Saturday, October 20, 2018

Pregnancy #4 - Birth of our Princess!

Sooo, its been 3 weeks.

3 weeks since I gave birth for the 4th time. 

3 weeks since we welcomed our princess into our family. 

3 weeks since I became intoxicated with the smell of having a newborn again. 

Still, there are moments when I find it hard to believe that I'm a Mom of four now! 

Time has become an even more precious commodity. So, without further ado, I shall attempt to summarise the last stage of my 4th pregnancy in words. 

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Baby Isabelle Sophie Tews was born 4 days past her due date. I was feeling sooo uncomfortable and huge that I was just one grumpy preggie whale towards the end. Gosh, I feel sorry for my husband and kids for having to bear with me those last few days!

All my previous pregnancies became progressively shorter with Liam being born at 39 weeks. That's probably why I expected Isabelle to be born before 39 weeks. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I went past the 40 weeks mark with her! 

Usually I'm fine about waiting past my due date but with gestational diabetes, I was under time pressure to get baby out because my gynae did not want to wait too long. In the worst-case scenario, they would induce the baby and with my previous C-section history with my firstborn, it would not be the most fun thing to do. 

On Monday, at 40+3 weeks, I remember feeling off. I had a bit of cramps but it was nothing like real contractions. 

25.9.18 (Tuesday) slightly past midnight -

We wanted to go to bed when I felt the crampy sensation getting worse. I wasn't sure if this was the real thing because I've been having Braxton hicks contractions all the time. 

I decided to take a nice warm shower to see if the contractions would ease off. They didn't. 

By the time I got out of the shower, I knew that this was it. 

The in-laws had just left for their vacation so there went our back-up. We didn't expect baby to come in the night, so we did not really ask anybody to be on standby. 

I knew that we had to think fast, so we decided to ring our immediate neighbour's doorbell. Thank God, the guy answered and he agreed to stay over at our place while we made our way to the hospital. The timing was fantastic too, cos all 3 kids were already sleeping soundly when we left. 

Usually I would have laboured a bit more at home but I didn't want to risk anything because I remember how my Mom told me that she almost gave birth to my brother (her 4th child) in the car.

1.15am - Arrived at Charlottenhaus (the hospital)

I was the only woman in labour! Yay! Prayer number 1 answered. September had been an especially busy month at the birthing house because more babies tend to be conceived over Christmas and New Year's. Lol. Midwife checked me and I was only 3cm dilated. 

I was monitored on the CTG machine for a while before she told me to walk around the hospital, go up and down the stairs and to come back in an hour's time. 

2.30am - 5cm dilated

Even though it had only been 30mins, I decided to go back to the labour room because I desperately had to use the washroom. And since I was back inside, the midwife examined me again. I was 5cm! That meant I dilated 2cm in 30mins! Awesome! 

We discussed whether the midwife should break my water bag. I hesitated so much because I remember how much more intense the contractions get once the water bag is burst.

I kept asking if I could opt for an epidural if push comes to shove. She said the anaesthestist was just a call away. We decided to wait.

2.45am - 7cm dilated

This was when the midwife said it's time to burst the water bag if I want to expedite the whole process. My cervix had softened and she said that baby would appear by 3am if we burst the water bag now. 

She burst the water bag and examined me after that. I was 8cm gone, but I was not allowed to push because it was still too early. 

I remember the first wave of contractions after the water bag was burst. 

It was very intense and looooong! And ohhh the pain!! 

Second contraction hit me like a rock and I started screaming for an epidural. The midwife said that baby would arrive before the anaesthetist came and I am totally able to give birth without an epidural - I just needed to believe in myself. But I was in so much pain, I insisted that the anaesthetist be called in. 

Poor anaesthetist was woken up in the wee hours of the morning. 

By the 3rd contraction, I felt the urge to push! 5 mins ago, I was only at 8cm so it was quite crazy that I would have to push after 3 contractions?? With no epidural?!  

Midwife examined me again and true enough, I was ready to go! What? Just 3 contractions later?!

Husband and midwife held me in a death-like grip so that I had to stay in the right position to give birth. I was lying on my back and the midwife was giving me instructions on how to push effectively. But I would have needed to roll my back forward instead of arching my back backwards. 

Since I was having very intense back contractions, I would automatically arch my back backwards whenever the contractions came. But since I was held down by both of them, I had no choice but to stay in the most effective position to push baby out. 

All I remember was trying to push as hard as I could. It must have been 4-5 pushes at most. I didn't even realise the baby's head was out. So imagine my surprise when I felt a slimy, wet sensation sliding out of me!! 

3.15am - Baby Isabelle Sophie Tews was born! 

