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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Car Seat Part 4

 
Well, The Little Girl got upgraded to this car seat booster somewhat "prematurely" when she hit her "I want to be just like you" milestone, meaning she wants to have car seat belts like the adults and not the 5 point harness of her Maxi Cosi Axiss. She grows up too fast!
 
To be be fair, she was tall and heavy enough, and had understood the need to stay belted in during car trips, not to undo the buckles unless we do it for her, etc. So much explanation from The Other Half and I, so much adorable head nodding from The Little Girl.
 
So far, so good. This Combi Buon Junior has been on many return trips to the playschool, shopping malls, parks etc. without much drama on a good day.

Car Seat Part 3


When The Little Girl turned 9 months old and was too big for her rear facing Maxi Cosi Cabriofix, we upgraded her to this wonderful car seat.
 
IMHO, the 90 degrees turn feature is the sole deciding factor for my purchase. It saves my back when lifting The Little Girl in and out of her car seat, and on days when she was busy having a terrible twos tantrum/meltdown, being able to see her face to face to belt her in safely helped cut down soothing time especially at hot and humid shopping mall car parks (have you any idea how strongly she can protest/cry/kick/twist/turn all at the same time?!).

In fact, we all love it so much, we got another Maxi Cosi Axiss in red cover for the other car.
 
Honestly, this Maxi Cosi Axiss seat is so kind on our backs that when we got our rental car for use in Yorkshire, UK, we got a brand new piece in total black cover to fix into the rental car. At the end of our holiday, we used this seat to replace the old Britax her cousins had been using. Tilts easily, rotates smoothly, and conforms with international standard for safety (but for some reason not in New South Wales, Australia - we asked for this particular car seat on another holiday and were denied!).
 
My conclusion: This is 100% a keeper for us to hand-down to The Little Bean!

Pregnancy Distractions

I find ways to distract myself when going through an especially tough bout of nausea and vomiting, when I happen to be home. One of the ways to easily distract myself is to watch TV for an hour or so when I am not busy with The Little Girl.
 
During my first pregnancy, I watched and enjoyed re-watching series and programmes like The Sopranos, Prison Break, Life, Castle and Hayao Miyazaki animated movies. Well, The Little Girl turns out to be quite impatient, hot tempered, sometimes an escape artist and cute all within her special personality.
 
So people (including my ob-gyn) tell me not to compare pregnancies as each one is different...how true, save for the nausea and vomiting part in my case!
 
This second time round, I seem to have been hit by the K-Drama fever in terms of distraction entertainment choice. I have enjoyed and still enjoy drama series such as Seoyeong, My Daughter, Ohlala Couple, Love My Love TV Novella and Big. Now I pray The Little Bean will not be melodramatic and tearful but sweet, polite and beautiful as some of the characters on screen.
 
How do you distract/entertain yourself during pregnancy? Do share! 
Sunday, 23 December 2012

Second Pregnancy: Tandem Nursing

Breast is best, inarguably.
 
Formula milk is not poison either but it did scare me a lot (recall horrific, tainted, toxic, harmful and deadly ones from China as seen in news?).
 
When I was pregnant with The Little Girl back in 2009/10, I used to pray to Allah for her rezeki, for constant and stable breastmilk supply, my patience in enduring the journey and challenges as a new nursing mother, guidance to come from the right and informed sources, unconditional support from The Other Half and to remove unforeseen obstacles.
 
(I suspect you must be thinking by now that Hampshire Mummy prays long, detailed prayers!)
 
This time, I pray the same. Add an extra caveat.
 
I pray for the ability to tandem nurse, as well as rezeki for both The Little Girl and The Little Bean.
 
I recently did a simple research online and read some real experience of mothers who tandem nurse successfully - and my conclusion is that I will need a lot of stamina to maneuvre a toddler and a newborn, develop stronger arms, find more comfortable and bigger armchair or daybed for nursing, drink even more longan and red date tea, limit the toddler to bedtime feeds only, find new ways to distract the toddler in the unfortunate event that tandem nursing is not working out, who goes first when etc. Sounds like "circus management" to me already.
 
**Shivers**
 
However, the encouraging conclusion shared by most tandem nursing mothers is this: The mother-children-sibling bonding is precious.
 
That, to me, is important in building family rapport (read: teamwork).
 
At this point, due to lack of first hand experience, I am honestly quite intimidated. That is not a good vibe to start with so I must arm myself with more knowledge and mentally fortify myself.
 
The only good start to tandem nursing so far is nursing during pregnancy. The Little Girl is beginning to show concern for my comfort when nursing her, adjusting her posture so as to avoid hurting me or The Little Bean and gently caressing my lower abdomen so as to "sayang adik". Precious!

My ob-gyn is aware of my nursing during pregnancy and has prescribed Pramilet, Nerogain PB and folic acid to cope with the increased demand on my petite body.
 
So, do wish me all the best and keep me in your prayers too as I embark on this somewhat magical journey. I will be needing all the support and well wishes!
 
Insya Allah, He answers prayers.
 
Amin

Happy Dong Zhi, Blessed Christmas & Happy 2013!

We would like to wish all our friends and readers a very (belated) Happy Dong Zhi celebrated on 21 December, and a joyous blessed Christmas this 25 December.
 
Happy holidays, travel safely and may your holidays be filled with much love and beautiful memories.
 
Have a wonderful 2013 too!

Second Pregnancy: Showing Earlier

So yes, I am at Week 13, and already showing.
 
Science explains this as stretched out abdominal walls muscles, being lax from previous pregnancy, and hence not able to hide any abdominal distention, bloating or constipation.
 
So all that bulge is not baby but my fat/parts inside? Haha. Sad, but true.
 
My pants are now maternity pants, my size 8 tops make the middle section "bulge" suggesting pregnancy but here is the thing: I am clinging on to my tent-y size 8 tops for as long as possible before upgrading to drab looking maternity tops.
 
You see, hormones have a way of altering my taste in colour and patterns so I am going to buy only once this settles down a bit. Everything I see on the racks at the shop and photos online right now are just not attractive. While this is good for the bank account and wallet, it is a little stressful on the laundry basket, ironing rack and wardrobe because I rotate on just a few tops.
 
In comparison, during my first pregnancy, I did not show until 20 weeks along. So for the first 20 weeks, I just looked like I ate too much and had a "pouch". Oh boy, was I well prepared when it came to maternity clothing! First time nerves...I reckon.
 
When will I go shopping again this time? Hmmh.

Second Pregnancy: Vivid Dreams

I used to get emotionally disturbing dreams in my first pregnancy. Emotionally disturbing because the recurring common theme was this: abandonment. 
 
Now that this is my second pregnancy at week 13, I am praying for better dreams. Or at least those that do not leave me in tears in my sleep.
 
So far, it is manageable. I am usually awakened by cough (from the thick saliva accumulation at the throat), full bladder, backache, or occasional cramps.
 
More often than not, The Little Girl wakes me up in the middle of my dreams, requesting for midnight snack on the boobs.  
 
Experience tells me that the more advance the pregnancy, the more vivid the dreams get. I will keep an eye on this and update as we go along this gestation journey!

An update: Taking wuduq before sleeping, reciting some Surah and prayers help in peaceful slumber.

Second Pregnancy: Cravings List

Favourite food = food that I enjoy eating, can live without and not obsess over if not available.
 
That is not the focus of this post.
 
Craving = food that I cannot stop thinking about even after eating something else, cannot sleep because I think about how to obtain it for the next meal if possible, often comes from a particular kitchen or restaurant, gather enough courage to ask The Other Half or The Grandparents to buy them for me if I am too sickly to drive and buy it myself.
 
