Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Day in My Life

I have been meaning to blog about a day in my life as a Mom but I delayed materializing this idea for yonks because I know this kind of post would require a lot of work e.g. jotting down each of my activity of the day and the time, taking photos of this and that, and so on.. Not to mention, living my actual life that day. But, #YOLO, right?

Here's the snippets of a typical weekday in my life as a Mom to a preschooler and a newborn.

Thursday, July 14th 2016

23.48 I nurse my little tyke who just wakes up from his sleep. After my baby is full, I play with Naomi for a while then also cut her long fingernails. Husband is already sound asleep by now.

When baby refuses to be put down.

Friday, July 15th 2016

01.00 Naomi finally falls asleep on her own after I tell her to go to sleep for 117 times.

02.00 Brennan goes back to sleep and I turn to bed too.

04.30 I hear a very familiar Neh Neh sound. My baby is awake. Feeding frenzy time.

07.00 My little human alarm rings so I bounce out my bed. It's time to feed my hungry baby then burp him.

07.45 At this hour, husband is already downstairs eating breakfast that he prepares on his own (he prepares mine too usually). Crap, baby vomits milk on my shoulder. I need to change my shirt.

08.00 Before heading out for work, my husband goes to our room to get the sleeping Naomi. This girl needs to go to school even when she is still sleepy. I try to go back to sleep because I am not done with my sleep yet.

09.00 Baby makes noises again. So fast, it's milk time again.

Believe me, this was a one off occurrence.

09.20 I am fully awake now. I brush my teeth, put my contact lenses on then wash Naomi's milk bottles from last night.

09.25 I go downstairs to refill my water tumbler, put the tiffin tins outside, cook rice and prepare breakfast.

09.30 I eat my breakfast. After I finish my breakfast, I do the dishes in the kitchen.

My quick breakfast.

09.43 After breakfast, it's always Chop! Chop! Curry Pop! No time to chill. I need to get going with the house chores before baby wakes up. Baby's clean laundry needs to be cleared and folded so I can wash and dry another load of dirty laundry.

These needs to be cleared and...

09.54 Just when I am about to fold baby's last shirt, I hear him screaming out loud. Alas, it calls for yet another nursing session. I love watching the TV shows like Shark Tank, America's Got Talents, Britain's Got Talent, X Factor and such on YouTube while nursing my baby. Breastfeeding a baby is all about happy thoughts, isn't it?

... Folded like this.

10.15 Baby seems to be fully awake now so I might as well bathe him.

His way of saying good morning to me.

10.28 Baby is now bathed.

One item in my to-do-list today is crossed.

10.30 I decide to vacuum my room because my room just gets dirty overnight. At the same time, I make a mental note that downstairs also needs some cleaning. While, baby is still happily viewing our bed room's white ceiling, I quickly run downstairs to dump the dirty laundry onto the washing machine. Man, it's going to be a lot of laundry to hang dry later... I fill our 15kg washing machine with dirty clothes to the brim. *sweating-like-a-pig*

7 weeks old: Baby can smile now.

11.00 I sneak in a quick shower. I feel a bit dizzy - it's not even lunch time yet and I only woke up like 2 hours ago?

11.50 My lunch is delivered. I always feel so famished around lunch time so I help myself a huge serving of rice for lunch while baby naps.

My most important fuel of the day.

12.05 Lunch is in my tummy now. While baby is still in Dreamland, I utilize this golden opportunity to hang the laundry dry.


12.20 Baby wakes up because he hears the minor noises I make while tidying up Naomi's toys in the living room (from the night before). Naomi always scatters all her toys in the living room after she comes home in the evening. Oh no, no no no.. Baby begins to cry inconsolably. I dread afternoons at times because baby tends to cry badly for hours during these hours and refuses to nap. I try to console my crying baby for 45 minutes then turn to some colic drops. Brennan is on poop strike again so he usually fusses a lot because his stomach is gassy.

This is just half of the daily mess that Naomi makes with her toys. 
Usually, she also pours the whole content of that blue bag.

