Emotion Is a Gift from God

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The Tantrum Specialist

Our second daughter, Mila, is one emotional child ever since her newborn-hood. Her will is unbent, her tantrum intense. She cannot contain her excitement, and she expresses her sadness in manner that (I think) is beyond baby.

In this video was one of her emotional moments. It was taken when the eldest and I went to catch the Christmas Wonderland at Gardens By The Bay, leaving her with Hubby at home. We left while she was napping. I was told later that she was visibly upset but was rather quiet the entire evening. She finally broke down in tears after a lonely dinner.

Being blessed with an emotional child provides parents with its own challenge to struggle through. While dealing with their emotion, we may very often be overwhelmed ourselves, but we must remember to look at it as a blessing.

With it, humans are enabled to live their lives meaningfully. They are made able to love and be loved, to know grief and therefore learn to cherish, to fear and revere what is beyond them.

Ultimately, emotion equips man for a rich relationship with the Creator, with which they may feel the wonder of His love and be fulfilled by His joy, presently and even more so in the eternity. What a powerful gift! A gift when rightly used, blesses mankind in ways that are beyond the capacity of any other creatures, but when corrupted, turns them into the worst of beasts. And herein lies both encouragement and solemn warning for parents. Nip it not in the bud, as it is not meant for suppression, trim it dutifully while basking it in the Light of Heaven’s Sun, and see it bloom into the beauty it is meant to be.

To the God who has bestowed this child with the gift of strong emotion, we will turn our gaze and plea.

Grant us, O Lord, everything we need
to raise this child to be the master of her emotion.
And if it pleases Thee,
a fierce lover of Thy name.

Enfant Roi

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At 12 months old, she has mastered the art of tantrum throwing.
I believe this milestone is generally achieved by babies this age; if yours has not, worry not, she will soon.

Her favorite moves are:
lying flat and/or rolling on the ground,
pouting and turning her back against you while trying to figure out how you react through the corner of her little eyes,
and of course the all time favorite high pitched wailing.

She enjoys high rate of success.

We figured out one of the things that contributes to us losing the power battle is our not knowing that she actually knows what we thought she doesn’t know. (It’s the moment you tell the older sibling “Quick, don’t let your baby sister see you eating French fries!” thinking that the not-yet-speaking baby understands no words. That’s right. The story ends with the baby getting some forbidden fries too, obviously.)
It seems that she knows Sun Tzu, “if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles..”

It’s not that we have not been informed before. My late paternal grandmother aptly referred to these little creatures in Hokkian as “Bo Ceng Hu” – literally translated as rulerless/lawless (she was referring to me and my cousins). And to quote Rev. DR. Stephen Tong, “Babies are barbarians with angelic looks.” A perfect combination that draws out both the best and worst in each parent. (Bless God for their angelic looks! Surely, it makes coping with their nonsense a little bearable.)

Parenting is a humbling experience. For against such creatures, holders of Degrees to PhDs are often rendered helpless. How not? We are charged with moulding infants who are in born self-centered kings into responsible and contributing members of society, and if you are people of faith, God-glorifying individuals.

To cultivate in them self-control, without nipping the emotions in the bud.
To teach them honesty, but not at the expense of kindness.
To practice frugality as virtue, and yet grow a charitable heart.
And to demand from them obedience, without instilling fear that leads to bitterness.

Is this duty possible for man? Not without God’s hands.

“But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” – King Solomon

“Amen!”

A Second Look at Sleep Training

"Now that you have made it to the Big Bed let me teach you how to keep your stay." "Okay."

“Now that you have made it to the Big Bed let me teach you how to keep your stay.”
“Okay.”

Three years ago, we were first time parents to a chubby and adorable 7 months old Kana. She was one happy always smiling baby, a bubbly chatter and a wonderful eater. She still is. But she was never a great sleeper. I recall that month was about when we decided to “sleep train” her. I wrote about it here.

Fast forward to a year after that, we were thrilled to find out that we were pregnant with our second baby, Mila. Along with the joy of a new pregnancy, the thought of having to deal again with baby’s sleep came notoriously bugging. Honestly “sleep training” is not a favorite part of parenting for us, or for any parent, I believe. And the mere thought of having to go through it again…was already painful. I remember we were so perplexed by this matter that we spent the entire pregnancy and the early months of postpartum researching about “Baby’s Sleep”, interviewing almost all the parents we met (I can’t believe my fellow mom friends were THAT patient with my asking them the same questions every single time, big thanks ladies if you are reading!). And of course, we prayed much and hard about it too.

