funnies · the journey · the twins · thoughts

The 5-letter word called sleep.

After sharing our news on social media, we have been overwhelmed with loads of kinds words and congratulatory messages. miss ene and the boy would like to say a big thank you to all of you who have shown nothing but grace and kindness towards our parenting journey.

It is nice to finally talk about the pregnancy openly on this blog! First up, let’s talk about sleep. Or rather, the lack of it. Many have reminded me to ‘sleep as much as you can before the babies come’ which comes from a good place because yes, I am fully aware that when newborns (TWO THIS TIME!) arrive, sleep goes out of the window very quickly.

However, sleep has not come easy to me, especially in this last trimester. Let me count the 5 ways:

Reason #1 – the need to pee

I need to pee. Many many times. New mothers gush and tell me to relish pregnancy because you’d miss the kicks and movements but all I remember from pregnancy (with Elliott) is the need to pee CONSTANTLY. And of course, that’s happening now with the twins.

I’d get into a comfortable position to sleep and when I almost doze off, I’d need to pee NOW NOW NOW. Forget about trying to ignore it because it cannot be ignored. You just need to get right up and head to the toilet.

And when I say “get right up”, I don’t mean bouncing out of bed (I wish). I am talking about moving from horizontal to vertical like an overweight sloth (i.e. very very slowly) while using one hand to support myself so that I don’t fall over from the giant belly. I then shuffle slowly and carefully to the bathroom to pee about 5 drops (8 if I’m lucky) before shuffling back to bed to try and get comfortable again. Repeat process x 10,572 times a night.

Reason #2 – Baby, it’s hot

I do vaguely remember feeling hot when I was pregnant with Elliott but this time round, perhaps due to the fact that there’s two baking inside, this heat thing is real. And please, I’m not talking sexy hot. I’m talking sweat dripping down your back, face, and everywhere, and looking like I just ran a half-marathon in 35 degrees heat with a wool pullover, complete with sweat-soaked messy hair.

We usually sleep in an air-conditioned room but these days, even in the 23 degrees celcius room with the ceiling fan turned on, I CAN’T SLEEP BECAUSE I AM FEELING VERY HOT. The boy, who is usually the one who hates the heat, ends up cowering under the duvet because the room is so darn cold (to him). Me? I’ve kicked off the duvet and trying to sleep while beads of sweat trickle down my forehead. Or I’d fall asleep finally but wake up to a sweaty head because yep, I’m feeling hot.

Reason #3 – My (almost) broken ribs

This is something I don’t remember from Elliott’s days. I honestly don’t remember my poor ribs being shoved, prodded, pushed and punched when I was pregnant with him. Either that or I have mumnesia. I have, on many occassions, been rudely jolted awake by intense pain in my ribs. It started with my right ribs which I thought were due to the fact that Twin B’s legs are right there. However, these days, my left ribs hurt as well, probably from Twin A’s legs as apparently, both of them are head-down.

So imagine this: You have 4 legs kicking and pushing against your ribs at odd hours of the night, like someone sucker-punched you when you weren’t looking. I’ve never bruised my ribs before (I don’t get into fights, thank you very much) so at first, I wasn’t sure if it was just my imagination that my ribs were hurting.

On some nights, I thought I was dreaming about the pain and wake up with a shock but I have concluded that the pain is very very real. I literally wake up going “owwww” and have to soothe the aching ribs by massaging them. How to sleep like that?

Reason #4 – Internal kungfu fighting

Assuming all of the above 3 reasons do not exist, there are the internal “fights” that go on inside of my belly. Ok, I’m not sure if the twins are fighting per se but I’m pretty sure with each passing day, space is becoming a precious commodity and they are fighting for space to move.

Twin A (the girl) is the more active of the two – surprise, surprise. So much for girls being “easier”, “more docile” and “gentle”. She is the one with the kungfu fly kicks and somersaults. Even at scans, she moves a lot. We saw her shake her head (!) and let out a huge lazy yawn, like it is such blardy hard work being a baby in-utero. Twin B moves less. So much lesser than I find myself going into Google-mad mode and asking on forums if this is normal and if I should press the panic button and see the gynae NOW NOW NOW.

