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getting ready for baby

getting ready for baby

And then there were 3

Kids, that is.

Well, there’s technically 2 and a half now, but come August, there will be 3.

It’s no secret that we want lots of kids. I started out wanting 7 but then I actually gave birth to one and it was like “NOOOOO… WHAT HAVE I DONE??!!! SOMEBODY HELP ME PUT IT BACK WHERE IT CAME FROM.”

Then we fell in love with the squishy little bundle of cuteness and 4 months in, we found ourselves having another. I remember turning to the husband and saying “one baby is easy peasy, I could totally handle 2 no problem.”

Turns out, having 2 back to back was a lot harder than I thought. In fact, it was so bad that we immediately made a pact not to have kids for at least 3 years. It was like I was permanently scarred from having to deal with 2 infants (and I’m not talking about the episiotomy here). Sometimes when I feel the momnesia setting in, I make myself read the blog archives from when Kirsten was just born and I get a panic attack all over again. Suffice to say, the part of my brain that wants another baby goes into lockdown mode and the husband heaves a sigh of relief.

But now that the kids are outgrowing their toddler-ness, I find myself dreaming of having another tiny human that fits just right into the nook of my arm. To breathe in that intoxicating baby smell. To munch on chubby thigh rolls and hear the irresistible baby gurgle. To have another baby to baby all over again.

The grand plan was to make the baby in May this year, but we figured that we’d get a head start on it because I mean, what are the chances that we are going to score a baby the first time we have unprotected sex in 3 years? Apparently very high because I have overachieving ovaries.

So the big news is that we’re having a third little Kao.

It hasn’t been entirely easy – I’ve been bloatey, vomittey, crampey and in a constant state of general discomfort. 2 months in and and I already can’t wait for the baby to be out.

But we’re all really thrilled. And very thankful.

getting ready for baby, lists you should paste on your fridge, pregnancy

All you need to know about a baby’s first year

You’ve probably read the books on what to expect during a baby’s first year. Here’s my version, which is way less complicated and probably more true.

0-3 months: Cry Babies

That’s all they do. Cry and drink milk and cry and doze off for a while and cry some more which usually leads to you crying as well. You spend all that time waiting for a smile or a “thank you, mommy, you’re the best” and if you’re lucky enough to catch them on a particularly gassy day, you convince yourself that they’re actually grinning at you out of love and gratitude. But mostly, they just cry so it’s not terribly fun. My advice is to hang in there and if you feel like you need to cry too, there’s really no shame in bawling your eyes out.

4-6 months: Cute and cuddly

This is right about the time the rolls on their thighs start to really fill out. They coo and gurgle and look at you with those googly eyes that almost makes you forget the trauma of having a newborn. You witness the first flip, breathe in that intoxicating baby smell and hear the sound of a baby’s giggle that turns your heart to mush every time. Life gets better but mostly, they still cry a lot.

7-8 months: Independence Day

The mobility and independence kicks in and you suddenly realize that you’ve got a live one on your hands. They chew on electrical wiring, fling food everywhere and leave behind a trail of destruction. But good things happen and you stop needing to burp them for hours on end. Finally, the investment you made on all those developmental toys are worth their weight in gold and it buys you 30 minutes of uninterrupted silence. You can turn to the husband and gloat because now he has to eat his words when he said “only suckers pay a hundred bucks for a stupid dog that lights up and sings“. Now he’s all like “Daddy will buy you 10 doggies, one in each color, sweetheart”.

9 months: The really fun part

The moment they hit 9 months, you can let out that sigh of relief. By now, they should have worked out their nap time issues, sleep 12 hours through the night and do all the cute stuff you imagined every baby would do before you gave birth. The period from 9-18 months is like the moment of respite before the terrible twos hit and you have a screamy, whiny, tantrumy toddler who’s sole mission in life is to wear you out and make you cave.

In short, Kirsten has entered the really cute phase. From experience, this is a very brief window of optimum cuteness before the hissy fits kick in. Now, she still doesn’t know what a hissy fit is nor the perceived benefits of throwing one. She’s settled in nicely into a manageable routine. She grins and giggles and grooves to the beat and me, I’m just loving the moment.

As parents, we’re obliged to think that our babies are the cutest in the universe and even when they’re not, we’re supposed to love them like they are. But trust me, it does help when they actually are that cute.

