March 30, 2009

Going Places

We went with Arrow #2 recently to his future place of study. His scholarship required him to take two sureties with him. So Hubby and I went.
When I was his age, I was already overseas, studying and working at the same time. I too had to learn how to navigate as a foreign student.
The advantage for him is that the culture he is in is not too far different from ours, and he is not that far away from home.
The letting go has begun.

March 24, 2009

Being a Momma

I am going down memory lane for the next few posts here. Hope you enjoy the trip with me.

After a few years of marriage, Hubby and I decided to stop taking family planning measures and to try for a baby.

However, unlike the many women I nursed and took care of, I did not fall pregnant so easily. This was a shock to me because even before I had married, the Lord seemed to have promised me sons when a particular passage spoke to me.

It brought me much heartache to nurse women who were falling pregnant so easily, some of whom were giving up their offspring for adoption, for various reasons. I still remember one little chappie called Jack. His parents couldn't keep him because they were both of a different race and culture and so they named him, loved him for a day, gave him toys, and signed the papers to go. I would nurse him each night I was on duty while the paperwork was being finalised, I dreaded the day, which inevitably came, when his cot would no longer be in its usual spot in the nursery.

When my friends fell pregnant, cooing over their babies, my heart hurt and I envied them. Yes, I envied them. It added to my low self-esteem when I discovered I could harbour such feelings towards my own friends. I felt incomplete and not sufficient a woman.

I would cry out to the Lord much like Hannah did in the Bible. I alternated between asking God to hear me and telling Him to have his way. It was a time of huddling close to Him and to Hubby. It helped a little that Hubby was patient. But how could he understand?

There was no cause for my primary infertility, as they called it. Hubby checked out great and I had a mild case of endometriosis which wasn't enough to do anything to me. This, together with monthly reminders added to my sense of poor self worth which the Lord had to deal with.

Being offered IVF (those days it wasn't called IVF) was tempting. I was staff on the British National Health Service and it would have been free. But we decided to hold off for a while so we could think more about it. We ended up not thinking more about it for another four years!

During that time, my best friend fell pregnant and asked me to be present at her delivery. I was a good midwife and a good friend in other aspects. But I could barely even look at her bulging belly. Could I consider being there to help with her birth?

Thank God, in the end I did go. And whilst I did not actively take part in the delivery, just being there began the healing.

I began to enjoy not having children - we could get in the car and go anywhere anytime for short breaks and do whatever we wanted with ease. I could enjoy other people's children, baby sitting for them, and giving them back at the end of it all.

We began to honestl y be able to say, "Lord, if you want us to have children, we could be on the highest dose of the pill and we would still have children. If You didn't want us to have children, we could try and try and nothing would happen. You are Lord."

And then it happened. God has a sense of humour. I'll tell you more in the next post how things worked out.

March 23, 2009

Arrow #3

Did you have an eventful pregnancy? Or labour? With all three of my offspring, something happened. Take my third arrow for instance.

Early in my pregnancy, I woke in the wee hours of the night and found the bedsheets and bolster soaked in blood. (No, I am not exaggerating; there was that much blood.)

As I lay in bed, momentarily shocked by the discovery, I sent a prayer-thought up to God. I asked Him, "I thought You told me that I was supposed to have this baby. What's going on here?" (Someone who prayed for me on March 13 2004 had said that I would have fruit from the womb - not miscarriage!)

I didn't immediately get an answer.

My midwifery training switched on and I went on auto. I decided that I needed to change into clean clothes. Entering the bathroom to wipe myself down, I felt an urge to go to toilet. Even as I sat down, my maternal instincts screamed, "You are going to miscarry the baby!" I could feel something coming out.

Again, my training took over. I gathered the clot that I passed. Somewhat shaken at handling the almost hand-size clot, I then slowly and gently looked through it. Macabre? I had to see if there was any sign of my baby.

