It has taken me a long time to think whether I should be writing this post, because I worry that it will become too emotional for me. But I have decided that such an amazing journey should be documented, if not for me then for my little baby when he’s grown up. The journey of my pregnancy was filled with ups and downs. For starters, I thought the timing of my pregnancy was quite perfect. We had only moved to Australia in April 2012, when both of us were still jobless and adjusting to new circumstances. By June, both of us managed to secure decent jobs and several months later, we decided to look for our very own abode. After much searching, we put our downpayment with much glee and excitement. At that point, I remember thinking, a house would not be complete without a little one. But as with all house purchases, there was much paperwork and renovation to follow up, so even when I started to have major cravings at one point in time, I did not think twice about it. When we came back from the Blue Mountains and I vomited in the bus, I did not think twice about that too. I blamed it on motion sickness.
Our little bundle of joy
I still remember craving a lot for instant noodles with soy sauce, similar to Maggi goreng but without the frying. I would cook the instant noodles first, then mix it with dark and light soya sauce, topped with fried shallot oil. And I would not be bored having it day after day. It started to hit me that there could be something else causing it when my craving was so strong that I was willing to go home during my short lunch break, just to cook the soy sauce noodles, because I didn’t feel like eating anything else. As with most first-time expectant mothers, I was nervous to find out whether it could really be due to pregnancy that I had those cravings. I waited and waited for my period to come, to tell me that I was having a false alarm, just so that I would not be disappointed if I were to do a pregnancy test. By week 6, Saucer and I decided we would try with a home pregnancy test kit. I was still reluctant to do it after buying it, just because I was worried that I’d be disappointed. Once I mustered enough courage, I did it one night, and within minutes, I almost could not believe what I saw. Of course I was elated, but I was also quite nervous, thinking if there could be a possibility that it might be wrong.
We went to the doctors the next day, and confirmed the positive result. We were happy and wanted to tell everyone, but we were also nervous at that point. So we kept the news to ourselves, even from our families. I think it must have been during week 8 that we finally decided to let our families know so that they could share our happiness.
First ultrasound scan
From then on, I remember one of the constant emotions that I had was worry. I worried when I did the first ultrasound scan around week 8, I worried when I did the nuchal scan to check for Down’s syndrome in week 12, and I worried when I was told my blood test yielded a lower than average PaPP-A level. When I was tested for gestational diabetes, I failed the first blood prick test. I was then asked to come back another day for a full-fledged glucose tolerance test, where I had to drink a concentrated sweetened bottle of liquid and wait for 2 hours. That was another excruciating wait – not only did I have to wait for a few days for the appointment, I had to wait for that 2 hours in the clinic not doing anything, and I had to wait for a further 2 weeks to finally get my results. I remember thinking, all this worrying can’t be good for the baby! So I tried to distract myself as much as possible, which was something easier said than done. Sometimes during the middle of the night I would startle myself and place my hand on my tummy, trying to feel if the baby’s heart was beating. Thankfully, all those tests came back negative, and baby was growing well. On a positive note, I had a relatively painless pregnancy, with almost no morning sickness or vomiting, no feet swelling, no water retention, etc. By week 36, I was already feeling the weight while walking around. The visits to the hospital became shorter and shorter, as the midwives were just checking for baby’s position and making sure the heart rate was normal.
On the plus side, we also did some fun stuff getting ready for the baby. My colleagues threw me a little baby shower and gave me a nappy hamper. They also gave something to Saucer – the Fatherhood Survival Kit, which I thought was very funny! We went shopping week after week, choosing the best deals for our baby. Pram, baby cot, baby bath, car seat, clothes, you name it. The hospital that I went to also provided a prenatal class that was recommended for all first-time parents. So we signed up for it and attended the day-long course. We were taught about the stages of labour, about what to expect on d-day, the technique of breastfeeding and for the fathers, how to bathe and dress a baby.
Nappy Hamper from my colleagues
Fatherhood survival kit!
Hamper from Saucer’s company
Hamper from my company
Some of the baby stuffs we bought
By week 39, I had stopped working and concentrated on waiting for the baby to come. Many mothers had told me that the first baby would usually come later than the due date, so I was patient. My mom came a few days before the due date in preparation for her role as the confinement lady. On the morning before the d-day, I remember feeling a trickle down there, and I thought it was blood. I called the hospital and they asked me to go in for an assessment. It must not have been my day because the hospital was exceptionally busy that morning. I reached there at 11am, a nurse attended to me and told me that my water had broken! But it wasn’t a gush of water coming out, just a leak, that’s why it’s a continuous trickle. They put me on monitor and told me that they would come and check on me soon. Their ‘soon’ turned out to be more than one hour later! This happened until lunch time, when they told me to have lunch first and return at 2pm to have a further assessment. By then, I was already tired and worried because they wouldn’t tell me if I was going to stay or leave. After lunch, the same process continued – doctor/nurse came to check baby’s heart rate and uterine activity, told me they’d come back later, returned about 1 hour later and repeated. Finally, at about 6pm (!), a midwife told me that it was better for me to go home where I would feel more comfortable, and let the contractions come naturally. I was not feeling any pain yet at that point of time, so she thought it could be a day or two when labour would start.
So, back home we went, where I had dinner and a good shower and washed my hair. (Little did I know that turned out to be the last time I washed my hair for another 2 weeks!) By 9pm, I was prepared to go to bed, when I started feeling what I thought must be contractions. They were still irregular, so I knew it wasn’t time to go yet, and tried to make myself sleep. By 11pm, I thought the contractions were coming on more frequently, and I called the hospital for the second time that day. This time, they asked me to go straight to the birth unit, where they would take me in. By the time I reached the hospital, I could barely stand straight while they did my paperwork. I was placed in a birthing suite before midnight but I couldn’t stand just lying down and wincing in pain. The midwife suggested taking a warm shower to ease the pain, and that was what I did for the next hour or so. Before I knew it, I started feeling the urge to push. The midwife was surprised when I told her that, because I was in the room for barely an hour, and I was a first-timer. It couldn’t have been so soon! Anyway, she asked me to lie on the bed for her to check and sure enough, she started to ask me to push whenever I felt a contraction coming. I remember thinking that was the worst pain I’d had in my life, and I think of myself as someone who has a high tolerance to pain. Thankfully, it was all over by 2+am. Yes, the whole ordeal from when I checked into the birthing suite at midnight, to when I held my baby for the first time, took only slightly more than 2 hours! Thinking back, I guess I should feel lucky that I did not have to go through extended hours of labour pain. And what’s more, the baby came right on the due date itself! Not a day early or a day late.
Little J was born
Once the baby was born, I remember thinking, “the worst is over”. Boy, how wrong was I! Within the next few hours, the baby started crying, sometimes inconsolably, and both Saucer and I being new parents, were frustrated and didn’t know what to do. I ended up holding the baby to my chest while lying down on my bed, for the next 2 nights. From then on, the journey of parenting began, which came with sleepless nights! It was indeed challenging, taking care of a newborn, particularly for inexperienced parents like us. But as everyone told us, it can only get easier. So we persevered and persevered. From being parents who did not know what to do when the baby cried, we now are fairly confident with taking care of little J. Yes, I still have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed him, but seeing him wake up the next morning with his big smiles just makes it so worthwhile. Welcome to the world, little J!
His angry cry
He loves baths!
When he’s in a good mood
Smiling in his sleep!
Lifting his head
Daddy’s little boy
Our first family portrait
A smile I wake up to every morning