R.I.P. Gung gung

My gung gung passed away today. I want to write down my memories of him somewhere so I will never forget him. But today is not the day.

I didn’t want to write about his passing on dayre, or Facebook, because it makes me feel as if I’m just seeking attention or sympathy from people who don’t know him, or know me at all. So I chose my forgotten blog whom no one reads because this is for me.

I was prepared for this, after all, he has been suffering and ailing for so many years. He is at peace now and my parents made sure he had a comfortable last few years surrounded by his most filial and loving son and daughter in law, my ah pa and ah ma. I am sad that I won’t be able to attend his funeral and that I didn’t get to say goodbye. But I am also at peace in my heart because I know that I tried to spend time with my gung gung every time I was home, whether it was just sitting in the porch with them in the evenings, trimming his nose hair, feeding him lunch or biscuits. I treasure those last few moments with him. I think he recognised me, even though he didn’t say much. Maybe all he needed to know was that one of his grandchildren was home, and that we still care for and love him.

Even though I’m glad his suffering is over, I am still heartbroken. I didn’t realise how much I loved my gung gung until he was dying.

Thank you gung gung. I will miss you.

 

 

Baby’s arrival

Saitaoha was born on 28 February 2016 at 4.13 pm. She weighed 3.384 kgs and was 52 cm in length.

The whole labour ordeal was well, an ordeal. Saitaoha’s estimated due date was 19 February which came and went with no signs of labour. I saw my doctor on 23 February and she gave me a stretch and sweep to bring on labour, it wasn’t pleasant but wasn’t painful. She said that baby was 2/5 engaged and I was 2 cm dilated but booked in an induction for me for 28 February anyway. Her prediction was that I would go into labour before the induction date and I was hoping she was right because I know it can take a long time after induction for baby to arrive and I was hoping to miss the 29 February leap year birthday!

On the day that my doctor did the s+s, I started spotting and losing my mucus plug or bloody show as they call it. I was hopeful because that’s usually a sign that things are starting to happen.

My in laws flew in that very day and I was wondering whether I would go into labour while they were here. But I didn’t, I was starting to get more intense cramps and more frequent contractions but generally felt well enough to go sightseeing with them! We even went to visit Elizabeth Quay and Fremantle during the three days  they were here, some of my colleagues told me that I was mad, but walking helps bring on labour and if I sat at home stressing I think I would have felt worse.

It’s ironic that the very next day after my inlaws left (26 February), I started to feel regular contractions around 10.30 at night and started timing them. They were about 4- 5 minutes apart and lasted for abot 40 seconds in duration. The pain was bearable but it was  difficult to sleep. Because the hospital had said to give them a call if contractions were 5 minutes apart, I gave them a call, the midwife suggested that I take some panadol or have a bath to ease the pain as it was likely that this would go on for quite some time. I walked around the house all morning and gave the hospital another call around 5-6am. They told me to come in to the hospital where they would conduct cardiotocography (CTG) monitoring to monitor my contractions and baby’s heartbeat. My poor parents had been hovering around all morning, the moment they heard that I was going to the hospital, my father said that he was coming too! I was going to talk them out of it because I knew actual labour would be some time away and it was likely the hospital might send me home to wait some more, but honestly, I was tired after a sleepless night so I let them be.

At the hospital, my parents were told to wait outside while R accompanied me to the monitoring ward. I was strapped up to the CTG machine and ironically, my contractions started becoming further apart, like 10 minutes per contraction. I was feeling embarrassed but the mid wife reassured me that it was normal that contractions became less frequent when the ladies reached the hospital due to the adrenalin rush. As predicted, they confirmed that I was in early labour but sent me home to wait for either the contractions to get more intense or for my waters to break.

