Noah | Week 4

Just when we thought we had got everything down padded, with Willie helping with the night feeds, this week saw a turn of events. Willie had only just helped with one night on Sunday and on Monday, he was admitted into hospital. I’ll leave the hospital episode for another post ( because it is worth a post in itself!) but it meant that I was alone again with the night feeds until Willie had recovered.

So, Noah was back on the boob for night feeds. The schedule has remained relatively the same and I was starting to truly feel adjusted to this new rhythm.

As I continue to break confinement rules, life has also seemed to resume some normality, with me heading out to Chatswood every day to carry out normal errands and even fit in beauty treatments.

All I can say is that week 4 is a contrasting mix of whimsey, routine and settling into a life of a mother of two!

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Noah | Week 3

This week hasn’t changed too much from the last but has seen Noah step into a more rigid routine with his feeding times, which has been a relief for both Willie and I. I have been doing most of the heavy lifting and night feeds this week. And man, is it taxing on the body!

This week, I decided to introduce formula once a day – on the 11pm night feed, to be precise. My little monster will take 180mL of milk in one go. (We figured it out from me expressing breastmilk into a bottle.) I simply do not have that supply. I blame it on the small boobs even though I know it has nothing to do with the size of your breasts. Either ways, it made sense for me to express that night feed while he feeds on formula so that I can use the expressed breastmilk to top up all the other feeds. It also works as a double whammy as I get help with that night feed from hubby while I express. And because it takes half the time to express, it means I win back 20-30 minutes of my almost-beauty sleep. Ok, sure there is an extra bottle to wash but washing that extra bottle is just an extra 5 minutes. So, I do think this plan works really well.

Noah is a little monster… At 3 weeks old, he looks as big as 2 month old babies. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating but people on the streets do get a shock when I tell them that he’s fresh from the oven (3 weeks only). The looks and questions I get are, “Wow! How big did he come out?”

That’s the update for now. I can’t wait till he sleeps through the night. I can’t wait till I can resume a bit more of a normal life. I can’t wait till I can work out so I feel more energised. I can’t wait lose this baby weight.

All this “I can’t wait…”, aren’t I better off just enjoying the moment and living in the present? Gosh, I miss my yoga practise to bring me back to ‘the present’!

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Tradition Chinese Postpartum Confinement or Sashimi? | Masuya

I managed to survive 9 months of sashimi deprivation but can’t manage one month of post-natal confinement*.

It was the first time the itty-bitty family got together and had dinner without my parents. Two week old Noah put on his best behaviour and slept throughout the three hour dinner at Masuya while we all enjoyed a wonderful meal; me especially!

You know that feeling when you’re very sleep deprived, and you finally get one night of really good sleep and you wake feeling totally freshened up? Well, having sashimi after nine months of deprivation feels just like that, let me tell you. (Now I’m just waiting for that analogy to come true too!)

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*Traditional Chinese confinement [The following has not been vetted by a professional Chinese medical practitioner. It is my own interpretation gathered from my network of Aunties, Chinese midwives, grannies and my mother. Reference reading only...] – Still widely practised in Asian culture, particularly amongst the Chinese, postpartum women are to stay home for at least 30 days following practices that align with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theories to help the new mother recover and avoid long-term damage to the woman’s health. The new mother is to stay indoors to avoid external winds that may expose her head and body the ‘cold’ element (one of the elements of the 5 in TCM). This follows the theory that after birth your ligaments and joints are still very loose (from the relaxant that pregnancy produces) and if the ‘cold’ gets between them, once the ligaments start coming back together the ‘cold’ gets trapped between them and the woman will be forever haunted with arthritis and headaches for the rest of her life. The new mother’s body is also deemed to be weak and ‘cold’, postpartum, so various broths and tonics will be prepared by the new mother’s mother-in-law or mother to help her restore the heat in her body. These broths and tonics include fish maw soup, pig trotters in black vinegar and ginger-infused dishes. Some even go as far as not taking showers to avoid the ‘cold’ and wind getting trapped under their scalp! And the list of traditional practices go on…

Personally, I could not stay in for the full 30 days although I have been drinking and eating the right foods. I don’t know how some women do it. It will bore the nuggets out of me!

