Mothers Make It Work: We’re Owl in it Together (Part 1)

When I was born, the Aged Ps had been married for a few years, and my dad worked very long hours and was often sent out of the country for weeks at a time. So, when I was very small, my mum’s biggest challenge was to manage the household by herself and care for a small (and loud) child at the same time.

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The Aged P with Debs G (4 months old): Mealtime is playtime

In order to keep the house clean and tidy, mum would make the best of baby morning and afternoon naptimes to mop the floors, wipe down the surfaces and do the laundry. She felt that it was most important to keep the floor and beds clean and tidy, as these were the places that would be most in contact with the baby.

As I grew older and more mobile, she bought a soft rug for me to play on, and trained me to stay on that rug during playtime so that she could complete her daily chores without worrying if I would be up to mischief.

If my dad was travelling, she would make sure that we were home every evening at the same time, as my dad would ring the house at 6pm without fail to talk to us. This was a very important daily ritual for the whole family, and even now, when my dad travels for work or if mum travels to visit my sister, they will FaceTime or Skype with each other at least once a day.

I will always appreciate the lengths that my mum went through to make sure that I acknowledged and remembered my dad, and understood where he was. She would bring out his photograph and point to it. She would point to the map and teach me to say the names of the places where he was working. She would make up songs about how much we loved each other. So, although he wasn’t physically present, I knew how important he was and our relationship was never diluted.

Although mum really loves to cook, going to the market daily with an infant in tow was pretty tiring for her, so she would only purchase enough to make breakfast and dinner every day. Additionally, as a child, I would always be full of beans in the morning, so she wouldn’t really be able to take the time out to prepare her own lunch if she wanted to spend that time meaningfully with me.

So, for lunch, mum first tried a local ‘tingkat’ or food delivery service, but soon tired of the repetitive menu. In the end, she made an agreement with one of our neighbours who had a large family and would set aside a portion of food for her. (Although the neighbour would often reserve the worst parts of whatever she happened to be cooking for my mum to eat – bony pieces like the chicken neck and the ends of vegetables – it at least saved her the trouble of meal planning and cooking!)

Mum often volunteered as the church organist and she sang in the church choir, so she would bring me along with her to attend rehearsals during the week. As an infant, I slept quietly in my moses basket during these times, and as I grew, I learned to sing along with her.

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Breakfast before play school (Debs G at 2 years old)

The year that I turned 2 years old, one of mum’s friends persuaded her to send me to playschool.

Although she felt that I was too tiny for schooling, it was around this time that my elderly maternal grandfather started to require regular medical checkups. As the only daughter who didn’t hold a paying full-time job, it was left to her to accompany my maternal grandfather to his various appointments. Sending me to playschool would allow her a few hours in the morning with which to manage this.

However, one day, the medical appointment ran overly long and she was late in picking me up from playschool. By the time she arrived, she found to her utmost horror that all the teachers and the school principal had gone home, leaving me alone outside the darkened building with nobody but the school caretaker to watch over me.

You can imagine how traumatised we both were from that experience.

From that day onwards, as soon as we drove past the trees leading up the driveway to the playschool, mum said that I would start crying uncontrollably. She arranged to send me to a different school and I seemed perfectly happy with that – but she was much more careful to pick me up on time. This of course meant that she had to do much more shuttling back and forth if the medical appointments ran long, as she would pick me up from school and then drop me off at my maternal grandmother’s house, then return to the hospital to accompany my grandfather.

In Mobile, Alabama (Debs G at 3 years old): Before a ballet recital

Midway through my third year, my dad was posted to the US for further studies. He couldn’t bear to leave his family behind, so we all moved with him to a small town of Mobile in Alabama, which was near the university where my dad was studying sports medicine.

We were the only chinese family there in the Deep South of America.

It could have been dreadfully lonely, but my parents saw this as a great adventure.

The community in that small town was very welcoming, and they were very respectful of my parents, who were not only english-speaking, but polite and well-educated. It took my parents a while to understand the sleepy southern drawl but eventually they got used to it.

Instead of shyly keeping to herself, like most people would in a new environment, Mum made an concerted effort to be actively became involved in the community, bringing me to the local play school and dance studio and taking part in town events. She joined a quilting class and a cake decorating class in the mornings when I was at play school. Some afternoons, if my dad was at class, she would meet with the other housewives in the backyard of the rental complex where we lived. They would sit on the grass and chat whilst the kids played together.

She was always smiling and gracious to everyone. She would exchange recipes with her neighbours and very often, people would come round to our house carrying an empty bowl to enjoy some authentic chinese cooking or bring some delicious meals to share. At the first neighbourhood potluck party, all of our neighbours had never seen or eaten chinese food before, and the whole dish of stir-fried vegetables and fried beehoon noodles disappeared in a blink of an eye. Our neighbour was so impressed with the delicate pieces of thinly sliced meat amongst the crunchy julienned vegetables that he remarked that my mum “can take one piece of meat and feed an army”!

Until now, Mum still keeps in touch with her friends from Alabama – in fact our neighbour’s grandson has recently come to Singapore to work!

Of course, it was the constant travelling and their commitment to their elderly parents that probably made the Aged Ps decide put off having a second child until I was five years old and much more independent…but that’s a story for another post.

P.S. Happy Birthday Mummy!

This post is part of the ‘Mothers Make It Work!’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other inspiring stories please click on the picture below.

Mothers Make It Work Button

If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this very thoughtfully written one here, penned by Angie over at Life’s Tiny Miracles.

