I don’t know how it happened but in the blink of an eye, my little squishy newborn became a toddler. Elliott is now 14 months old. His personality is coming through and he now takes up twice the amount of space on the bed. This also means that I have been getting this question ALL. THE. TIME. From the random stranger at the playground to the colleague that I speak to once every few months. This question comes up every single time, even when we are chatting about completely unrelated topics. They take on a couple of permutations:
- “So when is Number 2?”
- “Planning for Number 2?”
- “Time for Number 2!”
- “So are you going to have Number 2?”
You get the idea. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is concerned about Number 2. I have started to dread the question as much as the other question we had to put up with pre-Elliott. For the record, that other question was “Planning for baby?”
Number 2. That elusive Number 2.
Truth be told, I would love for Elliott to have a sibling. I grew up with a sister and it is wonderful having someone to share (and fight over) toys with, chat to and hang out.
The thing is, it took us a long time before Elliott came into our lives. I remember my BFF saying that people jump through hoops. We had to jump through fire hoops and hungry lions waiting below. It was a good and apt metaphor.
In simple words, the fact that we are parents today is nothing short of a miracle.
Which is why my heart breaks just that little bit whenever someone asks me about Number 2. Because it was such a difficult journey getting our Number 1. We are thankful every single day for him and I do not actually dare dream of a Number 2.
As the husband wisely said: Elliott is a blessing. Anything else is a bonus.
Yes, yes and YES. He is a our miracle baby. We have a healthy and happy baby today and we feel immensely blessed. It would be lovely to have Number 2 but if it doesn’t happen, we will be ok.
I just wish people would stop asking me about Number 2 because I have run out of polite things to say.
“Yes yes, soon.” I’d usually mutter with a smile. “Not now la. Must wait until Elliott is older”, but this doesn’t quite work because I then get chided for waiting because I am “no longer young”. Thanks. That was nice.
So the next time you meet someone and feel inclined to ask them about their personal life (why they are single, why not have a kid, why not have a second kid, blah blah blah), do stop and think. And think again.
Then shut up. And compliment them on the nice dress that they are wearing, or complain about the terrible weather.
Many a times, that happy smile belies a long and heartbreaking journey. And it is not nice to dredge it up repeatedly.
Yes, you with those bouncy auburn curls 10 hours after giving birth to your 3.7kg glamazon baby girl. You wearing that sunny yellow dress, looking as fresh as a daisy, even though you had just pushed your watermelon of a baby out of your vajayjay. You in those chic Jimmy Choo nude heels with a bright, beautiful smile and slender muscular calves. You with that lovely post-pregnancy glow.
How the fish do you do it?
Okay, I know you probably have an army of people working hard behind the scenes to help you achieve that seemingly effortless look. You probably have a hairstylist who massaged your scalp as she shampooed your hair, blow dry and curl it to perfection.
Mmm…don’t I love a good scalp massage at the salon…complete with a little scrubbing…always makes my hair feel squeaky clean.
ANYWAY. And yes, you should have someone in your staff whose life mission is to painstakingly conceal your eye bags, highlight your cheekbones and add some glow to your face. You know, make you look exactly like a Disney Princess.
BUT STILL. 10 hours. That was all it took for you to be discharged from the hospital after delivering a human child from your woman parts. That was all it took for you to recover from all the indignities that pregnancy AND delivery can unleash on you.
10 hours after my second delivery, I was tethered to my bed with a catheter stuck up my pee outlet and hooked to machines that were humming and buzzing all day (and night) long to tell everyone that I was still alive. I was wondering how I was ever going to pee or poop again. My nose was still the size of Pulau Tekong. My face was full of angry red spots, thanks to those errant capillaries that burst as I was straining to push my 2.8kg garden gnome out.
I was certainly not looking like I had just stepped out of the tea house with my girlfriends after an afternoon of earl grey tea, jam and scones. With a present – hey! A newborn! And a baby girl, just like I had ordered from ASOS! – cradled tenderly in my arms.
Do I sound jealous? Who, me? Hell no.
Okay, maybe just a little. I mean, when I was discharged, I was strutting around in my Nike yoga pants, a nursing tank and Crocs slippers with eyebags that resemble the abyss of a Louis Vuitton Neverfull.
