Susanna on #FlashbackFriday: When we first found out

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Deric and I back in the days when we were parents-to-be.

#FlashbackFriday is a series where both Susanna and Hosanna offer parallel reflections on what they’ve been through in their motherhood journey in the not-so-distant past.

This time around, they revisit the experience of discovering for the first time that they are pregnant. This post details Susanna’s account.

To read Hosanna’s story, click here.

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Every story has a beginning, and Jamie’s began back in August 2014.

At that point in time, Deric and I had already agreed that we were okay with the idea of having a child, but were not trying to hard to conceive either. I had felt that I might have skipped my period for that month, and that there might be a possibility of a pregnancy, but I didn’t want to presume anything until time had gone by and it was really more than a month since the arrival of my last period.

So I had waited it out, but meanwhile, we had visited a pharmacy to purchase a pregnancy test kit to confirm our suspicions at home when the time came.

The day we chose to use the kit was 31 August 2014, which coincidentally is a public holiday, aka Malaysia’s Merdeka Day. I suggested such a day because it would be give us a more leisurely day to take out the pregnancy kit and deal with whatever eventualities that occurred afterwards.

So, that morning back in 2014, I pulled out a white colour stick and dunk it in a paper cup containing my pee (instead of just peeing directly on it, because me being the paranoid person I sometimes am, I was worried I’d miss altogether). We then waited to see if a purple lines would appear to tell me if a little being was in fact growing in the recesses of my belly.

It didn’t take long, of course, for the results to appear, as I’m sure any of you readers out there who have tried such kits can attest to. And so, within seconds, we found out that there was a possible existence of a tiny embryo in my womb. (Small side note: I kept that stick afterwards, and still have it stashed somewhere in the home up till today).

Yay, we were expecting a baby… or were we?

Me being the cautious person that I am, I didn’t want to take that as 100% confirmed though. I said that we should still visit a doctor just to make sure.

We went first of all to our usual neighbourhood clinic, and the doctor just told us pretty matter-of-factly that home pregnancy test kits are usually very accurate.

“I used to do a scan in the past to see what’s in there, but at such an early stage, you can hardly see anything,” he said. His advice was to wait a bit longer before going off to seek the services of a gynaecologist.

But with such uncertainty hanging in the air, I could barely wait!

Thus began a somewhat scary process of hunting down a suitable hospital and gynae to consult. The decision was a difficult one because we had no idea where to start. It was terribly unsettling. We asked a couple of friends and turned to Google to see which doctors had good or bad reviews.

Let me tell you now that both methods are both useful and yet pointless at the same time. Here’s why…

It’s useful to ask friends and family for their gynae recommendations since it would be a choice arrived at based on the real life experiences of others. At the same time, it’s not enough information for you to base your own decision because, quite frankly, most people will tell you that they are relatively happy with the gynae they consulted. Also, very few would have gone through the trouble of trying out a few gynaes for the same pregnancy, so it’s hard to do any comparisons between one or another, based on their account. Not to mention, of course, the fact that such judgments on the competitiveness of a particular gynae is wholly subjective in nature as it is.

Only in some rare cases would you have a personal contact telling you to avoid a certain gynae due to a really bad experience. So… all in all, it isn’t really helpful to seek their advice after all.

Meanwhile, Googling to find out the names of gynaes that are nearby and in which hospitals isn’t too bad an idea. Most hospital’s websites would feature a section which discloses the obstetricians that are available for consultation on their facilities.

But, unlike other things in life, it’s hard to find an online space that provides accurate and honest reviews about doctors. Even if you do manage to read someone’s account about a particular doctor, you’d likely have to take it with a pinch of salt.

So, as I said earlier, both methods have their insights to offer, but they don’t help at all in getting you closer to an actual decision.

I recall a particular Saturday where we both sat on our queen sized bed at home, utterly exhausted and still pretty much clueless on where to go to see a obstetrician/gynae.

We visited at least two medical centres before deciding. Then mulled on end about whether they were any good and still had no idea which of the doctors that were there were worth seeing.

Well, anyway, just so you know, the gynae that we finally decided on was based on the following reasons:

  1. We had had good experiences in the past at the hospital that this doctor was based in.
  2. The doctor came highly recommended by a neighbour/friend of my mother’s who had gone to see him twice for one past pregnancy and was still seeing him for a current one.
  3. He was, coincidentally, the son of the gynae who delivered me as a baby at the same said hospital.

And he did confirm for us on that first visit that I was indeed pregnant. It was great to know for sure finally. He actually did an ultrasound on that first day, and handed us the first of our many printouts showing Jamie’s growth in my belly.