She slid out so quickly and easily! I had no tears and needed no episiotomy. It was incredible! She was 54cm and 3920grams! My entire labour lasted 2 hours in hospital! What an answered prayer!! 

I held my baby girl in my arms and was soooo overwhelmed by the fact that this baby girl was born! And she's a girl! I sorta knew baby would be a girl, but after 3 boys, I never really could believe this fact until I saw it myself! 

I remember feeling more alive than I ever felt after my other labours! This was after all the shortest labour I've had. This meant that I didn't feel like I got hit by a bus and I didn't faint after giving birth either. 

They placed baby on me immediately for skin-on-skin contact. As I held her and stared at her face, I was so mesmerised at how she reminded me of myself as a kid! It's sooo surreal to finally be able to hold the baby that you've been carrying in your womb for 9 months!

I was sooo tired but I couldn't sleep during the 2 hours when I was lying down on the bed in the labour ward. I was too afraid that baby would slide off me! I breastfed Isabelle and had a whiff of the smell of blood 
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I read this book "Supernatural childbirth" by Jackie Mizie. She talks about how we can pray and trust God for a painless childbirth with no complications, no tearing and easy labours. I remember being challenged in my faith. I just prayed the same prayers that were written in that book. And honestly, those things I prayed about specifically actually came to pass! I was flabbergasted! My baby weighed almost 4kg and I didn't experience any tearing! - I've had other birth pains, which I won't go into detail about but this birth was simply the best!

Also, can I just say that I'm amazed at how my husband could witness everything that went on in that labour ward and not feel queasy about it? He amazes me! I have given birth 4 times and I still can't bring myself to watch videos of other women giving birth cos I get queasy from it! Yeah, I know its ironic, hahah.

We are slowly adjusting to life with 4 little ones. Isabelle has been a pretty calm and relaxed baby so that helps a lot. Evenings are still very chaotic with having to prepare dinner and get all kids in bed, but we will get there! 

I'm still on cloud 9 at having my own Princess to doll up and wear all the beautiful girl clothes on! I'm so so so thankful to God for giving us a healthy baby to love on!

Isabelle Sophie Tews (Li En)
3920 Grams 54 cm
25.9.18

Tiding through the wave of contractions!

And after 2 hours, she's finally here!!! My precious daughter!




 1- day old Isabelle meeting her siblings for the first time! The look on Gabriel's face says it all! He was the one who started asking & praying for baby sister! 


Going home after 2 days at the hospital! Let the pink explosion begin! 

A dress on my baby! Say what?! 


3 boys & their little lady! 

Many people say she looks like my husband here! What do you think? 

Another beautiful dress! Albeit not-so-happy baby!


By far one of my favourite photos of Isabelle & I!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Pregnancy #4 - 38 weeks with 3 toddlers under one roof

I'm well-aware that I'm almost done with this pregnancy but this is only my second blog entry! Truth be told, this pregnancy hasn't been a bed of roses. Sooo, I decided to write a summary of how the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy have been for me!

Warning: looooong post ahead!


MAD Braxton Hicks contractions 

The most tiring part of this pregnancy has got to be the daily Braxton hicks contractions I've been experiencing since week 30. When they first started, I couldn't get out of my bed for 5 days! The effort it took for me to go to the washroom was intense. I was seriously worried that I would go into pre-term labour! After 2 visits to the gynaecologist, he reassured me that things are looking fine but for women with repeated pregnancies, sometimes the uterus can be "more active". I should try to take things slow. *great*


Having a NANNY for the first time


The sliver lining was that he prescribed me "family help" for the following weeks up until the birth of baby! I now have a nanny who comes by 8 hours a day to help me with the housework, kids and just be around as an extra set of hands and legs!

I can't tell you how AMAZING this is! I've never had a maid in Germany and this is incredible! The health insurance pays for the nanny and I'm able to have a breather in these last few weeks. This is seriously the first time I'm soo WOWed out by the amazing German state health insurance! And how AMAZING is God right? When I was feeling so trapped about how to survive the last 10 weeks of pregnancy, God provided such timely help in the form of a paid-for nanny!

Our nanny arrived just in the time for the start of the school holidays when all 3 kiddos are at home and my cleaner left for a 4-weeks holiday. I mean, how incredible is God's timing right?

I'm still a big, fat whale who has to alternate standing and sitting / lying down. I feel the stab of Mummy guilt when I just wish I could bring the kids for a nice day out but I also know that I can't overdo it with my physical activity.


Making it to full-term pregnancy!!! 


I'm 38 weeks today and I'm such a huge ball of relief that I managed to make it this far! I delivered my 3 other babies between 39-41 weeks, with each subsequent baby arriving earlier. That gives me hope that this baby will make his / her appearance before the due date.

