Friday, December 29, 2006

Blogging at a snails pace

I wanted to post this on my personal blog but I couldn't get it to load. "Geramnya!" This slowness is so frustrating. I hope that they fix the problem soon. I read that "Data lines to Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia were to be back to normal late Thursday." Read more here. Its Friday now and things are still slow.

Overeas pages are taking ages to load and that includes my blogger (for blogging), bloglines (for blog hopping to my favourite blogs), PPP (for my paid posts), Paypal (to accept payment for my paid posts) etc. Funnily though my blogger is slow but easier to access than my blog hosted on my own domain so I have to post this here to "lepas geram". Okie! Done! I'm off now to do some cross stitch. I think it'll be a lot more productive than sitting here watching pages load halfway very slowly.

To all those who visited my blogs with your holiday wishes, thank you very much. I wish you all a Happy New Year and normal internet connection soon. LOL!

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Templates incompatible with the new blogger?

I have yet to switch to the new blogger. Well, I tried to but I got the message that "one of your blogs could not be switched because........." and after that the "Switch Now" button disappeared from my sign-in page so I could no longer even try to switch.

I'm wondering whether its because I was using a modified template and not one of the blogger original ones. The template has a new version that is compatible with the new blogger. However, I'm not a technical person and its harder for me to do my "copy and paste" tricks now with the new blogger version.

I didn't want to waste too much time on the technical aspects of blogging since I prefer to just write. That is why I have switched my template to one of the original ones by blogger.

So if you are surprised by this blog's new look, well, this is my simple explanation. I prefer the old look and I'm not changing the look for the new year. I'm changing it in the hopes that if I get to switch to the new blogger again later on, I won't need to do a lot of adjusting work.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas to you and yours


Just wanted to take the time to wish all readers of this blog a very Merry Christmas! How quickly time flies. Its the end of the year again. Christmas day is less than a week away. Have you made your New Year resolutions yet mothers?

As for me, I have no New Year resolutions. I prefer to make my resolutions throughout the year. Lol! One ongoing resolution of mine is to become a better mother and wife to my beloved children and dear husband. Quite often I feel like a lousy wife and mother so I have to constantly strive to become better and not just during the first few months of a year. Hahaha.

For those of your interested to make the above pop-up christmas card, please visit my my other blog for the instructions.

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Flowers for your hostess

Christmas day is less than a week away. Many of us will be busy entertaining guests or being guests. I have been invited to one or two gatherings myself. I think its always nice to give a small gift of appreciation to your hostess during or after the gathering. Afterall, it takes time, effort and money to plan a party.

One of the ways we can say "Thank You" to your hostess is to send them flowers. Ordering flowers has never been easier with many online flower delivery and gifts sites. One such site is You could surprise your hostess with some nice Christmas Flowers for delivery on the same day as your function. It will be a nice touch for the Christmas party decoration. Or you could simply send them some flowers or a gift after the event to show your appreciation and say "Thank You".

Dot Flowers offers same day flower deliveries on either Florist Direct floral arrangements designed in your local floral shop, or Field Fresh flowers straight from the growers' farms to anywhere in the United States. Apart from flowers it also offers other gift ideas and gourmet gift baskets.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cervical Cancer Immunisation for Young Girls

While I was at the paediatrician to give my boy his hepatitis jab she raised the issue of vaccination my girl against human papillomavirus to prevent cervical cancer. She mentioned that the vaccine is to be given to young girls at age 9 before puberty or before they become sexually active.

At age nine???? Do they really expect young girls to become sexually active at such a young age? Maybe times have changed. I don't know. Apparently this has caused quite a controversy and some parents fear a vaccine against a virus which effectively is sexually transmitted could promote underage sex. However some have this to say:

I can't believe that a young girl would be encouraged to engage in sex by thinking, "Well, it's all right to go ahead and have sex. I got the vaccine so I'm not going to get cervical cancer 20 to 40 years from now." The reality is that young girls may choose to have sex no matter what we adults think. Why not protect them now from a disease that could kill them? Though I have mixed feelings about mandatory vaccination, I would surely advise it for every girl before puberty. Once an infection occurs, it is too late to provide this protection against cervical cancer. Read more here.

I guess he is basically saying that while we can educate our young girls not to be sexually promiscuous, there is still a risk. Cervical cancer kills over 200,000 women worldwide every year so maybe its better to be safe than sorry.....

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Cost of Having a Baby

Did you know that the Cost of Having a Baby can leave a deep hole in your pocket? If you are pregnant, you should start planning early to make sure that you can cover the costs of doctor visits, hospital stays, childbirth, newborn tests and checkups etc. In other words you should plan for a total and comprehensive maternity care package.

In the US, you can opt to get a MaternityCard™ membership. They work with a large network of doctors, obstetricians, hospitals and medical facilities on a daily basis to ensure women who are expecting a baby receive the best care available at the very best rates afforded exclusively through their membership.

For a low monthly fee, MaternityCard™ will provide you with a comprehensive maternity care service package. Membership includes a Certificate of Guarantee that you will save at least the cost of your yearly membership or you will be paid the difference plus $200.

If you're pregnant and in the US, you might want to consider checking out the FAQs about Doctors, Hospitals and MaternityCard™.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Myth: Breastfeeding Helps You To Lose Weight

This is a big breastfeeding myth, for me at least. Nope, it certainly isn't true for me. In fact, breastfeeding made me so hungry all the time during the early days, I ate and ate and grew and grew! Lol! I even got up to eat in the middle of the night because I was so hungry! (Note: This may not be true for other mothers. I've met quite a few who say that breastfeeding helps them to lose weight really fast and I'm puzzled why it isn't that way for me. Maybe its my age. Hehe. I'm older so my metabolistic rate is much slower.......)

In order to lose weight, I have to work really, really hard at eating sensibly (Crash diets for a breastfeeding mother is a no-no! In fact crash diets for anyone else is not a good idea.) I also have to work really, really hard to establish and keep up with an exercise routine. Its not easy when you have young kids who like to cling to you all the time. (When I do sit ups, sometimes baby comes to sit on me. When I ride on my exercise bike I have to shout "Stay away from the bike" several times during the session).

And finally, after working really, really hard at eating well and exercising and I start to see some positive weight changes, people come and tell me "You've lost a lot of weight. It must be because you're breastfeeding." Now that makes me a little mad because I lost weight due to sheer hard work and not so easily as they think. Lol!

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A name for your baby

This is a sponsored post.

Choosing a name for your baby is one of the first and most important things you do as a parent. There are so many things you have to consider when choosing a name for your baby. Does it sound right? Does it suit your baby, now as well as during their adult years? What does it mean? Does it blend or go with your surname?

The task of choosing a name for your baby is made easier with many sites on the internet these days with a list of names to choose from. I have written about this subject in an earlier post and quite often receive search engine queries on Baby Names. I have also come across many websites about popular baby names.

One such website is "Muslim Baby Names and Meanings site" from This site includes common as well as popular muslim baby names. In addition to that, it also includes unique and beautiful baby names from various countries of origin such as India, Pakistan, Arab and Africa. This site is specifically for muslim baby names and does not include non-muslim baby names such as Hindu, Christian, Italian, Irish, American, French or British baby names.

Inevitably a choice of name for your baby is a matter of personal taste and preference. However, we are lucky in this day and age to have a guide from many websites offering us a wide selection of baby names to choose from don't you think?

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mothers do your annual pap smear test

Mothers do your annual pap smear test, don't procrastinate. It could save your life. Cervical cancer is preventable yet prevalent.

As mothers, we often leave ourselves last when it comes to family well being and health. I find myself doing this quite often. When my knee hurts, I tell myself, its ok, its just a small thing. I have 101 other things to do. This can wait. My health concerns are usually pushed back to the back burner, unattended and ignored because there are other "more important" things to do for the family.

Besides its really a lot of trouble dragging the whole family along with me to my doctor check-ups (I usually have to do that since there is no one to watch the children for me) so I usually procrastinate when it comes to my own doctor check-ups. However, the health of my husband and children are important so I try to make sure they go for their medical check-ups.

However, this is a silly thing to do and a poor excuse for procrastinating when it comes to my own health. So to all other mothers, please don't be like me. Give your health top priority. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your family.

One of the health checks that you should not be putting off is your annual pap test. If you have been procrastinating on doing an annual pap smear examination, please don't. Go schedule one with your gynaecologist today. It could save your life.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Self Esteem of a Housewife

They say that when you stay at home and all you see is the four walls of your home most of the time, your self esteem will drop. I must say that this is not true for me. I suppose it must be all this blogging. Lol! Blogging helps me keep in touch with the outside world and other mums and dads.

