Archive for the ‘illness’ Category

We’ve been in our new place for 2 weeks now, but we’re still not quite settled yet. To be honest, it’s been a challenging couple of weeks.

For starters, Alyssa fell ill the night before we moved. She developed a fever in the middle of the night that lasted for the next five days, and a bad cough too. The cough got progressively worse in the morning and we decided that rather than keeping her with me for the move and exposing her to all the dust which aggravated her cough, that my parents would bring her home for a couple of hours.

What a milestone for her. She’s never been taken care of by anyone outside of my home, nor for that many hours. That was the day she was started on formula as well. We had emptied out the freezer, so all the stored expressed breastmilk was finished. I had planned on nursing her during the day. So all of a sudden she had to try formula. Thankfully she took well to it!

What a change. For Asher and Ellery I had planned exactly when they would try formula milk, bought a small tin several days in advance, introduced it slowly with half-and-half breastmilk and formula milk, slowly increasing the amount of formula until it was just formula milk. For Alyssa, we just decided that very morning, told my mum which brand and she hurried to the supermarket to get a tin :) And the best part was, I was totally ok with it. Definitely third child laissez-faire-ness.

The movers were great. We hired Alliance Movers on recommendation from a friend and they were excellent! The guy who came around to give the quote was friendly and reassuring. The movers themselves were super efficient, professional, helpful, and despite all the work, cheerful! I loved seeing the movers chatting and joking with each other even as they worked. It made moving a less stressful affair. And there seemed to be nothing they couldn’t do. They helped to disassemble and reassemble our bed, dismounted then mounted some shelves, wrapped up everything quickly and properly (sofas, tables, computers, etc), provided 2 large clothes rack for moving clothes (fantastic! No need to re-iron Jon’s shirts!) and helped with packing our stray items. And they were so fast. I spent weeks packing, and in just a few hours the entire house was empty. The only things left were some items in the storeroom that we hadn’t had the chance to run through yet so told them to leave it behind.

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Filling the truck with our stuff


With Alyssa ill I couldn’t unpack much though. So for days the boxes just sat there. I started to feel stressed and overwhelmed. I don’t like mess. I’m actually quite OCD about cleanliness and having everything in its place (even though I’ve lowered my expectations since the kids came along). When the house is messy, my internal life feels messy. So living in a house full of boxes before moving, and then still living in a house full of boxes after moving, plus the dust that inevitably plagues new houses, and noticing the rectifications missed out by the interior designers, and finding new things that needed rectification, and scuttling back to the old house to clear it out for the new tenant, and a sick baby that was quite literally stuck to me the whole time…all this really drove me crazy. Everything felt grimy and dusty. Everything seemed to be going wrong.

The boys and the husband were perfectly happy though. In fact, the boys settled right in as if they lived here all along! It was a real blessing, but in my stressed state I failed to be more grateful for it. Even though we now have a view to die for outside our window, I was grumpy and focusing on the mess.

Until one afternoon, as I sat glumly staring out the upper windows at the dust encrusted on the outside, cursing to myself at how the interior designers didn’t clean it up as they were supposed to, I found my eyes refocusing from the glass of the window, to the clouds that were framed by the window. Beautiful, white fluffy clouds set against a gorgeous blue sky. And then it hit me that, like my eyes just a moment before, I was focusing on the wrong thing. Instead of looking at the dirt on the window, I should be looking at the clouds outside the window.

I felt lighter. I wouldn’t say completely at ease, but lighter and less stressed. I can do this, I thought. And prayed.

And the change in attitude came not a moment too soon, because the day after, I somehow found myself with a sprained back. I couldn’t stand upright. Walking was painful. Sitting was painful. Sigh. But I’m grateful for the people who prayed for me, and that my back is better now. Not perfect, but better.

And in spite of the back I kept trying to unpack. Now the house is less cluttered even though there are still boxes that need to be unpacked. It’s reaching the point where I can’t see how it’s all going to fit into the cupboards. Might need to do another round of throwing out things. I grumbled to my husband about how we should have made more cabinets. We have planned some things to be built in a second phase to save on costs for now, but I felt we needed it now. But his position is that we should just throw out more stuff. I suppose he’s right too. I probably hang on to too much stuff. Overly sentimental about so many things.

