me myself and i · moments · the twins · thoughts

Closing a chapter

The chapter on breastfeeding, that is. I wanted to write an Instagram post because it’s faster and more instant but I have so much to say that I decided a blog entry is the way go. Also, I would like to remember this chapter many years from now (don’t close down on me, WordPress) so that hopefully, one day, the twins will get to read about it.

With Elliott, I breastfed him for close to a year. 21 days shy of a full year, to be precise. I know this because I wrote about it here. It was quite a different journey with the twins.

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Right from the get-go, we supplemented with formula milk for the twins. I remember our lovely PD telling me at the hospital, when he came round for checks, to “please go ahead and supplement ok? You’re feeding two. Don’t be too hard on yourself”. So yes, Edith and Everett took a mixture of breast milk and Karihome infant formula milk from the start.

With Elliott, I was truly blessed to have been able to give him 100% breastmilk for the first 6 months. I had no issues with supply then and I knew that with the twins, the body will automatically know what to do.

And it did.

I was able to nurse them from the start, at the hospital. I have videos of their little mouths suckling and having to stop briefly to rest because they were so tiny and having to work for their milk was exhausting for their little bodies. I am very glad I captured those moments on video because it will never ever happen again. Not in this lifetime anyway. I’m done having kids, and I am done with breastfeeding.

Quick note to new moms: I know it’s all hazy and scary when the new baby arrives and you’re trying your darnest to keep the kid alive but please record videos of yourself trying to nurse, or nursing your baby. It will be a treasured clip in years to come. 

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Other than supplementing with formula milk with the twins, I also decided to pump and get other caregivers to give them their feed via bottles. I tried to nurse them directly but it wasn’t very efficient. Edith was pretty good at latching but Everett was too impatient. He’d get extremely frustrated if he couldn’t get his latch on (i.e. milk wouldn’t flow properly) which translated into very loud and angry screams. Think thrashing about, cry-until-face-red type of situation. It was too stressful for me.

I even tried to latch them at the same time and boy, it was DAMN CHALLENGING, to say the least. When I finally got one twin to latch one, I’d have to gingerly try and get the other twin to latch. And this involved twisting my body into weird angles. And more often than not, by the time I managed to get other twin to latch, the first twin would have unlatched because of my twisting.

TOO MUCH EFFORT, people! And I did not have the brain space or energy to keep up with the let’s-nurse-them-together feat. Twin mums who do this regularly has my utmost respect. I don’t know how you do it, man.

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During the first 3 months, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t pumping out enough milk and we always had to top-up with formula milk. No matter how much milk I had, I always tried to divide them equally. However, I was slightly biased towards Everett as he was the smaller twin so if I had a bit extra, I’d always ensure that it went to Everett.

However, by the 4th month or so, I managed to pump enough milk to feed both almost exclusively on breast milk on some days. Not every single day but some. Those days felt good. Despite convincing myself that it is entirely ok to use formula milk, there was always a tiny niggling doubt at the back of my head that I wasn’t giving them 100% breast milk. It’s crazy, isn’t it?

The breast pump and I soon developed a close relationship. I pretty much stopped latching directly and pumped exclusively. I used the same pump as I did with Elliott, the Unimom Forte. It’s a hospital grade, double pump from South Korea which is supposed to “effectively stimulate your breasts to adequately raise your hormones which increases your milk production and output.” I’m not sure about all that but I just know that it worked well enough for me in extracting milk for the babies.

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Using bottles to give the twins their feed also meant that we could all tell how much they were drinking each time. We faithfully recorded how much they’ve drunk into a notebook as it is easy to forget what time they drank, or who was already fed! This was something taught to us by our confinement nanny. I guess with twins, I did not have the luxury of time (and energy) to latch them on demand. I’m not saying that this cannot be done. Many twin mums do it. It just wasn’t for me.

We followed a 3-hourly schedule and when it time for their feed, their caregivers would warm up the breastmilk in the fridge and gave it to them via bottles. We started with glass bottles from Nuk but soon transitioned to Hegen bottles. We used the latex Nuk teats that would end up going “flat” after one too many rounds of sterilising. This led to us having to stop feeding the babies to “unflatten” the teats which led to Very Angry Babies. Aiyoooo.

Tried the Hegen bottles and they were WONDERFUL. No issues with the flattening of teats and we can see exactly when the bottle was emptied out. Also, the square shape means the bottle opening is HUGE – makes it easy to pour milk/formula in. I also like the one-snap-to-close and one-twist-to-open method because when you have 2 angry and hungry babies, SPEED is critical. We now have 4 Hegen bottles that we use for the twins.

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Weaning off the babies this time round was pretty uneventful, to say the least. They started on solids once they hit 6 months old and they are WONDERFUL little eaters. For now. I hope I don’t jinx it by typing it out. Now that they’re 7 months old, they’re eating 2 meals a day (lunch and dinner) along with Karihome Follow-On formula milk. They don’t seem to need, or miss breast milk very much! When I try to latch Edith, she suckles for a minute or so before being distracted by whatever that’s happening around her.

