Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Lonely, Bitter Sweet Breastfeeding Journey

I have come to the end of my breastfeeding journey about 2 months ago, 2 weeks shy of Hannah's birthday.

Somehow, when I think of breastfeeding, I can only conclude the experience with being bitter-sweet. A love-hate relationship.

In today's modern society, science and education tells of how "Breast is Best" when it comes to feeding our newborn, and without a doubt, I was determined that I would give my baby nothing but THE BEST.

After all, breast feeding is so noble and all the mothers look so good and glamorous in those breastfeeding advocate articles. Besides, everyone I meet kept advocating how breastfeeding is great and how formula is fake.
My "best friend" for the past year. I am almost always with it.

What is there not to like about breastfeeding?

I was ignorant.

Maybe it was because I lack sufficient knowledge and preparations about breastfeeding.

Maybe it was because I didn't expect breastfeeding to be hard, at all.

Maybe it was because I was too focused on the process of pregnancy up till the delivery and completed neglected preparing and learning more about the process of breastfeeding.

Reality is such that I just suck at breastfeeding.

I mean it.

I completely fail at it. I am bad at it. I don't like it. I can't do it well. And it made me feel terrible about myself and the way I look at myself.

Of course there were precious moments - like how Hannah was placed on my chest for the first time and instinctively started suckling - an unforgettable bond.

But subsequently, whenever the nurses brought her to me for feeding (which was very frequent, once every 2 or 3 hours) I felt interrupted, exhausted and impatient.

Is there even milk?

All I wanted after the difficult delivery was sleep, but my excitement of finally being able to see Hannah in person keeps we awake and yet, when I do fall asleep, I get woken up again to breastfeed her when I don't even see the milk/feel the milk coming out. I am totally unsure how much she is drinking; or worse still, I wonder if there is even milk in there to feed her?

Nevermind there's no milk, my breasts were sore n the skin was tearing.

I did not expect the skin to tear! Afterall, she is 1 day old, how much suction power do I expect from a 1 day old?

Besides, we were educated that if you latch on right, this will not happen, and with the experts around, they have always ensured the latch is right when they bring Hannah to me before they left us, right?

Absolutely WRONG!

When the skin started tearing, I just felt angry, in doubt of myself, and generally upset cos I am already bleeding and in pain from the bottom and now I get it at the top too?


Am I a cow or what?

Back at home, things became more depressing.

In the hospital, feeds were supplemented by formula, where they advise new mums to cup-feed formula milk since milk has not "come in yet" for the new mum and also to prevent baby from having too early exposure to the bottle teats in case they got confused n preferred bottle teats than the real breast nipple.

And so, when we brought her back home, we insisted for our Confinement Lady (CL) to cup-feed her (of which she gave us "that look" but did as we told her to) until there was no more problem in me being able to direct latch her, independently and fully breastfeed her exclusively.

So this is what happens during a feed:

- I breastfeed her, and after 15 mins max, she cries even louder, n when I try to latch her back on, she will impatiently suck n cry out loud again

- CL will take the formula and cup-feed her, but because she is so hungry and the milk is so hard to drink from the cup, she struggles amd spill it all over herself and CL will continue and try to feed her more but she wails and struggles more.

So at the end, you get an unhappy mother with sores all over,  physically tired and mentally drained; and a poor baby who is stuggling to get fed, who after 25 - 30 mins of "feeding", is still hungry, half-soaked in milk.

A few more rounds of the above-cycle actually led to Hannah pushing and rejecting my breast whenever feeding time came. It obviously showed something was wrong. 

Either the latch was wrong, or there was no milk, or the flow was not coming out smoothly.

The terrible cup-feeding experience!

Let's persevere and work it out? 

No, we don't even have the luxury of time and patience to work it out/trial and error because all that will come at the expense of me denying my baby the most basic need - milk - and the idea of her going hungry so that I could "bond" and breastfeed her was just RIDICULOUS.

What bonding is there when a baby cannot be fulfilled when that is the only, very thing she needs- milk? 

What bonding could there be when mummy feels like a rejected cow- I mean, cows have milk - I don't even fit in the category of being a cow now.

