The Madness of Motherhood: Baby's Early!

My last (but first) post in this series detailed the horrors of pregnancy, but having a baby 6 weeks early comes with its own set of horrifying details as well. Join me on this very strange joyride!

Pregnancy is meant to be 40 weeks long (10 months, technically), and having your baby before 37 weeks in leaves you as pre-term births (or preemies, for short). Megatron was born at 34 weeks, and she was considered late-preterm, which is as preterm as you really want your baby to be. Was it expected? No!

A couple of weeks before she arrived, I had my regular monthly check-up with my gynae and everything looked to be on schedule and progressing well. On the 21st of February I had my bridal shower, and on the 25th of February, my parents, brother and sister-in-law went to Malacca for a holiday so that they wouldn't travel when I was expected to deliver; on the 7th of April. They reached Malacca at 6 pm, and all was well. 

We went about our day and night, and Pinata went to bed around 12 or 1 am. He had to be up for work at 5:30 am. By this stage in my pregnancy, I was having trouble sleeping because I was so uncomfortable and I had to make all these lists of what needed to be done in the final month before the baby arrived. All I had in my possession at that stage was her Woombie, the gifts from my bridal shower, and 2 or 3 pieces of clothing which I thought were adorable and couldn't pass up during my pregnancy. I had left everything, including all the reading on how to deal with a baby, to the final month because it still hadn't sunk in by that point that I was pregnant. Denial is a force that features very strongly in my life.


Around 3 am I started feeling twinges of pain. I assumed they were a regular part of pregnancy since everything had been uncomfortable up to that point, and I thought they would go away. They would come and go every half hour or so, and at some point they started to get rather uncomfortable and somewhat like severe menstrual cramps, so I did a Google search on Braxton-Hicks contractions, and I should have figured that a hospital visit was in order because BH contractions are not meant to hurt at all. I just figured the pregnancy had worn me down and my pain receptors had given up moderating what I was feeling. 


Of course, the logical thing to do at this stage was to go and wash the dishes in the sink. While doing so, the waves of pain were getting closer together, and I was practically doubled over a couple of times because they were so painful. Keep in mind that I have never had a child, so all this was new to me. And I absolutely did not expect to have the baby early, so I was a little confused. 

I had to leave a couple of dishes unwashed because the pain was becoming excruciating, so I went to lie down on the couch. That didn't last long because I was starting to get worried about the pain. I feared that it was a late-term loss of the baby, and when I went to the bathroom and saw some blood, I started to panic. Around 4:30 am, I woke Pinata up and told him he had to take me to the hospital because I was bleeding slightly. By this stage in my pregnancy, I had to wear a pantyliner daily because I had been having a bit of discharge over the couple of weeks preceeding this occurrence. In hindsight, I realised that the streaks of blood and discharge over the weeks were my mucus plug coming unhinged. Yes, disgusting things happen when a watermelon is trying to kick its way out of you.


I could barely walk to the car without stopping along the way to catch my breath because the waves of pain were unbearable at this point. I believe I was whimpering by this point. I was still under the assumption I would get there and they would tell me all was well but I needed to be on bed rest, and then send me home, so all I had with me was my phone charger. On the way to the hospital, I felt a rush of fluid, and I said nothing to Pinata because I was so worried it was the miscarried foetus I would find when I got to the hospital. The entire car ride, my hand was firmly gripped on the door because I was in so much pain. Keep in mind, that this was close to 5 am, so there was no traffic whatsoever, so the contractions must have been no more than 5-10 minutes apart. Yes, I wasn't counting. I was thoroughly confused by what was happening.

At my last appointment, my doctor mentioned that should I require any help I was to go straight to the maternity ward on the 2nd floor, and so I did. Still being in denial, I was a bit excited that we got parking right outside the hospital (because parking there is an utter nightmare), and I told Nick I would walk in with him. 

We got to the maternity ward and I told the nurses what was happening. The nurse attending to me was very efficient and calm. She told me to go to the loo if I needed so, and of course I did. I was 8 months pregnant! 


When I went in, my pantyliner was soaked through, and there was a little blood on it. I had read all about what it would be like when your water broke, and it did cross my mind that that was what had happened, but I dismissed it because I was 6 weeks away from having the baby. 