I think my social network has increased even more than when I was working! Its a brand new way of communication and keeping in touch. And my social circle has broaden to include people whom I would not even know nor would even have the chance to meet in real life. But now through blogging, these people have touched my life in some way.

Did I worry that I will become a recluse by being a housewife? Nyah! Its what I've always wanted.... to be home to look after my children, to be there for them when they need me and just to enjoy being with them and watching them grow. It has been most rewarding and no, my self esteem has not dropped just because I'm a housewife. :)

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Teaching your daughter to say "No" to inappropriate touches

As mothers of daughters, I think we have an additional duty, to keep our daughters save from being taken advantage off by unwanted male advances or sexually inappropriate behaviour.

I think it is an unspoken fact of life that all young girls have experienced some form of inappropriate touching from members of the opposite sex be it a neighbour or a relative whether out of curiousity or simply lack of respect. Little girls are so easy to be taken advantaged of because they're so innocent. Just have a heart to heart talk with any female girlfriend or relative and you will know that this is true.

Therefore as a mother of a little girl, I would need to educate her on how to ward off those inappropriate behaviour. I need to teach her to say "No. My mummy says cannot." and to run away and inform mummy about it. Then I need to make sure that the doors of communication between me and my daughter is always left open so that she would be comfortable about discussing things of this nature or anything else that confuses her with me.

As a mother to a girl, this is the added worry I have over her and it is my duty to protect her as well as to teach her to protect herself by saying "No!" I believe that all mothers to daughters should start doing this from an early age and continue to reinforce this important message to their daugthers throughout their growing years.

However this little talk needs to be handled with great care with a young child who may have many questions. We need to talk to them with great care so that they do not get confused by our message and start refusing hugs and kisses from all male members of the family. Hmmm...... parenting sure is hard!

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Cupfeeding your infant baby

This post is for all mothers who have difficulty breastfeeding and are thinking of cupfeeding their babies with breastmilk during the early days.

Both my kids do not use a bottle to drink their milk. They both have never used a pacifier before. This saves me a lot of trouble weaning them from both. :)

I don't use any bottles for feeding my babies yet, I had lots of trouble breastfeeding my babies. When you have difficulty breastfeeding your baby but don't want to resort to bottle feeding, what do you do? I was afraid that they would get nipple confusion, so I used alternative feeding methods.

I've tried cup, dropper, syringe, spoon. With the first, I didn't know any other alternative methods, so I used the spoon. It was really time consumming and I felt that all my day was taken up feeding baby. With my second, I became wiser and used the cup instead. I didn't use any special cup. I was using Avent bottles to keep my pumped breastmilk, so I merely used the cover of the bottle as a cup. By allowing the bottle cover to double up as a cup, I could make sure that it was sterelized and safe for baby.

Well, you don't have to be like me. I was ignorant but now I know better. If you check around I am sure you can find a suitable cup for your baby. Babies are smart, they will quickly learn to drink from a cup even from day 1. However, you will need to be careful and make sure that you read up all about cup feeding and tips for cupfeeding. Then make sure you teach anyone who help you feed your baby the correct and proper way to cupfeed your baby. Good luck!

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Picky Eater - Just a passing phase?

Sometimes I wonder if all kids will go through the phase of being a picky eater. My girl used to be a picky eater. Even when she was a baby, she hated her milk and would take up to 1 hour just to finish 1/2 an ounce of milk. I was worried sick that she was not getting enough to eat!

Then when she became a toddler, she remained picky and would spit out most food I offered her. She preferred soft foods that she could swallow whole. Now at age 4, she seems to have outgrown her pickiness and would eat most foods I offer her. So I'm left wondering if its a phase kids go through and I was being silly being so stressed up during those times when she wouldn't eat.

However, having said that, my boy is different. Since he was a baby, he ate most foods I offered him and now at age 2 he likes to eat foods that he can chew on. So far, he has been much easier to feed than my girl. The only time he resisted was when I was introducing formula milk to him as a supplementary feed to breastfeeding during the weaning process. These days, I would say he is selective with his choices of food but I wouldn't call him picky.

I wonder what is the experience of other mothers in feeding?

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Children Then Vs Children Now

I remember when I was young, I was not allowed to talk in the presence of adults or at least I remember being told to shut up when the adults are having a conversation. I thought that may have contributed to me being taciturn as an adult so I let my children talk whenever they want to. (although me and the hubby also tell them to shut up when we're talking and we can't hear ourselves).

However, I think I have created monsters! When we are visiting friends for the first time in their homes, my children do not behave the way I did when my parents visited others in their homes. I would sit quietly and talk only when spoken to. And I would address or call the elders in a polite manner when told to.

Not my children though. They would not still. They walk around exploring other people's homes like it was their own. They interrupt when we are talking. They jump and hop around like monkeys. And they laugh and giggle and talk loudly. And I ask myself. Am I doing the right thing?

In trying not to be too restrictive so as to allow them freedom of expression to bring out their personalities, have I brought up children with bad manners and no ettiquette? Parenting is all about balance and it is hard to find the right balance.

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Am I Doing The Right Thing?

"Am I doing the right thing?" or worse still "What have I done wrong?" is often the thought that crops up in parent's minds every now and then.

I was reading Sesame's post "Secret thoughts of a helpless parent" with amusement but what she said rings a bell. I constantly ask myself whether I'm doing the right thing. I am afraid of not giving the kids enough for fear of not giving them enough opportunities in life yet I am afraid of giving them too much less I spoil them.

Sometimes I think I am raising spoilt brats. I am poor at disciplining. The spouse is better than me in this aspect. He gives positive discipline and he sets rules. He scolds when necessary than shows them love afterwards. Me? My rules are inconsistent and sometimes I give in too easily to their demands setting the stage for more demands. (It is always easier to give in to whines and demands but in the long term its bad for both parent and child).

Hmm... my children are at the age where they need positive disciplining to point them in the right direction so I better buck up. My children's paediatrician once said "Babies are like a blank piece of paper. It is up to you to fill up that page." Oh my! Thats a tall order indeed. Yes, I better go read up more about disciplining and discipline myself first!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Mothers hang on to your kids during the mad shopping rush

Announcement: Dear shoppers. A little chinese boy, about 4 years old, dressed in blue t-shirt and a cap was found. Will the parents of the boy please proceed to the information counter.

The mad holiday shopping rush is upon us. I went to IKEA over the weekend and the crowd there was crazy. It was as if they were giving away free stuff! There were people everywhere! We met Santa Claus too. He's a bit early but he made an appearance. He must have got his Christmas dates mixed up. Lol!

Anyway, while we were browsing around with two bored kids tagging along, we heard the above announcement. So, I'm writing this post to remind myself and other mothers not to be carried away shopping and lose sight of your child at the malls. We don't want to lose them and allow them to suffer a scare from being lost and separated from us now, do we? So remember to hang on tight to your little ones while shopping during this mad, yearend holiday rush.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Time to clean out the toy box

The kids have so many toys and sometimes we get complacent and forget to check on their toys for its safety. Reading about toy deaths or accidents always gives me the shivers. The recent news about three children being hospitalized with serious injuries from swallowing tiny magnets that fell off the toys of their magnetic playsets is disturbing.

Read more here: 4.4 Million Mattel Toys Recalled After Kids Swallow Magnets

So mothers in blogoshpere, those with young children (who seem to have lots of toys these days as compared to our days). Will you join me today to clean out your child's toy chest or cabinets and check each toy for its safety? Lets check for toys with small parts, lose battery compartments, paints peeling off etc. Then throw them out immediately! Let us not be complacent. Let us do this on a regular basis. Let us remind each other to be careful to prevent any unfortunate accidents ok?

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Baby's Weaning Progress

The other day when I was out all day, I didn't feed breastfeed baby in the morning. (I've managed to drop that feed quite painlessly).

I was not back by afternoon, so he napped without his breastfeed too. When he doesn't see me, he doesn't ask for a feed. Hmm... so maybe the trick is to do more mommy disappearing acts!

Then by nighttime, he was very tired and fell asleep without his feed. Thats one full day without his breastfeed. A first! Very good progress indeed and painless for both him and me. Yippee!

At one time, about 1 1/2 years ago, I thought I had to take anticonvulsant medication to control seizures. I was very sad and disheartened about needing to wean him off then. Thankfully, I didn't need to. This 1 1/2 years of being able to continue breastfeeding him is precious.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bonding with daddies

Mothers, do you let your children bond with their dads? Do you allow them private time together without you? I think its a good thing and something we mothers should encourage.

