Not just a helper

[Saturday, 19 Dec 2015]

“Dear Aunty lily,
I wanted to buy you a gift for Christmas this year. Now, I just wish I could buy you a bucket full of good health.”

I don’t know how to articulate how I feel at this point. The above is probably the rawest thought. Might as well pen it down.

I’m home now with Little Foot who has some rashes and spots that look like chicken pox. Probably from her vaccination. Our Aunty Lily is at the patient bay in TTSH A&E. We sent her there last night. Papa Long had to carry her to the car and we zoomed to the hospital.

Aunty hasn’t been feeling well since yesterday. She said the room was spinning.. it got so bad she almost fainted in the toilet (luckily my aunt and uncle were in our house when it happened) and kept throwing up. It didn’t get any better even after I brought her to see a GP and got a jab. We decided to go to the hospital at night when she didn’t feel better and continued throwing up. So there we were, a sleeping baby strapped to me, and Papa Long carrying Aunty to the car. We managed to get to the hospital somehow. I couldn’t think straight.

Thankfully my sister Pris came down to join us… Little Foot was awakened by the hustle and bustle at the A&E, and it was no place for a baby.. so Pris stayed with Aunty through the night. I didn’t get much sleep, but Little Foot conked out.

Before I left the hospital, a medical officer had already attended to her.. we both cried together there in the emergency ward. I felt helpless. How to make the room stop spinning around for her?

I am thrown back to the fear that gripped me when we brought Pico to the vet the final time. “Don’t do this to me again…”I silently prayed to Him.

I stopped writing halfway on Saturday.

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[Tuesday, 22 Dec 2015]
So Aunty Lily stayed 2.5 days in the hospital, 1 night spent in A&E, 1 night spent in the corridor of the ward, and 1 night in the ward itself. The wait for a bed in C class in Tan Tock Seng Hospital is 37 hours (no kidding!)
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Finally able to visit …along the corridor.

Yesterday we were all relieved that the spinning and vomiting stopped after the medicine took effect. And more so because the MRI, ECG, blood tests, urine tests etc showed nothing. Doctors told us it’s vertigo, and to be managed by medication.

Maybe God wanted to shake me awake from my faith sabbatical. I carried Little Foot and prayed the first night… “When two or more gather, I am among you”. I asked Him to help his faithful child.

Maybe because she is not my kin, some people started asking me about the bills. Singaporeans can be very practical.

Perhaps because I’m a big spender, I didn’t think that bill was so bad. And we are going to claim from the domestic helper insurance, see if that can cover some, if not all, of the bill.

My take is this… if we are willing to donate money in tin cans, make donations through phone calls while artistes perform on TV for those organisations, or do Internet transfer to Red Cross when Tsunami hit a neighbouring country, all the more we should be willing to extend this sense of generosity to someone we know.

And this is someone who has done all the stuff I have no clue how to do for 15 years for my family (Yes, I can’t remove stains on clothes or iron a dress nicely, and I can’t cook a decent meal). She was the only “family ” I had during my Baptism in 2010. She was here helping me to unwrap all the baby stuff the day before Little Foot arrived. She was here when Little Foot came home, making sure the place was stocked with whatever confinement required. And she jumped in and took over when our confinement lady left us abruptly when Little Foot was 3 weeks old. She loves our Little Foot as much as we as parents do. And because of that, I can happily go to work and concentrate on dealing with work because I know Little Foot is in good hands.
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The beautiful arrangements that 3 of us did the day before delivering Little Foot

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Little Foot was a regular at BabySpa on weekdays, because we would bring her to NEX together

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Action speaker louder than words
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At Little Foot’s 1st birthday party

So I thank God she ok, and hope the vertigo goes far far away forever.

Really, I hope everyone can find it in them this season of giving to love those whom they assume are of lesser social standing than them. For in His eyes, we are all equal.

Yes I am the employer of a domestic helper, but I am her friend and family here in Singapore too.

