Thursday, 22 October 2015

A Year Ago: Another Amazing Birth Experience

With such a long overdue, I finally managed to write about Sophie's birth. Yes, Sophie is ONE year old today! How time flies...

Monday, 20 October 2014 was my due date for this second pregnancy. My second pregnancy had been great so far, no particular complaints other than sleeping a lot for the first four months and the last month of pregnancy :). With the exception that we preferred to keep the baby's gender as a surprise until birth, everything was the same like the first pregnancy. I reminisced the same process again like two years ago, came regularly for check up, undertook the same tests for me and the baby, and I had Dr. Prapee Tangnavarad, who assisted David's birth, as my Obgyn. A little note on this, me and my husband agreed that we felt the "chemistry" with her since our first encounter, therefore, under her care, being pregnant and giving birth have become a "so-called" addiction for me as she has been very professional and supportive all the way and the most important, she has met our (especially me) expectations of an ideal Obgyn.

Similar to our first baby, there was no sign that the baby would arrive on its due date. Monday ended and Tuesday came, we still had no signs, except that David surprisingly agreed to be accompanied by my mother to his daycare on Tuesday morning. Tuesday night, we had an invitation from my husband's friend/ex-colleague for an apéritif which was also the first time for us leaving David with my mother at night. Knowing that I am already overdue, my husband's friend jokingly said that once she invited two heavily pregnant friends for dinner at her home - each on different occasions - and both went to the hospital for delivery right after the dinner, so she said same thing might happen to me as well. We had a nice chat accompanied by fruit juices, tortilla chips, veggies, yogurt, and guacamole dip. We decided to leave before dinner as I wanted to be home before 9pm. To my surprise, everything turned out well. David was already asleep with my mother when we arrived home around 8.30 pm. 

I was in the middle of my deep sleep when I felt water leaks at around 2.30 am early Wednesday. I knew instantly that it was about time to give birth, sooner or later. My feeling that early morning was somehow mixed because I had to leave my son behind with my mother to give birth to our second baby. As for pain, I felt nothing at all. We waited for the taxi to come and I even took my time to spread the towel on the passenger seat in case my water broke, which luckily did not happen. We were admitted to the birth room around 3.30 am and I was already 3-cm dilated with constant contraction every 4-5 minutes. I applied hypnobirthing for my first pregnancy and this one as well so the only thing I kept in mind was "I want to meet my baby very soon". I have no idea whether it was either the second experience or the different nature of each pregnancy, I felt more relaxed in coping with the contractions. I just let myself to feel the pain with no resistance at all resulting the "I'm OK" face every time the nurse showed me the pain tolerance level card, not smiling though, but still bearable. 

The clock at the room showed 7 am when my Obgyn came in and checked me, I was 6-cm dilated, started to feel stronger discomfort and each contraction was followed by water leaks. She later instructed the nurse to perform enema to clear my bowel. Honestly, I hearted enema as I felt much better and more comfortable afterwards so I had a reserve of energy to deal with stronger contractions. 

At around 8.45 am the contraction was getting stronger and came every 1-2 minutes. There were moments where I felt being pushed to my limit thanks to the contractions while my husband was in and out of the room several times trying to reach my mother who was supposed to be on the way to the hospital after sending David to his daycare. At one point, I felt such an intense pain and needed a hand to hold on, but my husband was not there, so I held the bed rail tightly while thinking "this too shall pass" even though another voice in my small head said "this is a natural birth without any medical intervention as you always wish, and now, do you still think that you can bear the pain??". I tried to remember the breathing technique during labor and applied it as much as I could.

My Obgyn was already in the room but my husband was still out of sight. Finally, in the middle of very intense and painful contractions, I suddenly had the urge to push and at the same time, my husband showed up saying that my mother was already on her way to the birth room. What I remembered at first push was my husband saying "it's open" followed by "I can see the head" on the second push, and within seconds I felt I had the biggest yet relieving poo ever as the baby was pulled out, Alhamdulillahi rabbil 'alamiin.