I couldn't find anything. The negative thoughts came that my pregnancy was too early to see anything. I dismissed it. I did not want to linger on such thoughts.

Finishing what I had to do in the bathroom, I went back to bed. Hubby had changed the sheets. I told him what happened, and we prayed.

Finally such peace descended upon us at around 4am and we drifted to sleep.We felt somehow assured that the baby was fine.

Later we went to the doctor's clinic. There, we saw the ultrasound scan screen showing her still fine.

What the devil had intended to steal and kill and destroy, the Lord had intended for life.

Overheard Conversation

Following my last post, I overheard a telephone conversation between Arrow #2 and a friend.

Arrow#2 was giving advice to his friend on the other end of the line. I could hear him encouraging his friend to put an ice pack on.

What? No ice pack? No problem. "Get a bag of mixed vegetables instead", says the online consultant, to Big Momma's delight!

I guess he did learn something from all my past nagging!

March 21, 2009

Lessons from Hot Water

Yesterday I accidentally splashed some boiling hot water on myself. As I ran cold water over the affected parts, I mulled about first aid, wondering if I have taught enough to my children, especially the ones leaving home.

Would they remember to use bags of iced peas/mixed vegetables on certain burnt areas? (These mould and shape well) Would they know what to do if they twisted an ankle, knee or wrist? Did those unwanted lessons on strapping and bandaging stick in their minds? Would they be clear minded enough to know what to do if feverish? (Get the fever down!)

I wonder what sort of first aid kit I should prepare for them? The ones from shops aren't usually enough. I suppose I had best go into Singapore first....

Yes, that's where one of them is heading for next month. He has a scholarship to do a special course - digital and precision engineering.

March 20, 2009

On Leaving Home

I left home when I was seventeen. I don't remember much preparations on my part to travel half way round the world to a land called England.

I do remember having to transit in Singapore. However I was still crying by the time I landed there from Kuala Lumpur. I recall barely knowing where to go.

A stranger (perhaps an angel in disguise?) asked where I was heading. Upon discovering I was heading for England, he (yeah a MALE stranger and I trusted him!) he led me, out of his way, to the right direction. Thus, somehow I made my way to England.

I stayed for a few days with my aunt and family. Life was different. I didn't know that you didn't have to look through the rice to pick out the husks - there wasn't any. I didn't know the meat would be nicely prepacked - and that chicken bones for soup were so cheap. I remember going to the butcher and getting pig's tail for soup at tuppence... until the butcher realised that all his Chinese-Asian customers were after his pig's tails!

So many stories about my leaving for work and study far from home.

But I know my children would not be so interested in them - yet. So I now need to prepare their leaving home in a different way. Practical ways like making sure they have accommodation, getting them a rice cooker (a Chinese must!), and other such survival essentials!

"Leaving home for further studies will either make or break you," someone once said. I think that is so true.

March 19, 2009

Anticipating Tears

Memo #1 to self:
If approached repeatedly concerning a problem do not take it lightly.

Memo #2 to self:
If approached repeatedly concerning a problem with signs and sounds of distress, do NOT take it lightly.

Memo #3 to self:
If approached a penultimate time concerning a problem at an early hour of the morning (when one should be having a lie-in), do not be flippant despite being desperately groggy and half awake.

Memo #4 to self:
When all the above presents itself, make a beeline to the distressed person concerned and offer comfort immediately.

Memo #5 to self:
When offering comfort, company is more important than comfort food.

Memo #6 to self:
When applying all the above, pray unceasingly.

The End

March 16, 2009


Each day we would send the children to school. We wanted to spend time with them.

We would also be the ones to pick them up from school. We wanted to hear their stories and "debrief" them.

We got into a habit of blessing them whenever we set out. Usually Hubby would drive and I would pray. Sometimes we couldn't be sure if they were too sleepy to register what we said, but we prayed on anyway.

What did we pray for and about?

