Missing in action

Hello! Yes it’s me. I am still alive, evidently. The blog, on the other hand, isn’t looking too great.

Well, it’s been a while and what can I say, life gets in the way. There’s always work to be done, littles to be cuddled, wine to be drunk and life to be lived. I used to think that writing was cathartic but these days, it sure doesn’t feel that way. So I took a break. Didn’t pressure myself to write.

The husband is off on one of his trips again and I have been playing the roles of both papa and mummy. It’s hard, but really not that hard because I am so used to it by now. There are days when the boys are absolute assholes and I have to channel my inner OHM to keep from exploding. Some days, I am successful. Other days, well.

Today was one of those days when I was not quite as good at keeping it together. Mr 5 was building a house using the PicassoTiles that we got him for his birthday (PS they are awesome and if you want a review, let me know!), and the house was filled with Duplo people. Inexplicably, Mr 2 (and Impossibly Cute) decided to do a Godzilla on him and stomped all over the house.

Poor Mr 5. He burst into tears and I had to wrestle the little Godzilla away. Gave him a pep talk, cuddled him a bit (just in case it was due to his love tank being empty) but it didn’t take him more than 60 seconds before he was at it again.

In short: Mr 2 was being a total asshat and destroying his big brother. Yes, that happens.

The third time they clashed, I lost it. Completely. Hauled the littlest into my bedroom and gave him a very stern talking to, accentuated with some finger wagging. I warned, I threatened, and then I forced him into his high chair to eat his dinner. He whined about not wanting dinner until I decided to let him have his fruit and main meal at the same time.

By then, Mr 5 was done with his meal and we sat at the piano together to practise, leaving Mr 2 at the table by himself. What do you know, that did the trick. The littlest calmed down and fed himself dinner while A and I tinkered at the piano. After the practice, we all sat down at the dining table to have our usual after-dinner yogurt.

“Hey Zac,” I said casually. “Is there something you need to say to gor gor?”

He nodded. “Sorry Aidan.”

“What are you sorry for?”

Without a break, he said: “Sorry for breaking your toy.”

“Aidan, didi has apologised.”

Aidan didn’t bat an eyelid as he replied, “It’s okay.”

In one evening, my little people taught me two things. Never be afraid to apologise for something you did wrong and never hold on to grudges.

I am getting better at saying sorry as the years go by (getting older and mellower and all that haha) but I have a hard time letting go. Not deliberately but sometimes I have a tendency to relive certain moments and conversations. I replay them over and over again, wondering if I could have done or said things differently.

But look at my five-year-old. He forgives so easily. In the next moment, they are the best of playmates again. He doesn’t forget – he sometimes stuns us with his memory – but he doesn’t hold it against people. He moves on with his life and he continues loving with his heart.

So yes, my kids teach me about life and living every day. While there are days that are harder than others, I still thank my lucky stars that I have them.

The end of the tether

I was eating my dinner after work when my two-year-old flopped down at my feet, all of a sudden. I didn’t pay much attention to it, he was bouncing around just mere moments ago. Perhaps he was resting.

Until he continued rolling there and whimpering, mummy, mummy. That was all he said. Mummy, mummy. I knew something was wrong.

I jumped down from my seat and cradled him. He laid in my arms, limp and listless, his lips turning purplish. To make matters worse, he was cold and clammy to the touch. I called to my helper to bring me the thermometer, its caustic beep telling me that Zac’s temperature was 35.4 degrees.

“Zac, are you okay? Any pain?” I asked as I hugged him. He didn’t move. Mummy, mummy, he whispered. That was all he could say.

Should I rush him to the hospital? Is it pneumonia from his cough and cold? Or is it the same bacterial infection that caused him to be hospitalised when he was an infant? Who could I call to help look after Aidan? What do I do?

I had no answers. I was alone, my husband on a business trip 13,000 miles and 15 hours away.

I changed both the boys and rushed all three of us to the GP near our flat. Along the way, Zac seemed to recover a little. Once at the clinic, he seemed almost back to normal, except his temperature still hovered around 35.5 degrees. The doctor examined him and said his stomach was churning badly, which had led to his body temperature dipping suddenly.

In short, it was nothing serious. Stomach bug.

