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.
Hooray! B has finally joined the rest of his classmates who’ve turned four. As his last week of nursery approaches, I’m looking forward to our Thanksgiving break together before he gets promoted to kindergarten. Here’s some reflections on his first full year in childcare.
You’ve shown social maturity and adaptability with the many changes this year. There were farewells to old playmates and adjustments to new friends and teachers at school. You didn’t like spending less time with mama as I not only returned to full time corporate work, but travelled away on business quite often – at one point for almost 3 weeks straight. Yet your teachers remarked on your “very positive self identify and sense of belonging”, 他会告诉老师:“妈妈不在新加坡”“我的爷爷来接我” as you figured things out and embraced the village of caregivers around you.
You are learning to persevere and not give up. You were frustrated that you couldn’t draw or write as well as some of your friends but I’m glad we encouraged you to keep on doodling and scribbling. Since you like mixed medium, illustrated stories and numbers, we incorporated math and sensory play, gave titles to your art and made collages of our holidays. Mama too has learned to be patient and not compare! Remember Leo, the late bloomer.
Speaking of perseverance, you completed your first sport events this year. Mama crazily signed us up for an 800m Cold Storage kids run (which I thought was only 100m – oops), and I am so proud that you finished it even if we held hands and walked part of the way. You also biked solo in the OCBC Cycle event and grew confident enough that you cycled with us around Maldives. You didn’t even realise that those training wheels never touched the ground! We’ll upgrade you soon to a 16″ big boy pedal bike once you’re tall enough 🙂
You’re starting to apply yourself in things that interest you, like violin. Though some days I bribe you to practice with car stickers, you surprise me with your progress and willingness to continue each term. Your teachers even invited you to perform as one of the musicians this year, and you did wonderfully! I’m glad you’re learning that “what separates the talented individual from a successful one is a lot of hard work.” While we’ll still explore many things and may drop others as you grow up, I’ll always support you in your pursuits as long as I can and you want to 🙂
Perhaps mommy and daddy could also work on two areas this coming year while your fantastic four is “under construction.” One is to more intentionally live out our faith as individuals and as a family. B may not like sitting still to pray, but he loves the bible stories and has made more friends at church. How can we help you grow into a godly man? How can we serve our church community together?
The other area of course, is Chinese. Although we found a good programme at Sparkanauts, I still wish for more time with you since no one else speaks Chinese at home. Your teacher suggested that we use videos, games or apps – 在家中可以观看有教育意义的卡通短片或者儿歌 。或者通过 ⼀些华文的电脑游戏来学习华文。家人可以使用华语和他进行沟通,增强他的日常生活⼝ 语。老师可以在和他的沟通中纠正他的句型错误并完整他的句子 – beyond continuing to speak in Chinese. Mama has been quite strict about screen time, but perhaps we could try this in the coming year? That way, maybe ama and 公公 could get immersed too 🙂
My darling B, you melt my heart when you say, “I love you more than all the numbers, mama” and you make us laugh with “Now I like daddy, but I really like mama … when I’m old and I like mama, I’ll really like daddy.” I thank God every day for you and how blessed we are as your parents.
新年蒙福, 新年蒙恩 – Blessed Year of the Goat! I’m sneaking in my post for the Things I Will Do Differently blog train in between house visits and prep for another overseas work trip. In the spirit of Chinese New Year, here are my reflections on what to do differently this year, inspired by 春聯 (spring couplets), which is quite a new feat for me too given my preschool level Chinese :).
心想事成 – Last year was quite a fruitful year – getting CRIB off the ground, transitioning B to full-day childcare and the grandparents to help more as I moved from entrepreneur back to corporate life. Yet, there was always this underlying frustration around our failure to conceive #2. With each passing month, I kept burying my emotions under a cover of busyness. This year, I’m focusing on enjoying what we have and not dwelling on what we don’t.
