A letter to new mums

I was on a night shift, minding my own business, doing my (endless) paperwork on the nurse’s reception desk. A nurse came over and plopped one of the patient, five day old baby, in my arms. “Baby’s crying, mum’s crying and shattered and I need to do some medicine and milk – can you look after baby for awhile?” Of course I am not one who will deny having cuddles from a newborn, so I obliged.

It reminded me on how it was during the newborn days. I never really spoke it out loud, especially to my friends who are mums-to-be. I figured they’ll learn and find out by themselves. Anyway, they might have an angel for a baby: sleeping through the night, waking up only for feeds, crying in a demure way. Ugh, I hate you already mum-to-be. Just kidding… ok maybe I do envy you a little bit.

But I think … I’ll talk about it now, because it was only after talking to a friend during those new days of parenthood, that I felt better. To mums to be/new mums:

“Dear new mums,

I don’t know how to say this but here it goes.

It is hard.
It may be hard.
Ok, it will be hard.

As I said, you may have a baby who would have the zen of Yoda and you will sail through just ok. If you don’t, it’s ok.

You may have moments of intense frustration and even anger. Now child no 1 of mine was a screamer. His face would go red and he would scream with his every might. His cries was so sharp and grating, as if it was clawing into my brain. It vibrated around the house, I felt sorry for the neighbours (actually I wasn’t, people should share these experience with me). We lived in a flat three storeys up and I remember my dad going to the ground floor to drop off the rubbish. He said he could hear his screams all the way down and outside.

And then he would do these twilight shifts with me. He would cry from midnight to 4-5 am… cry and cry and cry. I would breastfeed him to not much comfort. I would rock him and sing to him. I would pace around the living room with him, trying to not wake the whole household. Even though M helped a lot, once he started working from paternity leave, I felt bad for him to stay awake much in the night. He’s sleep deprived and tired as it is and still has to go to oncalls. And I didn’t want to bother my parents much. So there I would be, night lamp on in the living room, pacing and rocking and feeding and crying. Oh yes, there was a lot of crying … from both of us. I remember having tears down my face, praying and thinking of the Quranic verse: “And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” (50:16) Please don’t leave me, I pleaded, scared that I might do something I would regret.

Over the first few days and weeks, there were moments of frustration. Intense moment of frustration. I am ashamed to say it but I will admit so future mums will know that they are not alone. I felt so angry and so frustrated, I was thinking I just want to throw this baby out the window. Then I felt bad and guilty of my un-mother like feelings. I admitted this to my SHO yesterday and she grabbed my hand. “I’ve never told anyone but I felt the same way too. I googled “throwing baby out window” because I didnt know if it was normal. I felt so bad and thought social services might take away my baby.”

So new mums, you are not alone. You may experience this, you may not. If you do, listen to me and do this:

Put baby down on a safe place.
Walk away.
Close the door if you have to.
Wash your face, grab a drink.
Cry if you want.
Don’t worry if it takes a few minutes to gather yourself.

I figured if baby’s crying, it shows that his/her breathing is ok. And anyway, it’s ok for baby to cry rather than be shaken. Yes, that is the fear when you are in that moment. I have seen cases of shaken babies and the severe consequences that came with it (one had bleed in the brain and now disabled for life, one passed away). If you feel that intense feeling of anger, step away. Just put baby down and step away. Give baby to someone else if there is another person in the house.

And you know what, it’s ok. It’s ok to have these feelings. Please be kind to yourself and ask for help. It is not a weakness. You are not a bad mother. Post natal blues are common and postnatal depression is real.

Things will get easier. The first smile. The first laugh. The times when they start playing with you. There will be less tamagotchi and more of a human baby. In the meantime, take care of yourself. Ok, just take care of yourself almost as much as you have of baby.

Lotsa love,

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One happy moment

I thought that I would write about big happy, ‘change in my life’ moments. Like the day I got married or when I gave birth or the day I graduated.

The thing is those occasions carry a bag of emotions – nerves, some anxiety (of my skirt falling off in a freak accident or tripping over and having people videoing it), stress of other people projecting to me and mostly I’m just being on autopilot. Go up the stage, smile to the cameras. I don’t think I had a ‘moment’ on either wedding or delivery. I remember having a sense of pride just before walking up the stage during graduation – like all those sweat and tears all those years were paying off then, and the world is my oyster (and I can now have money coming into my bank account). Even after giving birth, my smiles felt like it was put on, I had to smile or else people would think I’m mad. To be honest, I was just freaking tired and hungry. And wee bit anxious on meeting my child.

Anyway, I’ll talk about a recent memory that felt just like unadulterated joy. We went to Wicksteed park the other day, forty minutes away from home. It had amusement park rides – not that many but enough to excite a child and sakai mother. It had boats, nature trails, huge area of grass for picnic. It was a sunny day and the skies were blue. Zayan was in a good mood and (not yet) whingey. I went on one of the kiddie rollercoaster rides with Zayan. It wasn’t that high but it had enough speed and twists to make it exhilirating. As we sped down the track of the roller coaster in high speed, adrenaline was pumping and both of us started laughing. Ok, I was laughing and Zayan was screaming. He had such a huge smile on his face, grinning away, in his element. Ah, my boy the thrill seeker. I can still remember the huge grin he has, laughing away.