With every book and article on baby’s sleep that we read, we were 90% convinced that sleep training was once again going to be one of the best gifts we could give our baby. “Giving your baby the gift of night time sleep” as one book puts it. But apparently God had a different opinion. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we could not do Cry-it-out with baby Mila. She made it known immediately that she was a fierce screamer, one that would scream so much to the point of voicelessness before gasping for breath, and would continue to do so until she was picked up. With such baby, you know you don’t argue.

So we were forced to do whatever worked (nursed, rocked her to sleep) and keep our peace. But I could not shovel away the worry that our rocking, nursing the baby to sleep would encourage a bad sleeping habit, or worse, inhibit her ability to “self soothe”. Nor could I reconcile what I had read and believed with the reality we were experiencing.

There must be a way, I thought to myself, an answer, an explanation to how a human baby would or should sleep, and I was determined to find that out.

All that while, I must admit, my research and reading was heavy on the “sleep training” side of camp. And I did find a lot of valuable insights there. But because I didn’t think it was ever going to be the answer at that moment, I decided to look at the opposite camp and what they had to say. As I browsed through articles after articles, I came across many things that I had never considered before. Here are some insights I wished we had found and considered when dealing with the family’s sleeping issue three years ago:

1. When it comes to human baby’s sleep, what is NORMAL?

All the while, we had believed that the normal was a solid and uninterrupted sleep through the night, that it was the ideal goal we needed to achieve soon for a healthy and thriving baby. We had also come to believe if a baby was not yet sleeping through the night by a certain week of age, the baby was running a “sleep problem” and was risking anything from future academic performance to healthy body weight.

But can it be that our belief was wrong? Many anthropologists think so.

Science argues that it is actually NORMAL, for young infants to be waking up every few hours, for a number of reasons. Firstly because young infants have tiny tummy and need to be fed frequently, secondly because their young brain are still figuring out how to get their lungs to breathe properly, it is common for young infants to have breathing pauses (they may stop breathing for a few seconds before resuming again gasping for air), it is in their best interest that they keep waking up every now and then, think of it as nature’s way of protection to ensure they do not “forget to breathe”.

In fact, waking up in the middle of the night is a NORMAL human behavior in toddlers and even adults. It’s just that adults go back to sleep almost immediately that they are not even aware of it. It is also normal for young children to keep changing their sleeping pattern, you can have a great sleeper for a week and a horrible one for the next, and before you know it things start getting better, again.

Those are the normal, they are not “sleeping problem”.

2. Can babies learn to “self-soothe”?

We were convinced they NEED to learn that, the sooner the better. And it was our role as parents to give these babies the opportunity to learn and to trust that they can do it, often by allowing them to cry until they fall sleep.

What we did not know was, young babies are neurologically unable to easily switch from “wakeful breathing” to “sleep breathing” until they are about 3-4 months old. In order for the brain to build a neural pathway to establish self-soothing ability, they need external stimulus. In other words, babies’ brain learns best how to fall asleep with the help of their caregiver (by rocking, swaying, bouncing, or nursing to sleep).

3. Does solitary sleep provide the best sleep for everyone, especially the baby?

We thought it does, because if we sleep in the same bed or room, I would be jolted awake at every sighing or grunting the baby made, and I believed she would be awaken too by my slightest body-and-bed-sheet-friction.

What was oblivious to us was the fact that human babies are wired to be NOT wanting to sleep alone. Obviously, human species would have long been wiped out had their babies slept alone in the dark without any protection from the wild predators out there. It is the most natural thing for young children to be alarmed at being left to sleep alone, something that many cultures around the world understand as co-sleeping is, and has since long been, the norm for majority of people across the globe.

Also, young babies have no concept of object permanence (meaning they do not know yet that things still exist even though they are out of sight) so they can not yet understand that their caregiver will come for them in the morning.

4. What is the absolute number of hours for sleep to qualify for “sleeping enough”?

15-20 hours for newborns, 12 hours for toddlers, 8 hours for adults? Maybe.

The truth is, nobody knows how many hours one must sleep enough. Scientists have only come to know how many hours of sleep people are getting at. And these numbers, as well as what time is the ideal bedtime, vary from culture to culture.

5. Whatever happens to those parents in “non-sleep training” cultures, because we don’t read about sleep-deprived-zombies-populated countries in the news?

When I said I was asking every parent that I met for wisdom on baby’s sleep matter, my first sources were the senior generation; my own parents, parents in law, aunts. I had always been very curious to know what had happened to everyone’s sleep during our babyhood. And of course, they were horrified when they learned about this thing called “sleep-training”.