As I walked slowly back home with the littles, I suddenly felt heavy. It’s been one plus week of solo parenting and I have dealt with gastroenteritis and lingering coughs and a viral infection. Plus, the boys have been taking turns to wake up and call for mummy every single night. I was tired. I wanted to cry, at the sheer weight of it all, but I realised that I was way past tears. I couldn’t cry. I was probably too exhausted to cry.

Once home, I tried to finish up my already-cold dinner. The boys were playing when Aidan discovered a pack of snacks – goodie bag from a birthday celebration in school – in Zac’s bag. With them being ill, I took the snacks away from him and told him they were not allowed to have any of these until they were well again.

The four-year-old went into complete meltdown mode. The screaming and crying went on and on, and as I hugged him to me, my mind started detaching from the scene in front of me.

If patience was a cliff, I thought, then I was just one tiptoe away from throwing myself off the edge.

But I couldn’t. Not with two small children hanging trustingly on to me and the security and love I offer. I had to rein myself in.

And so I held the screaming child in my arms and talked to him. Explained again and again why he couldn’t have the snacks. Told him I understood why he was sad and disappointed. But the screaming didn’t stop. And finally, I told him I would leave him to let it all out while I went for a shower, and he could talk to me when he was ready.

I carried him to his room and went out to settle the other little. By the time I went back to the room, Aidan was calm and reading his books.

Could we go and have a shower? I asked. He nodded. I picked him up, hugged him close and went to the bathroom. As we bathed, I explained to him again why I wasn’t letting him have the snacks. His eyes welled with tears, and he was on the verge of starting his meltdown again, and I found myself wanting to let go and dive down that cliff again.

Once again, I stopped. I simply couldn’t.

So I talked. I talked and I talked and he listened. I told him that mummy was tired because papa was away. I told him that I knew he really wanted to eat the biscuits and the sweets but he couldn’t because he was ill. I told him that it was the only way to get well. I told him that it made mummy sad to hear him cough. I told him that I understood his frustration but I had to get him well again.

And he calmed down again.

I put the boys to bed, hugging them close as I did. I breathed in their scents, and kissed their cheeks again and again.

Maybe I am writing this to talk about the importance of empathy, blah blah blah. Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel. Or what I should feel. Thankful? Certainly.

Maybe what I really want to tell you, and myself, is that there will be times so, so, so bad that you feel you cannot breathe. That you will feel so stretched in all directions that you cannot think. That the exhaustion will weigh down on your shoulders heavily. That thinking about all the work that is still undone will cause your heart to palpitate. That the need your children have for you can be so overwhelming at times.

It’s so hard.

But you have the strength and the will. You have the mental power to push past this hurdle. You will conquer and the bad times will pass.

You just have to believe.
I just have to believe.

It’s been a long, long while

Hi. I’m sorry, we haven’t been around much.

Truth is, wow, where do I begin. In early September, my husband went off for a 3.5-week business trip and I was busy solo parenting. Towards the end of that stint, I developed a serious eye condition. That was tough. I mean, I rank it up there with the pain I had from infertility. And once that was under control, I came down with a viral infection.

And then the husband flew off again, for another 3.5 weeks. Which sucks. And right now, what I have are two little people with gastroenteritis and me with another viral infection – while the man is away.

I’m exhausted: from changing sheets, doing the laundry, mopping the floor, disinfecting the house and washing the boys. Who also need extra cuddling because, poor sick babies. And when they are finally asleep and not needing me (yet), when the household is quiet, all I want to do is to savour the silence.

So I sit and do nothing. I’m sure you must have done the same on those nights when you are glad the kids are finally asleep. Sit on the sofa or on your bed and do absolutely nothing. Relish the quiet of the night.

The thing is, when you are a kid and you are sick, there is someone who will take care of you. Ensure that you have something nourishing to eat, something to drink and lots of hugs and kisses. But when you are a mother, there isn’t that someone anymore. You just have to rely on your own.

In the past few months, I have certainly relied on my own – a hell lot, with the husband’s crazy hours at work (when he is in Singapore, it’s as good as him being overseas, frankly). I know I can handle it. But sometimes, just sometimes, I guess I wish I could have a little break where someone takes all that burden away from me and allow me to just be, even if it’s for a little while.

Talk to you soon, hopefully when this episode of gastroenteritis goes away. In the meantime, please take care, what with the onslaught of gastro and Zika and HFMD and the likes battling against our health.

