Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Heartbeat at a Time

Firstly, I want to thank Alan for this post. It's a timely reminder that this post is long overdue.

Jas and I used to say "I Love You" to each other everyday. I would kiss her and tell her I love her before I leave for work every morning, failing which would invoke a myriad of teases from her for the rest of the day for forgetting to do so. We would end off every phone conversation with these 3 words. It was important to me cos' I have this somewhat morbid idea that every conversation could be the last and I wanted to make sure that those were the last words she heard from me. However, since the arrival of the kids, we find ourselves reserving those words for them instead of each other. I don't think we mean to, it's just natural for parents neglect their partners especially when the children are so much more adorable.

So, I would like to dedicate this post to my beautiful wife, who has never ceased to capture my heart every waking day.

Hunny,
I want to let you know that I appreciate you for all the sacrifices you have made for me. You are a wonderful wife, lover and most of all, my best friend. You always see the best in me and I am a better person because of your love. Our children can never dream of having a better mother for a better care-giver and teacher there is none. Nothing I do or say can ever make up for what you have given up for the family. I only hope that you will always find delight in my love and the adoration of our children. I will always be grateful for the fact that I am loved by you and there is no one else I'd rather grow old with.

I hope you find encouragement in this song by Steven Curtis Chapman. In this season of our lives when chaos and screaming babies are the only certainty in our household, I pray that you never lose sight of this simple truth - You are Beautiful.



One Heartbeat at a Time
You're up all night with a screaming baby
You run all day at the speed of life
And every day you feel a little bit less
Like the beautiful woman you are

So you fall into bed when you run out of hours
And you wonder if anything worth doing got done
Oh, maybe you just don't know
Or maybe you've forgotten

You, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch
And every smile

Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

With every, "I know you can do it"
And every tear that you kiss away
So many little things that seem to go unnoticed
They're just like the drops of rain, over time they become a river

And you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch
And every smile

Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

You're beautiful, so beautiful
How you're changing the world
How you're changing the world

You, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch
And every smile

Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
Oh, I believe that you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our First As Parents

My in-laws went on a short holiday a couple of weeks ago, so I took leave to help Jas with the kids and engage in some family bonding activities. Boy...we had a bonding experience alright but just not the way we would have planned.

I'll save the details for some other time but in a nutshell, here's what happened:

Mummy got the flu...

...followed by David....

...David's fever got really high and Mommy got worried...

...We had problems administering parecetamol to David and fever went up even more, Daddy also got worried...

...Admitted David into the hospital to get the experts to help bring his fever down, now less worried...

...Daddy also go the flu, nobody seems worried....

...Nai Nai took leave to help look after Cherise, one thing less to worry...

...David got better and got discharged, Daddy got worse and Mummy took charge...

...David started having stuffy nose that affected his nursing, Mummy started to worry again...

...Cherise started having slight fever, everyone begining to worry...

...Used 3 different thermometers on Cherise and all showed very different readings, not helping with the worrying bit...

...Cherise still very active, so nothing to worry...

...Start of new week, Daddy needs to go to work, Mummy really needs to rest, kids need attention...

That's the gist of it.

Some may consider such events a rite of passage for any parent, but that does not mean that it is an easy thing to watch one baby getting poked by needles while worrying about who is going to look after the other one. And having both parents ill at the same time is not helping the situation at all. However, there were a few things that made the whole ordeal a lot manageable:

1) Grand-parents - whom without their help (physically and financially) we would have been a lot more stressed out.
2) Friends - who offered to do our household marketing for us while we rested at home...for the record, they did it in the midst of their family retreat!! Thanks Des and XL!
3) Carecell Members - for covering us in prayer and offering to help us tangibly.
4) Family - concerned uncles and aunts who covered us in prayer.

Thank God the bug has run its course and we've recovered from it.

