Friday, March 30, 2007

Big = Clumsy

Somehow the size of my belly has a direct corelation to how klutzy I can get. It seems as though the bigger I get, the clumsier I am. These days I find myself having to tread very carefully if I want to ensure safe passage throughout the day.

It amazes me that each day presents hazards which I've never faced before, the most common of which seems to be slipping: on thin air, on water, on talcum powder, on fur, on a slippery mat. The second most common hazard plaguing my days is of course, bumping the growing protrusion that is my belly into something.

So in addition to watching where I'm going to avoid bumping my belly uneccesarily, I have to watch what and where I step on. The smallest of irregularities can tip me off balance. It's more than a little alarming to think how much more imbalanced I could get in a few more months down the road.

I suppose as soon as I lose sight of my feet, I've got to attach a sort of CCTV on my underbelly to provide me with a better view of what's going on down there under my feet. But then again, who walks looking at their feet?


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

- Reinhold Niebuhr

I love this prayer. In all the times in my life where I've experienced doubt, insecurity or general turmoil in my life, these words have never failed to sustain me.

Bump goes the belly

Being pregnant should alert my body to the fact that I should be more careful with my physical self. Unfortunately, the signals don't seem to carry through to my limbs. So far I've bumped my belly into machine handles (binders at the office), corners of tables, corners of walls, and even into pillars.

By the time my girl pops out, she'd be lucky not to end up a klutz like me from all that jolting around or bear some physical reminder of just how much affinity her mom has for walking into things.

At this point in time, I can only tell myself and try to constantly, consciously remind myself to take it easy, walk slower and to look where I'm going.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My cup runneth over

The gang threw me a tiny surprise party on the night before my birthday. All four of them came over to the house with a cake. Small but essential numbers, that's how I like to keep them; few but valuable friends (wait, make that three since one of them is my sis).

And later that night, Rizal slipped on the stairs and dislocated his arm. Needless to say, it was a long night which segued into a tiring day. He was kept for observation and I clawed my way home and crept into bed at 5am. He was discharged later in the day and after lunch and errands, we both crashed on the couch when we got home.

Growing older requires some introspection, especially now I'm in the stage of my life where the next big change will be THE NEXT BIG CHANGE. Given that in another few months my life will be thrown upside down by the anticipated arrival, I would like to think my journey so far has been but a taste of what is yet to come.

No one really knows what life will throw at you even when you plan well ahead. I'm no planner and even then I'm usually surprised. But I prefer to err on this side of positive. What other better way is there to take life than by its horns and failing which, to just stare it straight in the eye and say, "Come on, give me all you've got. I know I can take it."

And so saying, I realise that my boobs have run ahead of me again: my cup has runneth over. Go on, gimme all you've got. Go to a D if you want to, I can take the sagging and the engorgement. It's time to go bra shopping once again.

Hurray for the small pleasures in life.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Doing My Duty

I'm not proud to say that I've been neglecting my most important duty to the country in years past: I've not registered to vote EVER.

Well, this year I've seen and heard enough to warrant doing something about the things I don't like about the country. So I'm now a registered voter.

Or at least I hope I am, since the SPR system can't find my records in their database. But then again, I only just registered yesterday so I'll give them a few more days to update the system.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Because you can

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

- Mahatma Gandhi

This is not an easy standard to live by. I had the opportunity to do so yesterday but I blew it.

I drove by a blind man on my way home from work. He was crossing a three-lane road with the ubiquitous blind man's white stick leading the way. I was in the innermost lane and he was just starting to cross on the outermost lane. I'd just accelerated and I told myself I'm going too fast to stop. I was also talking on the handsfree with Rizal.

He was just starting on the middle lane and I could see out of the corner of my eye, the car next to me in the middle lane slowing down to let him cross. I passed the blind man by more than 6 or 7 feet. I hoped the driver behind me knew to slow down to let him cross.

I looked in my rearview mirror as I came to a stop at a traffic light ahead. He didn't slow down; he passed the blind man by 2 feet. The car behind that driver should have seen the blind man by that time and slowed down because by then, the blind man was already in the innermost lane of the road.