No, seriously though, I think you looked amazing. Although I am betting that underneath that sunny dress, you were totally rocking those mesh panties. Those things are saviours, I tell you (by the way, have you checked out my list of postpartum lifesavers? Might come in useful). And I am glad that I am not you, having to wave to thousands of strange random people and look gorgeous because the media is going to be all over you and what you were wearing. Even though all you probably really wanted to do was to go home to your comfortable bed, inhale in the scent of your new baby girl and cuddle your cutie potootie of a son, whom you missed like crazy (even though you were away for all of 10 hours) and whose transition from an only child to a big brother you might have felt anxious about.
So enjoy these moments. Revel in the quiet joy of completing your family. Slip your hand into your balding prince’s and tell him how you can’t believe that the two of you had made those two littles. Look at your two gorgeous babies and think to yourself, I couldn’t be any happier.
Enjoy those moments.
At least I had perfectly trimmed eyebrows
It’s been awhile since I last blogged on Bubsicles.
Things had gotten a little hectic and we got lost in the whirlwind of winter travels, Chinese New Year, a babymoon, jetlag, independent parenting (yes, we survived our first time in 3 years without the luxury of grandparents’ help – albeit only for 2 weeks), work, pregnancy insomnia and coughing husbands.
Even when we finally settled back into the calm of the daily routine, my sleep-deprived brain couldn’t function beyond formulating basic sentences – much less produce a blog entry. I was just relating to my fellow bubsigirls how I wrongly read aloud from a storybook that “The sun is black”. On a separate occasion, I grandly proclaimed that the “Hired” sign on taxis was pronounced as “hee-red”.
The husband and children have yet to stop laughing.
Well, here we are – 6 weeks or so from No.3’s arrival.
Time is passing so fast that I find it hard to remember. Hard to create memories – in my heart and mind, not in my phone – of precious childhoods. Often, the memories are as fleeting as the moments themselves. Sometimes, they float up in the present – only because Facebook called up a photo on my timeline from a year ago.
So I’ve started making a conscious effort to be present to what life presents to me. To stop constantly formulating To-Do lists in my head. To fight the urge to whip out my phone to note down an outstanding task – because there are more important things to not forget. To stop emptily spacing out in a sort of mental fog (tempting as it is).
Instead, I focus on the image and sensation of a little hand firmly clasped tightly around mine, and marvel at its tininess and softness. Remember this, I tell myself throughout the 20-minute ride home.
I try to file in my heart the expression on Coco’s face as we presented her with her first congratulatory bouquet of flowers at her inaugural cello recital – a mixture of surprise, delight, pride and pure happiness. I drink in the memory of her elfin face and tell myself, remember this.
Much as I fear the girls getting hurt and am proud that they put on a brave front when they take (yet another ) tumble, I relish the secret enjoyment of kissing bumped heads and comforting sobbing babies when they pitifully clamour for me to “sayang my head, mummy” and to “wipe my tears, mummy”. Remember this, I tell myself as I calm their little torsos heaving with childish sobs.
Now well into my 3rd pregnancy, I am plagued by strange aches and pains never before felt in my earlier pregnancies. The little one rolls, jabs, tugs and pushes against me in-utero – and it gets downright uncomfortable at times. I can’t wait to meet her and yet, I feel sad that this is the last time that I’ll feel life blooming within me. I close my eyes, place my hands on my belly and focus on the sensations. Remember this.
Oh, and you know those repetitive conversions about the most mundane of matters such as whether Mickey Mouse has had his bath or what new plastic cuisine they are serving up for the Nth time? I wish my brain could store every report on how good “yai-en” (lion) was for “pinishing” (finishing) his dinner and how “Goopy” (Goofy) can’t have ice-cream because he’s “copping” (coughing). Remember this, I tell myself, while trying my darnedest to squeeze their cute toddler speak into a permanent space in my head.
These are but a fraction of the precious moments that present themselves to me every day. And yet, I can remember so little of them. In a few weeks, life as I know it will change when I transform from a mother of 2 to a mother of 3. Once again, I’ll be wondering where the time has gone and how in the world did we get from June to December in the blink of an eye.
