Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Current situation: low in Maslow's

Organising and completing my Co's annual Charity Event for the industry had been an extremely fruitful and fulfilling experience. It was so successful our efforts were commended by our Digi and many guests.

2 days later - post-event blues kicked in. Felt an in-explainable emptiness and reduced self-esteem at work. It was most weird to be feeling this way coming from someone in my situation - basking in the enjoyment of a beautiful family, weekly soccer, no current financial and health worries and last but not least, a stable job that pays reasonable.



If there was a checklist to grade my situation according to Maslow's HON, I would score full marks for: Physiological needs, Safety needs, Love and belonging; and I would fail terribly at Esteem.

Felt the lowest when at last week's Townhall, elaborate videos and speeches were made about how collective Teamwork, Innovation and Commitment shown by staff helped the Co achieve significant accomplishments and milestones. I was immensely proud of the Co and our achievements. I was happy there are high calibre and responsible staff who strive and who really care. However, at the same time, I felt dejected and gloomy... and didn't feel like I was a valuable member of the organisation. For the longest time, I've always thought that my primary job at my current Division was unimportant and valued lowly. The impact of my projects is minimal and uncommendable. Even during lunch time conversations, the colleagues in my Division speak about high value meetings and projects I don't comprehend, which make me feel that my projects are a drop in the ocean. Honestly, I am all but a ikan bilis in the big blue ocean. Doesn't help that my direct supervisor is not an engaging boss and gives shit about 'team-building' and cultivating a 'sense of belonging'.

So, I actually do enjoy the CCAs that come my way - e.g. charity event that just passed; secretary duties; PD champion; and even AIG performances which despite their non-work nature allowed/allows me to interact and gain mileage with the senior management, more than what my primary job would. I am also involved in the organising of the upcoming AirShow which needless to say I'm excited about.

As for my primary job - decided it's time to move on after somewhat confirming that I won't be the next in line to take over my retiring boss. Requested for a transfer that will officially materialize on 1 Jan 2020. Looking forward to the new challenge! In the meantime, will just casually spend the year-end festive season in the comfort and security of my tall-partition cubicle, far from the madding crowd...



Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Barista coffee pop up for my office!

So I took part in a Fb contest that Deliveroo was running for Musketeers Coffee, in conjunction with International Coffee Day (thanks Nikki for the huge shout-out, and having faith in me, lol)...

I did what I am best at - writing rhymes and poems.

Here's my submission:




Surprisingly, the contest only gathered 6 entries??? They contacted me the next day to inform of my win, hooray!

I arranged the logistics for them to come bright and early on 1 Oct at 9.15am. Blasted out an email to my Div colleagues about the pop up and encouraged them to BYOM, which many of them did! :)

Queueing for their freshly brewed cuppas



My colleagues raved about their chocolate.

 

Wanted initially to lay low about how the office got this deal, but gradually they got to hear about it through word of mouth. Some joked that I was the sponsor, haha. So I continued the joke and suggested for the baton to be passed from colleague to colleague periodically, so all of us can enjoy something cool every month! :)


Monday, September 16, 2019

Monday, September 09, 2019

Dates with my elder daughter

The month that wifey was doing confinement and staying home, I had my elder daughter all to myself.

I truly enjoyed those outings and I treasured the bonding moments very much. It was just me and her, the two of us - strolling and exploring places, sharing an ice cream, racing each other, sharing jokes and laughter.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Civic-mindedness

Always behave as if someone is watching you.

I recall coming across this advice last year. It forms a very solid basis for exemplary conduct. Think about the last time you did something commendable and public-spirited and you felt good about it. Why did you feel good?

Is good behaviour demonstrated when there is someone watching?  Or is good behaviour shaped by laws and societal norms? Does good behaviour come about if there is an award to it?

I believe that true, unsolicited good behaviour is when it is led by one's conscience. Good behaviour is a result of one's values and one's integrity.

I thought I'd just like to document 2 notable moments about positive behaviour I'd observed from my mom.

1)

I was probably in pri 5, pri 6. Mom and I were grocery shopping at the NTUC outlet at Tampines Block 107. While selecting watermelons, one of them accidentally rolled off the cart and dropped onto the ground, damaging it in the process. Immediately, mom picked it up and brought it along to inform the cashier what had happened.

I asked, "Why did you not put the damaged watermelon back into the cart (and pretend nothing happened?"

Mom replied, ”做人要诚实。”


2)

Last week, Yx was complaining of tummy ache. Mom accompanied us to the clinic.

