Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giveaway time!

I mentioned in my last post that there would be a giveaway for all readers.

I’m giving away an e-book entitled Alphabet of Birds. All you have to do is link up with me at the bottom of this post, and I’ll email you a copy. It’s just a token of appreciation for you guys out there!

This fully illustrated e-book teaches multiple things in a mere 18 pages.

It teaches the alphabet. It teaches association of each letter to a specific species of bird. The best part is the rhyming description of the bird, which makes it more fun to recite and easier to remember.

I used to take Arabic language lessons when I was younger, where remembering the grammar was certainly a mouthful for 9 year-old kid. So the teacher made a rhyming song for it, making it easier for us to remember. During exams, you could hear a low buzzing of voices gently singing the song while answering questions.

Here’s a sampling of the Alphabet of Birds.

I didn’t know half of the birds in here myself! (Ermm does that mean I’m a bad mom? I hope not.)

Have fun reading and singing and learning!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The 1-Year Mark - Breastfeeding beyond the First Year

My baby boy has just turned one year old on November 6. This means, that I have been fully breastfeeding him for a whole year, yeay! Despite my breast abscess, I did it, double yeay!!
Read about my breast abscess challenges here, here and here.

My breast milk was not as abundant as before, but still more than enough for my little boy’s needs. In addition to the breast abscess, I also survived a sudden two-week nursing strike when he just 6 months old. It was heart-wrenching to see your baby refusing and yelling at your breast, and when you pop in a bottle, he began to suck like there’s no tomorrow. But that’s another story for another day.

Here’s a sneak peek of Aliff’s first birthday party.

That’s Thomas the Tank Engine on top of a 2.5 kg of chocolate moist cake, from Howzat’s Creation. Simply ravishing!

Here’s the birthday boy, accompanied by his lovely mom (ahem).

Ermmm… I’m digressing here.

So, one more year of breastfeeding and pumping to go. More or less. I was thinking to stop pumping when he turns two and just breastfeeding through the nights and weekends only. But then again, one year is a long time, so we’ll see how it goes.

I found this video of breastfeeding moms, which I think is very sweet. It shows of how moms nursing anytime, anywhere, from the Eiffel tower, to the beach, to the Brooklyn bridge, even on top of a mountain! I wish my breastfeeding adventures were as exotic, but I prefer to be a little discreet when nursing. To me, nursing my baby is a private affair so I don’t show it off. Plus, I’m terrified that some skin might show! No way Jose!

This is the only photo of me breastfeeding in a somewhat public place. I was in the car, on the charter ferry in Penang, Malaysia. Our car windows are tinted darker, so the image clarity isn’t too good. But if you strain your eyes just a little bit, you can see me nursing my boy in the passenger seat.
How about you? Come and share your breastfeeding experiences, and link up here. There’ll be an exciting giveaway for everyone who links up, something fun to do with your child. I’ll tell more about this giveaway in my next post, but I’ll give just one clue: Alphabets!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tips for breastpumping moms

I’m a Medela PISA user. I’ve been using this pump for my daughter until I got pregnant with our second child, I stopped pumping, and later weaned her from the breast altogether. With the birth of my son, I brought out my trusted breastpump again and I’ve been using it ever since. To be accurate, I’ve been pumping for a total of 23 months, with a few months break in between. The bag is getting a little too worn. I’m just waiting for the straps to snap clean, so I can buy a new bag. (By the way, I have no idea how it got torn that way. It’s not like I was biting them or something.)

For new moms, I would definitely recommend Medela breastpumps. Whether manual or electric, single or double pump, you take your pick. For me, I chose PISA because I intended to use it for all kids, (at present and possibly future kids)I want a heavy duty pump as I’ll be using it A LOT, and I want the complete set with cooler bag and all. But its best feature is the 2-phase expression which closely mimics how a baby breastfeeds. The Stimulation Phase is fast and light sucking to start the milk flowing followed by the Expression Phase which is slow and stronger sucking to deliver milk faster.

