Okay, I survived to tell this story lol.
Kai wearing Kenzo, "Izzit I am influencer nao?"
I hate to use this cliche but really, how fast does time fly. I remember writing about Nathaniel's birth story and now it's been four months. The past year has been quite a blur to be honest, getting and being pregnant feels like a lifetime ago and I never thought I would say this, maybe childbirth wasn't so bad after all. I think that's the easiest part about parenting haha - there's no epidural for motherhood is there?
I'm still adjusting to mom life and it's taken me a while to write this post because every time I open this draft in an attempt to complete it, everything I had written just doesn't seem valid anymore. This boy grows so fast! Both physically (he's wearing clothes for 12 months old now HAHA) and emotionally, it's been hard to catch up.
The first month
I've got to admit. The first month was sheer hell and every day, I thought I was going to die. Breastfeeding was a bitch, Kai had jaundice and had to be hospitalised, I didn't have a confinement nanny (still won't hire one if I ever get preggers again), my new helper wasn't exactly a good fit (I ended up letting her go)... I cried SO much. I felt like a shitty mom most of the time when I didn’t know why he was crying, and it broke my heart whenever he stops crying when someone else takes over. I've never felt more lost and miserable, and I hate to use the term postpartum depression but life was definitely far from peaches and cream. I googled stuff like "my baby hates me", "does my baby love my mother-in-law more", "will my baby know I am his mother?" so often I practically memorised all the search results.
But come the second month, things started getting better... in a weird definition of the word.
Nate became extremely colicky and suffered from reflux - he would scream the house down and throw huge tantrums every evening and eventually nobody could handle him. Not that I was good at it but I guess I was the only one who could carry him and danced around the room doing a crazy African rain dance to this magical sound in the background (trust me, this shit works) for hours on end. So amidst his wailing and beatings (yes, he would fling his hand against my chest), we worked out a bedtime routine that was just him and me.
Unconventional bonding from the perfect Instagram image of a mother (with perfectly blown out hair) cuddling her baby but I guess it works.
We also managed to sort out breastfeeding (yay, no more pumping round the clock! I HATED IT!) and because I insisted (even though it drove both the hubs and I nuts schedule wise) on establishing a bedtime routine, he started sleeping through the night by 2.5 months.
Same same but different
Let's face it (pun intended hahaha), Nate looks exactly like the hubs.
But his character is so much like me, I feel like it's my retribution for giving the world so many problems haha.
Like me, he likes to hold water (or in his case, milk) in his mouth so feeding is always an adventure cause you never know when he decides to release ALL the milk from his mouth and soil both his and my clothes. He hates nursery rhymes so sometimes I read Edgar Allan Poe to him wtf. He sleeps with his mouth open (now I know how cute I look when I'm asleep lol) and with one leg out of the blanket. Like me, he can only survive in a very small range of temperature (from 25 to 26C wtf) so the poor hubs now has to deal with TWO of us fussing over how cold (when it reaches 24C) or hot (27C lololol) the room is. He's also a side sleeper which means he wets the bed every. single. night. and we change the sheets every morning without fail. And don't get me started on how impatient he is. He SCREAMS bloody murder when left alone for more than 10 seconds, hates it when he's playing with his toys and can't get them into the mouth the way he likes it and because he doesn't like it when whoever's carrying him sits down, he'll cry as soon as the person starts to lower him/herself onto the chair. My house is like Jurassic Park now wtf. I'm trying my best to not let him expect instant gratification but sigh... it's not the easiest because I know how impatient I am myself.
I'm unashamed to admit that even before I got pregnant, I already knew that I would be a tiger mom.
From the day he came back from the hospital, we started him on the Glenn Doman series. (But this other child psychiatrist says that it's nonsense so aiya...) I also read to him at least 5 books every day and have signed him up for English, Mandarin, Gym and Swimming classes. Before you judge me lol, my stand is that if the child enjoys these classes, then why not? I mean, rather than him staring into blank space and gnawing on his hands (his favourite activity by the way) or worse, watching the telly. If he sees these classes and learning activities as playtime, then it's a good thing isn't it?
I also make it mandatory for the hubs and I to speak to him in English on odd days and Mandarin on even days in an attempt for him to be effectively bilingual.
(I'm not sure if my methods work so please don't follow them lol.)
We have also started checking out pre-schools which is proving to be quite a challenge because I'm not convinced by the Montessori and Reggio Emilia methods which seems to be adopted by most schools.
That being said, the "problem" with milestones for babies his age is that they are based on physical abilities. When can they roll over, when can they sit up, when can they crawl or walk etc.
In Kai's case, while he was quite good at tummy time (in my book lah), it took him a while to look like he was ready to flip. And me being me, started freaking out lol until the hubs told me "You very athletic meh? You see ball you run away please. So cut him some slack lah." So yah, I've stopped expecting him to be the next gold Olympic medalist. Silver will do, thanks.
Some other stuff about me as a Mom,
Food, not-so-glorious, food
I thought I could finally eat all I want once I gave birth but as it turns out, breastfeeding is imposing a stricter set of dietary restrictions on me than pregnancy did.