Noah | Week 2

Just when I thought I was starting to recover from the delivery, I was struck with Mastitis on my left boob. The scare from my perineum stitches ‘bursting’ was also quite real, given the pain from the wound seemed only increase than do the opposite. However, like the resident doctor at RNS had waved a magic wand, or the salt water baths had done its job, my perineum started feeling better on day 8 (the start of week 2)! Hoorah!

The Early Childhood Health Centre nurse came and weighed Noah. At 10 days old, he was already weighing more than his birth weight at 3.380kg. Granted I had mastitis, it was an amazing result. The number of wet nappies he has is also phenomenal. He is looking a bit yellow but well below jaundice levels; a nice difference to Seth. He does drink like a machine after all! Quicker than Seth, at 45 minutes per feed. And by week 2, he has already developed a nice sleeping pattern, waking only every 3-4 hours for a feed, even at night. It has made life easy because he’s so predictable. Just like his older brother, he is an extremely content baby, only ever crying when he wants a feed and the occasional cuddle.

Noah is slightly whingier than Seth, in a sense that you can’t just wrap him and put him in his cot. Seth would be able to settle himself whereas Noah needs a little bit of coddling before he can settle himself, but I’m not complaining granted he only wakes once during the night.

As for me, while I’m supposed to be exercising the traditional Chinese “confinement”, whereby I’m supposed to stay in for a whole month focussing on nursing my baby, eating rich foods and drinking broths and special tonics, I would let my vanity and love of technology take priority over this “confinement”. On day 12, triggered by my iPhone 6 reservation (yes, finally!), I was enticed to leave the house. And while I’m at it, I might as well get a pedicure and eyelash extensions! Why not? I’m out “in the outdoor cold” (as traditional Chinese doulas would say), anyways. Might as well make the most of it.

Lastly, as for Seth, I’m so blessed to have my parents stay over at ours to keep my older baby entertained during school holidays. Seth has now realised that his little brother cannot play video games with him and he’s just a ‘boring’ baby who cries and sleeps, and requires a lot of mummy’s attention. So, this week has seen Seth’s behaviour change. He is no longer as excited about his baby brother and, in fact, everything that Seth does is slightly exaggerated to try and compete for attention. Oh my baby boy, mummy still loves you! It’s just that a newborn baby does require that tad bit more attention…

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Mum, thank you for your wonderful love and care. I dunno what I would do without you and your wonderful soups.

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Noah | Week 1

I am absolutely in love with my new child, Noah. Very much.

There’s much love to give that I finally understand how mums can continue to have more and more children.

I’m bonding very well with Noah. I know it sounds terrible to say but I feel I am bonding with Noah more, as a newborn, compared with Seth. With Seth, I bonded with my bump a lot. It could well be because I know exactly what I’m doing this second time round and I feel a lot more comfortable. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining about the sleepless nights nor the breastfeeding. I remember that I wanted to give up on breastfeeding within a week with Seth. And during this pregnancy with Noah, I had told friends that I would probably start Noah on formula on the get-go. A week has past already but I’m enjoying every moment of breastfeeding and have no intention of giving up. Not just yet anyways!

What’s also very different this time is how I am managing the newborn’s sleep cycle and feeding schedule. With Seth, I was known as “The Schedule” Nazi. I mean, we took him everywhere with us and he was an angel but we rarely, if not at all, broke the rules with feeding times, let alone co-sleeping with us! If it meant waking Seth with a wet washer when it was time to feed, I did it. Nor did I have an issue with leaving him to ‘cry it out’ because it wasn’t feeding time yet. With little Noah, I was co-sleeping with him on day two in hospital. My heart aches to see him cry and I feel the maternal instincts a lot more than with Seth.

I feel very blessed to be able to such different yet positive experiences with each child.

With Seth, it was all very front-loaded excitement and following text book theories, which worked wonders for all practicality purposes.

Despite being struck with mastitis on day 6 and having to go back to hospital with a scare (by the Medical Centre GP) of ‘burst stitches’ in my perineum and having to wait 5 hours for a resident doctor at RNS only to be told within 15 minutes that there was no concern and I was healing fine….with Noah, I was a lot more laid back with the pregnancy and preparation. The joyful experience seems to be more delayed this time

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Noah’s Delivery | Royal North Shore Delivery Suite

On what seemed to be a normal Sunday Church service, we walked in on time ( I guess the fact that we arrived on time meant it wasn’t going to be a normal day! ). The sermon’s
word “The Story of Noah” and the message? How Noah trusted in God and how we can learn from a simple story like Noah’s. I rubbed my 1-day-overdue belly and prayed that the little Noah that God has blessed me with will carry all the strengths and obedience of The Noah in the Bible.