I waited 9 months to meet her and another 9 months for her to blossom. I think baby girl has finally blossomed. Literally.

momma's little flower

Father Inc, getting ready for baby, Product Reviews, stuff best described as not safe for parents

The ultimate bag for daddies.

Mothers get all the fun baby accessories. You have the awesome but also feminine-looking beco baby-carrier, Kate Spade diaperbags, the Medela Twin Turbo Breast pumps, to name a few.

Daddies basically carry around the aforementioned which is totally inergonomical and ill-fitting to our muscular frame *flex*.

Despondent by the lack of customised accessories and crackpot gizmos for the new father, I have spent the past year and a half working closely with Deuter to come up with the ultimate bag for dads that is called – wait for it – the BagDad.

In spite of the apparent misnomer it is well known that Iraqis do not make anything besides chemical bombs so I’m not too concerned about the implications here.

The Bagdad is a ground-breaking, cutting edge piece of technology that blends the best of military, motorbiking and culinary equipment.

The Bagdad

1. Milk Distillation/Hydration System

The man-boob debuted in 2004’s Meet the Fockers but the past six years have seen tremendous strides taken in the field of perfecting what is now commonly known as the “milk moob”.

The Bagdad’s milk moob involves a complex liposuction system that basically breaks down the fats of the carrier in yet another complex process similar to that of a woman expressing milk. Without going into the technical details, fathers can now lose anywhere between 10-25 kg wearing the Bagdad and also feed the baby for somewhere between 18 months to a year.

2. Helmet

A child’s mind is his most valuable possession. This helmet has a built-in audio system that will loop the theme song from Special Agent OSO as studies have proven that too much Sesame Street increases the intelligence of a person disconsolately. It was King Solomon who said that “too much study wearies the mind” and I totally concur.

3.  Tantrum Stabilizing

This is for strapping the baby’s arms together similar to that of a mental patient in a straight jacket. Best used with the Contoured and Removable Hip Belt with Gear Loops (See below).

4. Food Channelling Sternum Strap

Older babies will move towards consuming solids like crushed oreos with melted butter or shredded lard deep fried in olive oil (cos its *healthier* that way). The food channelling sternum strap feeds your little twinkie baby from an interior storage compartment that maintains it at an optimum temperature to maintain a thin crisp,especially for the shredded lard.

5. Contoured Shoulder Straps for Baby’s buttocks.

There are times when you absolutely need to hoist your baby high up in the air; for example when you’re clubbing and there’s a hovering cloud of smoke just about face-height or when you get caught spitting gum onto the ceiling. It’s self-explanatory, really.

6. Poop Suction (the Deuter Alpine System).

The irritating thing about kids is that they do their business as and when they feel like it. By purchasing the S-plug or the Splug (sold seperately at $39.90) to connect your child to the Poop Suction or as the fancy-pants suit at Deuter insists I call it, the Deuter Alpine System, you no longer have to worry about diaper changes or wet-wipe warmers.

7. Contoured and Removable Hip Belt with Gear Loops.

I’m a firm believer that every child needs to be disciplined. Inspired by Mel Gibsons’s the Passion of the Christ, The Contoured and Removable Hip Belt with Gear Loops will ensure a memorable and life-transforming disciplinary session for your child. You can also customise it by purchasing Barb Hooks with Heatable tips at $9.99 or simply purchase a Whip Extension at $4.99 to give you that extra dimension (and length) for that escaping baby.

**********

To purchase Bagdad, visit www.deuter.com.
Key in [Motherinc] as the promo code for a 20% discount.
getting ready for baby, pregnancy, Product Reviews

The best pregnancy advice you’ll ever get

Jules and Jim Maternity

I’m kind of an expert on pregnancy because I’ve done it twice and everyone knows that if you do something twice, you start to really kick ass at it. I hate to boast but I’m very good at being pregnant. I’m like a natural. In fact, I’m trying very hard to be less good at it. Some skills in life you don’t really need and this is probably one of them.

But that is exactly why I’m qualified to dish out pregnancy advice to people who aren’t so good at it. Unless you’ve already got 8 kids then I throw myself at your mercy, Grand Master (sextuplets only count as 1, so I’m totally on par with the Gosselins).

So here goes. Advice #1. Don’t buy pregnancy clothes.

Because most of them look like curtains. You know the kind I’m talking about, the shapeless dresses  in pastel colors with the large ribbon around the center. (We all get that your baby is a gift, there’s no need to be that painfully obvious). Also, having a huge ass is enough ammo for people to crack jokes at your expense and you really shouldn’t help them.

