Reflections of my short stint alone with Little Foot

Tonight,  I ended my stay at home week with Little Foot aptly by eating the leftover mee sua that I cooked for her dinner.

I reflected on the past 6 days over the Al Dante soggy mee sua  (which I must say tasted quite good).

First, a pat on the back for me.

Our initial plans to go to JB for a short getaway together fell apart when Papa Long had to cancel his leave.

So our plans flopped.

I then set a fewagendas” — bring her to an indoor playground, to the library, and maybe for a shopping session in orchard. None of the above happened. My back had to choose to scream in pain late last week too, with the aches shooting to the back of my knees. Bad timing. So we stayed home, even though it got better after acupuncture on Tuesday, the only day Papa was able to take leave.

And so we went into the routine we knew best from our good old times – direct & comfort latching on demand. Probably the last time I will be able to use this weapon for a sahm stint as she is now nearly 16 months old.

Looking back, I think I did well because I randomly introduced new play ideas to her on whim. They were all just things that happened on the spot.

Fun with the magic mop happened because she wanted to play in the balcony and I wanted to make sure it was clean (especially since it’s been hazy). Playtime happened when she grabbed the mop from me.

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Ransacking the storage boxes filled with supplies of baby food is another funny thing she seemed to enjoy. Just nice that this spot is in full view of geh bathroom, so she would keep busy throwing stuff out of the box while I prepared her bath.

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The fun part of this room is that it also holds my extensive collection of scrapbooking materials. So of cos I thought,  it’d be fun to let her try some colouring. She had fun throwing the pencils around and poking the paper with them.

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One of my favourite moments was her discovering magnets. She spent a good hour playing with them, I had time to grab my morning drink and do some washing.

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And the next day, she upgraded to pushing the ikea stool, which she placed the magnets on, around the house.

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After she got tired of magnets, on Friday, we were back in the balcony playing again and she wanted to peel off the mosquito patches I stuck on the balcony door (a habit I had since I felt it was a waste to throw them immediately after a one – time trip to the playground).  I didn’t think it was a good idea to play with the citronella – soaked stickers, so I dug into my treasure trove and pulled out this pack of stickers. Oh… the amount of time she spent concentrating on getting the hang of peeling, sticking, transferring them. Good for training dexterity!

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These kiddy sunglasses amused her quite a bit too!

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Of course, she played with her truckload of toys too. . And other random stuff in the house

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But in the end,  the most time – consuming activity was eating.

Thankfully, our baby is a born foodie… I feel like she needs a master chef in the house, not mummy who cannot cook properly. .. but I tried my best to be creative and vary the dishes.

Like the egg, cheese and broccoli omelette that I conjured up and the potato and carrot (turned out they were sweet potatoes?!!) pan fried with tomato sauce and olive oil, and today’s vehicles pasta (cheated using prego sauce) with minced pork.

She also had the usual steamed cod with carrots and rice, beehoon soup with baby kailan and threadfin,  mee sua with spinach and cod fish (aka boring baby food). We also had yogurt, cereals, puffs and food pouches. My most outrageous moment was sharing my char siew rice with her (being mindful to avoid the oily and sauce – covered parts).

When the weekend finally arrived,  Little Foot got her first kid’s meal order for herself (I’m not counting the McDonald’s party happy meal since she didn’t eat the nuggets). Mini pancakes with blueberries and cream cheese. Sounds yummy, but she decided she wanted my sweet potato fries instead.

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The biggest achievements this week has gotta be Little Foot mastering feeding herself with a spoon on Friday, and able to walk about 10 steps or more without support tonight.

With the spoon,  it was actually a bo bian situation.  She would snatch the spoon from me when I feed her during meal times, so I gave it to her and got a second spoon. Guess what? She took it too! Initially, she couldn’t hold the spoon facing the right way up, so a lot ended on the chair and floor…. by Friday evening,  she knew how to adjust the spoon and aim the food into her mouth! The mess was almost confined to the tray! So proud of her!

