Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Solitary Confinement

the hand that rocks the cradle

Raising a kid is no walk in the park, I tell you. Aside from the feeding, cleaning, pooping, peeing we also have to contend with the Baby Jesse's crying. And oh boy, the boy can cry - sometimes for no particular reason at all! Usually when Jesse gets that way, we'd just talk to him and strangely enough, sometimes it works.

"If you keep crying, I'll sell you to the pig farmers," Mae told Jesse one day, keeping her part in an age-old Chinese tradition of threatening the young. (Every Chinese mother I know has spoken this line at least once in their lives! Hahahha!)

And then, Aunty Mooi joined in the conversation, "Oh no, don't sell him to the pig farmers, send him home with me back to Kampar." And all of them had a hearty laugh over Aunty Mooi's quip. Suddenly, the air turned dense and thick, almost bearing down on Mae's fragile, weather-beaten and weary post-natal body. "I'm serious," Aunty Mooi said. Somewhere, a child's cry shattered the silence and serenity of the land.

When I came home that night, Mae confided in me. "Do you think she might just snap and make off with our baby?" Mae's always had a flair for the dramatic. It also didn't help that she had a fertile imagination.

"She's always discouraging me from breastfeeding Baby," Mae went on, "Maybe she doesn't want me to bond with Jesse." Like I said, Mae's mind is filled with the fantastical. And so I answered her in the only way I know how.

"You better check on her at nights," I told Mae, "Maybe SHE's breastfeeding Jesse!" Mae was mortified. As my words seeped into the dark recesses of her brain, snippets of The Hand That Rocks The Cradle played over in her mind. The evil Rebecca De Mornay had done just that to exact revenge on a woman who destroyed her life!

I sat back and enjoyed the show as Mae went into a mini panic attack. Hahahha! That's when she bopped me on the head and called me an idiot. Bwahahahhah!!

Aunty Mooi had indeed grown fond of Jesse. He seems to have that effect on people. Anyway, over the course of the last two weeks Aunty Mooi had brought up the subject. She was genuinely offering to take him off our hands for a month. We declined, of course. We would simply miss Baby too much. We did, however, promise that we'd take Jesse to Kampar for visits.

Still, in the back of her mind, Mae was still wondering. Was Aunty Mooi a crazed lonely woman?

Last Friday, the night before Aunty Mooi was due to go home, I decided to play with Mae again. "Honey, I think we better hide the house keys," I told Mae with dead-panned seriousness. "What if Aunty Mooi decides to sneak off with Jesse in the middle of the night?" Mae jumped out of bed to grab all our house keys. Hahhahhahhahha!!!

How can anyone not love Mae? :) She's entertainment all-year round.

Friday, September 24, 2004

A Fine Confinement Lady

Does everyone have a Confinement Lady? Sometimes I wonder if other races or civilizations have confinement ladies to help with the post-partum affairs. In fact, I'm not even sure if anyone else has confinements at all. But to the Chinese, that time after birth is all-important.

Every Chinese will tell you that Confinement Ladies are a must. Basically, her role is to take care of the mother and her new baby in adherence to the tips and taboos outlined by our forefathers. And boy, we Chinese have a heckuva lot of taboos!

Anyway, last month, we engaged the services of Aunty Mooi. She's a superwoman. She takes care of Mae's needs - her food, her herbal supplements, her medicinal baths, etc. On top of that, she also takes care of Baby Jesse. To make sure Mae gets a good night's rest, Jesse sleeps with her for the entire month. This ensures that all his late night activities of feeding and poo-ing are well taken care of.

As a Confinement Lady, Auntie Mooi is pretty progressive - given that she's attended quite a few... erm... training sessions with some Pediatricians. (Actually, she's always gone along for all doctor visits so that she could keep up with the latest in child care) That's helped a lot. Believe me. At least we didn't have to contend with a whole bunch of superstitions! Still, in many instances, she can be pretty old-school.

But what makes Aunty Mooi a really good Confinement Lady is the fact that the old girl can cook. Boy, can she ever! Every meal is a treat in our household these days. She rotates the menu well, and her cooking is more contemporary - which simply means she holds back on the ginger and the herbs! Aside from the customary Drunken Chicken Soup and Pork Trotter Vinegar Stew, we've had quite a good spread.

