Monday, June 12, 2017

100+ day post

so this is the one where i eat my words. because we're all perfect parents till we become parents. saw this online (sorry can't find original source and credit!) and it really sums up the standard i aspire towards but am failing so miserably at.

in many ways i'm my own nightmare. give a paranoid, anxious person a baby and watch the neuroses increase a 100fold.i thought being medical might help (it doesn't) and i've fast lost credibility with our paediatrician (thank you, husband's insurance) by fearing he's leukaemia (he doesn't) and a squint (still undecided). it's weird how i 'round' my son and present it to the paed in SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment and plan) format as i would've in the patient's notes and thankfully he's been ok-ing my 'plans'. so i'm not that cray, yet. i thought i'd be more chilled out, but i'm not.

everyone said 'it'd be different with your own baby' and of course i didn't believe them. 

i thought i'd be ambitious enough to bounce straight back to work, who cares if he's languishing in subpar childcare. 

i thought i'd breastfeed for a bit then wean him on to solids ASAP and be done with it. little did i know i'd love breastfeeding, tiring and frustrating as it can be, and be determined to donate an immune system to the NICU babies because i'm fortunate to produce more milk than my baby can drink. also, vanity says BF is natural liposuction so bring it on

i thought i'd be firm about boundaries and showing him who's boss. the little clown has been co-sleepign since day 1 and shows no sign of being relegated to his cot. 

basically i've turned into my own nightmare - this crusty hippy dippy wannabe earth mother type. i still do believe in vaccines, though. 

i suppose motherhood has really done a number on my psyche, all that neuroplasticity is true. mom brain exists. my attention span is shot. i no longer reply texts / emails. save the odd gratuitous facebook (and now blog) post i don't really want to engage with the outside world. all i want to do is roll around mom cave with the baby, nesting, feeding. then i get the odd burst of desperation for grown up company and trek across london to meet the ward team i left for drinks / dinner. all with baby in tow. and when the mom cave gets too much, we go a little further. copenhagen, vienna and most recently como. planning isn't my strong suit and we've had a day up to a week between in between these jaunts. baby is portable enough and as my dear friend W reminds me, cannot remember anything at this age anyway so it's not like this travel is bad for him. disruptive, yes, but i pay the price more than he does. i've learnt my lesson the hard way about missing naps and overstimulation. screaming baby? no fun. 

but he's generally a placid little boy, bright eyed and curious about his surroundings. although he'd probably be just as happy in the little park next to our flat as he is on a sunseeker traversing lake como! i assuage my self-imposed guilt at this excess and extravagance by telling myself i won't always have this time off, he won't always be this tiny and we should make hay while the sun shines. he's growing too quickly, i finally fully comprehend that parent lament, and every moment is fleeting. i just want to lie next to him as he sleeps and smiles in his sleep, loving his milky dreams, and soak it all in while he's an infant for he's no longer a newborn.

Friday, March 3, 2017

pre baby wanderings

feels like a lifetime ago when it was just over a month but while waiting for baby i spent a lot of time being self-indulgent. sort of defensive me time because i wasn't counting on getting very much after baby. had a lovely dimsum lunch at minjiang, best dimsum in london and believe you me, i've more than eaten my (pregnancy) weight in dimsum. a close contender would be hutong. best value is mayfair garden (formerly princess garden mayfair) and royal china (queensway / baker street) would be great if could book but the queue usually puts me off. also, minjiang has the most gorgeous view overlooking the gardens.

bought a moses basket for £10 off gumtree and picked it up from holland park. love gumtree and the accidental community of mothers selling and buying. all the mothers i've bought stuff from have been really kind and encouraging, giving good advice and i'm more than happy to learn from those who've gone before.

back to kensington gardens for a walk in the park after gumtree pick up. enjoyed the early winter sunset.

had afternoon tea after the walk at cantrememberhotel but it was cute and along high street ken. occasionally get dubious recommendations and this was unforch one of them. wouldn't repeat but excellent service and they obliged with scones and clotted cream when i didn't want an entire cream tea after a massive dimsum lunch just an hour earlier. 

on another day, i'd ramen in town. new place, really salty. can't remember name again (sense a trend here?) wish it were better but i'd stick to kanada-ya at panton street with matcha soft serve after.

and on yet another day i was craving thai (probably a cold and wet day!) and made the most of rosa's set lunch. not quite cheap but always cheerful.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

thoughts on motherhood - day 14

there's an indian proverb that children bind the feet of the mother.

