29 July 2008

Hurricane of Hair

Vera's abundant newborn tuft of hair has almost completely shed off, revealing new strands perfectly formed in a cyclone. It's just a strange thought, that something so tiny shares the exact shape with a weather phenomenon of such mega proportions.

So what is big and what is small? Perhaps they are one and the same.

26 July 2008

Sleep Smiling

At 5am this morning, I caught Vera smiling at Tiny 3 times in her sleep. Must be dreaming about him...

23 July 2008

A Small Scare

Last night, we had to change Vera's tube. Problem was, she was sound asleep and we didn't want to wake her.

I could do this easy, I thought. I'd done it before when she was sleeping and she didn't feel a thing.

This time however, it went awfully wrong.

Once I'd inserted the tube, she choked. That's normal. But then, her whole body suddenly became stiff, hands straight like rods, her eyes opened wide and staring.

Ian! Come quick! I called. The thought flashed through my mind: Is she having fits? Is she going to die?

Immediately, we pulled the tube out, and shook her. (Should we be shaking her?)

Ian carried her and thankfully, she started to cry. What a relief.

When she stopped, I started to cry uncontrollably. The shock and the thought that I caused it was too much to bear.

"Just do what's needed," Ian said. Meaning to reinsert the tube. Because it was time for her next feed.

So, much as I didn't want to, I regained my composure and did it.

I thought to myself, if I can't handle one small scare like this, how am I going to handle much worse?

21 July 2008

Happy 5th Month

This is 'Tiny' (pro-nounced Tinny), Vera's boyfriend. Look at how happy she is when she sees him. Guess she'll be celebrating her 5th month with him. So fast forget us already.

My Weakness

...is my tiredness.

Months of waking up in the middle of the night have finally reached burnout point.

Initially, it was still manageable. I could do it, wake up and sleep on demand.

As the weeks go by, it's getting harder and harder. Tiredness sets in earlier and for longer.

I get ugly when I'm tired. I get cranky, grouchy, my body shuts down. I don't feel like picking a crying baby up.

Ian picks up when I drop the ball. And it's a lot of the time now. So he gets really...you guessed it, Tired.

Life now is just one big Rush.

Rush to work. Rush to finish work. Rush home from work. Rush to finish dinner. Rush to bathe. Rush to feed Vera. Rush to prepare milk.

Just so that I can work in enough sleep to wake up in the middle of the night not feeling like a zombie.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

18 July 2008

To Know or Not to Know?

Reading the views of T18 mothers on pre-natal diagnosis has led me to form my own opinion on this:

If I could do it all over again, would I have done an amnio and terminated my pregnancy upon learning of the diagnosis?

One year ago, the answer was yes. I had gone for the NT test to look for Downs. If that had been positive, I was prepared to terminate the pregnancy.

Today, my perspective has changed totally.

Thank goodness I wasn't "old" enough to be offered an amnio (Usually for women 35 & above).
Thank goodness I didn't have to find out about Vera's diagnosis prenatally.
Thank goodness I didn't have to be under pressure from whoever to terminate the pregnancy. Thank goodness I didn't have to live with 6 months of trauma, worry and uncertainty.

You see, from what Vera has shown us, I've learnt that even the most "hopeless" diagnosis does not give anyone the prerogative to pass a death sentence on life.

Life, once formed, must decide for itself how long it wishes to sustain itself.

Sometimes I think to myself, now wouldn't Vera be mightily upset and indignant if we had known prenatally and toyed with the idea of terminating the pregnancy?

"What? You doubt my fighting spirit?" she'd probably say. "I struggled to sustain on just one artery for nutrients in your umbilical cord while my peers have two, and managed to come out looking not too bad, don't you think?"

"Look at me, I'm still here. Luckily you did not pull the plug on me. Otherwise you would have really regretted not knowing a charming babe like me ha ha ha. (Of course, I know I can be quite a ruckus most of the time.)"

Bottom line is: So what if you know prenatally? Would you know whether it's really a lost cause? For sure?

Vera has spoken: No.

I'm glad she got the benefit of the doubt.