When Pip and Estella were doing their confinement, poor Pip was subjected to a daily torture of "heavily-gingered" dishes. So much so the poor chap plotted an amazing jailbreak to enjoy a nice plate on Wantan Noodles. And that was only after one week. Hehheh!

Meanwhile, in the Tan household, tonight will be yet another night of fine dining. Ahhhh... who said confinement had to be bad?

UPDATED 23 AUG 06: I have received quite a few email and comments asking for Auntie Mooi's contact number. I'm sorry to inform that Auntie Mooi is no longer in the confinement business. She has officially retired since a year or so back and it doesn't look like she'll be back. Sorry, folks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Kissing Game

I love my son to bits. It's funny, I never thought I'd ever feel this way about another guy. He's so cuddly and small and cute and all! I like to carry him every opportunity I get - much to the dismay of our Confinement Lady. Most traditionalists think that babies could really get used to all that handling. "He's gonna want to be carried all the time," she'll advise, "Then you won't be able to get anything done."

Here's another thing. I kiss him goodbye every morning before I leave for work. Sometimes, I wonder how long I'd be able to kiss him goodbye. I mean, at what point in a kid's life does a kiss between a father and his son turn from affectionate to disgusting? Hehhehheh!

Daddies can kiss their little girls goodbye even when their little girls turns 30. But do little boys think it's creepy that their dads are still kissing them on their 20th birthday? Is it still okay to have your dad kiss you when you're a full grown man?

The mafia make it look so cool. "Come on Jesse-boy, kissa your fadda... muah... muah!" No mafia kid ever showed his dad an icky face. "Whatsamatter boy, youse too good for your fadda now? Youse wanna get whacked?" Is that cool or what?

I shoulda been the mafia.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Bath Training


not the face, mommy!

Yesterday, Mae bathed Baby Jesse for the first time. It's a milestone of sorts. In fact, these days, just about everything that Jesse does is historic.

So there we were at 7:45am, all four of us crammed inside our tiny little bathroom (we live in a cheesy little apartment). There was the star of the show, Baby Jesse; the mother-in-training, Mae; leading the way was our coach, Mdm Confinement Lady and finally, there was Daddy and his trusty Canon A80 poised to capture the moment. Boy, oh boy!

If you think carrying a baby is tough, wait till you have to bathe him. Once in the water, Jesse is one slippery little customer. To make matters worse, the boy is as agile as a monkey on a hot tin roof. More than once, Mae has had to dunk his head into the water to flush some sense into him. I'm kidding. I promise. :)

Fortunately, Baby Jesse takes to water, like a duck... erm... to water. :) When Mae immersed him into his little bathtub, he was lovin' it. But when she needed to wipe his face, the boy screamed his lungs off. "Not the face, mommy!!"

In another week, the Confinement Lady leaves and we'll be pretty much on our own. So this week, we're gearing ourselves up for the big task ahead - bringing up Baby all by ourselves. This week is training week.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Two Milestones

Last week, Baby Jesse achieved 2 important milestones in his life so far. First, his umbilical cord dropped off! Yay! And secondly, perhaps more importantly, his jaundice has finally cleared.

I've always been squeamish about the navel. I have this very vivid imagination that if anyone were to touch my navel and accidentally unravel the... erm... knot, all my entrails will explode out of my body rendering me quite dead. It'd be a bloody mess too. So, you can imagine that I'm not too thrill that there's this dying piece of skin dangling out of Baby's navel, weighed down by a large, heavy, plastic clip. *Euuwww* Anyway, it's gone now. Good riddance. :)

Baby's jaundice is also all gone. That first night when we rushed him back to hospital, our Pediatrician advised us to keep him there another night.

"His jaundice is not high, but we should keep him for observation." Man. Warning sirens were going crazy in my head. "Money-making scheme," I thought to myself. It would have easily set us back RM 1,000! But money aside, I didn't want Baby to have to stay in the hospital a day longer than he needed. It's such a depressing place. Finally, we decided to leave Baby's jaundice to the wisdom of our forefathers - traditional chinese remedies!

We bought these little seeds at the local Chinese Medical Hall. The Wong Kor Chai (Little Yellow Fruits. No idea what they're called in English) seeds are crushed and sold in little packets - one packet per bath. And they're cheap too. Every morning for about one week, we boil this in Baby's bath water and soak him in. For good measure, we also put Baby out in the morning sun for a 5-minute dose of UV. Four bucks and a few short sunbathing sessions later, Baby is a nice pink once again. Voila!

