The Real; The Fake; The Ups and The Low-downs

I believe this is a stage that most bloggers will encounter. More so if you are blogging about your young children. You start questioning if your blog is 1) relevant; 2) too fake; too impersonal; 3) too real; too dangerous.

I have been blogging since 2009; on and off but more regularly so during the last 2 years when I joined the Singapore Mom Bloggers (SMB) group. My interest in blogging was piqued by my cousin who had a blog and shared interesting motherhood and education details about her daughter. I was facing an extremely difficult first pregnancy then and besides my hubby (and God); no one else seemed to be able to understand what we were going through. I started the blog partly out of boredom (being confined to bed rest) and a desire to find an outlet to express my thoughts. 5 years ago, the usage of smart phones weren’t as rampant as now and thus the idea of social media platforms were not as widely utilised too. Blogs were more “in” then. 🙂

Fast forward 5 years on, this blog had documented another challenging 2nd pregnancy and another miraculous birth of my 2nd boy. I am also blessed with opportunities to review products/attend events especially after joining SMB. One of my colleagues asked me if I am a “semi-famous blogger”! haaa.. I like that honesty. I am not famous; let alone “semi-famous” just because of advertorial activities. The aim of this blog had never changed and it is to provide an avenue of encouragement, empathy and sharing with mummies who might be going through difficult pregnancies; especially with PPROM conditions. It is a quiet objective working its way in a few moms-to-be lives which I had came across these 5 years. PPROM is a condition not commonly encountered in the Asia region and thus support is less available. I have women contacting me via my blog/emails to share about their predicament and we try to share notes and encouragement through the cyberspace. I have never met most of these women; but my heart ache every single time I received an email searching for answers and help. I was in their shoes before and I know it takes another who went through it to cry, to feel and to pray with them. The emotional struggles often outweigh the physical discomfort. Majority of these babies made it to preterm births; but yes, there are those who did not. There is no nicer way to put this; except it’s the truth. Whenever one such lady lost contact with me, I won’t pursue the contact either; because I know they need time and my experiences might not be relevant anymore. Times like this made me hug my boys tighter; give them extra kisses because I know they are miracles in our lives which we are extremely thankful for.

Dr Seuss

Putting the tears aside, this blog had seen happy times too! The many milestones my boys went through; their funny antics and our growing journey with them. Sometimes I am worried about the danger of putting them too much in the dangerous world of internet crimes. Hmmm…. too much concerns might lead to no action. But I try to practise some safety measures; e.g. sometimes an instagram photo is from yesterday and not where we are exactly at that moment. Unless there is requirement to blog/share from immediate locations, I try not to do so till we are almost leaving the place or already left.

There had been a series of blogs in the blogging sphere discussing about the “real life” behind the smiley faces in blogs. I asked my hubby this question just a few days back: “Is my blogging persona similar to my real-life persona?” Without any hesitation, he said “No; you are quite different in both lives”. *Ouch* Though I know to a certain extent I am different in “reel life” vs “real life”, to hear it said in your face, it is like a slap on your face huh? But the smarter hubby went on to elaborate (and maybe do some damage control!) that most, if not all bloggers will only share certain portions of their lives; not every single details. Most will share only areas which they are comfortable in sharing. For example, my hubby is an extremely private person and in respect for that, I choose not to share (too much) of him and us on the blog or social media. Sometimes (teasingly of course) I used it as threats towards him if he said or do something unkind to me or the situation. “That which you said is going on Facebook!” hahhaa.. For the records, It worked as a tease but not on quarrels-mode. 😛

The “chameleon nature” of a woman; don’t ruff her feathers! hehehe.