I spent the rest of the day (Sat 27 February) walking up and down the house, pausing only when a contraction came. I’m trying to recall what the contractions felt like, it wasn’t a stabbing kind of pain, but rather a slow squeeze kind of dull ache that kept crescending. I remember grabbing on to the wall and breaking into a sweat when it reached a peak. My parents seriously aged 10 years overnight and worry was eched all over their faces. R was also very tired and I urged him to sleep while he could. Close to midnight I was getting tired and the contractions were getting a lot more painful and intense so the hospital told me to come in again. The CTG confirmed that the contractions were now 5 minutes apart and more intense, the doctor wanted us to stay in the hospital (I was surprised, I thought they would send me home again) and gave me some painkillers so I could sleep. R came with me and slept in the rollout chair. By 4am (28 February) I was 5cm dilated, the contractions were getting pretty bad so I requested for the epidural. The doctor who administered the epidural was very nice and told me to let me know when a contraction came so he would stop what he was doing as I need to be very still for the procedure. He commented that I was one of the most quiet patent he’s ever met during contractions because I didn’t groan or moan but rather just breathed in and out heavily (I didn’t tell him that I was yelling on the inside). The epidural was fantastic, I didn’t feel much pain except for pressure, however, I kept worrying stupidly (a friend once told me that the doctor refused to top up her epidural when she was in labour) that the epidural drug was going to run out and kept asking R ‘how many mls left in the pack?’ and didn’t dare to press the button to top up the drug. Luckily a midwife reassured me that they would not run out of the drug and had lots in storage haha.

It felt like ages but the midwife broke my waters and put me on the drip to speed up the labour process. I had no idea there was going to be so much water, it was such a bizarre sensation. They also asked me to change positions ( lay on my side and sit up) to induce labour but noting seemed to work, in fact, I was very uncomfortable and my back was aching badly when told to lay on my side. The doctor came to check in on me again around 3.00pm, but I was still 5cm dilated! She said that it was possible that baby’s head was not in an exact position and thus was obstructing delivery, because it had been so long and didn’t seem to be progressing, she advised that I should have a caesarean. I agreed and from then on, everything was a blur.  I was quite sad that after labouring for so long, it  still came down to a C-section but at that point, I was also so tired that I could possibly have agreed to anything. They injected me with some drug to prepare me for the C-section and I started to feel really hot and sweaty. This was the lowest point of the whole process and the only time when I felt like I was going to break down in tears. I just felt so uncomfortable, so tired, breathless, hot and sweaty. And after such a long time, I was still going to have to be cut open. Luckily I told R that I felt really hot and he started fanning me with a piece of paper, believe it or not, that little bit of breeze from his fanning calmed me down and I didn’t feel like tearing my hair out.

I couldn’t remember much of being wheeled to the delivery ward because I was half asleep, I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. When the doctor was asking me questions, I could hardly answer  because I was nodding off, in desperation he turned to R who tried to answer some questions for me. There wasn’t any pain because the epidural was still in but lots of pressure and tugging. I asked R why he didn’t go to the other side of the ‘curtain’ to see what’s going on because I knew he would be interested so he asked the midwife whether he could. She said ‘you are supposed to be on the other side supporting your wife’ and I couldn’t help smiling because I actually didn’t mind at all! I was still half asleep throughout everything until they lifted Saitaoha out who burst out crying, I saw R’s face and he gasped ‘Oh!’ in amazement. R was hustled away to cut the cord and wipe down Saitaoha and suddenly they put her on my chest. She wasn’t crying, her eyes were wide open and she looked at me and blinked curiously. I fell in love instntly.

She was so cute and beautiful and her eyelashes were so long, I said ‘Hello Saitaoha, it’s mummy here’. It was amazing.

[ It’s been more than a month since I first started this post, Saitaoha is now one month and 5 days old! Afterwards I was told I lost a lot of blood (1.8 litres) during the procedure and might require a blood tranfusion. But luckily, it all turned out ok and a blood tranfusion wasn’t required. I was discharged after 3 days in the hospital and began my new phase in life as a mother. The journey thus far has been challenging (sleepless days are no joke!) and wonderful at the same time, sometimes both emotions can be felt in a space of 5 minutes.  I hope I will be able to find time to chronicle life as Saitaoha’s mummy in the future :)]

 

40 weeks +3 days overdue

Once a pregnant lady reaches full term, every additional day after her estimated due date goes by very very slowly. Every twinge, ache or movement is met with trepidation and hope ‘is this it? Am I going into early labour?’ But when it all settles again, there’s a sense of crushing disappointment and frustration.

I spent the night worrying whether the lesser movements means she’s running out of space or whether something more sinister is lurking. The rational part of me knows that this is part and parcel of the ‘waiting period’ and I’m over thinking everything. I’ve also been pondering and thinking that I’ve been a wholly unsupportive sister towards my sisters when they were pregnant! They must have gone through the same horrible emotional upheavals and physical strain, and yet, I don’t recall anyone whining to me or me showing any concern at all (T___T). I promise I will be a much better sister and more supportive during their next pregnancies.

