Saturday, October 25, 2014


"Enjoying motherhood so far?", people would ask. "Yes", I would reply, "But I feel like a cow".

I blame all the media for making breastfeeding look so easy. It's almost as if all babies already go through breastfeeding school in the womb and know exactly what to do. Two weeks after birth, my little Izzy still cannot and mostly refuse to latch. Trust me, when you have to force a wailing hungry baby to your breast everyday and to hear her cry because she cannot get to milk, you'd want to burst into tears yourself. Yesterday after a particularly upsetting episode of feed-her-not, I tearfully announced to B, "No more, I am exclusively pumping from now on". He just nodded, knowing full well I would likely still keep trying. (I am. Stay tuned for more updates.)

I also had trouble with milk production. I've read the reason is because of all the drugs used during the labour induction process. Together with the traumatic loss of blood and emergency uterine flush they had to perform on me (I thought I was gonna die), my milk glands went on strike. My colostrum only came in on day 4 or 5 after birth! In the end we had to feed Izzy formula first. Even after the colostrum, my milk supply was really pathetic.

Thankfully, I had advice from my sis in law and we got the lactation consultant to make a house visit. Since then, my supply has increased significantly, though I'm still working to stabilize it. They say the average baby consumes approximately 750ml of milk a day. So far I am up to about 600ml and increasing daily. Thank God.

I thought it might be useful to share some of the tips that really helped me.

1. Doppler tablets. These were prescribed by the paediatrician when I brought Izzy to see her on Day 5. The tablets are meant to kick start the milk production but not meant to be taken long term.

2. Pump frequently. My sis in law strongly advised me that since baby was not latching, I needed to follow the baby's feeding pattern and pump every 2-3 hours to stimulate more supply. Her target for me was 8 times a day but unfortunately I need at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep so 7 times is the most I've been able to do. 730am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 9pm and 11.30pm are the rough timings I try to pump everyday. Somedays it feels like I'm permanently attached to my medela freestyle! 

3. Fenugreek. I just started taking this yesterday (Day 14 after birth) and today I noticed a significant increase in milk production. Good stuff.

4. Drink more water. The confinement lady feeds me soup at lunch, before dinner, at dinner and before bed, as well as plenty of red date tea throughout the day. It makes sense, I feel thirsty all the time - all the water from milk lost.

I guess the message I wanted to share with new mothers who encounter problems breastfeeding is : don't give up, all it takes is time and you have to invest effort. It's still a learning process for me, hopefully it gets easier!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Her Birth Story

1am - We check into the hospital and the nurse inserts the first pessary to help the cervix dilate. I have to lie there for 2 hours before I can get up to go pee and sleep.

6am - I am woken up again for electronic fetal monitoring. I can feel some mild contractions on the right side.

8.30am - Dr Loi arrives and checks that I am 2cm dilated. She stretches a bit more and bursts my water bag with a long stick-like apparatus. Eeiks I think, expecting pain but nah, it is just a warm gush when the water bag breaks.

10am - Since I am Strep-B positive they start me on the antibiotic drip. From here on I am confined to bed. Some lower back pain can be felt at this point.

11am - In comes the anaesthetist Dr Foo who starts me on the oxytocin hormone drip to kick start contractions. She also put in the epidural catheter. Now this is scary for me, as I've heard scary stories on how the injection to the back can go wrong. I am super tense but luckily local anaesthesia is first given to numb the area.  

2pm - Dr Loi returns to check on me. "3 - 4cm dilated", she announces. What?! After so long I've only dilated that little? "How much longer, do you think?" I ask. "Another 6 - 7 hours" she replied. FAINT.

4pm - I feel restless from lying in bed and also slightly unwell. "Hungry.." I moan to the husband. And then, I vomited. Apparently some people get nausea from epidural; and I am one of them.

4.15pm - I say a little prayer to ask to speed things up.

6pm - Nurse examines me. He heard my prayer! I am almost fully dilated.

7.30pm - Dr Loi arrives and we start pushing. OMG. I have seen women giving birth on TV but I never expected pushing to be so difficult! Three counts of ten to push before I can rest during contractions, I can imagine it is almost like running a marathon. 

8.30pm - A full hour of pushing and they can see a ten cent coin area of her head. "She has a lot of hair", Dr Loi says. "Push hard, let's get her out".

8.45pm - I am exhausted and Dr Loi decides to assist the delivery using a vacuum. She also explains that she will need to cut me. ARGH, just what I was worried about. But no matter, I agree - just get the baby out fast.

9.13pm - Isabelle arrives! They plonk her on my chest, all warm, slimy and squirming 3kg of her. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Letter to Izzy

Dear Isabelle,

Words cannot describe how excited I am to finally meet you, and how much I, along with everyone else in the family, love you already. Tomorrow night we go into the hospital and hopefully, it won't be too long before you are in my arms.

Will you look like me, or will you resemble daddy more? They say the first born tends to take after the father, so I hope you will be smart (just kidding). On a slightly more serious note, it both scares and thrills me (and daddy) that you will likely have both our stubbornness combined. Good luck to us when feeding you greens, and our sympathy to the men who will need to win you over when you are 35 and start dating.

Ouch, you just kicked me really hard in the ribs again. I was kidding! You can date when you turn 25.

Anyway, the truth is that along with my excitement, I am also a bit worried about the whole motherhood business. You know, I've always known I wanted you in my life. But now that you are almost here, it just seems more real than before, and I would lying if I said I was confident I will be a good mother. In many ways, I still feel very much like a (albeit very old) child myself. To have a tiny being totally reliant on me - wow that's a big step. Every parent tells me that nothing will prepare us for being a parent, I am reminding myself of that.

Please trust I will try my best. Learn the diapering ropes and build up my biceps rocking you to sleep.  And even if I am never going to be supermum, I will be the best I can be - your protector, your biggest fan, and your bff (until you turn 7 years old, and decide you need cooler friends).

So looking forward to meeting you so we can start being a family and find our way.

Kiss you soon darling.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Game Plan

I had my 37w+5 appointment today and the baby measured 3.3kg. That sounded mighty big to me, considering that I've only put on about 8kg so far. Given my petite frame, I got a bit worried and couldn't help asking the doc if I could induce labour at 39 weeks.

Now I have done enough internet research to know that induction, unless for medical reasons such as gestational diabetes or reduced movement, is not encouraged. The ultimate concern is that if induction fails, an emergency C-section might be necessary.

But I had to explore my options.

The doctor started her assessment by checking my cervix and pronounced me 1 cm dilated and cervix "soft". What this meant is that induction would likely work, since my body was already gearing up for delivery.

Second, given that the baby would likely hit 3.5kg by 39 weeks, the doc felt comfortable that inducing a week before her EDD would not compromise her development.

Finally, since B was going to need to travel for work the first and third weeks of November, inducing her a week early would mean he will be around during the first few weeks of Izzy's birth - an important consideration as I will need all the support I can get.

So there and then, we decided to go into the hospital next Friday October 10th midnight to get induced. They will put in the first pessary to kick start the labour process.

It's funny how real this is becoming after we set a date to it - yes we are finally meeting her! More updates to come :)