Saturday, February 27, 2010 ;
10:21 PM
Today, Sat, I was with the 3 kids at home the whole day again, without any other adult companion.

I had the stroller ready, wanted to bring them all downstairs for some outdoor time but it was simply too hot. Just stepping out of the apt to hang some thick towels to sun, and to dry ds1's washed school shoes was enough to convince me not to go out. It was so sweltering hot.

So we cooped ourselves in the house the whole day. Mom and mil don't usually come during the weekends. Mom and dad usually return to Malaysia. Mil is busy with her own stuff. It was ok, cos I didn't bother to cook, just did some loads of laundry, and took care of the kids in general.

I did manage to play a round of Blokus with them. How come I always lose nowadays? ds1 won. Either I am too sleep deprived or I was careless. I refuse to believe that my brain capacity/ capability is declining. I am losing rounds and rounds of Chinese chess to ds1 as well.

Decided to post because I noticed a lot more things the kids do by themselves that I haven't listed. Perhaps it'll be good for me to make a record, just like how their baby milestones were recorded.

Other stuff they do on their own now:
- choose and change their clothes (underwear, socks, shoes included)
- sort laundry and fold them (only when I tell them to help me, cos if I can help it, I rather do it myself, when I am running short of time)
- take showers by themselves (shampoo hair, soap body then rinse, and then dry themselves)
- brush teeth
- sleep
- pour water
- spread bread to make sandwich, or pour milk and get cereal for breakfast
- water the plants
- crack open peanuts to eat
- vacuum the floor
- clean up after themselves after a meal (eg wipe up stains, pick up food debris on the floor, put bowls in sink, rinse a cup simply)
- ds1 - wash school shoes
- both - pack school bag
- ds1 - do homework and learn spelling (incl know what is on list of spelling and which day it will be tested)
- ds1 - come home from bus stop by himself
- ds1- buy food by himself, order and pay for stuff
- read story books, do activity books
- surf net, play DVD, call me or Dh on the phone, pick up phone and relay message from caller
- sit on the church pew during worship service by themselves and fill in his sermon sheet (ds1), read the picture Bible (ds2), and sing hymns from the hymn book etc (cos I am at home with dd, and Dh was serving) [I heard, many others did sit with them and try to help them when they had difficulty getting the verses down but I was glad that most of them reported that the boys behaved themselves without us by their side.]
- this last one I can think of happened today, as I was in the toilet.
dd was sleeping soundly, so I thought it was safe to use the bathroom for an extended period of time. Just as I was halfway through, dd woke up and started crying. It escalated to wailing. ds1 and ds2 were playing magic cards in the study then. I started to panic and desperately tried to hurry myself. Then I heard ds1 and ds2 run to the room and hop onto the bed. They started calling out to dd. She cried less loudly, and actually stopped for a while.

When I emerged from the bathroom, I saw ds1 holding her, stroking her cheek, while ds2 was singing a lullaby to her and telling her not to cry. I was so touched.

It's great to have kids who have grown up. Let me not take these words back when they reach teenhood, or maybe tweenhood..

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

12:42 PM
26 Feb

Dh took the morning off to attend ds2's performance in school. They had CNY celebrations to mark the end of CNY, and each class would put up a short performance.

It was fun watching all the cute little ones (3 year olds) perform dragon and lion dance, then the 4 yr olds acting out a skit on how the monster Nian was chased away.

This pic shows the 3yr old class.

The lil ones went first, and the kindy kids were getting ready. I spotted ds2! They're at the age where they're still very proud of their parents. The moment he saw me, he announced to all his friends and teachers, "There's my mommy!" "My mommy is behind, there!" "Look, look, my mommy is here!"

It felt nice to be so welcome. :-)

ds2's class did a dance. He loved the dance and the music a lot and has been humming it at home for a week already. The movie clip is on FB. His Chinese has improved a lot since being at school here. His Chinese teacher is really wonderful, so glad that he is enjoying himself there.

He is not only writing much better (eg he writes his name much better than when I taught him last time), his reading and character recognition has improved and even his pronunciation of words is so much clearer and accurate now. Previously he spoke Mandarin like a Caucasian and it was very embarrassing for me.

After his performance, he came over to kiss and greet his sister, and we took a pic together.
(Ooh, Dh's JC classmate was there too, and her mom - the grandma of ds2's classmate- scolded me and Dh for bringing dd out when it's not a full month yet. Oops!)

[dd's being directly breastfed on demand, so I don't know when she will need her feed, thus I have to bring her. In any case, I don't have a helper at home. I could ask my mom but why stress my mom and myself out in case she wanted her feed while I was away? I lost all my Avent milk bottles already - it's been 7 yrs already, or maybe they're with my sis, so I don't feel like expressing milk, too troublesome.]

Actually I wanted to go for lunch at Jurong Point with Dh after the performance but my mom said I should go straight home and get Dh to buy back. Which we did. Otherwise, if dd falls sick, all the moms and older generation will point the finger at us, the errant and irresponsible parents, who brought their baby out before she turned a month old.

My mom even reminded me that in the Old Testament, those who gave birth to girls have to stay home 60 days even. Yup, I remember that. I wonder why the difference between birthing boys (30 days) and girls huh?

After lunch, I went to Jurong Point with ds1 (he was home from school by then) to deposit his ang pow (hongbao) money into his bank account and did so for dd and ds2 at the same time. Then I got myself a pair of pants from Giordano, cos I cannot fit into many of my current pants yet.

Felt a bit of a heartache when I paid $49 for the pants, since they had a promotion where if you bought 2 pairs, then each pair is $33. But I figured, I would lose my weight gradually and I don't need 2 pairs of size 29 pants. Yet, I didn't want to buy more 26 or 27s, since I had tons of them at home (bought them after 2nd pregnancy- with each pregnancy, I've to increase a size or two- another reason to stop having kids). Still, I felt like I was stupid to pay $49 instead of $33, such a big difference. Sigh, these promotions always create dilemmas for me. I had to stand there and debate within myself for so long.

When we got back, ds2 was home from school. He was very happy. Some of his friends left school early at 11.30am in the morning when their parents were in school for the concert. Many of the kids cried when their parents had to leave after the concert, so the parents just brought them home. Some parents had to go back to work and couldn't take the kids home early, so the kids cried even more. ds2 was totally unaffected and just said bye to us when we were leaving, so we didn't take him home early, even though we could.

(For me, Dh was going back to work in the afternoon, so I saw no need to bring ds2 home so early. Let him be more occupied and tired out in school first... hee... so bad.)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Friday, February 26, 2010 ;
12:36 PM
dd's pics when she was 1-2 weeks old.

Again with ds2. He'd insist on kissing, hugging and carrying her the moment he gets back from school, but I'm wary of all the germs he's bringing back with him, so I got him to drape a cloth over himself first, haha.

dd's ganma and Ch came over with yummy durian desserts (I love them!), and they got to carry her. Such a cheerful pic. Think dd was yawning?

ds1 trying to teach dd how to play magic cards. He was explaining and showing her all the different cards. lol. She actually looked at all of them and listened intently, it was so funny.

After the "training", both teacher and student were too exhausted and fell asleep together, on my bed!!!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 ;
12:28 PM
This year's CNY coincides with my confinement.

Normally, with our generation, it is not so much of a confinement but rather, an important rest period. Hence, for a lot of my contemporaries, if they have to go out, they do go out.

For me, I didn't want to be out in the crowd. Jurong Point (even from my window, I can see) has been crazy crowded. Just looking at the long queues of cars trying to get into the car park, and then throngs of people squeezing in and out of the glass sliding doors make me dizzy, so I was content to stay at home.

However, this time, my confinement is somewhat different from the boys' time. Those 2 times, I was still living with my in laws, and we had a full-time live-in helper.

I never needed a confinement nanny the previous 2 times and so didn't hire one this time as well. My mom and mil said they'd take turns helping me to cook my meals. Dh would chip in with housework and caring for the boys.

Let me first declare that they were absolutely crucial and helpful. My mil would cook meals on Tues and Thurs, clean my kitchen after she's done, and iron Dh's work clothes.