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As for the walking, I know she has been practising hard lately, but she was always afraid to let go.  So we spent much of our times walking with her holding onto something or my hand. Including over and hour at the playground with her refusing to be carried and refusing to leave. I had to trot around with her surveying the nooks and crannies of the small kids playground (my back is cringing at the memory).

 

Last night, sleepless, she wanted to go walk the corridor. We end up playing by having her walk from Papa to Me and back again to Papa. She was so full of glee whenever she fell into the safety of our arms. My heart was filled with happiness whenever she hugged me and rested her head on my arm. Today at my mum’s place we pulled the distance further and she would squeal and giggle in excitement walking to and fro.

And then night came. .. dinner was over, yet she was restless. 9pm, she crawled out of our bed and insisted on leading me back to the living room.  “Mummum!” She pulled at the load of bread on the dining table.  Ok, I opened it… she played with 1 slice, past back to me.  I decided to get a slice of cheese and added another slice of bread. It was more for myself but I offered her the bread. Little did I know, she would claim it as her own. Lolz…

The interesting part was when she kept standing and walking while holding onto the bread and cheese for dear life and eating away at it. She seemed to have forgotten her apprehension about walking and covered.quite a distance from the playmat to the dining bench.

Oh my Little Foot,  you really thrive on food! With the bread, you found courage!

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Oh yes, and she’s had her first shower time in the bathroom outside of the bathtub… Stood for awhile,  then sat on the bathroom floor and poured water over herself with the water scoop.

So much done in this short time together… I feel a sense of achievement that I somehow managed to make good use of the time we had together. How life pans out sometimes.  It was supposed to be Papa’s stay at home dad stint, but circumstances gave me the opportunity to bond with our precious little girl. I wonder how it would be if he had stayed home this week instead of me.

This time is so different from last September.  In a way it is more difficult and easier all at the same time… maybe because she can keep occupied with a certain activity for a period of time, which give me chance to sit down and breathe, but her mobility makes challenging to constantly keep and eye on her. And she doesn’t want to be in the walker, stroller or baby carriers anymore (hopefully a passing phase while she’s learning to walk). Definitely a demanding boss here!.

As with the last stint, my meals are simple affairs, sometimes I forgot to eat till it’s past normal lunch time. I couldn’t be bothered with my hair or putting cream on my face.  As long as I brushed my teeth, washed my hands and showered. A part of me learned to let go and say “it’s ok”… esp with the food pouches and missed naps and bedtimes.

Little Foot will turn 16 months in 3 days’ time… no longer a baby, ready to walk and see the world.

I guess I can conclude by saying “We made it!”

Good night my sweetie 贝贝. Sleep tight. XOXO

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P.S. I really loved that incidental tune you played out today on the keyboard. Almost a twinkle twinkle there!

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Lots of giggles and chuckles on our last day

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DAY 331.

5 days shy of Little Foot turning 11 months young.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, we went out and played the day away.

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Thanks to a few of my fellow Dec mummy friends. We went to Giggles at Marine Parade and had loads of fun.

Little Foot always loved a good swing,  so she was completely happy to sit in the swing for a loooong time. And slides, and things to bite, touch, pull and throw. Awesome! And she no longer fears the ball pool.  Yay!

There was more playtime at her grandparents’ place in the evening. It’s amazing how one rainbow coloured big bouncing ball could keep her clapping and chuckling and occupied for quite awhile 🙂

Tired Little Foot is finally asleep after we got home and showered her.

Tomorrow is a brand new beginning as we adjust to life away from each other in the day.

I’m getting a grip on my thoughts and emotions. May absence make our hearts fonder!

Thank you my friends for making my last day as a SAHM a memorable one. XOXO!

And now, to pack my bag for tomorrow. #feelingbleargh

And…. it’s a wrap!

Today is my last weekday as a SAHM. Come Monday, I will be going back to work. It is a bittersweet day for me.

I spent my late morning entertaining her while she playfully kept crawling over and tugging on my top.

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Then I hit the gym. Last chance to go during off peak hours. Later in the afternoon,  we went to Orchard to shop.

On my way to gym, I actually felt so many different emotions all at once.