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After church, we went to Chatswood Mandarin Centre for lunch where I was so over the pregnancy, I didn’t care that I was drinking Coke Zero and injecting some caffeine into Noah. “It can’t hurt, he might need that extra caffeine to get him moving.” I remember saying to Willie.

After lunch, we headed into the city Apple Store to pick up Willie’s reserved iPhone 6. We waddled around the city a little and collected the iPhone, then headed home to get Willie’s phone set up.

All day long, I was feeling Braxton Hicks contractions that kept going and I made sure I reminded Willie before every speed hump, telling him to slow down because the belly would hurt at each speed hump. However, it never occurred to me that I might go into labour that day.

When we got home at around 4pm, I was pacing around and not feeling quite right. Still, had no idea that I would go into labour soon.

By 6pm, after helping Willie set up his new iPhone 6, I was starting to feel regular “Braxton Hicks” contractions that were stronger. Willie and Seth had gone out to the shops to rent a DVD for our family DVD night and I was about to get dinner ready. But very quickly, the contractions were regular and strong enough for me to establish that I was in labour. When the boys returned at around 6.30pm, excited about DVD night and popcorn, I told them that I was going to have my baby that night.

Much to Seth’s dismay, he burst into tears because he was ripped off his DVD night. And for Willie, he was immediately in emergency mode, calling my dad to make arrangements for them to pick up Seth and calling the midwives at hospital. By 7pm, I was breathing through contractions and needing to leave for hospital.

We arrived at the Delivery Suite at Royal North Shore at around 7.30pm. The midwives examined me and I was 4cm dilated. The midwife suggested that I hop into a bath as a form of natural pain relief to which I was hesitant at first, but did so in the end.

All the yoga practise paid off. My loving husband sat next to the bath and breathed through each contraction with me. As the intensity of each contraction got stronger, I reminded myself to relax every muscle that wasn’t contracting and breathing through them. I was very relaxed and the midwives even thought I had done calm birthing classes!

I was so relaxed that in between some contractions, I was able to fall asleep! Now, that’s new for a woman in labour, I’m sure!

By around 9.30pm (I’m guessing the time now), the midwife suggested that I hop out of the bath, perhaps because I was so relaxed and the contractions were not becoming closer and regular. They were still 3-5 minutes apart, although the intensity of the pain of each was definitely growing.

So, I hopped out of the bath and like being hit with a sledgehammer, the minute I stood up from that bath, I felt a strong pressure down my pelvis.

Due to my Cholestasis, the midwives had to strap me down to measure the babies heartbeat and contractions. That was a nightmare. For this labour, I had to be really mobile and walking around. Lying on my back would only make the pain double in intensity. So, you could imagine how ‘co-operative’ I was when told I had to be strapped down on the bed.

Nonetheless, the midwife said I was due for an examination anyways so I would have to lie on the bed briefly regardless. By then, I was already 6cm dilated. I mean, we weren’t ‘there’ yet but I was relieved to know that I was progressing much quicker than my last labour with Seth (12 hours and only 5cm dilated). I managed a smile on my face before I got up from the bed. The next 20 minutes or so was a 180 degree change from the calmness so far experienced.

The second I got up from bed, I felt a huge contraction and a stronger-than-ever pressure down there. Instead of breathing through this contraction, I had a strong urge to push to which I responded with a grunt, “I wanna puuuusshhh”.

From that point onwards, everything happened really quickly.

The midwives instructed me to keep breathing and said I wasn’t ready. “Josephine, breathe.” “Keeping breathing,” said another. I vaguely remember them asking me to jump on the bed and calling for another midwife to come into the room to help.

I crawled onto the bed, on all fours. And with another grunt, “I’m pushing, I’m pushing!!!” I felt the crowning of my babies head and heard my little Noah’s cry. My baby’s head was out and I was in a lot of pain to push the rest of the body out. On the next and last contraction, Noah was born, weighing a healthy 3.215kg! It was 10.22pm.

Here’s the recount of my labour. 4 hours and pushing him out at 6cm dilation without any pain relief.

I am in love with my son. Thank you, Jesus, for blessing me with a quick and safe delivery.

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