February 29, 2008

She's a popular girl!

Nutty had more visitors yesterday, starting with Vig, Puni and little Nikesh in the afternoon. Puni had seen Natalie when she was about 4 or 5 days old with Chris, but Vig had not met her at all. Unfortunately, my sleepyhead daughter was oblivious to their presence, choosing to nap throughout their visit. Vig was anxiously waiting for her to open her eyes but she only woke up 30 mins after they left!

In the evening, my niece Anjali popped by. Yes, niece...am 2nd cousins with her dad, though she's only a few years younger than me. Nat was pretty comfortable in her arms and Swana and Kevin swung by too. We all had dinner here, Swana had requested porridge from Ma...she can't stomach much these days because she gets queasy easily. And why does she get queasy you ask? Because she's preggers!!! Yes, my darling sister is with child and I should have a nephew or niece by September. It's still early days yet, but she seems to be having a harder time than me...wonder if that's a sign it's a boy? Anybody want to place bets on the sex?

February 27, 2008

No to eggs and ang ku kuehs

A lot of people have been asking whether we are celebrating Natalie's 1st month...and the answer is 'No'. She's 23 days old today and will be a month next Tuesday. I know to the Chinese, the first month celebration is a big deal and I read somewhere that the custom started a long time ago in China when infant mortality rates used to be really high, hence when a baby crossed the 1st month, they had a higher chance of survival and that was cause for celebration.

Me and Nick are not so traditional and we really can't see ourselves as the eggs and ang ku kueh types. But we know we have to do something, especially to appease the older folks so we'll figure out something else to distribute to them. Plus as Nat is due for baptism real soon, we thought we would celebrate that instead of having a 1 month party. Chances are she'll be baptised at St Teresa's on Easter Sunday and we'll have brunch either at the church or our place after that.

This Saturday happens to be me and Nick's 5th wedding anniversary but with the NATAS fair taking place this weekend and me still confined, it looks like it's gonna be a non-event. Yesterday I watched snippets of our wedding video, gosh, we looked so young and I was probably 10kgs lighter. Some of Nick's SHATEC classmates who put up the skit at our wedding dinner were over on Sunday night, everyone's put on weight since!

I loved my evening gown but I don't think I'll ever be able to fit into it again, will save it for Nutty, provided it doesn't discolour in the years to come. She can wear it when she takes part in Ms Universe 2028, ha ha! It'll probably be too short for her though, everyone says she's gonna be tall since she appears to have long limbs and fingers...

The many faces of Nat

Adrienne and Adrian popped by on Monday evening to visit Nutty and they got to see the house at the same time. I think Adrian enjoyed the view, it reminded him of their old house at Bedok. Meanwhile Adrienne tried some of this fruit I had, have no idea what it's called...anybody can help? I remember eating it in childhood and whenever I see it now, I will buy some. Looks like a mini mango, but tastes like a cross between a mango and a peach. Yums!

Mummy is infatuated with her grand-daughter and has been happily snapping away. Here are some of the many faces of Nat, taken yesterday...

Aunty Lee Eng's 50th

Last Sunday was Aunty Lee Eng's 50th birthday and though I was still technically confined, I went for the lunch my uncle organised anyway...it's not everyday I get to attend an aunt's 50th birthday party!

Nya Nya had booked a private room at a restaurant called Yan Palace at Hong Lim Complex, so Nick kindly offered to stay home with Nat while I pigged out. We didn't want to bring her along cos' she's still a bit fragile and lunch was a karaoke affair, the music would have been too loud for her. Everyone was asking where the baby was though!

I think I did all the confinement taboos that day...didn't cover myself up, drank a cold orange juice, ate prawns and had 2 slices of ice cream cake! Thank god Mummy didn't make a fuss, the ice cream and juice tasted soooooo good after all the longan tea I've been drinking!

Found out that day that Aunty Lee Eng had appendicitis two weeks prior and was actually hospitalised and had her appendix removed, her Changi Hospital experience didn't sound so good though. Lucky we live near SGH!

February 18, 2008

Chopped liver

Have been jokingly telling Nick and Swana that now that Natalie is around, I've become 'chopped liver'. What's that you say?

