1 Month with 2 Under 2

I had intended for the title of this post to be “2 Weeks with 2 under 2”. Ha. Ha. Ha. I tried.

This is how last month looked like for me:

1. Baby vomit. On my ratty T-shirt from last night. More baby vomit.
2. “Elise DON’T STEP ON DIDI!”
3. Laundry. More laundry.
4. Weary attempts to finish my meals whilst latching didi on one side and collecting milk from the other.
5. Going to the polyclinic every week to monitor didi’s jaundice levels.
6. Feeling like a puppet running on clockwork trying to reach the ultimate goal of having both kids fall asleep at the same time.

As with last time, I did without a confinement lady, opting for confinement catering and post natal massage. No time to waste accommodating another stranger. I chose to direct latch so there wasn’t anything a confinement lady could do that my dad couldn’t. He boiled red date tea and herbal bath packets, looked after Elise and even went to get more sanitary pads from the shop when mine ran out. 

Speaking of my dad… he never ever wanted kids, much less grandchildren. Our home has transformed from a quiet, dull place when it was just the two of us. We didn’t have anything in common to talk about so we’d watch TV whilst sharing late night McDonalds suppers (McChicken meal, upsized). The house was full of clutter with mismatched furniture and nobody bothered to clean. Junk. Everywhere.

After my dad became a grandfather, it definitely has become much livelier. He discovered by chance that Didi quietens down to “Hickory Dickory Dock”, so the mouse has been running up the clock, tick tock, tick tock. Our house is also a lot brighter than it was before he stopped hoarding things.

How has Elise been coping with the new addition? She has been very doting towards her brother. We’ve seen her patting his head, kissing and hugging him when he cries. Yet when Grandpa carries him, it’s a “NO GONG GONG! DIDI DOWN! MINE!”. -_- As for me… I’m like a zombie running on 110% capacity. The nights are thankfully quiet but a momma never sleeps. 

 

When Extended Breastfeeding Hurts

Notice the bruise on her left cheek? There is a story behind it.

I’d brazenly packed only summer clothing without any long pants and just one cardigan into our luggage after checking Accuweather and assuming the weather would be as warm as Singapore’s. It wasn’t (actual summer with Singapore type weather is in July and August). Elise ended up developing a high fever and blocked nose towards the end of our trip – we were sleeping one night and I touched her to realise she was burning. Since it was late at night, I nudged her and latched her so she could take in more fluids. The next day, my brother-in-law bought baby paracetamol from the pharmacy. We didn’t bring her to the PD because she was still active and not lethargic, although she had a decreased appetite.

The upside to this was that she mastered the technique of picking her nose due to all the mucus. Once, she even handed over her dried snot to her father like it was a prize. I continued latching her because it gave her comfort and apparently, there’s still some milk in there. The nights were hard to bear as both of us had interrupted sleep; her from her blocked nose and me from attending to her. She also vomited her formula milk and spat out medicine.

Back to the bruise. We were in a fully loaded flight back to Singapore from Seoul via Taipei. Even in the cold airplane up in the air, her entire body was hot to the touch. She was grouchy, exhausted and wanted to latch, so she started fussing. In a confined space such as an aircraft where ALL EYES will be on you when your kid cries for a longer time than what is socially acceptable i.e. 3 minutes max, you do whatever you have to to get her to quieten down. So, I unbuttoned one button of my dress and latched her in my seat. It is possible to be sufficiently covered whilst getting the job done. Why not in the aircraft toilet for privacy? Because if you don’t eat your delicious aircraft bento in the toilet whilst enjoying the smell and airborne poop particles, Elise shouldn’t have to drink in a toilet either.

Anyway.

Being cranky, sick and uncomfortable, she absolutely refused to stop latching. Occasionally, when she dozed off, I pried a finger in between her teeth in an attempt to unlatch her, which resulted in a full-blown cry, forcing me to start all over again. Cry, latch, doze off, (attempt to) unlatch, repeat. Learning quick, she realised that if she used her teeth to clamp shut on my nipple, she could defend the boob. Pregnancy boobs are more sensitive than normal. How does it feel? Clip one of these onto your nipple. That’s how it feels. I tolerated it for many times, but there was just ONE moment where she intentionally bit down hard onto it, so I pinched her cheek. HARD. She awoke in pain. I had hurt my sick daughter. -_-

She recovered the day after we returned to Singapore without seeing a doctor.

Now that she is 19 months old, I’m starting to hear uninvited opinions about weaning. One of the remarks came from my mother-in-law. She was on the phone with my husband before we went to Korea and it was audible enough for me to hear. “It doesn’t even have nutrients anymore. It’s useless. I don’t care if she hears. It’s the truth.” My husband replied that I was sensitive regarding this issue and told her to stop. That night, I searched for articles in Korean which supported breastfeeding until 2 years old and beyond and sent it to the family chat group. After reading the articles, my husband agreed that it does help with her immunity. My in-laws also stopped commenting about weaning after seeing how she was soothed easily. On our last night in Korea, she signaled to latch and I latched her in the restaurant while we feasted on crabs. After Elise unlatched, she immediately went over to her grandparents and kissed them. -_____-

Korea is a relatively child and breastfeeding-friendly country. Last year, I latched her on demand practically everywhere – in the KTX, buses, eateries, even in the sauna. Nobody said anything nasty, because I was decently covered. Because breastfeeding is nothing to be ashamed of. Because mature adults understand. I believe that one day, she will tell me that she’s a big girl and “big girls don’t need to drink from boobies anymore”. Support from family is the most important factor in successful breastfeeding.