Thank you, Joseph Schooling

Dear Joseph,

I know that the chances of you reading this is close to zero, what with the international media casting its astonished eye on you, now that you have have slain a giant. And let’s not forget the mountains of accolades that are being heaped upon you by our local media. But I still want to say a huge thank you to you, for helping to transform what had seemed so laughably impossible into reality.

This morning, at 9am, I was in bed nursing a head cold when my four-year-old burst into the room. “Wake up!” he said. “Joseph Schooling is going to compete!” And so I dragged myself out of bed and sat my aching head down in front of the telly with Aidan and Zac, my two-year-old.

“I want to sing the Majulah Singapura,” Aidan whined. “Where is the Majulah Singapura?”

The competitors lined up at the starting blocks, we held our breaths and shushed our noisy children. We wanted to indulge in the moment, to see if you could land the gold that we have talked of for so long and yet unable to achieve so far. Everyone leapt off the blocks and we watched as you emerged from the water, masterful strokes propelling you forward strongly. And then you turned and I started cussing out of fear that one of them Amazons would overtake you.

And then it was over. 50.39 seconds. You did it. It was so fast and yet for all of us – whether we were sitting in the kopitiam or at home with unwashed faces – it felt like an age.

You did it. Who could have foretold this moment?

We ate our breakfast and then it was time for the awards ceremony. You know, my kids love, LOVE singing the national anthem. They grabbed a flag each, plonked their bums on the coffee table and watched as you waited to go up the podium. Next to you were the three silver medalists, all great names and Goliaths to your David, especially that one named Phelps. You looked so small next to them, and so lonely. I guess it is a bittersweet feeling, to be on top and yet be so alone.

Your name was called, you stepped up and this was it, the moment all of us have been waiting for: the national anthem was played.

Majulah Singapura.

You did it.

My boys waved their flags madly and sang along quietly, their eyes glued to the ascent of our flag. And when it was over, they turned to look at us and grinned. And that was when I thanked you.

Not just because you put our little red dot on the international map with your achievements. Not just because you worked so hard to get that gold.

But mostly, it was because now my children have someone to look up to. Someone to prove that it is possible to achieve the impossible, that following a dream, a passion can pay off as long as they put in the effort.

They may not be national swimmers – I mean, let’s just focus on getting Aidan to put his face into the water mmmkay – but who knows what is in store for them in the future. Maybe they will become artists. Or musicians. Or writers. Or footballers. Maybe they will want to carve their own paths, away from the straight and narrow route that our education system will push them towards. Maybe they don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. Maybe they would want to be themselves, aspiring towards a goal that our society may scoff at.

Before you won this morning, we did not have that role model. There was no trailblazer. And now that you have gone and landed this amazing feat at our feet, our children can have somebody to look up to.

So really, you did not just win an Olympic gold, you have gone and rewritten the rules of the game for Singapore.

Tonight, before he drifted off into dreamland, Aidan whispered to me, “Mummy, can you buy me a cap?”

“A cap?”

“Yes, for swimming,” he replied, nodding in the dark. “Like the Olympic swimmers. Like Joseph Schooling.”

And for that, I, as a mother, thank you.

A new page in #Singapore 🇸🇬 history! Joseph Schooling – Olympic Gold 🎖#MajulahSingapura

A video posted by Jimmy Liew (@jimmyliew) on

Bad Moms: review

So last night, three creaky old ladies went out WITHOUT KIDS.

That’s right, sista, that was us – me, Selene and Yi Lin. We were so hip, we were invited by Golden Village to attend the preview of Bad Moms. It was the first time that the three of us met for a girls’ night out since I was 37 weeks pregnant. That was TWO WHOLE YEARS ago. Therefore, you can understand how excited we were.

Plus, it was for a movie aptly named Bad Moms. Back in May, we had all watched the trailer of the movie and we were like, YEAH GURL.

In a nutshell, the movie is about three women who were so stressed out from trying to be the perfect mothers that they snapped. And snapped they did: they went on a rampage against the smug, NO-GLUTEN-NO-SUGAR-NO-SALT-NO-BPA-NO-ADDITIVES-NO-EVERYTHING-BUT-YES-ORGANIC-EVERYTHING judgy mums. They decided to free themselves from the shackles of trying to achieve that perception of perfection and be themselves – me as a person first, then a mother – again.

