19 August 2010, by Jaime Teo

Choices (Part 1)

Life is full of choices. There’s the daily “rice or noodles, fish or chicken?” variety, and there’s the mid-term “this job or that job?”, and since we are on maybebaby.sg, there’s the permanent “have baby or not, one baby or two?” sort. I realised recently that being a parent exponentially increases the number of choices I have to make in life. I also realised that the effect of every choice I make may not be what I expect.

Let’s take breastfeeding for example.

It’s never been a question for me whether or not to breastfeed. Everybody advocates how good for the baby it is and everybody says it is a blessing if you are physically able to. As if the wellbeing of your baby isn’t good enough reason, there are also many other benefits thrown in. I remember this piece of advice from (Tan) Kheng Hua because she was one of the first few to know about my pregnancy as we were working together on a sitcom called “Mr and Mrs Kok” at that time. She shared tips of her own motherhood journey and told me in all seriousness : “No matter how much you feel like giving up on breastfeeding, you must persevere ok? Just keep thinking “Lose Weight Fast!”

I must have missed the veiled warning at that time, and was just pleased that I was going to lose weight fast. It may also be because I’ve seen my sister exclusively breastfeed both her boys (now age 7 and 3) for 2 years plus each and have never heard a peep of complaint from her. It can’t be all that difficult.

When Renee arrived, I totally understood what Kheng Hua meant. Let’s just say it wasn’t a walk in the park for me because I had mastitis, which is a breast infection due to engorgement. Since Renee is a first time baby just as I am a first time mother, we both didn’t quite know how to do our jobs. She didn’t know how to latch on properly and I didn’t know how to help her or myself. I remember very vividly on an occasion when she was crying and I was crying, the husband looked at us and said “Now now, let’s not cry over spilt milk”. I couldn’t help laughing at the pun and the situation suddenly became funny. It’s true that you can survive any situation you can laugh at. And it’s also true that you love your spouse on a new level when you embark on the parenting journey together.

I digress. So back to those trying days – I saw a lactation consultant and was advised to feed Renee expressed milk through a bottle while I was recovering. It worried me when she started wanting ONLY the bottle because I didn’t want to lose the “feed her anywhere, anytime” advantage and that was very important to me. To be honest, giving up didn’t crossed my mind because another motivation for me to continue, was my intention to go travelling. Soon. Breastfeeding means I do not have to bring bottles to wash, or worry about contaminated bottles or the temperature of the milk.

So I made sure she didn’t drink from a bottle for a month after that.

All was going well, we managed to go travelling plus like what Kheng Hua said, my weight was also dropping fast.

 Just when I was patting myself on the back and saying “Good job with the breastfeeding”, I discovered the double edged sword I had handed myself.

<to be continued>

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