Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured in BabyTalk Malaysia Magazine's September 2014 Issue

Almost forgot to document here that my article on my 1st versus 2nd pregnancies was published in this month's BabyTalk Malaysia under "Bump to Birth - 9 Months" section. I was honoured to be given 3 pages for my writing this time around.

Find me in September 2014 issue.

Too bad, my name as the author of this article was not printed and this story only got published when Baby Dylan is no longer around.

Nevertheless, I am still happy to see that I got featured in the magazine again.

About Dylan: 46 Days and Counting

It's been almost a month since I last wrote about Baby Dylan. Although these days I seldom talk about him here or elsewhere, it doesn't mean that I have forgotten him. No, I am not over him yet. I am still mourning. I miss him. I would be lying if I tell you I have entirely stopped crying over my son's demise. Once in a while, I still cry for his life; and the dreams, hopes and expectations that were taken away from me.

I don't draw very well but how are you, son?

Sometimes when I see other people's little boys or babies, my brain could not help but wonder how my Dylan would look like at 2 m/o? How big would he be as a 6 m/o baby? Could he walk by the time he turned 1? Would he be a chubby baby like his sister? What kind of hairstyle would he sport? Mushroom-like? Or short and neat? Would he grow up as a handsome dapper young man? Would he be as tall as his Dad?

Anyway, in the first two weeks after we lost Dylan, I received a lot of messages from family members, friends and other people to quickly move on and not to think about my second baby so much. Turned out, apparently you just cannot rush grieving. There is no secret recipe to heal fast. The only cure of grief is to grieve. Grieving is personal and has no time limit. Everyone grieves in his or her own way and no one knows exactly the depth of pains that one's going through from losing his or her baby.

Speaking of emotions, I think the emotional whirlwinds from grieving that I experienced so far come in stages. There was a time when I was incredibly sad. My heart ached so badly until sometimes it was hard for me to breathe. Tears rolled out of my eyes uncontrollably and I could not stop myself from reaching for more tissue papers. At night, I had trouble sleeping too. When I tried to close my eyes to sleep, my head was full of my son. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep because the sadness over this loss was just to overwhelming to bear. I longed for my son and he was nowhere to be found. When I slept, he appeared in my dream and the moment I woke up, I thought of him again. He was stuck in my mind.

After going through these intense pains for many days, I became numb. This numbness was then followed by immense guilt and regrets because my son earned his wings so soon and would never come back to me. The thoughts of "I wish we could save him." "I wish I'd rushed to the hospital sooner." and the like danced in my mind non-stop. Only when I could think straight again I began to rationalize the brutal truth that Dylan was probably already gone when I was asleep and I only got to find out that something was amiss when he had completely stopped moving or passed away for quite some time. We could not anyhow save him. The following week came and I felt like 'normal' again. I could appreciate the blue sky, chirping birds, pretty flowers around me and all. It was as if I was just brought back to life once more.

Nevertheless, the stabbing pains re-emerged and I became a very angry and jealous person. I was angry to the world in general and jealous of those women who are still pregnant (especially those whose due dates were around Dylan's EDD) or those ladies who managed to bring their newborns home safely. Why are they still pregnant and I am not? Why their babies made it through this world and mine did not? I am not too sure if this anger was normal for a bereaved mother or whether the choking anger wrapped me because I was too hormonal. Then, I was not in the mood to socialize or meet people either.

Last week I managed to make myself understand that what happened to Dylan was purely God's plan and I was somewhat soothed. God gives us life and He too will be the one who takes it back. As for Dylan, I made myself believe that God only planned his life to be so short and He didn't even plan him to take a breath in this world we are living. I can't figure why as yet. What I know is that He loaned Dylan to me for 30 weeks, my job was to take care of him during that period and I did. When my part was done, He took Dylan back. I had no choice but to return him. For a while, this mind-set sort of helped me in letting him go.

Too bad, I started this week feeling down and grumpy. Another different wave of emotions hit me. This time around, I feel so hopeless because there is nothing much or rather, nothing happy, for me to look forward to in the coming days, weeks or months. My life feels empty and I am just getting by every day that passes.

What's next? I don't know.

