Thursday, June 11, 2015

Baby Chua the First: Month Six (March 2015)

Dear baby girl,

Let me tell you about the babymoon. I had been adamant that I wanted to do something different, unique, adventurous - no lying by the beach and no large city stays. What I really wanted was a repeat of our honeymoon (which we'd already repeated once). Cape Town, Garden Route road trip, then into Kruger for safari.

Oh how I pleaded and begged for weeks! But there was an ebola scare on, plus the risk of an emergency while on safari...there was no budging on the 'NO'. 

Watching safari videos on YouTube led us to consider whale watching somewhere else, then eventually I found out that blue whales were in season in Sri Lanka - we had never been, so it was heavily considered until further researched showed that there were no guidelines to protection of the whales, AND the boats seemed to crowd them rather than respect. Considering they grow up to 30m long, I wouldnt want to be around an upset blue whale.

Something finally led us to a crowd-funded research cum whale expedition being launched 2015 in south western Australia - orcas! Animals that we were obsessed with. The crew were welcoming of this pregnant woman, so we booked and planned a roadtrip around it, Margaret River, Denmark, Albany, Bremer Bay (whale watching lift off), Perth.

What a great trip it was! If there's anything we love, its road trips and we had a fabulous time hanging out with Aly, Cam and Michael in Margaret River, exploring roads and tourist attractions, eating, going to the beaches, markets and fitting in as many movies under the stars as we could, then ending in Perth for a few days with Jonno (Aly and Cam made the weekend trip too).
First of many movies under the stars

With aunty Aly at Cape Lodge - she's going to balance out my anal-OCD side and expose you to doggy kisses and the like

Freezing one evening at Cape Naturaliste

His first shortrib EVER

I had the best almond croissant in the world here, custard filled (from the Margaret River town square markets)

Stealing apples in Manjimup

An afternoon at Green's Pool- this was a perfect day. We saw the forest giant walk, lunch at a vineyard then beach time

As we drove, we stopped at these farm stands with honesty systems, stocking up on fresh fruit and veg to cook

I made a stone fruit cobbler because we had so many peaches and plums, when it was ready, your dad announced that he doesn't like hot desserts -__-

Seasick at the back of the boat, serves him right after the cobbler comment

We saw about 50 or more orcas in a 2-hour span

You made my belly go all sorts of weird shapes during the second trimester

He's very good at chilling (I am not so)

I had a bit of a freak out the first night we arrived in Bremer Bay, we had booked an Air B & B cabin promising spectacular views and access to the beach, but driving in, we were the ones doing the mapping on google maps, it was that isolated. A further 250m down a dirt road and we came to this container cabin - a bedroom at either end and a kitchen and living room in the centre. It was casual, obviously a well loved holiday home, with little in the way of security. 

That night I didn't sleep, my nerves shot over the impending 1.5 hour boat ride in less favourable water out to Bremer Canyon(it had rained that night) and the fact that no one knew where we were (the cabin)  nor could anyone rescue us quickly if we were attacked by a crazy person. Add to that the warnings of electricity going off and there being no main water supply (don't waste water!) AND I was pregnant and going on a whale watching expedition - was I mad?!?!

Luckily, the next day went alright, I lay on my side on the choppy journey out to the nderwater canyon, Pa got very badly seasick, but we saw countless orcas and eventhough the boat broke down on the way back and we had to be towed for about an hour..all was good. Except for the carpet python living in the ceiling of the cabin, but thats a story for another time.

Back in KL, more renovation management and frustration, I knuckled down with some freelance projects.

We went to Singapore on the third weekend, where I hung out with aunties May and Nina for a bit, Pa went to the wake of uncle Jeremy's (one of his bestfriends from school) dad. Then we celebrated Pa's birthday dinner with Ama, chik-chik, aunty May and Uncle Jack. We also saw uncle Robert and aunty Shan for lunch before we left and fit in one Mee Pok for dinner!
This is you on your father's birthday, the doctor had to turn me every which way to get a decent scan of your face which I then framed 

Pa turns 41, dinner with aunty Fi and uncle U-Ming at Sassorosso

Aunty May and aunty Nina looking so fresh for brunch after their wild night out

And finally, the last weekend of the month, we flew to Penang to visit the Penang family. Grandaunt Nat and Ainon had just opened a cafe so we went to show our support, and we also hung out with grandpa, your uncles Brendon and Sean and grammie Becks.
Old cars are party of the story of our lives

It was sweltering down there, not helped by being pregnant and Pa's mini's battery and aircond dying. One day, we were stuck in a jam on the way to Market Lane cafe and I wanted to cancel plans to go, but Pa insisted. Irritable and dripping with sweat, I was so FURIOUS I nearly stepped out of the car right there and then but he convinced me to stay - turns out my lovely friends had planned a surprise baby shower (thanks aunty Celyn!). Sweetness.
Aunty Celyn made this :D

Surprise baby shower in Penang
And that, was our very busy March 2015.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Baby Chua the First: Month Five (February 2015)

Hello sweet baby!

