Episiotomy

I previously mentioned that my doctor gave me an episiotomy during the pushing stage of labour. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, an episiotomy is a surgical cut at the opening of the vagina to widen it and basically help the baby come out much more easily!

At the time, I was glad my doctor did it as it really did speed up the birth. I remember Tung saying to me afterwards, when he looked “down there”, he had no idea how I was going to push our baby out of that tiny hole. With every contraction, he’d see the head come out just a little and then retract again. Who knows how long it would’ve taken without the cut? Could’ve been hours. Once the cut was made, Max was born after 2 more contractions.

Here’s the downside though, the healing process was absolute hell. After the anaesthetic started to wear off, the pain was horrible. Worst yet, I’m allergic to codeine so I couldn’t take anything stronger than Panadol. It hurt to move, sit, walk or do anything. Even just lying on the bed was painful. The thought of having to do a pee or poo was petrifying.

And yet you have to try and stay mobile to help recovery and also fulfill your new duties as a mother, ie. feeding, settling, changing diapers, swaddling and just general holding and cuddling. It’s super frustrating when you want to do all these things but the aches and pains you’re feeling all over your body makes it so difficult. So in addition to the physical pain, there’s also this mental agony of desperately wanting to feel 100% so you can focus on your baby and enjoy this special time as a new little family.

Fortunately, dads can help a lot with some of those duties. It also gives them a chance to interact and bond with baby. Tung was really helpful with diapers and swaddles, so that did take the pressure off a little.

While the pain was worst in those first few days in hospital, the physical and mental struggle continued at home for a couple of weeks. It didn’t help that we live in a 2-storey house and stairs were an absolute bitch so I was basically confined to our bedroom and bathroom upstairs.

In hindsight, I keep wondering if it was worth sticking it out during the pushing stage rather than getting the episiotomy. Is it better to endure a few hours of pushing or a few weeks of painful recovery? The problem is I actually didn’t get a choice. My doctor never discussed the possibility of an episiotomy, what it entailed and whether I was comfortable with it.

I did a bit of research after and discovered that episiotomies should really only be done if the baby is in distress or the mother’s health is in jeopardy. Despite this, they have somehow become a routine procedure and are increasingly being performed unnecessarily, particularly in private hospitals. Sadly, they are mostly done for convenience without prior consent from the mother.

You might be thinking, what’s the problem? At least it speeds up the birth! And it’s better than a tear, right? Well this surprised me but apparently an episiotomy is generally more painful, leads to greater blood loss and takes longer to heal than a natural tear. There’s also a higher risk of long term repercussions, such as pelvic floor weakness, incontinence, painful intercourse and perineal pain.

In the end, what’s done is done! I just wish I was more informed about it all. I want to share my experience to let everyone else know that you should have the choice! If you feel strongly about having an episiotomy or not, make sure to discuss this with your doctor. I think my doctor just assumed that if I had a strong preference either way, I would’ve brought it up. Otherwise I’m none the wiser and she’ll do what she thinks is best (and takes up less of her time I suppose). To be fair, my doctor is wonderful and meant no malicious harm. She’s also the absolute queen of stitching and my episiotomy healed quite quickly. But also probably in part due to my meticulous cleaning of the wound. Despite the pain and discomfort I would make sure to clean the area at least 3 times a day! Very important!

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Baby Blues

You may have heard of this term before, I know I have, even before I was pregnant. Baby blues refers to the period just a few days after giving birth, when you might feel teary, moody, anxious and irritable. It is very common and actually considered normal. Not to be confused with postnatal depression, which is a more serious case!

Even though I’ve heard of the term, I must admit I didn’t know much about it. I thought it specifically referred to the condition when mothers didn’t feel a connection or bond with their baby. For that reason I always thought there’s no way that “baby blues” could happen to me.

While that could be one of the reasons a mother gets the baby blues, it’s certainly not the only one. It could be due to a difficult labour, resulting in exhaustion and after birth pains, feeling anxious about caring for your new baby and not knowing if you’re capable, and here’s a big one (at least for me and a lot of mothers I’ve spoken to): breastfeeding!!! I’m going to dedicate a whole separate post to talk about this. I just think there is not enough awareness about how flippin’ difficult the breastfeeding journey is.

I was hit with the baby blues on the 3rd day (they say it usually happens around then, between 3 and 10 days). I remember just sitting on the edge of the hospital bed next to Tung while he was holding Max, and bursting into tears. I didn’t want to cry, but I couldn’t control it. For me, the trigger was seeing Tung getting frustrated with himself that he couldn’t settle Max after a few hours of on and off crying. I kept thinking to myself, if I could just get Max on the breast for a feed then maybe he’ll stop crying. But at the time I couldn’t breastfeed and I felt so guilty for Tung’s frustration and disappointed that I couldn’t help. I felt like such a failure and that I was letting down my husband and my baby.

In the following days, it was not uncommon for me to feel overwhelmed all over again and just sit and cry. It would happen at least once a day. Feelings of guilt and disappointment consumed me. On top of the physical aches and pains all over my body.

I don’t want to frighten anyone with my story, but I do want more people to realise this is the truth of motherhood! It’s comforting to know that it is common and normal. Be aware of it and don’t bottle up your thoughts and feelings. Keep talking to people and lean on your support network during this time. I know that’s what got me through it and still getting me through it even now!

