Friday, January 30, 2009

PD visit at 8 days old

Today we brought Ryan for his check-up with the PD, Dr Ngiam of Singapore Baby and Child Clinic at Gleneagles. This was the first time that Ryan and I had ventured out of the house since the birth.

Ryan measured in at 3.23 kg. When we checked out of the hospital after the birth, he had dropped a little from 3.24 kg to 2.94 kg, which is normal and within the expected range. Looks like he regained his birthweight quite easily.

Dr Ngiam gave Ryan the once-over and checked his colour. He said that there is a small trace of yellow but not enough to be clinical jaundice and the little trace should disappear soon. So it looks like Ryan has escaped jaundice – yay! We were told to monitor him over the next few days just in case. Well done, baby!

No jabs today but some blood was extracted from Ryan's heel for metabolic screening.

Here are some photos taken over the last few days.

Small and tiny at 4 days old

Suntanning on the balcony in my arms

Snug as a bug in Daddy's swaddle

Still small and tiny at 1 week old

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chinese New Year 2009

We usually go to KL/Ipoh to celebrate Chinese New Year with our families but this year we couldn't go because I'd just delivered so Richard's parents and second sister, Mary, came over instead. They arrived on Sunday, the eve of Chinese New Year, when Ryan was just 3 days old, and they left on Tuesday.

Ryan was hugged and kissed repeatedly, his every limb and feature was examined and marvelled over, his every expression elicited cries of pleasure and wonder. Ryan is the first male grandchild and the first one of all his cousins to bear the family name. Also, he shares the same birthday as Richard's mum. So Richard's mum has given him the title of 'the golden grandchild'.

Here are pictures of the proud grandparents and Richard's sister, Mary, with Ryan.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Early Education

Here's proof that newborn babies respond to black, red and white images.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The First Few Days

For the first few hours after the delivery, I was on a drip. My blood pressure was low and I still had a lot of swelling. All these factors made it difficult for me to be up and about, so I pretty much stayed in my hospital bed the first day. My water retention didn't disappear straightaway, in fact it increased a little - I could still feel it in my fingers and I was still weighing in heavy.

Dr Chan visited us every morning, and so did the PD to give us an update on Ryan's check-ups and jabs. We had some visitors on the second day and lots of gifts (thank you!).

Richard did a lot of running around, taking care of odds and ends. Otherwise, he was with me in my room all the time. Ryan also stayed in my room with me, day and night, except when he went for his baths and his check-ups by the PD. His swelling from the forceps subsided within a day. He was a very calm and relatively quiet newborn. He slept most of the time and when he did open his eyes, he usually had a slight frown on his brow as if to say, "What's going on?"

I breastfed him and we changed his diapers and recorded his pees and poos for the nurses. Most of the time, we just stared at him, getting to know his face. I wasn't sure that I would recognise him if he was in the nursery with the other babies!

The nurses were so wonderful and I was so well taken care of that I didn't want to leave. But as it was coming to Chinese New Year, the confinement lady was arriving and Richard's parents and Mary were also coming, we thought that we had better go home. So on Saturday, after attending the hospital's antenatal class (on breastfeeding and bathing the baby), we packed up and went home to start our new life as a family.




Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Birth - The Husband's Perspective

Our baby is finally ready to come out. At our last check-up, our gynae told us that we will have to check in that same night and the baby will be delivered. We were supposed to check in at 8.30pm. The day went by pretty fast. This was my last day in office before the long break to welcome our son into our family.

After work, we went home to pack our stuff and then we had a big dinner. We finally checked into the hospital at around midnight. Nothing much happened that night. Leona spent some time watching the TV in the delivery room. She seemed to be not too much in pain which is good. We both fell asleep not too long afterwards.

The next day, I remember waking up and thinking that this will be the day our son will arrive. The nurse told us that the dilation may take a few hours, so more waiting. I went home late morning to feed the pets and to take a bath. Luckily we live quite near the hospital so the journey to and fro takes about 10-15 minutes. On my way back to the hospital, I received a call from Leona. She is fully dilated and ready! That was fast.

By the time I arrived at the ward, everything is set in place. Before long, Leona is pushing with the help of the nurses. I could see the top of the baby's head. After a few pushes, there didn't seem to be any significant progress and I was beginning to be a little worried that there may be complications. The nurse said that the gynae will have to use the forceps and they will page for him.