Sam went for this thing called "Forest home" for the past 3 weeks. He spent the entire day from 8.30am to 6pm outdoors and gets breakfast, lunch and dinner provided. I missed my big boy a lot but I knew that he had an awesome time.


Gabriel's very persistent cough and changing dynamics between Gabriel (5 yrs) and Liam (2 yrs) 


During Sam's absence, war broke loose between my 2 younger ones. Gabriel missed his older brother with whom he does everything with. He hates sharing his lego with Liam who has a very destructive nature.

Gabriel's kindergarten closed for a 3-week summer break and this coincided with him  nursing a very persistent cough. I've had to throw out all my plans of going to the outdoor pool / sending him for swim courses because the doctor didn't want him to exert himself. The poor bugger has had a very sedentary lifestyle in the hopes that this would help him to recover quicker. He hated going to the playground or cycling on his own. *sigh*

The level of screaming between my #2 and #3 was intense! I had no idea that Liam can scream that loud! Gabriel absolutely LOVES annoying his younger brother and Liam won't hesitate to yell at the top of his lungs. I have no idea how to teach Gabriel to stop annoying his brother! Or sometimes, Liam just yells because he can't stand Gabriel singing to himself. What's with all this yelling??!

After 3 weeks of WWIII, kindergarten finally started but I've not been able to wave the victory flag yet because.... Gabriel is still nursing this horrid cough. We are unable to send him to kindergarten because of his coughing fits.

The kids' original paediatrician was gone for a 3-week break and during this time, his father (also a PD) refused to give Gabriel any form of medication except for the usual "inhale some saltwater" advice. We made the effort to visit the PD 3 times!!! With no results!

When our doctor finally got back, I had a very serious conversation with him because it can't be that my boy has been having coughing fits for 4 weeks with no end in sight. We finally started on some proper medication yesterday and we hope and pray that things will improve quickly!

It's crazy how life is easier with 3 kids instead of 2! I'm so thankful that I can reap the benefits of a close age gap between Sam & Gabriel because of their ability to play so well with each other. I know that Liam and Gabriel will get there too, but at this point in time, they just fight like cat and mouse.



WORST heatwave in decades


We had the worst and hottest summer in decades! Since 2003 as a matter of fact. I moved to Germany in 2006, so this was the worst summer I've had! I know, I come from Singapore so I shouldn't complain about heat right? WRONG! We don't get such sweltering temperatures like during a heatwave in Europe. Temps soared to 40 degrees in some countries! There's no air-con and the clear blue skies made sure that there wasn't any cloud layer to filter out the stinging sun rays. It was hard figuring where to bring the kids to especially since we couldn't go to the pool - Gabriel's cough remember? Surviving this heatwave with a heavily-pregnant belly, I think I deserved some form of Academy Award! #nojoke


Day trip to the Animal Farm 


Once, we managed a day trip to the animal park where the kids could feed the animals. I honestly felt like the best Mom in the world! The 2 boys played so immensely well together! It was a pretty shaded park so we managed to get some respite from the sweltering heatwave. I managed to take short breaks to alleviate the Braxton hicks contractions.



Love how happy we looked!

Playing so nicely together

They play so well together when we're outdoors

Liam was fearless when feeding the deers



Love how he eats his chocolate ice-cream! 


My reflections for having a #4 child soon!


For myself, I'm such a ball of emotions these days. After experiencing it 3 times, I know how much life will change with a new addition to the Tews family. My biggest nostalgia is knowing that Liam will no longer be the baby of the family. It happened with Sam, then Gabriel and now Liam. And even though I know this is part and parcel of having a new baby, it still doesn't make the feeling of loss any easier.

I know that I can neither keep my babies small nor under my wings forever, but the very-preggy me still feels so teary thinking about it. On the other hand, I'm deeply convinced that God will provide me with a bigger heart and grace that I so desperately need for this new stage of my life.

I guess the conundrum of motherhood is loving children enough to want to have more children and yet feeling your limitations that you can't have one-on-one time with each child as much as you'd want to. If only I had unlimited energy and capacity, I would have kids and still be able to shower each one with the undivided love and attention as I could a single child.

Still, I look at Sam and think about what a responsible and independent child he is and I just know that he got these traits because he's the oldest in the family. And oh, how I love ALL my children! I'm just so happy being a Mom. So thankful. So grateful. So soaking in the knowledge that it is such a blessing and privilege to be able to pour out my love on my kids and teach them God's values.

