Archive for October 2010

Hello Daddy

October 31, 2010

I’ve been a good boy. I drink all my milk and sleep through the night. Missing you!

See no touch

October 29, 2010

Okay now I’m going to sound like one of those over-protective and obsessively hygienic mothers, but I really hate it when strangers touch my baby. (*Note: if you are my friend or someone I know, obviously ‘strangers’ do not refer to you)

What I mean is people whom I have never met until they try to carry my baby. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often because we stay home a lot.

The first time it happened, we were at the hospital visiting my grandmother at the High Dependency Unit where only two visitors were allowed at each bed. And the nurses were slightly unhappy about a 4-month old baby being there, so we left him with my helper in the lounge area. When we returned for him, she told us that passers-by said he was so cute and she let a few of them carry him. My mother was furious and told her off. The hospital was full of germs she said, how could she let some random stranger carry the child? That night when Lucien got home, he cried non-stop for 2 hours. Nothing we did could stop his howling. He went to bed on an empty stomach, too tired to eat. This is one of the reasons why I would never be at ease about leaving my baby with a helper.

The second time it happened, we were also at the hospital. My grandmother was in a normal ward which was a lot less busy and crowded when we visited. One of the cleaners rushed up to us immediately when she saw the baby and wanted to lift him from the pushchair he was in. I instinctively turned the pushchair away from her and smiled when she kept repeating, “Very cute! Very cute!” She did not touch Lucien at all in the end.

Yes I know people behave like this only because they are taken by the kid and want to show their affection. I appreciate that but I also think it’s only polite to ask the parents’ permission before you touch or carry their babies.

I’m really not being atas. Afterall, do YOU go hugging random strangers on the street because they look cute? And why is that I wonder? Because you don’t know where they’ve been and what they have.

My point exactly.

So what’s it like…

October 28, 2010

I always pause for a long while before answering this question, because in my head I’m thinking, ‘Right, where do I start?’. I don’t want to start pouring my heart out and put people off having kids, because those who usually ask me this question aren’t parents yet.

So while I really want to say, ‘Really got no life, lor!’, I end up giving a very politically correct and sugar-coated, ‘It’s very tiring but enjoyable.’ No, I’m not lying when I say that, I’m merely playing down on the ‘siong’ (hard) part of motherhood. Like what, like what? I hear you say. Well since you want to know and since people who want to have children will still go ahead to have children even if others tell them it’s a nightmare, and people who don’t want kids still won’t even contemplate it if the government gives out hefty baby bonuses, I might as well just spill the beans.

Like having not enough sleep every night and developing dark eye circles

Like feeling so exhausted you want to give up and cry

Like feeling imprisoned at home

Like the endless washing of milk bottles

Like forgetting what it’s like to go somewhere or do something on the spur of the moment

Like doing loads of laundry every damn day

Like cleaning piles of yellow sticky poo which gets EVERYWHERE

Like worrying when there isn’t any poo to clean

Like staying in every night

Like getting your nipples chewed off

Like feeling fat and bloated

Like not being able to go to the cinema since I can’t remember when

Like hardly having any time on your own to do anything un-baby related

Like not buying anything for yourself

Like going shapeless

Like getting back pains and muscle aches

Like feeling frightened and helpless

Like feeling you have a HUGE responsibility on your shoulders

Like not knowing the answers to the problems but you still gotta solve the problems

Like feeling trapped

Like forgetting what it’s like to dress up and go to work

Like not being intellectually challenged

Like sounding childish and silly all the time

Like living life as a ‘auntie’

Like walking around in t-shirt and shorts the whole day with hair greasy and unwashed

Like wishing sometimes you could turn back time and there was no baby

Like wishing perhaps the baby could disappear and come back at a more convenient time, like when you are not having a headache

Like cursing when he cries as you are just falling asleep

Like wishing there was somebody else who could do all the work for you

Like feeling guilty if somebody actually does do the work for you

Like phoning every hour to check on the baby when you are out

Like wanting to hurry home when you are out without the baby

Like needing twice if not thrice as long to get ready and go out

Like needing to bring twice if not thrice as many things when we go out

Like woofing down ALL meals in 5 minutes

Like having cup-a-soup for lunch because there is no time to eat

Like the rude shock of realising there is someone I need to care for for the next 18 years if not longer, without ANY break

And the list goes on. But despite all that and my horrible labour experience, I still love children. I find it a joy that I can be the first face Lucien sees when he opens his eyes in the morning, where he’d stare blankly for a few moments before giving me a big toothless grin. I love it when I sniff his baby-scented hair, when he falls asleep in my arms, laughs out loud and sits with me quietly on the sofa.

I am VERY blessed to be able to be in a situation where I can take 9 months off work, still get a small income and a job waiting for me when I return. There are so many mothers who have to return to work not long after giving birth and have to leave their babies in the care of others. If I have the choice, I would much rather stay home to be a full-time mum than shuffle papers for 8 hours a day, but we do unfortunately need both incomes.