So here you go, my top 3 cravings:
 
1. Sambal udang with petai, served with steaming warm white rice, from Madam Kwan's. Similar to the first pregnancy food craving. You'd think all that chilli and spice will make me sick?
Nope! Side note: Halal certificate and sticker is visible on site at the restaurant, but the menu lists beer (alcoholic drink) as available. What is up with that? Does anyone know how JAKIM allows this somewhat confusing status? Tawakal, lah! I doubt the kitchen has alcohol because the drinks counter is separate, and the beer they sell is bottled, not draught. Hmmh...still!

2. Organic Har Po Ley Cha Rice, from Simple Life at Suria KLCC or Oasis Mid Valley Megamall. Full of full grain brown rice, barley, variety of vegetables and tofu. A lunch staple. Totally the opposite of #1 above in terms of taste and texture. A close replacement would be bibimbap without the raw egg.

3. Pomelo, from MBG/Cold Storage/Isetan. Grown in Ipoh Tambun variety is my favourite, being sweeter and juicier. Yums! Milder than oranges and grapefruits, laden with folate and fibres.

What's yours? Do share, especially if they are of the pickles with ice-cream sort *hehe*
Monday, 17 December 2012

Second Pregnancy: Week 5

I saw Dr. Haris Hamzah at Sime Darby Subang Medical Centre on 3 November 2012 for a pregnancy confirmation ultrasound scan. I saw The Little Bean, a gestation sac, measuring 13.7mm. So tiny!
Instead of prescribing Obimin, Dr. Haris Hamzah handed out a slip for Pharmaton Matruelle this time.
As soon as the appointment was over, I went to pick up The Other Half and The Little Girl from Empire Shopping Gallery where I had earlier deposited them to save the Little Girl from boredom of waiting room at the crowded hospital.
We went for lunch at a seafood restaurant near the old Subang Airport. The Little Girl refused to eat much after snacking all morning and I was nauseated from walking under the hot sun to the car after lunch. I guess The Other Half was also "sick" from over-indulgence of butter prawns and stir fried brocolli!
So home we came. Diligently, I popped one table of Pharmaton Matruelle after lunch. Oh,how  I reacted pretty badly to Pharmaton Matruelle! Vomiting a few minutes from swallowing it became a routine I quickly grow to detest. So I skipped Pharmaton Matruelle and went back to popping Obimin. No difference! The body just reacts to such supplements, and I had to choose between keeping my lunch down, or vomiting right after taking my supplements. Eventually, I chose to keep my lunch down, as I was getting dehydrated from vomiting.
Some SOS text messages to an ex-classmate who is now a mother of 2 revealed that perhaps I can try asking for Pramilet, as she had taken it with better staying power compared to the former two. Oh, yes! I will try, and hope it works...
Disclaimer: My experience with Pharmaton Matruelle, Obimin and Pramilet are in no way any endorsement/product discredit but merely stating my personal bodily reaction to each. Please consult your ob-gyn for making informed decision. You deserve the best care and supplements possible.

Update as of Week 16: Pramilet seems to agree with me, and I will continue this supplement.

Second Pregnancy: Week 12

"If this is not your first pregnancy, you might begin to show this week, but just a bit, meaning your clothes might feel snug at the waist. This is because the uterus stretches more easily after your first pregnancy.", excerpt taken from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

Oh, how true! I cannot fit into my usual size 8 pants, and have outgrown the ones with slightly more elastic waistbands too. I had them put away for storage for now. Maybe I will see them again in a year or so.

The good news is that I have located Mothers Club outlet in MidValley Megamall (hurrah- the sale is on!) and bought several pairs of essentials (long black pants, long camel coloured pants, denim pants, cotton shorts for staying at home).

Common features: Cotton, wide pregnancy tummy covers that do not sit on the uterus/fundus, adjustable waistbands, machine washable, some even tumble dry-able, good quality, made in Hong Kong pants. What a lovely find!

The highlight of the beginning of week 12 must be this: We saw Dr. Paul Tay on Friday, 14 December 2012. The Little Bean now measures CRL: 5.55 cm, spot on 12 weeks, 156 heartbeats per minute and was jumping up and down during the ultrasound scan. The Other Half was very pleased to "meet" the baby for the first time.

I was given a Maternal Serum Screening. We are very pleased to find that "Low Risk" marked for Down's, Edward's and Patau's Syndromes.

Note: The Little Girl was at home with The Grandparents who had so kindly babysat so that we could just enjoy the precious moment.

Syukur alhamdulillah! May Allah continue to bless and protect The Little Bean.

Amin!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Second Pregnancy: Two Blue Lines II



Well, not exactly blue in the photo above, but if you keep reading, you will find the vague blue lines eventually.

How did it all start?

Eidulfitr. In Yorkshire, England.

Almost every person we met at the family gathering to open house asked if were expecting another sibling for The Little Girl soon (do they realise the cost of decent education these days?).

Then the bug caught on.

Relatives in Malaysia also started asking when we celebrated Syawal month for family gathering.

My MIL started asking and hinting the same until one fine day, she gave up and resigned to the fact that we were seriously considering the single child policy.

However, Allah certainly has a way of softening our hearts and removing obstacles.

One night after The Little Girl had gone to bed, The Other Half and I were performing our solat isya at home, with The Other Half as imam. At the end of the solat, we each said our supplications.

I was so moved that night. I prayed for Allah to send us His blessings and gift when He thinks we are ready to serve Him in raising one more child. A sibling for The Little Girl. So that they may have each other to lean on, in learning to love and worship Him.

The Other Half saw me crying after the supplications but did not ask for details, as I am usually in tears if given time to unload all my burden, hopes and fears.

So we left it at that and watched DVDs together in our attempt of home movie night.

Eiduladha arrived, our zakat were paid, sacrifices were offered and we celebrated with a little Thai lunch feast at The Curve.

The next day, we woke up on 27 October 2012 with unprecedented excitement. I do not know why, but we were all brimming with happiness and positive vibes after a very good sleep the night before.

So off I leapt, to the bathroom, for my morning habit when one of the home pregnancy test kits were ripped off its packaging.

One minute later, I called out to The Other Half.

"Yes, darling?" was his response. Standard response. Cool, calm, collected.

So different from a few minutes later.

We were celebrating, laughing, jumping on the bed, thrilled, silly, crazy, giddy after I said, "We are pregnant!"

The Little Girl was there too, so we explained how she is going to be an elder sister. She immediately responded," I want (a) mei mei, Mummy!" to which we had to further explain that maybe, possibly, it may turn out to be di di. The Little Girl was alright with the explanation and went back to being happy. She had on earlier occasions requested for a mei mei to play with her dolls house etc.

As insurance, I took another test, which also turned out to be positive, much to our joy.

After that, we went about getting ready for a day out. All that was planned for the day was for The Other Half to take us out for lunch with his best friend, Uncle Tan, whom we have not met for some time.

While we were at Suria KLCC for breakfast, I bought a few more home pregnancy test kits, including a digital one with estimation of weeks since conception.

 

We then left Suria KLCC for lunch was at Bangsar Village II. I politely excused myself to use the ladies, but really my motive was to take the test with digital display just to be triple sure. The numbers 2-3 weeks showed up on the screen and I was thrilled once more.
 
We did not share this news with anyone for a few more days and basked in secret happiness.
 
Dreams of how The Little Girl is now going to be a loving and caring elder sister.
 
Dreams of how The Other Half is going to be a father of two.
 
