It’s mid-November and Emma is already 4 months old. Time really flies. Soon we will be celebrating her first Christmas, New Year’s as well as Chinese New Year. I bet my parents and in-laws are looking forward to those occasions. Emma is getting more curious each day. That means she is protesting naps more than ever. Although, she brings more smiles and laughter to our lives now. She laughs whenever I ask her to say “Ahhh”. She laughs when I bob her bath toy up and down in the water. Emma gets really excited at items on the table as well. She is sitting up straight and learning to support her balance with her hands now. My mum has been meticulously teaching her how to roll. Sometimes she gets frustrated, but most times she is excited at this new found skill. It is only a matter of time before she masters it. This would also mean she is getting stronger each day. Her kicks are painful … believe it or not. When she jabs her feet into my tummy, it does hurt. She is also at a phase where she loves to grab hold of everything. Including my hair. There is a popular trend among Malaysian women to cut their hair real short after giving birth to a baby. A shorter hair style is much easier to manage around an active baby in one’s arms.
Four months has passed since Emma’s birth. There has been lots of ups and downs, and I have definitely come a long way from my mild episode of post-partum depression. I have learnt a lot during this journey so far. Letting go of my expectations to exclusively breastfeed was one of the hardest things to do. Accepting my decision, even though I had made the choice myself, was also difficult. Occasionally, I still bump into mothers who brag about their breastfeeding journey whenever they ask me how Emma is feeding. It is very annoying. I am aware that I am spending much $$ on milk formula because I stopped breastfeeding after 2 months. I don’t need a smart-ass to keep reminding me that I am “missing out” on the big savings and all the other conveniences with breastfeeding.
I have also learnt there are items which I never needed, and items which are a must-have. As it is a quiet, rainy Saturday, and Emma is already in bed since 6:00 pm, I have some free time to write about some of the items we have bought since Emma was born.
I remember I was adamant we did not need a crib. Having gone window shopping for baby furniture when I was pregnant, I felt these items were overpriced and unnecessary. Firstly, these fancy, high-quality cribs come with the matching changing station and dresser, which I believe is only practical if baby is going to sleep in a separate room (nursery room). I chose to co-sleep with my baby and so, this separate nursery with all its fancy furniture and paint was not on the top of my list. Secondly, it is not portable like a pack-and-play. Knowing we will be traveling quite a bit as my husband’s job may relocate quite frequently, I convinced my husband that we will do fine with a pack-and-play. However, I forgot to evaluate its comfort and limited use. While it is practical for use with a newborn as the bassinet is very spacious and comfortable with an added mattress layer, I didn’t think a newborn would outgrow it so quick. By the time Emma was 2 months, the whole bassinet will shake whenever she kicks and move her body. Besides, the center of the bassinet was starting to sink in with her added weight. I could tell she wasn’t comfortable sleeping in it anymore. Also, I realized I couldn’t be bending over so much using the bottom layer as she grows older. Putting her to sleep and picking her up in that position everytime will crack my back faster than what my natural aging self will do to my body in old age. The pack-and-play was definitely convenient when we had to move it around to position her next to our bed. Much to my dismay, I found myself reconsidering buying a crib. I was not ready to spend $1000 over for this piece of furniture. The next thing I knew, I was in IKEA looking at these baby cribs. After browsing, I made up my mind to purchase a crib from IKEA. Both the crib and mattress costed me less than $1000. I came home as one happy mama. It is not the fanciest, but it was good enough for its purpose. Moreover, it can convert to a toddler bed. Who would have thought IKEA sold practical and safe baby furniture as well? IKEA saved the day once again. As for the pack-and-play, it is now sitting in the living room as a day bed. However, this day bed never worked out for Emma. She could not nap there as it was too bright of an environment. It was too distracting. It was too noisy. My parents insisted she had to get used to it but I got tired of Emma’s sleep troubles and told them it is not going to work. Therefore, the pack-and-play is now posing in the living room as Emma’s toy collection point. We may use it as a playpen eventually when she is older, but for what it’s worth … I regretted buying it in the first place.
The other thing I regretted buying was a diaper bag for outings with Emma. Firstly, we received three of these as gifts during her full moon celebration. Secondly, it is bulky and inconvenient to lug around, especially when I’m out alone with Emma. If she is in the stroller, I can hang the bag on the handle. However, whenever I carried her in the sling or Manduca, lugging this bag with my free hands was heavy and tiring. A backpack or rucksack is the way to go. Although it was a small purchase compared to the crib, I still feel guilty for rushing in to buy this item. It is currently sitting in my closet, brand new as ever, and probably collecting dust as we speak.
Initially, I found the stroller to be a pain as well. We use a Britax B-agile. I felt strollers in general are bulky and heavy but of course it is that way due to its safety design requirements. When Emma was younger, she was alright sitting in the stroller if it was a quiet walk out in the park. However, she did not do so well when it was a noisy mall or restaurant. It was too stimulating for her. When I saw how uncomfortable she was, I wanted to change that. I researched into babywearing and bravely tried the sling despite what people have been saying. It took a little while to learn the ropes, but I saw the results with my own eyes. Emma was more secured and could nap better when I carried her close. As with any new experience, I was weary of what others were saying too – “Your baby will grow up with her legs spread wide apart!” “She looks so uncomfortable!” “She’s going to get used to it, you’re going to suffer!”
I didn’t believe it was spoiling her. My job is to make her feel safe and secure. It’s a scary world out there for a little baby. I was able to help her shut out all these stimulation when I carried her in the sling. But I was worried if it could harm her physical developement somehow. The peadetrician didn’t help one bit in providing his medical opinion about it. He was useless. So in order to feign off my fears, I used it in balance with the stroller. Still, I think it is more convenient than a stroller. Emma is at the age where she loves to be carried as you walk anywhere (even in the house). She is also putting on the pounds as she grows. Tiring as it may seem for me, she dislikes sitting in the stroller or carseat or carrier. I think she just dislikes being restrained but carrying her in a baby carrier allows her to see and experience more. I am glad bought these babywearing items – ring sling and Manduca. It will be very useful when I have a second child.
The bottle sterilizer from Tomee Tipee was very useful and practical. We used it as a sterilizer as well as a bottle storage. I didn’t bother with a dryer rack since I stopped breastfeeding early and moisture in bottles was not a concern anymore. I know some folks do not see a need to own one. Hot water soak may be sufficient but in our home it is really inconvenient to do this. The distance from the kitchen to my room is far. Having the sterilizer and all the bottles within reach in our room works.
As for clothes, I am a strong advocate of bodysuits. I was prepared to use them, but my mother-in-law advised not to use those on her fragile, beloved granddaughter as it will be uncomfortable trying to fit it through her head and arms. So she bought clothes that are buttoned at front from top to bottom. Those are useful too. When Emma got bigger, she started buying two piece clothings for her. We would tuck Emma’s shirt into her pants, but they kept running up and exposing her tummy. After 6 weeks, I kept all the two piece clothes away, and just bought body suits for her. It took awhile to master putting the clothing over her head, but it was definitely more practical for daily use.
Soon, it will be Emma’s first Christmas. I am enjoying seeing her grow stronger and more playful each day. Yes, it is tiring for sure. But i always remind myself that I won’t get back these years with her again as she grows older and more independent. Last night, I read her a book and sang her lullabies as she drank her milk, I wondered if she will ever remember these quiet moments we spend together before her bedtime. I love singing Que Sara Sara and My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean for her to listen. Sometimes, not always, she will coo softly as she tries to fall asleep and get comfortable for sleep. I cherish these little parts of her bedtime routine, knowing she will outgrow them soon.