After consultation, I was occupied with paying and collecting the medicine at the counter when yx commented that she felt like vomiting. Mom led her to the road drain in front of the clinic where yx puked out her dinner.

The mess on the drain grilles was expected and my planned action was to cover it up with tissue paper, so as to alert passers-by to avoid that spot. However, my mom had a more civic-minded solution. She went back to the clinic and asked to borrow a pail from the toilet. Mom filled the pail with water, carried it over to the drain and flushed the spot clean.

___________________________


They say parents are their children's best role model, and children learn best from observing their parents. The above 2 stories were exemplary behaviour from my mom. I hope to be able to rub off civic-mindedness on my children too.



Friday, August 16, 2019

Welcome our 2nd born - WYE!

Day 5 post delivery - Here I am, at Canopy Café, sipping hot latte whilst enjoying the beautiful greenery and calm breeze. 

Absolutely captivating breakfast view




I’m not here for leisure or golf; my car is at the workshop beside and being given a 5-hour thorough interior steam cleaning, carpet washing and air-con tube cleaning. Sent my elder yx to my parents’ home this morning (more about how important it is to have additional grandparents’ help, in another post) and at home, wifey is resting and coping with our 2nd born with the divine help of our confinement nanny.

Introducing our precious 2nd daughter, babywye! :)



Her name is given as such obviously because we want her name to bear some resemblance with jiejie's:

- ‘Ying’ means bright/ lustrous of gems (well ‘bright’ can be also used to describe intelligence and/or a positive outlook);

- ‘En’ is to give thanks to the creator. By the way, we used a more unconventional after finding out from my friend @Jingx that Anthracene is a beautiful crystal that is formed under extreme pressure (implying strength and resilience), which can then be used to form many other useful products (versatility and value-adding). We’d like Wye to be resilient, versatile, and be able to deal well with pressure.

True to the reason for choosing this Chinese character, this pregnancy wasn't a smooth-sailing journey. We believe we’re blessed with Wye as she didn’t come easy – you will learn about why in the following paras.


The Initial Discovery

In Dec 18, I was in the kitchen doing chores when wifey came up to me and showed me a pic of a preg test kit that displayed 2 lines. My first response was, “huh is this real or not?” I wasn’t elated or surprised; the feeling was more of scepticism and disbelief, cos we’ve been trying for a 2nd for some time already to no avail. And when wifey was a few weeks’ preggy with yx, she displayed some emotional fluctuations. She hasn’t been behaving unusually this time. To make sure, we scheduled an appointment with our previous gynae.

Doc confirmed that wifey was preggy at 6 weeks! :)


The Shocking Oscar Result

At about 12 weeks of gestation, it was usual for preggy mothers to take a non-invasive Oscar test. Detailed ultrasound would be done and one is able to see the nose bridge, hands, legs, brains, heart, shin bones etc etc.

We weren’t prepared for any unusual results because Yx’s test didn’t show any. However, when the results came back, there were 2 concerns:

1) Sign of renal back flow and not life threatening. Doc said nothing can be done, just has to be monitored over the course.

2) One of the measurements taken during the ultrasound swas the thickness of the back of the neck (NT). The NT combined with the mother’s age and risk profile, showed that the chances of our baby having Down’s Syndrome was 1 in 64.

Mathematically, this means a 0.0156 chance. Being engineer-trained, I thought to myself of how small a percentage this was. It’s like, if you’re standing in a circle comprising 64 people, what are the chances that you will be chosen? If you’re betting on one number on a roulette that has 64 numbers, it’s almost definite that you won’t win, right?

Well, the keyword is ‘almost’. It’s not definitely definite. You wouldn’t bet your fortune on not winning the roulette, would you? Unfortunately for us, science (or is it gynaecology) considers 1 in 64 a considerably high risk. Here’s what I like of our gynae Dr Wong – he really took time to explain the test results and the possible meanings. Oscar has a 90% accuracy rate which means the test itself poses a high possibility of a false negative case, which has not been uncommon. Dr Wong advised to take another detailed test which is 99% accurate. Of course, there is amniocentrisis but although it gives a very very detailed analysis of all individual pairs of chromosomes, the procedure is invasive and poses a 1% chance of miscarriage. Thus we opted to take the non-invasive Panaroma test. The blood sample would be air-flown to a lab based in USA and the results would be available in 8-10 days.