18261241_120300003540885353_2103005318_o-768x512 Angie is the Mommy behind the Life’s Tiny Miracles blog. The journey to Motherhood has been a bittersweet experience for her. As a mom of 5 kids (3 in Heaven), Angie embraces every bit of this season: the tears, the insanity, the sacrifices and the joy that comes from knowing she’s loved as a wife, a friend, a daughter and a Mom. In her post, she talks about the importance of a strong and supportive community in a mother’s journey.

18518925_10155077378855202_1525611593_oAt next week’s stop we will be visiting Michelle over at Mummy Wee.

Michelle is a mum to 6 kids and now that she has packed her last child off to school, she has time to channel her energies to her 7th baby, an enrichment centre she feels passionately about. I for one am very excited to read about how she manages all her kids – from her preschooler to her teenaged daughters – whilst working full-time at The Little Executive!

Choo choo! All aboard the blog train!

Hello Owls Well readers!

18296990_10155043212889845_121891817_oThe Mothers Make It Work blog train is starting up today, starting with a thoughtfully written post by Hai Fang from MalMal Our Inspiration!

Hai Fang is a stay-at-home mom to 2 boys aged 7 and 13. She believes in eating healthy but has a weakness for simple sugar. Cycling and running is her way of keeping sane and writing forces her to think coherently.

This is a wonderful post full of useful advice on how to retain your own sanity amidst the current pressures of high-intensity parenting, whilst teaching kids to remain centred and true to themselves.

Hop on over and check her out!

For more inspiring stories, click on the picture below:

Mothers Make It Work Button

Mothers Make It Work! – A Blog Train hosted by Owls Well

Mothers Make It Work Button

Being a mother is very challenging, not just in raising children, but in meeting all the expectations that society has for us.

We are expected to raise angelic children, be loving and supportive wives, nurse our aging parents, hold on to successful careers, keep the house spic and span, cook instagram worthy meals and we have to look good whilst doing it. This can result in women feeling guilty or depressed that they don’t have it altogether perfect like everyone else.

Well, I say that nobody has it altogether perfect.

We’ve all worked hard and made sacrifices to get where we are, and we have also had to make compromises so that we can make it work. Sometimes, we try to balance things perfectly and somehow it backfires. Other times, it means arranging flexible working hours, or hiring a cleaner, or buying a car, or finding a childcare/parentcare arrangement that works. It could also mean re-organising our priorities or giving up on a long-cherished dream.

But in the end, one thing remains true – we are always trying to find the best way to make it work for us and our families.

In this blog train series, we’ll be visiting some of my favourite bloggers each week who will be sharing their mothering struggles and successes with us! I hope you will enjoy the journey with me!

(Links on this page will be updated as each post goes live)

4 May

Hai Fang from MalMal Our Inspiration: Motherhood

11 May

Angie.S from Life’s Tiny MiraclesMothers Make It Work

18 May

Debs G from Owls Well: We’re Owl in it Together (Part 1)

25 May

Michelle from Mummy Wee: 5 Survival Tips of a Mum Boss

1 June

June Yong from Mama Wear Papa Shirt

8 June  

Candice from MissusTay

15 June

A Becky C from Owls Well

22 June

Dot from A Pancake Princess

29 June

6 July

Lyn Lee from Lil Blue Bottle

13 July

Elisa from Love Our Children Now 

20 July

Karen from Mum’s Calling

27 July

V from Life Is In The Small Things

3 Aug

Pamela from Tan Family Chronicles

How to Toddler (A Day in A Life Blog Train)

It has been over a year since I wrote about a typical Wednesday in the Owls Well household here in Singapore as part of the “A Day in A Life” Blog train hosted by Mum in the Making.

My schedule has, of course, changed greatly since the introduction of the littlest owlet #3, Thumper. Most of what I do right now involves supervising Thumper during his wake time, and then making sure that when Thumper is taking his naps, I divide my time between J and Little E so that they each get one-on-one time with me.

It’s very difficult to describe how I organise my day now, so I’m going to let Thumper tell you what we do on a typical Wednesday in this video:

I basically rinse and repeat the above twice more for lunch/afternoon nap and dinner/bedtime.

Getting Thumper into a flexible routine was key to my sanity this past year. As a result, Thumper is a predictable baby, and will take 2 hour nap times without fail. This frees me up to spend time with J and Little E, supervising their homework and free time, as well as complete whatever housework needs to be done, including meal preparation and laundry.

Efficiency is a key feature of my life right now!


14658357_120300000553820036_1005302683_nUp next on the ‘A Day in a Life’ Blog Train is our stationmaster, Jus from Mum in the Making.

She is a stay home mum to four, who relies on crafting and chocolate to keep her sane.

I myself am very curious to see how she manages a typical daily schedule where she has to care for her tiniest infant girl and three rambunctious boys, whilst homeschooling and running a most efficient household!

Get a glimpse into her day over at Mum in the Making!

Engagements and Secret Keeping: A Becky Lee’s Proposal Story

After The Boobook and I had been dating for three months, we started vaguely talking about marriage.

We even went to a marriage preparation course held by the local church, which helped us shape ideas about whether or not we were compatible and whether we could align our individual goals enough to be married. I know that this sounds very rushed, but bear in mind that we had been best friends for more than 10 years before we commenced dating[1], so there was very little that we didn’t know about each other.

Anyway, Australia tends to have jewellery sale seasons sometime around April every year.  So, when the sale season rolled around, The Boobook took me to many stores to take a look at rings. Romantic AND practical[2].