My parents have been in Perth for a week now. I know that my mother is quite anxious as well, because everyday that Saitaoha hasn’t arrived, is one day less that she can help with the baby before she flies back home. I am however thankful that they are here. I know that I will look back and treasure this memorable period of spending time with my parents. I feel like I am going back in time during my youth when my parents took care of all my needs.

It is surreal seeing my father doing housework around the house. My father who has always been the  the king of our household is now mopping my floors as I type, in fact, he came over to show me the new mop that he bought (my parents were flabbergasted at my lack of high tech cleaning supplies haha) and how you ‘can really see the dust’. My mother told me that he plans to clean the windows tomorrow?! It doesn’t matter how much I protest or try to stop them from doing work, they just won’t allow me to do anything! I think because this is the first time that my parents have seen any of their daughters in a heavily pregnant state, they are quite shocked at the size of my belly and have deemed me unsuitable to do any menial tasks.

When Saitaoha grows up, I will let her know how wonderful and selfless her grandparents are. I will teach her to be a loving grand daughter and let her know that filial piety is one of the best virtues that she should uphold.

Farewell 2015 Hello 2016

It’s almost the end of 2015! What a year it has been, for some reason, it feels like this year has dragged out for a long time. My 2015 was spilt between pre pregnancy and post pregnancy. The year didn’t start out too well, even though I was in my beloved  Kuching, my  brother was hospitalised at the start of the new year with a serious condition. It was very worrying but I’m glad things turned out alright by the end of the year. It feels like my family has been plagued with health problems all year, the kids and adults were falling ill quite a bit, Jan, my brother and myself all had bouts in the hospital. It really wasn’t the best for us in terms of health. But I think the main thing is we all got well in the end and supported each other throughout the tough times.

The first half of the year was very busy at work. Haha, but it’s busy every year right? I felt like I was comfortable at work though, as in more confident and at ease, after three years in the role, I have been conditioned to be in ‘war’ mode all the time. I did get angry with myself at the start of the pregnancy because I was missing my blood tests because I put work first. It wasn’t till the amnio test that I realised what I was putting at risk (sorry Saitaoha) and changed my priorities. I am now much better at taking time off work when I need to, not checking my work emails after hours, and generally letting go. It has been tougher on my team because I expect them to step up when I’m not there, but I also know they can do it and know that I’ve been very lucky in having a great and trustworthy team. There has been a lot of upheavals at work, my immediate boss finally broke down and decided not to continue on in her role. She actually gave up a very senior role and high pay to relegate to a lower position with less responsibilities. It was a tough decision for her to make but I’m glad she did because I saw her burning out day by day. Part of me saw myself in her but I’m glad that I never let myself get there and will never let myself get into that position in the future.

Being good and responsible at my job is very important to me, I hope this is a trait that I will keep with me forever. But I also realise that it should not be the be all and end all. I will work hard at being a good mother and wife as well. It will probably be a million times harder than my job, but possibly a million times more enjoyable and rewarding too.

I’m glad that despite the hectic schedule at work, I managed to have lots of fun this year too. Our camping trips were such fun experiences and I surprise myself by saying that I will miss it. There’s something magical about sleeping overnight in tents, waking up to the sound of birds chirping and being with friends and family. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can go camping again with Saitaoha in tow! I also visited Sydney a couple of times with R and enjoyed each trip. I loved catching up with Jason where we had our matcha latte D&Ms (deep and meaningful haha), discovering new eats and shopping with R, and generally enjoying couple time with R.

My favourite holiday was still my short trip to Singapore in April where I met up with my parents. It was simple things like my father teaching us taichi, going supper hunting with Jo, our nightime walks at the TP hub, tucking into hawker centre fare with my family. It was the same when my parents visited Perth in October, I only wish Jan and I were feeling better then, it was our post operation days but our parents tendered to all our needs as if we were children again.

