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:: 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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:: 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.

 

After the expensive lesson with C, Mr. P and I are more discerning with our acquisition of baby related paraphernalia. Here is my list of cannot do without items and wants:

1. Manduca Baby Carrier

A good baby carrier is essential because Hong Kong was not a stroller friendly place (compared to Singapore) and New York was worse (most subway stations have no escalators or lifts). At one point I owned the Pupsik carrier, the Moby wrap, the Baby Bjorn and the Manduca. The first 3 were complete waste of money for us.

I carried C everywhere in the Manduca from she was about a month old until she was 2.5. Unlike the Ergo, you do not need an infant insert because there was a baby sit built in. This is a lifesaver in the high humidity Asian climate. The Manduca was so useful, we received a second one as a gift from my FIL. I could even breastfeed C in it while we were touring the Colosseum in Rome.

Photo credit: http://crapmamma.com/

2. Babyzen Yoyo 0+ and 6+

I hardly used the stroller with C because while the Inglesina Zippy was a true one hand open / close stroller with great suspension, it was also at a whopping 12.5kg. We bought the Maclaren Quest when C was 5 months for our Italy trip and it became our primary stroller. It has served us well for the last 3 years but I was never truly happy. Both strollers were not my picks and they had double handles which I hated.

In comes the Babyzen Yoyo. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend stupid money for a 6m+ stoller, especially when I was ready to drop cash on the Mamas & Papas Armadillo. I then found out about the newborn kit! Unfortunately it was not released in the States and won’t be until maybe September or October. It was either shell out $ (about USD 750) for Mr. P to carry it back from London (and pay VAT) or wait it out.

We really had to thank our lucky stars; I found someone who could help and we even got a F&F discount! Hooray, pram envy quelled.

Yoyo 0+ Newborn Kit

3. Bebe au Lait Nursing Cover

Of all the covers I tried in the market, Bebe au Lait is the best. The fabric is thick, both ends are weighted down by terry cloth pockets and it’s adjustable. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ve given away the 3 I owned when we moved last year. I am waiting to see if Baby A takes to breastfeeding before shelling out cash for this.

4. Medela Freestyle Breastpump

Short of hospital grade pump, this is an excellent pump. It’s expensive but worth it, especially if you intend to express for >6 months. Read the instructions and learn how to use the hands-free kit. (For the lack of a better word), it leaves your hands free to surf the web, fix yourself a snack or read a book!

5. Snap-front tops / onesies / jammies

Here’s a confession: I was such a lazy mum with C, she lived in Gerber snap-front tops until her belly button stump fell off because I wasn’t confident enough to deal with pulling onesies over her little head. We  moved on to snap-front or zip-front onesies, footed jammies once her stump came off. It was only when she had more neck control that we started using pull over onesies with bottom closure.

6. Muslin Cloths

Plain, non-fancy ones from Mothercare are the best. While I love the softness and prints of the Aden & Anais ones, I always think it’s a bit of a waste shelling out money for something I probably launder about 10x a day.

We used these for everything – burp cloths, to clean up spit, mop up mess, cover the carseat when C was napping. I think I had about 50 of these at one point. Thankfully I kept about half of these so it’s a money saver for us.

7. Diaper Bag

Like all first time mothers, I wanted a chic diaper bag. So I ran out and bought myself a Kate Spade that came with a nice, lined changing mat. Truth is, I barely used it and ended buying a Longchamp Le Pilage instead.

Here is why: It’s nylon which makes it somewhat water proof. It’s cheap (well compared to everything else I own), so I am not concern about dirtying it (Clover spat up on my Balenciaga Tomato First once!). It’s lightweight, extremely so compared to KS, Skip Hop and everything else on the market. Plus I don’t mind the fact that it doesn’t have separate compartments; I travel light anyway so the little side pocket is enough for my cardholder and keys.

Kate Spade – I have this in a different print

8. Wants: Stokke Steps Bouncer

How freaking amazing is this thing? It fit onto the Steps Highchair from Birth, which means baby A  gets an elevated view of the world. And she could join us at the dining table every evening. This stores flat which is a major plus.

9. Wants: Stokke Steps Highchair

Combined with the Steps Bouncer, below is how the whole system works. I have always been a fan of Stokke, especially their famed grow-with-me concept. Apparently the Steps system was in development for years. Mr. P was never a fan of the Tripp Trapp so we never got around to getting that. Sleepi was prohibitively expensive when we were in Hong Kong and the Xplory was way too big / heavy / impractical in the narrow Hong Kong streets.

The Steps, however, fits our needs perfectly!

10. Wants: WeeGo Glass Bottles

Heavy, less practical and costs more ($15 a pop) but I personally prefer glass to plastic for anything. I am hoping Baby A is not going to be a bottle snob like C. Well she can’t since I am not intending to postpone going back to work, she had better wise up or starve!

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My little tomboy princess

Dear Clover,

My precious first born, we had a rough start you and I. There were many dark days and nights because I wasn’t ready (and no one truly is) to be so needed by a helpless little being. And you, well you were just doing your best to adjust to the strange world around you.

But I think we made it; we made the best of it. I know I’ve been unfairly tough on you, too strict, too impatient. These I’ll work on improving.