Reality of how I am going to be a mother of two, tandem breastfeeding, and trying to cope with it all without a live-in-maid. Despite that somewhat "harsh" reality, deep inside me, at the bottom of my heart, I felt very blessed.

Oh, syukur alhamdulillah! The timing could not have been better. His timing is perfect, as always.
 
All we pray for right now is a safe pregnancy with safe delivery and recovery, healthy and perfectly formed baby who will grow up to be Allah fearing, and all possible obstacles to be removed by His will.

Amin!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Second Pregnancy: Overcoming Nausea

My least favourite part of pregnancy (so far) has to be nausea and vomitting.

During my first pregnancy, I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. It lasted 20 weeks. This time, only Allah knows.

My skin is the first sign of my body taking this beating. Dehydrated skin and flaking is common now despite the best skin care simply because I am losing much fluids. Slapping on barrier cream helps with my skin condition but really, if I can only keep the fluids in!

With The Little Girl to care for, I do not really have the luxury of dwelling on the nausea. Even when I am at the sink, vomitting, she sometimes cling on to my legs crying for attention (or maybe she thinks I am gross?).

The upside is when I am done, The Little Girl asks if I am alright.

If I need some medicine to feel better.

If I need to lie down.

If she can cuddle me to make me feel better.

*aww, she can be so sweet!*

Below are some of my little tricks on overcoming nausea (sometimes they work, sometimes they just don't but I sure hope they work for you):
 
1. Ginger tea
Morning Wellness Tea, flat ginger ale, warm water with a slice of ginger, teh tarik halia, warm ginger syrup. Tea interferes with iron absorption so be sure to keep it to the minimum, or do not drink it with a meal. Keep it for meal intervals when likely to feel nauseous.  
 
2. Small, frequent meals
6 or more small meals. Slightly inconvenient but at least the hunger pangs are kept at bay, bile is less likely to back up. That means breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, tea, dinner, and supper for me.
 
3. Less spicy food
A little hard for me considering that I also crave spicy foods occasionally, my Thai genes crying for the occasional seafood tom yum or mango/pomelo salad. Key: eat in moderation.
 
4. Avoid strong smells
No cooking, avoid walking past or through food courts and poorly ventilated food outlets, sit near the entrance of restaurants and not near the kitchen, avoid perfume counters and fresh pop corn/cookie stalls. Durian is a major no-no for me even on non-pregnant days. I even time my going out time not to clash with the time garbage is being cleared from my apartment floor.
 
5. Getting up slowly in the morning
Try waking up slowly and earlier than The Little Girl so as to avoid her morning buzz. Works only on days when The Other Half is home.
 
6. Avoid getting too warm
The Other Half and in-laws fetches me from mall entrances instead of making me walk in hot and humid car parks. Occasionally, my head veil is taken off when in the car in the beginning but it is so bad now that I am going out and about without my head veil! The humidity, heat and tight head veil just at my throat works like a magic vomit inducer for me. May Allah pardon my slacking. I promise to return to my head veil as soon as I can (because I feel naked without it, and hate having to style my hair).
 
7. Eat before getting hungry
Time meals just before the hunger pang sets in, also prevents bloating and acid reflux in my case. A small portion of fruits can help fill in the gaps for vitamins and minerals. Favourites include blueberries, bananas and pomelos.
 
8. Rest when I can
The best nausea combat tactic ever. The vomit is less when nausea is under control. Having the 32 month old toddler being cared for by her loving grandparents on some afternoons is a real luxury! I throw up less on days when they watch her while I nap.
 
9. Sip water
Not the gulp 250ml in one go but sip maybe 100 ml over a few minutes - think French chic, not athletes. Sliced lemon helps to remove the metallic taste. Chilled water beats warm water for now, contrary to Chinese/local customs and prohibitions.
 
10. Protein-rich snacks
Walnuts, almonds, cashews. Small doses mixed with some raisins/blueberries/dates. A handful is sufficient to ward off the angry bile.
 
Most of all, think positive! This is just a phase.

Heh, so I tell myself.

All the best in conquering yours! If you have extra tips, do share!

Some remarks about nausesa and vomiting that irk me because women who do and say this seem to forget about nourishing and growing the foetus the best they can or are just totally ignorant/have body image issues:
- Women throw up to avoid looking like watermelons.
- Best time to binge then bring it all up without getting fat.

Final note: It is not cool to hunt and haunt the Duchess of Cambridge about her hyperemesis gravidarum. Al Fatihah to the poor nurse who committed suicide over this matter. Hopefully the ongoing Royal Inquiry will shed some light on this matter.

 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Second Pregnancy: Fatigue

I am so exhausted in this second pregnancy and I am not hesitating to ask for help.

The Grandparents have been roped in. One afternoon while I was nursing The Little Girl and trying to put her down for a nap, I was struck by exhaustion and panic mode. I sent The Grandparents a text message, a SOS message. An "I-need-babysitter-pronto" message.

They are ever so kind and understanding, for which I am eternally thankful and grateful.

You see, this is the one week break at play school. The Little Girl has been going to a play school on weekdays from 9 am till noon, which gives me some shut eye time in the morning with The Little Bean instead of catching up with housework and cooking. On weekends, we sort of rough it out when The Other Half has to work.

Not this week! She is home 24/7 and I just cannot cope.

Yes, I am lame.

But wait!

Thank God for The Grandparents! I send The Little Girl to their flat upstairs after breakfast at about 9 am and I only see her at lunch for a bit at noon. I sleep as much as I can, whenever I am not sick at the sink while she is playing and spending quality time with The Grandparents! From noon till dinner time, I repeat the sleep or sick cycle, as The Little Girl resumes her fun day out with The Grandparents or something cool like that.

As much as I miss The Little Girl, I console myself that I must take care of myself too.
 
*Insert Mummy guilt aplenty here*

We then all have dinner together, after which we come home downstairs for her evening bath, change of pajamas, settle into story time and cuddle (breastfeeding!) before calling it a night.

Truth: I do not do much but I am so tired from nausea and vomit!

Truth: I miss The Little Girl very much, although I know she is in very good hands.

So there, it is working out for a couple of days. Then The Other Half will be off work and take over the challenge of keeping The Little Girl clean, fed, entertained, learning and happy. Plus tackle the laundry and ironing - no easy feat.

Does she miss me in return? You bet!



Happy Blessed Diwali

We would like to wish all our Hindu friends and readers a very happy, blessed Diwali.
 
Ignore the following paragraphs/read at your own peril:
 
*My mummy ramble mode on*
 
Travel safely, keep to the speed limits and follow the rules. Do not put your hazard lights on in a thunderstorm (hazard lights are meant for stationary stalled vehicles). Indicate your next manouver.
 
Turn your home gas supply off, cancel the newspaper deliveries and place the timer lights on. Set up a neighbourhood watch and do not rely 100% on your gated community guards for safety.
 
Most of all, be polite and gracious to your hosts when visiting or attending an open house party. Greet your hosts when you arrive, and thank them for having you before you leave.

Do not debate on religion/politics with complete strangers (guests of the host) - start with the weather, will you? Now that we are experiencing global climatic changes, there should be more than enough to talk about to last you one major session of capati and vindaloo buffet binge. 
 
*My mummy ramble mode off*
 
Happy blessed Diwali! Enjoy your holidays.
 
Note: No muruku and spicy food for me this Diwali - these delicious treats don't seem to agree with my first trimester, as evident from the post-treats nausea and vomit last evening. Boo hoo!

Second Pregnancy: Toothpaste for Pregnant Women

My sense of smell and taste in both the first and second pregnancies can be summed up as overly sensitive. Before you think I am being overly dramatic, there is a scientific explanation for this.

