Thirty Eight

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 12, 2021
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This year has been a year of change for me in more ways than one.

Well, although the pandemic has had an impact on all of us in the past year, forcing us to stay home, be unable to travel and made changes to our lifestyle, I think I am still dealing well with staying home and I am truly thankful that we are well-protected and well looked-after in our island.

The BIGGEST change of all, for me, has to be having the new addition to the family and how I have been promoted to a mum of 4 just before I turn 38.

Did I expect to give birth at this age when I was younger? Well, I don't think I did but then again, much of my life is not planned, like how I didn't expect myself to become a stay-at-home mum and has remained so for the past 12 years. Oh, and I will probably still be one for at least the next 12 years to come. Then I would be 50 already which means I will be unlikely to find work at that age with near zilch experience in the workforce. Haha. Still, no regrets. Never. Not even a tinge.
 
Being able to stay home with these four kiddos is still the best thing that has happened to me, even if they make me pull my hair or drive me up the wall every now and then. Haha. Really, I am not contradicting myself, I still love my 'job' to bits and I know I am super lucky and blessed to be where I am today.




Anyway, maybe age has caught up, my perception has changed or the pandemic has shifted the way things work. I wasn't planning on or looking forward to a grand celebration and didn't make plans to go for birthday meals with friends too. All I wanted to do was keep it simple and be with my loved ones.

Now that we are a big family of six, it means we can't dine outside with all of our parents because that would make 10 of us which will be against the rule of having a maximum of eight. So we had a simple celebration with my parents who treated us to a nice zi char dinner at the kopitiam.


When they asked if wanted a cake, I wasn't shy to be honest and said "Yes!" and the hubby went to a nearby cake shop to get a cheap chocolate sponge cake which turned out to be really yummy. It wasn't so much about being childish but more of wanting to let the kids blow out the candles and for myself to make a birthday wish, in the hope that it would come true. After all, birthdays only happen once a year, right?

According to the hubby, the cake shop auntie was only willing to give one candle despite him asking for more and it was probably because the cake was cheap. Anyway, he spent three dollars more to get a packet of candles that spelt "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" and decided to line them up all around the cake before lighting all of them.

With so many candles on a relatively small cake, I was quite sure this was the cake with the biggest flames we've had so far and even the side of the cake started to burn when we were halfway through the song. Haha, how memorable!




Some of my jiemeis came over to visit baby Ansel a couple of days before my birthday but they decided to spring a surprise by bringing a yummy Cedele chocolate cake! It's been a while since I celebrated my birthday with them so I was really thankful and glad it happened. It's also nice knowing that some of us gave birth at around the same time (Hello baby Jasper, you are an April baby too!) so we have lots of common topics to talk about when it comes to motherhood and parenting.

Our friendship journey began since we were in Secondary 1 so that means we have stayed as buddies for, erm, over 25 years? Haha. Hope we can always find time to meet up, no matter how busy life gets!

As for my actual day, it didn't start off on a happy note for some personal reasons which I won't elaborate here but I was still looking forward to spending a good time with the kids when they came back from school. Yup, it was going to be a solo parenting day, something which I've gotten used to, but I guess I still felt special in a way knowing that it was my hatch day.

I wanna give thanks to all the friends who were so kind as to send goodies and gifts over, including coconut jellies and a fruit tart from Angeline and David, frozen yoghurt from Serene, Ting and Estella, flowers and cookies from Sisi and Willie, as well as a beautiful balloon with rainbow baby breath from Nat, Mabel and Lin Ying.

The kids also made me feel extra loved by giving me their handmade cards in the cutest way ever - they put all of them into a picnic basket and presented it to me (scroll to my IG post below and swipe to watch the video).

My love language has never been gifts and I never needed the hubby or anyone to pamper me with anything lavish. But a handmade card filled with effort and love, I appreciate that from the bottom of my heart and will keep every card with me for as long as I live. So thank you so much for all the beautifully written cards and pretty origami, my dears. Love you all to the moon and back!