And just as we thought things were back to normal (it's an oxymoron actually cos' nothing is ever normal with 2 kids!!!) we had a new battle to fight....Cherise came down with fever and diarrhea caused by enterovirus. Imagine our relief when the doctor told us it was not HFMD. However, it was still contagious - transmitted through contact, so we had to disinfect the entire house especially the kids' play area so that it does not spread to David. We also had to stop Cherise from getting near to her brother - not easy because she is really affectionate towards him. Well, thank God the fever and diarrhea has stopped, now we have to start stuffing her with food again to help her gain back the weight lost when she was sick.

It's the start of a new week tomorrow, I wonder what surprises we're gonna get this time....

Monday, May 25, 2009

More

Cherise

I read somewhere (can't quite remember, and so I quote loosely) that a sibling is a net positive for the family. But this statement then implies that a sibling would be a net negative for someone in same family - and would that someone be the elder sibling/s?

We've been having trouble at bedtime for the past few nights. Daytime, she is the model big sister. Sweet and caring, her antics make us laugh. Just the other day, David was fussing in his rocker, and she came up to him and said, with both arms reaching out towards him, "Oh, oh, come, come, come, Mommy carry!" Adrian and I laughed and laughed. "So, she thinks she's the Mommy now, eh?" I joked.

But things aren't so funny at bedtime. It's as if the quiet of nighttime and the lack of distraction takes the lid off suppressed emotions, and suddenly, it's meltdown time. The first night, she cried for half an hour, saying "Mommy sayang" over and over and over again - even though she was perched on my lap. It broke my heart to see her clutching me tightly, and it was as if my hugs and kisses and her clutching couldn't bridge the distance she felt. The second night, Daddy got his turn. He dozed off as she dozed off, but suddenly she awoke and it was "Daddy sayang" as well, clutching his hair and kissing him and crying all at the same time. And just now, as I patted her and sang to her, all of a sudden her eyes filled with tears and her little mouth turned down at the corners. A little girl doing the big girl thing and trying hard not to cry.

What's going on? We think she misses us. It's hard on her, I think, to go from having Mommy and Daddy 100% of our free time, to maybe 50%/60% instead. Especially since Mommy was there all the time from the start. Nowadays, Mommy sometimes disappears. Sometimes for quite long. And where Mommy is these days, there's someone else too - another baby.

***

David

We thank God that he's such an easy baby. So much easier than his sister was at the same age. So easy that sometimes, we're guilty of exploiting that easiness. While Cherise was pretty much a "sling baby" who couldn't be put down and so got the benefit of being in our arms a lot, David spends a lot less time being carried. Oh, it's not that he doesn't like being carried - I'm sure all babies love the physical closeness and the vantage point - but he's pretty ok lying down on his own. And so, because we're always so tired, and because there's always another needy child to attend to, he's always lying down whenever he'll tolerate it.

Are we shortchanging him, I wonder? We rarely carry him for the sheer pleasure of it. Tired arms and tired minds. But that's no excuse, is it?

When we go out as a family, Adrian plays chauffeur and the rest of us squeeze in the back - me sandwiched between two car seats. Cherise is demanding - wants this item and that, wants this story read, wants that sticker book, wants that biscuit/raisin... the list goes on. And David, well, he just sits in his car seat, looks wonderingly around. On our last trip out, I was busy doing the usual with Cherise, when I took a quick glance at him and saw that he was staring at me intently. Really staring at me. Here I was, so busy and ignoring him, and there he was, just sweetly looking at me.

This morning was rather hectic. Both of them woke at the same time. I left him on the bed while I busied myself with Cherise. Changed her diaper and got her out of her jammies as fast as I could while our helper got her breakfast. I think he was alone a good ten minutes. But he didn't cry. Not even a squawk. I went back into the room to find a cheerful baby and he smiled at me. Gave me his first social smile.

Guilt. God's given me the sweetest little boy, and I'm too busy to do right by him.

***

So tell me how to be More. I need More. More of myself. More of myself to give. More of a Mommy to Cherise, and More of a Mommy to David. And if Adrian were the complaining sort, he'd probably need More of a wife too. And he'd be justified, I think.

The ridiculous musings of a tired mind:
If I cloned myself, then they'd each have a Mommy. Maybe me and the cloned Mommy could take turns with each of them. Maybe Adrian would need a clone too. Would they be able to tell the difference? Would the cloned Mommy breastfeed too? Do they even clone Mommies??