*smile*
 
I went from my usual modus operandi of brushing with toothpaste after waking up, after every meal and before sleep to throwing up at the mere whiff of mint toothpaste!
 
I did try fruity toothpaste in the first pregnancy but have yet to venture that way this time, simply for fear of throwing up at the supermarket aisle. Yesterday, I got as far as the entrance to Isetan KLCC supermarket before the nausea stopped me in my tracks.
 
Do you have any suitable toothpaste for pregnant women to recommend? Please share!

An update: Toothpaste with kayu sugi is not too unpleasant, as there is hardly any strong mint scent. I managed to brush my teeth without too much gagging and vomitting the last few days (11 weeks of gestation).
Friday, 2 November 2012

Second Pregnancy: Sleepless in the City 2

In my first trimester when I was carrying The Little Girl, I used to feel nauseous, so nauseous it kept me up all night reading the Al-Qur'an and solving crossword puzzles while snacking on almond biscotti and sipping ginger tea.

This time, I am so exhausted from caring for The Little Girl all day long once she returns from playschool at noon that I would konk out with her at her bedtime, at about 8.30 p.m. daily.

Only to be awakened after a few hours in the wee hours of the morning either from breastfeeding The Little Girl or trying to suppress heartburn or nausea from The Little Bean.

The upside? Lots of ironing gets done!

*big satisfied grin from looking at neatly empty laundry basket*
Monday, 29 October 2012

Car Seat Part 2

 
Maxi Cosi Cabriofix and Quinny Zapp combo travel set for daily use 
We went to Langkawi by MAS flight and had the components checked as stroller (parted at the boarding gate, retrieved at the arrival aerobridge). The flight attendants must have been ever so gentle with the entire set because it came out unscratched, wheels all still aligned.
What we liked most was the fact that the infant insert was snug enough to keep The Little Girl warm and comfortable. It sure helped with colic reduction in our case.

The second best feature would be the small footprint of the frame when folded and placed into my car boot. The BMW 118i sure has a relatively small boot size so every inch is precious.
Another plus point would be the wheels of the Quinny frame. They are quiet and smooth, especially at shopping malls. In fact, they were specifically designed for such indoor use. However, the wheels were rugged enough for our early morning or evening strolls at the well padded walkways and jogging paths at KLCC Park (Quinny has outdoor jogger models, if you are a serious jogger/runner, and may want to consider such specifically designed models). 
The fabric material is washable, and we did wash it several times. Though easy to handwash, removing and replacing such a snug fitting, taut material into tiny hooks was a bit tough. Be sure to turn the cooling system on when replacing after a wash, as I perspired so much trying to fit it all back perfectly!
What we did not like however, was the stage when The Little Girl was too big for the "carrier basket" and too small to sit up properly in the Quinny Zapp at around 9 months old. We switched to a different stroller for her at that age, and donated this car seat/stroller set to a friend who was then expecting a boy.
Verdict: Happy baby = happy parents! Decent value for money, for 9 months.

We like this Quinny frame so much we are considering it for the second time but with the MaxiCosi Pebble seat and Family Fix. Will keep you posted!

Second Pregnancy: Sleepless in the City

We were rudely awakened at midnight of 29 October 2012 from hearing a loud thud.

Much to our horror, The Little Girl had fallen  her toddler bed onto the hard timber flooring. She must have rolled over the side protection bars as well as over the side pillows!

Like a thunderbolt, I jumped from my side of the bed to the ground where she landed in matters of seconds. Thankfully, I managed to catch her in my arms before her first wail to cushion her shock and pain.
 
Quickly, we turned on the bathroom lights to inspect for any cuts (none, thankfully!). The Other Half and I then dashed out to the kitchen for the omnipresent ice pack in the freezer (you can guess we took this very useful piece of advice from his parents very seriously). The ice pack was immediately placed it over her head to reduce any possible swelling.

After we had placed ice pack over her pain sites, she calmed down enough to ask to nurse...she then drifted back to slumber and is now happily snoring in dreamland while I remain watchful, just in case she throws up.

This is also my first night of heartburn too...and it is tough to go back to sleep so I am hoping the cup of milk and one cup of blueberries will help (so will blog-hopping and reading, judging from experience).

Perfect time to re-read Surah Ar-Maryam, so toodles, peeps!
 
An update: No swells, no bruises. Thank you, Mr Ice Pack!
Saturday, 27 October 2012

Second Pregnancy: Hadiah

We received an indicator of His Gift this morning, on 27 October 2012. JazakAllah, subhanaAllah, alhamdulillah!!

Cautiously, since this is a new gift, we will wait a few more weeks to see if it is here to grow before we make big plans.

As for now, our hearts are bursting with joy, humility and so much love...
 
Note: We are off to see Dr. Seri Suniza Sufian at Prince Court Medical Centre on 17 January 2013! Until then we will be seeing Dr. Haris Hamzah at Sime Darby Subang Medical Centre.

An update: One ER incident results in me now seeing Dr. Paul Tay at Prince Court Medical Centre. So far, so good. We are happy with this arrangement.
 


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Faith Wishlist

Another new Hijrah year is fast approaching.

Time of the year to reflect and count our blessings.

What is on your faith wishlist?
 
What do you wish to learn, or practice in your faith journey towards God?
 
Mine is quite simple, and if I may share this list with you (even better if some of you can share and guide me along, much appreciated!):
 
1. Re-attend sekolah pondok for fardhu ain classes. Solat remains one of my biggest struggles, On a lighter note: I trip over my prayer robes much less now but is still not fluent in my solat recitation. Supplications in English is not a problem though.
 
Fardhu ain (individual duty) means the responsibility of each individual - shahadah, prayer, fasting, zakat, hajj, etc. while fardhu kifayah (collective duty) means the responsibility of the whole community.
 
2. Learn to read Arabic so that I can read the Al-Quran in Arabic, with its original text and context.
 
Surah 96 Ayat 1 to 5 which is the first revelation in the Al-Quran states, "Read: In the name of your Lord who creates, creates man from a clot. And your Lord is the most bounteous, Who teaches by the pen, teaches man that which he knew not."
 
3. Re-read and re-complete the English translation of the Al-Quran with full comprehension for better and refreshed understanding. 
 
Hmmh, simple wishlist but seemingly tough to achieve. I'd better get started, for it is so true in Surah 20 Ayat 114: "Oh my Lord! Grant me increase in knowledge."

Amin!

Fellowship Breakfast

I am thrilled to have arranged my very first "sisterhood in Islam breakfast meet" with another Muslim revert mummy from The Other Girl's playschool. InsyaAllah, I will be able to share common topics with someone quite similar to myself and not selfishly conquer the mental chatter all to myself!
 
Honestly, I miss the concept of strong fellowship within a cellgroup of my former Christian community. Sure hope to keep the good practice going (and yes, the topics would be Islam-centric this time). Afterall, as "young" Muslimahs, we have our fair share of struggles too!
 
May Allah s.w.t. guide us along, and bless us with not just food on the table but fodder for the soul, Amin

EidulAdha

Selamat Hari Raya Haji (and happy holidays) to all friends and readers. May Allah s.w.t. accept our ibadah this year, Amin!
 
If you are just enjoying the holidays and will be making road trips, keep within the speed limits and stay safe (lock your house, activate the alarm, cancel your newspaper deliveries, turn off the gas meter, turn off all heaters, put the timer on, the works!). May your holidays and time with loved ones be memorable. Isn't it lovely that we get the day off as a public holiday?
 