So, the unpacking is not done yet.

In the meantime, the boys have been having a blast here. They love going downstairs to play, they’ve been enjoying playing with boxes, and they’ve been rediscovering a lot of our books. Previously they were kept on a shelf that wasn’t so conducive for browsing. Now they are pulling out all the old books and reading through them. I reminded myself to be thankful that they could entertain themselves this way while I handled Alyssa.

And yes, as for Alyssa, she’s better now. She’s finally not coughing all the time, at night her coughing is much better too (it was worst at night). She’s back to being a smiley, happy baby. For those five days that she was feverish, she barely smiled. It was so unlike her. I had to scramble to find a paediatrician near our house to attend to her after we moved. Thankfully I have some friends with kids in the east who could recommend me their doctor. She hated the nasal spray and didn’t like her medicine. She also lost her appetite and didn’t eat anything, only drank milk, and even then not that much. As a result she lost quite a bit of weight. But she’s regained her appetite again, thankfully.

The bad part is, her routine is completely messed up. I never enforced a routine. She kind of fell into one naturally. She used to nap around 10am, then barely slept, taking maybe 5 to 15 minute naps here and there, before knocking out around 7/730pm. She’d then sleep for several hours without waking up until around midnight or 1am. Now, she sleeps around 8pm and she’s up every hour or so. Less sleep is no fun. Am hoping she somehow falls back into her usual routine again.

So, yes. It’s been a tough 2 weeks.

Hope to make the house look more presentable soon and have some semblance of a Christmassy home before Christmas arrives!

How many boys fit into a box? The boys packing themselves away before we moved

How many boys fit into a box?

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The boys packing themselves away before we moved

Saying goodbye to our first home

Saying goodbye to our first home



Boxes in our new place

Boxes in our new place

Boxes in our livingroom and the view outside :)

Boxes in our livingroom and the view outside :)

We have a balcony now! Great for messy things like excavating bones

We have a balcony now! Great for messy things like excavating bones

Bookish boys

Bookish boys

Making a tunnel of boxes to race through

Making a tunnel of boxes to race through

It's a tie!

It’s a tie!


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Poor Alyssa.  Not even one month old and she caught a flu.

At first it seemed just like a little sniffle.  But as her nose started to get more congested and she seemed really uncomfortable, we decided to being her to see the paediatrician, especially with thoughts of Ellery’s illness episode when he was an infant.  Better safe than sorry.

The doc looked very concerned and asked us if she had a fever.  When we told him ‘no’, he instructed us to monitor her for fever because if she developed a fever, we would have to immediately bring her to the A&E to get a lumbar puncture done in order to test the cerebral spinal fluid for infection.  In other words, test for meningitis.  Apparently for infants under one month, the brain covering is not fully developed so the chances of an infection are higher.


If you Google ‘lumbar puncture’ (aka ‘spinal tap’ or ‘lumbar tap’), you’ll find that the procedure is akin to an epidural for mothers – which if you remember, I dreaded!  And which I also felt was painful!  I couldn’t imagine a little infant going through such a procedure!!!

We were very worried.  Her nose was really stuffy.  And who knew how things would pan out?  Straightaway we did a few things.

1. Pray!  We activated our family prayer group to cover in prayer.  I was really worried, but knew we had to pray and trust that things will turn out ok.

2. Oil! Besides some nose drops, the doctor didn’t prescribe any medicine.  I suppose babies are really too young to be pumped with meds.  I’ve been using essential oils on my kids for almost a year now and I find it helps, so decided to use it on Alyssa.  Thankfully prior to delivery I got hold of a bottle of Copaiba essential oil.  I read that it was mild enough for use on newborns, and was good for, among other things, respiratory problems like sinusitis (which my kids are prone to getting).  I diffused it with other oils, applied it on her sinuses, her chest, back and feet.