After birth pains

I want to some of the ugly stuff that happened after birth. Of course this is just my experience and may not be the case for everyone, but I want to share it anyway to raise awareness and also have a record for myself.

Right after birth, when they brought Max up into my arms, sadly I must admit I didn’t actually have a proper few minutes to look at his little face and bond with him. I only had one arm free to hold Max because they had to put in a catheter immediately, due to my heavy blood loss. Unfortunately they just couldn’t find a good vein and jabbed me twice in one arm, before moving onto my other arm and jabbing twice more. You can see in the photo all the bandages in place of where they tried. Each attempt was so painful and really distracted from my first moments with Max ūüėĒ

Not to mention the third stage of labour going on at the same time – birthing the placenta. They were pressing down on my abdomen to help with the contractions and telling me to push a little more to get it out. I caught a glimpse of it as they took it away, haha. Nasty looking thing it is!

After all that trauma, then came the stitching of the episiotomy. Luckily the local anaesthetic was still in full force so I can’t say I felt any pain. But once it started to wear off during the night… let’s just say I went through a hell of a lot of ice packs.

When all the madness was over in our birthing suite, Tung and I finally had a chance to spend some quiet, family time with our baby boy ūüĎ™ At some point, the midwife came in with some toasties and advised that I have some food and take a shower to clean up the bloody mess. I didn’t realise until she told me after that I was supposed to wait for her to come back to have my shower.

After I got out of my very short shower because I hardly had any energy, I remember walking to my bag of clothes with blood dripping all over the floor and saying to Tungy, “I feel really dizzy.” Next thing I remember I was on the ground in a pool of my own blood, with Tungy’s arms under mine and his voice asking me, “Hun? Are you conscious??”. I had totally passed out ūüė¶

The first night in hospital following birth was a tough one for me. Aside from getting jabbed multiple times in my arms, which resulted in severe bruising (as you can see from the photo), passing out from blood loss, yet continuing to bleed heavily throughout the night, feeling the ache of the episiotomy as the anaesthetic wore off, I also had a catheter shoved up inside me to drain my bladder.

For some reason I was unable to pass any urine. When the nurse got me a potty and told me to release what I could, I definitely felt some kind of liquid flowing out. Turns out it was just all blood. Getting the catheter in was very unpleasant and having to keep it there overnight was so horribly uncomfortable. I could just feel it in there and had this urge to push it out. Each time I pushed it provided just a moment’s relief but then followed by uncontrollable shaking and more blood gushing out. It was a long, long night I thought would never end ūüėě

The physical pain aside, I was also in psychological agony for not being able to get up out of bed and just spend time with my baby, even though he was right there beside me, sleeping soundly in his cot. Everything that happened in the last few hours felt like a blur and I actually couldn’t picture his sweet face in my mind. I wanted so much to just hold him in my arms and study his every little feature.

Birth story

While I was in hospital, in between feeds and sleeps when I had some time to myself, I started documenting our birth/labour story before my mummy brain wiped out my memory. Leading up to our due date, I remember reading up so many different birth stories – I found it so fascinating! I love how each one is so unique and empowering. I hope you enjoy reading our story x

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Our last meal ūüćī

On the morning of my due date, Sunday, 21st January, I woke up with the bloody show! Also had light cramping, like period pain. Finally, signs of labour ūüėć Could today be the day? Tungy definitely seemed to think so but somehow I thought it would probably drag on for another day or so. We were, after all, booked in for an induction on Tuesday and I had a feeling Max wasn’t coming out sooner.

I started feeling very slight tightening in my tummy, but wasn’t sure if they were contractions or not? Tungy tracked them regardless to see how far apart they were and how long they were lasting. It was kind of hard to gauge the duration, but they were around 20 mins apart to begin with. So we called the birthing suite just to give them a heads up!

Then we went about a normal day, doing some chores, getting some last minute groceries. We even ate out for lunch! Didn’t know at the time it would be our last meal out before meeting our baby ūüėä

The contractions kept coming throughout the morning, not so intense that I couldn’t hold a conversation, but enough of a tightening to know there was definitely something happening!

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Labouring at home ūüŹ†

At around 1pm, the frequency of the contractions suddenly increased, from the initial 20 mins apart to 4 mins apart! They were also getting more painful, but still not so intense that I couldn’t talk through them.

I was confused what to do at this point because I remember from classes that we should be going to the hospital when contractions are about 5 mins apart, and mine were 4 mins apart. But I just didn’t feel like it was time to leave for the hospital yet.

Firstly, I didn’t want to be dramatic and show up only to find I’m actually still in early labour (after all, I felt like I was still coping okay). I had this vision in my head that we would leave for the hospital when I’m in much more pain. Though in some ways I wanted to avoid that too because I didn’t want to be in THAT much pain in the car ride to the hospital, since I can’t really get into a comfortable position! Or worse yet, if my labour progresses unexpectedly quickly and I end up giving birth on the way!

Secondly, I think I was becoming a little anxious at how it was getting all too real, ie. the moment we leave home. It really dawned on me that this was it, once we leave the house, the next time we come back, we’ll have a baby!

