Friday, January 19, 2007

For Vanity Sake

The last time I had a shower was the morning of December 28, the day Nachos was born. Oh I remember that morning fondly. The nice hot water splashing on me, the soap suds all over my body and my hair rinsed off of all the daily crud. Although I've washed my hair since then, I haven't had a shower or bath. All I've had are sponge baths. And since my mom is watching me like a hawk, I can't sneak a shower into my day. I had to plead with her before she helped give me a really hot hair washing over the sink.

And why am I depriving myself of a nice hot shower for a whole month? Well, it all boils down to vanity and the age old reason of better to be safe than sorry.

I did the same thing when I had Boy Wonder. Not only did I not have a shower, I couldn't go out of the house for a whole month. I'm doing it again this time and Hubby is still at a loss on why I put up with it.

Many of us crazy Chinese people or Asians have this one month practice whenever you give birth. You're made to stay home and just rest. You can't touch cold water, strain yourself nor take the slightest risk of catching a cold or getting sick. So that means avoiding the elements, eating all the best foods and soups and generally fully recover from the strains of childbirth. Although many people would agree that that is a good thing to do, the way we do it is considered abit too much by most. One thing that gets to Hubby the most is why I can't leave the house and why I can't have a shower. Although I must admit its abit silly, I just think of it as a great excuse not to run any errands for a month and not showering means not getting much guests so that I can rest as much as possible.

The whole rational behind all this pampering and avoiding all the elements is that we believe a woman's body goes through immense strain during labor. And when you're pregnant, all your joints loosen in preparation for the delivery of the baby. So after the baby comes, the strain means you may be vulnerable or have weaker resistance to illness and all those loosened joints means you need to rest and not strain yourself at all so they all go back to normal quickly and with no complications. We believe that if you touch cold water or get abit chilly, your joints just might stiffen up abit and cause you difficulties when you get older. I can't say I completely believe all of this, but hey, I'd rather be safe than sorry when I get older.

The way I see it, Asians in general, or Asian women seem to age better than non-Asian women. Whether its simply in their genes or has to do with this whole one month thing, I'd like to be one of those women that looks great in their old age. I also want to increase my chances of not being one of those oldies that have to be taken care of by their husbands because they can't walk much anymore or is always going to the doctors for some reason. I'll make sure I eat well, exercise and look after myself, but I'm hoping this one month thing is an added kick in the right direction. I want to be well and healthy in my old age so that I can enjoy my kids more and keep up with my husband who is definitely fitter than me at this stage.

And heck, like what I keep telling Hubby, when else in my grown up life will I have my mother pamper me and look after me like I was a kid again? I've been living away from my parents since I was 18. Having her around for a whole month everytime I have a baby makes me feel alot better. I feel lucky that I still have my mommy around to spoil me.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Barely Hanging On

It's been 2 and a half weeks since the arrival of Nachos and to tell you honestly, it's been a really rough ride. I now know exactly how Brooke Shields felt when she went through her post-partum depression.

I can't say I'm definitely suffering from some sort of depression, because I feel fine generally. It's the breastfeeding and sleeping of Nachos that's getting to me. Although I'm happy to say I have successfully established my milk supply after a killer week of trying, I'm now starting to doubt whether I should continue or not.

When we took Nachos home from the hospital on the 31st, she was on the verge of dehydration with no wet nor dirty nappies for a whole day. The doctor was worried so he advised me to give Nachos formula while I'm getting my milk supply up. But since we were all so excited about getting home that day, we didn't think about getting formula when we got home that afternoon. What followed was one of the toughest nights I have ever been through.

Because I didn't have enough milk, I had to keep switching sides to see if Nachos could get more milk after each passing minute. We kept doing this for hours and hours until I had to give her some water because we had nothing else to give. Since it was New Year's Eve, we were sure no stores selling formula would be open either, so we persevered until the morning. I think by day break we were both so exhausted we finally fell asleep.

