So far, I’ve been sticking pretty well to the stifling demands of Chinese confinement practices – but yes, two weeks in, I already feel extremely restricted and am developing a bad case of cabin fever.
My days go like this.
9 am – 9:30 am : Wake up / Eat a simple breakfast of cooked rolled oats with dried cranberries and raw almond slivers
10 am : Baby Sophie gets her morning bath – or rather I simply watch her get bathed by my helper and K because I am not allowed to touch too much water during my confinement to prevent getting more retention and swollen fingers. I always try to “receive” her in her towel, dry her off, and change her into a fresh set of clothes, though, because I’m needy like that and want to be part of her waking up ritual.
11 am : It’s my turn to bathe – and sometimes this is my favourite part of the day ! I get a huge bucket of hot water boiled with Chinese herbs, ginger and lemongrass, I mix in another 6 drops of concentrated ginger essential oil (all this is to help you “expel wind” and to keep your body, considered “cold” and “empty” after childbirth, warm). I’ve heard there are many other new moms who hate this water, but I actually really enjoy it ! It’s warm, it makes me feel so clean, and I feel so energized after. I really don’t know how some people are able to abstain from bathing for a week – the first thing I did when I got back from the hospital was to wash my hair almost violently and scrub myself down with my Korean spa scrub until my skin was nice and white again.
– Sophie gets a feed around now, either latching directly or getting a bottle, if I had expressed enough the day before –
12 pm : Lunch ! Is usually simple fare of brown rice, always a steamed fresh fish dish usually with ginger, a large plate of green, iron rich vegetables stir fried with a little garlic, and a side dish of steamed tofu or steamed egg / pork. Sometimes as a treat I get teriyaki beef. I always get a bowl of chicken soup brewed from scratch with red dates, herbs and a small amount of DOM.
I do avoid drinking too much plain water and try to only drink the longan red date tea but breastfeeding is really dehydrating so I will definitely drink water if I am thirsty. I also blatantly break the no fan and no aircon rule because the one day I tried to stick to it I was a sticky and smelly mess by late afternoon.
12 pm – 1:30 pm : Here’s when I get some “me time” , which means if I had a rough night before, I hand Sophie gratefully to my helper and then collapse on my bed for an hour long nap, or if God was kind and I got some semblance of rest, I eagerly scour Facebook, news sites and blogs for my fix of the outside world.
-Sophie gets another feed now – this is her fussiest time of the day-
2 pm – 3:30 pm : My “Urut” or massage lady arrives. I also really enjoy this part of the day because I get to basically knock out in bliss while my entire bruised and battered and abused body is pushed back into shape. She’s really amazing – since I gave birth 13 days ago till today, I have lost 8 kg !!! It may not be much to some, but I’m really happy that I’m on the right track. Most importantly, she is really good at toning my body – the massage oil burns, and I have blue blacks on my legs from where she broke down all my fatty cells, but every night I pass out oil and every day the mirror is showing improvement. Although my stretch marks still look terrible, my tummy has deflated super significantly and my waist is returning back to normal (I still cannot look at my thighs without thinking hormone-pumped fried chicken thighs though)
3:30 pm – 6:30 pm: I usually sneak another nap or if Sophie is super whiny, all we manage is one feeding. If K is on half day or leave, he will most wonderfully take over her for me so I can catch forty winks or – gasp – even read a chapter of a book !
7 pm : Dinner ! Also simple but homey fare of the same things again – K is usually around, and we end up chatting about – surprise surprise – Sophie, what color Sophie’s poop is, how many feedings she did today, and why does she now have rashes.
8 pm – 9 pm : We watch some television, or play and sing to the baby. Then, K does his work and I pass out on the bed in preparation for another sleepless night.
9 pm – 9:30 pm: Sophie gets her end of day mini bath and wipedown, changes into her PJs, and sleeps deeply until her next feeding.
