Let them…

The part that resonated the most was the 2nd last line – let them sleep in the middle. Some nights, like yday, Nat would wake up crying ard 515am. As it’s the fastest to soothe him back to sleep in our bed, that’s just what HJ did. Babies are also very quick to see a pattern because once Nat was inbetween our pillows, he went silent and went back to sleep. He also naps the longest when he’s snoozing in adult beds -_-

So that short episode this AM got me thinking… as much as I wish I wasn’t so groggy at 515am such that I could get up to soothe him back to sleep in his crib, I also don’t mind having him in our bed for they are only going to be this way for a while.

I think the first year’s the best.

Am not looking forward to the toddler stage and beyond.

– CK

Long Weekends

This pretty much sums up how our weekend went 🙂 As we don’t plan to travel with Nat anytime soon, one form of pseudo-vacations with him are staycations (only when there’s good deals of course). It also gives me a chance to escape, which is what I find myself doing quite often these days. Escape from what? I can’t exactly pinpoint. Maybe just the usual weekend routines that aren’t relaxing most of the time.

How shall I make sense of this…

Weekends with a baby are not really different from weekdays. Most of it is because of the choices we make but for valid and good reasons.

1. There are essentially no more late sleep-in weekends.

  • Nat would be hungry by 7am (if we’re lucky). On normal days, he would wake up around 630am.
  • We choose to keep to the same routine on weekends as per weekdays because our work requires us to be out of the house by 710am.
  • It is also much easier to just begin his day ard 7am and then schedule his breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner from there.

2. Weekends are also now characterised by bits of negotiation and lots of planning.

  • We try to bring Nat to visit his paternal and maternal grandparents and occasionally, his Great-Grandfather.
  • I’ve learnt that there can never be absolute parity so we just try to let everyone spend pockets of time with Nat.
  • More often than not, it happens at our own physical expense because it can be very tiring. It is the right thing to do but still, really tiring.
  • Strangely, the most relaxing Sunday we had thus far was when we left Nat to finish his afternoon nap at my mom’s place after lunch and both of us just went home. We didn’t plan for such an arrangement, it just happened naturally since it was time for his nap after lunch. It was relaxing because we simply rotted at home doing our usual brainless stuff, and the best part was that we could do nothing!

I guess these are some reasons why I look forward to the times where I can just get away and be alone i.e. at work, on vacation with HJ and/or during staycations with the kiddo. Sometimes it feels good to just be detached and in my own bubble.

Some days, all I’d really like to do is to chill on my balcony with a bottle of beer. Then I think about the calories and I get a bit more depressed.

But heck, the pull of the baileys irish cream is too strong. I’ll deal with the calories another day.

– CK

Traveling Without Baby

After the success of our ‘pilot’ trip to Hanoi, we’re definitely tempted (and more confident) to take more trips in the future where it’s just the two of us. Of course the biggest and most difficult decision i.e. whether you are okay traveling without baby has to be made way in advance but once that decision has been made, everything else comes pretty easy. HJ is very easygoing – he is okay traveling with or without the baby though he is aware that the latter would entail adjusting our itinerary. I, on the other hand, took a longer time to make up my mind but in my gut, I knew that I would prefer to travel without having to think about “baby logistics” and that was how our first couple trip since March 2016 came to be.

So here’s a sneak peek into the whole operation – yes, operation because a lot of planning and ‘rehearsing’ was involved.
1. Find a caretaker arrangement that puts your heart and mind at ease

I will be honest about this. There is no other person in this world that I would trust more to take care of Nat than my mom, with our helper to assist. So having her be the main caretaker while we were overseas made the decision to just go a very straightforward one.

2. Have caretaker(s) understand and experience baby’s daily routine

Knowing is one thing but nothing beats them experiencing the baby’s routine itself. So for us, we gave my mom and helper a rough schedule for Nat based on his daily eat/wake/sleep patterns. Nat is also over at my mom’s place on the days when I go to office so she gets to experience how his morning to evening routines are like. Then on some Sundays when we go to the movies, she gets to experience his bedtime routine until 10pm.

So if family member(s) are looking after baby when you travel, having them actually experience the routine helps prepare them for the days/nights that you are away.

3. Condition baby to sleep in various locations

This is more applicable if baby is going to be bunking over at the caretaker’s home as opposed to having the caretaker sleep over in your house.

For my mom, she is more comfortable in her own place so Nat and my helper slept over at my mom’s place while we were overseas. This meant that we had to start getting Nat used to the idea of taking naps at various locations, other than our own home. Even then, it took some trial and error experiments to figure out which room he prefers to nap in.

