Thankful Tuesdays: My Job

I survived my first two days back at work!! Dropping Aly off in the mornings and picking her at night have been quite manageable actually. The only downside is that I get up an hour earlier. But it’s really great to be able to spend some time with her in the mornings and in the evenings when I return from work. She has been very happy to see us the past two evenings! No longer cranky in the evenings like before.

Returning to work wasn’t as bad as i had imagined it to be. Of course, after being away for four months, I had tons of emails to clear and had trouble remembering lots of things. Many changes have also taken place while I was away. But I’m glad to be able to return to a familiar workplace with welcoming colleagues and really understanding bosses. In fact it felt quite liberating in a way! It was also nice catching up with everyone again.

And so (rather ironically, since I should be feeling super blue from work), today I am thankful for this great job I have. A job that comes with amazing colleagues who are now my friends, a boss who is a mother herself (so she is really empathetic towards fellow mums), sufficient job satisfaction, the work life balance I decided I would need when I got married and the chance to meet some driven and really brilliant people.

I have always wondered from time to time if I would regret the decision to leave private practice. It’s true that i derived great job satisfaction from my job then and there could have been better prospects for me. But with Aly, I think there could be no better job for me other than the one I have right now!

The bluest Monday ever

That will be tomorrow. The bluest Monday ever. After four months of nothing but diaper changing, breastfeeding, soothing a crying baby, planning hi teas and lunch dates with anyone who is able to meet me on a weekday afternoon, I now have to start getting used to answering email queries, meetings, discussions, and reviewing contracts again. I’m honestly worried that I might have forgotten all my legal concepts. In fact, I hope I still remember my passwords and how to work lotus notes.

I actually have mixed feelings about returning to work. On one hand, I think it’ll be nice to see and hang out with my colleagues and friends again, and enjoy my once in a while lunchtime pedicure/massage. I will have some me time, which I think will be good for me. I also enjoy the intellectual simulation I get from my work.

On the other hand, I feel quite sad that I wont be able to spend as much time with Aly and to be there to witness her “firsts” and her milestones. She has also been having serious bouts of separation anxiety. Just last night, she cried the whole of the four hours i was away for a wedding and would not drink milk or sleep. It’s almost as if she knows I’m returning to work soon! I only hope she does not break her own personal record tomorrow!

Of course there are also the logistics to worry about. I’m sure ys and I will have a lot to get used to since we will be dropping off Aly at my mum’s or in laws’ place every morning and picking her up in the evening. Many have advised us to leave the baby under the care of our parents and only fetch her home during weekend. It does sound very tempting especially since it means we get to sleep in for up to an hour more and spend some quality couple time together in the evenings. But we have both decided to opt for the more tiring option of bringing her home every night. I do think it’s important for Aly to know that this is her home and I am sure whatever little time we have with her at night and in the mornings is well worth our effort. After all, people who drop their kids off at infant care also work around a similar schedule and still get used to it. I choose not to take the easy way out just because our parents will gladly agree to let her stay overnight during the week. So good luck to us! It will be a period of a lot of adjustments but I’m sure we will manage somehow.

I am also worried about my milk supply. I’m hoping to breastfeed Aly until she is 6 months old and am hoping to keep up my supply even after returning to work. This means I will have to deal with the logistics of expressing at work ( and also means I have lots more to sterilize and pack in the mornings and lots of washing up to do at night). This is the main source of stress I think. But I am glad I have the support of ys and a very kind colleague who has offered me much needed advice on expressing at work.

The next few weeks will no doubt be challenging but im sure things will get better with time. Alright i’m off to pack my bag and get ready my outfit for tomorrow!

Be good Aly! Mummy loves you 🙂

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Aly at 4 months

Aly turned 4 months old on Tuesday and currently weighs 7.2kg.

Feeds: She is still breastfed almost exclusively. I say almost because we supplemented her last feed with formula for the 3 nights we were in Bali. I have been rather worried about my milk supply after I return to work so I thought it would be good to reintroduce formula to her now, in case i do not express enough milk at work. She still rejects pure formula but is willing to take formula mixed with breastmilk. I’m also glad she is fine with drinking from the bottle now.

I’m hoping to start her on some cereal soon!