The Wait

The wait was most anxious. It didn’t help that it occurred over the celebratory CNY period and I would be lying to say the anxiety didn’t affect our mood. We just prayed. We researched and learnt more about Down’s Syndrome. I reflected hard about the negative Oscar result. One day, I texted wifey and shared with her that maybe it was God’s message to us – He wanted us to be more appreciative of this pregnancy. Indeed, we haven’t been and instead we were carrying out with our lives like usual… with Yx occupying our time and mind most of the time. Coincidentally, the same revelation came to wifey just before my whatsapp msg to her.


The Assuring Panaroma Result

Dr Wong knew we were worried. Of course, which parent wouldn’t? He called wifey before our appointment and revealed the Panaroma result over the phone. TG, the chances of Down’s Syndrome were very, very low. He also revealed the gender without first asking for our consent. Haha. But at this point we didn’t really care about the gender, we really genuinely wanted nothing more than a healthy baby.

We sat down with Dr Wong the next day and he explained the detailed test analysis very professionally. It was clear that DS chances were minimal. But one other possibility of a thicker than usual NT was that there still posed a chance of heart defects. Can’t do anything and not life threatening at this point of time.
Shared this piece of good news with my family and learnt from my sis that many of her students have heart problems e.g. hole in the heart. It was assuring to know they lead normal lives as the other children.


The Subsequent Months

We went for usual gynae check-ups once every 3 weeks. Some time later, doc said that the ultrasound measurements of the bones seem to depict that baby was quite small-sized. We weren’t really surprised when Dr Wong said this – our firstborn just tipped the scale at 2.54kg so we expect the 2nd to be more or less the same. But he explained that wifey wasn’t gaining weight and neither was baby. He advised to eat more nutritious foods, rest more and skip caffeine.

From Oct 18 to Apr 19, wifey had been working on a part time arrangement (i.e. 2.5 days a week). In May, she left her job completely and devoted her time to Yx and our home. She was constantly moving about, engaging in activities with Yx, bringing her to places, managing some household chores – couldn’t sustain the hectic schedule without coffee.

My mom was concerned and bought ‘power foods’ and cooked nutritious soups for wifey. I also did my part – from nagging at her to sleep more regular hours, indulged her in durian and discouraged her from taking coffee… they all seemed to help slightly, especially the durian intake haa! After 2 months or so, baby’s weight increased to within the acceptable range… yay. On our 36w check-up, gynae confirmed that baby’s weight will fall within acceptable threshold when born.


The Engaged Position – not yet?!

We went for a usual gynae checkup at week 37.

A night before, wifey suddenly woke me up at 5.30am and claimed she was having contractions. My first thought was - was meimei's delivery going to be an early morning incident just like yx's??? But the contractions subsided after awhile... braxton hicks probably, PHEW CLOSE CALL! (After that day I handed over all my work stuff and was basically on standby the next 2 weeks, haha. My heart raced whenever my phone rang.)

Doc commented that wifey’s stomach looked abnormally huge for a baby about 2.4 kg. It was huge because there was a lot of amniotic fluid, he said. A possible sign of Gestational diabetes (GD), he did a prick test but nothing unusual came up. He followed up with a finger poke test to feel if baby’s head is engaged aka in breech position. Alas, he couldn’t feel the head!?

Using all his years of practice and experience, Dr Wong felt the rest of the tummy and confirmed that baby was in an oblique position… she wasn’t ready to come out? Dr Wong said the reason why baby is not engaged yet could be due to excessive amniotic fluid, baby is like “swimming and floating” in the water. He added that if baby isn’t engaged when the real contractions come, emergency csec would be recommended and even so, the delivery could be tricky too. This got us very worried. :(

Wifey read up extensively on what can be done to encourage breech position. There was no time to lose – wifey actually felt some contractions over the last few days and knew baby was coming out anytime. Here are the things she did: 1) getting down on fours, 2) me talking to baby from the position we want her to turn towards, 3) prayed, and 4) moxibustion. The latter was a rather unorthodox and uncommon method but if you google you will realise that its benefits are wondrous! My MIL was suffering from rheumatic arthritis and some other condition that prevented her from walking, she was kinda confined indoors and highly dependent on the wheelchair for movement. However, after doing moxibustion for 2 years, her legs were given new life; not only is she able to climb stairs easily now, her legs recently brought her to the summit of Bukit Timah hill all by herself! So anyway, we were rather desperate for baby to move down so MIL visited and did moxibustion on wifey, we continued the treatment by ourselves the next 2-3 days. On the 2nd day, wifey claimed that she could feel that baby has turned… we can’t be entirely sure so we continued doing what we could.

