Making Choices

This is my family.

Valerie is now almost 2 years and 7 months, while Isaac turned 9 months young a week ago. Kevin holds a full-time corporate job and is the main breadwinner of the family.

I work from home. I have my own General Insurance business, while helping my husband with the administrative aspects of his work baby – Affinity.

I resigned from the first position I held post-graduation in September 2015, after 2 years 3 months. I was in my first trimester with Valerie then.

My resignation was planned, and I had actually decided to leave prior to finding out I was pregnant. Fun fact: my resignation letter was rejected by my superiors two times before they finally accepted my decision to leave.

I took up a part-time position in October that same year but I left after a month because I was constantly nauseated and dizzy, all thanks to pregnancy hormones.

And I’ve not been back to the corporate world since.

That said, I wouldn’t say I stumbled into the role of a stay-home parent as I could have easily gone back to work a few months after Valerie’s birth. (I did have a promising job offer from Gleneagles Hospital.) Becoming a SAHM was a deliberate choice by Kevin and I.

In my two mummy groups, I have shared countless times about my experience as a stay-home parent, the reasons why we are doing what we are doing, and the sacrifices we chose to make just so that Valerie and Isaac will always have their mum around through their growing up years.

I am documenting my various thought processes here, in the hopes that – when the going gets tough, and when the routines get mundane – I will always remember why I chose the road less travelled.

I am thankful that Kevin and I have always been on the same page about this since day one. I wouldn’t be able to thrive as a stay-home parent if it weren’t for his unconditional love and support.

With that in mind, our preference for having at least one parent be with our children at any one time is different.

For Kevin, having his spouse be the primary caregiver for his children has been a long-time desire of his. He was a latchkey kid and his parents were always busy working. He rarely spent time with them, and yearned for some form of parental guidance as he grew older. That’s when he promised himself that if he ever had the privilege of becoming a father, he would very much prefer his children to be brought up by their own mother.

For me, the choice to be a SAHM was a no-brainer. Those who know me would know why. My mum herself was a SAHM for 15 years. She quit her 9-year job when I was born, and only went back to working full-time when I was in Upper Secondary. When I was young, I took her presence for granted (because what did I know – I thought everyone’s mum stayed home too). But as I grew older – especially as a mother myself now, ironically – I started appreciating her being around for my sister and I all the time. Whenever we needed her, she was there. Rain or shine, she was there. And this continues to this day. What a powerful impact it had on my life; and I wanted to be able to do the same for my own children.

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I will not lie to you. Having one parent stay home and not hold a stable full-time corporate position is really not easy. It involves deliberate lifestyle changes and choices.

Here are some truth bombs that I would like to share.

1) We have a tighter budget, obviously.

I have not bought anything I’ve wanted for myself since I quit my job. That’s three whole years of adding things to my cart and then not carting out because I have zero financial independence. Though Kevin allows me to buy things without consulting him, I just don’t because I rather save that money for stuff we need instead of stuff I want. 100% of the things I now buy is for the house, for the children, or for our meals (ie: groceries and/or wet marketing). And… I used to be a shopaholic, once spending $400+ just on makeup during the Christmas period in 2014.

2) We will not vacation further than Malaysia for the time being.

We have decided not to go for family holidays further than Malaysia when the children are young. Firstly, do you have any idea how tiring it is to travel with young children? I won’t want to take flights with them – as much as I can help it – until they are both in primary school, capable of walking on their own and willing to follow our instruction. Maybe I will consider flying with them if we have extra helping hands on board… But we will decide if and when the opportunity presents itself. Next consideration is of course, cost – holidaying in Malaysia stretches our dollar! And lastly, beach holidays will suffice for our family for now. After all, our children are still young. All they will want is just the sand, the pool, the bathtub, and US. They don’t care where they are; they just want to be in our presence. Plus we have their teen years to take them to see the world anyway… For now, shrewd financial planning and building up our savings come first.

3) We eat in all the time.

