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Helping the Toddler accept the Baby

Everyone advised us to prepare the toddler for the arrival of the baby by telling him there’s a baby in mummy’s tummy. He even goes for gynae visits with us. He always kisses mummy’s tummy before he sleeps. We also prepared presents for them to “give” to each other on their first meeting. We followed all these advices. But no matter what you do, you simply cannot prepare a toddler for the actual thing. I hope my experience and the things that my hubby and I did to introduce and help our toddler accept the baby would help your family too. Whatever it is, it is a lifetime process of ensuring all the kids you have feel that they are loved and do not need to vie with each other for your attention.

The first day when baby was born (the toddler was just shy of his 2nd birthday) and daddy went to fetch the toddler from childcare, it was the worst. When he came into the hospital room, I can’t imagine what was going through his little head. Why was mummy lying there on the foreign bed? Who is that baby in the transparent box? Why were all the relatives so excitedly and loudly calling him korkor? He didn’t stay long and left crying all the way home. So much for exchanging presents on their first meeting. That night, the daddy messaged all relatives and friends to let them know of our situation. We welcome visits whether at the hospital or at home. However when they come, they have to say hi to our #1 first, (as they usually do) and call him by name, not “korkor”. This is important because he is so used to being the centre of attention and it has been that way for his entire life!

The next day, instead of bring him to childcare, they both came to the hospital to spend the day there. He played with the toy that baby “bought” for him. And this picture is his first interaction with her. He was just curious and wanted to see the tiny little baby. It probably helped as well that I was mobile and walked around and played with him and even carried him. Later that day, when friends and family dropped by, we really appreciated that they did what we suggested and it really helped our boy cope with the new addition in the family! This starts us on the journey of helping him get adjusted to the new member of the family! When we got home, he will go and peep at her whilst she is in the play pen. He will also want to take a look at her before he sleeps. A relationship is building, but we do not want to rush things at all. Up to now, he has never made any contact with her at all. We didn’t want to force it though we would really love to have a picture of him carrying his little sister. In the initial days, baby pooped a lot and it became a habit for him to watch me change the soiled diapers. He will peer over the changing table and watch me change. Sometimes he will remind me to “put cream” on baby. I latched on his interest and got him to help out. Although the diapers were just next to me, i will ask him to pass me a diaper which he will gladly do so. He appeared that he likes to help and wanted to be part of the things I do with the baby. So when I feed baby, I will get him to bring me the towel, or after I change baby, I will get his help to put her PJs/clothes into the laundry basket. This helps a lot because he gets praised everytime he does a task for me :) It took 3 weeks for him to make his first self-initiated contact with her. He will point to her head or her nose and then to his own head or nose. He is very intrigued probably by her small size and we are happy with every contact he made with her. It led to patting her when she is crying, or telling her to wait when she is crying. All these are “milestones” that we are really happy about and we praise him for all the little moves he makes. Most of these happened when baby was about 4-6 weeks old.

Some other things I did was to try to include him when I was nursing. That way, he didn’t feel that when I nursed, I didn’t have time for him. I will sit on the sofa and nurse, and get him to choose a book and cuddle next to me while I read to him. In this way, he felt I was spending time with him and was not rejecting him.

IMG_8336 He used to be quite independent at walking when we were outside. Now he wants to be carried more often. Yes, we carried him though he is 15kg. Anything to make him feel that we do not love him less. Investing in good carriers help a lot. My favourites are my Tulas to be used on him as they help to distribute the weight very well. However, he prefers the slings. I use the ring slings more as they are better weight distributors compared to the baba sling (the free sg50 one) which makes my neck/shoulder ache after a while. I carry him when we go out for our 1-on-1 times. It could be to a nearby playground, or just a bus ride to our dinner venue or to the grandparent’s house. We create time to spend outside alone. He likes to take the bus. So sometimes when we go out for family dinners, the daddy will drive the baby while I take bus with the toddler to meet at the dinner venue. When we run out of ideas, we sign up for events like the Rise and Shine Carnival so i will bring him out to play while the daddy stays home to babysit. And coming soon is the Cold Storage kids run which I am so looking forward to! At home, whenever he is home, I will try not to carry the baby at all unless I’m feeding. I will leave the carrying and changing of diapers to the daddy. Sometimes when the baby is crying, I will ask him if I can carry the baby. Sometimes he will say yes. Sometimes not. When his answer is no, the daddy will carry. Of course I will not ask him if I do not have a choice! One night while drinking milk, he requested for baby (he doesn’t refer to her as meimei) to lie down next to him. We were surprised but of course we obliged! We realised he likes her to be around him more and more. All these while I will attempt to ask if he wants to carry her so I can take the photo that I so often see on my friends’ social media pages with their older ones holding the babies. But he always said no and we respected his choice. After 2 months, he still doesn’t want to refer to her as his meimei. But he will call her “baby Enen”. And when we ask where’s meimei, he will point to her. Another surprise for us came one morning when I was busy doing some household chores and baby was crying. he went to grab a used bottle of hers and wanted to feed her! We stopped him but I think we did it too harshly and frantically as he was about to stuff the used bottle into her mouth. We made up by filling a new bottle with some milk and allowed him to feed his sister which he so enjoyed doing! After 2 months, I finally got the photo I wanted. Of him holding his little sister :) I asked him one night if he would like to carry meimei and I was surprised that his answer is yes, and so we allowed him to! He is such a loving brother and we are so proud of how he has adjusted this past 2 months! Baby is now 11 weeks old. The toddler is still adjusting and we as parents are still trying to make time for him whenever we can. He is learning to accept but yet sometimes would throw tantrums that are really terrible. It is not an instant thing and we know it is a lifelong process. There are many other changes we have made like sleeping arrangments, bath arrangements, etc. We are really glad at his progress and we can’t wait for the little baby to grow up more so they would be able to play together. My advice to friends though, its to have the next baby before 18 months or after 2.5 years. Not that the struggle will not be there, but it could be easier. Do comment if you do have any more tips that me or other parents can try out. Once again, we hope that by sharing our experience with you, you would have more ideas on how to cope with a toddler and a newborn :)

