The story began when I met my son's Mother at the Orientation session of the 37th Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme (SSEAYP), which led to the Vietnamese Hand Massage facilitated by fellow Participating Youth (PY) Parveen, and partially deal-sealed with the Night of Destiny (thanks to our Vietnam PYs).
The Mother had all the symptoms of pregnancy that you could probably find, since the first day of pregnancy. We literally did not need a test kit to know that a new life was in the tummy.
4 hours before the water bag burst, we were having supper at MacDonald's for the first time ever since the pregnancy. The mother tried doing some squats, as advised by the Gynae to encourage labour since the baby is getting too big. 1 hour before we sprung up from our bed, I was finishing a movie to wind off the weekend.
The childbirth process is unforgettable. The brave wife rejected any pain relief methods and endured the incrementally excruciating pain for the first few hours. The gas mask went on, and after two hours or so, she finally relented to the suggestion (more like persuasion) by the nurses to be administered epidural.
While standing outside the room, as requested by the anaesthetist, I started a conversation with another father-to-be who was waiting out too. His wife had endured 9 hours without epidural. Salute. (He would continue to support his wife for over 20 hours).
The mid-wife came in and the breathing exercise began. An hour and a half passed, and we requested for the Gynaecologist to assist. After several rounds of trying to push, the Gynae shared that the assisted delivery still requires the mother to push hard, and if it still didn't work, the labour might enter the stage of emergency caesarian.
"Emergency Caesarian!!!" The mother must have been terrified by that thought. So much so that at the final round of pushing, a head popped out.
The mid-wife gave a pat on the buttocks, and the most beautiful cry was heard in the room. Mid-wife and nurses promptly commented that the baby was so fair. The weight of the baby, rounded to 3 decimal places, was deeply engraved into my brain.
It was a very touching moment, but I heeded the advice of my colleague, Elangovan, who told me that the Father should not cry while holding the baby for the first time. It was very challenging.
Meanwhile, the brave mother was expressionless with the extreme exhaustion and the pain of labour. It was great she was not able to see how the Gynae was sewing her up with the thick strings. I now have a whole new perception of mothers, totally.
We tried to memorise the baby's face as the nurse starts tagging both the baby and the mother. It was the first time the baby had to leave us to be cleaned and dressed.
Lessons on breastfeeding randomly shared in great details during SSEAYP by Parveen to me and Ethel were recalled when the mother tried to feed the baby for the first two nights. We were so worried that the baby would be hungry but learnt from the nurses that babies are able to live without food for the first few days.
The first month with Baby YC has been amazing. Never mind the disrupted sleep which proved to be more effective as a weight loss method than dieting. Our lives have not been more complete with the new addition.
I guess we become parents when we enjoy smelling the pee and poo of the baby to know that he is feeding and digesting well. The pee fountain on my hand brought laughter to both my wife and I.
I look forward to coming home inhaling the baby fragrance as I pace along the corridor. And now I finally realise why my late Father enjoys kissing me so much when I was much younger.
The mother and I have decided that we shall try our best to protect our baby's privacy. Much as we can't wait to share his cute images, we rather let him share it when he gets older and decides for himself. Sharing just a snippet:
We will hold on to you and always be there for you
We have many to thank for being so understanding and generous in sharing tips on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, including my cousins and cousins-in-law (especially Yuan Feng and Shiyin who had to entertain simple questions like what to consider in looking for a gynae), Yuan Wei and Ruiping (for the great recommendation for us to attend baby seminars/talks); relatives; colleagues (one colleague was so kind to bring me for a tour at a departmental store to note the different types of feeding bottles and baby things to buy); neighbours, fellow grassroots volunteers; confinement nanny and friends.
Not forgetting our family members who were excited (can't forget the "Yes!" from my Brother when I break the news) and supported us throughout the journey.
Like my Mother who spent weeks after weeks slowly sieving out the husk from bean sprouts to make the baby pillow. And Brother who is always around to lend an additional hand to rearrange furniture, and carry stuff (to put it in layman's terms - saikang).
And my Mother-in-law who flew over to join us for the 1st Month Celebration, and keeping up to Vietnam tradition of making offerings to the 12 fairies who had looked after our baby from pregnancy to the first month.
The parenting journey ahead is full of uncertainty, but with each day of growth we see in Baby YC, I believe the journey will only be a meaningful and enriching one.
Happy 1 month birthday, my son :)