At night, I decided to be more adventurous so I brought the younger ones to cycle in our neighbourhood while the firstborn and I pushed the baby along and had a nice mother-and-daughter chat. I had a bowl of laksa (I love laksa!) to reward myself while the kids had pasta and burger, woohoo!

I have to say I'm slowly but surely getting used to bringing four kids out on my own and we've also managed to take the public transport a few times too. Yay! It's all about practice makes perfect and the first thing to do is to believe in myself that I can do it, right? So I gotta have faith and be positive about it, even if some days are tougher than the rest.

No matter how social media makes everything seem so easy and smooth for me or for anyone else, we have to always remember that what is portrayed is merely a small glimpse of our lives, and the story behind everything is usually far longer, harder and more complicated. Yup, I hope you will always remember that too. 

Nothing comes without struggles and the smiles are usually accompanied by some tears along the way too. It's the same for me in raising my kids, in keeping my marriage going, in being my happy positive self - there are always the good and bad days. It's about how we overcome the bad by picking ourselves up and how we make the good even better by embracing, cherishing and making the most of every moment.

We were reunited as a family over the weekend and the hubby made up for it by treating us to a nice dinner at Hawkerman in Seletar Mall followed by a family movie night, woohoo! It was Ansel's first visit to the cinema which made it extra memorable for all of us. He was such a gem to sleep after drinking his milk so I could still watch the movie and enjoy most of it.

We watched Godzilla vs Kong and it was better than we expected because we thought Kong made everything more engaging and exciting. Perhaps it didn't matter what show we chose too; all we needed was the company of each other and knowing that we were together as a family.

So I guess it wasn't so bad to celebrate my birthday in Phase 3 in the company of just a few loved ones, the ones who truly matter to me. It was a day that made me ponder over my 38 years of life which, like everyone's else, has been filled with ups and down. But my conclusion is I am thankful for everything that has led up to this day, I am where I wanna be at this very moment, and I am truly blessed to be a happy mum. 是的,我是幸福的!


P.S. Till my next birthday where my baby will be one year old! Woohoo! Exciting times ahead! Thanks for reading and to everyone who sent over birthday wishes one way or another, I appreciate everything and every one of you. Stay happy always, people!


Every mum deserves it {Review of Postnatal Massage Singapore}

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 31, 2021
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Some of my friends were surprised by the fact that despite having given birth a few times, I have not done any form of prenatal and postnatal massage. Until now. Many of them have given their positive feedback on how it helps to dispel wind, aids in womb recovery and tones the body back into shape.

I would say that it was mostly due to the fact that I first became a mum in Europe which made me see it more of a luxury than a necessity. However, now that age has caught up with me and I am also deeming this fourth childbirth as my last one, I figured out it was the right time to pamper myself while boosting my recovery process so I can better take care of four kids and a home.

Thanks to Postnatal Massage Singapore (PNSG), this time round, I managed to complete one session of prenatal massage (and I gave birth 4 days after!) as well as seven sessions of postnatal massage, yay! There were people asking me how I managed to do it since I am the sole caretaker of my kids and the answer is:

1) I did the prenatal massage when the kids were in school and I was alone.

2) I did the first postnatal massage when the hubby was on leave so that he could help with the baby who was one-week old as well as take some photos for me.

3) For the remaining sessions, half were done when the older kids were in school and I timed it such that it coincided with the baby's nap time, making sure he was changed and fed before my therapist arrived. The other half were done in the afternoon due to lack of morning slots and all the kids were home (gasp!). I had instructed them not to disturb us, which is actually quite an impossible task, but we managed to complete the sessions with all eyes on us even though I had to nag at the kids (eat lunch, go do your homework, go bathe etc) every now and then.

