Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Too many chefs spoil the broth

When you are blessed with a child, unfortunately, you aren't equally blessed with more time. been meaning to blog every step of this arduous yet fulfilling journey, yet the pockets of 15mins break don't seem enough for my creative juices to flow. Or perhaps it's just an excuse. Blame it on the lack of discipline on my part. I with God can multiply my strength and time.

My 30days confinement is finally over. Which marks the beginning of a new challenge -- to take care of lil pumpkin alone! The MIL was pretty clear cut on the last day of the confinement. After leaving me at home with lil pumpkin whilst she went round Singapore to deliver the full month cakes, she came back only to clear and bring back all her pots and pans. In the fridge lay only a fish head, a slab of lean meat and some weird concoction. Before leaving, she mentioned that should I want to continue nursing myself to health, the nxt 10 days is also important. It's a time to take nutritious things coz thereafter, it is believed that whatever thing you eat is useless. With that said, there's still no offer from her to stay another 10 days. Not that I'm in favour of it to be pretty honest. BUt the least she could probably do is to offer help in terms of lunch and dinner? Nope. None, Neh. So i could only seek Empress Dowager's help in grocery shopping. The thought of caring for a newborn and doing the chores (note: i'm using cloth nappies -- compliments of the MIL), cooking double boiled soups for myself, on top of it all, breastfeeding and bathing the baby -- scares me. Where does one find so much time and strength to do it all. Indeed, all these require an immense amount of COURAGE! especially when you are faced with a possibly colicky and wailing kid...or when bathing a slippery screaming child. It can sometimes be very testing.

Ok, before i deviate into other matters, the focus of this post is -- The MIL from hell! Ok she aint exactly the worst MIL i've heard, but I guess due to the fact that we've never lived with each other, things were pretty intense for me. In fact, she was my major source of post natal blues.
I was initially thankful that she had given up work to take care of lil bub and I for I knew Empress Dowager would not do such a thing. However, the first few wks were very upsetting. To facilitate the train of thoughts, I decided to list things down in point form:

1) whilst breastfeeding, she would carry the baby to me, see me strip (though i do it really slowly to indicate that I'm actually very uncomfortable that a stranger is looking down at my boobies!) and once I'm done feeding, she'll carry the baby away! -- CRADLE SNATCHER! The episode is truly a case of invasion of privacy. I cried each time that happens yet no one is there to lend me a shoulder. The influx of raging hormones can really get the blues kicking.

2) Whilst breastfeeding again, she'd sometimes walk in and out of my room on the pretext of doing chores. One may say : why dont u just lock your room whilst nursing. My answer: i'm in pain after C sec and can't quite carry the baby, let alone, walk to lock the door!

3) Once, when i was done breastfeeding, she stood next to me and said she'll carry lil bub away from me to burp her! Isnt this typically done by the mother? WHere's the opportunity to bond then?

4) As she and Empress Dowager had never breastfed before, there was very weak support from them. Instead, i received several sarcasm as they think i'm being ridiculous not to use the bottle. THe logic is simple-- Wouldn't it be easier in terms of washing up to latch on than to go through the hassle of sterilizing etc? Note, at this point, lil bub feeds on avg every 2 hours (sometimes less). and this interval is counted from the moment she latches! In other words, she can start suckling at 7pm, be done by 730pm+., after burping and calming her down, it'd probably be 8pm...thereafter, if i'm lucky (no need for diaper change), i'd be left with an hour to eat, shit or bathe! So where would I even have time to sterilize stuff? Note, I do not have any help whatsoever! Also, the antibodies are more for breastmilk than formula and should I make use of the frozen EBM, i'd be discounting the antibodies! It all doesn't make much sense to me.

5) The hub gave me a bouquet of roses at the hospital. Possibly his 3rd in our entire relationship thus far, so it's exceptionally meaningful. I brought it home. A few days later, it went missing!! The MIL threw them away without even asking! and the roses weren't even wilted! THis happened not only Once, but twice as the second time i received a hamper with flowers and helium balloon (which i wanted to recycle) and it mysteriously disappeared again! upon searching, i found them in my recycling bag! Told the hub about it, hoping that he'd empathise, but instead, he said "she just kept it aside, i'll get it back for u"..ya from the rubbish bag? How fresh is that?I know it's tough being sandwiched in between, but he seriously needs to work on mother management.

6) She threw away loads of sauces and stuff from my fridge...some without my permission again! Every single thing I'm using from the type of soya sauce I'm using (she claims it's too dark and weird) to the brand of detergent we are using (she said it stinks), she has a comment. We had to buy new ones coz of that. Just the other day, I wanted some pepper but could not even find! the entire organisation of the kitchen was in disarray.

