Monday, July 30, 2012

So, Are They Normal?

Chubby kid's eye disorder is genetic in nature. Therefore, we were quite worried with the news that I was pregnant back then. The obvious worry was what were the chances that Baby G would get the same eye disorder. How chubby kid had cone-rod dystrophy was still uncertain. No one in our family in the last two generations had this eye disorder. The geneticist whom we saw previously had explained her condition to us. There were two possibilities: (1) Both my husband and I carried a recessive gene which became dominant in chubby kid. (2) Chubby kid had a gene mutation. Whichever it was, the genetics team could not tell and could not perform any tests currently. Therefore, if it was possibility (1), then there is a 25% chance that any child/children we have in the future would have chubby kid's eye disorder. If it was possibility (2), then the % of future child/children that we have getting chubby kid's eye disorder would be very much less. So, we could just pray and hope for the best for Baby G.

After Baby G was born, we arranged for her to be checked at the Alder Hey eye clinic, where chubby kid had her check up. This appointment was arranged for when Baby G was at two months old and at this point, the eye test did not show any abnormalities. They of course cannot rule anything out until they perform an electroretinography, which is scheduled for when Baby G is older.

From the first day Baby G was born, I looked out for symptoms of chubby kid's eye disorder in Baby G every single day. The most obvious symptom would be nystagmus, which would be quite easy to pick out if it were present. So, day after day, I looked into Baby G's eyes. Day after day, I prayed that they would be normal. And day after day, it became more and more obvious that Baby G did not have chubby kid's eye disorder. She hits all the developmental milestones which chubby kid did not. She does not squint. Her eyes can follow the objects that we hold in front of her. She looks directly at our faces and eyes. She interacts socially with us. She smiles. Chubby kid did none of these at her age.

It is certainly a big relief. Thank you God for Baby G and for all the other blessings granted upon us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baby G vs Thesis

Six weeks after Baby G was born, I had to go back to university. There was still lots to be done there. I had to work out an everyday routine so that I could slot in time for my PhD work. So, while my mum was still around, I went to the university in the morning, came back at noon for breastfeeding/expressing milk and lunch, and then back to university for more work. This was a mile's walk each way (hoping to lose some weight but rather unsuccessful). That was the routine day after day, as I hoped to get as much as possible done before my mum went home.

After my mum went home, it was then all up to me to care for Baby G. At three months old, she was more active and slept less during the day. I tried squeezing in an hour or two (if I was lucky, I get three) hours during the day to work on my thesis. Then, I would continue working for another two to three hours at night whenever I did not feel too tired. I sent her to the day nursery for two days a week, hoping to get more work done but I still had to stop by the nursery to either breastfeed or bottle feed her once or twice a day.

As Baby G got older, it got harder to find one or two hours during the day to get some thesis writing done. I only sent her to the day nursery one day a week now as I found it easier to feed her at home, rather than going to the nursery twice a day just to feed her. Most of the time at home, she did not want to lie down and wished to be cuddled. Even leaving her partially upright in a rocking chair was not agreeable to her. At times, I had to hold her in one hand and type on the laptop with the other but I had to stop when she started to attempt typing too, wanting to get some words into my thesis chapter. So, there were days where I could not get anything at all done, except cuddling and entertaining Baby G all day long. Of course then I had to write my thesis at night when she went to sleep. It was quite tiring sometimes, as she still needed breastfeeding at 3am while I worked on my thesis till midnight. So, at one point, I was not getting enough sleep and rest. I was pretty burnt out. But I was not going to give in to fatigue and exhaustion so easily. I was determine to pull through and I was confident I could do it.

Juggling between Baby G and thesis writing was quite a challenging but joyful experience. It was challenging in terms of trying to keep stress under control while working on my thesis with a deadline that was getting nearer everyday, but joyful having Baby G next to me every minute of the day. It was pure joy to watch her grow everyday and to be by her side experiencing every little things she did. I would not have wanted it any other way. :-)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Home Visits

The community midwife came to our home to visit Baby G and me on the seventh day. She checked my C-section wound, checked and weighed Baby G and gave various advice on baby safety and breastfeeding. A week or two after that, her assistant came again to do a heel prick for Baby G to get her blood sample for routine tests. The health visitor also came to register Baby G, check her, and give lots of advice on various baby problems which we might encounter. She came again a month after, just to follow up and check that Baby G is developing fine. In addition to all these, the breastfeeding support worker gave me a call, to check how I was faring with my breastfeeding, again giving advice on how to get the best breastfeeding experience. She also suggested that I could attend the breastfeeding clinic for more support and advice, which I did and found it to be immensely useful.

We would never get all these home visits and support calls in Kuching. I think not even if we pay for it, needless to say getting it for free.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Confinement? What Confinement?

