Setback

It’s been awhileeee. Is anyone even still reading this?

I was looking through my wordpress and realized that my last post was in March. That explains it. Because early April was when it happened. HR came in and announced that the company has decided to close down our team in end of June. The lab and office will cease operation. 12 employees were going to be retrenched. I was about to lose my job again, for the second time in 6 months. 3 of my colleagues were already asked to leave end of last year. We didn’t expect the same thing to happen to the rest of us. We were given 3 months notice. The first few weeks, we were basically grieving and trying to process what was happening. It was shocking, no doubt. And then we digested it and scrambled to find new jobs. And then grieved again because the job market is not good. I felt bad for my junior colleagues who had <2 years experience because they were basically competing with the fresh grads. One by one, some of my colleagues left earlier as they found new jobs elsewhere. Towards the end, it got more and more painful and depressing to come to office everyday, just to kill time.

I was affected. So was bf. Looking back, we have been really really fortunate to have no major setback in life so far. This was going to be our first big hit. The stress started giving me random unexplained nausea and stomach aches, sometimes with chills on some days. We were not prepared to survive on single income for god knows when. I would lose the working mothers’ subsidy for Hadi’s ifc, and we may have to top up a significant amount of cash for the HDB loan too. We braced ourselves.

At the very last minute, I got an offer. It came just as suddenly as the retrenchment news. Exactly one week before our last day of work, my boss told me that he would arrange an interview for me for an internal position in another department. He’s the best boss I ever had, because the whole time, he never stopped looking for positions within the company for redeployment even though he was exactly in the same boat as us. Obviously the company hasn’t been doing well and there were very limited options, but he did his best. Of course I said okay, although I didn’t have high hopes because we were only one week away to getting retrenched. We have already signed the severance letter and had a look at the compensation amount we were going to get. Dah redha pun. So I had the interview on Monday. Tuesday evening, HR called and said I got the offer. Wednesday I accepted the offer. Thursday I signed the letter. Friday I didn’t bother to come to office for the last time since I didn’t need to handover the laptop or collect the cheque anyway.

If this isn’t what people call a “rezeki baby (Hadi)”, then I don’t know what is. It’s a huge sigh of relief. I feel so undeserving of all His blessings but alhamdulillah for everything. So many lessons to learn from this episode and so many things to be grateful for. Having a job, even if it was a sucky one, is really one of the things that I took so much for granted.

Doubt

Hadi fell ill. Again. This is like what, the 4th time since he started ifc 2.5 months ago? Doubting all my decisions now.. Was it right to put him in ifc? Exposing him to so many germs? Do kids in other ifc also fall sick this often? Or is it just this particular branch because they have 23 infants? 23 babies is too much isn’t it? Or is it because i have been posting too much about Hadi and my family on social media? Are there people who are jealous and dengki and wishes bad upon my family? Am i posting too much happy stuff? Should i remove all of Hadi’s face on my social media? Is this all my fault?

Post Maternity Leave

It’s been 1 and a half month since I started working and being a FTWM. I was lucky that there were public holidays, a few off days for Hadi’s vaccination appointments and a short holiday trip in February, so most weeks are short weeks. It makes my transition smoother and there wasn’t really a shock to my system upon returning to the workforce, since I was most anxious about pumping at work.

A few drama has been happening at work, which made the whole returning-back-to-work experience sucky. In short, my boss tried to kick me out of the team and offered me another position which is totally unrelated to my degree, but then suddenly there was an announcement that the company is splitting into 2, so my transfer was put on hold. During my ML, 1 of my colleague was also asked to leave, 2 were kind of “deported”. So even though it’s business as usual for now, everyone’s morale is low because the company is obviously not doing well anymore and we don’t know if bonus is getting delayed and I will never forget the fact that my boss tried to kick me out in the middle of my ML even though the big company announcement saved my ass.

