Nursing Mom’s Food For Thoughts


12 – 15 years ago the term BREASTFEEDING was not a cool word mothers want to associate themselves with, here in Malaysia. It simply was NOT chic to say you nurse your baby. In fact, I started breastfeeding feeling dejected because the nurse at the hospital from where I gave birth to my first son, Cheeky Koko, now 12, took one mean glance at the miserable 1 oz breast milk I managed to pump after hoarding the hospital pump for 2.5 hours at Day 4 postnatal (we have readmitted to treat Cheeky koko’s jaundice) and declared me a non-productive failure.

At home most visiting relatives told me I was starving my baby because he was crying to be fed every one to two hours. “He must be hungry because you don’t have enough milk!” was the most common comments because they got used to seeing placid, gentle babies who were formula fed and slept through 3 to 4 hours per stretch of nap time.

If there was only one good thing about me, it must be that I was courageous (and rebellious) in my love for my baby enough to prove them wrong. I embarked on a journey buying just about every nursing books on the book shelf and reading up just about every breastfeeding website information there were to know on what to do and how to do it right. Once I mastered the arts and loving every minute of it, I decided to share the knowledge with all the new breastfeeding moms out there who felt the failure as I did. With a writer friend we started a breastfeeding support forum that went on to be one of the most vocal groups to advocate nursing in Malaysia. From then I have been asked to visit some new moms we got to know during their first days in the journey to show them how to latch on right and basically give them the emotional support they need as they learn to give the best nature has intended to their babies.

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Baby B in action… Nutritional needs of a mom is an important aspect of the breastfeeding journey, especially when one nurses beyond the first year.

Some moms are a natural when it comes to breastfeeding their newborns and their babies come naturally adapted to “working” at this beautiful act with just the perfect latch and calm personality and without what is commonly known as the newborn tongue cut, or feeling too drowsy to nurse and etc, which could frustrate and make a new mom feels easily tired out at even trying further.

While I am no longer able to contribute in the online group due to my work commitment, I have continued to encourage friends, relatives, colleagues to trust in their maternal ability to nurse naturally in the last 7-8 years. Something that I always observe that is a major hurdle to breastfeeding among Asian moms is how traditional values can crash with the basic dietary needs of a nursing mom.

When I still had the loving support of my mother in law (who now resides in Heaven), she would gently and lovingly remind me not to drink too much plain cold water because I was supposed to be in confinement. Water is too “cold” for a new mom. But because I was breastfeeding, I was guzzling down 3.5L water everyday! I felt so thirsty I swear I could drink up a whole water tank! And that was on top of the 2L or so of the sweet red dates soups that I drank daily. The only thing I didn’t drink was those supplementary wines like what most moms would do because I just couldn’t take its bitter taste.

As I am also very Westernised in my health approach (thanks to my own mom who worked close to 30 years in the health field), I believe that there are certain health benefits to proper dietary supplementation for nursing mothers. It is in fact well-documented in the scientific literature that a mother’s diet (and her overall nutritional status) can influence the vitamin, mineral, and the essential fatty acid (EPA and DHA) composition of her breast milk, all of which impacts the overall nutritional quality of the breast milk, and ultimately the overall health of the breastfed infant.

In my case, I continued to take my pregnant multivitamins, and on alternate days, supplemented with colostrum supplement (a year after giving birth), fish oil, organic spirulina and milk alternative such as organic oat milk. And when I got sick, I took antioxidant supplements to get well faster and naturally.

Of course, all mothers intending to nurse should always consult with their own doctors about supplementing their own nutritional needs. Special thanks to Seven Seas Malaysia for sharing with me these findings when I told them that I was going to write an entry about the importance of eating well for nursing mothers:

1. Journal Title: Fatty acid composition in maternal milk and plasma during supplementation with cod liver oil

Cod liver oil influences the amount of essential fatty acids in mothers’ breast milk. Supplementation of lactating mothers with even small amounts of cod liver oil promotes increased DHA concentration in breast milk. Also, the amount of EPA in breast milk increased in all the supplemented groups.

2. Journal Title: The effect of maternal supplementation with linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids on the fat composition and content of human milk: a placebo-controlled trial.

Total fat content and therefore total energy content and the content of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in milk are known to decline with prolonged breast feeding. In a placebo-controlled study a variety of evening primrose oil rich in linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids, or a matching placebo were given to 39 women for a period of 8 months starting between the 2nd and 6th months of lactation. Total fat and EFA contents of the milk declined in the placebo group but rose in the primrose oil supplemented group. A surprisingly high proportion of the supplemented dietary fatty acids could be accounted for by appearance in the milk.

3. Journal Title: A randomized controlled trial of the effect of fish oil supplementation in late pregnancy and early lactation on the n-3 fatty acid content in human breast milk.

Dietary supplementation from week 30 of gestation and onward more than tripled the LCPUFA content in early breast milk; supplementation limited to pregnancy only was much less effective.

4. Journal Title: Antioxidant capacity of human milk

Studies have reported the effect of maternal dietary vitamin intakes and vitamin supplementation on human milk, showing that higher intakes results in a higher concentration of the respective vitamin in milk.

Because I am a working mother who eats out a lot, I don’t always have the convenience and much choice in choosing to eat healthy food always, supplement was also a necessity for my own well-being.

It’s also important to note that besides supplementing, a nursing mom must clock in sufficient good-quality sleep, especially because being a mother can be such a tiring and stressful job. In order to nurse well, do keep yourself hydrated sufficiently – think of your body as the ultimate milk machine, you just need to feed it well with the right ingredients such as water, protein, vitamins, fruits, vegetables, add in good emotional well-being and a good night rest, pretty much nothing else can defeat you!

Despite the initial doubts and hurdles, I went on to nurse all three kids spanning the last 12 years, each baby for 2 to 2.5 years of extended breastfeeding. At the end of the day, I reckon I couldn’t have done it all without the most important ingredients of all — the tremendous love and support I got from Daddy Joe, my mom and also my sister in law, Cathy.