Funny side story, we remembered Tungy was preparing a crispy pork belly dish in the fridge that we had to cook now, otherwise we’d probably end up in the hospital for a few days and it’ll go off. So I told him to go and get it cooking so we don’t waste it! It takes about an hour and a half in the oven so I thought to myself, okay, we need to stay home until at least the pork belly has finished cooking, haha! I just need to survive these contractions until then. It’s good, I think it gave us a time frame to work with!

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Finding comfort in the bath tub ūüõÄ

We called the hospital again to update them on our situation. I wasn’t hinting I wanted to come into hospital yet, and I’m glad the midwife didn’t think it was time yet either. She advised us to try taking some Panadol and run a warm bath, see how I go. She was right to prolong labour at home as long as possible, because we managed to stick it out for another 3 hours.

Sitting in the warm bath did help for a while. Intermittently, Tung would run back downstairs to check on the pork belly, lol. Priorities! Eventually, my feet felt all wrinkly and pruney in the water and I didn’t feel really comfortable anymore so I decided to hop back out. Laboured some more just in our bedroom, the contractions were starting to get to the point where I couldn’t talk as much through them. I was also starting to feel a bit dizzy and nauseous. A real shame because Tungy finished his crispy pork belly and brought some up for me to try. It smelled divine! I had some anyway and it was delicious ūüėč

Around 4pm, we decided it was time to call the hospital again and hoped this time they’d suggest us to come in. I could only imagine the contractions would eventually become more intense and closer together and it would be time for baby to come out! I didn’t know how fast it could all progress but I didn’t want to risk not being at the hospital when it was time to push! The midwife agreed and that was it! We prepared all our last minute arrangements and headed for the hospital! ūüėĪ Such a surreal moment.

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Car selfie! ūüöô ūüď∑

I decided to sit in the back seat of the car because I knew I’d be having at least 3 contractions on the way to the hospital and there’s no way I could deal with it well in the front seat. So I opted for squatting at the back with my U-shaped pillow ūüėā

I definitely remember one of the contractions on the M4 and another one on a small road along the railway line at Westmead. It was full of speed humps and made for a more painful contraction!

Made it to the hospital in one piece ūüėä Got another contraction as I was walking through the door of the birthing suite area, haha. The midwife was so lovely, she just told me to hold the wall and take my time. They must see that all the time!

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Hooked up to CTG ūüíČ

We arrived at the hospital around 4.30pm and made our way to our birthing suite. The midwife, Simla, hooked me up to the CTG to check baby’s heart rate, which was healthy and happy, thankfully. It could also measure my contractions, which I found so fascinating! As a contraction came on, you could see the number rising! It felt so validating that Tungy could see it too, I guess to prove to him I haven’t been faking it this whole time, haha! I remember I actually couldn’t look at the number rise. It made the contraction feel so much worse! At some point Tungy commented on the number and how high it was, I had to tell him to shut up because it wasnt helping!

In fact, I discovered during labour that I didn’t want Tung to say ANYTHING during my contractions, contrary to what I had previously advised him, lol. I thought it would help for him to say encouraging things like, “You’re doing great!” and “You can do this!”. But somehow it made me feel irritated and honestly I just didn’t want to hear a peep from him, so I could focus on getting through my contraction. I had even previously advised him to maybe breathe with me, to remind me to breathe more deeply. When he tried it once, it sounded like he was mocking me! And it made me want to laugh, which just made me angry and irritated! What did help was when he massaged my lower back and stroked my arm and shoulders :) Bless him.

Anyway, I had to stay lying on the bed while I was hooked up to the CTG and it occurred to me that lying down was a really terrible position for me to be in when a contraction came. It just felt so much more painful and I couldn’t cope as well. Luckily I wasn’t hooked up for too long so I could get up and labour how I wanted. Just before that, Simla checked me and advised I was already 5cm dilated, halfway through labour ūüėĀ I was happy to hear that! But still worried about how much longer it would take to reach 10cm.

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Pain was getting intense here. Thankful I got one of the limited birthing suites with a bath tub

First pain relief option I chose was to hop into a warm bath again. I felt pretty dizzy and nauseous at this point so I had to bring a vomit bag with me, lol. I must say the contractions were getting much worse at this point. It felt like there was less time inbetween them too! I was mostly leaning forward over the edge of the bath, at some point biting onto a towel through each contraction. Tungy did a great job constantly pouring water onto my back and letting it run down and massaging my lower back area. That really helped.

The midwife, Simla, came in at some point and told me to let her know when I start feeling an urge to push, like I really need to poop! Haha. Funnily enough, I had been feeling exactly that! But I thought, she only just told me I was 5cm dilated, I couldn’t possibly be at pushing stage already could I? Anyway, since I was feeling some urge, she advised that I get out of the bath, since they are not qualified for water births at Westmead and they didn’t want the baby coming out unexpectedly in the bath ūüėā

I remember thinking while I was in the warm bath, “Shit, I haven’t had any pain relief yet. Everything I’ve been feeling so far has been raw labour pains!” I had a little moment to myself and gave myself a mental pat on the back. But then I was also thinking, “Shit, how much longer will this labour go on and can I actually deliver this baby without any pain relief?!” I also remember thinking at this point, I wonder where is my OB? Is she here at the hospital already or on her way? If I’m getting the urge to push and it really is time for baby to come, I want her to be here! ūüė• Anyway, didn’t have too much more time or energy to think about that anymore because the contractions were getting INTENSE. Simla did another check and told me I was now 7cm dilated.