My mom cooked meals on the other days of the week that mil doesn't come, help me pick the boys up from the bus stop, bathe the baby and generally be there for me should I need an extra helping hand. She comes in the day time, on average from 10am till 6pm.

Dh would wash the dishes (or load the dishwasher), shower the boys, help with any other general cleaning up that needs to be done when he's back from work. The 1st week of dd's life, he also changed all her diapers and carried her when she cried at night (my tailbone was very painful then, and I was extremely tired). From the 2nd week, I took over all the diaper changes because Dh needed to work in the day.

I couldn't have done without them. Thank you so much.

There were others who were very helpful too. They either sent emails, smses, or gifts to help me, to cheer me up, offer support... or even sent food and desserts over.

But still, at times, I felt very overwhelmed. Why? It was the CNY period!

dd's 2nd week of life happened to be when the CNY eve is. My part time cleaner took 3 weeks leave to spring clean her own house and get ready for CNY. Mil called to say she can't help me on certain days cos she needed to "bai bai" and prepare things for CNY, get the house ready for guests, etc. My mom, dad, sis and her entire family were going back to Malaysia for reunion dinner, and their trip spanned over 3 days. Dh had many many friends, relatives and other appointments all lined up over the 5 days (weekend and 2 more CNY holidays) since this is the 1st CNY in Sg after we got back (everyone HAD to see him).

Suddenly I felt left alone. I can't go for most of the festivities and visitations. Some relatives would baulk at having me still in my confinement period, with a 2 week old infant, visiting them. I didn't feel like going from house to house either, since I can't sit down.

So for the CNY period, I spent it at home, alone with the baby, and having to settle my own meals, do all the laundry, clean the house, basically, do everything myself. I felt pretty sad and exhausted indeed.

Fortunately there were many households around my place that hired the lion dance troupes so there was so festive atmosphere. I can hear the Djs hosting show from Jurong Point and even the CNY music blaring from there. And then I had a lot of CNY goodies and bak kwa to eat at home. Quite unhealthy, but I was hungry. And thankfully, there is Mac Delivery 24 hrs. Haha.
I've ordered Mac at 4am in the morning before for early breakfast, past midnight for supper, and all other times in the day.

When my friend heard that, she said, huh? Wah, your 3rd baby, you don't care about nutritious meals during confinement anymore?

Not really.. it's just that after taking care of baby through the night, being a cow and having been milked maybe hundred times a day, doing all the housework and all, I didn't feel like cooking for just myself. What for? I'd still have to clean the kitchen if I cooked.
Sometimes the 3 kids would be at home with me, and I also let the boys eat whatever for their meals. Just a few days, they won't suffer. (In the US, when we did those long road trips, we survived on fast food for a whole week, and the boys were even younger. They didn't fall sick then, so I guess it should be ok.)

The boys got very restless at home for 4 days, cooped up, playing with just Megabloks, cards and reading books, so finally Dh had a pocket of free time on the last CNY hol (Tues), and I got him to bring the kids swimming at SAFRA club.
I haven't mentioned, I asked a Malay massage lady to come in to my place to do the traditional massage for me, as a treat, but even she bailed out on me. Of course, for her, she doesn't celebrate the CNY but she had so many appointments at the last min that the initial 7 sessions became only 3 sessions due to our many cancellations and being unable to find a common timeslot. Sigh.

Then now, Dh has an upcoming concert, and has several rehearsals to attend. All these take place at night of course. The kids are even worse off cos of this. They don't even get the little prayer just before bedtime since their dad is not at home.

And worse, Dh is leaving in May for Europe to attend a competition and is furiously working on his competition bows now. So he goes to work even on Sat and Sun.

Hence this time, my confinement was not so much a period of rest. It's not even dd's full month but I feel like I working like an ox already. I can only be thankful that I am able to do the work since I had a VBA2C and not a C-section.

Some pics of the CNY I got to experience, at home.

Our designer who took charge of our home renovation became our good friend. We had a lot in common after we got down to chatting, and he came by with a hamper for us for dd's birth. He said it is more for her birth than CNY.

Dh made pineapple tarts (remember he was sent by me to the baking classes at Mayer in Jurong Point?). haha... so he made these to give to his co-workers. And it was nice! I ate many!

After dressing the boys, and getting them ready to "bainian", I asked them to pose for a pic.

Besides Mac, I also had takeaways from Mos Burger (at least 3 times), Delifrance (1 time), Carl's Junior (2 times) and then this Ichiban. Yummy. (All during CNY! It's great to have these stores open throughout CNY. We remember in Tianjin, none of the shops were open and we had to survive on jiaozi for several days.)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Monday, February 22, 2010 ;
12:19 PM
12 Feb

ds2 had a steamboat lunch with teachers and friends in school to celebrate CNY. ds1 said they were shown a movie about CNY and its origins, and then about the 12 zodiac animals.

Dh spent the morning queuing for bak kwa (BBQ pork) to give relatives, business associates and our obgyn. Just so happened, my postnatal appt was for this day, at 11.40am.

It was my first outing since being home from the hospital and I was pretty excited about it. My ex-colleagues from HCI wanted to visit me that day, so I told them I'd be near the school actually, why don't we meet for lunch near the school?

They finally settled on Crystal Jade at Plaza Sing after a few changes. So it was going to be quite an exciting day.

Of course we brought dd, otherwise she won't have her milk feeds. My mom thus almost had a day off. She did come help in the afternoon to pick ds1 and ds2 up from the bus stop.

Since it would be some time before I met my dr again, we took a pic with him. Also, we gave him bak kwa to wish him a happy CNY.

Dh carried dd most of the time unless she had to feed, cos I was still nursing my tailbone injury and cannot sit for a long time, especially not on sofas. It was too painful.

How the boys at home now? Sometimes, I do feel sorry for them. I have very limited time for them now. I keep telling myself we have to stop at 3. Dh wants more, but really, it is not possible. I already feel that it is so difficult to spend time with the 3 of them, and I know it is great if I can have some 1-on-1 time with each, but it is virtually impossible now.

I have to get the boys to do so many things on their own, by themselves. They have had to grow up ever so quickly once again.

Other P1 kids still have their moms or maids or grandparents wait for them at the bus stop. Now ds1 will have to come up by himself. He doesn't mind, of course, he actually feels good about it, but I somehow feel bad to not go down and wait for him.

I don't pack ds1's bag, and I stopped checking if he did already. So many times Dh and I also forgot to give him pocket money. Fortunately he has some spare coins in his bag always, so he doesn't ever starve. He buys his own food at school, cos we have no time to prepare nice bentos for him, even if I wanted to.

He got scolded numerous times by his teachers, as he told me, because either he forgot to do his homework, forgot to bring his file or book, or didn't get his spelling all correct. And cos I never had the time to check for him. Now that dd is a little more settled, and a routine has been established, I try to ask him more Qs. My mom said while I was in the hospital, she also didn't help him at all, but she did see him take his HW out to do.

Well, I guess it just made him more independent, though sometimes I wistfully think I'd like to hold him back awhile more. In the mornings, when I am stuck nursing dd, and he is leaving for school, I so wish for him to turn back and hug me first before leaving but he is so eager to get going, he doesn't do so. Before dd arrived, I would be at the door and I'd give my hugs and goodbyes, now sometimes the timing doesn't allow me too, and I think I miss these more than he does.

For ds2, he has even more "growing up" to do. Since he had been the baby of the family for almost 5 yrs, I was willing to and able to help him do a lot more things that ds1 had been doing for himself much earlier than ds2. For example, ds1 learnt to do his big business in the toilet and wipe himself clean much much earlier but ds2 still liked me to do it for him (despite being capable of doing it himself). I always did it for him and never pushed him to do it himself, cos I was free anyway.

Now? He shouts "I'm done!" from the toilet and I have to shout back "I can't help you, I'm stuck here..." (either changing a diaper, burping dd, or feeding her). He has to do it himself. The truth it, he doesn't mind. My mom actually made him feel very proud of himself for being able to do it himself. But somehow, why do I still feel bad, that I cannot do it for him?

