Are You Lonesome Today?

My wife’s been on maternity leave for a week now. It takes some getting used to, even though I still get to see her when I go home.

Our life at work is a little different form other couples working together in the same office. I first introduced her into the company before I even joined a year later, and that may have contributed to the (mostly) smoothsailing working relationship we have. Also, we set down some rules for ourselves as well as the people around us early on so boundaries are not overstepped, yet we are still very comfortable talking about our jobs both at work and outside of it.

Now that she’s on maternity leave though, I find myself a little more isolated from the rest of the office. Her absence has made me realise how dependent I am on her for social fulfillment. This whole time, I’ve been hving lunch with her, or buying lunch in for her. We crack jokes with each other, and even when I’m engaging in small talk or idle conversation with other people, she’s always involved one way or another, which is a great comfort to me, becaus eI wouldn’t really know how to hold my own with the people in the office.

I think the thing I’m missing the most is doing everything with her around. I’d be sitting in my cubicle, comfortable with the fact that she’s just a few cubicles from me. I’d look forward to sitting in the car with her, riding to and from work, and planning the rest of the evening with her, whether it be for dinner, or shopping, or family visits, or just which channel to idle in front of the TV with.

I’m now looking at about 3-4 months of not being able to do all these things with her while she is resting at home waiting for Xander to appear. Thanks to the new enhanced baby bonus scheme, she now has more time to spend with the kid and recuperate from the delivery, while I work off the payments I have to make for my various new purchases in anticipation for the biggest change in our lives (the unapproved $1000 bike included). Maybe it might not have felt so bad if we were working in separate corporations; maybe I wouldn’t have been so dependent on her for my emotional fulfillment at work. But if you ask me, working with my wife in the same office has been what’s keeping me happy (and what’s kept me i this job) since I started work here, and

Your Daddy's a Useless Bum

I spoke to the gynae, my mum and dad, even my happily married sister with three children, not to mention the handful of friends that have gone through the same thing I am going through now, and they all say the same thing.

Husbands are pretty useless during a woman’s pregnancy.

When a guy gets a girl pregnant, it can mean a number of things (sometimes all at the same time): he’s going to be a father, and/or his parents are going to kill him, and/or he’s gonna need to think seriously about marrying the girl. Fortunately I got that marriage thing out of the way, and my parents have been really supportive (I think). The only real issue right now though, is what do I do?

Our first ob/gyn visit, I was already warned by the doctor (it was the way she said it rather than what she said) that as a husband, the only real thing I can do is offer my support and understanding as my wife goes through the various stages of pregnancy. My own sister, being slightly more direct, has imparted to me on a number of occasions this wonderfully wise one-liner: “Frankly, there’s nothing much you can do.” But my very good friend for 19 years and almost-neighbour says it best as he drills down all that has been said about fathers-to-be into 5 concise words: “What to do? Drink lor.”

In the beginning, it was quite hard to comprehend; the mood swings, the moments where you were expected to do something but didn’t, the moments when you did something you shouldn’t have… that’s really tough, and it really emphasises the uselessness factor at an early stage of the man’s pregnancy. The thing women need to understand at the end of the day, is that men don’t. We’re not carrying a baby to term. We’re not having hormonal changes. Most importantly, we’re not Matt Parkman, and even he didn’t do so well with his wife either. This all leads to one very time-honoured fact, made apparent in the last 40 years since the advent of women’s lib, and even more apparent when pregnancy arises; women are a mystery, and men are the perpetual idiots who think they can solve that mystery. Well, I’ve also been told umpteen times (one way or another) by female friends, including my wife, that men should not attempt to understand women. It’s a failed venture that will likely not have a good ending. So we just have to grit our teeth and go along with it. Pfffft.

Thankfully, the husband’s job scope starts to get a little more obvious as his wife’s pregnancy becomes more obvious. Help out around the house. Help her up the stairs, or even better, clear the way to the elevator for her. Help her out of the couch, out of the bed, out of wherever it is that she’s sitting or lying on. Cheer her up, keep her happy, make her laugh, and enjoy the pregnancy with her. It took the last 3 months of my wife’s first pregnancy for me to learn how to be a pregnant husband, but I guess the learning process is compulsory, because no amount of advice anyone can give you is going to amount to much unless you experience it for yourself.