13.20 The general rule of thumb for mother is to nap when the baby naps. I try to do that every single time. However, once I drift off to sleep in the afternoon, Brennan wakes up .. It's a never ending nursing and rocking business with him. Seriously. A high-needs newborn, you say?

Can you just stop crying and nap now?

15.15 I manage to get a nap but baby naps on my chest the whole time so I wake up with body aches instead of feeling on top of the world after an hour of afternoon nap in a sitting position.

Managed to coax him to nap.

16.30 Milk buffet is open again for my one and only customer.

16.51 I scramble to vacuum clean my living room, dining area and kitchen downstairs.

17.04 The hunger pangs hit me so I make myself some hot drink for my afternoon tea time. I gorge my food and drink real fast because the baby wails. He demands to be carried again.

Tea time!

17.20 I buckle the baby up in the baby car seat, get myself into the car and drive to fetch Naomi from Day Care.

OK, let's go and get Naomi home.

17.35 Home safe with two kiddos then feed Naomi her dinner.

The big one is back with me.

17.45 Naomi eats very little dinner. Maybe she doesn't like the dishes of the day. Critter #1 is fed and it's time to feed Critter #2.

18.07 The littlest one dozes off again after nursing. What now? Ah, the big one requests for milk. I run to our room upstairs to make Naomi's milk. After I hand the milk bottle to Naomi, I go to the kitchen and wash some dishes.

Milk after dinner.

18.30 Naomi's mouth is itchy and she searches for snacks high and low around the house. I give her a sausage and a handful of sunflower seeds to munch on while watching cartoon on Astro. These snacks should keep her busy for at least 20 minutes.

So happy eating junk food.

19.00 Husband is home (YAY!) and dinner is here. Not even halfway through eating my dinner, Brennan cries for the Nth time today. I briefly nurse baby to calm him down and so I can continue eat my dinner peacefully.

19.30 I pass the baby to my husband then go upstairs to brush my teeth and shower. Naomi also wants to shower again so I help her.

19.42 As part of my bed time rituals for Brennan, I wipe his face, hands and legs with warm wet cloth then change him to his pajamas. In return, he throws me a crying fit that warrants another nursing session.

19.52 I take my contact lenses off then give Naomi her cough syrup. I am drop dead tired now and feel like having a short nap. No way to watch TV or turn my laptop on and update my blog at this point of time. Instead, I attempt to get some shut eye while the little man is asleep and Naomi plays Lego with her Dad. Man, it's so hard to fall into a deep sleep with so much loud noises in the room (read: Naomi's screams and meltdowns). Naomi also speaks very loudly at home as it were she can only get her important messages across to us IF she communicates in blaring volume. She commonly speaks in her normal voice volume when she talks to her plush toys, Lego creations or herself. You don't say.

22.10 I am all ears when I sleep. I jump out of my bed when I hear Brennan lets out his little cries because he is hungry again.

22.52 I go downstairs to eat some supper alone before my graveyard shift commences.

Here's to another long night ahead!

23.05 My night duty is officially on. I don't know when I get to crawl to bed later tonight - my little boss decides.

That's all - my day as a SAHM of two children, with no domestic helper around.

I don't know what you feel after you finish reading this post but I supposed you'd either feel exhausted or bored? Haha. Anyway, this is my life now. A little mundane and crazy busy (non-stop, to be specific) indeed but that's fine.

OK, I need to go back to tending my baby and finish some house chores now.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Breastfeeding Then and Now

Before I was a mother, I envisioned pregnancy to be all fun, full of glows and smiles for the expectant mothers during the entire 9 months - something like how the prenatal milk supplements pictured on TV commercials. Truth is, pregnancy is not an easy feat - morning sickness, aches and pains here and there, frequent urination, heartburn, insomnia, etc... you name it.

Same with pregnancy, before I had Naomi, I naively imagined breastfeeding to be a natural and effortless thing to do - just shove the mother's nipple into the baby's mouth and the baby would quietly drink until he/she experiences milk coma - All mothers can do it. Happy ending. After all, breastfeeding posters make it look so easy, don't they?