At night, before the kids go to bed, they'll read their own stories, then I'd read a Chinese story (simple reason: the books they choose to read themselves are always English ones, so I have to enforce a Chinese one at least), then Dh will say a prayer with them and then it is lights out and Dh goes to do his work, and I'd lie down with them on the bed, enjoy the air con and rest my feet a bit, while talking/ whispering with them.

I used to treasure this time very much. Usually because it is after their bath, they feel clean, comfy and relaxed, they tend to tell me many things about their day, their thoughts, their ambitions, their fears... And I get many golden opportunities during these times to teach them valuable lessons, to share my experience, to give my advice... And I find they are so much more receptive at these times than during the day while I nag or sometimes shout... :-)

Now, try as I might, somehow, there is always something very pressing and important and urgent to do during their bedtime. I might manage to squeeze one thing out of the routine, and do it hurriedly, but never the whole routine anymore. Eg, I might be able to tell one Chinese story but then dd cries and I have to nurse her. So I don't get to do the talking or the prayer.

I tried nursing her and lying down with them but it wouldn't work cos they kept trying to kiss her, touch her hair, tickle her feet, and she wouldn;t nurse properly and they wouldn't get into the mood to sleep. I tried reading the story while nursing before too, but I couldn't hold the book and nurse her at the same time and my tailbone hurts like mad when I try to do that.

So again, we've given up part of our daily ritual.

Many other things I've had less time for. I used to bake/ make a lot of their favourite food, and have time to play chess, a card game, look at them draw...

Fortunately, so far they seem to understand. ds2 might be expressing his emotions in other ways though. Like he cries more and has more nightmares. He'll suddenly cry over a trivial matter and then keep saying "mommy, I want you". Such episodes have surfaced. So I guess, it meant he was feeling neglected by me...

I've been hoping things will get better as dd grows up, but then my sis mentioned before that when they start to sleep less and be more mobile, it'll be even worse cos then you have to keep an eye on them all the time, or even have to follow them around!

During my confinement month now, my mom and some days my mil are helping me. When my mom takes over with dd, either to help bathe her or just carry her for a walk outside, I get the chance to spend time with the boys.

On days when I am alone with the 3 kids at home (weekends, or weekday nights when mom returns home and Dh works late or is away), I have some coping mechanisms.

1. Get them to read. If they like the book, they can read for a long long time, esp ds1, since he can read much longer stories and thicker books. I get to settle dd and finish up some chores. (So much more laundry with a baby!! Esp with a baby like dd who likes to poop messily and regurgitate a lot of milk.)

2. Get them to play together. Just keep changing their toys. They are stuck with their Megabloks for so many hours that they don't just construct stuff with the blocks now. They invent some kind of war game using the pieces as soldiers and tanks, and fight their way through levels. I saw both ds playing like that and took this pic.

ds1 explained the rules to me and I must say I think it is quite exciting. There is this element of risk also, if you choose to use the machine gun. Once you use it, you could win the battle or lose all and die. It depends on the roll of the die.

Thanks to Angeling and Mary, they have many more Megabloks to play with now and it can really occupy them.

3. Get them blank notebooks and let them draw, doodle, write their stories....
This gets them working for long periods of time too. ds2 still likes those activity books, so I'll throw him different ones regularly.

4. Get them to count their savings. This one may sound funny, but have you seen how much kids love coins? They have so many coins saved up so once they pour everything out of their piggy bank, they actually need a lot of time to go through each and every coin, not to mention the sorting into different denominations first. :-)

ds1 also invented some game with the coins and they'd play together happily for sometime, but then they always end up shouting and quarreling, so I tend to put a stop to the game after some time.

I also get them to do some chores, but now that I am usually in a rush, I actually have less patience for them to complete chores cos I do them in less time and in a more organised fashion.

If all else fails, of course, putting some snacks on the table and then putting in a DVD would naturally have them quiet and spellbound for a long time too. But with their poor eyesight, I tend to use this as the last resort.

They need a lot more outdoor time actually, and sadly, they only get to do this when DH is free now. But hopefully as dd feeds less frequently as days go by, I'll be able to bring all of them out together by myself.

Look forward to better days ahead!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Saturday, February 20, 2010 ;
12:14 PM
11 Feb

ds2's trs brought their K1 and K2 class to Chinatown for a field trip just before CNY started.

There were several objectives, according to the parents' letter. They had been studying CNY and its related topics for the month, and were going to Chinatown to see and experience certain things they had studied about.

They were also going to buy CNY decorations to help decorate their own homes for CNY. Parents are to give their child $4 to spend during the trip where they will plan, budget, browse and choose their items, pay for them, and bring them home to tell us about it and put them up.

I didn't go on the trip of course, since dd was just 1 week old. The tr passed me the pictures and also wrote in the comm book about ds2's experience.

She remarked that ds2 seemed really interested in everything that he saw, stopping at almost every stall's display to view the items intently, whereas his other friends were complaining about the heat (it was very crowded and hot that day, the tr said). She asked if it was because he hasn't been there for some time.

I had to laugh and say, he has never been there cos we'd never brought him! He was 1+ when we left Sg for USA, and then to China. We only came back in Sept 2009, and we didn't bring him since we were back, so naturally he has never set foot there. The tr said no wonder he was so intrigued by everything.

Here, the Chinese teacher must be explaining what some of the sayings meant. ds2 did not buy those calligraphy things, he brought home a windmill, and 2 3D Tiger paper decorations for me to stick on the glass.

A group pic of the kindy kids and their trs.

That's ds2 and his friend playing with the windmills they just purchased. The windmills had bells and will ring and make noise when the wind blows. To scare away Nian the monster?

The tr was petting his head? or shielding him from the blazing sun?
Whatever it is, ds2 is already very in love with his trs. He always tells me "Ms M says" this and that at home. Eg, mom, don't throw this sweet wrapper away! Ms M says we need to reduce, reuse, recycle..
Sweet wrapper? err, ok...

The trs bought and distributed guazi and CNY candies/ snacks to the kids as well, which they happily brought home and devoured.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 ;
3:53 PM
For the records:
Last night, ds1's lower right secondary incisor fell off. Or rather, it was so loose that he requested for Dh to pull it off.

This one came off with some blood. But it was painless.

ds1 was yet again mighty proud.

But the very busy nursing new mama cum tooth fairy forgot her tooth-related job last night so ds1 did not find anything under his pillow. However, he was in a rush to get to school in time this morning (woke too late) so he didn't notice or check as well. Phew, I get another chance tonight. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 ;
7:10 PM
Dd's VBA2C Birth story

In the weeks leading up to 2 Feb, we were already wondering if dd was coming because of the intense Braxton-Hicks contractions I was experiencing, especially at night. She was also already engaged and her head was pretty low such that I had difficulty walking normally since Week 37.

We were thinking though, that 3.2.10 would be a nice date for her arrival because it was so easy to remember and had a ring to it "3-2-1-0!!" kind of thing. However, I was also hoping she would come sooner than later because I was having sleepless nights because I couldn't get a comfortable position to sleep.

2 Feb 2010

Whenever a tightening occurred, it would be like a bad cramp such that I would awaken and have to shift positions. I found lying on the back tough, and lying on the right downright painful. Lying on my left seemed best to cope with the "surges".

Like all the nights before, it came about every 10min, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, so I just had to shift from sitting on sofa to leaning/ reclining on the La-z-boy, back to the bed to lie on my side and so on, trying to snatch some sleep in between.

I gave no further thought to the contractions because it has happened like that for the past week or more.


After being awakened by a particularly painful contraction, I felt a small gush of fluid in between my legs.
Oops, was that the water bag?? I had prayed hard this time, not to have my amniotic sac burst like in ds1 and ds2's case.

I rushed to the toilet and sat there, and true enough more amniotic fluid came out. Having had the experience twice before, there was no mistaking the smell and sight of the fluid.

