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:: Bubba :: Oh my heart!

Oh darn you postpartum emotions… I feel like crying every time I lose my patience at little C because I have hurt her. I really need to work on my patience even when I’m flustered and racing against time.

I forget what a grown up 3.5 year old she is; and one with a lovely, sensitive soul. She is stoic like her father (ah that stiff upper lip thing) but I know she is extremely empathetic – she feels everything.

We went for ice cream yesterday; just Clover and Mama. I left my phone at home so it was just us at the park eating ice cream and chatting. We even sang and skipped home.

When we reached home, she was independently playing, chatted with her 婆婆 and gave her sister and me plenty of kisses and “I love you”s. It goes to show what benefit a little quality time does for her.

This is a timely reminder I must be patient and make sure to spend quality, one-on-one time with my beautiful first born. She is my heart!

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Snuggy bug

Newborns are such back breaking work. The past 4 nights have been horrid; we have been unable to put A down at 7pm in the crib.

I blame it on gas. And I have tried EVERYTHING – we made sure to burp her multiple times during feeding, we gave her tummy massages to help her fart, we added probiotics into her daily single bottle feed and have just started her on gas drop. If things don’t improve next week, I will have to cut out dairy :(

When will we get to the four magic words – sleep through the night? At this point I think no grunting and a single feeding works for me too!!

I cannot believe it’s only been 16 days since A’s arrival; can we get to 6 months already? I want this time TO FLY BY.

(Please don’t tell me to “enjoy this time because it passes so quickly”. I do not have the great fortune of easy babies so it makes me want to punch you in the face. And believe me when strangers say that to me in the supermarket / playground / on the street, it makes me homicidal. If I could hit a fast forward button, I would. Give me two / three year old tantrums any time.)

Mr. P goes back to work on Monday, I’m definitely going to miss his company and the extra pair of hands. Oh and I pray that A’s gassiness will sort itself out (sooner rather than later), hopefully before the husband’s work trip. Keep us in your prayers!

Confession: I was somewhat terrified of the whole labour, delivery and recovery experience at Lenox Hill after reading unfavourable reviews online. But my obgyn delivers only at Lenox Hill, I didn’t have a choice.

I’m happy to report that my fears were unfounded; well save the bit about sharing a room post delivery.

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Hospital

C was delivered at Hotel Matilda Hospital, one of the top (if not THE TOP) private hospitals in HK for a low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy / delivery. My obgyn, Dr. Edmund Hon, summarized the 3 private hospitals we were considering as such:

Matilda: Varied patients, may not get a space for my due date
Adventist: More American, straight forward staffs, does not do warm and fuzzy care
Canossa: Serves a wealthy, Asian clientele

Obviously Matilda was my top pick (i had a bad experience in Canossa in 2005 for a bad stomach virus episode in which I was warded for 3 days). The only caveat was needing to book the hospital by placing a HKD 20,000 deposit when I was 6 weeks along; we didn’t even know if the pregnancy was viable at that point!

In NYC, there was no need to pre-register nor place any deposit. Apparently if your obgyn has hospital privileges you will be given a bed; they don’t turn you away I guess.

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Costs

I had an all singing, all dancing healthcare cover in HK through MY job; my total costs was HKD 6,667 for the entire pregnancy and delivery. That was a fraction of actual charges (upwards of HKD 100,000). The Cigna International plan that Macquarie non-HK citizens were entitled to was a godsend.

Here, despite paying through my nose for private healthcare, I still have a maximum out of pocket cost of USD 2,800 of which USD 2,500 comes out of pre-tax income (thus lowering my tax liability). I am hoping there are no other hidden costs; I have called UHC three times to confirm and they have all said I shouldn’t need to pay more than USD2,800. We shall see.

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L&D Suite

To be honest I don’t remember much about Matilda’s L&D suite. It was the first time I was in such excruciating pain; I was 6cm dilated when the anaesthetist arrived to administer the epidural. All I recall is that it was big, at least 1.5 times bigger than Lenox Hill’s. Oh and newer too.