She then took me to a room and hooked me up to the contraction-recording machine (I have no idea what it's called). She left Pinata and me there for half an hour to record what was happening, and when she came back in, she looked at the chart and told me she had to examine me. She checked and told me I was 4 cm dilated and that my water had broken, so the baby was coming. My first response was that that wasn't possible, but she went to call the doctor. Pinata and I were in shock, but eventually I told him to call my parents. 

Trust me when I tell you that even being told that, I was still hoping it was just a mistake a bad nurse made. The thoughts racing through my mind were manifold and horrific. The baby was still in breech (head up) at my last appointment, and I hadn't made my decision about whether I wanted a natural birth or c-section. I was prepared for both, but I wasn't prepared in the slightest for a baby at this stage. 

They then transferred me to a pre-delivery room, and I was in excruciating pain. I could barely walk the length of the hallway without stopping every couple of metres. When I got there, I was told to change into a gown, and they stuck a monster-sized pad between my legs to catch the bleeding and leaking. Trust me when I tell you that the pain overshadows any concept of shame you might have. You will not even notice the thousand people looking and touching your vagina. It's a free-for-all at that point! 


The fun starts here. They asked me a few questions about when I had last eaten, and what allergies I had, and then gave me an enema. They do this to stop you from pooping yourself while pushing the little monster out of you. Yes, you will do such things. Life hates women. It didn't take very long to take effect, and I was left utterly alone while Pinata ran down to put a deposit for the hospital bill down. I don't think "panic" begins to describe what I was feeling. When the nurse came back, I told her I wanted the epidural ASAP, because I was extremely worried that they wouldn't give me one in time. I just wanted the pain to stop. Anyone who does this without the drugs has a seriously masochistic streak. 

My doctor got there shortly after the nurse called him, and he did an ultrasound to check on the baby. She seemed fine, but was still in breech, so it was going to have to be a c-section. He then examined me and told me that I was 8 cm dilated, and we may not make it to a c-section, but he would manage it either way. It was imperative at this stage to get the baby out because she had apparently pooped in me. When that happens, it's called merconium, and I thought I saw a brownish tinge on the nurse's fingers when she examined me, but I chalked it up to dark blood. This is very much a concern because it could cause infections and complications in the baby. Yes, the little shit pooped IN me. What a cow. 

Pinata then had to call my parents and let them know that the baby would be here within 2 hours. Later on, when my parents eventually turned up, they told me that they thought it was a false alarm, and they didn't bother to start mobilising until after the second call. 

Finally, the anesthesiologist turned up to give me the epidural. It's a painful experience, but nowhere near as bad as contractions are. The biggest worry was that it would hit the wrong nerve and I'd be paralysed so I kept making him stop everytime I had a contraction just to be safe. It didn't take too long for the epidural to kick in, and I was extremely relieved when the contractions stopped. Why the hell do people volunteer for the pain? Seriously!

Not too long after, they wheeled me into the operating theatre. Pinata had to wait outside, and all I remember was him being told that he couldn't take pictures or something to that effect. Before they started, they put up a screen, and made sure I was numb from the waist down. They then let Pinata in to sit by my side before beginning the c-section. You really feel nothing but tugging during the procedure, and I'd take that over a torn vagina from your baby's head ripping out of you too quickly, any day!

I was horrifically worried throughout the c-section, because having preemie was a whole set of circumstances I wasn't prepared for. There could be any number of complications from underdeveloped lungs to developmental delays. It's truly not something I wanted to go through. So, when I heard her cry, it seems surreal. I was still in shock about the whole thing, so intellectually I knew that the baby was out and it had a cry, and that was good; but it didn't feel real at all. I couldn't see what was going on, but there was a whole lot of tugging when they were sewing me up and it was very uncomfortable. There was a paediatrician (Dr Musa, who is now her doctor) in the room to make sure all was well with her, and he was doing all his checks on her. While they were sewing me back up, I started to feel extremely nauseous. I'm guessing this is a normal thing because they had the sort of suction device dentists use to suck up the puke before it gets all over the operating theatre. I told them I was about to puke, and the nurse was there instantly. I could have used one of those when I was pregnant! 

