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

Visit My Store for Mothers

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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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