I'm no perfect mom. But I know that motherhood is God's purpose for me in this season of my life. And oh boy, how I would want to grow in my character and be so dependant on God. Thank you God for entrusting these young ones to me. Please help me to love on them and in my imperfections may your strength be made perfect. In Jesus name, Amen.

"You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, training them up in God's fear, minding the house, and making your household a church for God as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts" Charles Spurgeon 




Me at 35 weeks pregnant when we had a combined birthday celebration for the boys - blog post coming up! 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Dear Gabriel - 5 years old

Dear Gabriel

You have turned 5 years old!! Come September, you would enter your final year at kindergarten and eventually start school officially next year! How does time fly by so quickly?!

We had a simple birthday celebration for you surrounded with family and close friends. What a lovely afternoon it was! You totally basked in the centre of everybody's attention. We just had a huge children birthday party for you and Sam at a farm!

My dear lovely Gabe. You've really grown into your own skin since your older brother left kindergarten. The teachers at kindergarten say that you're a confident young boy who enjoys kindergarten.

I know its not easy being a middle child. Mummy was a middle child myself. You have an older brother who sets the standards for you to keep up with and a younger baby brother who seems to get all the attention.

But you know, you somehow seem to sail through this whole middle child syndrome. Mummy's prayer for you is that you will never feel like the sandwiched kid but you will know deep in your heart that you're oh so precious and important! You're so unique in your personality and there is nobody else like you in the entire world!

You do children's gym and go for swim course every Friday and you absolutely love it! Your swim coach tells me that you're pretty advanced in your swimming skills.

You have a very caring nature and have such a soft spot for your little brother, Liam and would very often give in to his wants and wishes. Sometimes though, you insist on getting on his nerves by riding the Bobby car and beaming gleefully that you managed to get the car before your brother. That's when WWIII ensues and Mummy would have to intervene before both of you beat each other up.

You're still the best and fastest eater among the 3 children and you very often tell Mummy that I'm the "best cooker in the world".

Whenever you're upset or angry about something, you don't take much time to get back to your usual happy self. That's something I really appreciate about you because Mummy makes mistakes and I'm so grateful that you're not one to bear grudges or make me feel bad when I say, "sorry".

You have a real child-like faith and you started praying for a "baby sister" even before Mummy & Daddy decided if we would even want a 4th child. A few more weeks and everyone will  know whether baby is a boy or girl!! We're so excited!

You have such a way with words. Mummy is 9 months pregnant now and feeling like a total whale and definitely not attractive. But whenever Mummy wears a dress or just something nice, you'll be the first to say, "Mummy, you're so pretty!" If only you knew how much your words light up  my heart! You're so encouraging, thanks for loving Mummy the way you do!
 
We love you our little firecracker. Life is sooo beautiful with you in our lives and we pray that God will continue to guide and grow you little heart everyday. 

Love
Mummy & Daddy

A very simple summerly birthday spread!

Last few photos as a family of 5!

With your grandparents

Love how happy you looked!



With your friend P. and your presents

Excited to get a bigggg present!

It's a snorkel and snorkeling flippers!

Mission impossible to take a photo with all kids looking at camera


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Story of Baby #4 - A journey of God's Grace



So.... here I am 30 weeks gone and still haven't wrapped my head around the fact that I'm going to have a 4th baby!

Growing up, I told myself I would never have 4 kids. My parents have 4 children you see. I always found a family with 4 kids too big. You need a larger car, you never really get to travel far because hello crazy expensive plane tickets? And don't even get me started about how would you afford an apartment with 5 bedrooms?

I never even considered myself a person who loves young kids. When I was growing in my parents' church, I would often shun away from serving in the children ministry because hmm... let's just say I have enough "children ministry" at home. My two younger brothers are 8 and 9 years younger than me respectively and I was the defacto nanny chasing after them wherever we went.

Who would have thought that I would end up being a stay-home-Mom who totally found my passion in life by having MY own kids?

Maybe giving birth changed me. My first-time experience being a Mom with Samuel was the hardest. I had a difficult labour and unplanned C-section that left me in so much pain. My husband had started a brand-new job halfway across the country and I was left to my own devices for endless hours! I still shudder at the thought of those brand-new lonely motherhood days when every new experience felt like a challenge and uphill battle! Oh how I used to fret about the sleepless nights or whether I had enough breastmilk. I consulted Dr Google wayyy too often and I doubted myself wayy too much.

Fast-forward almost 7 years and I have 3 young boys (aged 2, 5 and soon-to-be 7). I don't have a nanny or maid. But a trusty dishwasher and a cleaner who comes by once a week.

