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Family Kids

It’s too difficult

Our oldest boy is 6! I cannot believe that I’ve been a mom for 6 years now. Where did all that time go?

He’s such a great kid. Sociable and bubbly, he’s great at having fun, and best of all he’s motivated to learn. Recently, his home-school work has become quite challenging, and he’s having a really hard time moving past the fact that, drumroll… he does not always get the answers right on his first try. When we ask  questions about the methods he used to arrive at his answer (which is important because you want to know which part he understood and which needs work), he gets super defensive and irritated, at times even bordering on rudeness.

It was difficult to see him having so much trouble processing all that frustration and unhappiness. The look on his face when he reluctantly said, “this is too difficult!” is all too familiar because I’ve been there. We have all been there. I wish I could make this easier for him to understand but kid, you don’t have to have it all figured out from the get-go.

Your attitude and the method, the process, the fighting spirit – it’s everything. Be an explorer! Not just a conqueror. We are here to challenge you, guide you, and love you (even if you currently suck at multiplication and division) 🙂

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King

 

Family Love

私の母

My Mother

This is my mother. She is holding my 2.5 months old daughter, Amelie. I captured this photo when my mom was with my baby girl at our balcony, cajoling her to look at the passing vehicles on the road. It warms the cockles of my heart to revisit this beautiful moment. Amelie, you must know that you are so very blessed to have Grandmama present from your birth and she watches you grow everyday. Your first smile, every coo and fart.

This is my mother. And I love her so.

♥︎

Family

想念

恺希,这个星期六你会在爷爷家睡觉。
星期天爸爸妈妈会很早去接你,应为爷爷需要去庙里拜拜。

知道了妈妈。爷爷是要去给婆婆拜拜对吗?

这个孩子懂事了,也会记念去年去世的婆婆。。。

Family Kids Life

Being a self-employed SAHM

Being a stay at home mom has its perks – I get unlimited cuddles with the kids, bras are optional, and if I should choose to remain in my pyjamas all day no one could care less. But I guess every mom is different. I know some mommies who are super hands on with their kids – a fixed time table, self-created learning materials, pre-prepared meals…the full works.

Me? I’ll probably go cray cray if it is just me, the kids, four walls, 24 hours a day 7 days a week!

Hence Aidan goes to childcare, and Amelie will start infant care when she turns 3 months old. It is hard to let her go so soon, but hey, I comfort myself with this premature quote:

Wings

Anyhow, knowing the kids are safely cared for at the childcare frees up time for mommy to get work done around the house and to generate some much-needed income from my home-based web design studio.

Have you ever felt like you are generating income simply to pay off childcare fees?

I recall when Aidan first started infant care, the damage to our bank account was around $1,400/month less working mother subsidy (-$300). Now that he is in Nursery 2 the fees are more manageable, ranging around $800/month less subsidy.

Just last month I was searching for infant care services (IFC) for Amelie on ECDA which showed that IFC now costs a whopping ~$1,900/month (PCF Sparkletots)!! There were the odd 1 or 2 centres whose names I have never heard of that offered their IFC at ~$800 but their location is too far from our place.

After subsidies, I will have to fork out $2,200 (Amelie $1,400 + Aidan $800). Thinking about childcare costs drives me up the wall. It seems more economical to simply hire a domestic helper (who will do the laundry and dishes, and watch the 2 kids as well), but we all know how hard it is to get a trustworthy, mature helper. Sigh. The kids need their grandparents! Unfortunately the kid’s 爷爷 and 外婆 are both working, and they plan to remain in the workforce for another few years.

To actually qualify for subsidies, you will need to be a working mom. Otherwise, be prepared to pay full rate! Since I am self-employed, I had to declare my working hours aka make a statutory declaration at the Supreme Court. If you are a freelance worker, working from home, or run your own business, make sure not to miss out on the subsidies!

How to Obtain a Statutory Declaration

  1. Download this declaration form and fill it out – don’t sign on the form yet! You will need to do this in front of the Commissioner.
  2. If you are lazy (like me) to print the form, just go to the address below and ask for a form to fill out on the spot.
  3. Bring your NRIC!
  4. You can make the statutory declaration at this address:

    Commissioner For Oaths Section New Supreme Court Building
    1 Supreme Court Lane
    Level 3M S178879

    There is no need to make an appointment. You can just walk-in to the customer service front desk and inform them that you wish to do a statutory declaration.

