Family Schedules

Bismillah,

GOOD MORNING FROM JAKARTA!

(yes, I am on mudik mode now, so please excuse a might-be-too-friendly cheery greeting lol)

Anyway, no. Not going to talk about our traveling experience (yet) because it was nothing but tiring. So there — it should sum it up nicely. Let me just write about something that has been sitting in my drafts for God knows how long.

I was struggling to find a good title and decided to just heck it and used whatever title came to my mind first — apologize for a very uninspiring one.

So ever since we settled on our routine after our youngest is done with his Eingewohnung in the KiTa, life has been going on pretty much as per usual. We have a schedule that works with us for most of the day, and we thought it will be beneficial to share!

Continue reading “Family Schedules”

All the snuggles in the world

Being a mother of two is tough – and sometimes challenging. Most of my days are spent on being a referee and deciding what words I can say that will make everything’s fair for everyone. Some of those days were easy and smooth-sailing while the others were .. difficult and I needed to calm my head down before even spoke to two of them.

I admit, being the eldest sibling has shaped my expectation towards my own eldest – Z. I expect him to be the one who guided his younger brother. I instill towards him every day, that he’s the older brother, that there are boundaries and lines that he should follow. That no matter what M does, Z must be there to guide him.

I know what a burden it is for him – but I keep pressing on although sometimes it can break my heart.

I had spent countless nights worrying if I spoke too harsh to Z or if there’s anything that I can do to make the situation better for him. To let him know that I still love him the same. To let him know that I love him even more whenever I see him trying to be a better brother for M.

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Our sleeping arrangement hasn’t changed since M was born. Z sleeps with his Papa and I sleep with M – mainly because M is still nursing to sleep and weaning him has been unsuccessful. I don’t want to wean him by force or trick so there’s that.

Last night, Z was so tired so he was laying on my bed while waiting for his Papa to finish Isya. M was still busy with brushing his teeth so I figured I would snuggle with Z – something that we rarely do these days.

I put a blanket over him and told him, “Do you want to snuggle with Mama?”

Sleepily, he said yes. I reached out for his head and hugged him slowly.

Before drifting to sleep, he asked me in low voice, “Mama, why didn’t we do this sooner?”

And my tears fell down. My boy – my baby.

“Anytime you want a snuggle, you can always ask me, Abang. All the snuggles in the world for you.”

He nodded before finally closing his eyes.

I hoped he knows – not only snuggles that I would give for him. All my love – all my life.

You are the love of my life. Everything I have and everything I am is yours. Forever.
– Barney Stinson, HIMYM

Balada Childcare

Bismillah,

Kembali melanjutkan #thenefainberlin series – ini topik yang kemaren kalah pas ada poling, tapi saya keukeuh tetap pengen nulis tentang ini, hihi. Kenapa? Soalnya berasa perjuangan untuk mendapatkan childcare ini bikin lelaaaahhh sangat. Sayang kalau ga ditulis buat kenang-kenangan #eh

Jadi ceritanya, waktu di Singapura, Z dan M diasuh sama mbak Marni. Mbak kami yang sudah mengasuh Z dari dia umur 3.5 bulan dan M sejak dia lahir. Yang sayangnya bukan main sama Z dan M. Yang bikin kami galau waktu memutuskan buat pindah dari Singapura ke Berlin. Z dan M belum ngerti memang kalau mereka bakalan pisah dari mbak Marni, tapi malah jadi kami yang drama karena ya, beliau sudah seperti keluarga sendiri.

Sebenarnya salah satu ketakutan kami buat pindah ke Berlin adalah, siapa yang akan mengasuh anak-anak selagi kami di kantor?

Continue reading “Balada Childcare”

Supaya Tetap “Waras” Menjadi Working Mom

Lagi-lagi dengan judul yang bombastis.

Well, I don’t exactly have a flair for choosing a catchy title, so bear with me ya?

Anyway, di tengah-tengah flu dan puyeng yang melanda sejak kemarin, saya jadi kepikiran – kalau lagi sakit gini, entah kenapa pikiran jadi makin banyak padahal harusnya saya istirahat dan rileks. Lalu saya pun berlanjut mikir, kenapa?

Simple aja sih jawabannya: karena rumah berantakan dan anak-anak tetap perlu makan, hahaha.

Waktu masih di Singapura, kami punya ART – jadi saya ngga terlalu pusing soal urusan rumah dan makan. Urusan saya cuma kerja dan main sama anak malam-malam dan weekend. Kalau dipikir-pikir lagi, it was such a privilege.