Recently when I had a girl's day out with my sisters, I left the kids alone with their dad. He took them to the zoo. He fed them lunch, bathed them and got them to nap all without me. I think that they, both he and the kids enjoyed this special bonding time.

The next day when I was bathing the kids, baby said to me "Mummy, I want elephant bath!" When I queried them, they told me its a special bath their daddy gave them. Lol! They related to me a few other things which their dad did with them.

I think that special time was very good for the kids and their daddy. It was good bonding time. Otherwise, most of the time they will stick to me and reject their dad, especially at bedtime. The time alone for the kids and their dad was good in the sense that it provided them with the opportunity to bond and it provided me with a few hours of escape from mummy duty!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Epilepsy - Often misunderstood and how to help somone in a seizure

I remember when I was in primary school, I had a classmate who had epilepsy. I didn't know it was epilepsy then. I only recognise it for what it was after reading up about it as an adult.

My classmate was and indian girl who came from a poor family. I think she had photosensitive epilepsy. She would have her seizures quite often when we had physical exercises at the field. She would look up at the sun, flit her fingers over her eyes to cover them and then fall onto the ground in a fit. Seeing someone in a seizure can be quite a scary experience. The teachers would try to restrain her with great difficulty and often they would try to pry her mouth open by sticking a metal spoon into her mouth (which were the wrong things to do as it could cause her more injury and harm that way!) She would then foam at the mouth and looked very tired after the seizure.

What was so sad about it was the fact that no one ever explained to us that she had epilepsy. None of the teachers nor the principal explained it to us. Looking at how they handled her seizures, it looked to me like they didn't even know it for what it was. So, they just let the other kids pass rumours about her being possessed and other cruel things. And the girl who came from a poor family probably never received proper treatment for it. I feel so sorry for her.

I hope that this never ever happens to another child in this day. I hope that our educators would be better informed. I hope that there would be a system to explain to the other school children should one of their friends have epilepsy and I hope that they receive explanation on how to help someone who is having a seizure.

Related links:

While searching for info on how to help someone who is having a seizure, I found Stacey Chillemi and wish to include her link here. I think she has written many interesting articles on the subject of epilepsy from an interesting angle or point of view ie that of a woman and mother.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place

Thats my motto and thats my organisational tip for mothers to stay sane.

I find this simple saying "A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place" a very simple one to follow which simplifies my life. I would advocate that all mothers follow this principal in order to reduce clutter in your lives. Kids add clutter. The number of toys, books and tapes they have is tremendous. When they start going to school, there will be more books and other stuff to organise too!

My kids are still rather young so for now, I have boxes for their toys, bookshelves for their books, cd racks for their dvds and other tapes and of course shelves for their cute little outfits. I've also taught them to clean up their own toys using Barney's "Clean Up" song which is very effective.

I have little drawers in the living room and I teach the kids to sort out their toys according to themes. Cars and other vehicles for one drawer, zoo animals for another drawer etc. It works wonders and it teaches them sorting at the same time. (I learned this trick from a kindergarden I visited). The kids are particular about making sure their toys are kept at the right places. If their dad keeps the toys in the wrong drawers they will complain to me. Lol!

I use this method for other things too. Keys in the key cabinet, to do lists in a plastic folder in the in-tray. Theres no out tray. Once things are completed (eg bills paid) they go straight to their respective files.

I find this a good way not only to simplify my life and reduce clutter but it also helps reduce the stress of forgetting to pay bills, misplacing things etc. So organise your life today. Why not try this method? Have a place for everything and everything it its place. It really works.

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Taming mealtime temper tantrums

I've got to tame the mealtime temper tantrums that goes on in my house....... mine that is!

I've got to learn to control that temper of mine each time.......

  • the kids spit out another morsel of food I had painstakingly prepared with full of thought to prevent such a spitout. It makes my blood boil!
  • the kids dawdle and play with the food till it turns cold then turn their noses away from the delicious warm food which has turned cold. I really lose it when they take an hour to finish a meal!
  • I see the mess, oh the mess at mealtimes. It just drives me nuts looking at the mess!

And so each time, I repeat my mistake. I lose my temper. I shout. I get mad and then...... I feed them to avoid all of the above and then ......... the scene is repeated at the next mealtime! Oh, when will I ever learn?

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Big Picture

As a SAHM, sometimes I'm too close to the "problem". The kids endless whining, the toilet training going badly and oh so sloooooooowly, the sometimes remarks from hubby which I consider "uncalled for" all gets to me. They all add stress to my day. Stress and sleeplessness.

Well, stress and sleeplessness is what I can do without at the moment. Its taken me another health scare starring me in the face to wake up from my foolishness. This foolishness of forgetting the big picture. Forgetting that I have a lovely family whom I love and I get to do what I want, ie be at home to look after them.

In order not to forget the big picture, I must stop to ask myself each time. "Is this worth it?" "Is this trivial matter worth getting so worked up for?" "Is it worth losing it and shouting at the top of my voice?" "Is it worth getting so stressed up?" "Is it worth losing sleep over?" If I stop myself to ask these questions, more often than not, I realise that it is not worth it.

So to other mothers who read this blog, will you join me in this exercise? Next time you find yourself getting worked up over small, everyday, trivial matters, ask yourself. "Is it worth it?" then think about The Big Picture. Good luck to all of us in trying to create a better more harmonious home and by doing so, we too will reap from the benefits of being happier and in my case hopefully healthier me.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Support transparency in the blogosphere by having a Disclosure Policy for your blog

This is a sponspored post.

Since deciding to put up this blog on for opportunities to write paying posts, I have decided to put up a disclosure policy. I would not in any way try to trick my readers into thinking that a paid or commercial post I had written is part of my regular postings. Of course even a paid post would be an original post written by me but I would be as transparent as possible and inform my readers that it is a paid post. I would write only posts about things that I have passion about and as closely related to the theme of my blog as possible.

However, I did not know where to start. How does one write a disclosure policy? I was therefore pleased to find among one of the opportunities currently available for reviewing. Without hesitation, I chose it as my first paid assignment or post.

I have generated a disclosure policy for this blog using the generate policy tab at It is in a separate post just before this one and its link can be found on my sidebar. Generating a disclosure policy was easy. Just answer a few questions from a list provided and voila I'm done! No need for me to crack my head for the right words to use. Why not try it too, especially if you have advertisements or write sponsored reviews on your blog.

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Disclosure Policy for this blog

This policy is valid from 21 November 2006

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content will always be identified.

To get your own policy, go to

We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Part time helper or maid

Apart from avoiding driving for some time, I also decided to hire a part time helper or maid to make sure there is someone else in the house other than just me and my two young kids (just in case of another seizure) as well as to give me more time to rest and sleep.

I didn't know anyone so I asked around the nearby kedai runcit (grocery shops), laundrette, minimarket etc. Eventually the laundrette recommended me to someone, an Indonesian in her 50s who has been working in Malaysia for more than 10 years. Previously she was employed through an agent but now she freelances.
My tip for hunting for a part-time helper: Ask around your neighbourhood.

I must say that apart from the safety aspects (which was the main reason why we hired her), it is very good to have a part-time helper if you can afford it. We dislike the idea of a full time maid since we tend to guard our privacy jealously and besides, I'm not working so there isn't really a need for one).

She comes in 3 times a week and does general cleaning jobs including cooking. On those days that she comes in, I usually arrange for her to cook enough for dinner as well. This saves me time as I merely reheat the food for dinner.
My tip for busy moms: One way you can cut corners is by cooking two meals at one go. Cooking and cleaning up takes up a lot of time so this is one way I save time.

She does not handle the kids. I take care of all their needs myself, the bathing, cleaning of dirty bums and feeding. (Although its quite tempting to ask her to help when I'm lazy. Thats another reason why I don't have a full time maid. It would only be too easy to give in to the temptation of asking the maid to help out in childcare which is hard work!)

However, we may be moving to a landed property soon and she would probably want an increment of sorts. Having a part-time maid is really a luxury we can ill afford. We did it for safety reasons. So now the time has come for us to make a decision whether to retain her (since its been over a year from the seizure). I would clearly love to keep her since having a part-time helper really helps and keeps me sane. However, it will be very hard on hubby since we're only on one income and having to fork out a fixed monthly sum seem extravagant when we can't even afford to upgrade our old car.

So, it looks like this mummy will have to go back to doing more housework and have less time to blog. Thats why she is looking into ways to monetise her blog so that perhaps, just perhaps, she can earn enough to at least have someone come in once a week. Lol!