I was shown diamond ring after diamond ring, but I didn’t like ANY of the rings, mostly because they were all plain and sparkly white (and BORING). I did have a good laugh at many of them – my personal favourite ridiculous ring being a giant multi-diamond ring that the sales guy kept trying to hawk us. The diamonds spelled out “Jessica”. I have no idea why he thought that it would be a good idea to sell that to someone called “A Becky Lee”.

After much shopping, we found a store that didn’t immediately take us to the diamond section when I said I wanted a ring.  The lady listened very carefully to what I wanted and then helped us pick out a beautiful white gold ring set with diamonds and sapphires.

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Photo courtesy of Photography by Delvene who did all my wedding photos!

Now, you’d think that given how much I cooed over the ring that The Boobook would settle for that ring there and then, but no, he wanted the ring to be a surprise. So, we ended up going to 4 more jewellery stores to look at 4 more sapphire rings (some of which were hideous). Then, he took me to the local EB Games store and left me there while he made his decision.

Three months later, The Boobook and I went to Singapore so that he could properly meet my parents.  He had met my parents before whenever they visited me in Australia, but never for very long.  This time, he was to meet them on their home turf.  Little did I know that in the intervening time, The Boobook had been very busy!

First, he had been in contact with Debs G to determine how much of a show he could put on when proposing[2].  Then, he got in contact with my best friend, Minako, in order to arrange for a proposal venue and a plan of action.  I believe these E-mails had the subject “Singapore Covert Ops – For your eyes only”.  It was all very hushhush, you know?

While we were in Singapore, The Boobook asked the Aged P for my hand in marriage after dinner one night.  The Aged Ps were very happy to give their consent and planning began immediately for our engagement party to be held while we were still in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Minako gave me a call and said that she’d like to meet us both so that she could, and I quote, “Get to know your boyfriend.”  She suggested Clarke Quay as a place to meet.  This surprised me somewhat, because Minako is not normally the type to hang out at overprised, touristy places like Clarke Quay, but she promised me that we were only going there because there was “a really great tonkatsu restaurant there”.  Since I trust Minako’s judgement on food, we agreed on a time (the evening) and date (this weekend) and I promised to take The Boobook there.

On the appointed day, The Boobook stated that he would like to go sightseeing before we met up with Minako.  So, we spent the day in all the most romantic places he could think of.  We started the morning taking a stroll in the Botanic Gardens, where we looked at the beautiful Orchid Gardens, then promptly got lost and ended up walking about 12 km just looking for the exit.  We strolled down Orchard Road and even did one of those Puzzle Rooms (we did, in fact, do the Teddy Bear room that very day!) that everyone was talking about!  Instead of taking the MRT to Clarke Quay, we took the ferry down the Singapore River.

Minako was waiting for us at the last stop.

We bought some bubble tea and started strolling down the Singapore River aimlessly.  I was happy to see my best friend again, so we fell to chatting gleefully as we walked.  Minako turned to one of the bridges and started crossing it, so I followed.  When we got to the centre of the bridge, The Boobook got down on one knee and…

…Minako caught it all on camera.

It wasn’t the smoothest of proposals.  He got the ring box upside down and the ring wouldn’t fit on my finger because I was a little swollen from the Singapore heat, but it was sweet and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our engagement party was a few days later and well, the wedding was a few months after that.

The pork was delicious, by the way.  We also had a few ciders to celebrate.


This post is part of the Proposal Stories blog train hosted by The Chill Mom. If you would like to read some more romantic stories, just click on the button below!

proposal story

The next stop on your blog train is Adeline from www.adesays.com!

Adeline is a mum to a little boy. What started as a blog to document her passion in sewing women apparels has now evolved to include her motherhood journey of ups and downs, joy and challenges. She had wanted to keep her proposal story private but spurred on by all the love stories shared by others that she had to join in the fun. Click on to read about her love story.


[1] A summary of this relationship can be found here[a].

[2] I’m an accountant, okay? Saving money is like SUPER-DUPER romantic to me!

[3] According to Debs G, she told him that I would probably like “something over the top that doesn’t involve negative emotions, but not too over the top, as that would stop being sweet and start being cheesy[b].” I do believe she also told The Boobook “No Jumbotrons”

[a] What?!  I only just got married – I may as well get my money’s worth on all the videos that I paid for!

[b] I blame Debs G for The Boobook not proposing in Disneyworld as a result (too cheesy).

Birth Stories: Thumper pops in (or, Serving an eviction notice written in Raspberry Leaf Tea)

Thumper had been the most active baby out of all my pregnancies. He kicked the hardest and pummelled with his fists and would even somersault in the womb. Ever heard the phrase ‘turn my stomach’? It’s not the most pleasant feeling.

At around 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, babies begin to sit a little lower in the womb and their little heads start to lower or engage in the pelvis. Locked and loaded, ready to fire.

However, judging from the way Thumper was still performing acrobatics, I knew that there would be plenty of space and amniotic fluid for him to swim around in. I was not surprised to hear at my 39th week checkup that he was so happy floating around in his anti-gravity chamber that his head was not engaged in the weeks leading up to his birth. According to my obstetrician this was more common in 3rd children and beyond – they would start to drop perhaps moments before labour begins.

I was disappointed. I had thought that maybe, just maybe, this little guy would come out early. Waddling around was not terrible or painful, as Thumper was markedly smaller than Little E was, but I was feeling nauseous and sickly all the time. Additionally, I had difficulty turning over in bed at night so I was waking up stiff and uncomfortable in the mornings. All of this was making me tired and wearing down my nerves, making me increasingly grouchy and snappish.

It was time to serve Thumper his eviction notice.

“Are you getting any contractions at all?” asked my doctor.