Yup, you read that right. We don’t eat out. Except Kevin when he’s out on the field working, though I’m already making plans to pack him meals daily from our kitchen. (Healthier + saves money… Win-win!) We don’t have brunch in cafes, or coffees at Starbucks. I consider even a meal at Sun Plaza’s Kopitiam a luxury because someone else prepared it and I didn’t have to shop for the ingredients nor meal plan! Bubble tea? I have it like once in two months… And it does taste like heaven.

4) Stay-home mum depression is real.

This is a real struggle of mine. I wrote a little about it here, you can jump over to that post if you’d like. To many, being a SAHM might be the dream. And shouldn’t I be happy that I get to spend all day with my children?

Well. While I am truly honoured that Kevin has given me the chance to be a full-time mum, life can get extremely routine after awhile. And man, is it emotionally draining! In case you were wondering, my job scope includes…

Constant attention, constant vigilance, constant scrutiny, constant touch, constant use of my voice, constant relegation of my needs to the second tier. It’s needing an hour to do what takes others 15 minutes. It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything – language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, competency, discipline, curiosity, creativity, empathy, and everything else in between.

This space is as real as I’m going to get, and I will be the first in line to tell you that being a mum is not easy. I have struggled, heck, I’m still struggling!

And yes, I am also here to tell you that SAHM depression is a thing.

And no, it is not because we hate our “job”. It is because sometimes, just sometimes, the overwhelming mental load of motherhood is simply too much.

5) There’s absolutely no shame in admitting we need extra help.

I have a helper. Her name is Anita. She started working for us in May this year, a mere three days before we moved.

This begets a whole lot of questions because the assumption is housewife plus helper equates to rich housewife. Firstly, that is a load of bollocks. Secondly, with two children under the age of three and with my physical and mental health not doing so well recently, having an extra pair of hands to help out around the house has been a huge blessing and I am thankful we took a leap of faith and decided to engage her at the recommendation of a friend.

Yes, no doubt a helper increases our cost substantially… But we engaged her precisely because we saw a need.

Anita now does the physical work of running our household (cooking, chores, grocery shopping, errand-running), while I focus on the children and on expanding our side businesses.

These are the choices I have made for my family.

What choices will you make for your family today?

No, I Am Not Making A Mountain Out Of A Molehill

I have felt emotionally invalidated by my husband for a very very long time now, and I struggle to understand, on a daily basis, why he can never understand why I feel the way I do.

I told him exactly this… And his text reply to me was “How am I invalidating you? I’m saying you (are) not talking logically. It’s all emotionally-charged words.”

Firstly, yes you are. Secondly, no they are not.

I figured that he had absolutely no idea what emotional invalidation meant (as with most things that involve feelings – not to stereotype, but is it just a man thing?), and so I did some simple Googling so that I could find the simplest definition for him.

Here’s what I got:

Emotional invalidation occurs when one’s thoughts and feelings are diminished, ignored, rejected.

And I have felt the invalidation so deeply for so long because it has been communicated to me, ever so often, that my emotions, thoughts and feelings are unreasonable or irrational – by the very person who claims to love me.

Double whammy.

Sidebar: I have noticed it in his parenting style too, but how can I bring it up? My only choice is to write this post, in the hopes that he will read it and do something about it. I went through similar invalidation when I was growing up, probably due to the sheer stress of parenthood (plus I was not an easy child to bring up) – and that is why I feel so strongly about this.

Anyway, something happened last night that led to me feeling so small and unimportant. I won’t recount it here because it’s unnecessary, but I told Kevin how I felt about the series of events.

Once again, I was told that I was “making a big fuss”. What was new there?

I was angry. And in my signature style, started to formulate my argument about him downplaying every single emotion I feel.

So I did some research, and stumbled across an article about how HSP (Highly Sensitive Persons) are affected a lot more when it comes to invalidation.

Now my life makes sense. How have I not known about this term before?

I’m not about to regurgitate entire articles that start with the title “signs that you are a Highly Sensitive Person” because as I type, there is a very clingy 9-month-old boy clawing at me, imploring me with those big beautiful eyes of his to pick him up and cuddle him.

But if I were to pick the symptom that led me to truly believe I identify with other HSPs, it would be the fact that I am extremely sensitive about my environment.

Here are just some of them.

Time pressure really throws me off my game. This is why I hate doing anything last minute. I used to hand up my essays six weeks in advance, no kidding.