Lenox Hill’s is fully equipped and adequate.

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Medical Personnels

Lenox Hill wins hands down! We were so fortunate with the L&D nurse assigned to us. Jennifer was funny and warm compared to some of her other colleagues. We lucked out with the resident (doc) as well; he had to check how far along I was before contacting my Obgyn. He (pity I didn’t get his name) was almost as hilarious as Jennifer. Between the two of them, it made the pain a wee bit easier to bear before I got the epidural.

My anaesthetist in NYC was fab, he explained what he was doing every step of the way and it actually hurt less than it did with C in Matilda. The drug though made me itch (allover) a little!

Throughout my 3-day (2.5 since i was admitted in the middle of the night) stay, the nurses (Fran, Lovely, Rochelle and Nazi) were excellent compared to the ones I had the pleasure of company in the 4 days (3.5) in Matilda.

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Postpartum Room

O.M.G. shared rooms need to be outlawed ASAP. Apparently this is typical of hospitals in NYC.

I was transferred to a 2 bedder around 5.30am as they didn’t have any private rooms available (check out is at 11am). Well they had one room available – the USD 2,400 a night Beyonce suite!! Unfortunately I’m not rap royalty nor rolling in money.

I had the misfortune of 1) rooming with someone who worked in the hospital, 2) had undergone a cesarean, 3) took the window bed and 4) was freaking inconsiderate.

She had visitors from 6am, I guess colleagues who were about to start their shift, who would chatted non-stop. She also left the TV on which meant they had to talk over the TV! She had to be monitored constantly so I could hear the BP and some other machines going on periodically. Her visitors and her then spent the rest of the morning waking back and forth between her bed, the bathroom and the door; basically brushing my curtains knocking into my bed in an already crowded room periodically.

For 5 hours I barely napped 45 minutes. It baffled me that for someone who works in a hospital she could be so inconsiderate!

I made Mr. P beg and grovel for a private room as I couldn’t deal with another day of such din. We were finally placed in our 2nd choice private room at noon and I could finally get some rest. The private room was much bigger than the shared room, there was a pull out sofa bed, a glider and a separate dinning table and chair.

My private room at Matilda (which is up on Victoria Peak 山顶) had a 100 square foot balcony with its own SUN LOUNGER (say what!!) and overlook the HK skyline). Even Queen Bey’s suite can’t boast that; hands down NO COMPARISON!

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Food

Again, no competition here. I could order room service basically anytime I like at Matilda and the food was good. Maybe if we had gotten our first choice room in Lenox Hill (on a renovated floor with a gourmet menu), it would have been better. Thankfully there’s always seamless which brought us the neighbourhood eats.

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Nursery

Matilda wins here. Lenox Hill was soooo understaffed. Made me wonder how long (and how often) was my bub left crying on her own (I hope there is no permanent damage). The nursery was overcrowded!

Learning from experience, I decided against rooming with the bub at all times. 1) I needed the rest to recover and be up and running in the shortest time possible. 2) I knew my milk probably wouldn’t kick in till day 3 or 4 and it’s better to supplement with formula than be stressed and deal with a hungry baby. 3) I needed to give my chaffed nipples a break.

I also wanted to ensure C didn’t feel left out, she stayed with me on my last night in the room.

Matilda had a staff to baby ratio of almost 1:2; all the babies definitely received plenty of attention. Too bad as a first time mother I didn’t make full use of that :(

:: Bubba:: Why?

A big note: C has been incredible as the big sister. My little sensitive big girl is feeling the effects of needing to share our attention but she has bravely soldiered on. She’s been 200% loving with baby A; kissing her, hugging her, petting her and wanting to hold her all the time.

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Sleeping baby… if only it lasts! (She woke up 2 secs after I took the photo)

1. Why is it that I have babies WHO REFUSE TO BE PUT DOWN?

We are seeing the PD in the morning, if A is healthy and her development is on track, I think I’m going to let her cry it out in the crib. I really don’t know how long of this “holding the baby all the freaking time” I can take.

