October 31, 2009

Of travelling, exams and birthday

I touched down at KLIA early on Tuesday morning , and less than 60 hours later, I was on the plane again. Luckily it was only a short trip to Singapore for a meeting on Friday. I had initially planned to make a day trip, but since the meeting was scheduled to start at 8.30am, the only flight that could take me there that early is an Air Asia flight departing LCCT at 6am, and I would have had to wake up at the ungodly hour of 4am. Not wanting to torture myself, I flew in on Thursday evening. Alas, I still didn't get much rest as I stayed up till 4am that morning rushing off some urgent documents for work.


While I was in Montreal, hubby was informed that Yiu Yiu's end-of-term exams will be held in the week of November 2. Yiu Yiu was bugging me to do revision with her at home (I guess the teacher must have reinforced this to them) when I was home between the Montreal Singapore trips but I was just too darn tired, as well as didn't have the time to prepare any revision worksheets for her, like what I did for her mid-term exams.

This week was revision week at the kindy and from my experience with the mid-term exams, I knew the kindy would return the revision worksheets to the parents for the weekend. I took the short-cut and erased all the answers from the kindy revision worksheets, photocopied them, and walah, I've got my revision sheets :-)

I had planned to space out the revision for Maths, English and Chinese over the weekend but the moment she saw me pulling out the worksheets, she took them from me and finished them all in one marathon session, despite me trying to coax her to space them out. Rajin or not my daughter?


Yiu Yiu will turn four tomorrow. Hubby and I had agreed that we won't be celebrating her birthday in a big way this time, unlike the last two years. When I was away in Montreal, I also didn't give much thought to her big day. We finally decided to still have a small celebration at home. So on my way to the airport on Thursday, I was frantically short messaging everyone, making arrangements for the last minute do.

We went shopping this afternoon – for the party packs, disposable cutleries, food and beverages.

Yiu Yiu is very excited, and can't stop saying that tomorrow is her birthday, and she's gonna have a party :-)

October 28, 2009

Yiu Yiu's birth story – Part 2

The days after
On the second and third day, my blood pressure was still elevated so I couldn't be discharged. On the fourth day when I was fit to go home, Yiu Yiu developed jaundice and had to undergo phototherapy. I decided to stay on at the hospital as I was breastfeeding, and we only finally went home on the sixth day.

The few days at the hospital were really tough. I was a naïve new mother who didn't quite know how to handle a baby, especially such a tiny and fragile-looking baby. She couldn't latch on for the longest time, and I was truly struggling to breastfeed her. It didn't help that she kept on crying out in hunger and frustration at each breastfeeding attempt. And when she developed jaundice, I was repeatedly told by the nurses to keep on feeding her, that fluid intake would help to flush out the bilirubin, but she just couldn't latch on properly. Many a times, when she cried out in hunger, I broke down too.

One night, I succumbed to one of the nurses' suggestion to feed her some formula. I insisted though that they used a feeding cup and not bottle, as I didn't want her latching problem to be compounded by nipple confusion. The very next morning, I was reprimanded by my obstetrician. He said babies can survive with minimal breastmilk for the first few days, as they have enough body fat stores to sustain them. He further added that her blood glucose level is monitored daily and if there's any indication that she needed supplemental feeding, they would not starve her. So that was Yiu Yiu's one and only formula feed, until she reached 15 months, when we started to introduce formula to her.

October 26, 2009

Yiu Yiu's birth story – Part 1

Another birth story? Yeah, but this one is almost 4 years too late. I started this blog when Yiu Yiu was eight months old, so I don't have any entries on details of her birth and early months. It just struck me that perhaps I should also pen down Yiu Yiu's birth, whatever little that I still remember, to mark her upcoming 4th birthday.

So here goes…

October 24, 2005
Hubby and I went to see my obstetrician, Dr. G for my 37th week check-up, and when he checked my blood pressure, he said that it was elevated. It was the first time in my whole pregnancy that my blood pressure actually went up. Anyway, he sent us home and asked us to come again next week. The next week, my blood pressure was still elevated and there were traces of protein in my urine too. He also checked my cervix but I don't remember him telling us if it had already softened. He told us that my placenta was probably matured and calcified, and thus, would not be able to provide much sustenance for baby. He wanted to check the baby's heartbeat with the CTG machine, and hence asked us to be at the hospital early the next morning.