Sleeping patterns: she has developed a terrible habit of not being able to fall asleep on her own. I kind of regret not being more careful with establishing good sleeping habits from the start. She now needs to rely on nursing to fall asleep or carried/rocked to sleep. I have given up on trying to correct this but I no longer nurse her to sleep in the day. For her last feed I will try to unlatch her just before she falls asleep and place her in her cot when she is sleepy but not asleep. The manduca carrier does wonders though. She falls asleep in it easily during her nap times and is generally able to sleep quite well unless she’s woken up by sudden loud noises. I tried doing the same with the pupsik pouch sling and it worked too (even though I had to support her head with one arm for the pouch sling).

Her bedtime is about 9pm, although on bad days she only falls asleep between 10 and 11 (which means I spend my entire night trying to put her to bed). She still sleeps through to about 3, when she wakes up for her “dreamfeed” and generally has no problems falling asleep after that feed. I have tried all ways to get rid of this feed but have been unsuccessful. I attribute it to her inability to self soothe. This means I still do not get more than a continuous stretch of 4 hours of sleep since I go to bed only at about 11 plus. This also means that my hope of moving her cot out of my room has gone down the drain, because I cannot imagine having to go over to the other room in the middle of the night. Trying not to nurse her lying down (ie allowing her to sleep on my bed from 3am to morning) for the middle of the night feed is already tough enough. I try my best to stay awake for the middle of the night feeds by playing games on my phone (very sad I know). I only hope I will be able to persevere after I return to work because I know once I allow her to co-sleep, I will never get her off our bed!

Speech: she “talks” a lot these days and definitely enjoys “conversations” with people. Sometimes, when I nurse her, she will unlatch and start cooing and smiling. That totally melts my heart! I think she recognizes phrases like “____ loves you”, “hug hug” cos she responds by smiling / looking very happy when we say these things.

Other developments: Aly has started “laughing”. She laughs by letting out loud shrieks and smiling. It is most hilarious because when she gets a reaction out of us, she shrieks even more! I just hope she will soon learn how to laugh properly! I don’t think others are going to be amused if she is constantly letting out loud shrieks in public places. Haha.

She is also more responsive now and enjoys interacting with people. Her favourite activity is “standing” on her dad’s tummy. It never fails to amuse her and cause her to “laugh”. She loves to smile too!

She still enjoys reading and we have recently found out that the libraries are well stocked with baby books so we have started borrowing books from the library!

She is also starting to grab at anything within her reach and putting stuff into her mouth.

Sometimes she goes through bouts of separation anxiety and would not stop crying until I carry her. We did a trial run of sorts yesterday, when I Ieft her at my mum’s place and she kept crying! I only hope she adjusts quickly to her new schedule and environment when I return to work (sigh).

Her neck control is better and she is now able to hold her head up for longer periods of time. She no longer likes to lie down and constantly tries to sit up on her own when we put her in a lying down position.

She is definitely more interested in what’s happening around her and is curious about almost everything.

To sum it all up, she’s at a really fun stage now, which makes it even tougher for me to return to work!!

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Stroller Review: Combi Well Comfort Stroller

This super lightweight stroller is a hand me down and has served me really well!

Things I like about the combi well comfort stroller:

  1. Weighing at only 4.3kg (means it’s lighter than Aly!), it is super lightweight and very manageable when I am out with Aly alone. Since Aly was 6 weeks old, I have brought her out on my own with the stroller. It is so light that I am able to carry her in one hand and haul the stroller in and out of a taxi boot with the other. Although I much prefer my manduca carrier these days when I bring her out alone, I still appreciate the well comfort stroller especially if I am out for meals. At least Aly is able to nap comfortably and I am able to have my meal without having to worry about dripping sauce or food on her (when she’s in a carrier).
  2. The size of the stroller means i am able to manoeuvre narrow aisles/spaces quite effortlessly. I also have higher chances of fitting into crowded lifts!
  3. The canopy is able to extend all the way down. This is helpful during nap times. There is also a flap which you can open so that you can spy on the little one even while pushing the stroller.
  4. The handle is reversible so you can choose to have the baby face you or face the direction the stroller is moving in. This is great for newborns. In fact, I am still thankful for this because Aly does get bouts of separation anxiety from time to time. She is quite happy when she is able to see me pushing the stroller.
  5. The stroller can be used for babies from one month old because it can recline fully.

