MS. ULB

a Mother in Search of the Unbearable Lightness of Being


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Olive’s Finger Painted Masterpiece

Take a piece of paper, draw some branches, get your little one to dip their fingers in some paint, and paint away!


And there you have it! Our masterpiece, the ‘Hanami’.IMG_7863

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Proud of her work.

If you look at the artwork closely, you would notice 2 styles of painting. The neat and structured, almost boring thumb-printing by me, and the uninhibited generous strokes by Olive which brought this cherry blossom tree painting to life.

As astoundingly beautiful as cherry blossoms are, their peak of bloom lasts only about a week. Life is fleeting. Life’s too short for us to be confined by a perceived set of rules, norms, and structures. Through this activity, I was reminded by Olive not to be neat and structured. But to be messy and bold. To think out of the box like I used to.

I remembered the time when my favorite high school teacher did an activity with the class. She started by asking the class to draw a box, followed by some other objects. At the end of the exercise, when everyone revealed their drawings, only one other classmate and I, out of thirty over students, drew fancy boxes that weren’t in the shape of a square. When our teacher asked who drew their boxes as squares, I was beaming inside knowing that I did not fall into the “trap” of what she had intended to prove i.e. most of us not being able to think out of the box. Who says a box has to be a square?

Life’s also too short for us too contemplate and hesitate over things we want to do but are scared of doing. It is too short for us to worry over problems that aren’t really problems, especially first world problems. Here’s hoping that Olive and I will learn to seize and enjoy every fleeting moment, and make them count. And I hope I will be able to inspire her to live a lot, laugh a lot, and to love a whole lot more!

 


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Every Day is Mother’s Day

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So we all know how kids learn by imitating the people around them. Increasingly so, whenever I look at Olive, I find a mini me or a mini Oska staring right back at me. She copies our every move, every facial expression, and the way we speak, so quickly that even our bad habits we don’t want her to learn gets picked up by her readily. Having to model our best behaviors all the time when we are around Olive is no mean feat. And I have to admit that sometimes my subconscious gets the better of me or I simply slip up because my brain just does not have the capacity to be on its toes for all of Olive’s waking hours.

Mimicry is such a powerful tool that helps our children develop a vast array of abilities and skills. I make use of “mimicry” a lot whenever I want to get Olive to learn something new or do something she might be apprehensive about. I hug, pet, and touch all kinds of animals and insects, sing and dance myself silly, take on all sorts of rides and obstacle courses at play spaces or amusement parks, jump, roll, climb, and engage in different sports and activities, run into crashing waves and huge falling water buckets, etc. etc. etc. First name Mama, middle name Maniac. Yup, that’s me.

So this Mother’s Day, 8th May 2016, Olive and I went swimming. She recently developed a dislike for water running down her face so I tried to convince her that it was OK by putting my head under a water fountain. Immediately, she cried out “No! Mama! No!” and wiped the water off my face with her tiny little hand, afraid that the water might sting my eyes like it did hers. I cleared the lump in my throat and said to her, ” It’s OK baby. Thank you for being so sweet. Mama loves you.”

With Olive around, and with her little acts of kindness and sweetness, every day is more special than a set date we call Mother’s Day.

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A Wean-Win Situation

So I have finally decided to wean Olive off the boobs after 16 months.

I was doing 3 direct latches a day, once when she wakes in the morning, once midday before her nap, and the last one at night before she sleeps.

Weaning Week 1
First week of weaning, I dropped Olive’s afternoon feed and this was how she fared on the first day (7th Mar 2016):

Week 1 was a trying week, both emotional and literally. We tried quite a few brands of formula milk like S26, Friso, Naan, and finally emerged the winning formula, Similac. Olive missed a couple of afternoon naps that week because my boobs doubled up as binkies, so no binky, no sleep! By day 4, I broke down and teared up along with Olive who sobbed herself into slumber.

Weaning Week 2
By day 8, Olive had grown accustomed to Similac, so I dropped her morning feed. She didn’t mind it a bit. I, on the other hand, was still heartbroken and battled the desire to just flash the boob to nurse her. My frustration was noticed by Oska who asked me, “you are jealous of the formula, right?” Spot on, Mister! And damn you third-party Similac, with your oh-so-sweet taste. Imma bitchslap the powder out of your pretentious looking tin! There, I got it out of my chest. I know I sound crazy but our breastfeeding journey had been nothing short of amazing, making it really hard to part with. As usual, Olive outdid me with her adaptability. This is her doing the huzzah on day 8 (14th Mar 2016) of weaning:

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Little Miss Adaptable and her airport fashion: Headband from H&M, Tutu dress from Bonds, Shoes from Converse.

Weaning Week 3
By day 14, I had stopped the night feed. Dropping the night feed was as tough as week 1 of weaning because Olive relied heavily on night latches to go to sleep. She would pull up my shirt, pull down my collar, burrow her head into my chest, toss and turn over my body countless times for 30 minutes to an hour before finally drifting off to sleep. I gave in to her a couple of times that week when no amount of fussing could wear her out.