November 1, 2005
It was the morning of Deepavali, and when we arrived at the hospital at about 8am, I was promptly hooked to the CTG machine. At the end of the observation, we were told that baby's heartbeat was fine. He checked my cervix, but again, he didn't offer any information as to its dilation. Anyhow, he advised that we should schedule for an induction of labour, since I was already 38+ weeks. Being the ignorant first-time parents, it didn't occur to us to question the rationale behind his advice, but I guessed it had to do with my less-than-efficient placenta. Since it was already past 10am by the time we were done, he was reluctant to induce me on that day itself, as he was worried that there might not be an anaesthesiologist around should I had needed an emergency C-sect. So he sent us home and asked us to be at the hospital early the next morning.

Hubby proceeded to settle the bill and just as we were about to leave the hospital, hubby got a call from his nurse, telling us that Dr. G changed his mind, and decided to induce me then instead of waiting another day. Okay, so we went to the labour ward and by the time I changed into the hospital gown, it was just past 11am. I was put on a drip and I settled down with some newspapers and magazines. There wasn't much progress in the first three hours, and if I'm not mistaken, I was only 2cm dilated at 2pm. I remember thinking to myself that at this rate, I'd probably deliver only at 10pm, assuming my cervix dilates at the rate of 1cm per hour. The midwife then increased the dose of the medicine and I started feeling some contractions soon after. Somewhere along the way, I was given pethidine injection, which caused me to drift in and out of consciousness. From that point on, I couldn't really recall much. I remember trying to get some sleep, only to be awakened by each wave of contraction that got progressively stronger. I remember Dr. G rupturing the membrane, probably when I was about 5cm dilated. I remember hubby got really anxious with each progressively louder groan I made, and several times, he rushed out to get the midwife to check on me. And he told me later that at one point, the nurses got a little irritated and even reprimanded him, telling him that labour pain is like that, and I had to just bear with it.

When I felt the urge to bear down, I asked hubby to inform the midwife. She was half expecting that hubby is crying wolf again, but she frantically got into action getting all the things ready when she found out that I was already fully dilated. I was asked to hold and not push since the obstetrician was not there yet. I thought those few minutes were the worst throughout the whole process, having to fight the extremely strong urge to push. Looking back, I should have just gone ahead and push without waiting for my obstetrician, as I'm quite sure the midwife and nurses were capable enough to help me birth the baby. Anyway, when my obstetrician arrived, I started pushing and thank goodness, Yiu Yiu was out at 5.58pm, with just two pushes, as she was just a tiny (weighing 2.5kg and measuring 46cm) baby. Hubby was rather emotional towards the end and he actually shed some tears when Yiu Yiu was finally out.

She was immediately taken away for cleaning and I didn't even have a chance to lay my eyes on her. As I was still very sedated from the pethidine, I wasn't quite aware of what else was happening after the birth – I didn’t feel my placenta being delivered, neither did I feel anything while my obstetrician was stitching me up. I remember falling asleep after all that action, and being pushed to the maternity ward thereafter. My family came to visit at about 8pm but I was still feeling very groggy then. Mum cooked some ginger fried rice and though I was ravenous, I couldn't eat as I was nauseous, again no thanks to the pethidine. Which is why for my second birth, I told myself that I'd try to go without pethidine.

October 23, 2009

The Down Syndrome scare

The obstetrician who delivered Yan Yan was the second obstetrician we consulted during my pregnancy. What happened to the first? Well, we ditched him after he gave us a nasty scare about carrying a Down Syndrome (DS) baby.

At my 12th week check-up with the first obstetrician, Dr. T, he performed the nuchal translucency scan, and mine measured about 1mm, which is within the normal range of up to 2mm. At the 16th week, he performed the triple test. I got a call from him the very next day, informing me that the test came back positive, showing that I had an increased risk of carrying a DS baby. I was calm when I received the news, as I knew that the sensitivity of the test is only about 60%, and there's quite a high false positive rate. Nevertheless, I promptly trawled the Net for more information and the more I read about it, the more worried I became. I called him back the next day to discuss further, and found out that the results came back that my risk was approximately 1/200, while the normal risk for my age is approximately 1/350. He suggested that I do an amniocentesis, which I wasn't really keen on doing, due to the risk of miscarriage. All this happened just before our trip to Yogyakarta, so that totally spoilt my mood for the trip. But my gut feeling told me that my baby was fine, and interestingly, hubby had the same feeling too.

Upon our return from Yogyakarta, we seeked a second opinion from Dr. R, a former professor who specializes in problematic pregnancies. In our first consultation, he told us that his method of screening for DS was slightly different. He would perform a different blood test in the first trimester, and if the blood test indicated an increased risk, then only would he measure the nuchal translucency. He questioned the wisdom of doing the triple test, which is less sensitive compared to the nuchal translucency scan with 80% accuracy – it's like taking a step backwards. But since my triple test results came back as such, he couldn't refute the results.

