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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! ?

Family Kids Life

Of flowers, sparkles and unicorns

Week 35 of my pregnancy.

The doctor proudly announced during the ultrasound that Amelie is now a hefty 2.4kg. That’s half a kilogram heavier than her big brother when he was born!

If you don’t already know (raise skeptic eyebrow here), a full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.
That means, I only have FIVE more weeks to go! Yikes!

I love my kid as a mom would – but the thought of babies and toddlers and rebellious twelve year olds no longer cause my ovaries to convulse and ovulate. As a nurse I do appreciate the advantages of becoming a mother in my 20s where my eggs are still at their fertile, biological peak. But kids… they are such energy suckers. They demand your constant attention, have endless questions, and at times they can be so stubborn!

It feels more like mission evolution – procreate, nurture, and may the fittest (and smartest) prosper (then procreate some more).

I still coo and fawn over cute drooly babies, if only for 3 seconds or so.

People tell me that becoming a second-time parent things get easier. You won’t fret so much because you have “been there, done that”.  Little things like projectile regurgitation won’t faze you as much. Your diaper bag gets way lighter – why did we need to bring out so much stuff last time anyway? Pacifier rolled on the floor? Oh never mind! *wipes on shirt and gives it to baby*

My husband mused the other day, “Honey, I’m excited about baby #2 and all, but why do I feel like this time round we’ll probably take less baby pictures?” That’s because we are second-time parents, that’s why!

But… I am certain that our love for you will be no less. You will still grow up with flowers, sparkles and unicorns ♥︎

See you in five weeks, darling!

Amelie

Family

Oh Smokey – Our Citroen C4

Factor in growing family with a new beagle puppy and baby #2 due in September, it was hard to say no to the convenience plus liability of a vehicle. Sgcarmart was our best friend for a couple of weeks. We spent day and night scouting for the *perfect* family car, considering looks, mileage, price tag, and we also went for a test drive which I must stress is incredibly important. How else would you know if there’s chemistry between the driver and the car?!

So, we bought it. A pre-loved, 5 year old Citroen C4 which we have fondly named Smokey because of its lovely dark grey color. Did I mention that the interior leather seats are a beautiful caramel brown? The sunroof was a bonus!

Aidan in Smokey

Aidan in his fancy old-new ride

The car handover transaction went well – We did our research on what to do and what to look out for when shopping for a second hand car, and I have compiled a buyer’s checklist for this specific purpose.

You can download it here and here.

So we used the car regularly for a while and everything was peachy. ALMOST.

Just past the first week the car suddenly refused to start. Sputtering engine. Weird crackling noises. Flickering dashboard. Turned out that the battery was a goner! I guess it’s just our luck – not really the seller’s fault, as the last changed date indicated on the dead battery showed that it has not been changed for over 2 years, which I believe is its average lifespan. Cost us $200+ for a tow service and battery replacement at the auto workshop.

Fast forward a few days later… The glove box handle broke. Grr. And after shining a torchlight to try to pry it open, it was obvious from old pry marks that this is not the first time the glove box compartment had issues.

Although we managed to pry it open, because the handle actually broke off this meant that the glove box would not stay closed. An open glove box while the car is in use = automatic lights remain on.

That was a MAJOR pain in the ass!IKEA Lint Roller

So we got an IKEA lint roller and shoved its blue handle into the offending orifice and ta-dah! Glove box stays closed despite looking fairly obscene. Of course, this is only a temporary solution. I’m not spending another few hundred bucks to change out the entire glove box, so I got a stainless steel handle replacement at S$60 odd from Ebay.

Apparently the fragile handle is a known issue with Citroen C4 (2004-2010), and there are companies in the UK that cash in on these automobile vulnerabilities to make “improved” replacements to fix these annoying issues with a little bit of DIY. I hope it arrives soon so I can make better use of my lint roller!

Did I also mention that my favourite jazz CD is stuck in the music player and refuse to be ejected? Haven’t got time to fix that yet!