You, my darling, is such a clever little thing; so eager to learn and absorb everything around you. You were never the sleepy baby shown in all those prenatal / postnatal / parenting paraphernalia. Your eyes (and lungs) were wide open from Day 1.

You never bothered with flipping (gosh the anxiety it caused me) and went straight to tripod sitting (the world does look better from a “higher” perspective, doesn’t it?). One day you just sat up on your own like it’s the most natural thing.

You were an early talker; verbal ahead of developmental milestone charts. Your first word was “mama”, actually it was more like “mamamaaaa”. Perhaps because you knew if you call out mama, someone would come tend to you immediately (you are quite a manipulator babe).

The funniest incident was when you were 9 months old on the night before we were due to fly back from New York. You ate THREE (no joke) little fruit loops cereal, spent all night bouncing off the hotel room walls and for the first time very clearly said “Dada”! Your father was highly amused and delighted.

We must have done something right with you. I love that you are so happy and affectionate all the time. You shower us with hugs, kisses and “I love you”s without any prompt from us. You love cuddles and tickles more than anything. Your 姨姨 says it’s so evident that you know are very loved; your quiet confidence and the joy you exude.

In the last 2 years you have grown so much. You taught us a big lesson in resilience. We relocated and took you away from friends you knew since a few months old. I went back to work full time and left you in a strange environment for long hours. Just when you made new friends and started to enjoy your daycare, we moved again!

We take heart in how you have blossomed in the new school. You have become more outgoing and an absolute chatterbox (like your dad). You are a wondrous mix of a girly girl who lives in dresses, loves purple, ballet, singing and dancing and a tomboy who loves climbing, picking leaves, rocks and petting all sorts of reptiles (and animals).

You are not entirely aware of the massive changes in the coming weeks. I’m certain you are the best big sister anyone can have. It will take time to establish a new routine for the new foursome but I have no doubt you will lead the way Miss Bossy-pants :)

Know this: your father and I will always love you and support you no matter what. Everything we do is out of love for you with good intentions even if we didn’t / don’t achieve the desired outcomes. We will always be your safe habour; your loudest cheerleaders. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

Love,
Mama

:: No. 2 :: Week 38

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35.5 Weeks Photo by Matt Stefanidis

I will be 38 weeks on Thursday. Still no baby in sight.

This is officially my last week in the office, though I will be working from home until I pop (in order to enjoy the full 16 weeks maternity leave after the baby arrives).

The sister commented this morning that I must be the hardest working pregnant woman around; the fact that I still work a fully loaded 10-hour day (we don’t do 1-2 hour lunch breaks unlike in Asia) this close to my due date. Well I’m pregnant not an invalid! Plus I genuinely enjoy my work.

I supposed I am truly blessed with both my pregnancies. I was never incapacitated by morning sickness and have been generally healthy barring a couple of seasonal coughs / colds. With no. 2 I did have a scare which landed me in the emergency room one Friday night; it was because I didn’t have enough fluid resulting in a mild case of bladder infection.

For both pregnancies, I think I’ve taken a grand total of TWO MCs.

C has been pretty healthy and happy since her case of pneumonia at the start of the year which definitely helped. I’m also thankful for the small mercy that our babysitter was 100% dependable and helping with school pick-ups for the last 8 months.

These are testaments to God’s graces; I’m not sure how we would have coped if my pregnancy symptoms were worse or if C was constantly ill. Or needing to deal with childcare issues.

I guess what’s left right now is to pray for a smooth, quick and safe delivery. I hope we don’t have to be induced or worse, an emergency c-section. I pray for a happy, healthy child. Clover has been good as gold with my pregnancy, I pray she feels the same when she meets Baby A.

Please keep us in your prayers!

I was in 2 minds about doing a maternity shoot for no. 2 mainly because of prohibitively high costs; here most photographers do not include digital files for their services. On average a single soft copy could cost anywhere between USD 20-50 and some only allow you to print up to a 5x7cm. That’s crazy if you ask me.

 

Another reason is I am 10 lbs (yes TEN-FREAKING-POUNDS) heavier than my last pregnancy. Not entirely sure if I want to capture that for all eternity.

 

Any hoodle, I was on a list-serve and came across a post for a mini session with Captured by Matt right here in Hoboken.  The cost was reasonable (USD 150) AND we get 30 digital files with full print rights!

 

After the hugely disappointing shoot we had last September in Singapore to the tune of SGD 450, practically anything will be an improvement (including setting up my own camera on a tripod). I am not sure if it was the heat and humidity, there was at most 5 usable photos from that shoot. That’s a post for another time when my mum brings over the photo cd.

 

I know my daughter, she is a little Tasmanian devil, it’s hard to get her to “pose” (more like keep still) for a photo. That said, I love how everything turned out. Here are some selected shots out of 40 pictures we received from Matt.

 

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Bump, Clover and Burrito

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Family Pic

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Upside down tickles

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Clover and her favourite stuffed toy

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Unbridled joy at the simplest little thing – throwing leaves

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Mama kisses are the best

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Fun with Dada

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This is how we hang

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Mama cudles

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Peek-a-boo

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I love this picture, how crazy happy she looks!

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<3

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Running around

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Bump shot

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How we usually finish off our weekends with our favourite ice-cream truck/seller

 

 

Once again, a big thank you to Matt Stefanidis for the lovely photos at such an affordable rate. I think we might have to make this photoshoot thing an annual event!

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