30 April 2013, by Tan Yi Lin
Say hello to the New Kid On The Blog (NKOTB)!
(Haha, so punny, if I may say so myself :D)
First up: I would like to thank all my readers for their congratulatory wishes and for taking the time to leave a note on the previous post 🙂 And as always – thank you for continuing to read this blog. I’m trying hard not to let blogging take a back seat as our lives get gradually packed with more little people and their round-the-clock demands!
Friends and readers have asked how Coco is taking to her new baby sister. I have stories and (tonnes of) pictures to share of the pair of tiny sisters – in a later entry. This entry will touch on our daily routine as we learn to cope with a 20-month old and a 19-day old in the house.
Good Morning, World!
7.00 am – 8.15 am:
It’s rise and shine for me, Dan and Coco. He brings Coco to our room and she snuggles between us in our bed as she drinks her milk. I breastfeed Claire if she’s awake. If not, I express a bottle of milk for my mum to feed while I accompany Dan to drop Coco off at school.
My mum cleans Coco and changes her into shorts and a tee for school (she’s still too small to fit into her school uniform) while Dan and I wash up.
8.15 am – 9.00 am:
We leave the house and drop Coco off in school at about 8.30 am. We have been very, very fortunate that Coco took well to school before Claire arrived and now loves going every morning (more on that in another entry.) Things would have been A LOT more challenging if she had decided that she didn’t like school.
Dan and I have a simple breakfast at one of the eateries within the building and make a quick exit before the 30 minutes grace period for parking is up. Sometimes, we pop into the nearby supermarket to pick up some groceries or baby necessities en route home.
9.00 am – 12 noon:
Mornings are leisurely because, unlike Coco who either wanted to nurse non-stop or fussed to be carried all the time, Claire pretty much eats and sleeps (on the rocker – not in our arms!) through the entire morning. My mum gives Claire her bath between 11 am to 12 noon before she (my mum, not Claire) has her lunch and prepares to leave for the office. I eat my catered confinement meal, which is delivered to our house twice a day for lunch and dinner.
In the meantime, Dan works from home or heads out for morning meetings.
12 noon – 7 pm:
Dan picks Coco up from school and sends her to my aunt’s place. My aunt used to come over to look after Coco while Dan and I worked. Two weeks prior to Claire’s arrival, we started bringing Coco over instead in case she got overly sticky and possessive after Claire arrived. We’ve realised that it’s a better arrangement for them all – it’s cooler in a high-rise flat, Coco gets an alternative play area and playthings from what she has at home, my aunt and uncle are more comfortable in their own house, and the three of them just love walking to the shops, eateries and playgrounds at the town centre every evening.
My aunt gives Coco her bath, another bottle of milk and puts her down for her afternoon nap. Coco has her dinner there as well.
Claire eats and sleeps away the afternoon, allowing me the luxury of enjoying my own afternoon siesta while she naps.
7 pm – 9 pm:
Dannie picks Coco up and brings her home. This is when things get a little hectic as Claire is at her most awake and alert in the evening. Both babies demand for attention (usually mine – since Coco doesn’t see me for most of the day and Claire is in the mood to cluster feed), leaving us feeling pretty stretched.
We juggle the best we can. With Coco, we either play with her or seat her at the table while we have dinner while another family member tends to Claire. I rush through my meal because either the toddler gets restless and requests to be taken down from her high chair (and then tries to drag me away from the table to play with her) or the newborn starts screaming for milk.
After dinner, Dan bathes her while I shower. My mum gives Claire an evening wipe-down. My dad entertains whichever baby gets cranky. The helper whisks away the day’s load of dirty laundry and puts the diapers out in the trash. I pop back downstairs to make Coco her evening milk and to heat up a bottle of expressed breast milk for Claire. Dan stays on to wash the used milk bottles and Coco’s high chair.
The whole operation rolls smoothly like oiled machinery. We work like a line of seasoned factory workers – churning out one clean baby after another.
9 pm – 10 pm:
I sit with Coco on our bed while Dan takes a shower. On most nights, this is my ‘alone’ time with Coco (but of course, Dan is most welcome to join us if he likes.) We let her play with some toddler apps on the iPad. She usually chooses to do puzzles or listen to stories and songs. I read her a book or two, such as one from her Maisy Mouse collection, or a story written in lilting rhyme like The Snail And The Whale or Goodnight Moon.