When I had chubby kid, being my first pregnancy, I tried to adhere to all "advice" (read old folks' beliefs and superstitions) on pregnancy and confinement, even though a lot of them were illogical. Come to think of it, it was ridiculous that I succumbed to such illogical practices. I am not the kind of person who normally follow conservative practices, particularly if they do not make any sense. I will only follow practices which scientifically made sense to me.

So, it was good that during this pregnancy, I was not back in Kuching under the watchful eyes of the elders. During the "confinement" period however, my mum was here to help for three months. I, of course, chose to be oblivious to all cultural beliefs no matter how much my mum nagged. I ate what I wanted to eat and I did what I wanted to do. I felt happy that I did not need to be enclosed in this cultural bubble because people here did not practise all that. It was like attaining a sense of freedom from being tied down to following ridiculous and illogical rules. I had delicious food. I had clean hair. I went to attend chubby kid's Christmas play. I went out shopping. Oh well, what can I say? I basically led a normal life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chubby Kid Meets Baby G

It was not quite what we expected. When we were discharged from the hospital, it was already quite late and chubby kid was fast asleep when we reached home. We did not want to wake her up, so chubby kid could not meet her baby sister face-to-face yet. We all slept in the same bedroom and so, in the middle of the night, Baby G, as usual, started to cry out loud for her milk. Chubby kid woke up suddenly, not knowing what was happening and was terribly frightened by the unexpected foreign loud wailing. She began to cry too out of fright. I felt really bad that she was frightened in this manner, not knowing that her baby sister had come back and not having seen her baby sister yet.

So, it was a disastrous first encounter. I had not quite anticipated that it would be this way. After this, chubby kid was very afraid of her baby sister. She would not dare to go near her and would keep her distance, particularly so when Baby G started to cry. Looking back at this, I understood that it must had been a scary experience for chubby kid. After all, she could not really see very well and I imagined, for a severely impaired person to see a small crying baby and not understanding what the situation meant, must had frightened the wits out of her. I compared that to my own fear of dogs, and I truly understood how she must had felt.

Chubby kid's fear of Baby G continued for another three weeks. In the three weeks, we tried many ways to alleviate her fears. We would carry Baby G close to her but she would quickly move away. When Baby G was in the room, she would not go in. She would just keep her distance the best she could. Sometimes, Baby G would be asleep in my arms, but because chubby kid could not see that from a distance away, she would happily come to me, only to realize that I had Baby G with me and she would quickly move away in fear. We tried and tried various ways, until finally, my mum managed to persuade her to come closer. She came closer but eyed Baby G warily. After much persuasion from my mum, chubby kid finally gave Baby G a kiss and then quickly moved away again. Then, there was another kiss, and another. And the barrier was broken, finally. Chubby kid ever so gently stroked Baby G's head and gave her another kiss. Before long, she was kissing her all over the face and head, holding her hands and stroking her cheeks. And the best part was the big smile on her chubby face.

It was such a joy to watch.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Cherished Experience

My experience giving birth in Liverpool Women's Hospital was a really good one. It gave me a whole new perspective to childbirth and it was one of the most rewarding experience I had ever had in my life. The midwives were really great. They took very good care of myself and Baby G and I was truly touched. I see them on their feet almost the whole day, walking in and out of the ward, tending to every patient and checking on all the babies. I later found out that they worked a 12.5 hours shift. Well, I salute them for that and for doing such a good job as well. The healthcare assistants were brilliant too. I will remember for life how good the support from all of them was.

Food in the hospital was another matter. It was not very bad but it was not something I fancied either. They gave us some choices as to what to have for every meal. There were beef burger, cheese sandwiches, scouse and other types of sandwiches. There were also yoghurt, ice cream, crackers with cheese and juice. So yeah, it was alright.

Some mothers in the ward delivered through natural birth and therefore, recovered very quickly and were walking around looking very strong and healthy while I was lying still in bed afraid to move too much. A lot of them were already breastfeeding their babies. Some breastfeeding support worker came over to talk to me about breastfeeding but I did not attempt to breastfeed Baby G until the third day, as I was in pain and had my phobia of moving too much lest my wound would split open.

We were discharged at night on the third day. There were a lot of procedures and paper work before we could be discharged. The midwife first had to give Baby G a thorough physical check and to go through our family medical history. When all was done, she said that we could go, and so proceeded to remove Baby G's security tag. I did not know that it was a security tag, thinking that it was merely an identification tag. The moment the midwife cut off the security tag, the alarm in the whole ward sounded. She must had forgotten to de-activate it and quickly ran away to de-activate it I presumed. Another midwife quickly ran in after she left, calling out and checking if every baby was accounted for. Well, having witnessed first hand how secure everything was for the babies in the ward, I for one, was truly impressed. You could not even kidnap your own baby out of the ward if you wanted to.

