Day 3 

Today’s the 3rd day managing things mostly on our own and surprisingly, we’re fine. Maybe because it’s only day 3 but as tiring as it is trying to squeeze in some household chores, food prep and email clearing when Nat naps, I am quite happy doing it. These few days also made me realize how much I need and value my time alone to get things done, the way I want them to be. 

Our day in summary… 

AM: Nat’s usual morning routine

  • 630am rise and shine.
  • 7am milk, followed by 8am breakfast (fruits and yogurt combo).
  • Storybook + playmat time to crawl and tire himself out before his morning nap at around 930am. 
  • Once he slept, I prepped his lunch porridge before taking a nap too. 
  • After Nat woke up around 11am, I bathed him and we waited for my mom to pick us up to go for lunch. 

LUNCH: @ Waterway Point today 

  • We walked around a bit after lunch and did a quick grocery run before heading home.
  • As per our norm, we only head out in-between his AM & PM naps and ensure we make it back home in time for his 2nd nap. 
  • If he’s not tired yet like what happened this afternoon, I’ll give him more floormat and/or playpen time.
  • Now at 9 months, Nat can stay awake for 3-3.5hours and needs to be sufficiently tired enough to be ready for a nap. 
  • The moment he sleeps, it’s time to steam his fruits for tea and his post-dinner dessert. This is also the only opportunity to cook his evening porridge. 
  • If I’m lucky, he will sleep for at least 1.5 hours (like today yay!) and I get to fit in some work.

DINNER: @ my mom’s place  

  • Once Nat woke up and his meal cooked, my mum came by again to bring us over. 
  • I wanted to pram him and walk (she lives just 1.5km away) but it was too sunny. 
  • HJ joined us for dinner after work and we brought Nat back around 8pm. 

Actually, this is pretty much what I do on those days I don’t go into office so nothing was drastically different or more challenging. 

I think I will miss this once I return to work full-time. So even if can’t really slack around and binge on Netflix because there’s more household chores and baby-related prep to be done, I’m glad that I can do all these for him. 

– CK 

Just Us 

In a nutshell, our helper is on home leave for 10 days so we have to do things a bit more efficiently now. This is especially so for Nat’s food prep because he eats 4 solid meals a day with a fruit dessert after lunch & dinner (that’s like 6 meals) so I can’t possibly be steaming his food every other hour haha!

So in the morning while Nat is taking his 1st nap, that’s when all the ingredients for his subsequent meals are prepped.

Top-left: steamed fruit combo for dessert after lunch and dinner

Bottom-left: butternut squash and carrots chopped and ready to cook

Right: throw everything into the rice cooker to cook congee

Previously our helper and my mom would do his food prep 3-4x a day before his meals but seriously… I can’t afford the time for that on the days I’m alone with him. However, we only pre-chop the vegetables and steam the fruits for that day so the freshness is not so affected.

Anyhow, I quite like this situation. It reminds me of the weeks just after Nat was born when we both handled everything in the way we know best – divide and conquer.  No doubt the floor doesn’t get cleaned everyday but twice a week is fine with me.

– CK

Hong Kong 

Our HK trip in summary – some history and scenery but mostly walking, shopping and eating. Next time, in a few years, we will most probably be back with Nat but with a very different itinerary. I’m excited to go home tomorrow because I could do with a break from all the sweet and oily food and of course, see our monkey, Nat 🙂

In terms of visiting HK, here’s some tips we picked up along the way.

1. Decide which side you want to stay – Kowloon or HK island. 

  • Previously, when I visited HK with my family in 2010, I stayed on the Kowloon side. This time, I decided to stay on the HK island side for something different. 

2. Book a hotel NEAR an MTR exit. 

  • This may sound straight forward enough but there’s a difference between somewhere that is “2 minutes” walk from the sub vs. “5-8 minutes” walk, especially during the summer heat! Originally I booked at Butterfly on Hollywood Road but changed it to Kew Green Hotel Wan Chai as the latter was a much shorter walk from the Wan Chai MTR exit (2-3minutes). Although, Hollywood Road is nearer to the central part with all the food and nightlife/bars so it all depends on your preferences.