On another note, just a gentle reminder in case you meet grieving parents in the future, please make sure you avoid saying the following to them:
  1. Move on. (Refer to the above for the reason)
  2. I know how you feel. (No, you don't. Unless you were in the same situation before then yes, you do.)
  3. Be thankful for what you have. (I am but what about the lost baby that I'd carried for so long?)
  4. You're still young, you will have more kids. You can try again soon. (I know my husband and I are still considerably young but guess what; the fact is we can't try for another baby that soon. We need time to even begin to try again.) 
  5. Life goes on. (Roger that but my life had recently been turned upside down. Please bear with me when I am putting it back together, ok? In the meantime, I need to heal the gaping oozing wound in my heart too and sadly, I could not find the medicine for this in the pharmacy nearby.)
  6. Don't cry. Don't be sad. (What is wrong with crying and feeling sad? Crying is necessary to express the emotional pains and sadness is inevitable when you lose your child.)

By listing the above, I don't mean to be rude or ungrateful to those who showed their concerns and offered their kind words when they found out about my son's incident. However, having gone through this painful event, I realized what people said to me during difficult time did matter somehow. The comforting statements that many people believed to be helpful somehow turned to be unintentional bad comments that added unnecessary pains to the broken-hearted me (and probably other grieving parents too). Due to wrong choice of words, some people's good intention was not communicated as so. As such, just my two cents, if you are not sure with what to say to the bereaved parents, perhaps consider saying that you are speechless over the tragedy? We'd understand that. Alternatively, just offer your condolences and say "May comfort and peace be with you"?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Toddler Busy Bag: Making Colour Matching Ducks and Ponds

I think I'm in love with colourful felts and must shamelessly admit that making toddler busy bags is indeed quite addictive.

I had a pretty slow Saturday this week because my husband and I didn't really have plan to spend our Saturday afternoon. To kill my free time at home yesterday, I kept myself busy by 'playing' with my colourful felts, glue and scissors again.

For my third busy bag, I came up with another colour-matching activity for preschoolers and this one doesn't need any sewing work (so not harassing my eyes and fingers!). I made some cute yellow ducks and their colourful ponds using assorted colour of felts. The objective of this busy bag is for kids to place or match the ducks to the right ponds based on to the ducks' wings colour. This time around, I pasted velcro tapes to one side of the felts so the ducks can stick to the ponds better and we won't lose them easily when utilizing them to keep kids occupied on-the-go.

Place the ducks to the right ponds.

DIY Colour-Matching Felt Ducks and Ponds

Materials:
  • Yellow and orange felts for the ducks' bodies and beaks
  • Black felt for the ducks' eyes
  • Assorted colour of felts for the ducks' wings and ponds
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Puncher, optional
  • Velcro tapes, optional

The final results.

Tutorials:
  1. Draw a circle shape on your colourful felts and cut them according to the shape. This round felts will serve as the ducks' ponds. Mine is about 8cm in diameter.
  2. Draw a duck shape on a paper (mine is about 6cm big) and trace this paper template onto the orange felt to create as many ducks as you want. Cut out to pieces.
  3. Cut a mini triangle shape on yellow felt for the duck' beak. Glue the yellow felt to the duck (orange) felt to create the ducks' beaks.
  4. Using a puncher, create a mini round shapes on black felt for the ducks' eyes and stick them to the felt ducks using glue. Alternatively, draw the eyes on the felt ducks using a black marker.
  5. Draw a wing shape on a paper and trace that paper template onto the colourful felts. Cut them to pieces and paste them to the felt ducks.
  6. Cute some velcro tapes and stick them to the back of each duck and the corresponding ponds (optional).

Stack them and pop them in a plastic bag for storage.

I tested this new busy bag to Naomi yesterday evening. I think the cute duck shape attracted Naomi most and she kept on playing with the ducks even before I finished creating the whole busy bag.

Naomi and her new DIY toys.

This morning when we went to KL to visit my nieces, I brought along this busy bag and introduced this activity to my 3 y/o niece who already goes to kindergarten. 

My niece matching the ducks to the ponds.

I took me only seconds to explain to her how to play with these ducks. Once she got the hang of it, we played this game 3-4 times before everyone called us to eat lunch.

Naomi and her cousin playing together.

I think my niece's reception towards this activity was overall better than Naomi because every time I challenged her to play this she was more interested and excited than Naomi was. Is it because generally Naomi gets bored to things faster? 

OK then, the next time I meet my niece again, I will let her play with all my busy bags and see how she responds to them. LOL.