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Driver - Yet another task in a mother's job description

I have not been driving for 1 year and 8 months since the seizure. Although I've been told that so far there are no guidelines about driving and epilepsy in Malaysia and when I pursued the matter further because I was worried, the neurologist told me that if I was worried then perhaps I should avoid driving for about 6 months (even though he didn't think I had epilepsy). To be on the safe side, I have not driven up till now. So my husband has become my driver. :)

We all take simple daily things like driving for granted. I have always been very independant in this area. I have no trouble driving outstation on my own for business trips and because I owned a company car previously, I was often made to drive everyone to company trips outstation.

Since I stopped driving and sold my car, I do feel a certain loss of independance. Now I really feel like a housewife! But thats not the issue. The issue is I'm worried about not being able to fulfill this task which is just another part of a mother's job description. I would like to be able to drive my kids to their schools and activities instead of relying on public transport.

A time has passed. It is now safe for me to drive again but I have lost a little confidence in driving. Just a little. However, I will get it back with practise. Just like swimming or cycling, driving is a skill that you don't forget once you learn it.

Coming next: Getting a part time helper or maid

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mothers and Sleep Deprivation

I believe that sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep played a part in my having a seizure.

I had been sleep deprived since I became pregnant with my first child, during breastfeeding especially and never got to claim back my sleep debt when the second child came along with more breastfeeding difficulties. Not only was I sleep deprived, my sleep was often poor as it would be interrupted numerous times. It was even worse after the second child came along because I could not "sleep when the baby sleeps" as often advised. Usually when the baby sleeps, I had another active toddler to pay attention to, another toddler who needed personal one to one attention from me that was not possible while the baby was awake.

Even after the difficult first few months of looking after a baby was over, I still did not get good sleep. Quite often while breastfeeding my baby and telling my toddler stories during bedtime and waiting for them to sleep before me, I had to fight against my sleepiness. Sometimes, the words of the stories I was telling came out all jumbled up. I would be trying to tell a story but the wrong words came out of my mouth because I was so sleepy! And sometimes I suffered from imsomnia too, after waking up for midnight feeds or after the sleepiness had passed. After waking up in the middle of the night to look after baby, sometimes it was hard to get back to sleep as I would feel quite wide awake from all that babycare activity.

I would advise all mothers to please get some sleep! Don't think that you're supermom and deprive your body of sleep when its needed. I believed that my fighting against my body's need for sleep for so many years probably overtaxed my brain and was bad for my health. This is only my own feeling or assumption and not something medical since I am not a medical doctor. Still, its common sense that sleep is important to us and we should not derpive our bodies of it nor try to fight against the need to sleep and rest. Quite often, I hear mothers say, "If I want to do this and that or have a little time for myself I have to sacrifice my sleep." I don't think that is a very good idea.

So mothers, if you are feeling sleep deprived, try to get some sleep whenever you can. Ask your spouse to take over for a while so you can get some important snooze. Look after yourself and your body by getting the sleep you need. Don't allow a sleep deficit to last for too long. Only then, will you be able to look after your family even better. Not getting enough sleep also makes you feel more grumpy and clumsy making you lousy company for your spouse and kids!

Related post:
My sleep will never be the same again

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Diagnostic Tests - Part II (The CT Scan and MRI)

After the seizure, I was asked to do a CT Scan and a MRI of the brain in addition to a full medical and EEG which I spoke of earlier.

Below is a brief explanation of what these diagnostic tests is all about.

"A Computerized Tomography (CAT or CT) scanning, a procedure introduced in the early 1970s, has revolutionized the ability to 'see' the brain. Low-dose X-rays are detected and interpreted by a computer, which then generates a picture "just as if we had cut a slice of the brain."

"A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which is even newer, has increased our ability to look inside the brain, as it were, even more clearly. Unlike CT scanning, MRI does not employ X-rays but rather uses a huge magnet to create an image, which is then analyzed by computer in a fashion similar to the CT. It produces pictures of even greater detail."

You can read about these tests in more detail here (Epilepsy Canada website: Diagnostic Procedures) and view a picture of how the machines look like here (Rochester Medical Center).

Below is my experience of these tests.

For the CT Scan, I was told to remove jewellery just as for any body X-ray. I told them about the screw in my teeth used for my dental work/root treatement and they said that was ok. It was a fairly simple procedure. I merely had to lie down while the scanner (not sure if thats what it should be called) spun around till the procedure was complete. It made me feel like I was in an Star Trek movie or something!

The MRI was a little more uncomfortable. It took about 20-30 minutes. I was asked to lie down on a narrow table which slides into a tunnel-like tube/enclosure and told not to move. It was hard to stay completely still for that amount of time which is why children who have to do this test is sometimes sedated. There was very little space inside the tunnel-like tube/cylindrical chamber and it was dark making me feel like I was being buried alive or something (it would be hard for anyone suffering from claustrophobia to do this test). To overcome my own fear and discomfort, I thought about the people I love, my husband and my children. There were very loud sounds which kept on changing rhythm all around me. Felt like some rock concert going on which I was forced to listen to and couldn't escape from.

Thats about all I can remember about these tests. I hope I haven't frightened anyone with my description of them. The tests are painless, just a little bit uncomfortable for the MRI. The CT Scan was fine.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

The Diagnostic Tests - Part I (The ECG and EEG)

After I had a seizure, I underwent some diagnostic tests to find out what was wrong. I did a blood test, a chest X-ray, an ECG, EEG, CT Scan and a MRI.

The ECG (Electrocardiogram)

An ECG is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart on a graph. It has a prime function in the screening and diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases.

I remember the physician put two metal clips on my wrists for a brief period and that was it. Test completed. I'm not sure why this test was required but I guess the physician felt that a full medical including blood tests and chest X-Ray is required to do a proper diagnosis.

The EEG (Electrocardiogram)

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures and records the electrical activity of the brain by using sensors (electrodes) attached to the head and connected by wires to a computer. It may may be done to diagnose epilepsy and determine what type of seizures are occurring. EEG is the most useful and important test in confirming a diagnosis of epilepsy. However, an electroencephalogram (EEG) is not a foolproof test of whether epilepsy is present. Some people with abnormal EEG results do not have epilepsy, and some people who have epilepsy will have normal EEG results, despite repeated tests. This site has a very good and detailed explanation of an EEG.

For this test, I was brought to a darken room and made to lie down. Then the technician (is that what you call them?) started glueing electrodes on my head with a sticky paste. There were many electrodes, each of them connected to the computer.

The test was supposed to be conducted under different conditions eg drowsy and sleep state. I was also asked to hyperventilate (breath in and out hard and fast) and lights were flashed into my eyes periodically.

I do question the accuracy of the EEG conducted on me because it was later recorded that it was done in a drowsy and sleep state. I did not feel drowsy neither was I asleep at the time so how could the results claim that I was?

Ok so I was a little bit sleepy because I didn't sleep well the night before from worrying but I don't think I was drowsy and certainly not asleep! Anyway, here's what I recall of it. To get me into a drowsy state, I remember the lights were dimmed. I remember they put a cloth (with cross stitch on it) to cover my head and face. I remember my husband was sitting in the room (providing me with the comfort of his presence and support which lessen my fear, although there's really nothing to fear. I was just feeling apprehensive overall). I remember the technician's handphone rang and he answered speaking softly. Drowsy state? Asleep? I don't think so.

And yet under the test notes, were recorded that I had spontaneous sleep with no sedation. Other words mentioned were generalised seizure during sleep, Grand Mal Epilepsy and partial form of seizure disorder. Scary big words. Is it any wonder I lost 5 pounds in a week from worry?

To anyone who has to do an EEG and happened to land on this page, don't worry. Its not scary, its painless and there's no discomfort. A seizure may be triggered by the flashing lights and hyperventilation but the people at the lab or hospital should be experienced enough to deal with it.

Will write about the other tests in another post.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Two doctors, two differing opinions (Part II - The Second Opinion)

After being diagnosed as being epileptic by a physician and given a medicine to take for life(?) we decided to get a second opinion. This time we went straight to a neurologist. This time we didn't drag the kids along. We went to the hospital strolling hand in hand. It felt rather nice to be alone with hubby without the kids along even if it was just a visit to the hospital. It had been too long since we spent time just being with each other, just the two of us. So I felt a warm glow even though I was aprehensive.

The neurologist wanted me to do more tests, this time an MRI of the brain. This started me thinking of the worst, possible brain tumour etc. Hmm.. if give the choice, I suppose one would pick epilepsy (the lesser evil) rather than brain tumour.