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Birth Story – of my #2

As I shared here, I was quite tired from the pelvis pains in the pregnancy. In my 38weeks check up, the gynae suddenly mentioned that we could induce her if we wanted on Monday 16 Feb, which would mean we can be discharged by 18th Feb and still be in time for reunion dinner. Though we have been expecting the arrival of baby for many weeks now, we had not thought about inducing her. Reason being I wanted to try to do it without epidural and I know that for any kind of induction, it would make the contractions and labour pains worse. (I have been diligently drinking raspberry leaf tea and eating dates to prepare myself for a natural labour without epidural!) That does not go too well with my plans. Hubby on the other hand is chiding me for being stupid and told me to take epidural and not cause him too much pain in the process.

Gynae did not want to induce on 21st Feb which was baby’s EDD and my #1’s birthday as it fell on a Saturday and he does not want to plan any appointments for weekends. Needless to say 19th and 20th which was the CNY public holiday were out of the question too. Next would be 23rd Feb already. We decided not to take up the gynae’s offer and made an appointment to see him the following Monday, 16 Feb, hoping that maybe during this week baby would decide to make a natural appearance.

Before the appointment came, hubby and I discussed about the induction. We decided that we did not want the baby to come after the EDD and would prefer before. We also decided that we would rather have a horse baby than a goat baby. (Though this was not the priority). Thus we decided that at the clinic, we would ask if gynae can induce her out on 17th Feb (baby would be 39w4d). 17th means he would have to work on 1st day of CNY (19th Feb) cos he would have to check on me before I was discharged, or possibly both 1st and 2nd day if induction took a long process and I gave birth on 18th Feb instead. If not then we will have to settle for 23rd Feb. So basically we left the final decision to the gynae.

At the appointment, when the nurse was checking on my weight and bp, I was asking her if induce, what time do we have to check in to the hospital and he said 12 midnight. So means if gynae is ok with it, we go in to the hospital that very night!!?! When it was our turn to see the gynae, after checking on baby and proclaiming that she is of good weight of about 3.2kg, we asked the gynae if we can induce baby like he suggested the week before. He asked immediately  if we wanted a goat baby or a horse baby and we asked if it was possible to induce the next day, and he said of course, but it means we have to go to the hospital tonight. He then got the nurse to call the hospital to ask if there was any vacancy and there was. So it was decided!

At 12mn my brother dropped me off at the hospital while my hubby stayed with my #1. I walked in to the delivery suite myself and was immediately ushered to Labour Ward 1 to change. The nurse did all the paperwork for me as we completed the pre-registration in Janurary. I was then hooked on to the CTG for monitoring of baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. And this was where the first surprise came. I was having very regular but mild contractions at intervals of 1-2 minutes! I had thought it was Braxton Hicks as usual as most were not painful but some were a little painful on a scale of 1-2 out of 10. So the nurse called the doctor and it was decided that the pill which was supposed to be inserted to induce labour should not be done as I was already having contractions. Dilation: 1cm.

I was monitored on CTG until 2am and continued to have regular contractions and then I was taken off the system to allow me to rest. But I couldn’t sleep at all. Uncomfy bed, wearing hospital gown, keep having urge to pee….Think I fell asleep finally at 4+am only to be woken up again at 5am… At 5am, CTG was attached again. No more contractions.

At 7am, they checked dilation again. Ouch. I hate this process. 1cm

8:45am, I was put on the Oxytocin drip to start the contractions and to start the labour.

At 9am, gynae came to check on me. He gave a little bit of hope. Dilation 1-2cm.

9:30am, hubby arrived. He was flabbergasted when he asked about the dilation. What??!? how long more do we have to wait? I told him to go get breakfast. He did and came back and started on his work.