So yes, I do think it is possible to carry out massage sessions even if you do not have an extra pair of hands at home. It might be tougher but not impossible, in my humble opinion. In this post, I will share more about my experience with you so that you can have a better idea of what goes on and I will showcase the results at the end of the post too, so read on!


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First and foremost, why should any mum do prenatal or postnatal massage? That was the first question on my mind too so I checked with PNSG and these are the benefits stated on their website.

Prenatal Massage

1) Relieve soreness and leg cramps

2) Reduces lower hip and back pain

3) Improve blood circulation and reduce swelling

4) Promotes relaxation and reduces stress

Postnatal Massage

1) Tones your body and helps to get back to pre-pregnancy shape

2) Promotes better sleep

3) Improves lactation

4) Reduces post surgery swelling

5) Improves womb recovery

Is this true and was I able to experience these benefits at the end of my journey? I'll let you know below.

THE SETUP

I was happy to learn that PNSG is able to provide a foldable massage bed at a small top-up fee. This is because since my boys co-sleep with me, I didn't want to do it on our bed and would prefer to have a separate one which could be set up in the living area instead. Before my first massage session, a delivery guy sent over the massage bed, which is a little heavy but compact when folded, and it was kept at my home till I completed all the sessions before they collected it back.


The foldable bed feels sturdy and comes with strong leg support and an adjustable headrest. In fact, it looks every bit like the kind I see in spas, not that I've been to many. Even when I was heavily pregnant at 34 weeks, I still felt comfortable lying on the bed and was able to turn over to face up or down with ease.

It took only a few minutes for my therapist to set it up and she made sure to wipe it clean before and after every use too. For hygiene purposes, she would also put a disposable sheet over it followed by a big towel. Oh, for every session, you are to provide two large towels and two small towels which would be used to wrap around yourself or cover parts of your body.


I would definitely recommend using the portable bed so that you can do the massage anywhere in the house and not worry about having any lingering scent in your bedroom. I would also advise that you turn off the fans during the massage and instead switch on the air conditioner without it being too cold, around 23-24°C worked best for me.


THE EXPERIENCE

Prenatal

For the prenatal massage, it was mainly to allow me to relax while reducing any soreness, cramps or pain that I had. I think my pain was more apparent in the back area and it did feel much better after the session. What felt even better was having all my tight knots, especially in the shoulder and neck area, loosen as my therapist slowly helped to release any tension that I had.


Personally, I prefer having my massage done with force and strength, kind of like Shiatsu massage which applies deep pressure. However, I totally understood why this was not possible for the prenatal one since I had a little one growing inside of me! So, I appreciated the fact that my therapist went easy on me and was gentle from start to finish.

I also liked the part where she did a head massage for me because I admit there must be a million things on my mind every day and it was nice to just lay down and relax a little for that one hour, without having to think about all my worries and fears.

Postnatal

As for the postnatal massage, unlike the prenatal one, this could be done with more force, especially on the back, thighs and abdomen, which was why I loved it. The aim is also more of helping the body to recover, toning the body back into shape, reducing water retention swelling and aiding the womb to contract and heal.


At that point, which was less than two weeks after delivery, I was facing stress because of how the baby had severe jaundice and had to go for phototherapy, increasing his risk of dehydration which meant I had to pump out more breast milk. Since he had a poor latch, I was having a case of sore and cracked nipples and my supply had not been properly established. So when my therapist asked if I wanted to massage my breasts, my first question was "Will it help in lactation?". Her answer was "Yes" and I went for it without any hesitation. Her techniques were good and she was able to help me clear some of the blocked ducts, something which I appreciated. She was also encouraging which made me more confident to carry on in this breastfeeding journey.


After every session, I did realise that my discharge of lochia increased significantly and that my womb was contracting. I believe that the massage helped to improve blood circulation and also aided the uterus to cleanses itself by dispelling the unwanted blood, mucus and uterine tissue.

