Category Archives: parenting

One step forward, two steps back

The past few weeks have been rough as baby fell sick for the first time (which was inevitable) but had a rollercoaster recovery (which challenged us in unique ways as adoptive working parents). Plus, we are not so young anymore in our mid-late 40s!

We had started him at infant care just before CNY break, but he caught a cold a few days later either from his new friends at pre-school or some of the visitors and family at home. Having gone through baby colds before with big bro, I just rolled with it at first, using essential oils and OTC meds, adjusting his diet and naps, as needed. In my mind I thought — that worked fine with #1, who hardly got sick in his first 6 years, it should too for #2!

But unlike his big bro, baby didn’t recover within the week, and his runny nose got progressively worse with prolonged diarrhoea, fever, phlegmy cough, wheezing lungs… He lost his appetite completely, would vomit out his milk and what little he ate, and would wake every 2-4 hours overnight crying, struggling to breathe and arching his back in pain / hunger. It was tough to see him suffer like this — far from his cheerful, robust self 😭 (who had been eating like a champ and sleeping 11-12 hours through the night till this). The doctor confirmed that his little lungs were indeed infected, the pulse oximeter measured low blood oxygen levels, and the sputum test revealed mild mycoplasma pneumonia, essentially a nasty chest cold that could also be a sign of future childhood asthma. She mentioned hospitalisation, but we didn’t want that, so we committed to a 24/7 round the clock schedule of 4-hourly nebulisers, nasal sprays/suction and stronger meds including antibiotics (which will need to be followed by a month’s worth of probiotics to help restore the healthy bacteria in his gut).

Baby’s lungs finally cleared this weekend, leaving just a stubborn cough to deal with. After this tsunami of emotions (worry, guilt, tiredness) and stress (juggling a hyper 9-year old boy and sick 9 month old boy, household matters, keeping up with work), I am able to rest a bit and recover, yet also reflect on some new questions that I’m wrestling with: Should I have sourced breast milk for him, which maybe could provide natural immunity like #1 had? What is #2’s actual medical history? Does it even matter, or is it linked to eczema like some friends have shared? Should he take the flu vaccine to help future infections (but that would take another month)? Do we stop or pause infant care if so? How do I make adjustments to my work schedule to accommodate this? Unlike my time with #1, we both work in jobs that don’t easily lend themselves to part/flexi time, and unfortunately my elderly parents are no longer in the prime of health to mind a very active baby all day.

All of this is happening during Lent, a season often associated with new beginnings. And so I am also reminded to take captive my anxieties, conflicts and distractions, to create space in the midst of life’s responsibilities, to appreciate God’s presence with and intimate knowledge of each one of us. God alone knows if baby J does have a chronic respiratory or health condition, but as adoptive parents, we have embraced him fully into our lives, and all we can do is love and trust and wait, running with endurance the race ahead by “looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

PS – A good outcome from the doc visit is that we got to track his height and weight again. Thankfully chubby baby had built up good reserves (haha) so despite being sick for several weeks, he measured a solid 73.5 cm and 10.2 kg at 8.5 months. Other developmental milestones are also on track. He turns 1 year in June, and will be walking and talking soon!

PPS – Big bro was left to fend for himself during his first term exams (CA1) and March school break. Having little bro around has forced him to be more independent, more accountable (not an easy thing for mama to let him “bear the consequences”) and also more nurturing. I was worried that #1 would feel neglected or jealous, but instead, he truly adores #2 and is more willing to help with the baby than with household chores or homework 😂 — in feeding, diaper changing, soothing, entertaining, even picking up the toys all over the house to be washed out every evening. So grateful to see this side of him emerge! ❤️

Month 3 milestones and fourth trimester reflections

Baby J turns three months today! The end of this “fourth trimester” also means mama is gradually returning to work. Maternity leave was brief but gave me precious time “off” to rest and bond, and settle the remaining adoption interviews and legal documentation. Yet it is bitter sweet to not be available or at home to focus on and respond to J. I have to learn as before with B, to trust others to care for his needs and be OK with variations in care and routine. It is also extra tiring whenever he regresses during those wonder weeks and growth spurts, as mama is still on night shift duty, and repeated night wakings are always tough! Especially now in my 40s! Old liao.