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Too much happening at this time to be taking photos! I needed Tungy supporting me with both arms and hands. So here’s an earlier photo of him by my side ūüíŹ

After I got out of the bath, I was sitting on the edge of the bed and the midwife, Simla, suggested I lie back down. This is when my dear husband remembered what I said to him previously, and told her on my behalf, that I didn’t want to be lying down on the bed for labour or birth as I just didn’t find it comfortable. That I prefer to be on all fours or squatting. Simla was so supportive of everything I wanted, so she said okay let’s try and get you on the bed on all fours before your next contraction!

On a side note, I think it’s fascinating the way labour works, how it’s somehow designed to give you a MUCH NEEDED break inbetween contractions to communicate with those around you, to make any adjustments and just prepare for the next one.

Turns out I was too exhausted to be on all fours or squatting. Maybe that’s why so many women end up giving birth lying down. I just couldn’t move from my position sitting on the edge of the bed. Simla started suggesting pain relief options to help me cope better, as she could see my situation was deteriorating. She offered some happy gas, which I figured, what the hey I might as well try!

Happy gas really helped me in that last, I think it was like half an hour? of my contractions. At this stage I was in PAIN and I was so stressed about every upcoming contraction. The breaks between were getting shorter and I didn’t really feel any relief in that time. I still felt residual pain and exhaustion from the previous contraction. But the fact that the gas made me really light headed and drowsy, it sort of helped me disconnect from what was happening.

I remember one hand gripping onto the handle of the bed and the other hand gripping (quite tightly, lol) onto the back of Tungy’s neck. I was also leaning and resting my head towards that arm so he was carrying a lot of my weight! But I do remember consciously making an effort to grip his neck in a way that would at least feel like a massage so maybe he would actually enjoy it? ūüėÖ

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Again, no photos at this point. But here’s a close depiction of how shit I was feeling at the time ūüôä

I was in a pretty dire state at this point. The contractions were so intense and painful, I could hardly keep my eyes open or even lift my head. I just tried to focus on getting through one contraction at a time with the happy gas. The midwife, Simla, kept reminding me to breathe fully into the tube, like I was expelling the contraction out. That was so helpful, I was so grateful for her support and guidance.

I remember between contractions, Tungy started asking me if I wanted to consider epidural. All I could say was, I don’t know because I didn’t want to say yes. I was quite stubborn going into labour that I would try my best to avoid the epidural, unless labour dragged on too long and I was absolutely exhausted.

Simla then mentioned that there was an anaesthetist coming in shortly for the lady next door and we could catch him before he leaves. I stayed quiet for a while, battling in my head whether I should just give in or if I could keep focusing on each contraction, one at a time. The way she said it made me think this was my only opportunity and if I miss it, I wouldn’t have any chance later on and it really stressed me out!

My biggest uncertainty and fear at this point was not knowing how much longer I had left, so I asked Simla to check my progress so far. Turns out I was 9cm dilated and I was ready to try push! So Simla broke my water and our baby was on the way!

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Everyone was way too occupied at this point to be taking any photos. But here’s the moment right after the pushing stage, when Tungy had the honour of cutting the umbilical cord (in black and white to spare you the bloody mess) ūüėä

The pushing stage was actually better than active labour, for me personally. When I could just use the contraction to push instead of riding it out. It felt like the energy was being channeled somewhere.

Entering this stage I remember feeling (1) relieved, because I didn’t know how much longer I could cope with the contractions with just happy gas and I didn’t want to succumb to the epidural. I was so grateful for a relatively quick and trouble-free labour so far, and (2) slight anxiety at how long this stage might last and how much pain was coming my way, but mostly (3) so much excitement because I knew how close I was to meeting our baby! Throughout this stage, I kept visualising the moment he/she will be brought up into my arms and that really kept me going!

So I’m lying on my back, with Simla holding one of my legs back and Tung holding the other. He was also holding my head up and pushing it towards my chest. This was CRUCIAL and so helpful during the pushing. With each contraction, I could just hear Simla saying, “Push push push push push that’s it, like you’re doing a big poo poo! Push into your bottom!” And occasionally she would say, “No no dear, not into your throat. Not in your chest. Push into your bottom!” Oh God I was getting so confused. Who knew there were so many different ways of pushing?

Despite the exhaustion, I felt so alert and in control. I was so focused and eager to get it right and help my baby come out. Between contractions when I had some energy I would say, “I’m so sorry! I don’t think I pushed properly that time. Can you explain to me again how to do it properly?!” and then turning to Tung and saying, “Keep pushing my head towards my chest, that helps a lot! Thanks hun!” Basically if I was making a grunting noise, I was doing it wrong. There should be no noise when you push into your bottom.

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Pure bliss ‚ėļūüíē We did it!

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After maybe 4 or 5 waves of contractions and pushing, my obstetrician Dr Huynh arrived! Tungy later told me she was stuck in a bit of traffic. I’m glad he didn’t decide to tell me at the time, haha. It was such a relief to have her presence and hear her voice! She filled the room with confidence and a sense of direction.