2. Why does A fall asleep on boob so easily?

Unlike her sister who would feed with eyes wide open, A seriously gets glazed over and falls asleep. She’s not as efficient at nursing at C. And believe me, I have tried everything to keep her awake!

3. Why did we decide to do it all over again?

C is at such a fabulous age now, where it’s not the end of the world if she misses her nap. This meant we could get out and do so much. It’s also much easier to travel with her these days. When she naps during the weekends, it’s a glorious 2-3 hours. She pretty much potty trained herself.

Just when we are “getting out of jail”, I cannot believe we are doing it all over again. Especially when I have such strong, negative feelings about the newborn (make that first 6 months) stage. ARGH!

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Daddy with his girls

:: No. 2 :: Birth Story

For posterity, here’s what went down (and out hah)…

Wednesday morning, August 27, I woke up with with what felt like slight menstrual cramps. From what I recall with C, this was likely a sign of pre / early labour. I went about my day; took C to camp and then login to work remotely, distracting myself from the pain.

By about noon, the pain has intensified. I told Mr. P he should clear his calendar for the next day, we were most definitely having the baby on Thursday if not earlier. And boy was I right! Like her sister, baby A is another wee-hour-in-the-morning baby. Mr. P come home early to take C to the park and spend some quality time with her.

We told C that we might need to leave the hospital in the middle of the night and that she shouldn’t be afraid if she woke up and didn’t see us. Unfortunately, much as I wanted to put her to bed before heading to the hospital, I couldn’t. The pain (with my very low tolerance) was getting unbearable (and Mr. P didn’t want a Lincoln Tunnel Baby).

C started to cry. I held her tight and explained to her that “mama was in pain and we need to get Baby A out. You need to be the brave big sister. Dada can come and pick you up to meet A in the morning.” She held back the rest of the tears and offered to draw me a picture so I “don’t miss me too much”. That really tugged at my heart strings and I had to fight hard to not cry!

So… Like C we didn’t have a birth plan, except to labour as long as we can at home.

We arrived at hospital at just after 11pm, checked in and was assigned a fantastic L&D nurse (shout out to Jennifer at Lenox Hill). I was at 4-5cm dilated (yay half way). I didn’t bother being gung-ho; I asked for an epidural ASAP!

Unfortunately, in the US, I had to finish an entire bag of IV fluid before I could be given the epidural. That was a LONG 45 minutes. But once the marvel of modern medicine has taken away the pain, I got my sense of humour back and we settled in to watch Rio.

When my OBGYN, Dr. Stevens, got in, she checked that I was almost 8cm and broke my water. We didn’t get to the end of the movie because it was time to push.

3 tries and a 6lbs14oz Baby A was born at 1.56am on August 28, 2014.

That’s not too bad, both kids out in less than 3 hours at the hospital. Here’s my only tip: labour at home as long as you can, don’t go to the hospital too early.

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5 minutes after Ava was born

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My little shriveled up bub

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A garden gnome?

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The darling big sister

:: Bubba :: Prepping C

I used to think 2 years is the perfect age gap; the kids could play together, be in the same school and generally be each other’s best mates. In hindsight, if we were pregnant a year ago, I am not sure if C would have made this journey easy. Last year, C had ZERO interest in younger kids, babies and being a big sister in general. She was adamant that she didn’t need a friend, a lifelong buddy.

Something changed when she turned three earlier this year. When we found out about the pregnancy, my biggest concern was how she would take to it. She has such a strong personality and having to share us with another human being is a massive change. I broached the subject by asking her if she would like a baby brother or a sister and was pleasantly surprise when she said she wanted a baby sister.

We had been co-sleeping since November last year, after we moved to Hoboken and bought a king sized bed. I was not a proponent of co-sleeping and honestly I would rather have her in her room. Call it mummy’s guilt; at that point, there were so many changes in her young life (and ours) in the short span of a year, this was a small concession. We expected her to be our only child, and she will eventually grow out of room. Plus I love our nightly pre-bedtime chats and on weekend mornings, she would “wake” me up by placing her little hands on my cheeks and saying “I love you mama, wakey wakey!”