I shook my head. Apart from Thumper’s calisthenics, I wasn’t feeling anything else. “No, I’m just heavy and uncomfortable and tired of being pregnant.”

My doctor laughed, “Maybe you can try walking around more and drink some raspberry leaf tea.”

“Raspberry leaf tea? What’s that supposed to do?”

“Oh, some women feel that it helps to induce labour. I have no idea if it really has any true effect of hastening labour, but it won’t hurt to try. At the very least you’ll be well-hydrated.” said the doctor, with a little twinkle in her eye.

Right then.

Raspberry leaf tea it is.

I went to the nearest pharmacy and bought out their entire stock of raspberry leaf tea, then went home and brewed a cup straight away.

I sipped my tea hopefully.

Nothing.

Week 40 rolled around, and nothing was happening. Nothing at all. It was my due date and Thumper wasn’t showing signs of moving out despite the gallons of Raspberry Leaf Tea.

Strangely enough, although I wanted Thumper out NOWNOWNOW, I was also feeling incredibly blasé about the whole thing. In my earlier two pregnancies, I had anxiously prepared my hospital bag and gotten my documents together weeks in advance. But for this pregnancy I had been quite relaxed, only getting out the baby clothes and packing the hospital bag just a few days before my estimated due date.

At the obstetrician’s office, she looked at me and sighed. “Normally I do not like to induce labour before 42 weeks, especially if you haven’t been feeling any contractions at all, because I always think that babies have a good reason why they aren’t ready to come out yet…but I guess we can set a date at 41 weeks if you really want. Now go and walk around more!”

That afternoon, I had three contractions. THREE. I knew what they were at once as they were powerful ones and quite uncomfortable. I had to puff my way through them, but they didn’t last or continue on long enough to be meaningful. I told the Barn Owl about them and he got all excited at first, but when he saw how unaffected I was, he calmed down and tried not to look disappointed.

A few days later, I was still getting the odd run of contractions now and again. Although they were quite strong and painful ones, they lasted only a few seconds and seemed to ease off completely after half an hour or so. I was still driving the kids around, not really bothering to change my schedule too much until the Barn Owl very wisely pointed out that when things got going, I probably should not be stuck alone on the motorway with two kids in the back seat. So we called the Aged Ps up and had them take turns to go on Babywatch Duty, and we stayed over at the Aged P’s place whenever the Barn Owl was working the night shift.

It was two days before our booked in date of induction and I started feeling strangely agitated for no reason whatsoever. Midway through the night, I woke up and looked at the clock. It was around 3am. I paced the floor for a while, and then woke the Barn Owl up.

“You have to take the day off tomorrow.” I told him.

“Why? Are you having contractions now?” he asked, suddenly wide awake.

“No, I’m not. But, you have to take the day off. Tell them it’s an emergency! I need you to take the day off.”

“I don’t know if I can do that!” said the Barn Owl, affronted by my insistence, “I wouldn’t have a good reason! I have to give the office a reason because it’s so last minute and people have to double up at work to cover for me!”

I had a sudden feeling wash over me that was a mixture of despair and crushing anxiety. It was all too much. I burst into tears.

“I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care!” I sobbed hysterically, “You have to call the office and tell them you can’t go to work tomorrow! Just tell them that your pregnant wife is having a psychotic break! You just…you just have to take the day off! You just have to!”

The Barn Owl looked at me worriedly.

“Ok, calm down. Here, take this tissue. I’ll take some family care leave tomorrow and there’s a guy who said he’d cover me if ever you went into labour. But I can only do this for one day. You can’t ask me to do this again if you aren’t in labour ok?”

Feeling very relieved, I wiped my face with the tissue and blew my nose noisily, mumbling, “Some guy offered to cover you? I’m going to give him a cake.”

“What about me? I want cake! Why don’t I get cake? I’m going to take the day off because my wife’s lost her marbles, I think I should get cake,” demanded the Barn Owl.

“Okokok, you get cake, too.”

The Barn Owl scowled at me. “Promises, promises. You and I both know that the cake is a lie.”

So saying, we both giggled at each other and went to sleep.

The next morning, the Barn Owl called up his office and took a day of family care leave. We both took J to school for 7am, which meant that we had an hour to kill before we needed to drop Little E at school.

Usually, I would go to the Aged Ps house and have a quiet breakfast with Little E and do her hair up in braids. But the Barn Owl insisted on driving to her kindergarten early, parking the car at the top of the hill.

“We’re going to walk Little E to school!” he announced.

So, we all got out and walked Little E down the hill, and wandered around the school compound with her, before dropping her off at class. I was covered in a fine layer of perspiration by this time and had a persistent backache, but the Barn Owl said, cheerfully, “Let’s have breakfast at the little cafe on the hill where we parked the car.”

I knew that it would make no sense to get him to circle the car round for me, so whilst the Barn Owl strode up the hill, humming happily, I trailed along slowly behind him thinking dark thoughts to myself and stopping occasionally to breathe my way through a contraction, but I forgave him soon enough when he bought me a lavish breakfast.

A few hours later, we picked Little E up from school and headed to the public library. I was feeling quite hungry by now, so I sat and rested in the library cafe with a tall drink and ordered a plate of crinkle cut fries. A run of contractions had started up again.

The Barn Owl and Little E found me in the cafe whilst I was concentrating on breathing through another contraction.

“What’s going on?” asked the Barn Owl.

“Oh, I’ve been having a few contractions again. They aren’t very regular, but they seem to be lasting longer now. Relax. I don’t think anything is happening yet.” I said airily, nonchalantly sipping my lime juice.

So we picked J up from school and headed home.