岁岁平安 – When days get busy, inner peace tends to flee, and we fall in a vicious spiral of stress and sleeplessness. This year, I aim to give 100% in areas that matter and not split all my time, focus and energy on everything everyday. No matter how early I wake, weekday mornings are always rushed, so I’ve settled on a new routine: After my son and I end his nighttime routine with his daily devotional, I linger in his room with lights out to reflect and recalibrate for the day ahead. I know once I walk out, I’ll start attacking my to-do list again, so this is precious quiet time for me. Philippians 4:7 The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ
笑口常开 – A related change I want to make this year, is to be more JOYFUL. When I do pause to take stock of things, I realise there’s so much to be thankful for but why aren’t more of my waking moments “happy?” When I look at my son and see such unadulterated joy in him (most of the time), I find that my happiness is more a function of choice than circumstance. This year, I choose to nurture a more positive, cheerful spirit which can hopefully affect every aspect of my life. Laughter is the best medicine, right? 😀
事业有成 – Planning is in my DNA. I tend to live by “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.” I’ve worn the planner hat for so long though that I forget to release control in my personal life – ironically, I’m better at delegating and bending at work than at home. This year, I’ll go with the flow more in my leisure time, entrust the big dreams to God, and corporate goals to the collective team. Stop filling up my evenings and weekends with work or schedules – take detours like evening walks in Pierce Reservoir and Bishan Park near the office. Less nagging the hubby on his lazy weekend mornings – join him instead!
身体健康 – Those of us whose love language is acts of service, tend to give and give till we run out of gas. This year, I allow myself to be responsibly selfish – to carve out specific ME times, to ask for or outsource help, to not skip meals, to actually complete my Pilates and spa packages, to leave B at home so that hubby and I can dinner date each together. I believe if I “eat what nourishes my body, do what nourishes my soul, and think what nourishes my mind,” I’ll be a better wife, mom, daughter, colleague and friend…. and stay forever 羊 ;). Who cares for the carers? It starts with us.
The next stop is at Meeningfully which is run by Shermeen, a fellow working mom to a 2.5 year old, a day-dreamer and closet romantic. She often tries to do too much in her attempt to juggle her multiple roles, and at the same time hopes time will slow down as she does not want her “cheeky monkey” to grow up so quickly. At 35 this year, read on about what she is going to do differently to acheive some of her goals.
2014 was a year of personal transition. While mommy juggled full time corporate life, CRIB – her social enterprise start-up, and finding quality time with hubby and son, B graduated to his big boy bed (super single, to last till NS!), afternoon drop-off programs and extended day childcare. We remain eternally grateful for this precious blessing that lifts our weary evenings, fills our weekends with laughter, and brings never-ending joy and wonder to our home.
For 2015, I’m taking a life lesson from the amazing women and entrepreneurs I’ve come to know at CRIB, and also, my 3 year old, whose self-confidence and curiosity defy gravity = BELIEVE!
For most moms, online shopping is a lifesaver when you just can’t find the item, the time or the right price that you need for your kids! Enter: Pupsik Studio. This well-designed and user-friendly site offers a great selection of the best and latest parenting, baby and toddler products at competitive prices. As a May-June holiday reward, we have a special offer for our readers too (details at end)!
Here are some of the items that we absolutely love:
1) Kleen Kanteen
This was my first purchase with Pupsik Studio. I was so thrilled to find it here after looking all over Singapore with no success! We must have tried every plastic water bottle model available (Munchkin, Avent, Skip Hop, Playtex, Nalgene, Tollijoy, Tommy Tippee, even generic BPA-free Disney-Pixar CARS ones) but all had problems with leaking, cleaning and replacing chewed out straws. This 12oz Kleen Kanteen Kid’s Bottle was an instant hit with B – and has lasted the longest. There are no straws (!), it’s easy to clean, use, keep hot or cold, doesn’t break or even leak much. Kleen Kanteens are made from 18/18 food grade stainless steel (= safe, no weird tastes, but a tad heavy) and the sports cap and spouts are BPA-free. Once your tot has mastered drinking from a cup, get this and save your money and agony on all those horrid plastic bottles.