One of the best things I liked about the massage was that I had my own customised binder! I have always believed in binding since my first pregnancy and I think it is one of the most effective ways to slim down and get our body back into shape. It also helps to improve our body posture too which might in turn reduce the aches and pain. I wore the binder for at least eight hours after every massage session and even though it was tight, I didn't find it hard to breathe nor did it interfere with my breastfeeding. I would definitely recommend to continue wearing the binder for an extended period of time each day for weeks and even months ahead if you are determined to have a flat looking tummy.


One thing to note, unlike the traditional Jamu massage that uses a mixture of spices and dehydrated mud in the wrapping, this modern one uses an essential oil called Tapel. Not only does it smell nice without being too overpowering, it doesn't create a mess and I loved that it is so easy to clean myself up after.

THE SERVICE

My prenatal massage therapist is called Lynn and I really liked her because of how friendly, approachable, helpful and professional she is. She was nice to talk to from start to end, she regularly checked to make sure I was feeling okay with the amount of strength she was exerting, and she was also very patient and understanding when I had to take some videos and photos. In fact, I requested for her to continue to be my therapist for the rest of the postnatal massage sessions. However, we were unable to match our schedules so I had to switch to another therapist instead.

Flora was the name of my second therapist and she did all my seven postnatal massage sessions. She was a delight to have and I appreciated how she was able to accommodate my last minute schedule changes due to the baby's jaundice. She also didn't mind having a bunch of rowdy kids in the house and was understanding wherever I needed to get up to calm the baby.

It was evident to see that she is a very skilled, down-to-earth, hardworking and experienced therapist, and I particularly liked how she was able to locate all my knots and worked her way to loosen them one by one. She is also extremely polite in the way she spoke to me and I liked that we were able to chat heartily. Her binding skills were fantastic and she made sure I was feeling comfortable every time before we ended the session.


During our last session, she also gave me some baby massage tips and I appreciated the gesture, even though my boy didn't seem too cooperative at that moment. I ended our final session somewhat reluctantly because I had enjoyed each and every massage session more than I thought I would. So if you ask me whether doing postnatal massage made me feel better and more relaxed? I would give a definite yes.

THE RESULTS

Now, for the moment of truth! Just so you know, I gained about 10.5kg for this pregnancy, which is actually less than the previous ones because of the premature birth at 35 weeks and because I had been controlling my diet due to gestational diabetes. After completing the postnatal massage sessions, I had lost over 6kg in total so now I am just 4kg away from my pre-pregnancy weight.


As for the slimming and womb contraction part, take a look here and I think the pictures speak for themselves. Yup, you can definitely see the difference midway and at the end of my treatment. Of course, I have to say that it cannot solely be credited to the massage because breastfeeding plays a strong part and I also made sure I ate healthy confinement food (will share my review of Tian Wei Signature next month!) and got the nutrients I needed to boost my recovery.


However, I could definitely feel and see how my tummy got smaller with each massage and binding session so I do believe that it is an effective way to tone our body back to our 'normal' shape. I would, however, like to emphasise that I don't think the massage is a way to slim down and burn fats drastically but more of getting back to your pre-pregnancy shape, so don't see it as a miracle way to get the perfect figure you have always dreamt of but be realistic about what you can achieve.


In conclusion, I think it was a positive experience for me and not only did the results benefit me physically but mentally as well. Every mum definitely deserves to feel good about herself after going through this incredibly amazing but absolutely exhausting process called childbirth and we ought to pamper ourselves with a good massage, or rather, many good massages afterwards. Because we truly deserve them.

Thank you, PNSG, for showing me what I've missed out on for the previous births and making me more confident to carry on in my motherhood journey. 

******

Postnatal Massage Singapore 

167 Woodland Street 11 #02-23 Singapore 730167 

Phone: +65 6417 9690 

Email: admin@pnsingapore.com 

 Website: https://pnsingapore.com/ 

To view their package list, go here.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between PNSG and A Happy Mum. All pictures and opinions are solely my own.