Anyway, he offered to perform a thorough anomaly scan to look for structural abnormalities associated with DS - primarily the head, heart and kidneys. After looking at the scan, he told us that all the major organs looked perfect to him. He also said the distance between the thumb and index finger for a DS baby is normally far apart, and the thumb is normally very small (if I'm not mistaken). But my baby didn’t show any of these characteristics. In a nutshell, he reassured us that the baby should be fine and the chances of her being a DS baby is <1%. He didn't think we should bother with doing an amniocentesis. But he did caution us that two of his patients (28yo and 30yo) who had all normal test results and scans, turned out to be DS baby. But to us, as long as he opined that our baby was fine, we were reassured. After all, he's seen enough complicated pregnancies, and has the experience to predict with reasonable certainty whether the baby was normal or otherwise. And after his good prognosis, had our baby really turned out to be a DS baby, then I suppose it's really God's will.

I didn't have the courage to share this earlier, lest the worst really happened. Now that all's well, I thought perhaps it's a story worth sharing and preserving.

I should also add that I'm truly blessed that Dr. R agreed to take me in as his patient, as he normally doesn't accept new patients planning a normal delivery. His new patients are mainly complicated pregnancies, or those planning a C-sect birth. He had told me upfront that he would follow me through to 20+ weeks, after which he would pass me on to either of his two partners. As he was still seeing me by my 30th week, I asked him if I should start following-up with his partners. I was pleasantly surprised when he said that since he had been seeing me thus far, he'd follow through with my delivery. I guess I've to thank my lucky star, and THANK YOU Dr. R, for being such a patient, kind and gentle doctor.

October 20, 2009

Hello from Montreal

A quick hello from Hilton Montreal Bonaventure. I'm in Montreal to attend a conference, with several guests whom my company is hosting. We arrived on Sunday evening local time (that's Monday morning Malaysian time – Montreal is exactly 12 hours behind Malaysia) after travelling for 30 hours, inclusive of a 9-hour transit in Amsterdam. And I survived the first day of the conference without major jetlag :-)

I surprised myself by not crying buckets when I left. I had to send Yan Yan to the babysitter on the night I was scheduled to depart as hubby is worried that he couldn't handle both girls alone. Our babysitter was kind enough to agree to help out so Yan Yan will be spending her days and nights at babysitter's house till I return. I thought I would cry on the drive home but surprisingly, I didn't. As for Yiu Yiu, I had been preparing her for several days before I left – telling her that I'd need to away from home for a couple of days, that she'll stay home with papa while mei-mei stays with Aunty YL. She was fine with it, and even went around telling the babysitter's sister that I'd be "going to Canada to work." When we returned home after dropping Yan Yan off and I carried my luggage to the front door while waiting for the taxi, she asked me to carry her, saying, "Mummy, carry me for a while, because you will not be at home for so long." I cradled her in my arms and that's when she started sobbing. She was crying all the way until the taxi arrived when I passed her to my sister. When I was about to get into the taxi, she cried out louder and wanted a hug. And again, I was surprised that I didn't shed any tears, unlike the emotional parting during my trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. I don't know, maybe it's because my mind is too preoccupied with so many things, in particular planning and preparing everything that I need to bring home expressed breastmilk for Yan Yan.

Before I left, I added another 83oz to the stash of 260oz of frozen breastmilk, and about 45oz of chilled breastmilk for Yan Yan. At the rate she's consuming the milk, there should be more than enough to last her for the entire duration of my trip. I continued expressing while flying and due to the restrictions on liquid onboard aircrafts, I discarded 43oz of milk on the way to Montreal. I am planning to freeze all those expressed while in Montreal, and cart them home in frozen form. I've got my dry ice supply sorted out, and I'm really hoping that everything will fall into place and I'll succeed in carting them home. When I was breastfeeding Yiu Yiu, I've only carted home breastmilk from within Asia, so this will be my first time trying to bring home breastmilk from half-way round the world. I really hope everything will go smoothly, as I've spent countless hours thinking, calculating, strategizing, and communicating with hotels, airlines and airport authorities.

In the meantime, I'll have some scheduled posts coming up – on pregnancy and birth :-)

October 16, 2009

Reprimanding papa

We were talking about going back to Kuantan during the Mooncake Festival.
Hubby: When you go back to Kuantan, you play lantern with yeh-yeh OK.
Yiu Yiu: But yeh-yeh always go out one.
Hubby: Yeah lor, yeh-yeh busybody one rite. Always go out.
Yiu Yiu (with her index finger pointing at hubby): Eh, you know or not you are your papa's son? Can you say your papa busybody?
Haha! I've been telling her that she shouldn't use negative words like fat, stupid, botak, etc on people so she reprimanded her papa the same way I reprimand her whenever she uses such negative words.