would be the first to admit that i came into motherhood somewhat reluctantly. L was unplanned but not unwanted, a happy accident over early may bank holiday long weekend when i really should've been revising for finals instead of gallivanting in the lakes. sat finals in the ever worsening throes of first trimester, started work in a dangerous job (acute male inpatient psych) during second trimester and felt like my medical career has stalled before it even started when i'd to go on maternity leave. but as my wise obgyn told me (and probably all his other patients!), "there's never a right time to have a baby, but it's always a good time". and i like to think he was right. conscious that we were incredibly lucky to have a baby without any complications and have nothing but respect for parents whose path to parenthood was longer and more intentional than ours. 

the birth itself wasn't entirely straightforward. L was late and i'd to be induced, labour was initially hard to establish but we got there in the end. his heart rate dropped while i was pushing and he needed a ventouse. in a way the ventouse  helped because i literally pushed thrice and for probably less than five minutes before he was delivered in all his slippery glory onto my chest. through it all, i'm grateful that God was in control and the medical team was wonderful. words cannot begin to describe the gratitude i feel to them, and of course nothing but praise for my incredible obgyn. aside: being post-dates is probably the most annoying thing earth because (well meaning) friends keep asking if there's a baby yet (from week 37!) so that's like a month of bother despite my telling them that as and when there's a baby, i'll let them know. it got to a point where i disengaged and stopped replying because was like groundhog day, or what einstein described as insanity (doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a different outcome!). also, friends who'd elective sections just didn't seem to get it and kept saying 'oh your baby could come before 40 weeks'. to someone who was doing everything in her power to get the baby out (long walks, spicy food, accupuncture that hurt like crazy, other unmentionables...) it was really discouraging to be told 'maybe you're too stressed', because, oh hey, it's that easy. that said, i did enjoy the peace and quiet before he was born and had oodles of time on my hands to be self indulgent. i like to think it was a healthy, normal pregnancy, low risk, baby was happy and why would i have him before he was full-term? but try telling me that at week 40, i'd probably have had a few choice words.

two weeks on, i cannot imagine life without him. perhaps that's the reason behind a nine (ten in our case!) month gestation because it takes times for the realisation to sink in. while nothing could've / would've prepared me for what lay ahead, the switch just flicked when he was placed on me and everything changed in that split second.what i found helpful was friends who were positive, who told me it'd be more exhausting but also more fulfilling than i could ever imagine. their words ring even more true now he's here. without going into too much detail, what i didn't appreciate were friends, who i'm sure had the best of intentions, were negative about pregnancy / motherhood. constantly telling me 'just you wait till you can't reach your toes' or 'labour is hard then having a newborn is worse' or 'how breastfeeding is painful and hard' or 'you'll never sleep again'. didn't see the point of that - knowing beforehand doesn't benefit me and robs me of joy. and now that things are good, i'm subconsciously waiting for the other shoe to fall because i've been naive and taken the naysayers to heart. granted it's probably about frame of reference and if they've had a negative experience they're more likely to project that negative experience cos they don't know any other way. as C graciously pointed out when i'd a rant to her about negative friends i stopped replying because they got on my nerves, perhaps it was underscored by an element of baby blues. 

but the negativity is everywhere - even in choice of words and nuance. people ask how we're 'coping'. which implies it's difficult and challenging. singaporean friends are horrified we don't have a confinement nanny but we decided against the invasion of privacy and also i'm very bad at following instructions and could only envision myself going stir crazy if someone was paid to tell me what to do. it's just us three against the world and i'm constantly reminder what a rockstar the mister is. he cooks, cleans, launders, does groceries, runs around the far reaches of greater london picking up gumtree baby kit (moses basket, snuzpod, stokke high chair and newborn attachment, travel cot), does all the admin (uk birth certificate, sg citizenship application, opens bank account etc) so i don't have to lift a finger. becoming a parent has made me less judgmental when it comes to hired help - used to wonder why two adults couldn't manage their own spawn and needed so much assistance (involved inlaws, confinement nanny, domestic helper etc). but now i kinda shrug and realise it's a personal choice and the family unit has to do what's best for them.