After seeing the results of the MRI together with the EEG and CT Scan results from the first doctor, the neurologist told me a few things. He said...

  • that he was not very troubled by my EEG results
  • he would not diagnose me as epileptic since this is a first seizure. (wait and see first, he says. the percentage chance of a second seizure occurring comes down with time)
  • he does not think I need medication

I asked him a few things namely...

  1. I describe to him a "funny feeling" I've had for some time and asked him whether that was an aura or partial seizure as I remember having that "funny feeling" just before I fell asleep. (the first doctor had told me that it was an aura, a warning sign of an impending seizure which some people with epilepsy have)
  2. I asked him whether it was safe to drive and cook
  3. I asked him whether it was safe to get pregnant again

to which he replied...

  1. What you have described to me does not sound like an aura of a seizure
  2. Don't live your life in fear over this one seizure (he told me to avoid driving for a while to be on the safe side and as for cooking, he said he doesn't feel theres any danger)
  3. He told me to go home and start trying for a baby right away since my husband and I are not young. He didn't think there was any reason to wait
  4. He didn't think that I needed to see him again for any follow up appointments

He was very patient and answered all the questions I had (most of which I had prepared and written down in a notebook). He even gave me a book he had written (in Chinese) to give to my father to read so that he would not be so worried. Before we left, we joked that we wished we would never see him again and vice versa.

I went away from this doctor visit feeling a bit better and slightly relieved. However, I still had to come to some decision. I have seen two doctors with very different opinion and diagnosis. One was so negavtive, the other was very positive and entirely different from the first. What do I do now? Take the medication or not? Which doctor is right? Should I go for a third opinion?

It was so confusing. I made an appointment with a third doctor but eventually, I decided that I would wait and see instead. I did not want to take a medication that has other side effects (other than weight gain, there would be sleepiness etc). I didn't want to go through my days in a drowsy sedated state.

However, by deciding not to take the medication, I had to take other preventive measures. Afterall, I have two young children to look after so their wellbeing is important to us. I decided to take better care of my own health by exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep. I also decided not to drive for a time and to hire a part time helper.

Post getting too long. To be continued.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Two doctors, two differing opinions - Part I (The First Doctor)

After the seizure, I immediately made a doctor's appointment. I didn't know where to start or which doctor to go to, so I started off with a physician, whom I thought would probably do some diagnosis tests before referring me to the right doctor.

The physician did an ECG test on me before sending me to a neurologist at the same hospital to do an EEG and a CT Scan. (I'll explain about these tests in later postings). When I came back to him with the test results, he told me that I had epilepsy and gave me two month's supply of Epilim Chrono (Valproic acid and sodium valproate), then told me to see him again in two months.

As usual, the kids were with us at the doctor's (we drag them along everywhere we go) and they were bored and cranky from the long wait. I felt sad, so very sad and worried. How was I going to look after my two young children alone at home if I had epilepsy? What if I had a seizure while cooking and the fire was on? How would I be able to drive them to their kindergardens later on etc. Those thoughts filled my mind.

It was devastating for me to be told that I had epilepsy at age 39, out of the blue, overnight, suddenly, just like that. One day my life was normal and the next, I have epilepsy? I was told that I probably would have to take the medication for life and that it was very good to control seizures. I read the side effects and one of them was weight gain. The vain me cried out "Oh No". I had to take a medication that would make me fat when I'm working so hard to lose my post pregnancy weight?

Speaking about weight, after the first week of worry and being unhappy, I lost 5 pounds. I was surprised to see my face had shrunk when I looked in the mirror.

Vanity aside, I had to plan what to do next. Should I start taking the medicine that I had been prescribed? We decided that this was too big and too sudden and that a second opinion from another doctor was called for. And so off we went again for another doctor's appointment. This time we went to see a neurologist.

To be continued in the next post.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My greatest fear as a mother

My greatest fear as a mother is to be unable to look after my children while they still need me, whether due to illness or death. I'd like to at least be around till they are grown and independant.

My own mother died at age 46 leaving my dad age 44 then and 5 kids behind. As a mum now, I realise how hard it must have been for my own mother to be diagnosed of a terminal illness and later on to leave us, her family behind, to leave her husband behind to look after 5 kids aged 10, 14, 15, 17 & 18.

When I had a seizure and had to go for several diagnosis tests. I was terrified. I didn't want to be like my mum. I went for an ECG, an EEG, a CT Scan and a MRI. (I'll write about each of them in detail later on). I was so worried that they would find a brain tumour. I had an unexplained seizure, so I thought of the worse case scenarios to mentally prepare myself for what the doctor might say.

What was most frightening about it to me was the fact that everything seemed so ordinary, nothing unusual at all. All I remember about it was, it was an evening like any other evening. I was breastfeeding my baby to sleep and chit chatting with my daughter. We sang nursery rhymes and had a storytelling session, then everybody went to sleep.

And the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the living room with my husband looking at me with concern and asking me whether I was alright. There was blood on the side of my mouth where I had bitten my tongue apparently during the seizure. I went to look in the mirror and saw a small wound at the side of my tongue and I felt a slight pain and numbness there.

My husband had fallen asleep in the living room in front of the tv (again) when he heard the baby crying unattended. He went to the bedroom to check, only to find his wife staring at him through blank unseeing eyes, blood dribbling down the side of her mouth and both the kids crying loudly. I did not respond to him when he spoke to me. Urgh! It must have been not a very pleasant sight and I probably gave him a big scare.

I have no recollection of what happened. Nor do I recall walking from the bedroom to the living room, aided by my husband. My husband told me later on that I stopped to put a blanket over the baby in the cot before I walked to the living room. Hmmm.. mother instinct is always around isn't it, even when not fully concious.

I was asleep at the time so I did not hurt myself from a fall and so it was painless in that sense but it felt very scary to lose myself, even for a few moments like this ie to be there and not really there at all, to lose conciousness for those few moments.

And I must have given my poor little girl such a big scare too because for many, many, many months after that she still kept on asking me "Mummy, why you not feeling well? Why got blood there?" as she pointed to my lips. I felt so bad, so very bad. I was extremely worried that it had been traumatic for her to witness her mum trashing about, biting her tongue and not responding to her. Aaargh! I am supposed to protect my little ones, not scare them!

Since the seizure happened in my sleep, I was afraid to go to sleep for a time. At the same time, I also felt afraid when I did not have enough sleep because I was worried that it may trigger another seizure. So there I was afraid to sleep and afraid not to sleep. Fear is not a very nice emotion to feel.

Well, those were some of my feelings I recall having at the time. I'll write next about my visit to the doctors.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mothers, take care of your health

I know a lot of mothers who put themselves last when it comes to taking care of their health, amongst other things. Family always come first.

It starts with pregnancy. When I was pregnant, I was afraid to take any medication for fear it would harm the baby. This continued to the time when I was breastfeeding. When I have a minor ailment, I often put off the visit to the doctor, because theres never enough time. Besides, I hate dragging the kids along whenever I have to go for any doctor's appointment.

Maybe I'm just using the kids as an excuse for my own procrastination and dislike for doctor visits. However, this is a foolish thing do to. Our health is really very important and something that must not be taken for granted of. What more, as mothers and wives, we should take care of ourselves first so that we can take care of our families better.

This became glaringly obvious to me last year when I had a health scare. I had a seizure. (Similiar to the kind of febrile seizures that babies and young children have when their fever goes up too high). Only, the seizure happened to me. It was an unprovoked seizure, meaning, it happened out of the blue, for no known reason (I wasn't sick or down with fever). It happened in my sleep. It was very scary. Not the seizure because I didn't feel anything but the implications of it were scary.

This time I didn't procrastinate. I went to see the doctors and did all sorts of tests. I shall be writing about those tests and my fears and feelings about the seizure (Do I have epilepsy?) over the next few postings because its something I would like to get out of my chest but its a long story which I will write over a few posts. And I shall do it here rather than on my personal blog.

This blog is not meant to be my personal blog, however, I do share some personal experiences. On this blog, I prefer to slant it towards sharing with other new mothers. It is my dream to built up a resource site for new mothers. So if any reader has any friends who are about to become a mother soon, I would appreciate if you share the url of this blog with them. Thank you.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

The Best Breast Pump

One of the things I didn't know about breastfeeding is that a breastpump is an essential part of breastfeeding (for those who face difficulty breastfeeding, otherwise your baby is the best breast pump there is), even more so, if you're a working mum and not for any other reason.

Whenever you look at glossy magazines, you see these lovely slim women, smiling down at their cute looking babies while breastfeeding effortless. It doesn't quite work that way. Not for me, it doesn't!

