Friday, April 12, 2019

Advice We Wished We Knew as New Parents

On a faithful afternoon in November 2018, my dear wife and I welcomed our daughter after a long-awaited 40 weeks. Less than a year as husband and wife, we had our (yet another) promotion to parenthood. As compared to the former, this one is literally life-changing and will turn your lives topsy-turvy and in very unexpected ways. Trust me, life - as you know it - will never ever be the same. New responsibilities, change in schedule, and needless to say, a new cause for stress and anxiety. That's right, say good-bye to lots of personal time and sleep. As of the time of writing, we are more than four months into this new role, we are still surviving, taking each day as it is while learning a never-ending list of things.
This post is about advice that we wished we know when we just had our baby, and we thought that it may be of help to new parents. You might have already received tonnes of (unsolicited) advice. I know, I know, we have been there. Your parents telling you one thing, and friends telling you another, there are hundred-and-one methods to sleep train your child, internet resources contradict each other and what not. Read on if you would want to hear our two-cents:

Friday, April 5, 2019

Month #4 - Sleep Training and Sleep Regression?

Whoever says that it will be easier after three months should be hung upside-down. The 4-month milestone sees a SHARP decline in sleep as the baby goes through a heck lot of internal changes - mainly the notorious 4-month sleep regression, and as if that's not enough, BAM. It coincides with the 4-month growth spurt... and a shitnami of things struck:

Frequent wakings
Gone are the days (hopefully temporarily) when baby Olivia could sleep for 5-6 hours straight at night. At four months, she's going through a process called sleep regression, or sleep transitions as experts claim. According to them, the term "regression" means to take a step back, but this is a healthy developmental milestone whereby sleep cycles get adjusted to being more like an adult's. To explain this briefly: One full sleep cycle lasts approximately 45min for babies (it's 90min for adults). Unlike adults, most babies have not learnt how to transit to the next cycle. If you are lucky, they might whimper, shift their bodies slightly, or cry for a few seconds if they have to, and fall right back to sleep for another cycle. Otherwise, parental intervention is needed, such as assurance by patting, humming, or carrying.
Baby, it's not time to wake up yet.

But let's be honest here, waking up every 30-60 minutes (and especially when you are already in deep sleep) sucks big time. For both the baby and the parents. Late last month, we spent between 1 hour to a terrifying 3-4 hours to lull her to sleep, only to have her waking up in 30 minutes. WHAT. Oh, and I can't describe how stressful it is to anticipate involuntarily when she is going to let out a cry. My small heart can't take this.

Heads up from the world of the internet - this process lasts from two to six weeks. To indefinitely. Very helpful information.

Sleep training?
In mid-March, we had a consultant came over to advise us on her feeding and sleeping, and that's when she protested a heck lot. To be fair, weeks of intense rocking, doing squats to make her sleep had already formed some kind of habit. Mummy couldn't take it and cried during the training and even signalled me to end the consultation as soon as possible. It's $200 to have the consultant come over for 3 hours by the way.

Thank God, we started to see the gradual fruits of sleep training - we adopted the gentler shush-pat/pick-up-put-down method. Towards the 4-5th day of sleep training, she's able to sleep in her own cot after 20-30 minutes of shush-pat and minimal rocking, but then sleep regression struck and she's waking up every 45 minutes or so. Uh, what? Here's something to prep ourselves for the near future - we would probably have to restart sleep training every once in a while after certain incidents, such as going overseas, sickness,  and sleep regression. The bad news is that there are approximately five of them until the baby is two years old.

Hey, since we are at this topic, let's delve into sleep training for a little.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Olivia's 100th Day Celebration

"Days like years, and years like days" was one advice I got and how true is that. One moment we just got news that my dear wife was pregnant, and nine months later, we were at the hospital welcoming the birth of our firstborn. Days and weeks later, we were (and still are) fretting and pulling our hair about fixing her schedules and worrying about her well-being, and the next moment, she was already hitting 100 days old.
We get questions, like "eh boy ah, why 100 days? Last time all full month one." To be honest, we pondered upon whether holding a full month or 100-day celebration was better for us and Olivia. And ultimately, we chose to do the 100-day for a couple of reasons.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Month #3 - Eat, Play, Sleep?

The third month is not without its challenges. There’s one thing we learnt and that is, you never stop learning when it comes to raising up a child. There’s an endless list of things to learn and explore about your child, and some times, they are paired with glass-shattering screams and wall-shaking cries. And when the baby cries and not handled appropriately, it becomes a stressor to the marriage. Trust me, we are still learning how to cope. You don’t need a eureka moment to know that parenting is real tough commitment. Here’s a salute to all parents once again.
CNY Day 1, huat ah!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Month #2 - Newborn cough and drinking water.

The second month, as compared to the first, was slightly easier to cope. Perhaps the baby is a little less fragile now, or perhaps we are more accustomed to waking up twice or thrice at night. Here's a summary of baby Olivia's second month for Lady M and myself:

Bringing Olivia out.
Bringing a newborn out is like preparing for a 4D3N field camp. Without the confinement nanny, you gotta have your packing list and battle plan. Food, bottles, diapers, diaper rash, extra clothes, a mental map of where's the nearest nursing room and what not. Besides the doctor visits and photo shoot (which we had the nanny with us), we first brought her out alone when she's about 5 weeks old to a cafe meet-up with our friends. It was meant to be a playdate, but the two kids were sleeping 90% of the time. To be fair, that's a good thing. We rather have her sleeping soundly compared to screaming her lungs out in the middle of a cafe. I shit you not, even after bringing her out for a couple of times, we still get a little anxiety. Every single time.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Month #1 - Confinement, impetigo, breastfeeding and baby blues.

The first month is, I shit you not, a fearful month - the month of major transition and sacrifice. After the bouts of our loved ones visiting and sending their heartfelt congratulations to us, a sudden loss of what to do engulfs us. Back at Thomson Medical, nurses were serving us 24/7, arriving just seconds after a button’s press. If not for the presence of our confinement nanny (thank God she was already at our place on the day of discharge), I wouldn’t even want to fathom the lives we were going to live for the first month.

Sitting the month.
And so we entered an ancient Chinese tradition of the confinement period or 坐月 (zuo yue) which literally means sitting the month. So, if you are unaware of this ching chong practice, whereby the mother does only two things - (1) restore her body and (2) feed the baby. There are a lot of don'ts. Don't get out of bed. Don't read or use your phone. Don't cry. Don't wash your hair (my wife lasted 15 days). The confinement nanny should be an adept for this, gorging your body (and your husband's) with all the herbs and tonics which are supposed to restore your yang energy. Herbal soup, chicken cooked in Chinese wine, and the confinement classic, pig trotters in black vinegar. It's hard not to get fat.

Impetigo what?
Nearing 1.5 weeks, a small blister grew on Olivia’s chin, then it grew bigger and even spread to other areas on her chin. We tried to find out possible sources, was it the feeding cup? Was it how the nanny handled her? Was it because of abrasion from the clothes? We started to google for possible sickness and stumbled on “impetigo” - a highly contagious skin infection. Blisters and rashes, checked. Honey-coloured crust, checked. Spreading of rashes, checked.