Coping with a new born: Getting some ZZZs (Part 2)

Ok, I’m back from my meditation mountain of studying for my course exams! Back to the unfinished business of Sleep Training Part 2! Part 1 was about the eat-play-sleep cycle in Babywise and how it helped small J sleep through the night. Part 2 is about how to get your kid to sleep on his or her own, according to Babywise.

The Babywise solution is essentially the Cry It Out (CIO) method and also having your kid sleep in his or her own room. Hold your horses! Don’t pelt me with stones! Don’t write hate mails to me! Remember, no judgment?! CIO method has received a lot of flak and is almost a taboo word these days but I’ve got to say it works wonders if applied correctly and consistently for a week. The results? Good sleep for yourself and the baby in 7 days! And a baby in a good mood during the daytime. Sounds suspiciously like a slimming ad? The small print is the same: results may vary and it really depends on your baby and your effort.

The CIO method in the book writes that during the sleep phase, you should  say a firm goodnight and leave the room so that the baby can learn to self soothe and sleep on his own. If he or she starts crying, allow him or her to cry – most babies will cry to sleep within 45 minutes. The assumption is that the baby sleeps in another room, which is what I practiced since I am so light a sleeper that I can’t sleep with the baby cot next to me even when my head is buried under pillows.

So that’s what I did! Almost really, but I made up my own rules and cheated.

  1. Firstly, as expounded by Babywise, observation is the key. We are not supposed to twiddle the thumbs or whistle when sleep training. (Reality: just like every mother, I feel like cringing at the corner and die when I hear my baby cry). So, a good way for me to cope was to record the type of cries and the length of time as well as whether the kid was well-fed and received enough stimulation before that. When I had something constructive to do like plotting trends, I felt less emotional. If the baby is well fed and stimulated at playtime, he should fall asleep quite quickly.
  2. Secondly, our rule is not to let the baby cry over 35 minutes. Why such a random time? Because by observation, small J usually doesn’t cry beyond this time to go to sleep.
  3. I face the baby’s bed such that the eyes of the baby faces 180 degrees away from the door, so I could effectively peep in and observe him without him seeing me. When I was able to see him and check on him, it was comforting.
  4. I noticed that if I consistently sleep train him for a week, he will cry for 5 minutes or less after that before falling asleep and after a few weeks there’ll be no more crying. For small J, consistency is key. I have to psycho myself that if I decide to sleep train, I cannot give up halfway; if not it’ll all be in vain and it’s better not to start in the first place. My secondary school discipline teacher used to tell us to raise our right fist into the air and shout ‘SHORT TERM SACRIFICE, LONG TERM GAIN!’ like a communist to rah-rah us for the exams. This was also my motto during sleep-training week.
  5. I cheated and he had a sleep prop – the pacifier that the confinement nanny used, despite my protests. I found it to be a necessary evil until I weaned him off cold turkey when he was 7 months old (another dramatic experience). I also used the sarong for 2 weeks to get him to switch from being a night baby (one that is awake most of the night and sleeps in the day) to a day baby in his 2nd month before starting sleep training.

Sidetrack: When I was preggie and idealistic, I vow never to do some things…


I have not looked back since and am grateful that small J could sleep on his own without crying or waking up at night for most nights since about 3 months old and that was the most important factor for giving me some way to function normally at work and in life. As with fighting the flab, sleep training is a constant fight. It has to be done again and again and again (sigh!) after every transition since there’ll be sleep disruptions during transitions and I’ll try to be more understanding e.g. When I weaned him off the pacifier, when he transited schools, when he was ill…

However, I have regressed much. recently, after he transited schools, I was much less successful in sleep training him. When he changed schools, he felt insecure for two weeks, so I accompanied him to bed. And I found out that I enjoyed the experience now that he is older and can speak. Even though I will pretend to be asleep to dissuade him from playing in bed (like slapping his bear around), he will talk to me about his day e.g. friends in school, why mummy was angry, or that grandma came over. Sometimes he will sing too and accompanying him to bed is a really heartwarming experience. Who knows? I may give up sleep training after all since life is certainly more manageable at 30 months old as compared to 3 months old. It can only get better.



Birth Stories

Some interesting trivia for you!

DID YOU KNOW… that only female kangaroos have pouches to carry their joeys in?  (I didn’t know!  I thought both male and female kangaroos had them.)

DID YOU KNOW… that female kangaroos can be in a perpetual state of pregnancy?  (WUT??)  They can carry up to 3 joeys at any 1 time.  One joey hopping in and out of the pouch, another one developing in the pouch and another embryo in pause mode.  God must have thought extremely highly of the female kangaroo to make her such a prolific giver of life.  (Source:


Anyway, this post is about Kyra and Zach’s birth stories since Mummy M said that she liked reading them.  Time has a way of making a lot of painful details about motherhood fuzzy so I’ll try my best to recall.  Promise.  No gory details.