Things moved pretty quickly once Dr Huynh arrived. Despite the pain and exhaustion I was feeling so positive and mentally energised. We went though a few more contractions and I remember constantly saying in between them, “Thank you everyone. Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.” I also looked over at Tungy and said, “I love you. Love you so much hunny.” Sounds so silly but I wanted them to let everyone know how grateful I was that they were all here to help me and our baby.

At some point (I’d lost all track of time by now) Dr Huynh got started on an episiotomy and warned me about the sting from the local anaesthetic. She then assured me within the next contraction or so, our baby will be here ūüėć Those words had such a huge impact on me and I’m so glad she kept me informed the whole way. The next contraction came and I pushed with all my might, knowing this could be the last until I meet my baby. I can’t express how excited I felt! Unfortunately it wasn’t enough pushing that time, I heard Dr Huynh saying, “Don’t worry, next one. One more”. So the next contraction came, again I pushed as hard as I could and then the moment of truth… at 7.29pm:

My baby! Held up right before my eyes and onto my chest. My baby in my arms, my husband by my side, I have no words to express the love, the joy and the excitement I felt at this moment.

And that’s our story ūüíē

2017 Summary

Wow, 2017. I can’t believe how quickly you’ve come and gone. I had a good feeling about you for some reason, and what an incredible year you turned out to be :) Now to try and summarise you in a yearly summary post! I’ve actually forgotten how to do these, I had to go back through all the previous years to remind myself: 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011

Here are the highlights of 2017:

  • We’re having a baby! There’s no doubt the biggest event of the year, in fact the biggest event of my life, was finding out that I’m pregnant. Our lives changed forever on the morning of May 20th, when we saw the 2 distinct lines on the pregnancy test. It’s been an incredible journey so far, from the first ultrasound to the first little kick – I’m so amazed at what the human body is capable of. In many ways, I’m still in disbelief that Tung and I are going to be parents in less than a month! But we are both so excited to meet Baby Vu and begin this new chapter of our lives together :)

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  • Welcoming four important babies – I feel so blessed and grateful to have a handful of my closest family and friends give birth as well this year – my sister in law’s baby boy Archie (born in August), my dear sister’s baby boy Jeremy (born in October), and my best friend’s twin girls, Ivy and Asher (born in November). I always thought it’ll be nice to experience pregnancy with someone close to me, I never dreamed the timing would work out so perfectly! It’s been so exciting and comforting to share the pregnancy journey together – discussing baby-related things, gathering knowledge and learning from each other. Not to mention, our babies will grow up together and end up in the same school year too!
  • We moved houses, again¬†– This has come up in my yearly summaries for the 3rd year in a row now, haha. I think we’re finally at a good place now though. Location is good, very private, the house itself has ample room, great lighting – and even though we weren’t looking for one at all – we somehow ended up with a pool. Now, I’m really not a water person so having a pool means nothing to me. But it has served us well on some of the hotter Summer days! So we’ve been very happy here :) As long as our rental agreement keeps renewing, I’m pretty sure we’ll be staying put until the day we put a deposit down on our forever “family” home.
  • Tung becomes a partner – For a while, there have been plans for Tung to become a partner of the pharmacy that he’s been working at for the past 6 years. In August this year, it all finally came to fruition :) I’m so proud of his dedication and hard work!
  • Busy year at work – On the topic of work, it was a bit of a crazy one for me too. Early in the year I got promoted – the pay rise was great, but the extra responsibilities not so much. I went on to take on some big projects – managing a rebrand and office relocation to the CBD. It’s been a stressful year. I worked longer hours and took a lot of work home with me. Funnily enough, the day we moved offices was the day after we moved house, and a week after I found out I was pregnant. So it was an overwhelming time! After that, adjusting to city life was weird and uncomfortable for me, having spent my whole working life trying to avoid it. Battling morning sickness on the train every day was not pleasant either. But it did get better :)
  • Celebrated our 1 year anniversary in Hawaii¬† – with a 19 week baby bump :) We figured it was our last chance to travel overseas as just a couple – before our hands are full! I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, so it seemed like the perfect occasion. We had such a nice, relaxing time – exploring the islands of Oahu and Kauai. The most memorable moment of the trip, was feeling my very first baby kick one night while we were resting in our hotel room!

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  • Weddings – We didn’t have too many weddings to attend this year, but enjoyed each one nonetheless. I just love weddings! :) Congratulations to Lina & Minh (married in May), Tina & John and Julia & Andrew (married in September).
  • Adele & The Weekend¬†– I feel so privileged to have witnessed Adele live in concert – this woman can SING, and she’s so damn funny. I love her personality just as much as her talent. I knew she had a major fear of flying and once said in an interview she would never come to Australia because it was too far, thankfully she changed her mind ;) Also super stoked I finally got to see The Weeknd! I’ve been a fan of Abel’s music long before he was mainstream. When I booked in tickets to see him, I knew I would be 32 weeks pregnant but that wasn’t going to stop me, haha. He was AMAZING and did not disappoint.
  • Tungy’s 30th in Hobart¬†– So we managed to sneak in one more small trip before the end of year :) It¬†is his 30th birthday after all! Just a nice, quiet getaway – definitely our last one before the little one arrives.

Thank you, 2017, for a wonderful year of amazing moments and memories! I’m so excited for the New Year, starting with the best present of all – the arrival of our baby. Oh, I just can’t wait to meet you :) I know it’s going to be a crazy ride, but I’m absolutely looking forward to every second of parenthood with Tungy!