I am still avoiding high mercury fish (still no ootoro for me :sob:), alcohol and caffeine. I initially rejoiced at the thought of being able to enjoy my non-decaf cuppa again but as it turns out, Nate is extremely sensitive to caffeine like I am. All it took was one cup of Koi and one fking fun Sleepless in Singapore night for me to avoid it like the plague now.
I also incorporate a lot of DHA-rich food (brain development!) in my diet. And oats, oats and MORE oats for supply. I sometimes eat steel-cut oats for breakfast and granola for dinner wtf.
I'm not one of those breast is best advocates and in fact, we sometimes give one bottle of formula a day because honestly, unless they test MY milk in the labs, I am not thoroughly convinced that it is nutritionally sound lol. Yes, I'm still crazy paranoid even after giving birth. (We feed him Japanese formula Morinaga in case you're wondering because he's made in Japan HAHA. But no lah, it's just a personal preference and trust towards the Japanese companies' sense of responsibility.)
With breastfeeding, I believe that we should just do what is best for both bubs AND the mother. If latching is too stressful (it was for me at the beginning), then just offer the bottle. And for new Moms reading this, please don't get obsessed with pump schedules and volume. Feed your baby not the freezer. For the first month, I was in a Facebook group that I think added to my depression because I felt extremely inadequate that I couldn't find time to pump 8 times a day.
Now I'm like, I latch when I can, I pump when I want and most importantly, I get to spend time with the bubs and not with my breast pump wtf.
This deserves an entire blog post of its own eventually because I have so much to say about it but a quick summary is simply, don't believe everything you see on the Internet.
On paper (or rather, digitally on Instagram) it looks like I have it all put together.
I have a healthy baby, a new business and I can even take time off to travel - albeit for work.
But in reality, the constant dichotomy KILLS me. When I'm with him and just watching him sleep lol, I sometimes feel like all I want to be is a SAHM. But when I'm at work, I get super pumped up by all the ideas and projects we have going on (I actually really love what I do) that I end up feeling guilty. -_-"'
Rationally I know that me working is better for me (it makes me happy) and for him (because honestly, have you seen some of the school fees?!) yet sometimes, I get really sad when I step out of the house. I took a work trip to Taiwan last month and I ended up crying on my first night there whilst recording a video for the hubs to play to him. The week before I left, I chose to work from home to spend as much time with him as possible (by that, I meant me constantly telling him that "I am your Mommy" and crying a few times wtf) but when I came back, it's like I never left. He still smiles widely when I take off his shirt (ok he didn't get this striptease behaviour from me), giggles to my horrible rendition of boom boom pow (told you I'm bad with nursery rhymes) and latched on fine - though it took us about 10 minutes to figure it out again. In retrospect, I think the trip was necessary for me to put things into perspective and understand that I can do this.
I'm flying off again tonight and sigh, my heart feels like I've been stabbed a thousand times over. I tell myself that I have it good cause most working moms don’t have the luxury to enjoy the flexibility that I have and to go into office only a few days a week but I guess you can't always rationalise with a crazy woman.
Obviously I'm far from finding the perfect balance between work and motherhood and I still feel incredibly inadequate that I have to resort to others to care for him (and jealous that they are robbing me of MY experience to do EVERYTHING for him) but knowing that me having a career that I'm passionate about makes me a happier person and in turn, a better mother for him, consoles me lol.
Aiya, how do other moms do this?
Parenting vs Marriage
They say it takes a village to raise a child and in my case, it's a husband who more than just "helps". It's a husband who has changed as many diapers as I have, wakes up with me when he fusses at night and secretly makes plans with my girlfriends to surprise me at home on my birthday which was 2 weeks after Kai was born and I still didn't feel like I looked human enough to step out of the house. "Your birthday should be about YOU", he says and even puts up with my requests to wash his hands a million times a day LOL. To be honest, I haven't written about our marriage for a while, not because it sucks haha, but rather it just felt like we were cruising along. It was not until Nate's arrival that we realised that he fills a void we never knew we had.
(But I also remind myself constantly that we shouldn't make our marriage all about him. Evenings after he goes to bed at 7pm is time for us... that's when get dinner and catch up on our day but sometimes we just end up talking about him wtf. I think things might get better when he goes to school next year? Tbh this whole parenting thing is such a steep learning curve, why isn't there a school for this?!)
I make it a point to be present as much as I can when I'm with Kai. I mean, he's only awake for 1.5 hours tops at a stretch so I give my 200% when I'm at work and when I'm with him, he gets my full attention. The team is now used to me replying their messages every other hour and getting emails from me at 3am cause that's when I work best. Guess what time I'm writing this post at?
Also, while I want to capture every cute thing he does (or doesn't do), I don't want to always be pointing my phone at him cause I hope that the most special moments, achievements and milestones in his life are shared with me personally, and not the camera. And while I post his pictures/ videos on my Instastories, it's done when I'm NOT with him... usually in the car or in the office. Maximum productivity, I know lol.
So there you have it, my experience so far on this whirlwind journey. It’s not easy but it's been one of the most amazing and incredible times of my life.
Above all, he’s mine and there is no better feeling in the world.
(Pssst, Nate and Kai are obviously the same person wtf. I just call him whichever pops into my head first.)