For Kyra, I remember feeling really antsy about the whole birth process.  Like many first-time mothers, I tried to read up on the various ways you can give birth (Yes, there are MANY ways.)  Like a lot of women, I was ambivalent about taking the epidural.  On the 1 hand, I would, in principle, want to experience a natural natural birth (without anaesthesia).  On the other hand, I’m not sure about my own threshold of pain.  I was also really scared about the episiotomy.  So for months, I was praying for a SSS delivery – safe, smooth and swift!  The last month was a pretty agonising wait.  Being the first time, I was so sensitive to every braxton hick I kept counting and recording the intervals because I didn’t know which ones were braxton hicks and which ones were  real birth pangs.  I needn’t have worried about not being able to tell the braxton hicks from real contractions because trust me, you will know the difference.  For new mothers, if I may describe it, it’s really like menstrual cramps, except like 10 times worse.  Then it steadily progresses to be 100 times worse (but more about that later).

So I experienced contractions at 5 a.m. on Kyra’s EDD, 23 August 2011, and I waited till about 6 plus to be sure the contractions were regular before telling the Husband, “I think you don’t need to go to work today.”  So by 7 a.m., we reached Mount Alvernia (great experience there, by the way), did the paperwork and got ready.  The nurses checked and said, “Oh, 5 cm dilated.  Halfway already.  No need epidural la.”  I stopped her immediately and said, “No no no… I need.  Please ask the doctor to come.”  So I had the epidural and was happily numb and couldn’t feel much.  At 8 plus 9, my gynae, Dr. Soon, came and said, “Okay, let me go down and grab a coffee and then we can start pushing.”  I was so numb that when I was supposed to push, I didn’t quite know how and the nurses had to push my stomach to help me push the baby out.  That was painful cuz I felt they were suffocating me.  The doctor also helped to suction Kyra’s head to make the process faster so by 10 a.m., she was out and I had my baby in my arms without going through too much pain.

Fast forward 2 years later.  I know I wanted to take the epidural the second time round.  That was the only birth plan in my mind.  I was also timing my braxton hicks / contractions very diligently because many have told me for second and subsequent births, everything happens really quickly and I better go into hospital early.  On 24 October noon, I thought I felt regular 15 min contractions.  I was still having lunch with Mummies M and J and XX!  Usually we’d hang out with the kiddies till dinnertime to wait for the Husbands to come meet us but that day, I felt off-colour so I went home to my parents’ house.  Thank God I was with them and didn’t hang out as usual.  The regular contractions kinda disappeared so I thought they were just stronger braxton hicks.  Then at 6 p.m., I got woken up from my nap from intense squeezing around the tummy.  There was no mistaking it, but I waited and timed them – 15 minutes apart.  I tried to very calmly tell my parents I needed to go hospital now and proceeded to call the Husband.  I was calm because I thought there was still quite some time.  Contractions 15 minutes apart will take a while to progress right?  My dad was flipping out.  I think he was really scared I’d give birth in his car.  I went home to get my bag but by then, I felt something wrong because the contractions became 15 min apart –> 8 min –> 7 min.

I reached Mount Alvernia at 7 p.m.  and still waited at the delivery suite for a nurse to check me in.  It was quite a few minutes before a nurse came and attended to me.  She even thought I was here for induction.  She asked me for a birth plan and I said no plan – just give me the epidural.  She proceeded to check me and she shrugged and said, “Sorry dear.  10 cm dilated already.  Too late for epidural.”  Dang-dang-dang-dang…. For a moment, I couldn’t believe my ears.  I only had 1 plan and that was to take the epidural.  What now??  What were my options??  I think I was ready to burst into tears if I didn’t have to deal with another round of contractions.  Okay… faced with no options other than to give birth the way women for thousands of years have always given birth, I tried to remember what was said in the pre-natal class but obviously, either I remembered wrongly or that woman was talking rubbish because IT WAS NOT WORKING…. The nurses were really good though.  They just coached and told me to breathe the laughing gas in and out deeply.  Did it help?  I think it didn’t relieve the pain but at least it gave me something to concentrate on while tiding over the rounds of contractions.  In between the contractions, I remembered praying a lot because I wasn’t even confident if I could do this on my own strength.  I was definitely not psychologically prepared to do this without the epidural.  The nurse was also telling me not to push yet cuz the Husband and Doc weren’t there.  So after what seemed an interminably long time of breathing in and out, I didn’t care anymore and just started reacting instead of thinking.  While I’ve always thought of myself as being in control – I’m not the kind of woman who screams hysterically – I screamed hysterically.  And grunted in pain.  And screamed again.  I might have scared many fathers and women waiting outside but oh well… The truth is, giving birth (without an epidural) was never meant to be a controlled and glamorous activity, and the truth shall set them free.  By then, thank God the Husband arrived and was saying encouraging but nevertheless unhelpful things, e.g. “You’re doing well.  Very good!”  (If you’ve attended pre-natal class, the husband is supposed to be the coach to instruct the wife to breathe in and out deeply or take shallow breaths etc.  But of course he forgot all those too.)  Dr Soon finally arrived just in time to deliver Zach and I think it took 2 pushes to get him out.  Wow… I did it.  God helped me do it.  It was so fast that I didn’t expend too much energy that I couldn’t push in the end and need an emergency c-sec.  God answered all my prayers – smooth, safe and swift delivery.