May you believe in what you are capable of as a mother and do it fearlessly anyway and may you live each moment count. Happy breastfeeding, moomies!

Nursing In Progress (NIP)


Every breastfeeding mom has a secret. My secret is now out in the open.

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Well, almost.

The secret is that I breastfeed at any time and at everywhere — when I am dining, driving, travelling, shopping, watching TV, reading, blogging and when I am half asleep in the middle of the night. I nurse my baby, now 23 months old at weddings, social gatherings… At exhibition, sales and in the restaurant, at the park, shopping mall, at his older siblings’ public school canteen and even in the car park.

There is nothing ceremonial about this regular routine of me and my nursling except that I shall proudly say that I am a maven of discreet breastfeeding. Try to spot and catch me while I am at it but chances are, you won’t even noticed that I am actually nursing my baby… at least 95% of time.

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Wore this gorgeous SPRING maternity dress to a social function at KL Tower and not a single soul knew this was a prego cum nursing dress, brilliant!

And the other 5% isn’t because I have a wardrobe malfunction that would make you go, “She’s doing what???” I really am a modest Asian, after all, and exposing myself and trying to blame it on a wardrobe malfunction is just not my cup of tea.

So the 5% is likely that you are my friend and family or that you have known me as a hardcore breastfeeding mom in the last decade nursing all 3 kids that you have been conditioned and gotten used to seeing me breastfeed either one of my children that you don’t even noticed the act anymore.

Of course, it’s so much easier when one is nursing a baby, because with just a nursing cover, you can lift up your tops and let the baby nurse to his heart’s content without breaking a sweat.

It’s a different ball game once the child starts to journey into toddlerdom. He would want to lift up the curtain (i.e. the nursing cover) so-to-speak, to take a peek into the exciting world while he is nursing, exposing the milk factories that should be kept in privacy.

Breastfeeding an older baby often starts with the toddler making some fussy sounds of “Nan-Nan! Nan-Nan!” (which, in Hokkien means milk, breast or a combination of the two) which often sends the mom into a hyperventilation mode because it means she would have to stop whatever she’s doing to serve her royalty baby already, but the problem is they could be stuck at a place such as a glorious wedding or when the family is just about to visit the Orang Utan’s habitat at the local zoo!

Naturally, she’d usually try to distract with an offer of a sip of water or juice or a snack, failing which she’d have to nurse the curious toddler either by shuffling off to the nearest quiet spot to evade any attention (including that of the breastfeeding Orang Utan’s baby who may mistake her as his mom with less hair) or if she was at a Chinese dinner, to fight with the person opposite the round table to pull the edge of the dangling red tablecloth on her side of the table to cover her modesty. Poor diner seated opposite probably never understood why his rice bowl and chopsticks kept moving further away to the centre of the table and that the tablecloth just seemed to shift to the opposite side of the table as the night progresses!

Proving that tablecloth fighting with a random diner can be a totally stressed up session, we all need nursing tops and dresses to make that tranquil breastfeeding both a discreet and fashionable experience. Enter SPRING Maternity & Nursing apparels that has made my life immeasurably better with their choice of intelligent, gorgeous, bright-coloured and fashionable nursing tops.

My favourite from their collection of fashion staples is a maternity dress that doesn’t even look like a prego dress at all. This gorgeous dress comes with a slim red belt that cinch the waist and gives off the illusion that even mom of three like yours truly does have a waist. For a pregnant mom’s growing tummy over the course of a beautiful 9-month journey, simply wear the dress without the red belt and paired with a little cardigan or accessories such as a necklace can expand the versatility of the dress for different day and night look.

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The blue dress has a nursing access on both sides which makes nursing my toddler a walk in the park.

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This maternity pants is paired with a white work shirt for casual Friday. None of my colleagues knew I was wearing a maternity pants that is also both comfy and fits greatly.

This dress also has hidden nursing slits through side access that makes tablecloth fighting with a stranger over a dinner a thing of the past! On another note, for the longest time, I forgot that I was a woman on the weekends because I just couldn’t wear dresses on those outings with the kids. Yes, I am a pants person but there’s just that girly feeling I want to feel going out dressed pretty in a dress and being able to nurse whenever I can and wherever I want to, and now this sleeveless knit dress sees to it that I can unleash my feminine side on these outings.

SPRING started in our friendly neighbour country Singapore in Oct 2003 with only a single maternity store and has since grown into one of Singapore’s largest specialty maternity and baby retailers. SPRING has more than 4 stores island-wide and 2 stores in Malaysia (under the brand name of CAMOMILE SPRING).

I also own their maternity pants which I still wear post-natal because they look chic enough to carry me from day to dawn, without looking too baggy like some maternity pants do. In fact I am not the only one who still wears a maternity pants almost 2 years post-delivery. Most of their customers buy SPRING maternity pants even after giving birth because they offer great fit, are versatile and oh-so-comfortable that one can wear them before, during and after birth.

I once told their staff that their maternity clothes look so chic that I wanna get pregnant again but with stacking bills and a busy lifestyle of work, family, Church, and kids, I’d just stick to the nursing section in their stores.  The 2 stores in Malaysia are conveniently located at Bangsar Village 2 (BV2), KL and Setia City Mall (SCM), Shah Alam, but if you are a busy mama like this cow mama here, their SPRING online store is a much-welcomed, easy click-away shopping option.

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This pretty nursing blouse makes for the perfect choice for weekend outings with the kids to places like a book store, because I could breastfeed Baby B discreetly and in complete peace of mind.

The nursing apparel from SPRING that I have looks just like an ordinary sleeveless blouse except that when Baby B wants a quick Nan-Nan even during a visit to the museum, all of that feeding needs and loving bond between me, the breastfeeder, and him can be conducted happily through smart nursing access on both sides even on any bench I could find and out in the open without the need to lift up the blouse, hide in an obscure corner or stress over how I could try to cover up my modesty with an active nursling who may decide to stop breastfeeding halfway to play peekaboo with his siblings.

