Mom life

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The minute I got home, a long list of things to do popped up in my head. 

  • Sweep kitchen floor of stray litter 
  • Unpack pump bag
  • Put breastmilk in fridge
  • Keep ice pack
  • Unpack cooler box
  • Pack frozen fish 
  • Pack vegetables in fridge 
  • Charge breast pump
  • Bathe and dress child
  • Play Elmo’s world for child while I poop 
  • Read the Gruffalo
  • Feed child milk
  • Sit with child for an hour until he falls asleep
  • Try not to fall asleep while sitting in darkness
  • Child asleep. Cut his nails. 
  • Put him gently in cot
  • Wash cat bowls
  • Wash child’s food container 
  • Clean cat litter tray
  • Throw trash out at rubbish chute
  • Go back to car to carry the rest of the bags up. That’s one duffel bag, 2 shopping bags and 3 grocery bags
  • Unpack grocery bags
  • Fold grocery bags
  • Wash and sterilize milk bottles and flanges
  • Unpack duffel bag, toss everything into laundry basket
  • Pack child’s school bag for Monday 
  • Pack child’s clothes for Tuesday to Friday
  • Pack child’s clothes for overnight stay at grandparents tomorrow 
  • Pack my work bag
  • Pack a new pack of breastmilk bags in pump bag
  • Open new milk bottle teats 
  • Prepare 2 bottles of milk for child’s school tomorrow 
  • Bathe
  • Take cough syrup 
  • Try to put eye drops in child’s eye while child is sleeping face down. Mentally curse PD and her stupid suggestion 
  • Climb into bed

By the time I was done, there’s was no time for myself. Time to sleep! Another day awaits!

  • Realise humidifier turned itself off coz there’s no water. Get out of bed to top up humidifier
  • Climb back into bed
  • Child wakes up crying. But of course. 

Small parenting victory: brushing teeth

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Today I had a minor victory. Liam has been resisting the toothbrush for awhile and it was starting to bother me. I kept imagining his teeth falling out due to his stubbornness and my unwillingness to start a battle in the bathroom over dental hygiene. 

I introduced the toothbrush to him at a fairly young age and initially he took to it well. He thought it was a toy and enjoyed swishing it around his mouth. A few weeks back, he started refusing the toothbrush. He would scream and wail whenever it’s “time to brush your teeth” so in the end I gave up. At first I thought he was teething so rubbing bristles in his mouth was hurting him. I also thought that maybe because we always did it at the end of bathtime, he hated to brush his teeth because that meant he had to get out of his bath, which sometimes became another battle if he felt like staying in his tub all day. 

Today I decided that I was the parent here in this relationship and I’m not about to let a 15 month old win this one. So when he rejected the toothbrush again, turning his head this way and that to avoid it, I decided to make it fun. 

I started to sing about brushing my teeth. 

You know the song, “this is the way we brush our hair, brush our hair, brush our hair”? I sang it but with “brush our teeth” instead. I sang with an upbeat tone and a lot of excitement, as if my very existence depended on it. Then I switched the words around. 

“Liam, you must brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth.”

After singing a few variations of it, he stopped what he was doing (poking the bubbles in the tub), reached out and took the toothbrush from me. He then stuffed it in his mouth and started swishing it around. I continued singing manically while he brushed his teeth.  Even when bath time ended, and I carried him out of the tub to be towelled dry, he was still industriously brushing his teeth, not bothered that bath time had ended for him. 

Any day where bath time doesn’t end in tears, and with clean teeth, is a win for me!

How to handle children in a group on holiday

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This trip, we are discovering the perks of large family holidays. We are in Bali with my husband’s cousins and all their children. The other kids are all older and are having fun minding the younger ones, namely my son and one other. When given specific instructions, they watched my son while I had some time to myself, to eat, to drink and to play. 

Give them responsibility

One of the younger girls has attached herself to my son as she finds him adorable. She has taken it upon herself to be his minder and follows him wherever he goes. This is great because my child is at the age where he loves to walk and explore. Not so great as the villa we are in is rather large and extensive and we didn’t want him to wander off. Also it’s not infant friendly with 2 staircases that lead to the 2 pools, and some parts of the main living area have drop offs that can be dangerous to a wandering child. So this little babysitter practically hooks her hands around his arms and walks behind him as he totters along. I tell her not to go near the stairs or the edges and she takes her job very seriously. 

Team work

One morning during breakfast, one of the children, after watching me feed my child some porridge, asked if she could feed him too. So I passed her the spoon and told her to make sure each mouthful had some rice and a protein. One of the more experienced parents got the rest to chip in; while one was feeding him porridge, another had to pat my child’s back to encourage him to swallow. Another was told to monitor his mouth and if it were empty, to announce it so another mouthful could be fed. The fourth child had to document the entire thing on her iPad with photos and a report. While the fifth child… I forgot what it was he had to do. But for a blissful 15 minutes I could eat my breakfast in peace while the experienced parent sat next to me and enjoyed his coffee. He looked over and said, “this is how you keep all 6 of them quiet and busy.”