However, this case was slightly different, thank God. Whenever I stood up, the flow stopped, so I guessed it was more of a leak than an outright burst. The pressure of the baby's head would stem the flow of fluid out whenever I stood or sat up.

So I just put on a pad, smsed my mom and doula, and then tried to rest in between contractions.

I begin to think this time it is for real. The contractions are getting closer together, and longer in duration. They are feeling more intense as well.

So I sent Dh off to get my mom, in case I need help while Dh is sending the kids off to school.

My mom arrived just before ds1 was due to go to school.

I could still manage to eat a little for breakfast, having a cup of milo and a little bit of Meiji Plain crackers and some oats water. But that's all. I had no appetite for my usual bread and peanut butter and then another piece with butter and sugar. That's what I normally eat every morning.

I couldn't really bid ds2 goodbye already. It was getting tiring to get through each tightening and required more of my concentration to get past each one. But everything was still bearable. I hadn't felt the need to scream or moan or thrash about yet.

Dh sent ds2 off. The house was much quieter now.

Shortly after, Dh got news from both doulas that they would be making their way over soon. G advised me to get into the warm shower. So I did. And I stayed in the shower for 30min till I felt I can't take the heat and humidity anymore. But the warm water on the tummy did feel really good and made the many surges in the shower easier to cope with.

Some time between this timing and 9am, I felt the need to get up and sway my hips with each contraction. But then in between the surges, I would want to lie or sit on the bed and close my eyes to rest.

I tried to listen to my CDs and relax. It was still ok, I could still focus on the CDs.

S, the doula-in-training, arrived first. She took over the warming up of rice socks in the oven from Dh and then she helped me through a few surges. She showed Dh how to hug me while I stood up to cope with each surge.

But then later on she observed that I might get too tired so she suggested that I sit on the bed and lean back on Dh. When the surges came, I felt the need to lean forward, and breathe deeply and she asked Dh to support me when I leant forward.

We assumed this position for about an hour, I think. I was hazy about the timing, because as I mentioned, the surges required most of my attention already, and the rest in between was not very long.

I could still listen to the CD at this point in time.

Some time later, G arrived. Again, I am not sure about the timing now.
She had a previous birth the night before and was kind of sleep deprived but she still guided me through each surge, and kept reminding me to breathe in and out deeply and slowly.

I think they sent Dh off to rest for a while since he was quite tired too. He also went off to make coffee I think, because I can smell the strong aroma of his coffee.

I had both doulas with me for some time, and they timed my contractions and helped me through them.

Somehow, it got a bit more difficult to cope, and they suggested I come out to the living room and try working through them on the sofa. So I sat on the sofa and had my legs propped up with an Ikea stool, had pillows behind my back and I think we did that for another hour?

Dh was having his nap, G also power napped, but in between she will remind me to breathe. S will continue to change the rice sock for me. I was vaguely aware that my mom was cooking many things in the kitchen. I can hear all the sounds and smell the aromas. But I didn't feel like talking at all.

I didn't feel like listening to people talking too, and I didn't want to have the CD on anymore as well.

I was beginning to perspire quite a lot and it was tiring and getting unbearable so I mentioned to G, and asked her when I could go in to the hospital because I feared not being able to make it.

She encouraged me to wait longer, and said she needs to see the "show" before we go in. And I need to be in some kind of "zone" too, I can't recall exactly what she said. Everything's a bit hazy now. Because I used most of my energy just to get past each contraction in a pain-free manner.

I already had the mucous plug drop out in the morning, I think about 5+am?? I can't recall. But haven't seen any "show" yet. That meant the cervix hasn't thinned out enough yet.

So the doulas suggested I move back to the bed. G felt maybe it would take a while longer, so she asked me to lie on the bed to rest.

Somehow, lying on the bed, on my left side, made the contractions come a lot closer, a lot more intense and well, it made the "show" come on.

Oh, I can still remember that stage vividly. It felt like wave after wave of something very energy-consuming coming upon me and if I didn't concentrate hard enough, I could get swept away. So I fought very hard to be on top of it all.

I tried to breathe but I end up moaning and groaning already. I felt this unexplainable need to clutch and grab a cold and wet towel in the midst of the surge and another hand needed to grip the table leg. (table is beside my bed).

G says low grunts and moans are good, they are vocalisations that are natural. Screaming is not encouraged because it makes me more tense and builds up the fear factor. Fear will bring on more adrenaline (and pain) and adrenaline is antagonistic in action to oxytocin. This will slow the progress of labour. So I need to focus on being relaxed. I didn't scream at all and I noticed my moans (hmmmm, and ermmmm sounds) coincide with each exhalation.

Sometime in between, G asked me to get into the warm shower again. So I did again. It was so much more difficult this time than in the morning. The warm water felt good again as it trickled onto my tummy. But I had to press on the glass partition really hard when each surge came now. I was getting really hot and tired. Ugh. I think I lasted another 30min before getting out again. I felt a little more refreshed after drying myself. I wore the clothes I would be birthing in - a Moms in Mind nursing top, and a flare skirt (for easy access during birthing, no pants, of course!).

I got back to lying on the side on the bed.

Now from here onwards, I may get some sequence of events mixed up but to my best recollection, it is as follows. (Not sure of exact sequence cos I was already in Lala Land, or in a world of my own, just trying to cope with everything in a calm manner.)

About 12pm thereabouts, I knew my doulas and Dh were getting hungry. I heard Dh getting some corn and soup from the kitchen (which my mom prepared). I think S went out to buy some lunch for herself and G. S herself is still nursing her baby, she must be famished. She had a donut that morning (courtesy of my sis who gave me 6 the night before) and that's about it.

G stayed behind with me. After S had her lunch then S took over and G went and had her lunch. I could smell coffee again and guessed that Dh made some for G and maybe himself. I had this nagging concern over Dh's lack of food and too much coffee. Funny I can still worry about him during all the "labour", which really = hard work.

What G did for me throughout this time was to rub my lower back with her warm palms or the warm rice sock whenever the contraction climax came. It did help a lot. I grew so dependent on it that when she switched with S, I requested S to do that same as well.

Then Dh came to take over, perhaps after half an hour or so, and he pressed the wrong spot, and somehow I got very irritated and snapped at him to rub and press harder and shifted his hand to the correct spot. Sometimes doulas really help cos they're women who went through childbirth too, and they know exactly where and how to help. Dh wasn't a bystander though, they made sure they showed him how to help me and he was there to support and help me all the way, which I really appreciate.

This went on for a while and I felt I needed to use the toilet, but then nothing came. Funny, I felt a full bladder but just couldn't pee. I had to endure several contraction on the toilet bowl. At this time, G said she made the decision that we could possibly start getting in to the hospital, because she saw lots of "show" (i.e. blood) and that my belly was sloping already, which meant baby's head was very low. Also, perhaps I had entered my "zone" whatever she meant. I only know I can barely concentrate on anything else.

For example, when my mom asked if I wanted anything to eat. I wanted to tell her I had no appetite at all and really didn't want anything to eat. But it came out too quick and angry-like. Maybe I snapped, I don't know. She also tried to massage my feet. I know she meant well, but I somehow couldn't bear anyone touching me any other part apart from my lower back. So I told her not to touch me.

She then said she had nothing to do at my house anymore, and said she'd go home first then return in the late afternoon to pick ds1 and ds2 up at the bus stop. G commented after the delivery, that my mom was quite calm and collected, not like other moms who might be very anxious and in the way. I was glad she was that way, otherwise I might be more stressed. I was glad I wasn't living with my in laws too, which might have added more pressure on me to go into the hospital soon.

I guess it was about 1pm when we left for the hospital. The progress was slow. I had contraction after contraction along the way from apt to lift. Imagine, I can't face that elderly uncle anymore. I was walking along the corridor, and G did say that whenever a contraction came, I can stop and lean against her and Dh or S. So I did, for the first one, but I somehow had to lean all my weight during the peak and I felt it was too heavy for S and G. (Dh went to get the car at that time)

So there was this rattan chair that a Malay neighbour placed in the corridor. Her flat was near the lift already. I had to rush and sit in it to ride out one more surge.