According to The Phrase Finder, chopped liver is actually a traditional Jewish dish, cooked chicken livers chopped or ground and seasoned, sometimes used as a sandwich filling. "What am I, chopped liver?" means "Don't dismiss me as if I were insignificant." Chopped liver is apparently always served as a side dish, never as a main dish. It therefore makes a good metaphor for someone who's being treated as unimportant or dispensable.

When you're pregnant, everyone fusses over you. Nick used to follow me to every gynae visit but today I went alone for a post-natal check-up but I kinda expected it. Mothers being ignored have been cited as a potential post-natal blues trigger, but I think I'm self-assured enough to not go down that route.

During my check-up, I was also jokingly telling the gynae about being chopped liver these days and two minutes later, my claim was justified! This was our exchange:

Dr Siow: What's the weight now?
Me: 56 kg
Dr Siow: No, not you! The baby!
Me: See what I mean about chopped liver!

I thought the check-up was all about me but he proceeded to find out more about Natalie's growth, ha ha! Chopped liver indeed.

Anyway, I went on to meet Nick for lunch after KK and he passed me a box of bak kwa from Fragrance, woo-hoo! In the afternoon, Aunty Saro popped by for a visit and she brought along booties and blankets which she had made for Natalie, so sweet. I can even thread ribbons through one of the booties and match the ribbon colours to her outfits. Here's some pictures of the booties and Aunty Saro with Natalie.

February 15, 2008

11 days and counting

It's been 11 days since Natalie arrived on the scene and she's been poked and prodded so many times for blood samples to monitor her jaundice, poor gal. But she's very brave because she doesn't cry when they prick her. 2 days after birth, her bilirubin level was 131, then it went up to 204 on day 5. 2 days later, it was down to 198 and yesterday it was 188. So it's going down, but slowly. Next blood test is next Thursday. Am so familiar with the SGH polyclinic already!

After yesterday's test, me and Ma brought her along to Tanjong Pagar to run some errands. I needed POSB to endorse my Baby Bonus form so at the same time I opened a bank account for her, her first deposit is made up of CNY angpows!

I have also been buying lots of 4D numbers related to her birth and birth certificate, which she received on Saturday. Prior to registering her birth, I had to pay 4 times the consultation fees at the polyclinic cos' she was considered a foreigner! Usual child price is $4 something, but foreigner is $18! Anyway, she has a nice birth cert number...easy to remember and she has an official identity.

Of late have noticed that her left eye appears lazier than the right i.e. she opens one wider than the other. Read somewhere that it's normal and will usually correct itself after a few months and is not noticeable when kids grow, only when they're sleepy or tired. Oh well, will keep an 'eye' on it...pun intended! Check out the one-eyed Jack below.

Anyways, it's the weekend and I'm gonna be stuck at home. Ma is off duty for the next couple of days so me and Nick get to play house by ourselves...hope it isn't as disastrous as I expect it to be! In the meantime, here's a pix taken a couple of days ago...I love how she looks so grumpy and like a little primate! She's probably thinking, "Oh, the indignity of it all!"

February 12, 2008

Kancheong Spiders

Something that has been amusing is how kancheong everybody gets over a newborn. I think I'm a pretty laid-back mum and I hope that doesn't change, but I am surrounded by kancheong spiders who question every little whimper and hiccup and bowel movement to the point of it being irritating at times.

To me, Natalie is still adapting to her new environment and thus I am not going to panic if she sneezes or doesn't poop in a few hours or is not hungry at times. But her father is super-anxious! I thought he would be a bit more level-headed but oh no, he worries about everything...am not surprised though since the MIL is kancheong spider No.1. He must have inherited it from her!

Nick has earned the nickname 'Milk Nazi' because he's always wanting her to drink more milk and trying to feed her extra. When he's on night duty, he will patiently wait till Nat's asleep before putting her down, and then he will wake up every 10 mins to check if she's breathing and that the blanket is not smothering her...even on my shift! No wonder he's sleep deprived lah. Meanwhile, if she's still awake when I feed her, I leave her to entertain herself in the dark until she falls asleep. I think the more the light is on and she has company to entertain her, the more she won't sleep!

