Sunday, January 31, 2010

Confinement food: ginger

I'm done with the confinement food, but just want to share here what I actually ate.

Well, lots and lots of ginger, finely chopped and added to any dishes. Ginger is believed to be able to help the body release "wind" from the body, thus preventing me from having arthritis problem when I grow old.

To finely chop it you need to have a very sharp knife. My aunt demanded a knife without teeth, luckily I brought the one I had from US here.

I ate lots of lean pork with ginger. This is the most expensive part of the pork, hubby said I was eating like a rich people.

My mum also sent me this. This is to help regain energy that I lost during labor.

One type of the Chinese herbs I took. My aunt boiled it into soup with some chicken.

I'm glad the confinement month is over. I'm still pampered by aunt by all the Malaysian foods though.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Full moon 满月

Aelig turned one month today. It is called full moon in the Chinese culture. If she was born in Malaysia, she would have a full moon party, and we would distribute the full moon gift packs to friends and relatives. The packages consisted of delightful treats such as glutinous rice, hard boiled eggs dyed in red, and ensemble of Chinese cakes. The gift packs have been modernized these days, some parents just give out KFC packs.

As far as I know there is no such tradition in France. Some families just buy a cake and celebrate within close family. We bought her a cake and she got more gifts from the family.

Being young parents, this one month was joyous but tough and sometimes furious for us. She is not an angel all the times. The main problem being that she doesn't like to sleep on her bassinet nor our bed. She is colicky almost every evening until 1am. During the day when hubby is working, she would sleep on my arms, on my laps or on my shoulder. Once I put her on her bassinet, she cries. Sometimes I have to eat with her on me. Thank God I have my aunt here taking care of all the house chores, plus she helps me calm her down. My aunt has a lot of patience, when Aelig cries non-stop, she would hold her on her arms for hours as this is the only way the little angel could fall asleep.

When daddy gets home he takes the relay. Aelig is active during the evening so it is very tough for daddy to get her to sleep. He has to rock her for hours before she finally doze off. Sometimes when he put her beside me, she wakes up and he has to redo everything. When she finally falls asleep on bed, it is usually after 1am and I guess that is because she is exhausted, not that she wants to sleep on the bed.

When daddy goes to sleep, I'm all alone to take care of her. During the good nights she sleeps through and wakes up every 3 hours for milk. During the bad nights, she wakes up screaming and crying every 20 minutes, sometimes I have to stand and hold her for like 20 minutes before she could finally go back to sleep but the cycle continues. I couldn't sleep as she would wave her hands from time to time as if she is scared of something.

The situation has worsen. When she was in the hospital, she slept well during the nights. When she got home, she was still sleeping from time to time on her bassinet and on our bed. From the third week on, she refused her bassinet, the most we could get her to sleep on it is 15 minutes. Sometimes I feel so helpless as she won't go to sleep after nursing, she cries non-stop no matter how many positions I tried, at the end mama cries with her too. Two days before she turned one month, both mama and papa couldn't get her to sleep and both were totally wore off with her cries, my aunt came for rescue and it was the first time she didn't sleep with me.

We consulted the doctor and people around, everyone said this is normal, especially for a small baby (she weighted only 2.7kg when she was born). My friends from USA recommended mylicon as apparently she has gas problem, but I couldn't get this in France, instead my doctor prescript her Calmosine. It didn't work much, she still kick her legs when she is in pain with the gas, she would slightly relief only when she manages to fart.

Well, the doctor said this is a transition period that most babies have to go through. I hope she would get better when she gets older.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Confinement food: Dishes with homemade red wine

My homemade Chinese red wine turned out to be delicious. My aunt has been cooking me red wine chicken and red wine noodles.

For the red wine chicken, first julienne some ginger and fry them in sesame oil. Put in some chicken and stir fry and simmer it from time to time for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Pour in half bowl of red wine and let it simmer for 2 minutes.

Red wine chicken is served.

Red wine noodles. Yummy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Confinement drink: red date tea

In our Chinese tradition, during the confinement month the new mother should only drink red date tea. Since it is winter, it suits me well to have hot drinks all the times and it tastes really good. The tea is made from red dates, black dates, dried longan, ginger, tom sum & pat keh (Chinese herbs).

My aunt boils me the tea everyday. My family sent me the ingredients from Malaysia, unfortunately they only arrived during the third week of my confinement. At the first few weeks, she only boiled the tea with some gingers and red dates.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Recycling our Christmas Tree

This year we decided to buy our Christmas tree at Ikea due to their recycling program. We paid 20 euros for it and we just returned it and got a 19 euros voucher. Ikea will turn the returned Christmas tree into compost.

The return process got a bit messy though. As usual the car park was overcrowded since it is Saturday and it is on sale period. Hubby dropped me at Ikea's entrance and I went all the way to where we got the tree, just to be told that I need to go to the underground car park. The car park was very big and I didn't know which direction to go. After a while hubby still couldn't find a parking spot so he called me and decided to pick me up and go to the recycling site together. Unfortunately he couldn't find a place to just stop the car as there were heavy traffic. It took me at least 15 minutes to eventually got into the car with the tree (plus I didn't hear my cell ring even though he tried calling me 10 times just to arrange a spot to get into the car).