That morning the first thing I asked Hubby to do was go out and get some formula. I also called the La Leche League to ask for advice and one of them actually dropped by that morning to check up on us. She showed me the right way to latch Nachos on and showed me different feeding positions. At first I was worried she was going to make me persevere some more with no formula until I told her Nachos had no wet nor dirty nappies the day before. When she heard that, she said I certainly need to give her some formula because we don't want her to get dehydrated. So phew, these women are human afterall. So that afternoon Nachos got her bottle of formula and I wasn't so worried anymore.

The following 2 days, I noticed my milk started coming. I thought this was going to be the end of my hardship but boy was I mistaken. Nachos turned out to be a really light sleeper!!! It turns out Nachos is the kind of baby where you can't put her down once she's asleep. What a shock that was to my system and it still is. And in addition to that, she doesn't stop eating! I would breastfeed her the whole morning, no exaggeration. And each time she falls asleep in between I try to put her in her crib thinking and hoping she would give me a break. But no, once she realizes she's not in someone's arms she starts crying and looking to suckle! Aaaah! I do this sort of tango with her until mid afternoon or until I'm too tired or frustrated and just give her a bottle. If I'm lucky Nachos would fall into a deep sleep straight away and be in some sort of formula induced coma for at least 4 hours. Really makes me wonder why I still bother with breastfeeding.

But if I'm unlucky, Nachos would do a really big poo right after the bottle and our tango would start all over again. And when you're really tired and you have a crying baby in your hands that wouldn't stop, its when the frustration and anger that steps in.

Many times during the day, when Nachos is being fussy and just wouldn't sleep, I reach a point when I get angry. I want to scream at her and at moments I am at the verge of inflicting pain upon her. Brooke Shields said there were times when she pictured her baby thrown against the wall. And in those moments, I totally understand what she went through. Although I am sane enough not to actually do such horrible things, my fatigue, frustration and anger would make these thoughts come into mind. I never thought looking after a baby would be this difficult, and I'm not so thrilled that I'm finding out now. I always joked around that since Boy Wonder was such an easy baby to look after, Nachos would be payback. I didn't think it would actually come true!

So at this moment, I am at a crossroad. I am proud to have successfully established breastfeeding. Although I cheat and use the occasional bottle, at least Nachos' primary food supply comes from breastmilk. But my problem at the moment is that since she's such a fussy sleeper, I am tempted to just give her formula all the time so I don't have to work so hard. At the moment both of my hands are literally tied up whenever Nachos is on one of her marathon feeding sessions. And even though my parents are here to help, I can tell its giving Hubby abit too much added strain. Not only does he have to take up the slack of looking after Boy Wonder, give him his bath, wake up in the middle of the night when he has a bad dream or does a poo and entertain him, he also needs to find time to work out since he's signed up for the HK Marathon again this year. I've worked so hard to get this whole breastfeeding thing off the ground, but I'm wondering if the price I'm paying is getting too high. Boy Wonder is doing great having grown up on formula, so it makes me wonder if breastmilk is really all that its hyped up to be? And since I've given up on cloth nappies after Nachos developed a really bad diaper rash, giving up on breastfeeding would mean I've achieved none of what I set out to achieve.

I think I'll give it another week or until I get too tired then make a decision. I know pro-breastfeeding people would gasp at my thoughts of quiting but at this point I think I need to consider my sanity and the sanity of this whole family if things don't get better.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

At Last!

She's finally arrived! Nachos arrived on December 28, 2006. After a long wait, and some hard thinking, we went and had Nachos out via c-section. And it's a good thing we did, because she came out much bigger than anyone anticipated. She weighed in at 9 pounds 3 ounces and measured 52cm.

I was suppose to stay at the hospital till the 1st, but after a few nights in an extremely uncomfortable bed, we all thought it would be much better for me to spend New Year's Eve at home with the latest addition to our family.

I'm still feeling quite sore and still getting the hang of breastfeeding. Will blog again soon to report on whether I got the breastfeeding to work and how everything else is going.