Our first A&E visit to KKH


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. 

Tender Loving Self-care


Every evening when I sit down to have dinner with my husband, he will ask me how my day was.  I used to launch into an offloading session where I update him on the latest progress or gossip at work or amongst social circles. These days, instead of just blabbering about my day, I will stop and think about it, before telling him whether it was a good day or a bad day. 

Last Thursday was a bad day. I was having a grand self-pitying moment while driving home from work. My shoulders had been aching for 2 weeks and I couldn’t find a time to get a quick massage. Weeks of carrying my 10kg son in the baby carrier with his school backpack on my shoulders have taken a toll. Add to that my terrible posture at my work desk, and handling an ill-adjusted steering wheel of my new car (I haven’t figured out what’s a good height), it just aggravated the situation. 

The Mommy Mule. That’s my pump bag (breast pump and ice pack) hanging off my son’s school backpack because it kept sliding off my shoulders. 

My work was piling and I didn’t see any end in sight. One of my junior staff had recently resigned and we have not  found a replacement for another position, which meant in a few weeks time our 5-men team will be down to 3. The thought of all the work I had to cover until we hired someone makes me want to throw myself  onto the bed and wail.

I was on my way to my mom’s place to pick up my child. There had been a case of chicken pox at his school so I was keeping him in that week so he would not catch it and pass it to me. I have not had chicken pox before and I have been putting off getting a vaccination jab. On top of all the things I had to do, I had to get myself jabbed soon. That went right to the top of the list. 

Since my mom was helping me take care of my child that day, I was rushing through peak hour traffic to relieve my mother from having spent the day taking care of an active child.  Added to that, my husband was waiting for me at home so we could go have dinner. He sent a text message with the words “ASAP”. 

The letters “ASAP” were going round and round my mind as I sat in traffic. I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and the car in front of me wasn’t going anywhere. I glanced at the clock and mentally calculated the number of hours my mom had been watching my child, and felt slightly guilty. Guilty at having to ask my mom the favour although she would gladly help me take care of my child anytime. Guilty that if I had been pox vaccinated earlier I wouldn’t have to take such precautions. Guilty that if I had gotten married and had a child earlier, my mom would have been much younger and have the energy to manage a young child. My thoughts started spiraling down the list of things I could possibly be guilty about. 

By the time I got to my mom’s, I was almost in tears. But there was no time to cry, as the minute my mom opened the door, she was updating me on what my son did, what time he ate and slept, how often did he poop, how he fared in general. And because she’s my mom and not a childminder, I asked her how her day was and she began offloading onto me. Her aches and pains. Her grumbles. As I listened, all of that became my aches, my pains, my grumbles. 

By the time we fed, burped, diapered, the baby and packed his bag, 45 minutes had passed. In between all that activity, I found time to call a few clinics in the area to check if they administered the chicken pox vaccine. I was also very conscious of the fact that my husband was still waiting, so I quickly bundled my kid into the car and drove off. 

And then it’s another whirlwind of activity getting dinner, getting jabbed and getting the kid to bed. By the time he fell asleep, I was too tired to care about anything else. My shoulders were aching so badly I was feeling nauseated from the pain. Sitting in the darkeness, I unwoubd by scrolling through Facebook while my child slept. That was when a Facebook link popped up on my screen about finding time to take care of oneself. 

“Self-care is not selfish; it’s one of the best things you can do for your kids. Taking a break from family can cause guilt and anxiety in mothers and fathers alike. But a few hours away can re-energize you so you can get back to playing with Legos, making dinner and taking care of everyone else.”

And that was when I decided that I needed a little tender loving self-care too. Ever since I had my child, I have been so caught up in caring for him, on top of taking care of the house, that I had forgotten about myself. I can’t remember the last time I had a pedicure, my eyebrows were a mess, my roots have grown out past my ears. I look, and feel, like a total mess. 

So taking baby steps, the next day I booked a 20 minute shoulder and back massage appointment at one of those China massage centers near my office during lunch. The masseuse commented that my muscles were all knotted up and spent and extraordinary amount of time on my shoulders before moving to my back. He kept telling me to relax. I told him I didn’t know how to. But it felt SO GOOD after that. 

Then I rewarded myself with a steaming hot pot of kimchi stew. I love eating by myself. You eat at your own pace, you don’t have to talk to anyone. You basically do your own thing. 

So. Good. 

And my day slowly got better. That night, when my husband asked me how my day was, I thought about what I did, and I smiled and told him, “Today was a good day.”

Carousell, a great way to buy


When Carousell, a buy sell trade app, launched in Singapore, I paid little attention to it. Dealing and wheeling was not my sort of thing.