We begin the month of February by flying to Bali, (or more accurately we flew on the last day of Jan), a little trepidation as the last time Pa and I were in Bali together at the same resort, our house was broken into and car stolen...

But, it was the last time we could enjoy the perks of my work and also see Sharon, who was leaving her post as the resort manager there (I was afraid that things might change too much once she left, and also the resort only welcomes guests about 16yo - difficult with you coming soon) so we went ahead to Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali. 

On the way to the resort we stopped for lunch with the Rambits and Enzo and Marco before making our way north. 
Your cousin/god-brother Marco chasing a girl in the fields ;)
Uncle Ivan and cousin Enzo being tech geeks
We were determined to enjoy the serenity of Tembok, just chill in the pool and sea, switch off, and eat healthy, which we did. It was a much needed break and we both enjoyed the daily massages (prenatal for me) and did yoga as well.

One thing stood out to me during this time - I had my first pregnancy associated calf cramp and boy did it hurt! Still, some quick massaging and the muscle would unclench but leave an underlying soreness. 

Mini bump

At 5 months pregnant, I had a slight baby bump and was feeling normal besides the cramps, which would happen about once every 10 days and persist throughout my second trimester.
Prior to Chinese New Year, McDonalds' around the region start serving the Prosperity burger,
the only time we frequent McD's. This year, Malaysia sacrilegiously left out the curly fries, so I was thrilled to find that Indonesia had not altered their formula.
After the short break we were back in KL, Pa to work, and me to plan the contractor schedule for full replacement of our floors scheduled before and after Chinese New Year. 
This was what home was like throughout February and March 2015

February was also the month that I had a rare craving, for grassfed ribeye and Maine/Boston lobster thermidor Surf n Turf. After about a week of hunting, we caved and made our own. Turned out better than anything we would have found out anyway.
Grassfed ribeye and Boston lobster thermidor Surf n Turf craving

On Feb 14th, we drove down to JB. Your chik-chik Will, Ama and his friends were having their first 'open day' for FOLO farm so we went to see and support. Its really cool what they are doing, organic farming to feed the families of those involved, and to later expand to feed more on a membership basis and also open up the farm to members, allowing them to benefit from its serenity and the therapeutic properties of tending, gathering vegetables and just being in nature. No doubt you will spend much time running amok at these farms in a few years.
Pa practising with uncle Gerald's baby girl

FOLO farm open day
Chinese New Year we spent in Malacca with your Ama and chik-chik Will, and grand Uncle Lai and Aunty Siew Poh.  It was also our first Air B & B experience in a retro old house owned by an artist, quite cool.

On the 21st of Feb, we left for babymoon-more on that next.

Friday, June 5, 2015

BabyChua The First: Month Four (January 2015)

Dear BabyChua,

And so we passed the first trimester. 

The all clear from Professor Raman meant that our Dr. Prashant signed off on you as well, leaving us to consider KL ObGyns that we would like to see up till your delivery. Every one that had been highly recommended was a student of Professor Raman's, classmates of Dr. Prashant. 

We went to see Dr. Guna at KPJ Damansara, since he also delivered your second cousins Enzo and Marco (we would later find out that more and more people we knew had gone to Dr. Guna and LOVE him). 

The first visit left us a bit underwhelmed. It was after lunch, and for the first time since we had begin the process of trying to get pregnant, there was no wait. Unlike Professor Raman and Dr. Prashant, he was subdued, a quieter more laid-back personality, nice and informative enough but nothing like the other two's bold confidence. He scanned you, asked if we wanted to know your gender, and told me all was good and to come back in a month. We decided we would see him again and decide then if he was 'the one', maybe he had been lethargic from a banana leaf lunch.

With regards to your gender, up until this point, I felt that you were a boy, and then the pronouncement that you are a girl! It took some recalibrating for both papa and I, but there was no less joy in your existence.

A little baby girl! I dubbed you princess tomboy.
Into the fourth month, I had few of the ailments listed for 16-20 weeks, the one that stands out is a few days of round ligament pains, my ligaments stretched and loosened and for awhile it felt like my uterus was floating/bouncing in my abdomen - when I couldn't take the pain I took paracetamol but it lasted four days at most. 

