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Hayley

Hayley

The end of co-sleeping

As part of the move to the new place, the plan was for baby Hayley to transit out of of co-sleeping with us. She’s been sleeping on our bed since she was 3 months old, right around the time where she decided that she was having none of that baby cot nonsense. And I let her. Because a sleep-deprived parent always takes the path of least resistance, however misguided that path might be.

Since then, I’ve grown fond of having her sleep on our bed.

For months, this baby slept like a tyrant who would immediately wake up if I breathed too loudly, but she has since realised that it takes too much effort to get all screamy. Now, she just scrunches her face into a pout to communicate her displeasure. Sometimes, she starts to pout but then decides that even pouting takes too much effort, so she gives up halfway and flops back onto the bed. It’s adorable.

I like being able to inhale those chubby cheeks as I drift off to sleep. Even though she’s all warm and snug in her jammies + blanket, her squishy cheeks get super cold because of the aircon and by the time I get into bed, it’s at the perfect temperature for munching. Falling asleep as you munch on deliciously cold baby cheeks is as close as it gets to a taste of heaven.

Technically, baby Hayley can go a whole night without milk and she’ll be fine, but she still nurses 2-3 times a night. I’ve been planning to wean her since 3 months ago but we couldn’t quite get there and I’m starting to think that it’s because I’m enjoying this sleep nursing sessions as much as she does.

//

Last week, we transitioned her out of our room and I was totally hovering, all ready to swoop in and take her back if she showed any signs of distress.

She didn’t. She adjusted like a champ so for the first time in a long time, I went to bed without having to tiptoe in or regulate my breathing. I could turn on the lights to read in bed if I wanted to. I could watch the latest episode of GoT without having to whoop into my pillow. My brain was telling me that I should celebrate. This is a good thing, my baby is growing up and I’m getting my freedom back.

That night, I didn’t do any of those things. I went to bed feeling sad, much sadder than I was prepared for. I was full on going to cry big ugly tears level kind of sad.

Just writing this makes me sound insane. My baby was literally in the next room, just a few steps away. I could go in to kiss her anytime I wanted – she’s still here and she’s ok, but I felt this deep and profound sense of loss.

I think I’m slowly having to come to terms with the knowledge that this is the end of baby road for me. I mean, the ligation was a big moment, but it doesn’t hit you then because there’s this beautiful baby and you’re just basking in the newborn baby glow. But now that Hayley is getting bigger, it’s starting to sink in that this is my last baby. After this, I’m done. No more sleepy cheek munches. No more night nursings. No more middle of the night scrunchy baby pouts.

It’s such a cliche and I’ve spent 14 months trying to prepare my brain to deal with this but still, I cannot. I took the baby back to my bed on the second night and we’re easing into this with alternate-night transitions because mommy can’t adjust.

I’m going to be such a mess when this last baby turns 3, or 4, or 5, or 18. :(

Hayley, Kirsten

Girls team!

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It’s no secret that I think girls are awesome. <<Okay, hang on, here’s a disclaimer for my boys who are reading this/will eventually read this: Mommy adores you and hand on my heart, I love you guys all the same, I promise.>>

But having a decent sample size of 3 boys and 2 girls, I’ve can definitively say that boys and girls are entirely different.

How different?

With girls, you’re basically getting an iPhone – gorgeous, sleek, well thought out, user friendly, pre-loaded with all the necessary apps – just have fun unboxing and you’re good to go.

With boys, you’re getting an unreleased beta version of the galaxy s7 – excellent potential, possibly a better processor, faster speed, more space, but unstable and very likely to set your house on fire. Boys are like incomplete downloads that glitch every now and then, and you have to constantly download patches to keep them stable.

Impulse control issues? Boys. Sensory issues? Boys. Difficulty expressing feels issues? Boys. Roughhousing until someone gets hurt issues? Boys. All manner of odd behavior issues? Boys. All of the epic meltdowns in my 9 years as a parent? Boys.

When I’m out with my boys, I have to be on high alert mode every microsecond because the chances of them destroying stuff at a store or getting lost or eating leftover food from tables is very high. Once, we were at a playground and there was a piece of half chewed/trodden on pandan cake on the floor. Baby Theo went straight for it and put it into his mouth. AND ATE IT. So these days, I also have to flying tackle food scraps out of his hands when we’re out.

Which is why I really enjoy these girl team outings with Kirsten and Hayley. We were out for a quick lunch last week and I was about to go buy our food with the baby in one arm like I usually do but Kirsten was like “don’t worry mom, I can watch the baby while you get the food.

So I did. It was so relaxing to be able to carry food with both hands and not worry about destruction of public property while I was gone.