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One of the KPIs of a mother (sorry, I always talk corporate, guess old habit dies hard, hehe) is being able to keep more savings for the family. When you can have the same functional closet that you can wear throughout every journey of motherhood and still look fabulous, instead of buying separate clothing for different seasons of life, the economist in me calls it a Brilliant Investment.

And of course, not having to worry about pulling off the whole red tablecloth to cover your modesty is a very tempting thought. LOL.

Breastfeeding My Toddler


It is 20 months and still counting for me as I continue to breastfeed Baby B in this motherhood journey without supplementing any other types of milk or formula. Every evening as I prop him up on my lap and as we both immerse in the deep bond of love through breastfeeding, I am grateful for the privilege to be able to continue nursing him into a healthy toddler.

There are many different reactions whenever someone hears of my extended nursing story and testimony. The unimpressed ones often glance down to my chest level as if determining if the two humble abodes hanging in front of me can really hold enough milk to nurture my Baby B who is quite chubby.

The doubtful ones think that I must been so overworked that I am getting senile – May be I have forgotten that I secretly mixed formula with breast milk for my 3 kids when they were a baby. The rationale is that since I am a Chinese, it’s impossible that I even have mammary glands large enough to produce sufficient milk.

But nope, I did exclusive breastfeeding even with my humble Asian-sized milk factories and raised up three kids nursing exclusively for 6 months and thereafter continued on until they turned two to two-and-a-half. A decade ago, when I was still nursing Cheeky Koko when he reached 19 months old, a distant relative told me that although she thought nursing was a good deed, I might risk raising up an overly clingy mommy’s boy.

That one can make such comment only shows how ill-informed so many people in our society are about breastfeeding. Mothers who have been in the local nursing scene spanning over the last decade like me have witnessed that sadly, breastfeeding has only just begun to catch its fire in Malaysia about 10 to 12 years ago. Ever since then there has been a mushrooming effect on online and traditional stores selling breastfeeding related merchandise. Suddenly hospitals compete in putting up posters about being breastfeeding friendly. Sweet-looking nursing room for breastfeeding moms swiftly become one of the top priorities for shopping malls.

But in overseas, the systematic approach of promoting breastfeeding from the first days well into the baby’s first year and beyond have long been established and practiced. Their healthcare authorities recognise that continued breastfeeding is good for the health and welfare of both the mother and child. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now encouraging mothers to breastfeed at least one year and then for as long after as the mother and baby desire. And UNICEF has long encouraged breastfeeding for two years and longer.

Breast milk is, after all, milk. If we have never questioned about parental choice of continuing to feed their baby with cow’s milk, goat’s milk, formula, oat’s milk, soya or any other types of milk, why then is there such a big hooha over a child who is still being fed with the best milk nature has intended for him?

Last weekend, such views that nursing a child in the public is somewhat ‘weird’ and that nursing a toddler beyond the first few months of life is just socially unacceptable have led to a total of 450 local mothers rally for normalising breastfeeding in Malaysia. The event was also included into The Malaysian Book of Records as having the largest gathering of mothers nursing their babies simultaneously. The breastfeeding landscape is finally shaking here in this country!

The question is why rush mothers to stop breastfeeding beyond the first year? Even after six months, breast milk still contains staple source of nutrients such as protein, fat, and other nutritionally important health elements which babies and children need. Breast milk has also been proven to contain immunologic factors that help protect the child well after he has turned two.

Some research data also shows that since children older than a year are exposed to more infections than young babies, the immune factors and compositions in breast milk will cleverly self-adjust biologically to suit the nutritional needs of an older nursing toddler. In other words, there are simply greater amounts of immune factors present in the breast milk in the second year of life. Plus, breast milk still contains special growth factors that help the immune system to mature, and which help the other organs such as the brain and gut of a child to develop and mature.

Nursing is also a source of comfort and a place of refuge from the big scary world for the child. It is the perfect cure for all sorts of emotional tantrums, growing pain, stress and potential meltdowns for the toddlers.

The health benefits of extended breastfeeding aren’t just for the wee ones either. Working moms who continue to breastfeed return to work with less needs for emergency leave to care for their little ones because their babies develop fewer illnesses and are healthier overall. Studies also show reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and heart disease for nursing moms, not to mention the great calorie count they continue to lose effortlessly (some 300 – 700 calorie per day) when breastfeeding beyond the first year.

Nursing Baby B is rewarding to both of us and so, why stop?

Breastfeeding Baby B is rewarding to both of us and so, why stop.

The more curious ones often ask if there might even be a moment that I felt overwhelmed with the crazy combination of full time work and breastfeeding. I often say, yes I do, but really, I am just overwhelmed with the two-way love I enjoy from breastfeeding my toddler. Nursing helps me wind down after a crazy day at work, learn to slow down and focus on him alone and nothing else. Whenever I nurse Baby B cradling him in my arms, stroke his soft hair and smile into his playful eyes, I’m savoring every special moment of that motherhood that I know will be gone all too soon.

When will I ever slow down? I guess I’d be ready when he is, but for now, we are just too happy to carry on.

In conjunction with August being a Breastfeeding Awareness Month, let’s toast to better awareness and more support for extended nursing here in Malaysia!

Mothering Journey


Wishing I could make time stand still ...

Wishing I could make time stand still …

Pumpkin Mei-Mei and I carefully climbed into our bed lying quietly next to Baby B like two trained Ninjas guarding their master Shifu who was meditating under the open skies. We watched in silence as Baby B’s round tummy rose up and down in a calming rhythm of deep breathing, afraid to interrupt the exhausted toddler who had finally snoozed off after spending the whole evening playing, snacking and babbling non-stop.

“Mama, was I as cute as Baby B when I was a baby?”  Ever the perceptive child since she was just a baby, I knew this was one of Pumpkin Mei-Mei’s “middle-child moments” again. “Of course you were, darling, you were the prettiest baby girl I ever saw and fell in love with right at the moment you came out of my tummy. You had so much hair, skin as fair as your papa and the sweetest biggest, roundest eyes… unlike your Koko.”