Mila Kunis was great as a mother who seemingly had everything – a beautiful house, two (sometimes) lovely children, and a career. She spent so much time trying to keep up with that image that she’s overworked, over-stretched and exhausted. Kirsten Bell, as the stay-at-home-mum to four little people, was the meek and passive mum who grew a spine over the course of the movie. And Kathryn Hahn was the escapist mum in denial.

To be honest, this movie is full of cliches, some bad, some pretty hilarious. And really, what can you expect when this is a movie about motherhood that is written by men. Which is why the movie is so rampant with mentions of penises in all manner and forms. Then there is that pre-requisite, sort of lame love story going on as well. So don’t go in there thinking that it’s going to be an intelligent discourse on gender stereotypes and the roles of women in society.

But I will say that it still struck a chord in me in some ways. As a mother who is juggling a career, two little (sometimes ungrateful) children while trying to ensure that my marriage stays fresh, I am, more often than now, exhausted. A mother’s mind is never idle nor still, we are constantly thinking about something, whether it is about ordering groceries or planning for the weekend or wondering if we are doing enough to prepare our children for the rigours of primary school. And in that quest to keep up with the perfect Instagram mother with the perfectly plated meals while looking svelte in perfectly done make-up with beautiful, shiny hair, it can be tiring.

So I get it. I get the frustration that Mila Kunis’s Amy feels. I get that feeling of trying to do everything right but it still ends up wrong anyway.

If you are a mother who is tired, wants a break and in need of some no-brainer laughs, then please, grab a few of your mummy friends and WATCH THIS MOVIE. Because you will get the feels AND the silly jokes AND be all light-hearted after that.

(Also, you will get to ogle some hot eye candy in the movie. Which was damn awesome. I loved it. But don’t tell your husband you heard it from me.)

(Also, be aware that the movie is full of the f%*k bombs. Which we didn’t mind, since we are the sort of mums who tend to go WTF once in a while. But obvs not in front of the kids. Nooooooo sireeeeee.)

(Okay, I might have done it once. Like when I was driving the boys home and some idiot cut abruptly into my lane without signalling and I screamed, “WHAT THE F**K!!!!” And the four-year-old went, “What did you say, mummy?”)

bad_moms_preview

Bad Moms is currently showing at Golden Village cinemas – go!

Disclaimer: We received tickets to the preview, courtesy of Golden Village, but all opinions are my own.

That Saturday

I shared an entry from my locked blog here previously. This is a continuation of that entry after we found out that we lost Bean. Our Bean. If you have always wondered what goes through the mind of a woman who has to undergo a D&C procedure, here’s my account of it.

That Saturday

I’m lying here at Dr Y’s clinic in a freezing room, waiting for time to pass after having pills inserted into me in preparation for the procedure.

Right beside this room is a consultation room separated by a thin door. Piercing through the icy silence is a doctor introducing himself to a couple. Doctor is talking to a happy couple about their baby, pointing out the baby’s head, heart chambers, measurements, etc. This doctor is extremely detailed, going into details about baby’s brain being normal. The happy chuckles of the couple intersperse the doctor’s consultation. Oh look. Baby is covering his face. More laughter. Everything’s excellent! Looking great! Oh it looks like a boy. But it may be a girl as well – its too early to tell.

As a bonus round, I even got to hear the loud WHOO WHOO of their baby’s heartbeat at 171 beats per minute.

I wonder if this is God’s idea of irony.

…………………………………………………………

We spent the entire Saturday – the husband’s birthday – at X Hospital. The long day started at Dr Y’s clinic where the scan showed, once again, our baby without the heartbeat. A lifeless, motionless image on the black-and-white screen.

The appointment for the D&C was made for 12.45pm at the hospital. We headed over in silence, lost in our own thoughts. What’s there left to say?

Completed paperwork, signed a million documents, and was then brought to the day surgery beds. I sat on the bed while the husband sat beside me, occasionally leaning his head onto my pillow as we chatted. Time seemed to crawl.

Finally, at 11.45am, I was asked to change into the hospital gown. They were blue in colour. Nicer than the dull pink ones at KKH. Got changed and sat around some more.

Was wondering if I had to walk to the operating theatre on my own or I was going to be wheeled in. I’ve never been wheeled into an OT on a bed. The husband thought I had to walk. I hoped I didn’t have to. Turns out I was going to be wheeled in. There was a rare laugh out loud moment when the nurse wheeling my bed misjudged a wall and banged the bed clumsily against it. It was funny. I laughed. The husband laughed. The nurses laughed.

