Got Milk?

Yes, many many.

Yes, many many.

As I watch Aryn stare into my eyes while I’m nursing her, it dawned upon me that this simple act was a nightmare merely 5 months ago. With both my girls, I had a difficult time teaching them (and myself) how to breastfeed. Nevertheless, I managed to feed Rhea exclusive expressed breast milk for a whole 13 months, and Aryn has it from the direct source now.

5 years ago when I was carrying Rhea, I had a vision of me sitting on a cushioned armchair, cradling my nursling in my arms. It was an angelic image where baby was feeding gently on me, filling her tiny tummy calmly while I gaze upon her with a gratifying smile. I could almost see a halo above me in that picture. The actual experience was far from that perception.

To begin with, I prepared the entire family who was going to be around me during my confinement period – The parents, the in-laws and the husband. I heard from many mothers that the older folks are usually the ones who get in the way by constantly encouraging the introduction of milk formula. Who can blame them? They were bombarded with the benefits of formula in the 70s and 80s? Remember the Nespray and Dumex advertisements we watched on TV then? Those were what made our parents believe in formula. More women stepped out to the workforce in the 70s and 80s, mothers were encouraged to feed their babies formula milk for the convenience and the made-believe benefits. Plus, when a newborn is bawling her eyes out (which is very normal), everyone defaults to panic mode and blames the mother for not feeding enough. I encourage all parents to educate themselves before the birth of their babies, to avoid getting caught in a situation where grandparents or confinement nannies takeover the reins and do things their old-fashioned ways. Babies cry for a number of reasons. Wet nappies, gas in the stomach, growing pains, insecurity, etc… they can’t be hungry all the time since their stomachs are the size of a cherry in the first couple of weeks. It is easy to blame the mother when nothing else except suckling, soothes the baby.

In the first 2 days at the hospital after delivering Miss Han, I thought nursing a baby was as simple as stuffing the source into baby’s mouth. And that was what I attempted. The famous head of TMC Parentcraft, Mrs Wong Boh Boi, even came personally to check if she was latching on correctly. “Chia Zah Bor” was what she called Rhea. The little terror fought the introduction to my boobs. Nonetheless, I put up with her temper and pushed on after being discharged. I ended up with sore nipples less than a week at home and didn’t succeed with cup-feeding. And since we are on the topic of cup-feeding, I wonder who invented this absurd method of feeding a newborn? While it appears rather uncomplicated when the nurse does it, it was an impossible feat for me. I would end up spilling the meager but yet invaluable amount of colostrum on the baby. No one told me anything about syringe feeding at that time. It was the breast, the cup or the bottle. So the skin on my teat broke and I bled. I bet Rhea drank some of my blood then. Every latch sent tears flowing down my cheeks. I succumbed to the bottle when Rhea was 2 weeks old. I had to rest my abused bosoms and took a break from direct feeding. The pump gave me agony too, but the pain was not as excruciating. When I got better and wanted to re-latch her on, she had forgotten how to do so and rejected me. The bottle was so much easier, lesser effort on her part. More milk, less time. Rhea was a smart baby.

Express, expressed milk

Express, expressed milk

I continued my breastfeeding journey for the next 13 months by lugging the cumbersome pump everywhere I went. With, or without baby, the pump was my siamese twin. This was what happened – Before Rhea woke every day, I crawled out of bed and pumped away. When I was done, I transferred the milk into the bottle and fed her. This was the same at every single feed. When we were out, I retreated to a nursing room to pump for the upcoming feed. It was an inconvenient task but I was really proud of myself for sticking through it for 13 months.

Oh, did I mention the horrible Mastitis? When I thought bleeding nipples were the worst, along came mastitis. I was hit with cycles of high fever and unbearable chills, and worse, my milk supply dipped drastically. I had to shiver through the night silently, fearing that any groan or sob may wake the sleeping baby.

When I returned to work, my pump sessions were often interrupted by meetings and deadlines. This impacted my milk output and I was not producing enough for Rhea’s daily feeds. Then I made the decision to increase the frequency to 2-2.5 hourly instead of the usual 4 hourly, for 3 weeks. I even woke up at night to pump when Rhea started to sleep through the night. That, together with taking fenugreek, helped.

