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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Month

May 2011

“Son… I hope you like pink.”

They say that with ultrasounds, there’s a 60% confidence rate that it’s a girl when they say it’s a girl, and about a 90% confidence rate when they tell you it’s a boy. For those I have to spell things out to, the idea is that with boys, you tell by figuring out if there are bits. For girls, it’s more about the lack thereof.

The first time Tony and I were told we’re having a girl, I had asked the ultrasound technician how certain she was, and had repeated that spiel about girls being more difficult to work out. In reply, the technician had just stopped short of rolling her eyes back at me, and then had tightly told me that they are “pretty accurate about these things nowadays”. Our obstetrician settled the whole Blobette question in both our minds the following week, when his own scrounging around by ultrasound drew the same conclusions.

Well. Apparently we’re not out of the woods yet.

We’ve been attending antenatal classes at the hospital we’re booked at, and the midwife this week – entertaining lady, name’s Jenny – happened to mention that three – three – births in the last month alone came up with surprises at the end of the tunnel.

One couple was told they were having a girl, and so they promptly ran out and spent $2,000 on baby girl clothes… only to find they had to dress their boy in pink.

Another couple – and this was their second child – were told they were having a girl, got a boy, and the father was pretty much inconsolable.

And for those smugly thinking, “Heh. I know I’m having a man-child because my blob has bits,” the third couple were told they were having a boy. The sonographer even went as far as to point out testicles and the almighty tell-tale doodle. Only for it all to shrink back in or something, when he emerged a beautiful baby girl.

For months now, I’ve been talking to her. I’ve been referring to her. I’ve asked her to stop tickling me. I’ve announced when she’s awake. When I think she’s hungry. When I think she’s having hiccups, which crack me up. I have been singing to her. (I’ve been trying to sing more Mother Goose classics, but Gloria Gaynor and Abba seem to win out.) I’ve been dreaming of her.

And today, after figuring out that we have 6 weeks to go – less if you remember that full term is 37 weeks – we have been shopping for her.

It’s hard to avoid pink, if you want to shop for a girl but balk at a $32 funky onesie from Sooki. As for neutrals, you’re either stuck with white, which is boring and impractical; blue, which signals to everyone that it’s definitely a boy; and brown, which is not really a girl colour unless she’s 30. There’s hardly any yellow, orange or red nowadays. Purple almost always comes with insipid cartoon butterflies, and green comes with even stupider looking frogs and crocodiles.

So you go back to pink. All the while praying that you will be thick-skinned enough to swaddle your child in candy-floss shaded, butterfly-printed blankets and wraps and onesies when she turns out to be a baby boy. All the while hoping that everyone who’s been wishing you well and showering your child with girly gifts aren’t going to kill you because they’ve thrown away the receipt, but they can’t blame you for not dressing Blob in that $60 tutu they got you.

So here’s my plan, if we find out Blobette is a Blob:

  • Love him to bits because hey, it’s our boy!
  • Use up the pink stuff indoors, save the adorable lacy/ribbony/girly stuff for the second round
  • Beg the wall decal online shop to send me blue leaves to replace the pink ones in the nursery
  • Replace the pink IKEA cloth drawers in our bookshelves with purple and black ones.
  • Get that ridiculously cute pirate cotsheet set I’ve been eyeballing for months.

Because let’s face it. She/he won’t care, as long as she/he is comfortable and fed and loved. And we’ll still do all the things we’ve been planning to do – which includes playing with dolls AND trucks, and learning how baseball works, and what fun reading is, and what fun being naughty to mommy and daddy isn’t.

And besides… it makes for a funny story at their 21st birthday party.

Is it indigestion, or are you just stretching your legs?

Can you believe I can’t tell the difference?

I am starting to feel uncomfortable when sitting down. Which is fine when I have a manic Monday in the office that involves running from one meeting to another. It’s not so fine when I’m trying to write Thank You cards during Blobette’s gymboree class (Time: between 9.00pm and 1.00am. Venue: my rib cage). I get a calculated and well-aimed foot-shove every time I try to bend even a teeny bit.

Thankfully, typing is more comfortable for both of us. The fact remains that there ain’t ’nuff space for the two of us no more. Even when she’s perfectly content to lie still and quiet, lulled to sleep by movement or the singing of silly songs, I still feel really, really full. To the brim. Bloated like an overblown zeppelin. With 7 weeks to go.

In amongst all this newfound discomfort lies heartburn.

Had a quick read and basically, preggy heartburn is brought about by

  • oodles of progesterone relaxing muscles that need to be relaxed, but also allowing fluids to travel where they shouldn’t, and altogether slowing digestion down. Which is a bummer because by now, you’ve learnt to eat like a horse. And now you have to eat like a bird eleventeen times a day. Who has the time between meetings!
  • growing, cramped baby pushing your organs this way and that, and again slowing the whole digestion process down.

