FYI to Self


Yes… HJ has shown me this illustration a couple of times but I guess it takes a whileeeee to apply this. So the most recent thing I was worried about was June school holiday plans. To bring the kiddo or not to bring? There are valid points for either scenario but I think after our staycation, I figured that we would need a ‘baby-friendly’ country/city. I also foresee us spending quite a lot of time in the hotel for Nat to nap. True, he can sleep in a carrier but with my back woes, walking a few hours with a 8-9kg baby is not a good idea. HJ too, has a back injury and not everywhere is ‘pram-friendly’. I also believe that at this age, babies won’t appreciate holidays so it’s more for us, the parents. So, we decided to take up my mum’s offer to babysit him since she will be having school holidays in June and we’ll most probably go to Hanoi and it’s nearby caves for a few days! Definitely something one can do with a baby in tow. Trekking… taking a boat around a lake surrounded by limestone caves… some of the things we want to do but can’t with baby.

Am I okay leaving Nat in SG? 

It was initially a ‘hmm, not really’ that became a ‘yup I’m sure’ and I’m also a bit surprised that I am actually okay with it.

Simply put, I/we need a break and now when Nat doesn’t really understand things and is not clingy, we stand a better chance of ‘escaping’ while we leave him in the hands of my mum and our helper. They are both fully capable of caring for him so I don’t have much reason to worry.

Should I feel guilty? I think I got over that part quite fast because I think we need to prioritize our needs above his from time to time. As precious as Nat is, he cannot become the center of our universe such that everything revolves around him. Moreover, at this age, the concept of abandonment is completely foreign to Nat. If anything, it’s us, the adults who feel bad for leaving the kiddo. So no, I don’t think one should feel guilty/bad but it’s really not as easy to just let go.

Anyhow it will just be for a short period of 4 days. If this pilot works out, I’ll definitely to it again at the end of the year!

– CK

27 Feb 2017

This date signifies a couple of things. Today was supposed to be my last day of maternity leave but thankfully, it isn’t. More importantly, this day last year, Mama (what we call my Grandmother since young) went home to be with the Lord so today is her 1 yr death anniversary. We had a simple memorial service for her yesterday, and back at home HJ commented that this was the first memorial service he has been too (make that both of us). He said that this just goes to show that my Grandmother really lived her life in a way that made people remember her very fondly. The Pastor yesterday recited once more something he wrote last year in a tribute to Mama and he summed up what he remembers most fondly about my Grandmother in 3 points.

  1. She had a very good command of English, with proper enunciation of her words.
  2. She was very thoughtful, always thinking of others (indeed) and he remembers her reminding my Grandfather to prepare some fruits whenever he visited because she knew he liked to eat healthy.
  3. She was faithful and trusted the Lord till the very end. Never once throughout her bout of sickness in 2014-2015 did she ever complain about her situation (this I definitely remember, her only lament was that she wished God could heal her so that she could walk through the gates of heaven, and I’m sure she did).

Lastly, he mentioned that while most Pastors are able to recite Psalm 23, my Grandmother’s favorite verse, he knew that she truly knew the Lord from how she recited it by heart every time he visited her in the hospital.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

– Psalm 23

Somedays, I tell HJ that it would have been nice if Nat arrived earlier, so at least she would be able to know she was going to be a Great Grandmother before she left this earth but we all know that could not be possible. Nonetheless, I will always have memories of how she selflessly looked after my sister and I so that both my parents could focus on their work.

Now that only Kong Kong, my Grandfather is left, what we can do is to not take it for granted so we let him interact with Nat as often as we can. This is made easier considering how he just lives 5 minutes away from our house.

Even if Mama isn’t here, seeing Nat and Kong Kong interact is the next best thing and so very precious 🙂

– CK

There, I Applied To Work Part Time ! 

Prior to Nat’s arrival, working on a part time load was never on the cards. I repeat, never. HJ tried asking me to consider taking No-Pay-Leave (NPL) for a year when I was still expecting Nat but no, I was only okay applying for maximum two months NPL. Then last week, with 10 more weeks of leave to go, there was this constant nagging feeling in my gut that made me reconsider going back to work full time. All this while, HJ was sure that he does not want to put Nat in infant care so we don’t really have any care options besides our helper. I was really torn because while I enjoy and miss work, I also want to spend more time with Nat.