Best of all, I got back to the table to see this.

Hayley

A snapshot of 10 months

This is baby Hayley at 10 months. :)

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I’m trying to be more diligent about these snapshot posts because the moments just hang around for a bit and leave so quickly. In my day to day, all these minutes are floating by like little clouds of smoke and I try to catch each one and hold them in my hands a bit longer but I can’t catch them all and most of them get blown away like leaves in the wind and years later, all that’s left will be faded memories of these babies I used to have. When these kids are all grown up, I’m gonna need more than a few faded memories, is what I’m saying.

10 month old baby Hayley is like fluffy cotton candy sprinkled with popping candy bits. She’s mostly sweet and gentle and all delightful babyness. And she’s got the loveliest baby dimples, which are like the finishing touches on that adorable face. I used to be just ok with dimples but now, I can definitely see the appeal.

Most of the time, her idea of conflict resolution is to be sweet and docile, which is strangely effective in a disarming sort of way. All the other kids are like “ok ok whatever you like baby Hayley, kor kor and jie jie will give you.

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Unless there are beverages involved, then all bets are off. When she’s in the presence of any sort of drinks, she turns into an angry flailing monster who will destroy everything standing in her way. It doesn’t matter what the drinks are either – milo, milk tea, juice, yakult, soursop with sour plum, soya bean milk – she wants in on all of it.

She will have it in a mug

She will have it on a rug

She will have it on a chair

She will have it anywhere.

Nothing makes her quite as happy as when she’s sipping on a delicious beverage treat.

She still sleeps like an infant at night, in that she naps for 2-3 hours a stretch, then wakes up and demands to be babied back to sleep. During the day, she doesn’t sleep at all. She’ll take a 30 minute snooze at noon, then stays awake for the rest of the day till bedtime at 8pm. What kind of baby does this? The kind that delights in the misery of her momma, I suppose.

She’s also got the most bizarre sleep quirks. Instead of holding a blanket or soft toy like normal babies, she needs to hold her toes in a full stretch like one of those baby Chinese acrobats while feeding, which is a most ridiculous move because once she drifts off, she will involuntarily let go of her foot, causing her to twitch violently and wake up. I keep telling her that this is not sustainable and very poorly thought through but does she listen? No.

Developmentally, she’s more of a freestyler. At this age, all the other kids were proficient crawlers and they could pull themselves up to a standing position. But not baby Hayley because she does not care for such milestones. She can sit up and crawl very slowly with tremendous effort (and grunting), but as for standing, she refuses to even try. Zero effort. She just enjoys lying down and rolling around, and I totally get it. If I could, I’d spend all my time lying around too. All this standing and walking is so much effort and not even that enjoyable.

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The best part about 10 months is that this is gradually getting easier. In a year or so, I’ll be done with this demanding newborn stage forever and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. While I’m looking forward to sleeping a full night the way humans are intended to, I’m really, really going to miss this chubby baby face.

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Hayley

6 months, I’m glad to see you

Look who turned 6 months!! Yeah, this little schmoopsie-poo.

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I’m generally a fan of 6 months – you still get the overall babyness but 6 months also comes with juicy baby cheeks and juicy baby thighs, both of which are my kryptonite.

6 months is great for fun developmental milestones. Baby Hayley has learnt to flip, which she does often and with much delight. She’s able to sit up unaided for 3-5 seconds; just enough time to look pleased with herself before falling over on her side. The big kids think its hilarious so they prop her up and cheer for her as she sways precariously before falling over, which sends them into giggling fits. She can also bat things and hold things and put them in her mouth. And thanks to Theo, she can say “mmm…mmmm…mamamama” when she’s upset.

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Typically, 6 months is when babies adjust to sleeping on their own but not this baby. She knows I’ve been all like “This is my last baby and I’ll really miss having a baby to hold” so she’s been making sure that I get to hold her ALL THE TIME. Awake or asleep, all day, everyday. So thoughtful and considerate, this baby.

Speaking of sleeping, in the past 6 months, these are some of the methods I’ve tried to get her to sleep on her own.

1. Blitz attack (Success rate: 0%)

This used to work splendidly on Theo – once he was fully asleep, I would lower him down into the cot in one swift and decisive move without hesitation, then walk away. He’d continue sleeping like it never happened. With Hayley, it has worked exactly zero percent of the time. Every single time I do this, she wakes up and looks at me like “Nice try, mom. Amateur move.

2. Pat and shush (Success rate: 0%)

Let’s just say that this baby is not a pat and shush kind of girl, that would be far too easy. I personally find this to be very calming and relaxing (as do all my other kids) but baby Hayley will not stand for it.

