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.

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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…

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The perils of parentese , or how I almost forgot how to speak like a grown up

At some point, every parent will catch themselves using baby-talk in adult conversation or humming a children’s song while alone (Wheels On the Bus, anyone?) It’s probably at that moment when you realise you have become fluent in the oft-parodied mark of Life After Baby – parentese.

Few traits so obviously distinguish parents from non-parents than the boo boos of goo goo ga ga, a.k.a parentese.

What drives us to e-nun-ci-ate every syllable or cutesify (is there even such a word?) conversation with rhymes and repetition?

Here’s some common parentese habits, demystified.

Referring to your spouse as “mummy”  or “daddy”
After junior comes into the world, “honey”  or “darling”  very quickly becomes plain old “mama”  and “papa”. We probably pick up this term of address from our own parents. Or maybe it’s a habit acquired from constantly speaking from the child’s point of view. Or it’s just too confusing to switch from one pronoun to another.

Always referring to yourself in the third person
Pronouns are cool. Mummy loves Pronouns. But when mummy talks with a tiny human like RJ, simplicity is key. So mummy will refer to mummy as mummy instead of “me”  or “I”. Hopefully that will make RJ learn to say mummy faster. Yay. Oops, did I call myself mummy again?

Speaking to others through your child
What you say : “Daddy will get ready the bath water for you.”
What you mean : “Dear, could you please prepare the bath water for the baby?”

Using a singsong voice
Blame it on those catchy children songs, popular wisdom tells a high-pitched singsong voice works best to hold the child’s attention.

Repetition, repetition, repetition
I don’t really know-know why I talk like this-this sometimes. Maybe I subconsciously think it’s easier for baby-baby to learn the word ball-ball if I repeat it.

Having a conversation with an adult, in the presence of your child
People will talk to baby and expect you to answer. I.e : “aww, you’re crying. Is it time for your feed yet?”
Sometimes the conversation with veer seamlessly from your child to you. I.e : “Hi baby, what big eyes you have!” (babytalk voice, looking at baby) “so will you be going to the wedding next week?” (grown up voice, making eye contact with you) “yes, what a happy baby you are…” (back to interacting with baby)

When an adult with a child talks to you and your child
I’m not entirely sure what the etiquette is supposed to be like here. Inevitably adults will end up talking to and through the children, interjected with some grown up lines being exchanged.
Typically it may sound like this :
Mother A: “baby, can you hand the ball to mei mei (little sister)?”
Mother B: “honey, where is the ball? Can you play with Jie Jie (big sister)?”
Mother A: So how’s her feeding these days?

Restricting your vocabulary to child-appropriate words only
This is more out of necessity than anything else. Censoring impolite language is vital unless you want baby to pick up the less than savoury words. Kids do say the darndest things!

*Disclaimer: the above is just a tongue-in-cheek look at the strange quirks in this fascinating new world of parenting. I do not advocate the above as a default way of speech.

Speaking PARENTESE is sometimes silly, and feels like a regression (especially if you accidentally lapse into it in important business meeting-meetings, baybeeeeee.)

Incidentally, it is recommended to use full sentences as soon as possible and not truncate one’s vocabulary when speaking to the child. This aids their linguistic development because their brains can pick up nuances in language, dialect and tone much earlier than we realise. In fact, they can distinguish between different languages as early as a few months old!

So go ahead and ditch the parentese for proper conversation, or even phonics, if you prefer hot housing. Nothing beats the singular pleasure of hearing your child speak his first word, or string her first sentence. Can’t wait for RJ to start speaking (I may regret saying this in a few month’s time…) That would be great-great.