Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Still Quiet of A Dark Room.

Tonight, as I tucked my little bunny into bed, I kissed her forehead and placed my hand briefly on her chest as I always do.

And suddenly... there, in the still quiet of the dark room, I felt her heartbeat - steady and strong... boop boop boop boop - and tears came into my eyes.

In that moment, I flashed back to all the times before she came into my life when I had seen (or heard) her heartbeat and wondered what it would be like when I could finally hold her in my arms.

I remembered the day I discovered I was pregnant. How I jumped for joy when I saw two lines appear on a pregnancy test I was so sure would turn up negative! How I ran and leaped on my husband as I frantically waved the proof in front of his bewildered and tear-streaked face.

The test I took on a pure whim. Because of my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), we were due to go on fertility treatment and never once thought suspected I might be pregnant.

I remembered the day I first saw her on Dr Alex's ultrasound. She was really just a blob on the screen but I already felt so much love for this being Allah had chosen to bless us with.

 Zara at 6 weeks

I remembered the day I first saw her heartbeat register on Dr Alex's fancy machine. They were just a bunch of fuzzy lines, but to me, after having miscarried once before, those lines represented hope... hope that this time, my peanut would be something so much more.

 A heartbeat! - Zara at about 8 weeks

I remembered the day I found she had grown from a peanut into the beginnings of what finally looked like a tiny human being. And when I read that at that age, she was only about 3cm long, it dawned on me just how fragile she was, and how I would spend the rest of my life protecting her from the badness of the world.

  Zara at 9 weeks

I remembered the day we ooh-ed and aah-ed when she pulled her unborn hand up to cradle her face, the way she still does now when she's asleep.

Zara at 11 weeks

I remembered the day I caught a fleeting glimpse of her little hand, and counted five perfect fingers, right before she curled them into a fist and turned away from the attention. I couldn't imagine how it would feel to someday be able to hold that hand - the way I do now when she wants comfort in her carseat.

Five perfect little fingers - Zara at 13 weeks

Hello Mummy! Cant wait to meet you!

I remembered the day our cheeky girl first winked at us with what we knew would be large beautiful eyes.

*Wink wink* - Zara at 33 weeks.

I remembered the day I waited 20 long, agonising hours to deliver her, when the best comfort I had was the strong steady sound of her heartbeat, amplified for all to hear, cheering me on, lightening my load and easing my pain.

Minutes before Zara was born...

Til today, it still has that effect on me, in the still quiet dark of the room. 

I remembered the minute, the exact second she was born, and looked straight into my eyes. She looked as if she loved me already, as I had known already, what seems so long ago, that I loved her.

In the darkness, I spared a minute to mourn for the two peanuts I had lost more than a year ago, and thanked Allah for Zara, for her strong steady heartbeat, and for how that gives my heart a reason to go on beating too.

My little peanuts, who never made it past 3 months.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our First... Holiday!

Last week was a week of many First's for the Nazrudin Family.

Our First Holiday as a Family....

We couldnt get Zara to look at the camera
because of the many exciting distractions around her!

Our First Roadtrip with Zara...

The buggy toy was a real blessing during the
long trip to Cherating. Zara kept herself
amused for ages with that thing!

Zara's First Time in a Swimming Pool...

No prizes for guessing whether she enjoyed the experience!

Zara's First Glimpse of The Ocean...

She loved feeling the seabreeze on her face!

Zara's First Time at The Beach...

We only dipped her toesies just a little, and even
that was too ticklish for our little Geli-Girl.

... Zara's First Time Sleeping in a Cot Other Than Her Own...
Bathing in a Proper Bathtub...
 Eating Meals in a High Chair (when she was not busy actually eating the high chair itself!)...

The "Apek" gene is strong within her... Notice the
leg pulled up ala coffeeshop style!

All in all, going for a holiday with a baby isn't the same as going with just your other-half, as we discovered soon enough.

The packing was stressful and kept me up almost all night (Did I pack her food, her diapers, her pillow, her swimsuit etc x 100) and we spent the entire time at the resort trying to expose Zara to interesting new experiences while sticking to her eat/bathe/sleep routine. The result was that we ended up spending more time in the room than out of it, and Naz and I didnt get any much needed R&R for ourselves.

Despite that, we still had a wonderful holiday, and although we wont have a romantic one for just the two of us for a long long while to come, I wouldnt have wanted to go to Cherating without our little girl. 

It used to read just "Naz and Nee"... My, how life has changed :-)

Monday, July 12, 2010


Zara started on solids last week, at 4 months and 1 week old.

I wasn't prepared for it actually because I had planned to wait until she was closer to 6 months old, based on the studies I had been reading.*

It happened quite by accident, while we were staying at my in-laws for the weekend.