That’s the thing with kids – their excitement over something is boundless. It knows no limits and they don’t hide it, pretending they’re cool. It is so much more fun that way, so free.

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I haven’t written in awhile. Mostly because I don’t feel like it, partly because I don’t have the time. There are other things I need to do – priority one might say. And yet deep within me, I wish I could write more often.

I’ve started a new diary. After some discussion with friends, I concluded I need to get back a hobby or something I enjoy doing. Because lately (by that I mean the last 3 years), my life revolves around work and kids with the intermittent date night. So I’ve tried to write more often… it’s supposed to be every day for 5 minutes. Ideally I’d do it in the morning but that doesnt seem to work. I just wake up too late, as in I wake up an hour before I need to set off and then spend that hour getting three individuals including myself washed, clothed and fed, ready to enter a new day.

Anyway, I’m trying is the gist of it.

In the meantime, I oscillate between living my life and feeling sad. Except unlike my usual self, I can’t seem to project the sadness very well. Either I’ve built a nice stone wall after all these years of working or I am quite good at repressing emotions now. I can’t write why I’m sad, not now, maybe one day. *cryptic writing*

Ok, I’m trying to make this a happier post. Alright, I’ve been reading a book called 59 seconds. It’s about making small things and thinking little things to make one happier or change one’s perspective into a brighter one.

The first task is to write for 1 minute a day.

First day: Write the things that you’re greateful for.
Second day: Write about a moment when you felt very happy. Write about the event, what you remember of it and how you felt at the time.
Third day: Write about your dream future – but a realistic one.
Fourth day: Write a letter to a loved one. Write it as if you’re never gonna see them again.
Fifth day: Think over the last one week and what has went well.

I haven’t gone beyond the first chapter yet, so I can’t write what the second task is!

So for now, I’ll write the moment when I felt very happy. Can’t decide whether to write as a blog post or in my (new) fresh, crisp papers of a notebook.

Till then,

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Pintu Ajaib

Got back from Brunei yesterday. Whilst it was a drag to have dreary cold weather here, at least I can see the sky. It was hazy on the last week we were there, like whyyyy whyyyy must there be forest fires causing the haze?? Anything man made resulting in weather change … that must be a crime right?

Anyway, so I’m back and feel I should impart some advice on travelling with kids. This time, I flew with both kids (3 year old and 10 month old) by myself on the flight to Brunei. It wasn’t bad really. One slept most of the time, one watched ipad/flight movies. Zayan is pretty independent too mostly – ate by himself, put on seatbelt by himself, took stuff from his lil backpack if he wants things (aka toys and snacks).

I already wrote some time ago on travelling tips with kids here. I stand by on everything I wrote then! Another thing I found useful are ziplock bags! Basically, it’s like small ziplock freezer bags that I use to put things in compartments. I’d put each set of spare clothes for each kid in a bag, put nappies in a bag, snacks for each kid in a bag, etc etc.

For those who likes lists and ideas of what to pack, here’s what I brought:
– 3 spare set of clothes for each child
This includes: PJs for Zayan and onesies for Ayman.
– 1 spare set of clothes for me
One boy vomited on me on the way to Airport and another leaked poo on me. I just washed off my second shirt in the end.
– Nappies, nappies, nappies
Once I forgot to bring enough nappies for Ayman from San Francisco to London. It was a nightmare trying to find a shop selling nappies at San Francisco airport!
– Toiletries
You know to freshen up.
– Snacks
You know how we like to limit snacks with kids… well, flights are generally time for rules to be broken. Anything to keep a toddler happy, that’s fine by me!
– Milk
I’ve never had problems bringing liquid milk – expressed breast milk (EBM) and cow’s milk- from either London or Brunei. I have brought milk powder with empty bottles as well for back up. For EBM, I stored it in a small cooler bag with some sort of dry ice. Bought it online before, can’t remember what it’s called now.
– Small toys and thin books
Twice I’ve bought a kiddie activity magazine book with free toy and Zayan was so obsessed with the toy for the entire journey. WIN for cheapo toys from China!
– Ipad
Life (sanity) saver.

Can’t remember what else I’ve brought. Obviously passport, money and phone!

Ok that’s it. Feeling sleepy – it’s almost 7 pm now but it’s past midnight Brunei time. The kids were so good in Brunei in terms of jet lag. Previously, Zayan would be horrendous with jet lag – waking up crying in middle of night and wouldn’t settle. or he would be so awake that he wants to play and want you to play with him.

This time though, both kids would sleep around 10-11 pm and then sleep through the night till 7-8 am. Right from day 1. How??? What sorcery have I inadvertently used to cause this seamless transition of body clock??

