Before I forget

… Because forgetting is so part and parcel of my age now. Oh, the numerous things I’ve forgotten to do or because the lack of time to do it, it slips through the cracks.

It’s a gorgeous morning to begin with. Being downstairs away from my sleeping hubby and daughter and absorbing the breathtaking view of the city I love. The only thing missing is a wonderful cup of hot tea. It’s a beautiful time to reflect on life and blessings.

These two years (FYI, I reflect on birthdays every two years) has been life changing. With my bundle of joy (and hair raising moments) in my life, everything I do seems to revolve around her. Life as a mother is tough but oh so fulfilling. My girl is turning two in two months and it feels like time has just flew by.

My job is now one I enjoy and find much meaning in. Sometimes I do feel that this is what I’m meant to do although there are many waves of moments when I missed my clinical world and the patients I see.

I’m beginning to understand marriage more each day and once when I could not understand how one could love someone more with time, now I do. My husband has been genuinely loving and supportive through our marriage. I do not deserve a man like him.

Much has changed but much also has remain the same. The same passion and prayers through the years are the same ones I pray for today.

Turning 31 really sinks in the fact that I’m definitely in my 30s. Last year it was easily hidden in the zero, without the S. This year, definitely 30s. Sigh.

Merdeka!

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Dear fellow Malaysians,

As we sing the Negaraku and when we chant the infamous Merdeka as a family tonight, let’s take a few minutes to think what it was like 58 years ago when our forefathers came together to celebrate freedom. It was a time when it was celebrated together. People of all races and backgrounds, different jobs and status in one stadium, proclaiming that we are free from the powers of British colonization. We are free. We are free indeed. You could literally hear it in Tunku’s voice and in the voices of the people. We are FINALLY free.

But are we truly free today?

Tonight, when we declare Merdeka, remember in your hearts what we want to be free from in 2015, 58 years after our Father of Independence pronounced us free.

Merdeka! Freedom from corruption.

Merdeka! Freedom from cronyism.

Merdeka! Freedom from cheating leaders.

Merdeka! Freedom from cowardice.

Merdeka! Freedom from conscienceless government.

Merdeka! Freedom from the callousness that has infected our society.

Merdeka! Freedom to be clean and fair, for justice and peace to rule in our beloved country, for unity among different races and religions, that we may grow together and weep together, that we may prosper together and uphold each other even through this very trying times.

May we persevere and continue to strive for independence, though not from external colonization but from this internal cancerous regime.

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.

This time last year

I remember this very moment last year quite vividly, like it was just yesterday.

I was strapped on my belly to machine which was recording my baby’s heartbeat. The epidural machine made a whizzing sound. Lying on my side and trying to get some rest as the contractions did its work. Then I was awakened by the noise of the fireworks at midnight and remember telling Adrian that whilst everyone is out there celebrating the new year, we were both stuck in this Labour room and waiting. The poor guy was also trying to get some rest on the uncomfortable chair.

Tonight, a year later, I write this with my little baby snuggled by my side. Well, she’s not quite a baby anymore. She is finally one. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been one year and everyday with her has been pure joy. I am so thankful to God for all the blessings and the love I have received through her. I am thankful for her.

Happy birthday, dearest Chloe! Mommy loves you. 💋

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2 years and counting

On this very day 2 years ago, we gave our vows. Time has really passed us by and here we are, 2 years in. No doubt it has not been easy, but I would not trade this for anything else. Last year, we celebrated it with a big belly bump and now we have our little Chloe with us. This year’s celebration is made even more special because we are receiving the keys to our first home!

Thank you for all the love and support you have showered on me. Thank you for the sacrifice in working hard so that we can lead a comfortable life. I truly cannot wait to see what more the future holds in store for us.

Happy anniversary, darling!

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First hospital stay

To my dearest Chloe,

I hope that today your paediatrician will discharge you from the ward. You were admitted last Friday evening for high fever and diarrhea which were blood streaked. This is the first time you have ever had a fever as high as 39C. This is also the first time you were admitted for an illness. The first time you had to have an IV cannulation and the first time your body ever knew what antibiotics mean. The first time you were introduced to Salmonella. The first time mommy has ever seen you so ill.

But you, my Chloe, were one brave big girl. Sure, it was really troublesome to have your hand all wrapped up in bandages and touched at all the time, but you behaved well and allowed the cannulation to stay within wraps and allowed the fluids and antibiotics to run through your veins. You still played with your other free hand when you were feeling better. Mommy could not be any more prouder than I do now.

Get well soon, my little girl. Mommy can’t wait to bring you home.

All my love,
Mommy

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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.

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Chloe’s cute little face during the difficult days