Yes, it is wonderful to feel their kicks and moves (isn’t that the beauty of pregnancy, everyone asks) but when both of them kick up a storm or engage in an in-utero fist-fight at 3am, I get shocked awake. At last week’s check, they were 1.6 kg each so when they move or get excited, their movements are pretty darn acute.

Reason #5 – One very giant belly

I’ve been getting loads of “your belly is very small for twins leh” comments. To that, I punch them in the head mentally smile and say it’s really heavy for me already. I have a rather small frame so carrying twins feel like quite a load for me. My gynae has never said that the twins are small or not growing well. In fact, she has said that she is very pleased at my weight gain and progress so far.

At the moment, this “small belly” that everyone talks about is getting really hard to heave around. I get breathless just walking for short distances. Getting from a sitting position to a standing one just to get a drink of water from the kitchen takes a mammoth effort. I get achy if I sit/stand/lie for too long.

This translates to bad sleep or a complete lack of sleep at night. There is no comfortable position. Experts say we should lie on the left side for better blood flow but Twin A is there and she kicks up a storm when I do that. So I spend a considerably amount of effort turning from left to right. I manage to settle into a comfortable position on my right and then I’d…need to pee.

I get back to bed and lie facing-up but have to prop both legs into an inverted v-shaped position because lying flat kills my lower back. Sometimes, this is the ‘jackpot’ position and I finally fall asleep.

On other bad nights, I get a stuffy nose from pregnancy rhinitis which is another blog entry for another day. I’d then have to grab the other pillow from the boy and prop my head up to try and sleep. Sometimes, this helps as it clears my nose but I’ve woken up a few times with a ‘dead’ arm and a stiff neck because of the awkward position the extra pillow puts my upper body in.

There you go. 5 reasons why sleep is pretty elusive in my world right now.

Selene_0082-002

the journey · thoughts · us

Something’s brewing.

When Elliott turned 2 years old, the perennial question of “So when is number 2?” intensified. In fact, the moment he was almost a year old, this question was thrown at us whenever we met up with friends, family, etc. Don’t wait too long, they’d say. Good to have siblings, they’d quip. I always wanted to punch their faces smiled and just mumbled something incoherently, something along the lines of how Elliott is already a lot of work so siblings can wait.

Like I wrote about it here, my heart always broke a little whenever I get that question because if you have been following this blog, you will know that Elliott is our tiny miracle (ok, not so tiny now but still miracle). Dare we hope for….a second child?

Selene_0003-001

Last year, I turned 40. It was like the big four-zero. The boy and I got married late (I was 33) and we spent a good 4 years trying to get that bun in the oven. There was no big surprise party or huge fanfare when I turned 40. I honestly cannot remember what we did. But the fact is, I am now 40 years old. If – and that is a big fat if – we were to consider a sibling for Elliott, this would almost be the ‘last’ year before it gets a bit too late. I know there are tons of older mothers out there, think Fann Wong, Janet Jackson, blah blah blah. But realistically speaking, I cannot imagine having a child at 45 years old (or later). Even running after Elliott now takes the wind out of me most of the time and I cannot imagine having to care for a newborn as I get older.

So the boy and I sat down to seriously consider this sibling business. Basically, it was now or never. As he aptly puts, if we are successful, Elliott gets a sibling. Hooray! And if we fail, it is ok as well because we already have Elliott. In other words, it wouldn’t be as ‘stressful’ as trying to get a bun in the oven now as compared to the first time when odds were a lot higher. It was with a bit of trepidation, a bagful of hope and slight fear (of failure yet again) that we started on the journey for our second child.

And in October 2016, we found ourselves pregnant.

As usual, the early weeks were nerve-wrecking as we weren’t sure if the pregnancy was going to be viable. Call me paranoid but after trying for so many years, it is hard to relax and be joyful when we find ourselves pregnant. In fact, we were slightly jittery and only shared the news with our closest family and friends.

But nothing quite prepared us for the news at the week 7 scan. This was the scan to see the heartbeat and as always, I had my heart in my mouth. What happened at the scan threw us all slightly off-course.