Pregnancy wise, it wasn’t all smooth sailing but I’ve blogged about this before. I have about 50 days to go before my estimated due date, it feels closer and closer, baby is also very active nowadays making it difficult to sleep but I don’t mind. I didn’t enjoy feeling worried and out of control health and weight wise but I guess that comes part and parcel with pregnancy. Most of the time I tried not to stress too much and take things a day at a time. R was his usual silent self, not being overly dramatic or emotional about anything, but he was supportive in every way possible. We managed to have lots of laughs during the good and bad days which I hope will continue in the days and years to come.

Next year will be exciting and challenging! I don’t know what motherhood will be like or how R and I will fare as parents. I hope not too bad lah! I also wonder what it will be like to not be working, I’ve worked for so long I’m not sure how to feel without a job for 9 months (I might enjoy it too much hehe). Deep down I think we will turn out ok and it will be a magical experience watching Saitaoha grow up. My 2016 resolutions are quite simple, I am going to try my best at being a good mother and wife, I also want to have a happy and healthy lifestyle and hopefully go back to looking and feeling normal again. Wish me luck!

28 weeks

I’m alive! It really has been too long since I’ve blogged from this space, I’ve been blogging daily using Dayre, but it’s just not the same. Dayre is great for microblogging and when you’re on the go, I write when I’m on the train, or when we’re in the car, it captures snippets of the day, but it doesn’t really capture my thoughts or emotions as fully as a real long blog post.

I thought about blogging when I passed my first trimester, it felt right that I should blog about the next phase of my life on the blog that has been accompanying me all these years. But for some reason, I resisted. I think it’s because the pregnancy to me is such a private matter, in fact, up to now many friends still don’t know about it and I haven’t felt the need to shout it from the top of the world. The pregnancy journey has been interesting, for the past couple of years, even though I knew my ‘biological clock was ticking’ and everyone under the sun would ask ‘when are you planning to have kids’, I’ve always felt quite comfortable with saying we’re not ready yet. Really, I was the one that wasn’t ready. Work was so busy, I wanted to enjoy it just being two of us, and most of all, having watched my two sisters’ journeys, I knew what it meant if we were to take the next step. It’s hard work and it’s forever. You can’t change your mind halfway and say ‘take back the kid’, even with marriages nowadays, people get divorced so easily, but you can’t ever divorce from your kids can you?

The pregnancy as I predicted wasn’t as smooth running as I hoped it would be. There was the down syndrone high risk scare, there was my gallstone removal (I feel so cheated of the wonderwoman 2nd trimester scare because of that!). For the first time in my life I was hospitalised and wheeled around in a hospital bed, went for an MRI scan (they let you watch Family Guy while you’re in that coffin thing!) and was put under to have a ‘procedure’ to get rid of that little bugger. Now that I’m in the final trimester, there are millions of doctor appointments, child birth classes and I am very behind on nursery preparation. I can genuinely say I’ve hardly bought anything for saitaoha (my mother gave her that nickname, apt right haha) and have read half a baby book. I have been accompanied by this great pregnancy app which I’ve read is considered very old school (because it was one of the very early ones and there are new fangled cooler apps out there nowadays) but I love it. Everyday I have a quick read to see what’s happening with the baby, sage advice on forums from other mums, and it’s also the way I keep track of what week I’m at (-____-)”. It’s not very reliable especially when they use a fruit to describe the baby’s size, baby is supposed to be the size of an eggplant this week, but hey, do you mean those teeny Lebanese eggplants or the huge giant ones that are found in Australia?? Take it with a grain of salt lah.

The weight gain is a worry for me. I just really pray that I will be able to lose the weight when saitaoha is out. I miss wearing nice dresses and having a waist (T____T). It’s also quite alarming to see all the weight that I lost over the years through diet and exercise just pile on. I have to be honest, my work life was getting so bad pre pregnancy that I was comfort eating too much anyway.

I always knew pregnancy wasn’t easy even though other women at work looked like they were breezing through it (I probably just never realised they might have been struggling). I just didn’t realise how scary it was going to be, and how fragile. A very close friend had a miscarriage during this time, and it was painful and heartbreaking to watch. Life felt very fragile and I found myself hoping to get pass each week smoothly because every extra week means a stronger chance of survival. It’s quite morbid isn’t it? But it’s not all negative, I’ve had so much support from my family and friends. Even though I haven’t bought anything for saitaoha, I also haven’t felt the massive need to because everynow and then Jo would drop by with a parcel of ‘something the baby will need’, or Jan would tell me ‘I have two sets of xx, don’t buy, baby can choose which one she prefers’. My mother whatsapps me to tell me what other miscellanous thing she’s bought for saitaoha, I think the other day it was baby nail clippers. My family know when to fuss and cluck, but they also knew when I needed my space and hovered in the background, not saying anything but showing their support with the gesture of homecooked soup.