Which is why I need to remember.
To remember this.
Oh, hello there!
So, it hasn’t been roses and rainbows around here. I’ve been up to my ears at work and every evening, after putting the littles to bed, I would inevitably conk out too. I wish I could say that I slept like a baby (HAR HAR) but my baby didn’t get the memo on that! So I’m surviving on sleep broken in chunks of two to three hours. And then the littlest one is up at 6-freaking-am!
I don’t know why or how I ended up with two early risers. Meh.
But throughout the chaos and the madness, I realise that it’s really about the little moments in my everyday that keeps me going. Never mind that I had earlier threatened to throw his “fire truck” away (not my finest moment, clearly), my day was defined when Aidan helped me to nebulise a screaming Zac. Zac has a chesty cough and our first line of defense is always the nebuliser, without fail. We are well-trained by our experiences and paediatrician in that manner. So there I was, wrestling a screaming bubba. Aidan started talking to his little brother, “Hey! It’s good for you. It’s good for you, right, Mummy?” And when I started to keep Zac calm, he joined in the singing. He also valiantly tried to keep the loosened tubing of the nebuliser in place, even as Zac was kicking out in frustration at being held down.
The husband finally fixed the child seat that we had bought for Aidan up on my bike and we went on a quick ride around the neighbourhood. Zac was sitting in the seat on the husband’s bike (check here), which used to belong to Aidan. We decided that it was safer for Zac to be riding with papa because he did not have a helmet (our bad) and papa was a better cyclist.
Off we went into the sunset, pedalling across roads, alongside canals and down slopes. We pushed our bikes and the babies up the overhead bridge (my arms!), marvelled at the beautiful sunset, and said hello to the birds. As I pedalled, Aidan kept up a steady stream of conversation and I was struck by just how much he had grown. Meanwhile, the littlest was gazing curiously about him, yelling out his joy every once in a while. (We assume it’s joy. He makes like this “URRRRRR” yell at random times and we have no idea why.)
That night, we laughed and cuddled and read in bed before the littlest had to turn in for the night.
At the end of the day (assuming I am still awake, as I am now, typing this), motherhood is really made up of these tender little moments. Some days are harder than others, but we plod on, fuelled by the joy of these little moments. No matter how tired, how weary, how frustrated, we think about these moments and like flares lighting up the dark sky, we instantly feel much lighter and brighter.
What are some of the little moments that make you feel like you can keep doing this?
I was playing with Zac on our bed the other day when it struck me, out of the blue, just how much he has grown.
The bubba is actively communicating with us now, with his squawks and chants of “ma ma ma”. He does this funny affectionate thing of leaning his forehead into yours. When you ask for kisses, he turns to you with an open mouth. He can now sit up by himself confidently and steadily. He’s been crawling for more than a month now and he is so good at pulling himself up into a standing position. It’s really cute, he is clearly very happy that he can now look at the world from a higher vantage point. And then suddenly, he’s letting go of his hand and he is standing up unassisted – just for a heartbeat – before he plops down on his cushy diapered butt with a big grin.
My heart burst with pride and then it was quickly replaced by a pang. My baby is growing up so very fast. It wouldn’t be long before he starts to toddle along and then, woah, we’d be blowing out the single candle on his birthday cake.
Where did the time go?
It sounds almost terrible but the time we spent with my second-born seems to fly by so very fast. The husband agrees that it feels like Zac has grown up almost too quickly, we haven’t had the chance to savour his every milestone the way we did with his big brother. Oftentimes, our attention is given to our first-born, he who is chattering up a storm every single minute (the “Why, mummy, why?” questions have started, O Woe!)
We blinked and our squishy baby is 10 months old.
Such a bittersweet feeling, knowing that he is our last baby and that we will never, ever cradle a tiny newborn in our arms again. Knowing that our littlest is speeding ahead because he wants to grow up fast, to be just like his big brother.
When we celebrated Aidan’s first birthday, I almost cried but they were mostly tears of relief. That we hadn’t killed the baby (or ourselves!) and that we got through one of the toughest and yet most joyful years of our lives.
Come June 8, when we sing Zac his birthday song, my tears will probably be a silly salty mix of happiness and nostalgia.