Prior to Naomi's arrival, my husband and I shopped nearly all the breastfeeding necessities we found in the market. Electric breast pump, half dozen of breast milk storage bottles, nursing bras, 2 large boxes of nursing pads (because I thought that I would be blessed with over abundant milk supply and leaking all the time), silicon nipple shields, nursing pillow and don't know what else... and I almost asked my husband to buy a mini fridge to store my breast milk too. 

Guess what. 

I struggled immensely in breastfeeding Naomi. Breastfeeding then was nothing but stressful, painful and overwhelmingly laborious to me. Turned out, my body failed to produce much milk either. My baby still required formula milk after I direct latched her for a while and I produced very little milk even after pumping my breasts for 45 minutes. Naomi ended up taking formula milk way more than my breast milk and I gave up my part-time breastfeeding journey with Naomi after 3.5 months. I felt sorry for my baby girl but that was the best I could do. 

Throwback to 2012: Newborn Naomi.

My first breastfeeding experience indeed wasn't filled with rainbows and butterflies. You can go ahead and ROFL now because the two boxes of breast pads I proudly bought in 2012 were pretty much untouched and silently sit somewhere in my cabinet at the moment. Thank God I didn't buy the mini fridge - that would have been the biggest joke of the century. 

Moving on, when I was expecting Dylan, I told my husband that I would give extra heart in breastfeeding the baby. Unexpectedly, my second pregnancy took a twist and I didn't even have to start any breastfeeding journey with my second baby as planned because there was no newborn to bring home to begin with.

Given my previous experience in breastfeeding Naomi, I set a more realistic goal in breastfeeding Brennan before his arrival. I promised to myself that I would try harder in breastfeeding him yet not feel so guilty if I could not or have to mix his feeds with some formula. I didn't purchase various breastfeeding products prior his birth except new set of dual electric breast pumps and nursing bras.

Then Baby #3 arrived. As projected, initiating breastfeeding journey was an absolute pain and difficult but I was more determined this time around and didn't give up easily. The first few days and weeks of direct latching my son were colored with engorged and lumpy breasts, cracked, sore and blistered nipples, crampy stomach and what not... I often yelped, bit my lip, or squeezed my bed sheet or other random things around me e.g. my husband's arm but not the baby I was holding. Breastfeeding was quite an ordeal and there was a short period of time when I dreaded every session because I already knew the stabbing pain coming from direct latching my newborn. As a result, sometimes I resorted to my breast pumps or formula milk to reprieve me.

Milk coma.

For practical reason, I seldom use my newly bought breast pumps because of the hassles involved in washing and sterilizing their parts plus storing the breast milk. Also, I do take fenugreek supplements that my parents bought, drink lots of liquid and not starve myself when hungry pangs hit me as to maintain my milk supply.

As I write this post, I have been breastfeeding my son for about 7 weeks now (still early I know but hopefully this will go strong for at least 6 months). I am quite there in exclusively breastfeeding him. My son doesn't really fancy drinking from bottle so he naturally consumes very little formula milk, like less than 2oz daily, if we offer him with any. These days though, I don't have to give him any formula milk anymore even at night because getting him to drink from bottle creates drama and seemingly I am capable in providing him with enough breast milk. 

Keep calm and be patient.

All I can say is that breastfeeding has its up and downs but it gets better each day. I think direct latching Brennan became significantly less painful after about a month.

On a side note, after I become a mother, I came across two types of breastfeeding trolls as follows. 

1. Freaky breastfeeding advocates

This category usually consists of mothers who successfully breastfeed their children perhaps until toddlerhood. However, they take their breastfeeding seriousness to the extreme level and kind of look down at those fellow mommies who are sadly unable to exclusively or even breastfeed their babies at all. They assume that those women who can't breastfeed their babies are unaware of the goodness of breast milk and highly likely going straight to hell for not breastfeeding their babies - as if formula milk is poisonous. 

2. Demoralizers - if there is such word really.

This group of people is typically a generation older than us and doesn't exactly have faith in breast milk possibly because they never breastfed their kids successfully in their younger days. They always think that breast milk is not filling for babies and the baby will never gain enough weight by solely surviving on breast milk. These ladies tend to comment that a mother's breast milk is not enough and she needs to top the baby's feed up with formula. Every time the baby cries after a breastfeeding session, they snap "Your milk is not enough.". 

