Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Then and now

By K.L. QUAH

Everyone says that life will never be the same after a baby – and how right they are.

IT’S been a year since it happened.

I almost lost my baby when I was five months pregnant due to vanity. I was kickboxing and lifting weights five times a week to look like a yummy mummy until, one day, I started to bleed heavily after a step aerobics session. (I wrote about this ordeal in a story titled Perfect love, published in this column in September 2008).

Today, my baby is a healthy, bubbly nine-month-old. The nightmare of having my doctor tell me that I needed an operation to save my pregnancy is now overshadowed by the joy of seeing baby Ian’s smile. Labour pains? What labour pains? Was it nine hours? Really?

I am totally exhausted from juggling a full time career as a lawyer as well as being a new mother, and yet I am totally exhilarated each time baby Ian achieves another milestone.

I am worn out, physically and financially, but the love I feel for him is so overwhelming that the adrenalin keeps me going.

And oh, did someone tell me to enjoy the three-month bedrest I was ordered to take preceding the birth because life was never going to be the same ever again? Boy, that person sure knew what she was talking about!

Those days, I would call the office and take leave whenever I had a late night. These days, I still get up and go to work even if baby Ian kept me awake the entire night.

Those days, I would plan my holiday and mark my leave months ahead by filling up the annual leave forms. Now I have learned that nothing can be planned in advance. Those nicely filled forms would probably have to be cancelled and I am more likely to call the office frantically in the morning asking for emergency leave as baby had fallen ill.

Those days, I would nag at my husband for not spending enough time with me. These days, I would rather just spend time with baby and no one else (I think hubby feels the same way, as he has not complained. Hmm…)

Those days, I would reject all invitations to go out during weekdays as I needed an early night to be efficient at work the next day. Now I know if I reject those invitations, I would never find time to catch up with my friends and family.

Those days, my bathroom was filled with trashy magazines and daily newspapers. These days, my bathroom is filled with mother and baby magazines.

Those days, the last thing I read in the newspapers was supermarket advertisements. These days, that’s the first thing I look out for to find cheap disposable diapers.

Back then, I would spend hours Facebooking, uploading pictures, sending teddy bears and tiaras to my friends, feeding and playing with my online rabbit. Now, the only time I Facebook is to upload baby Ian’s pictures (my profile picture is his picture anyway) and to update my status to “Baby Ian cut his first tooth today!” or “Baby Ian is sick today.”


Those days, I spent three hours a day, five days a week, in the gym. These days, an hour of exercise a week is a luxury. And I have recently terminated my gym membership.

Those days, I would window shop for hours, browsing through stores for shoes and clothes, and follow that through with a nice piece of cheese cake and coffee at Secret Recipe. These days, I go directly to the kids department and head home immediately to spend more time with baby Ian.

Coffee and cake? Those three-in-one instant coffee and pre-packed chiffon cakes from the hypermarket come in handy when you are dealing with a crawling baby who puts anything within his grasp into his mouth (inedibles included).

No, it is not easy. I am humbled by mothers who can deal with a few children, all a few years apart in age.

I have had my “what have I done to my life?” days, especially in the early weeks. There was a time when he woke up every hour through the night for feeds. And the first time he slept through, I kept awake to check every half hour if he was breathing!

There were days when all I needed was sleep after a rough day at work. But baby Ian has developed separation anxiety and can only be consoled by my presence and attention.

Life will never be the same again, but I am certain that all the changes have been worthwhile. I have never been so tired in my life, yet I’ve never been so emotionally fulfilled.

Baby Ian has taught me patience and the ability to accept that I cannot plan everything perfectly. He has taught me to take life easy, and not to fret over small things.

He has also taught me to appreciate the little things in life like rolling on the bed with him instead of worrying about when I can upgrade my Wira.

I am calmer when handling difficult clients at work, as baby Ian has taught me that I cannot please everyone all the time. I no longer get all panicky and stressed when I am overwhelmed with more documents in my “in” tray than “out” – he has taught me to do one thing at a time.

Above all, baby Ian has taught me how to love unconditionally. I love you, baby Ian, and it doesn’t matter whether or not you will take care of me in my old age. Mummy will love you till the end of time anyway.

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