As a practice in my family, we do not "celebrate" in the "worldly feasting" sense, but more as an observation, mark of respect and reflection upon the sacrifice and journey of hajj. Instead of donning new clothes and eating rendang, we try to offer some donation and sacrifice, perform some prayers and generally spend time with family members. This is not to say we are any less happy than the first day of Syawal, in fact quite the contrary.
 
How about you? How do you "celebrate" your EidulAdha? Do share!
Monday, 8 October 2012

Al-Fatihah: Rosanna Foong

How do friendships come to an end? How do you really say goodbye?
From my old blog, and deserves a post here because I just miss R so much.
"The first most depressing post in my blog was about the suicide of a lady from the corner unit of 10th floor on Deepavali 2007. I did not know the late neighbour but do pray for her eternal rest in peace.

This is going to be second most depressing post in my blog. The suicide of a another lady from the corner unit of 8th floor was so difficult for me accept because I was her neighbour and friend. I also knew her young daughter of 7 years old. Her Danish spouse-to-be. Her mother.

I knew about her long and difficult relationship with her Danish spouse-to-be. I have tried mending one of their many fights once and left it at that for fear of being dragged into their affairs.

My last breakfast with her was casual after she helped to send me to the clinic when I was taken ill. Somehow, I did not take her remark of "how nice the lady on the 10th floor just jumped and that's the end of her problems" to heart when we caught up with news of the small community we live in over our bites of roti canai cups of teh tarik.

Outwardly, her life seemed to be going so well. Her daughter was being educated in a private school near by and the Danish spouse-to-be just bought and extensively renovated another bigger unit on the 10th floor for their comfort.

That breakfast was to be the last time I ever saw her.

The news came to me via M,my ex, whom I had refused to speak to since our painful break-up because I needed the space and time to heal. He broke the news to me via Skype as soon as I refused to pick up the phone call (I have since blocked M from my Skype too to avoid being bombarded by his other news) a few minutes just before the Christmas party at Toxic Office in 2008.

I was shocked into silence. M had found out from one of his friends, Annie. Annie and the lady from the 8th floor had a series of nasty arguments and fights involving complaints to the town council, police reports and suits over Annie's ferocious and noisy dog just across the condo block. That day, my colleagues wrongfully thought that I was not being participative in the office Christmas party when in fact I could not break the news to them.

Not knowing how to deal with the loss, I said goodbye by deleting the late neighbour from 8th floor by removing her from my Multiply and Facebook. I did not know how else to say goodbye. Z prayed for her when I asked him to, that evening itself. Z also prayed for our protection and peace.

Why did she jump that fateful day? Did she not think of the consequence on her 7 year old daughter's life? Did her Danish spouse-to-be drain her of every last drop of love, commitment and devotion that she had? Did she not see the beautiful life she had? Did she not fear or feel the love of God?

I only have questions that will never be answered. So as I say goodbye to Homey now, I also bid farewell to my late 8th floor neighbour. It has taken me a long period before I am able to blog about this incident.

**Goodbye, Rosanna. Rest in peace and God bless you always. I am sorry I was busy working when maybe at that critical point all you needed was for a friend to listen/share. Al-Fatihah, my dearest.**

Bachelorette Pad

One of the things I did when I turned SAHM was to sell my bachelorette pad.
 
"After 5 years of being a loyal bachelorette's pad, it is now time to bid adieu to Homey and welcome Mr. Long into his new home. Mr. Long is the son of the current immediate neighbour so he will be really close to his parents. Literally one door away. Or none - if he chooses to break down the wall in the hall that can connect the two units.
The sale of Homey also solves the Musical Houses Game/Puzzle that The Other Half and I have been playing since we got married. After a couple of months of the Game/Puzzle, we came to realise that Homey is unoccupied for most of the time, slightly neglected and slowly becoming a financial liability (especially after deciding that I do not want to be a landlord).
I will be taking the sweet memories with me and leave the sad ones behind as I slowly pack and choose personal belongings to take to my new home(s). The Other Half has some really sweet memories of Homey, as do some of my closest friends who visited from near and far.
Off to my new home(s) with the hope of making new happy memories in them. For a start, MIL is already making plans of buying me new larger wardrobes *heart*!"
 
After 3 years, I must confess that I only think of the bachelorette pad on rare occasions, and thankful that I have saved myself from possibly pesky tenants.
 
What about you? Did you sell or rent out your bachelorette pad? Did you renovate it to become a family pad instead?

Food Grafitti


My MIL did this *smirk*

Blooming Curry Leaf Plant


Since moving to The Apartment, my potted plants have filled the two balconies that we have to the brim. It looks a bit like a mini tropical/herbal "jungle" in the middle of the city, stark contrast to the concrete and glass everywhere.

My MIL have helped to prune some of them into discipline, added fertilisers and constantly remind me to water them as soon as we arrive "home" from The House. Honestly, since getting pregnant and slightly clumsy, I have cut down on my gardening time considerably and delegating slippery/watering/washing tasks to Z since my PIL do not approve of me taking "risks".

On weekends when it is not too noisy or dusty, we keep the balcony doors open to air The Apartment. Today, a whiff of fresh curry leaves filled The Apartment with refreshing scent, nothing like deliciously cooked curry sort though. I went to the balcony and discovered the blooms!

What a pleasant surpise indeed, as I have never seen curry leaf plant blooms before. Looks like my green thumb has not really deserted me afterall. Luckily, the blooms come during my second trimester or else I would have reacted adversely to the smell in my first trimester.

**Until the next bloom, let me know if you want any fresh curry leaves for your dishes.**

His Beautiful Creation


 
The year end monsoon arrived on time in 2009. This spray of lilac and lavender blooms filled the pergola at The House much to the joy of everyone at home. The colours remind us all of the July 2009 wedding we had celebrated.
 
Please comment on the name of this plant if you happen to know. Thanks!

The First Gift

I had the first challenge of looking for the right present for the woman who already has everything - Z's mother - when I was invited "home" for dinner on Chinese New Year Eve on 24 January 2009.

I had to get her something extraordinary and really did not know what to make/cook/buy.


When I saw this pot of orchid, I fell in love with it and hoped she would like the simple gift. Dinner went well, she liked the gift and you all already know the rest of the (hi)story.

Guess what? The same pot of orchid is still flowering to this day!

What did you bring as a first gift to your significant other's parents? Do share!

Ages Ago

Here is an entry made in 2006 from my previous blog at Multiply. It sums up what I don't miss about working in an office.

"Office politics at my work place is pretty negative these days. I came back from my much needed holidays only to find that things have escalated during my absence to an uncontrollable level.

From managers yelling at other managers with swear words to having to formally calling a meeting for all managers just to thrash things out...hostility at work has never been at this scale and drama. Not even in my practice days. Inconceivable!

There are positive office politics and there are negative politics. The stakes are high no matter which way it falls.

Usually in positive office politics, people fight to get better cases, better perks, better pay and better relationship. Anything *better*. However, in the past 2 weeks, all I have seen in negative office politics includes and not limited to bickering, fighting, backstabbing, witch hunting and simply everything *evil*.

As a bystander, I know certain parties are looking to buy my vote. If I take sides, I am bad. If I remain neutral, I am even worse than bad.

I've had enough, now let's just all go back to work. Please? Some of us have deadlines..."

Alhamdullillah this phase is over for me!
Friday, 5 October 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Preparations & Prayers

I had pretty long working hours during Toxic Office days.
The hectic and heavy workload coupled with frequent travelling left my body with long cycles of menstruation ranging from 80 to 120 days in the period of 18 months I served at Toxic Office.
 