Praise God. Two milestones equal one great feeling of accomplishment. I feel elated. Relieved. And bloody well pleased that the icky umbilical cord is gone for good! Hehheh.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Time's Up


barney who?

My deadline is up! Today I remove Bob and Barney off of this blog. And as you can plainly see, I have done just that. I had fully expected to have procrasinated the matter, but I am a changed man. *ahaks*

I have even written an email to GAF Counsel to inform them of my actions. In case you're from GAF Counsel and have not received my mail, I am reproducing it here for your convenience:
To Mr. Matthew W. Carlin,

Your email has put the fear of God my heart. I was wrong to have used your client's intellectual property in my NON-PROFIT web site. I realise that I do not stand a chance against your organization and have therefore removed all Bob the Builder and Barney images from my web site.

I know that I might have pushed my luck a little on the deadline. I hope you will overlook my little transgression. Take me out if you must, but spare my infant son. Even though my web site is created in dedication to him, it is really not his fault. He is innocent of all my unlawful activities. Please.


After my last encounter with thugs (read previous entry), I'm not taking any chances. Who knows how GAF Counsel is connected.

Hahahahahhahahahahahha!!! *ahem* Sorry.

I fully intend to redesign this blog. But since I just haven't had the time, I'm leaving things as they are for now.

BTW, anyone out there can help me with my script? I have this gaping white space above my top banner and I don't know how to get rid of it. It wasn't there before but ever since Blogger created the Blogger Bar, I haven't been able to remove it.

If you help me, I will name my firstborn after you. Oh wait. Too late. You'll just have to settle for PaanMein or a Kaya Toast! :)

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Of Procrastinators & Repossessors

I'm a dumb-ass. I am. Why else would I keep forgetting to pay my car loan? Yes, I've been meaning to pay, but somehow, something always gets in the way. This time, I missed 3 payments.

On Tuesday, I was really rushing out work. I had to finish up and leave for the day at 2pm. It was time for Baby Jesse's routine check-up at the hospital. Suddenly the phone rings. "Mr. James Tan?" a voice at the end enquired, to which I acknowledged. "We're repossessing your car," he said, and continued, "Can you come down now?"

This couldn't have come at a worse time. But I had no choice.I got to my car shortly after and suddenly, two burly Indian guys jumped me and kicked the living crap out of me. After having the daylights knocked out of my system, they drive off with my car!

Hehheh! Okay, it was't quite that dramatic. Instead, Ravi and Chandran laid down the cards, while their silent, stone-cold assassin-faced colleague stood a comfortable distance away. I owed 3 payments and they were gonna tow my car. I'd have to settle the 3 payments in cash and on top of that, pay RM 660 for the towing, the rent-a-thugs, and whatever processing fees there were.

Being the nice gentlemen they were, they offered me a more economical solution.

"How much?" I asked. "You make offer," Ravi grunted. And so I did, "RM 100, can?"

"Okay, forget it," man, he was pissed off. "You settle with the bank."

"C'mon!!" I protested, "How do I know how much you want if you won't say?" It's not like I deal with repossesors every day. Sheesh! Finally, after much negotiation with the guys fixed the price at RM 450. Things got a little less tense and we even managed a few laughs. I even played the fool with Ravi, faking a runaway debtor which got him quite jumpy. Hehheh!

Anyway, under normal circumstances I would have dealt with the bank instead. But thanks to Ravi and Chandran, and of course their assasin friend (whom I hate to admit were actually nice guys), I had learnt the error of my procrastinating ways. My son was going for his first check up and I'd be damned if I were gonna procrastinate on that too! So I gritted my teeth and did the neccessary.

And just like that I learnt another valuable lesson. All RM 450's worth! And oh yeah, I also paid the bank in full what I owed. *sigh* Do I lead the most eventful life or what?

And no, I don't get to deduct this out of Baby's allowance. :)

Attack Of The 3 Bloggers!!

a hit with the ladies

Heh! Since all three of them, namely Ariel, Jotay & IreneQ have blogged on the same subject, I thought I'd outdo them a little on the title! :)

On Sunday, three of Blogdom's more prominent denizens graced our humble abode. While Mae and I had ample... erm... warning, poor Baby Jesse was completely taken by surprised. So much so, he poo-pooed himself at their arrival. Hahhaha!

