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.


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.

Separation Anxiety

My son Hadi is starting his first day of infant care tomorrow and i’m starting to feel the jitters. I’ve tried to prepare him for it by introducing the bottle, attempted some sleep training and trying to get him to accept the pacifier. Luckily he accepts the bottle on the first try. Phew. But I gave up on sleep training. The pacifier is still a work in progress. I was initially against using the pacifier, but it’s really easier said than done. My intention right now is to train him to self soothe so that he can adapt well and be independent at school. He sucks his fingers, but sometimes it’s still difficult for him to fall asleep and I always had to resort to latching. Boobs are still the number one solution to all his problems. I never knew that we need to “teach” babies how to use the pacifier. I thought they will all instictively suck on it. But no. Right now, Hadi can suck the pacifier only for a few seconds before it falls back out of his mouth. I am not super determined to make him accept it, but we’ll see how it goes.

I will be returning back to work 2 weeks after his first day at ifc. Dreading it because there will be changes to my jobscope. Part of me feels cheated, discriminated and taken advantage of, for having something like this to happen during my ML. But on the other hand, change might be good for me at this point in my career. I don’t even know if this job is a career in the first place. But I need to stay employed right now, or we will lose the $600 subsidy for Hadi’s ifc.

These rojak emotions have been creating doubts in my head. Was it right for me to split my ML? Should I have taken no pay leave to stay home longer? Or should I have gone to work earlier to “save” my career? Will my BM supply drop when I return to work? Was it the right decision to send him to ifc? I guess i’m slowly digesting the fact that I will no longer be the sole caretaker of my son. Other people will be the ones feeding him, bathing him, putting him to sleep, playing with him, reading him a book, and entertaining his antics in the day time. By the time I come home from work in the evening, will he still be awake to spend time with me? Or will I just put him on the rocker while I busily do household chores, prepare his milk for the next day, packing and unpacking his bag? Once he has a growing attachment to his new caregivers, will he then be less attached to me? It’s probably the impending separation anxiety doing its thing to my head, after taking care of Hadi alone at home all these time. Each time these doubts and guilt creep in, I just need to push it away and keep reminding myself that i’m doing what’s best for my child.

These 11 weeks of spending 24/7 with my son has been truly the best time of my life. I’ve really really enjoyed motherhood and breastfeeding. Learning the ropes of parenting with hubby, bathing a baby for the first time, studying his cries, discovering his patterns and antics, counting his wet and poopy diapers. Everything was an enjoyable adventure and definitely one of the fondest memories we ever made. And when hubs returned to work, it was just me and my son all day everyday at home, doing nothing but just bonding, eating, sleeping and getting to know each other. If I could do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat because it was so special. It’s about to end and I don’t know if I will ever get the opportunity to be spending this much quality time with him again.

It’s a crucial time to gather all my emotional strength and deal with a new set of challenges now.

My hospital bag

Typing away at this ungodly hour of 2.37am because I can’t sleep. I just had quite a disturbing phone call with my boss this afternoon (I’m still on ML btw) and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Will write more about that another time.

What was in my hospital bag:

Clothes: Tudung instant, serkop, compression socks, cardigan, a dress for going home, nursing bra — I feel like the clothings I brought were too ‘just enough’, but that is probably because we did not expect to extend our hospital stay by 2 days. So I could do with an extra pair of socks and tudung instant since we had visitors coming every day. Also, I ended up not using the dress to go home, but wore back the shirt and pants that I came to hospital in, since it was still clean. I initially chose to bring a dress, just in case we ended up with a C-sect and cannot wear pants or something because of the stitches. But I had a normal delivery and decided not to wear the dress because I was going to carry my baby the whole time from the hospital, to my dad’s cab, to home, and I was worried of tripping over my dress since I need to hold my fragile son carefully with both arms so I got no extra hand to hold my dress properly as I walk or go up and down some stairs or steps. Hahaha paranoid much?