I asked the pediatrician - the same pediatrician who took care of David - whether the baby was a boy or a girl, to which she replied "a girl" :). Unfortunately, due to the mucus in her respiratory canal, she had to be treated and transferred right away to the other room. She was also put in the incubator for sometime due to her unstable breath. Meanwhile, Dr. Prapee worked on me and around 15-20 minutes later the placenta was born. In the middle of doing her work, she said that she read my blog, especially the birth story part which surprised me. How could she find my blog? Any way, not long after that, Sophie was brought back to the room and we had the chance to meet her in person..she was widely awake when my husband recited adzan on her tiny ears. She smells like heaven! Alhamdulillah, thanks to Allah SWT for blessing us with another angel to our life and for the smooth delivery process.

Our precious daughter was born on Wednesday at 9 am, measuring 50 cms and weighing 3,210 kgs, after being comfortably snuggled in my womb for 40 weeks 2 days. It has been a year already, a great year for our little family and we look forward to embrace more wonderful years to come of being parents in raising our beloved children, Insha Allah.

Right from the very first time we held you in our arms, we knew that you were special, the most beautiful gift ever. May Allah SWT bless you with love and joys abundantly, protect you all the way, and may you grow up with kindness, strength and wisdom of a beautiful and loving person inside out, shaleha and qurrata'ayun, aamiin.

Happy 1st Birthday, our dearest daughter, Sophie, we love you so much.
Our little Sophie

Saturday, 3 October 2015

#World Heritage Sites: Strasbourg – Grande île

Kunjungan kami ke kota Strasbourg, ibukota wilayah Alsace di timur laut Perancis, terbilang sangat singkat. Kali pertama, kota besar ini dilewati dalam perjalanan menuju perbatasan Jerman. Itupun hanya putar-putar kota karena kesasar, padahal niat awalnya ingin melihat gedung Parlemen Eropa, mesjid besar Strasbourg, katedral Strasbourg, dan la Petite France. Apa daya waktu tidak memungkinkan karena perjalanan kami masih jauh sehingga kami mampir lagi ke Strasbourg dalam perjalanan kembali dari Jerman menuju Mulhouse. Kali kedua, kami punya setengah hari untuk menjelajahi kota terbesar kesembilan di Perancis ini. 

Secara kebetulan, mata saya terpaku pada papan petunjuk arah menuju mesjid Strasbourg, yang langsung ditanggapi suami dengan penjelasan tentang uniknya Strasbourg ini dibandingkan dengan kota-kota lain di Perancis. Menurut sejarahnya dulu, agama Katolik merupakan agama resmi negara sehingga hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan agama diurus dan dibiayai oleh negara. Pada tahun 1905 hal tersebut berubah dengan disahkannya undang-undang yang mengatur pemisahan antara gereja (pada masa itu) dan negara dan berlaku di seluruh Perancis. Namun, pada masa itu, Strasbourg tidak berada dalam wilayah Perancis karena pada 1871, Prusia (sekarang Jerman) memenangkan perang dan menguasai wilayah Alsace dan Lorraine sampai berakhirnya Perang Dunia I pada 1918. Sewaktu wilayah Alsace dan Lorraine dikembalikan ke Perancis setelah 1918,  tertulis kesepakatan bahwa undang-undang tahun 1905 tidak berlaku di kedua wilayah tersebut, sehingga sampai saat ini, hanya di wilayah Alsace dan Lorraine, agama menjadi urusan dan tanggung jawab negara. 

Tempat pertama yang kami datangi pastinya adalah Strasbourg Cathedral yang dibangun pada abad pertengahan dan sempat menjadi gereja tertinggi di dunia selama kurun waktu 1647 - 1874 (Sumber: Wikipedia). Bangunan gereja yang impresif ini adalah bagian tidak terpisahkan dari pusat kota tua Strasbourg dan keunikan karakteristik kota serta arsitektur bangunan dan perpaduan budaya Perancis-Jerman disini membuat pusat kota tua Strasbourg mendapatkan statusnya sebagai Situs Warisan Budaya Dunia pada tahun 1988.