Sekarang di Berlin, jangankan ART, yang namanya childcare saja kebanyakan cuma sampai jam 5 sore dan kalau musim panas bisa tutup sampai 2-3 minggu layaknya orang kantoran, haha.

Intinya, di Berlin ini, semuanya harus kami lakukan sendiri. Untungnya, jam kerja kami lumayan fleksibel dan opsi untuk working from home juga available.

Back to the main story.

Karena rumah masih harus diurus, anak-anak masih harus tetap makan, dan kerjaan kantor pun tetap harus jalan – kami harus punya sistem di rumah dan di kantor.

Basically, these are what we do.

Continue reading “Supaya Tetap “Waras” Menjadi Working Mom”

[Just FYI] Jangan Ikut Campur

Saat saya menulis ini, darah saya mendidih. Saya emosi. 

Saya memang baru jadi orangtua seumur jagung. Belum makan asam garam nya jadi orangtua. Tapi yang saya yakin, semua orangtua ingin yang terbaik bagi anak-anak mereka. Dan itulah yang setiap hari, setiap saat saya rasakan.

Kalau dulu saya bekerja sekedar untuk passion dan money, sekarang saya bekerja untuk keluarga. Salah satunya menabung untuk masa depan anak-anak. Dan again, tidak ada satu haripun dimana saya tidak menginginkan yang terbaik untuk anak-anak saya.

Makanya sekarang saya bisa mengerti sekali untuk belajar tutup mulut dan tidak membanding-bandingkan kalau ada orangtua yang punya gaya mendidik anak yang berbeda dengan saya.

Kenapa?

Karena walaupun cara mendidiknya berbeda, tujuannya sama. Why should we make it a war?!

Dan saya pun, setali tiga uang, sangat amat tidak suka saat parenting style saya di’kritik’. Apalagi dari orang yang belum tahu apa2 (baca: belum jadi orangtua). I swear, family or not, I am gonna ignore whatever you say.

Kenapa?

1. Saya dan suami saya tidak ignorant

Do you think I am gonna be that ignorant parent when it comes to the future of my children? Do you think that I am not preparing anything before I even decide on something for them? DO YOU SERIOUSLY THINK THAT I DIDN’T DO MY RESEARCH BEFORE?!

It’s not only an insult to our parenting style, it’s also an insult to our intelligence!

2. Saya dan suami saya tidak butuh saran anda. 

MYOB. Mind your own business. Period. Come back to us when you are a parent yourself. 

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So yeah, people. Fair warning to you before you even open your mouth to ‘criticise’ me and my husband. DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST.

And yeah, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. 

On Zal and School

Mum: If Zal can’t really speak Indonesian, then what will be of him at school later..?
Me:

So many miscommunications in single chat, but I don’t think I want to correct them now.

First, just because Zal speaks alphabets and numbers in English, doesn’t mean we don’t teach or talk to him in Indonesian. His mbak talks to him in Indonesian, and although we mainly talk with him in English (me, most of the time), he still understands Indonesian perfectly. Sure, most of his nursery rhymes are in English, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know some in Indonesian. And trust me, babies/toddlers are more than capable of handling bilingualism, or even multilingualism.

Second, we never said that Zal is going to school in Indonesia.

Ok, perhaps we’re at fault here. But really, we are not even sure when are we going to go back to Indonesia for good. To be honest, I still want to explore the world. Husband wants the same as well. We both are worried with the school system in Indonesia, and honestly, we kinda don’t want Zal to go to school there.

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Go on, judge us for not being nationalists. Like we care. If going to school somewhere else is the best for our children and our family, then we are going to do it.

Stop this war

Looks familiar? Yeah, it does for me too.

I am always irked whenever I see a post like this; shaming working mothers as if they don’t love their children as much as stay at home mothers do. And really? Are you seriously comparing children with gold?

A bit of disclaimer why I feel like I have the right to feel irked. I was raised by a stay at home mom (SAHM) and Husband was raised by working mom (WM). We both turned out fine, and no, never once we both think my mother in law doesn’t love her children as much as my mother loves hers.

Now, I am also a WM. AND BELIEVE ME, not one hour passes at office without me thinking about my son. All mothers love their children, that’s what I believe. But the way we love our children can be different, and it doesn’t need to be the same with other mothers, for God’s sake!

So stop shaming working mothers if you don’t know the battles they fight every day. And stop judging unless you don’t mind being judged by someone else. Karma is a b*tch, woman!