“Oh, the fact that he super-irritates me sometimes, he must be an ugly baby” she scoffed. “Oh no, sweetie pie,” I chuckled, “you cannot say like that about your big brother. Well, he just looked “Chinese”, like mama… small, slanted eyes and darker skin but even then, I thought he was the most handsome baby because he was my first born. And I have loved him, you and Baby B right when each of you was still in my big tummy.” I said with a smile then tucked her into my bed. It was her “family bed night” which meant she got to sleep with us for the night. “Mama, you remember how each of us was when we were a baby?” she asked thoughtfully.

“You know, there is a special place in the deepest part of every mommy’s heart that helps her remember every special journey and time she has spent with her child. And in this special place, it’s where I store my love for each of you and all of the special memories of you guys: Your unique characters, things you all said and did that always bring out a smile in me,” I kissed her good night as she swiftly drifted off to snooze land.

I love you when you were in my womb. I love you now. I love you forever!

I love you when you were in my womb. I love you now. I love you forever!

Later when Daddy Joe came into the room I announced chirpily that I finally decided to just stop at having 3 kids.  He literally turned pale hearing this. “What, you were actually STILL thinking of this? I thought we have agreed that we are not Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie!” His voice quivered. “Certainly dear. But don’t you miss the cuddly hug of a baby, the sweet scent that smells so good and the pint-sized clothes and pillows? I just love to feel these things all over again. May be I am just nostalgic!”  I said longingly.

“But we gave you THAT just over a year ago and here, the whole bundle of cuddly joy with the scent so sweet dressed in a pint-sized pyjamas is sleeping right next to you now, in case you haven’t noticed!” He pointed at Baby B then briefly admired his own mini-me who had kicked away his blankie in his sleep. “Anyway, I’m just saying that I miss each of them when they were a baby. May be it’s a working mom’s guilt or something. How do I get over this bit of gloom feeling like I never get to spend enough time with them and that I have missed some of the important milestones of their growth, like their first steps, the first time they tasted puree, because I was at work. I was in the OFFICE possibly typing something completely insignificant when my baby tried his first taste of food!” My dramatic self was bursting through the roof.

“Someone out there should invent something where I can go back to the time when these precious moments take place.” I continued, then remembering that indeed, SOMEONE has already done that!

“Dear, what’s past is a past. You are a very devoted working mother and the kids love you. That’s all that matter,” Daddy Joe assured me before stepping into the shower.

I snapped out of my daydream and quickly tiptoed to my desktop so that I can test out this new app developed by Friso Gold, called the Friso Gold JourneyCam App. It is this uber-cool app for busy mothers like me to easily convert photos of time spent with our kids into a neat video. I always have big expectations for kids-related apps in general — they must be mommy friendly, easy to install and won’t act up or crash easily. I already have a white-noise app I used to get Baby B into a deep slumber, a few life-saving recipes apps for those “no-idea-what-to-cook dinner night” and a few other moms-friendly apps that have made my busy life waaay better… Come on, we already have 80 things to multitask in a day, so in my opinion, apps in general absolutely CANNOT take more than fifteen minutes to work or requires complicated installation. If not, somewhere between fetching the diaper and nagging the happiest little people to finish their homework, I would have lost all of my sanity and creativity.

This Friso Gold JourneyCam app is my new love! It allows me to upload a maximum of 7 photos and convert them to a short, smart-alecky video via Facebook. I decided that I would go with a travelling theme considering that we have had many amazing family adventures locally and regionally. I managed to upload the photos onto the app easily and from then on, it was a cinch to add a few fun captions, funky frames and then ta-da… I have made a fairly cool video for our travel tales in 15 minutes pronto.

Now I could relive my travelling moment with the kiddos over and over again, and I can even show this video on each of their wedding day as Daddy Joe and I deliver our heartfelt speech to some well-heeled guests, all the while shedding a happy tear or two. OK… I am going a little too far but this is fun!

One can create as many albums or videos as one likes but the best is yet to come. Friso Gold is even rewarding app users with a chance to win generous prizes, Yay! From 19 August to 15 September 2013, the first 20 participants of each of the 4 weeks stand to win a personalized photo album. There are also 8 grand prizes which is essentially, gasp… A 3D2N stay at the luxurious Westin Langkawi  Resort & Spa for a family for 4 ( 2 adults & 2 kids) which also includes outdoor experiences!

Friso Gold JourneyCam App

Win cool prizes when you use the Friso Gold JourneyCam App!

If like me, reliving those special motherhood moments and capturing them in some form of video albums are vital to your wellbeing and sanity, here’s what you can do:

Step 1 : Like Friso Gold Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/FrisoGrowingUpTogether

Step 2: Upload 7 photos, from FB album or desktop

Step 3: Customise your frames & include captions

Step 4: Complete your registration form

By using the app during the contest period, your video will automatically enter as a contest entry. One can even opt to download the video once completing all steps. How cool is that.

I must have looked like I was in a trance. Daddy Joe came out from his shower and seeing that I was in my “element” as he liked to call me whenever I was really into something I love doing like blogging or reading at night, he just sneaked out of the room quietly. I bet he was happy that I had found an outlet to preserve these special memories instead of dwelling further into the possibility of The Brady Bunch. 🙂

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/praveenvenugopal/7287869856/”>PRAVEEN VENUGOPAL</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/alainbachellier/47789465/”>Alain Bachellier</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

The Pain


I sensed an unfamiliar iciness in his tone when I called to ask if he had picked up the kids from their school and sent them to my parents’ for a weeknight play date with my nieces. I hate being the first one to call after our ‘disagreement’. Ok, it was more like a small quarrel, but this was epic by our standards being two completely compatible individuals in terms of our fairly mild temperament and shared sunny disposition for life — two of the many other qualities in this relationship which have nurtured our 23 years of friendship, 22 years of courtship, 13 years of marriage and 11 years of parenting journey. Daddy Joe has been so much part of my life that sometimes it’s hard to find the right word to describe what he is to me—a soul mate, may be? It’s when you can literally “hear” what the other person is thinking even without ever exchanging a word, or mention correctly what he has in mind for a craving, or the smiling affirming nod you receive amidst the large crowd of audience when you completely freaked out at the first time you have to emcee for a friend’s wedding that just keep you going strong in an imperfect world. In any case, I married my best friend and I am glad I did.