And to end on a good note, last night, Little Foot wanted to play with the Rosary beads that Aunty Lily returned to me. (I had asked Aunty Lily to hold on to them while we panicked the first hours of the giddiness.) And for the first time, I carried Little Foot and did one decade of the Rosary. I felt at peace. I know Jesus is with us.
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May the rest of the days leading up to Xmas be peaceful.

And may we all have good health.

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Revisiting our walks together

Lunchtime. 

As I walked out of the office building to the nearby shopping mall to meet a couple of mummy friends for lunch, I spotted a pregnant lady from afar. 

I’m reminded of the times walking up and down this same stretch daily with Little Foot nesting inside me.

I’m reminded of those conversations I would have with her. “Baby-nim, you ok? It’s a really hot day yah?” … mundane conversations like that.

Life was simple then. Just a lot of looking forward to her arrival… watching my diet (towards the end), checking and re-checking if we’ve bought all the stuff we need for her arrival. Simple happiness.

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At 36 weeks pregnant…

Life has changed so much since her arrival. One year on, I walk the same stretch, reminiscing the feeling of that simple happiness, feeling different. Today, happiness comes in the form of her flappy arms and cheeky grin when she sees me.. happiness also comes in the form of seeing her well and full of appetite. Happiness is feeling accomplished when she likes a baby biscuit that I’ve bought.

She’s had a fever since last night. I hope it goes away soon. That would lighten my footsteps as I walk that same stretch. I miss keeping her safe in my tummy. Those days were so much simpler really.

Dwindling photos

Because I’m at work for the better part of the times that Little Foot is awake, I find that the number of photos capturing her moments, the number of wefies and random shots have dwindled to a handful, sometimes not even one photo a day on week days. 

I feel sad.

Little Foot, am I missing anything while I’m at work?

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Playtime with Papa yesterday just before bedtime

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Playtime with mummy this evening.

We have a baby cam which I got Papa Long to place in front of her playmat in the house. Watching her playing or zooming past in her walker helps me manage my feelings when I miss my little girl.

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Thank God for technology, but I do miss those sahm days when I could keep snapping photos, watch her play, read her a book and guide her along with whatever she was trying to do.

Still, I take heart that she is in good hands.

I tell myself, chin up…there’s always weekends and lunch dates.

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The man in her life

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In my last blog post,  I shared that this photo taken at Little Foot’s first birthday party meant a lot to me.

I didn’t elaborate why, but today I felt I should revisit this photo.

Growing up, I didn’t really experience this. Being a typical chinese family, fathers in those days hardly saw it as their duty to be carrying baby, changing nappies, burping babies. Kids were probably a byproduct of marriage. My father was present but absent in the better part of my growing up life. He was the one who would give pocket money, the one who drove us to school. That was about it. We only sat down for dinners together on occasions.

Growing up on a family of five kids meant that our parents’ attention would be divided… and they were busy making ends meet. Their marriage also had its ups and downs.

Growing up, I often felt a tinge of deep sadness when I see fathers carrying their children,  holding their hands, sharing a conversation,  having fun.  The last time my dad carried me was when I was nine years old. I almost fainted in Chinatown during the festive season. So he carried me out of the crowds. That was the last time. At my wedding, it was awkward to hug him. We had so many missed opportunities over the years that could have made us closer as father and daughter… time could not be turned back.

Today, when I was out for lunch, I saw a man carrying his son, and the boy protested saying “but I’m not a baby!” I wish I could tell the boy, “lucky you…”

Which is why I revisited this photo.  It carried what I really hope for my daughter to have – a father that will be completely involved in her growing up years. A relationship with us that is without invisible walls.

I didn’t want to have children because I couldn’t be sure I could be a good parent, or that the family we gave you will always be a happy one, and your childhood would be without worries. I didn’t want you to have a childhood like mine, where your parents were never in the crowd when your band performed, when you wondered why yours was the only family that didn’t have dinners daily together, or even travelled together. 

The family I grew up in gave me a great relationship with my siblings, making up for the absence of our parents’ outward expression of love. In their own ways, I’m sure they did and still do care. Just not as visible as others.

Little Foot, I’m happy your Papa had been so hands on…. he wanted you so much before I could even imagine being a mother. And he has walked the talk to date. I hope he will always be the involved papa, your first hero, your first idol.