But weren’t they sleep deprived? Well, they didn’t think they were, or at least they didn’t remember. And it puzzled them just as much why this topic about baby’s sleep is so big a deal now for us modern parents. They assumed babies would wake up frequently at night because they needed to feed frequently, so they co-slept to make the waking and feeding easier (bottle-fed babies seemed to be sleeping in longer stretch they said). They didn’t count how many hours of sleep they or their babies got or should get, and they had access to help with the house chores and child care be it from domestic helpers or extended families.

It is worth noting, however, that their generation’s average number of children per family was far higher than that of ours now. But aside from the large number of children per family, their narrative seems to be that which is still widely retained across cultures in Asia.

So that’s it.

When we understood what was normal and what in fact was NOT a problem, it put things into perspective and it alleviated many of our anxieties and guilt. Most importantly, it helped us to keep a realistic expectation. Instead of expecting to have uninterrupted 8 hour sleep through out the night, we planned for a lifestyle where everyone in the family can get the best rest possible.

Of course, modern society has evolved and the demand of modern life is no longer as friendly on families with very young children. And it is not the intention of this post to justify or to judge any sleep training method or the absence of it. But understanding and finding the sweet spot of both baby’s sleep pattern and the needs of the family will serve everyone well. For our family, with Hubby working a normal office hour and me staying at home with a 3 year old and 1 year old – the eldest is not schooling yet and we are without full-time domestic helper, we found that co-sleeping, baby wearing and nursing to sleep work best for the time being.

If we were asked to comment about whether to sleep-train or not sleep-train our baby, we’d say had we known so much three years ago, we would have given it a longer time before concluding that nursing to sleep no longer worked for the baby and that she would only be sleeping well if she could self-soothe. But it’s also true that each choice has its fair share of upsides and downsides.

When the eldest was successfully trained, she slept at 7.30 PM on her own and we had plenty of time for lots of good things: quality time with spouse, pursuing hobby, reading good books and a more structured daily devotion among many others. But it was difficult to hear her wail for one hour for days, and there were also nights when she would wake up a few times in the middle of the night and needed us to comfort her back to sleep. Early bedtime also meant we had to be home early.

She was back to our room at 17 months old, after sleeping in her own room for 9 months. We had just been back from holiday and she refused to go back to sleeping alone. When we attempted to re-train her, she jumped out of her crib (don’t ask me how, to this day I still don’t know how she did it, and yes the bar was her shoulder high). We have been co-sleeping again since.

Now that we have 2 kiddos in the big bed, we usually black out too once the girls are asleep. This means less time for us to communicate as a couple. We do make effort to keep ourselves awake and spend time together after the kids are asleep on weekends, but the free night time we used to have was a gone luxury. Nevertheless, we are spared the pain of having to make the baby cry to sleep. And with everyone getting their rest, I guess we are happy with what we’ve got now.

All said and done, the decision to sleep train or not sleep train a baby is a decision we should make with this goal in mind: best rest for EVERYONE in the family. And we will be better able to decide when we are well informed.

For further reading on natural infant sleep and co-sleeping, you may want to check out:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201302/normal-human-infant-sleep-feeding-method-and-development

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-levine-cosleeping-bedsharing-global-20160916-snap-story.html

(excerpt from the book “Parenting Without Borders” on sleep matter, by Christine Gross-Loh)

The First Baby Panic

Somebaby is amused with the safe buttons :)

Somebaby is amused with the safe buttons 🙂

It has been a busy week for us. Entirely due to Baby being down with fever, which ended up with her being hospitalized. Yes, it was quite bad.

So, here it was.

The whole episode started on one fine Monday. Baby was done with her nap and her body felt quite warm to me. Took her temperature, mild fever. She continued being her usual self, playing and all, just like her. That night she woke up once, crying, still with slightly high temperature and so we gave her a dose of paracetamol to ease her back to sleep.

Came Tuesday and her fever got worse. I had to ask Hubby for support back at home. Baby was cranky, not eager to move around and demanded to be carried all day. That late afternoon she had her first febrile seizures. We were thrown into a panic state, seeing her unconscious with both limbs stiff and twitching, and foams secreting from the mouth. We rushed her to the emergency right away, Baby was in delirium and I couldn’t help but cry through out the journey.

The diagnosis was a simple febrile fits/seizures (the word simple put us at rest greatly, really.) She, however, needed to be admitted because of her young age (below 18 months old). This was to ensure there would not be another episode of fits in the short span of time i.e. 48 hours. With nurses constantly checking on and paracetamol continuously given, she managed to clear the 48 hours fits free.