I have ceased to consult parenting books. I sieve through people's well-meant advice a LOT. I no longer absorb other people's opinions like a sponge. When I get unsolicted advice, I just nod my head and go "uh huh". I go with the flow SO.MUCH.MORE. Kids are sick, ok. Are they dying? Can they breathe? Yes? Ok, let's wait and see how they are tomorrow. I no longer run to the doctor at any sign of distress. I'm able to decipher each child's moods / emotions / tantrums / illness so much better.

And most of all. I'm better able to trust my own instincts and God so much more. Baby doesn't sleep through the night? No biggy. I'll just enjoy snuggling with him cos I know that he WILL sleep-through the night at some point in time!

And each time I have a newborn, I'm more aware of the transience of time. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Liam's first 2 years. He has made it pretty easy for me too, cos he's an awesome sleeper. But I think it's also coupled with the fact that I didn't stress myself up over every single problem. I embraced the "And this too shall pass" mentality. I never knew if I would go for a 4th, so I treasured each of Liam's milestone / newborn stage as my last.

That said, we DID go for a 4th! So... here's our story!

We both spent a lot of time talking and praying about our decision to go for a 4th. We don't take this decision lightly because we know how full our hands are with 3 kids. I struggled a lot, because I know that our chances of having a 4th boy is well.... very high?

To be honest, I LOVE having boys. I love my 3 boys. I love being a boy mom. And as much as I'd love to have my first girl, I would totally welcome our 4th boy into our family too!

The only thing I need to brace myself is for the comments from people. Moms of 4 babies of one gender whether all girls or all boys are the butt of jokes / mindless comments. I always feel like I need to defend my boys and tell people "No, 3 boys are NOT bad. They are NOT always wild. I'm NOT going crazy with the boys". I don't know how often I got the pitiful look from people for having 3 boys. I LOVE my boys!!! Why on earth would someone tell me it's "a pity" to have 3 boys and I should "try for a girl!" Drives me mad.

First trimester - 

Oh boy. The fatigue hits you like a rock! I was one exhausted Mama! I became a social hermit and cancelled all my social appointments, reserving my limit reservoir of energy just for tending to my 3 kids and my household. Once, I felt asleep on the floor in the hallway(!!) after bringing the kids back home! That was how knackered I was! I was nauseous for the whole of 14 weeks!

Second trimester-

I felt much better physically but my 3 kids and hub fell terribly sick. The hub was sick and lethargic for 4 full weeks! Winter viruses can be brutal!

I went to A&E cos I actually thought I was having a heart attack. It turned out to be a false alarm, thank God! I kept having pressure in my rib cage and I had no idea why. So when my left arm had the worst tingling sensation and I felt my baby finger lose sensation, I really thought it was a heart issue cos that’s what Dr Google said. Google “chest pressure and left arm pain”.

Doc reassured me everything was ok and even hooked me up to a heart machine just to assure me that I was fine! She said it’s most probably due to pregnancy hormones that cause everything to relax including the veins in my arms. When there’s too much fluid in my veins, it might cause a prickling sensation. I googled it and it turned out to be a common pregnancy symptom! Who would have known??!

Hayfever allergies were brutal! My second trimester coincided with the break of spring and while I welcomed the warmer temperatures, I couldn't stop sneezing and my eyes were so swollen and painful from the intense pollen concentration in the air! This being my 4th pregnancy meant that I had to seriously focus on squeezing my pelvic muscles whenever I had to sneeze! Not fun at all!

Fifth Disease scare. Gosh. Gabriel's kindergarten had a case of a kid geting the Fifth Disease, also known as "slapped cheek syndrome". I didn't think much about it until his teacher told my hubby to keep Gabriel away from kindergarten because I'm pregnant. Say what??

I called my gynae and was told that I needed to do a blood test to see if I'm immune to this virus. If I'm not and in the occasion that I contracted this virus, I would have to go for weekly ultrasounds at a specialist to see if baby is getting enough oxygen, because this virus could affect the red blood cell production of a fetus. #faint

I quarantined Gabriel at his grandparents for 5 days while I awaited the blood test results anxiously. It was seriously the most stressful period ever! When the nurse finally called me and told me that somehow by the grace of God, I'm immune to this virus, I totally burst out crying!

Gestational Diabetes .... again! I got tested early this pregnancy at week 20 because of my prior GD experience with Liam. It was quite a bummer, but now that I've been checking my blood sugar for the past 8 weeks and the figures are pretty good, I don't worry about it too much.


God's Blessings in this journey

Truth be told, I really wanted to go back to Singapore in August. But since this baby is due in September, I knew I wouldn't be able to fly in August.

Against my husband's advice, I went ahead to seek permission from Sam's school to ask if he could be excused from school for 2 weeks. We would then combine a 2-week school break together with the 2 weeks special permission break and travel sometime in Spring.