My MIL has also been super anxious about the jaundice, the sneezing, the hiccups and her poop that she calls Nick every now and then to check if she's ok. I love them both, but wish they would relax a little...they're giving themselves stress!

Now, if they had bothered to do some research or background reading, maybe they wouldn't panic so much. Whenever I'm not sure about something, I'll look it up in the books I have or Google it. Don't sweat the small stuff I say...

The confinement so far

How time flies, Nat is already a week old. So far, she's been pretty well-behaved, only the occasional wail when she's hungry. Otherwise, she's oblivious to what's going on around her, preferring to sleep 22 hours of the day away!

Meanwhile, I just bum around at home, watching E! Entertainment or napping. We've had a constant stream of visitors over the long CNY weekend and today it's all quiet...for now anyway. At least I got to watch the Grammy's yesterday, can't wait for the Oscars!

Had my first Malay wrap yesterday, it was quite shiok. I normally don't enjoy massages but I guess I was really tired and ready for one when the urut woman came. Nearly fell asleep as she rubbed lemongrass and eucalyptus oil all over me, I didn't even mind the 100 sit-ups she made me do. At the end, my stomach was bound like a mummy and I left it on for 10hrs. When I removed the cloth, I'm quite sure my stomach was flatter.

Confinement hasn't been as stifling as I thought it would be, maybe because my mum ain't so traditional or strict with me. Food has been quite normal, she will sneak ginger in here and there and I have to drink longan water all the time, but that's fine by me. I've even eaten pasta and pizza. When I need to shower, she pounds fresh lemongrass and other spices and brews them in water...feels like I'm at a spa. There was one night though when I felt so hot and sticky that I snuck into the shower when she went out for a while, but unfortunately I was caught! Ha ha, have to be more careful next time!

The stitches are starting to heal, they really hurt the first few days, worse than the actual delivery if you ask me. I've had some headaches off and on and swollen feet and engorgement but other than that, am good.

My mum is taking real good care of me and Natalie, don't know where she finds the energy for the night feeds but I would be lost without her. Thanks Ma!

Gotta run, Natalie needs some sun for her jaundice...toodles.

February 8, 2008

Natalie's 1st CNY!

Natalie was smart, she wanted to collect ang pows and so decided to come before Chinese New Year! Yesterday was the first day of the Rat year and my little piglet collected some angpows courtesy of me and Aunty Nana. This will all go to her education fund!

She also had her first bath yesterday and was not too pleased to be dunked in water that she pooped in it! Ha ha! After that, she looked quite contrite.

Coincidentally, she also arrived in time to witness her grandfather's 65th birthday for which we had an impromptu celebration last night.

The milk supply is kicking in but I think I have blocked ducts. Engorged boobies are no fun and all the shops are closed today, this cabbage thing better work!

Bling Bling

One of the perks of pregnancy and labour is that sometimes you get rewarded at the end, and I don't mean the baby. Am talking about the 'push present' that seems to be a current trend. And of course, any reason for new bling and I'm there!

And so a few months ago, the hinting started. I half expected Nick to not succumb cos' he can be quite practical and with a newborn adding to our expenses, the last priority was to spend on jewellery. But then I spotted a ring at Cupid Jewels that seemed quite symbolic and not too pricey and when told about it, he agreed to get it. Yay!

So here is my reward, a diamond ring in the shape of an 'X'. The 'X' to me stands for the female chromosome and with Natalie being a girl, it is quite meaningful...to me anyway.

February 7, 2008

A star is born

It's been 73 plus hours since I popped and so far, I don't feel all that different. Can't believe she's finally out and that everything is healthy and normal, she's got 10 fingers and 10 toes and looks like a spring chicken when she's all curled up!

Honestly, I thought I would be a lot more emotional when they placed her on my stomach right after birth but nope, I didn't cry. But let's backtrack a bit to Monday morning, 4 Feb 2008 when it all began...

