26 September 2011, by Tan Yi Lin
The little Coco bean turned one month old earlier this week on 22 September.
The passing of the first month marks many milestones for both parents and baby.
For us, I’m happy to report that, under tutelage from my mum who took leave for a month to help us, we seem to have mastered the basics of babycare over these four weeks – feeding (both breast and bottle), diaper changes, bathing, putting her to bed and even going for outings with the baby. We are starting to decipher and understand what her different cries mean and are thus able to anticipate and tend to her needs better – and faster. And believe it or not – I’m actually getting sufficient sleep (I know, because a telling sign of lack of sleep is when you keep trying to use a disposable breast pad as a panty liner and you wonder why it doesn’t fit. Well, I don’t do dumb stuff like that anymore.) The learning curve is steep and the journey can be trying at times, but we know we can do it.
For the baby, it’s amazing how much she has grown and developed in just 30 days. She has already outgrown some of the newborn-sized diapers and clothes. Her eye and body movements are a lot more controlled and coordinated, and her little neck is strong enough for her to momentarily lift her head and turn it from side to side while she lies on her tummy. She gives rapt attention to mobiles and picture cards, and she’s starting to coo. It’s amazing to watch and spot the difference that each day brings.
I started on this entry when I was 39 weeks pregnant. The opening paragraph was about how we were doing nothing but wait and do nonsense things like re-examining what was left of my belly button for the upteenth time. Dan had updated his Facebook status to say that we were waiting for the “bloody show” to start, which got people all excited and wishing us good luck. They didn’t think it was very funny when he clarified that we had borrowed DVDs to pass the time and were waiting for the movie Red Riding Hood to load. Yeah, he was literally crying wolf.
Well, we managed to finish watching our DVD but I never got to complete my entry.
Colette arrived a few days later, two days earlier than the estimated due date.
THE IVF EXPERIENCE
All that waiting has certainly taught me a lesson in patience. Not only while waiting out those last few days of the pregnancy, or during the ten long months of gestation. Our journey to parenthood started in June 2010 when we embarked on a long winding road called IVF and 15 months later, here we are – trying to frantically finish this blog entry as the baby stirs in her sleep.
I took a walk down memory lane by revisiting my older posts in which I chronicled our eventful journey down our chosen path and summarised it below, in hope that it would aid readers who are taking the same route to parenthood.
We talked about fertility matters – not just between us as a couple, but with our immediate family. We knew that IVF was going to be a major part of our lives in the coming months and we wanted the support of our loved ones on this journey. Telling it like it is had the added benefit of getting inquisitive relatives off our backs – no one could say what we were childless for the lack of trying. Our family’s support has been invaluable throughout this time – and continues to be so with the arrival of a newborn baby. We had no qualms about telling close friends either. Opening up makes the journey a lot less lonely.
We received the test results. Sad to say, our chances of conceiving naturally didn’t look very promising. We chose to take the Fast Forward in our race against time and signed up for the IVF programme at KKH with the help of a Government grant. I took a stock take on my personal life and career, bit the bullet and moved IVF to the top of Life’s priority list, never mind the little sacrifices that had to be made along the way.
On 29 July, I started the first of my Lucrin jabs, which were to be self-administered daily for two weeks before I given a second drug to add to the cocktail mix. Thankfully, I experienced very mild side effects from the jabs – and very strong support from many of our friends who knew that we were undergoing IVF treatment.
On 12 Aug, I started administering a shot of Puregon daily to help “grow” multiple follicles and thus, eggs. This, in addition to the Lucrin jabs, continued for another 12 days. On 25 August, I was given Pregnyl to initiate ovulation and the soon after, we were back at KKH to deliver one sperm sample and retrieve 22 eggs. In short: Egg Pick-up. Sperm Drop.
Sperm met eggs in a test tube, resulting in four usable embryos – four chances to grow a baby. Two embryos were implanted into my womb as part of the fresh cycle. The remaining two were sent to the the equivalent of Antarctica to be deep frozen for use later in the frozen cycle. It was the start of the agonising Two Week Wait until the pregnancy test scheduled for 15 September *drums fingers*
On 13 September, my period arrived. Round 1 of IVF had failed.
In an amazing turn of circumstances, I won a free ticket to Italy. We decided to take a short break from IVF but nevertheless, continue walking the path to parenthood.
We waited. Waited for our Italy vacation. Waited for my period to normalise. Waited for the next round of IVF. This round of waiting was worse than the 2WW because there were no “next steps” to look forward to; no test results to anticipate; no milestones to track. It felt like we’re in limbo.
Nevertheless, life had to go on. I read, wrote, travelled and watched movies to pass the time. And we were OK. We may have been in transit, but we knew we had a destination to reach. In the meantime, we made the most out of the additional couple time that we had been given before a baby came along.
At the end of this month, my period made a welcomed return and we commenced the frozen cycle.