To finish off, here’s a random assortment of photos over the past year:

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2017Jul-Dec

Hope everyone had a fantastic 2017 as well. Best wishes for 2018 :) Let’s make it a good one xx

2016 Summary

Another year, another summary! I wasn’t sure if I was going to write one this year because I just don’t have an orderly manner of keeping track of my life anymore. It’s getting harder and harder to recap a whole year with pictures, because I honestly don’t take that many anymore – and that’s what I usually rely on to write these summaries.

But when I look back at all the previous years I’ve done: 2015 /¬†2014 /¬†2013¬†/¬†2012¬†/¬†2011¬†– I just know I’m going to kick myself in the future for breaking the chain. So here we go… 2016, it’s been a hell of a year. Here are the most notable events:

  • We got married.¬†Yes, after 7 years together we finally got married, exactly 90 months from our first official “date” in fact :) Although the weather was less than perfect on our big day, and not everything went according to plan –¬†at the end of the day I married my best friend, my soulmate – in the company of our dearest family and friends. And that was pretty damn special.¬†What a crazy, magical day that we will remember forever, for all the¬†great moments and all the mishaps that will at least make for hilarious stories¬†we can tell our grand-kids some day.

wedding

  • Our honeymoon.¬†In all honesty, Tung and I were¬†looking forward to this just as much, if not more than the wedding itself ;) Our first trip together as husband and wife! Also our first trip with no proper itinerary, no schedules, no alarm clocks. In each city we visited, we slept in as late as we wanted to, researched what we wanted to do that day and just rolled out of bed to start our adventure! We explored the beautiful streets and canals of Amsterdam on bikes, visited palaces, castles and got dressed up for the opera in Vienna,¬†hiked the scenic cliff faces of Santorini and basically lived in our private jacuzzi for 5 days, bathed like kings and queens in the famous thermal springs of Budapest (also got food poisoning, but let’s not go there), reflected on humanity and the terrors of war in Hiroshima, got willingly swarmed by adorable bunnies on Okunoshima, Rabbit Island, and ate and shopped our way through Tokyo and Osaka! Great times :)

honeymoon

  • I turned 28.¬†And I actually had a birthday this year :) Thank you Tungy for taking me out to¬†Momofuku and surprising me with flowers at work (it’s the first time he’s ever sent me flowers), to my sister and bestie for taking me out for my favourite cuisine – Vietnamese! And to Messina, for offering us leap year babies 4 free scoops of gelato.

birthday

  • I got laser eye surgery. This was never something I ever contemplated¬†or imagined myself doing¬†– partly due to cost, partly fear, partly I couldn’t be bothered doing all the research because I’m lazy like that. But with the wedding coming up and knowing I did not want¬†to wear glasses or contact lens on the day – I decided to do it. Although the recovery took way longer than expected and I was super frustrated and impatient, it was still one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I can’t begin to express how liberating it feels to not have to reach for your glasses when you wake up every morning to see where you’re going. The only thing I will say is, I see glasses as a form of self-expression and I do sometimes miss wearing glasses as¬†a fashion statement. Some of you may be aware I was known for my signature “your glasses are way too big” look.

lasereye

  • Velvet’s abscess. Our poor bunny grew an abscess on her lower left jaw, which was, I quote the vet, “one of the biggest” she’s ever come across. What then followed was 5 months of regular visits to the specialty vet, which was unfortunately located about an hour’s drive away, a number of surgeries, daily pus cleaning, wound dressing, oral medication and penicillin injections (which was the hardest part because I’m squirmish with needles). I must say the whole ordeal was physically, mentally, emotionally and financially straining – but certainly worth every effort to give Velvie a fighting chance. And in hindsight, I am so thankful it happened early in the year and not¬†in the lead-up to our wedding, or worse yet, while we were away on honeymoon.

velvet

  • We got into cycling.¬†Well, moreso Tungy than me. But the funny thing is, it all started from me wanting a vintage cruiser for my birthday. So Tungy bought one for me, and a second-hand road bike for himself just so we could go riding together. The more we rode, the more he loved it. He has since upgraded to a fancy carbon-fibre bike and continually thrown money at the latest and greatest accessories, haha. While I don’t condone the frivolous spending, I do feel very proud of¬†him for finding a hobby that he can be so passionate about and better yet, keeps him fit and healthy!

cycling

  • We got a new car.¬†Tungy got me an Audi Q5 as a pre-wedding gift :) I’ve always wanted a 4WD. Great timing too, it totally¬†came in handy for the wedding because we had so much stuff to take¬†down to the Southern Highlands, where we got married. Sadly¬†I did have to give up my scooter though :( Tungy’s never been too happy with the idea of me riding so selling my scooter was kind of my gift to him in exchange. It’s been a fun 7 years but I suppose as a married woman I should take more responsibility for my life and well-being, haha.
  • We moved houses again. Although moving is never ever any fun, since we only just moved a year ago, settling into a new place felt like an appropriate fresh start as we begin the journey of married life together. It’s great to finally move on from apartment-style living too. We’re in a two-storey townhouse now, which is a new and exciting experience because I’ve only ever lived in one-storey abodes! We love our cute little courtyard and our own garage – which Tungy’s super happy about :)
  • Coldplay came to town.¬†Yes, this is worthy of its own bullet point. It’s not every year I¬†have the privilege of being in the presence of the best band on the planet! I can’t begin to express how happy and delirious and euphoric I feel at a Coldplay concert!¬†Every single one I’ve been to is an unforgettable experience, and always with Tungy by my side. Thank you, Coldplay, for another amazing show.