Meanwhile, little boss is thriving! We look forward to next week’s doctors visit to find out how much he’s grown 🥰. So far, he can:

  • Blow saliva bubbles and drool lots 🤣
  • Wriggle and lift his bum during nappy changes
  • Twist and turn his head side to side, esp. when we play nursery rhyme sound books during tummy time
  • Roll from tummy to back (this happened accidentally, only on one side!)
  • Push off with his feet from my lap / mat / bed
  • Grab and hold objects with both hands, playfully covering his eyes as if he’s doing a peekaboo. Favourite objects include his muslin blankets, dream pillows and bolster, wash towels, milk bottles, soft toys
  • Study and fiddle with his hands for a long time
  • Study and explore faces and textures with hands
  • Stroke his own head and cheek
  • Babble using loud / soft / low / high sounds, tell continuous “stories” after a nap or before bedtime
  • Behave differently with people. He’s always delighted to see mama come home 😝
  • Enjoy interactive songs: 10 Little Indians, Round and Round the Garden and my made-up songs in bad Chinese. I’ve even created a playlist to match his baby books 😉
  • Enjoy movement games: With mama – Pendulum, nibbling, riding the horse. With daddy – Airplane, slide, climbing the mountain
  • Sleep generally well during the day with 3-4 naps for a total 6+ hours. His last evening nap is getting quite short, at times he skips it, so we’re encouraging him to drink more to reduce evening fussiness and have upgraded his teat to a medium flow (3 months +)
  • Stay alert and awake ~1.5 hours between naps, which is when if we’re WFH, we try to interact with him more. Though he does whine to show boredom if we do the same things too often!
  • But… his night sleep is still erratic from 8p to 6a. Sometimes he wakes 1-3x not so much to drink but more to be held. Sometimes he’s great and self soothes (sucking his fingers, clutching his loveys) back to sleep and/or sleeps through the night! We’re tweaking his bedtime routine as he develops, and trying to get a consistent evening wind down. It’s more tricky with #2 as we have seven people (and their noise and stimulation) at home! But as with B, I don’t sleep train by crying it out, so will just observe, adapt and pray for better sleep ahead…. 😴

Letters to my son

It’s been 12 weeks since B graduated to big bro status and is no longer the center of attention at home after 8.5 years, for better or worse….

B, we are blessed by your generous spirit. You readily embraced little J, giving up your room and time to him. You always kiss and cuddle him, want to read and play with him, even if you are often too loud! It tickles me to see you mimic how I talk to and care for him. Someone has been watching 😆

B, you still share your heart with mama though our time alone is limited to occasional lunch dates and car chats. You will always have my ear — be it to complain about compo, rejoice in a hard-won tennis match, share your latest diep.io and Minecraft discovery, “inform” me about virtual play dates, or reluctantly confess what you did in class! 🙄

B, you are also more mindful of your ADHD lately. I see you try very hard to focus better and be less hyper especially as expectations increase. I’m proud that you want to give your best — no excuses, no exceptions. I’m also thankful for teachers who care and give us constructive feedback. We are all in this together, son! And I promise (to try) not to be such a kiasu tiger mom with you. 😉

Though I feel you’ve grown so fast, and the days and nights are different now, you will always be my baby, my firstborn, the child who made me a mom. 😘

Month 2 milestones

J turns 2 months today!

He can:

  • Be comforted by our touch and familiar faces
  • Be quite the social butterfly with gurgles, ooohs, aaahs, ohhhs, awwws, even smiles
  • Actively engage in “conversation” and books, cooing and moving arms and legs in response
  • Suck his fists to soothe himself, at times spending minutes just discovering his fingers
  • Lift his shoulders briefly during tummy time
  • Lift his head briefly while seated (supported)
  • Stare intently, reaching out to bat or kick objects
  • Speaking of kicks, his legs are straightening out. He loves to lift them up in the air when he wakes from naps, during diaper changes and bath time! (I’m sure he’ll love the bigger 🛁 once he can sit up)
  • Nap well during the day and sleep a tad better overnight (4-6 hours longest stretch so far, but it’s still inconsistent)
  • Get quite fussy late evenings! So we’re slowly introducing a bedtime routine with lots of TLC

Month 1 milestones

J turns one month today!

He can:
Lift head briefly at tummy time
Focus on faces and objects within arms length
Bring hands to face, swat away things
Respond to loud noises (哥哥 at home and the MRT construction outside!)
Coo, gurgle, louder cries (from 😴 to 😫)
Move head and rotate body 180
Recognise familiar voices, curious about new ones
Calm down with the 5S’s – swaddling, singing, gentle shushing, swinging (Read Harvey Karp’s approach in “The Happiest Baby On the Block” if you’re curious to know more, it worked for both our boys!)
Sleep for 2-3 hours, but sometimes wants to drink every hour given his low birth weight (mama hopes he will catch up soon…!)

Meanwhile, the cycle continues 😭🥺🍼💩😚😴

Anticipating the moment (part 1)

How do you anticipate the birth of a baby that you’re not carrying, but who would eventually be yours?   I’ve decided to journal down my thoughts, prayers and decisions leading up to the moment, when God willing, this baby joins our family.

The moment I heard the news from the case worker, my heart leapt. For hubby and I, the decision was clear. We had been prepared for delays in the adoption process due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and social distancing. But God did the unexpected for us, and in a way that said: “My child, I know you. I see you. I remember you. I hear you.” (Exodus 2:23-25).

So within 24 hours after we received the call, we made the decision to adopt this particular unborn baby. Though so many questions lie ahead, the most important thing to do at this time is pray. With a few who have journeyed with us since the process started, we are covering the health of the baby and birth mom in prayer, for God to guard the hearts of all the individuals involved, for wisdom as we begin to share this news to others, and discernment on the way forward, step by step. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).