I figured, the most they would say is "no" and at least I know I have tried. Turns out, the school actually agreed to this audacious request of mine! Germany has a very strict no-vacation-during-school-term policy, to the point that policemen would sometimes patrol the airports to see if there are any parents breaking this rule! #facepalm

But guess what? Even after I got this special permission, I was unable to book any air tickets because of the 5th Disease scare and having to do my Gestational Diabetes test! By the time I had my test results and the green light from my doctor to take a flight, it was barely 10 days to the school holiday!

I was so uncertain about going back to Singapore with gestational diabetes because I was worried sick that eating out (which is my main reason for going back when pregnant), would cause my blood sugars to shoot through the roof.

Cheapest plane tickets - On Singapore Airlines no less!


When I checked for plane tickets and realised that Singapore Airlines had ticket prices at only 525€ (usual price hovers around 700€), I knew I had to go to Singapore!!! And hear this... SIA only had 7 tickets left at this price and we bought 5 of those tickets!!! I even had to ask the school to extend the number of days from 2 weeks to 2 weeks + 2 days!

Found the most amazing beach vacation venue!


Again.... we tried to book a beach vacation so we could do the European thing of lazing in the pool and sun, but try as I did, it was so hard finding a reasonably-priced hotel that would be willing to accomodate 3 kids - even if the 3rd kid still sleeps on our bed!

I spent 4 full days scouring the Internet and was just about the throw in the towel when my immediate neighbour came by my house and told me all about her brilliant holiday in Thailand at this amazing resort! And there was exactly where we went!

Managed to keep my sugar levels in check!

Remember my concern about eating out in Singapore? Turns out, everything worked out well! I could indulge in my favourite durians without any sugar spikes!!! I managed to eat everything I wanted and still keep within acceptable sugar ranges most of the time! It was such a relief! It was such a blessing to be able to satisfy my cravings instead of waiting another 1.5 years before I can go back to Singapore!

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Yeah, so that's my pregnancy in a nutshell! Sooo much to say in just one update. I knew I had to document my journey because I'm still soooo amazed to see God's footprints in the whole journey! I'm so grateful and thankful for God's grace each step of the way.

And that's exactly how I intend to approach my 4th pregnancy. When people ask me how I will manage with 4 kids without a maid, I'll just say, "With God, all things are possible!"

My only ultrasound photo of our littlest one!

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Dear Liam - 2 years old


Why does my 2-year old look like a teenager here?
Dear Liam

I can't believe you're two already! My beloved baby of the family!

My many apologies because Mummy's updates of you have been so sparse. BUT I continue to witness your milestones everyday and cherish every single moment watching you grow up.

You're my third boy. And believe it or not, we love you as if you're our only child! You got the sweetest and most gentle nature. Nothing seems to frazzle you. Ok, I take that back, you seem to have developed a hate relationship with the stroller and would scream, like really scream whenever I put you in there. But I somehow recall your brothers going through the same phase when they were 2 as well.

You understand almost everything we say! But you still don't talk much. Your main vocabulary is "Mama, Papa, Wow, hello, come, go". Your favourite form of communication is nodding your head whenever we talk to you.

You're very very meticulous! Really. You would always pack up your toys after using them. AND you would make sure your brothers do the same! Seriously baby, this totally takes the icing on the cake!!! What a blessing! My cleaning lady comes every Thursday and she tells me how much she loves you boys because you're all so well-mannered and the house looks soooo good for a family with 3 young kids! This makes Mummy so proud and feel so blessed!

You love doing puzzles! You're able to do the alphabet puzzles even upside-down. Like how is that possible? You would look at the letters and decide which hole to put them in! It's not a random thing, but you would realise that "A" and "V" have similar shapes and might interchange their positions.

Mummy plans on toilet-training you once the weather turns warmer. But guess what. I'm already feeling nostalgic that I won't see your cute little butt in your diapers that wobbles when you run around. And don't even get me started on the time when you outgrow all your onesies. I think babies in onesies are the cutest thing ever! There's simply something about seeing all that baby thighs and legs exposed, while you're only wearing your onesie.

You're still a very good sleeper and continue to sleep on the go. We went to the zoo today and when Mummy strapped you in your carseat, she said, "Ok, you got to go nap in the car ok?" You nodded and shortly after the car exited the garage, you were asleep!!! I'm amazed and envious of your ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat!

You have the least routine compared to your 2 brothers at your age. That's very much because you simply have to tag along for school runs and pick-ups and the activities of your brothers.

Your brothers absolutely adore you and allow you to get away with almost everything. Gabriel and you do get into more squabbles than with Samuel because you somehow seem to enjoy irritating your second brother more.