My Breastfeeding Journey (so far)

Zal is now 20 months old. It’s been that long that I have been breastfeeding him; and it has been 17 months that I have been pumping at work.

I won’t lie. I feel proud of myself. Alhamdulillah. It has not been an easy journeyl in fact, it’s so full of anxiety and panic attack. But looking back at the past 20 months, I feel that I deserve a pat on the back. At least from myself.

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When Zal was born, he didn’t immediately succeed in early breastfeeding initiation. The midwife put him near my breast after they finished weighing him, and I vaguely remember he reached my nipple and sucked for a while. I couldn’t even tell if he managed to get some colostrum (I started leaking few weeks before I delivered him).

Next thing I know, we both were in the same room together. Every few hours or so, a nurse would take him to the nursery so I could take some rest. I remember it was about 2-3 hours. Although I was so tired after 14 hours of labor, I couldn’t really sleep cause I kept thinking of him.

We stayed at the hospital for 2 nights. Whenever Zal woke up, cried cause he’s hungry, a nurse would bring him back to our room and let me nurse him. Being a first time mom, I didn’t know anything about the correct way of latching. Don’t even ask me if he was getting enough milk on that first few days. Luckily, the hospital that we chose is really supporting breastfeeding. Every few hours, there will be a lactation consultant (LC) visited us and taught me the correct way of latching. Even so, I still couldn’t make it right. At some point of time, an LC squeezed my breasts and managed to get some colostrum to be put in the syringe and -to my surprise- she gave it to Zal.

Thinking about it again, what did it even mean? Did it mean that Zal didn’t latch correctly? Or my milk was not kicking in yet?

We went home on the third day, and I was still completely clueless on how to latch correctly. As a requirement for a newborn, Zal needed to be monitored for two weeks to watch his jaundice level. I still remember few days after we were home, we came back to hospital on Sunday only to find out that Zal’s jaundice level was worrying enough that the doctor said he might need to be admitted.

And I blamed myself cause perhaps it’s due to me lacking skills to get him latching properly. I was also having blocked duct on my right breast. Zal didn’t want to nurse on that side either so I was totally clueless on how to get it cleared. That night, I pumped my milk from my left breast, and Alhamdulillah, I still got some colostrum. We fed it to Zal using syringe. My heart broke in pieces seeing my few-days-old baby drank breastmilk from a syringe.

When we finally got a chance to meet an LC again, she taught me how to cleared blocked duct, and she also taught me how to make sure that Zal latches properly. Then when she taught me all of those things, I just saw that Zal was an impatient baby. He was that impatient (and perhaps too hungry) that he didn’t want to latch himself properly first before settling for milk. The LC told me to keep latching and latching.

We went home after a very very long day; but at least I got some idea on how to deal with this whole breastfeeding thing.

For the next few days, I tried to improve Zal’s latching on my own. From positioning his mouth to catch the nipple to practicing various breastfeeding positions. It was really really a challenge. All the while I kept worrying whether Zal had drank enough and about his jaundice too 🙁

Everytime Zal wanted to nurse, I put him on a pillow so he would get closer to my breasts. And being a newborn, of course he nursed very very often; like, around the clock. I was so tired that often Husband/Mum found me falling asleep sitting down while nursing Zal.

Seeing me so tired, Mum asked me to practice breastfeeding while lying down. It will be better for me cause it would give me chance to get some rest as well. I didn’t dare to do that cause I was worried Zal still couldn’t latch properly. What would happened if I latched him lying down?

Until finally when Zal was about 3 weeks old, we took him for another check at polyclinic, and I was so happy that his weight was finally increasing! By big margin some more! And his jaundice was gone! OH YAY!

So finally, when Zal was almost one month old, I tried nursing him lying down, and it only took him several tries until he could finally fell asleep! I was so relieved that I could finally get some rest, phew.

(I really really needed some break as well because I was still on my final semester of Master program; reports and meetings are things I couldn’t miss)

After Zal was one month old, breastfeeding was quite a breeze. Of course there were some times that I dreaded breastfeeding:

  • When he started teething.
  • When I had cracked nipples
  • When he had a brief nursing strike
  • When he was having fever and he only wanted to nurse
  • When he refused to nurse under nursing cover and how nervous and self-conscious I was when I first did that.

Thankfully, all of them didn’t last really long. Of course they needed some patience, and I admit sometimes my patience grew thin, but it has been okay so far.