However when I got pregnant and we needed to set up the nursery, Carousell became really useful in many ways. You see, the baby room before it was a baby room, was my husband’s store room. Half of the things he brought over from his old place when we moved, was chucked into this room, “to be cleared whenever”. Which probably meant never if it had not been for the baby. tv with missing cables. Sound system with 2 missing speakers. Xbox 360. A hand held UV vacuum cleaner. So the best way to get rid of everything was to Carousell everything. 
I listed everything at $50. Some saw the good deals that they were and snapped them up without question. There were the handful of negotiators which I ignored. Some were mildly interesting. I had a baby cot which I didn’t find suitable so I tried to sell it off. The interested party was obviously a young mother who was totally clueless about how big baby cots can be. While asking for details about the cot, she asked if it’s something she could transport back on a motorcycle. I wanted to tell her perhaps if she lived in a village yes but not here. My friend suggested since the cot had wheels, she could tie the cot to the back of her husband’s bike and sit in the cot while he pulled her home. I thought that was a pretty good suggestion. 

It was also a great place to sell my husband’s many coffee machines. 

After the baby arrived I soon found Carousell to be god sent. I ended up buying baby stuff online. One can find pretty well maintained secondhand stuff for a good price on Carousell. We got our Bugaboo stroller from a lady whose boy had outgrown it. My freemie breast pumps  and Hana baby wrap from other moms. I even got 2 sets of brand new nursing bras at half the retail price. 

Out of these many transactions, I encountered the usual; those who ask for really low prices despite the already good price that I’ve listed the items for. There are those who expressed interest but end up not responding after that. Annoying as hell but there’s nothing to do about it. 

However out of all that I had one really good exchange. I was enquiring about a breast milk cooler bag and needed it pretty urgently so I searched for one within the vicinity. I then found out the seller was living in the very same apartment as I was! So we started chatting and we both realised we were fans of the same diaper bag brand Jujube and hung out in the same community group on Facebook! What are the odds of finding a neighbour on Carousell. What’s more, she was really nice and honest about the cooler bag, advising me to purchase another brand that worked better, even if it meant a lost sale for her. We both agreed that we should meet up and hang out one day. 

But for every good one you meet, there’s invariably one that kinda puts you off. We were at this lady’s house collecting our purchase when she realized we had brought our baby along. She first remarked that it was past his bed time (it was 815pm and we were only there at that time because she couldn’t get home in time to meet me). Then she commented that he was well past the age of having not started on solid food (he’s 7 months old in a few days time). And then she told him that he shouldn’t be putting his fingers in his mouth. We were so glad to just pass her the money and leave after that. I was tempted to rate her as “item in good condition. Comes with free unsolicited advice”.  

But this wasn’t the worse encounter I’ve had. I wanted to purchase a pouch from a seller who said it was being shipped in from USA. so I put in a deposit and waited for it. A few weeks went by but the item hasn’t arrived. Responses from the seller were slow and intermittent. Separately in another community chat room some ladies were discussing about the pouch and I realised they had all purchased from the same seller! After a little amateur sleuthing, we concluded that she was scamming us some of us pulled out of the transactions, demanding refunds. One of the ladies decided to make a police report. A few months later, she was charged in court for her scams and was sent to jail for a few weeks. Truly a hard price to pay for just a few dollars. 

So it seems Carousell is here to stay. There are a few annoyances about the people you meet on it but the positives do outweigh the negatives. As they say, one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. And it’s a great way for me to declutter my home of my husband’s things. 

Happy 6 months to us


This picture was taken inside the nursing room at Takashimaya where we paused to change from left boob to right boob. He was smiling at me so I had to catch a quick picture of us together. We’ve gone past the 6 month mark a few weeks ago but it was a milestone for us. I told myself that I would breastfeed him for 6 months and no more. I didn’t think it would have lasted this long but I did it. And here he is now, weighing in at 8.6kg and 68cm. The champion of champions. 

It was an uphill battle right from the start. While I was lucky to have breast milk kick in from day 1, I soon discovered that my left nipple was flatter than the right so Liam had a hard time latching on properly. That caused his tongue to scrape the side of my nipple and the skin started to tear. Every time he latched on, it was like a thousand knives sawing away at my left breast and I didn’t know what to do about it. 

Thankfully I had my friends by my side. My friend Michelle who’s a pro at this child rearing thing what with three kids under her belt, rung up her lactation consultant and booked me a visit. The consultant spotted the problem immediately and taught me how to feed despite my underachieving nipple. After many attempts at the different types of positions to feed Liam, I soon got the hang of it and breastfeeding became less of a burden. Now, my left breast is the hardworking one and produces more milk than its partner. It’s like one of those documentaries where it achieves greater success than its peer (right boob) despite all odds! I can almost hear the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire with this one. 