Many times Mummy observes you in your own little world playing with your toys being so lost in your own imagination. And it feels like such a glimpse of heaven. Perfect contentment and enjoyment with no need to complain or feel disgruntled. I wish time would stand still baby. I know that one day you're going to marry a little lady and Mummy wouldn't be most the important woman in your life. And suddenly I begin to understand why mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws are not usually best friends *evil cackle*.

Like your brothers, you absolutely love pressing the buttons in lifts and would have a mini-meltdown if any of your brothers accidentally did your "job". Your brothers would generally allow you to press all the buttons because they realise that it means the world to you.

It's not easy being the youngest in the family and seeing your brothers do all the things you can't do yet. When your brothers ran up the stairs today instead of taking the lift, you looked at them longingly and it broke Mummy's heart to see the sadness in your eyes and the downward frown of your mouth as your lips quivered on the verge of crying.

Your sadness was lifted by the scream of your second brother who in his bid to outdo his older brother, fell on his thigh and was inconsolable. You see baby, there is a time and season for everything. Don't compare yourself to other people especially not to your brothers. You're a unique and special individual made in God's image and He made only ONE you in the whole wide world!!!!

You love kicking balls!! We have this ball at home and you have taken a liking for kicking the ball around the house! You even tried the table soccer thing with Sam and were so earnest to score some goals! I'm thinking of signing you up for football when you're old enough!

Acts of service seem to be your love language. You enjoy throwing away your diapers and even passing me a towel after my shower. I love how you have such a practical primary love language! 

We signed you up for preschool come Fall and I'm already feeling sad that we won't be doing leisurely 1-on-1 breakfasts together anymore but I'm looking forward to you and Gabriel sharing one more year of kindergarten together before Gabe moves on to primary school.

Don't grow up too fast little one!!! We are enjoying your childhood too much to want you to gain too much independence! You love clasping your tiny fingers together to pray and we do love how you enjoy Bible time. We pray that you will have a living and breathing relationship with our creator who made you and who gave His son to die for you!

Love
Mummy & Daddy

My family of 4 guys + me!
Your DIY chocolate cake with strawberries!



The toddler corner where its impossible to get a decent photo!

Monday, April 02, 2018

How my child's "near-death" experience changed Good Friday for me




(Warning: Long post ahead)
We are finally out of the woods since the kids fell sick recently. Sam & Gabe caught the most nasty virus that caused both of them to have 40 degree fevers and chills! Our house was like a dead town for those 7 days! The boys would wake up, eat a little bit for breakfast and crash again on the sofas. I kid you not. They slept as much as newborns!

Despite our best efforts to protect the littlest one, poor Liam still caught the virus. I would consider myself a somewhat seasoned Mom in having to deal with sick kids. But nothing could prepare me for what we experienced.

We brought the kids to the paediatrician and as expected, the doc said its a "virus" and we just have to let it ride its course. In Germany, only temperatures above 39 degrees celsius is considered a fever and doctors recommend giving paracetamol only when there is a fever.

The anxious Mom in me didn't like the "relaxed" approach at first, but after 12 years in Germany, I've come to appreciate that a fever is a body's natural response to fighting infections. And we should give the body time to fight the infection and not resort to fever-suppressing drugs as if the fever were the enemy. It's not!

That said, we don't want our children to boil through the night, so we do check their temperatures regularly and give them fever medicine when we feel that we'd rather they be comfortable. It's a matter of weighing out our options.

That night it happened, I remember feeling Liam's forehead when he was sleeping and he felt fine. Just a bit warm but not too hot.

While ironing some clothes, I suddenly heard the weirdest sound! It sounded like someone was trying to cry but the cry was muffled. I wasn't alarmed but thought I should check on the baby, thinking that maybe he just couldn't get comfortable.

Honestly, its impossible to recap this experience without feeling all teary. I saw my kiddo lying in bed with his eyes wide open but not responding. His body was stiff and I couldn't even tell if he was breathing or not!

I quickly grabbed him and tried to shake him to "wake him up". But it was to no avail. This was when I screamed at the husband to get out of bed. Poor hub, who was also sick, took the baby and tried to "resuscitate" him. He actually said, "Oh, Liam's fine!"

But I looked at Liam and he still looked as lifeless as when I handed him over to Stephan. My thoughts went from "OMG, do I still remember how to do CPR?? Is there a doctor in our block? Is this the last time I'll see my baby alive?" What on earth am I supposed to do??!"

I told my husband, "NO, Liam's not fine. He's still cramping up!"

So we did the next thing we thought to do. We brought Liam to the bathroom and tried to splash water on his face. We realised that his teeth were tightly clenched so Stephan tried to put his finger between his teeth to wrench it open.