I find that people who do this to breastfeeding mothers discourage their breastfeeding efforts and can make any breastfeeding Mom's faith and confidence crumble considerably with their insensitive choice of words.

July 2016: Post-natal check up with the Gynae who delivered my three babies.

My conclusion is breastfeeding is without doubt challenging, requires commitment and not for the faint of heart. However, there are ways to make the journey easier and more successful. My strategies to breastfeed Baby #3 more successfully are: (1) Get the full support from my husband and so far he is (2) Not afraid or shy in asking help from lactation consultants such as the nurses from the hospital where I delivered my baby or government clinic's staff/nurses who do post-natal home visits (3) Share challenges with and acquire some useful breastfeeding tips from trusted friends or relatives in the same boat (4) Be patient and persevere for good things do take time (5) Try to relax or have peaceful thoughts when breastfeeding - basically don't stress out.

One more thing, a good nursing butter helps tremendously too. And once you decide to fully breastfeed your baby, I guess it's time to invest on a nursing cover or poncho as well. I bought mine sometime after I got more confidence and determination in breastfeeding Brennan longer.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Each Child is Different

Baby #3 aka Brennan celebrated his full moon end of last month but I only managed to blog about it now. Initially, I planned a full blown post about his first month. However, my laptop suddenly broke down. It kept on freezing on me numerous times until I had to *take a deep breath* let it go, turn away and slam the door. Needless to say, now I have become poorer by RM 2k++ to get a new one so I can continue blogging. Further, I was busy looking after baby, Naomi and my house as usual then caught a stubborn flu so blogging took a back seat for a while.

Baby #3 and his full moon goodies.

For Brennan's full moon celebration, we didn't do any fancy schmancy party or dinner buffet as I'd rather hold a more happening celebration for his first birthday. Few days before his full moon, we went to Muar to pray in my husband's grandma's house as per his family tradition (I just tagged along). Then on the weekend, we distributed some full moon goodies to a number of close friends and family who reside in Seremban. This time around, each of the full moon gift that we gave away consisted of a marble cake, two angku kuehs and two red eggs.

June 2016: Big sister and baby brother.

When talking about newborn care, I thought that having a second baby has automatically made me a more experienced Mom especially since I had the hands-on experience of taking care of a newborn under my belt. On some parts of newborn care I think I indeed got the experience but the truth is, every day I am actually still learning new things from Brennan because he practically throws me many new lessons every now and then - stuff that I didn't encounter while raising newborn Naomi four years back. For examples:

Boobs vs. Bottle

I am happy to say that so far I have a more successful breastfeeding journey with Brennan. My breastfeeding experience with Naomi back in 2012 was nothing to be bragged about as she was mostly on formula because I thought I just didn't have enough milk for her.

I direct latch Brennan since his birth and am nearly there in exclusively breastfeeding him. However, sometimes I still resort to formula when my husband and I put him at his grandparents' house for a couple of hours or during the occasion when I am drop dead tired, want him to sleep longer past midnight or my breasts are insanely sore from breastfeeding or acting as the baby's human pacifier for much too long.

While we didn't have any problem with feeding Naomi using bottle, we are struggling in feeding Brennan formula when we have to because he loathes bottle and refuses sucking the bottle nipple. This said... Boobs win!

No Sky Juice, Please

Some people insisted that once baby has been introduced to formula, he must be fed with some plain water afterwards. Guess what, my second baby hates water too. It took Naomi like 15 minutes to make her get used to drinking water after drinking formula but with Brennan, this effort has never been successful to date.

Fortunately, doctor advised us not to give any water to Brennan at the moment as the little man doesn't need it yet given that he mostly drinks breast milk and breast milk is 90% water. In fact, my breast milk is a much better water for him because it has nutrients, antibodies and everything good for the baby. As such, instead of giving Brennan water after formula feeding, we were told to give him 1-2 tsp of breast milk instead.