3. Sheung Wan/Central/Admirality was where we ate mostly.

  • Prior to the trip, I already knew where I wanted to go and eat. Most of the places was recommended by this blog entry. It is a shorter list compared to this other HK food guide that has 20+ listings but it was useful cross-referencing both of them during our pre-trip planning. 
  • In retrospect, I think the bulk of our trip was about locating these ‘must-eat’ places in HK and walking off the calories via shopping. 

4. Causeway Bay, TST and Citygate was where we shopped.

  • This one is really to each his own because HJ and I are not a fan of markets – Ladies Market, Stanley Market etc. Basically, any street market isn’t our cup of tea. That left us with mostly shopping malls in the above mentioned areas. Most of Nat’s items were bought from this mall called iSquare. They have both Babies’R’us and Mothercare! We also found clothes for him from Zara Kids @ Central that costs SGD$5 for a shirt?! 

5. Visiting between Oct-Dec may be the best time.

  • The next time we visit, I’d pick the cooler Winter months for the following reasons: 
  1. August is quite hot as it is still summer with temperatures ranging from 31-34 degrees. 
  2. We would have liked to see some horse racing for fun but found out there are no races during the summer months of July and August as it is too warm for the horses.
  3. September is the typhoon period for HK so even though it’s not as hot as July and August, there may be typhoons and/or heavy rain. 
  4. The seasonal flu season in HK is also from July to August although this year saw HK’s flu season begin a bit earlier in May/June. We both took our annual flu jabs earlier in the year so hopefully we don’t come down with anything. 

One ‘hidden find’ we came across was a legit and good foot massage place @ Central called ZEN Massage and Foot Massage – 98 Wellington St. 

  • We went there on the evening of our 2nd day because we had really walked TOO MUCH. Sometimes if our designated location was inbetween MTR stops, we’ll walk there instead of taking the train. If the location was 2 stops away by bus, we would also rather walk since it’s technically very near. So by the end of day 2, we abandoned our plans to go to the hotel gym because I think all the walking made up for all our eating! 

All in all, I think we have had enough city trips for 2017 so I guess our next escapade out of Singapore should be somewhere more relaxing? 

– CK

Work & Guilt 

So we’re off again! This is our 2nd trip without Nat, and it won’t be the last for the year since the mister prefers not to travel with a baby until he’s toddler age. Then having this time away from home made me realize something – it made me think about what will happen once I return to work full time in a few months. This was when I started to feel some guilt for wanting to work but I can’t not work either. Hence, I will just have to accept and adjust to the fact that I won’t be his de facto caretaker anymore and I need to be okay with that. 

The Nat, having his morning playground routine when I’m in the office

 
This is not to say that I am unhappy with the current childcare arrangements. In fact, they could not have been better. Both HJ and I can leave for work in peace knowing that Nat is well taken care of by my mom and helper. 

His general daily routine when we go to work is as such; 

  • 730am – pick up from my place 
  • 8am – visit to the playground 
  • 830am – breakfast 
  • 9am – nap 1 
  • 1130am – outing to run errands or deliver lunch to my Grandpa
  • 12pm – lunch 
  • 2pm – nap 2
  • 3/4pm – tea break 
  • 545pm – dinner 
  • 6pm – I come home and take over 

There’s also reading and regulated TV time in his routine as well. Regulated TV time is because he only watches The Numtums at either 11am or 2pm. They are basically animals with numbers on their tummies haha! 

So I have no qualms with my current work-babycare arrangements. In fact, I am considering going back to office 4x a week instead of 3x a week starting from October onwards since all is well at home. 

Moreover, the norm that I will return to in 2018 is that I’ll be going office every weekday. As it is, I know being able to take a part-time scheme is a privilege – not everyone has alternative babycare arrangements and not everyone can afford to take a pay cut for a prolonged period. 

However, being away from home and Nat during this short trip just made me realize how independent and easygoing he is

Nat does not have attachment issues to anyone? He is able to be taken care of by almost everyone as long as he is familiar with their faces. 

A lot of people have told me that this is a good thing but some days I also wonder whether does he really know we are his parents? Perhaps we don’t refer to ourselves as his ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’ often? We really cannot stand talking in the third-person haha but maybe we have to start somewhere. 