It may be one of the priciest breastpumps in the market, but I think it’s a very worthwhile investment. In my case, I’m already making profits!

I’m sure most of us have experienced a sudden drop in the suction strength of the pump. Here are some tips told to me of what to look out for and how to care for the parts, given by the customer service gal in Medela office in KL.

  • The most common culprit would be defects in the valve head and membranes, like shown the photos below. These would need to be replaced with new ones. This happened to me while disassembling the parts to be washed. I must have pulled it off the breastshield too hard or scrubbed on it too hard while washing.
  • When you push in the valve head into the breastshield, make sure that it faces outwards or sideways instead of facing you. This could also affect the suction strength. Don’t push it in too hard or it’ll be difficult to remove and you might break it like I did.
  • When you’re keeping the parts, take care not to roll the adapter wire around the adapter especially at the connector right on the adapter base. My adapter wire was getting all spirally and my pump keeps turning off by itself in the middle of a pumping session, so I had to put something at the adapter base to hold it in place. The adapter is the most expensive part of the breastpump (other than the pump motor, of course) so better not to find a reason to buy a new one.
  • When you push in your breast shield into the connector, do not push in too hard or too deep like this. Just push it in gently as long as it sticks together, is good enough, like this. This doesn’t actually affect the suction strength, but it’s not very comfortable for the mom. This is because, when you push it in too deep, your nipple could graze the back of the shield as it is pulled further into the shield. Ouch!
  • When you’re pumping at the office, you don’t actually have to wash your parts every single time you pump. Just put all the parts in a cooler pack or use a closed container and put them in the fridge (my office has a fridge, thank God). For long lasting cool ice packs or dry ice, put them in freezer as soon as you get home from work and only take them out in the morning before you leave. The coolness could last about 12 hours.
  • Washing is a breeze, I’ve just found out. You don’t even have to sterilize it, as sterilizing could actually tear the soft silicone breastshield. Pour water over them just to clear the milk drops, then put the breastshields, connectors, valve heads and membranes into a container and submerge them in soapy water overnight. Take them out before you go to work in the morning, just wash out the soap, and you’re good to go.
  • You should wipe the parts – breastshields, connectors, valve heads and membranes - with a clean towel, or if that’s too much trouble, just let it air dry. For the hard-to-reach parts, use a cotton bud. This is to avoid water droplets from getting sucked into the pump motor through the tubing. If your pump is still within its warranty period, Medela would service the motor for you free of charge. But if your warranty has expired, (warranty is for one year only) this would set you back quite a few bucks.

That’s all for now. I’ll update you if I get more tips yah!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Travel toys for babies and toddlers

We’re going to Penang this weekend for a family gathering.

Photo courtesy of

It’s about a 5-hour drive from KL to Penang, so I was thinking of buying a new toy for each of child to engross them in the car, so I can relax a little a bit without having one of them climbing on my back (the baby) and the other cuddling like a baby in my arms (the big sister).

I was thinking of toys like these for the baby.

Lamaze: Jacque The Peacock

Taf Toys: Infant Car Toy

Taf Toys: Curiosity Cube

For the big sister.

Read & Play: Dress Up Bear Book

Baby Einstein: 365 Days of Baby Einstein Book

Baby Einstein: Pretty Poems and Wonderful Words Lift the Flap Book

All toys from

If's money is not a problem, I would have bought all of them. But as it is, I'm not a millionaire mom.

Any suggestions, anyone?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Considering cloth diapers?

Photo courtesy of

Let’s face it, raising a child is expensive, let alone two, three, four children. I’m sure for most parents, the bulk of spending for children would go to formula and diapers. The next bulk of spending would go to others such as childcare, clothing, toys and food.