R has been so supportive too. I’ve gotten so used to the workaholic always being so busy with his appointments, professional development training and courses, I sort of settled myself on being on this journey semi alone. But it was the opposite, he’s been to every doctor’s appointment with me, was there everynight to visit at the hospital, was a shoulder to cry on during the tough times, we were in it together and are in this together for life. That’s pretty amazing.

So saitaoha, stay happy and healthy ok? There are so many amazing people for you to meet when you come out, you will have the most wonderful grandparents, aunties, uncles and papa to spend your life with. And yes, you’ll have me too. I’m not that great but I’ll try my best and that’s a pact ya?

Cycle

Was attempting to finish up some work from home tonight but have kinda given up because the work laptop doesn’t seem to want to give me access to my work files anymore. Hopefully I can bring myself to wake up super early tomorrow so I can be in the office before everyone gets there. Nowadays I hardly get any desk time because my phone is either always ringing, or people will stop by to ask questions or it’s meetings…

Can’t believe (actually quite predictable lah I go through this every year) that I’m back in my vicious work cycle of wondering what the hell I’m doing and thinking about quitting again. I never go through with quitting though (especially with the horrendous job market at the moment!), just being a drama mama as usual. I do irritate myself with my melodrama.

When things are tough at work I always have a lot of self doubt.  Am I stressed because I don’t handle stress well? Am I overworked because I should be able to time manage better? Is it a case of working harder and not working smarter? Why can’t I be one of those people who somehow manage to blame the chaos around them on other colleagues and pat themselves on the back at the same time?

It’s particularly ironic this year that I’ve joined a mentor program and am someone’s mentor! And my mentee is brilliant! Almost feel like I have to pretend to be someone clever and capable so she won’t think she’s been conned into this program. But so far our sessions have been very honest and I’ve pretty much shared my struggles, experiences and learnings with her. I hope she gets something out of these sessions and it’s not a complete waste of her time. Poor mentee.

Ok better go to sleep or else I can wave my plans of going to work early goodbye!

 

Last night

My father has beautiful penmanship. I’ve always admired his Chinese writing and his vast knowledge of China history and culture. When we were young, we used to love the Singaporean sitcom Under One Roof about the Tan family. The family patriarch Tan Ah Teck would end most episodes by telling a story to his kids ‘long before your time, in the southern province of China…’

My father is a little bit like that, he is always telling me stories that are linked to Chinese history such as the how the name yew char kueh came about. Do you know it’s linked to General Yue Fei, the great warrior from the Song Dynasty?

During this trip he told me a funny story about Deng Xiao Ping visiting America. image

He also taught Jo and I tai chi during this trip. It’s funny how my once fierce father is now so patient with us when teaching us the moves and how he melts like putty around his grandkids. Even when Tristan was playing with my father’s precious guitar, back in those days surely us kids would have gotten a walloping, instead he was more worried that Tristan would hurt himself and pulled his hands  away gently. I myself was ready to yell at Tristan ‘you do not bang on gung gung’s guitar!!’

Our Taichi lessons have been hilarious that half the time I wish we could video it coz we look so silly, HC my brother in law watches with a bemused expression while the rest of us, Jo and Ah Ma included battle with the very very slow moves. I love it and it goes down into my books as something I will miss dearly when I return to Perth tomorrow. My father left me his handwritten notes with the Taichi steps for me to practise at home. Somehow it won’t be quite the same.image
The view is still lovely tonight. Why didn’t I notice this the last time I was here? I will miss being high up on the 35th in our cozy little home. A couple of days ago there was heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Tristan was a little scared and I saw him shiver when a huge roar of thunder cracked, he quickly ran to his mummy and pressed his face into her lap. In a couple of seconds he was no longer scared and played on while the storm raged around us. I know it’s because he felt entirely safe, comforted and warm with his parents around him. That’s how I felt this week.


September 2016
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