When Aryn came along, I swore that I will succeed this time with real breastfeeding. Nothing was going to stand in my way. Not even the dreadful pain. I made sure I had the lactation consultant check my latch in the hospital, and she told me it was not going to be easy because I had short nips. What?! I had never come across this in the books I studied; no one ever shared that with me before too. Not even Mrs Wong Boh Boi who helped me latch Rhea on, some 4 years back. I was not about to give up. I kept putting Aryn on me to suckle at every feed, from hospital to home. I bit my lips whenever my nips felt sore, I cringed at the sight of blood in my milk. I needed help desperately if I was ever going to succeed.

A friend recommended a lactation consultant to me – Catherine Soon. She told me that Catherine is a mother of 5 (seriously?!), and is a certified Doula who helped her with the birth of her 2 beautiful daughters. I called Catherine and she popped by the same day. Catherine was Godsend. She noticed that the milk was all clogged in my areola, causing it to swell and making it difficult for the little one to take. She helped cleared the blockage and practiced the latch with me until we (me & baby) got it perfect. The 2nd time I called for Catherine, was when mastitis hit me bad. My left breast was engorged with patches of redness and was pain to the slightest touch. My fever wouldn’t go away after doses of Paracetamol and I was unable to care for Aryn. When Catherine came, she spent more than an hour massaging my breasts to unclog my ducts. Milk was squirting all over the room, and I felt more pain than I did in the labour room (I had epidural, of course). But I couldn’t be more thankful for her service, I felt so much comfort after she left, and fever departed that very night.

By this time, I was in the 2nd week of breastfeeding, the same friend who recommended Catherine to me, motivated me with frequent words of encouragement. My ex-colleague also introduced me to a facebook page for breastfeeding mothers where one can find support and seek answers to uncertainties. Day by day, week by week, I overcame the challenges and today, I am proud to say I have conquered breastfeeding! Throw on a nursing shawl and I can nurse everywhere, anytime.

Anymore milk?

Anymore milk?

FTWM

Full Time Working Mothers. I am one. Going back to work after 4 months of facing my children 24/7 can be a relief, especially when I am not at all proud to say Rhea has been quite a nightmare for the past year. I am still very much thankful for her good health; it’s just that her defiance, a skill honed so deadly the past year, wears us out and sometimes, I’d like to get away from her. You will know what I mean if you spend some time with her.

Being back at my office desk, also means I am away from my 4-month old who has just started to be more interactive. I will be missing many of her milestones while staring at Excel sheets and PPTs at work. My mind would be filled with images of her while I am expressing milk at work. Every day would be a mad rush sending Rhea to school and Aryn to my mom’s. I don’t know how some mothers do it, particularly those who have to travel overseas a lot for work. Although my job used to require me to travel a fair bit, I have requested to be grounded more this year because I want to be around. And of course, I am targeting to continue nursing for the next 8 months at least.

I am not a career-minded woman and family is at the top of priorities. I make plans around my family and my children are always my first consideration whenever I make a decision. That said, I put in my best at work without sacrificing too much time with my family. I make sure I am the first person they see in the morning and the last when they go to bed. I want to be with them on weekends because on weekdays, I have already spent more than 45 hours away from them. I don’t turn on my laptop at home until they go to bed (thank god they sleep early with the help of sleep training), and if I have to go out in the evening without them, I will only do it once in a few weeks/months. Children grow up too fast; I want to be around as much as I can until the day they don’t want me around too much anymore. Time cannot be bought with money.

I cook for the family on the weekends when we are not out. I am not a fantastic cook, but I think I pass. I believe food brings a family together, I hope my children will miss my cooking when they move out someday and that they will impart some culinary knowledge and cook for their loved ones as well. After having my own place, I miss my mom’s cooking, she definitely won’t make it as a chef in a restaurant but the taste of home is so endearing and brings so much comfort to the heart.

It is not easy being a FTWM, especially if your job is demanding like mine, where you have to bring work home and work till late and be on evening con-calls. You must learn to draw the line and put work outside your head when you are with your children, and give them your 100% attention. You finish your work, and in the evenings you take out the craft box and put together an outfit for your child when they attend a themed-dress lesson at school. You take leave to accompany your child to an excursion or a parents day at school, and come home to get back to your exploding inbox because you were not at the office for a day. You are on your laptop till late even though the day has already worn you out. You yearn for that quiet 2 hours at the manicurist, but when you finally can be there having your nails polished, your mind has a list of to-dos that you need to get on with because you “stole” time to pamper yourself.