(By the way, the mucus plug came out on 19 July.)


The  30-min Delivery

21 July 19 - The day before meimei's delivery was a huge day for me too. My best bud Busy Roys was getting married (finally?) and I had promised to help out with the Brother's tasks to the best of my ability, subjected to baby's arrival (which is anytime!). In the morning, wifey felt some light contractions which increased in intensity gradually. She said to me, "I have a feeling it will be today." Besides keeping a close eye on my phone, I also asked my parents to standby, in case wifey needed to go hospital immediately. Despite this, wifey was still able to make a short visit to Roy's abode to send her congratulations, and have lunch too. But it was evident she wasn't feeling at ease... constantly monitoring the contractions and not wanting to move about too much.

Before I left house again to prepare for the evening ROM and reception, I reminded wifey to call me asap if there's a need. Kept monitoring my phone for updates... my worry was slightly alleviated by in-laws' presence with wifey and at about 9.15pm, wifey texted to say that the contractions are getting more painful now and I should come back earlier if I could. By then I had already completed 75% of my AV duties (and 50% of the 7-course dinner) and so I quickly handed over the duties to Ivan and J. It was my laptop that was connected to the system and yes there were some personal documents in the drive but I didn't had the time to care less. I managed to stick around until Busy Roy's delivered his personal thank you speech that was dedicated to Jx and myself, ensured Ivan and J were up to date on the tasks, briefed them on the equipment to safekeep for me, before I ran off at 9.50pm.

10.20pm - Got home. Situation was per normal and my in-laws and KY were just about to leave. So alright, waiting game resumes.

10.30pm - Changed out, bathed and carried out the night routine with Yx - read book, brush teeth etc. Wifey felt a pain contraction and was half curled on the bed... It went away shortly and I came out from the room leaving wifey and Yx to sleep.

11.15pm - Didn't feel full from the 50% dinner earlier. As I was anticipating anything to happen at anytime, I decided to cook myself a bowl of noodles. Can't go to war on an empty stomach, can you?

22 July 19, midnight - Wifey came out from the room and asked if my mom could come over to sleep with Yx. She took a pee and felt her water bag had burst. HOSPITAL TIME!

My mom had been as anxious as us and had packed a sleepover bag 1 week ago, actually. So she reached our house within 10 mins. In that time, wifey and I had washed up, changed and were ready to leave. Yx wasn't asleep yet (probably from all the anticipation and movement) and I remember we said bye to her before my mom shooed us to leave asap.

I SMSed Dr. Wong on the way to our car, hoping that he'll reach earlier rather than leave us at the mercy of the inexperienced midwives that we recall from our previous experience.

12.20am - In the car along PIE. Tuned in to 92.4FM trying to maintain calmness and normality when suddenly wifey's exclaimed, "Oh no!"

I thought what, baby crowning?!? So quickly?!

Water from amniotic sac flowed out all over the passenger seat. It was dark and I couldn't see; not that I cared, I was just concerened on reaching the hospital as quickly as I could! Wifey kept apologising for the mess. I assured her that it doesn't matter and just to feel relief that we're already on the way! My mind was focused on the traffic and how fast I was going - 120 km/h. Fortunately for the empty highway!

12.35am - Uh oh, wifey was experiencing great pain and wincing slightly! Reached the front door of Thomson Medical Centre. My experience with our first delivery was that there was someone manning the door in the wee hours. Even before our car got through the carpark gantry, I honked to alert someone to come quickly! I got down from the car and passed instructions to the nurse - need wheelchair! 38 weeks! Oblique position!

Wifey was clenching her teeth through a contraction and couldn't get out of the car seat. When she finally could, the nurses helped her onto the wheelchair and into the delivery ward.

12.45am - After cleaning up the passenger seat slightly, I went straight into the delivery ward to check how wifey was doing.

She had already changed into the gown. There she was, curled up on her side, breathing heavily into the gas mask like her life depended on it. To her, I'm sure she felt it was. She screamed into the mask whenever the contractions came... when the pain subsided momentarily, wifey teared and kept apologising for coming in so late. You see, she was 8cm dilated! :O

Days before, wifey had earlier decided to come in early to be in time for epidural, but at 8cm dilation epi was too late and even if the doctor was to fly down and administer it, it wouldn't have been of significant effect (and still cost $800).

