14 January 2012, by Tan Yi Lin
Ever since Coco was born, scared as we were at the idea of introducing a tiny newborn to the strange noisy world out there (and also terrified of introducing strangers to our noisy newborn), we made it a point to continuously bring her along for outings so as to get us used to going places with a baby.
We didn’t have a choice, really. We had to bring her back to KKH to have her readmitted for jaundice and even after she was discharged after three days, we had to continuously shuttle between home and KKH to have her jaundice levels checked. All that practice helped boost our confidence in handling a baby in public and at three weeks, Coco attended her first social outing at Brotzeit. Too cool.
The next step was to let her stay in a new environment for a night during my birthday staycation on Sentosa. It wasn’t exactly fun sharing a hotel room with a 6 week old baby, but it mattered greatly to us, as brand new parents, that we succeeded in managing on our own away from home.
Following that, we attempted to “travel” using a different mode of transport (other than the car) and stay away from home for a longer period of time. We had the opportunity to do this last December when my mum booked a corporate chalet on Sultan Shoal, a tiny island off Singapore’s west coast.
Getting her to the island was easy and painless. It was reassuring that my family members would be the only people on board the boat – so nobody else would be disturbed (and traumatised) in the event that she started crying. In any case, we needn’t have worried at all – she dropped off to sleep, thanks to the rocking motion as the boat bounced over waves towards the island.
In fact, Coco seemed to adjust well to her new surroundings and was an incredibly happy baby throughout our island vacation.
It’s no wonder why – just look at all the attention she was given over these four days:
My extended family came along too – so she got showered with neverending attention as people took turns to entertain her:
…. all the way till we brought her home after three nights on the island.
It’s no wonder that Coco was a model baby and a picture of happiness (and peace for us parents) the whole time, like this:
Encouraged by the success of the Sultan Shoal stay, we again took things to the NEXT level: now it was my turn to book a corporate villa at Bintan Lagoon Resort. Our challenges were laid out for us:
1) Riding with members of the public on the ferry to and back from Bintan;
2) Handling the baby on our own, in an environment that is new to her, with no extra help from our families; and
3) Staying together with friends. While relatives wouldn’t mind her incessant fussing, we weren’t sure how our friends would take to sharing a house with a crying baby. Sure, they would be nice about it but really, we didn’t want to subject them to the torture, especially since we were the ones who organised the trip and invited people to come along with us.
As with the boat ride to Sultan Shoal, Coco fell asleep on the ferry to Bintan. We muttered our silent thanks that it wasn’t our baby who was crying on the boat and breathed a sigh of relief as we stepped onto the gangway. We had survived.
However, as the day progressed, the reason behind her good mood became apparent:
She wanted someone to carry her ALL THE TIME.
And soon, her preference became clear: IT HAD TO BE MUMMY
Sure, she would let Dad carry her as well. And she was fine with being carried by our friends too.
AS LONG AS MUMMY DIDN’T DISAPPEAR FOR LONG.
Her selective behaviour reached new heights when she started exhibiting territorial and anti-social behaviour. Some instances:
– She would fuss if I tried to join in a conversation with other people while I was carrying her. The moment I stepped away, she was fine.
– She would be happily sitting on my lap, just the two of us, but shriek when somebody tried to join us on the bench.
– She was the happiest being upstairs alone on the bed with mummy, away from our group of friends.
In a desperate bid to prevent her from crying and torturing everyone with her Coco Sonic Boom, Dan and I pandered to her whims and fancies, carrying, entertaining and feeding her whenever she fussed.
But we were on the brink of losing our patience completely when she screamed her head off – while DANNIE was carrying her. He shut himself in the games room (soundproof!) and gave her a good talking to. Not that it shut her up. Only mummy carrying her would shut her up. But Dan resolved to properly discipline her when she is old enough to comprehend what constitutes behaviour that is unacceptable to her parents.
And if screaming at her father wasn’t bad enough, Coco got so used to sleeping next to me during the Bintan stay that she came home with grand plans to continue sleeping on our bed back home. We had a rough time on our first night back in Singapore getting her to sleep in her cot. Coupled with trip fatigue from arriving back home close to midnight, it was truly exhausting for both me and Dan.
I felt like a terrible host for being with my baby ALL the time and neglecting our friends whom WE had invited along for the trip. I didn’t even feel like I spent any time with my husband at all either. It was just BABY BABY BABY throughout. Of course, our friends were very understanding and really nice about everything. But, still. We felt bad.
Nevertheless, tiring as it was, we enjoyed the time spent with our (fussy) daughter and it was fun bringing her to a real pool for the first time (as opposed to the jacuzzi tubs at Babyspa) and getting into the water with her. We also discovered her new “likes”, such as:
Shiny red nails. Totally mesmerising!
The wind blowing in her face. She REALLY loves this and squeals with excitement each time a gust of wind lifts her hair. This is one girl who is going to like riding in fast cars.
Okay, gauging from how she is staring down Cristan like some Ah Lian gangster, maybe not yet.
(Unless they have fast cars. Heard that, Cristan?)
Maybe it’s because she already knows that men just never grow up:
Two different islands.
Two completely different experiences.
We’re still working on understanding our baby, especially her recent selective behaviour and clinginess to me. I read that antisocial and separation anxiety only occurs when the child is about 8 months old. So isn’t 4 months a tad too early to be exhibiting such behaviour?
It’s just a phase, people tell us. She’ll outgrow it.