Learn to count with J!

J and I made this video together a few years back. It’s the first video project we ever made, and we used stop-motion. J was 3 years old at the time. I just love his squeaky little boy voice in this!


1st year of a Preemie

This is a video recording the first year of Ward Miles, born at around 25 weeks gestation, about 3 and a half months early.

The most moving part of this video, for me at least, was right in the beginning, when his mother gets to cuddle him for the first time. You can see the emotional turmoil on her face as she holds her baby to her. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. 

A premature baby at 24 or 25 weeks gestation is born at the limit of viability, with a very low chance of survival – a mere 50% – and a large number who do survive may have long lasting disabilities. Bearing all this in mind, very few babies born this early will live to see their first birthday, so it’s no wonder that Benjamin Miller, his dad, made this video to celebrate. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful to see this tiny little guy fighting to overcome all the obstacles surrounding his birth, and it’s amazing that we now have the technology available to support this (although the family must have suffered a hefty financial burden if the bills were not covered by medical insurance).

My Godson was born earlier this year and he arrived a few weeks early too (although not as early as little Ward Miles!). He had to be kept in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit soon after he was born, so it was nearly four days before his mummy was able to cuddle him in her arms for the first time. When my friend told me this, there were tears behind her smile as she recalled the moment, and when I thought about it at home, it made me cry too. I remember how much I wanted to be near my first child after he was born – whenever the nurses had to take him to the nursery, I felt so sad and anxious. I cannot imagine how terrible it must feel to not be able to pick up and hold your baby.

My maternal grandfather, who was a physician in China many decades ago, told me about a woman in his village whose husband was killed and the shock of this tragedy caused her to go into early labour.

The baby was so tiny that it fit into the palm of her hand, with skin so translucent that you could see his little heart pulsing. At that time, there were no machines to supply oxygen or parenteral nutrition, so she fed her baby with a solution of sugar water and expressed milk, drop by drop with her little finger. She was afraid that the rats would attack the baby, so she wrapped him up and kept him in a drawer at night. Amazingly, the child survived and grew to adulthood, eventually becoming a university professor.

My grandfather used to say that children like these who are able to survive such odds and emerge unscathed, would be strong, spirited and highly intelligent!

P.S. If you have a preemie baby and you need support and assistance, or if you would like more information on how to help families of premature infants, check out Club Rainbow (Singapore).

Sugar does not make kids hyper!

Dr Aaron Carroll explains what a randomised controlled trial is and debunks the hypothesis that Sugar Makes Kids Hyper.

However, he does mention that there is anecdotal evidence that children may have an observable change in behaviour after ingesting sugar[1], however, this does not prove there is a causal link between sugar and hyperactivity in children.

There are many other good reasons why sugary treats should form a very limited part of a child’s diet…but I do find that it is much, much easier to stop random, well-meaning grownups from offering sweets to my kids by saying “No thanks, this stuff makes them start crawling on the ceiling” instead of saying “No thanks, this stuff has little nutritional value and will ruin their appetite. And their teeth.”[2]

By the way, I do like the way that Dr Carroll cuts through the doctorspeak in his video. It’s important to have a doctor that is good at explaining things[3].

1. I draw your attention to the Great Yakult Caper of 2010. The Aged Ps still refer to that event in horrified, hushed tones.

2. The conversation usually goes like this:

Well-meaning auntie/uncle: AIYOH you are SO cute! Come, come, Auntie/Uncle give you sweet!

Debs: Oh, no thank you, they are not allowed any sweets right now.

Horrified auntie/uncle (loudly): WHY CANNOT

Debs: Well…they are going to have lunch soon…

Indignant auntie/uncle: Aiyah, never mind lah, they are just children.

Debs: (feigns desperation) Nooooooo…let me tell you – it’s because they will become (stage whisper) Too Active. (mimes shaky hands)

Understanding auntie/uncle: (nodding sagely) OOooooOOooh. Yah lah, it’s true. (Addresses children) You listen to auntie/uncle – too much sweets is not good for you okay? Now don’t go and give your mummy trouble har.


3. I used to work with a surgeon who would wave his hands mystically over patients, whiffle a little through his moustache and then wander off, leaving me behind to translate in a feeble stammer, “Er…h-h-h-he said that we’ll have to amputate that whole leg. Tomorrow.” Great communicator, that guy.