R&A

SAHMs (stay-at-home-moms), I know you have your own set of struggles and pains, and I am not discounting your efforts. In fact, it is very likely that you have it tougher than me. But sometimes, I wish I can alternate between you (SAHM) and me (FTWM), every other month, and still make what I am making so my wants in life doesn’t get compromised. Hah! Wishful thinking, I know!

Kiasu Momma

Some of my friends will label me a Kiasu mom. Why? Because I introduced flashcards to my then 3-month old. Most people think I’m nuts trying to teach anything more than coo-ing, gaga-ing and reaching out for a rattle, to a 3-month old. I am not. Well, at least I believe I am not.

You see, babies as young as a few days to a few years old, have brain cells that develop at a tremendous speed. It is a rate so fast that it’ll probably never hit the same rate of development again. This also means, the potential for learning is much greater during the first few years, more than any other time during his life. The more stimulation the brain receives, the more active it’s neurons are, making the window for acquiring intelligence optimal. Read more about this here.

I won’t deny that I hope the best for my children (which parent does not?), but the purpose of me exposing them to flashcards is really to nurture their photographic memory, so they possibly can have a better time at school, and hopefully an easier learning process than having to memorize everything in the textbook. The chances of one throwing a stone and hitting a gifted child in the crowd are not exactly high. I reckon it’s best I stick to training my children’s memory and hope they get the most out in a shorter time.

So what should parents do if they share my beliefs but are clueless on how to go about trying to bring the best out of their child? Enrolling your child in a brain development and early learning enrichment class is one way. However, keep expectations to a minimum and not hope for a miracle, as classes are only an hour, one day a week. You’d have a better chance if you do it correctly at home, for 5-10 minutes daily. My home methods stemmed from a short stint at one of such centers where part of the curriculum taught Glen Doman’s methods in achieving the human potential. The exposure gave me the opportunity to witness what some may think is impossible, and made me believe in it.

With my limited knowledge, I strive to activate these neurons in my children’s’ brains by starting them early on flashcards, and consistently doing it with them on a daily basis until they are 2 years old, at least. I had made it a habit of doing flashcards with her so it wasn’t much of a chore. As Rhea grew past age 2, I started to slack off. In her 3rd year, I probably wouldn’t remember to do it if she didn’t remind me. However, the efforts I put in earlier have self-proclaimed proven results. At merely 12 months old, I successfully triggered her memory in encyclopedic knowledge. From when she could babble her first words till now, she has never failed to amaze us with her memory. When she was 3, she could recognize directions to places we have not visited in months, among other things. Some may argue that this was perhaps her “gift”, and I can’t say for sure it was a result of my persistence even though I believe it played a huge part. Detractors would say, “They are only 3 months old, what’s the point? They wont understand at all. HA HA HA!” People will think you are mad, people will think you are ‘bo liao’, and people will ask why torture your child and reason how we should let them be kids. I would like to categorically state that Rhea enjoys this activity very much and she still asks about it today. Trust me, I‘ve had my fair share of the ignoramuses, husband included. For babies, the incapacity to express themselves does not mean that they do not absorb anything. No output does not equate to no input. Comprender?

Whatever the outcome, I believe doing flashcards with your child will not hurt nor will it take a toll on you. It’s just flashing some cards everyday. It’s a bonus if the activity helps, but if it doesn’t; it’s still a great activity to do with your children anyway!

Here’s a video of Rhea at 21 months.  I would like to believe this is the result of starting flashcards early.

 

Doffi – My Best Friend

I am missing my best friend terribly. He came into my life in 2000 when he was a two-month-old pup. My brother and I picked him from a litter of puppies from a pet store near our home, his breath smelled of coffee.

Since the day I brought him home, Doffi had been a major part of my life for 11.5 years before he eventually went to meet the angels in heaven. During my days as a stewardess, going and returning to work at ungodly hours, he would faithfully stay by my bedside waiting for me to get up. And no matter how long I slept, he would never wake me up, though he sometimes sneakily tugged at my blankets to check if I was awake to bring him for his walks. He was the reason I rush home everyday. He was my crying pillow whenever life got me down.