Gif of me

The smarter hubby also shared that many messages are similar/the same. It’s the way it is presented that will attract attention, readership and support. For example during the U.S. election, Obama and Mccain both wanted the same thing for U.S. But if you listen to both men’s speeches, one cannot deny that Obama is much more engaging and captivating vs a boring; pragmatic Mccain. That’s the power of charisma in my opinion. No one wants to listen to a boring speech; likewise on one likes to read boring blogs just sharing run-of-the-mill stories. And that’s how “unreality” sometimes set in. My life is not that interesting; just a mommy running after 2 boys and trying to juggle a work-family-life balance. But what make it interesting is the experiences I went through while finding a foothold in that balance beam. It is not that rosy pictures always; but I prefer to send across messages of hope, peace and life rather than chaos and doomsday. Just like most mommies, I face struggles and challenges in marriage, society, bringing children, extended family relations, church-life and more. But to publicly put those struggles on the blog is something I still struggle with today. Till my “smarter” hubby reminded me that no matter how “real” a blogger looks like on a blog, there are private things/moments which one does not readily want to share and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, the blogging/social media persona might be a way to hide the real person. I have met bloggers whom I thought are “atas”; proud and inconsiderate of others’ feelings but in real person, they are just harmless commoners like me and you who might just need a little assurance or security. Similarly, I met those who I thought are “colourful” and full of ideas on their blogs, but in real person, they look so cold and unapproachable. :S

But then again, many people’s first impression of me is that I look conceited and is a proud person (at least my one person thinks that way: my hubby!). But give me a chance lah; most whom I count as close friends will know that I warm up easily after the ice is broken and you might not be able to stop me from yakking (and gesticulating) nonstop!

This is part of a musing going through my restless mind; nothing super concrete. Just part of me trying to refocus on objective of blogging; this blog and trying to brush up on my writing skills too. If you happened to bump into us on the street, please do say Hi or a virtual “hi” is very welcomed too. 🙂 I promise a smile and a handshake ok! Encouragement works both ways ya; bloggers need some little dosages of it too! 🙂 

Balance

My PPROM story

Penning this story down as I realised that my PPROM birth story is scattered all over the blog.  Sincerely hope that my story and many others’ will encourage someone who had to walk a similar road.

PPROM – Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes

PPROM is defined as a condition that occurs in pregnancy when there is rupture of membranes (i.e. the  membrane sac holding your baby and the amniotic fluid breaks open before you are actually in labour). It’s defined as PPROM when such condition occurs before 37 weeks of gestation.


It was a normal day for me.

Normal as in – normal to see blood; normal to see more blood.


It was my first pregnancy. Excited, wide-eyed and totally ignorant of the world of pregnancy; Kim & I were thrown into a whirlpool of events which saw us going through one of the darkest moments in our lives.

I started spotting right from the moment the doctor confirmed my pregnancy. Subsequently, the spotting progressed to severe bleeding during 11-12 weeks of gestation. I was ordered bed rest and took leave from work to rest as much as possible. Subsequently, blood clots in the uterus showed signs of dispersing and thus I went back to work for about 3 to 4 weeks.

Lo and behold, bleeding started again at week 19-20 weeks of gestation. It progressed to heavy bleeds which almost shocked the life out of me. Every time it happened, thoughts of losing my precious baby came into my mind. That’s it – my baby is gone – or so the worse of me thought.

But God is good. He preserved my little life throughout the non-stop bleeds. I probably saw more blood than I ever did it my entire life! Yes, it’s worse than the monthly woman’s cycle.


Going back to my normal day.. I was back at home after a week’s stay at Thomson Medical Centre.  By then, I was used to checking if the bleeding had worsen or lighten. But something was different… The bleeding seemed to have lighten and it’s giving way to some form of clear fluid. I had absolutely no idea what that was and thank God for 2 well-meaning friends (J&J)who rushed me to consult another obstetrician.

It was a tough time in the doctor’s clinic.  After a check up, he ruthlessly drew up a table for us. He announced that my water bag had burst and I might go into labour any time.

I was crying nonstop. What does that mean!?? What is a water bag to start with? I was clueless on what he was saying given that this was our first pregnancy. All I could remember was this chart which he drew up: Probability of baby’s survival vs Potential Complication vs Cost Involved. The odds were totally not in our favour given that I was only at 21-22 weeks of gestation.

Upon his advice and the lack of any form of pregnancy insurance, we rushed to the local hospital – KKH – to get me admitted. I was admitted late at night and I cried myself to sleep. Kim couldn’t stay with me given that it’s a shared women ward. It was one of the most difficult night in my life. The unknowns await the daybreak. Doctors and nurses flew in and out of the ward; busyness went on around me and I was positively sure the little life in me was still beating strong too. Series of tests, scans and questions confirmed the situation. Rare as it might be; this hospital had seen such situations before — PPROM.

