tears when I don’t know what to do when she’s crying and I can’t do anything to soothe her.

Oh, there are so many things to talk about in this past several months. My days were endlessly packed with mommy kind of activities, so much so I never had much time to write. Today, I’d like to write a little bit about my breastfeeding journey – which is pretty much a huge hallmark of my job as a mother.

Now whoever said breastfeeding is an easy and natural process clearly has not breastfed before. My relationship with breastfeeding has been, well, one of the roller coaster kind. When I was still pregnant and had read from other mothers’ breastfeeding experience, I noticed that almost everyone’s story had a line or two describing the difficult and painful days. I remember naively telling myself that it won’t happen to me, because I arrogantly thought I had the mental knowledge about breastfeeding. After all, I was teaching clinical staff about breastfeeding back in my Slim River days. “Surely it will not happen to me.” 

Yeah, right.

The early weeks following her birth were extremely D-I-F-F-I-C-U-L-T. Difficult probably only minimally describes it accurately. What other words could be use to augment the meaning of difficult? CRAZY difficult? Chloe would cry without end in the most ridiculous hours of the night (i.e. 12 midnight until 3 am)… every. single. night.

Every. Single. Night.

I remember always looking at the clock and dreading those moments of the night. Here’s the sequence. She cries. I pick her up. Feed her. She stops crying. Put her down. She cries again within 15 seconds. Repeat.

Sometimes, it’s like this. She cries. I pick her up. Feed her. Still cries. Feed her. Still cries. Change boob. Feed her. Still cries. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Those are just the nights. The days? She needs feeds every hour or so. So imagine this. She cries. Nurses her for 10-15 minutes. She stops crying. She sleeps. Put her down. She cries again 45 minutes later. Repeat.

Every. Single. Day.

Alright. So that’s just crazy difficult from the timing aspect.

It was also crazy difficult feeding her. The pain when she first latches on. Indescribable. It’s so painful that I have to cringe my face, my toes and pretty much every orifice I have just to feed her. There were days, I would have take deep breaths and brace myself before I nurse her – preparing my body mentally for the pain to come. At first I couldn’t understand why it was such a painful ordeal. What happened to all the beautiful stories of how enriching breastfeeding was for both mommy and baby? This certainly did not feel like one. My latch technique looked right. She seems to suck okay. Must be overactive letdown. I must have got my latch technique right. After all, I went for training. My arrogant brain thought. It hurt so much I had to visit the lactation consultant and was told that my nipples were all cracked. Cracked nipples = wrong latch technique.

Moral story of the day: Learning it with your head is NOT the same as doing it in real life. You may know the books and text inside out and outside in, but let me tell you, it is never the same when there’s a baby in your arms.

All these problems that did not seem to ever get better start messing with your head pretty bad. It became a norm for me to question myself whether I am eating the right things and doing the right things to increase my chance to a successful breastfeeding journey. I kept going through the list in my head again and again. I did what I was suppose to do but why does it still feel like she is never satisfied and I don’t feel like this will ever be second nature to me? I remember being ever so close to doing the forbidden – buying formula milk powder.

Now don’t be so quick to judge me as yet. What’s so wrong with milk powder, you ask? Hear me out. Since being a medical student, a chapter of our obstetric and pediatric textbook dedicates itself to the benefits of breastmilk over formula milk. As medical practitioners, we had to be advocates and supporters for breastfeeding and were expected to convert as many new mothers to breastfeeding – as it is after all, the best form of nutrition for babies. So when you’ve got years of such teachings ingrained in your head, just the thought of feeding your baby with formula milk felt like you were following the dark side. It almost felt like a sin. Yes. Seriously it felt like it.

But I knew I had to persevere on. “Don’t worry, this phase will pass. It will get better with time,” other breastfeeding-master mommies tell me. At that point, it really felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Everyday was a day of pain and endless feeds.

Gradually, breastfeeding did become second nature. Chloe got better at latching on. My wounds started healing and I got better at guiding her to latch. Together, we became a good team. Fast forward to today, we are still going at it – but each stage of breastfeeding presents with its own set of problems. Now it’s her distractions and her short feed times. Now it’s my doubt whether is my supply gradually diminishing since starting her on solids and my ability to pump at my new job. Nevertheless, I count every successful day of nursing a real blessing. Sure, she still cries a few times at night for her feeds, but I would never ever trade these requests for the world.

So here’s my word or two to new mommies who are thinking of breastfeeding. You’re bound to face problems. Period. It will come. Expect it. Don’t roll your eyes and think it will never happen like I did. I think it’s easier to cope with the problems when you’re mentally expecting it to happen. Seek help and support from other mothers. Ask questions. Hang on through the pain and fatigue.