I was glad that we decided not to wait too long to see the gynae, actually, because we found out that I had some bleeding in my uterus which needed medication in order to prevent us losing the embryo.

In those early days when we hadn’t yet given Jamie his name, I decided on referring to him as my Little Dot since that’s about how big he was at that time. If I recalled correctly, I think I started talking to him relatively early while he was developing in my tummy. It felt odd doing so, but over time, it came more naturally.

On the whole, it was an exciting time, and Deric and I took to the news well. We had only been so-called actively on trial-for-pregnancy mode for a few months, so it didn’t feel like it had been too tiring or too much effort. It was surprising to me how easily I’d gotten pregnant though. Maybe I’d been used to hearing tales of people having trouble conceiving, and thought to myself that it would take a whole lot more trying than it did to actually conceive myself.

Looking back, I’m grateful that pregnancy came my way relatively easily. One thing I should have done in preparation before it all came to be should have been to read up about pregnancy and delivery though. And to start taking vitamin supplements to help the embryo develop during its early days.

Some additional words of advice to anyone out there who’s reading this and is thinking of having a child but has yet to conceive:

  1. Watch your diet if you’re actively trying to conceive. The more balanced your diet, the better it is. Generally, I adopt the Don’t-Worry-Too-Much-But-Take-Precautions-Nevertheless approach to things, so in this case, I’d say be aware of what you take in, but not become obsessed with counting calories and being picky about whatever you pop into your mouth having to be nutritious all the time. In my own case, I didn’t do this because I didn’t want to be overly stressed about conceiving, but perhaps if I were to do it all over again, I might want to do this as it would give me greater confidence that my baby would have a head start to good development (we were blessed enough to have healthy, active fetus like Jamie though so we didn’t have anything to worry about).
  2. About the diet bit, avoiding raw foods is one of the instructions the gynae will give you in the first trimester of pregnancy. So if you’re consciously wanting to conceive, perhaps it’s good to keep this in mind and abstain from foods like this to avoid killing off the embryo or giving it an unwanted disease so early in its formation.
  3. Get your hands on some folic acid supplements. I didn’t know until later that it’s good to take these even before you conceive. But now I do. So for my next pregnancy, I would definitely want to be already consuming these before the baby appears.
  4. The less stressed you are about conceiving, the better. I think it comes easier in general when you aren’t trying so hard. So whatever it takes to get you to be in this state when you are planning for a child, I’d suggest doing it. For us, it meant not counting dates or tracking my period religiously. We just took things in our stride, discarded the use of condoms and I told myself I’d only worry or consider taking further action when I didn’t get my period after more than a month had passed.
  5. If you suspect you’re pregnant, don’t wait to long to see a specialist about it. Like me, there may be medical conditions you would want to know about and to treat as early as possible.

Deric and I have come so far since those early days of discovering Jamie’s existence. I look back on those moments fondly, and am thankful for what God blessed us with.

It’s really another milestone in your marriage to take on childbearing. What helps is to be ready and to be determined to face it together, and help each other along the way with whatever challenges arise.

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Hosanna on #flashbackFriday: When we first found out

#FlashbackFriday is a series where both Susanna and Hosanna offer parallel reflections on what they’ve been through in their motherhood journey in the not-so-distant past.

This time around, they revisit the experience of discovering for the first time that they are pregnant. This post details Hosanna’s account.

To read Susanna’s story, click here.

*    *     *

12179049_10153394580868863_2046223561_nWhen D and I suspected that I could be pregnant, we had a running joke where one of us would ask the other (wearing a mock terrified facial expression), “what if we’re really pregnant?”

Inevitably, the other one of us would answer the question with, “then we’ll become parents”.

I’m sure there are many people who calculate the exact financial costs, plan parenting/ caregiving roles, or have every hypothetical scenario figured out before they even start trying to conceive. That was not us.

Looking back, we were really naive and underestimated the whole process (hey, it was only  4 months after the wedding). You betcha, finding out freaked us me out.

Here’s my first #flashbackFriday post on my initial reactions (physical/ mental/ emotional) towards pregnancy.

I was hungry hangry all the time

It didn’t help that I fell pregnant in the middle of the annual NECF 40-day Prayer and Fasting period. No wonder I was doubly hungry! And I mean, the vicious, raw, eat-food-straight-from-the-pot, “Give Me Food And Nobody Gets Hurt” kind of hungry. My fingers would literally shake from hunger, and I would literally experience light-headedness during those “hangry” spells.

The world didn’t stop turning, but my stomach didn’t stop churning either… I later found out that the sudden “crash” I experienced was actually a drop in blood glucose levels attributed to gestational diabetes (GD). On the bright side, I got to eat anything I wanted (before the GD diagnosis) without feeling guilty.