And here are some more random photos from the year that was…!

2016

While 2016 was¬†an important year for us, namely getting married,¬†it was also quite a tumultuous and stressful one actually. Thinking back on it, I don’t know why I¬†feel an undeniable sense of disaffection and uneasiness. Perhaps it has something to do with all the political controversies or the tragic number of cultural¬†icons that we’ve lost this year – something about 2016 just felt a bit¬†eerie. Frankly I can’t wait¬†for it to be over and start afresh in 2017! Looking forward to a bigger and better year ahead, wishing you all peace, love and joy :)

2015 Summary

I think the older you get, the faster the years just seem to go by. Our lives are so much busier and it seems like we’re always chasing time. This past year has flown¬†by so quickly, I can’t believe it’s already time for another yearly summary. (See previous years here:¬†¬†2014 /¬†2013¬†/¬†2012¬†/¬†2011). Here are the main¬†highlights:

  • The biggest event of the year would have to be our engagement :) Yes, Tungy finally decided to propose after 6 years together! He popped the question on top of a mountain in Hakone, Japan – a country that we love dearly and share a lot of memories in.¬†I’ll have to explain¬†the whole story in another post some time¬†:)¬†We are super excited to start the¬†next chapter of our lives and embark on this journey together.
  • The next biggest event would have to be moving out of our home of 4 years in Wentworth Point! Oh we sure have had a lot of memories in our humble little apartment. But unfortunately we just outgrew the place, it was getting much too small and difficult for Tungy and I, my stationery business and our 2 bunnies. Now we have a massive 3 bedroom apartment, with a courtyard too! It’s so exciting to finally have an outdoor area :)
  • Celebrated my 27th birthday with Tungy at Bathers Pavillion, with my sister and brother in law at WAQU and with friends at Din Tai Fung (nothing makes me happier than Asian¬†food, lol).
  • Celebrated our 6¬†year anniversary at China Doll. Happy to say it’ll¬†be our last one as “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” :) I guess from next year onwards we’ll be counting wedding anniversaries instead?
  • I finally mustered up the courage to get my wisdom teeth out. Those damn things have been bugging me for years and years but I was too afraid to have them removed, haha. No thanks to all the horror stories everyone shares with me. Anyway, although the whole experience was a little scary and unpleasant – I am so relieved¬†that I finally did it!
  • Tungy’s brother and sister in law had a beautiful baby boy, Noah! He is just the cutest little thing. It’s been such a joy watching him grow over the year :) And it’s so cute to see Tungy interacting with him and bringing out his paternal instincts, lol.
  • Went to Japan twice this year – we just love that place so much – the food, the shopping, the culture, everything! The first time was in June, which coincidentally overlapped with Linda & Andrew (and some of her friends) so it was heaps of fun travelling and sharing experiences with our dear friends.¬†The second time was in November – and I came home¬†with a fianc√© :)
  • Started a video diary/journal project where I documented (almost) every day in tiny little snippets, and compiled them into weekly/monthly videos here. It was a lot of fun! I managed to keep it up from April – July but life got too hectic afterwards. I might try to revive it in 2016 :)
  • Found myself a part time job at a small business and I have to say, I am so content with my¬†work-life balance! I am the happiest I’ve ever been since leaving UNI. I’ve learned a few important things:
    • I will never work for big corporate companies again. While the perks were good, the management styles¬†and¬†work politics just drained my soul.¬†I’ve worked for 4 major brand names and was miserable at all of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some wonderful people and made lasting friends, but that sort of work culture is just not for me. The place I work now genuinely values my efforts and makes it known all the time. They are so flexible and willing to accommodate my needs. And I love that we are just a small team, working together and helping each other like a little family!
    • I know it sounds clich√© but seriously, do what makes YOU happy. All this time I’ve felt like I had to build a career upon¬†my university degree, even though I wasn’t finding any joy or contentment in what I was doing. Until finally I stopped and asked myself, why am I forcing myself into this mould that was created by¬†myself in the first place?¬†Who the hell am I trying to impress here? Don’t be afraid to make a bold move in pursuit of happiness. You only get once chance at life – make sure you live a happy one doing what you love!
  • I’ve had my best year yet with¬†tj stationery¬†:) I am so humbled by¬†all the love and support!¬†It’s been a crazy year of markets, fulfilling wholesale orders for new stockists, bringing out¬†new products/designs and working on a variety of custom projects.¬†I am so so grateful, thank you.

And now to finish it off, here’s a summary of 2015 in pictures!

JANUARY

2015-01

FEBRUARY

2015-02

MARCH

2015-03

APRIL

2015-04

MAY

2015-05

JUNE

2015-06

JULY

2015-07

AUGUST

2015-08

SEPTEMBER

2015-09

OCTOBER

2015-10

NOVEMBER

2015-11-01

2015-11

DECEMBER

2015-12

Here’s to another great year ahead! Wishing you all the best for 2016 xx

 

Weekly Videos / April & May 2015

Life is made up of moments! And we ought to capture them hey?¬†:)¬†So I’ve started this project for myself¬†where I record little snippets of each day and compile them into weekly videos, like a visual diary. I wasn’t sure how long I could keep it up, but I’ve managed to maintain it for¬†8 weeks now! Here are the videos for April & May. Enjoy!