There are some lessons no one can teach you, because life’s always different for someone else. But from a father-to-be to another, I do have this to say. If you’re planning to get your wife pregnant, be prepared. The single most important use I’ve found for myself as a father-to-be is that even though the wife is the one bearing the child, the husband is the one bearing the love for both of them.

Remember when… ?

I remember a time when my first thought after buying a $500 Ibanez electric guitar was how to break the purchase to my parents.

Nowadays my first thought after buying a $1000 folding bike was how to break the purchase to my wife.

The more some things change, the more they remain the same.

Mama Mia!

As much as I’ve been talking about my mother-to-be wife, this post happens to be about her mother-in-law, a.k.a. my mother.

Since I got married and moved out, my mother has been sort of on my case about everything. Over the last 2 years, she’s been calling me at the weirdest times, over the tritest of issues. My also-married sister, and even my wife, have said this is her way of keeping her son hers. I just think it bugs me, but before I get lambasted for being an unfilial son, I do have a legit psychological reason. Just bear with me for a paragraph or two.

I think my wife will be a lot clearer about when my mother’s possessive behaviour began, but I’ll just go through some of the weird things that she has done, most of which had to do with phone calls. She’d call me up in the middle of the day while I am in the middle of a crucial website programming bugfix or writing a stern email to someone, and tell me about what she saw in the news (that isn’t even produced in this country) that day, or telling me to not get into credit card debt (which caused a flock of question marks flying around my office cubicle tht afternoon), or telling me my sister had brought a load of baby stuff to her place, and detailing every single thing and what she was planning to do with them before I took them home with me (or not). That last phone call happened Monday night, just after I had spent the whole weekend cleaning the house, so the tiredness in my voice as I stayed on the phone with her did nto translate well.

I know, I know, she’s being Mom, and I’m being a prat. I don’t deny I dread these calls from her.In fact, I fear them. Sometimes I see her number on my phone, I have half a mind to reject the call. Not because I hate my mother, and not because I’m unfilial. I’m afraid of these phone calls because I know what they’re really all about. My mother just wants to connect to a son that suddenly disappeared form her household after almost 30 years of me making noise under her roof. I react adversely because I don’t want to acknowledge that our separation justifies the real reason why she’s calling. I don’t want to admit that we’re drifting apart (I’ve always been a recluse in her home, by the way). And I think she’s having trouble accepting the fact that I’m out here now starting my own family, and she’s being kind of left out of the whole family-starting process (though I think all parties should agree mothers should not participate in the baby-making process, no matter what the situation).

The worst thing is, when we do meet face-to-face once every week or so, she has almost nothing to say to me. She’s too busy cooking, or she’s chasing after my nieces and nephews, or she’s doing this, or she’s doing that. The last few times I’ve been home have been better though; once the kids have gone home, my sisters retreat back into their abodes, and I’m left in my parent’s house with both my parents, we have long talks about what’s to come in my life, and what’s been happening in theirs. But as long as I’ve lived in my mother’s care, I think the both of us know we can’t hold a conversation when it’s just the 2 of us, and we both sort of realise this mother and son have very little in common.

I love my mom, I do. And I know my mom loves me too. I just don’t know how we can love each other in terms that the other can understand. And now I’m wondering what I’ll think if Xander becomes the same prat I am when it comes to his parents.

Cleaning House

Weekends are almost always for sleeping in, shoppping, and late night TV… unless you have a place of your own. Then you have to add cleaning house into the mix, which can be fun. If you’re a sadist.

But clean house we did. Particularly since Xander’s so close to exiting the Mothership, it means we can no longer use the guest room as a store room and have to clear out the 15-20 boxes of Idunnowhatodowiththatstuff.

Honestly, I don’t know how maids do it. I know how my mother does it, but she doesn’t count. To clean 2 bathrooms, vacuum the floor, do the laundry (7 loads total, including our bedding, a kiddie bolster, a child car seat cover which almost disintegrated, some bathmats and my clothes for the week) and change new bedsheets took me a whole day, while my wife tried to sort out her half of the stuff in the guest room (she’s pregnant, so she’s got concession for taking the whole day).

I’m planning a sort-of-minor renovation when my wife’s in confinement; we’re hoping to outfit new cabinets, curtain rails, window grilles and balcony windows as well as buy a new fridge, install a ceiling fan and clean up some mistakes made during our last renovation. Hopefully this second phase is going to make things just a little more like home. Even more hopefully, it won’t cost me my total income for next year.