The primary reason was really the sheer reduction of time I’ll be spending with Nat if I work full time. On a normal work day, I’ll have to leave the house at 7am and by the time I get home, it would be close to 7pm. So I’ll be able to give Nat his 1st wake-up feed and wash him up at night before HJ puts him to bed. No doubt the daily routines I’ve established these past 3 months+ will be continued and enforced by our helper and my mum but I guess a part of me still very much wants to be a part of some of his routines. Hopefully I can witness some of his milestones such as rolling over, crawling, walking etc. first hand and not just via video.

It was this knowledge that I’ll not be able to do most of the things I’m doing now that was the main push factor, especially our post wake-up feed snuggles 🙂

So the struggle was very real but I just knew in my gut that going the part time route would be the best for the rest of 2017, until Nat turns 1. The other option was HJ’s original suggestion to take a longer NPL but because I do not want to give up my car and have such a drastic change in lifestyle, I need to have partial income.

I still very much want to work so since both work and Nat are important to me, I made the decision to apply for a 2/3 part time load so that I can hopefully balance both roles.

Now that my immediate bosses are supportive, the next hurdle would be clearing the remaining approvals. As it is, I am already very thankful that such an arrangement was possible and was cleared within 2 days?

I emailed my immediate boss on Wednesday night (22/2), told a few close friends, prayed about it and left the rest to God. By the end of Friday (24/2), both my immediate boss and my Director had replied to say that they were supportive of my decision. So I really thank God that everything has worked out thus far.

Sigh…the saying that a child will change your life in ways that you never thought possible is indeed very very true.

– CK

Self-Care & Its Tensions

Last night, being Friday and all, HJ and I had one of those long conversations that somehow jumped across numerous unrelated topics such as my pending return to work, his work, his volunteering , Nat (of course), finances… but more importantly, he was able to help me realize a struggle that I’m experiencing, which I may not be very conscious of – that of the tension between wanting things to be somewhat like before Nat was born and also not being able to really let go of things related to Nat.

So to just name a few adjustments that come to mind after Nat came along…

  • Did we expect our travel plans to come to a temporary halt so soon? Nope. We still talk about the dream of going back to London in 2019 to visit my Great Grandaunt. It is also HJ’s wish to go back every 5 years but I’m honestly not sure how a toddler would handle a 13hr flight. For now, we can start to plan shorter trips to get Nat used to taking the plane in the first place.
  • Am I able to accept all the physical changes that pregnancy brought on? Guess I don’t have much of a choice right. Thankfully I didn’t have any major physical ailment during all three trimesters and even the delivery was a very smooth one (shall elaborate on this in another post) but… the post-birth leftover weight and stretch marks won’t 100% disappear.
  • How do I feel about developments at work in my absence? Somedays I am eager to go back and be busy with work just like how it was before but returning to work after a 6 month hiatus means I’ll have to catch up on new things and also accept and deal the fact that some timelines/deliverables have changed because I was away for half a year. It’s not as simple as handing it over and then getting back into the groove of things just the way things were. Guess it also does not help much that my office location has changed to somewhere that is nearer to home but more inconvenient to get to.

Nonetheless, now with Nat in our lives, I wouldn’t change a thing but I also have trouble taking some things easy – in particular, his routines. I mean some minor disruptions and adjustments are to be expected but in terms of his eat/play/sleep habits, I find myself ensuring that our moms and helper are fully aware of what needs to be done.

Do I think about the possibility of taking a longer stretch of leave? Of course the thought crossed my mind but the reality is, I don’t think a single income is sufficient with our current lifestyles. Sure, one can say give up the car or downgrade to a cheaper car and make some lifestyle changes but that’s just it – I am making  the choice to not change my car or have such drastic lifestyle changes. This is why HJ says I am too greedy and demanding, because I want a semblance of the past in my new current reality as a mom when clearly things have changed and can never go back to the way they were , hence the tension… I’m afraid he’s spot on. 

Some days (thankfully they’re rare), when I have to take care of Nat at home for 14 hours, I feel close to losing my mind. So now I’ve put a coping mechanism in place, such that whenever HJ has a late night (usually 2 nights a week when he comes back at 10pm after volunteering or tuition), I either bring the baby and helper to my mum’s place or we go out for dinner. The main thing is that I can’t be cooped up in my house for 14hours :/

Then towards the end of our conversation, HJ brought up the importance of self-care, ensuring I have adequate “me-time”, time with each other without Nat etc and today I came across this article on my Facebook newsfeed that is SO APT!

So in line with the above, though it is somewhat an errand, I finally had some time to see my skin doctor to stock up on my face wash/creams and since we were around the area, we went to my fave Hokkaido Japanese ramen restaurant – Kaiko who moved out of ION to Marina Bay Financial Tower!