3. Suction! We really take for granted the ability to blow out noses.  All this would be so much easier to manage if she could just blow her nose.  The one the doc used had such a large opening that when he pushed it hard into her nose to suck out the mucous she really cried so badly!  Remember, she hardly cries!  And for the very first time I saw her cry until her tears came out!  Goodness.  I went to buy the aspirator which had a narrow tube.  She still hated it, but it was effective, and wayyyy less painful/uncomfortable than the large one the doc used.

4. Prop! Lying flat made things worse for her.  So she spent several nights sleeping between Jon and myself propped up on a pillow.  She would discernibly have an easier time breathing.

Propped up

Propped up

I’m so thankful to report that she’s better.  She sometimes still sounds a little sniffly, but mostly she is fine.  I would go so far as to say she’s out of the woods for developing a fever.

Oh, my sweet little baby.  This is just the start.  I pray that there’ll be few, if any, health scares and that you’ll be a healthy, happy child.


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Febrile Fits

Another horrific experience for me.  Ellery had another febrile fit.  I did not know then that that was what it was called.  I just knew he was having a fit, and I was scared.  It was the second time, the first was when we were in Australia at the Blue Mountains, in the middle of no where.  At that time he recovered fairly quickly and was perfectly normal after.  This time around was just as unexpected though.

I had just gone to the clinic that morning for the paediatrician to check on Ellery’s cough.  At home he had no fever, at the clinic his fever was 38.1, then we gave him some paracetamol and his fever started to go down.  He was very chatty after a nap and seemed fine.  As our kitchen was totally bare I wanted to pick up a few things from the grocery store for dinner.  Seeing that he looked fine I brought him for a quick trip in my Ergo carrier.   I think that was my mistake.  He fell asleep and being in the carrier could have contributed to the sudden rise in body temperature, which is one of the triggers of febrile fits.

It was terrible.  He went stiff and jerky, his head was thrown back, his eyes rolled backwards, his lips turned blue, his teeth were tightly clenched, he was totally unresponsive, and had some frothing from the mouth (though could have been from the phlegm?).  Since patting him worked the last time, I tried that.  I also remembered that he should be kept on his side in case he choked on any phlegm.  The fit seemed to last forever.  At points I really thought I might lose him and when those thoughts flashed through my head I felt a great and almost uncontrollable feeling of panic and hysteria.  I had to make myself not dwell on those thoughts and keep to the present.

I yelled out for someone to call an ambulance, and thankfully someone did.  I ran up to the two clinics nearby, but both were closed.  All I could do was wait.  Wait for him to come out of the fit.  Wait for the ambulance to come.

Eventually he did come out of it, to my immense relief.  I was then so worried that the fit had affected him internally in some way.  He was also so exhausted after the episode that all he wanted to do was sleep.

The paramedics came, put an oxygen mask on him, put me in a wheelchair with him in my arms and wheeled us to the ambulance.  It was my first time in it.  We were rushed to A&E, and we ended up staying one night for observation.

I learned many things about febrile fits from this episode that I think will be good to share.

  1. There’s nothing you can do but to wait out a fit.  Most fits last around 5 minutes.
  2. NEVER put anything in your child’s mouth when he’s having a fit.  Yes, I know everyone says to put in a stick or spoon or something.  I didn’t know any better and let someone insert a spoon in his mouth when he eased up on the clenching.  Someone even suggested I bring a spoon with me everywhere in case Ellery gets a fit again.  There is little risk of the child biting his tongue.  If he does, it will heal.  However, inserting something could damage his teeth, or worse, the object could break and choke the child.
  3. Keep your child on his side (called the recovery position). The uncles and aunties will tell you to sit him upright.  Ignore their well-intentioned advice.
  4. Call an ambulance.  Especially if its the first time.  The docs will want to make sure it is a simple fit, not a complex fit (more than 1 episode in 24 hours).
  5. It is not high temperature that triggers a fit.  It is a sudden increase in body temperature that triggers it.  Even if your child has a sustained high fever above 39degrees, it doesn’t mean he’ll get a fit.
  6. 1 in 20 children gets febrile fits.  There are several factors that predispose a child to having febrile fits.  Ellery didn’t seem to meet any of them though.  So it’s a mystery.  It apparently could be hereditary, could be due to developmental problems in the womb or at birth, etc.
  7. If he’s had a febrile fit, there’s a 30% chance he’ll have it again the next time he has a fever until around 6 years old.  Sigh.
  8. If he’s had a febrile fit, his children will be predisposed to having it too. Double sigh.  Feels quite sad to think that his children are already predisposed to this when he’s only 18 months old.  He’s not even old enough to understand what ‘girlfriend’ means, even in the most simple way.
  9. If your child is predisposed to febrile fits, keep anal diazepam ready at home.  If by the time you take the medicine from the fridge and come back the fit has stopped, you don’t need to use the medicine.  Diazepam can help stop a fit, but there is a risk of suppressing respiration.  But since the fit itself suppresses respiration, if it lasts long you might as well stop it with diazepam.
  10. Next time he has a fever, monitor closely and give preventive paracetamol doses.  This is to avoid sudden increases in temperature.
  11. There is no damage to the child if the fit is a simple fit.  Complex fits are more serious and could have some effect.