Selene_0077-001

Instead of 1 heartbeat, we saw….2. There were two teeny tiny heartbeats. We were having…twins? I was floored. I was happy to have one strong heartbeat and there it was, two heartbeats thumping away. The boy seemed very cool at the news and until today, I am not quite sure how he felt at that moment of truth because you know, men. Strong and silent types.

Except for the first trimester when I was hungry every 3 seconds (no kidding) and was nauseous all the freakin’ time, it has been smooth-sailing. And for that, we will always be thankful. Being pregnant with twins come with its fair share of complications and I am always reminded to take it easy. I am also blessed with a very understanding reporting officer and boss who tells me that the pregnancy takes precedence over work and to rest as much as I can.

Did I mention that my dad is part of a twin? He and his brother are fraternal twins and they don’t quite look alike. I am looking forward to the day when our twins are born and my dad and uncle hold them for a posterity picture.

And in case you’re wondering, we are expecting a boy and a girl. Many have expressed joy at this wonderful combination (if I get a dollar for every single time I hear the term 龙凤胎 uttered, I would have enough money – or more – to buy a month’s supply of diapers). As cliche as it sounds, the health and proper development of the twins are more important than their gender but I must admit that I was secretly relieved that I wouldn’t have to parent 3 boys.

We went from wanting a sibling for Elliott to having two siblings. This means our little family is growing from a one-child family to (gulp) three-children, plus 1 furry one. I don’t know if we’d ever be fully prepared for the arrival of the twins but we will take one day at a time. I never ever thought that one day, I’d be a mother of three but I guess that’s life. Always something unexpected at every turn.

Selene_0087-002

another happy occassion! · elliott · family · the journey · thoughts

Elliott is ONE!

Oh what a celebration!

Elliott’s actual birthday falls on a weekday and because we did not have a full month celebration, I thought that it’d be nice to throw a small party to celebrate the little man turning one. I decided not to kill myself planning it and decided very early on to enlist the help of Eunice, ex-colleague-turn-good-friend and the event stylist extraordinaire behind the brand, Heaven In A Wild Flower. I simply told her the theme (Carnival) and colours (yellow, blue and grey), as well as what I don’t want (bright garish colours) and left it entirely up to her, including the birthday cake design. My only request? Please have chocolate sea salt tarts (for me) 🙂

She rocked up 3 hours before the event and went about turning the plain (boring) white-walled function room into a Carnival-like atmosphere.

IMG_0620-001

I, on the other hand, was trying to get the birthday boy to nap but failed miserably. The party was to start at 2pm and at 1.30pm, I was barely dressed to receive guests. Pffft. Thankfully, my mum and sister came round to help and I spent 10 minutes going from something the cat pulled in to a decent-looking human  being.

IMG_0622-001

Got to the function room with the birthday boy in tow and to say that Eunice did a great job is an understatement. Just look at it!

IMG_0627-001

carnival

IMG_0667-001

carnival1

Everything was so so gorgeous.

Our friends were wonderful. They all came bearing presents (or two!) and ang pow packets for the birthday boy. Amidst the craziness of trying to say Hi to everyone, I was so very grateful that they took time out of their weekend to come celebrate our little boy turning one.

IMG_0624-001

We – or rather, the wonderful sister – set up a small play area with Elliott’s playmats so that the little ones can run amok. And run amok they did – just check out the mess! She also borrowed (and lugged home!) a couple of child-friendly books, and prepared colouring sheets (themed as well!) and coloured pencils/markers to keep them occupied. She also prepared personalised goodie bags for each child who attended. Most awesome Yiyi EVER!IMG_0644-001

This is the only photo I have of the area and it makes me laugh because it looks like Zac and Elliott are having a stare-off. These two. So darn hilarious together.

I barely took any photos so these pictures you see are either from my phone (I snapped them very quickly) or from friends. I was glad that we had a photographer who stayed quietly in the background and shot pictures of the celebration. Can’t wait to see them.