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The time of weaning him is getting closer and closer. To be honest, I am not so keen on weaning him.. I am going to miss the closeness and the bond we are having. But it’s ok, I guess. That bond is just going to transform into something else. I am still his mother and it’s something that’s not going to change no matter what.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy how he smiles widely whenever he finished nursing, like I am the only one that matters for him in this world :’)

Breastpumps Review

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A friend of mine said that I am a very persistent pumping mom. My boy is already 19 months old and yet I am still pumping 4 times a day just like the usual. She even said I may love pumping too much!

Well, to be honest, every pumping mum will tell you that they are in a love-hate relationship with pumping. We love pumping because it gives us opportunity to give our children the best nutrient we can while still doing something else, but at the same time we hate pumping cause really… it’s a hassle to do!

Let me give you a quick rundown of my schedule on working days.

Morning

Wake up – pumping – gulping down breakfast – taking shower – rush to work

At office

Pump every 3 hours (do not forget the additional time for setting up the pump and cleaning afterwards)

Afternoon

Rushing back home – nursing baby as soon as I can

Night

Keep nursing till baby sleeps – Another session of pumping when your pumping result during the day is not enough to cover what your baby drinks

And the cycle repeats every day.

Actually, once baby crosses 1 year mark, I can loosen my pumping schedule cause breastmilk is no longer baby’s main food. But I don’t have a heart to do that cause Zal likes breastmilk so much he still drinks the same amount like before he started solid! And honestly, seeing that he grows healthy gives me so much satisfaction and motivation to keep going on pumping.

So yeah. Here I am, 16 months and still going on strong. Hopefully.

Wow I digress a lot from the title. Hahahaha.

Anyway, my point is, being a working and pumping mom, I have been using some breastpumps along my journey. So I am writing this for my personal review on breastpumps that I have been using so far.

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Medela Swing

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When we first think about breast pump, more often than not, Medela is the first brand that pops out. And it’s inevitable seeing how they seem to dominate the market. Well, same goes with me and Husband. We only knew Medela, plus several other brands that we weren’t even aware of.

Unfortunately, popular brand is often pricey; same thing goes for Medela. In fact, Medela is very expensive here in Singapore that we decided to just look for promotion in Indonesia. And even with a hefty price tag, Medela is widely popular back in our hometown that it’s almost always out of stock!

Luckily, my sister in law (who had already started pumping when I was only 3-4 months pregnant) managed to put an advanced order for two sets of Medela Swing at one of baby shops in Jakarta. Even with an advance order, I still remember that we paid almost 200 bucks for one set.

I started using Medela Swing when Zal was only 3 days old – for reasons that are too long to be explained here – and continued using it for the next 7 months. I am not an oversupply mom, but with Swing, I managed to get Zal passing his 6 months mark of exclusive breastmilk 🙂

Pros:

  • The suction is really gentle.
  • Simple and easy to wash and sterilise. It’s a single pump, so it’s expected.
  • The parts aren’t that many. Again, it’s expected.

Cons:

  • The spareparts are expensive.
  • Motor is loud.
  • Takes too long to empty both breasts because it’s single pump.

Verdict:

If you’re not a heavy user like me (I pump three times at work), I’d say go for this. Medela brand is reliable and you will not find any difficulties to use it. I’ve never been to their service center in Singapore, but the spareparts shops are plenty.

Medela Swing Maxi

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When I started working with my current company, Zal was only 8 months old. As part of the training program, I needed to fly to Tokyo for 5 days. Seeing how packed the schedule was, I realized that single pump would not do for me anymore. So, I decided to purchase a double pump.

There are lots of choices for double pump, but I only had my eyes on Medela Swing Maxi. From what I had read, it has the suction just like Medela Swing (which I already knew how that feels) but it’s just more efficient cause it’s double pump. Again, Medela price is unbelievably and ridiculously high in Singapore, so with the help of a very nice junior of mine *wink*, again I bought the set from Jakarta. It only costed half of Singapore price!

Pros:

  • Super fast in emptying both breasts. I only needed about 20 mins or so.
  • For some reasons, it’s more durable than Medela Swing.

Cons:

  • Motor is even louder than Medela Swing.
  • More parts to be washed and sterilized.

Verdict:

I love Medela brand, and most probably I would still be using it 4 times a day if it’s not because of the super loud motor. So if you’re looking for a durable double pump, go for Medela Swing Maxi. It has been serving me well for the past 10 months as a working mom.