When we finally returned the tree we got all irritated by the crowd and decided to go to another Lerclerc for grocery shopping. We will try to avoid going near Atlantis shopping center on Saturday again.

Anyway, before I got home, I got a call from my aunt saying that Aelig was hungry. Ok got to rush home to feed the baby, such is my new life, have to play the role as milk cow every 2-3 hours!

Friday, January 08, 2010

6 days in the hospital

After the delivery, I stayed in the hospital for 6 days. Some people asked me why I had to stay for so long, since in Malaysia usually the mother and the new born will get discharged on the second or third day.

In France, on average the new borns and the mothers stay 5 days in the hospital. Beside making sure that the post-natal care could be carried out effectively, the young parents also learn to take care of the new family member.

After staying two hours in the delivery room, I was transferred to a private room. The baby was with me all the times. Everyday the midwife came to ask about my condition, took my temperature and pressure, helped me wash the wound area, gave me medicine if the painkiller was not effective, and answered my doubts. There was another team at the nursery that took care of the baby. The nurse came in from time to time to check on baby's temperature, showed us how to change the diaper and clothes. From third day on, we had to go the nursery to shower the baby, gave her vitamin, weighted her. The pediatrician came by twice during my stay to have regular check up on her.

New daddy giving the first bath to her daughter under the nurse's guidance.

The baby was crying non-stop, the nurse asked the new daddy to hold her in this way to imitate her position in the womb and help her release gas. She liked it and stopped crying instantly.

Baby changing room

Washroom for mommy. Notice that it has a tube water beside the toilet seat for woman to clean up their perineum area. It has only cool water, the midwife explained that cool water could numb the area and help the recovery process. A big no no to the Chinese believe that a new mother should never touch cool water during the first month.

It might sound weird to say it, but the food in the hospital was excellent. They even provide some Christmas dessert during Christmas eve. Due to the swine flu precaution only daddy was allowed to enter the maternity wad, but my in laws and my aunt came to the cafeteria to have Christmas meal with me.

Overall it was quite boring staying 6 days long in the hospital. Luckily hubby brought me books, my favorite CDs and movies to help me pass the time. Besides, it was important to make sure that the baby regains her weight before going home.

We paid 459 euros for all these services. My insurance is supposed to give us bonus plus take care of the room charges (59 euros a day) but well we are still dealing with it.

Scenery outside my room. Blue blue sky on Christmas day.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The exhausting delivery process

During the childbirth preparation class, we learnt about signs of labor in which we have to go to the hospital immediately. My gynecologist reiterated the signs as well during the last check up. As the day drew closer, we had been impatiently waiting for the sign: constant contractions or spot of blood or water break.

One Saturday evening hubby spotted the constant 5 minutes contractions (I was not feeling anything) and he got himself all excited. Turned out it was a false alarm as once I went to sleep the contractions went away.

Finally, on Wednesday morning, I had some blood spots but it was very light. I waited a while, more blood coming, I decided to wake up hubby and we rushed to the hospital. Big mistake to not have a full meal before going. I only managed to drink a cup of milk.

Arrived at the hospital, went into the delivery room while waiting for a midwife to check on me. The midwife came one hour later as the hospital was full and they were shorthanded. She concluded that I have diluted for 2cm so she will keep me.

While waiting in the delivery room, a machine was monitoring the baby's heart beat and my contractions. The contractions didn't come with pain though. Hubby brought me some books, I sat on a balloon and was feeling quite comfortable. The midwife checked on me from time to time and informed me that I can take the epidural anytime I want. Since there was no pain despite the contractions, I wanted to see how far I can wait, or if I could give birth without the epidural. I also read that epidural actually slows down the labor but the midwife told me the contrary. She said for some people, epidural helps relax them thus making the delivery advances faster. After 8 hours there and I was only 4cm diluted, I decided to take on the epidural. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist was busy with other patients so I had to wait.

I got the epidural at the right time as I started having strong menstrual like cramp. It took only 5 minutes, a painless and easy process. The contraction chart showed that I was having regular and strong contractions but I didn't feel a thing. The midwife came and she predicted that our daughter will arrive around 3am, 15 hours after I admitted to the hospital.

We waited patiently, it was a blessing that hubby was with me during the whole process. His present reassured me. When I was 8cm dilated, a sharp pain hit me on my left butt, the epidural was not preventing it. I had to bear with the pain as even though I was pressing for more dose of epidural and the midwife changed the product in the epidural, nothing worked. I had no choice but to proceed with the pushing stage as I was 10cm dilated.

The pushing started. The midwife told me that it would only take 10 minutes since the baby's head was already at the birth canal. I had the midwife, a nurse and a doctor monitoring the process while hubby stayed on my right hand side. The nurse showed me how to push, but several pushes, the baby heart beat deteriorating so the doctor decided to perform a forceps.

At 2.53am, our daughter is born. When the nurse posted the baby on me, I had no feeling for her as I was in deep pain while the doctor was sewing my perinea area. I kept asking when were they going to finish. It took the doctor some time, and the pain won't ease away. I had to live with the soreness for about 2 weeks, I'm glad it is getting better now.