I'm kidding of course! Oh, he did take a big dump, but it wasn't their fault at all. It just so happens, our boy had decided to go to the toilet at that very moment. Can you imagine having arrive and being greeted by a great big pile of turd? Oh boy. Hehhehh!!! I guess Baby hasn't quite gotten the hang of hospitality just yet.

Anyway, they all took turn to carry him and he was loving it. Imagine, all that attention from so many women at such a tender age. Aaaahhh... that's my boy. :)

To Ariel, Jotay and Irene, thanks for dropping by. We enjoyed having you. And so did Baby Jesse.

Monday, September 6, 2004

Bob No More!

Over the weekend, I received an email from GAF Counsel. These guys represent the guys who own the exclusive rights of the Bob the Builder and Barney intellectual property. Ouch!

According to the nice gentlemen (an possibly some nice ladies too) at GAF:
The materials you are using are the intellectual property of Lyons Partnership and HIT. It is unlawful (pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 501(a) and other laws) to use this property without the permission of our clients. These materials must be immediately removed.
I have up to 13th September 2004 to remove the images of Bob and Barney. Otherwise, the nice people at GAF will be forced to shut me down and take me out. I could face a multimillion dollar lawsuit, or worse I could go to jail. I think they might even try and push for the death penalty. Aww man...!

I had it coming. In all my innocence to dress up my non-profit website with the images of my favourite children's character of Bob the Builder, I have fallen into a life of crime. In all my enthusiasm to impart upon my newborn son the wholesomeness of Bob, I have unwittingly fallen into the dark side. Oh, woe is me!

They must hate me. And I suppose they were probably not terribly amused by my opinions on Barney too. *ahaks*

Gee willickers! I need to set things straight! And soon, too. So brace yourselves friends, for Bob and Barney will be no more from this site. It will be painful. And by painful, I mean seeing Bob go. Barney, on the other hand, is just a pain. Hehheh! But yes, it shall be done. I shall need to be strong, and by golly, I shall prevail.

Bye-bye, Bob. *sniff*

Saturday, September 4, 2004

Sweet Dreams are Made of These


...Mr. Sandman...Bring me a dream...

Sometimes when he sleeps, Baby Jesse will curl his lips into a sweet little smile. Other times, he will furrow his brows and twist his features into a heartbreaking frown. Is it just merely a reflex or is he dreaming?

When we dream, our dreams or nightmares are usually a playback of our memories. Memories of events collected through the course of our lives. In Baby's case, his whole life is all of the 9 days he's been out into the world. We often wonder what he dreams about.

Could he be reminiscing that delicious meal of mother's milk he's just had - along with a generous side of mommy's TLC? Perhaps he's savouring it all over again in his reverie. Or could he be fighting off that dragon of a Confinement Lady who keeps forcefeeding him bland, tasteless water? Or maybe he's remembering the wonderful experience of Daddy cradling him in his strong muscular arms against his herculean-proportionate chest. *ahem* Or it could be he's having a horrifying dream of that nasty pile of poo he just expelled. Hehh!

Sometimes it looks like he's having a frightening nightmare, when he convulses and shakes. That must be the dream of his traumatic exit from the comfort of Mae's womb. One minute he's curled up inside the warm confines of mommy, and the next, he's rudely awakened and yanked out into the cold air! And with a vacuum, no less.

The memory of that one event must have been horribly frightful. And yet, someday this dream will eventually be erased from his memory to make way for fresh, new ones. Just like all of us, he will one day forget the harrowing event of his birth. And that day will come when we have created enough new memories and new dreams for him.

Hopefully, all his dreams will be sweet ones from here on.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Amateur Parents

Baby Jesse came into our lives on Thursday. On Friday, the hospital saw it fit to send us on our way to our new lives. We checked out of the place by 3pm. I was bursting with excitement. Baby's going home! Or so I thought...

We were supposed to have some help at home. However, due to a miscommunication, the calvary would only arrive on Saturday. Friday, we were pretty much on our own.

"What's the big deal?" I assured Mae, "We can do this!" It can't be all that difficult. After all, I had already learnt to bathe and change Baby from my one-night stay with Mae at the hospital. We could do this. It didn't matter that we couldn't even keep a cactus alive. We could do this. Or so I thought.

After a feeding at 7pm we wrapped Baby up like the nurses had shown me and tucked him in. And he slept like a... erm... baby! At 10pm we were supposed to wake him up for a feeding but looking at his angelic little face, I just didn't have the heart to disturb him. And so he slept.