Week 3 was less emotional but physically uncomfortable for me as I had to deal with a few bouts of engorgement. Thankfully they were quite quickly resolved by some ruthless hand-squeezing of the boobies. I chose not to use the breast pump as I did not want the milk supply to keep up with the demand from using the pump.  It also helped that our weaning process was gradual and not done cold turkey, so both Olive and I had time to adjust.

Alas, we concluded our breastfeeding journey officially by day 17. Our new night-time routine now involves her lying on top of me, requesting for “Rock-a-bye baby” and “Twinkle twinkle little star” to be sung repeatedly, and calling out to me in the sweetest voice ever so often, just to make sure I don’t fall asleep before her.

“Mama, mummy, mimi, mama, mummy, mimi,” a thousand times over. These words I will never tire of hearing.

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Successfully weaned Olive doing the hooray again.

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Thank you Olive, for creating a rather painless wean-win situation together with your mama-mummy-mimi.


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SAHM

7 months into my new role as a stay-at-home mom and I am still not at peace with myself. I think I have fared pretty well at being a mom but what if I fail at everything else?

So much of how I feel and what I am experiencing articulated here: 9 things I wish I’d known before I became a stay-at-home mom.

  1. Confidence took a big hit. Checked.
  2. World shrunk. Checked.
  3. Cringe when asked, “So what do you do?”. Checked.
  4. Not setting the best example for my kid. Checked.
  5. Exhausted from staying at home with a young child. Checked, and for me it’s more a mental state than a physical one.
  6. Envious of women who had found their own work/life balance. Checked.
  7. Forever damaged my financial future. Checked, checked, and checked. This one pains me real deep.
  8. I love the time spent with Olive and I am extremely grateful for it but I fear that I am actually regretting leaving the workforce, like I expected I would.
  9. Everything has its price. Me being a SAHM is proving to be too costly.

So what next? What do I do moving forward? How can I find myself again? Not the mom-me but the me-me. How can I find the unbearable lightness of being when I feel like a huge rock is weighing down on me?

Note to self: Just gotta work it.

Olive @ 13 months.

Olive @ 13 months. Onesie from @helloapparel, socks from @minidressing, kicks from @adidas, headwrap from @littlearrowco.


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Lest We Forget

Olive’s Birth Story

13th Oct 4am: Started experiencing Braxton Hicks.

14th Oct 10pm: Regular contractions commenced. 40 seconds to a minute of pain, 5 minutes interval.

14th Oct 11pm: Admitted to the hospital. 2cm dilated. Enema administered.

14th Oct 2am: Needed rest and sleep badly but the pain was getting to me. Caved and signed the indemnity form for epidural.

14th Oct 3am: 4-5cm dilated.

14th Oct 5am: 7cm dilated.

14th Oct 7.30am: 10cm dilated. Pushing with the encouragement of the oldest nurse/midwife in Singapore started. Comically choked while exerting, spat at her, and laughed like a mad woman.

14th Oct 8.15am: Nurse called for the Doc and Olive was delivered at 0838hrs after 2 rounds of contractions/pushing.

No birth plan, just went with the flow, and eternally grateful for the very encouraging and supportive husband who stuck by me the whole time.

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The things to fear in life

Repost on my wordpress what I had posted on Facebook back in 21 December 2014, when I woke up in the middle of the night to breastfeed Olive:

Because Olive needs a Mr. Kobayashi in her life, and some haiku.

So here it is, my very first haiku dedicated to my daughter:

Whimpers in the dark
Under the orange moonlight
Beckons her closer

Also, mama wants you to know that…

“Having eyes, but not seeing beauty; having ears, but not hearing music; having minds, but not perceiving truth; having hearts that are never moved and therefore never set on fire. These are the things to fear.”

totochan


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Breastfeeding & Intelligence

This just in from BBC news: Breastfeeding ‘linked to higher IQ’.

The article basically explained how breastfeeding is beneficial and that there is a possible link between breastfeeding and intelligence (though results from many studies including this featured long-term study in Brazil offer some insight but are still inconclusive).

Whatever the case is, I have definitely been brainwashed enough by lactation consultants, paediatricians, research articles, breastfeeding support groups etc. that breast is best.

So I have been asked many times how long I intend to breastfeed for and my answer had always been, “WHO (The World Health Organization) recommends for babies to be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, and even with the introduction of solids, to be breastfed up to 2 years and beyond.”

Every time I begin my response with ‘WHO’, the non-mamas look at me as though I have crazy eyes and probably regretted asking me the question. The mamas though, reflect their crazy eyes right back at me. Amazing how these mums have the determination to breastfeed for more than a year, and some did 3 years and more.

I’d be happy to do the minimum 6 months. And I say to all mamas, breastfeeding or formula feeding, fret not as long as your kid is healthy and happy! Many of us weren’t breastfed back in those times anyway, and we still turn out well. Also, not all of us are able to or have the luxury of time to breastfeed but we can still be supermoms in our own ways.

Here’s Olive trying to look all intelligent with her first book of 123.

Tee from Whistle & Flute; Shorts from Baby Gap; Shoes from Potatofeet.

Tee from Whistle & Flute; Shorts from Baby Gap; Shoes from Potatofeet.