We were at my colleague's son's birthday party. As hubby was carrying Yan Yan, I fed him some mangoes. The little-miss-I-need-to-be-in-charge-of-everything said sternly, "Papa, you think you are still a little boy ah? Need people to feed you one meh?"

October 14, 2009

Correcting mummy

One night, I was changing Yan Yan into her pyjamas, she regurgitated onto the bed.
Mummy: Aiya Yan Yan, why you dirty the mattress?
Yiu Yiu: Not mattress la, bedsheet only.

Yiu Yiu has recently started watching Little Einstein, after my colleague bought her a set of three DVDs. In every episode, the four friends will normally go round saving the world, etc in their red rocket. While watching the DVD one night…
Yiu Yiu: Mummy, why they put seat belt one?
Mummy: Yeah lor, they have to put seat belt in the plane also, like we do in our car.
Yiu Yiu: Not plane la, it's a rocket.

Yiu Yiu has been watching a lot of Barney lately. One night, when she asked to watch Barney again…
Mummy: No la Yiu Yiu. You watched Barney already just now. Why don't you do some drawing and painting? (I actually meant colouring with her colour pencils)
Yiu Yiu (face lights up): OK
Mummy: Go sit on your table and draw.
Yiu Yiu: But mummy, I got no brush wor, how to paint?
Mummy (slaps head): Oh yeah hor, you only have colour pencils. So you draw and colour la. Next time only mummy buy paint and brush for you.

October 11, 2009

Lantern Festival at Teluk Chempedak

Ever since I knew hubby, he has been telling me about how festive Teluk Chempedak is during the Lantern Festival, when hordes of people camp out and light up lanterns and candles at the beach. Somehow, I've never had a chance to experience it. Since Lantern Festival fell on a Saturday this year, we made a trip back with the intention to let Yiu Yiu experience the festivities at the beach.

We headed to Teluk Chempedak pretty early, at about 7.30pm but there were already hordes of people, with families complete with their mat and picnic baskets, and groups of youngsters, lighting up the beach with paper lanterns and candles.

We brought along some paper lanterns and candles, but when Yiu Yiu saw the various shapes being dug in the sand and lighted up with candles, she too wanted a house. As we didn't bring any tools, hubby had to dig using his bare hands.

Then she wanted a square, circle and triangle.

We left at about 9pm, thankful that we were not among the late-comers, caught in the 1km jam on the road leading to the beach.

October 06, 2009

Disney outfit

This is Yiu Yiu in a Disney outfit when she was about six months old.

And this is Yan Yan in the same outfit.

She was only about six weeks old then and she could already fit into this. The outfit is meant for babies between 3-6 months so Yan Yan is much bigger than average while her che-che is much smaller than average :-)

October 04, 2009

Maternity leave – it's over too soon!

Yikes! 2.5 months has passed just in the blink of an eye, and I've got to start work tomorrow. Back to the grind, and back to battling the infamous rush hour traffic. How sad!

Looking back, I think I had a much "easier" confinement this time compared to the first one. MIL, who acted as my confinement lady took care of most things – cooked my meals and double-boiled nutritious soups/tonics, prepared herbal bath water for me, and bathed the baby. I also washed my hair once a week. I even went out several times – three visits to the paediatrician for Yan Yan's jaundice, one visit to my obstetrician for my first week post-natal check-up, and an outing to settle stuff for Yan Yan's fullmoon gifts. In between, I also drove out numerous times to fetch my urut lady to and from bus stop.

In the second month after MIL left, I took care of Yan Yan by myself and prepared my own simple lunch - either leftover from previous day's dinner, or soup with one vege/meat, or pasta with frozen sauces. Sometimes, my younger sister who works nearby will pop by and we'll go out for lunch together. I started expressing breast milk in the 6th week, in preparation for my trip to Montreal later this month. On hindsight, I should have started expressing much earlier to build up more stocks, but I think what I have in my freezer now should still be enough to last Yan Yan for the entire duration of my trip.

Overall, I was also a lot more energetic, and had a lot more time to go online and do things which I couldn't do in the usual stressful and hurried pace of working days. So here's what I've been up to in these 2.5 months:
- Completed two photobooks on on our trips to Hong Kong and Macau, Yogyakarta, Pangkor Laut Resort and Singapore.
- Developed photos for mum & MIL.
- Took Yiu Yiu for her first visit to the dentist.
- Sold my car and made all the arrangements myself.
- Won some hair clips in a blogger's contest
- Learnt how to use my dSLR properly by reading the manual inside out. Had wanted to sign up for a course organized by Canon but didn't manage to fit in the time.
- Stashed 260 oz of breastmilk.