Pinata got to hold his daughter first, and then they put the baby on me. Little Hera Megatron, born at 8:13 am on the 26th of February, 2016.


[The New Human]

What were my first thoughts? "Why is there such an ugly Chinese baby on me?", and then, "Oh my God, is whatever is spewing from its mouth going to get on me?" Finally, there was, "Please take it back!"


Yes, there was no immediate bonding, and no sense of amazement that I had created a life. It still didn't feel real, and I was still worried that something might be wrong with her. 

They took her to the NICU (Neonatal ICU) for examination, and they wheeled me to the post-op room. The most unexpected thing happened while I was being wheeled out of the operating theatre: I started shaking uncontrollably! I didn't even know this was a thing, but my teeth were chattering and my body was shaking so much that I could barely ask what was happening to me. I thought I was going into shock. The nurses assured me it was normal and put a heating blanket on me. I continued to shake throughout my time in the post-op room, which was probably an hour or less. It continued to the time when I went to my designated room as well. It must have gone on for 1 or 2 hours, and it was deeply uncomfortable. I later read that it was normal after a c-section, but I wish someone had told me before! 

It also occurred to me at some point during the surgery that I was meant to have lunch with my friends that day, and I wasn't sure how I would make it, so once I got to the room, I asked Nick to send them a message about the fact that I wouldn't be joining them. I was a little sad about that, but they were shocked and excited. 

The other joy of having a c-section is that it is major abdominal surgery, so you have a catheter inserted into you and you're meant to stay in bed for the first day. You're also not meant to eat anything until they tell you you can, and it's usually a liquid diet for the first day. No one told me this, and I had no idea, so once the shaking subsided, Nick got me a bagel from Coffee Bean and I ate half of it.

The room I was in was amazing. I asked for a private room in the premier ward because if there's anytime you deserve the best room ever, it's when you're having a baby. It was more like a hotel room than a hospital, and was rather cosy. I also love that KPJ has a philosophy of supporting breastfeeding and rooming-in of mother and baby, so I was waiting for them to bring the baby to me in hopes that I would feel something other than disbelief about her existence. Everytime a nurse came in I would ask when they would bring the baby to the room, and they all said the same thing. They were waiting for the paediatrician to give the all clear. One of them told me they had given her some formula as well while waiting for the paediatrician. While I knew from the day I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to solely breastfeed for the first six months, I was also prepared for the fact that formula may be necessary if there was an emergency, and so this wasn't an issue for me. 

Other than that brief glimpse of a spitting baby for me, I had no idea what was going on with her, so Pinata kept going to check on her in the NICU. My first hours of looking at my child were through his lens.


[In the NICU]

While she was being held there, my parents, brother and sister-in-law turned up and I got a lot of jibes about how I ruined my father's first holiday in 5 years. Megatron was a diva from the very beginning!

Then The Enabler arrived to keep me company, and she didn't leave my side for 2 days! Thankfully there was a full couch next to the window and she could stay with me to help out. And yes, I needed it.

Eventually, at 2+ in the afternoon, they wheeled her in and gave her to me. It was so surreal. They told me she had been given the all clear and wouldn't even need an incubator so she would be with me in the room for the duration of my stay.

Pinata was having a bit of a flu, so he was extra cautious with her on account of her being a preemie.


[Preemies and Diseases]

(Pictures Courtesy of The Enabler)

[I Finally Get the Baby]


[The Enabler Has Arrived!]

(Picture Courtesy of The Enabler)

[Grandma and Hera]

Since I was planning to exclusively breastfeed, they did try to get her to latch when she came in, but she didn't seem hungry. They said it was likely because they had given her some formula while she was in the NICU. The nurses were incredibly supportive and encouraging, which was really lovely. Not too long after, a lactation consultant turned up to have a chat with me. She was all set to convince me that breastfeeding was the way to go, and she looked visibly relieved when I told her it was already in my plans. She was an absolutely stellar lady and so nice! She was incredibly patient too with all my queries about how I should approach the situation. 

She also told me that I should wake the baby up every 2 hours to feed her because she was a preemie, but if she doesn't eat, it's fine. 