Then, in 2009 came a big change to my life. I became a mother. My attention was immediately shifted to the little bundle and I totally neglected my best friend. He was left sleeping in the balcony because my mom said dog’s fur was no good for a baby and we were concerned that his drool will dirty the baby’s items. I did not fight for him, I failed my promise to him to keep him by my side. Everyday when I came home, he would peer from the balcony yearning for me to give him a pat or a kiss. But instead, I would dash to my little one and carry her instead. Despite all these, he didn’t show any resentment towards Rhea.

Almost 2 years went by like this, and I didn’t even notice he had faded with time. One day we realized he was nipping us; he would hide in corners and nip us if we tried to touch him. I attributed that to jealousy and never thought much about it until the day I heard him whining in the middle of the night. He was a barker, but never a whiner. I sat with him for an hour while he tucked his face in a narrow gap between the cabinet and the balcony glass door. I didn’t know what was wrong with him. In the following weeks, he was hit by bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting, I brought him to the vet and nothing was further diagnosed beyond the usual intestinal infections and tummy upsets. Then came the day he bit my hands till I bled when I was merely stroking him. That was not my Doffi, my Doffi would never bite me. And then I knew something was not right. We visited 3 vets whom all concluded that Doffi had a tumor in his brain. He would stare aimlessly at nothing for hours although his cataract was already impairing his vision, and whine in pain the rest of the day. The vets advised that brain surgery for dogs is not available in Singapore and to send him over to Australia for one, will be beyond my financial ability. We had only one option – euthanasia. I couldn’t bear to make the decision for him and took him home to spend a night to mull over it.

That fateful night we were home alone, I spent hours carrying him in my arms and crying, telling him to show me a sign. A sign for me to make that heart-breaking decision for him. And he did. The whole night, he was banging his head against my kitchen cabinets and whining in pain. He couldn’t sleep at all, and dirtied himself in his poo. But once I cleaned him up and held him, he fell deep in sleep. He was ready to go and he had chosen me to see him off.

The next day, I made an appointment with his vet. My brother and my neighbor Elaine, who watched Doffi grew up joined me on Doffi’s last journey. We were given time to say our goodbyes, he fell asleep peacefully once again in my arms, as the vet injected a deadly green liquid into him. He was gone like that.

Today, his ashes sit in a photo-framed urn in my house with his labelled collar and favourite toy rat. I am forever wracked with guilt but he will always remain close to me in my home, because he is family. Although it was an extremely painful experience, I never regretted having him in my life. He taught me loyalty and undying friendship. I hope every child has the opportunity to grow up with a pet. A friendship with an animal is not the same as one with a fellow human. It is much more genuine and generous. It is selfless, incomparable, and priceless.

Doffi

To My Girls

One day, you will both come into your own and you will no longer want to be around your folks much anymore. You will crave freedom, you will have dreams with your partners and I hope when that day comes, you will bring along my words with you in life.

Do what you love and love what you do. Do something that feeds your soul, otherwise you will drag your feet to work every single day.

Take a breather. Take 3 deep, slow breaths. Do this every morning when you get out of bed, before you start work, before you step back into the house and before you go to bed, and at any time you can.

Find a life partner who is kind to people, especially to his own family. People show their worst side to their closest family. A man whom you will be proud of as a son will likely be the one who is worthy of your love.

Be confident. Never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough. Never compromise. Because, you are the best in my eyes and only the best deserves you.

Own a pet. It teaches you compassion, unconditional love, and loyalty. Your heart will break when it passes on, but you will learn to deal with that.

Focus on positivity. Negativity consumes you and makes you unhappy. Do not dwell on problems you can’t solve, move on. Use the negatives as motivation and strength.

See the world as much as you can while you are young, the exposure is unlimited, don’t be afraid to get lost. Do not fear traveling alone. It liberates your soul and widens your mind. I am still waiting for my opportunity.

Choose your battles wisely. You will face many challenges in life and you are only human and you have your limits, so find the cause that best fits your purpose and is worthy of your time.

Speak kindly. Your words will represent you. You may have a great heart but if you do not use nice words, you will still be perceived as unkind.

Lastly, love your sister more than anyone in the world. Speak to each other once a week if you live apart. Send each other texts to update or gossip everyday. Because when mama and papa are not around someday, you may only have each other.

Rhea and Aryn Pretties

The Big Sister

7 weeks since Aryn arrived. Amidst all the unintentional discomfort caused to Aryn by an over-zealous Rhea, I must admit that she has been nothing short of an awesome big sister.