So, after that mini drama, we put Baby G in her new car seat, strapped her up, wrapped her up warm and went down to the carpark. It was a cold, rainy, dark and wintry night. I felt relieved that we were finally going home and could not wait for chubby kid to meet her baby sister.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Just Me and Her

Baby G was born at 1550 GMT and my husband had to leave at 1830 GMT to tend to chubby kid at home. So, we were left with each other, I on my bed feeling quite exhausted and she in her cot next to my bed within arm's reach. The midwives came around periodically to check on us and before long, lights were off and we were left in the quiet and calm ward. Well, not for long though. I remembered there was this lady a few beds away, taking calls on her mobile and literally quarelling with someone. The whole ward probably heard her crystal clear but no one dared to "shut her up". It was nearly midnight mind you.

The painkillers given during the C-section started to wear off and pain started to radiate around my tummy. I could not move much, always imagining that my wound would split open with any sort of movement. I timed the interval between Baby G's feed and called for the midwife on duty to help bottle feed her. Although exhausted, I was half conscious and could not really fall asleep, worrying that Baby G might need her milk. I kept glancing at her; she looked so peaceful and contented. Well, that was before she started to shriek out in hunger. There was another issue; my last meal was more than 30 hours ago and I was starving. In my sub-conscious mode, I was wondering what time breakfast was. Thankfully, breakfast came at 0700 GMT, 36 hours after my last meal. I devoured the cornflakes with fresh milk and asked for an extra croissant and chocolate drink after that.

Visiting hours was at 1100 GMT, so I was looking forward to my husband coming, so that I could have a rest without worrying about Baby G. All this while, she had just been lying still in her cot asleep and then crying and waking periodically for her milk. I felt really happy. There was this joy in my heart that I had not felt since chubby kid was born.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Unexpected Bundle of Joy

In March 2011, when the nurse at the clinic told me I was pregnant, I was surprised (or shocked, depending on how you look at it). I remembered quite well that particular moment, where a very happy, smiling nurse announced to me that it was "positive" and a very blurred me asking if she was sure. I also remembered, I went in for a check because I was mildly nauseous at certain time each day. And of course, it all went horribly for the first 20 weeks or so. I felt nauseous every single day. All I did was eat, drink, sleep and vomit in no particular order. Having lost 4 kg in the first 4 weeks of intense vomitting, I finally gained all of it back in mid-pregnancy at 21 weeks. I was relieved that finally, in week 22, my appetite came back out of the blue and the nauseous feeling just went away. So, of course, I ate and ate to my heart's content.

All was well for awhile, until three weeks before my due date, when all of the sudden, I developed eczema. Oh my, oh my! My arms and over-stretched tummy started to itch like mad and one week before my due date, my face too started to itch. At that time, I could not have been more impatient for our baby to come, as the GP (and the internet, when I googled) said that this eczema was pregnancy-induced and would only go away after birth. My tummy was huge (by my standards, OK!) and I felt so stretched that it was uncomfortable to get any sleep. Talking about sleep, in the last two months before I gave birth, I hardly slept. I probably slept an average of 2 hours a day. So, the lack-of-sleep and over-stretched me tried to do lots of walking (even uphill) for the hope of inducing labour. Of course that did not happen. There was still no sign of labour on my due date. Having booked a C-section on my due date, my husband and I were asked to go in to the Liverpool's Women Hospital early that morning at 7:30am. Having fasted since 10pm the night before and terribly excited at the prospect that I will finally get to meet our baby, I was therefore disappointed that I had to wait until 3pm before I was called to the operation theatre. I was starving of course, as no food or water was allowed. A sympathetic midwife gave me an ice cube to quench my thirst and I felt grateful for the relief it brought to my throat.

When I was finally called to be prepped for the operation theatre, I started to get anxious. I did not like needles and was trying very hard to be brave. The staff at the operation theatre were all really good and kind, trying to put me at ease. So, this was it, I thought. My husband came in after I was prepped and then, they cut me open. In less than a minute, a loud wailing filled the operation theatre. It was 1550 GMT. A head full of hair was shown to me. I smiled. They took her away to weigh. She weighed in at 7lb 7oz; quite a good size they said. They passed her to my husband who cradled her while one of the staff took some photos. All these happened while they stitched me up. Then, we went to the post-op room for monitoring. I was feeling dizzy from the low blood pressure but kept taking a peek at our lovely baby. When my pressure finally stabilized, they put our baby on my chest, where I cradled her joyously while they wheeled me back to the ward.

This was a totally different experience from what I had when I had chubby kid. So, what shall I call her in this blog? I think I will go with Baby G.