A girlfriend wisely advised that we should do the cake-cutting thingy early before the birthday boy gets over-tired so at about 3pm, we gathered everyone around to sing the birthday song. As we blew out the lone blue candle on the cake, I hesitated just for a tiny bit to take in the moment because wow, this child of mine, my little boy, the one we never thought we’d ever have in this lifetime, just turned one year old, surrounded by all who love him. Many of these friends who came by know about our long journey to become parents and it was only apt that they were part of the celebrations.

IMG_0672-001

That evening, as we sat opening presents (I opened them, Elliott ripped at the wrapping), I was reminded once again at how much we are loved. Elliott will probably not remember his first birthday celebration but we will or at the very least, I will. I will always remember that one year ago, we celebrated his birth day which made me a mother.

IMG_0706-001

Happy 1st birthday, my sweetie. May you be happy and healthy, always.

me myself and i · the journey · thoughts

Going down the TCM route

I have received numerous emails asking me for my TCM contact after this entry and thought that I should just write an entry about it because I have quite a bit to say. I guess when one is on the long drawn infertility journey, it is easy to try everything within our means to conceive a child. I know because we’ve been there. And even though we have been blessed with Elliott, we will never ever forget the journey.

Trying everything would most probably include seeking alternative routes, i.e. traditional chinese medicine, or TCM. The Chinese believe that one’s body must be “strong enough” and “balanced” before it is able to conceive and “hold” a baby. I remember a TCM doctor using this analogy which made sense:

If your womb is too cold (similar to a winter climate), it will not be able to “bear fruit”. If your womb is too hot (similar to a desert environment), it will also not be ideal.

Basically, you need the elements to be in harmony and balance for conception to take place. It may all sound very airy fairy (especially when I explain it in English!) but if you delve deeper into the study of TCM, it kinda all makes sense.

I was never a big believer in TCM. Growing up, my mum used to try and make me ingest all sorts of strange-coloured black soup. I had no idea what went into those soups and naturally, would try all ways and means to avoid drinking them. This changed when I was introduced to ba zhen tang or Eight Treasure Decoction. I used to get terrible cramps when it was the time of the month. I remember one time, I was in such pain, I was lying on the office couch, helpless and in pain. It was then I decided to seek out TCM and tried this “wonder” soup that many women swore by. Long story short, it took away the cramps and after a few months of taking it, Aunt Flo would come visit and leave without me even noticing it because I stopped having cramps completely.

I was amazed. And very very impressed.

Then came our long long journey to conceive. Many friends told me to seek out TCM and we did. I must have seen 3-4 TCM doctors who all declared that “nothing was wrong” with me nor the husband and to just “relax and keep trying”. It was frustrating, to say the least. I knew that I wasn’t ill per se but yet, at the back of my head, I knew that I wasn’t at my optimum, health-wise. I was tired easily and despite all the huge meals that I ate, it was very difficult for me to put on weight. I constantly looked gaunt and tired.

The BFF was the one who introduced me to my current TCM doctor, Dr Chia. He apparently cured her sinus as well as her MIL’s eczema which plagued her for 30 odd years. In fact, almost her entire family sees Dr Chia for an entire gamut of reasons. I decided to see him as well because what’s another TCM visit, right?

My first visit to him was back in October 2012. I was expecting an elderly doctor (as with most TCM doctors) but he looked to be in his 40s. Also, he speaks English which helps because sometimes, it is hard to explain medical terms in Mandarin. Other than Mandarin, he is also conversant in Cantonese, Teochew and Hokkien. I know because whenever I lie on the treatment bed during acupuncture, I marvel at how he switches effortlessly between languages for different patients. His patients range from the usual aunties, to parents with young children. He shared that the youngest patient he’s had was a 3-month old baby. Wow.

The clinic is a family business so they’ve been in the business for a long long time. For the record, the clinic is old school. Like, seriously old school. If it wasn’t a recommendation from the BFF, I would be a tad afraid to venture up the stairs. Ha.

IMG_6377-001

It’s located on the second floor of a row of shophouses along Upper Serangoon Road. If you know where the porridge places are, that’s where it is. The clinic does not take appointments so you just walk in and register. Here’s a tip if you want to minimise waiting time: Be the first in line, just before opening time. When I was doing my weekly visits, my mum would be in the queue by 5.45pm to be the first in line when he opened at 6pm. This means that we can be in and out of the place (including acupuncture treatment in about an hour).