6.30 am:
Was in deep slumber when I felt a gush of water soaking the bed. My first thought was, "S***, here we go!" and jumped out of bed and into the loo. Didn't think that my waterbag would break to spark off labour, always thought I would make it into the Rat year and that I would start off with contractions. But oh no, she was ready for the world! After several minutes of dripping amniotic fluid all over the loo, I came out and woke Nick up. I think I should have broken the news a little more gently because he jerked and suffered whiplash in the process!

6.40 am:
Drip, drip, drip. Nick hits the shower and while he's in there, I deliberate what to wear to the hospital and slap on some concealer and powder. Picked a brown babydoll dress and when I was ready, Nick was still in the loo so I gathered the last few things needed for the hospital kit and went on to get a towel and plastic sheets to sit on for the car ride, plus set aside my appointment card and birth plan.

6.50 am:
Nick is rushing to get ready and after getting dressed, he asks whether he has time to 'use the toilet'. I knew that meant he would need a few more minutes, so I used the time to pack pineapple tarts and make 4 peanut butter sandwiches. Can't believe I was so calm, but I had no contractions yet. I was kinda hoping we could get out of the house before 7am, then we wouldn't need to use a OPC coupon!

7.05 am:
Finally we can leave the house and we make our way downstairs. At the foot of the block, Nick realises he forgot his phone and rushes up to get it. I waddle to the carpark and start warming up the car and am joined by him a few minutes later. By 7.07 am, we are on our way to the hospital! Ooh, so exciting!

7.20 am:
As we near the hospital, I start feeling cramps at 5 minute intervals. Ah, finally...contractions. While waiting for the lifts at KK, more water gushes and people give me funny looks while I wipe my legs!

7.30 am - 9.00 am:
We check into the Delivery Suite at KKH and are soon assigned a room...No.14. I get changed into a gown and in no time am hooked up to two machines to monitor the baby's heartbeat and my contractions. From here on, it's a matter of waiting for the cervix to dilate and the contractions to get closer together. Over the next couple of hours, we just hang out in the room and watch CNA. At one point, Nick went to have breakfast while I nibbled on my peanut butter sandwiches. I was soooo hungry! I also wrote some notes throughout the morning to document this momentous event and spritzed the room with a lavender bedroom spray for some aromatherapy. The midwife comes in to check on us, her name is Khoo Bee Neo...she was a nice lady.

9.00 am-ish:
Dr Anthony Siow, my gynae comes in to check on us. We actually had a 10.40 am appointment with him that morning, but Nutty couldn't wait. He checks and says I am only 1 cm dilated and predicts a longish labour, probably by nightfall or even past midnight. Damn! I asked if we could speed things up along and he offers Oxytocin. He also says the culture sample he took last week to check for Strep B turned up positive so another drip was added for antibiotics to be administered. Meantime, he says he will be back around lunchtime to check on me again.

11.00 am-ish:
Not allowed to leave the bed so had to do some 'transactions' on a bedpan. So glam.

12 something pm:
Contractions getting closer...now about 2-3 mins apart. Have been breathing through the cramps and pain all morning but finally decide it's time for the epidural...hey, I'm not gonna be a hero and try to do this au naturel you know? Midwife says I am only 2-3 cm dilated, there was no way I could manage another 7 cm and potentially 7 hours without the drugs! Call the anesthesiologist! NOW.

1 plus pm:
Dr Wendy Khoo (Khoe?) comes in to administer the epidural. Nick is chased out of the room while they prep me. The doc is all business-like and chop-chop to the point, which sorta has a calming influence. Doesn't leave me time to think about the needles and tense up and I don't see anything and I don't really feel anything. It really wasn't as bad as I thought. Almost immediately, I can feel the effect setting in. Could still wiggle my toes and stuff but no more crampy pains! Woo-hoo!

1.15 pm:
Is that a contraction? I don't feel a thing! Epidurals are the best! Only gives me the shivers, but that's ok!

2.00 pm:
Dr Siow comes to check again. He says everything is progressing nicely, and allows me to snack and drink juice.

2.41 pm:
8 hours already, Nutty hurry up! Feels as if the epidural is wearing off. It's not fun anymore, I can feel a different kind of pain...like constipation and pressure on the cervix but am told they can't increase the dosage, am getting maximum. Dammit.