I almost had a heart attack. The second car behind me DID NOT slow down. I don't know if it was because he didn't see the blind man or if he just didn't care. What I saw was the car nudging the blind man's white stick and the car stopping just at the same time the blind man stopped walking. I'm He almost stumbled, but the blind man was still standing and luckily, had stopped walking. It looked as though a collision and an accident had been avoided just in the nick of time.

And that's when I started to feel guilty. I'd seen the blind man trying to cross the road and should have just stopped for him to cross even though he was two lanes away from me. By not stopping and expecting, hoping that the other drivers behind me would do the right thing, I actually perpetuated a chain of events where someone could have been hurt. I could have done the right thing, but I didn't. I could have been the change that I want to see in the world. I could have.

It got me to thinking just how much of a change I want to see in the world and how much of a part I want to play in that change. It also got me to wondering if Malaysians really are that caring a lot that the tourists and media say we are or if we're just kidding ourselves.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Adventurer

The most intrepid of the three explorers, she goes where no other cat in the family goes: up, under, inside, over, on and out.

This is how you do the Limbo Rock

While I was posting this, he was demonstrating just how nimble he can be by plonking himself right between the monitor and my keyboard without shoving the keyboard right off the desk.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My cats, my family

"You must keep the cats away from the baby."

"You should give away your cats."

"Make sure you don't let your cats get close to the baby; they could be jealous or they could give your baby asthma."

For every well-meaning relative or friend who's given me unsolicited advice about cats and babies, my face freezes and I force a similarly well-meaning smile to appear because to open my mouth in response would be as hazardous as exposing oneself to a nuclear fallout.

I would gladly hunt and shoot down the person who first uttered the last comment which made its way around to my side of the park, if I had that much time to spare. I think pets in general would be more afraid of the wailing and noise that a newborn baby makes than develop any longlasting jealousy towards it. As with human children, it is to be expected that pets would experience a certain amount of neglect once a new addition to the family has arrived. How pets and the rest of the human household react to that new addition is how one introduces and integrates that new baby into the family.

So what if there's a little jealousy involved? Don't tell me that everyone you know is a saint and that they weren't a little jealous of their new sibling when they were first born.

I have been doing some reading and have learned that how cats react to the newcomer largely depends on what kind of cat it is. The timid, nervous cat who is liable to run away at the sign of new visitors and is really only happy with you is the most difficult to deal with, likely be jealous and to spray in the places used by new mother and baby. The devoted cat, the one who follows you around and wants to join in all you do will be the one most easily hurt but will also be the one most likely to enlarge his affections to include said new baby. The easiest cat to deal with will be the one with whom you have a somewhat impersonal relationship with, the kind who eats and sleeps, accepts petting when it suits him and generally goes his own way. If his routine remains unchanged, he should be no trouble at all.

Fortunately for us, we have cats that fall into each category. Trixie is the first, timid with strangers but oozing with affection for me. I don't imagine she would be jealous with the baby as she would be hiding behind the couch should the baby be wailing. And she has not a bone of malice in her body: she allows Pixel to manhandle her and is such a wuss she's even afraid to stand up to the wet blanket of the family, Meg.

Trixie in the early days at our rented apartment.

Pixel is the dog of the family; he is really a dog in cat's clothing. He follows us everywhere, comes when he's called and offers his belly to us or visitors whenever we walk in the front door. When he discovers that his "twin" or any of us are not around, he will meow the house down in search of the missing culprit. I think he may be more curious than jealous, and his nature being a big brown fuzzy teddy bear wrapped in dog's fur but born in a cat's body, he will take to the baby and may even want to cuddle up to it when he figures she's another member of the family.

Pixel in the days before we adopted him, lounging around the ground floor of my parents' condo unit.

Meg is the cat who's ... a cat. Sleeps all the time, appears only at mealtimes, will want to sit on my lap if I let her, is up for a game if the string is bandied about but other than that, like I said, she sleeps all the time. I don't think bringing a baby into the family will affect her in any way. Other than the fact that her spot next to me on the bed may be taken up by the new member.

Meg when she had Garfield to keep her company.

