about all things painful

argghhhh... the agony of anticipatory fear. I'm going back to work next Monday.
I almost always experience insomnia the night before. the fear of oversleeping causes sleeplessness. how ironic.
Surprisingly I'm not the only one. My colleagues go through the same torment on the last day of school holidays too...
Only that I'm feeling the dread now...

The fear factor for me this time round: I need to express milk in school when I return to work this time.
Worst case scenarios for me:
1. My timetable will be so packed that I will not be able to express milk. Then I will leak through my blouse and get laughed at by kids
2. I will be so overdue that I start feeling nauseous and start to throw up, not to mention the pain of engorgement
3. I wonder how the new nursing facilities will be like. i'm so scared that it will just be curtain-separation in classrooms and students will catch a glimpse of me pumping milk. I will be a hot topic for a long time to come. "Ms Teo has milk shooting out of her bxxxxx!" "I saw Ms Teo's bxxx!'
4. I forget to bring my pump, funnels, bottles, etc to work and will have to get Tim to rush down to school with whatever equipment
5. the unknown

I totally didn't anticipate the pain and inconveniences of breastfeeding after birth. People don't tell you these things, do they?
They just try to scare you with sleepless nights and baby waking up at 3am to cry. This is pretty much unfounded k... not all babies are like that. Zack is pretty ok at night

Let me bask in the pleasure of eliciting those looks of disgust and sympathy from you, my friends... haha

2 days after labour, I was asked to try to let Zack latch on. He bit so hard and being a first-timer, I thought it's something I had to endure through
It hurt so bad, I tell you....
Then next day before discharge, the paediatrician told me he vomited blood mixed with milk and said i had a cracked nipple so I needed to refrain from latching on for a while. But when i reached home, the pump that my sis passed to me had missing parts.
I had to express milk by hand and it was such a torture!
I was so engorged by then I had green veins swelling up on my chest. And the only solution was to find the most painful spots and squeeze on them hard to release the milk. More pain to relieve pain. Another irony. *#@?!!%^
The next few weeks were equally hard. I had a hard time getting zack to latch on, and he either bit too hard or fell asleep
It totally didn't help when that detestable confinement nanny made snide remarks about my lack of milk.
Now I have so much I can spray them on her face for saying that!!!!! (chill chill... I'm jokin, k...)
Anyway, I had a really tough time and I cried a lot when Zack rejected my breasts...
Having Tim around to encourage me and snap at Zack when he fusses... that helped a great deal

Now I have established an okay supply of breastmilk, but it's hard work sustaining it
I still have pain all the time, and occasional blood in nipples/ milk (it really does look like strawberry milk)
And everytime I have to express milk (about once every 6 hours), I still feel nauseous and a strong urge to curse and swear.
It's unexplainable. I haven't cursed in years

Okay, to better understand this aversion towards pumping milk... raise your 2 hands to your breast/ nipples and hold it there for 20-30 minutes.
Yup that's the posture for expressing milk. and you need to sit up straight.
and to simulate the pump motions, try squeezing them steadily for a second then release them for another. Repeat rhythmically.
You feel nauseous and the urge to curse already?
See what I mean?

Of course I will keep getting reminded of how much I save on milk powder (about $160-200/mth) and the benefits to my baby's health
deep inside, I think people overplay the benefits.
But the monetary part is very tangible. $200/mth x 12 mths= $2,400 savings!
Add the money I save from seeing a paediatrician... i can almost feel justified shopping for anything I want!
Meanwhile I just feel obligated to persist on as far as I can

Maybe when Zack is 18 years old, I can let him read this entry so he'll know how hard it was to raise him
It has to be 18 or even later, cos kids think 'breast' is a bad word.
i'm not kidding. I've heard of kids 'pow-to-ing' their friend for saying it
"teacher, he said a bad word!"
"really? what did he say"
"I can't! It's a bad word"
"ok, whisper it to me very softly"
*whispers* "he said 'breeeast'!"
(you have to pretend it's a serious offence even if you feel damn itching to laugh.. haha)

And during adolescence, this word or anything remotely related may be linked to dirty thoughts.
See how i stereotype kids and youth. they're so predictable

Maybe he'll still be too young to read it at 18. maybe 21.

Oh dear... I hope you're above 21, since you've already read the entire entry.
But if you were a breastfed baby, you should totally and majorly thank your mum this Mothers' Day, alright...

On the side note, I came across this in a book...
"I didn't used to think it was possible"
Grammatically, should it be "I didn't use to think..." or I didn't used to think..."?
You don't say "I didn't ate...." right?
cos 'did' already compasses the past tense factor within... *luan*
Teaching English is such a pain.... but not so much compared to you-know-what lah....

Life after birth

The arrival of Zack has changed so much in my life, both around me and in me.