Breastfeeding doesn't feel quite as "natural" as I thought it was supposed to be. It took a lot of hard work and practise for me. (I'm speaking from personal experience. Perhaps some other lucky mum may have had it a lot easier and it does come naturally to them.)

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I bought a manual breastpump as a part of the list of my new baby shopping list. It was a long funnel like thing. After the baby came, I tried it out (when my baby had difficulty latching and could not feed directly) and it was hopeless. I could extract no milk from it.

My husband, the dear thing, quickly ran out to the stores and got me another. He was good. He came home with a manual Avent which was a little better and I managed to express from 1/2 ounces to 3 ounces of milk. Still a miserable amount. Sometimes it took 3 sessions of expressing for one single feed! (My baby had trouble latching and I had to feed her expressed breast milk using a spoon). It took up all my time, the expressing and spoon feeding. Phew!

By the time I had a second child, I was a little bit more prepared. (My second had latching difficulties too) The lactation consultant recommended that I get a battery operated Medela instead of using the manual pump, so off we went to the stores again. I found the Medela breast pump a bit more painful than the manual one which was more gentle. So I combined both. I took some plastic flap from my Avent breast pump and fixed it onto the Medela. Lol! It was less tiring but I could only still express about 3 ounces.

Finally, I ditched all the pumps and started hand expressing (yes, my own hand "pump"). It worked wonders! Soon, I was an expert at hand expressing. I've never milked a cow but I suppose this would be how it feels like to milk a cow, only....... I was the cow! I don't know about others, but I like hand expressing. I managed to get up to 8-9 ounces each time by expressing manually. (Of course, it helped that I expressed for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours). I find that expressing by hand is more gentle on the breast and I knew exactly where to press. I could express straight into the bottle for storing and it saved me a lot of work washing and sterelising the equipment.

Again, I stress that I'm speaking from personal experience and preference. Some may find hand expressing of milk difficult and the breast pump much easier to use. If you are interested in hand expressing or manual expression of your breast milk, below is a useful link to the Marmet technique of hand expression. (There are some diagrams there showing the right as well as the improper way to avoid when doing manual expression).

"The Marmet technique of manual expression was developed by a mother who needed to express her milk over an extended period of time for medical reasons. She found that her milk ejection reflex did not work as well as when her baby breastfed, so she also developed a method of massage and stimulation to assist this reflex. The key to the success of this technique is the combination of the method of expression and this massage." Read more here

Having said the above, (that I found the breast pump to be an essential part of breastfeeding), I would like to stress again that it was only because I had difficulty latching my babies. I do not wish to mislead mums into thinking that the breast pump can replace direct breastfeeding which is the best! So I'm going to add another link to this post to my favourite Dr Jack Newman. I find his articles on breastfeeding extremely useful.

"Many women are under the impression that it is necessary to own or use a pump to breastfeed. This is not so. There are very few circumstances under which it is necessary to express your milk. But women are being encouraged to pump their milk and give it to baby via bottle for the most unnecessary reasons: Weddings, doctor’s appointments, shopping…why not take the baby with you? How can babies not be welcome at weddings? Or, “so the father can feed the baby”! Partners were not meant to feed babies milk, and giving a bottle is not really helping. But they certainly can help feed the baby by helping mother with compressions, for example, (see Handout: #15 Breast Compressions) and they can help mothers in so many other ways as well.

The pump should not replace the baby; you and your baby receive numerous benefits in addition to nutrition by breastfeeding. No pump is as efficient as the natural pump that was made for your body, your baby! A baby who breastfeeds well is the best pump, but, granted some babies don’t breastfeed well. You do not need a breast pump to breastfeed; uninformed use of a breast pump can lead to premature weaning." Continue reading here.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

What they never told me about babies

Before I became a mother, I was not very comfortable around babies. I felt awkward handling babies. I was afraid to pick up a newborn. They look so fragile. Now that I'm a mother, I'm still not very comfortable handling other people's babies, come to think of it. Lol!

Until I became a mother, I didn't know that......

  • babies poo so much (sometimes they poo before, during and after a breastfeed!)
  • babies eat so often (sometimes I feel like all I do is feed them all day long!)
  • there would be so many immunization trips to the paediatrician (you practically have to organise your life and appointments around those monthly trips during the first year of your baby's life)
  • someone so tiny would make such a big impact into your life
  • babies bring so much joy, laughter and love into your home (sometimes you just look at them and they make you smile for no reason at all)

Well, now I know. And if only, I were a little bit younger, I would want to have more and more and more babies. Hahaha.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lazy Mom's Approach Towards Toilet Training

I don't potty train my kids. By that, I mean I don't take them to the potty every hour each day in the toilet training process. I don't have the patience..... nor the time. And........... I'm lazy. So.......... I wait! I wait till they are nice and ready. My motto when it comes to toilet training is "I ain't ready till they're ready."

When they are ready, I take them straight to the adult's toilet (with a child seat of course). I find it so much easier this way. No need to clean up dirty little potties. No need to do double training ie have to retrain them in the transition from potty to the adult big seat. All I have to do is flush the toilet after they're done.

Just like any development stage of a child, you can easily tell when they are ready. Just pay attention and watch for the signs. I like this article on Potty Training Readiness and totally agree with it. Here is an excerpt but do read the full article from the link.

"The most important factors are not necessarily age, but rather physiologic, physical and psychological readiness. Before a child can be "toilet trained", she must have attained a certain amount of physiologically readiness, namely "bladder readiness"

The article went on to say that the child must be able to recognise that she is voiding, be physically able and be willing to learn. I also agree with the following statement.

"Last but not least, look at yourself and your family situation. In order for toilet training to be as painless and smooth as possible, make sure that you AND your child are ready."

So, now that my boy can tell me:

  • that he wants his diaper changed
  • he can use a term to describe the process which is "Shh shh" for pee and "Umm mmm" for poo in our home
  • he is showing willingness to learn

Well, it looks like he is ready so its time for me to show him how.

My boy is 2 1/2 years old. I am unfazed by anyone who tells me that I am starting the toilet training process late. To me, every child is different and every parent is different. When it comes to parenting, there is no right or wrong. Whatever feels right for your child and you according to your family circumstances is the right thing!

As for my girl who is 4 1/2, I've put her back on diapers for afternoon naps and during the night since she's had too many bed wetting incidents. I may have tried to get her off the sleep time diaper before she was ready causing us both a lot of stress. So now we have to backtrack and wait till we're ready to try again. Oh well, like everything else in life, you get some of it right and some of it wrong. In this case, the timing was not right. (The daytime toilet training process was quick, easy and painless ie over in about 2 weeks but I think we got the timing for the nighttime training all wrong). My big worry now is that it'll be harder to get her off the sleep diapers now, since we've failed once before (and I gave her a hard time by getting worked up over it) and she may have developed a bad habit of peeing in her diaper.

Related Links:

I'm Ready For Toilet Training
Bed Wetting Troubles

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mothers have no time to exercise?

When you are a mother of very young children (like babies and toddlers) who cannot be left alone or out of your sight for too long less they get into trouble or mischief it can be hard to find time to exercise. In fact, it can be hard to find time to do anything else too! However, hard though it may be, we still need to take care of ourselves and our bodies.

We are ourselves (women) first, then wives and mothers. Becoming a mother does not mean we let ourselves go. We still have to take care of our health and appearance. I always believe that we must look after ourselves first so that we can look after our families better. Looking after ourselves means taking care of ourselves physically and mentally. We need to sleep well, eat right and exercise.

How do you find time to exercise when you are the primary caregiver to your babies? If you have someone reliable who can look after the kids for an hour or two, by all means, go join a gym and take an hour or two off to exercise. I don't have such luxury. First, joining a gym means $$$$. Being a one income family, we have to save, so no gym for me. Secondly, hubby often has to bring work home, so how can I expect him to watch the kids while I go off to the gym?

So, I brought the gym home to me. Lol! Hubby and I got an exercise bike from a points redemption program. We place the exercise bike in the living room in front of the tv. I read and watch tv at the same time while exercising and place the kids nearby so I can watch them. Sometimes I place their own little cars or rocking horses beside my exercise bike and ask them to ride along. Otherwise they like to run towards me. (When you have exercise equipment at home, make sure they're childproof.) Ours does not have open spokes where little fingers could get stuck.

I also bought some exercise videos to do at home. Most of them are salsa dance videos. Its more enjoyable and fun. The kids like to join me. When I first started, it was hard because the kids interrupt me all the time. Baby would run towards me to be carried. Instead of allowing myself to be upset by the interruption, I sometimes pick him up and dance along with him if he fusses too much. He loves it. It makes him giggle and laugh.