I couldn’t accept all the weird things happening to my body!

Forget pregnancy glow. Pregnancy felt like a second puberty to me – a time of body changes, confusion, and lots of “what is happening to me?!” moments. For the most part, it is an uncomfortable, at times excruciating process! Pregnancy’s potent hormone cocktail – while necessary for growing a tiny human- also bestows some “wonderful” side effects. These differ for each pregnancy/ woman.

While I didn’t get the vomiting that many women have, I got the “basketball tummy”, temporary skin disfigurement, amazing expanding mole (don’t ask), and an unholy trinity of stretch marks in other places besides my tummy (please, don’t ask).

Oh, and my gestational diabetes was diagnosed a week before Chinese New Year. Fantastic. Thanks to the “Eliminate Sugar and Carbs” diet that my tormentor gynae helpfully prescribed, I sat at the reunion dinner with all D’s relatives eating only veggies and soup. “Miserable” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Body issues/ insecurity

I put on a lot of pregnancy weight. A LOT. As in, in my first trimester, people were already asking if I was carrying twins. It didn’t help that most of my pregnant friends were petite, with bumps that hardly showed. (I’m looking at you, Su!) 

In fact, I had to stifle my reaction when one day Susanna happily told me, “today, someone finally noticed my baby bump and asked if I’m pregnant!” Grrr… I couldn’t help feeling a tad ugly and insecure at my swollen, watermelon-sized tummy that outgrew a new underwear size every month. That was the same week several people asked if my delivery date was soon… although I was only in the second trimester.

Shopping was depressing, because nothing could fit, and the ones that did, let’s just say they looked very…motherly (no offence). Sleeping took effort, with the huge belly pressing on me, I could hardly breathe properly! Waking up several times at night to pee became de rigeur, little did I know it was  a foreshadow of things to come. Oh, and don’t get me started on walking. At some point in my ballooning growth, left thigh met right thigh…and they became inseparable. Sigh. I began to realise why pregnant women seemed self-absorbed and grumpy all the time.

Irrational fears

If you’ve ever had a horror movie scene stuck in your head that you couldn’t erase, multiply that by twenty and basically that were the kind of irrational worries swimming around in my pregnant head. All sorts of worst case scenarios that you could imagine, would play in my thoughts. When I was walking over the concrete drain covers, I would be afraid that they would crack and I would fall down. When I was bathing, I would worry about being electrocuted in the shower, especially if it was raining.

One night, I was sitting in the car when D went to bungkus a Ramli burger. He didn’t lock the door. My huge belly prevented me from leaning over to do it. I sat frozen in the passenger’s seat and watched my surroundings like a hawk, paralysed at the thought that some passer by would carjack the 10-year-old Myvi, complete with visions of dramatic screeching tires and D throwing himself in front of the car, while I bumped my head and lost consciousness. Yes, I’m a dramatic person.

Of course, none of my fears ever came to pass…

Mum’s the word

Found this video on YouTube while being awake at one of those unearthly hours, a even more common occurrence nowadays since I became a mother to a little baby boy.

Mothers are such important figures in the lives of many of us, as this video illustrates. So important that I feel like a sham for having called myself one.

My own mum is always trying to explain to me what the Heart of a Mother is like. Whenever a woman we both know does something selfless for the benefit of their children, she’ll point it out to me and say, “That’s a mother’s heart,” hoping that I would understand it at some point.

Now that I am a mother myself, she seems to believe that I should have gotten it by now. Why mothers behave the way they do. Why they abandon sleep and make selfless decisions to benefit others to the point of it being ridiculous because they fail to care for themselves.

Do I truly grasp what that all means and why I should take on such a persona?

Perhaps I’m still too new to the program to be able to correctly assess my motherly abilities. Maybe over time, I’ll prove myself worthy of the title.

For now though, I feel awful.

I feel guilty that I have to divide my attention between Jamie and work, although the reality is that even when I do work, I’m just a stone’s throw from where he is, ever ready to pick him up even if he so much as whines.

I also feel bad because I am actually glad whenever he falls asleep and I have time on my hands to do something else other than changing his diaper, feeding him or carrying him in my arms.

When I kiss his chubby cheeks or gently stroke his soft little head, I feel like I’m doing so only because he is so cute. And all the while I wonder if I truly do love him or is that just something I assume I am already doing since I am his mother.

Okay, it could be just me being this horrid overthinking individual that I am. Or is it possible that mothers everywhere always feel inadequate, like they’re never doing enough?

Why is that so?

Honestly, I have no answers for all this at the moment. It’s just me thinking out loud. Let me know if any of you reading this have got it figured out.