Ultimately, I decided that the priority was to feed her. 

Breast or formula, whatever!


Thank God it took me only 3 days to have the eyes of my heart opened up and we decided to feed her with a bottle instead of going through what might be a tramatic experience for a baby like her.

If it was formula milk, it is fine. 

If I had breast milk, it is fine too.

That was the BEST decision, EVER.

The load of having to be there 24/7 to directly breastfeed her, the question of whether I had enough milk, the pressure of having to make enough milk when I don't even know how to "make" breastmilk - everything painful and stressful just DROPPED big time.

Now, I could now focus on resting and recovering.

I could pump milk at intervals that fits my comfort and convenience in a less stress mode and still feed her whatever breastmilk I expressed.

More importantly, she is well-fed, so she sleeps better.

It is a cycle. 

She feeds well = sleeps well = better routine = less crying = less stress for everyone = more breast milk

So while continued being bottle-fed with a mix of formula and breastmilk (since I was not producing enough yet), I continued to express milk via pumping. My goal was to pump til I had a smooth flow and then direct latch her.

The initial days of breast pumping was utterly bitter. 

I could pump about 5 times a day for 20 min per breast and I would yield a pathetic amount of 10ml per bottle. That makes a total of 20ml. 

This makes up for less than 1/3 of her intake of 60ml in the initial days, and this intake will only go up and not down.

It is unbelievably little.

How in the world am I going to be able to fully breastfeed her?

How in the world do other mothers produce 200ml and me - a pathetic 10% of what they produce?

Obviously, on hindsight, I have learnt that if I were to pump 8 times or 10 times within 24 hours, it will come, that meant pumping once every 2 to 3 hours.

Unfortunately, I didn't have that kinda energy then, and I was already struggling to keep at 5 - 6 pumps a day.

I checked for remedies on what soup or drink I could make to increase the milk (ie. Green papaya fish soup, 3 litres of fluid intake, red date soups etc.), but sadly nothing worked.

2 to 3 weeks went by with me crying here and there from helplessness and toggling between wanting to just give up the whole idea of breastfeeding.

And one fine day, probably in the 4th week or so, the milk seem to have increased from a meager 30ml per session to about 60ml and though it was still not enough for her single meal intake (at that point where she drank up to 90 or 120ml) it was enough to give me the strength to carry on.

Then, I made a conscious decision, you know what?

Motherhood is to be enjoyed, to be celebrated, to be grateful for that little bundle of joy...

Motherhood is to embrace her and be filled be wonder and love.

It is NOT meant to be miserable, stressed out, resentful from the lack of sleep and filled with unhappiness about how I should breastfeed her fully in order to fulfill my duty as a mum.

And suddenly, I realised something so important- that my duty as a mother is far beyond just supplying breastmilk.

Let me say it again: 


Darn with all those articles about how breast is best.

Darn with all those insensitive questions and suggestions about "you know, you should breastfeed".

It is MY life, MY motherhood, MY journey, MY baby and I will deal with it using the best means I can.

With that revelation, suddenly the world seemed brighter and I no longer had the pressure to "perform". 

30ml is fine, 60ml is great. 

I am no longer subject to the stress of fully breastfeeding her. I will just continue to express that milk and do my best.

But then, I questioned- if I just continued to express milk and feed her without latching on, will there be a lack of bond? 

I am telling you - NO. From experience, not at all.

The way you bond with you new born does not depend on whether she suckles on your breast or not. It is very simply about how you hold her close and tight and appreciate whatever quality time you have with her whether you are feeding her, or singing to her or even taking a stroll with her.

With a renewed mindset, the milk flow followed suit and soon, I was pumping about 160ml in the morning and between 80 to 100ml thereafter, though it does dip to 50 to 60ml at night. But I am absolutely at peace with this. I am happy to give her what I will consider "the best of both worlds" - half breastmilk and half formula.

The first time I accumulated such an incremental yield,
so had to take a photo for momento!

I am completely not ashamed of it. 

And if you choose to go full on formula, there is nothing to be ashamed of either!

With my commitment to pump and feed, now it is all about endurance. Lugging the pumping set around and having to constantly wash the parts is so ... NOT funny.