The not-so-great things about the stroller:

  1. The seat is rather short and narrow. At 4 months old, Aly already almost takes up the whole length of the seat. Soon, her legs will be dangling out of the stroller. I’m waiting to see how long it can last me before Aly outgrows the stroller.
  2. It can be quite rickety especially when going over rough surfaces. The small wheels tend to get caught in drain openings, holes in pavements etc. But then again, I would say it’s more of a “shopping mall stroller” rather than an outdoor stroller. I have to point out though that because of the size of the wheels, they may get caught on escalators (the part where the step reaches the end of the escalator and when the stroller should naturally glide over the slight bump, onto the floor). It has happened to me once when Aly was sleeping in the stroller and I am now rather paranoid about getting on escalators. However, I have learnt that the trick is to tip the stroller slightly over the bump instead of expecting it to glide naturally from the escalator step to the floor.
  3. It has a really really small basket (that might as well not be there). It is also not that accessible and many times I just give up trying to put something in.
  4. Although the handle is reversible, when you push the stroller with baby facing you, you look like you are in a drunken stupor because of the wheels. This is because the back wheels (that do not swivel) now become the front wheels. As a result, it only works well if you move in a straight line (which isn’t possible). But I have to say with some practice, it is manageable.
  5. It is not advisable to hang your stroller bag on the stroller handlebar because the stroller will most likely topple over once you carry the baby out of the stroller (but hey, you can’t expect so much from a lightweight stroller!). I do hang some of my light shopping, and sometimes my handbag on the hooks I attach onto the handlebar though.

The truth is I really like the stroller a lot and we have found ourselves bringing this out more than our peg perego, especially because Aly doesn’t seem to like sitting in strollers very much these days (so we don’t feel so silly lugging around a heavy stroller which is not used). Of course, ultimately the stroller you choose would depend on many factors, and it is important to consider what your priorities are before making the purchase.

Here’s the official combi YouTube video of the combi well comfort stroller.

 

Thankful Tuesdays: Freedom

I’ve always been an out and about type of person, someone who appreciates her window shopping (and real shopping), her girly dinner dates and brunches, her afternoon teas with mum, and hunts for good coffee and food with the husband.

So one of the biggest worries I had was whether i would still be able to do all of these with baby in tow. The husband often assured me when I was pregnant that we would try not to allow the baby to affect our lifestyle too much. And I am grateful that things are working out just fine for me. Admittedly, things can never be like before. I have the 9pm curfew (cos that’s Aly’s bedtime), fancy restaurants and spontaneous meetings are out of the question, pedicures/facials/hair appointments require advanced planning, grocery shopping becomes quite a logistical challenge and I can’t leave the house without toting a diaper bag filled with Aly’s barang, but we have been managing I think.

Ys and I have still been eating out and exploring new places with Aly. We still meet up with friends who will accommodate our schedules and requests for kid friendly restaurants or cafes. I’m thankful for these friends who try to understand the limitations of our life with baby in tow and who wouldn’t mind carrying and entertaining a cranky baby while we try to keep a proper conversation going and while I gobble my food in fear of a potential meltdown.

I’m thankful for the husband who often encouraged me to get out of the house with baby and who will kindly offer to send us to our destination or pick us up. I have been going out quite a bit during my maternity leave and this is what has been keeping me sane and happy in fact.

Just today I met up with my ex colleagues and my mom and for the first time, spent two hours shopping around on my own with Aly strapped to me on the life saving manduca carrier.
I’m thankful that Aly is quite comfortable in the manduca carrier and naps well in it, which allows me to bring her out on my own quite easily without the hassle of having to lug a stroller around. This does mean my choice of food during mealtimes are limited to food I can feed myself with one hand (ie rice dishes) and which will not drop all over the place since Aly will either be sitting on my lap or in the manduca carrier strapped to my front. But I’m not complaining!

I’m also thankful for my parents and in laws who are ever so willing to offer to take care of Aly should I need a break or if ys and I would just like to spend some time on our own. It’s amazing what a short breather can do!

What are you thankful for this week?

The past 4 months

I will be returning to work next Monday. So this Friday marks the end of my 4 month maternity leave. Just when I have started to get into the groove of things, when I am more confident, when I am truly enjoying motherhood. As I prepare myself to return to work, I have also been reflecting on the past 4 months.

I experienced the highest and lowest points in my life during the past four months. The joy I felt when I held Aly in my arms was soon replaced by insecurities, sometimes anger, other times bitterness and a whole load of other negative emotions. I was happy to have Aly with me but I was too tired and too worried (about many random things, blame it on those hormones) to enjoy her arrival. The first month was honestly a nightmare for me and was nothing like what I imagined life after baby would be. I doubted myself, doubted the foundation of our family, doubted my ability to be a good mum and hated myself for the mean, negative person I was morphing into. I think I had never felt more alone. The only times I was happy were the times I nursed Aly and as I watched her sleep. Those moments kept me sane. And I kept telling myself, these dark days would pass.