So wouldn’t you like to save some cents anywhere, so you can spend it on yourself? (Or more clothes or toys for your kids, it’s your choice, really.) But like other methods of saving money, there is always a need of some effort on your side. Trying to save on food and meals? Buy groceries and cook at home. Of course, food preparation and the cleaning afterwards is a pain, but it saves more money than eating out. If you’re tired of the endless mountain of laundry i.e. washing, hanging, drying, folding and ironing, you could always send them straight to a laundry shop. Just pay them, and you’re done. But do this every week for the family’s whole dirty laundry including kids’ clothes, you’ll be broke within the month. Summary: convenience costs money. And it isn’t always the best choice.

So let’s talk about cloth diapers. So what’s good about them?
ComfortPhoto courtesy of

Cloth diapers are made from natural, breathable fabrics, such as velour, bamboo, microfleece and cotton knits. Did you notice that most kids’ clothing is made from cotton? Why? Because it’s the most comfortable, that’s why! Even disposable diapers are trying to imitate this cloth softness by saying in their adverts, “Cotton-like softness”. And while we’re talking about diapers, what kind of underwear do you wear daily? (Please exclude the late night romps where you wear silk and satin.) Cloth undies, not paper or plastic. ‘Nuff said.

Wallet friendly

A good investment may need an expensive initial cash outlay, but in the long run, is more economical. Cloth diapers may be used again and again, until it basically tears whereas disposables, as the name suggest, is a single-use item. Below is a cost comparison between a cloth diaper, an average price disposable diaper and an expensive disposable diaper, using the assumption for 1 child per family, going through 6 diaper changes in one day for 3 years, the average age where a child is fully toilet trained.

Environmental friendly

Disposable diapers make up the third largest group of waste after newspapers and food & beverage containers, and they take around 200-500 years to decompose. Also, did you notice some small printed instructions at the bottom of the disposable diapers packaging for parents to dump solid waste into the toilet and flush it? I didn’t know it myself, until my first born child was around 7 or 8 months old, informed to me by my mom! (I apologize to you, Mother Earth for my blissful ignorance.) Bearing that in mind, the human poop is thrown into our landfills where it can leach into the groundwater and possibly, spread disease. (Now I’m feeling really guilty. Can you see my face turning red? I could’ve started an epidemic! Oh my God!)

Healthier baby

Back in the days when everyone wears cloth diapers, babies hardly ever gets diaper rash. My mom told me that the diaper rash creams don’t even exist. Like I mentioned earlier, cloth is breathable and keeps a baby cooler. Disposables contain chemicals such as sodium polyacrylate to absorb moisture. As cloth diapers do not have these chemicals, they naturally absorb less. This would mean more diaper change, which is more work for us. But this is a good thing, because of this, babies in cloth diapers are cleaner compared to babies in disposables who end up sitting in their pee longer. Good, right?

Cloth diaper is easier than it used to be

The traditional white cloth “napkin” as my mom used to call them, has to be changed every time the baby pees, as the cloth gets soaking wet. So you can imagine how many cloths does a baby use up every day, around 10 to 20, I guess.

Photo courtesy of

But the modern cloth diaper has transformed far much better than its predecessor. In defense of cloth diapers, they are softer, cuter and works just like a disposable. They are very easy to use and to care for. You don’t even have to use a clothes brush. Just pour some baby clothes detergent and some water, rub them together or knead on them like you’re kneading bread dough until it’s clean, rinse it and you’re done! If you’re even lazier, just rinse of all the pee and poop under running water, put them in a laundry net (so that your diapers last longer) and wash them in a washing machine like you wash normal clothes.

And most of them are one size diaper now – meaning the cloth diaper is adjustable when the baby grows. Some of them use snap buttons, more are using Velcro for ease of use.

You don’t have to abandon disposable diapers totally. You could still use them in situations where you absolutely do not have the time to wash cloth diapers and where water is not readily accessible such as:

  • Disaster – floods, earthquakes and such
  • Emergency – in case of premature birth, accidents etc
  • Hospital stays – especially if the mom is being hospitalized. I don’t think most dads would want to do any diaper washing. (No offense, dads.)
  • Vacation or travels – I personally use disposables when travelling because I don’t want to bring dirty diapers around with me, and then needing to wash them when I just got back home, all tired.