So yep, this entry is to commemorate the end of my breastfeeding days. I do not know the exact day we stopped but the fact that our formula milk runs out really rapidly, I think it is safe to say that we are done with nursing. Forever.

Does it make me sad? Not really. I was quite happy to be selling off my pre-loved maternity/nursing clothes on Carousell and as weird as this sound, the fact that I can now take any type of medicine if and when I’m ill pleases me. I also love that I no longer need to worry about leaky boobs at 3am or lug 10,572 pieces of pumping paraphernalia whenever I head out.

I am just glad, and thankful, that I got the opportunity to breastfeed all my 3 kids, no matter how long/short the journey was.  Like I have always believed, breastfeeding isn’t the only way to bond with your child. There will be a gazillion other ways to build a close bond and we have our entire lifetimes to do so.

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family · me myself and i · moments · thoughts

Tomorrow, I’d be a better mum.

That’s something I tell myself every night, after the day is done and dusted. My mind plays through every single parenting moment that happened in the day and all I can remember is of me shouting at Elliott to go take his shower, or asking Everett harshly what he wants when he’s wailing till his face goes red.

As I lay in the dark replaying these scenes in my head, I get wrought with guilt and wonder why I can’t be like one of those patient and kind mothers who practice gentle parenting, the kind who rarely yell at her kids (I don’t think any mother can say they have NEVER yelled, hence the use of the word ‘rarely’). The sort of mother who keeps it all together despite being pushed to their limits, every second of the day. 

We have a village behind us. I have a capable helper who loves the kids like her own. My mum and mother-in-law take turns to come over during the week to help in the day. I have an extremely hands-on husband who has been an amazing co-parent.

I had a decent amount of sleep last night. I drank my teh-c and had my lunch. I even took a shower. Despite all that, I still feel annoyed, irritated and fucking exhausted. 

Like today where all 3 kids are sick.

I just yelled at Elliott to PLEASE GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP. Ok, not in the exact words but please, just please go and take your afternoon nap so that I have one less (whiny) child to deal with. I can hear the twins wailing their lungs out in the living room but I am too spent to care because I know they will be attended to. 

We wanted this, didn’t we? We wanted children. Badly. And now we have three. So why does it feel so overwhelming and all consuming? I did not have rose-tainted glasses about parenthood and yet, this mothering gig brings me to my knees on many days. 

Today is one of those days. One of those days where I feel like a failed mother, a fraud, a train wreck. One who doesn’t deserve these 3 beautiful beings who push me to the end of my patience thread and then some. 

Tomorrow, I’d (try again to) be a better mum.

me myself and i · the twins

I is for Influenza A: Part 1

On 14 May, Sunday, Elliott came down the sniffles. Pretty usual, I’d say, so we did not think much of it. However, that night, he ran a fever of 38+ degrees which led to unsettled sleep for pretty much for the entire family. Poor kid was burning up and only settled when I gave him some Brufen to make him more comfortable.

For the entire week, this fever stubbornly stayed. He’d be ok and chirpy in the day, being his usual self (save for runny nose) but at night, his fever would spike above 38, hitting 39+ degrees at times. It was an entire week of restless sleep for everybody. I put it down to the usual virus and decided to let him ride it out.

Unfortunately, on Wednesday night (17 May), I came down with the same bug. I spent the entire night shivering under the blanket in the room (no aircon). My temperature was also hovering at 38-39 degrees and it was near impossible to sleep. I also noted that the babies were moving a lot unusually and put it down to the fever.

When I awoke on the morning of 18 May, I was near delirious. The boy touched my forehead and said I’m still very hot to the touch. I remember barely hearing him. I reached out for the thermometer and the reading was 39.8 degrees.

Sheesh. That’s pretty darn high.

Decided to call my gynae to ask for her advice. Her first words were: Go to KKH now.

The boy was enroute to work but rushed home to drive me to KKH. We  headed to the O&G (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) 24-hour clinic but the boy noted a sign that stated: For pregnant women who are over 22-weeks, please proceed to the delivery ward on Level 2.

And so we did.

We were attended to very promptly. When the nurse heard that I was running a fever, she quickly ushered me into one of the empty delivery wards and strapped me up to track the babies’ heartbeats.

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As it turns out, I was having regular contractions. WHAT?! I had no idea. I just thought that the babies were moving around quite a lot. Had no idea that they were contractions? A doctor soon came to attend to me and she informed us that the first priority is to stop the contractions. They also gave me some oral medication (paracetamol) and put me on the drip to  regulate my temperature. She also said that I was to be warded for one night for observation.

Later that day, they moved me up to another delivery ward as the usual wards were full. This surprised me because I thought we have a falling birth rate? Who are these people giving birth and taking up ward space?

Soon after, a bunch of junior doctors (who all looked less than 25 years old) came to do their rounds. 3 of them attempted to put the needle into the back of my hand for the drip and let’s just say that at the end of it all, I had 5 puncture wounds on both hands because they could not find my ‘thin vein’. URGH. They also took my blood to test for all sorts of diseases, as well as a nose swab to test for Influenza A.