The minute I stepped out of the car, I immediately regretted not being a little bit more cautious. The contractions were much more painful and they were making me break out in a cold sweat.

I lay down on the couch with my watch and realised, to my horror, that the contractions were now 15 minutes apart and lasting a minute each time. I should probably get to the hospital. Now, both J and Little E were happily playing with legos on the floor with the Barn Owl, so I didn’t want to freak out and make them worry needlessly.

I said to the Barn Owl, “I think we need to go to the hospital. Can you call my mum and tell her to come here to take over the kids? I’m going to have a shower.”

I found it very difficult to concentrate during my shower. It helped ease the pain of contractions a little bit, but they were definitely coming every 10 minutes now.

I dressed slowly and emerged from the bathroom to find the Barn Owl sitting in the children’s room, reading stories to J and Little E. “Hi Mummy!” they chorused as I came into the room and started slinging clothes and school uniforms willy nilly into an overnight bag.

“Is the Aged P here? Is she on her way?”, I asked the Barn Owl.

“Oh, I haven’t called her yet.”

I shot him a look and said carefully, ever aware that the eyes of the children were on me, “You have to call her now. We need to go to the hospital now.”

“Ok!” said the Barn Owl, skipping off to phone the Aged P, while I went to the bathroom to gather the children’s toiletries.

Half an hour later, the Aged P still hadn’t arrived although we only live 15 minutes drive away.

The contractions were now 5 minutes apart and getting quite terrible – maybe 8/10 on my personal pain scale. There was a great pressure on my pelvis with each contraction and I was sitting on the couch, squeezing my hands and knees together in an effort to keep myself from shaking uncontrollably, all the while staring at the door and wondering why, why, WHY is the Aged P not here yet?

At last, the Aged P arrived. She breezed in through the door with a cheerful, “Hallo hallo!”.

There was no reply from me. I had my eyes screwed shut as I breathed through another contraction.

The Aged P was indignant. “I said, Hallo Hallo!” she said, sharply.

I looked up at her and muttered, through gritted teeth, “Yes, Yes, Hallo.”

The Aged P was aghast at my sweat-covered face. “Why haven’t you gone to the hospital yet?!” she asked.

“Because we are waiting for you!” I said, irritably.

(Turns out, I found out later, that the Barn Owl had rung her up and, lulled into a false sense of security by my calm demeanour, had said something to the effect of, “Debs is having contractions and we need to go to the hospital, can you come? She seems ok, so take your time.” So the Aged P had blithely and unknowingly gone on to have a long shower and do her hair before coming out.)

The Aged P went to the children’s bedroom, where, for some reason beknownst only to himself, the Barn Owl was still sitting there reading stories. Meanwhile, I managed with the strength of my will to walk to the door, all the time leaning on the wall for support.

I was reaching that stage of labour where everyone becomes too slow, too stupid and they talk like the teacher from the “Peanuts” cartoons. Where was everyone? Most importantly, where was the Barn Owl?

“WE HAVE TO GO WE HAVE TO GO NOW!” I bellowed to anyone who would listen, all semblance of calm completely gone.

I heard some muffled sounds coming from corridor. I looked up and saw the Barn Owl floating slowly down towards me.

“Kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa” he said.

“Aaaargh now then you want to go to the toilet NO IT IS NOT OK AT ALL ARGH HURRY UP!”, I howled at him as he drifted away.

By the time we got to the car, the contractions were 3 minutes, maybe 2 minutes apart. The whole world was shaking and I felt as if all my innards were going to drop out onto the floor. To our utmost horror, the motorway leading to the hospital from our house was completely chock-a-block full of unmoving cars. Turning on the radio, we realised that there had been a huge car pile up and there was no choice but to take the small back roads.

My heart sank.

I knew that the Barn Owl would have no hope of navigating there on his own and need me to give him directions, even with our GPS chirping in his ear. The Barn Owl was already very tense, driving with his nose nearly resting on the steering wheel.

However, talking at a normal volume was an impossible task for me at that moment, as I was feeling a tremendous urge to push and fighting it, knowing instinctively that the timing was not yet right. He would just have to put up with me hollering driving instructions in his ear like a banshee. Too bad for him! I thought, unrepentantly.

At one point, there was a police van in front of us, and they were crawling along at no kilometres an hour for some reason. I really wanted to tell the Barn Owl to overtake them by driving on the sidewalk, or maybe even hail them down and get them to escort us to the hospital with siren on and lights flashing. Fortunately, they turned into the McDonald’s before either of us could do anything stupid, and the Barn Owl zipped off towards the hospital, with me clinging onto the door yelling things like “KEEP RIGHT NOW TURN RIGHT I SAID TURN RIGHT NOW NOW NOW!”.

Although the journey to the hospital seemed interminable, we actually made it to the hospital in less than 20 minutes. I gasped my name to the porters and insisted that they tell the labour ward to page the anaesthetist on call straightaway.

The porter practically ran with me in a wheelchair all the way to the labour ward. By this time, I was in a world of pain and I didn’t want to be there anymore.

“Is the anaesthetist on the way?” I croaked at the nurse.

“You have to wait to see the doctor first,” she replied, much too slowly and carefully, wearing a carefully practiced smile meant to pacify unruly patients. I was not to be so easily deterred so I had to do something to make that smile Go Away posthaste.

I put on my best Medusa impression and hissed venomously between my teeth, “Sure, I will see the doctor first, but there is no reason why the anaesthetist cannot be alerted at the same time. Call the anaesthetist NOW, please.”

As soon as I finished speaking, the smile disappeared, the shoulders went up towards the ears and soon after, there was much silent scampering around the room, with the occasional petrified glance at me from time to time as I crouched on the bed feeling like a giant, angry ball of nerve endings.