Then the next few weeks of adjustment while the baby fed and my boobs tried to figure out how much he drank. I still remember the feeling of being engorged and leaking all day. The most remarkable part was my boobs leaked whenever he was hungry, even though he was in the next room. I could be in my room chillin’ with my homies and when one or both started to leak, I knew the reason the baby was crying was because he was hungry. 

What really helped were the timelines my friend Michelle gave me. She assured me that by 8 weeks the boobs would work it out among themselves, and they did. My nipples stopped hurting. My boobs stopped crying along with the baby. Breastfeeding became easy. I started enjoying the feeds as they became less of a chore. I now look forward to each feed as I enjoy the closeness between my baby and me. 

Now that I’ve achieved my 6 month milestone, I’ve decided to continue breastfeeding him as long as I can. I decided against setting myself another 6 month mark and will be taking it a day at a time. Since Liam is in infant care, I have to pump milk out for him everyday. It’s been tough trying to keep up a 3-hourly pumping schedule while working. You’ll be amazed how short 3 hours is! After each pump, I’d return to my desk to work, and soon it’s time to pump again! Sometimes I cannot find an empty room to pump in and that stresses me out. Other times I have to be out of office and trying to figure out the logistics of pumping worries me. However so far I’ve been lucky. I’ve a supportive boss who has 3 kids and been through all this herself. I’ve a supportive HR manager who checks in on me and my progress. I’ve supportive colleagues who watch out for me when they know I need to use the spare room to pump. 

I’m using my experience to educate people about breastfeeding and normalizing it as much as I can. When my junior colleagues asked what would happen should I miss a pump, I mimicked my breasts spurting out milk like the musical fountain. Once during lunch time when I came out of the spare room holding onto my cooler bag, a male colleague asked if I had packed lunch (since I was still in office), and I ernestly replied that that was my son’s lunch. He’s gotten so used to my comments that he doesn’t bat an eyelid anymore. 

I never thought I would make it this far but I did. So far both my mother and mother in law have made passing remarks about feeding my child formula milk but they’ve stopped after seeing how well my baby has grown, and after being overwhelmed by a deluge of literature about the benefits of breast milk sent by me. 

Here’s to many more days of feeding to the both of us!

Baby sleep


Liam has been having a shitty time falling asleep, be it day time naps or night time sleep. He will fight sleep even though he’s obviously tired, and sometimes the battle between mother and baby can drag on for an hour or two before he finally gives up. I’m still waiting for the day he realises there’s no point fighting and just gives up 5 minutes into the battle. But alas, we are not there yet. One glorious night, he spent two hours fighting sleep. He had two feeds within a span of 2 hours, was babbling non-stop, and intermittently singing along with me as I tried to lullaby him to concussion. He even showed me his new trick by arching his back and throwing himself backward so that all the blood rushed to his head. I thought that might have worked but no, still wide awake. 
I read that babies don’t sleep well at night if they didn’t nap enough in the day. But even forcing him to nap was a trial. Sometimes latching him to sleep worked. Other times I concede defeat and handed him over to my mom and let her magic hands do the trick. She would carry him and pat his butt until he finally dozed off. Even then, his naps didn’t last more than 60 minutes before he woke up crying. Those apparently weren’t good naps as babies were supposed to wake up with a smile on their faces. Really. 

Then I came across this article about baby wake times vs naps and I realised I’ve been doing it all wrong. Babies need a set schedule of feeding and nap times, and while I’ve been keeping to a 2-3 hourly feed schedule (otherwise exploding boobs), I’ve not quite kept to a strict nap schedule. Hence Liam ends up with only 1-2 naps a day instead of the requisite 3-4. My poor baby has been tired out keeping up with mommy’s schedule. 

So this morning we started some sort of schedule. At 4 months old he should be awake only 1.25-1.45 hours each time. So after he had his feed and bath, I let him play by himself until he started yelling for me. Then I fed him one more time, thinking he would latch to sleep but he didn’t. He struggled for another 15 minutes before he finally dozed off in my arms. Right on the dot at 1.25 hours of wake time he fell asleep. Amazing!

It’s really quite funny watching him fight sleep. His eyes would droop a little and he would be still for 4 seconds and then a small part of his brain would be all FOMO and wake him up, thinking I’m doing something fun without him. I would pretend to be dozing, hoping that he would mimic me. And then he’s still for another 4 seconds before flailing his arms as he fought sleep. This goes on for a few more cycles before the zzzs overwhelm him. 

Asleep in 15 minutes! Success!!

So for the next precious 1.5 hours, I did what I could. Kept the laundry. Hung new batch of laundry. Mopped the floor. Swept his room. Packed the diaper bag. Proper nap times give you so much time to do house work (woo hoo) so why didn’t I institute a nap schedule earlier? Like seriously?

I feel so accomplished today.