3. Slow-mo side roll (Success rate: 25%)

Okay, we’re getting warmer. This is a very complicated move that requires absolute precision. Once the baby has reached a state of deep slumber on my chest, I will very gradually roll her onto the bed while using a bolster to kiap her head and back.

Fairly effective but it’s extremely difficult to hold the position without twitching because any sudden twitch or quick movements = wake up and reset.

4. Ninja nursing (Success rate: 50%)

Unlike Theo who will take the boob every single time even when he’s full, baby Hayley gets upset if I try to nurse her back to sleep when she’s not hungry so this has to be done selectively. If she is in a nursing mood, she will doze off next to me on the bed and once she’s asleep, I just need to extract my boob like a ninja and done!

Except that about half the time, she will wake up during the boob extraction process and we’ll have to start over. So it’s about 50-50 here.

5. Play dead (Success rate: 20%)

This is a bonus move where I lie next to her and pretend to be asleep when she twitches and wakes herself up (which happens A LOT, basically every 10-15 minutes after she’s successfully asleep on the bed).

Her eyes will suddenly pop open like one of those creepy doll movies and if I try to pat and shush her, it just sends her into a fully awake frenzy. Instead, if I stay really still and close my eyes, there’s a chance that she will look around, get bored and then decide to go back to sleep.

//

Few nights ago, she was exceptionally fussy during bedtime and it took about 90 minutes to get her to settle on the bed. As she finally fell asleep, I could feel a sneeze coming on, which I tried very hard to suppress. I ran through the available options in my head.

I could hustle out of the room quickly to sneeze, but she has a strict no sudden movements rule and the chances of waking her up is very high. I could ninja my way out slowly but risk sneezing before getting out, which would also definitely wake her up. I could suppress the sneeze some more but I’m not very good at it and also, I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS I WILL SNEEZE WHEN I WANT TO!!

So I did it. I sneezed. It was a muffled, very unsatisfying half sneeze but that was enough to make the baby open her eyes.

I try not to have many regrets in life but that moment for me was one of profound regret.

It was already almost midnight and I knew it would be another hour of walking and bouncing at least. So I froze and waited for her to cry but she just looked at me like she was trying to process the information and instead of her usual annoyed cry, she broke out into an enormous grin, like “It’s ok mom. You woke me up but I’m glad to see you.

We partied on the bed a little and it still took a full hour before she went back to sleep but I’ll take it.

6 months is pretty rad. :)

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Hayley

Stick with me, baby girl

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Today, my sweet baby decided she wasn’t going to nap on her own anymore. Wait, anymore would imply that she used to do it right up to this point and that isn’t true. She has never napped on her own and today, she made it quite clear that she has no intention of ever doing so.

It hasn’t stopped me from trying though. I’d do the same thing everyday – swaddle, nurse, burp, bounce, gingerly lower her into her swing, activate swing, pray for a miracle. Without fail, she would open her eyes in annoyance the moment her head touches the plush baby pillow, side-eyeballing me in disdain like I had lowered her into a lowly peasant barn.

“How dare you??” her eyes would say. Followed by “HOLD ME FOREVER, HUMAN SLAVE!”

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Put down = instant sian face

When I first heard about attachment parenting, I thought these mothers were unhinged. Have a baby attached to them every minute of every day?!! How will they ever find the time to do important things like enjoy a delicious cookie snack or lie down in bed for a nap?? It sounded nuts.

I would instil discipline! Lock in a schedule! Teach my baby who’s boss around here! In fact, there was a time where I used to be a sleep nazi and while it was delightful to have a baby (Kirsten!) who fell asleep on her own in the cot without fussing (I’d just put her down in the cot wide awake and walk away like its nbd), I’d get really stressed out about nap scheduling and if we were out of sync for like 5 minutes, my cortisol levels would hit the roof.

Now look at me and this little tyrant baby who has permanently fused her body to mine. Attachment parenting, come over here and let’s bond over a cup of coffee.

So I held her close as she slept. Having an infant in my arms all day can restrict mobility and there’s a knot the size of a golf ball on my left shoulder but on the bright side, I discovered that I’m actually really talented at doing things with only one arm. Things like eating cookies and napping ain’t no match for my one-handed-thing-doing skills.

Also, I get to steal kisses on her munchy mantou cheeks any time I want. I get to feel the rhythm of her breathing against my chest as I go about my day. I get to catch the fleeting goofy sleep-smiles flicker across her face; the kind that lights up your day like a supernova but only stays for half a second before it’s gone.

I think having 4 other babies who are growing up far too quickly makes me painfully aware of how little time I’ve got to do this. 12, maybe 18 months more and there will be no more squishy little squishes for me to squish all day. :(

Attach away, baby girl. Mommy will hold you for as long as you want me to.