Sudden loud noises startle me way more than it should. Especially thunder. I’m usually the one cowering under the covers while my 2-year-old toddler exclaims, “mummy no scared”.

Change is extremely extremely upsetting for me (I can’t emphasise this enough), and this year was full of change. I gave birth to Isaac, was hospitalised for post-delivery complications immediately after childbirth, went through confinement, collected keys to my first home, Valerie went for surgery, supervised renovation, packed our lives out, moved home, unpacked our lives again, got used to having a helper and running my own household. In between I got hospitalised twice in the same month because I burnt out. And you wonder why. It’s just been… Insanely tough.

Apart from all of the above, I am very sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels, caffeine, alcohol, large public crowds, bright lights, fast traffic, and too many things occurring simultaneously. I also feel physically ill during conflict and from the lack of sleep (now how do I fix this since I am a mum and I have two young children under my care?).

I used to think these physical symptoms were due to my vertigo… But now there’s another reason? Sometimes I wonder why my body was created to be so special.

Alright, enough moping around. I need to prepare for my dad’s birthday dinner tomorrow.

If you’re interested to know more about HSPs, Google can be your best friend too.

Just thought I’d write this out since I had some time on hand.

Peace.

Credit: x, x

Battling Depression & Anxiety as a SAHM

Life is like a fruit basket. When you keep putting fruits in – one at a time, or several at once – sooner or later, you won’t be able to put anymore fruits in without any rolling off.

Quote from an old friend, Dr. H.

These past few months have been tough. In front of my friends and especially my family, I act like I have it all together. I act like I’m elated. Like I’m excited. Like I’m bursting with happiness! New home, new chapter right? This is what I have wanted and waited for – for a good three years. But little did anyone know that I was crumbling to pieces within. In my new home, I felt numb. I felt desolate. I felt hopeless. I felt… Helpless.

So it happened about two months back. I slid down the pit that I fought so hard to climb out of for more times than I care to remember. I retreated. I neglected my children (I’m not proud of that). I almost decided that the pain inside was too bad to continue. I almost wanted to end it all.

Almost.

But Kevin spotted the signs. He made an urgent appointment for me to see my regular doctor because he knew that I had been secretly missing my sessions. On the day of the appointment, I went into one of my modes again and my husband had to half-carry me out of the door, with the help of my 2-year-old.

The medical team decided that admission was best – just so that I could have some uninterrupted rest and a break from being on-call 24/7. I was warded for 5 nights. I wouldn’t say I walked out of hospital completely 100% renewed, but the break did help somewhat. It’s amazing what naps can do for a severely sleep-deprived person.

Some people, being human, would have wondered why I burnt out even though I engaged a helper the minute I moved into my new home. I don’t blame them for doing so, and I know I do not owe anyone an explanation, but I just need to get this off my chest – hence the title of this post – so bear with me.

My helper, Anita, has been great. Why? Because she helps me with the physical work of running my household – and we decided to engage her precisely because I need help physically. Due to my history with vestibular issues, there are limitations to what I can and cannot do – and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Unbeknownst to many, I struggle with simple everyday things, and it’s definitely not due to the lack of trying… But that’s a story for another day.

I certainly am grateful that Kevin has given me a chance to be a SAHM, even though we made this decision KNOWING FULL WELL that it will not come without challenges. But it was a choice we made together, and it has worked out so far – all thanks to the One above for His limitless provision.

As a SAHM, I get to live out my calling in this season of life every single day. And I do love being with my children, please don’t get me wrong. We have really good days and we have good days.

And then there are days where I just do not want to face them. These are days which are dark, where I struggle with my thoughts and with my emotions and with my innermost desires to end this fight to live.

I will be honest here. As much as I’m appreciative that I get to stay home and watch my children grow, it is literally all that I have become. Who am I? What do I do all day? The answer is one and the same. I am a mum. I am a mum all day, everyday. The hours fade into days, which fade into weeks, which in turn fade into months. And just like that – I’ve been a full-time mum for exactly three years.