Drama aside, I was initially worried about managing household chores and new routines once I start work, but bf and I have settled into our new routine pretty smoothly. We are both very involved in getting Hadi ready and sending him to IFC together every morning, and then bathing and settling him at home every evening. I used to be a lot more resentful towards bf in the early months for many reasons, especially when he goes out to work and I am left at home with a baby and expected to manage the bulk of the chores (with hardly any time to rest, while he deserves to rest more because he went out to work *eyerolls*), which I discovered is a very normal and common postpartum feeling. But it’s getting a lot better now that he handles most of the laundry chores on weekends while I sleep in slightly longer since I do night feedings everyday. Surviving on 4-5hr sleeps on weekdays is really no joke. As much as my body is getting used to surviving on very little sleep now, I shouldn’t get too complacent and push myself too hard because my body has crashed from exhaustion. Last week was the second time I fell sick, and I had the worst headache/migrane in my life last Saturday. We did a short weekend road trip with my in-laws to Malaysia the previous weekend and that was partly to blame for my exhaustion as well. Weekends feel sooooo short now and we’re still figuring out how to manage them, juggling between attending social gatherings, visiting our parents, doing laundry, home maintenance, spending quality time together, going through papers and finances, and finding the time to go shop for more baby stuff as Hadi is rapidly growing bigger everyday. Communication and teamwork is really key in making this whole co-parenting thing work. And I’ve learnt to be less calculative, stop sweating the small stuff and to pick my battles for the sake of each other’s mental health. There’s too much mental load already as a mum and having a constant mental checklist of things to do. I don’t have much space left in my brain to bear unnecessary grudges when I see dirty dishes in the sink or used cups lying around everywhere. I am also guilty of not cleaning up after myself sometimes, so we are getting used to picking up each others’ shit with one closed eye.

On breastfeeding, I’m just really happy that Hadi can continue to latch very well when I’m home cos I was worried he would start to prefer bottle over boob. My freezer is still very full with my FBM stash. In an attempt to clear some space, I offered to donate away some FBM, but no one has taken up my offer yet. I even reduced pumping from 3 to 2 sessions at work, which led to a slight reduction in my supply because I hardly get engorged now and fewer/weaker letdowns. But overall, it’s still quite okay and nothing to worry about yet. Pretty sure Hadi will still get to be exclusively breastfed till he turns 6mo. I’m also kind of getting the hang of pumping in office under a nursing cover so that I can still be productive at my desk. I would keep my EBM and pump parts in the pantry fridge and bring them home at the end of the day. I’ve been using the spectra handsfree cups and I initially thought that it doesn’t work well on me, but I discovered that it’s dependant on the bra I use. Certain bras are too tight or too fitting and will not yield as much milk. It also helps a lot to do breast compressions during pumping, which I try to do when I’m not too busy working on the computer. But having said that, I agree that normal flanges are still better than the handsfree cups. I only use the normal flanges at home though.

To keep myself up to date with the whole motherhood and babyhood journey, I have been joining various Facebook groups and mummy whatsapp groupchats. It really helps a lot especially if you don’t have a lot of mummy friends and I gained so much knowledge just by reading people’s posts and conversations even if I don’t participate in them. Some of the groups I joined are breastfeeding mothers support group (my favourite), babywearing group, childcare group, pregnancy group and a mummy’s groupchat for October EDD mummies. Without these resources, I wouldn’t have gained so much knowledge on breastfeeding, childcare matters and protocols, or what to look out for when buying baby gears. Now that Hadi is 4mo, I just realised I need to start buying a walker/bouncer/booster seat, baby mat and the baby cage thingy. Some mummies have already started placing their 4mo on those bumbo floor seat and their babies look so happy in them! I am also starting to read up more on solid food and food preparation for when it’s time to intro solids.

I think being a FTWM and SAHM is almost equally physically tiring. In fact, being a SAHM might be more mentally draining. I’ve also been feeling the mum guilt since I started work because I spend wayyy lesser time with Hadi now. By the time we reach home at 7pm, we have so little time to spend together before his bedtime at 8.30-9pm. In the morning, we only get to see him awake for 30 minutes to 1 hour before we whisk him off to IFC. So in total we only have max 3 hours waking time with him every weekday. As much as we want to spend more quality time together as a family on weekends, there’s so much laundry to catch up on, parents and in-laws to visit, weddings/social gatherings to attend and other chores and errands to run. Because I am spending lesser time with him now, Hadi seems to be growing a lot faster. He is getting more active by the day and carrying him feels like carrying an octopus, with his hands and legs going everywhere. He surprises us with his milestones and antics all the time. Dude even wants to sit in his bathtub by himself and doesn’t like us holding him during bath time.