Not too long after, she did pop on the boob, and I was well on my way to breastfeeding her. It was strange, but even at this stage she had a preference for the left over the right, and I was assured it wasn't an issue, but it did prove to be one. (I'll go into my issues with breastfeeding and why I had to start her on formula in a later post.)

It was nice that there was attention to detail at all times in the hospital. The anesthesiologist, paediatrician and gynaecologist came in daily to ensure that all was well, and I was there for 3 days. The nurses also did everything from diaper changes to swaddling her upwards of 10 times a day because she kept escaping!

On the second day, the anesthesiologist came in and asked how the pain was. I was hooked up to pain killers, so I felt nothing. However, I was still extremely itchy, and when he asked if I was and then told me that it was the result of the anesthesia, I was relieved! He told me it would pass, and I was beyond grateful. He then removed the IV that was pumping painkillers right into my back and put me on oral painkillers. I was really worried at how that was going to feel, but not long after, the nurse came and removed the catheter and helped me walk around a little. It wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, but I could definitely feel some pain where the incision was.

(Pictures Courtesy of The Enabler)

[My Second Day of Being a Mum]

A really weird side effect of a c-section and having a catheter is that when you first go and pee, it just doesn't come out! I'm not sure if this is just me, but it was like my body had forgotten how to pee because of the catheter. It was so weird. I sat there for around 20 minutes trying to pee, and nothing! It took a few hours of worrying if I would ever pee again, but I eventually did thankfully. 

(Picture Courtesy of The Enabler)

My doctor told me I could go back after the second night, but recommended that I stay another night and so I did. This was moreso because I was freaked out as hell about being a new mother, and I had no idea what to do. As I mentioned, I had not done all my parenting reading, so I was panicked! And so, I stayed another night and let the nurses look after me. It was a really nice feeling.

It was only in the quiet of the night that I realised that I was just starting to bond with little Megatron. I was still in disbelief, and it hadn't sunk in that I was a mother (it still hasn't to be frank), but I still knew on some level that I would do anything for her. So, I kissed her for the very first time on the cheek, and I haven't stopped since! 


[Still In Shock]

That night, Megatron slept for 12 hours straight despite the fact that I kept trying to rouse her to feed her as I was instructed to. It was shocking, and I was a little panicked. However, in hindsight it seems that infants are exhausted after the trauma of delivery so they're at their sleepiest in the first few days after birth. The next morning the paediatrician came in and assured me it wasn't a problem because she had wet diapers. I hadn't actually seen any of her diapers, but I was assured all was normal, so she must have pooped as well. Yes, you do become obsessed with your child's digestive tract after your have a baby. It's inevitable.

The lactation consultant came in as well to make sure all was well, and she too assured me it was nothing to be worried about and told me to come see her if there were any issues when I went home.

The incision did hurt, and getting in and out of bed was difficult at first, but if you just take it slow, it gets easier. It didn't hurt enough to stop me from carrying the baby or walking around, though. And it was infinitely less uncomfortable than actually being pregnant, so I had absolutely no complaints. By the third day, my itching had subsided and I was beyond grateful that all my pregnancy symptoms were gone!

And then, I had no idea how, but they let me leave the hospital with Megatron. I was half expecting someone to stop me and tell me I wasn't qualified to look after a baby, let alone a preemie. It was all extremely daunting, and I'll go into how the first three months have been in the next post. 

(Source)

Overall, I don't think I could have had a better birth experience in terms of the professionals involved, even when you don't account for the circumstances. It was an incredibly comfortable stay, and it felt more like a hotel than a hospital. The nurses were extremely attentive and helpful, and were so very kind and patient with me as a new mother. I highly, highly recommend it as a place to have a baby because their policies fall in line with all the research that is out there. 10 thumbs up for them!

(Picture Courtesy of The Enabler)
Huckleberry Food & Fare

Huckleberry has been around now, and I finally ventured in to try it out a couple of times. Excuse the pictures as they were all taken with my phone. 

The first time we headed over, we had brunch.

Pinata's standard order is the big breakfast for brunch, we he went with that. You get eggs (made in the style of your choosing), homemade baked beans, potato hash, sausages and bread with it. It's a Halal joint, so the sausages are made of chicken.