Ah, the price of parenthood. I am beginning to think our technical depression was caused by August’s announcement of the enhanced baby bonus scheme.

A Day At The Races

My wife came up to me two nights ago asking, “What was it that was said when you were racing with your friends as a kid?”

“Racing?” I asked.

“Yeah, like running with each other or something like that. Usually it’s supposed to be ready, get set, go, right?”

I immediately knew where she was getting at. With our short tongues at that age, it was almost NEVER ‘ready, get set, go’. Instead, it was almost always ‘GET THE LADY, CASSETTE, GO!’ She also had her own version which went ‘ALAMAK, GASSETTE, GO!”

It’s small things like this that make you want to be a kid again. And I start to wonder if my kid will ever experience his childhood like we did, and reminisce about it when he hits middle age.

Where The Hell Have I Been?!

I do need to apologise for the lack of posting. For starters, I’ve been sorting some stuff out at home, slowly preparing for Xander’s arrival.

For those of you who have been to our house over the past year, you may have noticed a room somewhat filled up with unpacked boxes which we originally slated to be our guest room. Well, it’s Xander’s room now, and we’re just beginning to clear the stuff out to redecorate and furnish.

Speaking of which, one night I decided to reorganise our personal belongings in the storeroom and this is what happened:

Our bag collection
I bagged the living room floor.

The best part is, about 6 or 7 of those bags are my wife’s, the rest are mine. The WHOLE whopping rest of it. I had to throw some out, and even then I’m still left with a fat lot of them.

The packing continues… we’re having a gift baby cot from one of our colleagues sent to us by the end of the week. It’s all starting to come together, amazingly.

And then to add to the late night packing, my beta test program for my company e-commerce website has started, and frankly, I don’t know where to start. People have already begun writing in to join as testers, and I seem to be the only one who’s managing the whole operation at present. That and the fact that I’m getting bushwhacked (sorry Mark) with a hundred things in the office that apparently only I can do.

So again, my sincere apologies for disappearing for such a long time. I’ll try to come back more regularly, but as one of my friends who has just recently been introduced into fatherhood continuously warns me, it’s gonna get less possible by the day.

You are running out of swim space on Local Belly (B:). To free space on this belly, click the belly button.

My wife would wish it were so easy.

Xander’s been moving about more frequently and vigorously the past week or so. ‘Tis the month of turning down, as our gynae and about a hundred pregnancy books and articles say, so my wife is also in the process of packing her overnight bag for the hospital stay when she is ready to deliver.

(I am finding pregnancy terms increasingly disturbing. like “ready to deliver.” When we first went to see our gynae, she had to leave in the middle of our consultation to “take a delivery”. Being the only man in the entire clinic at the moment, I thought maybe some pharmaceutical company were replenishing some stock or something, but nooooooo, it was a baby she had to take delivery of! That’s right up there in the list of “They Got To Find a Better Way Of Saying That” phrases, together with “expressing milk” for me.)

Many nights, we’ve been marvelling at Xander’s movements. My wife describes him as large enough to stretch himself from her left side to her right side (which is a bit of a stretch for me to believe, but who am I to talk? She’s the one who’s pregnant). When she invites me to put my hands on her belly though, I get what she’s saying. Xander’s either playing out the Contra secret code for 99 lives (the ever immortal up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-A-B-Select-Start) with his legs, or my wife installed a foetal Dance Dance Revolution wombpad for Xander’s turn-of-the-millenium Ah Beng education.

Whatever he’s doing, it’s evident he’s running out of space in his mother’s not-very-little tum-tum. My wife is starting to walk the exact way she doesn’t want to; like a penguin. And the labour pains are constant; our bout of food poisoning seems like a primer for what is to inevitably come for the tail end of my wife’s hotly anticipated third trimester; Braxton-Hicks coupled with a few solid foetal kicks (I was hoping he’d get into basketball instead, but whatever keeps him fit, yeah?).

I Should Get Poisoned More Often.

Food poisoning is a very effective, albeit uncomfortable, diet plan.

In the last 48 hours since I’ve been afflicted, I’ve lost over 3kg. If this goes on, I’ll be back to my old army physique in a month (oops, I think I just gave out how much weight I’m supposed to lose).

The doctor also told me yesterday, I am suffering from food poisoning not amounting to diarrhoea. I thought he was reading me a criminal charge, like “negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide”, or “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”, or something; I felt just as guilty when I called the office to report my medical leave.