Then in the lift, another came.

And while walking from lift to car, yet another one. So we kept stopping. By that time, Dh was with me and I leaned on him with all my strength without fear, but later he reminded me I was heavier than him. haha. Yup, he's so underweight he weighed 63kg while I had attained 65kg at the peak of my pregnancy. But it's ok, he's strong enough.

The car journey was pure misery for me. I kept my eyes closed because I didn't want to be reminded how long more the journey would take. I wanted to just focus on each surge at a time. Cos I kept wondering whether I will make it, it was getting all too intense. I had to moan and groan through every single surge now.

I heard G tell Dh that women in active labour maybe very sensitive to bumps, humps and turns so he should drive gently and slowly. She couldn't be more accurate! Somehow I was very very irritated with each hump that Dh had to go over, and I felt he was swerving too much with every turn. It was excruciating to be stuck in the back seat. I rather move through the contractions.

Like even when I was lying on the bed on my side, I would move my legs back and forth through each surge.

In the car, I would just grip the handle on the top right side of the car door and pull myself up and down slightly during the surge. No wonder my right bicep hurt so much after the delivery. I discovered a lot of muscle aches here and there and was able to trace back how I used those muscles during labour, that was pretty funny.

The other interesting thing was that Dh tried to make small talk at first, in the car. I recall feeling very angry. I wanted to shout at him to stop talking about trivial matters. I remember being very irritated. But of course, I controlled myself since my 2 doulas were present. Somehow though, they instinctively knew? They didn't engage in small talk and just checked their cell phones. I vaguely recall them texting or whatever. Anyway I was glad they were quiet. Dh said it was the quietest car ride for him, ever.

Finally I heard S offering to park the car for Dh and that he should get out with G and me at the entrance cos that was the shortest route to the delivery suite.

Oh man, I remembered opening my eyes and seeing the lunch crowd at Mt E hospital's entrance. I was not in a pretty state, I knew. I had perspired so much for so long, I didn't comb my hair properly, and I think I look haggard and tired. No make up, of course. My clothes were probably in disarray too.

But you know how being a mother makes you more thick-skinned? Ok, don't bother, don't make eye contact with anyone, I told myself. I lifted myself gingerly out of the car and walked out.

Several nurses at once assessed our state and kept asking if we needed a wheelchair. G said no, I will walk. She had asked for my opinion and I agreed I wanted to walk. She said walking will help baby drop further down, and yes, I wanted that to happen. I just hope I can have baby out soon, I recall thinking. She said anyway we definitely have time, and will make it to the delivery suite.

I remember the wait for the lift. I hated the lift at that time. In my heart I was grumbling and ranting at the Mt E's lift system, so slow, so inefficient. There was a huge crowd waiting for the lift by then, and all of them had their eyes on me, cos I had a surge and had to moan. Everyone heard me moan and could see me work my way through it. Ugh. Of course, I made absolutely no eye contact.

Then, when the lift came, I heard G ask for me to be let in first. haha, that's the advantage of being in labour. I was in the back of the lift with Dh. Sigh, we were supposed to get out at the 2nd floor but I had to have a contraction inside the lift. I buried my face into Dh's body and moaned my way through it. They had to hold the door open for me at 2nd floor and wait till my minute plus-long contraction end before I could make my way out. Of course everyone looked at me and I heard a lady even ask, "Is she in labour?"

I was thinking "Then? What else??" Man!

I also saw a Caucasian lady cast me a very sympathetic look. Wonder if she just went through the same thing. Anyway lots of people were staring at me since the lift was chockful of people and at the 2nd floor landing there were many people as well.

We walked slowly to the delivery suite and I had yet another along the way. I was feeling happier already since I could see the large swing-doors and the huge letters above that read "Delivery Suite".

Once inside, they got the preadmission documents from Dh and let me go into Suite room no. 4 first while they settled stuff with Dh. I got onto the bed with relief. I lay on my left side again. I was tired of walking. This position seemed the only bearable one for me. Yet the surges were so so intense, I thought maybe I couldn't bear with them anymore. But I didn't say anything. Bear with them, I must. I had wanted this myself. I need to see through it.

I vaguely recall the staff nurse being alarmed at so many in the delivery suite. She had to confirm and reconfirm that I had 2 doulas and that my doctor was agreeable and that we had prior permission. G dealt with all that.

1.45pm (Time noted by S, thanks)

Then this same staff nurse/ midwife asked me to change into the hospital gown. I rejected it and asked to birth in my own clothes. Good, she had no objections, unlike in KKH the previous 2 times, they refused to let me. Then she asked if she can do a VE. I refused to lie on my back though, so she did it with me lying sideways. Wonder if that caused inaccuracies? But she said it was 3cm. What??!?

I remember my head exploding. Fortunately it was 2nd nature and habitual of me not to use swear words, or else they may just come out then. So intense, so long, so frequent, only 3cm? You got to be kidding. I think she noticed the look on all our faces.

She said my cervix was all thinned out already, fully effaced, whatever, and it was not tight at all, her whole hand could move without restriction, and baby's head was low. Ok, that wasn't much of a consolation!

Even though I was not able to talk, but somehow all her comments stuck in my head and affected me deeply. I guess that's why it is important not to talk so much while the woman is in the last part of labour.

Cos she went on to comment that there was far too much blood for 3cm stage of dilation. That at once made me very fearful that my previous C-section scar ruptured. That is the main risk of VBACs and for VBA2Cs the risk is much much higher. A scar rupture can cause the death of both mother and baby in a very short time. I was feeling very intense pain in my lower back and abdomen too. On hindsight, it was probably the baby's head, but at that time, I really thought perhaps my scar ruptured already, that's why it was so painful.

Remember fear causes a vicious cycle to start running and then cause more pain? Well, suddenly I felt I couldn't deal with the pain.

Yet during that time, my mind fought furiously. I want this pain to go away. I need relief, but I don't want to ask for epidural, it may lead to a C-section for me again? I badly want to have a VBA2C, and I know this might jeopardise my high chances. Everything had been smooth till now, do I want to ruin it?

As surge after surge came, my mind started to swing in favour of an epidural. I began rationalising, well, the risks and side effects may not kick in. I may still have a VBA2C with epidural right?

Didn't help that the staff nurse also kept telling me that I can ask for epidural, and that even my obgyn said I can have it. And that if I was already in such agony at this stage, it could still take a long LOOOOOng time to reach the final stage. G told me, don't be discouraged by a statistic, it could be very fast, I never know.

Then the staff nurse came and said she has to give me antibiotics. Because of Group B Strep infection and because my water bag had already sprung a leak since 5am. I needed to have the IV in my left hand. I was very loathe to do that actually. On hindsight again, my obgyn said in his standing instructions to give me a heparin lock instead of an IV. That meant I just needed a dose of the antibiotics and then some heparin is introduced and the thing plugged. If an emergency surfaces or if more needs to be administered then the vein is already opened.

But she did an IV and my hand was more immobilised than if it were just a heparin lock. Grrrr.

When she was preparing to give it to me, I finally asked G about the epidural. It's funny how come I asked her. S said when she was delivering her baby, she also wanted it, and telling herself why she should be so stupid to not want it, but she was afraid of G and dare not ask. For me, I knew Dh would be on my side whatever I wanted, so the only person I was scared of was G also. I was afraid that she would disagree or disallow and I was afraid she'd be disappointed since I asked her to be my doula precisely to help me have a gentle natural birth. So ya, naturally I sought her "approval".

I was glad she talked to me very diplomatically. She didn't say yes or no. She said, "errm, let's have this heparin lock first (we all thought it was going to be a heparin lock): then we'll decide about the epidural. I think if she said yes, I'd have done it at once, I was so fearful then, I thought I was going to have an emergency operation cos my scar already ruptured and I was bleeding to death, there was really a lot of blood.
If she said no, I'd probably had gone mad and shouted and be very upset that the pain relief was denied me. So she was very wise indeed. It was a delay tactic.