You can read more about febrile fits here and here.

Ellery gives us such heart attacks sometimes.  It’s already our second stay in NUH, the first was when he was just three months old.

I really pray that though he is predisposed to febrile fits, that it will not happen again!!!

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As usual I’m behind in updating my blog, and it seems to be getting worse.  I don’t think I’ll ever catch up!  Argh.

I’ve been busy with the kids.  Well, busier than usual that is.  They came down with HFMD!

I started monitoring the boys after the mom of one of Asher’s schoolmates whom we had a playdate with told us her daughter was showing symptoms of HFMD.  The incubation period is between 4-7 days.  Day 8 and they were fine, so we went for an outing to Punggul waterside park with my parents, aunts, nephew and niece.

Then Saturday morning on the 31st I noticed Asher had a few spots in his mouth.  On his previous brush with HFMD, it was so mild there were no spots at all, so I wasn’t sure if these were HFMD spots or not.  By the end of the day they had grown in number so I was pretty sure this was the real thing.  Also concluded that he didn’t catch it from his playdate friend, but from someone else in school since it was outside the incubation period.  True enough, come Monday morning we received notices that 2 other classmates also came down with HFMD.

The boys had been sharing food and water the entire time, plus they are almost always together, so I knew it was just a matter of time before Ellery caught it too.  And yepp…he did.  Thankfully his was much milder than Asher’s.

Asher got it bad this time around.  Besides the red spots in his mouth he also had 3 particularly painful sores on his gums.  As a result he couldn’t take solid food for several days.  I ended up boiling soup every day for almost every meal during the week, which thankfully he liked and drank a lot of.  It was a comfort to me to see him drink soup because his fluid intake was otherwise very dismal.  He avoided water and milk.  Every time he tried to eat something more solid he’d cry very badly because of the pain.  Poor boy.  Even yoghurt didn’t work.  I thought it would sooth his sores but it aggravated them instead.

Then we found a miracle food that he just loved and ate big bowls of!  The super silken tau hway!  There’s a stall at Redhill market which sells it in various flavours like durian, mango, almond, strawberry and yam (I can’t remember the name of the stall, will go check).  Asher really liked the durian, and absolutely loved the mango.  It was a perfect food because it provided some protein, and its consistency was like a solid/liquid at the same time.  It was solid enough so it wouldn’t spread all over the mouth and touch his sores, but soft and ‘liquid’ enough to swallow without chewing – it would just slide down your throat.

It was obvious when Asher’s sores started getting better because he would ask to eat this or that and was able to chew it without too much discomfort.  For the first time in his life I saw him asking to try so many things, and bearing with discomfort just to eat.  I think he had had enough of soft food :)

I haven’t been getting much sleep.  Ellery still doesn’t sleep through the night, so that’s quite normal.  But this week was particularly bad.  Ellery’s sleep patterns were improving and he’d often wake up just once before midnight sometimes.  But this past week he’d wake many times.  And when he one night, by some miracle, slept through the night from 830-6am the next day Asher was the one waking all night.  More often than not, when one was sleeping soundly the other would wake.  Like if Ellery woke and I settled him back to sleep, Asher would wake up crying next.  Then after I settled him and am about to try and settle myself back to sleep Ellery would wake up.  Some of the days I really dreaded the night.  I’d lose track of when I actually got to sleep properly.  And before I know it, the kids would be up (nowadays anywhere between 6-7am) and I’d be forced out of bed.