Z and I thought that that factor alone was sufficient to give us conception problems.
About 3 months before we got married, we went to Dr Ling (my regular general practitioner for about 12 years now) for a general screen. We wanted complete innoculation, vaccination, booster shots - the works. We even had the routine blood and urine tests carried out. Sangobion was prescribed once daily as supplements to prepare my body for eventual conception.
So, the coast was clear. Or so it seemed.
We got married.
We went for a short honeymoon at Cameron Highlands to avoid the A(H1N1).
We came home.
On 31 July 2009, I tried the home pregnancy test and the results were negative. Honestly, I felt sad looking at the single blue line. I shared with Z how we have to pray to Allah for His blessings if we want a present.
We started praying...
 
Retrospective Wisdom: "Do men think that they will be left alone by saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested? Indeed, we surely tested those before them so that Allah may know those who were truthful to their covenant and those that lied. [Quran 29: 2-3]

Two Blue Lines I

 
On 10 August 2009, Annie Yin and I went to Chakri Palace at KLCC after working hours for a light meal of tom yum soup and phad thai. I thanked her for attending our wedding reception in July, she shared how she loved the food and band.

When we finished, it was beginning to drizzle lightly. Annie made an impromptu and kind gesture of walking me home from KLCC to The Corinthian, and she continued her short walk to the LRT station near by to get back to where her car was parked.
Disappointed from the negative test results on 31 July 2009, encouraged by Annie's sisterly remark about not giving up and maybe even simply curious about how bloated I was after a light meal, I pulled out one home pregnancy test kit from its wrapper.
Instructions were followed to the T.
One line emerged.
Then another clear blue line.
I could not believe my eyes!
I rushed to the drawer in the master bedroom, unwrapped another home pregnancy test kit of a different brand and repeated the process.
Two blue lines!
My heart raced, I was flushed pink and waited somewhat patiently for Z to come home that night as I did not want him to hear it over the phone.

Just to be really sure, I repeated the same test with a third brand of home pregnancy test kit.
Two purple lines!
Excitedly, when Z arrived home, I "burst" in joy.
The "new Daddy in making" too, was overjoyed and said "Alhamdulillah!" That night, our Isyak prayers and thanksgiving was full of gratitude of how Allah has really transformed us from a married couple into a mini family in the making.
Allahu-akbar!
Wednesday, 3 October 2012

How I became SAHM

My efficient headhunters wrote asking if I were interested in a contract administration position for the oil and gas industry last week.
Such a boost to my SAHM/WAHM ego, I admit.
Thank you for making my day, LegalLabs! Having met the founder before, I totally respect the awe inspiring choices she had made to balance motherhood and work.
Being marketable and in touch with the legal and commercial faternity of oil and gas is just so vital just in case I decide to return to work full time, someday, if it is Allah's will.
For now, The Little Girl gets my undivided attention (read: milk supply, friend, cook, driver, cleaner, doctor, etc.).

This is my account of how it all changed. From career to home-maker, nearly overnight:

The same week that I tested positive with hCG, I drove to Malacca for a work related meeting. When I arrived that morning at ten, I discovered some light bleeding.

Not quite sure what to make of it, I sent a SMS to Dr Ling. He told me to get to an A&E Room immediately as it may be threatened miscarriage. I tried keeping my calm as I was at the oil refinery and blending plant, really quite far away from "civilisation".

As I prayed to Allah to keep Junior safe, I braved on with the tender committee meeting. It was at a crucial drafting stage and my presence was rated "highly necessary". Although my mind was stayed sharp at work, I could not help wondering what if my sacrifice/action/delay in going to the nearest hospital would compromise my early pregnancy. "What price is my job?", I pondered.

However, I stayed until the meeting was over at 6 pm. Stupidly or not, I then drove home to KL in a tropical thunderstorm. Z fed me with some dinner, performed our Isyak prayers then drove me to Gleneagles, knowing that the wait could be long. We waited for almost 2 hours in the "Accidents and Emergency" Room during the peak of swine flu/A1H1. Looking back, we were silly not to have thought of PETRONAS owned Prince Court Medical Centre, which is even closer!

My vitals were read. I was then asked to wait for another 1.5 hours before a Medical Officer was free to see me. A steroid injection was administered by a nurse and I was sent home that midnight.

The next day, I waited 2 more hours in the cold and bare office before I was able to see the ob gyn. A scan showed Junior was doing alright in its gestation sac but the heartbeat was still faint. The bleeding could have been implantation bleeding so it was nothing to worry about.

Nonetheless, Z and I were dead worried. Worry worts that we are, we decided to be much more careful with Junior from now on.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Not long after that, a family poll was taken and we unanimously decided (whole-heartedly) for me to resign from PETRONAS in order to be fair to all parties, take care of the little life that was growing in me and turn SAHM. I will miss PETRONAS, and pray that my rezeki remains open.

The Gift Hunt

Hello October!

It is time of the year to shop for Dada's birthday present. If you think it is hard to shop for man, wait till you have to shop for the man who already has everything.

We cannot give him Patchi again because we have always given him Patchi. Maybe a Tiger Woods golf merchandise? Where do they sell the hardest Sudoku puzzle books? Sigh!

Any other original and good ideas that don't cost a bomb? Share!


Retrospective Wisdom: My Pregnancy Dos and Don'ts

My daily activities now revolve around a growing list of restrictive and prohibitive covenants.
Examples:
1. Cannot drink water (will throw up almost immediately).
2. Cannot carry heavy objects (will feel muscle pull near abdomen).
3. Cannot clean the house (will throw up almost immediately from strong smell of cleaning agents).
4. Cannot sleep well (urinating often from smaller bladder space/cramps from sleeping on my back involuntarily).
5. Cannot travel much (throwing up in the car during the short journey between Shah Alam and KLCC is normal).
6. Cannot go to the office or shopping malls (throwing up after spending too much time indoors/lack of fresh air is not uncommon).
7. Cannot drink any tea except ice lemon tea (taste bud is altered and tea tastes like metal).
8. Cannot carry out DIY jobs at home (PIL, bestie's mother, ex-lady boss and Z all prohibit me from using the hammer/climb step ladder).
9. Cannot eat as I like (raw and undercooked food strictly not allowed for poisoning risks/anything I enjoy which is not favoured by Jr. usually backs up).
10. Cannot this, cannot that (the list goes on, apparently for my own good).

Am I used to this? No!
Am I enjoying this? No!
Do I have a choice? No!
So there, for now, I shall just be patient and live with the cannot(s) for the duration of this pregnancy.

**Retrospective Wisdom: All in the name of safety for the pregnant body and shifted centre of gravity, the seemingly prohibitive lifestyle and experience was not all that bad. Just go which activities you can handle/enjoy without harming yourself and the growing fetus.** 

Car Seat Part 1


 The Little Girl's Britax First Class Plus in Trend Line (Nicolas) fabric.

Mothercare Bangsar outlet sales assistants were kind enough to let us fix and try out the car seat in Bebe before we decided to purchase it. After looking at so many different brands comparing safety, comfort, user-friendliness etc., we decided this is IT almost at first sight!

After fitting it in a rearview facing option, it blends so well into the interior of Bebe that you'd think it came with Bebe. Now we just have to wait for The Little Girl to arrive to test drive the car seat. The colour is not gender biased although some may think it is "boyish" because of the manufacturer labelling it "Nicolas".

The newborn insert/baby padding looks comfortable and we can fully recline the seat in rearview facing mode to ensure comfort and safety (we were quite concerned about little bobbly wobbly head in some other brands that cannot perform this function). Furthermore, this is a convertible model so we can switch it to forward facing when The Little Girl hits 9kg in size.