2) Melissa & Doug Jigsaw Puzzles – 4 In A Box
I bought these for B’s 2nd birthday as the bigger puzzle pieces were getting easy for him and I wanted something compact and sturdy for road trips and holidays. Each wooden box comes with 4 different puzzles that fit neatly in 4 separate compartments. Each puzzle can be assembled on the slide-on lid of the box. Each puzzle piece is shape coded on the back for convenient sorting and storing. Various themes are available: vehicles, construction (we got the first two for our transportation loving boy), pets, farm animals, wild animals, sea life. Though recommended for 3+ years, the pieces are manageable for tots – see B attempting one:
3) The Tiny Bites Food Shears (Scissors)
Don’t leave home without it. We have loaned this out to countless friends over the dining table to cut up bite-sized food for their tots. Made from cutlery-grade stainless steel blades, these parent-invented portable scissors are BPA-free, lead-free and dishwasher safe, with a protective blade cover making it child-proof and pocket-friendly, and an on-blade inch ruler for measuring (if needed). It comes in a package of two scissors – one for home, one on the go, or even one as your tot’s first pair of scissors. The comfort cutting spring (yellow lever) provides extra tension for tiny hands that lack the strength to manipulate regular scissors. Very useful!
4) Charlie Banana
Have you ever stopped to calculate how much you’ve spent on disposable diapers? You can save a LOT of time, money and the environment with reusable cloth diapers, if only they were easy enough to wear and clean… Like Charlie Banana! Unfortunately, I didn’t know about these until B was already being potty trained BUT if you are keen to start out with cloth diapers (and disposable inserts) from newborn onwards, try the Charlie Banana® 2-in-1 Reusable One Size which works till ~3 years. Parents can adjust the diaper with a no-slip, bra-strap design that tucks nicely in the interior fleece so no part of the elastic or adjustment system will rub against baby’s skin. Buy one to try, or get the economical bundles available at Pupsik. Meanwhile, we got B the Charlie Banana® 2-in-1 Swim Diaper & Training pants to splash and messy play in. It fits and feels well, doubles up as a swim shorts and diaper, and is actually absorbent (compared to those Huggies “swim liners”).
5) Personalized Stickers and Iron Ons
I hadn’t labelled anything of B’s … until he started nursery this year. Then all of sudden, we needed to label EVERYTHING because sure enough, he’d bring home someone else’s bottle or shorts or hat. Of course, you could just write their name / initials with permanent marker. Or you could try Pupsik’s wonderful selection of personalised stickers, iron on dots, shoe labels, bag tags, et al. In addition to personalising the name (in English or Chinese characters), you can customise images and colours from a very vibrant and appealing range of options. We got a set of 65 Sticker Labels (for bottles, bags, mozzie repellant) and 42 Iron On Dots (for hats, shirts, shorts). I’m glad we gave this a try as the final product looked great, B loved recognising his things with their cute car icon and name labels and also learned to read and spell his own name through this.
As a special offer for Finally Mama readers, Pupsik Studio is offering a10% discount off all regular items from now till June 30, 2014. Use the code “FINALLYMAMA”. Drop a note here or like us so we know this has been useful to you…. And, happy shopping!
It’s almost the end of September. While I look forward to celebrate with dear friends who will give birth over the next few months, I can’t help thinking that baby #2’s due date would have been around now. What a frustrating, deferred year this has been! I’d put off the job search when I initially found out I was pregnant at the turn of the year. After the miscarriage, we postponed the start of B’s toddler group drop-off, and me returning to full time work till next year, so that we could maximise our time with B as well as our efforts to conceive again, given hubby’s frequent business travel.
Sadly, so far, no luck with #2 (or rather, #2b) and I worry that my career is stagnating the longer I stop working. It’s days like these that I need to pause and reflect that God has given me such a blessed family, with rich life experiences, and all that we hope for will come to pass in His time, in His way.