I wish I have a nicely organized collection like this.

Photo courtesy of

Mine is more like this.
And this.

These are the inserts. A few more were still hanging to dry.

I’ve been using them daily for about 8 months now for both my children, so they were yellowing a little bit. They need a good stripping, and they’ll look as good as new.

I forgot to take photos of my kids wearing cloth diapers. I just have one of my boy wearing it. He was playing with Daddy.

Please excuse the mess at the back. It was a lazy Saturday morning, so cleaning up comes much later.

I bought mine from a good friend from her blog A very good deal indeed. I needed about 30 diapers to go round for 2 kids, so I was just looking for average priced ones. There were a lot more cuter designs at a slightly higher price, go and have a look!

All in all, the cloth diapers have saved me a whole lot of money. As I use disposables only when we go out and travelling, usually on weekends, I buy them about a large pack for each my daughter and my son every 4 or 5 months. But I still use disposables for night use, as I can’t wake up every 2 or 3 hours to check on wet cloth diapers. I’m already lacking sleep. Do that, and I won’t be able to wake up in the morning. Or I can wake up, but I’ll be cranky as hell. And nobody likes a cranky mom.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SnapIt Giveaways!

Great news! For the first time, I’m doing a giveaway for all readers! How to get it? Easy-peasy!

You just need to download the trial version of SnapIt here, try the software and write a review in your blog, forum, Facebook or Twitter. You’ll be entitled for a free license worth $17.99!

After you’ve posted a review, leave a link to your post underneath my post here. Be sure to have your email somewhere visible so I can contact you for a license of your own.

Piece of cake! So whatcha you’re waiting for?

P/S: That's from an animation on MS Excel saying thank you millions of times.. Thanks for reading! :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pretty snapshots – just SnapIt!

I’m currently thinking of decorating/organizing my kids’ bedroom. Technically, they don’t sleep there, but all their stuff i.e. clothes, toys, diapers and everything else is in this room. Right now, all their toys are dumped in one basket that I bought in Ikea.

Oh, that was more than a year ago. Currently, the basket is threatening to burst at the seams from endless number of toys, knick and knacks, plastic spoons, broken trains and alphabets, even my husband’s old hand phone case that you can clip on the belt. I think my maid just dumps everything that the kids play with into the basket, deeming them as ‘toys’.

I would love to have a play room like this. (Note the “I”, not “I’m sure the kids would love this”. We moms do tend to go overboard.)

Or this.

And I would love to organize my overflowing bookshelf from this.
(Please excuse the baby, she doesn't know how she got herself up there.)

To this.
All room inspiration photos from

Oh, you must be wondering how I got those photos nicely clipped. If you look at them carefully, they were snapshot photos. You know, using the Print Screen button on your keyboard and pasting them on a paint file or MS Word. Only I’m using something specialer than that. (I mean more special, of course.)

A few days ago, I got an email from Digeus, Inc asking me to review this software of theirs, called SnapIt. It’s something similar like using the Print Screen button. But the best thing about it is, unlike the Print screen button where you have to paste it on a paint file on MS Word and save it under a new name, it works like a camera, where you just click, and it saves the photo automatically. All you have to do is change the settings at the Properties menu. Very convenient!
You can paste the snapshot in MS Word, Photoshop, or Paint and create a new document or modify it anyway you like. Or, my favourite feature, you can save it as an image file in BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG or TIFF formats. Pretty cool, eh?

I personally find this software very simple, easy to use and highly convenient. Sometimes I find certain parts or photos in a web page that I would like to save, and I would save the whole page. It does get a little tedious to scroll down particularly long web pages that end forever, which is annoying when I need to find it urgently. Now I can just choose which part I want to save, and click!

I tried snapping it at a video in YouTube and got a crystal clear snapshot.