Happiness is... welcoming a new life

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 26, 2021
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Right from the start, I knew that the year 2021 was gonna mark a big change in my life.

Going from being a mum of three to now a mum of four, the truth is it is never as easy as it seems. The sleepless nights, the frustration, the never ending demands, the feeling of being a mother cow, the mountain of chores each day, these are the things that stress me out. Just like every mum, I have to deal with the problems, learn to take things in my stride and find solutions that will work for me.


In short, life has totally changed since 23 February and from the looks of it, it's never gonna be the same again. While I am still learning to juggle my duties as a newly minted mum with four kids, including a newborn, two middle children and the firstborn who is in her PSLE year, my heart is full everyday and I look forward to tackling the challenges one by one with a positive spirit and unwavering determination. Yup, 我行,我能,我可以!

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about welcoming a new life and seeing the miracle of birth, as well as learning to cope with my new life with a thankful heart.

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This was the first time I was pregnant during Chinese New Year, considering that my previous three kids were all year end babies. I was well into my third trimester at 34 weeks and spotting a big belly in all my outfits, something which I felt very happy about and would smile every time I felt a flutter. They say a pregnancy brings out the glow in you, I think that is quite true, isn't it? What I didn't know was that I would be going into early labour shortly for this baby boy wanted to celebrate CNY with us too and came out on the 12th day of the Year of the Ox. Haha. I guess life is just unpredictable and you never know what tomorrow brings.

Despite the pandemic and all the house visiting rules, I was just grateful to be able to catch up with our family members, especially the extended ones whom we have not met in a long while. My grandma was very happy to see us and although she might not remember who we are (she even called me her daughter!), I loved to see her smiles and having the little kids in her house was one thing that would surely delight her.


One-on-one time with this boy has become very precious because I knew it would be dramatically reduced once the baby arrived. He has been a darling and looks forward to welcoming his little baby brother. In fact, he is the one who is the sweetest, remembers to apply my stretch mark cream for me every night and never fails to sing lullabies and talk to the baby. It is so important to let them build up this bond as early as possible, right?


 I jolly well know that I would be unable to hit the waters for quite some time after giving birth and given how I would be the sole caretaker for the baby, it's gonna take even longer before he can join us which means I would most likely have to accompany him. The good thing about having more kids is that these three have each other for company and are never lonely, but ultimately, it's still different from when the hubby and I join in the fun and let our hair down with them. Well, I just need some time before I can join in the action, my dears, in the meantime, just keep swimming!



You probably know by now that I don't like to stay indoor much, no matter if I am pregnant or even if I am on confinement. Yup, maybe I'm just born with this streak and having stayed for years in Europe also made it even stronger and I know I just wanna stay active and keep moving! Anyway, I was happy that we made it to the zoo in February as it's a place that the kids will never get tired of, even if we've been here countless times. It's always nice to see our animal friends and be able to interact with them!


I love their CNY themed artwork done at HeART Studio, including the Chinese calligraphy, ox made of modelling clay and cherry blossoms, do you like them too? It's not gonna be easy bringing the baby out next time while these three go for their classes but the good thing is we don't have much classes, just art and Heguru. Haha. So yup, I know practice makes perfect so I'm gonna make sure I can handle bringing all four of them out so that we can continue to have our mum-and-kids outings.


It was a school holiday on 大年初四 so we managed to find time to do my maternity photoshoot with Bloom Photography. Read more about our experience here. It was such a blessing that we did this just in time because I delivered Ansel a week after. I would be bummed out if I missed doing my last maternity shoot because these shots are so precious to me. Yup, I'm quite sure it's highly likely the last because hello, Mama is turning 38 soon already and having four kids is quite a handful, haha.