Many times, the isolation is real. And it’s easy to sink into depression (even for those who aren’t already struggling with this) when the only people you face day in and day out are your children – who, being children, are self-centred and self-serving. And to be constantly expected to give of yourself, is an almost impossible task when you are running on empty. That’s exactly what happened to me.

My love tank emptied.

The thoughts overtook.

Emotions overwhelmed me.

Everything came crashing down.

My two arch enemies, depression and anxiety, took over.

Since my relapse, I’ve been pretty much on an emotional roller coaster ride – and my patient husband and innocent children have taken the brunt of it. I have been overbearing, paranoid, angry, impatient, irrational, and basically a pain to be around. But they have been constantly loving on me though I don’t deserve it.

I want to be better. I want to get better. For them. For myself.

So I’m trying to be better. Damn, I’m trying. No doubt I still have my bad days… But I’m trying.

Our Renovation Journey

It’s been a longtime dream of mine to write about building our home… And this dream is finally coming to fruition!

Caution: This post will be an extremely long one, as I have consolidated ALL information and photos here. Will probably work on a mini home tour post next, but we’ll see.

So we finally collected our keys after almost 3 years!

If anyone’s interested, here’s why we waited so long even though we bought our home via HDB’s SBF exercise:

26 May 2016. Applied for flat online.

12 Aug 2016. Got a ballot number of “210”. There were 378 flats on offer so we were in the queue.

21 Dec 2016. Selected our flat of choice.

24 May 2017. Signed the “Agreement of Lease” and paid 5% of flat value as downpayment.

28 Feb 2018. Collected keys, got our combined CPF wiped out, and got ourselves indebted to HDB for a long while!!!

Anyway, our search for an ID / contractor started from September 2017. We spoke to 8 people in all – 4 IDs and 4 contractors – and finally settled on engaging Uncle Alan at the recommendation of a church friend. He’s a contractor and the most experienced one of the lot.

After two rounds of minor defects checking, and several back and forths with our estate’s BSC, we were ready to put together our very first home.

We started renovation works on 20 April 2018, though the initial plan was to start a few days earlier on the 16th. We had a tight deadline to work with because we had to move in by end May as the lease on our storage unit was ending. Thankfully, Uncle Alan only needed 4 weeks to do up our home.

We engaged him as our main contractor to do the carpentry for our kitchen, MBR, and living room; as well as the electrical, plumbing and painting works. On the side, we had another subcontractor do the flooring for us; as well as hack the kitchen wall, flush the living room wall and make good both areas.

TIMELINE OF WORKS DONE

20 April – Kitchen half-wall hacked.

23 April – Concrete sink support constructed. Our sink is a double bowl stainless steel undermount sink from Rubine.

25 April – Tiles from Lian Seng Hin arrived. Likewise for the powder needed for cement screeding, as well as bags and bags of prepacked cement.

27 April – Cement screeding done, tiles stacked into the respective rooms, kitchen entrance reduced from 1.2m to 0.9m, and aircon system from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries installed.

30 April – Over the weekend, living and dining tiles were installed!

5 May – Aluminium grills installed. Living room wall flushed. Kitchen entrance made good. Selected carpentry laminates and paint colours together with Uncle Alan as well.

Kitchen + household shelter carpentry laminate: Wonderful Knit (code: SWL-6873-MT)

MBR carpentry laminate: Desert Pearl Oak (code: SWL-8302-T)

Nippon paint colour codes: Base – Whispering White (code: NPOW1001P) • Living / dining feature walls – Lush (code: NPBGG1605T) • Children’s / study feature walls – Sunlight (code: 1190) • MBR feature wall – Millenia (code: NPPB1444P)

7 MayCity Gas piping installed.

10 May – All paint work by Nippon completed! The first round of acid washing was also done.

18 May – Uni-Arm installed in matte black to match our decor. Moving plans finally settled too after one month of logistical planning with Kevin and Moving Star Express, the moving company that we engaged!

19 May – Finished packing at my parents’ place!

20 May – Our friend from Bangladesh, Arshad, helped us install our many many LED lights from Starworld Lighting, ceiling fans from Fanz, and wall fans from KDK.

23 May – Our helper, Anita, helped to wash the entire home.

24 May – Second round of washing! Our carpentry was finally constructed offsite and brought up to our home after a bit of delay.