At 10+am, HBO started showing Notting Hill. Hubby liked the show and we decided to watch it together. All these while, contractions started and got regular. But they were still bearable. I rated them 1-2 out of 10 as per my contractions earlier in the night. Just before 11am, the contractions started to increase in intensity. I had to focus during the contractions. I tried to tolerate the pain. In my mind I remembered what I had planned to do. For natural birth, I would like to try without epidural. But I knew inducing would be more painful and I still was open to having epidural.

At 11:15am (Yah I know my pain tolerance is low…or maybe the pain intensity really exponential-ed) we decided to call for epidural. It was painful and I wasn’t sure how long I can last. And I was tired from not having a good rest the night before. Just before epidural was administered, i visited the toilet as I wouldn’t be able to after epidural. And I had my bloody show. It was pink and mucus-y, like pink egg white. Probably dilation was more already but I can’t be sure.

Anesthetist  came in at about 11:30am and told hubby to go grab a coffee. The administering of epidural was scary. It felt like I had 2 bullets stapled into my spine. And I had to try not to move during contractions. I wonder why he didn’t look at the CTG while administering. Then he can pause his procedure while I was contracting… I told him the last time I had epidural it was too strong and I couldn’t feel myself push. This is probably the worst statement I made. Nurse told him I was dilated 1-2cm and he gave me a low dosage. He said we can increase later as I’m still in the early stages of labour. He was so sooooooo wrong.Hubby came back and we continued with the show. Pain rating was now 0 and I thank God for epidural. I fell asleep while watching the show.

At almost 12:30pm, it was when the drama began. I felt a lot of pressure down at my vagina area. I was on epidural so shouldn’t I not be feeling it? I thought it was weird and it was becoming uncomfortable. Not pain (yet), but uncomfortable. And in 5 mins, it was painful. I got hubby to get the nurse and told the nurse. And then I was in a lot of pain. The pressure at my vagina hurt, and somehow my tailbone area hurt too. She checked my dilation and it was 8cm.

They started to get to work. And I started to be in real pain. They hurried around the room, told me to breathe, and another nurse dressed differently came in. Was she going to deliver the baby in case my gynae doesn’t arrive on time? Was she the doula? I’m not sure. But she held my hand (while my hubby held my other hand) and she told me to breathe and do not push. And she told me that very soon the pain would be over. I remember telling them to increase the epidural dosage but i think it’s not an instant thing.

With each contraction, the pain exponential-ed. I saw the gynae arrive. I was thankful that he was at his office in the same building and not at home or something. My last 2 contractions I had really wanted to push, and I think I was shouting out loud in pain. Was I screaming? I can’t really remember. The 2nd last one they allowed me to push but said i had to push slowly. It was super painful. My last contraction, they were ready for the push. They told me to push and I did. It was so so painful that I let out a really long and loud scream. Screaming helped me as it made it less painful somehow. And the baby was out and given to me and all the pain stopped!! 12:46pm. (4 hours from being induced) I’m glad the pain was only for such a short period of time. I couldn’t have tolerated another contraction and I was glad the baby was out in just one push.

IMG_7318 I was panting as I tried to catch my breath from that long scream and push during the final contraction. Gynae passed hubby the scissors to cut the cord. He hadn’t wanted to. But he did so. They gave me a jab on my thigh to deliver the placenta. I felt that ant bite. I felt the placenta coming out. I told hubby to look and he scolded me for it. (Lol) I saw and felt every stitch. But it was bearable. I wouldn’t call it painful. Maybe the labour pain was too much. Maybe that area was numb already. When it was done, the clearing of the blood clots was painful but it was only for a short while.

I was really amazed at how fast the gynae worked and how calm he was. He came in, got ready, and delivered the baby all within one of the loudest screams I had even given all in less than 5 min? (I apologized to him later on. I was quite embarrassed. heh.) By the way, he is Dr Douglas Ong. We really chose him due to the closeness in his clinic and our place. But through the process, we met 2 old friends under him, one with him for #3 and the other #2 and both raved about how good he is. I conquer now.

After that I was shivering cos of the epidural. Gynae placed the baby on me for some skin-to-skin and the baby actually managed to find my nipple and latched! Wonders of God’s creations.

So, we paid for epidural, but still had to go through the pain. Worst money spent. At least hubby cannot say I didn’t have epidural and caused him to be deaf in one ear or something. And guess what, be careful of what you pray for. I had prayed that I would be able to tolerate the pain that God had intended for all women to have because Eve had sinned. I prayed that I might be in a situation where I won’t chicken out and have the painkiller injected into me. My ideal situation would have been that contractions happened naturally and by the time I reached the hospital it was too late for epidural.

Bottom line, if I were to deliver again, I would have epidural done again. And I would tell the anesthetist to give a higher dose straight away. Meanwhile, I will enjoy my newborn first before I think about having another one. :) IMG_7478