my thoughts on the whole confinement issue are cherry picking, to say the least. for friends unfamiliar with confinement, chinese (?) women believe that the month after the baby is born the mother (and baby!) should stay home and be cared for, and avoid the cold and water at all costs. no drinking water, no showers / baths, no washing hands. just wipe down with towel (eww) and eat and drink nutritious, restorative soups and food. there's a whole industry (i call it racket) of confinement ladies who can be hired to care for the mother and newborn for a pretty penny. or the grandmothers do it. from what friends have shared, they care for the baby so the mother can rest and recover, bringing the baby to mother for feeds and giving mother lotions and potions that will increase milk supplies.

with that as the context, the mister has been sweet to brew me 6L of confinement tea every day (red dates and herbs his mother kindly sent us) and cook me so-called confinement food (food with lots of ginger and vinegar). however this has been supplemented by a healthy doses of diet coke with ice and lemon, coconut water and as much takeaway as we can bring ourselves to charge to the credit card. pizza, burgers you name it, we've had it in the last two weeks. i find the no water ban particularly gross because it's so important to keep bits and stitches (yep, war zone but i'm on some very powerful and possibly off licence analgesics!) clean and to wash my hands before i touch baby / food etc. i do what makes me feel comfortable like dress warmly, wear socks and bedroom slippers indoors, have a hot shower at night, wear gloves the rare time i'm doing the dishes so the mister gets some downtime to decompress.

we're inspired by our friends here who care for the newborns on their own and it's a complete paradigm shift from the rules and rigidity (real or perceived) in singers. while everything changed, nothing changed and we still do what we want to do when we want to. blessed to have had a speedy and uncomplicated recovery. we've been out every day for a meal or a walk since being discharged on hospital on day three. nothing overly ambitious, staying in the 'hood and revisiting our usual haunts, albeit with baby in tow. kinda cool to be back and no longer pregnant cos they must've thought i'd been pregnant forever with no sign of baby (not pregnant but fat?). ventured to the country last weekend, and again this weekend for our first overnight stay away. he comes everywhere with us and the only thing i'm picky about is germy children near him. if a kid coughs i grab him and run a mile.

he's a great baby, sleeps feeds pees and poos well, meeting all his baby KPIs. nothing disturbs him  - he slept through really loud worship in church! we get more sleep than the fearmongerers predicted with him sleeping 11pm-3am, waking for a feed, then sleeping till 8/9am since the night he was born, with the sole exception of day 3. he's a happy, alert baby, doesn't fuss, isn't cranky, only cries when he's hungry, content to sit in his own swill because we're lazy about nappy changing (bad parents!). definitely have parent goggles on when i say he's a breeze to care for. cautiously optimistic that things stay this was but also realistic that it's early days yet and it could all go tits up. so again it doesn't help when people check in and i say he's doing well and they go 'just you wait, everything will change for the worse'. you probably wonder where i find such friends haha ;) i'm already paranoid enough and don't need help catastrophising.

it's teamwork and the mister and i quickly learnt to sleep through L's heavy breathing and lip smacking if it's not our turn, with the mister doing the odd night feed so i get extra shut eye. thankfully L doesn't cry unless we ignore his hunger for over 15min (fair enough!) so there's ample warning to get him on the breast. this way we needn't sleep separately, too, which's important for us. L's been exclusively on breast milk since day 3 when we got home (topped up with formula in the hospital but didn't need to once milk came in) and i've been expressing milk now and then for the mister to take over some feeds.

on that note, breastfeeding has been an amazing experience. i'd a little the head knowledge coming into this but until i saw milk coming out, i didn't really connect the two. had a really rough night our first night home from hospital (day 3, milk came in, too engorged, L couldn't latch, i didn't know what to do and grudgingly resorted to formula for fear i'd starve him otherwise) but had a wonderful lactation consultant come round later that day. 90min with her changed everything and we've not looked back. producing good amounts of milk and back to exclusively breast feeding. am so satisfied to watch my baby feed and grow solely on what my body is making for him. it's hard not to be smug / self-satisfied when i look at full bottles of breast milk and thank God for a body that's fearfully and wonderfully made. 

it's a steep learning curve but i feel we're getting more familiar with L and his (few) needs. interpreting his cues better with time and wanting to bottle up his newborn preciousness. he's growing and changing before our very eyes and i finally understand where mothers, whom i previously thought were overly sentimental when they bemoaned their babies growing up too fast, are coming from. oops, guilty as charged.