The junior doctor came round, did a quick check and announced that I was 6cm dilated. She asked me what my pain score was.

“8outof10whenistheanaesthetistcoming?”, I gasped in one breath, frowning at her in between contractions.

The Barn Owl gave me a questioning look.

“I haven’t reached 10 out of 10 yet, and I don’t intend to let it go that far. I’ve had enough of it!” I explained.

There was a little bit of a commotion outside (I later found out that it was my obstetrician berating the junior doctor for withholding the epidural and delaying the call the anaesthetist), and a moment later, the anaesthetist scurried in accompanied by a bevy of nurses and all of them with their shoulders up around their ears. After reading out the bill of rights to me, she deftly flicked the epidural in. As the icy coldness of the anaesthesia trickled down into my legs, the crushing pain and pressure eased off to a dull backache. We all heaved a collective sigh of relief and all the shoulders in the room immediately relaxed.

My obstetrician popped into the room. “Four of my patients have turned up at the same time!” she exclaimed, “It’s a madhouse out there! How are you feeling now? More relaxed? Good, good. Just take some time to enjoy the epidural and we’ll be back in an hour to rupture the membranes, pop the water bag and see if we get things moving quickly. Okay see you later bye!”

She left the room, but before the door had even fully closed behind her, there was an almighty…

PIAK!

and a…

GLOOOOSH!

My water bag had burst with such force, the liquor sprayed out the bottom of the bed and my belly collapsed by a third. The Barn Owl and I started laughing. It sounded exactly like how a water balloon would sound if you chucked it against the wall. The Barn Owl quickly stuck his head out of the room and told the obstetrician what had happened.

She popped back into the room, took one look at the bespattered bed, and exclaimed, “Oh gosh, that looks like it was rather explosive! Well, looks like things will be moving along rather quickly! I’ll let the nurses tidy things up and I’ll be back in half an hour and perhaps you might be ready to do a bit of pushing by then.”

The nurse helped me move around the bed whilst she changed the sheets. The anaesthetist had very wisely given a slightly lighter dose, as she knew that labour would progress very quickly for me. So although I wasn’t in any pain, I could still tell when the contractions were by a vague tingling sensation in my lower back and I had fairly decent control over my legs and lower body.

This made things much easier than in my first two childbirth experiences when I had to imagine myself pushing and place my trust in the phrase ‘mind over matter’. I could engage my muscles without feeling any pain and that took away most of the stress and anxiety that I was feeling.

When the obstetrician breezed back in, she had me lie down on my left side as Thumper was not optimally positioned for labour even though his head was engaged. She was hoping that his head and body would turn as he progressed slowly down the birth canal so that he would be facing the right direction (i.e. facing my spine).

I had been pushing quite well for about 15 minutes and my obstetrician had just turned around to reach for something on the trolley behind her when there was an almighty…

POP!!!!

Out shot Thumper, as if he had been fired from a cannon!

“AIYAH!” exclaimed the midwife, reaching out like lightning to slap her hand to the side of his head, pressing it against my thigh to stop him from slithering over the end of the bed into the steel bucket.

“Oh GOSH!” exclaimed my obstetrician as she quickly gathered him up in her arms. He was wrapped up in his umbilical cord like an egyptian mummy.

“…..” said Thumper, opening his eyes and surveying the room with an expression of acute distaste, lips tightly pursed.

The midwife picked Thumper up by one of his ankles, dangling him unceremoniously in the air. We all watched in fascination as the umbilical cord unwound itself from his body.

“….” said Thumper, blinking and looking thoroughly disgusted by the whole situation. He opened his mouth, thought the better of it, and closed it again.

“Oh GOSH!” exclaimed my obstetrician as Thumper slowly turned increasingly more purple with anger and lack of oxygen.

The midwife, still holding Thumper as if he were a plucked chicken, shook him up and down a little bit to disentangle the cord a little bit faster. The cord unwound itself from the baby but somehow the midwife and I both got tangled up in it. We all seemed to be festooned in never-ending loops of umbilical cord. My obstetrician quickly clamped the cord and the Barn Owl cut it, freeing Thumper who was immediately whisked away by the nurse. The nurse began vigorously rubbing him down with a towel to stimulate him and get him breathing.

“YAAARRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!” screamed Thumper loudly and indignantly, flailing his arms and legs in protest at the midwife. He quickly turned a healthy looking shade of red, then stopped screaming and mumbled irritably to himself.

Meanwhile, my obstetrician was still busy delivering the rest of the umbilical cord like a magician pulling ribbons out of a hat. “Oh GOSH,” she mutters to herself. There seemed to be yards of it and it was getting tangled everywhere but she managed to deliver the rest of the cord and the placenta.

Before I know it, Thumper is finally placed in my arms.

Thumper gives a fist bump

Thumper gives a fist bump

This post is part of the ‘Birth Stories’ Blog Train hosted right here on Owls Well!

To read other exciting birth stories please click on the picture below.

11866474_10153411125380202_4867820037871610566_nIf you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this one here by Karen over at Mum’s Calling.

RLB-131219-LspCasual2_8x10-7567086Karen is a mum to 2 wonderful children who muses over at Mum’s Calling. She believes it is almost every woman’s calling to be a Mum.

While fulfilling hers, she finds the journey truly rewarding and enjoyable. She is convinced that Motherhood is life changing and full of surprises.

At next week’s stop we will be visiting May at A Million Little Echoes.