11 pm, 1 am, 3 am, 5 am, 7 am : I feed Sophie in a haze of exhaustion, sometimes half awake, sometimes I fall asleep halfway. Occasionally I try to wake K to ask him for help with her diapers – I have a 50/50 chance of getting any response. I am always super tempted to simply co-sleep with Sophie but I am worried that I will be so tired I might roll over and crush her, and I remember that we are trying to raise an independent baby so I get up, trip over a groggy Benjy, re-swaddle her, and put her back into her cot.
This is a normal day and does not include visitors, which confuses the entire schedule and sees me rushing into the room frantically to pump so that Sophie won’t screech while they are here. Also, factor in non-stop diaper changes, panicked moments when Sophie pukes all her milk over K, poop accidents and brief bouts of stomach wind.
Its very fulfilling, really it is but sometimes I feel like I am going out of my mind. I know I am already very lucky to have an amazing helper (she’s been with my family for 26 years) who cooks such healthy tasty food for me, does the mountains of baby laundry, entertains Benjy when he gets emo, makes my bath water and clearly loves Sophie so much she would gladly handle her for me, so I try to count my blessings !
But that hasn’t stopped K and I from trying our darndest to get out of the house. Our first foray was Sophie’s first visit to the pediatrician. It was quite a disaster. I wore a dress that was too short (my boobs have exponentially expanded) and worried about exposing myself each time I bent to check her nappy, I was still sore and aching from my stitches (this was day 5 after birth) and at the doctor’s office, after getting a heel jab, Sophie was fretful and I was freaking out while K fumbled around with the diaper bag in search of pacifying milk which did not exist.
Our second visit to the doctor was much better. This time I wore a super comfortable lilac sweater, tights, and kept my hair up in a neat functional pony tail so it wouldn’t stick to my face. We were a lot better with Sophie, she was a lot better with us, and we even managed to have a nice long breakfast at the Cedele in Paragon after the appointment before heading home together, feeling like pros and thoroughly emboldened.
The third one has reduced us to noob status again. This time, we had vouchers to use at Isetan and decided to head to the Shaw House one. It was doomed from the beginning – bringing Sophie out in the evening was a totally different ball game. She was hot and sweaty after a full day of visitors, we were tired and wilting, and by the time we navigated the tiny carpark, got a lot, set up the pram, chose our products, we were totally knackered.
That’s of course when Sophie chose to start grizzling and we headed to the nursery room in Isetan, thinking “we’ve got this”. Boy were we wrong. I’d brought along extra expressed milk but K had forgotten her bottle. We changed her diaper, and saw BLOOD on her nappy and nearly died of shock. Turns out it was from her umbilical stump, but K told me I was literally hyperventilating in the nursing room. I snatched her and her freshly diapered bottom from her worried father, brought her into the nursing room, and fed and soothed her before informing K we were heading straight home. We lasted all of 20 minutes.
But each experience has been totally unforgettable and made us even more determined to be more prepared and to get better at handling the baby – because we want to be an active family and we want to expose her to the world as much as possible. K already has happy scenarios of himself, Sophie, Benjy and I heading for fur and human family brunch at The Garden Slug or doing picnics at the Botanical Gardens. I tell him to be patient.
Sorry if I’m bothering you guys with such detailed and verbose descriptions of my new life as a jailed mother, but I really want to be able to look back through this blog and remember these moments, which everyone tells me will just fly by. Already, every other day is a milestone – Baby S losing her stump, Baby S lying on her tummy, Baby S conquering jaundice, and today, finally breaching the 3kg mark to tip the scales at a nice and healthy 3.1 kg !
Also, time passes so fast that I don’t really need to count down the days until I get some measure of freedom ! 14 days, to be exact.
In the meantime, thank you for all those who have come to see the Baby and I and given her such wonderful pretty clothes, toys, etc or cooed over her sweet little face – K and I feel truly blessed to have such amazing friends and family who have been supportive of us through every phase of our lives, and you guys can bet we will be there for you and cheering you all on when your turn comes 🙂
Lots and lots and lots of love,