  5. Payment first: the statutory declaration will cost you $20. Cash and Nets only.
  6. You will be called into a room where you will verbally declare the contents on the form, sign, and you can keep the form and go.
  7. Submit statutory declaration to your child’s childcare centre for processing. I made a copy for my own safe-keeping. You should too! 😉
Family Kids Life

Behind every parent…

So I was talking with the husband the other day about how life has caught up so quickly when it (suddenly) dawned on my that Aidan will be going to primary school in 2 year’s time. Think half day classes, March September November December school holidays… How do working parents juggle it?!

Husband: “Behind every set of successful working parents is a maid.”

While I had a good laugh at his matter-of-factness, it hit home uncomfortably. Unfortunately, I can’t say nay to that because most parents I know do employ domestic helpers. As the brood grow larger, or as the grandparents get more frail, the need for the extra help arises. I know my husband, he wants to be a hands-on parent as much as he can… but with his ideal number (of kids, that is) being #3, I am beginning to wonder if we can survive parenthood on our own!

Family Kids

Guilty of Baby Obsession

I was backing up my iPhone to the desktop yesterday and sheepishly found TONS of baby photos. A few snaps every day can really eat into the phone’s storage! And not to mention, out of 1192 images only a bare handful were of my husband and Aidan. New mother obsessed with photographing every newborn wail/smile/poop – guilty as charged!

So… in a bid not to neglect my better halves (or shall I say quads?), here’s a picture of my two boys about to tuck into dinner at McDonalds. They look so happy!

image

imageAidan seemed to have hitched on to the “love-ketchup” wagon. He just can’t get enough of it. He is also getting better at colouring within the lines. His paintings are filled with so much more colour these days. I must remind myself to capture more of his journey into adulthood… I mean, I can only do this for how many more babies?! At most two more???

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Family Featured Love

Amelie’s Birth Story

My estimated due date was on 14th September and we had planned for an earlier caesarean section on the 1st (at gestation age 38 weeks). I couldn’t wait for Amelie to arrive, and clearly my increasing blood pressure readings shared the same sentiments!

Last Friday just past midnight, we checked myself in to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital with a searing headache and vision changes where I was seeing black spots. Albeit only momentarily, it was a pretty scary experience. After being reviewed by the attending doctor at MENH A&E, I had an IV line and an indwelling urinary catheter inserted (yikes!). While the nurses were friendly and kind, urinary catheters are never a pleasant experience I can strongly attest to that. I was quickly whisked away to the maternity ward after that.

Ward 9 Room 9

My obgyn Dr WS Law saw me on Friday morning and decided that it was THE DAY. Surgery was swiftly scheduled at 1pm. It’s kinda strange that both Ivan and I were strangely serene about the whole thing, never mind that baby is coming earlier than planned or that he is serving his notice period (!) but had to take urgent leave to be there with me. Perhaps we are better prepared mentally this round unlike our first experience at NUH 4 years back when Aidan was born. Or maybe it’s just the laid-back personality of our obgyn – he is so calm and reassuring he exudes floral Hawaiian vibes and coconut-sippin’ by the beach.

Can’t wait to use these adorable rompers!

At 35 weeks + 6 days, Amelie was delivered via elective c-section under spinal anaesthesia. Spinal didn’t really hurt, one tiny prick in the back and a warm flush spreads down to the legs, rendering my lower half body numb. Thankfully I didn’t have any bad side effects (e.g. shivering), but I did itch a little and was dying to get someone to scratch my nose for me!

The entire process took an hour: Amelie was out within 15 minutes, stitching me up took 45 minutes. Her cries were loud and strong, which brought me a great sense of relief. She was bundled up and brought over for me to cuddle, still red and sticky in her newborn state. The anaesthetist fussed over us and insisted on helping us to “capture the moment”, getting us to pose this way and that but I won’t be sharing any of those pictures here. I mean, what decent iPhone shots do you expect while I was still belly-wide-open on the operating table?! 😛

Amelie weighed 2.79kg at 35+6 weeks

The paediatrician Dr Cindy Hia assessed her and suggested that she be monitored in NICU overnight due to Amelie not breathing as well as she would like. In NICU they started Amelie on formula temporarily and fed her through a tube. While it is heart-breaking to see her hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires, I am very proud that she is one tough cookie like her big brother. Amelie tolerated the nurses weaning her off oxygen through the night and was brought back to nursery the next morning. I was advised to start her off on mixed feeding (both formula and breast) first due to her fluctuating blood glucose levels. For a 35 week preemie she latched on and suckled very well.