This is it. 329 Days spent with my baby, and this chapter has come to an end.  I am relieved – that all the minor issues detected at birth has been sorted out quickly.  I am so proud of her – growing from 2.645kg to 8.6kg, and all the many milestones achieved in this nearly 11 months. I am blessed – that I was able to have a chance to participate so intimately and almost 24/7 in this whole period. I am sad, it’s breaking my heart, that this has to end.

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Little Foot, please jiayou for Mummy. Going back to work is necessary, for you and for me, as I find my footing again in what I think I do best. Your naive mama continues to think that in her own little ways, she can make a difference to Singapore.

You have defined me as a mother over this whole period. Some days, I feel you are the teacher as I keep learning and relearning. You redefined life and its significance in a way I could never have understood before. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I hope our bond will always be strong. Thank you for being here and growing well.

I will always look back on this time spent together and replay all the little pockets of memories we’ve built in my head whenever things get hard or my breath gets short. 

Remember, no matter what happens and how many years may have passed, mama loves you so much, and I always will.

Thank you for making this a home full of memories, thank you for coming into this world and being my daughter.  You were all we hoped for and more.

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Remember your newborn days…

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your first Christmas at 20 days old… you were still so tiny…

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your chubby little angel face just a day shy of 6 weeks old…

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Your botak head look And signature frowny face…

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Your “Summon Auntie” look…

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your pursed lips look..

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Your gummy smiles…

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And even your cries. All a part of our fond memories. 

I will miss this 329 days and will look back fondly…. so many memories imprinted in my mind.

Please continue to give me your biggest grin whenever I open the front door. I am sure it will wash my stresses and pains away.

I love you to the moon and back. 

And … yes. It’s a wrap to my SAHM life. 

That hoarder in me

Little Foot is growing so fast, some days it does feel like I’m catching my breath just catching up with her.

This month she grew her first tooth, and a second is popping out anytime.

She’s also figured out that the walker doesn’t restrain her… it liberates her. So much so, she can run screaming into the kitchen or do a 3 – point turn and go back down our narrow hallway. This means she’s frowning when we place her in the exersaucer,  her once upon a time most exciting toy.

We’ve also upgraded her to the Standard size Kinderpack, which means her first and most loved KP is going to be redundant soon.

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In the infant size Kinderpack at 3 months young.

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Nicely fitting a standard size Kinderpack now.

Over the weekend, we got her a proper baby chair and a bigger carseat too. So it’s goodbye maxi cosi and Bumbo.

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Chubby Little Foot during her first try of the Bumbo.

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Having a meal in the Bumbo last week (her thighs kept getting stuck when we carried her out)

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Ready for meals now in her high chair.

Mummy doesn’t want time to zip by. I’ve kept so many momentos of her since birth. …from the first romper booties and mittens to her first shoes…even milk bottles. Even the first lock of hair I snipped.

Now as she starts outgrowing her toys and baby gear,  I’m so torn. I feel this great sense of sorrow as I put her in the exersaucer and wonder if it would be her last ride in it. I don’t want to dismantle the toy… I want Little Foot to be that same excited baby with the gummy smile playing in it. At most, the hoarder in me wants to stash it in the storeroom, not sell it on Carousell.

As she progresses along the milestone charts,  no one feels more accomplished than me, having stayed at home to journey this far together with her. Yet whenever it is time to wave goodbye to an old toy or clothes she has outgrown, I find myself an emotional wreck.

I want to hold on to all these… the things and the precious precious memories they carry, but we know space is a luxury in our tiny flat.

Let me just stall for time. Just let’s use it  all a little while more…. *sniffles*

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Still remember the first time she sat in the exersaucer, we had to add pillows to make sure she wasn’t floundering in it.

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Now, from botak head to a head full of hair.

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Zippin’ up and down in the baby walker.

“Maaa…”

Little Foot has been sleeping since slightly after 8pm , waking occasionally as usual to latch (mostly for comfort).

Awhile ago, in the wee hours, she woke up, flipped around and went back to sleep. And then she let out a clear “Maaa…” in a contented gentle voice and a smile on her face, still asleep.