It took a while for the staff nurse to get everything ready, I had many surges by then, I was gripping the bed handles so hard, and S was busy feeding me water in between, really thankful for her water bottle! It was the kid's kind (with a sucking spout), easy to feed. My own was the pouring drinking kind, impossible to drink without spilling, with me lying sideways.

Dh was holding my hand or helping me wipe my face. S alternated with wiping my face too. G had to hold the monitor on my belly.

Oh yes, I failed to mention that the staff nurse was not happy with me and vice versa too. She put the monitoring belt so tight on my belly that the hard round device pressed too tightly on my abdomen which caused every contraction to be even more excruciatingly felt. But when I told her, she refused to believe me and even showed me the belt was not tight, and put her fingers through and said "see? I can put my finger through, it is not tight. It's very important to monitor baby's heart rate continuously cos you have 2 previous C-sections!".

I was very bothered by the pain on my tummy though, and was insistent on having it removed, so G offered the compromise of holding the monitor on my tummy for me, without the belt. It felt so so much better! Ahhhh, thanks man! So I effectively made everyone very busy for me. It's the only time in my life I made others work so hard for me, I think!

When she was ready to poke the vein in my left hand, I had to work through a few contractions first. I kept hedging because I kept feeling yet another contraction coming and told the staff nurse to wait. I can tell she is very impatient with me already.

Anyway finally I allowed her to. She got the stuff into my vein and hooked the IV to me. (After the delivery, G said fortunately I didn't go crazy mad. She said she remembered Dr's instructions was a heparin lock and the IV was inserted instead.) It was too late for her to object as well.

I don't know what the time was at that time, but as I was going to ask for the discussion on the epidural to resume, I felt the urge to push, and with the next contraction, I was in uncontrollable pushing mode. It was a force to be reckoned with because they kept telling me not to push and I kept trying NOT to push but my body still pushed. With each push, I can feel more fluid gushing out and baby's head seemed to be moving lower still.

The staff nurse was in kancheong mode and they wanted to do another VE. So this time they insisted I get on my back properly and she did a VE and I was fully dilated. Huh? really? That was great news, but so quickly after the 3cm announced at about 1.45pm? It should be only about somewhat past 2.30pm then?

She rushed off to telephone my obgyn (cos earlier she told him that it would take much longer cos I was only at 3cm).

I stopped asking about the epidural already. There was no point now, everyone knew that.

Ok, now everyone asked me to focus on not pushing until dr arrived. Aiyoh, that was tougher than expected. So every contraction that came now, I had to fight my natural urge and blow. They said blow hard. I blew so hard I thought I'd be blown away. To my surprise it did help. I don;t know why blowing air through the mouth will channel the force of pushing away, but I just did my best. Sometimes when the surge was particularly intense, I had to blow very hard and with sound too, to distract myself away from the pushing.

Finally, about 10-15min later, Dr arrived. Everyone was so relieved and they actually smiled and said, oh he is here, now can push! They got me to lie on my back, get into position, asked me if that position was ok. It was not very ok but lying on my side was very intense as well, so might as well. Cos if I was sideways, someone has to be occupied in holding up my right leg all the time. I didn't want to torture that poor person.

It was during this next 30min that I hurt my tailbone badly I think. With each push, I think I pushed my tailbone against the edge of the bed. Sigh, but of course I didn't notice it then. I was too focused on the pushing.

Somewhere halfway through this, the 1st staff nurse had a change in shift and a sister came in. Blessed relief. This sister was very friendly and encouraging and never made any negative comment. So she will count for me and guide me in pushing. G was the one who would tell me when to change breaths. Dh was encouraging me all the time, and he also helped support my back. In fact, he got backache because he had to help push and support me when I pushed as well! It was like we were both pushing during that stage.

Somehow I kept my eyes closed during all the pushing. I needed to concentrate, I think.

Sometimes I pushed in the wrong direction. As in, I channeled the energy to the wrong place, I think, cos they would say no no, push downwards. Sometimes, I knew I was making good progress cos they'd exclaim and say yes yes, push this way, harder! And they'll count and make me push longer than I would normally do. I took a lot of deep breaths and push long and hard.
It was a very tough workout indeed, I sure burned lots of calories.

Towards the end, they kept seeing her head of hair, but still her head didn't come out. Dr tried to locate her head position and said it was in good position, so we continued pushing. Then he said since I had 2 previous C-sections, he would prefer me not to push too hard for too long and asked if he could use a kiwi cup (a form of vacuum cup) to guide her head out. This would not require an episiotomy (cos I didn't want one) and I would still have to push her head out for him to attach the cup to her head then he'll just help the head out.

I kind of turned to G for "consultation". She said I might be exhausted, so a little assistance is ok. So I agreed.

I think the entire "pushing" stage took about 20-30min (from when Dr came) and dd was born at 3.21pm. Everyone cheered. We were all so happy.

After that, how the placenta expulsion stage took place and how we bonded with baby was posted in another post earlier.

When Dr took off his hospital scrubs, his long-sleeved shirt was totally drenched. Dh commented to me that he thought that our Dr didn't need to do much, just sit there and wait for baby to come out, but he actually perspired to that degree! Maybe he was just kancheong (anxious) about me being a VBA2C case. :-) G did say he was especially concerned about such cases. He had only done 4 before, and only 1 out of the 4 was a success. So now we upped his stats to 2 in 5 successes. hee.

He came in to check on me every morning of my stay in hospital and after I got home, he also called me at home to check on me. Very good postnatal care as well, I must say.

I also had a postnatal check up.

Dh now wants more kids. He was so in awe of the wonderful process. I told him, I am still recovering from the "aftermath" and you talk about more kids?? We had agreed to stop at 3 and I think we will eventually stop at 3 (I will get him to agree to stop at 3). I must get him to help out more, then he will realise it is hard work.

Since I wrote this while the experience is still fresh in my mind, I am sure it contains a lot of details. Years down the road, I think I might, like my mom, suffer from selective amnesia and remember only the happy parts. Cos my mom always says childbirth is pain-free, no biggie. Just like everyday business in the toilet. I went through it 3 times and I don't believe her.

But then again, who knows, next time I might forget all the ouch part of it and tell my dd the same thing? Just like how the elderly say it was so easy taking care of their kids in the past, not like OUR kids now, so difficult. That's also selective amnesia isn't it?

Anyway I have always been an honest person. I know my account above isn't those that gloss over the hard parts and make it sound easy to others so they'll be greatly encouraged to go have more kids. I also didn't use all the politically correct terminology. Hypnobirthing and gentle birthing books say we cannot use the words "pain", "contraction" and all thes negative-sounding words. I used them, so I am not very encouraging, I think.

But then I am honest, and I don't want people to think I have a high threshold for pain, that I am a superwoman or someone who can birth children easily, cos that was not the truth for me. It was hard work and tough for me. I am glad it is over yet I am glad I chose this path. I would still do this and choose this over a C-section. With pain, there is gain, I think.

So go ahead and have more kids. The more pain, the more you treasure them, I think. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Monday, February 15, 2010 ;
1:26 AM
Wishing everyone a happy Year of the Tiger and a lovely Valentine's Day!
I am working on the actual birth story and will post it soon!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Monday, February 8, 2010 ;
10:59 AM
4 Feb

In the morning, just before being discharged, my doula and her partner (who was also present and a great help at dd's birth) came to visit me and also conduct the final postnatal session.

I think this pic is very nice because everyone is so happy. It is a very happy birth and it is a very happy occasion (getting to leave the hospital to go home!). (I was still lying down cos my tailbone was so painful.)

Little E was very content, she slept through her diaper change and change of clothes into her own, and was swaddled up in the same wrap that both her brothers were wrapped in before. My mom bought this cloth, and sewed the wrap for ds1 7 years ago and when ds2 came along, he used it too. Finally a girl gets to use it. I always thought it was more feminine, but I let both ds use it anyway. Maybe my mom kind of foresaw a girl will come along the way...

She did open her eyes (you know how newborns are? they open their eyes sometimes in their sleep to peek around then continue sleeping?), and I quickly snapped this pic. Either the flash made her blink or she was very suspicious and worried to be on her way home. She had a big frown on her face for sure.

