Week 16

While there are still 24 more weeks to go, it’s amazing to think that already 4 months have passed.  At this point, Wen Jr is the size of an avocado, ~10cm, and is actively moving about inside the womb.  As for the mother, she’s still feeling quite a bit of the first trimester nausea and heartburn =(  Hopefully these symptoms subside in time for her to enjoy some much needed vacation and good eats on our Tokyo babymoon!

Happy Anniversary!

It’s been six years since we had our first wedding, and so we celebrated at one of our favorite restaurants – Yakiniku Yazawa the other night.   It’s been an adventurous last few years with school, work, the move to Singapore, and now a baby on the way.  Through it all, I consider myself very lucky to have such a loving, supportive and feisty wife and soon-to-be mother.  Love you!

Tip: Coconut Water

We went to our favorite beef place today because Wen read that Japanese beef has an equal content of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Since I haven’t gained any weight since conceiving 4 months ago (the gynae appointment today measured a loss of 0.3 kg), I figure this indulgence is more than timely. And, the hubby says it’s our wedding anniversary dinner so who am I to argue with that.

Anyhoo, the manager there is now pretty familiar with our tastes and basically helped to place our orders for us. She also recommended that I continue to resist eating my favorite raw beef salad when I tried my luck asking if that was ok. Instead she recommended an oxtail soup that she said would help build up the baby’s bones. Then she gave me a few other dietary tips, including one on coconut water – drink at least 2 coconut’s worth of water per day in the last month of pregnancy.

According to Judy, coconut water helps to reduce the jaundiced effects of newborn babies. I’m not sure if this is an Asian thing but I was definitely jaundiced when I was born and had to be ‘sunned’. One time, my mum even forgot to take me back in after a long bout of sun-tanning so I’m really not sure why I’m so fair. Judy’s first child was severely jaundiced and not only required UV rays (no more risks of forgetting your newborn under the sun now that technology can provide controlled UV rays) but also had to be fed goat milk for a few days before she lost the yellowness and developed a fair complexion.

I did some googling and found this. I suppose it makes sense because coconut water promotes digestive health. Also, from a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) point of view, coconut is a ‘cooling’ fruit and is a life-saver during that last month of pregnancy when you’re probably going to perspire a lot from all that internal heat (the oven is almost done baking after all).

Still not convinced on the miraculous properties of coconut water for pregnancy? Read this article and you’ll even find that this miracle fruit may just be something you want in your diet the minute you find out that you’re pregnant!

Confinement period and Jamu massage

Have you heard of “confinement period”? Or as some Chinese call it, “做月子”.

This refers to the period immediately after giving birth where the mother is “confined” for a variety of reasons but largely because it is the most critical period for the mother’s body to recuperate. Some believe that if done properly, the confinement period can at minimum, reduce the potential for aches and other discomforts for the mother that could be sustained for the rest of her life. And if you’re planning to have more than one child, then this confinement period is even more critical in helping you regain the strength you’ll need to carry your next child.

Read here for a detailed article on “Confinement Period” and the varied practices among different races in parts of Asia.

When we lived in the US, I remember telling some friends that this would be an invaluable service and a huge reason for me to have my child in Singapore. Except for a “confinement hotel” in Los Angeles mentioned in this USAToday article, I do not believe there is any option to hire a confinement lady in the US as one would in Singapore. This CL would stay with you for 28 days upon your return home from the hospital and, depending on their rates, would take care of everything the mother and child needs from cooking to laundry. She would also usually cook for the husband and if there is an elder child, she may be willing to care for the child with an additional fee. The CL would cook food that help to dispel wind, increase the ‘Qi’ of the mother, and increase lactation. Rates could range from $2,000 to $2,200 not including auspicious red envelopes (about $28 going in and $80 or more for going out) for the CL.

UPDATE (Jul 24, 2011):

A Taiwanese friend of mine who is still living in the US and gave birth to two children there, told me that she hired a confinement nanny for her second child. For her first child, her mom flew over to help but it was too tiring for everyone and she decided that she did not want a repeat of that. Apparently the costs are about the same numerically but in USD.