It’s like they are playing tag team to tekan me.  Seriously.

Anyway, I’m just really thankful they are well now.  I’m just looking forward to Ellery sleeping through the night consistently.  I’ve forgotten what it feels like to sleep soundly regularly.  It’s been what, 4 years?  When you’re pregnant you don’t sleep well, then Asher was born, he didn’t sleep through until 18 months, by which time I was pregnant again so no sound sleep still, then Ellery was born, and he’s still not sleeping through.  Soooo…….

Yes.  Sleep.  Uninterrupted sleep.

Ok, I gotta stop dreaming before I get too irritated when the boys wake up tonight.

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A Speedy Recovery

We’re home!  Ellery was discharged on Sunday afternoon.  The doctors were surprised at how quickly his condition worsened from the first A&E visit to the next where his chest scan went from clear, to showing an infection.  But the doctors were also surprised at how quickly Ellery was recovering. 

Praise God!  And thanks for your prayers :)

The doctors suspect that what happened was, Ellery caught a cough, then possibly coughed when drinking milk resulting in the milk going down the wrong pipe and entering the lungs.  An infection in the top right lobe of the lung, where his was, is usually the outcome of swollowing milk into the lungs.  That would explain why his condition deteriorated so quickly.

But by the middle of the second day, Ellery didn’t need to wear the oxygen mask anymore because the oxygen saturation in his blood was above 95%, the safe level.  It was hovering around 90% when he was first admitted.  Then by the evening he could be taken off the drip.  One more day of nebulizers and suctioning away of mucous, and he was deemed well enough to return home.

And it seems he knows what home is.  When we got back he suddenly became very happy and smiled and smiled and smiled!  It was as if he knew his hospital stay was over and he was home :)

One downside of the episode is that my milk supply seems to have dwindled.  He hardly drank, if at all.  Yes, I could possibly have tried to express more, but a combination of factors made it quite difficult.  Hmm…hoping it’ll get better soon! 

The other downside is…he’s rejecting the bottle now!!!  Since he fell ill I stopped giving him a bottle cos…well…so poor thing…he couldn’t even drink from me properly!  And then here we are almost two weeks later and he’s turning his nose up at the bottle :(  Hope this isn’t permanent!

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A Turn For The Worse

*WARNING:  If you are afraid of stories involving blood, skip this post*

Last Friday we saw the GP (our pedi was closed), he just gave paracetamol for the fever.  Said to come back if it doesn’t get better in 2 days.  Then on Sunday night Ellery’s fever rocketed to 39.7 after sponging.  He vomited as well after a coughing fit.  That was 330am, so we went to NUH A&E.  The scan ruled out a chest infection and the blood test was clear.  They said to have follow up check up with our pedi in 1 week.  But after last night’s multiple coughing episodes, we decided to see the pedi in advance of the appointment.  It was the first time I saw our pedi look grave.  He noticed instantly that Ellery was lethergic, and after a quick examination said he had a chest infection.  He wrote me a referral to go to NUH A&E.  Said probably need to be warded for 3-5 days, don’t wait, go now.

I did drop by home (it’s on the way to the hospital) to pick up a bag of stuff, including my breastpump which I desperately needed since Ellery wasn’t drinking.  I could already feel the tenderness from the accumulating milk.  I didn’t want to get mastitis in the process!

Was shuffled into isolation cos he had a fever plus a cough.  As per routine they took a scan and a blood test.  But oh man…the doc couldn’t find his vein and pricked and pricked his little hand so many times!!