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But this time yesterday I was fuming with anger when he told me he was going for ANOTHER biking tour to Thailand. This was what… the fifth time this year? And we haven’t even got to December yet! Call me a controlling freak or an outraged alien with my two protruding antenna going at opposite directions for all you want but this is NOT acceptable. Doesn’t he realize how dangerous this could be, riding past all the half-asleep drivers stuck too long on the Malaysian highways and whizzing past the heavy trucks and other vehicles at 160km/h, which attempt to outrun each other foolishly to reach their destinations in the shortest drive time? Crazy!

If only he had not lost a quarter of his pinky when we were both 19 years old. The mere recollection of how he pressed my apartment’s doorbell bleeding profusely in excruciating pain after his first motorbike skidded at the basement car park that had been drenched in soap water, of how I cinched his forearm as we tried to look for the missing severed finger part and as well, the agony of crying all the way while driving him to the hospital is enough to send chill down my spine.

I am a play-it-safe woman with kids. I could not fathom the rationale behind this “riding with the wind and feeling the breeze on his face” kind of notion and nonsense. So I made a hard stand about my disapproval and chided on his appetite for Biking unsympathetically, ending with my sarcasm about his pre-middle-age crisis that was just “pathetic”.

May be I was a little harsh on the last word but I had to defend my constant distress and anxiety. We have a beautiful family here; what if something happened to him? It ended with both of us sleeping separately — him spending the night in the guest room while I occupied our bedroom with the kids. “FINE!” we both shouted before bitterness crept into the night like a resentful teen, slamming the bedroom door shut with a loud thud.

Anyway I had to call him just so that I didn’t have to make an unnecessary trip to the school. He gave me an obliging “Hmmph” acknowledging that the kids had been dropped off at my parents’ already, before both of us hung up in despair. We just could not bring ourselves to understand each other’s anguish. This issue has been here for the last four years when he started biking after his mom’s death. I have prayed fervently on this issue before but it does feel like God wants us to get to the bottom of this massive knot on our own amicably. It’s all part of pruning the relationship tree with Maturity if we were to move forward on this continuum.

After lunch, because I had a bit of time before the next meeting in town, I decided to stop at a Starbucks in KL to get a grip of things, as they said, and also to get a Mocha. Nothing a bittersweet mocha could not resolve or bring peace to a woeful heart.

I pushed open the glass door of the café and as I scanned the row of sofa seats ahead, I was surprised to see right there… the familiar broad frame, crew cut hair and the kindest deep brown eyes staring back at me from the brown sofa in utter shock. Leaning on him was “Creamy Skin” Amy, the new sweet young thing who had joined his company 2 years ago, who with her signature impeccable style in a revealing mauve dress just didn’t leave much to the imagination. Suddenly I felt sick all over. I felt my body trembling and I didn’t know what to think or react either and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes uncontrollably. He stood up ruefully and for what felt like eternity, neither of us spoke. I felt betrayed and humiliated as if a thousand knives have just cut through my heart.

Something violent overcame my mind so I raised up my hand and gave not just one, but two hard, ferocious SLAPS on his buttocks like I had cracked….

Daddy Joe sat up on his side of the bed still groggy from this sudden slap on the butts screaming blue murder, “Ooouuch! What was THAAAAT? God! You have just slapped me TWICE on my butts!” Daddy Joe bawled in disbelief. I sat there crying, disgruntled that he had betrayed me, in a dream so vivid I still felt my heart reeling from the melancholic heartache. “You IDIOT, how DARE you betrayed me and having an affair with Amy!” I cried. “What… Who is Amy anyway?” he looked at me incredulously. “I don’t care, she’s your new superhot staff and I freakin’ want to kick her ass!”

“I certainly do not have any Amy or any hot girl in my office… Are you having one of those pregger’s vivid dreams again?” Daddy Joe asked carefully. Wiping the tears in my eyes I suddenly realised that indeed I had! Having waken up from our deep sleep, both of us sat there on our bed for a good minute in silence before we both burst into hysterical guffaws in the middle of the night.

When we were about to go back to our sleep, I asked Daddy Joe lovingly, “Dear, do you want to cuddle up?” to which he promptly replied before turning his back to face me, “uhm… darling, may be we save it for tomorrow. In case an Amy come out in your dream again. Just gotta make sure there is no knife or scissors in our room first!”

________________

This was a post written two years ago when I was pregnant with Baby B. God bless my better half, Daddy Joe, who has merrily survived half-a-dozen times of hormonal-induced pregger’s dreams that had seen him gotten slap, beaten and shouted at before. Oh well, they don’t call them better half for no reason, right.
Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/paperpariah/4135993317/”>Adam Foster | Codefor</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

The Cow Mama Travels For Work


Work travel - a mama misses not just the festive but also her baby.

Work travel – a mama misses not just the festive but also her baby.

It’s the cheap flights season now as airlines offer cheap and sometimes free flights just to encourage domestic or international travel for fellow countrymen. I don’t know, may be the airlines’ CEOs wake up from the right side of the bed, pressed the speed dial to the Advertising department and said to one of the Marketing’s Big Shots, ‘hey Bill, bring out those free seats, I wanna reward Malaysians! Let them fly for FREE, let them get inspired, get stylish, and oh, while they are at it, let them eat to their heart’s content while they travel!”