I’ve watched the scene many times on TV. The one where the concerned relative walked alongside the bed while the patient is being wheeled into the OT. It was the same except that it was a lot less dramatic. It seemed like a long journey to the OT and I stole a glance at the ceiling lights above me. Just like in the movies, I thought. I smiled at the husband as we entered the OT waiting area. He stood outside, alone, and smiled back at me. He said he’d be waiting for me when I awake later.

I was placed at the side of a waiting area where CNA was playing on TV. A man dressed in hospital scrubs stood by the tv, a huge SLR hanging by his shoulders. I guess he was waiting for his wife who was probably undergoing a C-section in the same OT. A distance away, a middle-aged lady was attended to by her doctor before her surgery. She’s scared of pain and told the doctor to do it fast and give her any type of pain relief medication as she will be happy to pay for a no-pain experience. If only money could take away pain…

I remember staring at the TV but cannot remember what was being shown. A cold draft from the airconditioner directly above me was making me shiver. I already had 2 blankets over me. I remembered – I haven’t had anything to eat or drink since the night before. I had to fast before the operation.

At about 12.50pm, I was wheeled into the OT. It was a real operating theatre, complete with the giant lights above and lots of gadgets on one side of the light pink walls. Interestingly, the radio played “Don’t dream it’s over” by Crowded House. How apt. I almost laughed. Loads of nurses in green scrubs walking all around me. While waiting for Dr Y, the anesthetist came by to insert the needle into my left hand. As usual, he couldn’t find my vein. He gave me laughing gas to help ease the pain. I took a deep breath and felt my limbs go limp. Before I knew it, the needle was inserted. Not too painful. Yay.

The operation was scheduled for 12.45pm. It was delayed till 1pm as Dr Y was running late. Damnit. I was starting to cramp due to the medication inserted a few hours earlier (it softens the cervix to prepare for the op). Had to prop my legs up instead of lying flat out to make it less uncomfortable.

There was a huge digital clock in front of me. It was 1.05pm and still no sign of Dr Y. Everyone was waiting for his arrival for the op to begin. Finally, at about 1.15pm, he arrived, to a flurry of movement. Dr Y asked how I was feeling, I said ok. I think I said something like ‘let’s do it’. Not sure why I said that. I think I was just tired of waiting. I remember he smiled, touched my right cheek and said ‘Ok’.

The anesthetist came by and started to pump in the GA. It didn’t hurt this time. I felt a warm feeling come over and then I was out.

Woke up to Dr Y telling me that all was ok and that he gave me a week of hospitalisation leave. Told me to take care and rest well, and that he’d see me next Saturday. I don’t know how I took it all in but I somehow did. I was then wheeled back to the day surgery recovery room and when I opened my eyes again, the husband was beside me. I was back on the day surgery bed. Things were a little groggy. It only lasted 15 minutes. For some strange reason, I couldn’t stop talking to the husband the moment I was conscious. He had to cover my eyes with my jacket and told me to shut up. I blame the drugs.

I napped for a bit and then got up again. By then, it had started to pour really heavily outside. The lovely and kind nurse gave me a cup of water which I gulped down. Water never tasted so good. Soon, I was given a cup of hot Milo and plain biscuits. That was nice too.

I couldn’t help but notice the figure of a digital man printed on the tape holding the needle in. I wonder what it represented. Cute. Also, I realised that I really really need to moisturise. I have very dry hands.

Soon, I was told to change out of the hospital garb into my own clothes. I was also instructed to pee. Not sure why but I guess they wanted to make sure that all was well. Now, I wished someone had warned me but when I peed, it BLOODY FREAKIN’ HURT LIKE HELL?!!! It was a burning sensation down there and I was going WHAT THE FUCK! and OUCH! OUCH! in my head. Told the nurse after and she said, “Oh, this is normal. It would be ok after this.”

Damnit. Couldn’t she have warned me first? I guess pee contains salt and after an op, it’s obvious that salt over a wound is going to hurt.

After yet more paperwork, the nurse discharged me at 4pm. Doctor’s orders, apparently. We said our thanks, and left the building into hard hitting, driving rain. It was as if the Heavens were crying for us too.

Another chapter is over. Again.

%d bloggers like this: