My New Life as a SAHM

A few weeks ago, I visited my friend from secondary school who gave birth recently. Both her and her husband were all-rounded model students (smart, school councilors, leadership roles in their CCAs) and nurtured their young love for over a decade before getting married. I wasn’t close to them and didn’t keep in touch after graduation, so our only connection was Facebook.

She messaged me over Facebook after reading about Elise and told me about her newborn son having to undergo an emergency operation due to a congenital birth defect. Thankfully, her son is now healthy and thriving. After Elise’s swelling subsided, I made arrangements to visit them. My friend’s nephew was also there so both of them played together. When the kids got restless, I followed my friends mother-in-law for a stroll to the nearby reservoir.

There, I told her that I stopped working full-time and am now physically around Elise 24/7. Recently retired after having worked as a nurse for more than 30 years, she emphasized the importance of a woman needing to earn her own money. “Men respect women who earn their own money, even a little. It gives you a voice”. I agree with that actually, because having to depend on another person entirely for finances makes you a bit vulnerable and dependent. She also shared with me her child-rearing tactics, claiming that she never needed to use a cane.

“I understand that your maternal instincts are strong, especially when she’s still young. However, she’ll need you lesser when she starts school full-time and you may find it challenging to get re-employed with a gap. Moreover, working outside makes you creative which helps in educating her”. 

It’s been about 2 months. Weekday mornings used to be immensely rushed. I had to prepare lunch for her, get ready for work, latch her and express out some milk for her all in an hour. Commuting to work took an hour. Including travel time, I was away from Elise for at least 10 hours. Now that I have the luxury of spending the entire day with her, I get to bring her for impromptu meetups with her baby friends.

On the housewife front, I’m still getting nagged at by my husband for not doing the laundry properly or keeping the house clean enough. He’s the one who picks up stray hair strands, sets a timer for the laundry so he can “save water” and vacuums the floor. What kind of chores am I doing at home? Cooking, washing the dishes, dumping the clothes in the machine on “Quick” mode (“You didn’t use softener right? There’s no fragrance!”) and haphazardly draping them onto the laundry line (“NO! Look at those crumpled clothes! You need to fling the water off the clothes before you hang them up! 야! 뺄래를 탁탁 털어야지!”). His best line is “너 근대에 한번 갔다와야돼” or “You need to go to the army”.

We should really hire a part-time helper.

For 2017, I should make some plans for my personal growth as well.

  1. Appearance
    Restart my skincare routine in order to prevent myself from morphing into a frumpy, unkempt housewife. There’s obviously nothing wrong in prioritising family. It’s just that I am still holding onto a glimmer of hope that I can still look presentable years down the road and not stare in the mirror feeling crappy about myself.
  2. Studies
    Brush up on my Korean, pick up a new language, learn new skills. 2016 was a stagnant year in terms of learning.
  3. Career
    Or lack of. I know a number of capable supermoms who have started and grown their business whilst maintaining their family. How do they do it?!

Meanwhile, I’m just going to enjoy whatever time I have as a housewife.

Here’s Elise and Matty at the Botanic Gardens – one of our impromptu playdates where we brought the babies to a water park without towels or spare clothes. Thankfully, the babies were air-dried quickly due to the toasty air. We managed to get them to hold hands! Hehehehe.

Elise spent Christmas Eve with Snorlax at a close friend’s house.

On Boxing Day, we met new friends. We joined a group of Singapore-based wives with Korean boyfriends and spouses. The location of the meetup had an amazing view of the CBD. We exchanged presents, the kids chased each other around and my husband finally got to enjoy some beers and pour out his sorrows to people who get him.

The men created their own chat group too. Now he can feel like he belongs~. My husband was extremely reluctant to accompany us at first. He was already all dressed up, sitting in front of the computer and asking “Do I really have to go? Why don’t you go alone with Elise?”. He ended up enjoying himself tremendously. See? You may be right, but your wife is never wrong.

At the bus stop near our house, a little girl came over to tickle Elise’s chin out of nowhere. Superstarrrrr. This was the day we went to the hospital for her check-up. We saw Dr Ganga again and he stressed on the importance of genetic testing, especially if we are intending to expand our family. This test is not covered by insurance and costs approximately S$3,500 because the specimen and blood samples have to be flown to Canada. Genetic testing for Retinoblastoma will show if it is an inherited condition (if it is, the risk of siblings developing Retinoblastoma is much higher). Dr Ganga asked us to crowdfund if necessary, but I don’t feel comfortable sticking my hand out to ask for money from strangers.

From the articles we’ve read online, it doesn’t seem likely that it will recur. Retinoblastoma metastasis generally occurs within the 1st year of diagnosis. 15% of unilateral retinoblastoma cases develop tumours in the other eye. A good thing is that her optic nerve was cancer free and recurrences usually occur with tumours which touch the optic nerve. Is this money worth spending? I’m really not sure. My father suggested that the hospital should use her case as research and pay for the genetic testing since Retinoblastoma is so rare in Singapore.

On the 25th, Elise will undergo another Examination Under Anasthesia (EUA). It’ll be the third time since November that she’ll be under GA. I’ve read about decreased intelligence in children who have underwent GA compared to those who have not undergone anasthesia. 🙁 I’ve asked the doctors but GA is their preferred method as they will also be creating a mold for her prosthetic eye and they don’t want to risk her waking up during the procedure. 🙁 This won’t be the last EUA as Elise will need to be under surveillance to monitor for recurrence.

Dr Ganga mentioned adjuvant/preventive chemotherapy (chemotherapy that is done after surgery to eliminate cancer which may not have been physically excised) that I am not keen on. It’s like a repeat of my cancer situation where the physical tumour was removed with surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy was declined. Let’s just hope that it is truly gone and doesn’t metastasize elsewhere years later.

In other news, look who had her very first professional haircut! I’ve only snipped her fringe twice with blunt scissors. My husband booked an appointment for all of us with Edward, his new friend, who happened to work at Dusol Beauty. I used to frequent the salon years ago. Edward was incredulous that I didn’t recognise him because he worked there longer than my hairstylist.

My head feels much lighter. The last haircut was months ago at a dodgy $4.90 place. Being pampered with a shampoo and head massage sure was heavenly. We had mall vouchers so the total cost was very affordable!

Getting her to stay still was a challenge.

I am Elise, hear me roar! Straight bangs to look like a little boy. We all had new haircuts for the new year. 🙂

 

What’s In My Diaper Bag (Toddler Edition): Ju-Ju-Be Minibe

Ju-Ju-Be is a diaper bag brand which is extremely popular with many moms. Part of their success comes from having an extensive range of bags and accessories to suit every need and look whilst coming up with new styles and collections every other month. Not every collection is desirable but most of the Ju Ju Be x Tokidoki releases have been popular.

People have been known to queue overnight outside local retailers to receive a queue number so they can choose the print placements on the bags. There are Right-To-Buy contests, which secures you a confirmed slot of purchasing a bag. Yes, it’s not even free! It is one of the few non-luxury brands where a used bag with a highly sought after discontinued print can command more than a new bag. If you meet a self-confessed Ju-Ju-Be addict, be sure to ask them to show you their “stash shot” because it is likely that the sheer number of bags will make your eyes widen in shock.

It is a slippery slope “down the rabbit hole”, as they call it. I have a number of bags which I purchased pre-loved at reasonable prices from Facebook.

When I bring Elise out on my own, I pack as light as possible because my shoulders are beginning to feel the strain from baby-wearing her. This is how I packed my bag when I brought her out the other day using a Ju-Ju-Be Minibe.

The Minibe is slightly larger than A4 and incredibly light. It’s also machine washable so there’s nothing to worry about if it gets stained with food or dirt.

WETBAG

  • 2 diapers
  • 2 rompers
  • 1 pair of long pants
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 bib
  • 1 face towel
  • 1 pack of travel sized wet wipes

WHAT’S IN MY BAG

  • Wet bag
  • 500ml Tupperware water bottle
  • 150ml straw bottle
  • Zojirushi food jar
  • Hegen storage bottle filled with snacks
  • Bowl with feeding spoon (freebie from Dumex)

Everything in the photo fit nicely into the Minibe with space to spare. The straps are padded for comfort and it’s more accessible than the Anello bag which I used previously. This model does not come with a changing pad.

As I wear Elise in front and carry the bag, I sling my essentials in a large piece from Be Set.

  • Travel brush
  • Tissue
  • Bank tokens
  • EZ-link card
  • HERA BB Cushion
  • Laneige tinted lip balm
  • Peripera Lip Tint
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Earphones (which I don’t get to use anymore)
  • Small piece from Be Set containing cards and cash with keys hooked onto the strap

That’s it! 🙂

Tips for Expectant Mums

It has been relatively easy looking after Elise so far. She’s cheerful, loves to interact with people, playful and easy-going. She learned how to sleep through the night early on so I always managed to have enough hours of sleep. Food wise, she’s not picky and takes breast milk in any form (frozen, chilled, fresh). 

I’m not sure if it’s due to genes (probably got her father’s side since I was a very difficult baby) or if it was due to my relatively stress free pregnancy. Either way, she’s a happy baby and I hope that she’ll remain healthy and strong in character and spirit. Tips for Mums-to-Be

1. Aim for a less-stress pregnancy


When I found out I was pregnant, I chose to take up a contract job with lesser responsibility as my focus was on growing my baby. There was an unhappy incident with an ex-friend of more than 5 years who said nasty things about my character and pregnancy, so I cut him out of my life. 
If the stress is coming from home, it takes double the effort to filter out negative thoughts. That’s where your partner comes into play. If the negativity is solely coming from your partner, I have bad news for you.
To be fair, because we spent about half the pregnancy in a long distance relationship and there were days were I cried to sleep because we could only talk for 5 minutes. We fight very dramatically but it doesn’t last more than a day.
2. Eat meals on time, drink enough water
My mom often skipped meals when she was pregnant with me and I was a monster at night who refused to sleep. It sounds like an old wives’ tale, but when you are feeling satiated, the baby will be more peaceful. Remember to up your water intake as well!
3. Drink coconut water in the last trimester
I drank coconut water frequently (just the ones easily available from NTUC) and Elise came out clean and she didn’t have much cradle cap or infant acne. Coconut water supposedly helps to clean the baby in the womb. -_-?

4. Cheap does not always equal bad
I found out I was pregnant through a blood test at the hospital so I was promptly referred to its women’s clinic. All my visits were subsidised. Although I didn’t get to choose a gynaecologist, those on duty were professional and more importantly, the fees were extremely affordable. I ended up paying about $19 per consultation and $80 with scans. 

When it came to choosing a maternity ward, I chose the cheapest 8-bedder ward option. I felt that there was no difference between a 2-bedder ward or 8-bedder ward because the whole “private” experience is marred when your neighbour makes noise. 


I had skin-on-skin contact with my newborn and got to room-in with my baby to bond with her. As the hospital was pro-breastfeeding, I didn’t have to pay extra for lactation consultation sessions.

5. Maternity Pillows are a lifesaver

Best invention ever. It’s like sleeping on a fluffy cloud. I bought mine off Groupon.  I did a quick check on Qoo10 and it retails for about $30. In the third trimester, you’re supposed to sleep on your left side and this pillow helps you to do so comfortably. No regrets. Mine is compressed into a ziplock bag waiting to be reused. 

6. Breastfeeding helps to save money, sanity and build your baby’s immunity

My main intention was to save on formula because the prices alone scared me. Although not entirely free after factoring the cost of breast pumps, bottles, milk bags etc), it is still more affordable than formula and customised for your baby. It also makes a lot of difference in your sleep when you don’t need to leave the bed at night. 

I had lots of comments on my nipples; the nurses, lactation consultants and massage lady exclaimed that my nipples were “really short”. It was excruciatingly painful at the beginning because she had an incorrect latch and would clamp down, but the NUH lactation consultants helped me learn how to latch Elise and she was exclusively breastfed until she could take solids. I’m still breastfeeding her and will let her decide when to wean.

In a year, she has only been down with fever twice and she took about 3 days to recover each time. 

7. Spend quality time with your baby

Children grow the most in their first year. If you like children and have the luxury of staying at home, please do, because it’ll be the year where they accomplish many milestones from rolling over, lifting their head up, sitting, standing and eating. 

If you can’t though, try to make sure you put away all distractions and focus on your child 100%. Bring them downstairs to the playground or for a stroll. Children remember and these will become part of their memories. 
My phone is totally laggy because I can’t bear to delete any video or photo of her even though it’s already backed up in my computer. Woe.

8. Hear only the good things

From the moment you get pregnant, everyone suddenly starts to have their own opinion of your pregnancy.

In the first month of confinement especially, there’ll be tons of unsolicited advice and many outdated confinement rules which are no longer applicable to modern times. Read through the rules and the reasons for them, see how logical they are before deciding which one to follow. 

I did my own confinement (DIY confinement #1DIY confinement #2) without the help of a confinement lady. I enjoyed it tremendously because I didn’t have to live with a stranger in the house without knowing if she would be more of a hindrance than a help. It’s easy doing your own confinement if your family members are supportive.