There is method to the madness, by the way. Because apparently,

the same process that causes (me) discomfort may benefit (my) baby because nutrients that linger in (my) bloodstream can be absorbed more fully into (my) baby’s system.

Yuh. Glad I can help out.

So naturally, it follows that one tries to find out how to eliminate such discomfort. And it turns out that I have to refrain from

  • rich, spicy dishes
  • chocolate
  • citrus fruit or juices
  • coffee (and I take it, tea as well)

So I get to choose between heartburn and eating bird food eleventeen times a day. I choose heartburn.

Happy Almost-Mother’s Day!

It appears that my husband got teased for no good reason today after worship… because there on my pillow this evening lay a card with very mushy words about being a wife and mother, and now I heart the man to even smaller bits. The man, he pays attention to the calendar after all.

I was just commenting to my MIL this morning how poetic it’d be to become a mother today, and voila! YogaMate surprised us all – and mostly herself – by becoming a Mommy on Mother’s Day to a beautiful baby girl. See, to time it so beautifully is just showing off now. I’m terribly happy for her, but I guess that means coffee after yoga this Saturday’s no longer on the cards. :)

It just goes to show that babies really will come when they are ready. NewFromMattel had hers start to come practically the moment she turned her Out of Office assistant on, and now YogaMate’s 3+ weeks early. On the other hand, there’s the 2-weeks-overdue wait for SmallFry… and that’s another kind of surprise, I suppose.

This motherhood gig is tough for control freaks, no?

I have no idea when the day of this birth will be. I think I look huge now, but really I’m still quite mobile compared to others as far along as I am. So maybe she’ll be on-time/slightly late. Or maybe I haven’t a clue. I’m planning to take 3 weeks off before my due date, and am hoping in that time to get the nursery truly in order… but who knows, eh? She might have other plans.

She might turn out to be a he, after all.

She might come super early. In the office. What a nightmare.

She might be right on time.

She might come super late.

She might come with a cleft lip

She might come with mental complications.

She might come OK.

I just hope I’m ready.

Austen would be proud

Baby shower 1Baby shower 13Baby shower 12Baby shower 11Baby shower 10Baby shower 9
Baby shower 6Baby shower 3Baby shower 2Baby shower 8Baby shower 7Baby shower 4

Baby Shower, a set on Flickr.

Baby shower! And yes, even though they didn’t tawk about being “in the family way” in those days  – for the mere suggestion alone that men and women got all kissy and stuff in the bedroom could lift the bonnet right off their heads – we went and had a Jane Austenesque shower anyhoo.

Had a gloriously chi-chi time of it at Mrs Jenning’s home. Very la-di-da, with actual drawing in drawing rooms and needlework! Very impressive show from Mrs Kirkpatrick, Mrs Jennings, Miss Rachael, Miss Laura and lil’ Miss Lily. These photos don’t do it justice, but it’s all I have for now…

Presenting… the anti-bodies

ElilyMommy alerted me to the fact that just as the world breeds Breastfeeding nazis (my words, not hers), the world also breeds Anti-breastfeeding nazis.

Wha…?

Curiosity killed this cat – with laughter. I had a quick Google, and found the following gems without looking all that hard.

  • Anti-breastfeeding campaign – serious whack jobs on a massive scale. They hate God. They hate breastfeeding slightly more. The good news: I’m pretty sure it’s satire. A lampoon of misconceptions and prudishness surrounding boobs and babes. The bad news: remember how art imitates life…?
  • Found this on Yahoo Ask – but my absolute favourite was the mother who purportedly saw the act of breastfeeding as akin to animal behaviour, adding “We’re not in Uganda!” as a debating point. Yuh.
  • The one with the dentist – although interestingly, the whole cavities by kissing thing seems to have legs. Huh.
  • Anti-breastfeeding Bingo – for every time you hear that comment…

On a more serious note, this journalist puts across some valid points about how breastfeeding fascism, as she calls it, is uncalled for – and has ramifications of its own. I guess the most important take away for me is that “scientific theory”‘ changes all the time, and unfortunately I’ll have to hone my own mommy instinct and figure this out, while growing thicker skin.

Making a clean breast of it

Lots of mixed messages on the baby milk front. I’m almost certainly getting the message that if I don’t attempt to breastfeed my child for at least 6 months, there will be a special place in hell for me. Usually, that message gets tagged with the perfunctory, “but it’s ultimately your choice, and formula for babies is OK too.” But who are they kidding. The moment you whip out a bottle, you become the Irresponsible Mother. I’ve seen the dirty looks cast upon bottle wielders. It ain’t pretty. 