Given that it’s a public hospital and I was in a subsidised ward, scores of doctors visited me throughout the first few days. A few offered the option of terminating the pregnancy. Due to the many unknown factors, your baby could be born with severe disabilities, cerebral palsy, deformed limbs, damaged lungs and would require resuscitation upon birth – so they said. The list was endless. Counsellors were sent to us to prepare us for the worse should we choose to continue with the pregnancy. I burst into tears the first time a junior doctor (without much EQ) came to me with the termination option. Subsequently, I stared defiantly at any other doctors who suggested the same option. They knew my answer before they hear me. It pierced through my heart that I have to choose an abortion when my little one seemed so alive and putting up a fight. I don’t have the heart nor right to choose his end. But of course we had to be prepared for the worst of the future too. It was beyond reasons that we did not hesitate in not giving up on him. Come what may, his heart was beating strong inside me and that’s enough reminder that I wouldn’t give up as long as he held on to living.

Doctors pretty much left me alone thereafter. They started the usual protocol of handling similar cases. I was on IV antibiotics immediately when I reached the hospital and subsequently on oral antibiotics when there seemed to be no signs of infection. Infection and labour signs were 2 key things the doctors were looking out for then. I settled into my little corner in the ward. I was in the general gynaecology ward and made friends with my neighbours to wind away the days. We were filled with hope when I finally crossed 24 weeks of gestation! It was the week of viability. The week that doctors would save my little baby if he was born then. Prior to 24 weeks, it won’t be “viable” for the baby to survive in the outside world.

I was “promoted” to the obstetrics ward thereafter. It’s emotionally tougher there as my room mates were mainly mothers who came and went after delivering their little ones. I was constantly reminded that I could not go home; I needed to stay in this fight of survival with my little life. The longer baby stays in my womb, the better it is for him. It’s frustrating to hear neighbouring new born babies’ cries after a while. I retreated to a corner bed by the window; into a routine of weekly scans; 2x to 3x per week of blood tests; medicine and complete bed rest.

The best part is probably food. Smile For one who enjoyed food, it was a fortunate thing. I ate almost 5 meals a day in a desperate attempt to increase my baby’s birth weight. As we had no idea when he could be born, it would be ideal to get him as much nutrients as possible. Contradicting as it might sound, it got to a point that I almost hated eating. This would sound weird to those who know me well. I love food. Sad smile I could memorize the daily hospital menu to the dot. It tasted horrible after 2 to 3 weeks. I got anyone who is visiting to get me food from outside the hospital. It seemed to be a chase against time to increase the weight of my little boy.

I had durians too. It was the season for durians! Thank God I love durians! My parents-in-law and mum smuggled lots of them in and I feasted them with my neighbour who was in a similar condition as me. We had an open durian party once when there were just 2 of us left in the 5 persons ward. It was a rather silly sight thinking back; 2 mummies-to-be gorging themselves with durians in a desperate attempt to increase the weight of our little ones.

It was not easy being on complete bed rest but I got permission for toilet breaks and that kept me sane and clean at least. I settled into a routine of waking up at 6+am; waited for the doctors’ rounds; a quick shower; breakfast; popped pills, blood test; scans; mum visiting with lunch; occasional visitors; nap; books; laptop; prayers; music on ipod (iphone wasn’t that available then!); Kim visiting daily after work. It was tough on him then that he had to drive to and fro Johor for work daily.

Minutes became days became weeks became months. We were not complaining because we held the hope that a day passed with my baby snuggled in my womb is a day gained. It’s a easier hospital stay when your thoughts are filled with a hope for the future. An intern doctor touched my heart while I was on bed rest too. Thank God for sending angels.

The tougher times came when I was close to 29 weeks of gestation. Baby’s heartbeat started showing signs of deceleration and took longer to recover. I was a pack of nerves when I had to be pushed in and out of the delivery suite. Inside the delivery suite, I had less freedom. Strapped onto the CTG machine 24/7; no toilet breaks; on/off bleeding started. It was a super uncomfortable small bed and no visitors were allowed except spouse (it was the height of H1N1 then).  Being “released” from the delivery suite every time felt like a victory won in a battle. The feeling was indescribable. Crawling back to the hospital bed which I called home for weeks was so comforting. But most importantly, I knew that a little more time had been bought for my baby. The doctors were trying to delay the birth as long as possible.