Once the gynae arrived, everything went by quite quickly. A cut and, with the forceps, the baby was delivered in a matter of minutes. I remember seeing this tiny little boy being lifted out by the gynae and the nurse busy washing and wrapping him up. In the next few minutes, he was wrapped up cosily and placed in the plastic cot next to mum. His eyes were open even then. I looked at him and gave him a kiss on his forehead. He has very intelligent eyes and looked straight back at me. He is also busy looking around.

With that, we welcome our new member into the family. I remember thinking to myself that 'Thank God, everything went smoothly and mother and son are both safe and healthy. Of course, our baby looks very very cute too'.


Ryan's birth was a surreal experience.

I remember that both Richard and I went to work as usual the day before. When we got home, we had so many 'loose ends' to tie up that we ended up checking into the labour ward at midnight instead of at 8.30pm as Dr Chan told us to. I remember going to dinner and thinking that the next time we ate, there would be one more person at the table. I remember going through our house, checking everything was tidy and in place, and thinking that the next time I came home, there would be an additional reason to stay home. I remember looking at my husband and thinking that he was going to be a father. That I was going to be a mother. That we were growing up and had to learn to live not just for ourselves, but for our child as well.

When we checked in, the hospital lobby was quiet and deserted. The labour ward was serene and calm. In the delivery room I was strapped onto the CTG machine and it showed that I was already experiencing contractions 10 minutes apart. I couldn't feel them though. After chatting with the nurse for a bit, I settled down to sleep. Richard slept in the same room, in an armchair. I did some hypnobirthing exercises but that seemed quite pointless to keep up because I didn't feel any of the contractions. Lying there in the dark, I remembered the last time I slept in a hospital bed. That was when I miscarried and had to have a D&C. This time round, I was giving birth to my son.

I remember trying very hard to soak in the moment. It was difficult because everything was so normal, so quiet, so peaceful. It was hard to focus on the fact that something momentous was going to happen. It was all so surreal.

The next morning, I fully dilated from 3 cm to 10 cm in less than 2 and a half hours, but baby was still not engaged so we waited for him to get lower down the birth canal. At 2.30pm, the nurses helped me practice pushing through two contractions. Then I slept and rested till 3.30pm and we tried again. Not much progress. Apparently, the baby was quite long. The nurses told me that it was likely that the baby would need forceps to come out, so they told me to stop and rest till Dr Chan came. They started getting all the medical equipment ready for him - I remembered vividly that they set out a pair of yellow plastic boots for him. I was thinking, wow, does that mean that there's going to be a lot of blood?

At about 4.00pm, I started bearing down and pushing without much success. The nurses called for Dr Chan and once he got to the room, everything was very quick. He washed up, put on his gown and those yellow boots and chatted a bit with me and got to work. He showed me the forceps - man, they were huge! Then, once he was in position, two nurses pushed my tummy to push the baby out, I pushed and Dr Chan pulled and whoosh! Ryan plopped out.

4.34pm. A son, a mother and a father were born.

It turned out that I was having difficulty getting Ryan out because the boy had turned to face the sky (occipital position) when he should have been facing my spine. This also means that his head needed a larger opening to be delivered. My cervix had become swollen because his head had been butting against it and that also made it a little more difficult to deliver him. There were no problems with the umbilical cord so perhaps the smart boy had turned around to shake the cord off.

Dr Chan placed Ryan on my tummy while he clamped and cut the cord and extracted the cordblood for storage. I remember hearing loud screams from the next delivery room, it was another mother delivering. But Richard and I were of course more interested in our baby. I was amazed that this perfect little person had suddenly appeared. Ryan was covered in blood and stuff and I was trying to see what he looked like, but the nurses took him away to clean, measure and check him. Then they swaddled him and placed him next to me. He weighed in at 3.240kg, much more than the estimated 2.8kg so Dr Chan concluded he had heavy bones.

As Dr Chan finished up his stitching, I kept looking over at Ryan, getting to know his face and trying to imprint it in my memory. He had some swelling on his head due to the forceps but Dr Chan assured me this was temporary and would subside in a day. Ryan was already alert, eyes open, quietly observing his surroundings and what was happening. I wondered what he was thinking and I hope he understood that he was safe and loved from the very moment he came into our life.