Now, having experienced the above, here are some take-away lessons for me:

1. Do away with unsound thermometer, you need to trust your motherly instinct.

The cause of the fits, in our case, was the body temperature rising to more than 39C. We did suspect her fever was way too high by feeling her body heat but the thermometer gave us 37.8C which we took as a more reliable data. When we realized that the gadget had gone wrong, it was already too late.

2. Sticking to natural remedies are all good but as in everything, always do it with discernment.

I had inhibitions for the use of fever-reducing medicine such as paracetamol and the likes which are feared to be hard on livers (especially on the young ones’). This was also one of the reasons why the fever went out of hand, we were slow with the paracetamol. But I will not be as hesitant the next time fever hits. It is not to say that over-the-counter-medicine is always the answer.It does, however, have a more immediate effect and when the situation demands for such promptness, it might be just the best option. Often, the benefits outweigh the risk. In our case, Baby ended up being constantly on paracetamol for almost the whole week as it is crucial to keep her temperature below 38C to avoid another episode of fits.

3. When fits hits, stay calm and pay attention to these things:

  • Lay the child down on flat and soft surface such as mattress. Remove any tight clothing. Do not put anything into the child’s mouth as it can block the airway crucial for breathing. Don’t worry, tongue biting doesn’t happen in children.
  • Time the duration of the fits, a simple febrile fits usually lasts for five minutes or less. If it is more than 10 minutes, it imposes some risk of damage on the brain. This is because fits causes breathing problem (breathing might be completely obstructed during the fits) which deprives the brain of oxygen.
  • The twitching of both arms and legs, on both sides. A simple febrile fits will cause both limbs on both sides to twitch. One sided twitching of limbs could imply underlying problem with the brain or nerve.
  • During a simple febrile fits, the eyes should be staring blankly in straight direction. They should not be rolling up or to either side.
  • The child can be sponged during the fits in attempt to bring down the fever. Do it with lukewarm water and not ice cold water.
  • If this is the first time the child experiences fits, call the doctor immediately. Febrile fits happens normally to children between 6 months to 6 years of age.

We were discharged from the hospital after staying for two nights. Her fever lasted for another three more days but was on the good trend of recovering. I have one active 15 month old back in the house now, still with runny nose and cough but happy. 🙂

Thank God really!

Kana’s First Birthday – A Homey Celebration

Kana is one! My little darling is growing up too fast and I am going to miss her babyhood really much :’)

Here’s a late post of Baby’s birthday party last March.

imoneWe consider the ‘one year old’ a very special milestone, both for us as parents and for Baby herself. As we ponder on how fragile a baby she was when we brought her back from the hospital, how things could have gone wrong during her growing months, how things had been turned upside-down in our noob-parents-life and how these all are not to be taken for granted.. How faithful has God been!
How blessed we are!

That’s why we celebrate! 🙂

Thanks to my parents in law who came over to help and celebrate with us. We have the well-missed Indonesian home-cooked food filling the table to the tummies.

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A special birthday cake, with Baby’s favorite little tortoise toy wishing her longevity on her first birthday (and it just so happens that for the Chinese, tortoise symbolizes longevity).

Thanks to our cell group’s friend who just started her very own home bakery, mommy Cindy for the wonderful birthday cake and the cake pops.

[Last minute] DIY decorations, again thanks to mommy Cindy for lending us many of the decorations props! The strawberries happy birthday banner was actually recycled from her daughter’s birthday party. What a great way to recycle, don’t you agree? 😉 (Well I dreamed about creating flower pompom and all other fancy decorations for the party but reality does bite, I just don’t have the time to!)

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The balloons with the letters K A N A was truly our super last minute work. Initially I did plan to find huge letters for Baby’s name to go with the birthday banner but I couldn’t find any. Gave up and decided to just settle with having the strawberries banner alone.

10 p.m and standing in the living room staring blankly at the banner, I thought an idea came striking my head. In the props box, we have some left over felt clothes (used to make the happy birthday strawberries). Why not make use of them!

So there we go.

We drew and cut out the letters, pasted them onto the balloons, and tied them to the banner with transparent string. Never was I so glad that my daughter’s name is only 4 letter spelled! ;D

We had a bit of problem with the balloons since they couldn’t stop swinging and the letters just kept facing the other side. I remembered me and Hubby were quite annoyed from turning the balloons over for the umpteenth time before realizing that there was an invention called ‘double-sided tape’ which was just an arm away! (Okay, it was almost midnight and things are better when you are sharp, yes? 😛 ) So we put bits of tape between the balloons and voila! we had the letters bright and clear and kept in place. No more worries about your child being called funny names from the balloons twist game.

