Two Years

It’s been slightly over two years since the operation and a long rollercoaster ride. I would say that we’re currently on a smooth track. She’s turned three and doctor visits are now once every six months, a huge difference from once every six-weeks.

We’ve swopped out her conformer for her prosthetic eye again for a more natural look but she seems to have outgrown it and the alignment is not quite there… we may have to create a new one. There’s that implant operation that failed twice, yet doesn’t have to be done right now.

Being mean to Matty since 2015. In his house. With his book. While he stares on. 

She doesn’t let it get in her way. Despite only having one eye, she walks and runs like any other kid her age. She can kick balls (and the butts of bullies in future) with good aim, having constant practice along the long corridor outside our house. If it doesn’t bother her, it shouldn’t bother us.

We have to keep her eye properly moisturised as the prosthetic eye is unable to produce moisture. Somehow, it’s a struggle at home, but she lets her teachers at childcare do it for her. Childcare transforms children, I tell you. It’s been less than a month in school and she has been having regular afternoon naps, eats her vegetables (!!!) and even lets the teachers tie her hair in fancy styles *brain explodes. This was never possible. The closest I got to tying her hair was when she was influenced by the witch in Room on the Broom. Even then, she only let me braid her hair when she was role-playing the witch. I should have sent her in earlier.

Look at this girly girl with her IKEA cat that never leaves her side.

Pro-tip: Use an easily available toy as your child’s comfort item. Good luck if your child’s chou-chou is passed down from 30 years ago or discontinued. It’s going to be many sleepless nights for both of you.

This IKEA cat is a reincarnation of Cat Version 1 which was unfortunately and unintentionally left behind on a flight to Korea. I emailed the airline, but didn’t get a favourable reply. Poor cat. I bought another one off the shelves for her. It’s only $9.90.



Emmett’s Birth Story

This post is so last year. It was in my drafts, unfinished until now.

Having heard about how second babies arrive earlier than their older siblings, I had my hospital bag packed and ready to go when I hit 36 weeks. On a Sunday at 39 weeks, I was out for breakfast when I was hit by crippling contractions, so bad it hurt to walk. I staggered home and took a shower, thinking that THIS WAS IT. Turns out it was a false alarm and I spent the entire day on standby. 

At the next checkup, the doctor said that the baby’s head was already engaged and the contractions helped the baby move down further but I had no signs of labour. I was a green-eyed monster, commanding the baby to come out whilst being taunted by birth notifications, one by one, in the WhatsApp group chats. WHY WASN’T THIS BABY COMING OUT?! BEING SO PREGNANT IS NOT FUN!

Two days before the baby came out, my mucus plug did. It was a lot of transparent discharge. 

D-Day

40 weeks, 1 day. I was out to get lunch when I felt my insides cramp up. My tolerance for pain is moderately high, so I waited for it to subside before going home for a shower and making sure everything I needed was in my hospital bag. After that, I latched Elise to sleep. Before leaving, I kissed her cheek and felt a huge pang of sadness because I knew that the next time I saw her, she would no longer be my only baby. I called my husband who was at work to meet me at the hospital. 

I took a cab down to the hospital and realised that my husband was NOWHERE to be seen. Strange, considering his workplace was nearer to the hospital than our house. I decided on a regular Ultimate from Coffee Bean as The Last Drink to sip on while waiting for him. On hindsight, the caffeine helped in ramping up my energy to push. The contractions were about 15 minutes apart. He arrived at the hospital 30 minutes later and made me help him with a phone call for work.  -_- 

At 4:30pm, we went up to the delivery suite where we met the most obtuse patient service associate ever. 

PSA: When is your EDD?
Me: My EDD was yesterday.
PSA: So what’re you here for today?
Me: (I have) Contractions? 

Duh, what else would a pregnant woman go to the Delivery Suite for?!

I got ushered into the delivery suite (by the way, private and subsidised patients at NUH use the same delivery suite) and the midwives hooked me up to the CTG, inserted the IV line and checked for dilation. I was already 5 to 6cm dilated. HA! Take that, Miss “What’re you here for?”! I opted for laughing gas like before and whenever the contractions came, I grabbed the mask and breathed in the gas like a druggie. The short lived effect even with constant inhalation means that the pain is felt. Perhaps I didn’t do it right. 

6pm
“This baby is going to be out by 7pm”. I predict.
The pain starts to get unbearable. I tell the nurse to stop putting her fingers in to check for dilation and she tells me that it’s not her fingers stretching my cervix but the baby’s head.

640pm (!? Can’t remember the exact timing, but it was indeed before 7pm)

Pop. The baby is eerily silent in contrast to Elise who came out wailing her lungs out.   

It wasn’t until I heard the baby give a soft cry that my husband told me that Emmett was born with nuchal cord x2. This means that the umbilical cord was looped around his neck not once, but twice. My husband was shell shocked, but the midwives told him that it’s a common occurrence.

The gynae on duty stitched me up. It was a minor first degree tear and I could walk the moment I reached the ward. I rejected Panadol because the pain was non-existent. It did hurt when he latched and the lochia gushed out.

That’s the story of how Emmett came out. Natural without epidural. 

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Number 3

No, it’s not a baby. Today, Elise will be undergoing her THIRD repair operation. In textbook model cases, only one operation is needed to remove the eye and insert a plastic round implant to replace the eyeball. Note that there is currently no procedure that can let her regain vision in her right eye, so everything is largely due to aesthetic reasons.

To recap, the first operation went pretty alright until discharge started leaking from the right eye and it was discovered that her implant got exposed.

The second operation to repair the exposed implant was a failure. She couldn’t open her eye even after the stitches were removed and it was all bloody.

The following week, a third operation was done. When her stitches got removed, the entire plastic ball popped out. The doctor advised us to leave it alone. Since then, she’s been functioning well without it.

Which brings us to today. The surgeon intends to do a fat graft to extract fat from her bum to place in her eye as the plastic implant obviously doesn’t work. Fat grafts in children have shown to work better as the fat somehow expands to fit the empty socket rather than shrink, which is what happens in adults.

Is this all necessary? The surgeon told us that we could wait to avoid her getting traumatised but it is a surgery that will have to be done anyway, so I prefer to get it over with. I’ve asked what will happen if we don’t do the surgery. As she is still very young, if there is a gap in her socket, the bones may not grow properly since there is nothing to support them. I decided to go ahead with the surgery.

Besides, it’s not the surgery but the post recovery wound care that affects her the most. She’s only just regained her appetite after recovering from cough, and everything is going to go down the drain again.

She’s at an age where she has started to elaborate and use full sentences to describe her surroundings and feelings. Even after so many operations and “staycations” at the hospital ward, the guilt never goes away. 🙁

We’ve been disappointed and disheartened and have questioned the surgeon on the multiple failed results. We don’t doubt the surgeon. He has decades of experience. I’ve asked him why he didn’t go ahead with the fat graft, but he was reserving it as a last option as it would leave a small scar at her back. Sigh. We all hope this will be the last op.