I just experienced bliss like no words can describe. Glad you are dreaming sweet dreams of me tonight baby.

Love you, Little Foot. Sleep tight 🙂

Lessons from being home alone with Little Foot

I unexpectedly spent three weeks at home with Little Foot without our helper who went on home leave,  and this gave me a lot of food for thought (although no bandwidth to pen them).

What I learned in my short term of being a SAHM without help really prompted me to write this to give my permanent SAHM friends a pat on the back.

1. Forget Hollywood and the Duchess
You know those photos of all those Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie and our dear Princess Catherine spotted by Paparazzi all glam and chic and in control? Forget it. I didn’t even find time to style my hair (no way, you said?). Some days I’m looking half-mad/half – asleep walking up and down the corridor outside our unit rocking Little Foot incessantly in a carrier.

2. No one dies because the house is messy

I don’t understand the whole rationale behind why my helper rolls up the playmat (which weighs a bloody tonne!) everyday, sometimes more than once. Maybe over the years my mum has really drummed in the whole idea of how there must be a semblance of neatness (so all mess are hidden). I was happy to leave the mat and toys there. We go for a nap or a walk, we come back and I plonk Little Foot down on it. Afterall, the safest place is the floor now that she is quite a crawler and roller! Dealing with a baby who has separation anxiety, needs to be bathed, fed and entertained while my back killed me and I also need to eat and drink to stay alive and provide milk already made me feel like I need to clone myself. So please,  never judge a mama whose house is messy.  Rather use the make sure you didn’t feed your child a shoe and make her wear her cereal than try to pack toys which she will unpack in a blink.  Just prioritise.

3. It takes a village to raise a child.

I know it sounds cliché. It’s not. It’s a fact of life. In the second week as my back and stomach pangs deteriorated, and I start needing to catch my breath just washing a sippy cup, my siblings and mother, in addition to Daddy Long threw me a lot of lifelines. They checked on me via Whatsapp and calls. My bro-in-law and popped by to just help me carry Little Foot for awhile the one day I was afraid I wasn’t going to be ok, and my younger sister popped by to help out the next day. Daddy Long took many pockets of leave to chip in too. The best was my mum who took leave to accompany me and even cleaned and cooked.

4. It is okay to ask for help.

At first I was all fine and dandy, so the first week was all cosy rosy and Little Foot and I had a lot of fun bonding. Then as my back worsened and I started to worry (with scary images of me collapsed somewhere while my helpless baby crawled around and bawled her eyes out) about us being home alone, it took a lot for me to open my mouth and ask for help beyond the husband.

I beat myself up about it. All the “other mummies have been doing it, why I am so cannot make it?” self-reproaches playback in my head. On repeat mode.

And then I had to admit to myself I am not them. I have medical issues. I cannot be superwoman. And so I asked  and it wasn’t so bad. I love my family and we are very close. Isn’t that why mummies want more than one kid? So you can lean on each other?  I asked and they rose to the occasion as they always have for me.

5. Never let others decide how to deal with your child.

Three weeks I spent with my temperamental girl. I asked myself what went wrong.

I blame myself first… I carried her too much from birth (stupid colic!) And I continued to indulge her even after the colic had gone away. I also allowed my helper to respond faster than The Flash whenever Little Foot so much as squeaked, and I didn’t think all the chattering to her was wrong. The result? My 9 month old doesn’t know how to self- soothe or self-entertain,   fear separation and fear pockets of silence. Now this meant I have to talk to her, sing to her, and make eye contact ALL THE TIME. (Someone pass me the Woodbridge admission form please).

So in these three weeks,  we practised delayed gratification (Daddy is more firm on that one while I cave in a lot more). I made sure there was quiet time (it’s ok to let her sit and bite her toys while I stone and space out beside her), More importantly, I made sure of MEANINGFUL interaction. I pose questions to her like “What’s that sound?” And I provide replies and explanations about things “oh you hear that thunder? It’s going to rain! Rain is good as we all need water to drink…plants can grow, and then provide us with oxygen…” . We read books, and I sing her nursery rhymes and songs. I also spoke to her like a friend about my feelings. Some days she sat there wide-eyed and quiet when I felt down and emo. Yes, babies do feel and connect with mummies like that.