Take the personal history forms that the hospital sends you. There’s a page on your allergies and bowel movements and BMI and whether you speak Engrish or need an interpreter… there’s a spot about your feeding choice for the present birth (breast/formula/undecided)… which is then followed by two whole pages on breastfeeding and the education you need.

I think breastfeeding is preferable. But I loathe the societal pressure.

Anyhooo…

Here’s something in my 2-page antenatal breastfeeding form that you’ll never find in any Singapore hospital.

When asked: “Would you like any (or more) information related to breastfeeding on the following?”, one of the options includes…

*drumroll*

… Illicit drugs. As if you’d ever admit to wanting to breastfeed your child while snorting la-la powder.

But I guess it happens enough for the hospital to add that as an option. Go figure.

The career change

It’s just dawned on me that I have about a month to go before I stop corporate life for a year. My theoretical last day in the office is Friday 3 June, barring any last-minute complications or maybe a change of heart. (Kidding, boss.) I’m not sure I’ve made the mental gear change yet. But today, I looked at Tony’s watch, realised that April doesn’t have 31 days, nudged him to adjust his watch and then – bam! It’s May. 25 working days to go. Holy cow.

I’ve worked for a decade, thereabouts. And even though I will be getting paid to an extent while I’m on leave, the idea that I won’t be actively bringing in any dosh is still new and not altogether welcome. It’s got nothing to do with how Tony and I view money in our marriage – we pool everything we have in the one account, and have never counted pennies the other’s spent. (Which works out really well for me, since I’m the one that shops. Heh.)

But I remember the early days of our marriage when my working visa was still shiny and I was an employment campaigner. I had never felt so miserable. My secular worth, I realise, has always been tied to my contribution to the workforce and those awful first three months really drove that fact home. I didn’t go out, tried really hard not to spend any money, and just felt guilty and useless. The house was immaculate and I cooked up a storm, but I still didn’t feel I was pulling my weight.

I didn’t feel I had a right to enjoy my life, until I found useful employment.

Tony has never, ever made me feel any less for being a homemaker. I want to get that fact straightened out right here. He grew up with a lovely mother who alternated between homemaking and working as a part-time librarian, and so it doesn’t bother him whether I stay home or play Super Corporate Gal. But for three generations, all the women in my family – through necessity and nature – worked their backsides off. And while I have nothing against women who choose not to – while I hugely admire many women around me who are fantastic homemaking wives and mothers – those three months taught me a lot about myself. I am not a homebody. I get massive cabin fever. I need to work.

And so here I am, on the cusp of leaving the workforce – at least for a little while. And yes, I know I’ll still be gainfully employed these next 12 months, except the pay is crap, every day will be casual Friday, and I’ll go from 50 stakeholders to 1. And yes, I know motherhood is work. I’m not knocking it. And no, I don’t think I’ll be sitting around the house having it easy. But I’m still nervous. I guess any time we’re called upon to embrace the unknown, it’s bound to cause some level of anxiety. So this is me, doing the verbal equivalent of wringing my hands.

In typical Velle fashion therefore, I’ve lined up a couple other projects to try and take on through the year:

  1. Baby craft.
    Yes, I will try my hand at cute-ing up the nursery with my bare hands. This includes making my own baby mobile. I will probably make a complete mess of things or get half an owl done, but this is the good intention for now. Ask me again in 2 months.
  2. Advanced diploma in project management
    Considering I’m now working weekends and public holidays, talking about good time management seems a tad hypocritical. Nevertheless, I’ve done the training and now have to find the time and motivation to do the course work. In between breastfeeding and falling asleep in the middle of laundry. Wish me luck.
  3. Cleaning up the church website
    You know what they say about chefs and advertising agencies – they’ll do great work for others, but their own house can be in shambles. The church website has fallen by the wayside, even though some of us know a thing or two about good web practice. Time to take out the feather duster and start re-thinking our online communications commitment.
  4. Writing
    I desperately want to get stuck into writing, my one true hobby and love. This may include attending actual courses that can give me some form of structure, discipline and motivation. I get sent the odd one to attend now and then, but just never find the time to actually go do it. Today’s invitation was probably the funniest one I’ve received to date: 

    “You’ve got two weeks to sign up to attend my workshop on writing sizzling sex scenes at the ACT Writer’s Centre.”

    What’s not to like!

And who knows… maybe I’ll fall in love. Maybe I’ll take to this like a duck to water and never, ever want to step into an office again. Never underestimate God’s ability to change and reform the individual. Plus, He’s always had a rather ironic sense of humour, so we’ll see.

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