Wednesday, September 26, 2018

RICHER THAN POOR



Recently, I purchased a few pre-loved dresses via Carousell (an online platform for people to sell mainly used items in Singapore) for Humblet since she was outgrowing most of her three-year-old clothing. When the package came, I could tell immediately that the dresses were worn and I was worried that Humblet would be upset mummy bought her "old clothing". But instead, my beautiful little girl hugged me tightly in gratitude and started to twirl and pose as she tried on the pieces. Exclaiming while she danced, "these are so pretty mummy!" The fact that she is my daughter makes me feel like I own the whole world and so much more.

In the past, when Humblet was much younger, I used to blog very often. Friends would suggest I buy the latest fashion from local boutique labels and have Humblet model them. This way, perhaps Humblet might get noticed and my blog might become more popular. At that time, being a new mum, I was afraid and insecure. So my responses were often lame, I would say things like, "oh, they won't last" or "its a waste of money". Over time, I've developed my own style of motherhood and I learnt a lot more about identity and wealth. Now my response is clear and simple, "we cannot afford these."

It's the same response I give to Humblet when she picks out something too pricey at the supermarket or shopping mall, and even more so when she demands we eat Din Tai Fung on a regular day. I tell her quite plainly that we cannot afford it. At first, she would fuss and even cry as she demanded for what she wanted. Now, she simply puts the item back and walks away. Often times, she would cleverly choose an alternative. Like grapes over cherries or cereal over chocolate. And I'm glad she does that, because it means I can still reward her desires without bursting our monthly budget.

This post is not to tell you that we are poor or to ask for your sympathy. It's simply a sharing from a mother who has learnt to be rich with less. Here's an amusing list of 10 things I would have never done before becoming a stay-home mum.

1. Ask blatantly for hand-me-down anything
Clothes. Shoes. Cot. Bottles. Toys. Books. Every baby thing you can think of. We just ask casually and you'd be surprised how many "spares" people have in storage. Even those who had primary school going kids still had baby stuff to give us. It a win-win! They clear what they don't want and in return we get what we need.

2. Email every company for samples
Diaper samples. Milk power sample. Even wet tissue samples! Humblet practically tried every single milk powder brand available in the market. Thankfully, she wasn't fussy and never refused a bottle. My hungry little eater.

3. Hit the "Notify me when on sale" button
Never buy anything not on offer.

4. The freezer is my best friend
Cook in large batches. Pasta sauces. Noodle meat sauces. Etc. Then freeze in single portions and I have "free" lunches for days on end! Its wonderful!

5. Reuse. Reduce. Recycle.
Pink onesie for Singlet? Sure! He will never know the difference. Buy tupperware? No thanks. I have recycled bottles, jar and plastic containers aplenty. Save money while saving the earth.

6. Shower with your kid
You did not hear this from me.

7. Regular library trips (Museums too!)
Why buy books? We go to the library once or twice a month and Humblet gets all the reads she needs. Being eligible to borrow 16 books per time, we really have MORE THAN ENOUGH to read. What's more, I'm the one doing all the reading.

8. Playgrounds
Not sure about your estate, but in the vicinity of ours there are FIVE different playgrounds. Nine if you include those fitness corners. Sand pits, monkey bars, swings and multi-coloured sides. Take your pick! All free!

9. Special Events especially
We do love a good meal, who doesn't? So on special occasions we never stinge and always eat the best. Steak for a post-confinement meal? Sure. Rainbow ice-cream cake on your birthday? Sure! Limiting these restaurant meals to special events make them all the more special, no?

10. Give. Give. And again give.
Nothing makes you feel richer than when you give. So we set aside time to give. Once a year we clear out our wardrobes of clothing we no longer wear to donate. Humblet has to give away a toy for every new toy she wants to keep.

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And we hope that by doing life in this way, Humblet learns that true contentment is great gain. On hindsight though, we as parents have been learning more from her generosity than we have been able to teach.

Grateful,
Amy

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

NOT MY SUFFERING

Hello son!


Morning sickness, dizzy spells and a labour that went on for more than twenty hours could not prepare me for what the doctor told us on the third day after Singlet was born. “Your son has a murmur in his heart”. Its loud enough such that you could hear it if you put your ear against his back. A dull thump, an extra beat akin to someone clapping off rhythm during a song.

Heart murmurs were common enough, apparently I had one as an infant and mine closed naturally. So naturally I don’t even recall ever having one, my parents tell me it barely affected me at all. But the cardiologist who did an ultrasound on Singlet’s heart measured the gap to be 4.98mm, a staggering size for a child who was only 3.5kg and 53cm in length. What could this imply? Well several things.

The potential of an overworked heart meant it could become enlarged over time. A swollen lung, because of the leakage of de-oxygenated blood into the lung chamber. In the worst-case scenario, he would require open heart surgery. Were there any alternative types of surgery? Not in his case, no. The position of the hole, right under the septal flap meant it needed direct intervention.

Getting over the shock of the news was one thing, dealing with symptoms was a whole other tricky situation. He has been on medication since he turned three-weeks-old. He takes two doses a day, the medication is meant to alleviate breathlessness by removing excess fluid built up in his swollen lung. This translates into more thirst and therefore more feeds. Additionally, this extra effort required while breathing makes drinking milk tiring and so he often has to take breaks every few minutes else he might choke and at times he just falls asleep panting mid-feed. Post-feed sees him breathless, panting, as if he as run a 100m sprint. This too means more feeds a day, we are talking about 10 to 12 feeds where the average infant does 5 to 8.

Sure, its tough having to feed that many times a day. But honestly, watching him struggle to catch his breath is worst. Seeing him throw up after putting in all that effort to drink is all the more painful. The real suffering is not parenting, not sleepless night, not constant fatigue. The real suffering lies in the fact that the suffering is not mine, but his and that I cannot bear it for him.

Moving forward?

We are praying the hole closes spontaneously and that he will be spared surgery. But we are also doing all we can to gear him up should the need for surgery become a reality. He now weighs nearly 5kg and is going into his sixth week. We are beyond happy that he decided to join our little threesome and our family is now more complete than ever with us four. And we savour each and every day with one another because everyday is a miracle.

Thank you for journeying with us, asking us for updates and sending us so much love and encouragement. Parenting a newborn is no easy task, but each day's struggles translates into another day of growth and another day of hope.

Grateful,
Amy