7) Lil bub has not been able to sleep through for 2 hours...the moment she's placed down, probably after 15mins on avg (depending on the hour) she'll start her tantrums for some reason. I dont blame her as she's only a newbie to the world. But the MIL attribute all these to the lack of FOOD and kept questioning my milk supply. I was down. Very down. I started questioning and doubting myself too. Was I doing a good job? Should I succumb to the tin I have stored for emergency? Do i need to turn to the holy fenugreek -- the herb which claims to boost milk supplies? Or the strange concoction of papaya fish soup? However, upon pumping, i realise that I've got sufficient if not excess milk!! even my massage lady says I'm good.

8) Whilst organising the full month party for lil bub, emotions escalated. Initially, out of respect, I seeked MIL's advice as to whom she'd like to invite. She started counting the number of relatives (incl Msian relatives) and said we should do a luncheon for relatives and tea or dinner for friends. Taking that into consideration and knowing that both MIL and FIL has heaps of siblings, I reckoned I needed a bigger place for the party; my house was out of the question. Thus after searching, I settled for the function room at my uncle's place. Paid for it and ALAS, the MIL decided that it is rude to invite ppl as it would imply that we are begging them for ang bao!!! OMG which planet is she from? In the first place, these relatives would have already come to my house and pass me the present or ang bao! Thus it'd be a nice gesture to invite them and be merry at the party! Apparently FIL had the same thinking. I dont blame him, coz afterall he's from Mars. That apart, together with Empress Dowager, they couldn't give me a proper number for the number of cakes they needed. I told them my intentions to DIY the package and yet it didn't seem to get into their brains. At the 11th hour in fact, MIL said she wanted to deliver some sets on Friday (the part is on saturday) which means to say, everything has to be ready by Thursday!! This project isn't solely mine. I had to depend on heaps of help, namely from the couz. she's a gem to bake all the cupcakes and she's doing all these amidst her work! Thus to make such an absurd request is infuriating! So the couz and I had to restrategise and I had to activate my dad and the BIL who so kindly helped me with collection since I can't step out of the house. to bake all 200 cupcakes on Thursday and keep majority of them till Saturday isn't ideal as freshness is compromised. Thus, we had to do it in batches. Being in confinement and having a hungry baby every 2 hours didn't make things any easier. Also, out of the blue, I can have a request from the MIL or empress dowager that they need extra to give to this or that friend. See, there's a similarity between the women in my life: they have all the ideas and plans in their mind, but they dont verbalise it. They expect the people around to know what they are thinking and when things dont go as plan, they get upset or wonder why. The entire traumatic experience was too much to stomach thus I shared my unhappiness with the hub. Unhappy that things have been screwed up but more importantly because the hub was going to be away for a wk til the morning of lil bub's full mth party! thus logistics is on my shoulder. I needed him to speak to his mom urgently. However, perhaps my complaints had been fast and furious, it finally got to him and he accused me of blaming his mother. I took a step back and realise this IS afterall his MOM! Then again, who is helping me? Thankfully there's the SIL who totally understands what I'm going through as she had been going through it for the last 30 yrs! She tried to "manage" her mom for me in and indirect way and I thought it was really effective and wished the hub had done likewise. Afterall i dont really fancy bad-mouthing anyone.

9) The MIL, Empress Dowager and I have all different views on the food I should be eating. Empress Dowager says I should not take too much ginger since I'm breastfeeding. I find that logical however, MIL beg to defer. MIL thinks that eating salmon is good due to the fatty acids and again, I found it logical but Empress Dowager said it is poisonous and got utterly upset that I ate it during confinement. I think that eating certain types of fruits is "cooling" and according to my TCM physician, vinegar will soften my bones ..but the MIL thinks i'm ridiculous and insist on cooking vinegar. Since day one, I've been forced to gulp down Chicken essence and eat first born eggs, but alas, a wk later, Empress Dowager said due to my Csec I should not eat all these as they are again "Poisonous"-- this i've actually heard. I'm sandwiched. When baby seemed to have colic, I googled on the gasy things I should avoid and apparently broccoli was one of them together with milk, eggs, wheat etc all of which the MIL had been drowning me with. I shared with her, only to be refuted with her own set of theories. To Empress Dowager, should i try to educate her, i'd be deemed as going against her. To the MIL, i try to drop subtle hints but she would have her 101 excuses. It's tough being both a daughter and a daughter-in-law.

Now that I'm alone with the lil bub, I feel more at peace though way busy. However, everyday is a learning experience and I think i'm doing alright in this steep learning curve. Looking back, it's impossible to avoid the blues unless your support group is strong. Thankfully I manage to keep my sanity by ranting to fellow mommies and favourite uncle (re family politics which arose during the organisation of the full mth party). I do however, wish that the hub can extend more TLC and sincere concern to me. But for now, I'm on my own and have to take comfort that the lil bub is growing healthily day by day.

You are a good father, but may you have more wisdom in controlling your anxiety when lil bub wails or your frustrations when the wife feels emo.


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