Want to know more about SnapIt? Go to its website here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breast abscess - my own true account


Photo courtesy of

The ultimate test came when I found out my mom’s fridge broke down. My frozen milk stash amounted to around 50 bags at the time. I suddenly discovered that they had all thawed to liquid form. I checked on the fish and chicken, they were also soft and wet. My dad had a repairman to check on the fridge, and indeed the 17-year-old fridge had broken down. I was devastated! Luckily I had some fresh, unfrozen milk that I kept in my mini bar fridge, but like I mentioned earlier, my supply was not that much since I was still leaking milk from the incision. I cried my heart out as I dumped them all in the trash. I was praying hard that my current milk supply would be sufficient for my boy. Nevertheless, my husband bought one small can of baby formula, just in case. Oh, and my parents bought a new fridge immediately so I started the all new journey building up my stock all over again.

Another heart breaking discovery – the doctor suggested that I take an injection to stop the milk flow, as my incision seemed unable to heal completely as the leaking milk created blisters in the incision. Furthermore, I had rashes on the area where the plasters met my skin, it became irritated and itchy. I simply couldn’t bring myself to stop and take the injection – my baby was barely two months old. I had been so determined to breastfeed him until he turns two. I was struggling not to drown in self-pity, trying to provide enough food for my baby, take care of my daughter (with lots of help from my parents) and trying to take care of myself. I called up my good friend for moral support and comfort, she even offered her milk stash to me (she was also a breastfeeding mom; thanks so much Ckin, you’re so sweet!) just in case mine was not enough. But above all, I missed my husband, my pillar of strength, the most during this difficult time. He was especially sweet, even though he couldn’t be with me all the time.

Miraculously, after a week and two dressing changes and perseverance with the strength of steel on my part, the doctor told me that the incision had closed and the milk had stopped leaking. There was a long scar, of course, but the blisters were gone. I had no idea how and what happened, but it was a tremendous relief. The doctor even said that I can try to breastfeed again, I just need to be a little careful not to strain the incision too much, as the flesh inside would take longer to heal properly.

After the last dressing change, I finally took a look at the scar. I never looked at it before, because I was too scared to see a gaping hole in my breast and thought that it might traumatize me some more. There it was, the long, dark line widening in the middle where the drainage was done. Mixed emotions washed over me; a little sad that I now had an ugly scar, but proud of myself that I didn’t give up breastfeeding. Sure, it had been a tough journey but I had survived it. I am proud to say that despite the breast abscess, my baby is 100% exclusively breastfed, until now. (Oh, the baby formula still sits unused in the kitchen. I should give it to someone else.)

I did rebuild my milk stash; take a look.

My breast milk is so abundant; it would have been enough if my daughter also feeds on my breast milk. After all, she was also a breastfed baby previously. But she seemed to have grasped the concept that breast milk is for her little brother, so she wouldn’t take it. So I’ve had to throw out a LOT of milk. I can actually get by without using the frozen stash because I’m producing way more than my baby consumes. I’m not showing off here; I guess it’s just a reward for my perseverance. I am so grateful, so thankful that I was able to continue breastfeeding my little boy. So I guess the saying is right – what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

To moms out there, if I’ve had breast abscess and still managed to breastfeed, you absolutely CAN do it. Sure, it’s not easy. Pumping, washing a LOT of bottles (I have about 40 bottles for my two kids, most of them for storing breast milk), storing and freezing and labeling milk, sorting the milk by the first-in-first-out basis – it’s a lot of tedious work. And the breastfeeding issues such as engorgement, latch on, painful/cracked/bleeding nipple, nipple preference, sore nipples – they can be solved, if you’re willing to work on it and have a little patience. Breast milk is the best gift you can give to your baby, better than a new stroller, new baby cot, new clothes, new toys. I don’t need to tell you the benefits of breast milk, I’m pretty sure you know already them. And best of all, it’s free! Think how much you can save on baby formula, which in turn you can spend on yourself. Ha. Gotcha there.