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I was also given steroid jabs on both thighs to strengthen the babies’ lungs just in case they decided to pop out early. Those jabs were FREAKIN’ PAINFUL CAN?! I now have a bruised left thigh to show for it.

I also remember one of the nurses/administrators coming to me to explain the cost of delivering the babies early. It was all a bit of a blur but I remember flinching physically when I was informed that for a 21-day stay in the NICU ward for premature babies, it will cost a whopping S$30K. Twins? Multiply that by 2.

Jeez. That’s some serious money there.

Thankfully, with the meds and drip, the fever stayed away. I actually felt more human once the fever was gone. I was also given Nifedipine (or commonly known as Adalat which is actually a brand) to take – 2 tablets, 4 times a day. It is supposed to stop pre-term labour. The results of the nose swab also confirmed that I had influenza A.

The boy was saying that I can have a good rest in hospital but the truth is, I was in a 4-bedder because they ran out of single rooms and single rooms are mad expensive! The lady beside me was also experiencing pre-term labour but the other 2 ladies just gave birth so throughout the night, their newborns were crying. And when it all quietened down, the nurses would be coming round to take my blood pressure, give me meds, check babies’ heart rates, etc. I don’t think I rested much that night, to be honest.

The next morning, I was cleared to head home as the contractions have stopped. Hooray! I haven’t had a shower since I was admitted which was like 2 days of grubbiness. GROSS. I couldn’t wait to get home for a good shower. Did you know that if you’re Singaporean, you do not need to queue up to pay, etc? Once the doctor clears you for discharge, you can just leave and the bill will be mailed to you. HOW AWESOME.

I was given a huge bag of meds to bring home which included a 2-week dosage of Nifedipin, as well as Tamiflu to manage the influenza. There were also throat lozenges and cough mixture.

Now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the twins stay in and bake until we cross into June which is really not too far away. Eeeeks.

And yes, there’s a Part 2 to this story. Watch this space.

me myself and i · thoughts

Days of being young and stupid

My mum passed me a bag of books the other day. She was moving and needed to get rid of “my things”. When I finally found the time to sift through the pile of dusty books, lo and behold, I found an old diary that I kept when I was in my 20s.

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Opening the diary brought back a flood of memories. Writing was (and still is) my coping mechanism and back in those days before the internet (and blogging), I used to scribble my thoughts furiously. More often than not, my scribbling was about emotional pain, or “my crumpled heart”, as I wrote so cleverly (hur hur). I remember tears between those paper pages. I asked myself questions, I questioned the Universe (!), and wow, I even found poems. Yes, I wrote poems.

Very drama mama.

I couldn’t bring myself to read the entries in its entirety because they bring me back to days of an unsettled heart that was constantly searching and hurting. Some people say that your 20s are the best times of your life.

Not for me.

In my 20s, I was uncertain, unsure and…clueless. I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted in the love department which led me to dating quite a few “wrong” boys. You name it, I’ve probably dated one. (If you’re reading this Mum, I’m sorry. Hehehe).

In fact, after I found the diary, I texted the BFF:

Found my old diary. Sheesh, I was so whiny and needy. Amazed you didn’t slap me. 

She still jokes (or maybe she’s serious, I don’t know for sure) that I still owe her therapy and counselling fees.

I am so so glad that those angsty days are over. I much prefer being in my 30s, thank you very much.

I pondered over what I should do with the diary.

Keep it? (For what?)
Burn it? (Not good for the environment)
Shred it? (Maybe)

For the record, I threw placed it in the wardrobe and maybe one day, I’d take it out and read it again in its entirety. Just to remind myself that we were all young and stupid once.

me myself and i · travels

Flying solo

Last month, I travelled to South Korea for a work trip. Before each trip, I am always apprehensive about leaving Elliott behind. To make things a little more complicated, the boy was flying out the same evening I arrive, also for work. We both rarely travel for work so talk about Murphy’s Law! Our flights would literally arrive and take off 5 minutes away from each other. Thankfully (or not), his epic flight to New York (via Frankfurt) was delayed for 4 hours so we managed to catch up with each other very briefly at the airport over drinks.

Each evening, we’d FaceTime (a big yeay to technology) and whenever Elliott go: “Mummy come, Mummy no go airplane“, my heart would ache for a bit. However, during the day when we were going about the tour, it felt nice to break out of routine.

Ever since I became a mother, it is sometimes easy to forget that pre-motherhood, we all had a life. A life that involved eating with both hands and adult conversations, amongst other things. I truly enjoyed the times when I was in South Korea, like looking at shop displays leisurely without having to keep a watch out for a tiny being running amok or the same tiny being attempting to knock over a mannequin.

As Yann writes here much more eloquently that I could have, it was nice just being me for 7 days. All said and done, I have to admit that towards the end of the work trip, I was looking forward to holding my not-so-baby-anymore baby in my arms again 🙂

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