Some forgetfulness and stuffy nose, but generally smooth sailing . 
The beginnings of a bump
It was also around this time that we made the big announcement on social media, the below picture about having a bun in the oven (it was a bit too subtle or people were hungry and distracted by the thought of cinnamon buns first thing in the morning, and took some time to gain momentum).

Something about a bun in the oven- Uncle Ivan's idea for the announcement
Nana Chris and nana Mill came to visit us last week of January. Your main nana, my mother, passed away in 2009 - she had lupus and various complications (not just health), and it always fills me with sadness that she never got to meet your papa. She would have been a great nana to you as well. 

Still, we have her four sisters; nanas Chris, Mill, Pat and Nat, then of course there's grandpa and grammie Rebecca and your formidable Ama. Your Kong Kong, papa's dad also passed away from illness, but I'll let papa tell you about that.

Here they are helping me prepare root veg for one of our favourite meals, Root Vegetable Stew with Grilled Lamb and Herb Cous Cous, something I learnt while au pairing in Wales (Penny learnt while she was in Algeria)
Still, you're well covered on the grandparents front.

January was my last month at work, and papa and I planned a break for the long weekend end-January, a post-work and mini-babymoon to Bali, where we seem to find ourselves at least once a year.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Baby Chua the First: Month Three (December 2014)

A little (big) scare this month as papa passed me the flu (I was misguided in thinking my immune system would be stronger rather than weaker when pregnant) and I had a few days of consistent high fever. 

One night we even drove to the emergency room at 4 in the morning! They thought I may have had dengue but tests came back negative. We were afraid it would affect you and scheduled a check up with the doctor. Our regular Dr, Prashant Nadkarni wasn't there so his colleague Dr. Natasha saw us, she said you would be fine.

We passed the 3-month mark and Dr. Prashant sent us to his sifu Prof. Raman to do a scan for high-risk markers and nuchal translucency. We'd always been amused by Dr. Prashant, his ease with our situation and his unwavering confidence (in himself, science, nature and us) that we would conceive, so to be sent to the one that taught him, wow. 

The wait for Professor Raman was probably longest I have waited for any doctor, but it was worth it, chatty, affable, confident, knowledgeable; and it turns out he groomed half the celebrated ObGyns in the country. We wanted to consider him as our OB but he only does high risk cases, he says it keeps him young ;) He said you looked good.

Baby Chua in 4D, lookit the tiny arms and legs!
On the morning sickness front, still felt pretty normal, though I developed a whole lot of sensitive boob.

The one issue that would persist throughout pregnancy? I went from someone who knew exactly what I was going to eat each meal, or wanted or craved; to someone who had NO clue, no cravings or inklings…leaving us in quite the predicament as I had always planned our meals. Sometimes I would be so disengaged that I would get too hungry and end up eating the first thing available. That and having to pee a thousand times a day.

Another big thing was that we decided early in the month that I would stop working full-time end January, leaving me with more flexibility to exercise and eat better, watching my back. I started to do prenatal yoga on YouTube twice weekly.

The Rozells Christmas tree, and your cousin Sebbie
We spent Christmas per usual in Penang, (taking our first flight after finding out about the pregnancy) where we also attended Fion and Alexis' wedding, then New Year’s Eve at home with the Rambits, aunt Maybel and grand-aunty June.

EeEee Cheryl and I on the day of Fion's wedding
NYE with the Rambits, aunty Maybel and grand aunty June (papa's side but aunty Maybel is also one of my close friends)
Now we had past the first trimester, and I was about to stop working, it was time to kick some contractor arse and also plan the babymoon.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

BabyChua the First: Months One & Two (October November 2014)

Dear Babychua,

And so, you begin slowly and surely on October 4th. After that first home pregnancy test and the following blood test at the fertility centre – which confirmed your existence, I did multiple home pregnancy tests. Whenever I needed reassurance I peed on a stick, your dad was quite amused by this. 

Peeing on sticks helped reassure me
We proceeded into the first trimester with great care, moving into our new home at the start of November – your Ama came to help papa with this and I went away on a work trip (the Chinese pantang moving house while pregnant). I arrived to Sri Murni in time for the first night. 

The next morning we woke up to 1.5 partially flooded rooms, the problems that ensued from this and other little things our irresponsible contractor did would last right up till May 2015 (mold, changing 80% of our wooden floorboards, moving furniture to accommodate all these changes and getting new built-ins etc). 