The only consolation is that at least his de facto caretaker and the person he will be closer will be my mom, not the infant care personnel or any other non-family member.

On this note, I came across an article that is so so apt… 

I know the fatigue that sets in when all you feel is guilty: guilty that you like going to work, guilty that you want to go home early to be with your baby. Guilty when you miss a milestone or guilty when you have to stay late to catch up on a project. Guilty when you forget about an upcoming meeting or guilty that you have to leave early because the baby got sick. Guilty that it’s been three months back at work and shouldn’t this feel normal by now?

I know that am very blessed that I did not really have any big struggles returning to work. 

I also look forward to work because it helps me to focus, it drowns out any baby or household-related issues that I may be feeling sian about, it gives me a sense of purpose and of course, financial security. 

I won’t and can’t give up my work so I guess I will just have to adapt and try not to give myself so high expectations on both fronts. Like HJ said, I can’t be a good worker and still want to be there all the time for Nat. I simply can’t. 

– CK 

Hungry or Habit

My take is that for Nat, at this current age, any MOTN awakening is due to habit. This is also considering how he was able to sleep through before. For 4 nights last week, Nat woke up randomly ard 2 or 3 or 4am, and HJ offered him some milk. Worried that it might form a new habit, I subjected Nat & myself to another round of sleep training i.e. trying to soothe him back to sleep w/o feeding. So far, we’ve had 5 days of relatively peace, thank God.

I hope this regression phase is over. His 8th month did not come with easy nights.

  • Week 1: Nat had 2 more teeth sprouting out so that made napping and sleeping uncomfortable
  • Week 2: Randomly standing up in pitch darkness when it’s time to sleep
  • Week 3: Waking up in the wee hours of the morning (which is fine) but we chose the quickest fix of offering some milk when we don’t really know if Nat is drinking out of habit or hunger?

To answer the question whether it’s out of habit or hunger is a hard one…

Previously when Nat was a younger baby (under 6 months), if he woke up in the motn, we would assess based on his cries whether he’s hungry.

How to tell if it’s hunger? A hunger cry won’t be placated despite any method of soothing. You can pat him, rock him or carry him and the fussing continues – that’s how we determine if it’s real hunger. If it is, we would feed a small amount (usually 30-40ml) to help him last until 630am.

However, since Nat is considered an ‘old baby’ (above 6 months), I know for a fact that he has tanked up sufficient calories in the day so being hungry in the motn should technically not be the case. He eats 4 solid meals a day with milk feeds in-between so his daily milk intake averages around 500ml.

That was when I started to consider other reasons for his random awakenings and fussing. This article was very helpful in corroborating what I already suspected.

Our friend falls into the 1st category of being dependent on a sleep prop.

The official name is “sleep association” but these are more widely known as “sleep props” or “crutches.” This is something your baby “needs” (using that term loosely) in order to sleep.

For Nat, his sleep props are:

  1. The bottle – he gets drowsy after drinking some milk (40-60ml) so it always gets him in the mood to sleep
  2. Hand patting – he sleeps the fastest after getting consistent pats on his butt from us

As a result, I highly suspect that when he wakes up randomly in the motn, he fusses or cries because he is trying to get back to sleep but is finding it hard to on his own.

I think the confirmation for this is that when I resisted giving him any milk until it was the last resort, he was able to go back to sleep after some patting. If Nat was genuinely hungry, the above would not have been possible. Waking up randomly is not the issue, since babies have a different sleep cycle from adults so I guess what is more crucial is actually knowing how to get back to sleep independently after one wakes up in the motn.

This is also not to say that one must not give any top-up milk at all, but instead, to make the assessment based on baby cues and what you know to be true for your baby.

If hungry, feed. It’s only when you suspect it’s not hunger, then one can proceed to eliminate other plausible reasons.

It’s really not easy. That’s why for a few nights, HJ just gave some milk top-up because it would instantly calm him down and he would fall back asleep. However, a new habit may form out of that. So faced with not much choice, I had to try and sleep by 11pm, in order to standby at 4 or 5am to soothe Nat should he wake up. Any sleep training was of course easier during maternity leave when there was no need to wake up for work but it just has to be done, for the sake of the long term and for continuous sleep! This may also push back my initial plans to shift Nat out into his own room because getting up to soothe him back to bed if and when he wakes up is much easier if the crib is just next to my bed.