Finally on 31st July 2009; Kim came visiting with some of my favourite snacks. We had planned to have a quiet mini celebration for our dating anniversary. It was our 12th years of being together. Smile

I was once again in the delivery suite having “failed” the CTG readings again. We thought this would be the same as before……but we thought otherwise.

The CTG machine showed readings which were scary. Baby’s heartbeat was showing severe signs of distress. We were so thankful that our favourite obstetrician happened to be on duty in the delivery suite on that day. But she had an emergency caesarean to perform. She came into the suite; reassured me that they will continue to monitor. After what seemed like hours, the junior doctors were at a loss after futile attempts in examining for dilation. I almost wanted to scream my head off and tell them to back off. but of course I held my tongue. I wasn’t on any epidural then and thus I knew there wasn’t much dilation to start with.

Finally, our favourite doctor came to the rescue! After a quick examination, she said to us: “this is it. We are going to deliver your baby.” At her command, the nurses and doctors sprang into actions. They were quick! In minutes, they prepared me and pushed me into the operating theatre. Just before I left the delivery suite, I saw more junior doctors poring over my thick files and stole quick glances at me being whisked down the aisle. I felt like a specimen once again.

I was told to sign some paperwork (without my glasses) and then off I went into the operating theatre. It was similar to the many drama serials I have watched before. There were at least 8 to 9 people in the theatre. All performing different functions. I was trembling and shivering by then. It was a cocktail of emotions and nerves. I was so cold and thankful that a nurse put a warm vent next to my shoulders. I wasn’t ready for an emergency c-sect no matter how my mind was told. But of course God and the team were in control. Within minutes; the operation was completed. As expected, I did not hear a single cry from my baby. I found out later that he was whisked off immediately to be resuscitated and that he was seriously ill at the point of delivery.

The doctor went out to inform Kim gravely that our baby was with the neonatal team and that I was otherwise fine. My job was done; now my little one had to fight for his life. I didn’t know what was going on; but a sense of peace came to me. It was a simple sense of knowing our baby will be saved and be just fine. I was told that many were praying for us.

Little did I know that many things went on behind the scene to save my boy’s life. His birth prognosis wasn’t good. Kim witnessed the mini operation they performed on the sides of his lungs to drain out accumulated fluid. His little body was full of bruises due to resuscitation efforts. The small ventilator wasn’t enough to open up his lungs; they switched to the biggest one to help him breathe better. Of course, he was hooked onto numerous tubes/wires and etc. He was on morphine to help him with the pain and shock. I wasn’t told all these till much later. My poor husband had to wash away his tears every time he came back from the NICU. He bravely reassured me that baby was doing well.

P1020537

P1020540

I told myself not to cry when I first visited him. I touched his little hands and held my tears. We needed to be strong for him. But it seemed like he was stronger for us.

Xi En was a fighter; He fared better than expected by the doctors. He improved daily and slowly progressed to less dependency nursery.

P1020594


After enduring 11 weeks in my womb with negligible amniotic fluid, 2 blood transfusions, multiple cocktails of drugs, arduous lessons on breathing cum drinking milk, 60 over days of hospital stay – Xi En was ready to go home with us.

He is such a mighty warrior. Born at 31 weeks of gestation; 1.27kg – he is now a 3+ years old healthy boy; feisty at 12kg. He enjoys speaking in Mandarin mostly; spurt words beyond his age; loves running and tearing the house apart. Though still lagging in weight gain, he is otherwise cleared of all birth complications and all development milestones are on track.

He is our little fighter of faith; testimony of God’s grace and miracle. My little hero!

xi en running

N.B: To all PPROM mummies – if you are reading this story because of PPROM and you needed someone to talk to or just some survival tips in the hospital – please feel free to contact me at evelyn_neo@hotmail.com

Pprom mummy E

We share the same first alphabet E in our names. We share a similar pregnancy story too.

I met a mummy in an online forum who contacted me after hearing about our story. 