it's been the longest and shortest two weeks of our lives and i'm once again so very glad it's just us three against the world. we want him to be kind, to have good sound values and prioritise social skills over baby algebra. figure he'll learn to read, write and count when he's ready but more importantly want him to play and regard the world with wonder as a child and beyond. we're trying our best to parent with wisdom and grace, constantly battling self-doubt and asking each other 'did we do the right thing? are we terrible parents?'. it's hard - whoever says it's not is lying - but oh so worth it and i'm looking forward to this journey with him. hence if he binds my feet so i slow down to walk with him, it's a change in pace i'm more than happy to embrace for my sweet baby boy.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

lobster spaghetti

was decidedly decadent by cooking with rose (instead of water) and tomatoes on the vine (instead of canned tomatoes). the fresh pasta soaked up the stock and made for a wonderful umami bomb. the lobster tails were on discount at the fishmonger and the prawns were wonderfully fresh.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

oxtail stew

the recipe called for 5h on high-ish heat in the oven. which i couldn't bring my parsimonious self to do. turned oven off after 3h and left it overnight (el cheapo short cut) but should've known better than to cut corners because it wasn't perfect. didn't melt in mouth although it was tender and fell off the bone, ish. it was also the stew that kept giving because it probably lasted almost a week which in retrospect isn't the best of things because i'm incapable of throwing food away and have an embarrassing history of consuming things on the brink or maybe even a little over, to my detriment.

Friday, January 20, 2017

st john's donuts

one of the few things that get me outta bed on a saturday morning is the prospect of a vanilla donut. that and maccas. it used to be a mad rush to get across town to maltby street in time because the inflection point was 1230 and donut scoring chances dwindle past that time. dunno if they're making more donuts / less demand but have managed to get donuts into the early afternoon now. which means my perpetual sloth and need for 12h zz is further encouraged. not complaining though :)

also had a grilled cheese sandwich! wanted the stilton but they hadn't made new ones so think ended up with cheddar and chorizo. or maybe just chorizo. should've held out for the stilton. there was someone day dreaming and a stilton made the rounds - i'd told the vendor that if no one claimed it i was happy to swapsies the chorizo but alas stilton-buyer roused in time :( just as well i guess, if not it would've been grilled cheese anarchy. #firstworldproblem much.

Monday, January 16, 2017


chanced upon this new place on instagram and wasn't disappointed. £25 lunch bento box? sign me up! and a cute bar with extensive collection too. the service was attentive and the food authentic. was feeling brave and hazarded central london at lunchtime but think would it be just a good at night, maybe more pricey and more crowded cos it was pretty empty when we went. maybe three other tables and the rest were journo types.

had seen the raindrop cake on social media and thought to try it but think this was different from what i'd in mind. it was basically agar agar. meh. but still tasty!

took advantage of already being in the city to meet N for drinks at mr fogg's!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

seafood stew

riverside cafe is one of the places we've been meaning to go to for years but just keep forgetting. have run past it once but it wasn't open for lunch yet, and it's been closed over the christmas / new year period. think the set lunch wasn't available till just recently. but it came highly recommended by a dear friend whose good taste i trust wholeheartedly. the next best thing was to go online and see what cooking videos they had, and this one was just asking to be tried. went to bute street fishmonger and got a whole lotta seafood and whipped out the le creuset. been a bit of a one trick pony with shellfish (repeated lobster pasta, alternating by adding squid / prawn) but hey why not.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


petersham is a summer go-to and think was last there about 18months ago over third wedding anniversary. in fact, we ran from home and met my parents (who went by car!) there so we've fantastic photos of us looking fit in compression tights. or maybe that's just the endorphin high speaking. was much less energetic at 38 weeks pregnant but did still religiously walk my 10k steps / 7km in hope of walking the baby out. no such luck and prof later laughed at me because 'walking doesn't work'. oh well, that was reason enough for me to give up. 

there's a different charm to the place in winter. all lovely soft light and crisp blue skies. walking along the thames path towards kew after lunch was good fun, albeit cold. the restaurant wasn't too crowded and while it does cost a pretty penny to dine there it was a nice mid-week treat.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

NYE primrose hill

it's a little tradition to see the year in from primrose hill whenever in london. granted we've been out of town more than in, but having almost missed the fireworks last year, was extra careful to leave early this year. wasn't disappointed, although it seemed more crowded than i remembered, and the increased police presence was reassuring yet scary at the same time. i tried to stay away from drunken revelers and hold my breath every time secondhand weed floated by, but hey, only so much one can do. had a tiny bottle of champers and proper flutes because we're grown up like that ;) and then posted a photo on fb where i look esotropic, as my dear brother kindly pointed out. 