OK, I am just imagining but whatever it is, some moms are jetsetters due to their work. Thank God I have definitely passed the age (ok, don’t even try to guess my real age!) to apply for a highflying job that would have been nice as I imagined, to have a secretary make a nice warm cup of coffee for me every morning or decide the fate of a company’s fifty million ringgit deposit on some mega investment on a whim but which would probably also require me to leave the kids behind to do some globetrotting trips for the company more than a few times a year.

However, even just a few times of work travel a year is quite a lot for a breastfeeding mama though, considering all the planning and logistics involved in being committed as a nursing mother. So much as I am committed to extended nursing until my last happiest little people aka Baby B at least turns 24 months old, in my little world of corporate reality I am required to travel for work an average of twice a year sans the baby, and the longest of such journey was a good 8 days away from him.

I would like to share some tips of making work travel work for nursing mama. Whenever I get any advanced notification for work related travel, I would plan way ahead before the trip by including a pumping session over the weekends or add on an additional pumping session at work to get a good stock of Expressed Breast Milk (EBM) supply in the freezer that Daddy Joe or the babysitter could reach for to feed the baby when I am away.

Over the years, I have worked out an average of 6 bottles of EBM a day for a baby who has not started solids and 4 bottles of EBM for a baby who has started solids. Once they have started some semi-solid food, my baby has managed anything between 4 to 8 bottles of EBM per day when I was away, so somehow this math has worked out well for us.

To maintain my milk supply when I was away, I would take Moringa Capsules and at times Nursing Tea to build up my milk supply which would naturally dwindle a little due to us mommies not being able to get into direct nursing and cuddling of our baby over so many days. On top of that, I would make sure that I eat healthily and had sufficient rest.

If motherhood is all about getting creative and make do with any challenges that come your way, man, pumping while travelling sure is the cream of the crop when it comes to thinking out of the box for a place to express your milk. I have pumped away using a manual pump at nursing rooms of malls, beg a waitress for a pumping corner covering my dignity with a nursing bib at a restaurant, and I have even pumped at a DJ control room stuck with 15 gorgeous models changing for their next catwalk!

Once I am done, I would normally ask for help from any restaurants if I could store the EBM and cooler gel in their fridge until I was done with my work. Just before we head back to our hotel at the end of the day, with a lot of apologies I would ask my colleagues to wait for me while I rushed back to the same restaurant to retrieve my precious EBM. Thank God for really kind and supportive bosses and colleagues I have had all these years!

At night, I wash and sterilize all of the manual pumps and bottles and fit in another pumping session via an electrical pump just before hitting the sack and then at 6am again before I get ready for work. If the room had a chiller I would leave the EBM in it, but I have travelled to enough hot and humid places to notice that you just can’t trust the chiller in most of the hotel rooms. In that case, one would just have to ask for hotel front desk or their restaurants for help to store EBM elsewhere.

If you are travelling for work sans the baby, make sure you bring along at least a manual pump and an electrical pump since not all places or countries that you travel to have a power socket at the place you pump and because you would be pumping quite often. Yes there will be so much pump parts and bottles to wash at night and so many logistics to think about, but it’s worth every droplet of health for the baby!

Some countries have strict airline regulations that all frozen EBM are to be packed along with some cooler and ice packs inside a separate cooler bag and kept in one’s luggage to be checked in, which I have done while travelling for a 16-hours journey only to reach home to half thawed EBM. Some airlines are ok that you hand carry your cooler bag then speak to the air hostess inside the plane and have your cooler bag kept in the chiller compartment of the pantry.

Also, bring some breast pads, breast milk bags (they are lighter to lug around plus you can write the date and baby’s name on it), nursing supplement, cooler gel, cooler bag, wet bag, some wet tissues in case the place you are pumping is not that clean), sterilizing tablets (in case no jug kettle is provided in the room to sterilize stuff), baby bottles detergent and a sponge for all the washing you will be doing nightly.
Last but not least, it will be helpful to carry a photo of your baby to look at while you pump away from home. It also serves as a loving motivation that all of these sacrifices and commitment will one day come back to you when your child, in his successful 30s self, call you from out of his HQ in London that he will be sending a private jet plane to fly you and his dad to Paris just for a nice breakfast with him, overlooking the Eiffel Tower and all. Just saying. 

In this seven2sevenmom’s planet, there is no harm to be super-imaginative while one checks out some cheap flights for the next well-deserved holiday. Happy globetrotting, fellow moommies!

Breastfeeding Tips for New Mom


Congratulations, you are expecting or have just delivered your baby and decided that you prefer to exclusively breastfeed your baby. I am not going to share why I choose to breastfeed here, because I already posted about my passion for nursing at

http://seven2sevenmom.com/2013/02/21/moo-therhood/

I get asked many times by mommy friends on how to breastfeed successfully. I am not a breastfeeding guru nor a lactation consultant, so I am just going to share about getting breastfeeding on to the right start from day one based on my own breastfeeding experience with my 3 kids, all of whom were and one is still being nursed for a minimum of 24 months. For more information, do check on websites like breastfeeding.com or babycentre.com.my or breastfeeding books such as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding or Nursing Mother, Working Mother.

To starts off, let’s debunk some myths about breastfeeding that I get asked by some friends all these years:

1)      The size of your milk factory does NOT matter. Human milk is produced in tiny milk sacs called Alveoli and stored in tiny network of Milk Ducts. So it doesn’t matter if you are an A cup or a D cup, you can breastfeed on either size.

2)      Breastfeeding may not come naturally for some. For me, nursing the first baby was a whole lot of tears for a good six weeks with engorgement, wrong latching position and cracked nipple (ouch). I thought I would fare better with baby no. 2 but I had the same excruciating pain for a good five weeks. And with baby no.3, I am glad that though I experienced the same discomfort and pain, it was for only 4.5 weeks. So it may not be poster-bliss for some, but the key to successful nursing is to make sure the latch on is correct, find your most comfortable nursing position, persevere and also try to work on the issues with a lot of reading and TLC support from family and husband.