Sanitary pads, disposable underwear — The hospital provides pads and disposable underwear. The underwear is those paper-ish kind that doesn’t hug your butt. My mum calls it seluar dalam bubble. Not the most comfy, but my whole body was physically uncomfortable post-labour anyway, so I just used it the whole time. The pads were also the weird one that comes with loop strings, so whatever la, I pakai je.

Breast pads (2 pairs) — I wasn’t sure if I needed this in the hospital or not, but 2 pairs was just nice, especially since I started leaking BM on my 2nd/3rd day post-partum.

Food: Biscuits, kurma drink, a straw, H2O, zamzam — These were all for the labour, which I was glad we brought especially since labour was quite long.

Nursing cover — Ended up not using this at all, even though I should have, because BF-ing was still new to me and I don’t feel like having to learn to manoeuvre all the latching and holding of baby under a nursing cover. So every time I had to BF my son, I just asked the guy visitors to leave or sit outside the curtain.

Birth balms — I bought a birth pack balms set from Aafiya Essentials. Bf used mainly just the birth balm to massage my back when I was managing the contractions. I used the deep breathing roll-on oil too, when I could still manage the contractions on my own at home. It smelled nice, but I hardly notice whether it helped or not. I ended up not using the birth cream much, and did not even touch the perineum spray because I did not tear much.

For baby: 2 rompers, hat, mittens, booties, swaddle, washcloth — We brought 2 rompers because I couldn’t decide on one lol. Since my baby came out pretty petite, we just used the smaller sized one on him. NUH’s swaddle has a hood that covers baby’s head, so luckily we didn’t need to bring extra hat.

Toiletries and makeup — Soaps were provided by the hospital, but I didn’t use them. Glad we brought our own toiletries especially shampoo and conditioner since I am more fussy about hair. Thinking back, I should have made an effort to at least put on some decent face powder and concealer when visitors came instead of just being bare-faced. But feeling sore all over and with the hideous post-partum belly, I couldn’t be bothered with my physical appearance. I only put on makeup when going home, to take proper photos with my baby.

Charger — We brought a 2-in-1 charger head that can plug in 2 wires. But we should have just brought 2 charger heads for me and bf for convenience. With me on the bed and him on the sofa and the power point locations being relatively far, only one of us gets to charge and use the phone at same time.

Telekung and sejadah — Useful for my visitors too!

Milkup candy — I started taking these as soon as I gave birth because I was worried my milk will kick in quite late. But I got engorged soon, so I stopped when we got home. I’ve been struggling with blocked ducts for awhile now and have had mastitis twice so far. Should I have taken it in the first place? No idea.

Others: X-ray, documents, receipts and reports from antenatal visits — My x-ray was useful for the anaesthetist who administered the epidural so he could see where my implants are. We were told to bring the rest of the documents and receipts but ended up not using them at all even for the medisave claims because NUH has our records.

For hubby: clothes, jacket, white cloth for placenta burial — Because of the extended hospital stay, the clothes were not enough. We had to go downstairs to Uniqlo to get more shirts for him.


What I wish I had brought

Slippers — I only had my flats the whole time. Not sure why I didn’t think of bringing slippers or sandals instead. Probably the pregnancy brain was to blame. Those uniqlo lounge shoes would have been nice to have, although it would be bulky.

An extra set of top and pants for going home — Like I mentioned just now, should have brought this for going home instead of a dress, provided it was a normal delivery.

Pants! — This is the number one thing I felt bummed for not bringing because the patient maternity dress was only covering just below my knees! Luckily I had a cardigan to cover my aurat for the top half, but I only had one pair of pants to wear when male visitors are around. Luckily I didn’t stain it at all. But still, should have brought more.

Haakaa and BM storage containers — If I knew my supply would kick in so soon, this would have been useful especially since I was leaking. The extra BM could have been used to top up feedings to help clear baby’s jaundice.

Velcro corset — To hide the hideous post-partum bump which looks like I was still 6 months preggy.

3-in-1 hot drinks, a mug and instant noodles for hubby — We were provided with hot water every day and there was also a microwave in the ward pantry which we could use. So bringing this would have been nice, especially instant noodles for late night supper.