Like any other online review of any car seat, there are pros and cons. As long as we remember why we chose it for the reasons we considered important to us, that should do *reminding oneself to stop reading endless reviews online*

Here's to 0-18kg of safe ride!

p/s: The eager grandparents approves of Britax (the other 5 grandchildren use this in the UK too).

Note: We used this as a second car seat for the grandparents' car. As The Little Girl was quite a small baby at 42.5cm and 2.76kg at birth, the newborn insert/baby padding was still too big for her. She eventually stretched out and put on weight, fitting snugly into her Britax.
Monday, 24 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 1

"There isn't a baby to speak of this week. However your body is shedding its uterine lining in preparation for a new cycle. An egg is finishing up the process of ripening this week, but it won't be released from its home in your ovary until ovulation occurs more than a week from now." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I am the woman with irregular periods made worse by previously stressful job with long hours and arduous travels...hardly surprising that I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was in week 1 of my pregnancy! I was probably so busy with my new job at Petronas to even count from my last cycle which started on Father's Day in June 2009.

The family planning Z and I discussed centred around "let's try for a baby before I hit 35 to lessen the chance of Down's Syndrome" and seeing how difficult it has been for some happily married childless friends, we agreed to "start after the wedding and pray hard to Allah for His blessings".

That was pretty much it. We discussed it, agreed upon the policy and got on with the programme. So, when you test positive for pregnancy, chances are it is already week 4 or 6!
 
**Retrospective Wisdom: Trying for number two is so tough compared to my first pregnancy. I really must pray harder. I did a count, 80% of my pregger buddies in 2010 now have presented their firstborns with siblings respectively - bless!!**


An update as of 27 October 2012: Allah is so kind and prayers are truly miraculous! We are now pregnant with number two - syukur alhamdulillah! This time, I knew for sure that my LMP is 17 September 2012.

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 2

"At this point of your cycle, your baby is still not formed. However, you have a follicle with a ripening egg that is getting ready to be released. Once the egg is released, you have ovulated! During ovulation, the egg has approximately 24 hours in which to be fertilised by sperm. This makes knowing when you ovulate crucial to getting pregnant. It goes without saying that having sex this week is optimal for conception." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.
 
Sign of ovulation can be as simple as a cramping feeling. We did not know any better at that time but we were on our honeymoon. Enough said.
 
**Retrospective Wisdom: Trying for the second one is much tougher for us. Totally different set of circumstances and bodily functions! For one, I am still breastfeeding. Having said that, I truly submit to His timing for He knows best when we are all ready to receive His hadiah.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 3

"After a long arduous journey, the egg and sperm have joined. As the cells that are your baby begin to divide, you are blissfully unaware of what is going on in your body. While you may be hoping that these cells are rapidly dividing and heading toward your uterus, you have no way of knowing." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

So true about not knowing!

During the honeymoon, I noticed that my sense of smell went from good to acutely sensitive. Every solat prayer invited hay fever like runny nose and teary eyes so I blamed it on the flowering pots of orchids and gardenias that we had purchased from the nursery in Cameron Highlands. We had them moved from inside the room to the balcony, but still the runny nose and teary eyes did not stop.

I also grew lethargic quickly and took naps almost every afternoon during the honeymoon. We just thought that all the driving around and activity filled days were wearing me out, so I had a really good whole body massage! So indulgent, totally relaxing and rejuvenating for the soul.

Well, little did we know...we had a busy lil one in the making!

**Retrospective Wisdom: If one is already trying for conception, and is within the two week wait, just relax! It really helps not to watch the clock...(and I should be taking my own advice here now that we think we may be ready to receive Allah's blessings of another hadiah).**

Recipe: Longan & Red Dates Tea

Expressed breast milk stored by freezing at -18C in Avent VIA cups. Takes 48 hours to thaw out 5 to 6 oz in the fridge set at 0C.

Syukur Alhamdulillah!
 
Red dates tea -  sweet, warm drink increased my breastmilk supply and improved overall vitality. I drink this daily during confinement, and still occasionally do when my energy is low.

 
 
Kudos to "Nyoya Flavours - A Complete Guide to Penang Straits Chinese Cuisine". Editing and Food Styling by Julie Wong; Main Recipe Contributor & Tester by Debbie Teoh and Food Photography by Bonnie Yap & Yap Chee Hong. New Edition Copies available at Popular & Kinokuniya.

If I may just reproduce the drink recipe here for the benefit of breastfeeding mothers and new mothers, simply because I have greatly benefitted from this recipe and keep having to email them to friends and readers alike:

"150 g dried longan
50 g pitted red dates, halved
50 g tong sam, cut into 3cm (1 inch) length
2 litres water

1. Wash and drain longan, dates and tong sam then place into a medium sized pot with the water.

2. Bring to rapid boil then simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Taken throughout the confinement month to substitute for drinking water, this pleasant drink helps the new mother in maintaining general well-being, and is said to increase the flow of milk in a breastfeeding mother. Tong sam, available from chinese medical halls, is also known as "poor man's ginseng" and plays a role in enhancing blood circulation."

I had mine boiled in the morning and kept warm in a thermos flask, sipped preciously throughout the day. On hot days, I have had supplies of more than 2 litres in hand!

Confession: I used to be able to express 2 to 3 oz in the early days of breastfeeding (those crazy, stressful days of not being totally sure if I was producing sufficiently to meet demand) but by 6th week, the yield had increased in tandem with The Little Girl's increase of appetite. Now with Bean, I am able to express 5 to 6 oz every 6 hourly *sujud to Allah in thanksgiving!*

Tip #1: My tong sam was purchased from a medical hall in One Utama and Pavilion called Eternal Cash Medical Hall. Tong sam is a type of "radix codonopsis" plant root.



Tip #2: I use the IKEA Stabil 3L pot with pasta boil insert to keep the ingredients boiling or simmering but simpler to strain by just lifting the insert when ready. Just be sure to use a metal strainer when carefully pouring hot liquid out of the pot into a thermos flask.

Tip #3: Red Date Tea Extract claiming to be 5x more potent is now available from Moon's (Daveleen (M) Sdn. Bhd. at No. 43, Jalan SS2/3, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. Tel: +6037877800 www.moms2b.com ) Read also Falling in Love with Confinement by Peiling Goh. Personally, I have not ordered any products from this company as they are not certified halal so I cannot vouch for its potency, taste etc. However, some of the dishes suggested during confinement are simple to cook and delicious (I always replace pork dishes with halal cuts of chicken).



**now excuse me while I answer a milk-call**


 
Sunday, 23 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 4

"This is the first week that you are sure that your baby is in there, though what is going on is still very hard to see. Even with high-tech ultrasound equipment, you would be lucky to see the gestational sac - the small bubble where your baby is busy forming and growing this week. Using a transvaginal ultrasound, which is an ultrasound done from inside your vagina is your only hope of seeing it at this point in pregnancy.

In that gestational sac, you will also have a yolk sac forming. This will help feed your baby until the placenta has fully formed around the end of the first trimester.

At the end of week 4, the chorionic villi are completely formed. These are finger-like projections of placental tissue. they contain the same genetic material as your baby and can be helpful later for genetic testing." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I had reported to work at Petronas the week before and was so pre-occupied with the lovely job I had that I did not notice anything different about the changes that were going on in my body. Besides, we were preparing for the coming month of Ramadhan and I was excited about my first time fasting as a Muslimah!

On 10 August 2009, I noticed that my period was already late by about 2 weeks so after work, I went home and did a routine urine test using home test kit for pregnancy. This turned out positive. My heart leaped with joy!