Usually we began with praising and thanking God. Often we remembered how Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in fear of the Lord. We would pray for that. Then we would also pray for favour - just as they had God's favour, that they would also have favour from man. Of course, we had to pray for good health - mental, physical, spiritual and emotional. Often a verse would come in and we'd apply it in our prayer. Then we might also pray that the fruit of the Spirit be evident in our life. Of course we often remembered that we needed to be salt and light so we'd ask that our speech and conduct bring Him glory. And so the list went on, each day somehow the Lord gave something fresh and specific.

With hindsight, this was possibly one of the best things we could have done for them.

Thanks for the idea Lord!

March 15, 2009

Away from Home and Ill

Right now I am nursing a bad sore throat. Perhaps it will turn worse, perhaps I will be fine by tomorrow. There's a low grade fever too.

It makes me wonder. How will my children fare if they leave home and fall ill?

I remember the first time I was away from home and unwell. Since I normally enjoyed good health, I went into a pity-me mode for a while. My friends didn't know what to do with me, and I didn't let my relatives know because they were staying the other end of London and I didn't want to bother them.

I survived of course.

Later, my brother had pneumonia and he did the same thing - didn't tell anyone. It was his then girlfriend who told me about it and I forced him to stay with me while he got over the worst bit. He "discharged" himself from my nursing care before he was totally well. Yes, he survived too.

So I guess I need to learn to teach my children survival tactics before I get too worried about them falling ill while away from home.

Must start listing them down now, before they do leave home!

March 14, 2009

Further Studies

Both my foster son and my second son have done well.

Now to guide them for further studies.

For the one, it would be to encourage him to get his applications going - and soon.

For the other, it would be to fine tune whether or not to accept the offer given, or to seek other places.

In some ways, good results make it easier .... and harder. Choices are more, and therefore seeking God is all the more important.

Which is what I told him. Now to pray.

March 12, 2009

Having Cold Feet

Suddenly as the big moment looms, it is easy to have cold feet.

Major decisions ahead. Big steps to take.

Long term commitments. Financial commitments.

What does a parent do when a child suddenly wonders if he/she has chosen right?

First of all, the child needs to know the assurance of the parents. Whatever decision made is not a reflection on who the child is. What the child does is not a measure of who the child is.

Then assist the child in thinking through the steps that led to that moment. Teach the child to discover for himself/herself. It will be a lesson more powerfully learned if it was self-revelation.

Finally, pray with him/her. Big and small decisions in life should go through Him! Such examples will enable the child to develop his/her own relationship with the Lord - surely invaluable during the hard times ahead, when away from home.....

March 9, 2009

The Pelvic Floor Muscles

In Metamor4sis, I posted about a condition called LAI - light adult incontinence. A condition that plagues many women, one way to improve is to do pelvic floor muscles exercises.

"What are the pelvic floor muscles?" I hear you ask. These are the sling-like muscles which support our pelvic organs (read bladder, uterus and bowel). If they are weakened, we can have bladder and bowel incontinence. They also play an important part pregnancy and childbirth (support during pregnancy and later guide the baby's head out during labour), and in sexual function (but more of that later.....)

So how do we strengthen our pelvic floor muscles? Well, not only have I taught about this during my life as a midwife, I have past personal experience having had three children myself.

First thing you need to do is to know where your pelvic floor is and recognise when you are "pulling" or "tightening" them. (I still remember telling pregnant ladies and their partners at the ante-natal classes in my usual cheeky way ... many years ago, I hasten to add!)

The second best way is to sit on the toilet... with your knees apart. Then pee! You have to do it with your knees apart otherwise you would use other, external muscles ie the thigh and buttocks. Don't hold your breath too much!

After a while, you will recognise them. And once you do, wherever you are, three times a day at least, you can imagine that you are trying to stop yourself passing urine and at the same time trying to stop yourself passing wind. Your muscles should feel as though they 'lift and squeeze' at the same time.