[Breakfast]

Since he always eats too quickly for me to try his food, I shall report that he was very happy with it (and probably happier that he didn't have to share). The portion was really big, but we're both big eaters. Under normal circumstances, this could work as a breakfast for 2 with pastry on the side. 

Next up, we have Banana French Toast. 


[Banana French Toast]

I didn't get a close-up of the beautifully caramelised bananas because, as you can see, it was already being attacked!

This was absolutely divine. Perfectly fluffy, caramelised French toast with toasted walnuts and bananas, drizzled with syrup. Delectable! I would go back just for this!

Unfortunately, their burger was a thorough let down. 


[Burger]

It tasted of nothing but salt, so I felt a bit like a horse licking a salt block. I don't know if it was an off day for the kitchen, but this was inedible. 

We went with others, but we got there late so their food was already in the process of consumption, but they were all really happy with their choices. An interesting addition to the menu is duck bacon as opposed to traditional beef bacon to replace the regular stuff.

The cinnamon bun looked absolutely amazing, and was said to be so. When you walk into Huckleberry, you're greeted by the sight of all these glistening pastries, and it can be hard to resist. The cinnamon bun is on my to-do list, and judging by my love of Cinnabon, if it's really that good, it might get a dedicated post of its own.

The next time I went in was for an impromptu dinner to avoid traffic.

Pinata went the healthy route and ordered juice.


[Mixed Fruit Juice feat. Starfruit]

The dehydrated starfruit on top was a really nice touch to break up the monotony of how the juice looked. It was delicious and contained some pineapple, though I couldn't decipher what else was in it, and I forgot to check the menu.

I went the decidedly decadent route and ordered a chocolate milkshake because I was starving and needed something to hold me.


[Chocolate Milkshake]

This was really sweet, but because it was cold, it was fantastic. If you need a huge milk chocolate/sugar kick, order this. It was so thick and creamy that Pinata described it as drinking melted soft serve. I prefer my chocolate darker, but this was really good for my sweet tooth.


[The Bird Waffles]

For our mains, Pinata ordered the chicken and waffles, and let me warn you that this requires 2 people to eat it (unless you're him). The portion was massive! It had huge hunks of perfectly seasoned chicken breast wrapped in a thin layer of crispy batter; fluffy inside-crisp on the outside waffles, all drizzled with the honey that comes on the side. Delicious!


[The Money Shot]

Please not that I'm the one doing the honey-drizzling because Pinata never adds condiments to his food, and I had to do it for him! 

The mild tang of the honey paired beautifully with the waffles and the juicy chicken. It was truly a work of art in itself. 


[Fish Tacos]

Since I got pregnant, I've had a hankering for fish tacos, and ignoring good judgment of avoiding cabbage because I'm feeding Megatron, I tucked into these happily. I found the portion a little small (or maybe I was just comparing it to Pinata's monster of a dinner), but maybe this is a tapas-style dish. They still could have been a little more generous with the fish because the homemade coleslaw overpowered the delicious, flaky fish completely. What a shame. They were even a little stingy with the lime wedges as they were so tiny. If the fish had been a little more present, this would be an absolute must order.

And finally, Pinata had a coffee. These days, I live vicariously through his coffee drinking ways. It's a very sad experience for me.


[Latte]

We're both coffee snobs, and we take the stuff very seriously. His assessment was that the beans were good, but the milk could be better.

I really do like Huckleberry. Their ambiance and food is lovely, and I would go back without hesitation (I want that cinnamon bun!), but they cut corners in the weirdest places, like milk and fish. Their menu is extremely inviting, and they aren't horrifically overpriced, which is good. Their pricing runs along the lines of most bistro-style joints at between RM20-30 for a main.
Celebrating Baby Day with Tollyjoy

The 16th of June marked the second anniversary of Tollyjoy's very own Baby Day. It was a fun-filled celebration of those little screaming monsters that we're programmed to love so very much. 


[Celebrating Baby Day]

Upon registration, they had a little guess-the-numbers game going where we were to write down our guesses for how many M&Ms were in a baby bottle. I'm the worst at such things, but surprisingly, I wasn't insanely far off this time!


[Registration Counter]

The event was held in conjunction with a few other participants, namely Orphan Care and Sprouts.