I guess now we’ll hopefully get a short break before the next milestone?

– CK

Fighting Sleep

Ever since Nat turned 8 months, his naps have been quite a mess. Some days he manages to take 3 naps, if not he will do 2 fairly long ones. Some days he’ll only clock 2 hours+, and then sleep before 8pm+ because he’s tired. Then for the past week, he will wake up at least 1x in the night when his previous “norm” is to sleep through until 630am. I have no idea what exactly is going on but we’ll just have to try and maintain a routine while being flexible in responding to his changing body/needs. 

So yes, I am back to reading up on sleep articles but this time, for 8 month babies who resist sleep such as this.

I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand babies and baby sleep – they’re clearly tired but still want to sit/stand/play then once they cross that fine thin line of overtiredness, all hell breaks loose. 

Other times when he’s not doing all of the above, he will get peckish early in the morning before 6am. Long ago, he needed 160ml for his last feed in order to sleep through. Then it kept dropping to 120ml, 90ml, 60ml and 40ml but he was still able to last until 6am? Now it’s back up to 60-90ml but he will get peckish around 430/530am. 

Let’s hope we this ‘8-10’ month regression phase will come to pass, if it is even that in the first place? Or you know, it could be teething-related since he has 4 emerging at the same time, next to the 4 he already has. 

The picture, courtesy of my mom is a bit blur but it really captures his antics and his 4 teeth. Yes, this is my happy-go-lucky and mischievous kiddo 🙂

– CK 

Baby Car Seat

So today we tried Nat’s new car seat – courtesy of our neighbour, out of sheer desperation. His usual car seat was in my car which HJ drove to go out so when I decided to go out with my mom, we were stuck. Thankfully, Nat meets the 9kg minimum criteria for the front-facing seat so after a quick research online for installation instructions, we left for town! 

So now, this spare front-facing seat can be permanently placed in my mom’s car while his usual one can remain in my car. 

Personally, I would want Nat to continue using his current rear-facing seat until he has exceeded the weight/age limit as stipulated in the manual, which is either 10kg or 1 year old. 

This is because I read some articles online that a rear-facing is safer than a front-facing? One of them even suggests using a rear-facing until 2 years old. 

This is our current Combi set (below), also given to us by a friend. Coming to think of it, we are very blessed to have most of the pricey baby items given to us. I hope we can maximize using this set for a while more because the permutations/options are amazing! 

Whatever it is, be it a new or second-hand seat, I can’t stress it enough that one must read all the instruction manuals properly before any usage for safety reasons. 

In other news, Nat has a total of 4 teeth coming out – 2 on each side of his front teeth?! Maybe that’s why he has been waking up ard 430/5am the past two nights? Or could it be that the amount of milk for his last feed needs to go back up? That is because we noted that his daily milk intake has suddenly gone up to above 500ml for the past 2-3 days. 

Like HJ said, there is really no constant as far as Nat’s body is concerned. If it’s not a sleep regression due to developmental milestones, it’s teething or something else. I am just thankful he’s still relatively easy to care for – only cries/fussy when hungry or tired. So once again, I am nothing but grateful for Nat’s easygoing demeanor. 

– CK  

 

Get plain not greek 

So as Nat starts to try a whole host of new foods now that he’s crossed the 8 months mark, we’re also learning how to adjust between strictly adhering to guidelines by feeding him 0 sugar vs what is palatable and edible. Lesson learnt for yogurt – plain is fine! No need to go 100% pure and unsweetened (Greek), which should be reserved for cooking.

That was Nat yesterday when we tried Greek yogurt mixed with fruit. He finished the portion but didn’t really like it. Then yesterday was his 8 month vaccination so we checked with his PD and she says plain is fine, babies probably don’t know how to appreciate Greek yogurt yet.

So today was much better because we used the normal plain yogurt (Emmi), my fave brand and mixed it with one donut peach.

So now we know…

  • Since the yogurt is plain and has a sour taste, the accompanying fruit should have a strong flavor i.e. peaches, bananas etc. to make it palatable for baby
  • Plain yogurt also has some traces of sugar in it under its ‘carbohydrates’ label but nothing too high to worry about

Now that Nat has cleared the yogurt test, we have another thing to feed him for his breakfast besides mixing fruits with rice cereal and baby oatmeal cereal.