Then she slept all the way home. So nice. I grimaced all the way home cos there were so many humps and bumps on the road again and my poor tailbone will give me a jolt of pain each time the car goes over a hump.

Back at home, my mom had cooked lunch already and was waiting for us. While Dh and I had lunch, the waipo (maternal grandma) had a good look at dd and dd seemed to be scanning her waipo's face intently.

Back at home, dd seemed to adjust quickly. She likes to look around all the time, and seems to be taking in all the features of her new home.

She likes to keep sticking out her tongues, licking her lips and sucking her fingers and knuckles loudly when she is hungry and wants to nurse. Dh caught her in this while she stuck her tongue out.

Dh and his little princess. He was playing some Mozart piece on the CD player and then having some bonding time with his girl.

Then the big brothers also. They really love and adore her very much. When they come home from school, the first thing they want to do and kiss her. I have to remind them to wash their hands first. ds2 especially likes to carry her and I make him sit on the sofa to do it. He'll sit on the rocker recliner and rock while carrying her and even rocked her to sleep once!

This age gap, which I thought was too big, seems good now, because they are big enough to help me and big enough not to experience sibling rivalry? I still remember the tantrums ds1 had when ds2 was born. On one hand he was in his terrible twos stage, and on the other hand, he couldn't understand why ds2 had to take up so much of mommy's time.

Now, when I need to nurse dd, and cannot help the boys with anything, or need to rush to do something for dd, the boys understand totally and would not mind. Such a relief for me.

Grandpa also wants some bonding time.

ds2 being proud to be 二哥。(2nd oldest brother)

The 3 of them. Sometimes the 2 of them fight over her and I even have to say 5 min each, and then switch sides. Cos they'll even fight over who gets to carry the head part. Both of them will want to carry her together but they feel carrying the head part is better than the legs part, so I even have to help them change sides after 5 min. Grrrr.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Sunday, February 7, 2010 ;
11:32 PM
2 Feb - 4 Feb

Our hospital stay this 3rd time was remarkably short and sweet.

Previously with the boys' C-sections, I had to stay 3 nights. With ds2's trial of labour and then eventual C-section, the duration in the labour ward was an additional long period as well. (Was in the labour ward from morning till midnight before he was delivered)

So this time, even though we went to a private hospital, the final hospital bill was less than KKH's cos the previous 2 times were surgeries and longer stays.

Of course, I felt much better and more mobile as well. (The only blip was the injury to my tailbone, or coccygeal region of the backbone/ spine which caused me to not be able to sit, and cannot get up from sitting to standing normally.)

I kind of crushed the tailbone when I kept pushing to get dd's head out, and my bum was at the edge of the bed. Also, when baby's head makes its way out, it tends to push the tailbone backwards. Hence this kind of injury is very commonly sustained during childbirth. (At least, after I did research, I found many people who suffered this.)

During the birth, I was concentrating on birthing naturally, and somehow did not notice the tailbone pain. It was only after the delivery that I discovered how painful it was. Sigh, now it cannot bear any pressure, so sitting normally is out of the question.

Usually I take for granted so many daily activities that can be done with a normal tailbone. Now with this ailment, I realised so many things and movements require the tiny tailbone's cooperation!

For example, sleeping on my back hurts the tailbone. Everyone who is sitting and needs to stand has to lean forward slightly, putting stress on the tailbone. This simple action is something I cannot do now! Weird right? Yes, so that renders me unable to get up should I be able to sit down in the first place. Sigh.

I have a number of physiotherapist friends, of which my primary school classmate is one of the closest, and he advised me certain positions to assume to enable me to have a slightly better quality of life now.

In case you are a silent sufferer and haven't heard of this, I'll just share.
Normally we lean forward with a straight back to stand up (from sitting position). Now, in order to not cause the tailbone to shoot painful signals to your brain, arch or flex your spine (hunching) when you lean forward instead, and push the table or whatever in front of you with both hands, and use your both feet to provide support as well, then stand. This spreads out all the pressure and reduces strain on the tailbone.

Also, don't sit on anything soft. Sofas, recliners are out of the question. I am so sad not to be able to sit on my favourite rocking recliner to breastfeed. Now I can only lie on my side to nurse dd. It is bothersome to have to lie down in the daytime when I could be reading or doing something else while nursing. I really hope to recover soon!

My obgyn says it is common among his clients too. (He doesn't like to say "patients".) He says for some, it takes a month to heal, for others, several months. What I read on the internet scared me further though. Many become chronic cases and suffer in pain for life. Otherwise, the only "treatment" would be regular pain relief injections to the spine, or the permanent solution is surgery. When I read of some cases where surgery was performed to remove the offending tailbone, I was so horrified. I just went through childbirth, I don't want another surgery!!

So I am praying very very hard mine is a mild case that will heal and go away soon!

Now for some positive outcomes from this hospital stay, and some pictures.

This is the placenta, which the midwife declared as very very beautiful. She asked if we wanted to keep it since it is so nice. We didn't but we decided to take a photo. She was very happy that at least we would take pics, and even arranged it nicely for Dh. She also washed it and offered to turn it over so Dh could take more pics of both sides. This is the pic with the least gross factor, for the benefit of the squeamish.

(Note the umbilical cord. After it stopped pulsating, it turned white. It's really really tough. When Dh cut the cord, he said it was surprisingly tough to cut. And no, the scissors was not blunt.)

We requested for Dh to cut the cord in our birth plan and I must say our obgyn, doula and midwife took our birth plan very seriously. I wrote birth plans for both ds' births previously as well but not too many read it then, and certainly nothing came true out of that.

My obgyn even went through it with me point by point during our antenatal session and explained certain procedures have to take place if there is an emergency (because I requested not to have it in the birth plan, so he was saying if there was no choice, he might have to do it). But fortunately in the end, almost everything was what we wanted.

Dh had a comfy lodger bed. It was spacious and he had so many pillows given to him (made me jealous) and they came in to make his bed twice, I couldn't believe it. His bedsheets were hardly dirty or messed up.

The hospital throws a celebratory dinner for all parents who just birthed. And there'd be this butler who will come up with a menu for us to order our food. Quite interesting and amusing for us. The food was much better than the usual meals. And we felt there was not quite enough, since we finished everything very quickly. (We ordered one western and one chinese set each to have more variety.)

Oh yes, at the end of your stay, there will be a concierge who will come up to assist us with all our bags and stuff and get us to the car. Parking is complimentary too, and we can exit and enter as many times we wanted to. (Parking was chargeable at KKH last time, and we had to pay $11 for the valet service, I recall. That was in 2003 and 2005.)

All the rest of the photos Dh took of me and dd had to be censored cos they were taken in the delivery suite. Only this one looked presentable enough to be posted here. She's 1 day old here.

We had several visitors. Some were former colleagues. Below are 2 and 2 others, Ming and Judith also came, but I forgot to take pics for them. We had a lot to chat and catch up on. Somehow, fellow moms have lots to talk and share about.

My JC besties. After so many years, they still faithfully visit, with each and every child too. I am very touched.

The grandparents of course. They would be the happiest. And they always start thinking who she resembles more, this uncle, cousin or brother... :-) My mil is very happy for me cos she knows how much we wanted a girl. She was so happy that I delivered this one naturally that she couldn't sleep (she told me that).

My mom. I think she is happy too, although she didn't say she cannot sleep, haha.

Flashback to the delivery suite.
As per our birth plan, they did let baby nurse immediately after she was born. At first they let us have skin to skin contact. It was a great bonding opportunity for Dh, me and dd. We didn't have such a chance with the boys previously, and treasured it.

The midwife will busy herself cleaning up other stuff and the obgyn just waited for the cord to stop pulsating and for the placenta to emerge. He started stitching a few stitches first. (I had a superficial tear, very minor. It is not even painful compared to my tailbone injury!)

Then as she started rooting and crying a bit and the doula helped her to latch on, and I started nursing her on one side.