Poop Strike

Brennan had regular bowel movements on his first month. Everything about his digestion system was text book as per what the clinic's nurses briefed us - that Brennan should be pooping meconium on his first days of life followed by 4-8x bowel movements in a day on his first few weeks. He obligingly did so until July arrived... All of sudden, my baby son just stopped pooping. After two days of poop absence, my husband and I panicked so we brought him to see his Pediatrician in town first thing in the morning. His doctor did a quick check on his tummy and declared that baby's digestion system was actually normal. Apparently it is not uncommon for breastfed babies to pass motion once every 3-4 days because breast milk contains all the good stuff for the baby's body and it easily absorbed by their body so they have little waste to remove from their body.

The catch with this poop strike is the 'wind'. Baby's tummy will be gassy and he may cry a lot or not sleeping well if he has too much wind in his stomach. Given this situation, Brennan's Pediatrician prescribed him with some colic drops. What an experience this one was as I really don't recall having this issue with Baby Naomi and she never had to take any colic drops during her infancy.

After 5 anxious days and loud symphonies of foul-smelling 'wind' emission on the 5th day, Brennan finally passed his output before midnight - which we greatly rejoiced. Good Lord, never before I treasured my baby's poop like this. These days, Brennan still doesn't pass motion daily but he does it like once every two or three days.

Tearful Bath Time

Newborn Naomi disliked bath time but only for the first few days. Brennan hates bath time all the time and he is still not a big fan of it until to date. I don't know why he always makes his once-a-day bath time so dramatic one. Luckily, his Mom still manages to stay cool as a cucumber when he bawls during bath time otherwise she'd have grey hair sooner than she thought. Nonetheless, I must give him some credits now because he cries and screams less during bath time lately. I hope I don't jinx it by saying this now...

Oh, the Sensitivity!

Naomi had some red patches on her face for her first few weeks but they disappeared completely in the coming weeks and now she has a beautiful and smooth skin. Brennan also had some red patches on his face but they last until this very day. Not only the red patches he has, he also develops on-and-off tiny acnes on his face and rashes on his body as well. All these become very obvious after he gets really angry or cries heavily but generally the redness subsides after his angry episode passes.

His Pediatrician has prescribed him with some ointments to treat the harmless redness and rashes on his face and body but these skin issues had not disappeared entirely as yet. Doctor has advised me to quit taking any alcoholic food during my confinement and refrain from drinking cow's milk temporarily as Brennan may be allergic to it. As a matter of fact, we still don't know for sure what causes his rashes or what food or drink that I consume leads to his rashes. I do hope this is just a temporal thing tho'.

Learning that Brennan's skin is likely more on the sensitive side, the nurses and doctor from the government clinic where he gets his monthly check up and vaccination encouraged me to use a very mild baby soap/shampoo for Brennan, the natural or organic kind. Better yet, let him just bathe with warm water only. I am okay with the first suggestion but not so convinced with the latter because my baby sweats a lot and I'd like him to smell nice and fresh after his bath.

With the above lessons, I came to understand that just like how each pregnancy is different; each baby is different because babies are born with their individual characteristics and have different needs. What works for one might not work for another so I can't expect to raise or treat each of my children with the same method or routine.

Speaking of Brennan's sensitive skin, the good folks at EnviroHome have been so kind in sending me a bottle of Top-to-Toe Baby Wash for Brennan to try.

Baby posing so cute after bath.

EnviroHome's Top-to-Toe Baby Wash is made of 100% natural ingredients so it's totally safe. This Baby Wash gently cleanses newborns' and babies' hair as well as their delicate and sensitive skin without irritation or drying.

Handsome, clean and smells great after bath.

This product is colorless, doesn't lather much and has no overwhelmingly strong fragrance; yet it still cleans my baby well and makes him smells so good and fresh after bath.

6 weeks old: One more photo spam!

Finally, I would like to share the good news that EnviroHome is currently running a promotion for my blog readers. Get a 15% discount on all normal priced products listed in their website.

All you have to do to enjoy this promotion is:
  1. Enter the coupon code: EHMsia upon checkout 
  2. Type "CHRISTINE2016" in the "Add Comments About Your Order" box 
This promotion is valid until August 31st, 2016. Happy shopping!