I’m not the only one who got poisoned though; my wife’s got the runs as well. She’s been running to the toilet about 5 or 6 times each day for the last two days as well. While this would be quite worrying for any parent-to-be, through our dear friend Google and our trusted gynaecologist whom we paid a visit to yesterday, we were told as long as there’s no fever and no bleeding, my wife is free to run as many times as she wants without harming the baby, as long as she doesn’t mind the pain and inconvenience that comes with it, which she does, so we’re gonna try not doing it too often.

But we’re not the only ones either! Apparently there are 2 people in our office that have also been food-poisoned. While one (who was celebrating Deepavali last week, thus will probably have a lot of curry wreaking havoc in her system) is understandable, the other would make 4 people in the office who have eaten something wrong at some point over the weekend. This might seem too much of a coincidence to anyone who’s watched enough TV (i.e., too much CSI/X-Files and the Final Destination Trilogy).

Is it something we all ate at some point in the office? Or did we all go to the same hawker centre next to the Esplanade over the weekend and ordered the same fried oyster for dinner? Or were we all poisoned by Chinese food manufacturers?

Regardless the conspiracy, good things have come out of this little debacle. For one, I lost over 3kg. I’ve also got to spend a little more personal time with my wife and our about-to-be-born son (even though I was delirious with fever half the time) and we even got to watch the Coffin (against both our parents’ advice for horror content, and our friends’ advice for its low rating), which isn’t really scary… unless you know for a fact how these Thai coffin rituals are really performed (again, another story for another post).


Looks like my China conspiracy theory isn’t too far off. I was drinking a pack of Vitasoy honeydew-flavoured milk when I realised my wife was drinking a pack the night she got her diarrhoea ( I realise diarrhoea may not be an immediate symptom of melamine poisoning, but then who knows anything for sure?). After doing a search on Vitasoy and melamine, checking out the AVA melamine-tainted product list and subsequently looking through our pantry, we realised this China food crisis has hit closer to home than we so wrongly assumed. We’ve had to throw out some biscuits and other (already expired anyway) items, as well as the rest of our Vitasoy stock, though the warnings against the Vitasoy Honeydew-flavoured Soy Milk seems suspiciously hoax-ish. Oh well.

Any Time Now…

My wife’s been feeling a little under the weather lately. I figure it’s third trimester jitters, which should be normal. The truth is, we’re expecting Xander to pop out anytime between now and December (though frankly, December might be a better time). He’s been getting rougher in my wife’s womb too. It used to be little bumps here and there, but now her reactions and my own personal experiences feeling Xander’s full-bodied elbowing, kicking, somersaulting and frequent Hadouken practice sessions in her womb with my hand are making me wonder if Tae Bo is ingrained into a foetus’ instincts.


There’s been a lot of news and opinions about how the economy is doing and how best to approach it, varying from spending all the money you got in order to keep the economy running to start planning and saving as much financial reserves as you can possibkly get your hands on in order to weather the upcoming storm.

I’ve been told by my family I’ll be getting my own rescue package for my birthday to help me alleviate my debts. As much as I welcome the gesture, I also realise financial management is not a lesson to be taken lightly, but if handouts were readily available, it may not serve to teach anyone anything but the easiest way out and why it probably won’t work; when I was 16 years old, my dad signed me up for a supplementary credit card. when I was 16 years old and 6 months, he canceled it.

I’ve since signed up credit cards of my own, but of course, with a family of my own, the lessons that come with earning and spending have hit much closer to the heart (and the backside, where I usually put my wallet). My family has my interests at heart when they find out about my financial situation and offer their help, but I’ve told them all, “Sure, I’ll be more than happy to take your money, what what do you think I will learn out of it?”

Since I got married, I find myself having to work harder to prove to people that I’m not this kid that gets into financial trouble and has to get his family to bail him out, even though my first 20 years of life I’ve been trying to prove the exact opposite. I’m coming to realise though, that I’m trying to prove I’m financially stable to myself more than anyone else.

Damn recession isn’t making things easier though. Even if my paycheck’s still coming in and my expenses have been consistent, the daily headlines are making people really nervous, because nobody at my level, the level of the layman, knows what’s going to happen. My only hope is that Xander and my wife live through their days with me comfortably despite all of this.