25 May – The big move, which took 7 whole hours and 7 men (4 locations in total, and a total of 49 man hours); as well as the installation of carpentry! Amazing how we managed to survive the day with little to no sleep the night before. Thank You Jesus!!!

26 May – Kevin stayed overnight alone to complete the kids’ wardrobes and chest of drawers. Carpentry installation continued in the morning.

30 May – Our 585L Samsung fridge was finally delivered!

31 May – Almost a week after moving in, our kitchen countertop was installed, along with our semi-integrated hood and gas hob from Mayer, and our tap from Hansgrohe. So our sink was functional, but our hood and hob weren’t because our City Gas installation was only scheduled a week later. An oversight on our part, but no big deal.

4 June – Our alkaline water dispenser and air purifier from Novita were delivered! No more need to boil water because our machine can dispense hot, warm, and cold water yay.

7 June – Our half-leather sofa from Teck Seng Furniture crossed the causeway safely!

8 June – Second appointment with City Gas! First time cooking a meal on our stove via gas, instead of on our induction cooker via electricity. No more living like we were camping! Hahaha. Was really quite an experience surviving without a functional kitchen for two weeks.

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9 June – Tempered glass installation for kitchen and MBR toilet. Also, our dining table from Island Marble Works arrived!

12 June – Curtains from NST Curtains were installed. And. Our. Home. Is. Done!!!

Planning for our home began immediately right after my confinement ended in February. It has been one heck of a ride – with meetings after meetings to attend, and errands after errands to run. As we decided to engage a contractor instead of an ID, most of the liaising fell on our shoulders. With Kevin busy with work, and me busy with both kids plus attempting to recover from childbirth (I didn’t, and couldn’t, but more on that in future posts), managing so many things all at once was really really tough. Only by God’s grace and limitless provision did we get through this season of life with 2 young children to care for, and a family of 4 thriving (not just surviving) on a single income. We are forever grateful, and immensely thankful.

Valerie’s Surgery

My brave toddler went for surgery to remove an abscess from her left forearm just 11 days before her second birthday. Such a brave warrior!

The timeline went like this:

10 March: She gets bitten by a mosquito and starts to scratch the bite. The skin around the bite starts to thin and even bleeds a few times as she’d unconsciously scratch the bite at night.

15 March: We notice that the wound(s) where the bite was started to harden and swell up. Kevin even managed to drain a bit of pus from the area before dropping her off in school that day. When we picked her up, the area had already swelled up considerably – it was hard, red and felt warm to the touch. We rushed her to the GP that night and she was diagnosed with cellulitis and given Augmentin to fight off the bacteria infection.

18 March: The swell only got bigger, and harder. We decided to bring her to KKH A&E to get it checked out because it was worrying as the oral antibiotics we had been giving her religiously didn’t seem to be working. The doctors immediately suggested admission so that Valerie could be put on IV antibiotics as soon as possible. I then asked if there was any other oral antibiotic that we could try first because I wanted to avoid anything too invasive. The doctors agreed, but asked to mark out the swell so that we will know if it had grown, or not. So we left with another oral antibiotic (Cephalexin) that was seemingly stronger, and an appointment to see the specialist in two days.

20 March: The night before we were due to see the specialist, we had already decided to admit Valerie for surgery as the swell GREW despite changing antibiotics. The surgeons who saw her in the outpatient clinic agreed surgery was necessary too. And so with a heavy heart, we had to do what was necessary to rid our dear girl of this horrible bacteria infection.

This was how bad the swell was upon admission. Notice how the skin was stretched thin already due to the amount of pus in her arm.

(Bad photo because it was a really quick shot. I barely used my phone that day as I wanted to focus on her 100%.)

So the swell suddenly burst open while I was playing with her and sticky pus flowed out. Nurses didn’t do anything but cover it with gauze as she was due for surgery soon.

Napping before going down to the OT. She was scheduled to have surgery at 5pm but the porter came to take us down at 4pm.

After what seemed like an hour-long briefing that had me signing a gazillion forms, we were finally gowned up! So thankful I was able to accompany Valerie ALL the way until she was put under GA.