Some are still trying to convince me that putting babies and cats together is a no-no. I know of some people who've given their cats away as soon as their new baby has arrived. It saddens me that people who've taken the responsibility of caring for a cat and welcomed it in to their home could just as easily discard the cat when a baby comes along.

Time and again our pets prove that they are loyal and trusting friends, accepting us even easier than some of our human counterparts do. My cats are my babies, my companions. I treat them like my family and accord them the love and respect as such. They in turn comfort me when I'm down, share in my happiness and of course, occasionally irritate me to no end, as most normal family members do. And since I picked them off the street (all three were strays), I think of myself as being responsible for their welfare. Unless there's absolutely no way I can keep all three with me, baby notwithstanding, I wouldn't dream of putting them out on the streets again. Except maybe for Meg and even then not out on the streets but in a new home. But then again, that's a different story altogether.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Filling my own dams

I've always liked the cold. Only thing is, my body and, more specifically, my sinuses, just don't seem to think what I like has any importance. Therefore, even though I like the cold, I've always had to bundle up against air-conditioned spaces. I usually head out to cinemas and shopping centres with a sweater or sweatshirt in tow.

The tables seem to have turned in my second trimester. Nobody ever told me you could feel quite this hot at all times of the day. I take a five minute walk out in the sweltering heat and find rivers of sweat cascading down the crevice between my breasts. I stand outside of the aircond and I break out in a sweat. My armpits are constantly damp and if I move I swear I could fill reservoirs or dams with the pools of sweat my body's creating.

The act of breathing makes me sweat. My ceiling fan is set on to 3 at all times. It usually doesn't go beyond a 2. I've had to resort to the aircond more than a few nights in a row. I'm surprised my upper lip hasn't broken out in beads of sweat yet so far; the rest of my body seems to have taken on an ability to produce sweat at the drop of a hat: the crooks of my elbows, behind my knees, my pelvic joints, all those areas which bend and wherever there are folds. Did I mention that growing a couple of breast sizes bigger has caused sweat to pool under my breasts? I don't know how well-endowed women tolerate this but I find it utterly annoying! Yuck.

When I lounge around in the living room, I look like I've thrown all sense of ettiquette out the window (and where I look more than a little obscene): my limbs are all akimbo, legs wide apart and arms as far away from my body as possible. I try to keep as little skin contact with the couch as possible. And when that's no good, I sink down onto the carpet where the only contact between the floor and me is right at the tail of my butt, and my legs are bent so that only my heels touch the floor. Anyone walking in on me would think I'm preparing for early labour. The only thing missing would be the cursing and swearing.

I've taken to rolling my T-shirt and wadding it up under my boobs just so that my belly can have a fresh breath of air. And if I have my sports bra on, I've deviced a way of rolling the T-shirt under the elasticed band and up so that it bunches into that cleavage to soak up whatever sweat that develops and pools there. I've never felt more ingenious in my life.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Why it's useful to have a hide as thick as an elephant's while you live in this country

I skip the dailies for a few days and find an uproar in cyberspace over something that some minster or other said. This time it's in reference to bloggers; women bloggers in particular.

Malaysian Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan was reported by Sin Chew (March 9, Early Evening edition pp 5) to have said the following:

"Bloggers are liars. They use all sort of ways to cheat others. From what I know, out of 10,000 unemployed bloggers, 8,000 are women.

"Bloggers like to spread rumours, they don't like national unity. Today our country has achievements because we are tolerant and compromising. Otherwise we will have civil war.

Malays will kill Chinese, Chinese will kill Malays, Indians will kill everybody else.

He asked people not to believe bloggers and gamble away Malaysia's future because 50 years of Merdeka (Independence) takes a lot to achieve it.

We have to show to the people our positive attitude. If the world learns from us, there will peace and no civil war."

I'm not certain about the authenticity of the translation but I get the gist of what was said. So I suppose everyone else's girlfriends, mothers, aunts, sisters, wives, and basically anyone with the XX chromosome are generally unemployed, liars or cheats. I wonder if he took a second to think how he came into the world and whose womb he sprung out of? What really scares me is the way he nonchalantly says "Malays will kill Chinese, Chinese will kill Malays, Indians will kill everybody else". Are we now also heartless murderers?