I don't really know what happened, but suddenly Liam woke up. I was sooo relieved! But my thoughts wandered to, "Did he experience brain damage? Was he even breathing all this time?" We tried to keep him awake, cos he was sooo drained and sleepy!"

We rang our immediate neighbours' doorbell to ask them to babysit our 2 older kids while both of us rushed to the A&E of the nearest children's hospital. It was almost 11pm when we left.

You know, I may complain about things about Germany but I will never ever complain about the healthcare industry here. There was NO queue at all. We registered and were the next in line to see a doctor.

The doctor gave Liam a thorough examination. Here's what we learnt:-

1. Fever cramps are not as dangerous as it looks. 6% of children get it and they usually get it when at least one parent has a genetic disposition to it.

2. Cramps usually last for about 2-3 minutes. If they last any longer, one should bring a child to the hospital. 

3. NEVER ever pry the mouth open. One could end up breaking off a tooth and the baby might swallow the broken tooth which would cause it to be wayyy more dangerous than leaving the mouth closed

4. It's hard to prevent a fever cramp because its not dependent on how high the body temperature is but how quickly the body temperature changed.

We were given the option to let Liam be hospitalised or bring him home to recuperate. We opted for the latter since we felt relieved enough by what the doctor said and she also gave us her approval to bring him home.

We are sooo thankful for God's protection! We even messaged our prayer warrior friends to pray for Liam when we brought him to the hospital. It was so traumatising. We even second-guessed our parenting decisions, thinking that maybe we didn't give him enough fever meds.

This is such a potent reminder that everyday is a GIFT! It's not a given that we will see our kids grow old, have kids of their own and lead an adult life. I'm reminded of the fragility of life and how not to take any day for granted.

In the monotony of being a stay-home Mom, I sometimes wish that I have more adult interaction or just people who check in on me to find out how I am. But in this day and age when everybody is busy, it's hard! And I'm reminded that I just need to TALK TO GOD! I need to hear His voice and allow HIM to be my constant companion throughout the day. I can only parent from the fullness of LOVE that God pours into my heart.

I must say that when the kids were so sick, I felt so empty! So zapped of any strength and positive energy to encourage my kids. One day, I just took out my guitar and started playing worship songs. My kids had no energy to sing or jump around, but just listened to the music that reminded us that the Holy Spirit is here and He's as close to us as our very breath. Some days, the only prayer I could muster was "Jesus, please help me. Help my kids to recover".

And somedays, I literally had to pray a warfare-type of prayer that the virus can no longer continue! Each kid had at least 2-3 temperature dips when we thought the worst is over, only to have them have a worse version of the fever and vomitting the next day!

Of course Liam's episode with the febrile seizure was the worst. I remember thinking that I'm not ready to say goodbye to any of my children. That's when I had an epiphany.

You know, I grew up hearing about the Good Friday message. Jesus dying on the cross is not new news for me. Listening to Bible stories was part of my childhood as much as learning ABCs was part of my school life.

But now that I'm a Mom, I'm struck by the immense love of God! God loves ME & You so much, He sent His ONLY son to die on the cross for our sins. For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Is this the biggest love on earth?

Yes, I believe it is. I'm a Mom. And I would NEVER ever want my children to suffer. I would rather suffer myself than to see them suffer. God sent Jesus as a blameless sacrifice for MY sins and He (God) had to watch His son (Jesus) suffer in agony for hours while He was tortured and life slowly ebbed away from Him. And this was God's choice!! And Jesus' choice too. This fact still dumbfounds me. I don't think I'll ever be able to send Samuel or Gabriel or Liam to suffer and die for someone else. And that someone else may never even acknowledge the death of my child on his / her behalf. Get what I mean?

I'm so humbled. 

God gives me hope. 

That when this life is done on earth, life STARTS in eternity. 

With no suffering & pain & illness & heartbreak. 

That death does not separate me from me and my loved ones

I will see my Mom again. 

My kids will see me again 

And I actually get to see this Jesus whom I've read about and experienced in bits and pieces IN REAL LIFE!!!!

And can you imagine, seeing GOD???? Seeing the one who made you and me, and the universe??? And being able to see God without dying? Cos I receive a new body and a new spirit and because I'm adopted into the family of God because I receive Jesus as my personal Saviour? 

I'm going to see Abraham, David, all the beautiful women of the Bible and all the spiritual giants I've read about in the Bible.

God is REAL y'all! We are made for eternity! Life does not make sense if death is the end of life as we know it. Our life on earth is to prepare us for life in heaven.

I'll leave you with this video and song that I've been meditating on.


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