What a difference a day makes.




3.240 kg, 50 cm
4:34 pm
Forceps
Magical

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Weight throughout 3rd trimester

So, here we are... final score is 14 kg. The last few kilos from the 10th kilo onwards have been completely uncontrollable and I've been yo-yoing up and down. I suspect its due to water retention, which on the one hand is good because it will just disappear once I deliver. On the other hand, I feel the water retention in my wrists and fingers - painful! I've also had to buy larger-sized shoes to accommodate my feet which magically balloon up throughout the day, particularly if I'd been walking a lot.

My weight has yo-yoed up today. Dr Chan was shaking his head until he looked at my hands and feet and concluded it was just water retention and not “real” weight gain. Phew! Baby is estimated to be 2.850kg, about the same as at the previous two checkups, which means that neither baby nor mummy is gaining weight and neither one is getting any benefit from the pregnancy at this stage. Dr Chan advised us to induce delivery straightaway. Basically, the baby is starving so we should get him out quickly instead of waiting for natural contractions. He said that, if baby’s weight was still increasing, he could let baby stay inside till EDD or even a few days after, but not in this situation where baby’s weight is stagnant.

Dr Chan assured us that baby has reached a safe and healthy weight so it is safe to deliver him now. He told us to get ourselves admitted to the labour ward at 8pm tonight and the baby will likely be out tomorrow. Baby is still heads down but not engaged.

Wow.

I had a feeling this baby would come early. But I did not expect that it would be like this! This was not in the plan! I know natural delivery (as in waiting for contractions to come naturally) also comes 'unexpectedly', but at least that was the plan! This is a real twist! It feels so strange that I know my baby's birthday already.

Here are the scans. You can see the umbilical cord is still around his neck.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Moving on

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I’ve been feeling sentimental. I want to take time and fully appreciate my pre-baby life. I want to soak up every moment, smell every flower, catch every ray of sunshine.

I linger over everything, savouring every moment. I’m still working fulltime and will probably do so up till I deliver. I still drive despite Richard telling me I shouldn’t. I still wash my car by hand myself so that I can give it some TLC. I don’t rush through hugs and kisses. I hold hands. I let the cat curl up in my lap for as long as he wants to. I go for long walks with the dog. I refuse help to hurry things along. I walk slowly. I talk slowly. I take deep relaxed breaths.

I want to be grateful for how we sleep in on weekends, stay out late, watch a movie on a whim and the movie after that if we want to, drive to Malacca just because we are bored, fly to Bangkok and Hong Kong for weekend shopping, eat fast food everyday until we get sick of French fries, bundle the dog into the car for a quick walk by the beach, leave the household chores undone, etc, etc.

The happier I feel about the change that is coming, the more I feel the need to give thanks for my pre-baby life. I want to make sure that I don’t give the impression that I’m unhappy with my life or that I’m glad to be rid of it or that I’m ungrateful, because that’s not how I feel at all. I have had a fantastic pre-baby life. Couldn’t have asked for more. It deserves more than a “So long and thanks for all the fish!” kind of goodbye.

But now I realise that I’ve been approaching it from the wrong end. I shouldn’t be feeling guilty about the fact that, throughout my pregnancy I've been focusing on the joy and the happiness coming my way, instead of mourning what I might have to give up.

Because moving on doesn’t have to mean that I’m unhappy about where I'm moving from. Moving on doesn’t have to mean that I’m shaking off unwanted dirt from my coat. Goodbye doesn’t have to mean good riddance. I'm moving on precisely because I've enjoyed every minute. Moving on is me walking further down that yellow brick road, it’s part of life and growing up. After all, how can you welcome new experiences into your life if you don’t make space for them?

There’s so much waiting “on the other side” - baby chuckles, little baby booties, first steps, visits from the tooth fairy, little arms holding on tight, cries of “Mummy!”, nursery rhymes, first day of school, first date, family traditions, birthdays and Father’s Day, a third Christmas stocking, hiding eggs at Easter, dressing up at Halloween, grandparents at Chinese New Year, making pancakes for three, learning to cycle … all that happiness is just waiting to be welcomed in.