3.10 pm:
Are you sure you can't up the epidural dosage? Sigh...am now only about 5-6 cm dilated.

4.00 pm:
Ow...it's really starting to hurt. I bug the midwife to check me again...8-9 cm only. Bugger. Really feel the urge to push but am not allowed.

4.30 pm-ish:
Please Madam Neo, tell me I'm fully dilated cos' I REALLY NEED TO PUSH! She says ok, I can start pushing. Phew.

4.45 pm:
With Nick as one stirrup and Mdm Neo as the other, we try pushing through the contractions. I get them wrong of course, exhaling when I'm supposed to hold my breath and push like there's no tomorrow. Eventually I get the hang of it and the head starts to crown.

5.00 pm-ish:
Here comes Dr Siow for the final stretch. With Nutty twisting and turning as she makes her way into the world, the heart monitor can't pick up her heart rate. Not wanting to take any chances, Dr Siow says he will use the forceps. Luckily her head is quite far down so he doesn't have to dig deep. Push Mits, push!

5.19 pm:
Pop goes the weasel! She's finally out, a star is born. I keep saying that because her middle name Sitara means 'star' in Sanskrit. Nick cuts the cord while she's plonked on my tummy. I can't believe she's finally here. Oh, relief.

5.25 pm:
Dr Siow tends to me while Nutty is measured and weighed. She's 47 cm long, 2540 gms and her head is 31.5 cm in circumference.

6.10 pm:
It's all really over and we just wait for a ward and room to be assigned. Meanwhile we take some pictures with Nutty...

7.30 pm-ish:
Am wheelchaired to Ward 81, Bed 23. The room's ok. Am sooo hungry and am told I will be getting a Chinese dinner. Yay!

8.00 - 9.00 pm-ish:
Incoming! The whole gang arrives! Swana, Kavi, Siva, Mummy and Aunty Sarda who had been waiting downstairs come to the room bearing gift baskets, a Piglet balloon and flowers. Aww, thanks guys. I relate the whole labour story to them over my meal and Papa drops by too. Everyone oohs and ahs over Natalie but leave by 9 plus.

What an exciting day, now for some sleep...but off course it eludes me. I end up not sleeping the whole night while I hear Nick snoring from time to time. Got real hungry at 1 am and 6 am and scrounged around for something to eat that is within arm's length from the bed. Found a peanut butter sandwich and a chocolate cupcake at the respective times.

Anyways, here are some pictures from her first 24 hours...

February 6, 2008

Before Natalie

In case you haven't heard, I've finally popped! More on that later, but here was what I got up to in the days leading up to the birth...

Made pineapple tarts last Thursday evening cos' on Friday, Adrienne was hosting a small baby shower at her new house for me and I knew she liked Mummy's tarts and I figured it was about time to learn the recipe! Look out for the recipe!

Anyways, after work on Friday, I made my way to the new Pereira place at Pasir Ris and was greeted at the door by Adrienne and Dolce, her grand-dog! The house was lovely, Adrienne and Adrian re-created all the cosy-ness of their old place and it was like they never left Bedok Reservoir! It was a small group of us, with Ai Lin, Terh Ling, Adrienne and Wai Ling and dinner was yummy with roast chicken, kuah nanas, mango salad and corn beef hash cutlets among others.

They gave me really useful pressies (thanks guys!) and a fun time was had by all. When I got home, I took some final shots of my tummy...maybe I knew it wasn't going to be with me for much longer!

The next day, I made more tarts and we popped by Great World City after mass. Nick and Kevin watched Rambo while me and Swana shopped. Met up with Ben and Wendy who were having dinner in the neighbourhood and collected my favourite mango ondeh-ondeh from them...their kind friend managed to get me a box from the Hui Lau Shan at HKG airport. Yums!

On Sunday, we had an impromptu lunch at the Crystal Jade Korean restaurant at Centrepoint with his uncles Gilbert and Barry and the MIL and then went to check out a second hand Peugeot we are considering buying...does anybody want to buy Pedro, our Picanto? This was followed by dinner at his mum's place at AMK. Little did we know what was in store for us a few hours later...