Being home alone (Z was on his way home and I did not want to ring him while he was driving), I went into a somewhat crazy mode of "this is too good to be true!" so I did another urine test using another brand of home test kit for pregnancy. This turned out positive too!

By the time Z walked into The Apartment, I could not contain the happiness anymore and blurted almost too loudly "We're pregnant!!". He was a little shocked but overjoyed and started to celebrated in his collected and calm ways.

Just to be triple sure, we did the last test for the evening together. After dinner, during solat Isya', we gave our thanksgiving to Allah for His gift and prayed for a safe pregnancy.

Personally, I felt deeply grateful to Allah for this new journey!
 
**Retrospective Wisdom: Testing with different brands of home pregnancy test kit is normal. Go indulge!** 

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 5

"One way to measure a baby this size is called crown to rump (CRL). from the crown, or top of your baby's head, to the bottom (rump), your baby measures about 1.5 to 2.5 milimetres by the end of this week. Very small, but very busy.

A couple of major milestones happen this week. Your baby's heart begins to beat and the neural folds (the folds of tissue that become the brain and spinal cord) are fusing. This means that you can almost begin to differentiate the head from the tail (a vestige that reabsorbs into the body as the baby becomes a fetus). However even with ultrasound, you still may not see as much as you'd like." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I had just adjusted to working life at Petronas and liking the portfolio I was managing when a life changing incident shifted my priorities. Part of my routine duties include going to the lubricant blending plant in Malacca to resolve legal matters and issues.

On 18 August 2009, I drove Bebe to Malacca for one of such meetings. Upon arrival, I went to the water closet before the start of what was to be an all day meeting. What I saw that morning shocked and rocked me to my inner core.

Blood!

Immediately, I texted my GP (had yet to select an Ob-Gyn!) for advice. He replied that I was to remain calm and go to the nearest ER at any good private hospital near by. The nearest good private hospital is located in Malacca town, another good 40 minutes' drive away!

Not wanting to cause another delay to an already late tender issue for the lubricant plant's expansion, I sat down to chair the meeting and tried to remain calm whilst praying hard that everything would be alright for the lil life that was growing within me.

The meeting ended at 6pm and I drove back to KL in the thunderstorm. Z agreed with me that any good private hospital in KL would be better than in Malacca, especially if I were to be admitted.

The nearest private hospital to The Apartment is Gleneagles Ampang. After a quick dinner and solat isya', we drove to Gleneagles Ampang and was made to wait 3 hours before the Medical Officer saw me. It was the peak of Swine Flu too and we had to sit there uncomfortably at the not-so-ER wearing masks!

The Medical Officer "dismissed" that the slight bleeding could be caused by implantation bleeding and I was given a steroid injection to stabilise the fetus. A referral and appointment to the Ob-Gyn was made for the following morning.

The following morning at the ObGyn's office, I was made to wait another 3 hours for a transvaginal ultrasound. We saw Jr's gestational sac and a beating dot a.k.a. the heart.

Thankful that everything was alright, I was so deeply moved that an auto-assessment of what is really important to me in my life kickstarted. Career versus Baby. The plans for me to be based out of Europe for a few months in my professional capacity kind of flew out of the window of my Petronas Tower 1 office as I could not imagine coping with my first pregnancy alone in Italy. Forget the joy of working. Forget all the handbags and shoes designers. Forget all the beautiful sites to visit with Z.

By the way, I swore not to return to Gleneagles Ampang if I could simply because I did not enjoy the long wait!
 
**Retrospective Wisdom: When Allah presents an opportunity, He may also present another opportunity. What you choose is your trust in Him that He will Provide.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 6

"From the crown to rump, your baby measures about 4 to 6 milimetres. Still very small but working very hard, including a beating heart!

Your baby's heart is circulating blood through its tiny body though the heart is still a bulge in the front of the body. It will eventually move into the chest cavity. The cells that will become your baby's stomach, liver, lungs and pancreas are also present. In other big news, at the end of this week, the upper and lower limb buds will appear. Your baby is also working on developing its inner ear and larynx.

The placenta is working too. It is getting ready to take over the production of hormones from the corpus luteum, which is a spot on the ovary where you ovulated. Though this won't happen for about another six weeks, plans are in place now.

An ultrasound at this point would reveal a fetal pole with a heartbeat in 86 per cent of the cases and 100 per cent would see a yolk sac. If your midwife or doctor doesn't see what they think they should, you may not be as far along in your pregnancy as you had believed. You will most likely be asked to repeat the transvaginal ultrasound in a few weeks." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

It was beginning of my most lethargic days coupled with inability to keep any food or liquid down. Morning sickness for me was an all day sickness. Needless to say, I was on medical leave on most days, spent in bed and the only place I went to was probably the sink! Demands of a full time job were totally against the grain of this pregnancy, sadly. PukeFest was the most apt title for the week.

After obtaining a few referrals and word of mouth, we decided to "test" Dr Haris Hamzah at Sime Darby Subang Medical Centre and found him to be a suitable and qualified Ob-Gyn. The ultrasound scan of Jr confirmed the pregnancy, well being of a growing fetus and estimated due date.

We broke the news to Mama and Dada over dinner at Penang Village in KLCC. They were gladly surprised at the speed we conceived Jr during the honeymoon too but thankful nonetheless! With Kakak's 5th baby to arrive in January 2010 and Junior following suit in April 2010, the grandparents were really busy...

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 22 August 2009:

CRL: 4.8 milimetres
 
**Retrospective Wisdom: Staying in bed with morning sickness is NOT wrong. NOT lazy. It is a blessing in disguise. Read all the books that you have always wanted to and listen to all the soothing music you have forgotten about in years gone by - there is no time after the baby arrives!**
Thursday, 20 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 7

"Your baby is growing rapidly and developing organs. This week your baby is working on its kidneys along with other organs. The CRL is about 7 to 9 milimetres. Finger rays (the equivalent of pre-fingers) are also forming.

While your baby is a girl or boy from the moment of conception, you can't physically distinguish the sex yet, even though the genital tubercle (what will become the penis or clitoris) is present.

Your baby's face is not very baby-like yet. This week the nasal pits are developing and the eyes are very large and lidless. The intestines are forming inside the umbilical cord and will move into your baby's abdomen.

If you were to have an ultrasound at this point in your pregnancy and you were really in your 7th week, you should see a fetal pole with a heartbeat. If you don't chances are you are not as far along as you thought and a repeat ultrasound in a week's time will tell a different story." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

We celebrated National Day and Ramadhan had also begun. As I am pregnant, it is not compulsory for me to fast. Opting for medical reasons, I did not fast and with PukeFest on 24/7, I was more concerned with keeping liquid down, preventing dehydration and not so much fascination with food.

The aroma from kitchen, perfume and almost anything with smell (especially uncooked meat, and food court stench) drove me to the sink. The need to urinate very often also confined me to the house for most part of the time.

Petronas was advised of my delicate, almost frail condition and I started to work from home with the office despatch coming to drop and collect assignments. The really short distance between office and home worked in favour of both despatch and I! The emails contained various drafts, agreements, resolutions and opinions were exchanged at such fast pace no one would have believed that I was working from home and attending PukeFest with a free season pass.
 
The thought of resigning in order to be fair to the only Fortune500 company in Malaysia weighted heavily and became our daily home debate topic. A family poll was finally taken and after long consult, we decided it is best for Petronas and my pregnancy for me to resign despite the objection from my very kind and understanding colleagues and Boss. If the rezeki is mine, I will return in future.
 
**Retrospective Wisdom: No regrets about the resignation, except on days when I need some adult/professional/intellectual discussion. It was is the correct, pro-life choice for having The Little Girl.**