All that I am, all that I have I lay them down before you, oh Lord All my regrets, all my acclaims The joy and the pain, I’m making them yours Lord, I offer my life to you Everything I’ve been through Use it for your glory Lord I offer my days to you Lifting my praise to you As a pleasing sacrifice Lord I offer you my life Things in the past, things yet unseen Wishes and dreams that are yet to come true All of my heart, all of my praise My heart and my hands are lifted to you What can we give That you have not given? And what do we have That is not already yours? All we possess Are these lives we’re living That’s what we give to you, Lord
The “fourth” trimester brought along several upgrades. Some were unexpected, but each contributed to give us fuller hearts, a livelier home, and an increasingly alert and active baby boy. To be honest, motherhood is very much a work-in-progress but I do feel more confident and less anxious with B each passing day.
Healthy sleep habits, happy child … and family too: B’s nap and sleep time were disrupted by all the Chinese New Year activity. Unfortunately, that brought back the overtired fussy baby (who we thought we’d literally put to bed by week 6) who needs to be rocked to sleep. After several exhausting days, we bought a bouncer (the Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance Air – a true Godsend!) and I introduced a sleep schedule: 7/8a wake up, 3 naps (9/10a, after the mid-day feed, 5/6p) leading into his 9/10p “longer bedtime” before the day starts again at dawn. It isn’t easy to enforce this with the hubby who comes home late and B’s many caregivers and visitors but I’m determined to give him the 15 hours sleep needed for his age.
Tummy time is good for you, boy: B hates to exercise (who does?!) and makes me look like a slavedriver when others are around to witness his complaints and whimpers. What does mama do? Sneak in playmat time when the critics aren’t around, carry/burp him head-over-shoulder and allow daytime naps on his tummy (supervised of course). It’s paid off – his neck is stronger, the flat spots (!) on the back of his head get a breather … plus, I don’t seem so evil anymore!
One unexpected “upgrade”: I am inadvertently on Plan B aka stay-at-home mom until I return to work again (or continue if baby #2 comes along). Plan A was to return to work after my four-month maternity leave (i.e. end of February) and we had scoped out infant care centers to accomodate that. However, recent personal and office developments led us down a different path. When I tendered at work last week, I felt really conflicted — guilty for wanting to work and guilty for choosing not to. It’ll take time to get used to saying “I’m a stay-at-home mom” vs “I work as X at Y” but I know that this opportunity, however brief, is a blessing and B will be the better for it. No regrets.
Sleeping “through the night:” About two weeks ago (from week 11 onwards), B started regularly skipping one of his night feeds, i.e. waking up just once for a feed between 8p and 8a. As I’m still breastfeeding, I kept waking up every 4-5 hours to express and check on him but eventually realised that he’s REALLY sleeping ~7 hours straight overnight (or at least can quietly self-soothe). What bliss! I’m enjoying these extra hours of rest after months of sleep deprivation. Pray for no relapses and longer night sleep.
Physical development: B does mini push ups, moves his head side to side with greater ease (though he still favours one side more), opens up and clasps his fingers together, reaches for, grips and shakes his rattles, blankie, crib mobile, kick-and-play piano, books, mommy’s T-shirt, etc… and his all-time-favourite – sucks his fist (and thumb). He briefly sits upright when propped up and can roll over while supported too.
Social development: B really enjoys his 1-1 time of chatting, storytelling and singing. He smiles socially, pouts and chuckles on occasion (i.e. when playing peek-a-boo or funny faces) and imitates sticking his tongue out. He vocalises different combination vowels and different tones now and has new distinct “babbles” when he’s hungry, tired, angry, bored, etc.
New year, new things: We had to upgrade him to a convertible cot bed earlier (thanks, 爷爷) after he got stuck in his crib at night for the umpteenth time. He’s also outgrown his moses basket, newborn/0-3 month diapers, mits, booties, socks and vests. We’ve now switched over to 3-6 month and even some 6-12 month clothes, and passed the rest on to other expectant mom friends. As for swaddling, forget it! B is too active — and no amount of wrapping can keep him cosy and warm. We’ve started using sleeping bags instead and they work like a dream.