I wonder if people around sense that change in me.
The first thing my friends notice of me is the change in my physical appearance, or the lack of it. I'm fortunate enough that I haven't gained much weight during pregnancy and lost what's left of them in the first month post-natal.
Weight was one of my greatest concern during pregnancy. I feared the loss of youthful beauty and figure, which will then be accompanied by my loss of confidence and sself-esteem, which will eventually spiral me down the abyss of depression and then finally lead me down the route of marital unhappiness and so forth. I think too much, yes I do.
But in return, I had a whole tummy streaked with stretch marks that seem pretty much irreversible. I'm thinking of laser treatment after I've decided to 'close factory' but that can wait. Meanwhile I just try not to look down at it so much

It's queer, because while I am grateful for Zack and glad he has finally popped out of me, I didn't feel that fullness of joy I thought I would.
Some people shared of feeling deeply moved when holding their baby for the first time.
I remembered craving for Ribena very desperately after labour. I didn't even carry him until 2 days later, I think... and even then, I looked at him and wondered where was his double eyelid (ho ho ho... how very shallow of me)
I guess I am slow to warm up. Of course now I think Zack is the most perfect little thing, but that's part of my parental delusion, i know

But you know those many studies that show a person's happiness level drops after he/ she has children, and it continues to drop right until they grow up and leave home. How depressing
Perhaps it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, but after many nights of interrupted sleep and exhaustion, and prolonged social deprivation, I did  begin to feel my happiness level drop. It's not the at-the-moment kind of happiness, it's the life-as-a-whole happiness
I remember feeling slightly depressed and fatally bored with life.
I didn't want to go out, pray, or go back to work, etc. I just merely existed and survived each day of caring for another smaller being.

Then Tim and i decided that I needed a ME-DAY, so every Wednesday afternoon, he would stay home to take care of Zack, while I went away to squander my under-utilised salary.
at first I was so guilt-ridden, I only bought baby and household stuff, then it escalated to clothes and shoes, then to something small from Miu Miu and Ferragamo.
And in addition, Tuesday became a WE-DAY. we dropped Zack at mum-in-law's place, so we could go cycling, movies and the dating kind of stuff.
I thought about life and purpose of life, did some spiritual reflection.
I decided to love myself.
I decided I needed to look good, to dress up and be happy. So people will stop looking past me and see only Zack.
Instead of 'the baby and his mum or 'zack's mummy', people will see 'the lady with a baby' (heck, whoever still uses the word 'lady') or 'Lingnah and her baby'
i'm glad to say, I've felt happiness rise in me again and life no longer revolves around Zack
i refuse to let my adult conversations be littered with baby talk, or worse still, be one of the deluded parents who so sincerely believe their kids are so superior to others in looks, intelligence and/ or musical talent and 'hints' openly

I've come a long way... from the time the gynae told me I had endometriosis and needed an op, to trying to conceive, to the pregnancy and to the sonographer telling me the baby might have Down's, to doing the amniocentesis, to crying every night for a couple of weeks and telling God I would give up so much to have a healthy baby, to finally giving birth to a healthy child, falling in and out of emotional dependence to finally being cohesive and whole. I look like the same person I was a year ago, but having a baby has changed so much in me.

If life was a Mario game, i think I have just defeated the monster in the castle and moved to another world.

major stuff k...

okays.... haven't updated my blog since April... so only major events k....

1. first of all, my best friend got married! congrats Yiling!!!
It was a cosy and lovely wedding, and i do love your 7-10 year old emcees. uber cute!

finally, someone to go shopping for bedsheets, pots and household stuff with me!
It's been a lonely one year plus for me, shopping for these things alone k....
i do hate it that when we grow old, our conversation topics become domesticated...
but bleah, i guess it's inevitable bah. it's honestly part of our lives now...
plus being married, we have other juicier stuff to top it off in our gossipy-bitchy-harmless-chats
well, i'm happy for you and lovin' it that my best friend is married!

i thought it was fun that we went grocery shopping together

and here, i'm gonna share one of my fave recipes with you: Chicken macaroni!
i wish i have some enticing, saliva-inducing pictures to show you, but dun have...

serves 2
- macaroni - about 1/3 pkt
- 2 chicken thighs, skinned
- small can of mushrooms
- 1 carrot
- 1 yellow onion

1. skin the chicken thighs and wash. place in pot
2. dice carrot and onions. half mushrooms. place in pot
3. add water until it reaches 2 litre mark (including all ingredients)
4. put to boil on high, then turn it down to low-medium and continue cooking for about 1 hr

5. boil macaroni in water, adding 1 tbsp of olive oil (or normal oil) and 1 tsp salt
6. boil until soft. drain. remove. portion out and set into the bowls. leave aside

7. after an hour of boiling the stock, remove the chicken thighs. use fork to shred out the meat and place on top of the macaroni
8. i'll place the bones right back into stock to boil for another half hour or so or until soup tastes nice.
9. once ready, scoop out onto your bowls with macaroni. serve with shallots (buy the ikea shallots. they're the nicest!) and pepper

it's really yummy and almost foolproof. do try it and share with me your recipes too k....

to the rest of my blog readers, heck... what kind of major update is that?! haha..
well.... today Tim and I saw our baby do a little dance and some swimming stunts through the ultrasound
so i'm bursting to tell my friends and share about how cute this little fella is!

i'm 3 months pregnant, currently in my second trimester. everything's going well
and in Jan 2011, if all continues to go smoothly, Tim's going to be a dad, and me... yea, a MOM. haha!

now that i think back, i think Tim and I had a funny reaction at the doctor's clinic today when we saw our baby do some mad-hatter dance
we just sorta shrieked unanimously 'SO CUTE!'
the gynae was probably thinking that the dance was no biggie... hee hee... ah well...

anyway, this is biggie update ok!