[Other Participants]

As promised, a fun-filled day was delivered with different booths such as a photo booth, a massage area, and even a candy bar!


[Photo Booth]


The baby dress-up station was designed to look like a cosy room for your child, and it really was! It was filled with Tollyjoy goodies that were up for grabs when you got to spin the wheel.


[Baby Dress-Up Station]



[Spin the Wheel]

Spinners were picked at random, and I got to pick my own prize!


[A Cooler Bag for Me!]

There was even a massage booth where trials and vouchers were being given out.


[The Amante Booth]

If you're a parent, it goes without saying that you're always in dire need of a massage. We got a 5 minute neck and shoulder massage, and that was enough to loosen up my tight shoulders and make me feel a whole lot better. Amante is known for its massages, and they gave us a voucher for a free massage. I highly recommend their hot stone massage! It's absolutely amazing!

For those with older kids, there was even a play area with a ball pit and everything.


[Play Area]

No doubt, this would be the perfect distraction for you to sneak a massage in!

Baby Sensory was also at the event, and I'm glad they were! I had no idea such things existed in KL, and I'll go into it down below. 


[Baby Sensory Booth]

And because sugar is always a welcome addition, there was a candy bar with all sorts of goodies!


[Candy Buffet]


[Om Nom Nom Nom]

Before the event started, we got to peruse the stalls and have a chat with everyone. It was all very festive. Of course, some selfies were taken, too!


[Megatron and Me]

(I think she looks worried because I dressed her like a boy.)

We were then treated to a series of short sessions by the partners of the event.


[Tan Wee Keng - CEO, Tollyjoy]

It kicked off with Tan Wee Keng of Tollyjoy Corporation, Singapore explaining the basis of having Baby Day. It's a means of celebrating the little ones who are far too young to enjoy Children's Day, and this is the second year running.


[Lari Cannon - Trainer and Specialist, OrphanCARE Foundation]

OrphanCARE is amazing in that they deal with abandoned children, including babies. I had no idea that they had baby hatches in Malaysia until this event! A baby hatch is a little drop-off point where you can leave your unwanted babies anonymously. When I mentioned it to Pinata, he told me he saw one in KPJ Damansara when I delivered as well. Clearly I was in no state to notice such things at the time. It's a great alternative to leaving your baby in a dumpster or toilet dustbin as is the case in many situations. Ms. Lari mentioned that they have had no problems finding homes for these babies, so they really are doing an amazing job. Learn more about OrphanCARE here

We were then treated to a talk by a baby sleep specialist from Sprouts


[Sarah Ong - Certified Baby Sleep Specialist, Sprouts]

Ms. Ong is the first certified baby sleep specialist with three kids of her own. As with all good science, she tested her skills out on her own kids, and they worked remarkably well. This was of particular interest to me because I'm reaching the point where Megatron is going to need sleep training. She is not an advocate of the "cry it out" method of sleep training, and believes that you should let your child cry out their feelings, but not leave them alone. She advocates holding them as you withdraw their sleep associations, and that's a far gentler approach that would appeal to many people. She recommends a five step sleep training programme that includes play before bedtime, and a bonding session that allows your child to voice their feelings from the day. It's a very interesting approach, and you can learn more about it on her website

Finally, there was a more hands-on session by Baby Sensory that allowed parents to participate.


[Early Learning Demonstration with Baby Sensory]

It was very fascinating to see the approach they take to learning in babies in that they believe that gestures should be accompanied by words to provide a visual element to language. Assuredly, this helps keep children engaged since they are very visual creatures. 

In their classes, they use music, puppets, and parental involving to create a stimulating environment for your baby. Definitely something I'm keen to check out.

video

[Puppet Show by Baby Sensory]

video

[Parachute Time with Baby Sensory]

They even furnished us with a voucher for one free session, so I'm excited to check them out. They have a few branches littered around KL, so take a look if you're keen to try it out for your baby.

By the end of it all, Megatron was completely gone from all the novelty and excitement. 


[One Passed Out Baby]

Oh, the joys of being a baby!

Tollyjoy's Baby Day is an annual event, so follow them on Facebook to see what's up next. There's even a competition that's running until the 30th of June where you can enter a wish for your baby, and stand the chance to win a Tollyjoy hamper!