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.

The Truth About Birth

I decided to post this photo up because I want to be as real as possible – and well, this is as real as it gets. That was me on Isaac’s birth date, and I honestly wasn’t feeling my best. I felt sick (dizzy and nauseated), was exhausted (hadn’t slept in 2 days) and just wanted to pack up and go home. (But obviously couldn’t because there was a baby about to come out of me.)

“I can’t do this”, I thought to myself.

“Yes, you can”, I fought back.

My mind was tired. Everything was a blur. I didn’t even know what time it was or what day it was, even.

I just wanted for it all to be over.

“It’s been a really long time since I’ve felt ok.”

“I just want to eat again.”

“How did I survive a pregnancy once more?”

“Can you take off all these tubes and just let me go home, please.”

Thoughts like these were floating around in my head the entire seven hours I was in active labour. I didn’t even know what I was thinking of half the time.

And then Isaac arrived. After three pushes in nine minutes, he arrived.

He was here!!!

After all the pain and discomfort I went through, my rainbow baby has arrived. I should have been elated…

But I felt nothing. I was numb. I was too exhausted to even WANT to hold him and held him out of sheer obligation because the midwife insisted I do skin-to-skin with my newborn.

You see, no one told me this.

No one told me the truth about birth.

I went into the delivery suite expecting to come out a few kilograms lighter and with the new love of my life – my baby.

But I’ve given birth twice and that has never happened. Not the first time, and certainly not the second time round either.

No one tells you how the sheer anticipation of your little bundle of joy (and of course, labour itself) can completely wipe you out.

And no one tells you how grossed out you will feel after you shoot a baby out of your vagina.

The blood. The amniotic fluid. The placenta (that’s basically like a huge bloodied mass that weighs about 500g). Not to mention, having to put your legs up in the stirrups for a stranger to see you in all your (bloodied) glory AND have him/her stitch you up.

… Tell me now. How am I supposed to fall in love with my baby with all this going on? I barely even saw what he looked like because I could not keep my eyes open, anyway.

And honestly, I just wanted everyone to leave me alone. I wanted to be cleaned up as fast as humanly possible. I wanted to curl up into a ball and go to sleep.

Fast forward 12 hours and finally feeling somewhat human again.

Seeing this photo again brings back all types of feels because this was the moment I first held Isaac in my arms. This was the moment I saw his face (and thought – hey another photocopy of Kevin). This was the moment I vowed to protect him until he grew wings to set up his own nest away from ours. This was the moment I fell in love with my son, my little boy.