Thanks for snoozing at the right time so we could eat in peace 🙂

– CK

We Survived 12 Weeks!

Definitely didn’t think 12 weeks could go by so fast but it has! Now, I’m beginning to feel what almost every mom told me – that time will simply fly by and I’ll start to wish that I could have more time to witness all of his milestones and moments. HJ predicted this would happen to me even before I gave birth, which was why he wanted me to consider taking 1 year No Pay Leave (NPL) but noooo… financially I don’t think we can handle having only one of us work so for now, I’ve applied for 2 months NPL so I’ll only go back to work in May when Nat is 6 months old.

So Nat turned 12 weeks yesterday and I was looking through some old phone photos that shows Nat at 1, 2, 4, 8, 10 and 12 weeks old. I think after the first few weeks, his facial features start to ‘stabilise’ and he looks more like himself, with his apple-cheeks and multiple chins 🙂 It seems that the immediate hospital photo isn’t really accurate of how the baby will look like after a few weeks!

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Even now, the past few months seem quite a blur.

November turned out to be a very comfortable month for us with the help of our confinement nanny so a great deal of my time was spent recovering and learning the ropes of taking care of a NB. I still remember how the nanny did not let us bathe him until week 3 because he was too small to handle in the first 2 weeks. All he did throughout the day was eat, poop and sleep.

December was the application phase for us where we took care of Nat ourselves. Thankfully HJ was having school holidays so he was able to save his paternity leave and still enjoy close to 2 months (Nov-Dec) of pseudo-paternity leave to help me take care of Nat. It was during this time where HJ and Nat would have a nightly struggle between 10pm and 1am, which was the catalyst for me to begin switching his body-clock and start him on his eat/wake/sleep daily routine.

January … what can I say. Initially I was really quite jittery about HJ going back to work then I would be flying solo with Nat from 7am to 630pm everyday for a good 3 weeks before our helper arrives just before CNY. Looking back, I think it was the daily routines that kept both Nat and I occupied so after about the initial adjustment period of 3-5 days, spending the whole day alone with him didn’t feel like 12 hours.

As we enter Feb, am just thankful that I’ve got 3 more precious months with him before I start work again.

On an aside note, I just discovered his link toys (for 0months+) that was buried in the drawer with his other toys so I guess in Feb we have to catch up with training his motor development during his post-feed activities. Guess we’ve been training his eyesight with the numerous flash cards but not so much his muscles*oops*. Sorry Nat, your parents have just been letting you grab our fingers, now you can finally grab your toys yay!

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-CK

‘Couch Time’

Came across this term when I was reading one of those baby books and it resonated because it made so much sense – maintaining a healthy marriage as it creates a sense of security and stability for your children.

Understanding it in theory is easy, then came the harder part of actualizing it and looking back at the past 1-2 weeks that HJ has started work, our couch time is more reactive than intentional. Meaning, it took a rough day of just handling the baby and house-related matters that made us conscious that we had neglected “us”. Sure, we each have managed to carve out our own “me” times in the day.

  • HJ is at work, has an external community, gives tuition and volunteers. Even whilst I’m now based at home, I work in routines to do my stretches/workouts, Netflix shows and evening post-dinner walks as and when I am back at my mom’s place.
  • Together, we also manage to have some outings whereby it was just the two of us because my mom helped to babysit Nat.

However, despite all the above and having a relatively easy time looking after Nat, I could not shake off the feeling that something was missing and lacking. Even when we were out together, we were running errands more than enjoying each other’s presence.

So on Sunday, we decided to have a moment to ourselves at the balcony to just talk. Then I noted even the content of what we spoke about can either relax us or cause more anxiety. For example, I wish that we did not have to always discuss about Nat even though he is a huge part of our lives but sometimes this is inevitable though we try to keep it to a minimum. Our couch times also work best when both our HPs are not with us because the various whatsapp groups that requires attention can be really irritating.

Moving forward, we now recognise that to have meaningful couch times, it has to be intentional, planned and there is a need for certain perimeters such as putting our HPs away. I found some ‘rules’ on this blog post HERE to keep in mind when we have our couch times.

Couch time is a very simple idea. You and your spouse take 10-15 minutes at the end of your day (or whenever really) to sit down and just talk. Don’t watch TV. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t think about the day ahead. Just sit and talk to your spouse.

We already don’t have a TV so more work is required to keep our phones away.

Baby business is tough, because you give so much to your little one such that one just needs to have ample “me” time and even when that is done, we now know the need to also have sufficient “couch time” with your significant other.