Zara's 6 month old cousin Mika was having baby cereal for breakfast and Zara was sitting on my lap watching him eat. Quite suddenly, she began to get very excited and started reaching out towards him, opening her mouth wide, as if she had suddenly woken from a deep slumber and realised she hadnt eaten in a week.

Out of curiosity, I dipped my finger in some of Mika's food and offered it to her. To my surprise, she grabbed my hand, stuffed my finger into her mouth and gobbled it up immediately. Shocked, I repeated it, just to see if it was some fluke, but nope, gobble gobble gobble... until she'd had about five or six fingers of poor Mika's cereal.

My sister in law Nora then suggested giving Zara a bowl of her own food. I thought, why not give it a shot? So I crumbled one Farley's Rusk into a bowl, dissolved it in water, mashed it up and offered some of it to Zara on a spoon. Get this... The bowl was clean in under 10 minutes!

Zara enjoying her first ever bowl of cereal!

Encouraged, I went to the supermarket the same day and bought some organic rice cereal suitable for babies over 4 months old.

That evening, at 6pm, I gave her a bowl of the new stuff, and she liked that even more!

Of course, when I told Dr Adrian about this, he recommended that I stop and wait until she was older. I mulled over it, read up about it and spoke to my mum for advice, and decided eventually that if Zara felt she was ready for solids, then she would probably know best.

I continued to offer her cereal until she began to get bored of it, so I started adding a few spoonfuls of apple puree to her rice, which she absolutely loved.

Since then, Zara has tried pears and bananas too, and loves it all. She's had no adverse reactions to anything so far, Alhamdulillah, and is now happier, sleeping better, and smiling more. 

* Apparently some babies don't react well to proteins that can be found in solids, leading to allergic reactions and sometimes even eczema).

My Wonder Baby.

Zara and I visited our lovely paediatrician last week for her 4 month jabs (Pneumococcal, Hepatitis and Rotavirus). 

As is customary during these visits, Dr Adrian wanted to know her progress, and passed me a teddy bear to demonstrate what she was now able to do.

So I made teddy sit, stand, lie on his tummy and roll over (front to back).

Dr Adrian was incredulous.

In fact, I dont think he quite believed me and probably half suspected I was making it up to impress him.

"You mean, you are holding on to her underarms when she sits and stands right?" he said, thinking that perhaps I was embellishing the sitting/standing part.

"No," I replied, surprised at his question, "She's able to sit on her own, albeit with support from her arms, and stand by either holding on to the cot or leaning onto the rails..."

After a few more prodding questions, I began to get a bit frustrated that he didn't seem to believe me and he probably came to the conclusion that I was one of those extremely impatient parents who push their kids into doing things before they're ready.

I was on the verge of whipping out my phone to show him visual proof of my claims when our little debate was interrupted by his nurse coming into the room with the vaccine.

Jab on the left leg, jab on the right. And that was the end of that. 

So I didnt get to prove to our dear doctor that perhaps what he's dealing with is more of an impatient little girl who can't wait to grow up rather than a pushy parent.

Because I can swear that while I do make it a point to put Zara on her mat daily for some tummy time, and play with her the way all parents probably do, I don't spend my time forcing her to do anything she doesn't like to do.

Truth is, my little girl always seems to prefer time on her legs and hates lying down. She will fuss when she's on her back and will reach for my hands to try to sit up, grunting as she does. She hates tummy time and will cry when I encourage her to slow down and learn how to crawl.

Instead, she would rather hold onto the edge of the sofa for a good 20mins or sit on her playmat batting the mobile ladybug. She has a mind of her own, this one, and I guess she's just one of those precocious babies who prefer to stand than crawl.

I can't help it that Zara has chosen to develop this way, and that she's maturing faster than most. I'm just doing my best to make sure she's happy.

So, stand, sit, whatever she does... as long as she's smiling, it's alright isn't it?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Peer Pressure

In the 4 months or so that Zara has been in my life, I've discovered that I am particularly vulnerable to something that has never really bothered me before.
As a teen, I did experience a little jealousy when my friends owned better clothes or better hair, skin and teeth than I did, but I learnt pretty early on that with braces, a little bit of makeup and some DIY clothes alterations, Insecure Me could actually be quite comfortable in my own skin.

Growing out of pimples and buck teeth (and eventually being in a career I was good at) helped boost my self-esteem, and so - I thought - peer pressure was a thing of the past, a pesky teenage thing I would never have to worry about again.

I rephrase - so I thought.

I've observed for some time now that no mother can escape having herself or her baby compared to other mums and babies, and that being a new mother (the sensitive, vulnerable and worrywart characters that we are) in this predicament can be particularly hard.