Sometimes, baby would sit on me when I'm trying to do sit-ups. I just carry along with my sit-ups with the additional "weights". Now they are more used to my exercise routine, they don't interrupt that much. My girl would sometimes jump or dance along with me. She likes that. It makes her giggle and laugh. Sometimes the children would lie down on the floor beside me and try to copy my sit-ups or raise their little feet into the air too. Thats really amusing. It makes me giggle and laugh.

Usually, I would set them up with an activity beforehand so that they would be preoccupied. Sometimes I even give my girl lessons while I'm exercising. I teach her a little, leave her alone to do her work, then I exercise and talk to her at the same time and check her work periodically.
Its crazy. Full of interruptions. Its sometimes annoying. Sometimes fun. I multitask but most importantly, I still get my exercises done.

The exercise I enjoy the most is my Sunday morning walk. The kids are usually still asleep or hubby can watch them for a while. On Sundays I like to take a walk (instead of drive) to the nearby coffee shops to buy breakfast for the family. I try to walk briskly and to shops that are further to work up some sweat. I love the morning air. I love watching people. But most of all, I love my solitude. Its one of the rare times, I get time alone to myself. And to add to that, I get my exercises done.

So you see, "I have no time to exercise" is really just an excuse afterall. When you set your priorities and your mind to do something, you can!

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

What happens after a chemical pregnancy?

I experienced a chemical pregnancy in July this year. After I tested a faint positive followed by bleeding/my period a few days later I was worried and wanted to see my gynae however I was busy and couldn't make it for an appointment. I wanted to at least speak with her but I couldn't get pass the receptionist. That stressed me up even more. I had no choice but to read up what I could and wait but I knew I had to go for a follow up examination to make sure everything was ok.

I had so many questions in my mind then. Did I have a chemical pregnancy? If I had a chemical pregnancy, then what should I expect next? When will my menstruation cycle return to normal? Will I require any further treatment? When is it safe to conceive again?

Eventually, I waited for another cycle to pass which was again slightly late and then I went to see my gynae. She did an ultrasound scan and announced that everything was "all cleared". This meant that the miscarriage was "complete" and that there was no need for a D&C ie that I had experienced a "natural" miscarriage. She said that I had experienced a "false positive" or chemical pregnancy which resulted in the false positive pregnancy test. (very faint positive or positive then negative when tested again) Then she gave me the green light to try again for another baby, should I wish to. The next month my cycle returned to normal.

Here are some other resources which I found useful:

"It is believed that chemical pregnancies occur when the fetus dies immediately after conception. This happens before the embryo has a chance to implant in your uterus where it can grow and develop. " Read more here: Women's Health Information on Chemical Pregnancy.

"Most of the time, in an uncomplicated miscarriage, the bleeding is like a heavy period for a few days and the embryo passes with no further attention needed." Read more here: iVillage Q&A on Early Miscarriage: When to contact your health provider

"Ovulation can occur 14 days after a miscarriage with the next period 28 days after the miscarriage, but there is great personal variation. It may take a few cycles before your regular pattern is re-established." Read more here: Miscarriage Support Auckland Inc on Your Health After Miscarriage

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Cooking for babies

I can cook. I'm not a great cook but I can cook a little bit more than just instant noodles and scrambled eggs.

However when the time came when my first born baby was ready for solids, I was stumped. I realised that I had no idea what or how to cook for a baby! And I had no idea how much to feed them and how often babies should be eating. I was totally lost.

To me cooking for adults is something simple, that I take for granted because I know how to cook for most of my life. My mum died when I was at the tender age of 10 and even from then, I could cook some dishes for the family dinner. My aunt and older sisters taught me. I took home science at school which taught us how to cook and bake and which I found enjoyable.

My husband said to me "You can cook can't you so how come you don't know how to cook for our baby?" Lol! Cooking for a baby was something entirely new to me and a different ball game altogether. Cooking for babies required a lot more knowledge, planning and careful thought put into it then cooking for adults!

The texture of the baby food has to be just right. The choice of food has to be right, avoiding foods that could cause allergies (no food containing eggs, honey or peanuts for very young babies). You also have to make sure you introduce more and more foods gradually to the baby. I knew I didn't want my baby to eat food from a jar. So I had to make my own. I had to do a lot of reading and experiment a lot before I finally got it right. Eventually, I made mostly porridge. My baby food recipes are here.

Its incredible how a baby so small requires so much attention and care right down to planning a complete and nutritious meal for them. At one time, it seemed to me that the baby ate all the time and all my days went by in a blur of continuous feedings. I searched for sample menus for a baby just starting solids to give me a rough idea. I recommend doing that (to new mothers) as a guide to help you plan your own baby menus.

Here are some sample baby meals or menu links:

Baby Menu Sample from
Feeding your baby: 7-9 months (A Sample Menu Plan)

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Answer #5 & #6: Get his tongue clipped now!

Here are two more answers to my question Help! My baby is still not latching at 6 weeks! Both suggests that I get my baby's tongue clipped. I didn't do it as I was too nervous worrying about any complications that may arise, slim though it may be. However, I did receive useful links to comprehensive information about tongue-tie which helped me made a more informed decision.

Eventually my baby did learn to latch on, at exactly 8 weeks and 1 day! That was a happy and incredible moment for us!

Hello MG,

First, take that baby in to the office and get his tongue clipped NOW! This is a VERY minor procedure and can be done in seconds!! You and he do NOT need to continue suffering with this problem. Your LC is correct about the long term effects of not being able to suck and I know YOU want the wonderful closeness that comes with breastfeeding.

I also urge you to get going to La Leche League meetings and spend time with other nursing women and infants. Your LLL Leader is your BEST source of breastfeeding help. You can also contact the medical advisory board of doctors who will help LLL mothers with problems. Do this through your LLL Leader. Please do not delay connecting with LLL. All the best.


There is hope, but it will require lots of work and determination. I suggest that you work directly with your lactation consultant there in your area for assistance. If you are not going to try and latch him on, then I would go on to pumping and bottle feeding but like cup feeding that is so much extra work. If he does have a short frenulum, get it clipped, it is a simple procedure, it takes about 1 minute and a drop of blood and it can work wonderfully and make the breastfeeding so much easier. A tongue-tie can cause speech problems when he begins to talk. The risks associated with a clipping are far less than the risks of giving your baby formula. Did you have him circumcised?

Here are some references for you
Tongue Tie and Breastfeeding

On this web site are slide presentations and articles that cover; the significance of sleep apnea and how it might be prevented, the importance of breastfeeding for the proper development of our species, the issue of infacarriesies and breastfeeding, why tight frenulums need to be addressed, otiti media, SIDS, and basic dental issues.

Breastfeeding and Frenulums by Dr Brian Palmer


Complete Management Including Frenotomy by Dr. Evelyn Jain

Examples of tongue-tie by Dr. Evelyn Jain



Note: The second letter above has some rather useful links and references giving comprehensive information about tongue-tie, its impact and what can be done about it (not just in relation to breastfeeding alone).

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Answer #4: Keep nursing every 2 hours or 8-10 times minimum every 24 hours

Here is another answer to my question Help! My baby is still not latching at 6 weeks! advising me to nurse as often as I can, which I did.

Hi MG,

There is absolutely hope for you and your baby. Try running your finger around the baby's mouth in a circular motion before each latch attempt. This will encourage the baby to open nice and big.

I also would suggest pumping for a few minutes before latching because this will help the nipple to protrude for the baby to latch correctly. I would not suggest using anything else for the baby to suck on because it will cause nipple confusion.

Has your milk supply seemed to be sufficient? If so, keep nursing him every 2 hours during the daytime. He should be nursing 8-10 times minimally every 24 hour block of time.

If you have access to a supplemental nursing system, I would also recommend you look into that. It is a small tubing that run to each breast and breastmilk is fed through the tubes to baby while they are increasing your milk supply. Ask your lc about it.

If you need further help please repost. I am having trouble with my PC but am retrieving my messages from work. Keep up the faith. It can work out with a bit of work. How is the baby peeing, pooping, gaining?

I would encourage every pregnant woman to find out all she can about breastfeeding beforehand. It should be something that most women try. There are so many benefits to breastfeeding that it is important to do it.

Take care.

My lactation consultant did eventually suggest the use of a supplemental nursing system as suggested in this letter. However, I found it difficult to use and cumbersome. This is only my personal opinion and may not be the case for other mums who have tried it.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Answer # 3: Latch Technique for Infants with a tight frenulum

Here I am back to posting another one of the answers I received to my question Help! My baby is still not latching at 6 weeks!