  • For instance, my mom’s room gets the morning sun so Nat could not nap very long in there whereas my sister’s room doesn’t get the morning or afternoon sun so it’s a darker and better environment for his naps. Verdict: my sister’s room is the best place for Nat to snooze.

4. Prepare for all scenarios especially if baby were to fall sick

Other than packing the usual baby clothes and accessories e.g. food, toys, bath items, we also packed his medicine for fever, nasal congestion and cough with instructions on how to administer each of them should he fall sick. The only thing we forgot to pass my mom was his health booklet, should they need to bring him to the PD!

Thankfully, everyone was prepared because Nat did come down with a slight cough 1-2 days before our trip because HJ and I took turns to fall sick so Nat also got some of our germs. We had also prepared for another more morbid scenario in the event that anything should happen to both of us.

I guess with that, we managed to travel with peace in our hearts and minds.

– CK

 

Weekly Adjustments 

Sometimes I feel that my part-time arrangement requires more adjustment? Weeks are divided into 2 and I find myself having to recover from a long weekend syndrome every week. Then I read this article on mom’s returning to work and I guess the main takeaway is – “it’s important to remember sometimes you just can’t do it all, and that’s okay.” 

Things at work will never be the same as they were before Nat. There’s a new office, new colleagues, new pieces of work and my new work arrangement. 

Things at home will also never be the same as they were while I was on leave – I was at home daily and everything related to Nat (his feeding/sleeping/waketime schedules) was managed by me. 

This was probably why in the first 1-2 weeks, it felt like I didn’t much control over things and that made me want to control even more. In particular, Nat’s daytime naps because if not structured properly, his nighttime sleep may be affected. 

This made is quite difficult for my mom and helper too because they were the main caretakers on the days I’m at the office but I found it impossible to just let go 100% because once it’s 7pm, we are the ones that go home with Nat and take over from there. 

In the end, we arrived at a consensus to monitor/structure it such that he doesn’t nap longer than 4 hours. Technically, babies around Nat’s age (7 months) need around 3 hours of naps but in view of how he has greater sleep needs, we’ll use 3-4 hours as a gauge. 

Anyhow, back to the weekly ‘bipolar’ struggle. It’s getting better but still feels strange. Maybe it’s just me. Every Friday I hit a low because I know that it will be 4 days before I go back to office. Then I want Mondays and Tuesdays to pass by faster so that I can get out of the house. 

To be honest, there’s also not much guilt, which the article points out that more often than not, it’s self-imposed. In fact, there’s no reason why there should be any guilt. Some people prefer to stay home but others, would rather not. I guess I am more like the latter. 

– CK 

Escapism 

I could do with such a life, just lounging by the pool. Now with Nat, we take turns to do laps while one of us accompanies him. What’s missing, that I’ll try to remember for our next staycate is some booze and a book.  Anyhow, I think where this all stems from is possibly my need to escape. Escapism – the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities… 

So yes, after 6 months of maternity and childcare leave, I am going back to work tomorrow.

In retrospect, I think 5 months away from the office is the sweet spot. 6 months may be a tad too long?

It was a little frustrating in the last few weeks – because I was facing a baby, helper and dog daily.

I’ll be honest, the initial months after Nat was born were really about coping and just staying on top of things with regard to ensuring baby eats, sleeps and poops well. Thereafter, once our helper arrived in February to assist with the household chores and some aspects of babycare, I think I got bored. Nat was also on a routine that required minor tweaks as the months went by but things were predominantly the same. This is going to sound crazy but I look back on the first 3 months fondly, where it was just the two of us, coping and eventually getting the hang of caring for a newborn.

So fast forward a few months, I guess the more irritated I got staying home all day, the more I wanted to escape at any chance I could. Lunch/dinner meet ups, grocery runs, massages to fix my right neck & shoulder, jogs around the estate, going to the gym, doing laps in the pool… I just had to get out of the house.

Maybe after going back to work, and only being home on Mondays and Tuesdays, this feelings will become less pronounced and I may yearn to just be at home more.

People are like that. I guess I’m like that.

The grass always seems greener when you’re on the other side of the fence.

T-1.

– CK

M Day 

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Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I could not help but search for some funny Pinterest quotes. Some of them are quite hilarious but this one stood out because it’s too true. Even till today, some of the best advice comes from my mother. Then I think about the past 6 months being a mom to Nat and the main reflection I have is that I should not be so paranoid about things, which intensified after he fell off the bed.

I/we cannot protect him from everything. He has to fall and fail, in order to learn to get back up on his feet without me/us being a crutch.

The irony – after I had typed the last sentence, Nat almost fell off his rocker chair! HJ forgot to strap him in but thankfully I saw him in the mirror and we stopped it in time *deep breath*.