By 12 midnight, we decided to wake him. But something was wrong. He didn't want to eat. He was lethargic. His limbs were frail and limp. He didn't even have the energy to cry. He opened his mouth to cry but there was no sound. Something was wrong.

"He's feverish!!" Mae exclaimed. He looked flushed. And the thermometer read 37.7 degrees Celcius. We panicked.

By then it was almost 1am. We called the hospital but they would offer no comfort. We had to do something. So right there in the middle of the night, we rushed Baby Jesse back to hospital. They admitted him into the Special Care Nursery for observation. Mae stayed behind to facilitate breastfeeding. I stayed up.

One night and RM500 later, the doctor discharged Baby with a clean bill of health. "There's nothing wrong with him," the doctor assured us.

Turns out, Baby Jesse' amateur parents got a little over-enthusiastic with his wrapping. The poor little guy was practically baking under all that flannel. Also, since we did not wake him for his feed, his blood sugar level dipped causing his lethargy. Heh!

We laugh at it now. But damn, we we're scared shitless that day! Heh, the 500 bucks is coming out of his allowance someday!

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Baby's Day Out

On 26th August 2004, Mae brought Baby Jesse out into the world. And there I was watching it all! What a trip! If you're an expectant daddy, heck even if you're not, make sure you never miss the opportunity to witness this miracle! Here's a sneak preview - approved by the Censorship... erm... Broad (*ahem*)!

Mae went into labour at 2:00am. She would eventually deliver 12 hours later. That means 12 hours of pain! By the time we checked-in at the hospital at 6:00am, Mae's contractions were at 10-minute intervals.

By 11:00am, the pain was so unbearable that Mae requested for an Epidural. I was fearful, yet on the other hand, it broke my heart seeing her suffer. The procedure was pretty scary. A long tube was inserted into Mae's spine to administer the anaesthetic that would numb her pain. The drug is pumped into her body with this device. Meanwhile, I prayed for the best.

The Epidural took effect 15 minutes later despite some scary moments. Mae is at ease and no longer feeling much pain. I was free to make a nuisance of myself with the camera. Meanwhile, the midwives continued to monitor Baby's heartbeat.

By noon, things had really started to cook. Doc's equipment had been laid out for her. Somehow, I knew it was gonna be a messy affair. Meanwhile, the midwifes had gotten Mae to start pushing.

After almost 2 hours of pushing, Doc arrives and got dressed for the occasion. Mae had gotten very weak by then and Baby was still nowhere near appearing. Baby would have to be vacuumed out. A vacuum suction cup in inserted into Mae and attached to Baby's head. Then Doc began pulling. It was chaotic. Everyone was shouting. And amidst the confusion, Doc snipped a little incision. Sneaky!!

"He's coming!" Doc yelled after 10 minutes. I stood firmly as I readied my camera to catch that decisive moment. Suddenly, Baby just popped out of there like a squished pimple. I felt the little hair stand on my back as tears welled up in my eyes! Nothing had prepared me for that. I stood there gaping like a dumb-ass as the moment passed me by. So no shots there. I was just happy I didn't drop my camera or pass out! Heheh!

Baby is plopped unceremoniously on Mae's belly. She's as shocked as I was. "Daddy," Doc's voice shook me out of my stupor, "You wanna cut?" You bet your ass I did! And so I cut my son's umbilical cord. At that point, I felt like a Superhero or something. Hehheheh!!! Baby was then wrapped up and placed onto a table under a heatlamp.

Soon, Baby Jesse is whisked away. I follow. They weighed and measured him. And they gave him his jabs. Then he was brought back to the Delivery Room and put under the heatlamp again. I give him my hand and he grabs on to my finger. I bend over and whispered into his ear, "Jesse, you are God's gift to mommy and daddy. We will always love you."

And just like that, I went from a Superhero to a softie. It's a amazing how someone so little can make me feel so much. *sigh*

NOTE (as at 1 Sept 2004)
Forgive me for the grammatical mistakes. I know I have my tenses all over the place. Heck, I even cringe re-reading this! It was late and I was half asleep. And now I'm too lazy to correct anything. And oh, btw, when Baby first arrived he was purple and he looked like my dad. Hahahah!!! Thank God he's looking a whole lot nicer now. :)