I'm afraid that I can't be much help to you. If you are already working with a lactation consultant and probably have researched the matter yourself, then I probably can't give you better advice. I know very little about tongue-tie and have never dealt with it personally nor know anyone personally who has dealt with it.
Here is a study from Pediatrics, a publication of the AAP. They list a lot of previous studies, including those that talk about problems tongue-tie can cause as the child gets older. Difficulties swallowing, poor speech, poor oral hygiene, malformation of the teeth, malformation of the palate and dental arch, and gum recession have all been linked to tongue tie. I don't think that jaw recession is caused by tongue-tie except in extreme cases.

If it was my baby, I would have him evaluated by at least one expert, specifically an oral surgeon, pediatric surgeon or ears, nose and throat specialist (even better if it is one who has dealt with this in the past). They could better tell you how severe it is and if the potential for long term problems exist based on that severity.

Answer to Question 1: It is possible that the tongue tie will remedy itself with time, depending on how serious it is, and your baby may be able to breastfeed at some time. However, if work with the lactation consultant and repeated tries are failing, then I'm not terribly optimistic that the baby will be able to breastfeed anytime soon and possibly throughout the first year. Here is a latch technique you can try if you haven't already:

"Infants with a tight frenulum can often breastfeed with special attention to a deeper latch that maximizes tongue contact with the breast. An asymmetric latch, where the nipple is presented to the infant's upper lip so the baby extends the head back slightly, opens wide, and latches on with the lower lip and tongue tip as far away from the nipple as possible can help achieve this goal (Eastman 2000). It may also be helpful for the mother to position the lower lip on the areola, and roll or pivot the baby onto the breast. If the baby chokes or sputters during feeding, leaning back so baby is almost lying on mother's chest can improve his ability to handle the flow of milk. The mother can be encouraged to be patient with the baby and not expect him to be as efficient as other infants. A tongue-tied infant is especially vulnerable to failure to thrive if feedings are timed or rigidly scheduled."

You can also try pumping a little right before latching to draw your nipples out to help counteract the flat nipples.

Answer to Question 2: If you are concerned about developing oral skills of the typical baby, you can try a few things. You can try a special feeder along side your nipple, which could possibly be painful for you dependent on how your baby sucks. You could finger feed from time to time, or simply just give your baby your finger to suck on. You could also try giving your baby toys designed for mouthing, such as various teething toys. You may not want to start it in effort of having to break it later, but babies can happily suck their own thumb.

Because of your toddler to look after as well, don't feel guilty about using a bottle. I had difficulties nursing my baby during the first week, she had jaundice and she was very sleepy. I tried feeding her through a syringe and tube at my breast, but it was becoming tedious and she wasn't able to suck down breast milk through it. I gave her a bottle and cried and cried and cried. I felt like she would never breastfeed, and I was permanently sabotaging it. I would always try to latch her on first, and then give the bottle. Out of curiosity, I tied to latch her on AFTER giving her the bottle as well, and it worked. We successfully breastfed for two years after that point, although she always had latch issues. It is hard to take another strike against you by getting him to use the bottle, but at this point, I don't think it will make a significant difference. If you decide to see a specialist, then you might want to wait it out until the outcome.

I think tongue-tie can be hereditary, so maybe your daughter had a mild case of it that she was able to overcome, maybe it was the flat nipples.

I applaud you for trying so hard to get your baby to breastfeed and your willingness to continue to pump. Here is a link to several articles on tongue-tie from a breastfeeding site I think is great. You might find further info there

Notes on Related links:

Some of the links cited in the original letter are no longer active so I've removed them from the post. For example, I could not locate the study by the AAP on the probems of tongue-tie. However, here is the link to the breastfeeding topics page of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Caring for two young children without help

Handling a baby is hard work. Handling a toddler is hard work. What more when you have to handle both and without much help too. Its makes you wonder how on earth you are going to cope handling both a baby and a toddler at the same time.

I received the following email from a mother worried about handling two when the new baby comes along. My reply is in green. By posting it here, hopefully, we can get more input from other mothers and perhaps it could also help other mothers who are wondering the same thing.

Hi MG,

I read about how you handle 2 kids (baby & toddler) on your own without any help in your blog. However, I find it difficult for me to search all the links in your blog. Apart from that, I have a few questions to ask you. Since I'm going to take care of 2 kids on my own, I need your advice.

You can easily find my posts by clicking on the categories button at the top of this page.

1) Labour: Who is taking care of your kid when you are in the hospital for labour? There was no one to watch the older kid for us so we simply took her along with us. Fortunately the hospital allowed visitors to stay the night but unfortunately they ran out of double rooms so that they (my husband and daughter) would be more comfortable. We made do with a single room and requested for an extra mattress to be placed on the floor. My husband and daughter slept on the mattress to accompany me and the baby. By involving her like this, she accepted the new baby straight away so that was another problem solved for us. During the labour, when hubby was with me, my sisters helped to entertain her at the hospital cafeteria. I've written about this in more detail under the following link:

How to make sure your firstborn child accept the new baby

2) Confinement: Do you engage a confinement lady for the first month? No I did not engage a confinement lady. We did however cater confinement food. My husband was around to help me for the first two weeks. After that I managed somehow. I really don't remember how my days went then, it is a blur to me now, so it must not have been that hard. Lol!

If yes, do you have any recommendation for a good confinement lady? What about confinement food? You can find the link for the confinement services in my old post on Postnatal Care and Confinement Nannies.

If not, how do you cope with a toddler and a baby? You cut corners and do only whats important. Other things can wait. Here's how I cut corners:

Life with a newborn and toddler
First time parents coping with a newborn and toddler

How do you manage to eat when you have 2 kids to take care?
Haha. You just eat. Sometimes you get interrupted, that is all.

3) Food: How do you make/feed your toddler's food when you have to breastfeed your baby? Do you pump and store the bm for baby or direct breastfeed? I make my toddler's food (mostly porridge) overnight using the crockpot (so that it'll be ready in the morning). Or sometimes I make the porridge using a rice cooker first thing in the morning. (I never use the stove since that requires more work of having to watch it. With two little ones in the house its not save to forget about the fire on the stove!) I make a big pot then store them fresh in the refrigerator for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is fresh. I reheat the porridge for lunch and dinner. You can check out my porridge recipe here. As for the baby, I had a tough time breastfeeding so I did not use the bottle. I pumped and fed baby from a cup and tried direct breastfeeding at the same time. That was probably the toughest thing I had to do during the postnatal period.

4) Crying: How do you manage when 2 of them are crying at the same time? I cry along at the same time. Lol! Seriously, I felt like crying along with them. Even up till today, when one of them is crying, the other will cry too in sympathy (*rolls eyes*). Just don't let the crying get to you. If you think you need a break from it, after first checking to make sure they are okay, let them cry for a while. It won't hurt them. When you have regained your composure then pick them up and comfort them, sing to them, talk to them till they calm down, but first, calm yourself down.

5) Bath Time: How to take turns in bathing the toddler and baby? I find it much easier to bathe the toddler since she can stand on her own so I give her a shower instead of a bath. Its much easier and faster. I will place baby on a mat on the floor in front of the bathroom so I can keep an eye on him at the same time. As for the baby, I usually just give the baby daily sponge baths, that is topping and tailing using cotton balls and clean water in a container. I only give him a bath in a tub with hairwash etc once a week when hubby is around to help me with it. I'm hopeless in this area, so afraid to handle a wriggly, slippery baby so I preferred not to do it alone. Thats one of the areas I cut corners on. In fact, I bathed both my babies just once a week when they are newborns but don't worry, I always made sure they are clean especially their bottoms and they have never had any diaper rash before despite it. Breastfeeding helps.

6) Sleeping Routine: Does your baby sleep in the cot and toddler sleep on the bed at night? Yes, baby slept in the cot while toddler slept on the bed. If you're planning to do that, make sure you move your toddler to a bed now and not when baby arrives so that he won't feel that his cot has been taken over by the new baby. I gave them the same bedtime. It saved time for me. Usually I put baby in the cot after he has fallen asleep during his breastfeed. Some may tell you that its a bad idea to breastfeed baby to sleep but it worked fine for me. I try to put him in the cot only after he is in deep sleep, otherwise he will wake up and then I have to start all over again. Here's our sleep routine:

Bedtime routines when you have two kids

That's all for now. Will ask you more when something pops up my mind. Thanks in advance. Anytime. Hope that helps.

Hopefully some other mothers can join in to share their experiences too. That would be nice

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