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Mother's Day



So what if it isn't a real flower.
So what if she didn't make it herself.
So what if her little chubby hands clutched and pressed until the petals were wrinkled and the stem was twisted.

She walked through the door and said, "Mommy, a present for you!"

It's the most beautiful flower in the world.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The First Month - We Survived (Just Barely)!

Part I:

The First Two Weeks went by fairly quickly - too quickly, in fact, for me. Adrian was on leave to help out at home, and things were pretty smooth sailing as we all adjusted to having a newborn at home. David was feeding well, gaining weight and filling out. His jaundice was clearing up by the 10th day, but then again, the serum bilirubin levels were never really high to begin with.

I soon got the hang of changing his diaper - although I must say, it's really a lot more stressful than changing Cherise's diaper! I mean, hey, there's a time limit here! Don't take too long, quick wipe wipe not so clean never mind tick tock tick tock close up diaper before he p.. oops too late. The day before Adrian was due back at work, David blessed us with what Adrian and I will always remember as the "poo incident". A poo like no other. I was changing his diaper alone (thought I was pretty zai by then), preparing to head out to the airport to see my sister off. I lifted his bum to wipe when suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, whoosh! out flew (and I mean flew) a stream of projectile poop! I think it must have been the angle (you know, physics, 45 degrees and the projectile attains greatest horizontal distance yadda yadda) at which I was lifting his bum, but he should have won, or at least been in the running for, the prize for the furthest flying poop. It flew over a metre. Hit the two trolley organisers in which we keep Cherise's and David's clothes. Yes, hit them both. Hit the clothes in the trolleys. Hit the wall behind the two trolleys. Would probably have gone further if not for the wall. Needless to say, we were late going to the airport. The amount of cleanup to be done was mind-blowing. Part of his flying poop hit my hand. I can still remember - it felt warm. Eww.

Humorous incidents aside, I spent the first two weeks in a funny kind of emotional roller coaster. Happy to have Adrian at home, enjoying getting acquainted with David, and yet, weepy and consumed with guilt when it came to Cherise. I fretted that I wasn't spending enough time with her. She was the perfect big sister - not an ounce of jealousy. Loved kissing him and kept asking me to carry him. But I fretted - "I think she misses me, she must be missing me." "I miss her so much!" "She's looking at me - I think she misses me! I think she feels jealous but she's too good to ask!" I felt guilty - guilty that I had to spend all this time with the newborn, and not with Cherise. And I was sad that I couldn't do lots of things which I used to do with her - like feed her, bathe her, put her to bed... Things which Adrian now got to do. She grew closer to her daddy, it was "Daddy baobao" now, not "Mommy baobao" anymore. And each night as I cuddled her while she slept I cried at the loss I felt. And Adrian would roll his eyes at me.

Part II:

The Next Two Weeks was just plain exhaustion. Whatever guilt I felt went out the window. No time for guilt. No energy for guilt. No energy for feeling anything. My days flew by in a flurry of pee, poop and milk. Adrian was back at work, and we (the rest of us) spent our day times camped out at my mom's place, which is, thankfully, just the next block.

David is one gassy baby. A gassy baby with a sluggish digestive system. Unlike his sister who would religiously poop after every feed, David grunts and groans his discomfort until the huge (stored) poop comes out. Usually this grunting and groaning goes on for hours. More specifically, between the hours of 5 and 8. AM. It's like, he needs to poop to get comfortable, but he can't because he's too sleepy. Terrible. And his grunting is so loud it wakes everyone up. Even my helper says she can hear him from the kitchen. So we've been starting earlier and earlier in the mornings because Cherise gets woken up by noisy David. One day she even got up at 630am. My day starts when he starts his "music". I carry him out of the room so that Cherise doesn't wake up, and I walk around and basically do all sorts of things to get him comfortable but really, nothing works till he poops the big one.

So I've been really sleep-deprived. We all have been. But we made it. And things are settling down somewhat.