May is a Stay-At-Home Mom of two little ones. She survived two complicated pregnancies and while each time, she 12092556_10156206366840725_523746336_nannounced with conviction that that will be the last, she wanted more!

Head over to her blog next Tuesday (27 Oct 2015) when May’s husband, The Daddy, takes over as guest blogger for this special series and recounts his fears and worries over the births of their children and the dangers that entailed over each.

Birth Stories: Little E makes a big entrance (or, Labour – True or False?)

So about 10 days before Little E came, there was a little bit of fanfare. A trial run, if you will. I woke up in the morning, having strong and regular contractions, so the Barn Owl brought me into hospital.

By the time I reached the hospital, the contractions – although still coming regularly – seemed to have eased off in strength. A quick check by the doctor showed that my cervix had already dilated by 2 cm. So they kept me in hospital and had me walking around to see if anything was happening.

But nothing happened.

In fact, the contractions stopped altogether.

By the evening, I was feeling like a complete fraud so I asked my obstetrician if I could just go home. She did a brief check (I was still 2 cm dilated) but she decided the contractions had stopped and didn’t seem to be coming back, it wasn’t worth forcing the issue. So she booked me in for an appointment on the following Monday and said, laughing, ‘You’ll probably be in here again before then – but don’t forget that I’m away this weekend!’

Well, the following Monday arrived, and I was still the same. Still pregnant. Still tired.

At my doctor’s appointment, the obstetrician checked me over and…lo and behold, I was still 2 cm dilated. “We can’t have you walking around with a 2cm dilation forever,” mused my obstetrician.

I agreed with her. I was getting rather alarmed by the enormous size of my belly which was starting to extend beyond my arms’ reach. Soon I would need an extendable brush to scrub my tummy in the bath.

I had also been having a lot of difficulty walking. The ligaments in my body were naturally softening to allow the rigid pelvic bones to move apart and make space for the baby during labour. However, combined with the excessive pressure of my burgeoning belly, I began to experience what is known as ‘symphysis pubis dysfunction’, that is, the two halves of my pelvic bones would grate and grind horribly against each other whenever I moved, and occasionally, I would get a sciatic pain which would shoot down the back of my leg like lightning. I was reduced to shuffling my feet in order to get around.

Additionally, my skin was getting so problematic that I was starting to develop some form of ‘Princess and the Pea’ type sensitivity. Even the softest silken comforter and smoothest cotton sateen bedsheet felt terribly rough and scratchy, like lying on steel wool. I was up at stupid o’clock every night, tossing and turning (or rather, rolling around like a dugong on the beach), just trying to get comfortable.

I WANTED THE BABY OUT. NOW.

My obstetrician nodded sympathetically. “Let’s schedule you for an induction of labour for the morning of your estimated due date, ok?” she said, “But hopefully you will go into labour naturally before then.”

I looked at the calendar. That was a week away. Fine, fine, fine, fine, FINE. I can be patient.

A week passed and it was the day. THE DAY. The day of the estimated date of delivery!

At breakfast, The Barn Owl looked at me expectantly. I shook my head and waved goodbye to him as he headed off to work.

By this time, I’d started talking to Little E, as if cajoling her would help move things along. There’s sunshine and butterflies here, I said, coaxingly.

No response.

I really didn’t want to have to undergo an induction, I pleaded, come out soon.

No response.

YOU COME OUT HERE RIGHT NOW YOUNG LADY OR SO HELP ME WE WILL GO IN THERE AND DRAG YOU OUT!

I felt the faintest hint of a backache. Was it…? It went away again. Oh nope, it’s coming back, stronger this time.

Very soon, I was having moderate contractions every ten minutes or so. I called the Barn Owl up on his mobile phone.

The Barn Owl was skeptical. After all, he’d been duped once already. “YES IT IS REAL NOW MEET ME AT THE HOSPITAL”, I said firmly, trying my best not to screech.

Then, I waddled to the study, where the Aged P was hanging out.

“Mum, I say, Mum, I’m having contractions. Could you take me to the hospital?”

The Aged P jumped three feet in the air, and started pacing around the room. “Now? Now? But what about the Barn Owl?” she squeaked in alarm.

“He’s turning the car around and going straight to the hospital and he’ll meet us there.”

The Aged P stared at me blankly. She paced the room a few more times, muttering “okokok” to herself. Then, inexplicably, she headed to the kitchen and started washing vegetables.

“Mum, I say, Mum, what are you doing? I have to get to the hospital!”

The Aged P appeared to be in some sort of a daze. At the sound of my voice, she dropped half the vegetables in the sink with a start. She walked out of the kitchen still holding a wad of bok choy, then walked back in and put them back in the fridge. She then wandered off to the bathroom to wash her hands. Looking in the mirror, she suddenly said, “I need to do my hair. Do I have time to have a shower?”

By this time, I was starting to get Real Pain. By which, I mean about 7/10 on my personal pain scale. Terrible, but barely tolerable. “I don’t know! I think you should take me now, nobody is going to see you, you can just drop me off and go home.” I said through gritted teeth.

The Aged P was taken aback. “I can’t leave you alone in your condition! You’re about to have a baby!”

“I know! We gotta go now, though. The Barn Owl will probably already be there and you can leave me with him, it’s going to be ok!”

The Aged P seemed somewhat shell-shocked but she grabbed her keys and off we went.

As we pulled up to the hospital, we saw the Barn Owl’s car turning into the carpark, so mum rang him on her mobile and told him that I was heading to the labour ward.

“Are you sure you’re going to be ok?”, the Aged P said, “You’re starting to sweat.”

“No, you go on home, Mum, I’m a bit nauseous but I’m going to be fine.”