Note: Extremely impressed and immensely grateful for the compassion of KKH’s OT nurses who were not only a calming presence for my two-year-old, but for me too.

1. They were always smiling and cheerful, from the moment they greeted us, till I was wheeled up to the ward with her lying on me.

2. The waiting room we waited in for about 15 minutes while the OT was being prepped was a HUGE playroom. I did not expect this one bit, but Valerie waltzed in and made herself right at home. There were cars she could sit in, toys she could play with, and cartoons she could watch. She was so happy and relaxed! I started to relax too. (Thank you thank you thank you KKH, for being patient-centric.)

3. My first impression of the OT was it being a cold scary place. Heck, it was my very first time being in one! But the nurses were reassuring and played with Valerie while they were setting her up (she was sitting on my lap). They were even blowing bubbles at and with her! Then… She was slowly given the chocolate-scented GA mask and gently drifted off. The nurses carried her off me and I (reluctantly) left the OT.

My heart shattered, but I had to be strong and not breakdown.

I can’t begin to describe the worry and anxiety that almost suffocated me while she was in surgery. I could barely eat and my legs felt like led. I was drenched in cold sweat and trembled from head to toe. I only got through it with God’s supernatural strength. Thankfully, she was out in around 45 minutes.

Poor babe had difficulty waking up from the GA, though she tried her best. I sat there, all gowned up, rocking her and singing to her for about 1 hour post-surgery. In the end, I carried her and was wheeled up to the ward.

(Quick shot for memory’s sake.)

She was very groggy upon waking up. Drank a little milo, though she threw most of it up. Went back to sleep shortly after.

But after a 2 hour nap, she was back to her chirpy self and enjoyed (read: gobbled) the pandan chiffon mini cakes I bought for her from Prima Deli. Oh, how my heart sang with joy at seeing her be her cheeky self again!

21 March: My brave trooper was discharged from hospital after the first dressing of her wound!!

It was such a journey. But she walked out of the hospital with a testimony to tell of the goodness of God, and so do all of us. Praise God for His limitless strength and unconditional grace!

The Fourth Trimester

I’m not one to mince my words so I’d be honest: Life is so tough now.

The late-night feeds. The through-the-night feeds. The baby-refuses-to-latch feeds. The baby-struggles-at-boob feeds. And the baby-won’t-stop-crying-though-boob-in-mouth feeds.

You guessed it. I’m struggling with breastfeeding Isaac.

My supply is really good this time round, and I have more than enough milk for his needs. I have so much milk, in fact, that out of Valerie’s three milk feeds a day, two are of my milk (morning and night), while she takes formula in school after her afternoon nap on weekdays.

But as with all things, there’s the good, and there’s the bad. Good supply is what every breastfeeding mum dreams of, but for me, my good supply comes with extremely forceful letdown that causes Isaac to choke.

I know how strong my letdown can be because I observe my milk flow when I use my trusty Haakaa, and my milk SHOOTS out. Like a fountain. So I can imagine how Isaac feels when the milk suddenly sprays HARD towards the back of his throat. Of course, he’d get a shock and unlatch. Then he’d be upset that he unlatched and cry badly. Then I’d (quite) forcefully re-latch him and he’d be struggling. Rinse and repeat.

I spoke with Aunty Tok about this yesterday and she watched me breastfeed Isaac and the same thing happened. She came to the same conclusion I did – that my letdown was too strong for Isaac. I mentioned to her too, that I was honestly considering being an Exclusive Pumping (EP) mum, and asked for her thoughts because I value her opinion.

I’m currently still seriously considering the EP route. I mean – whatever works best for Isaac and I, right?

This was taken on Kevin’s 38th birthday. Isaac coincidentally turned 38 days old that same day too.

I’m posting this photo up because… Well, I need a reminder that his infantile stage, especially the fourth trimester (!!!), will pass before I know it. And though now it seems like things will never end, I will miss this phase when he goes into the next. (Oh, the irony of life.)

He is now sleeping on my chest after feeding. Such moments are far and few between, but these are the moments I treasure most. It’s during these moments that I feel him breathe, I feel him live. It’s during these moments that he is near and still enough to hear my heart beat, just like when he was still swimming around inside my womb.