Family

Goodbye fishies

Hubs was cleaning the fish tank last night when he accidentally poured too much bacteria that were meant for the aquatic plants. Panicked, he scooped the fishes out and placed them in a temporary clean water container for the night. It was too bad that this morning when I inspected, both fishes were already belly up in the water 🙁

Aidan helped me to pour the dead fishes in the toilet and after he flushed them away, he started crying his eyes out, calling for the fishes to come back. It was heartbreaking! This morning’s event gave rise to plenty of tight hugs and a brief life lesson about life and death. In between sobs Aidan declared that he does not want to be alone when papa and mama dies too, and became inconsolable as the idea of grief wrecked his thoughts. When he felt better, we held hands and walked to school in silence as we inwardly mourned for the fishes.

I think it will be awhile before we muster enough courage to get another pet. Goodbye, fishies…

Family Kids

FA Scan at 20 Weeks

It is a girl

We went for a Fetal Anomaly (FA) ccan at week 20 of my pregnancy at Paragon Medical (Radlink). This scan costs about $250, almost half price of the Nuchal Translucency (NT) test we did a month ago. The ultrasound technician who did the FA scan for us was warm and friendly, and breezed through the procedure within 45 minutes. She confirmed baby’s gender to be a girl, unabashedly pointing out images of the labia and clitoris on the monitor. Now we can comfortably call baby Emily from hereon!

Retrospectively she did seem a little concerned about Emily’s brain – though I’m not sure if she was having trouble capturing good images of a specific anatomy or measurement, or whether I’m simply being a paranoid parent. We shall see at our obstetrician’s review in three weeks!

Family Kids

Better than…

Ivan and Aidan

We were having breakfast by ourselves this morning when Ivan was still lazing in bed. Breakfast consisted of simple nutella bread, mcvites digestive biscuits, paigen milk and coffee (for me).

Aidan: Mama, I love your cooking. It is better… better and good.
Mama: Aww, really? Better?? Better than what?
Aidan: [grins sheepishly] Better than… papa’s cooking!

😉

Family Kids

Aidan’s first fishing trip

It was a beautiful Sunday last weekend and we didn’t waste any time at home. Hubs dug out his old fishing rods (why does a man need two, I don’t know) and ushered us out of the house for an impromptu cycling/fishing trip at Jurong Lake.

Now if you read my last post about the new bicycle I acquired you will know that I am a rather poor cyclist, in geek terms – a noobie. I was inwardly panicking about cycling TO the lake from our house, which involves steering through bus-stops and narrow pedestrian path, a zebra crossing, and a 6 lane road with lots of traffic. To top it all off… my 2.5 year old son was hitching a ride on the rear, comfortably unawares that Mommy most likely will fall and give both of us bumps and bruises… which I DID! ****

Cycling and Fishing trip

I was going up a steep slope, and had to turn around a sharp bend when I couldn’t handle the sheer weight of my bicycle (~18kg with the rear child seat, AND Aidan at 14kg) and we – *gasp* –  toppled over. Maternal instincts kicked in and I tried to cushion the blow for Aidan and landed just below my knee and hit the curb end on. It didn’t even hurt on impact. I was SO WORRIED Aidan was going to get a concussion or bleed out massively or whatnot. Thankfully other than being scared out of his wits all he got was an ant sized scratch on his knee. Phew. I was so dazed and mad at myself I couldn’t bring myself to get on the bicycle again. At this point Hubs turned back to survey the damage and informed me that I was hurt. Then the OWWW set in. Haha. I decided to carry on cycling so that we could go fishing at the other end of the lake, and I gently asked Aidan if he is alright for Mommy to cycle us again. He shook his head and looked terrified. Poor kid.

We carried on anyways and even though we didn’t reel in any fish, the rest of the afternoon was splendid and relaxed. We watched Finding Nemo on iTunes recently and Dory’s “keep swimming, just keep swimming” song got stuck in my head so every time I was about to hit a difficult bend/slope/pedestrians I’ll obsessively chant, “keep peddling, just keep peddling!” 

Haha. Thanks Ellen DeGeneres!

Fishing and Cycling