You know what I wish for – pintu ajaib just like in Doraemon.

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Of kindness

I’ve been wanting to write about this for awhile, but didn’t quite know how to write it.

Sometimes I think morbidly and think what if (when?) one day my children are left without their parents. I would want them to know our good traits and learn from them. Specifically I would wish them to take after their dad’s good traits – people who knows him know that he is a nice guy all round but I know of the kindness he shows in unexpected ways.

When we were in San Francisco, we had lunch, just another lunch y’know (it was grilled burgers and chips…it was good). He bought some packed food, which I didn’t think much of. When we walked out, he handed out the food to this homeless person. The guy was so surprised, so stoked. I think his jaw was wide open in shock, but what made it all the more memorable was his happiness at having a hot meal. I looked at this man, who is noncholant in his thoughtfulness, and who does act like a ‘med reg’ (medical registrar aka cynical and realistic) most of the time. It reminded me of how his kindness won me over back in medical school/foundation year days.

Zayan and Ayman, I hope you two will grow to be as thoughtful and humble in your kindness just like your Ayah.

Love, your mama

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A legend

Today, I suddenly remembered of my late consultant Dr Hoskyns. I don’t think I’ve written about his passing away properly here. He passed away from an accidental bike injury on his way to work this February. The whole of paediatrics team in Leicester WAs beside ourselves – which is an understatement really. There were a lot of whatsapp messages, facebook statuses, tribute messages for the legend of a man. When you meet him, you would not realise how ‘high up’ he is in the medical ladder. He was humble and down to earth. When I found his wikipedia page (turns out he is of Baronage heritage), he was surprised he had a page and you could tell how uncomfortable he was at having the praises and prestige.

He has taught me so so much, from clinical skills to being a grounded doctor. He taught me to not leave my senses on the door of the hospital. What cannot be taught verbally is taught through actions. He shows how to treat patients as an individuals rather than just another person on a hospital bed.

When I was sitting in his clinics, he would receive the next patient’s notes and just by looking at the name, he would remember who they are. ‘Ahhh this one…is a 26 weeker and has been having problem with his legs….’ He was the consultant responsible for when the child was born and the said patient is now 15 years old. He sees the chronic well patients once or twice a year and yet he remembers them. Needless to say, they remember him too.

I remember him coming to the ward wearing a loom band. He said he asked for it from a patient.

I posted this on facebook:

“Suddenly reminded of the late Dr Hoskyns. When Ayman was in NICU, he dropped by maternity ward to visit me bringing along a card as well. He said he went to NICU to check how Ayman was, even though he wasn’t working in the neonatal side that day. We chatted about Ayman and how I was doing and how the exams went (for which he tutored me for those three sittings I took). It still astounds me that a consultant would just drop by with a card no less to check on how Ayman and I were doing.

Our presence in this earth is like a little drop of water in the ocean, just a small piece walking around on God’s earth and our existence are really just seconds when compared to primordial time.

But you know what…
Kindness will always be remembered.”

My condolences to the family and close ones.

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Selamat Hari Raya

3:57 am

Sitting in the registrar’s room. Phone plugged in and blaring out takbir raya thanks to youtube.

Thankfully, another 5 hours of working and then I’ll be free for another 48 hours at least.

Allahu akhbar, allahu akhbar, Allahu Akhbar
La illa ha illallah wallahu akhbar
Allahu akhbar walillah ilham

This year, I do feel momentous approaching the end of ramadan. Not that I did full month of terawih or read the quran from first page to the end… But I am happy that I fasted as much as I can. Still breastfeeding and fasting for 26 out of 30 days (4 days opted out as I didn’t have much milk and felt like I was drying out of milk).

This year would be different than previous years. For one thing, most of my family is here! And my nephews and niece are here too, making it more meriah at home and Zayan will have friends over the weekend (yay to less clinginess/attention seeking).

And also means, I don’t have to cook! Hehe! And yay to having good homemade mama food!!!

I’m hoping to actually be able to get through the day without feeling like a zombie, having worked 4 nights now. Hoping the abundance of food would energise me somehow!

It has been eons since I celebrated first day of raya at home with my family.  I do wish and hope Zayan grow up with good memories of raya as I had in my childhood days.

Good food.  Duit raya. Bunga api.

 Convoy with the extended family. Trying out different kuih and biskut. Nini’s biskut begula (inda ku ingat namanya). Soya bean. Kerupuk udang. Serunding.

Bersalaaman with my parents in the morning. Kad raya. Competing amongst my brothers who had the most kad raya.

Takbir raya. Waking up late and discovering all the male people in the house has left for sembahyang raya.

Lagu raya starting even from mid ramadan. Raya celebrations in school – get to have happy raya songs blaring and wearing baju kurung and spotting your crush in their baju raya. (Black baju melayu is always cool)

Those were the days.

Ok, over and out.

Selamat menyambut hari raya to all muslims out there. Kalau ada salah dan silap, minta maaf ya.

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