He is one hardworking TCM doctor because his clinic is open even on Sundays and public holidays (9.30am to 12pm). Just be prepared to wait if you pop in on a weekend or public holiday.

See what I mean about the clinic being old school? I always feel like I’ve gone back to the 70s. Check out the retro floor tiles. That little window is where you register and collect your medicine after you’re done.

IMG_6408

Here’s Dr Chia himself giving advice to the boy. I brought the boy along with me at my last visit because he has been getting crazy migraine and his shoulders are ridiculously tight. Dr Chia was explaining to him what was causing the headaches (gall bladder and liver overworking which leads to the bad headaches).

IMG_6380-001

I like that he takes time to explain the cause and not simply brush you off with your complains and throw you a bunch of meds. If you look very carefully (near the model of the ear), there’s a red card on his shelf – that’s the thank you card I sent him 🙂 I told him at the same visit that I have introduced quite a few patients to his clinic and jokingly said that he should pay me some sort of commission. He said that he’s currently seeing about 3 that I referred but he feels a bit stressed because he feels like he needs to work miracles.

This is my fear too. That when I share our journey and mention that TCM somewhat helped, many would see it as the surefire way to conceive. I would thus like to highlight a couple of things:

#1 – Please know that as with all things fertility-related, there are no guarantees and definitely not some sort of “miracle” cure. Up till today, I still do not know how big (or small) a role TCM played in us conceiving Elliott successfully. I guess it’s something we will never know. The only fact is, I know that TCM made me sleep better and my qi se (complexion) was a lot better about 4 months after I started TCM treatments.

#2 – TCM is not a one-time-cure-all. It is a long term treatment process and a lot of patience and time is needed. I went faithfully every single week for acupuncture and took my medication religiously. It was tiring because I went after work every Friday. You will need to keep up the treatments and medication. Just remember that even if it doesn’t bring about a baby, your body will be stronger which is not a bad thing.

med

#3Trust your TCM doctor. You need to find a TCM doctor that you fully, 100% trust. I’m the sort of person that needs to know what goes into the medicine that I am taking (I read labels and ingredients religiously on my medication) but this is something I cannot do with TCM meds. They’re just bottles filled with dark liquid and tiny little pills. So yeah, you just gotta trust that the meds will do you good. Also, although Dr Chia’s treatment and meds might have worked for me, this may not be the case for everyone else.

#4 – Listen and follow instructions. When I was undergoing treatment, Dr Chia said “no cold drinks“. It sounded easier than it was because we live in a very hot country and sometimes, I was just dying to have a cold glass of Coke! Apparently, this is because I had a “nei han wai re” constitution (cold inside, hot outside) and this made it more challenging to treat. As such, I had to stay away from cold foods. I had to always order warm instead of iced water whenever we dined out. Really difficult at the start but as with all things, over time, it became a habit and I no longer hankered after cold drinks. I know of some TCM doctors that give you a long list of items that you cannot eat/drink but thankfully, Dr Chia is pretty relaxed. I thought that I had to give up my daily dose of teh-si and spicy food but he said they’re ok (whoop whoop) as long as taken in moderation.

So yes, that’s what I wanted to say about my journey with TCM. If you’re still keen to give it a shot, here are his details:

Chia Kit Chay Medical Hall
1010A Upper Serangoon Road
Singapore 534748
Tel: 62883675

Opening hours:
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 9.30am – 12pm, 2.30pm – 5pm, 6pm – 8pm
Wed, Sat, Sun, PH: 9.30am – 12pm

elliott · moments · the journey

Technology is amazing!

Desktop2

That’s a 3D scan picture of Elliott when he was in-utero at 37-weeks. The picture on the left was taken when he was mere weeks old. Check out the similarities. Isn’t it amazing that he turned out…just as expected? The same round nose, the same chubby cheeks, shape of his mouth, the little crease below his lower lip – same! And yes, this son of mine loves putting his hands close to his face. In fact, all the 3D scan pictures we have of him has his hand close to his face. Once, he even had his foot (!) beside his face.

Technology IS amazing!