That’s unless of course you buy designer togs. Except that maternity couture is even more expensive than regular ones (you didn’t think that all that extra cloth was free, did you?) and you’d end up wearing the same $300 pants everyday without washing for 6 months. Which is kind of gross. And then people will still laugh at you.

I was prepared to wear oversized sweats everyday, until I found out about Maternity Exchange’s rental program. I was kind of iffy about the whole idea at first because one time I got a bag of hand-me-downs from my friend’s cousin’s somebody and it smelt like the underpants of that somebody with very bad body odor who died. Suffice to say, I did not wear it. So the first thing I did when I stepped into the shop was to take a big whiff of the clothes. But they all smelt pretty good.

I found the range to be decent and some of them could probably be cheaper but it’s not cool to haggle with couture.

Now, if you didn’t listen to my advice and went out to buy a truckload of maternity clothes and they’re now moth bait in the back of your drawers, it’s not too late. The guys at MX have launched a ‘Buy My Love’ program and while they may not actually be able to afford your love, they are willing to buy some of your maternity pieces for their collection. That’s almost half as cool as packing them up and sending it all over to some third world country where they’ll make some very pregnant girls very happy.

Speaking of which, I’m very happy to be announcing a new giveaway. There’s 2 (two) $50 Maternity Exchange vouchers up for grabs and you’ll be able to pick out some fancypants maternity wear.

To enter this giveaway, just answer the following question in the Comments section of this post: What’s your favorite maternity outfit? I’ll go first. Yoga pants and a singlet.

Winners will be chosen using a highly scientific (read: random) method and announced on 14 Feb.

And since we are all winners, you’ll all be getting a $10 MX voucher and all you need to do is head town to their flagship store at Marina Square and shout “I love Mother, INC”. I’m just kidding. About the shouting bit. You can whisper it if you want and they’ll still give you the voucher. Happy shopping.

UPDATED: Using my very scientific random generator…here are the winners!

Congratulations to Chrystal and Jen! You gals will be contacted via email for details.

getting ready for baby, lists you should paste on your fridge

How to take care of 2 kids alone – Part 2

So part 1 was all about getting help from different people so take over once in a while so you can stop and catch your breath. Taking a time out so you don’t burn out. But I realized I can’t do justice to the post without talking about all the help I get from inanimate objects, you know, stuff that mothers should not do without.

The problem with baby stuff is that we are spoilt for choice. There’s just too many to choose from and they all cost a tiny fortune so you don’t want to shell out several hundred bucks only to find out that its completely useless. (Read: Top 5 Useless Baby Stuff) Lucky for you, I’ve done that already, so you can skip that part altogether and go right to getting the good stuff (Read: Top 5 Essential Baby Items)

Of course, if the price gives you a mini cardiac arrest, here’s a tip. When I’m on a budget, I’d rather buy a good product secondhand and well kept rather than an inferior brand new one. But that’s just me.

1. A sturdy all-terrain stroller

With a good stroller, you can do this - 2 in 1

If you only have 1 stroller, get a good one like a Bugaboo or Peg Perego or Quinny. It weighs a ton but you can fight a war with it and still keep it intact. It provides a nice smooth ride and its comfy enough to sleep in so you don’t have to deal with neck sprains and dead legs. If you’re not sure which one you like, here’s a quick guide.

A Peg Perego is like a Mercedes – smooth and sturdy but boring

A Quinny is like an Audi – stylish and curvy but a little weak on basic features

A Maclaren is like a Volvo – safe and well, just safe (in terms of design as well)

A Bugaboo is like a Bentley – plush and absolutely gorgeous

A Stoke is like a Royce – obscenely indulgent.

I’ve been toying with the idea of a double stroller like a Phil & Teds or Maclaren Twin because I can’t possible wheel out 2 individual strollers all by my lonesome. Although I’m still iffy about the bulkiness and maneuverability. I’m also not quite sure if I prefer a tandem or a side-by-side. Ask me again in a couple of months.

2. A snug baby carrier

love the beco prints

After trying out different slings, mei tais, wraps, sscs, and thousand other baby carriers, my absolute fave is the Beco, with the Ergo a close second. The Beco fits perfectly and the weight distribution just right, plus it comes in the prettiest designs. When I’m out alone with 2 kids, I strap on Kirsten and I still have my hands free to wheel Tru in the stroller. Or I can strap Kirsten on my back and carry Tru in front. I’ve seriously done that.