I mean, what more can I ask for from a just-turned-4-year-old when she willingly brings me fresh diapers from the drawers, throws away wet ones (as long as there wasn’t poo in it), helps to dump laundry into the basket, hands me baby’s necessities as long as I ask for it, showers Aryn with tonnes of affection and kisses, doesn’t insist that I put her before her baby sister, always helping to check on Aryn, the list goes on.

Although she can’t gauge her strength and may cause Aryn some grief, and that her boisterous behaviour sometimes pose a threat to her sister’s safety, Rhea is a great Big Sister and I can’t ask for more.

My Girls

 

Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold

Every mother has her own preference on raising children. A new mom who may be absolutely clueless about what to expect, will, at the very least, have an idea about how they would like to parent their child.

Breast Milk vs Formula

Some mothers like myself, knew all along that breastfeeding was going to be the ONLY option. I chose to believe that every woman is able breastfeed. It is nature, it’s how god made us. I over estimated this belief. Breastfeeding was tougher than I ever imagine. I just assumed it was a matter of stuffing my boob into baby’s mouth. To my horror, I did not even come close to that assumption . With Rhea, I suffered sore and bleeding nipples, engorgement that led to mastitis, and an extremely painful latch-on, all of which gnawed at my will to breastfeed. I gave up within a month, succumbing to pumping out my milk and bottle-fed Rhea for the next 12 months. I let my own expectations down but I was glad that at least I persevered to provide exclusive breast milk for her first year. With Aryn, I set my mind on direct breast feeding because I didn’t want to lug the pump everywhere I go, stop every 3-4 hourly to express milk and then having to still bottle-feed. I wanted the convenience of simply throwing a nursing shawl over my shoulders and have baby enjoy her meal quietly while I continue my conversations over tea. Hence, over the past 3 weeks I have battled through recurring mastitis, endured the excruciating pain of having Aryn sucking on my bleeding nipples, engorgement, etc. And I am still not ready to give up. I am determined to press on this time, whatever it takes.

Baby-led vs Parent-led.

This can apply in many situations. Just to mention a couple – Routine and Habits.

Routine; a baby-led routine allows the baby to determine when she wants to be fed and sleep. The mother or main caregiver basically has her own time and schedule twirled around the baby’s fingers. He cries, she feeds. He cries, she carries. He cries, she panics, etc. The mother can literally have the baby right next to her 24 hours a day, ever-ready to attend to the baby’s needs. If she has no help around the house, her bathroom visits will be stressful because she has to dash out of the loo whenever the baby cries. Her showers will not be a relaxing experience because of the same reason. Her arms will ache by week 2 if the baby demands a lot of carrying. I was like that for a good 2 months with Rhea before I embraced the parent-led approach. It gave early parenthood more predictability and made me a more confident mother. I gave the baby a routine; she will feed, wake and nap according to the routine. Of course it doesn’t happen overnight, but with consistency, perseverance, and strong doses of belief and patience, the baby will ease nicely into it eventually.

Habits; have you seen mothers cradling or carrying their babies in a kangaroo pouch wherever they go? It’s cute. The babies all looked like little joeys sprouting their tiny heads out to look around every now and then. The mothers sit through teas, lunches and every single meal with the pouch in front of them, careful not to spill coffee/tea/soup over baby’s crown, or carefully wipe that drop of pasta sauce on the carrier. She’s giving her baby the warmth and comfort like she’s still carrying her in her womb. Then across the room, another mother; she has her baby in the stroller taking her nap. A giant cloth sprawled over the front of the stroller to block off any light or distractions. The mother periodically checks on the baby while continue her chats with a friend while sipping her tea. She can stand up at anytime to go to the washroom and have her friend watch the baby. She can also get up to give her friend who is leaving a snug hug and continue her tea afterwards. Which mother do you want to be?

There is no right or wrong way to bring up a child. Whatever suits bubba and you, must be right for mother and child. These are merely options for any parent when it comes to child rearing. Choices a parent make to determine the lifestyle of the family. Here’s a piece of sound advice from a friend; never start what you do not want to continue. If you do not want to rock a 10kg baby in your arms to sleep and break your shoulders, do not start rocking him when he is 3kg. You get the gist.

Second Bun Baked

And so, 9 months of pregnancy culminated with the popping of another little Han on the 15th of December, 2013. Aryn decided to announce her arrival the same way her big sister did – In the early hours. I felt consistent contractions at around 6ish am, followed by a light stream of blood and that was when I shook Papa and told him, “time to gooooo!”