Besides, my pre-baby life is not going to disappear just because things are going to be different. I have no doubt that the things I love will remain. I’m still going to be a wife and a sister and a friend and a co-worker. I’m still going to be interested in books, in movies, in art, in the world around me. There are still going to be kisses good morning and good night. I’m still going to ruffle my dog’s coat and I’m still going to get my cat purring. My life is what it is, not because of who else is in it, but because I am in it.

So goodbye, pre-baby life. It’s been a great ride.

As an obviously pregnant woman, I get these same five questions all the time:
1. when are you due?
2. is it a boy or a girl?
3. natural or caesarean?
4. any food cravings?
5. how much weight have you gained?

Then there was Big J who asked, “So how? Score goal already or not?” and after we “scored”, asked, “Machine gun or sniper shot?”

Monday, January 19, 2009

No-no

Almost everyone offers me advice when they see my pregnant belly, even total strangers. The fruit seller at the market told me that I couldn’t buy her pineapples. The office photocopying lady, who has never ever spoken to me, saw me cooking up instant noodles for lunch and whispered to me that, no, I shouldn’t be eating instant noodles.

Not that I mind, it’s just so unexpected sometimes.

What I do mind is that almost all advice I receive is a no-no. No, you must not eat crabs. No, you must not squat down. No, you must not eat mutton. No, you must not eat certain types of bananas. No, you must not drive nails into your walls. No cold drinks. No, you must not look at ugly people or animals. No, you must not rub your tummy. No, you cannot set up the baby cot before the baby arrives and leave it vacant. No, you cannot cry.

Richard, whom I would not say is a paranoid person, became so superstitious. He refused to let me stay in the house when the gardener came to cut the grass. He refused to let me stay in the bedroom when he changed the bedsheets. He refused to let the men change and take away our mattress when they delivered our new one (the new one is wrapped in plastic and propped up against the wall in the guest room now). He refused to let me visit friends in the hospital who had just given birth or attend their babies’ full month celebrations. He refused to let me be in the same room when he was fixing a drawer.

Well, I drank all sorts of cold drinks. I rubbed my tummy all the time. I ate crabs (not much though). I walked down 26 floors during my office fire drill. I ate instant noodles. I walked past construction sites (I have to - my home and office are next to construction sites). I raised my arms above my head. I squatted.

Okay, I will confess that, in the initial stages of my pregnancy, I did try to be very careful. I did not use a scissors on my bed and I didn’t paint my nails or colour my hair and stuff like that. But my faith that the baby would be all right became stronger with each passing day and with each ultrasound scan. Then, when I hit the second trimester, I started to enjoy being pregnant and I didn’t really want to spend the next 6 months being stressed or scared about what I should or should not be doing. So I just did, ate and drank whatever I wanted. Happy mummy equals happy baby.

I am, however, interested in old wives’ tales that supposedly predict the sex of the baby. They’re lots of fun. One says if your tummy is pointing out in front, it’s a boy and if it’s flatter in front, it’s a girl. Every single “aunty” who had a glance at my tummy KNEW I was having a boy, apparently because my tummy was pointing out in front.

Another tale goes - pick a handful of rice and count the grains. If it is odd, it’s a boy. Even, it’s a girl. We tried this and came up with an odd number. Freaky fun.

The thing I love most about being pregnant is feeling baby's movements. From the first tentative and oh-so-gentle flutter in the beginning to his strong insistent kicks and punches and now, his vigorous squirming and wriggling about, the feeling is absolutely glorious. It is the one real thing that tells me that there is a little person living with me, under my skin.

I'm always wondering whether it's a little foot or an elbow that is distorting my belly, what position he is in, whether he's comfortable and happy. When we go to a crowded and noisy place or when we are at the movies, he's always moving about - does it mean he's excited and happy or does it mean he's irritated? He moves a lot at night, when I'm resting. He moves about a lot when I lean forward while sitting or when I sleep (partially) on my belly - probably to protest that I'm squishing him. Sometimes his movements are so strong that it almost hurts but it's so good to know that he is growing well. Sometimes there are little continuous taps because he is having the hiccups and that always brings a smile to my face.

It's comforting that I can keep him with me all the time, wherever I go and whatever I do. I'm never alone and I can never leave him alone. It's wonderful.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Belly shot at 38.5 weeks

Belly shot! See if you can spot the belly button!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Scan at 38 weeks

After last week's visit, we were very excited that baby could arrive very soon and at anytime. After waiting for a week without any sign, it feels like it's never going to happen, haha! Of course, we are not going to be preggers forever; but it does feel like our lives are on hold now - we're all prepared and ready for baby but where's baby?