2014 Summary

And so another year is coming to an end… I feel like the older you get, the quicker the years seem to go by. Can’t believe the time has come¬†again for me to write my yearly¬†summary. I honestly¬†didn’t feel like doing it¬†this year, but since I’ve kept it up for 3 years now¬†(2013¬†/¬†2012¬†/¬†2011), I didn’t want to let myself down.¬†So let’s just jump straight into my 2014 stories:

  • Started the new year in another country, a first for Tungy and I! We spent NYE at the Siloso Beach Party on Sentosa Island, Singapore. That was lots of fun :) And then we made our way to Langkawi for a relaxing getaway. The highlight of this trip would have to be our jet ski adventure¬†to the surrounding islands, particularly the Pregnant Maiden, when we discovered the hidden freshwater lake, which is separated from the sea by a very thin ridge of limestone. It was incredible. I mean,¬†the whole idea of literally riding out into the sea, as far as the eye can see, just Tungy and I on a little jet ski. It was both exhilarating and terrifying!!! (I have a massive fear of water).¬†We actually ventured out far enough to be surrounded by¬†endless sea over the horizon. Amazing experience.
  • There was no 29th of February this year, but nonetheless I did celebrate my 26th year since birth. Tungy took me out for¬†dinner at The Bridge Room and spoiled me with the Prada saffiano tote that I’ve been eyeing forever! My sister and brother-in-law also took me out for dinner at Little Darling Diner, and my dear friend Linda surprised me with a Masterclass at Sake with executive chef Shaun Presland :) Super cool!
  • Celebrated our 5 year anniversary at Quay. It was probably the last fancy Sydney restaurant we had on our list. Though we’re really not that into fine-dining any more. It just didn’t seem¬†right to celebrate a momentous occasion without getting all dressed up, being ushered to your seat, having the¬†menu explained to you in great detail, then¬†eating your food¬†under dim lighting with¬†classical music playing softly in the background, and paying a¬†hefty bill at the end of it all. Happy 5 years! :)
  • Spent a month in the USA (with a stopover at The Bahamas too)! I’m slightly disappointed in myself for not writing a post about¬†our trip, so that I could link to it right now. You wouldn’t believe how much shit happened to us – cancelled flights, missed tours, emergency landings, just to name a few. But there were positives too. The highlight would definitely be visiting Simpsons Land at Universal Studios, Orlando. For those who know Tungy and I, you’ll understand how much we love The Simpsons. It’s the foundation and driving force of our relationship, hahaha. Okay that’s a slight exaggeration, kind of, not really.¬†Tungy¬†likened the experience to a pilgrimage because The Simpsons is pretty much¬†our religion!
  • Finished up my contract role with the Woolworths Group in September, and have since been enjoying “funemployment” ;) I considered finding a new job, but with only four months left of 2014,¬†I thought I may as well cruise to the end of the year and start afresh in 2015. But it hasn’t all been sleep-ins and brunch¬†dates, I’ve also been spending more time and effort on tj stationery. Our calendars have been going nuts! Each one is hand-made so that keeps me really busy!¬†And I’ve also been working on more custom projects¬†:)
  • Spent a lot more time with my bestie Linda! She has been taking me¬†through a course to better understand Christianity. When we first met, we were both atheists. In 2005, she became a¬†Christian and this unfortunately affected our friendship. But as the years¬†went by,¬†I began to realise¬†how much it really means¬†to her. And of course our friendship¬†means a lot to me,¬†so I wanted to at least hear what she had to say and find out what it’s all about. I’m still not a believer, but I’m glad that I understand it a whole lot better and I’m actually open to discussion. I guess this is what Linda would call, God working in my heart. Whether this is true or not is something I’ve yet to discover for myself. But I’m thankful that she has taken me on this journey, which we will continue to share.
  • Adopted my second bunny, sweet little Velvet! She is the cutest thing, it’s hard to believe she was dumped in a small bird cage down a dark alley in the city :( The bonding process with Heffie is still a work in progress, but hopefully they will be best buddies in 2015!
  • Attended four weddings. Congratulations to Wayne & Jenny, John & Mai, Derek & Mylinh, Roy & Mai! No matter how many weddings I attend, I still get so excited about each one :) Every couple has a unique story and it’s such a beautiful thing to witness.
  • Finally got my second tattoo, which I had been wanting for years!
  • Sneaked in two quick¬†getaways to Hunter Valley and Tasmania ;)

As always, here is a quick summary of my year in pictures:

JANUARY

2014-01

FEBRUARY

2014-02

MARCH

2014-03

APRIL

2014-04

MAY

2014-05

JUNE

2014-06

JULY

2014-07

AUGUST

2014-08

SEPTEMBER

2014-09

OCTOBER

2014-10

NOVEMBER

2014-11

DECEMBER

2014-12

 

Wishing you all¬†a fantastic 2015!!! Let’s make it even bigger and better than the last :) I hope it is filled with love, peace, joy, good health and fortune! xx