Because it is really so worth it.

Photo Jan 10, 13 00 50
Chloe’s cute little face during the difficult days

Maternal Separation Anxiety

I have always had separation anxiety issues. I was often told that when I had to go to kindy as a child, I would incessantly cry for months and that there was no kindy that I would like and stay to play quietly.

Well, my maternal leave was up after two months and it was time to go back to work. The symptoms of maternal separation anxiety started seeping in and by the time I had to say goodbye to my little girl, my eyes were already welling. When she was out the door, I was pouring like a waterfall to Adrian.

It was difficult to be apart from her when she has been with me at all times for the past 11 months. I miss her and think of her constantly, but also take great comfort in knowing she’s well taken care of by my mother and that the fruit of my work now pays for her expenses.

It’s just day 2 of work. Praying that the days will get easier as they go by.

Day of Ones (Part 2)

In 2012, I wrote a blog post on how some of the milestones of my life included the number one in it.

Well, this year the birth of my daughter made it even more special.

So…

1 October is the day Adrian and I signed our marriage certificate.

1 November is well, my birthday.

1 December marks the day Adrian and I joined our lives in holy matrimony.

And now,

1 January is my daughter’s birth day, which kind of makes her date and mine similar. ☺️ (1/11 and 1/1)

Well, it wouldn’t be nice to leave Adrian out of this One equation as he can be a part of it too. His birthday falls on the first month of the year? Heheh.

hmmmm..maybe we should schedule the birth of the next kid on 1 February? 😜

Journey into Motherhood

With almost two solid years of obstetric and gynecology training, I knew the medical management of labour like the back of my hand. I knew how to induce and stop labour. I knew how to augment labour. I knew the danger signs and emergencies which can take place. It was almost my second nature when I worked at Slim River.

However, when I experienced labour for the first time on that fateful 31 December 2013, I seem to have entered an unfamiliar world. I entered the labour room at about 3ish that evening and had all the necessary prep done. My gynae ruptured the membranes at about 4ish. It is from here onwards to which I felt like I had no clue what was going on. Y’see, normally we’d use a partogram to guide one’s timing of labour and when the need for medications or when labour has taken too long for a mother. My gynae had warned me he would take things slowly but I really did not expect the pace to which I was put into. Augmentation started a few hours after rupture of membranes and from there on I was left to contract and dilate pretty much the entire night. The medical side of me started worrying about fetal distress since it’s such a long labour and I was regularly glancing at my baby’s heart rate from the monitors. Thankfully she was doing quite well given such long hours of continuous strong contractions. My epidural had some hiccup issues where by I started feeling some pain in the wee hours and needed a top up to alleviate the pain.

I was fully dilated at about 7 the next morning and normally in a government setting , this is when you need to start pushing and you’re given a rough estimate of about one to two hours to pop the baby out. Surprisingly I was left to continue contracting without pushing so that the baby’s head could descend further naturally. I actually only started pushing at about 10:30am when my gynae finally arrived. Given the nature of the epidural and the complete loss of sensation, I had difficulty pushing her effectively. I ran through all the techniques I knew in my head and all the advices I had given to dozens of women during my working days at the labour room. It’s one thing to know them by heart but oh-so-a-whole other thing to actually do it. The epidural medication was turned down a notch to help me feel what’s going on. The moments after that were a total blur. I started feeling really strong painful contractions and because of that, I started acting weird… just like my patients were. Sometimes the pain gets so strong you feel like you can’t push and you want to just straighten your limbs to alleviate it, but you kinda have to push, or no baby’s coming out (as I would nag my patients). After two hours of pushing and some help from my gynae, little Chloe breathe her first breath at 12:46pm on New Year’s Day.

After the whole ordeal and thinking about what happened in that labour room, I was pretty overwhelmed with embarrassment and guilt towards all the women I had seen as patients in the past. Yeah, we talk about empathy and trying to understand what the patients go through. Oh I did that. I understood it was painful (no secrets there), I knew it was difficult, but when you truly experienced it yourself, it’s a whole different level of understanding. I felt like I wanted to turn back time and apologize to the women who refused to push in the wee hours of my on call nights and all I wanted her to do was push to save myself an unnecessary C-section. I wanted to say sorry for the times I felt selfish towards them when what they were going through was truly difficult and painful.

The best part was after everything has settled down and I was cleaned up and waiting to be transferred to the ward, Adrian looked at me and asked, “And you wanted how many children again?”

😓