My pride - as a supplier of human milk - well, 60% at least,

And just like the other breastfeeding mums, I had to go pump milk in the nursing rooms when I am in a mall, wake up and pump in the middle of the night, as well as excuse myself to do so at work.

And this is why I conclude that the journey can get a little lonely. Because in all these moments of pumping, I am alone and there is no baby beside me. I am sometimes tempted to give it up since I am not supplying 100% breastmilk either.

What my bedside looks like -
getting ready to pump in middle of the night, and that meant 3, 4am kind.

Lonely pumping station at work

But it helps that my thoughts are often with my baby, and I find comfort in having a supportive husband and family who supports my decisions. 

I never really did latch her unto my breast much after this due to 3 things:

1. The fact that I preferred to be in control and  fully aware of what her exact intake is since I was also partially sleep training her; and

2. She seems to be more impatient is she doesn't get the milk flow she wants, and yes, I am impatient too; and 

3  I find there NO lack in quality bonding time with her, regardless of whether she latches on or not.

All in all, after close to 1 year of being a "non-exclusive" breast-pumping/ breast-feeding mum, I must say that this journey is filled with so many little self-discoveries. It is an experience even though it is something that isn't all glorious and fun, I believe I will miss it. Weird as it seems.

But for now, I have graduated.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Awesome Day at National Gallery - Keppel Centre for Art Education.

24th October is a special day for Little Hannah, as she is officially ONE and we didn't want to just go out shopping at some random unmemorable shopping centre with her - so I thought and googled hard and eventually, we decided to take her to the museum (well, sortof) - The National Galley.

I didn't expect to find a learning cum play space for babies & toddlers in any museum, but I am so wrong!

National Gallery's Keppel Centre for Art Education is located right in the heart of the city and has multiple play and learn spaces for kids of all different age groups and and it was so fun!

The different areas include:

Art Corridor, Art Playspace, Project Gallery, Children's Museum each space having its own objective like learning about colors & shapes; or creating your own art piece; making your own 3D craft project etc.

You can check it out on the National Gallery website here.

As usual, our day started with Hannah busy carrying her new paperbag handbag around the house and a bowl of "mee suah" which my mum reminded me XYZ number of times to prepare for her on her birthday!

Then we headed out for our own lunch. And she cheekily continually pulled down her headband cause she felt it will look nicer that way.

By the time we got to National Gallery, it was just after lunch. Thankfully, the place was not crowded at all since it was a Monday, though we spotted different groups of school children who were there as a class, possibly for a "field trip".

So, the moment we entered from the carpark, were greeted with a corridor filled with arty frames - mostly created by kids.


Then we spotted a room labelled "Children's Museum Workshop". Since it was an open space - which was good for Hannah to run around - we decided to enter and explore.

This is a big space where toddlers and children can just hang around the tables and use magnetic shapes to form structures or put together the shapes and colours on the magnetic boards. There are tables where older kids could do some self-assembled crafts to take home as well. 

There is also a cushioned area, I presume it was for kids to laze around.

Hannah being reluctant to take another step as the carpet sensation is something new to her. 

Soon, the bright colours and shapes got the better of her and she started walking and picking things up and throwing them on the floor.

Of course, we started piecing the shapes together as well and I felt like I played alot more than her!

Here we tried to teach her to stick the magnets unto the boards.


Look at the amount of magnetic shapes here!!! Overwhelming and she doesn't know what to do with them except to fling them on the floor.

That's me trying to keep her under control. LOL

Us, pretending to fit into a photo frame. 

We easily spent 30 - 40 mins just hanging out here.

Here, Hannah is trying to gel-in and play with the older kids! HAHA



This is meant for older kids where you kind of enter a "woods" atmosphere and there is an elongated projector screen where animals of all different colours and designs are running around in the screen.

Basically, you could select any animal you want through the computerized system, paint them on the touch-screen monitor and then post it, and your animal will come alive on the projected big screen!  Like - WOW - I mean, personally, I felt so happy seeing my customized animal running about (I know, I am easily amused!) but, if an adult feels accomplished, I think kids will love this!



Finally, we only had energy left for the last activity, which is the Enchanted Tree House! 

