Dear Baby Girl,
I still remember the day you were born. It was close to 10 hours of labour pain, managed by epidural. The immense pain from the contractions was to the point I was whimpering, all curled up in a ball. The doctor refused to increase the epidural dosage: he wanted me to feel the pain so that I would know when to push! But when you finally arrived, I felt huge relief that it was finally over—and that I was now a mum! I remember turning to look at you while the nurses cleaned you up. I didn’t know what to feel at that moment. It hadn’t hit me how my entire world was going to change. How clueless I was!
The first two weeks weren’t easy as I struggled to breastfeed you. An almost non-existent supply (or so I thought), coupled with nagging from the elders and the utter lack of sleep, I was a total wreck.
Papaya soup. Hot compress. Massages. Midnight pumping sessions. I was so worried that you weren’t getting enough to eat that I timed myself feeding you; I even downloaded an app to track the time. I made sure you feed at least 15-20 minutes, nothing less than 10 minutes each side. Every 1.5-2 hours, you’d wake to feed; it was so consistent I could wake before you did! I was so zombified to the point of hearing things. I would think I heard you crying from your room, immediately rising from my bed to check on you, only to find you still sleeping soundly.
When the confinement lady left, and you were two months old, I was left to care for you on my own.
Oh, it was tough! You would cry for no reason at night, not wanting to sleep. Everyone said it was colic—even the doctor. But I wasn’t convinced. I researched online all there is about colic and why babies cry. A mother’s instinct is never wrong. You weren’t colicky. You just had a bad case of wind.
A simple, old fashioned solution saved the day. Gripe water! Google and my mobile are now my new BFFs.
I read and I read all there is to read about babies.
You refused to sleep on your own. During the day, you would only sleep when I wore you in a ringsling. During the night, you would only sleep for 30-45 mins before you were up again! And I would take another 30-45 minutes to lull you back to sleep. I would sing, dance, rock you to sleep (yes, your mum developed new skills overnight, thanks to you!). But you just wouldn’t sleep!
Swaddle the baby tightly, they say. Please, you were a feisty, tiny parcel of joy constantly kung fu fisting and kicking: no swaddle could hold you in! I finally gave up. I need to sleep, and so do you. To your parents’ bed, you came. I nursed you while lying down, and I caught up on some badly needed rest. It wasn’t deep sleep, but hey, it beat standing and rocking you to sleep! Your mum has got a bad back, so thank God for co-sleeping. No looking back.
The first day I went back to work, that morning when I dropped you off at your grandparents’, I cried in the car. It was one of the toughest days I’ve had to go through. But you know what? That evening when I came to pick you up, you seemed like you missed me, too! You were so chatty, good thing I recorded you on video. I would play that video over and over again whenever I missed you. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you every single day when I’m at work. To this very day, I dread being apart from you. When Monday comes, I just have this huge heavy rock pulling me down on the inside.
Like any other proud mums, I would leap for joy whenever you hit your new milestones/achievements, like when you play along (kind of) when your papa gives you piano lessons every morning, starting at 4 months old. We are hoping that you’ll be a music protégée and go into Juilliard one day. Hey, your parents have big dreams! I’m just so proud of you for all the new little things that you can do every day.
There are always ups and downs, days when you’re fussier, clingier. You’re still waking every 2 hours at night to feed. The nights where I get a whole 3-hours stretch, gosh, for the life of me, it’s so far and few, I can’t even find the right adjective to best describe that feeling.
I used to tell people that having a child is a liability, where the return on investment is negative, so why bother? But despite the challenges, I now know why they always say having a child is the best decision a woman can ever make for herself. Seeing you smile that toothless grin (thank God you don’t your pearly whites yet, otherwise, my poor nips!), giving me that wet kiss, chuckling and giggling at my silly antics (at the expense of you hiccupping), is just enough to turn that negative ROI into a positive for me any day! All I want is for you to grow up happy and strong (in health and in character), surrounded by people who truly care and love you for who you are. I’ll not be around forever, although I would wish for the world to be able to be there for you when you become a mum yourself, but I promise to be here for you as long as I physically and mentally can.
You’re 11 months now—how time flies! I can’t remember how it was like to be able to carry the tiny little you in one arm without breaking a sweat. You’re now more than 9kgs! I’m glad that I’ve been able to breastfeed you up till today, and for many more months to come! Every time I look at your thunder thighs and folds of lovely chubbiness, I feel like a proud mama cow. I’ll truly miss the baby you, my dear precious daughter. For now, I’m enjoying every single minute I get to spend with you. And I think you are, too.
Mummy loves you to the end of the universe and back, my darling.
Big hug and big wet kiss,
Majorie Cheng is transitioning from a full-time working mum, to a stay-at-home mum, managing a new online baby clothing line under the brand name hahanoyume. She decided to give up her more than 10 years corporate banking career to spend time caring and nurturing her baby girl, M. She loves writing and traveling, with the latter taking a back seat for now.
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