Resources:  SingaporeMotherhood ForumGPLS Confinement Nanny AgencyConfinement Catering

During this period, you would also need a Jamu (originating from Indonesia) masseur to help massage you back into shape. More importantly, this masseur would also do wraps that help to remove the wind. In some cases, the (often-times painful) jamu massage and wraps can even trim the mother down from a postnatal “5-month” bulge, to about her pre-pregnancy waist. The massage/wraps are typically over a period of 10 days and will also help to increase lactation. Rates could range from $40 to $100 per hour with possible complimentary tummy binders, creams and baby massages.

Some resources:  SingaporeMotherhood ForumJamu MassageOrigins Jamu Massage

A Life Less Garlicky

Two food ingredients that both of us love are pork and garlic, especially garlic.  I once made a cream of garlic soup, just because we both enjoyed the smell and taste of this bulbous herb that much.  But, three months into the pregnancy, G has developed an aversion to both items.  The pork isn’t so bad, she’ll just remove it from the dish (but will eat bacon, nature’s miracle meat).  Sadly though, she can no longer stand the smell or taste of garlic.  Even a little bit will induce nausea.

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Education Planning (Already?)

One parenting responsibility I am not looking forward to (in addition to changing diapers) is the education of our child here in Singapore. Already G and I have been inundated with horror stories about how even the rich and well-connected parents have to spend years volunteering as crossing guards just to have a shot at placing their kid in the island’s “top” primary schools. Aside from the intense competition for a leg-up education-wise, it’s a bit disturbing that the Asian mentality is that even at such a young age where you get your education is important, nay, absolutely vital.

Today’s newspaper had a number of education-related stories including results of the ‘O’ level exams. The highlights of which were also broadcasted on local radio stations yesterday. In addition, there was a story about the overnight queue (line) for parents hoping to get on the wait list of the hottest preschool in town.  Some parents even brought their newborns along!  Based on the timing, we’ll have at most 5 months after birth to prep our kid to be interview-ready for said preschool.  I better triple G’s dosage of fish oils now just to be safe.

If you’d like a small inkling of just how hyper-competitive education here is, check out this blog, Kiasu parents, and their ranking of primary schools.

Mycoplasma bronchitis be gone!

I’ve been coughing quite a bit and after three weeks of taking at least one sick leave day per week, I was finally diagnosed with mycoplasma bronchitis and prescribed stronger antibiotics.

Problem is there is only one family of antibiotics to treat this that is also safe for pregnant women. And of the three types of antibiotics, I’ve already completed 14 days of the two more modern (and less side effects) ones. But I’m still having random coughing spurts. They’re not stomach-wrenching coughs but worrisome nevertheless.

My only consolation is that the doc said the baby is normal during our 12-week check and she implied that there should not be any major defects developing after the first trimester.

Countdown to Chinese New Year

One of the downsides of growing up in the US is that I missed out on entire swaths of Chinese culture.  Celebrating the Lunar New Year – Chinese style is certainly something we didn’t have growing up.  And I do not count the New Years day parades that happen in SF Chinatown as an immersive experience.
As this will be my second New Year in Singapore, I’m looking forward to a number of things – decorations in Chinatown, family reunions, time off spent with the wife, and oh- the music.  Apparently, there is an entire collection of Chinese New Year songs – like Christmas songs but with more gongs and whatnot.  If you’re in Singapore, you can tune to the mandarin channels (92.7, 100.3) and chances are you’ll hear some tunes as we get ready for the new year.

I can only say that it’s markedly different than what I’m used to in holiday music, but as the saying goes- when in Rome…

I don’t know why the little girls are all dressed in Korean garb either.

Shopping for maternity jackets

I’m heading to Frankfurt for a work trip in mid-February and it completely slipped my mind when I was busy ordering maternity clothes before Christmas. Now I’m looking at these thin jackets on ASOS, Old Navy and Gap websites but not finding anything that seems thick enough.

Any suggestions on where I can find warm maternity jackets that don’t make me look like a penguin? Preferably an online site that delivers FOC to Singapore or the U.S.