In any case, we couldn’t kick her out of our bed when A comes (we don’t want her to feel rejected / unwanted). So I ended making a big deal about being 4 years old and that it’s a Big Girl age. She needs to keep Baby A company and protect her in the Girls’ Room. We shall see if this works in February! *fingers crossed*

When we found out that we are indeed giving her a baby sister, we let her pick the name (she was given a choice – Ava, Kayla or Colette). She went around telling everyone “Mama has Baby A in her tummy”, so we can’t back out of that one! We also brought her to the 20 week scan and let her listen to A, feel her movements which tickled her to no end.

In the last month, Mr. P asked C to help do up the Girls’ Room; she painted the Expedite shelf, put up the wall decals, put together A’s crib and test it out for her by having a picnic in the crib with her toys.

When we went shopping for A’s stuff, we asked her pick out clothes for Baby A.  And we always make sure she got to pick out an item for herself. The sweetest thing was when I asked if she would share her baby toys with A, she gladly and proudly set aside a bunch (“these are baby toys for Ava, I am a big girl and only play with big girl toys”).

Of late, we have been reading “I’m a Big Sister” by Joanna Cole almost every night before bedtime. In general, we are doing our best to let her know through our actions and words that while changes are ahead, our love for her will never dimish; that she will always be our baby.

Here’s to hoping I haven’t jinxed things and she would continue to be good as gold with a new baby in our lives.

P.S. D-day is here. I have been battling contractions while working all day today. I think Baby A will be like her sister and be a wee hour baby!

P.P.S. Please help pray for a smooth delivery and a healthy baby!

I like to shop local because I think it is important to contribute to the local economy and build relationships. While the prices may be marginally higher, I will gladly attribute it to a more personalised / attentive service. I, however, also believe in swings and roundabouts. 

 

Yesterday, we went to a local shop to check out the Stokke Steps fully ready to purchase. The service we received was average at best. The staff (maybe owner) didn’t know the products. Mr. P, who watched a YouTube review the night before, ended up showing her how to open, close and adjust the bouncer. He then proceeded to demonstrate how to fit the bouncer onto the highchair.

 

First misstep – lack of product knowledge. While i understand that there are so many products in the market and no one could truly know every single one, we are talking about a $200 bouncer here (FP bouncers cost like $50). It’s new in the market and if you are in the business of high(er) end baby products, then please watch the damn YouTube video, especially since I called 2 hours in advanced to say we are coming in to look at it. 

 

At this point we had to take C for lunch and of course to discuss if we were buying local or getting it shipped free of taxes from out of state. We decided to go local if they would waive the taxes. Mr. P was also ready to buy the 6m+ kit and tray table as well (I was against it since we don’t need it now).

 

Mr. P circled back to the shop after lunch while I took C home for a nap. The lady came up with a few valid reasons indicating that her hands are tied with the Stokke pricing given that the Steps is pretty much a new product. We completely understand. First she offered free shipping and assembly. Erm, yeah we live in a square mile, even I can pick up the stuff from her shop (10 min walk away). And assembly? You mean sticking the legs into the chair – oh wow rocket science. She finally said the best she could do was a $30 store credit to reduce the tax impact  ($33.50).

 

Personally, I believe she could have done more. If we are ready to spend $199 for the bouncer, $279 for the high chair, $99 for the 6+ kit, could she not have offered to throw in the $49 tray table for free? I bet you it doesn’t even cost her $30 for that plastic tray. Why is it a sticking point with me? I believe in goodwill; I like to feel like I am getting a deal from my nice, local boutique. I mean c’mon I managed to get a yet-to-be-released pram at F&F pricing, you couldn’t even throw in a tray table?

 

In any case, we decided to get the whole set from Baby Earth, a boutique based out of Texas. We don’t pay any tax, get free shipping and I get 5% BE bucks to offset against future purchases. I guess I am still buying local and supporting small businesses in a way; just someone else’s local baby boutique.

 

P.S. I actually had below average experience when inquiring about the Babyzen a couple of months back with her. I am so not sold on the shop.

 

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