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Hayley

2 months

Two months! It’s been two months of waking up to this squishy little face every morning. :)

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Two months is nice, it’s definitely a step up from the I-don’t-know-why-you’re-making-that-crying-sound newborn phase.

There are so many great things about getting to two months.

What are they? I’ll tell you.

First of all, munchies. The smell of a newborn is perfection but it takes a while before they’re good for munching on. The best age to start munching on a baby is right around two months, when they fill out nicely with juicy baby fats (which btw, I get to pass on to them via this magnificent process called breastfeeding and yes, I’ll have another slice of that cake please). I’ve been doing the chubby cheek test on baby Hayley every day since she was born and I can confirm that she’s starting to get to that delicious om nom nom level.

Which turns out to be excellent timing because these days when I munch on Theo’s cheeks, he puts his tubby little hand right in my face like “STOP! STOP!! DON’T BITE HIM!!” I’ll have you know that when Theo starts to refer to himself in the third person, it’s time to take him seriously.

It’s a good thing I have a new baby to take over the munch-ee duties. Babies get loved on a lot around here but they get munched on too, that’s how it is.

There’s also the smiling. We’ve discovered that two-month-old baby Hayley is a smiley one. This girl’s got a smile that lights up my entire world, the kind that’s so wide it pushes her eyes shut just so her little face can contain all that joy. And she’s generous with them too, always smiling back at everyone who stops to talk to her. You get a smile, you get a smile, you get a smile…everybody gets a smile!

The only thing two months isn’t great for is sleeping. I’m certain two months is way to young to develop FOMO, but yet here we are – me and my little sleep-fighting baby with FOMO issues. Everyday during nap time, I can tell that she’s tired because I’m watching her eyeballs roll back into her head as I hold her, and yet she will force herself to unroll them right back once she catches sound of her siblings playing in the next room.

She opens one eye at me. “Is that playing I hear?? Is everybody having a good time without me???

Shhh, go to sleep, sweetie,” I whisper.

She struggles to open the other eye, but fails. She tries again, her one eyeball rolling around, unable to focus. She’s resilient though. Soon, she has two half opened eyes with more whites than pupils looking up at me.

Everyone should have the chance to watch a baby struggle to gain control of her eyeballs, it’s a most delightful sight. But it also usually leads to a very grumpy baby so I’m not entirely sure about my feelings towards this at the moment.

Maybe next month she’ll figure out that sleep is good and we’ll both get more of it. Or not. But that’s ok, we’ll get there eventually.

Two months = this face = love

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Hayley

We made it to 4 weeks

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It’s been 4 weeks since baby Hayley was born; yay we made it!

The first month of having a new baby is always the hardest. All babies cry more in their first three months than any other time in the rest of their lives. That’s a lot of crying. Every moment feels like a blur – the days fuse into the nights, which fuse into more days and more nights and it seems like there is no end to this sleepless suffering.

How exhausted am I on am I on a scale of 1-10? About 12. Could be worse, I know. With Theo, I think I was at like 25 on the exhaustion scale, so I know what worse looks like.

And it does get better from here. Actually, it gets better from about 3 months, so I’ve just got another 8 weeks to go before the light at the end of the tunnel presents itself. That’s not so bad.

Apart from the hunger cries and general gas-related fussiness, Hayley’s been a really sweet baby. She sleeps like a log during daylight hours, looks most alert at about 8pm, goes back to bed at 10 and usually fusses from 1-4am, at which time she will strain and cry till she finally delivers a large adult-sized burp/fart/poop. Once that’s done, she falls back into the most delicious sleep.

While those hours of walking, singing, bouncing and shushing in the middle of the night can be rough on both of us, we’ve developed a kind of understanding. I may not be able to help her get the gas out any sooner, but I’ll be there to hold her and walk with her until she feels better, however long it takes. In return, she grunts at me with a mixture of annoyance and displeasure. Occasionally, she makes rude faces at me like this. So adorable.

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But I also get to have plenty of moments like these that are pretty rad.

Every time Hayley fusses, the bigger kids run over to pat her head and say “It’s ok, baby Hayley, don’t cry cry.” Amazingly, it seems to cheer her up, or at least distract her from whatever it was that was making her cry in the first place.

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I try to savour these fleeting newborn moments when I can remember to but they pass too quickly. Her skinny newborn chicken legs are already filling out nicely, her cheeks are getting chubbier, and I feel her getting heavier with each passing day.

Maybe I’m feeling sentimental knowing that this is the last baby I’ll get to baby. :'(

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*And we’ll talk more about this but no, there ain’t gonna be no baby #6, we’re done here.