And then there is this piece by Rehman Rashid in the NST (culled with relevant bits , of course):

"There is now a place called the "blogosphere", touted by its denizens as a Utopia of freedom of expression.

In my opinion, what they’ve really done is prove why freedom of expression was a really bad idea. In this country, a host of folk who never had a hope of getting published are now proving why not.

The local blogosphere is the domain of life-challenged grumblestiltskins and disenfranchised pundits whose asinine maunderings only show why they should never have had day jobs in the first place.

Rumour, innuendo, half-truths and damned lies are their stock- in-trade, and previously sacrosanct standards, principles and ethics are now laughable.

Are they not entitled to their opinion? Of course they are, as much as everyone else is entitled to ignore them. I would venture, however, that everyone has an opinion and a rectum, and not that many seem capable of telling one from the other.

But no, it’s all good. Let a hundred thousand million flowers bloom; let all voices be heard, in however fractured language, whether or not they have anything pertinent to communicate or any information worth more than spittle to offer. "


So much has been said in response to this already that I'll just skip it. It would be a waste of energy and resources to justify why this is more than a little unjustified.

Here's what I wonder:

1. Why time and time again our nation's leaders are given to expounding absolutely mindless or baseless utterances without first filtering it through their grey matter (or do they have any?) or even their PR department. Do they not know that what they say will be taken note of? Not only by the locals but by the rest of the world? And that if they sound stupid saying them, they will be perceived as such? The problem is, not only will they be perceived as lacking of great intellect, even the general population will be perceived as such by those who know no better.

2. Why must there be so much negativity about freedom of speech, especially in cyberspace?

What's good about cyberspace is that most of the stuff you go through or read is free. You look for what you want and it pops up. If you like it, you read some more. If you don't, just ignore it and move on. After all, not everyone is gifted with the "talent" to write. Having a blog is just a means of people journaling their daily if not mundane lives. Of course, the really good ones make a living out of them.

When I brought up Item 1 with Rizal, he said plainly, " We all know that politicians basically are brainless. They're basically unqualified for their job. If they had half a brain and any skills, they would be running some corporation somewhere and wouldn't be where they are now."

I've been living here long enough to be conditioned not to pay any attention or get unduly riled up by what our nation's leaders say. After all, at the rate they are going with their "wise words", I would have died by cardiac arrest, hypertension or driven mentally insane years ago. There's only so much mental bashing that one can take without either developing an immunity to it or be totally crushed by it.

However, it is increasingly disappointing to me that as we move along into the 21st Century, we seem to be regressing as a nation of intellectual, intelligent individuals. At least, the representation that these leaders put forward to the rest of the world make it seem that we Malaysians really are a petty, insensitive, racist lot. And that instead of being concerned with bigger and more important matters, here we are bickering about bloggers, mat skodengs, chastity belts, brandishing the keris and scoring As in SPM.

There really is more to life than reading the local dailies or paying attention to what our leaders say. I for one, being the liar, cheat and unemployed vagrant that I am (The first two are probably true in some instances but the last is a totally baseless claim. See? Even I can make such claims!) am concentrating on bringing my baby girl to term (another liar, cheat and unemployed vagrant - well, the latter only until she's capable of finding her own source of income) in the next four months.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Off the Wagon: How much sex can we not have in a year?

Really. Think about it. Since bearing a child to term would take about nine months and add a few more months for the recovery period, any woman who's pregnant and told to stay off intercouse would be faced with the sad fact that she'd have to abstain for at least a year.

Such is my sad lot in life when the doc told me that since my placenta is low, having intercourse may end up aggravating the low-lying sac. And jeopardize carrying the baby to full term.

My poor husband. Time to work those biceps, or is it those wrist muscles? Looks like he'll have to be entertained by the hot chicks at Digital Playground. As for me, my hormones are making do with extremely graphic dreams of the horizontal tango kind. Most of the time, Rizal will play a starring role, at others, I get to fulfill my fantasy of bonking total strangers or reknowned leading men.