They said they were going to extract the blood using a plug to allow for a drip later.  Then Doc #1 inserted and reinserted no less than 7 times on the right hand, and another 3 times on the left hand before she got it into the vein!  Then she squeezed and squeezed so hard because she didn’t quite get it perfectly done, so had to squeeze extra hard to get the blood out.  So…because it wasn’t done properly they had to pull the plug out…and do it again!!!

Thankfully Doc #2 came along and did it, and she was much more experienced.  She ended up putting the plug on his right foot.  Poked him once, adjusted once and the blood came out.

Then…they found that the potassiam levels in Ellery’s blood was higher than normal.  Doc #2 said it could be because Doc #1 squeezed so hard to get the blood sample out it could have burst the blood cells releasing potassiam into the sample.  So Doc #2 said we should redo the blood test to see whether the potassiam is really higher than average or whether it was cos of the way the blood was collected.  Ok.

So Doc #1 comes back to take blood for the retest.  She says, “this one is not so painful, it’s not inserting the plug, just pricking the skin and getting some blood”.  So she pricks, then squeezes…then drops the testtube!  So the precious blood spilt onto the bed!!  Her hand had blood, the tube had blood.  And she had to squeeze more blood from Ellery since the blood she had collected was gone!!! 


Doc #2 came along and said that she was extracting the blood the wrong way!  To confirm whether the potassiam level was indeed high they needed to extract the insertion way (like for the putting in the plug).  So, they had to get a needle and poke him again!  Then there were no less than 5 docs/nurses searching his wrists and ankles for a good spot to poke.  And if you’ve seen how they do it, it’s by pressing the palm against the inside of the wrist…and by pressing the foot inwards.  Not comfortable at all.  And they were doing it all at the same time on Ellery!  And they had a hard time cos his hands were starting to swell from all the poking.  I mean…there were so many tiny tunnels in this hands!

Doc #2 then asked whether it was too difficult for Doc #1.  Then Doc #3 came and did it.  And did it properly.  As she finished collecting the necessary quantity for the retest, she asked whether there were any other blood tests that needed to be done, and the answer was no.  In the end the potassiam level was normal, i.e., the initial high content was due to the Doc #1’s handling.  Sigh.

Then we got moved to our ward.  And I find out the diagnosis is actually pneumonia!  The chest scan showed the upper right lobe was infected.  It developed so fast!  The previous scan was clear! 

Anyway, we get to the ward and the ward’s docs come to see him.  After discussing Ellery’s medical history and the development of the illness, they conclude that they need to do a blood culture, meaning, more blood needs to be taken.  Again!  This is all in the same day mind you.  And all within a span of 5 hours. 

So the whole process of bending and pressing his wrists and ankles started again, and then the poking by Doc #4. 

So that was the end of the bloody affair.

Then there was the suctioning of the mucous.  In goes the tube down the nostrils.  First the right, then the left.  A couple of hours later, in it goes again.  Down the throat, down the throat, down the left nostril, down the right, down the throat again!  Poor Ellery!!!  He turned completely red from the choking sensation!  He hand one of those cries that are soooo bad that no sound comes out!


But I know it’s good for him so I’m not going to get too emotional about it.

So he’s warded.  Which means I’m warded too.  3 days minimum.  So…poor Asher too.  Suddenly no Mummy around.  Thankfully Por Por and Gong Gong can take him. 

There is one thing I’m really thankful for though.  That Ellery, at 3 months, will probably not remember this episode at all.  I think it’d have been a lot tougher if it was Asher at 2.5 yrs. 

I’m thankful.

Now Ellery’s finally sleeping.  One tube for the drip attached to this right foot.  One wire attached to his left big toe to monitor heart rate and oxygen content in the blood.  And an oxygen mask strapped to his head (he was found to have low oxygen levels due to the lungs struggling to cope with the infection).

Please keep praying for Ellery’s complete and speedy recovery!  I covet your prayers!


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Jon’s a Mo Bro! He’s involved in a Movember – a movement to raise awareness for prostate cancer. You can also donate to the cause.

All the Mo Bros who take part in the movement will have to grow a mostache (the Mo) for the month of November :) Here’s his ‘before’ shot!



Read more about the movement at this website!

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