All in all, it’s been a very rewarding journey. Motherhood is the most selfless job in the world. I remember coming home from the hospital after giving birth and looking at my ugly postpartum body, thinking of all the things mothers have to give up and sacrifice just to bring a new life into this world. They give up their freedom, went through morning sickness, aches and pregnancy discomforts, gained so much weight and stretchmarks, their physical health, hormones and fitness level are never the same again, their boobs changed into weird shapes, flabs everywhere, eyebags and dark circles, dealing with engorgement, blocked ducts, mastitis, postpartum hairloss. And the list goes on. I remember looking into the mirror and not recognising myself and my body anymore. I have changed. Not just physically, but also as a person. Although I can’t quite put a finger on it. As a breastfeeding mum, I feel like my body is not mine. There is an invisible leash that attaches my body to my baby or a pump. I need to watch my diet and can’t eat as freely as I want, because the food I eat is also consumed by my baby. My world revolves around my child now. Everything that I do, it is Hadi first, me later. My needs, my wants, my sleep, my emotions, my everything is put on a backseat. Sometimes it feels like I am losing myself, but I need to put all those aside to make room for only love to give. Truly, you gain a lot more respect and appreciation towards mothers when you become one yourself.

Kan sis dah emo.

First Family Staycation

Happy CNY everyone! I had a super long break because my boss told us not to come to office on Monday (CNY eve), and my company closed on Thursday, so we had a good 6 days break from work woohoo! Padahal I just started work for 2 days before that weekend lol.

Our 2nd wedding anniversary happened to fall on CNY eve. We had a nice dinner at Royz et Vous, then walked around Decathlon that evening. Yep, it was open on CNY eve. Didn’t manage to find a swimsuit for Hadi because the smallest size is OOS. Where else can we find a swimsuit for babies eh?

The next day, we had brunch at Penny University before our staycation for just one night at Village Hotel Katong. We were contemplating between this and Indigo, but eventually chose this because of the halal food. Buffet breakfast is part of the whole staycay experience yaw. We booked the Peranakan room because of the bathtub. It also came with access to the Peranakan lounge with free minibar. The room was really nice and clean too, better than Bugis and Changi one iirc. We requested for a baby cot, which we got with no charges. But when the cot came, it looked more like a cage for toddlers. The bed was too low and we cannot open or lower down the railing, so there was no way we could use it for Hadi. Luckily our bed was king-sized.

So anyway, we checked in on Tuesday afternoon, lepak, then went back out for dinner. We explored Indigo next door for a bit, and decided that we need to staycay there in future after seeing how gorgeous the rooftop view was. I12 mall was open and we had Thai for dinner at the basement. Surprisingly, quite a few shops were open including the supermarket, where we got some junk food to binge on for supper.

Went back to the hotel and had a babyspa session for Hadi by dumping him in the bathtub hahaha. With the neck float, of course. It was his second time in the tub because we tried it for the first time in the bathtub at home. He seems to enjoy it more at the hotel, because maklumlah, bathtub hotel lagi besar. He loves the water so much, it was so fun seeing him smiling and kicking and even twirling his body in the water. Can’t wait to enrol him in swimming classes.

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We made grand plans to go for an early morning walk to see the sunrise at ECP before breakfast, but we overslept cos who were we kidding lah kan. Maklumlah we are sleep-deprived parents. So we got ready for breakfast, which was not bad, and went for our walk after that. ECP was quite packed, as expected. All shops were open too.

Reached back the hotel before noon, lepak some more and did another round of babyspa since we got late check out at 4pm. Shiokness.

I never really believed in staycations because hotels in Singapore are too expensive. I rather go to Batam/Bintan/JB instead because it would be more worth it even with the transportation costs. Dapat makan and shopping murah2 lagi. But the late checkout for this staycation made it more worthwhile I guess. If we had to check out at the usual 12pm, it would be much less fun. Location plays a part too, because at least there are nice places to explore, jalan-jalan and find good food.

Overall, we love Village Hotel Katong. I’m glad this was a very memorable experience for us as a family. I miss it already. Can’t wait for our first official family holiday soon! 😀

Update: 3 months post-partum

I am returning to work in 2 days, so feeling a bit emo yet grateful for a few milestones, hence the mood for writing a blog post. Hadi turned 3 months old last Friday! Today is his 9th day at infant care. I think he is adapting well and the teachers say he is very manageable. When I asked one of the teachers whether he cries a lot, she said “He cry no sound one!” Hahaha. No wonder my mum says his cries are quite soft, although it seemed quite loud when he screams.