Of course, there's still plenty of time for baby to laze around inside and there's no cause for worry just because he hasn't popped out yet. It's also great that baby managed to get past 38 weeks. 38 weeks is an important milestone as the lungs are more mature and capable of operating outside the womb now.

Dr Chan did a vaginal examination today and said that the cervix is still closed and high. Ultrasound scan shows our baby has put on 60 g in the past week. Mummy has lost some weight (about 700 g) but that's all right as baby is still growing. He has turned face-in (facing mummy's spine) which is the right position for vaginal birthing. The level of fluid in the womb (liquor) is normal. Everything is normal and going well. However, the scan shows that the umbilical cord may be around the baby's neck and, although this is quite common, we will need to be careful during labour and delivery to make sure that it doesn't cause baby any distress. While he is still in the womb, it won't cause him any trouble and he may still wriggle out of it. So no worries.

Dr Chan said that "Baby is ripe, he just doesn't want to fall from the tree yet" and he reminded us once again of the labour signs.

Here are the 2D shots. The first one shows the umbilical cord on baby's neck. The second one shows baby's testicles (T for testicle - haha! Hope baby will forgive us for displaying his gonads on the internet!). Not much else to see on the scan because baby is really filling up the womb space now.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BabyPlus Prenatal Educational System

For the past three months or so, we have been using the BabyPlus prenatal educational system. It is a small machine that you strap onto your belly twice a day, an hour each time. The machine plays sounds that resemble a heartbeat. There are 16 “lessons” (each “lesson” is played for a few days) and for each “lesson”, the rhythm of the beats increases in frequency and tonality as the pregnancy progresses. The sound of a heartbeat is used because research shows that the spoken word is too difficult for the developing child to understand and music is too complex.

Apparently, this “exercise” strengthens learning ability during the developmental period when the advantages will be most significant and enduring for a child. BabyPlus children apparently have an intellectual, developmental, creative, and emotional advantage from the time they are born.

We have now finished the 16 rhythms and so we are repeating the 16th rhythm everyday until baby arrives. Can’t say for sure whether it works or not, but it’s worth a try. Hopefully, baby enjoys it.

Anyway, here’s the webby: http://www.babyplus.com

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baby cot!

Today the baby cot was delivered. We put it in our bedroom next to the window. Now it feels like we are getting really close to the Big Day!

We also tested the babycam, which is fantastic. The receiver can be anywhere in the house and you can still get reception. It also has something like night-vision so you can still see baby even if the lights in the bedroom are off.

Today is also Spring Cleaning Day, in time for Chinese New Year. We had some cleaners come to clean the house and we also got the gardener to come and cut the grass and clean up the front and back gardens.

We have to maximise every weekend now and use the time to run errands and make preparations - two big occasions coming up very soon - Chinese New Year and Baby's Arrival. Woo Hoo!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Scan at 37 weeks

Our gynae visits are getting closer now. It's been two weeks since our last visit and our next visit will be one week from now. Today is the significant 37th week milestone - baby is officially full term which means he will not be a premature baby. Still, to be safe, he should stay in the womb until at least 38 weeks, so that his lungs can fully mature.

Today's scan showed baby still in a heads-down position but not engaged yet. His weight gain has slowed slightly but he has still grown about 300 g and is now 2820g. Mummy has also put on 300 g from last visit two weeks back so looks like all her weight gain went to baby. Everything with mummy and baby is normal and well.

Dr Chan reminded us that we should be winding down things in the office and getting ready for baby's arrival. He also reminded us of the labour signs - waterbag burst/leak, show and/or contractions coming every 5 minutes - and he also went through what we should do in case labour kicks in - go straight to labour ward where they will do all the necessary preparations.

After the appointment, we met up with an agent from Cordlife and signed up for their 21-year plan to bank baby's cord blood. After considering Stemcord and Cordlife, we decided to go with Cordlife instead.

We also did the pre-registration for hospital admission, which will help speed up the administrative matters in case labour kicks in and we have to hurry to the labour ward.

Here are the 2D shots. No 3D/4D shots again as baby was too close to the skin (not enough contrast) to get a good shot. These are shots of baby's head.



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