I was in awe. 

Giving them something to focus on

I was in a cab with my son, 2 chatty tweens and one of the fathers. The girls were talking a mile a minute while we were trapped in a typical Bali jam. I was trying to keep up with their conversation when the father, who was progressively getting a headache, turned around to the girls and suggested a game. The girls were excited, who wouldn’t want to play a game? He suggested they count the number of motorcyclists that were female. Immediately the chatter of “who likes who more” stopped as the 2 9-year-olds focused on every bike that went by. Even I joined in, “oh look she’s wearing lipstick!” “Oh that one has a flowery bag! Must be female!” 

Selling it

My child Liam took a huge crap and the smell was glorious. The kids were all making peeyeww sounds so I went to change his diaper. Thinking I could con one of them into doing it, I announced, “who wants to change his diaper!” And was met with a chorus of EEWWWWW!! One of the adults laughed and said I made a terrible salesman. He announced instead, “who wants to make Liam happy??” And Liam’s fan club raised their hands and happily chirped, “ME!!!!!!” So suddenly I had a group of 3 little girls following me to our room and entertaining him while I changed his diaper. They were such troopers despite the smell. Although one did overreact and pretended to retch into the decorative vases in the room. 

Children love to help

After changing his diaper, I needed them to watch Liam while I washed my hands so I told them to help put his sandals back on. So 2 of the little girls each took one sandal and put it on his feet. My husband popped his head in and was greeted with the miraculous sight of our little helpers. The other parents may be used to getting the children to help out here and there, but this was a first for me! 

I’m learning something new each day. The children are amazing with one another. The adults have been so supportive. They watched without judgement, they listened without comment. They have no qualms entertaining my child while I eat or take a break. I managed to play half a round of Scrabble while Liam was being entertained by interpretive Balinese dance by one of the uncles. 

I’m already looking forward to Bali 2018.

What is it like to stay home with my child all day

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Yesterday we had a scare. During lunch my child’s child care centre called. Every time I see the number on my phone I hold my breath. They usually call when either one of these two things happen; he fell down and hurt himself, or he had rashes or fever and needed to be taken home. I always prayed for a fall because it usually meant he fell and had a minor bruise. If it had been the other reason, it would mean I had to make alternative child care arrangements. 

The teacher said she found 2 ulcers in his mouth and that was usually a sign of hand foot mouth disease HFMD. I groaned out loud and promised to take him to a doctor to confirm it. A visit to the doctor later prove otherwise. The doctor didn’t see any ulcers or rash and gave my child a clean bill of health. However as there were five cases at the centre and counting, my husband and I made a decision to keep him home for now. 
So today I played stay home mom and took care of him. He woke up at 830am and after sending his daddy off at the door, it was time for breakfast. Wholly unprepared to take care of him today, I shared my breakfast with him, a luncheon meat bun without the processed meat, but he threw the plain bread on the floor. So I ended up feeding him Meiji biscuits and kefir milk. When he was done, the floor had bits of biscuit all over. He spilled some of his milk on the floor and started wiping his hands in it. I spent more time cleaning the mess than actually eating anything. 

By 1030am he was hungry again so he started whining so I prepared his porridge. Luckily I had started cooking it since 9am so it was ready by then. He had an early lunch around 11am and then it was time for a nap. 

In between all that I only had time to text my team “help save me!” before I had to deal with my child again. 

In bed, he wanted me to read him his story books (I’m SO sick of this damn Gruffalo), wanted to be fed milk, and then spent next few minutes rolling and whining. I thought of the silly article by Straits Times about how babies should learn how to sleep by themselves. According to one of the pediatricians their interviewed, “that babies ought to learn how to soothe themselves to sleep, for instance, by rubbing their faces or rolling about”.  I watched my child as he almost rolled off the bed. When I caught him, I didn’t know if he was crying coz he was still awake or he didn’t manage to roll himself off the bed. Finally I gave up and nursed him to sleep. 

His nap lasted a total of 90 minutes. He woke up crying and had to be pacified again. We went out to the living room where he made a mess of the place. He took out all his toys and dragged them all over the floor. After he laid everything out, he whined for food. 

I dug around and found a can of mushroom soup. While heating it up it bubbled and overflowed and I made a mess of the stove. When I tried to give him some, he took a small sip but didn’t like it so he didn’t want any. I looked at the entire bowl of soup and then the stove I had to clean. And I sighed. 

He whined again and I scrounged the cupboards some more until I found oatmeal. I made a bowl of plain oatmeal with milk and he liked it. He ate a few spoonfuls when I decided to be adventurous and added a few blue berries in it. He took one bite and spat everything out. I tried to ignore his bib that is now covered with a lot of water because he had not mastered the straw yet, oatmeal and chewed up bits of blueberry. So I dug out the blueberries and had to cajole him into eating plain oatmeal again coz he now thinks there’s weird yucky shit in it and won’t touch it. 

I took a deep breath. 