It is recommended that you squeeze ten long squeezes followed by ten short squeezes. A long squeeze means you need to hold it for several seconds and then relax it for the same length of time. You can actually feel your muscles getting a little tired. A short squeeze is a minute and then relax. Again, you do it until you feel your muscles are tired.

It can take three to five months before you notice an improvement.

Oh yes, I said "second best way" earlier. You are possibly wondering what the best way is.

(Did I mention I was cheeky?) The best is during intercourse. Squeeze them and see if you get a reaction. If he blinks or gawks or goes wow, well done!

March 8, 2009

Money Wise

I was only little. Less than 10 years old. Dad had some money from his work. So he gave my brother and I some of it - one ringgit for every month of our life. It seemed like a fortune then. He got the money in 50 sen coins and we delighted in putting the coins into our metal moneybox. Since I was older buy a year and a half, I had more coins. What joy to feel the weight and hear the money jingle.

As I grew a little older, still under 10, I found myself spending more than the pocket money I was given. Instead of approaching my parents, I decided to dig the moneyboxes.

I can still remember lying on my parents' bed, pulling away with a hair pin from my Mom's box of curlers. The coins would drop around my ears, sometimes hitting my mouth. Initially I would take only a ringgit. But later the thrill of having money to spend made me take more.

I didn't just take from mine of course. I needed to make sure that my box weighed more than my brother's. So I took from his too.

Then one day, I came home from school to see my parents looking strange. They confronted me with the theft.

I burst into tears and confessed.

In their love for me, their firstborn, they increased my pocket money.

No reprimand. No advice that I recall. Just a quick discussion amongst themselves and then telling me they were sorry that I didn't have enough and that I had to steal. Perhaps they felt they were inexperienced parents.

The end result of that, however, was that I didn't learn to budget. I often spent all I had. That is, until much later in life when I met my accountant husband.

So I resolved to teach with my children to handle money.

From the time they could count, we gave them daily pocket money till they went to secondary school. Then from Junior one to three, we gave them weekly pocket money. When in the upper secondary classes, we gave them monthly allowances. Constantly monitoring what they spent on, teaching them to budget. "Set aside for God first," we'd tell them. From time to time, without their asking, we would increase their allowances.

Recently I just gave my eldest one his own bank pass book. We feel confident they can manage the older ones can manager their money. Certainly more so than I did~

March 6, 2009

Making Memories

Do you make memories with your children?

There was a time when every Sunday we would take the children to the beach. Other families would be there. The children would kick a football around. The dads would (supposedly) go for jogs. Moms had the job of keeping an eye on the things and took the opportunity to chat.

Another things we did as a family was to have one Sunday meal at special "Children's Choice" places. Even though it was inevitably the fast food joints, we would let them choose and try to make a nice time of it.

Of late, we have also been inviting folks round for Sunday dinner cooked at home. Friends could be from all walks of life, different ages and backgrounds. Very often we would "mix them up"!

I wonder if my children will have memories of these times when they grow older....

March 5, 2009

Laughing Together

Today we sat down for dinner as we often did.

Each one had a little anecdote to share.

Laughter tinkled during the meal.

After some plates were emptied, we lingered on to listen and share more.

In a few weeks time, this will be no more.

Treasuring these moments.

March 3, 2009

Approach to Food

As a baby, one was particular about food. Another was more easygoing. The third ate everything.

Here they are when the youngest was only 4 months old and gnawing on a chicken bone! Amazingly her constitution was strong and I had no sleepless nights from her incredible diet.
I would get a little concerned about the fact that some seemed to be fussy with food - was I under-nourishing them? As a former nurse I would fret.

Now that they are older, I realise that I need not have worried so much. As long as they didn't have too sweet a tooth, their diet turned out reasonable. Now they have a much wider range of taste AND they are fit and healthy! Phew! It took me almost 20 years to discover this truth!