There were two incidents where I was criticised for breastfeeding Elise, both by other women and in Singapore. The first time was in a nursing room with no curtain, so I latched Elise in front of them. The two women in the room made comments in another language, spattered with English words like “must be from China”, “disgusting”, “cannot cover”. The room was locked. We were all women. It’s sad to see how some women put down other women for feeding their child with mom’s milk. I have two friends who are still latching their kids of similar age to Elise. Like me, they are pro-extended breastfeeding and still nurse their little ones to sleep even though they’ve heard nasty remarks from co-workers and strangers. Weaning should be determined by either the mother or child, no-one else. Not family members, not in-laws and much less work superiors and strangers.

EXTENDED BREASTFEEDING

Q: Do you even have milk left?!
A: Supply decreases during pregnancy and milk changes into colostrum which some toddlers either dislike, like or are neutral with. I asked Elise if there was still milk and she nodded, so… I guess there’s something left inside? I’m quite sure it’s mostly for comfort. I also feed her formula milk once a night for satiety but she still nurses to sleep after milk.

C: It’s so disgusting to see a big kid dangling off your boob. They’re old enough to wean when they have teeth.
R: Here are the benefits of extended breastfeeding, which include healthy emotional development in addition to building their immune systems. You know what’s disgusting? Humans drinking cow’s milk. It came from the tit of a cow meant to nourish baby calves. I’d rather wean her off cow’s milk. The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of 6 months, continued till a year and stopped whenever the children want it. Most children wean themselves off between 2 to 4 years of age.

To tell the truth, I DO find it unnecessary once the child is no longer a toddler. I hope Elise will quit boobin’ way before she turns 5. The good news is, kids will self-wean between the ages of 2 and 4. It will be a bittersweet day for sure.

Q: Why do you continue latching even when it hurts? Can’t she be soothed in other ways? Are you breastfeeding for attention?
A: No amount of attention can be worth a clamp on the nipples with baby teeth. The reason is simply because for my child, there is nothing more soothing than a boob, especially when she is ill and has no appetite. Well, even grown men can’t resist breasts! Except that grown men sucking on boobs = sexual. Babies latching = natural and NOT sexual.

Q: Not all women breastfeed. Are you insinuating they are less of a mother than you are?
A: 
Breastfeeding is but one component of motherhood. Boobing alone doesn’t make you a great mother like how feeding formula doesn’t make you a bad mother. -_____-

The Rain

It is never easy sending your child to the operating theatre. Though it is just going to be a simple examination under anesthesia (EUA) and mold creation for her prosthetic eye, she will still have to undergo General Anesthesia. This will be her third time in 3 months. 🙁 I’ve asked both the surgeons if the procedure can be done under sedation but they told me that sedation would not be sufficient as the process of creating the mold is uncomfortable. It would be more traumatising for her if she wakes up halfway instead.

Tomorrow’s procedure is considered low-risk so I hope everything goes smoothly. I still remember when the nurses were waiting for her to recover from anesthesia in the holding area after her enucleation. Her non-eye was covered with an eye patch and blood was seeping through. 🙁 She likely will not need to be warded tomorrow. After Chinese New Year, we will need to visit the hospital for 3 consecutive days for the construction and fitting of her prosthetic eye. On the first day, they will see if the mold fits. On the second day, they will commence on hand painting the acrylic customised eye. On the third day, the eye will be ready and we’ll be taught how to insert and maintain the prosthesis.

As with every procedure requiring anesthesia, she will need to fast. The deadline is 12 midnight for solids and all sorts of milk and 4 am for water, glucose water or honey water. She’s currently knocked out but I managed to feed her some milk. She won’t be able to consume anything until after the operation ends. Hopefully, it won’t be too taxing for her. We have the earliest slot so we’ll need to wake up extra early to cab over.

It has been raining heavily for days on end. The laundry takes forever to air dry and we have been confined to the neighbourhood for the past week. It’s like free air conditioning and the weather is the closest it gets to “winter” in Singapore. The downside is that the coldness just makes me want to curl up under the comforter and hibernate the day away. There’s also the immense boredom of being cooped up at home…

Elise turned 15 months a few days ago. Ever since she was born, breast milk has been her main source of milk. She was nursed exclusively for 6 months and has been latching daily up till now. I’m not sure if the problem lies with my supply, but I find myself becoming increasingly annoyed when she wakes up to latch in the middle of the night. She’ll climb over me, change sides, switch positions all while chomping down onto my boob, refusing to let go until I pry open her mouth with my fingers. I chided her and commanded her to “stop it” and it wasn’t a good feeling for either of us.

That’s why I made her a bottle of formula milk this evening from a sample tin of Gain IQ which I received earlier. She drank all 120ml of it in one go. I still believe that breast milk is best as it’s customised for the child but knowing that she is receptive to formula as well as a range of other types of milk (oat milk, fresh milk, thawed frozen breast milk) is comforting because it provides a back-up solution for when I need to rest. Formula is overpriced and it doesn’t make sense to rely entirely on it when it’s not essential for growth. Besides, she has such a voracious appetite, her nutrient requirements can easily be met through solids. Normally, she doesn’t pay much attention to her father but when he is eating, she’ll toddle up to him and act coy. She’ll sit on his lap and say “AH-MM!!!”.

I’m quite sure I’ll feel bittersweet when she weans but such is life. For every beginning, there will be an end.