La Petite France juga tidak lupa kami sambangi dan acara jalan-jalan diakhiri dengan menyusuri sungai Ill dimana sekawanan angsa tampak tertarik mendekati para pejalan kaki di tepi sungai. Kunjungan singkat hari itu ditutup dengan piknik makan siang di depan stasiun kereta Strasbourg yang megah, dalam balutan udara dingin akhir musim semi.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Salah satu sudut Strasbourg

Bangunan dari abad ke-16

Kapal turis

Pusat kota tua Strasbourg

Roti khas dari dari daerah Alsace

Thursday, 1 October 2015

[Little Traveler]: Travelogue of A Little Girl

Traveling with infants has been an inseparable part of our little family affairs. Similar to her brother, Sophie had her first travel experience at a very young age, at one month old. When she was 1 month and 1 week old, we traveled to Khao Yai National Park. It was a smooth two and a half hour drive thanks to my mom who looked after David and Sophie while we were in the car.

One day after she turned two months, we flew to Chiang Mai, spent few days there and were back to Bangkok from Chiang Rai. Our first flight/road trip with her was nearly perfect as she mostly slept on the plane and all the way during the road trip from Chiang Mai to Mae Rim, Doi Tung, and continued to Chiang Rai.

As part of the administrative procedures in issuing her resident permit in Thailand, we had to fly to Laos to collect her visa at the Thai Embassy in Vientiane. Then, she went on her first flight when she was 3 months 4 days to Vientiane. So, Laos becomes the first country she visited :). The flight was short, approximately 1 hour and she behaved quite well on the plane. The challenge came on the way back when she cried non-stop for about 15 to 20 minutes before she finally fell asleep prior to landing in Bangkok. Unlike her brother, Sophie wouldn't stop crying instantly even though breastmilk is offered, which is normally my savior to survive any trip. I felt bad for other passengers who sat near us and apologized for the inconvenience. Instead, they sincerely smiled and said that they had no problem with it as they have kids, too.

Enjoying sunset by the Mekong River in Vientiane
At the end of March, we escaped Bangkok's heat to chilly Hong Kong. The 2,5-hour flight was bearable for our five-month old, although she cried for sometime, but since we were in big aircraft, taking her for a stroll back and forth along the aisle could calm her down. The nice flight attendants also tried to entertain her whenever they passed by. As we learnt our lessons from this particular flight, we bought pacifier which was intended to ease her during the upcoming return flight. Then, four days later, it happened again. She cried so much in a way that I didn't understand. We tried everything we could from nursing her, checking her diaper, rocking her, changing her position, taking a walk, but nothing worked, until....two Chinese ladies at the seats behind us entertained her in Chinese. Together with us on the flight was a big group of elderly, most probably tourists who were on a holiday trip to Thailand. She suddenly stopped crying and looked at those two ladies, and smiled. The Chinese magic seemed to work :). They kept entertaining Sophie until the plane safely landed in Suvarnabhumi and the little girl was quite happy.

The previous flying experience to Hong Kong had made me a bit nervous as we had to go to France via Doha in May. Surprisingly, Sophie, and all of us survived the 16-hour flight. Our 7-month old princess survived the long flight, the transit, and the train ride, Alhamdulillah. She slept well in her bassinet, and she seemed comfortable during her waking time. On the way back, she even slept for five hours  straight, allowing me to watch Cinderella the Movie, the first time for me to watch an in-flight movie without any interruptions since we have David. Luckily, the flight was smooth without any turbulences involved, otherwise I was pretty sure she wouldn't back to sleep again if I woke her up. Our fabulous three-week vacation, which included road trip to Northern France and Germany, was close to perfect. Traveling with a three-year old like David is awesome as children that age already know how fun it is being on a long trip, no crying, no fuss, it's just perfect. Besides, David also acts as Sophie's babysitter, he would entertain her (if he is awake, of course) and let us know when his little sister asleep. All in all, our first Europe trip with Sophie was a success!

Two months later, we went again, this time to Indonesia, yeaayy!! Sophie officially visited her other homeland for the first time when she was 10 months old. One month later, I traveled with her again to Indonesia, just the two of us, while the boys were in Bangkok and everything went well, thankfully.

Admiring the rice terrace along the way

So far, she has tried numerous car rides, train rides from Argo Parahyangan to TGV, various public transport rides in all places we have visited, and of course, various type of airplanes. We hope, as she grows up, she would grow her love of traveling, appreciate whatever coming her way, and be able to see this beautiful world as her playground.

~Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience~ Francis Bacon