3)      The early bird gets the worms. It means the earlier you start nursing the more successful your nursing journey will be. Tell the midwives or your doctor that you intend to breastfeed your newborn right after birth or within the first few hours of birth. Yes it does feel awkward like your newborn is not sucking anything off your breast that has not become full yet but during the first few days after birth, your baby will be consuming tiny amount of yellowish, creamy and rich substance that is super good for them called Colostrum.

4)      Colostrum is not the tsunami of a milk supply. I have not tried to pump colostrum to see how little there is but most websites and books will tell you that it comes in very tiny precious amount per feed, about a teaspoon at most. So you are going “what, my newborn is going to starve, holy cow!’ which is a perfectly normal reaction but calm down, your newborn has a stomach diameter the size of a teaspoons too so it is definitely enough for her.

5)      Breast Milk is somewhat like fashion designers —- they won’t show up until the grand-finale. Anytime between day three to within a week after birth, this precious golden essence will turn into whitish human milk whence you will experience fuller breasts (which is still rich with colostrum substance) for the baby (and all moms say with a sigh of relief, “finally!”) and some of you may experience temporary discomfort called breast engorgement.

6)      Breastfeeding works on demand and supply principle, like simple economy. So to get the supply established, there must be a healthy demand. This means that to mentally and physically prepare yourself to exclusively nurse your baby, don’t go out and get the can of formula yet, as you need to feed on demand especially during the first 6 months of your baby’s life. Go Google more but the research will tell you that the act of nursing frequently to ‘empty’ your breasts sort of send brain signals to get these good (hormone) guys called Prolactin and FIL (no, it’s not father in law) to produce more milk for the baby.

7)      You will feel like you don’t have enough milk because your newborn keeps on crying and demanding to be breastfed. Come on mama, your baby will not be able to communicate by talking so he will be crying a lot (and I mean, really a lot) to tell you that he is sleepy, hungry, or just pooped and will also cry to tell you also that he is unfamiliar with all these external stimulations (such as all those noises and lights that can feels a bit overwhelming to a newborn as compared to when he was in your cosy womb). As for him constantly demanding to breastfeed is a beautiful instinct to help regulate and bring up your milk supply over the next few months. Personally, I was breastfeeding every one to two hourly during the first two months (so yes, it is NORMAL during the newborn phase to feel like you are ALWAYS nursing though I thought I was so sleep deprived I must have turned ABNORMAL to imagine myself as a milk machine in a pink pyjamas).

8)      Mix feeding with formula. Let me stress that I am not anti-formula –feeding due to whatever reasons, personally or medically because I firmly believe love comes from the heart, and feeding is only one of the nurturing acts that a mom encompasses. It’s proven, however, that if you are a die-hard fan of breastfeeding then let’s not give in to the temptation of mixed feeding from day one. You may want to start that only if you have established your milk supply and need to get back to work after maternity leave and your new work place is not mom-friendly. Perhaps you have supply issues and after consulting your doctor or lactation consultant and taken some remedies, your supply just isn’t sufficient for your baby. It could also be considered when your baby have started solid and you plan to scale down breastfeeding to prepare for gradual weaning. In normal healthy breastfeeding, once you start mixed feeding, your breasts may have mixed feelings about not being able to produce as much milk as before (Oh love my rhyming!)

By the way, happy mother’s day to all you great moms out there. To my own Mom who means the world to me and who inspires me in every way and stood by my decision to breastfeed all of my kids, I just want to say, you are awesome, Mom.

More posts coming in the near future about pumping. Happy breastfeeding, peeps!

The Gwai Poh Mama


“Grilled lamb, please,” I told the trainee waiter at The Chili’s Grill & Bar Restaurant at a newly opened mall when he asked me for my lunch order. On hearing this, my boss Mr. J who sat next to me stared at me and asked abruptly “You didn’t know? You are not supposed eat lamb during pregnancy, because it is harmful to the baby in your womb.” Ever so curious, I raised my eye brows and asked my boss, “but why?” Joining our lunch was the other two lady bosses who then rolled their eyes and quipped, “Aiyoh, you are so Gwai Poh! (A Cantonese slang which means I am westernised in my thoughts and actions like the Caucasians) Lamb in Chinese is called Yang, sounds like “Fa Yang Diao” (the Epilepsy disorder) so you cannot eat lah! Later your baby got Epilepsy, how?!!!”

My eyes must have opened so wide that in my head, they had popped out and rolled on the spanking new floor of Chili’s all the way to its kitchen, on hearing this unscientific association. I also got a long lecture from the three of them on what other what-not-to-eat for preggers like me.

There were more shocking exchanges when I told them I didn’t even go with any confinement practice for my first two kids. I gave birth on day 1, came home on day 2 with the baby, and by day 3 was already giving my newborn a nice bath myself, after which I would also bathe and shampoo myself while happily singing in the warm shower! I even went out for my first shopping on day 4 or 5 with my newborn to get some disposable diapers from the local Tesco in my usual shorts and slippers.

I also told them I would sleep in air-conditioned room and drink 3 to 4 litres of water (and sometimes while standing which is another taboo) which included red dates soup, plain water, Ribena, Milo and have normal meals loaded with veges and had fruits for desserts.

There were days when motherhood  was as hair-raising as going for a roller coaster ride!

There were days when motherhood was as hair-raising as going for a roller coaster ride!

Confinement was a relatively strange term to me because I felt so energetic and liberated each time I give birth! I wanted to revel in the beauty of my baby in the soothing ambience of Starbucks or walk with my baby in my loving embrace in the community playground amidst the sunset that I thought it was impossible that one should stay in the room without shower for a month!

All three of them rolled their eyes in unison as if it was rehearsed to perfection on hearing my exploits during the post-delivery days. I quickly earned a new nick name for myself by the end of the meal – the Gwai Poh Mama, i.e. the westernised mother.