3. A comfy car seat

Now that the kids spend so much time in the car with me alone, it’s all the more important that they’re strapped in comfortably. This will help to reduce fussiness in the car because the last thing you want is to be stuck in traffic with 2 screaming kids with numb asses.

4. A best friend.

It’s never too young to have a best friend. It can be a bear or a duck or a blanket but just make sure it’s small. Tru fell in love with a large ass blanket and now I have to carry that around everywhere. With Kirsten, I got smarter and got her tiny duck hanky that I can easily stuff into my back pocket. When they’re unbearably cranky, just use the blanket to stroke their face and boom, problem solved.

Never underestimate the power of a blanket. One time, I left the house without the blanket and Tru was in such a crabby mood I’ve learnt to never do it again since.

5. Play stations

This was tru in the jumperoo at 5 months

Not the Sony Playstation but activity stations that can keep them entertained for a while. Like mobiles and play mats and jumperoos and bouncy chairs. When they’re bigger, just get a whole bunch of toys.

I’m sure there are a whole bunch of other cool stuff that are great for kids but these are what works for me. Maybe they’ll work for you too.

getting ready for baby

Top 5 Essential Baby Items

Following up to my list of most useless baby stuff on the planet, I have decided to come up with the top 5 baby items I simply can’t do without. These handy little devices have saved me hours of unexplainable torment – both physically and emotionally, and they each deserve their place on that pedestal of sell-off-some-organs-to-buy kind of stuff. Trust me, motherhood will be so much easier with them.

1. Miracle Blanket

Miracle Blanket

It works miracles

I only stumbled upon the miracle blanket just before Kirsten was born and boy, was that a lifesaver. This ain’t no misnomer, because it works miracles! With Tru, swaddling him was akin to overcoming a wild stallion. After 15 minutes of struggling, I’d finally have him swaddled only to have him break free within seconds. I tried all kinds of wraps and swaddles but none could hold him down.

The ingenuity of the miracle blanket lies in its use of the baby’s own body weight to hold down his arms, while providing a nice, firm hold without strangling the baby. It takes me all of 5 seconds to get Kirsten swaddled and she’s as snug as a bug in a rug baby in a miracle blankie. And there’s a point to the swaddling – it has bought me hours of uninterrupted sleep because she’s not rudely awakened by her own flailing limbs.

Just remember to get spares in case they get puked or pooped on.

2. Medela Purelan Nipple Cream

Kiss sore nipples goodbye

Kiss sore nipples goodbye

Expressing milk 8 times a day for 40 minutes each time has rendered my nipples as  sore as a distended hernia. Sometimes, I accidentally brush against stuff (yeah, they are THAT BIG) and I feel like I’m about to pass out from the pain. Good thing there’s this amazing cream to the rescue. Now I can go on my merry way and pump away pain-free.

3. Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper (Mini)

No more getting out of bed at night

No more getting out of bed at night

Again, this is a recently discovered gem. It was originally meant to aid my breastfeeding (direct from the breast) endeavors but since that has gone horribly south, I still use it to make myself feel better. Either way, it’s nice to have the baby literally within arm’s reach but still in her own cot. During those middle of the night cries, I can reach out and pat her without having to get out of bed. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I just prop myself on a pillow and look at her.

I also love that the mini version is small enough to hold her comfortably without blocking up the entire walkway. If not, I have to scoot over all the way to the foot of the bed in order to get up, which would eventually give me a hernia.

4. Jujube Diaper Bag

Bring everything you need in style

Bring everything you need in style

Going out with 2 kids is not funny. You will not believe the amount of stuff I need to bring on every outing – milk, diapers, clothes, wipes, bottles, pump, bibs, food, snacks… It takes us 2 hours in advance to pack in order to leave the house. The question is where does one put ALL THAT STUFF and be able to find them all in an instant. I could use a large-ass tote but I’d have to spend 5 minutes scrambling to search for Baby Bites or some wipes.

That’s where baby bags come to the rescue. It’s so thoughtfully crafted, with teflon coating, insulated bottle pockets, a scrunchy key chain holder and beautiful designs to boot. Everything is neatly compartmentalized so I don’t have to dig for stuff like I’m looting some swag bag.