I have asked E to share her story so we can go on encouraging other mummies who might be in a similar situation. Mummy E is an amazing woman who endured it all for her baby boy, Joel. Smile

“ This is a long testimony that I want to share how Jesus protected my pregnancy, baby Joel who was born 3 months premature. Both my husband and I pray for a second baby. I was confirmed pregnant in Nov’10 and was advised to go through amniocentesis test due to my age. The procedure was done at the 4th month of pregnancy. My water bag leaked on 21 Feb, that was 17th week of my pregnancy. I rushed to hospital and was immediately admitted due to womb infection.

In the first few days of hospitalization, my gynae put me on anti-biotic drip to bring down the infection. Things started to look better when my infection marker dropped. Alas, when I was looking forward to discharge, my water bag burst. What I thought would be a short stay turned out to be a nightmare of long hospitalization.

My gynae took ultrasound scans on my womb and told me that my amniotic fluid was very low. Normal range of Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI) is range 8-18cm but mine was lower than 2cm. My condition was known as Preterm Premature raptures of membranes (PPROM). The condition then was very unfavourable for my baby as the amniotic fluid is critical for the lungs development during the 2nd trimester. The low fluid environment would also affect the physical developments of the baby.

My gynae painted a very bleak outcome for my baby and advised me to abort the baby. “This is a baby that you would not want.”, was the exact words he used. Through all this while, the baby heart beat is very strong. It seems that we are being placed in an impossible situation. The gynae told us that there is no effective method to patch the leak and we can only leave it to fate. His advice was to stay in complete rest, drink more water and hope for the water bad to reseal itself and the amniotic fluid to increase.

We cried to God and pray everyday for the water bag to heal and amniotic fluid to increase. However, the ultrasound scans would disappoint us every time. Apart from this, we were also worried about the rapidly increasing medical bills. Despite having bought all forms of hospitalization benefits, the insurance company refuse to pay a single cent due to their strict definition of what constitute an “approved” condition for pregnancy complication.

Things did not improve and we made a decision to transfer to KK hospital subsidized ward due to financial concern. The first doctor who visited me in the ward had also advised abortion and when told we want to keep the baby, he said “God bless”. Through the stay in KK, my amniotic fluid remains less or equivalent to 2cm. We searched the Internet for any recipe that would help to increase the amniotic fluid, but none was useful. The team doctors advised me to abort on several occasions. They gave the ultimatum on the 24th week of pregnancy as that was the last week allowed for legal abortion.

Both my hubby and myself put our trust in the Lord, believing that my baby will not be due so early. We thank God that Jesus has the final say over my situation, Jesus had come to give my baby life and life more abundantly. Though there were times we were battling with emotions and bad thoughts, but deep in our hearts we knew that this baby is from God, therefore Jesus will take care of it!

At my 27th week of pregnancy (30 Apr), I had placenta abruption and had to immediately undergo a crash caesarean to bring out my baby; he was 3 months premature!

He weighed 970g and was immediately sent to NICU. He was discharged from KK after 4.5 months stay. We named our baby Joel.

It was not a smooth stay for Joel either. Due to prematurity, he was diagnosed with a condition known as Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), hernia and weak lungs. He required extra oxygen for breathing for most part of his stay.

God had amazingly healed and restored Joel’s body and growth. Joel’s heart PDA closed up, the hernia operation was successful. Joel had also successfully weaned off from tube feeding and was able to go on full bottling.

I brought Joel for a recent doctor appointment and their comments were that Joel didn’t look like a preemie, his growth is above average compare with his peers and he is very responsive! Today he weighs 5.7kg, praise God! We give all the glory to our Lord Jesus!

Indeed it is Jesus’ finished work and His precious blood that we are protected from power of darkness, sickness and diseases. He placed us in the right place at the right time to have victories in our lives, victories over our situation. Though there were times of ‘why’, but Daddy God is faithful and He loves us despite of our mortal reasoning. Jesus blood has always protected my baby and my family members. Although the 10 weeks stay for me and 4.5 months stay for my baby were dark but praise to God, those days were temporary! Joy comes in the morning!! Psalms 30:5 And this joy is forever!! Whenever I look at my baby Joel, I can feel that this is really a gift from heaven. Joel smiles alot too 🙂

I would like to attach Joel’s pictures, on the day he was born weigh 970g, tube feeding and a recent photo.”

joel3

joel1

baby joel

“ He had made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end”  Ecclesiastes 3: 11 (NIV)