17 July 2008

It's Playtime!

Vera loves playtime. Just look at her.

Sometimes she'll smile, but even if she doesn't, she has this perpetual happy look.

Somehow, raising her hands all the way up, and tapping them on her body seem to illicit this look of joy on her face.

Each session doesn't last long however, maybe 10 minutes, and usually it's in the earlier part of the day.

If you wanna catch Vera in a good mood, mornings are best!

Hand Raising

"Teacher, I have a question. Er....forget what it was.
Lemme think."

16 July 2008

A Mother's Instinct

This morning, sitting at my desk at work, I suddenly caught a whiff of Vera's sour-smelling poo.

"Is she poo-ing?" I sms-ed Ian. "I can smell it."

"Yes big one," he replied.

Unbelievable, isn't it? A mother is so tuned to her baby's channel.

15 July 2008

Life is Life

I reproduce here a quote from Mother Teresa:

"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it."

Tube Insertion 101

Vera hates this. And we hate to do it.

Everytime we touch her chin, she knows what's coming. She uses her hands to fight it off and starts wailing.

She chokes as the tube goes down her throat. It's painful to watch, but it's something that has to be done. So we do it.

You'd think it's over once the tube is nicely in place. Wrong.

Vera keeps pushing the tube with her tongue and it gets wet with saliva.

The tape comes loose, the tube shifts to the side of her tongue, tickles her throat and she throws up.

Clean up milky mess. Change her clothes. Change the sheets. Change the tape (which irritates her throat again).

New tape gets wet with saliva. And the whole process repeats itself.

What's the alternative? Putting a button in her tummy or, training her slowly to swallow. It may be a long shot, but hey, I know of one mother who has succeeded in getting her T18 infant to take milk by mouth after 6 months on the tube.

There is hope yet.

We may know what Vera cannot do now. But you never know what she can .

14 July 2008

Milk Angel

4.5kg at 4.5 months - that's where Vera's at right now. There's a pink glow in her chubby cheeks, not to mention her buttcheeks. She's even developed a double chin.

She's a really lucky girl. A milk angel has been giving her breastmilk to Vera for over 3 months now. It is the best gift Vera can receive, because it gives her much needed immunity against common infections.

Milk angel, thank you for making such a big difference to a little life.

Learning from Penguins

The heart-wrenching film 'March of the Penguins' aired on TV last night and I caught it a second time.

It's a movie that will move any parent because you're in the penguins' shoes.

For 2 bitter winter months, Papa Penguin holds a fragile little egg between his feet, protecting it from the arctic ice storms, while Momma penguin journeys to find food.

Of course, my day job is nowhere as treacherous, and bringing food home is more like getting "takeaway".

But my focus here is on Papa Penguin.

He doesn't eat for 2 months. He stands motionless for 2 months lest he drops the egg. When the chick hatches and Momma isn't back in time, he regurgitates an emergency morsel of food he's been storing for 2 months for his chick. And when Momma comes home fully fed, then he begins HIS long journey to find food for his starving body.

Watching Papa Penguin, I couldn't help but develop a new awe for the animal race.

And a deep respect for my husband.

11 July 2008

Little by Little

When Vera is sleeping, feeding her gives me lots of time to stare at the milk going down.

And there's so much you can learn from the exercise.

Like the fact that when you're in no particular hurry to have it go down (because she's sleeping), and don't pay attention, it goes down really fast!

But when she's fussing and you're desperate for it to disappear so you can put an end to her misery (and yours), you can stare all you want and it seems to take forever to move down a notch.

It's a lot like life, isn't it? The more badly you want something, the more you focus on it, the more it doesn't seem to move in the way you want. Let it go, forget about it, do something else, and when you come back, chances are, things are going the way you want.

Also, when I'm tired, the milk is akin to my patience level: Going down. But when Vera is sweetly sleeping like an angel, I look at it and see it as time with her, slowly running out.

At other times, I see how the amount of effort that goes into bringing up a baby...and what a slow process it is.

Diaper by diaper, bath by bath, syringe by syringe.