This time, there were 2 midwives who attended to us. They seemed more calm and experienced and even assured us with a smile, "Even if the Dr isn't here in time, we can still do the delivery of the baby." Even if she was lying, she did a great job at lying cos that sentence coupled with her steady composure and voice put me at great ease. I noticed the gas mask was 100% sturdier than the previous time. I tried to make small talk with the midwives to distract ourselves from the pain and to soothe nerves... which proved unsuccessfully with wifey, of course.

1.00AM - WAHAHA Dr. Wong arrived 10 mins later! What a relief to see his face. He was a collected and fully focused face - he did not bother with the eye contact or hellos, he dived straight into his job. He took a quick look and so urgent was his need of attention and intervention that I didn't even notice if he washed his hands or put on a gown. He worked with the midwives to lay wifey into the delivery position, against the reluctance and numbness of her body to move at all.

(Editor's note: BY THE WAY I'M STILL FEELING BUTTERFLIES IN MY STOMACH AS I'M RECOLLECTING THE EXPERIENCE! DEEPLY INKED AND VIVID AND TRAUMATIC!)

The next few moments were deeply scary and traumatic.

Wifey was now in the delivery position - legs propped up and opened wide. Then, something happened which prompted Dr Wong's and the nurses' attention. Don't ask me what happened cos I restricted my view to between wifey's head to her pelvis, absolutely nothing south. Dr Wong needed wifey to bend her legs so he could assist, but for the last few mins wifey had been going through pain beyond imagination. Even if she could muster any energy, she needed to harness whatever joules to save herself and her breathing, what about the legs??!  Dr prompted her to bend her legs again, in a sterner voice. Catching a few whiffs in between her relentless breathing, wifey cried, "I can't!"

One of the midwives tried to say something but she was crudely interrupted by Dr Wong, whose usual smile had been replaced with dilated eyes and raised eyebrows and he resembled a school's discipline master. "C, you have to listen to me! If you don't, your baby will die inside!"

Dark thoughts flashed through my mind.







We have never, never heard him raise his voice and tone to this extent. You know this saying that if an authoritative figure is always fierce, children will gradually learn not to listen and disobey; on the other hand if that person is usually nice and only flares up occasionally, the desired action takes effect quicker? This was true - as if wifey was suddenly hypnothized, wifey suddenly paused her quick and loud breathing and reverted to normalcy. "Okay! I'm listening," she replied audibly as she somehow found strength and let go of the contractions of her leg muscles, allowing the nurse to bend them.

Push, Dr Wong encouraged.

My recent revision of labour suddenly flashed to my mind at this juncture. I reminded wifey to tuck in her chin while I support the back of her shoulders. "1, 2, push!" I urged, clenching her right hand.

On the 3rd push, baby girl was out! She was laid resting on wifey's tummy, eyes opened, body stained and bloodied, alive and breathing. ALL IS WELL! Nurse directed me to the digital clock just beside, "Nah see papa, what time is it?"

1.10am - I was plain relieved and glad to see baby girl alive and breathing. Dr Wong didn't ask me to cut the umbilical cord, nor did I remember about this until much later. The midwife didn't count baby's fingers and toes in my presence, I didn't care less. Dr had assured baby would be 2.5 - 2.7kg; though she weighed only 2.49kg this was one of my last worries. Thank God mother and baby are fine!

Our first family portrait of the 3 of us:


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

Post-delivery

Due to background of renal backflow, baby underwent kidney ultrasound on the next day. Results showed no abnormalies. TG!

Our first complete family portrait:


Many decades more to come =)=)

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Cost of having a baby in Singapore

It's not uncommon to hear citizens rant about the high cost of having a baby in Singapore. Just to document my expenditure for our 2nd pregnancy leading up to delivery and 1 month post-partum:


Still got gain leh.

I think the real impact comes from infant-care or full-day childcare, or if one decides to buy a new car and/or hire a full time domestic helper. Otherwise, delivering a baby (assume: naturally conceived) alone doesn't burn a hole in your pocket, as my tabulation above shows.

Of course, there are other necessary expenditure items after your baby is born:

- Hospitalization and surgery (Shield): $400 / year
- Insurance costs: $300-$500 / mth
- PD/GP when child is sick: $40 - $120 / visit
- Formula milk powder: $45-$60 / tin

Money aside, the joy of bringing up a child, watching him/her grow up, laughing at his/her cute antics - priceless.



Current situation: low in Maslow's

Organising and completing my Co's annual Charity Event for the industry had been an extremely fruitful and fulfilling experience. It wa...