Meanwhile, Jamie has just stirred from his sleep. Goodbye. For now.

Weekly Web Round-up (Vol. 3)

0fe74bcf70505005_12113521_10156032765035858_751993556267053060_o.xxxlarge_2xHappy Sunday, peeps! Our little nest has been rather quiet here as we’ve been down with the flu which we seem to be passing to each other. (Ah-choo! I just sneezed again). Hope we’ll all be back on our feet and right as rain soon. Meanwhile, here’s some pick-me-ups to soothe a tired sniffling mummy.

This gorgeous photo of our recommendation of the week is a super amazing Ikea hack that allows co-sleeping for this family with five kids. Such a warm and cosy space, I wouldn’t mind curling up there right now with a hot cup of tea and some banana cake. If you’re the crafty sort, you can DIY something similar for your own family – get the deets here.

A few more links to keep you company:

One mom’s two cents on why you should not buy any toys for your baby.

A (not so serious) comment on those fair weather baby holders.

I know this colouring book is not exactly kid-friendly, but hey, who can resist the quirky work of Fahmi Reza.

Inspiration from parent-preneurs (yes, such a word exists now!) on how they making juggling babies with business work.

Take this minimalist quiz to prove you know your kids’ titles (I knew that my obsession with children’s books would come in handy, someday…)

Speaking of books, get some quirky and thrifty ideas on how to DIY your kids’ bookshelves here.

Bonus: since I mentioned banana bread, why not make your own with this simple recipe. Hint: find out what kind of bananas are most flavorful when baked.

Cloudy, with a chance of insanity

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Jamie and I battling the haze with our trusty face masks.

It’s been hazy weather lately, and it’s felt that way in my head too. Lots of thoughts and very little clarity. Which kind of explains why I haven’t been posting for quite a bit. 

Well anyway, here I am, back at it. 

One of my major concerns of late has been work. I’ve already properly morphed into a WAHM (Work At Home Mum) and this would be the third month since I began this stint. 

What’s surprising is that more work opportunities came pouring in than I had expected. Which is a nice thing, except that not many of them actually turn into real jobs that I get to work on. 

The other issue here (and one of the main ones, actually) is that I’m finding it extremely hard to actually work. Yes, I’m sure plenty of other WAHMs out there will know what I’m talking about. It’s almost impossible to get anything done when it comes to work if you’re around your baby 24/7. They really do demand a lot of your attention. 

This is where things get a little complex and I feel guilty. 

On the one hand, I know it’s virtually impossible to be focussed on your child all of the time since you do have a life beyond him. Hence, I should allow myself some time here and there to work, even if it means turning my attention away from Jamie now and then which may lead to delays in responding to his needs and/or leaving him to entertain himself for short spells. 

But at the same time, I feel bad that I’m not 100% paying attention to him while I’m at home since that’s the reason that I quit my full time job in the first place. So that he can have at least one of his parents available to him whenever and whatever he needs. 

So I’m finding it challenging striking a balance, and getting work done is so very tough. Thankfully on my past two deadline days, I had Deric home with me on one, and I brought Jamie over to my parent’s place on the other. In other words, I had other people around to help during those times. 

This may not always be the case so I guess I need to find a better way of coping. 

To be honest, I felt tempted so many times to just resort to becoming a SAHM (Stay At Home Mum) instead and just hang up my career once and for all. But for many reasons, I feel reluctant to go down that path. 

Also, I’ve discovered that most other WAHMs that I know tend to rely on domestic helpers of some form to cope with their work-family balance. It’s either a nanny that comes around in the daytime or a babysitter to whom their child/children get sent to. And in some cases, even a maid that comes by to clean the home for them. (Or a live-in one, but my friends aren’t the type to opt for this, as far as I can tell).

Comparing myself to them, I wonder if I’m a total nutcase for wanting to manage everything all by myself (whenever Deric is at work, that is; he does help me once he’s back at home). Thing is, I tell myself, the whole reason I’m not working full time is so that we can save on babysitting costs and also avoid the whole scenario of sending Jamie to some outsider to be cared for.

The other issue about being a WAHM is that by virtue of me working as a freelancer, there are all these risks like will those who hire me actually pay me and even if they do, whether it will be horrendously late or right on time. 

So anyway, I’m still doing my best to keep this WAHM arrangement alive. I’ve secured at least 2 jobs so far, and this is probably more than enough to keep me occupied. 

I guess I just wanted to share these things that have been going on in my head. I’m sure some of you readers out there can probably relate. It’s amazing how we manage to keep ourselves going each day. But we must. It’s for the sake of our families and our children, and that is a reason that’s definitely motivating enough.