After trying to shove the oatmeal into his mouth, he finally finished it and went back to play. As I cleaned up the kitchen, he went back to moving his toys all around the living room floor in a pattern that only he saw. In between all that, he squatted down to pick something off the floor and put it in his mouth. Once when I caught him at it, I checked to see he had been poking at a bit of dirt that must have fallen off my husband’s shoe onto the floor, and put one of the specks of dirt in his mouth. I tell you, a little bit of me died inside. I spent the next minute wiping up the dirt with Dettol wipes. We spend a lot of money on Dettol wipes. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting on my lap as we watched videos on Facebook. We had to change his onesie twice coz it was drenched from all the water he didn’t swallow. I created a game where I held a plastic basin and pointed at things I wanted him to pick up and put in the bin. That one I had a lot of fun with. 

It wasn’t too long until he was whining again coz he was hungry. By 6pm he was back on his high chair bouncing excitedly for his dinner. Thankfully his father was home by then and took over feeding him. I went to the bedroom to take a 15 minute breather while I expressed some milk for the next day’s feed. You see, even when we are taking a “break”, you still don’t stop being a mom ever. 

Because he only had one nap today, he was out by 730pm. I thought yay I had some time to myself to do my own thing.  Instead I cleaned the kitchen and the dining room of our dinner, made my child a fresh batch of kefir milk, and wrote our instructions for my husband for the next day, as he was staying home to take care of our child. All this while my husband took a nap on the sofa before bedtime. I was about to sit down and check work email when I heard my child awake and crying.  

So here I am holding him in bed with my washed hair still waiting for a date with the hair dryer, while my child tosses and turns as he tries to find a comfortable position while lying on my tummy before he can doze off. I thought about that sleep article again and cursed under my breath. 

I’m so looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. 

Our first A&E visit to KKH

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We were sitting in the waiting room of KK women and children hospital waiting for our turn. About 2 hours ago I was trying to get Liam to nap but he decided to play instead. I was sitting on the bed watching him fling his little hanky about. The next minute I knew, I woke up to his screaming and he was nowhere to be found. I looked to the other side of the bed and he was face down on the floor, lying on top of the bolster. When I picked him up, he had blood all over his face and he was screaming. I ran out of the room screaming for my husband. I had dozed off and my son rolled off the bed, scraped his forehead against either the drawer or side of the bed before landing on the floor in an awkward angle. 

There was so much blood I didn’t know what to do. There was blood all over his face, in his mouth, on his onesie, on my leg. Even blood on my foot. Thankfully my husband was much more levelheaded and he grabbed gauze and told me to hold it firmly against the wound to stop the bleeding. He wrapped his head with bandages and we rushed down to the hospital. 

The wait at triage was long. His makeshift bandage slipped off his head and I was pacing between the triage cubicles before finally catching a nurse’s attention to rebandage his head. We then proceeded to the main waiting area to, well, wait. 

Children with all ailments were there. There were kids lying limply in parents’ arms while being sponged with wet towels. There was a boy with a gauze-taped chin following his worried looking mother as she walked around looking for help. There were a few cases sitting in wheelchairs patiently waiting for their turn with their stone-faced parents beside them. There was one boy in his karate outfit sitting in a wheelchair while his dad held onto his medals. Another boy with a bandage tied around one arm to his chest, walking very slowly through the waiting room while trying not to whimper. His parents were beside him at every step of the way. There was a baby who wouldn’t stop crying as his grandfather carried him on his shoulder and paced the perimeter of the room. There were whole families taking up entire rows of chairs, where there’s one sick child with his siblings seated next to him, all three of them glued to their iPads. Because when an accident happens and you can’t find alternative help at that moment, you can do nothing else but to bring everyone along. 

I sat there in the room holding onto Liam while he bounced in my lap. He had gotten over the trauma quickly and was his usual happy self, pointing and waving at anyone who looked his way. I, on the other hand, was trying not to crumble and cry. This was the second incident in less than a week that’s happened to my child while he’s under my care. A moment of carelessness and he was put in harm’s way. I sat there in the midst of it all blaming myself, while feeling very tired from having to carry so much on my shoulders for so long. 

I looked up from staring blankly into space and spotted another mother holding her child. There was a small container of water and a wet towel next to her, so my guess was the baby was in for high fever. The mother had her eyes closed while carrying her baby, but I soon realized she was dozing off as she started to nod, and I saw her hold on her baby slackened a little. I panicked and looked around to see if she was with anyone else or someone could help. At that moment, she started awake and her grip tightened. She looked up and our eyes met momentarily, before I quickly glanced away. Embarrassed to have caught her in that split second of weakness, that if she hadn’t woken up in time the way I didn’t, she would have dropped her baby the way I did mine. But I truly wanted to reach out to her and say, it’s ok. I’ve been there. I know you’re tired. As I am tired too. I wish I could tell you it will get better soon but I don’t know it myself. But I want you to know, you’re not alone. 

Four hours later, we left the hospital with a baby with a row of stitches on his forehead. Liam thankfully was barely aware of his wound so he didn’t try to touch it. I’m just glad that we all came out of this incident fairly okay.