3 December: We returned to the KKH IVF Centre to have the last two remaining embryos implanted. I was a little nervous as there was no guarantee that the tiny little things would thaw successfully and still be fit for the transfer. Thankfully, the thawing went well and we left with two little humans-to-be floating around in Galaxy Utero. Over the next 17 days until the pregnancy test scheduled for 20 September, I tried my best to keep occupied.
20 December: After two weeks of almost going insane, the HCG blood test yielded a positive result. I was finally pregnant! We didn’t know yet whether only one or both embryos had implanted. Nevertheless, it was the best Christmas present ever and a fitting closing to the end of 2010.
The new year marked the start of a new phase of the journey for us – the pregnancy. I opened the year with a note of gratitude.
On 3 January, we headed back to KKH for the first ultrasound scan at six weeks of pregnancy. And that was when we had the first glimpse at Colette – all 7mm of her. It could have been considered “too early” to start spreading the good news that soon, but I had no qualms about sharing my joy with my friends and colleagues.
For once, we survived the Lunar New Year without being harangued by overly-inquisitive relatives on when were we going to “settle down” and have a baby. No prizes for guessing why!
The first trimester saw me wolfing down more frequent meals due to an increasing appetite (what nausea?!), with the exception of fried and spicy food which gave me painful bouts of heartburn. Other than also feeling extremely fatigued by 9pm every day, the pregnancy progressed very smoothly and after 14 weeks, I finally FINALLY crossed into the second trimester. With the fears of the first trimester safely gone, my next immediate worry was – where was I going to find clothes to fit my growing belly?
In other less depressing news, I started to miss teh-si. Badly. I distracted myself by finding new ways to bond with my baby in utero. Sometime this month, we embarked on the first of two babymoons to Bali. Ahhhhh…. nice.
This month, we tried to grow a smarter baby. Just kidding! But now that she’s out, no harm tracking to see if she hits her developmental milestones earlier than expected!
On 8 April at the 20th week “detailed” scan, after months of guessing games, we found out that we were having a baby girl 🙂 Sugar and spice and all things nice. Pure sweetness. She received her first toy – a handmade bespoke sock doll called Bunny Carotene.
This is when we also worked out the infantcare options for when the baby arrives.
On the in utero learning front, we started experimenting with music, in particular Mozart! Nowadays, I play the same tunes on my iPhone while breastfeeding her. Even if the music has no effect on the baby, I certainly find it very soothing – and a little less boring – to have some classical masterpieces to enjoy while nursing.
My lovely girlfriends threw a triple baby shower for me and two other expectant mums. In the same month, we celebrated Mother’s Day and our second babymoon to the Maldives. Celebrations galore!
And all too soon, it was the end of the second trimester.
The start of the third trimester – and a fast burgeoning belly – makes it harder to find “do-able” activities to keep fit. But I tried anyway and found a few workable fitness options. We progressed nicely with our antenatal classes at KKH – and had lots of fun too! We did other fun stuff like guess who the baby would resemble in terms of looks (and till today, we can’t quite tell. She seems like a good mix of DanYilin) and tried to enjoy the pregnancy as much as possible before the belly gets out of hand (literally).
This month was all about making preparations for the baby’s arrival – not just in terms of getting baby stuff, but also keeping in mind all the administrative paperwork that would have to be done… soon. To date, I still use that blog entry as a reference.
In other news, I got riled by some insensitive comments that were said to a friend who is trying to conceive – and that sparked off another spiel about the difficulties some people face in trying to conceive.
On a much brighter note, we did our “Bloom” shots at The Studio Loft. Photographer Maryann Koh sure knows how to make women look “bloomingly beautiful” even in their 34th week of pregnancy. Behind that glowing outer appearance, I was starting to feel physically uncomfortable in this late stage of the journey.
Preparations for the labour and delivery continued as I took a tour of the maternity and delivery facilities at KKH and drew up my birth plan. On the homefront, we filled the drawers with tiny freshly-laundered baby clothes, made some DIY cot mobiles for the baby and packed The Bag.
On 22 August at 9.27am, we welcomed little Colette into our family 🙂
22 Septemper 2011
In the blink of an eye, one month has passed. We are amazed at how much our little baby has grown from a scrawny wrinkled newborn to a chubby-cheeked infant. At times, I gaze at her while she is sleeping and my eyes inadvertently well up with tears when I think of how far she has come from being that minuscule bunch of cells that we saw on a monitor in the IVF clinic. She is such a little fighter – how many of us in our adulthood could have survived such a harsh freeze-thaw procedure? To think that her precious little life could have been snuffed out at the embryo stage, just like the other three before her, is heartrending indeed.
We celebrated her tiny-ness with a Teeny Weeny shoot at 16 days old (by The Studio Loft, of course!):
Celebrating Colette’s first month with family and friends with a beautiful cake baked by my mum:
Even the folks at our office got to taste some of my mum’s delicious handiwork:
Happy First Month, my little sweetheart!
Our efforts to attain “parenthood status” may have ended with your much anticipated arrival, but the journey doesn’t end here. Parenthood is a life-long lesson and we’re here to continue learning and honing our parenting skills, so as to be the very best parents that we can be, for you.