Other than that, the baby's organs are all in order but the doc tut-tutted at my lack of weight gain. He did a good job of scaring me into eating more to boost up the baby's size in case I needed an early delivery. "By week 34, if the placenta is still lying low, we'll need to decide if we're going in for a C-section." On the other hand, hopefully, if the baby grows big enough with the amount I'm chuffing my face into and the uterus expands enough, the placenta will "move" along with the expansion and not lie so low. Does that make sense?

Whatever. I'm not about to lower my chances of a quick and less painful recovery. And of giving up the chance of putting my husband through the hell of going through labour and childbirth with me. No can-do. If I'm going to have a kid, we're going the whole hog: pain and curses, sweat and tears, pinched fingers and possibly dislocated shoulders or arms.

My main mission now is to eat and eat some more. No matter that I really am kinda running out of clothes to wear and ideas to toss around for work mix-and-match but still am too stubborn to don a tent (what else can you call those maternity dresses that threaten to balloon up over your girdle and maternity bra if you step over an underground air vent?).

Other than that, I am also actively trying to visualise my placenta lying somewhere not too low in my uterus. Hey, a bit of positive visualisation never hurt, right? If all else fails, I could SOS a friend for her midwife who managed to urut her baby and what else into better position.

I am determined to go through childbirth. With the epidural, of course.

In the absence of ping pong balls

We went in for the detailed scan last week. While the doc was scrutinizing the baby's heart in painstaking detail - he spent a looooong time going through valves and sections which I couldn't make head or tail of, Rizal blurted out, "So when do we get to see if it's a boy or girl?".

"Hang on, we'll get to that in a while. Let's take a look at the lungs and the rest of the organs first."

So we do and I'm looking and I still don't know what organ it is that we're looking at but the doc points out the kidneys and some other parts that just look like either black blobs or grey spots.

Finally he moves on to scan past the buttocks of the baby. "Oh, see now, we don't see any ping pong balls here. You're looking at a girl."

I look at the screen and we're looking at her little bottom, from the bottom, not the side or the front, but the bottom. Can't go very far wrong here, can we? I see no protrusions nor ping pong balls, as the doc said.

So I take the doc's word and my own eyes for what we saw. No ping pong balls = little baby girl. Of course, I don't tell anyone that I had a feeling it was a girl all along. Had to be. Only a girl could be so picky about her food and when she wants it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that when she's finally out, she'll give her mom less grief over what and when to eat.

So now we can finally get on with looking up girls' names. This should be fun.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Yes, it's a state of mind but I can't wait for the day when I'm out of the country, looking at and reading about the myriad happenings, squabbles, controversies, accusations that are going on within the claustrophobic confines of a modern Malaysia. At the very least I will be away from it all.

I'd rather be a Malaysian outside the country than inside.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

And you wonder why we didn't have kids before

I bought my first baby onesie yesterday as I was browsing for more maternity/nursing bras. It was on a clearance rack and it just screamed "TOO CUTE!!!" for me to resist. It's white with red piping on the sleeves, collar and leg openings. There are cute little grey drawings of bears all over it with the words "I LOVE YOU" emblazoned in between.

When I showed Rizal my first baby purchase, he took it in his hands and held it up.

"Hey, you know what?"


"This is a perfect fit for the boy!"

Note: for the uninformed, "the boy" refers to our fat Garfield of a cinnamon cat, Pixel. And Rizal has been hankering to get him some form of clothing or other ever since he saw a Chinese New Year dog tee that would fit our humongous cat.

"Are you joking?"

"No, look! You can put his head through here and the armholes fit where his legs can go through and you can cnap this up at the back where his hind legs are!"

I take a moment to wonder what we've gotten ourselves into by having a kid. Visions of interchanging baby food and cat kibble between the two species; probably have the baby on all fours eating out of the cats' bowls and Trixie lapping up the baby's milk spillage. Or worse, our first word to the kid: Meow!

"Come on, let me try it on him!" Rizal enthuses.


I take the onesie away from him, fold it up and put it back in the bag it came in with the rest of my bras. And stuff it right under.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Wouldn't we borrow more books or read more if our national library looked like this?

Singapore National Library

(And had half or even a smidgeon of a selection of reading material as good?)

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