Waking up to water damage after night 1 in new home
I also took you for your first concert :D Mariah Carey. Papa was not happy.
Uncle Sean, one of mama's best friends

Mariah Carey in the rain, unfortunately her current sounds are not my bag, prefer Mariah of old
Towards the end of the November I developed sciatica, which was scary considering my history with slipped disc and how I would progress through the pregnancy. My doctor asked me to try and exercise more, but it wasn't really possible to do that regularly with my work schedule and commute. She planted a seed though.

Of the pregnancy itself, I was feeling pretty normal, a few days of being off seafood or meat, some bad skin, one or two barfing incidents. If there was exhaustion, I don't remember - maybe I worked through it. 

The last big work do in November- the Christmas Tree Lighting and Murder Mystery

At this point, your existence is still pretty unbelievable to me, but this is you:
First scan, a mere speck.

Second scan, a bigger speck.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Beginning of BabyChua the First

Dear BabyChua,

Tomorrow we start to count down 10 days to your arrival, I thought I’d tell you how you came to be, biologically and scientifically.

Mama and papa got married on 20th May 2012 – we had dated for two years, been engaged for one. Papa pursued me for quite sometime from 2009 to early 2010, despite my being adamant that I wanted to remain single and just friends. 

He was 38 and I was 29; he had gone through his periods of 'wildness' the partying drinker, the biker etc, and gotten certain things out of his system; while even though I had had my fair share of life experiences, I felt I was barely beginning.

In the end, he was right and I saw the light. 

We were and still are very happily married, enjoying our time as a couple with each other very much yet independently developing our own interests. We are friends and lovers and it often floors me that I could constantly love him more.

The time that followed our wedding was hectic for us both, we were always travelling for work, and neither life in KL, nor our work environments were stress-free. The only thing that caused some shadow was the fact that even after a year or so of trying,  we did not conceive. 

In early 2014, we started to do check ups on fertility. While results for both not great; I had a low ovarian reserve for my age (31), meaning less years of fertility left, and papa's results were not ideal as well. The doctors still said there was a reasonable possibility we could naturally conceive, nevertheless, the stress of trying to conceive and of urban living was getting to us. We begin to really commit to the idea of you, eating better, living healthier. 

In April 2014 our doctor suggested IVF and after attending some talks and research, we decided to go for it. To prepare, we went for acupuncture twice a week, I slowed down at work and stopped travelling so much. We also tried Traditional Chinese Medicine but after awhile, I couldn't stomach the taste.

Acupuncture - first thing in the morning, twice a week. We (I) did this for 8 months. Not fun.
In July 2014, we begin the hormone jabs – which your papa would administer on me twice daily. People ask how these jabs affected me, but to tell you the truth, the pain and effects were nothing considering the light at the end of the tunnel (you!), and my suffering, if any, was eclipsed by the look of pain on your dad’s face each time he had to do the injections on me.

Our approach to IVF was quite matter-of-fact. We acknowledged our shortcomings and lifestyles and weighed our options, age etc. We knew that it would be an emotional, challenging journey but I guess in the end its the emotional support and joint goal that helped us through. Support and a positive frame of mind is of utmost importance, we went in with our eyes open to all possibilities.

In early August, our doctor harvested some 8-9 eggs, which they then fertilized. Out of all, only 2 embryos were a high enough grade to develop further. He also checked my hormone levels and suggested that we freeze the embryos and took a break before transferring the embryos into my uterus, to allow my hormones to regulate and return to normal after so much stimulation.

We took a break. I exercised, relaxed. Did a week’s detox. September was a busy month- we were in Bali, China, Singapore, JB for weddings (Ross & Diwa, Aunty Maybelene & Uncle Jack).
with Uncle Jack, Aunty Maybelene (the youngest of the Chua siblings) and Uncle Will at their wedding in Ping Yi

Finally, on October 4 after nearly two months break, we did the embryo transfer. On the morning of the transfer, your Uncle Will came with me for acupuncture, where he and papa squeezed into the little area and meditated with me. I think the woman in the next bed was a bit scared...

Your uncle Will - papa's younger brother (and one of his closest friends), he taught me how to meditate the day of the embryo transfer
The next few days after the transfer, (a relatively quick, painless procedure) I rested more, only doing some light walking and 4-5 days later went back to work and gentle exercise.

We were to do the pregnancy test on October 16th and I remember the week leading up to it as hellish. I was moody and bloated – everything that preceded my normal menses. I had dinner on the night of the 15th with Ruth Wilson a British movie star, for work, but could hardly concentrate. I was certain that my period was coming and we had not been successful. That night at home, I barely spoke to papa, going straight to sleep because I couldn't bear to tell him what I was feeling.

The next morning, just before dawn broke, I sprung out of bed and did the test. I took it to papa in the darkness and he turned on the light.