But sadly, he started coughing after his 4th day at ifc and fell ill soon after. His cough got worse and the phlegm sounded very thick and heavy. So we brought him to the clinic on Thursday evening and got some meds for his cough and phlegm. Unfortunately, fever kicked in on Saturday evening. His first fever. Weirdly, this boy was still in an okay mood. Most of the time, he was still being his normal smiley self and doesn’t really look like a sick baby. I nursed him more often the whole weekend and spammed him with balms as often as I can. Yesterday we had his polyclinic appointment for his immunisation and 3 month development assessment. We had to postpone the vaccination since he was still unwell with on/off fever. Doctor also gave us panadol and nasal drops. The assessment went okay, but doctor said he is gaining weight too slowly. Hadi’s birth weight is 2.7kg and since me and bf are quite slim, Hadi has always been on the lighter side of the scale. His weight is now at <3% percentile, which is a cause for concern. But since we were coming back in 2 weeks for the vaccination anyway, the doctor gave us chance to fatten him up before checking his growth again when we return to the polyclinic. We forgot to ask him what would happen if he is still too light by then. We got home, and Hadi was being cranky and needy the whole evening. He would only sleep on our chest and when we put him down, he would cry murder inconsolably until I offer the boob and he falls back asleep on me. And the cycle repeated for 3 times.

His illness took me by surprise because even though we knew that ifc babies tend to fall sick more often, we were not mentally prepared for him to fall ill almost immediately. It broke my heart. And then I learned from some mummies that their kids in cc would fall sick every month, but it would toughen up their immune system in the long run. Oh gosh. I am so not mentally prepared to handle it if this really happens. I don’t even know if I will be able to handle being a working mum well, especially since I will be shifting office to Jurong. Urgh.

My parents said that Hadi is quite a smiley baby, alhamdulillah. His head control has been improving, although he doesn’t seem to enjoy tummy time much. He loves bath times and has started “talking”! It’s so fun to observe him practising using his vocal chords. He is also amazed at the different sounds, tones and pitch that he can make by himself now, and he loves it when we talk back to him to respond. He seems to enjoy reading books too. It’s so heartwarming to see him grow right in front of our eyes, although I already miss him when he was still a newborn. Can’t wait to see him start laughing next!

Since Hadi started ifc 2 weeks ago, I have been trying to be as productive at home as possible. Had a lot of household chores to catch up on, went through Hadi’s wardrobe and finally sorted out all his bigger clothes by sizes and categories, KonMarie-ed a few random drawers in the kitchen and bedrooms, did a manipedi, did another urut with sengkak as a “penutup”, had another breast massage, did a few dress rehearsals to practice pumping in the office with my office top, tudung, nursing cover and my spectra handsfree cups and finally sent my new BF-friendly dresses for alteration. There is still a lot of decluttering to do around the house, and I need to iron as many work outfits as I can in an attempt to be one step ahead.

3 months of parenthood has been a rollercoaster ride. It’s quite enjoyable for the most part for me, but we were also quite unprepared for how it would change the dynamics of our marriage. With all the different parenting styles for me, bf, my parents and bf’s parents, we still got a lot to figure out. Life pretty much revolves around Hadi now and as a defensive first time mum, I’m quite taken aback by how the birth of a small being can suddenly put me in a tough spot to juggle and balance my roles as a wife, mother, daughter and daughter-in-law. Sometimes, being a good mother and being a good wife/daughter/DIL suddenly becomes mutually exclusive in certain areas, which is difficult because sometimes I have to choose? Soon, I have to balance being a good/productive employee as well. And then there is also the self-reflection bit about being a good role model and the person I want my son to be, so that he can follow me and be a good person. Rarely do children grow up to be better than their parents. So if I want my child to be good, I need to set an even higher standard for myself. Although it seems like it’s going to be a continuous work-in-progress anyway, but am I able to meet halfway? Hmm.. I’ve also been thinking about what kind of parent I want to be when my son gets older. Is it right to be a friend first, and a mum second? Issues like being open-minded about sexuality and other taboo topics have been haunting my mind because I don’t want to be that parent who just don’t talk about these things enough. I recently attended a parenting talk and the speaker told us that she and her kids are open enough to read each others’ whatsapps. Wow #parentinggoals. I think I am too afraid for my child to not like me or be close to me as he gets older, but is this obsession healthy?

My BF-ing journey is still going very well alhamdulillah. I’ve accumulated a huge stash of frozen BM in my freezer, just in case my supply drops when I return to work because I am not sure if I can keep up with pumping 3 times in office. I was even contemplating on donating some FBM away, but I’m still very hesitant and was-was for some reason, mainly because I don’t know who or how to donate them to and whether I should pick up a anak susuan. I’m really grateful that this journey has been going better than I expected with all the benefits that it brings. BM may be free, but I’ve invested more than $700 on pumps, equipments and breast massages. I had no idea that BF-ing is going to be such a high commitment physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. But it’s been really humbling because all rezeki comes from Allah. No matter how much effort I put in to make it work, if He doesn’t allow it, it will never be granted. And He can take it back any time He wants. So alhamdulillah for everything.