For someone who had put my teenage insecurities behind me, over the last few months as a new mum, I've had to endure people commenting on:
  • My weight:
"Aiyo, you still quite big ah you... you know ah, your neighbour/Ziana Zain/Erra Fazira/Angeline Jolie/Jennifer Lopez (twins some more!) all smaller than you after 4 months ah?!"
  • My looks:
"Aiya... why you look like that wan nowadays... never wear makeup also... then how to jaga your husband leh... you know ah, your neighbour/Ziana Zain/Erra Fazira/Angeline Jolie/Jennifer Lopez (twins some more!) all still look so hot wan?!"
  • My clothes:
"Wei, why you still wearing size L ah you... you four months already give birth lah... you know ah, your neighbour/Ziana Zain/Erra Fazira/Angeline Jolie/Jennifer Lopez (twins some more!) already back to size 0 ah?!"
  • My milk supply (really!):
"Eh, I think your milk supply not enough lah... see you baby cry so much, some more so kurus, your breasts tak cukup susu lah. You know ah, your neighbour/Ziana Zain/Erra Fazira/Angeline Jolie/Jennifer Lopez (twins some more!) all got banyak susu you know...!" (Sheahnee says: Yeah, right... As IF you know!!!)
  • My skills as a mother:
"Aiyo, why you bathe your baby like that wan... why you feed your baby like that wan... why you don't do this to your baby leh... etc etc..."

The list does go on.

I would probably be able to put up with it, as I have learnt to master the art of the plastic smile and the in-one-ear-out-the-other trick, but the problem is, the peer pressure has now begun to extend to my little girl too: 
  • Zara's weight:
"Eh, why your baby so small one ah... you never feed her enough milk ah... you know ah, your neigbour's baby (etc etc) now 4 months almost 7kg you know! Some more so pui-pui!"
  • Zara's skill development:
"Eh, your neighbour's baby can already crawl/walk/sit-up/stand on her head/do somersaults you know... why your baby so slow wan..."
  • Zara's behaviour:
"Sei lor, why your baby cry so much wan? You know ah, your neighbour's baby ah, so quiet wan, so good never cry, always smiling wan..."
  • Zara's milk rashes:
"Aiyo, why your baby got rashes wan... you know ah, your neighbour's baby ah, drink so much milk until today also no rash wan... Maybe your milk got something wrong wor..."

Yes, this list also goes on.

I think the point I'm trying to make is that I've learnt that no two babies are the same, and neither are their mothers. The faster people learn to accept that, the less stressed-out and miserable new mothers would be. 

And if all this nonsense could be prevented, then you wouldn't have to deal with it until your baby is herself a 30 year old woman, constantly being compared to her neighbour's daughter's job, salary, looks, husband and kids.  

So if my baby can or can't grab her teddy, or weighs less or more than my neighbour's kid, so be it. She is her own little person, and I'm sure for every thing she can or can't do, there are things your baby can or can't do too. Take solace in that.

To all other new mothers out there, remember, in-one-ear-out-the-other. And smile :-)

*This post is dedicated to my friend and new mother, Ida.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Flashback: Zara's Full Moon

So because I've been away from cyberspace for so long, it's now time to catch up on some long overdue updates!

Zara at 5 Weeks

About 2 weeks after Zara had her Cukur Jambul, we decided it would be apt to also recognise her Chinese heritage by celebrating her Full Moon. For those who don't already know, this is basically just a celebration of baby's one month anniversary.

Zara's Abah all dressed up for the occasion!

A Full Moon is usually only a family affair, and for those who aren't able to join in, the customary ang koo ker (sticky red cakes filled with lotus seed, peanuts or red bean paste), red boiled eggs and sometimes, a roast chicken are delivered by hand.

We decided to buck tradition somewhat with Zara's Full Moon, thanks to Mum, who wanted to throw in her Australian roots to the already mixed proceedings with a teatime feast that included lamingtons, corn quiche and avocado salad, apple danish, sausage pastries and a whole bunch of other yummy stuff (thanks Mum!).
And to fulfill the traditional end (and my Uncle's craving for ang koo ker), we sent everyone home with a halal box of ang koo ker, red eggs and egg tarts, which I discovered at Bee's.

It was a simple do but Mum outdid herself with the table settings and by baking everything herself, which I feel bad about because normally I'm the one standing right next to her putting everything together.

Sar Kor and Sar Chek enjoying the Aussie Full Moon Feast

In the end, we had a good time, and everyone was excited to meet our little grumpy puss, who despite being dressed very sweetly in white, was sour faced most of the evening. At just five weeks, she must have been stressed out by all these strange people wanting to coo at and carry her. But she was still a hero and held up well!

Zara happy that it's over! Hi 5 Mummy!

Happy (very) belated one month birthday my little Zara!