Sunday, October 30, 2005

wishful thinking

Gary: Have you noticed that Grace is getting fatter?

Me: Uhuh.

Gary: Dyou know what this means?

Me: Oh, 2 more months to Christmas. She still has time to slim down to see her boyfriend in the Philippines.

Gary: You don’t get it!

Me: What?

Gary: Her boyfriend will reject her for becoming plump and then she’ll have to come back and work for us FOREVER!


Sunday, October 23, 2005


is my Helper. She is the reason that I am able to keep it together – the kids, the LG “life is good” home life, the career and the marriage.

In two months, Grace will be taking the plane off to the Philippines. For two years, she has helped my family. Its time she went back to her own family to enjoy the Christmas break. She’ll see her beau who has waited 700 days for her return and her elderly mother who will roast a pig to celebrate her return.

When Grace goes back for Christmas, I’ll be going it solo - caring for Shane and Alix by myself for 16 days.

The moment of truth will dawn as work evaporates away (I go on leave) and I am left at home fending for the two of them by myself.

Of course, this isn’t the most difficult thing. Lots of women manage this. My sis who is the US takes care of her 2 boys by herself. She keeps them clean, keeps the 3,500 sq ft house clean and even cooks meals too. All this while her husband works long hours.

My other friend, Vanny also manages this. She’s the full time carer for her 2 girls, aged 3 years and 19 months. “Its tough”, she tells me. Oh yeah, it must be. What happens when you fall sick? Who stands in for you? How d’you get the ironing and cooking done? When d’you get time to bathe, eat and shit?

Before Grace, it was a big world of difference. In the first year of Shane’s life we had NO HELP. We were waiting for renovations to be completed to our house and packed into our holding abode – a 550 sq ft studio which was packed full of furniture. Back then, we spent most of our time out of the house anyway. Along this way, Shane was conceived, the renovations took much longer and we started to angst over the bad timing of all of this. The first trimester soon became 6 months of pregnancy. I couldn’t bend over, let alone clear the dustballs which settled around the legs of the furniture and the corners of the living room.

After Shane was born, I can't even begin to tell you about the impracticality of our living arrangement. A lot of it I file away in the humour section of my brain. A few things remain lucid. In our studio, there was only one sink. It was used for everything. Washing our dishes and pots, brushing our teeth, soaking personal items of laundry etc. I had so little faith in the cleanliness of that sink, I avoided washing baby bottles in it and nursed Shane for an extended period because it was the most sanitary thing to do. Shane crawled mostly on our bed because I couldn’t let him on the floor. Laundry was done at midnight – when the washing cycle ended, I would inadvertently be awake to load the wash into the dryer because of the night feeds which also kept me up.

Sure, one can certainly do without a helper. Quite maddeningly you can.

At that time, I had a part time Sri Lankan lady, Aida who came in on Sundays. For two hours, she pressed Gary and my work shirts. I paid her 10 dollars an hour but she gave us infinitely more than that in value. She kept us looking decent with the well pressed work shirts. She would carry Shane and tell us he looked very healthy and happy. Against the squalor and mayhem which was my home, She even encouraged us to have one more.

When Shane was 13 months, Grace arrived. She was employed to assist my dad but the impact she had on my life was TREMENDOUS. From the first time she held Shane so that I could eat my dinner without balancing a baby on my lap, each successive improvement in the quality of my life came like a divine outpouring from the heavens:

- Long undisturbed showers
- Laughing again, watching a sitcom
- Gary and I watching a movie
- Running to the mall for a few hours
- Putting my feet up after a work day and really, being happy to be home

We couldn't contemplate having a second child. But since Grace was on a two year working contract, a divine window had opened – the impossibility which was Alix now became a possibility.


As I book the plane ticket for Grace’s return to Manila this Christmas, I am bracing myself for what is going to be a very interesting time. In my fantasy, I come out even stronger with abilities I never even knew. More likely, I will come out of this with rumpled clothes, hair standing, a very dirty house and more thankful for the forces which combine to bring me grace, grace to see it through.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Adult Only Fun

Ok, although its evolving into one, this was not meant to be a mommy blog. It was meant to be a place where I rediscovered the flavour of a life defined apart from them. Where every day is a Girl's Night Out!

In this spirit, I'm starting to make furtive glances at my diary...because I'm going OUT this Saturday to to a child exclusionary restaurant for adult only fun.

4 girls. French provencal cuisine. Farmhouse pate. Smelly cheese. Red red wine.

Only eating lah!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Red door

First up, Alix is ok. Thanks everyone for prayers and concern.