Needless to say, my life can’t be more different. It’s so much more restricting than I’d imagined. To be able to take my time and spend an afternoon by myself wandering around Orchard Road is now a luxury. But I have no regrets, well except that I should have been more open-minded about some things right from the start. For example, I was so confident that I was able to breastfeed that we did not bother getting bottles, sterilising equipment or milk powder. In the end Lucien starved for a few days because I had not enough milk in the first few days. Plus I was SO determined NOT to have a c-section no matter how hard it was going to take me to deliver Lucien but in the end I had to do it the way I dreaded.

So four months into becoming a mother, I have finally learnt my lesson. To sum it up, I’m going to use M’s golden words – “whatever works”. How true. Raising a kid (or doing anything for that matter) is really not about being rigid and blindly following guidelines and advice. It’s about asking, reading, learning and ultimately trying it out to find a suitable approach for you and the baby.

So now you have what it’s like to have a bubba, what are you waiting for? Hurry up already and get yours ordered today! Or maybe not.

Never

October 27, 2010

… allow yourself to become so busy, oblivious and unappreciative of the fluffy clouds, blue skies, beautiful flowers above our heads. Never allow any excuse not to take a picture. How much time does it take to press the shutter? These are inspiring moments which makes one grateful to be alive. A button can make these moments eternal.

Money money money

October 25, 2010

My mother and I overheard my grandmother tell our helper that I had banyat wang (lots of money). We looked at each other and laughed, because the truth is far from that. So many have the misconception that those who have moved overseas and married ang mohs are rich. My own mother believed that somewhat, until she came over to help me with the baby in June and saw how we lived.

Don’t get me wrong. We are not poor, but like most people, we have a mortgage, we have bills to pay, we don’t have much spare cash and so we need to be careful of what we spend on. It doesn’t help that my income is now just a third of what I used to earn because I am on maternity leave, and that we now have another person to feed and clothe (even though he only drinks milk and wears tiny garments but bloody hell do you know how much pushchairs cost?!).

Do I worry about money and the future? Every single day. Does it keep me awake? Never. I guess living within our means really helps. Yes we have a mortgage and we are sorting out another mortgage for the house R inherited, but it’s not unmanageable. We have a cheapo 15-year-old car which cost us £200 and we don’t have credit card debts. In the UK, we rarely ever eat out at restaurants or take cabs. Our biggest indulgence is flying to Singapore and a short holiday to a Southeast Asian destination a couple of times a year.

So instead of becoming richer like everyone else assumes would be the case, we end up poorer because we have to fork out more on extras like frequent air travel and permanent residencies (god the paperwork and the ridiculous fee!). But it’s my decision to marry a foreigner. And because I accept the inconveniences (rather than conveniences!) that come with it, I haven’t become resentful.

But even if I had married a local guy, I’m sure we would have endless financial concerns too. Which couple doesn’t? Especially given the fact that it is so shockingly expensive to deliver a baby in Singapore (my manicurist told me she just gritted her teeth through her terrible labour pains because she didn’t want to spend S$600 on an epidural) and even more expensive to feed it (a one-kg tin of infant formula milk in Singapore costs S$40 and can last around 7-10 days).

R sometimes think I don’t take him seriously whenever he voices concerns about our future. His working days are limited, we have a young son, I want to move back to Singapore where things are CONSIDERABLY pricier as compared to the UK because of rising inflation, and also because of the weak pound.

It’s not that I am not bothered. I just believe in having some degree of planning but mostly just go with the flow, because what’s the point of fretting over things I can’t control? I like to use my boss’s favourite quote, “Don’t be too rigid and over-plan. We live in a world of chaos. The banks have top people to plan everything but in the end they still screwed up the economy.”

As long as we still have our brains, our limbs, are willing to work hard and understand sacrifices need to be made, there is no reason why we would starve, whether we remain in the UK or move here. And that is why I never lay awake worrying. My sleepless nights are only due to Lucien’s moaning.

Bat woman

October 23, 2010

The two cats worked as a team to catch the bat. As the fruit bat flew close to the ground, one of them sprang up and caught it with its paws. The bat fell to the ground and the cats swiftly moved in to inspect their catch. I watched this take place in the carpark of a busy coffee shop as I walked home. I saw the bat lying flat on its back, its wings still flapping, while the two cats played with it. The diners at the coffee shop were clearly entertained by this National Geographic moment. It took me sometime to react. I walked up to see if bat was dead. To my surprise it was alive and appeared unhurt but was too stunned to move. Then I felt the sudden need to do something to stop the poor creature being toyed to death. I quickly shooed away the cats. They lifted their paws off their prey and ran. The bat, startled to life, began to flap its wings and take flight. One of the cats made a last-ditch attempt to catch it again. I sprinted forward to chase it away. The bat made a successful escape. For tonight at least.

I’ll be there for you

October 23, 2010

Recently, I chanced upon this photo of the four of us, taken in S’s shop, Rockstar, a week after I got married. I love the photo- it’s a rare one with all four of us because whenever we meet up we always have so much to talk about that we never have time to take any pictures. It reminds me of what an amazing journey we have been through as friends since we were 17. Since then, we have gone off in all directions with our lives yet somehow we can still find time to stay in touch and a place in our hearts to hold each other close. You just don’t make friends like these anymore as you grow older.