"A fantastical play area inspired by the idea of “entering a painting”, The Enchanted Tree House invites young visitors to explore a magical forest, roam through a labyrinth and survive a dangerous river. Thrown out of the sea by a tornado, Fynn the Fish-on-Sticks, and his forest friends go on a journey to save their forest home from destruction. Discover mysteries, unexpected surprises and stories of friendship and courage along the way!" 

By Artist: Sandra Lee

I must say this "forest" is pretty interesting and beautifully painted. There are pop ups of trees and animals everywhere and when you walk into 1 corner, you get surprised by some other animal lurking around that corner.

You are just free to roam around anywhere you'd like here, Just let your imagination run wild.

It was absolutely fun for me, though I am not sure how Hannah feels about this, :)

Feeling life Alice in Wonderland.


Once again, Hannah is making friends on her own. 

And there really was a tree house where you have to climb into it.

This is the way we take selfies these days...

So, there you have it, 1 day at the Museum and it was absolutely a beautiful way to spend her birthday. I hope we will drop by again soon!

She is completely exhausted by now.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Prayer on Peace.


It hurts to see what is happening around the world, the pain, misery and suffering that others are facing - they did not choose this circumstance.

It pains me when someone close to me is struck with an unexpected sickness and it makes me anxious and gives me questions about my own life, my family, my future.
Remind me that such things are not from You and that only through You can we gain strength to overcome circumstances that we did not choose. Only through You can we gain peace and true rest, even in an unpeaceful time.

Lord, You are my peace and promise for the future. Embed your promise on my heart and in my mind. Cease my anxiety as I cast all my cares unto you.

In Jesus name,

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Prayer on Restlessness.


My mind is often cluttered with insecurities and doubts about the future and I often find myself lost in the mountain of "priorities" and end up feeling exhausted, yet unaccomplished.

I lose myself from time to time only to find myself in anxiety, not knowing what to do next and restless even in times when I finally get to rest. Remind me Lord, that you are in control regardless of my feelings and my thoughts. Lead me and give me wisdom to know what to prioritize and not sweat the stuff that does not matter. Give me peace and help me learn to celebrate the little things.

In Jesus name,

Monday, 14 November 2016

Phuket: Day 1 - The Life Co.

I have never heard of The Life Co. Phuket until my girlfriend invited me for a stay with her while she was there for a detox retreat. 

Well, I have never done a detox in my life before as I thought it was too much trouble and never really saw the need to, so this time, I decided that I should join her as a companion (supporter) for a few days to find out more, while taking a break from childcare (which I really needed)!

You can think of this as a wellness journey or wellness detox retreat cum holiday. 
- decide on which detox treatment you prefer; 
- how many days you want your detox to last - 3 days? 7 days? 1 month? Or even more;
- get on a flight and check in to The Life Co. 

They are not just an accommodation/hotel, they are a wellness community, a wellness centre and support centre for chronic illness all rolled into 1! 

Besides accommodation and catering to your detox meals all day, everyday (customised to you), they also have all the facilities of a wellness spa in the resort that includes massage rooms, pools, gym, steam room, infra red sauna etc. On top of these, they plan alot of wellness activities (i.e. morning walks, yoga classes, meditation classes etc.)  throughout the day for you to really get connected to yourself, de-stress, enjoy and love yourself. 

As if these are not enough, they also have an in-built clinic with doctors you could consult with to analyse your body/blood and ensure you take the right detox treatment. I have learnt that detox also comes in various intensities that include colon cleansing & vitamin C infusion (via IV drips) etc. (There is more to detox than just drinking juices!)

So, my day started with a mis-comm with the airport-hotel transfer company that I have arranged via expedia, but thank God there was a very helpful agent who saw me idling and wandering around, so she helped me with contacting my tour agent and soon enough their representative found me and sent me off in their van. 

Phuket Transfer Agent: Tour East

Cost: SGD$30 for 2-way airport - hotel transfer

The distance between the airport and The Life Co. must have been short as it took less than 15 mins for me to arrive there.