Photo courtesy of

Breast abscess - my own true account


The surgery turned out to be, nothing to be scared of. I have to admit, I was scared as I changed into the gown especially for surgery, lied down on the metal bed, and was pushed to the operation theatre. I was even more scared when they put me underneath all the lights, right next to metal tables where you can see all the medical equipment, just like in House. Then the surgeon told me to relax, as he put a mask over my face. I don’t even remember getting drowsy. The next thing I know, I woke up on the metal table, but all the lights were gone. I don’t feel any different than before and I wondered, is it over? What am I doing here? Then two nurses came over and began pushing my bed to my room, and I saw my husband sitting there watching tv.

The first day after the surgery went by drowsily, as I was still on painkillers. The affected breast was totally wrapped up in bandages which the nurse called dressing, so I could only express milk from my right breast. I was a bit worried because I don’t know how this surgery would affect my milk production, but I know that I still need to express to avoid any more engorgement. I had some milk stash in the freezer and about 10 bottles of unfrozen milk, which I think should be enough to last for my baby until I was discharged. Only the next day a nurse changed the dressing to expose just enough skin and the areola so that I can pump.

The surgeon later told me that the incision was 4 inches long and was quite deep because there was a considerable amount of pus. I shuddered to think I have 4-inch scar on my breast. Oh dear.. In the morning I was due to be discharged, the surgeon gave me more painkillers to knock me out so he could change the dressing. I was discharged in the afternoon after being told I was to come in twice weekly for dressing change.

Photo courtesy of

And so, the emotional rollercoaster began. Like I mentioned before, I wasn’t fully healed from the pain of childbirth and hemorrhage, now I have another painful body part to add to the group. Oh, and did I mention that the incision was not stitched up? That was the purpose of the dressing, to absorb all the milk that leaked out, while letting the incision heal by itself from the outside in. Close to the dressing change day, I already smelled like sour milk. Pumping was a pain in the **s. The bandages were quite wide and it covered almost the whole underside of my breast. So, to pump, I have to press the breast shield harder into the breast tissue (which is partially covered with the bandages) in order not to break suction. And, because of the leaking milk, the most I can pump out of my left breast is about 1 oz, which is downright depressing.

In addition to that, I have to be careful not to strain myself and pull at the arm and shoulder muscles, because damn, it hurts. I was too traumatized to try and breastfeed, even from the unaffected right breast, because I was worried that my baby might accidentally knock the bandage with his cute little arms or legs. Even breastfeeding while lying down on my side hurts as it puts pressure on the incision, so I thought I’d just stop breastfeeding for a while and just give him expressed milk in a bottle, hoping to God that he won’t develop nipple preferences for the bottle.

This wasn’t as easy as I thought, especially when it came to night feedings. I didn’t want my milk supply to drop, so I’d have to pump in the wee hours of the morning too. I was pumping about 10 times a day at the time, I was thinking of having the breast shields permanently stuck to my nursing bra. (The only bra I can wear is FabulousMom’s Sarah Sleep Bra, so I bought 4 of them!) Luckily, my husband bought a mini bar fridge to put next to my bed (thanks so much, honey!), so I can easily wake up in the middle of the night and warm up a bottle of milk, instead of going downstairs to the main fridge. So every night before I went to bed, I would prepare at least 3 bottles of milk ready to be warmed up in a jiffy. I would pump before going to bed, wake up to feed him when he cries, then when he’s done and dozed off, I would pump. Instead of breastfeed by demand, I would pump by demand. Same difference, really. I was doing all this on auto-pilot, like a pre-set robot. But robots don’t get tired, whereas I was left exhausted and cranky due to the lack of sleep.

Then there was twice weekly dressing change (which was done painkiller-free), which I totally despised, but totally necessary. So I gritted my teeth and wiped my tears all the way, and butted my head through them all. The doctor would take off the old bandages, clean the incision, poke it here and there, put some ointment on it, cover it up with new bandages and pronounce me good for another week. For the first three weeks, I came out of the doctor’s office with my face tear-streaked, my eyes red and my fists all white because I was clenching them so hard. My husband tried to arrange to come home on every dressing change, but he couldn’t exactly come home twice weekly. So when he couldn’t come with me, he would call me after the doctor visit with words of love and encouragement, which helped a lot.