I respect and adore my bosses and I do not disrespect traditional Chinese practice of hiring a confinement woman to pamper and care for a new mother and her baby after birth. I have even advised some friends to get a confinement lady to get the help they need after such a traumatic experience as giving birth to a beautiful new life but in my case, because back then (about 11 years ago to be exact) Daddy Joe and I had just started working as young executives that hiring a confinement lady which easily costs RM3,500 meant our finances would be in the ruins for us that we just never hired one for all three births. (After thought: Oh well, with 3 kids our finance had never really bounced back anyway! 😉 )

If you find this Gwai Poh Mama strange, wait till you meet her 70 years old mother who had also defied the convention 40 years ago without any confinement practice for all 3 kids of hers. She was modern and practical because she was a ward sister who had studied nursing from abroad via a scholarship and now at the age of 70, she is globetrotting the world’s ancient cities in good health and without any joint pains (which defies the common Chinese belief without following proper postnatal care and confinement taboo, one would have long term illnesses such as Arthritis, lots of “wind” in the body and strange as it may sound, apparently one’s uterus may also migrate to the wrong place at one’s old age ). As you can imagine, practicality, independence and modern ideologies are the stuff of my mom, my older sister, my sister-in-law and now, me.

That night, I propped myself up on the bed with my two happiest little people i.e. Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei sandwiching my big rounded tummy with my no.3 baby as I shared with them yet another exciting venture of Mr. Wang, a fictional character I had creatively imagined who hailed from an ancient city in China.

Somehow the happipest little people in my life survive my wacky mothering style

Somehow the happipest little people in my life survive my wacky mothering style

I looked at the two sleepy heads and laughed to myself as I brood about my motherhood style. Am I a Westernised mother in an Asian place, an Asian mother looking West, or am I an Asian mother with a modern twist to all things traditional? I bet the two sleepy heads didn’t care as they too, have happily survived the sometimes wacky parenting journey of such a crazy mom as yours truly.

After thought: This was a post I wrote in 2011 before I got tangled up by a really big crisis management at work that delayed the posting and when the dust has finally settled, I was already due to give birth to Baby B and enjoyed my new motherhood again. Well, now between the piles of diapers, laundry and workload, I finally found this absolute must-share piece to debunk some myths around my Gwai Poh practice. So yah, I am NOT pregnant AGAIN ok. 😉

The Prego Woman Goes Click Click


A little over a month before I was due to give birth to my 3rd baby, now nicknamed Baby B, a friend of mine who had been doing professional family portrait services in Singapore, Emme, told me that she would like to shoot some maternity portraits of mine so that I could have the special journey immortalized in prints.

I laughed hysterically for a whole twenty nights upon learning that my dear friend wanted to embark on this project.

First of all, the idea of me standing in front of a camera with my watermelon-sized tummy protruding along with the muffin tops and jelly arms that had deviously built a camp on my maternal body was a joke by itself.

blackdresshighres

Secondly, the story of my ex-colleague’s relative was still clearly being replayed in my head. Oh, you have not heard of that one, huh?

The story went that a certain relative of her had beautifully captured some intimate shots of her pregnancy and decided to share those pictures with all of the attendees at the full moon party. For the uninitiated, the older Malaysians, like a guardian and preserver of many good ole traditional values cannot accept well something that was so new age.

When the album was passed around showing few ‘distracting’ pictures of the expecting couple embracing each other covering strategically in the sheerest cloths only on those areas deemed necessary, a few older gentlemen and sweet old ladies almost passed out from acute heart attack. So thanks, but no thanks.

Anyway I was finally at peace with the decision to go with her idea because it was a long and hard fought war to finally get this baby at this ripe old age of mine (I was in my late twenties when I had the first two kids and it was almost a decade before I won the birth plan war against my man).
lookuphighres

The day came and went so quickly when you are expecting and working and taking care of the family all at the same time. We moved away some of our furniture, got Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei out of the way with some toys to prevent any distraction to our photography session and after what seemed an eternity as I tried to squeeze myself into whatever maternity clothes I could still fit by then, Emme had me at clicking already! We took about only 10 shots in total but by the time we finished our first shot, my confidence started building up as I entrusted my friend to capture those cherished moments in the comfort of my own home.

Looking back, I was not in the best form having had a late night the night before attending a pre-wedding dinner at another friend’s house but gosh, she made good of those shortcomings with her brilliant use of natural sunlight and her ability to make one feel so at ease.

Here are some of the shots from the session that I thought really captured my happy journey then.

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Seeing Baby B’s sweetest smile now, I think he inherited the pulsating joy and love I felt connected with him then. And big thanks to my pix-woman Emme, for making sure that I have proofs of my love for him to show some years down the road, of how I have always prayed for and loved him even before I could finally meet him. Love it!

Naming the baby


The day we found out the sex of our baby no. 3 was the first time the two happiest little people, i.e. Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei ever set foot in a gynae clinic.

Being the eldest and the more curious one, Cheeky Koko stood next to the gynae as the doctor did a routine scan over my baby bump. As the doctor explained patiently to Cheeky Koko that he was doing a 3D scan over mommy to see if the baby was growing happily inside mommy’s tummy, Cheeky Koko asked the doctor if he had to wear the special 3D glasses to see the baby “pop out” from the screen. He thought it was a 3D experience, like watching 3D movies in the cinema!

It's a baby boy!

Few minutes into the scan we found out that the baby was a boy after all, as what Cheeky Koko had always wanted for our 3rd baby. We also erupted into a blissful joy because secretly the rest of us was also hoping for a baby boy to add even more uproarious laughter and activities to the happiest little family on earth.

As we imagined the sea of baby blue colours that are soon donning every corner of our home, Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei set about the task of naming their baby brother excitedly.

We are starting to see baby blue everywhere

There was the usual Adam, Isaac, Jack, Ben, Peter and Marcus. The list got so long that the two even had the name list moved from a paper to our family room’s white board. We got to stop them from getting over-crazy when names of Pokemon and cartoon characters started appearing on the list such as Raichu and Catapie!

It’s all good now as naming the baby seems to be a good family past time until our no.3 gets a real boy name – An english name, a Chinese name and definitely his own nickname in his mama’s blog.

All pix shown are FOC courtesy of dreamstime.com