Agents are no longer allowed to clutter the arrival hall so there is a designated area at the exit where there was a mass of agents holding up sign boards of their guests name. Sadly, I couldn't spot mine and waited aimlessly at the artificial grassland. 

Upon arrival, I was greeted this wellness wall painting.

The Life Co.'s reception area. Cosy and clean.

A few steps away would be the Vegan cafe cum restaurant. 
(Yup, this is the only type of food served here, Vegan Food!)

An example of their menu.

Around the cafe, you will spot wellness posters to remind you of what is really important in your life.

And also a notice board that says what are the day's and the next day's activities so that guests are aware and can opt to join in any of them (majority without having to pay extra e.g. daily morning walks & yoga classes) 

Another few steps away would be the "lake view" of the resort. 

This consists of a cluster of privately owned villas and a stetch of villas that is owned by Life Co., all surrounding a mini lake. 

(Obviously, the cloudy skies didn't do justice to the beauty and serenity of the place)

Lazy chairs to laze around in, randomly positioned in front of the lake.

Yes, a much better photo shot of the view.

The walkway that leads to the different villas (aka "buildings") as well as pavillions and relaxation spaces, overlooking the lake, all belonging to The Life Co. 

Along the walkway, the first pavillion is the Massage Sala, where guests could pay for a relaxing massage with lake view.

Then their hotel representative explained to me, they classified their villas into 3 buildings, 
1. Therapy building
2. Clinic building 
3. Club House

Each villa for a specific purpose and with a mini pool situated right in front of it.


Here is the first building is known as "Therapy Building" which houses the steam room and infra red sauna that is exclusive to female guests. (But when I was there this building was under maintenance, so female guests could co-share the steam room and sauna in the next building with the male guests)

This is the Yoga pavillion a certified instructor will conduct 1.5hr of yoga session every morning, rain or shine and resort guests can just come and join the sessions without additional charges. 


Right behind the Yoga Sala is the Clinic Building which also has a mini pool right in front and 2 levels of fully operated facilities.

Level 1: 
Steam Room, Infra Red Sauna, Lockers, Shower Rooms and Colon Detox Treatment rooms

Level 2: 
Clinic operated by Dr Thomas Lodi, IV stations for the infusion of Vitamins (as part of the detox program) as well as some other more targeted Treatment rooms.

The mini pool good for a dip.

Super well-equipped "spa centre" where the steam room and sauna is located. 

They also have multiple shower cubicles with towels, bath robes, bedroom slippers, so guests need not bring anything but themselves.

And I thought it was pretty cool an idea, to infuse water with various vegetables like celery and cucumbers. You could find such vegetable-infused water jugs everywhere around the villas to ensure you are well-hydrated.

45 degree steam room

55 degree sauna

They also have this super cool "sonic" machine which is said to help you shake off the weight and calories if you manage to stand on it 30 mins x 2 daily. 

Too bad I only found out about this on my last day! LOL

Colon Cleansing Treatment Room

IV drip stations


The final buildind is known as the "Club House" which houses a Gym and a Meditation Room for Mental Wellness activities. 

Similarly, right in front of the building as a pavillion space, but it was not designated for any purpose "yet" - perhaps an event space?

Entrance to Meditation Room. 
These huge round stickers are almost found everywhere in the resort as a reminder to enjoy being in the present.

Meditation room area where they have mental wellness practical lessons. 


So, here is the basic twin-sharing accommodation which my friend very kindly shared with me.  

The total occupancy of the resort runs at about 80 pax, so there are about 40 rooms ranging from basic ones like this to suites which actual villas with  mini pool right in front.

It is simple & comfortable room area with it's own walk-in wardrobe, toilets and vanity area.

And here is the view from the room, overlooking the lake.

And for the sake of showcasing, this an example of the detox meal they have customised to fit my friend's diet.

By the time I was done roaming around, I was rather done for the day and decided to practice the "sleep early - wake early" policy, 

It is the first holistic wellness centre cum resort I have ever seen and I was pretty impressed with all the treatments, service and facilities they offer though I did not sign up for a detox meal package.

To learn more about detox, what they have to offer and their resort accommodation packages, please visit their website here.

*P.S: This is an un-sponsored post and all opinions are solely my own.