For the first time, I also tried doing prenatal and postnatal massages, thanks to Post Natal Massage Singapore. Yup, I've never been good at pampering myself but given that I am much older, and hopefully wiser, now and considering that this is my last chance, I am glad I did it and will share more about the benefits and my positive experience in an upcoming post.

Two days before I got admitted to hospital, I was still jumping on log stumps and going around Coney Island with the kids! It was definitely a contrast from my life after Ansel came, where I have to battle severe jaundice, tongue tie, poor latching, midnight feedings, nightmares and endless demands. Would I trade it for anything? Of course not! I still love the newborn phase no matter how physically exhausting it can be. I also look forward to taking him on our family hikes in parks and nature reserves and I can't wait to have more adventures as a family of six soon!


We were interviewed by Lianhe Zaobao and it was for a topic close to my heart - how to get kids to help out with household chores from a young age and the importance of letting them learn through mistakes. The kids were asked to demonstrate what they usually do at home, so the big sister did the laundry, the small sister helped to chop up ingredients while the boy cleaned the floor. While it all looks like they are always eager to help, trust me when I say that is not the case and there are days when they refuse to step up or procrastinate - which is very normal because even adults like me do too. So I really do nag every single day - until 我都觉得自己很啰嗦 - but I concluded it's necessary in order to instill values in them and nagging is better than scolding or losing my cool, right?


How do they look in their navy uniforms? We took this photo for keepsake and I wanted it to be a tribute to the navy hubby who did his best to juggle both home and work right after I gave birth. I was hospitalised for four nights (partly due to the baby being premature and the need to do phototherapy for his jaundice) and it wasn't easy handling these three on his own! In fact, he was utterly exhausted, found it hard not to lose his temper and concluded that looking after kids is more tiring than working. Haha, now you know, dear. Still, he did a good job holding everything together and even after I returned, he continued to cook for the kids (I had my own confinement meals delivered to me every day) so that I could take a break from the kitchen a little longer. That, I deeply appreciate. Hopefully, I will be able to handle and hold the fort once more when life resumes and he goes back to sailing and working full time.

Last but not least, the biggest change in February was, of course, the arrival of our baby prince Ansel! Yup, I always call Asher my little prince so this one has to settle for baby instead. Haha. I still find it hard to believe that I am now a mum of four and have two boys and two girls to love, to guide and to care for (and also to drive me up the wall).



I've written in detail about my birth process here and I think I would love to read it again years down the road when the kids are much bigger. It might bring a tear or two to my eyes, wouldn't it? I also did a short video to remember that day and those precious moments of meeting my baby for the first time (you can watch it here) and the surprisingly thing is some of you DM me to say that my video made you cry! Awwww. Glad to know it struck a chord and this just shows how we are all in this motherhood journey together and we are never alone.


This boy is definitely my little gem and despite being born at 35 weeks, I am glad to see that he is a strong and healthy little one! It always amazes me to think about how these babies emerged from our womb and it's the miracle of all miracles in the world. 太神奇了. It is also a testimony of what our bodies and minds can achieve and I really think mums can accomplish anything when we put in our hearts and souls, and not give up no matter what.


So our house is even messier now, I hear the baby crying every couple of hours and it gets worst in the middle of the night, I have to bathe, clean, feed and coax this little one around the clock, I have to think for the other three kids too and make sure they don't feel neglected (that is seriously a challenge), I find it a challenge to keep up with the chores and I am still learning, failing, and trying harder again every single day now that life has become very different for all of us.




The question is: Am I happy? Well, without a doubt. I might be sleep deprived, my hair is oily and yucky, I sweat buckets a day, I have lots of loose skin, my wound hurts from time to time, BUT.... I am blessed beyond words to be where I am and every time I feel dejected and beaten, all I have to do is think about the kids and that is where I find my motivation to go on.

So, to my new life, I fully embrace you and I welcome you with all your ups and downs, trials and tribulations, joy and tears. The way I see it, life is truly beautiful and each day is full of hope.


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