After fussing around me for a little bit longer, the Aged P seemed unconvinced, but she reluctantly said goodbye and let the porters wheel me away to the labour ward.

“Drive safely!!!” I hollered after her retreating figure.

In the labour ward, the doctor did a check. “You’re at 2cm,” she announced cheerfully.

“2cm STILL?” I exclaimed, incredulously, “I’ve been at this all morning!”

The Barn Owl took this moment to saunter into the room. “Where have you been?” I panted, another contraction hitting me like a wave.

The Barn Owl started. So did I. My voice seemed very loud.

“I’ve just been parking the car,” he said, frowning and looking at me worriedly, “Are you doing alright?”

“I’m fine. Just great.” I said, forcing the words out and trying to form a smile.

The Barn Owl grimaced and brought a hand up to his ear.

Hm. Was I shouting? I must try and be more controlled. WHOA HERE COMES THE PAIN AGAIN.

The doctor, who seemed to have gone into a trance, suddenly interrupted our friendly exchange. “Do you want any pain relief? Some gas, maybe?” she asked brightly.

“No, I’m feeling quite nauseous so gas isn’t going to work for me. I’d like an epidural please.” I tried to whisper, but the words seemed to come out like a shriek.

The doctor retreated and returned after what seemed to be an interminable period of time but was probably only 15 minutes. She was accompanied by the anaesthetist who appeared to do everything in slow motion.

Please. Get. On. With. It! I thought to myself, gritting my teeth and breathing through the pain.

Again, the epidural kicked in and suddenly the irritating buzzing noises in my head went away, the sun came out, the birds started singing, and the Barn Owl looked at me and said, “Epidurals are great. You should have one ALL THE TIME. You were barking at everyone and being so mean.”

“What? I was not! I said ‘please’! I was being polite!”, I protested.

“You were getting louder and louder!” laughed the Barn Owl, “You were frightening the nurses! They were huddled in the corner outside the room when I arrived.”

“Was I? I was trying not to be loud. I had to force the words out in between contractions!” I protested.

Now that the pain had gone away, I lay back on the bed and tried to rest. All too soon, an hour passed, and the doctor returned on her rounds.

“Do you feel the urge to push?”, she asked.

“I’m not feeling much of anything, really.” I said, still in a state of eternal bliss.

“I think you can try pushing now.” she advised.

So I did.

After about 50 minutes of pushing, I was started to get irritated. WHY isn’t the baby coming out? After all, everyone I knew had been telling me that labour would be much easier the second time round. “This is not EASIER!”, I grumbled.

“The baby isn’t positioned optimally in the midline. She’s all squashed up, lying in a ‘Z’ shape.” said the Barn Owl, “Everytime you push, she’s getting compressed like an accordion instead of moving down. You can see it.”

“I think she has a shoulder stuck,” I complained, “Whenever I push, I feel a knobbly bit digging into the right side of my pelvis.”

The midwife and the doctor gave me a sharp look when I said that. I knew that in their mind they were thinking about the worst case scenario – that the baby would experience shoulder dystocia as a result and permanent shoulder damage.

The midwife had been pushing on one side of my abdomen with each contraction, unsuccessfully trying to shove the baby’s knees into the midline, but now she called for help from two other midwives. One of them started pushing on other side of my abdomen to try and get the baby out of the ‘Z’ shape, whilst the other put pressure on the right side of my pelvis to push the baby’s shoulder away.

A few more unsuccessful pushes later, the doctor turned to me. “I think we might have to consider an episiotomy,” she said to me, in between pushes.

“Ok, I’m considering it!!” I said with gritted teeth, as the contractions started again. I held my breath and pushed, with the three midwives pushing on my abdomen.

THUNK.

My tummy suddenly disappeared like a collapsing balloon, the trio of midwives nearly falling over me in the process.

“YIKES!”, cried the midwives.

“YIKES!”, exclaimed my doctor, as she caught Little E and flipped her onto my chest, “Incredible! She’s VERY big!”

The Barn Owl and I looked at the baby in amazement. At 4.1kg, she certainly looked very large. And surprisingly clean and pink, for a newborn baby.

“Hello, baby”, I said, as Little E opened her eyes and looked back at us.

“Waa,” Little E offered, laconically, waving her little hand royally at all of us, “Waa.”

As an afterthought, she quietly emptied her bladder on the blanket before latching on for her first breastfeed, much to the amusement of everyone present.

One Hour Old Little E discovers her finger and her eye

One Hour Old Little E discovers her finger and her eye

This post is part of the ‘Birth Stories’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other exciting birth stories please click on the picture below.

11866474_10153411125380202_4867820037871610566_n

If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this one here by Mary over at Simply Lambchops.

11897102_10153067582159135_642534336_n-2

Mary and her 4 lambs

Mary has not one, not two but three little lambs and one big lamb.

She writes at Simply Lambchops – her little online space to preserve precious memories of her children, and reflections on Down Syndrome through stories of her littlest one.

I am always amazed and inspired by her strength and resilience which is reflected in the spirit of all her lovely children! It is amazing to see how the whole family rallies together to love and protect little K, who has Down Syndrome, and to cheer her on for every achievement and milestone.

The lovely Yann

The lovely Yann

At next week’s stop we will be visiting Yann over at Bubsicles.

Yann is a mother to two little men who, unfortunately, believe strongly that sleep is for the weak. Therefore, she sleeps too little (for her liking) and drinks too much teh-si. She suffers from Acute Mother Guiltilitis and is also addicted to writing and photography.

I love perusing Yann’s writings which are always accompanied by the most beautiful photographs! She has such a great eye.