Then bit by bit, I found myself again. I can’t quite explain this in words but I really had to make an effort to pull myself out of my depressive state. It wasn’t like things started getting better on their own (as a matter of course). It was really a conscious effort to be happy. I started to let go of those bitter feelings and insecurities and that allowed me to start enjoying motherhood. I went out more, spent a lot of time with my mum, read, learnt how to take power naps and multi task efficiently. I grew more confident of myself, both a mother and as an individual. I found an inner strength that I never knew I had, that has been helping me to stay happy and sane despite the fatigue and sleep deprivation, that has given me the patience to care for a fussy baby 24/7, that has allowed me to be more affirmative in my parenting style. And even though I’m still in the process of learning and finding my way, I think I have become a happier, stronger and more confident person.

The past month especially, has been great. I have been enjoying all my time spent with Aly. I find immense joy in reading to her, carrying her in my arms, having “conversations” with her, bathing her, nursing her…I also feel that ys and I have grown as a couple, as we take on heavier responsibilities as Aly’s parents. We work well as a team and I am glad we have each other on this tough but fulfilling parenting journey.

Let’s just say even though i feel like i have aged by ten years, I am now at a point where I am happy and contented, and thankful that I have grown into the woman I now am.

Thankful Tuesdays: Family

Since I will be going back to work (my maternity leave ends in two weeks *horrors*), and life will probably get more hectic (such that we lose sight of what is important), I would like to commit (or at least try to commit) to Mama J’s weekly grateful gatherings, where people share the list of things they are grateful for. Today’s the first for me!

It has been a good day for me. I woke up to Aly “talking” to herself. She just laid beside me and started making these cute noises and looking around the room. As much as I am trying not to nurse her in bed in the early mornings, I must say it is really nice waking up to your child snuggled up beside you. And I am thankful for the opportunity to experience such joy.

I was scheduled to meet my mum in town for the robinsons private sale and ys came home early to send me there. We had a nice lunch at covelli and shopped for Aly’s toys thereafter. It was a simple afternoon of eating and shopping but I am thankful for the quality time spent with three of the most important people in my life, all at the same time!

Dinner was at my mum’s place and Aly got to sit in the walker my mum bought her for the first time. She enjoyed it so much that she was chuckling and smiling non stop. She was such a joy to watch and I sat there thinking, I could just watch her forever. Haha. I’m thankful for a happy and healthy Aly, for doting grandparents and for weekly home cooked meals.

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Uma Sapna, A dreaming place

“A dreaming place” – that’s what uma sapna means, according to our driver. Maybe he meant “A place to dream” or “A place of dreams”. Whatever it is, I liked the sound of it already.

The villas are located in the heart of seminyak town, just a five minute walk from the main street jalan laksmana and a twenty minute walk to the beach, but far enough from the main street to ensure you get the peace and quiet you need in the villa. The fact that it is located off a minor road does mean that the road leading back to the villa does get rather quiet at night (and I hated that there was no footpath along that road) but this is not a problem since you can always rely on a cab (especially when cabfares are really affordable).

We got upgraded from a one bedroom villa with private pool to a two-bedroom villa with private pool, which meant that the space we had was huge! The villa was clean, the bed was comfortable, the daily breakfast of your choice (delivered to the villa every morning) was yummy and most of all, the service was impeccable!! I was really impressed. Everyone we met in the villa always greeted us with a smile and was always helpful.

My minor gripes are that the bathtub’s a bit too huge for someone to lie comfortably and the pool looked a bit dirty (but I think I’m just being a kiasi Singaporean) and the see through door of the toilet cubicle may be weird if you are staying with friends or if you need total privacy when doing your business. We also had “visitors”, a centipede, frogs, a monitor lizard, spiders, but hey, that’s part of the experience I guess!! Mozzies weren’t that big an issue because someone would come into the villa every evening to turn down the bed, switch on the lights so you don’t come back to a dark villa and burn mosquito coils to keep the Mozzies away. Very thoughtful!

We took the dream home package which comes with a two hour spa for both of us, a 10 hour chauffeured tour around Bali (which I really liked because we could plan where we wanted to go at our own pace), daily breakfast and a lunch. And I must say, I felt every cent we paid was well worth it!

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Uma Sapna Villas
http://coconuthomes.com/

1st rolling over milestone

Aly successfully rolled over from front to back during tummy time today!! Twice! But she did it so quickly I couldn’t catch it on video. So here’s a photo of her looking cheeky!!

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