5. Medela Pump-in-Style (with Pumpin’ Pals)

Double breasted pump

Double breasted pump

Technically not an item that I have right now because it costs $700 a pop. I knew I should have sold off that spare kidney. I’m using the PIS’s poorer cousin, the Medela Swing, which is only half as good. For mothers who are expressing exclusively, a double pump is the way to go as it cuts down the time by half. That’s 3 hours of spare time a day, 21 hours a week, 90 hours a month, you get the drift. I could complete an entire game of Final Fantasy in that time. Heck, I could invent a new baby item, sell a million pieces and get rich in that time.

The Pumpin’ Pals also come in handy as it leaves your hands free while expressing milk so you can cook, feed or bathe the baby all at the same time.

getting ready for baby, lists you should paste on your fridge, stuff best described as not safe for parents

Labour Pain Relief Measures

Yesterday was one of my final few visits to the gynae. Kirsten is doing well. She says hi, but I shan’t bore you with more ultrasound pics that look exactly the same as the last one. Anyway, it was time to discuss my birthing plan and decide on pain management options during the labor.

When Tru was born, I didn’t have to go through the whole labor process. I was at the gynae’s office for a routine check in the morning and decided on that day to have the c-section at 5 in the evening. No bursting of water bag, no contractions, none of that drama that makes the whole process so exciting. The only thing even mildly interesting was the fact that I snuck out for a final decent meal despite being told that I wasn’t supposed to eat before the surgery. I couldn’t bear the thought of not having real food for the next month without any mental preparation.

The experience was rather sterile actually. I was given an epidural to numb the nerves from waist down (which HURT LIKE CRAZY) and after that, I pretty much just stared at the lights above the operating table while the OBGYN did his thing.

This time, I’m determined to go experience what it’s like to push a child out from my va-jay-jay and do the whole crazy woman scream with sweat pouring down my face thing. It’ll be so much more fun.

So the birthing plan goes like this. When the water bag bursts and I start contracting, I’m going to take a shower, wash my hair, grab some ice-cream, drop Tru at my mom’s place and then fly down to the hospital. The moment I get in, I’m start hollering for an epidural (when else can I get away with screaming at people just for the fun of it?) and demand for ice chips, magazines and my Nintendo DS. With the epi, it’s practically a walk in the park after that. I only hope I don’t poop on the table.

Props to the gynae for keeping a straight face when he heard my plan. And double props for actually agreeing to go along. He says it’s my delivery, I should get to do it my way, as long as I don’t insist on giving birth at home.

He did however, ask me to consider the various pain management options before I decide. So I’m considering.

suri-katie

and the greatest of these..is silent birth

1. Deep breathing.

Seriously. Deep breathing. The only way breathing is going to take away any pain is if I take a deep breath and hold it in forever. Then I might pass out and die and feel no pain. Other than that, deep breathing is rubbish. I did hear some new age, mind-over-matter techniques that can reduce pain. You’re supposed to take deep breaths, close your eyes and imagine your cervix opening up like a flower. Yeah, right.

2. Laughing gas.

woman-laughing

its funny, i'm in so much pain but i don't seem to care?

There’s nothing funny about it though. The effect is like smoking weed – it makes you high and you can then actually imagine your cervix opening up like a flower. Or a butterfly. Or the mouth of a giant T-rex eating up half of Singapore. The thing is, some say it doesn’t actually block the pain, it just makes your brain a little fuzzy in the hope that the pain signals get all mixed up and gets sent to your big toe instead of your cerebral cortex. Except that when it doesn’t work, you end up being high and in a lot of pain. Not a good combination.

3. Epidural

epidural-nedle

the epidural needle, actual size

This is the only method that is guaranteed to take away the pain. But to administer the epidural hurts big time. They have to inject a tube into the spine in order to pump in the meds, so at the end of the day, it’s a matter of using pain to counteract the pain. But once it kicks in, you can practically chill out, have a cuppa and read a book while your cervix will take its time to open up like a flower without having to imagine it into existence.

I’ve got a fourth method which I’ve worked out with the husband. After I get to the hospital, he’s supposed to knock me out with a small dose of chloroform and pretend that I’m asleep while the doctor administers the epi. Once it’s all good, I’ll wake up and deliver Kirsten without any pain at all. We’re still in the process of determining the right amount of chloroform to use. The last trial run, I was out for 2 days, so we’ll probably have to dilute it a bit more.

Just make sure you don’t try this at home.