I also started looking up what my leave entitlement was at work, and thinking through the eventual communication and timing of any transitions with colleagues and my team at work. I used a friend’s pregnancy books to guide my thoughts as it is quite a different experience to anticipate the birth without actually being pregnant yourself physically — What to Expect when You’re Expecting, Praying for Your Unborn Child, and The Miraculous World of Your Unborn Baby.

Children are born with earthly parents, and this special child will be blessed with a birth mom and a forever mom. It’s hard to wrap our heads around this — no matter how many books, workshops and chats I’ve had! There are so many what-ifs but I claim the peace and purpose knowing that this is a child of God. As I read months ago from a mom speaking to their adopted child, “I may not have given you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you.” Dear baby-to-come, we are waiting for you! Love, Mom.

Take courage

This Mother’s Day, I want to encourage all caregivers that “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Behind those happy moments we post on social media, are the hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears, the tiredness, guilt, disappointment, anxiety, bitterness and hurt. But let’s take courage, and know that we are not alone.  Take the time (not just today, but it’s a start!) to anchor our faith deep in God. The Holy Spirit will fuel us up — let’s not run on fumes!

Slow down, take time
Breathe in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He’ll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep Your promise to me
That I will rise in Your victory!

Lyrics from Take Courage. Published by Bethel Music, written by Kristen DiMarco, Jeremy Riddle and Joel Taylor.

Praying over Psalm 139 as our new journey begins

It’s been almost four years since my last entry, but I’m blogging (a little) again because today, hubby and I committed our intent to adopt a baby!  “For this child, I have prayed and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

We certainly didn’t know it but God has prepared us for this child — through the years of losses, us maturing as parents, and the unique circumstances which led to this adoption opportunity. When we received the call from the social worker, we knew that there was no answer but “YES” even though we are agreeing to accept this child before s/he is actually born, without knowing what the gender is or what state the baby will be in. We walk by faith, and not by sight!

LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

You made all the delicate, inner parts of the baby’s body and knit him together in his mother’s womb. Thank you for making him so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it. You watched him as he was being formed in utter seclusion, as he was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw him before he was born. Every day of his life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Search us and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Point out anything in us that offends you, and lead us along the path of everlasting life.”

Adapted from Psalms‬ ‭139:1-6, 13-16, 23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Travelling without kids

I’ve been travelling a lot for work this year, with a particularly intense past few months.  The person most interested in my trips is B, who peppers me with questions – besides just “When are you coming back, mama?!” So I decided to transform my work trips to mini-lessons in geography and history.  It’s become such a regular occurrence that B looks forward to these “special projects” with mom on free weekends when I’m home!

We started by reviewing the continents and oceans, and have been covering regions, e.g. North America, Southeast Asia and South Asia depending on where mummy travels to.

We’ve been working through a lovely colouring book country by country, supplementing the maps with library books and internet searches to make it more interesting and interactive.  I too learnt something new as we saw highlights of the India-Pakistan cricket matches, the tough life of elephants in Thailand, the history of junk boats in Vietnam, and so on.

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I also try to get souvenirs for folks back home and sometimes the best things are free too!  For example, B loves activity books at this age, and luckily many hotels have good fun ones they’re usually happy to pass to “your little one waiting back home.”

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B has always loved working with his hands and solving puzzles, so activities like these 3D puzzles or LEGO blocks are also a hit.  It amazes me how he’s able to sit down, and painstakingly put these together (with help as needed) – some times for 1 hour or more!  Now that B reads decently well, he also enjoys discovering information on his own, and likes to cite (sometimes random) facts about popular places and people.

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Did you know?  The Taj Mahal is a World Heritage Site in the city of Agra in north India, built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died at the age of 39. “That’s too young,” says B!

So if you’re travelling, and wish you could but can’t bring your kids along, try these.  They’ll feel involved, learn about the world, and can perhaps view your trips in a positive way by looking forward to these moments. We know it’s hard to be apart – so check out the video for a little something to cheer you up 🙂

For more, follow Finallymama on Instagram.

Nothing says it better than your kid

I tried this “how well do you know mom” interview with B, and his honest and hilarious answers melted my heart today.

My mommy’s name is Mei
She is 19 years old
Mom and I like to paint and play
Mom likes to say I love you
My mom really loves me
She likes to eat ice kacang
She likes to drink tea
My mom’s job is to help me
If she had time, she would like to play with me
Mom is really good at typing
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we would take roller coasters in Japan
I love my mom because she loves me

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I also had a flashback to the past when us CRIB founders were interviewed for a Mother’s Day feature last year. Here’s the coverage 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms – you are indispensable super women!  And for those trying to conceive and/or moms to be, take care of yourselves, and while we trust and hope for a future to come, don’t neglect to live fully in the now.  Hugs.

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