This photo has washed away any doubts and fears that I may have had. Not a perfect papa,  but the best that he can be.

I couldn’t have asked for more. 

Photo credit: Matthew Photography

Happy Labour Day to me

This time last year,  I was getting ready to be wheeled into the operating theatre after we induced but failed to dilate far enough for baby to be delivered naturally. 12 hours of contractions under epidural, baby heart beat dropped once throughout the process, and I was running a temperature.

I just wanted to get her out asap so that she is well and safe.

Today, she’s lying here beside me in bed, asleep after a long day.

Happy Labour day to me & happy birthday to my Little Foot.

It was all worth it.

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A preview photo from today’s party spoke a thousand words. The two most important people in my life, you both complete me. And thank you Little Foot,  for bringing out this loving side of your Daddy.

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Still amazed at how much you have grown!

Last week of babyhood

This weekend,  Little Foot will turn One.

The turning point where she officially becomes a toddler and leaves babyhood behind. Bittersweet feeling for Mummy.

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We spent the last weekend battling fever with her… and then this week finishing up the preparations for the big party. Today we also celebrated papa Long’s birthday. I hardly had time to reflect.

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I still remember the first remarks from Dr Teo when she was pulled out from my tummy (since it was a Caesarean delivery) – “Joy, your baby girl is very calm”.

I remember lying there on that cold operating table missing my husband while I waited for the nurses to clean her up and show her to me. I could hear them counting her fingers and toes.

And then they finally brought her to my side and our cheeks touched, and I said “Hello, baby” that feeling of so much relief, so much happiness, so much sadness (that Papa Long couldn’t be there with us)…it was all so overwhelming. I will always remember that. And it always brings me to tears.

And from there, we started this amazing journey called Parenthood. I’d be lying blatantly if I said it was all so blissful and happy. I can’t explain, but it’s all still so amazing to me, even with pain and tears in the package.

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There were all the milk woes at the beginning. Too little milk…engorgement… rejected direct latching after milk bottles were introduced… rejected milk bottles at 40 days old… pumps don’t work…. bloatedness from formula milk.

Then there was the colic nightmare that turned our angelic, calm baby into a bloated baby that refused to be put down.

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And then the constipation when we started weaning, followed by stomach flu… some days I worried so much for you, I would cry while you cried.

There were all those happy times too.  I loved all the times you clung to me… how you would go to sleep in the carseat in the living room… your love for certain toys… I loved the way your eyes would search for me in the room as your vision got clearer.. I remembered your tummy times, the neck exercises, the way you tried to flip and then could only flip to your left…the excited you in the exersaucer, the snuggly baby in the carriers, your feet kicking leisurely while you sat in the bumbo …. the zoom zoom baby in the walker, the splashing baby in the bath tub, most of all, every night spent sleeping beside me.

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I have no regrets my darling, taking time off from work… I managed to witness so much of your babyhood. I’m amazed that your sprouted under my nose and in my eyes you seemed to have always been the same. I only see the difference when I look through the few thousand photos I’ve taken of you.

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I ask myself a lot “where has all the time gone?”… whenever I see photos of your early days.

This weekend, you will turn one. And then, in the blink of an eye, you will grow up… be a school-going kid, reach teenage years, be an adult, maybe be a mother like me… you will spread your wings and leave my side one day.

I know we can’t hold on to you forever, yet for now, in the last moments of your babyhood, I do secretly wish I can hold on to you forever… in mummy’s heart, you will always be that perfect fit for me baby. The one who completed me, the one who carried traits of both your papa and mummy in your actions and demeanour.  The one who melts away all pain… the one we loved so deeply even before we even cast our eyes on your face.

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I know many say toddlers years will be trying… terrible 2 and horrible 3. Mummy still look forward to being there with you through it all. I hope you’ll always remember how I am your original best friend.

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Don’t grow up too fast my baby… take your time, smell the flowers along the way in life’s journey, pace yourself.

Ahead of time, I wish you health and happiness always, and may you always live in God’s grace.

Thank you for being our baby.

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