On some nights, Dan narrates a story and gently lulls Coco to sleep while drinks her milk. On others, I sing a song of her choice as she snuggles close in the crook of my arm(pit) and drops off to sleep.
Once she’s fast asleep, Dan moves her over to her room.
In the meantime, my mum feeds Claire her bottle of milk, rocks her to sleep and pops the sleeping baby into her cot in our room. I hook myself up to the breast pump to make up for the missed nursing session and bottle the expressed milk for use the following evening. The day’s baby-centred logistics end with me washing pump parts and popping them into the steriliser for use later in the night.
All Night Long
10 pm – 7 am:
I rouse once or twice during the night to tend to Claire. I’m immensely thankful for this sweet little baby who only wakes every four hours or so for a feed and diaper change, and goes right back to sleep after that. She burps like a champ – big, loud, satisfying ones like a coffeeshop uncle – and farts and poops like a charm. Back then with Coco, we would spend the entire night on the move, either feeding, burping (which she took forever to do) or pacing the floor repeatedly to pacify the screaming, gassy infant in our arms. With Claire, I can actually sleep!
On nights when Claire can go for more than four hours without feeding, I wake up to wet chest and groggily drag myself up to express the excess milk to relieve the pressure in my boobs, and to prevent Claire from choking on the rapid flow when she next nurses. A good part of the night is also spent cleaning explosive poop-fests typical of breast-fed newborns.
As you can see, we’re managing rather well – with the help of an entire village, for which I am eternally grateful for. We have also learnt from past mistakes, such as my previous stubbornness on insisting on total breastfeeding when I wasn’t producing enough milk. Poor Coco cried non-stop from hunger and was warded for phototherapy because she wasn’t drinking enough fluids to flush out the bilirubin in her body. With Claire, we supplemented her feeds with formula to keep her sated and hydrated (and to also give some respite to my poor bleeding nipples during the first week).
But behind the smoothly-turning cogs and wheels of this well-oiled machinery, there are cracks.
For one, the constant need to attend to one baby or the other means that Dan and I hardly get to sit down to dinner as a couple anymore, much less for a family meal with my parents and siblings.
Also, Coco’s teachers recently reported that she’s been looking very tired in school. We put it down to picking her up too late from my aunt’s place (on some days, she only gets home past 8pm) and being too lax with her bedtime.
During particularly hectic evenings, everybody gets hot and bothered (no thanks to the ridiculous heat wave, insane humidity and ‘heaty’ confinement food). Fuses get short and people (i.e. me) get snappish.
These past few days have been particularly taxing with Coco down with flu – putting both me and Claire at risk of catching the bug. In a single week, our bed has been stained thrice by the contents of Claire’s diaper blow-outs and Coco’s regurgitated dinner. Our poor helper has been changing and laundering our sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers all week.
But most painful of all, was the heart-wrenching realisation that I missed Coco very very much because I’ve been busy with Claire and Coco spends most of the day outside of home. Last week, I bathed Coco for the first time since entering the final trimester of my second pregnancy – when my burgeoning belly and thereafter the painful stitches – made bending and stooping near impossible. It hit me then how much she has grown. As I sang Rock-A-Bye-Baby to her that night, I started tearing uncontrollably when I realised again that Coco is fast outgrowing her baby-ness and felt so guilty for not noticing it sooner. I wished that I could turn back time and relive the moments that I had missed.
We’re still trying to get used to our ‘new’ life as parents to two very young children and working out how we can give Claire the care that she needs, and yet not shortchange Coco of the attention that she’s used to getting. On top of that, there’s also couple time, family time, work demands, social gatherings and ‘me’ time to squeeze in. It’s all very taxing, perplexing (how do other people do it?!?!) and definitely very much work-in-progress.
If only time and attention could multiply in tandem with each new addition to the family, and grow in sync with the size of our hearts as they overflow with love for each child.
I guess we’ll just have to slowly figure out how this parenting thing works, one step at a time.