Although I had just officially kicked off my maternity leave that weekend, my hospital bag had been packed a couple of weeks before when I was ordered on bed rest and worked from home. We rang the in-laws who came over to watch over the original l’enfant terrible while we made our way to the hospital.

I’d just like to dive a little into details here to provide first-time mommies-to-be and those who plan to be a mommy someday, more insights, so they know what to expect and not base their beliefs on what they watch on TV. Of course, this is just MY experience; many other mommies will have their own stories to tell.

You know what they say about labour and delivery, that it’s usually faster the second time round. Throughout the pregnancy, I feared it’d be too late for epidural and I’d have to suffer through hours of labour pains. When I arrived at the labour ward, the mid-wife had a quick glance at my admission note from the gynae, told the other nurses “2nd child, straight into the delivery suite!” I assumed that meant I was going to deliver any time. Thankfully, I was 4cm dilated, sufficient time for the “Happy-dural”! Rhea took 20 goddamned hours 4 years ago. The mid-wife said I will probably take half a day this time. Phew!

Contractions came and went every 5 minutes in the next hour, before the anesthetist arrived. I was prepared to bear with the hours of chills and shivers – one of the side effects of epidural I experienced with Rhea’s delivery. This time, there were none of them at all. Past noon, the mid-wife checked me again and confirmed that I was 9cm dilated and sent for the gynae. When the gynae arrived, I was all geared up to push. I huffed and puffed and pushed through a few strong contractions. There is a monitor that measures your contractions, and at each of the stronger ones, is when your body squeezes the baby outwards. These are the best times to push. After pushing for about 10 contractions or so, the doc decided on using the vacuum because Aryn didn’t want to let. With the assisted delivery, she was out in seconds. Compared to Rhea’s delivery, the second time was a breeze but no less emotional. Finally, little Aryn was in my embrace.

photo(8)

Rhea visited us later and the first thing she spewed was “ Mama, you didn’t lie, Meimei really came out from your tummy already!”

I didn’t know who or what she thought was in my tummy those past 9 months.

photo(9)photo(10)

Dragon vs Phoenix

It’s been so long since I last posted. Blame it on the tribulations of being a working mom and the insane amount of work loaded on a pregnant woman. MOM, hello??

Well, anyways I’ve always wanted to write about the reception of a baby’s gender and get it off me chest.

In Chinese culture, boys have always been the preferred gender for birth. This is because boys will carry the family name, continuing the bloodline down to the next generation. Girls, on the other hand, are considered “抛出去的水” loosely translated to “water that has been poured out”. The reason behind this was also because, women were meant to be “married off” to the male’s side of the family, committed to serve and take on the family’s name, and expected to bear a son.

Today, many Chinese families still hold on to this belief. A son may feel guilty toward his parents when the couple are unable to conceive a baby boy. A grandfather may pray hard for a grandson from his son.

Me, on the other hand, prefer girls. I have many reasons for it but one of them is because I have seen too many selfish sons and met too many daughters who are more responsible toward their parents. I don’t mean to discount any filial males reading this and of course, there are exceptions but I have encountered far too many spoilt sons. On the fashion front, have you seen the difference in the girls and boys section in stores? Girly section win hands down! No competition at all.

Now, back on the topic of Chinese beliefs and way of thinking. With my second pregnancy, I guess it is only natural for people to expect/hope for a son for us, to complete our small family. I have had many encounters with non-family members so far and each one leaves me perplexed. EVERYONE had the SAME reaction and reply when we tell them we are expecting another baby girl.

“It’s OK lah, can try again.”

“Oh nevermind, try for a third one lor.”

“It’s OK lah, girl oso goot lah”

An old neighbour at my mom’s asked if I was carrying a boy or a girl. When I responded with a smile and told her that baby is a girl, she replied, “ohhhh.”

The other day, a stranger in the elevator asked Rhea, if she was going to have a brother or sister. Rhea replied gleefully that it is going to be a sister. The stranger looked up at me and said, “oh nevermind la, sister also good.” Hello? What happened here? Did we, mother and daughter, mention anything about wanting a baby brother for Rhea? What’s the “nevermind” for huh?

Even the mother-in-law was a tad concerned that I would be stressed for carrying another girl.