Breastmilk occupying two compartments of the freezer

Breastmilk in breastmilk storage bags (L) and ais-krim Malaysia bags (R)

There are still a couple of things I had planned to do, but didn’t manage to:
- I have this weird habit of reading blogs in chronological order so whenever I follow a new blog, I'd try to read from the very beginning. There are several blogs which I wanted to follow, and I had planned to read all the old posts during my maternity leave but didn’t manage to.
- I borrowed the VCD for the Chinese series Moonlight Resonance (家好月圆), from my elder sister aeons ago, and had watched up to episode 14 then. I thought I could finish watching it during my maternity leave but alas, I didn't even watch one episode. The series premiered on Astro Wah Lai Toi when I started my maternity leave, and ends tomorrow, but again, I didn't follow it, coz 9.30-10.30pm is the time I'm busy getting Yiu Yiu to drink her milk, brush her teeth and read her a book before putting her to sleep.
- I bought some Photobook vouchers last year during one of the fairs they participated in, all of which are due to expire by year end. I had grand plans to create four photobooks, one for each year of Yiu Yiu's life during my maternity leave, but sadly, I'm nowhere near completion. So far, I've only managed to choose the photos for her 1st – 3rd years among the thousands digital images I have. I still need to do some simple edits (brightness, enhance colours, crop, etc) before arranging them with the software. I wonder if I can really complete four books by year end, and if I can't, I wonder if the folks at Photobook would be kind enough to extend the expiry date of the vouchers.

Ahh…how I would miss these relaxing, blissful days.

October 02, 2009

It's a breeze with KiPPas

KiPPas? No it's not a fan :-) KiPPas is the acronym for Kios Pembaharuan Pasport, aka passport renewal kiosk. KiPPas was first available in March 2006 at the immigration office in Pusat Bandar Damansara. With KiPPas, one can renew one's passport in just two hours.

I first learnt about KiPPas when looking for information on documents required for passport renewal, as my passport expires in a few days time, and I need a new one to apply for a Canadian visa. But the few websites that Google Malaysia returned on my search query wrote about the availability of KiPPas at the immigration office in Pusat Bandar Damansara. As none mentioned about the availability of KiPPas at the immigration office in Terminal 3 Subang where I was planning to visit, I was prepared to renew my passport the conventional way at the counter.

Anyway, as I was driving into the carpark of the immigration office in Terminal 3 yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see the signage "KIPPAS" next to the main office. I made my way to the room and found a lone KiPPas machine, and an immigration officer next to it, assisting a gentleman with his application. The officer was so familiar with the machine and he instinctively knew which button to press at each stage of the application process. My guess is that an officer is stationed there to assist and expedite the process, so that there would not be any bottle neck resulting from people not being able to operate the machine, unlike at Pusat Bandar Damansara where everything is self-service. I was second in line and within a few minutes, my application was completed, and the machine generated a receipt with the instruction to return in two hours to collect my passport. Easy peasy - I think I probably spent less than 15 minutes, from the point of entering, till exiting the carpark.

Note: Even if you need to operate the machine yourself, it is extremely easy to navigate, with an option of using English or Malay. It’s like operating a cheque deposit machine, with detailed and precise instructions provided on the screen. For a more detailed guide on using the machine, see here and here.

I went home and got some housework done before returning to the immigration office, and made my way to Counter #13 to obtain a queue number for passport collection. Within five minutes, my number was called and voila, I've got my new passport. Now isn't it such a breeze to renew your passport with KiPPas?

Now I'd have given full marks to the Immigration Department for their much improved service level, until I noticed an omission in my passport - nothing to do with KiPPas, but rather human carelessness. I checked my new passport to ensure all details were correct. When one renews one's passport, the old passport details would be printed on the second last page but there was none on mine. I alerted the officer at the counter, and she promptly took my passport to rectify it. When she passed me back my passport some five minutes later, I was appalled to find the issuance date of my old passport was wrong. Again, I had to ask them to rectify it.

So that page now is disfigured like this, with the printed information at the top being voided, and the corrected details countersigned by an immigration officer, accompanied by the immigration stamp. Well, I sure hope no complications will arise when I travel in the future.

Anyway, I still think that the Immigration Department deserves a pat on their shoulder for their much improved service. I found this chart on the time taken for passport renewal in Malaysia since 1957 and the last few years have really seen much improvement.