At KK, they channeled me to the red door.

"Go to the red door. The doctor will see your baby rightaway."

A big kindly looking doctor wearing blue overalls appeared.

"Her blood platelets...."

"Forget about that. Is she feeding well? Seems to be happy?"

"She drinks twice in the day. 3 or 4 ounces and nurses in the night.
Her appetite is surpressed because of the flu so she doesn't eat as much."

"She's fine. Her blood indications are fine. This is a reaction to the virus that she's recovering from. Her blood marrow will increase. Normally, we don't take these blood tests while they're recovering. The body has a way to normalise. You can go back. You don't have to register then you won't be charged."

Then I exited from the red door and ATE - the most delicious tasting chicken pie from the delifrance.

Hello world! This is Alix and she's well!

I went to the polyclinic because the private GP I first saw wanted to refer her to the paedetrican to get a chest x ray. I felt that she didn't need one. Her chest seemed clear. The poly doctor confirmed that her chest was clear. Then, the blood tests started. Firstly, to rule out dengue then there were four of them, each one increasing the level of anxiety.

Many thoughts raced in my mind throughout this episode. I imagined the worst. My dad was well just last year in March. Then it was confirmed. Cancer. By September, he had slipped away.

So I negotiated with God.

You can take my bank account. You can take my house. I'll stop working if need be. Just don't take Alix.

I'm not angry that I experienced high anxiety. The doctors were trying to be safe. The need to cling on God and the health care system never weighed on me so heavily and so unexpectedly. So I've promised myself to do the following:

Dedicate Alix to God.
Get very comprehensive medical insurance.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fourth blood draw

"Her blood platelets are on an upward trend. i don't have answers. I don't want to explain further what this means, you could freak out. You have a paedetrician you normally use? The earliest we can fix an appointment is early next week."

"Can I see a paedetrician at KK now? I won't be able to sleep."

"Yes of course, this is your child...its Saturday, you will have to wait. There are not many doctors on duty."

"Never mind, I want to go now."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Between now and eternity

When Alix entered the world on 31 January 2005, I cried tears of joy.

Today I cried again, afraid that something would take her away.

Her fever started on 3 October. It was a low grade fever so I monitored her condition until 6 October when I brought her the polyclinic. They did a blood test ruling out dengue.

“It is probably a viral fever” the doctor said.

On 10 October, they tested her blood again.

“Not entirely clear, we’ll test her again on 13 October and if she’s ok we’ll do her last round of immunisation.”

Today, they tested her blood for the third time. I was quite peeved that she had her blood drawn 3 times. But this is the polyclinic, I trust them to know what is best.

“White blood cells high. Red blood platelets have shot up. We have to review her again.”

The doctor tried to be helpful. He showed me the scores which showed that her blood platelets had exceeded the normal indication.

“What does this mean?”

“We will have to test her again on Saturday 15 October. This is probably a reaction. We could be in a window of recovery, but if it continues to spike up we have to go for further tests.”

“Further tests for what?”

“We check for the possibility of other blood diseases”

15 October is 48 hours away. It stretches ahead like an eternity. For the past hour I have googled ‘blood platelets increasing' as if by naming the monster, I will be ready for battle.

Between the blood tests, worrying does nothing.

At the same time, I hope that I’m worrying too much for nothing.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Reasons to Keep Posting

Blogging doesn’t come easily to me and I’m still trying to find my unreserved blog voice.

Perhaps I get too self conscious.

[Long self conscious pause]

My resistance to blogging was based on 2 questions:

Why bring your thoughts into a public space?
Why tackle demons without anonymity or at all through a blog?

Sometimes you have to suspend the questions and try out something new. Yeah, I feel exposed putting my thoughts out ther as well as vulnerable (who cares really?). But its paid off. I’ve renewed contact to two friends with far cooler blogs – Tiff and Ivan. My sis who’s thousands of miles away in USA can read about me here. I’m also making real life contact with another blogger this week. Best of all, I’ve generated my first idea for a kid’s book within these posts.

I may not have found my unreserved blog voice but I’m finding myself, right here.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Who is more bored?

So my 32nd birthday passed. I took the afternoon off and met a long time friend. The agenda - to bitch about work, eat lots of pasta and discuss a joint project which could possibly launch our lives in a new direction.

Over lunch, we played who was more bored.

Her: I'm so bored that I feel like renting a pushcart and selling junk.

Me: I'm so bored that I think cutting fruits will be more interesting.

Her: I avoid calls in the morning.

Me: I stone out in the mrt.