He rarely is this still. He rarely is this quiet.

And this is another struggle of mine.

Isaac is a very light sleeper. He wakes up at the slightest noise or movement.

He constantly grunts – I think that’s just his way of babbling but it does get too much, at times.

He prefers to be carried, and cries to be cuddled. BUT it must be in HIS favourite position – the cradle.

Day in, day out; I’m either latching, pumping, or cuddling him. Just really thankful that I have extra hands to help me carry him when I need to pump, eat, shower, spend time with Valerie, or just take a y’know… BREAK.

Honestly, it’s tough. And I am struggling. There seems to be so much more to do now with two children completely dependant on you, though Valerie spends the most part of the day in school (thank GOD seriously).

Before I delivered, I was told that the BIGGEST transition any mother would have to go through would be going from ONE child to TWO children; and now I totally get it.

I’m a mess. I’m a complete mess. My children’s schedules are not in sync. My pumping schedule is chaos (I’ve gone nine hours without pumping before). I feel like I don’t even have proper time to eat, bathe, or even pee. I’m locked in the room with my boobs out half the time to milk my jugs… And I haven’t had a proper sleep in ages.

There are times when I feel like giving it all up. When I want to run away. When I want to just take care of my own needs again. When I want my body back to myself.

But then I think of life before I had my children, and as tough as it is now, I’ve truly never been happier.

So I’m pressing on, step by step. But man, it is hard.

First Outing As Four

One word: C. H. A. O. S.

But at least we survived, hey.

So the plan was for us to drop by IKEA to have lunch and to look at clothes and toy storage options for the kids’ room. Sounds simple enough, right? Not.

Here’s how our day went.

1020: Kevin and I jerked awake and went “crap” at the same time because we slept in when we weren’t supposed to. So many things to do, so little time – hello?

1200: Finally left home after feeding Isaac, pumping milk, getting him bathed and dressed, getting ourselves washed up and dressed for the day, eating a quick bite, packing the Anello and preparing both prams.

1230: Drove out of carpark after setting up the Doona for Isaac, putting the Fedora and Anello in the boot, and packing ourselves into the car.

1330: Arrive at IKEA Tampines after doing a detour to collect Valerie from my parents’ place as she spent the night with them. The car ride was interesting as I sat behind with both of them wanting my attention at the same time. Isaac wanted out of his car seat because he wanted to latch, while Valerie wanted to sleep on me. So I latched my son while being my daughter’s pillow. I’m immensely glad both children managed to fall asleep for the most part of the journey.

1400: Finally reached the IKEA restaurant for lunch as Kevin and I took a good 20 minutes to unpack everyone from the car. It was kind of like a circus, for lack of a better word. Imagine Kevin putting a sleeping toddler into her Fedora, removing the Doona and then strapping Isaac in while I get, uhm, myself in order and button up my dress. Meanwhile, Valerie wakes up and decides to wail while Isaac fusses as he’s not used to the pram. I started to feel overwhelmed but this was just the beginning…

1430: Started eating, finally. No food photos because who has time now seriously. I was just trying to prevent Valerie from rocking Isaac’s pram from her high chair.

1530: All four of us were done with lunch. (Yes, latched Isaac at the table too.)

1600: FINALLY (I’m using this word a lot hahahahaha) started our shopping trip after a half-hour trip to the nursing room which saw both kids changed and Isaac fed (again).

Going from this…

… To this took about two hours.

Those two hours consisted of a mini melt-down by my toddler, constant cries by my infant, and whining and more whining from both.

We are fortunate to have been able to purchase SOMETHING from the sale. At least it was not a wasted trip!

1930: We reached back to my parents’ place to drop Valerie off (she was due to stay another night) and where dinner awaited us.

2100: Kevin, Isaac and I reached home. I forced myself to take a quick shower and then pumped milk before feeding and changing Isaac. Turned on a movie (Pitch Perfect 3) and barely watched till the halfway mark before falling asleep.

But we survived. We survived our first trip out as a family of four! I’m proud of us. Things can only get better from here on out… Hopefully.