Of course, at this point in time, there is no milk yet but colostrum. And there was lots of it, so it took quite a long time. Then we continued chatting (doulas, Dh and me). It distracted me from the stitching, and there were still some contractions as the body is trying to expel the placenta. It was so nice having one doula feed me water and wipe my face with a wet towel, and another doula helping baby to nurse properly, Dh was kissing my forehead, telling me how proud he is of me he was, and then taking video clips and pictures non-stop.

The midwife kept praising me saying what a great job I had done, and how good I was with the pushing and all. She said she's very impressed with our "team" (ie doulas, Dh and me). She was very encouraging too and I thanked her.

The euphoria I experienced at that time would be something I'll always remember for life. I think nothing else in life makes you so proud and happy (ok, apart from the day I became a Christian, but that work, most of the work was done by Christ, and not me. this one, i did most of the work)? The good results in school, the awards received, promotions.. whatever...all not important... So I revelled in that moment.

Normally I feel paiseh/ embarrassed when people praise me and I always try to shrug it off. This time, I just enjoyed the moment. I had finally done it, no doubt, with a lot of help from others/ God, but it is done!

I can tell Dh is similarly affected, because even at night, in the still quiet moments, he will still refer to this experience.

Anyway, so after dd nursed on 1 side, she continued to the other side, and by that time, my placenta had come out, and doc had finished his stitching. Dh also had his chance to cut the cord as it was clamped by the doc. Then the doc left first, and midwife continued cleaning up.

My skirt, that I bought from This Fashion, was totally covered in blood, so I decided to throw it away. :-) Helps that it cost only $10. (moral: don't wear your best clothes to birth a baby)

The doulas continued to chat with me until baby was finally done nursing, and the midwife then took her to be weighed (see pic below), and then cleaned and warmed.

We're so glad there was no hurry to clean and weigh her here, and they respected our wishes. I remember how the boys were whisked away hurriedly to be weighed, cleaned etc. I was just shown him briefly after he was delivered (for ds), and then they'd proceed with the normal protocol. Then only he was brought out to Dh for DH to see. Poor Dh, both times, he hated the wait outside and it was nerve-wrecking for him. (He actually cried cos mine was kind of like an emergency during ds2's time)

This time it was such a pleasure for him.

The boys are 2 very happy brothers too. So far, there has just been adorable and love for dd from them. No other negative feelings. I think it must be the age gap. They have their own activities and need not revolve their life around the baby sister or me or Dh, hence they don't feel so affected. Ds1 was more affected when he was a toddler of 2 yrs old, and ds2 was born. He did throw tantrums then and wasn't able to understand sometimes, how I had to nurse baby and could not do something for him there and then.

And this time, I returned to my own home, so all in all, many factors made this birth a particularly pleasant and relaxing experience.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Saturday, February 6, 2010 ;
11:18 PM
ds1's birthday falls on 2 Feb.

We thought our baby girl will come before that since there were many early contractions.

So we didn't plan for a formal birthday party for him in case we couldn't make it.

His request this year was simple. He wanted more Megabloks blocks. Just the simple additional blocks, no fancy sets. He just wanted to build his own stuff. We thought that is useful for either ds2 or dd as well, in future, so when others asked us what he wanted, we would tell them Megabloks as well.

He had his first set when he was 2. A church friend gave it to him. So it is the 2+ size set. Hence any additional blocks he had after that were bought to match that 1st set.

Here are just some things the 2 brothers make to play with each other. They also make up fighting games with the blocks itself. This particular 2 ships were constructed by ds2.

So ds1 received 2 more sets of Megabloks from 2 other church friends this year, he was overjoyed!

This is the banana cake I made for his church Sunday school class celebration. He decorated it with cheese slices himself.

Angeling helped me coordinate it (thank you so much!) because the night before and that morning, I had very intense contractions that came so frequently, I thought I was in early labour already. So I didn't go for services that day.

They sent me photos and it seemed they all enjoyed themselves.

ds1 cutting his cake and distributing it in the Sunday school class.

He and his class teacher and friends.

Then my mil requested that I make a banana cake for ds1's birthday celebration at her home during the family clan weekly dinner as well, cos she and my fil like the banana cakes I make (can be adjusted to be less sweet than those sold outside).

This time, ds1 used the gummy worms to decorate it.

He and his cousins at mil's place.

I guess each year, many Singaporean kids go through several bday celebrations too. One with the mom's side extended family, one with the dad's, one in school, one at church... whatever....

As they grow older, these will soon cease so it's nice to let them have such memories during their childhood, I guess.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Monday, February 1, 2010 ;
10:44 PM
Quick update on what happened before the birth since I had already uploaded these photos:

1. My sis and I and our kids have been spending quite a lot of time together since she is also a SAHM.

One day after picking ds1 up from his school bus stop, we walked to JP together with Eva and Elias in the double stroller for lunch and then quickly walked back to pick ds2 up in the afternoon.

Because I bought this Graco stroller from the USA (cheap sale there) some yrs back, it is huge compared to the Japanese double strollers found here.

When my sis went to the toilet, I was pushing the double stroller with Eva, Elias and ds1 standing perched on the stroller's underbar.

I received a lot of stares from people within Jurong Point. They would look at Eva, then the sleeping baby (Elias), then ds1 and then at my tummy. If ds2 were there too, it would be hilarious.

I wonder what's racing through their minds, because they were obviously staring as I walked by. And I know they cannot believe their eyes, since there are so many kids, plus my heavily pregnant belly, and then they must be wondering, why my "kids" look so different from each other.

On the way back, my sis was lagging behind as she went to Popular to buy something for me, and we walked back first. I suddenly had a BH contraction, and got ds1 to take over pushing the stroller for me.

2. More baking. I had the urge to bake even more stuff. Baked some cheese rolls. Turns out this would be my last batch of baking before the birth.

3. Turns out this was the last family outing we did as a family of 4. We went to Jurong Central Park with ds1's new bike. We bought it for him for his birthday. It was very cheap cos we bought it at a mama shop in Jurong West extension and is a bit more ah pek style (with basket and back passenger attachment) than the cool ones like the Hot Wheels one he used to have.

But he is that kind of boy who doesn't care about looks I think. He still happily rode it, as long as it can ride!

I think he feels more grown up, having graduated to the 18" size.

4. Dh was napping on the sofa. Ds2 had some stickers to play with. He decided daddy's legs and hands would be best for him to display his stickers. So he happily and innocently pasted stickers all over.

He didn't know why daddy got so angry when daddy rose from his sleep. He honestly thought it was beautiful.

5. 31 Jan Sun 2pm

ds2's classmate had her 5th bday party at Safra club's Kids Amaze (the largest indoor playground in Sg). Both ds2 and ds1 were invited.

I was curious actually, cos I'd never gotten to know his classmates but he often mentions their names at home and this girl's name featured prominently in his conversations. Also, in the comm book, his teacher mentioned he likes to hold hands with her in school and they would sit together for activities and classes.

But then I was having those bad cramp-like false labour pains again that day, so Dh brought both boys, and good thing he did!

Coincidence of coincidences! How small Sg is!

The mom of this girl, R, got a shock when she saw Dh. Turns out they were JC classmates! Yep, not even schoolmates or CCA mates, but actual classmates, for 2 yrs and not just acquaintances too! Dh and her were rather good friends and had once gone swimming together every other day in JC and had gone out for meals and such. They were never more than friends though, in case you are wondering, haha, cos Dh was bent on chasing this other girl in his CCA, and his whole class knew.

In fact, the first thing R's mom said to Dh after they started catching up, was that she just recently bumped into X, the girl Dh was chasing throughout his JC days. Haha. (Dh didn't manage to win her heart then, btw.)

Anyway this is the sweet pic they took together.

ds2 doesn't look like he's the same age as his classmates. Somehow the rest of his friends look older than him as well. Maybe he has been the baby of the family for so long, he has stuck behaving like a baby. Well, things will soon change now.

They had a great time playing in the indoor playground, even ds1, who was older than the rest.
Good, cos I'd been wanting to bring them there but hadn't had the chance to.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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