moments

The nights are long.

I did not write this. It is a beautiful piece extracted from “No Mama’s Perfect“. I wanted to reproduce it here so that I will always remember that the nights are long but the years are so very short.

When you’re finally home, hospital bracelet still on your wrist, and your sweet infant girl cries all night. When you try everything you know to soothe her and nothing seems to work, and eventually the tears of joy you expected become tears of exhaustion and frustration.

The nights are long.

When you rock, soothe, and sing lullabies all to no avail, and that bassinet you chose with such care sits empty, while you walk the length of your home, shushing, and swaying, and praying sleep will come.

The nights are long.

When the fever is high, his eyes usually dancing with delight, are dull and weary. When his little body is wracked with sickness, and you don’t know what’s wrong. When you call the 24-hour nurse line, or research symptoms online, only to end up terrified.

The nights are long.

When we lie awake at night wondering if our babies, now children, are making friends at school. Our bodies are exhausted from the day, yet our minds still churn with questions: are they adjusting, are they happy, have we taught them enough to navigate these new experiences?

The nights are long.

When the ones who once filled our backseat with more questions and songs than our ears could digest, now, a few years later, scroll their phones quietly instead. When the eyes once filled with amusement and laughter are now rolled skyward more often than we’d like, and we sit there wondering if all is well in their world. We try, but at times feel unable to find our way into the heart of things.

The nights are long.

When she’s out on a date, and you wonder if all the things you’ve taught her, and all the conversations you’ve had with her, will be enough. When he’s out with his friends, and you hope he’ll be a leader rather than a follower, and that the heart to hearts will be lived out now that the decisions are his to make. When the car is packed, and your eyes hold hers through that window one last time as she pulls away.

Yes. The nights are long.

But the years?

Oh, the years are short.

When the little bundle that once wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet is now too long to fit, and you lay her gently in the crib instead.

The years are short.

When the tiniest hand that once clutched your finger so tightly, releases your hand readily and walks towards the first day of Kindergarten.

The years are short.

When our babies, who were just cooing, snuggling, and filling their fists with our hair are now curling, straightening, and styling their own.

The years are short.

When the one you thought would never sleep, would now sleep until noon if you let him.

The years are short.

When you see the hand, that just yesterday learned to wave while you encouragingly said, “Say bye-bye,” waving goodbye as she drives away.

The years are short.

When our littles become our bigs; When our way becomes their way; When our love is stretched to the point of aching…

We will remember…

That the nights were so very long. But the years are so very short.

Written By: Ginger Hughes

Advertisements
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.

IMG_9029.JPG

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. 

IMG_9112.JPG

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.

IMG_9113.JPG

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.

IMG_9645.JPG

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.

IMG_6379.JPG

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.

IMG_3607.jpg

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.

elliott · family · lil' things that make me happy · moments · thoughts

The little yellow ball

A few days back, Elliott received a small yellow rubber ball as part of his classmate’s birthday gift pack. He has been playing with it and this evening, he asked if I can play ball with him. It was time for bed and I was a little hesitant but what the heck, let’s play ball for a while.

He sat on the bed, rolled the ball towards me, and I’d roll it back to him. Sometimes, the ball rolled off the bed and he’d get excited because he was afraid that it’d roll under the bed and he can’t get it out.

Throughout our ball throwing/rolling session, he kept squealing with excitement and broke out in fits of giggles. One time, I hit his head with my throw (what are the chances, right?) and we both shrieked with laughter. I found myself wondering: Roll ball also so happy ah?

It reminded me once again that a child finds joy in the simplest of things, and it made me happy that I was part of that joyful experience. 🎈

IMG_7596

moments · thoughts

4.30 am

It is 4.30 am.

I had to wake because my boobs told me that it is time to pump and wouldn’t allow me to fall back to sleep because it was too uncomfortable. I contemplate for a second that I continue to sleep and ignore the discomfort but common sense prevailed – I had to get up or I can’t get back to sleep. More importantly, my babies need the milk.

I stumble groggily into the living room, extract the various pump parts from the steriliser and plonk myself on the sofa. I turn on the familiar machine and it whirs to life, extracting precious mama milk, drop by drop. It is pretty hypnotic. The sound from the machine, that is. I try not to fall asleep because a split second is all it takes to spill all that precious milk.

I get about 110 ml. For one newborn, it may be enough. For twins, it disappears in the next feed. But it’s ok. Some breast milk is better than none. Formula milk won’t kill them, I tell myself. 

I am thankful that this time round, we have a confinement nanny who takes the night feeds and I can sleep a decent amount of hours. I am talking 3-4 hours at a stretch, sometimes even 5 on a good night.

But you know what? I am still tired. Exhausted on some days. Some days, I sit stoically by their rocker as they cry their lungs out. Their little faces red from all that crying and I just sit and stare

The truth is, it gets a little…overwhelming. Despite having help, on some days (especially when I lack sleep), I am too exhausted and mentally spent to…care. I just wish they’d stop crying and sleep because I want to sleep. No, scratch that. I am usually too exhausted to sleep. My brain is trying its best to be awake and present but my body is too tired to react. Which is why I just sit and stare at my crying babies. I don’t even cry because crying takes too much effort. 

You know how you read about mothers who cry when they meet their babies for the first time? Or how emotionally attached they are the moment their babies exit the womb? 

Well. I don’t quite feel this way. On some days at least. On those sort of days, my brain does not register that these squawking babies came out of me. That I carried them in my womb for 37 weeks. I stare at their cherubic faces and instead of mad gushing love pouring out of my heart, I feel…exhaustion. And on really bad days, I feel like I don’t deserve them because I dont think I am doing a good enough job as a mother. As their mother. 

I should have more breastmilk for them.

I should cuddle and hold them more often.

I should be feeling overwhelming love that mothers feel for their child(ren).

Perhaps it’s the hormones (and exhaustion) talking and when the fog lifts, I will look back at this entry and wonder what the hell I was rambling on about. But right now, at almost 5 am this early Sunday morning, it is all very real.