T-4 days (till work). 

More excited than anxious. 

– CK

 

Everybody Dies.

Over the weekend, we were shuttling between two hospitals. My maternal Grandpa was warded on Thurs and should be discharged soon. Then on Friday, my paternal Grandma underwent an op for her heart and is in ICU until she can go to the normal ward. I generally don’t deal with such issues very well. I am avoidant because I have difficulty accepting that one day, they are no longer going to be here.

Everybody dies. I know.

I just dread dealing with all the emotions that come along with it.

– CK

Time Extension 

I was supposed to go back to work today but I had to extend my childcare leave by 2 weeks while we work out childcare arrangements involving my mom and helper on the 3 days that I go into office. So I get 14 more days to spend with this little rascal 🙂 

Some preliminary thoughts… 

I think I could do with having both work and Nat in a week. Though I’m sure the 3 days in office is just the minimum amount of time I’ll be spending on work. Yet, I need to be mindful to not swing the other way and enter my “workzone” especially when I am at home and Nat’s awake. This reminds me of his newborn days when everyone advised us to catch up on sleep whenever the baby naps. I guess now, we will be trying to catch up on work whenever he naps. 

Thus far, we’ve also been very fortunate to be able to have a regular weekly routine going. Every Friday we would bring Nat out in the evening and every Sunday, we’ll drop him at my mom’s place so that we can go out to do things that we won’t be able to do with Nat i.e. foot/back massages and watching movies. 

Moving forward, we’ll probably swap them around because my new office would be in town so it would make sense to go out without the kid on Fridays and then bring him out on Sunday evenings. 

T-14 days. 

I just hope I don’t take too long to get back into the hang of things. Afterall, Nov 4th 2016 (the last day I was in office) is a very long time ago. 

– CK 

The First Fall

Yup. Nat rolled off the bed this afternoon. It was during his last nap. HJ tucked him in and barricaded him between our pillows. Initially, we heard some faint sounds, then suddenly he let out a louder cry. When I first entered the room, I could not find him on the bed!? In my head I was like “where the f*** is Nat!?” Then I think saw him on the floor in-between my bedside table and the bed, near the rattan chair. I screamed and picked him up. He stopped crying in 3 seconds? I was still in shock. It could have been worse. I think having the table and the paper bag next to it meant that when he rolled off, he did not hit the ground immediately.

We did a quick physical check. He was conscious, no blood, no bump. The side of his forehead was slightly red though. No vomiting. He could still laugh. We did not let him go back to sleep. Instead, we had to monitor and see if he had any odd behavioural changes.

Thankfully, all seemed okay.

  • We let him listen to some music – he was engrossed as usual with the iPad screen.
  • I read him his favourite books – he was following the pages and pictures.
  • We let him play with favourite chain toy – he was grabbing and bringing it to his mouth.
  • He was peckish around 530pm so we fed him his evening purĂ©e – appetite still as good.

So I guess all is well as of now. Thank God.

Note to self: kids are more hardy than we give them credit for, it’s the adults that need to take a chill pill.

However, we also learnt a lesson the hard way literally – that it is no longer safe to leave Nat alone on a bed anymore, even if he’s sleeping. Though he cannot crawl yet, he’s proven to be able to “slug” his way from one end of the bed to the other.

Sigh…

– CK

Days Like These

I spent the whole afternoon out. I just needed to get out of the house. I had a good catch up with a friend. I went for a massage. The lady said my whole body was very stiff. I’m not supposed to be drinking so much ice water. I reached home and felt irritated again. HJ told me to go out after dinner for ‘me time’…. read a book, catch a movie. He and our helper would settle Nat.

So I did just that. 

I decided against exercising because I went to the gym for two days in a row and I figured my body could do with a break today before I resume gyming tomorrow.

I went nearby to Seletar Mall, because yesterday we already went Greenwich for ice cream. 

I brought along a murder-thriller novel, given to me by my friend to read during confinement. 

I went to Coffee Bean to get a hot chocolate to accompany my read. 

After about an hour, I decided to walk around and ended up buying some daytime home tees for Nat. 

Before leaving, I went to buy Bak Kut Teh… just because I want to sit at my dining table, sipping hot peppery soup while I continue reading my book. 

Today is strange but it feels good to unwind and do whatever because I feel like it. 

I can’t fully explain why I’m feeling this way. I have absolutely no ill-feelings towards Nat or his daily routines. 

Days like these, it’s okay to not be okay.

When I try to analyze it, I guess I’m just feeling frustrated that almost every weekday is the same routine. I know this may sound ‘crazy’ but I am looking forward to return to work. I guess I just need to get back to doing what I did before Nat. 

Soon. 

– CK