Next up: a few days of baby french beans with his porridge because we forgot to test them when he was 6-8 months old before letting him try… wait for it… beef & potato hash on Sat! Yummy.

– CK

Sleep Regression II 

The 4 month sleep regression phase, if Nat actually had it, feels like a distant memory now because we may be going through the 8 month one. I completely forgot about it until this morning when my mom texted to say that Nat refused to go down for his 1st morning nap and just kept wanting to sit/stand up. So in the end, he had a 2-nap day. That’s when it clicked – that his usual sleep routine is possibly being disrupted due to his newly acquired skill of standing and a possible dropping of his 3rd nap. 

This is the Nat whom I found awake and standing in pitch darkness.


By 830pm, Nat went to bed (thankfully), as a result of HJ’s bedtime routine of trying to get him to relax as opposed to struggling with him to sleep. Nat had his last milk feed (now only 40-60ml) around 1015pm. Shortly after, at around 1045pm, he was suddenly very awake and I found him standing up in the dark. 

That was when I had an inkling that we are dealing with the 8 month sleep regression. 

This article gives a good explanation of what the 8 month sleep regression is all about before offering some very helpful advice about transiting from 3 to 2 naps. 

I really thought this would happen much later. I mean, didn’t teething happen not long ago that disrupted sleep for a bit? On hindsight, dealing with Nat at 4 months when he kept rolling over during bedtime isn’t as bad as him wanting to stand up whenever it’s time to sleep. 

I also didn’t expect the 3 to 2 nap transition to happen now as the age I had in mind was around 9-12 months? Then I recall that on some days, Nat would have 2 big naps so it makes more sense now.

It just didn’t register that a nap transition was taking place since as long as Nat has at least 3 hours of daytime sleep, it did not matter to me if he took 2 or 3 naps. 

At times like this, I just need to remember that this phase shall pass and that we just need to maintain certain habits whilst being flexible in responding to his changing body.

This regression will pass in time, but if you make a habit of now rocking the child, letting them sleep in your bed, sitting with them until they fall asleep (unless you are already doing these things), or skipping naps entirely, this regression now turns into a new habit for the child, one that will be tough to break.

Oh well, these are all part and parcel of the first year I guess and I’m sure toddler-hood isn’t a walk in the part either! We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 

– CK 

8 months ppt

From the start, I knew that I’m not the sort of person who can somehow return back to their pre-pregger state within a span of 3 months. I also knew that it would require a lot of discipline to get back into shape. As it took 9 months to grow a baby and put on +16kg, I gave myself 9 months to lose it and try and fit back into all my pre-pregger clothes. Finally, after 8 months, the scale has returned to the pre-Nat figure in 2016 and am now aiming for my pre-wedding state in 2014 (-2kg more) haha. I’ll set a realistic goal for the end of the year because if we travel again, it always ruins my diet/exercise plans. 

As I didn’t chart my pregnancy and post-pregnancy journey, I only have these to reference how many kilos I had to lose

I also hate to say this but HJ was right in asking me to at least document some “bellypics” i.e. to basically witness it expand and then shrink back. Owell, maybe next time but by then, it would be much harder to maintain I’m sure. 

As it is, going back to work has somewhat slowed down my frequency of exercise, which shouldn’t be the case. Actually, it was  a bout of sickness in May and a fall right after I recovered that started the whole retardation process. 

Even two days ago, just doing some arm workouts at the gym is enough to make my right shoulder feel wonky again. So I have to hold off the weights until after I get my shoulder fixed this Thursday, with a deknotting massage. 

Besides the return to my norm, having a regular exercise routine be it jogging, gyming or swimming really makes a difference in terms of overall wellbeing. Whenever I feel crappy, I need to at least have an estate run. 

Whatever it is, I am just glad the toughest part is over i.e. shedding the last few kilos when I have the freedom to eat and drink anything I want. 

However, alcohol is still hard because of the sheer calories that beer has. Everything in moderation it shall be then. It’s like for every bottle I consume, I have to go and jog it off haha. 

– CK