To complete the whole thing, we added balloons with the “I’m 1” letters onto the birthday girl’s highchair on the very morning as well.

foto6Baby was born on the Easter day last year, so I thought eggs could not be any more suitable. For the Chinese, red eggs are also one of the compulsory food items for birthday since it symbolizes birth and good fortune. (Noodles are among the must-have food items as well, obviously for its long shape which symbolizes longevity heheh.)

We colored the eggs red and hang them as part of the decoration. The eggs were in the end given to the little-guests as part of the birthday favor.

Now, as to why I did not have the time to do my flower pompom, birthday banner, find the huge letters for the birthday girl’s name, and avoid doing things last minute-ly was because of this (and of course, mainly because of this too 🙂 ).

A photo-montage created for Baby’s first birthday. I think.. I am not the supermom who baked wonderful cake for her kid’s birthday, or who magically turned the party room into a wonderland with her creative handy crafts. I know not how to bake cakes, am not too great with crafts either heheh, but I do have my MAC sitting on the desk and some skills that I gained back in my university years. Those, can surely be put to good use. I think.. as a mom with degree in multimedia design, I owe my daughter at least a creative birthday present. 🙂

We had the montage played on the TV screen throughout the party and guess what, it proved to be a great babysitter! We were prepared to have the house roamed by the little people who, we supposed, would not prefer to sit still. But they did sit still in front of the screen (repeatedly asking us to play the video again once it stopped – the problem with no loop feature TV) and so the parents could have their lunch in peace! 😀

Finally, we were thankful for the people around us with whom we could share our joy (and sorrows too, we are sure) and our parenting journey ahead. In fact, it was one of our friends, Yopie, who actually captured most of the event since we were too busy hosting!

Blessed one year.

Thanking God for His blessings.

Trusting Him for the years to come.

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One Year into Motherhood


Somebaby is turning one! Some-mother is already a mother for one year too!

Looking back at all her pictures from the day Baby was born, we just can’t thank God enough for His faithful providence and grace. It is truly only by God’s grace are we able to stand to this one year milestone.

I thought a photo montage would be nice, to capture the array of the precious moments and milestones into one line to remember.

While arranging the photo montage and counting the blessings of God during our parenting journey, there is another blessing I have come to realize, one which is kind of personal for me.. 🙂

I used to dream that I will one day tell great stories to children through wonderful drawings and animated cartoons (yes, I am very very much inspired by Doraemon, Dragonball, One Piece and many great works of the likes). I got my Degree in Multimedia Design some 4 years ago. Worked for 3 years in the creative and design line and dealt with varieties of clients.

Speaking about balancing the pursuit of dream and motherhood, I think, my dream does not end the day I saw the test kit turned positive. Now that I am a mom to a one year old, the skills I learned during my degree years are not left to rust in the sink, the career I started doesn’t get halted by the piles of diapers or stuffed toys. Instead, I see it getting another step closer to reality. With better client. One whom I love dearly. 🙂

Passion and motherhood, God granted me both. And to this I am thankful.

Blessed one year, Baby. Blessed one year, Mommy.

One Little Step to Independence, One Little Step to Letting Go

My eleven-month-old baby girl has started taking her little steps on this beautiful blue planet.

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Here comes Baby Kana, the Little Explorer. Subduing the earth soon!

Isn’t it cute to see her toddling and swaying with her oversized-diapered-bottom? Hehe 😉

While yes, what a proud Mama I am , I can’t help but feel a bit ‘sad’ about the fleeting of the moment. A bit ‘worried’, too. (Well, I foresee lots of worries coming, part of a mom’s life, yeah?)

Right now, she is still holding onto one of my hands to guide her toddling around. In the past week, it was my both hands. Eleven months ago, I have her whole in my arms. And I feel, that very soon, she will no longer be. She will be on her own, off my hands.

Maybe, once in a while, I will still be carrying her, holding her hands. But surely, and the time is coming fast, I will no longer be able to carry her (she might be too big for me, or she might not want to be carried anymore, whichever comes first), I will only be able to watch her running around, and eventually I will only be able to watch her and let her go, into the world, on her own steps.

If there is no Loving Fatherly God out there to whom I can entrust my dear daughter, there will never be rest found for this poor heart of a mother. When this mother can no longer both-handedly hold her baby daughter, I know she is wholly body and soul in the hands of the Heavenly Father. And I rest in this thought.

Nevertheless, do slow down Baby. Let Mama hold your hands a little bit longer..

jalan