At my mom's place, even though I'm busy with David most of the time, I get short breaks when my mom takes over, and I get to sit and play with Cherise for a while. Sometimes, I feed her lunch. Sometimes, I join her during her morning bath and splash her with water as she tries to splash me back. I don't get to cuddle her to sleep, but I get to cuddle her when she wakes up from her afternoon nap. Adrian comes to pick us up when he gets home in the evenings, and it's a happy reunion. We have dinner, then we have Family Bath Time. We all take our baths from 8 to 9pm. No, not all together, but well, we bathe David first, then I shower, then Cherise and lastly Adrian. Then supper for the little girl and it's off to bed. Adrian and I will argue over who gets to put Cherise to bed. Usually I win. So I cuddle her and sing songs and pray our prayers - all those things we used to do together, while Adrian gets to carry David around (bonding with his son, I call it), and it's nice and sweet as we girls drop off to dreamland together.

And then we wake up the next day (don't forget the night-time nursings and diaper changes!) and do it all again.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Noisy Baby

In my description of David, I mentioned that he makes funny noises like a grumpy old man. He does it in his sleep, when we carry him, when he is unhappy...basically he does it all the time. Not convinced? Hear it for yourself.
video
Now, I'm not trying to brag about our abilities but the truth is, Jas and I are pretty decent in the singing department. David's squawking and grunting are beginning to make us wonder..."Happy Feet"???

It's ok son...go ahead...make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Birth Story - Daddy's Point of View

If I have one word to describe David's birth, it would be this: Back-Breaking.

No...really...at the end of the whole thing, I could hardly stand up straight and my feet hurt like crazy. No wonder doulas charge ridiculous fees for their work, it's quite a task, considering I merely did a tiny fraction of what they would do. Not that I didn't enjoy the whole process though.

Jasmine made it very clear from the start of the pregnancy that she wanted this time to be as natural as possible. I was all for the idea (can save money mah ha ha!!!) and I offered to do whatever I could to aid in the process. However, I had to draw the line when she wanted a home birth - can you imagine the cost of replacing our laminated flooring if it gets stained by all the you-know-what?!?! Anyway, she then later toyed with the idea of engaging a doula to assist in the birth but I was not very keen because I really wanted to be a lot more involved this time round. Ok, confession time: I was quite useless the last time cos' while Jasmine was agonising in pain, I was blissfully snoring away in the labour ward...model husband right? Anyway, Jasmine was kind enough to accommodate my request to make amends this time round but not without making me go through a series of literature on how to be a labour coach. I had to spend most of my night duties reading the materials on the Labour Coach's Notebook which she printed out for me.

Well, reading about the various coaching techniques was easy, executing them was anything but. What used to work suddenly got on her nerves. I had to change from one massaging technique to another because she suddenly didn't like to be touched in a particular way, I had to contort my body into positions I never knew I could so that I could support her as she writhed in pain, I never got to sit down because she felt more comfortable in the arm chair that was meant for me (and I refused to sit on the floor, knowing what often ends up on said floor)... the list goes on. In the midst of everything, I suddenly forgot how to identify the stages of labour so I didn't even realise when she actually went into transition. Before I knew it, she was ready to push and I could not even let go of her for 1 second to turn the TV off (yes, I'm a TV addict).

It was a tiring affair indeed, but you know what, it felt great! It felt great to be so involved in the process. It felt great looking into her eyes as I helped her to control her pushing. It felt even greater looking at her sigh of relief when they placed David on her chest. It felt great knowing that we did it together. Yeah, I know that what I went through was nothing compared to what Jasmine had to go through. But if you compare this labour with the previous one, this was a big deal to me.

For the record, I really respect Jasmine for having the guts to go through it with no pain relief whatsoever. Honestly, I was expecting her to cave in and ask for something, but she didn't. Maybe it helped that I told her due to the shortage of rooms, we had no choice but to upgrade to a deluxe room which meant that we had no budget for any extras... ha ha. Jokes aside, my wife was really brave and I love her so much more for it. I don't think I have that kind of threshold.

As for me, the icing on the cake was that I got to cut the cord this time...wow...I want to do it again...if The Mammy is agreeable.