I read on Pinterest that pineapple juice is anti-inflammatory and has helped many new moms avoid engorgement issues and lumps when the milk comes in, which happens around day 5. I diligently drank one cup of freshly juiced pineapple everyday and sure enough, it’s been a smooth ride. Day of surgery I managed to hand express 5 mls of colostrum. Day 1 post-op, 3 mls. Day 2 there was barely any milk, but I diligently continued to latch baby on 3 hourly and it helped to bring my milk in on Day 4. A stark contrast to my first time postpartum where everything was just so sore and uncomfortable. I didn’t need the lactation consultant this time round 🙂

Our original choice was Mount Alvernia Hospital in view of the great confinement menu and experienced nurses, but the admission to MENH was unplanned and frankly despite initial hesitations, I really enjoyed my 4D3N stay there.

PLUS points:

  • Guaranteed single (sound-proofed) rooms, spacious and luxuriously furnished. Bidet toilet, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries. Need I say more?
  • Complimentary 4D3N parking for one vehicle. Use the ticket once and it registers the vehicle’s IU – no fumbling for tickets upon entry/exit for the new dad! Very thoughtful.
  • Complimentary single-use parking tickets x 2 for your visitors.
  • An all-in-one call bell device: control your bed’s recline, entire room lighting, and if you need help you can even communicate with the nurses outside via telecom all from the comfort of your bed.
  • The butler delivers my confinement meals on time every time, even acceding to my odd request for iced milo every single meal. There was one time I only got powdered milo in a cup though… It was so weird. Ivan and I simply laughed it off – can make milo dinosaur!
  • Daily housekeeping. The housekeeper makes small talk and seems genuinely interested in communicating with me. I am also presented with a pretty orchid once she is done with the room.
  • Checking in and out was a breeze – very few paperwork, mostly done electronically.

Surpringsingly yummy confinement meals

On retrospection, where I was bed ridden for 3 days due to pain after my first c-section this time round I was up and walking unassisted (without the abdominal binder) on Day 1 post-surgery. The skill of the surgeon and adequate pain control makes a huge difference in the recovery process.

Also, there are no regrets about the delivery expenses. At NUH private rates I spent a total of $14k for both myself and Aidan’s stay (5 days for me in B1 class, 7 days for Aidan in NICU). At Mt Elizabeth Novena I spent $15.7k for a single room (considered A1 class if compared to restructured hospitals), and Amelie spent 1 day in NICU and 2 days in nursery.

I must say… it is money well spent.

“Birth is the sudden opening of a window, through which you look out upon a stupendous prospect. For what has happened? A miracle. You have exchanged nothing for the possibility of everything.” – William MacNeile Dixon

Gallery

Family Kids

She’s a whopper

 

image

My blood pressure (BP) has been rising. The pre-eclampsia that I developed when pregnant with Aidan in 2011 is making a gradual come back. I got called into the obgyn clinic today due to the rising BP and underwent a battery of tests: liver function test, uric acid levels, full blood count levels, and CTG monitoring.

I remember when I was seeing Dr TM Chua at NUH  in 2011 and she discovered a rising BP trend during one of my third trimester appointments, I was whisked off immediately for an ultrasound and CTG to check for fetal growth and for any signs of fetal distress. Admitted on the same day for BP monitoring and medications, and underwent emergency c-section on Day 3 of hospitalisation. Aidan was only 1.9kg when he was born (at 35 weeks gestation)!

Thankfully Amelie is growing well. She’s a whopper, this one. Weighing at an estimated 3kg today, she is 500gm heavier in just 12 days!

Week 35+2 ultrasound

My obstetrician suggested that we may need to get her out earlier via c-section very soon, so I was given a steroid injection to help mature baby’s lungs and will have take a repeat jab tonight. We will have to go in for another check up on Saturday to repeat blood tests and decide if we have to be hospitalised sooner than expected.

Ivan muses that because we just assembled the baby cot over the national day weekend, perhaps now Amelie can’t wait to sleep in her new bed! ?