6. Things don’t always turn out the way we plan.

Never mind Plan A didn’t work.. Plan B, Plan C fails too. That is motherhood. It’s like how I attempted to bring Little Foot out for a walk more than twice. That day she spent pushing hard stools out the whole day…Each time we were supposedly ready, she would suddenly need to push something out. Crap… All plans are put of the window!

I think this applies to the current care giving arrangements too. Just need to keep adapting.

7. Mummies,  we push ourselves too hard.

I babywear Little Foot a lot. Too much.
I lose good sleep because we co-sleep and she wakes for milk a lot.
I spend her nap times thinking of her diet (what food to intro next) and how to make her bowel movements smoother… or what educational toys or baby gear to buy next.

Still not enough. And then I unconsciously compare with the other mummies who look like they are doing fine. And want to do more. So I guess I deserve to have my brought on my  lower back pain (old injuries plus a curved spine that too epidural), gastric pain and breathing issues.

At times, I need to check myself on the self-reproaches and just sing “Let It Go”…. play boo boo saliva with Little Foot and just giggle mindlessly with her.

8. Don’t belittle Daddy’s role.

Without Daddy Long, I would have gone off the rails on my downward spirals. Without Daddy Long and all the leave he took to help out, I cannot imagine how life would be when I cannot do so many things and really just want to lie down and rest inside of hang the laundry. He gave me a lot of extra time to sleep by bringing our little girl our for walks. And still had to endure my nitpicking, and listen to my fears (and my last words when I get all melodramatic).

My list could go on.

Motherhood is always a work in progress. See, 34 years on, my own mum finds it her responsibility to come and babysit me and my baby. I know she lost sleep worrying about me again. Not a vocation for the faint – hearted.

So, to my full time SAHM friends who have been coping alone, I don’t know how you do it, but you have my respect. Now that our dear helper is back, I can go back to my sane tai-tai sort of SAHM life again, but it won’t be the same anymore, because I now need to make sure the bad habits are kicked before I go back to work in 1.5 months’ time.  And oops…we both have greater separation anxiety now after having only each other to cling onto for so long.

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Life without help

It is Day four of helper’s two weeks home leave… Actually the real challenge started on Monday since weekend the papa is around.

I’m already tired. Actually I’ve been tired for a long time.

I find I hard to explain to those who scoff at this remark. Why other stay at home mum’s (sahms) can do it, while I need a helper when I only have one baby.

It is too tiring to explain – especially when I know it’s not going to change their mind about how they judge me – that I have spinal issues and a poor health history. Yes, strong – willed people can also be sickly.

Even with help,  I have a mostly direct-latching breastfed baby which means no one can help me much when it comes to feeding, especially the night ones.

I envy those who can handle 1, 2 or even 3 kids on their own. How they do it is beyond me.

After every bath of Little Foot’s,   I just want to go somewhere and lie down / catch my breath. Remind myself each time “do not fall over or drop her!” I enjoy the bath times though… it’s one of those things I want to be able to do for her everyday.

Little Foot is quite the little explorer, but this time alone came at a period where I will be hit by sudden bouts of breathing issues… maybe it’s the haze, maybe it’s my backache. Naysayers will say it’s all in my head. Maybe it is?  So there will be little exploring to be done these two weeks. I feel apologetic about it, but safety first, I remind myself.

Two months left to return to work, yet I have not only not recuperated, but seemed to have deteriorated… It bothers me. Trying to take it as one of those hurdles in life…and just keep saying “for her sake, I must and I can go on”. And pray.

I wish I could do this singlehandedly without a sweat, just like others make motherhood look like a walk in the park, but the body is weak.  Now i can only hope to wing it with sheer grit.

Trust me, some days, it does get depressing when I think of how useless I am.

So to the next person who wants to judge me for being a sahm with maid. I pray each day to be able to watch my girl grow…. would you trade your good health for my broken body? If not, just zip it already.

And so.. 10 days to go before Aunty Lily is back… GOD, keep us safe ok?