I think God did prepare me for this situation because a couple of weeks before the birth, He asked:  Do you trust in the epidural more or in Me more?  Hm….  Obviously He didn’t believe my answer and wanted me to prove it.  Haha…

If (major IF) I were to have a third child, I doubt I’d voluntarily choose a natural birth without epidural again.  It does take an extraordinary amount of desperation or determination to do it without the epidural.  My suggestion to first-time mothers who carry a let’s-see-how-painful-it-is-and-if-I-can-take-it mindset towards taking an epidural, DON’T!  There are other ways to test your threshold of pain.  Labour is not one of those times.  Decide early to take it and have a more painless and relaxed birth.  Chances are if you are ambivalent about taking the epidural, you probably don’t feel strongly enough about not taking the epidural anyway.  But should you end up in a similar predicament like me, don’t despair too badly too!  You will be able to give birth to your child and probably faster than if you had taken an epidural.  Just listen to your body and the nurses and you’ll get through it more than fine.

Whether you gave birth to your child with or without the epidural, know for sure that your body had endured that kind of intense pain to bring your child into this world and there’s not much else that you can’t endure to be that mummy for your baby.  (That’s how I psych myself to endure feeding Zach even though every time he bites down my mind just explodes in pain.)  You are a Good Mama!  We all are!

Philippians 4:13 
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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My Baby Addiction

So Mummy A just gave birth! I’m still reeling from the shock of it all because we were just happily lunching and pretending to be tai-tais that very afternoon. Little did we know that cheeky little Z was on his way out in a mere few hours. Babies, they have a mind of their own right from the very start.

The thing about having their own minds is really starting to drive me nuts. Here you have this little thing who looks so innocent, and you wonder how much harm can he do? Next thing you know, he shoots some poo and pees on you (not me fortunately, he leaves such surprises for the hubs). And that’s just the beginning. My Noah loves loves loves to be carried all the time, and he only behaves like this when we are home, not when we are out with ample help. I’m on my way to considering a third hand transplant so that I can carry him and get on with our daily business.

Having a new baby is tough. Everything was blissful and perfect at the hospital until reality hits you with a big nasty surprise the moment you bring the baby home. This quiet and peaceful baby doesn’t seem so quiet anymore. He constantly needs feeding, diaper changing and attention. It may come as a rude shock for some, but having a baby does change your life completely. Your world now revolves around this little one and matters that had no significance to you previously suddenly become super important  (like the colour of poo). You find yourself googling everything about babies and freaking out at the scary stuff you read online. Thankfully things do get better in the later months.

Noah Cries

Though my days are currently mad, I’m thankful for the little things that get me going. Like little Noah’s chubby cheeks and cheeky one-sided grin – they send me in crazy baby-smelling mother mode. There’s just something about babies (just mine, don’t worry) and my little girl that I can’t stop smelling, sniffing, taking a huge breathe of… and then do it all over again. It’s almost like an addiction now.

They say that childhood is short. Babyhood is even shorter. They are only going to be this needy, chubby and helpless for a short period of time. When the going gets tough, when the little boy is screaming at the top of his lungs (good stamina, this one), when he pooped and stained his clothes for the 5th time consecutively, I pause and remind myself that this little boy will only need and want me for awhile. It won’t be too long before he flaps his wings and discover the world on his own. Then I sneak into the kitchen for a butter cookie before getting onto the daily grind.

Presenting to you my top 5 baby addiction:

1) That baby smell

They just smell sooo sweet and only for awhile! Not long before they run and crawl or smell like drool. Heh.

2) Little tracker eyes

I love it when Noah tracks me with his eyes as I walk across the hall. It’s almost like he’s saying, ‘I’m waiting for you to play with me mama’.

3) 10 little kissable toes & fingers

I remember the 20th week detailed scan where the sonographer was counting the number of fingers and toes. I think our hearts stopped till she counted to 10 each time. Scary moment. Thank God every finger and toe is present! Today, I love holding the little chubby hand and tracing the dimples on each finger. Sometimes I run my fingers through his sole and toes and marvel at how smooth and tiny they are!

4) The chubby flapper hands

The first time Noah was placed into my arms, he wailed and smacked me on the face. He’s still doing it now when he gets upset and each time he does it, it never fails to remind me of the first moments we met. Such fond memories that I keep close to my heart.

5) Munchkin nose

When my babies are all asleep, I love to go close to their faces and smell their babyness. I like how the hubs put it – that the nooks and crannies of our faces fit just right into each other’s.

Noah Bear

If you are a new mama, or a mother with a new baby, hang in there, it will get better. When things get tough, take a deep breath and then hug the baby. If you feel yourself going mad, it’s ok to hide in another room for a moment or sneak a chocolate bar or two. Then go back to the baby with more cuddles! Whatever it is, you deserve a huge pat on your back, a carton of Ben & Jerries, a huge strawberry short cake and the best cup of coffee in the world.