love seeing the fireworks across the thames, and it was a great time of reflection and realisation. things were so different a year ago, and i'm excited for 2017.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

coworth park

was visiting a friend in berkhamsted when thought to check the coworth park availability on a whim. last there before june 2012 wedding and distinctly remember hiding my cocopops under a glop of yoghurt so the mister-to-be wouldn't clock my failed wedding diet. thought it fitting to revisit just before baby was due. turns out there was the one room left before NYE and in a stroke of doubly good fortune, managed to score a last minute reso at hand&flower (!!!). S, dear foodie friend, had invited us to join his hard earned reso there a almost exactly two years ago and he'd literally booked a year in advance, in faith that he'd have enough friends to fill the reso when it came round. brave, considering the credit card guarantee one needed to put down. it was our best meal that year and quite easily one of the best in 2016. 

late start meant rolling up just in time for check in, then cream tea in the beautiful restaurant. good thing h&f reso was late-ish, because there was space for cream tea and a fantastic meal heh.

berry souffle at hand&flower. the beer chicken was divine (but i didn't get a photo)

walked the grounds to kill time between checkout and antenatal massage

blissed out post massage :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

day trip to dover

the plan was to stock up on baby things during the boxing day sales. the reality was further escapism. whiskey cabinet on boxing day and the cliffs of dover on 27th dec. made a mental note to hit peter jones in the evening but wanted to escape from london first. love dover, having first been (and taken a cruise from there!) just before starting university, and again summer 2014. was back a few years later in summer, for a makeshift picnic of roadside stall berries and almost late for an important dinner back in the city. might've gone by (or past) en route to margate / ramsgate two summers ago, maybe three by now. there's a farm shop i like en route but forgot to stop there this time. also managed to mis-program the gps and end up at the wrong end of the white cliffs (near the lighthouse instead of the tea room / visitor centre) which wasn't too bad in retrospect cos saved on parking. but wanted food after the walk and ended up at said paying car park to access cafe for soup. and discounted christmas cards, it must be said.

really lovely weather-wise and the cliffs were crowded with like-minded walkers.

Monday, January 9, 2017

one crazy day

it's no secret that i've a bad maccas habit and had been craving a maccas breakfast since before christmas. but with maccas being closed over christmas, there was no scratching that itch. so as soon at it opened after the bank holiday, i was on it. not proud that i woke late and succumbed to an uber ride (from hell) but still managed to miss the breakfast hours by a couple of minutes :( scored two lousy leftover hashbrowns but no sausage mcmuffin. boo! in my haste to get to maccas that morning, i literally ran outta the house in my pjs, without realising that i'd end up out of the whole in said pjs the whole day. there was the slight logistical issue of picking up a friend's car. she kindly lent it while she's in sg for a few months, and after some coordination  / miscommunication with her cleaner, managed to swing by hers at the same time the cleaning lady was there to pick up keys. with wheels came a newfound sense of freedom! went to liberty and got a whiskey cabinet on a whim. the plan, really, was to buy baby things but all that flew outta the window because, well, priorities.

after miraculously getting whiskey cabinet into the borrowed convertible, it was off to duke's for drinks. again, in my pjs and i didn't know where to hide my (un made up!) face. the next table, incidentally, was a bunch of uhmurikan doctors talking about the boards. so i eavesdropped and maybe picked up some tips, or not. they were pretty drunk by then and annoyingly brash.

memory fails as to what exactly happened after dukes, despite my not having much of said martini. maybe dinner in the 'hood, maybe not. but what started as an relatively early morning maccas run quite quickly escalated into a whole day affair. oops :)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

last ikeda of the year

back from zurich and straight to ikeda, kinda. because it was their last night before closing till early january, and the very shrewd ken-san has decided to stop serving noodles next year. where am i going to get my inaniwa udon fix??? he said it was typically a quiet night, which led me to opportunistically asking if he'd mind going off piste and having the chefs prepare tempura soba rolls. there was a name for it but in the midst of my gluttony, it was in one ear and out the other. also, it's one of the first dishes i'd tried at ikeda before it was discontinued so to finally savour it again after all these years was very special.

they're known for their norwegian king crab, which was wonderful as always. also had the hamachi collar and would've loved to have the iberico tonkatsu but resisted cos i'd a obgyn weigh in just before :/

a little bit test kitchen