10 July 2008

Do It Anyway

If my baby cannot see
I'll smile at her anyway.

If my baby cannot hear
I'll sing to her anyway.

If my baby cannot understand
I'll explain to her anyway.

If my baby cannot hug me
I'll cuddle her anyway.

If my baby cannot call me mummy
I'll be her mother anyway.

If my baby should one day leave
She'll be with me anyway.

Ways of Seeing

If there's one thing that Vera has taught me, it is this: A lot of things in life depend on how you choose to see it.

Do you see Vera's right eye that cannot see, or Vera's left eye that can almost see?

Do you see Vera's tag on her cheek as a blemish or a really big dimple?

Do you see Vera's clenched fists or fingers that hold your hand and won't let go?

Do you see Vera's left ear that cannot hear or her right that can?

Do you see Vera smaller than any baby her age or growing amazingly well for an Edwards baby?

Do you see a child that won't be here for a lifetime, or a child that's here now in your life?

I choose to see the latter in all the above.

09 July 2008

88 Years Apart

...together forever in one photo.

Vera is 4th in a line of first daughters - my grandma, my mother and me.

This is one of those photos you keep in your heart forever.

04 July 2008

Biggest Smile Yet

Vera is a morning person. Wanna see her flash her pearlies...err, I mean soon-to-be pearlies? Wake up at 7am!


Our little friend like to live dangerously.

Cool cucumber

Last Sunday, we brought Vera to Pasir Ris park. She was shielding the sun from her eyes.

Daddy lent her his shades.

02 July 2008

I Am The Child

I reproduce this article here by an unknown author because it moved me to tears.

I Am The Child

I am the child who cannot talk. You often pity me. I see it in your eyes. You wonder how much I am aware of...I see that as well. I am aware of much...whether you are happy or sad or fearful, patient or impatient, full of love and desire, or are just doing your duty by me.

I marvel at your frustration, knowing mine to be far greater for I cannot express myself nor my needs as you do. You cannot conceive my isolation, so complete it is at times.

I do not gift you with clever conversation, cute remarks to be laughed over and repeated, I do not give you answers to your everyday questions, responses over my well-being, sharing my needs, or comments about the world around me. I do not give you rewards as defined by the world's standards...great strides in developments that you can credit yourself; I do not give you understanding as you know it.

What I give you is so much more valuable...I give you instead opportunities.

Opportunities to discover the depth of your character, not mine; the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities; the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible.I drive you further than you would ever go on your own, working harder, seeking answers to your many questions, creating questions with no answers.

I am the child who cannot talk. I am the child who cannot walk. The world sometimes seems to pass me by. You see the longing in my eyes to get out of this chair, to run and play like other children. There is much you take for granted. I want the toys on the shelf, I need to go to the bathroom, Oh I've dropped my spoon again. I am dependent on you in these ways.

My gift to you is to make you aware of your fortune - our healthy back and legs, your ability to do things for yourself. Sometimes people appear not to notice me, I always notice them. I feel not so much envy as desire, desire to stand upright, to put one foot in front of the other, to be independent.

I am the child who cannot walk. I am the child who is mentally impaired. I don't learn as easily, if you judge me by the world's measuring stick.

What I do know is the infinite joy in the simple things. I am not burdened as you are with the strife's and conflicts of a more complicated life. My gift to you is to grant you the freedom to enjoy things as a child, to teach you how much your arms around me mean, to give you love.

I am your teacher. If you allow me, I will teach you what is really important in life. I will give you and teach you unconditional love. I gift you with my innocent trust, my dependency upon you, I teach you of respect for others and their uniqueness. I teach you about how very precious this life is and about not taking things for granted. I teach you about forgetting your own needs and desires and dreams. I teach you about giving. Most of all I teach you hope and faith. I am the disabled child.

01 July 2008

That Baby Smell

No perfume in the world can match it. A baby's head has a scent that can melt your heart. A full milk diet, sweat and flaky cradle cap combine to create a heady musky smell that gives this mommy a real high.

Who needs heroin? I've got Vera.