30 December 2011, by Tan Yi Lin
What a year it has been.
For one, I can scarce believe that I have been blogging on MaybeBaby for the second year straight, faithfully putting in close to 50 entries this year. How on earth did I find so much to say?! I had to revisit my past entries to recall what exactly I have been sharing about my life throughout this year.
2011 has been good to us. At this time last year, I wrapped up 2010 by announcing my pregnancy – so precious and precarious at a mere 5 weeks – to the world. We opened 2011 with our first antenatal check-up on 3 January and following that, it was a smooth 35-weeks ride all the way till Coco was born.
Today, our little daughter is 4 months and 8 days old. It is also Dannie’s birthday today (but we shant reveal how old he is… heh) And also the eve of New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow, we countdown to a New Year and leave the past behind us.
But there are some moments and emotions that I experienced in 2011 that I wish I could savour.
Such as the amazement at seeing our baby for the first time – a tiny 7mm-long squiggle on the ultrasound machine.
Such as the mixture of fear, uncertainty and excitement when I felt the first signs of labour and kept asking, “Is this it? Is this really happening now?”
(As memorable as the labour was, it’s not really an experience that I would want to re-live (except, of course, when the next baby comes along.) So let’s skip to the part after the labour…)
I wish I could experience again the moment Coco was placed – skin to skin – on my chest, howling like a banshee and yet the very moment I held her, she stopped. As if by magic. As if she knew she was with mummy.
The first time she latched on – just like that – was special (although the days that followed when she was glued to me 24/7 screaming for the milk that I didn’t have enough of weren’t too much fun.)
The days after that – although recent – already seem like a blur.
It’s not only the joyful moments that are hard to let go of. In fact, the negative memories are just as difficult – if not more so – to leave behind. And yet, these are the ones that should be buried with the passing of the year.
A particularly bad memory that remains in my mind – clear as day (despite me being shocked until my mind went blank at the callousness of it all) – was when a visitor at the hospital told me, barely 3 hours after I had delivered, “You took an epidural? OH YOUR LABOUR WAS NOT REAL LAH!” It was so hurtful that my eyes welled up immediately and my face was wet with tears for hours after that.
I can’t think of anything more damaging to say to a new first-time mother, freshly-minted, just 3 hours into motherhood. I know that I shouldn’t bear a grudge. Especially since the person who said it has since realised and apologised for her mistake. But such an experience is hard to forget. Maybe with time, I will.
That wasn’t the only episode of downtrodding I experienced for choosing to take an epidural. Another mother also exclaimed in mock horror, “You mean you caved in? But WHY? I pushed my babies out the all natural way!” (*smirk*)
By then, I didn’t find such comments hurtful any more. Just irritating. Maybe that’s why I’m constantly defending the epidural option. Because I need to prove that my labour wasn’t any less real than all these other women’s.
Nevertheless, I look forward to the New Year and the good things that come with it. Coco’s first word. Her first step. Her first trip to the beach. Her first swim. Her first birthday.
I even welcome the challenging times that 2012 will bring – something that we are already experiencing right now with our 4-month old daughter.
Between her 3rd and 4th month, I noticed an unmistakeable transformation in Coco’s behaviour. She changed from a clueless newborn to a miniature person with her own character. She developed a newfound sense of awareness of her environment. She started recognising people and places. And with that, started making demands, not necessarily by voicing them, but also through very clear actions.
Such as lifting her arms to be carried or pulled up to a seated position.
Arching her back to signal that she didn’t want to lie flat or be carried in a horizontal position.
Reaching out and grabbing at things that she wants (she manhandled and tried to eat my dad’s prized orchid flower that was swaying in the breeze when I walked past it while carrying her)….
… and showing a distinct preference for toys that she likes (her favourite grubby squeaky panda toy) while treating others with utmost boredom (like the stuffed carrot.)
Trying to get attention by fake-coughing and complaining loudly (“eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh *repeat 1000 times*)
She has started waking up in the middle of the night again. Typical of 4-month old babies, people said. Regressive behaviour, they termed it. But no – I realised that Coco was not regressing into a newborn. Her fussing was not the same as that of a clueless baby who was waking up lost, confused and alone in his new nighttime environment. Rather, she was demanding for attention and company, and when she got it – in the form of me stumbling over, hanging over the edge of her cot and hushing and patting her – she went right back to sleep. She knew what she wanted – and has learnt how to get it.
And this is what we are grappling with now: Having very clear ideas about who is allowed to carry her.
She wants Mummy Mummy Mummy and can be inconsolable until I take over the screaming flailing baby from whoever is carrying her. She tracks my movements with her eyes; turns her head towards the sound of my voice. She is also very selective about who else she wants besides me.
We didn’t expect this to happen so soon. We thought most babies were blissfully undiscerning and would be happy to be carried by just anybody. It is frustrating for the people whom she rejects – like Dan and my in-laws – and also for me because I find it difficult to do anything else when she’s stuck to me like a baby koala. Plus, it’s painful to see people, who love her and want to hold her, give up on consoling her and retreat back into their shells to do their own thing.
We are working through the challenges now – let’s see where we go from here!
2011 has been good to us. May 2012 be an even better year – both for us and for all of you.
Happy New Year everybody. Thank you for reading and for your constant support and encouragement. May 2012 see the fulfilment of your heart’s desires, whatever that may be.
See you next year!