So here, I would like to proudly proclaim that it doesn’t matter to me and my hub, if our baby was going to stand or sit peeing. I just want our baby to be healthy and safe, and that is ALL that matters. My daughters are going to carry their Han surnames on their birth-certs anyway.

For the benefit of the ignorant and the somewhat old-fashioned folks who still believe that women are responsible for the sex of the child, I shall enlighten you a little on the science of human conception.

It is the sperm that determines the gender of a baby, not how fat a woman’s bum is. The Y chromosome is responsible for the male gender and the X for the female. And these sex chromosomes are found in sperm cells and each cell carries either the X or the Y. You can now cut the wife/daughter-in-law some slack yah?

Oh, and on the topic of chromosomes, according to an Australian geneticist, Ms Jenny Graves – the human Y chromosome is shrinking and we could see the disappearance of men in 4.5 million years. Yelp.

But you know what?

It’s OK lah, just us girls, oso goot lah 😉

Rawking at great grandma's.

Rawking at great grandma’s.

Pride.

This is my first post that is not pregnancy, baby, or parenting-related. This blog was set up as a mommy journal to document raising little Miss Han and future Hans but perhaps, once in awhile, I could write about something else.

First, I’d like to say that I do not support any particular political party nor do I have much knowledge about Singapore politics. I am just a mom trying to raise her daughter and enjoy the process of it. I will probably not write another post like this and I shall leave political thoughts and reflections to the many smart and intelligent bloggers who can contribute better to our political commentary. By penning down my thoughts about what happened, I’d like to share this experience.

2 weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, Miss Han, the hub, and I, were in our living room prepping to head out for grocery shopping when we paid a visit by 2 people, a middle-aged lady and a man. Our main door was opened and the lady announced their arrival by calling out to the hub, stating that they were from the estate’s Residents Committee, and extending her hand through the door. In her hand was a Singapore flag. The hub, slightly surprised but smiling, went to the door to receive it and said thank you. The lady then told us it costs $2. The hub politely rejected her because he thought that if they wanted us to hang the flag, they should have just given it to us and we would have gladly hung it. It was a matter of principle, not the small amount. To us, it made no difference if we hung the flag or not. We are still proud locals. If we felt that we needed to display the flag to express affection for our country, we would have already done so. The lady would have none of it and kept pushing the flag to us. The husband politely stood his ground. As the realisation of not making a sale hit her, her expression changed.

“I think you are not proud of your country.”

She sternly introduced herself as the estate’s RC Chairwoman and proceeded to berate us. I suspect the announcement of her title was intended to send quivers down our legs. The husband was still smiling, deflected her accusations politely and continued to explain to her why we were not going to make the purchase.

“What is your name?” She asked. “Mr Tan?” Mistaking Han for Tan, she then sternly continued. “Mr Tan, how many children do you have?”

Rhea was with us in the living room but I guessed she wanted to make sure.

“One.” The husband replied.

The man and her then walked away. We took her 2 questions as a kind of veiled threat. So what if we weren’t going to buy her flag? So what if we weren’t going to hang it? Where do my husband’s name and the number of kids we have, sit anywhere in this whole transaction? Did she think she had the power to influence anything in our lives and our future, especially our kids? I think not. And I was surely damned pissed. I was so pissed it rubbed off the husband and made him pissed. He was still smiling and thought nothing of it until they left and he turned to see me with a look of disgust on my face. I remarked why would anyone behave like that and we spoke about our disbelief in what just happened when we heard the RC Chairwoman again, back at our door.

“I will pay for you because I am proud of my country!” And she left the flag at the door.

After they left for the second time, the annoyance slowly boiled over to outrage as the hub took the flag and went after them to return it. He told her they had no right to come to our home, chastise us for not purchasing the flag from her, accuse us of not being proud of our country, and irk us by asking for his name and how many children we have. I was extremely offended by this mindless provocation, especially when we were just going about our own business preparing to head out.

I think many things have been said and debated in the past couple of weeks, over whether the displaying of the Singapore flag equates to loyalty and patriotism to our country. While I commend and respect those who do, I think the answer is pretty obvious that anyone with a sound mind would know that national pride comes from the heart and mind, and not only from the act of flying the flag.

Here’s wishing all Muslim friends a Happy Hari Raya Puasa and very Happy National day in advance. Hope everyone has a splendid short week and a very happy long weekend ahead! 🙂

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