Breast abscess - my own true account

Previously I said that I'm saving this story for another day. So here it is. But be warned: this is a rather long post. I've broken the whole story into 3 parts, so take your time. :)


It all started with the all-too-common breast engorgement in the early days after giving birth. Unlike most mothers whose milk “came in” three of four days after birth, my came in right after the birth. This could be due to the reason that I was still breastfeeding my 1-year-old daughter when I discovered I was pregnant for the second time. A few months along the pregnancy, when my daughter was around 14 or 15 months old, I decided to wean her off the breast completely because I was too tired to cope with the night feedings and the pumping.

The first 3 days at the hospital right after the birth of our son, the feedings were going on fine. Maybe because I’d just stop breastfeeding several months before, so I did not have too much problems breastfeeding my son. He seems to be latching on fine, too, that the lactation counselors gave high praises to me as the “expert” breastfeeding mom, though I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert. I had my share of problems too, only it got much better with experience later on.

I spent my confinement days at my parent’s house in Johor Bahru, which is 4 hours away from home. My husband would come and visit us on weekends. I don’t remember exactly when the engorgement started, it was probably the second week after the birth. I had the usual symptoms such as tender lumps, warmth and throbbing, the tightening of the skin, making it hard for my baby to latch on. Also, I came down with fever so many times, I lost count of the number. I tried nursing my baby often, which was challenging because sometimes he just could not latch on! This would usually end up with a) my baby screaming right in front of my nipple, or b) my baby screaming right in front of my nipple and me sweating profusely and almost in tears. Sometimes I just gave up, passed him to my mom and warmed up a bottle of expressed milk.

The engorgement did not disappear. I tried using cabbage leaves. I expressed more times. I tried both hot and cold compresses. I tried hand expression, breast compression and massage. Then one day, I was getting dressed, when I felt a hard lump on the underside of my left breast, which was painful when I pressed my fingers on it and felt warm. I told my mom about it. She told me that she had a lump too, when she was younger. Her gynae told her that it was not cancerous and had it removed in a minor operation. But she said that hers felt nothing like mine; it was small, hard and not painful at all. I was getting worried. I called my husband and he urged me to see a doctor immediately. I didn’t go immediately, but kept on trying to relieve the engorgement by myself. I told myself to wait until the next week.

The next week came and I was still in pain, and keep coming in and out of fevers. Finally I couldn’t ignore it any longer, so my parents took me to a clinic. She asked me to lie down and take off my bra. She took a look at it and said “oh, this looks like breast abscess.” She said the lump was red and swelling, which explained the warmth. She gave me antibiotics and asked me to come back in three days time if the pain had not subsided, in which case she would need to refer me to a surgeon.
This is how an abscess looks. (That's not me, by the way.)

Photo courtesy of
Okay, right about then, I was freaked out! I never had any surgery in my life and have been admitted to hospital wards only for childbirth, so you can imagine how I was feeling at the time. After the three days was up, I surrendered to the fact that I had to go and have my breast cut open. The doctor referred me to a surgeon at a specialist hospital. The doctor was an Indian-Muslim gentleman, about my dad’s age and gently told me to admit myself to the hospital ward the next day. He scheduled the surgery which he called incision and drainage for the day after tomorrow, 10 am. I called my husband telling him about the surgery and he promised to come home so he could be with me before the surgery starts.

My mom would have to look after both my kids during the nights I was at the hospital. My mom was not exactly young at 64, and I felt a little guilty that she would have to care for a 20-month old girl and a 1-month old baby boy, knowing that my dad was not much of a help in the middle of the night. My little girl still wakes up at night occasionally in addition to the baby’s night feedings. I told my husband to stay at home so he could take care of my daughter, leaving my mom to care for my son only. But my mom told him to stay at the hospital with me. And I can’t pretend that I wasn’t grateful that my husband was keeping me company at the hospital. It is unbelievably depressing to be lying down in a hospital bed after a surgery all alone.
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