Mayday concert and Ah Mao

It was my first Mayday concert, actually my first pop concert.
I only knew the names of Mayday after i reached there. so much for teacher not doing homework...

i actually enjoyed fangirl-ing and having a crazy time with friends more than their singing, but the atmosphere was pretty awesome
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between jobs: medical social worker- housewife- teacher

after over 5 years, i left my social work profession behind. 1 year in children's cancer foundation, 4 years in NUH.
it feels like... walking out of a relationship...

i've wanted this since i was in Sec 4. that's 6 years to birth a dream that lasted 5 years.
i'm really glad i gave that 5 years to this crap. those troubled weekends over a stuck case, receiving a call from my work phone at 11pm and on my sick day, crying over sick and dying children, and feeling like shit perpetually cos i'm not an even better social worker
after some time, i began to reconcile that it's just the way this job is... that you're never going to feel totally on top of it
there's always something more. people will continue to suffer and lead defeated lives no matter what you do
not everyone can accept that increasing the odds of the change is already a job excellently done.
then there's always something more, and there will always be needy clients
i think there's a Messiah-complex in all social workers, but it runs dry at some point, until it sucks a part of you no matter how much SELF-CARE a person soaks up

at the end of the day, i salute every social worker, and i'm still proud i did this
facing death alongside suffering people changed the way i saw life
when we can appreciate what dying does to a person, it makes us want to re-align our lives.
this is something i want to hang on to from my 5 years- to always remember to look at life from a dying person

for one thing, do you realize how our parents always seem to have some issues with that uncle or particular aunt(s)
they seem so distant that i sometimes forget that these are their own siblings, who grew up together with our parents
akin to what me and my brother and sister share... a childhood
so how did things turn out to this differentiation of 'us' and 'them'
a small misunderstanding spread around among more members of a group sows discord
the fact that siblings drift apart, that's just sad
people reconcile with their siblings before they die, which just stands all these discords just makes an unnecessary detour of life

when i left NUH on my last day, it made me shrivel up on the inside and just wanna cry
it's liberating that i don't have to do this work anymore
cos as much as it has matured me and changed me, it also killed a certain part of me
about believing in miracles and having faith for all things, cos there's always a bugging reminder of 'bad things happen to good people'
goodbye, MSW

so for 3 weeks, i entered into a life of a housewife... not tai tai cos i had limited funds and no peers to spend boring afternoons with
i spent a week in japan, which was awesome and i'll blog bout it sometime.
but the amount of money i spent shopping there could have bought me my dream bag back here, and that sorta kills me
i paid back with a week of housework and cleaning and tidying my home. it's impeccably neat now, and the whole drawers-full of ziploc-ed cables and wires is just epic

most unfortunately tim was called back to reservist these 2 weeks, so i had a taste of a true-blue temp housewife
when tim returned home at 7pm, i felt like a puppy yelping for attention and company
i seriously felt good when he pat my head for the housework done, and when i started showing him the ziploc-ed cables, i felt i had totally lost it
this is not normal, right.... haha

suddenly i had little to accomplish and household chores are so trivial, ain't they?
the occupants of the house probably won't notice much, and it's all for vanity
no changing lives, no impacting the future and no significant worth to society
hey i was a social worker! and now my life revolves around cleaning and tidying?!
the only interesting topic i could conjure up was what i eavesdropped from a couple of aunts at NTUC.

no, this life is not for me. i'm headed for my teaching job, starting next week
life has got to be more than this, right... ? maybe just a bit more?
part-time housewife, part-time career would be just purrrfect

(no subject)

Drafted out an email to mass send out, but decided against it.
decided to let my leader and God handle and vindicate

But I just have to vent it out somewhere... Arghh

don' have to say 'someone' sent you nasty messages. Just say who

I have to say:
1. No doubt the guy was mean in his comment. Nobody disputed that
2. Getting people to flame and shame him on fb. That was not honourable.
It's quite a different matter if friends saw it and want to stand up for you. Altogether a different ballgame to get people to do it and draw attention to such things. If want to talk about being brave, call him and talk things out like a man
3. Gloating about such 'success' and sending an SMS to Tim and others about it is just plain childish

don't be mistaken that success means it's God's will
the evil Babylonians had victories over the people of Israel
it just meant God used them to fulfill a certain purpose

christmas and anniversary

2009 came and gone.
for me, it started off with lots of changes and surprises... getting married in jan, moved in to new place in the same month, then honeymoon in japan
then the year was about adjusting to new home, seeing a different face when i get home everyday, etc.
i still feel like a kid, like i'm not really grown up yet, esp when i see my christmas presents:

everything i received for christmas can be purchased at Toys R us
pictionary man, band hero, sushi maker, wimpy kid books. i feel like.... i'm still a toys r us kid, and i dun wanna grow up

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