Tommee Tippee Manual

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I also own a single manual pump. My in laws got this from me as a spare if something happened to my electric pump. So far I only tried it once, and to be honest, my body doesn’t respond well to this pump. And it’s tiring for my hand as well. But it’s still good to have a spare at home. Just in case.

Pros:

  • Compact and easy to use

Cons:

  • Tiring to use

Verdict:

It depends on individual’s body I think. My body doesn’t respond well to this pump so I don’t yield a lot using this pump. But I’ve heard stories from mummies who can even pump more using this manual pump. To each of his own I guess.

Lacte Duet

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This is my new favorite! OK I am biased haha. The background story is, I had been pumping in office’s phone booth for several months now, but as our company grows bigger and more people coming, I can’t always use phone booth 3 times a day 30 minutes each anymore, so I had to find alternative.

A lot of working mummies are also in the same situation with me and they are pumping on their desk using nursing cover. They will put their breast pump inside their drawer and just pump. That sounds convenient! Besides, my line of job requires me to be standby on my desk most of the time, so perhaps pumping on the desk is the solution!

The problem is, my Medela Swing Maxi is really loud, and although you close the drawer, you can still hear its sound. So I need to find another quieter breast pump.

There were two options I could find online and they are both from Malaysia. One is Malish Ilaria, and the other one is Lacte Duet. I am not a big fan of Spectra, so I am gonna skip that.

Between those two, Lacte Duet is quieter according to some mummies, so I decided to purchase it. But apparently it’s super expensive as well! It costs 299 SGD if you bought it at Mothercare. I surfed online and finally managed to get it with 169 SGD price! Quite a deal, eh?

I have been using Lacte Duet for almost two months now. And so far, it has been handy and living up to its reputation as a quiet pump. I have been testing it with my female colleague around, and she said she can’t hear a sound when I closed the drawer, unless she stood really close to me.

As with the male colleagues, well I honestly don’t really care x) Most of them know about me pumping, and they don’t seem to really care either lol.

Pros:

  • Silent. Definitely quieter than Medela.
  • Double pump. Fast.
  • Can be used with powerbank/anything with USB adaptor. Super convenient!
  • Equipped with back flow adaptor, which makes sure that milk won’t flow in the tube (happened to me several times with Medela Swing)
  • Can choose different suction levels for left and right breast! But I never used this option so far.

Cons:

  • Warranty is from Malaysia. So if anything goes wrong, I guess need to send the unit to Malaysia.
  • It has more parts than Medela. Hence the assembly time takes longer.
  • You have to make sure all parts are connected very very tight. Otherwise, the valve may be disconnected from the tube (happened to me several times already)
  • It doesn’t seem to fit well with my Simple Wishes hands free bra. Some mummies that I asked said that they don’t really use hands free bra when using Lacte Duet.

Verdict:

Despite the cons, I am still pretty satisfied with Lacte Duet. First, it’s quiet. Second, it empties my breast more than Medela. I never really need to do hands expression ever since I started using it. And if you’re a heavy pumper (like me), this will be your new best friend! 🙂

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So, overall if I have to rank these breastpumps I have so far, it will be like this:

Lacte Duet > Medela Swing Maxi >>> Medela Swing >>>>> Tommee Tippee.

Being a working mum is exhausting, and maintaining mood and health for the sake of pumping is even more exhausting; but since I believe I am doing this for the sake of my children’s health, it’s becoming more bearable.

I have to be grateful as well because so far my environment has been pretty supportive with my condition and I hope I can do the same for my future children 🙂

Tiger Mom

I grew up under a very strict regime and schedule by Dad. I wasn’t even allowed to play outside after school until I was about 7 or 8. My world was literally school and home. I wasn’t complaining much because at that time I thought that’s what I was supposed to do.

Dad always told me that education is important. He couldn’t give me wealth or money, but he would make sure that I got the best education he could afford. But I had to work hard as well. Best schools will bring you a good future and would only accept best students.

I believed what Dad said. So I worked hard. I studied hard to get #1 rank in class. And ever since then, it’s becoming a habit. If I couldn’t get the best, I would feel so pissed off and mad at myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t regret how I grew up. I am thankful for Dad for getting me on track. It molds my personality as well.

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Now, being a parent, I understand even more what Dad meant back then. Wealth and fortune won’t last forever, but as long as you have a good education and work ethic, you can get anywhere (insya Allah).

To be able to provide good education, means you have to settle for the education fund. I and Husband talked about this and we will soon start the fund for Zal and his siblings soon.

But like Dad had taught me, I have to teach the good work ethic to my children as well. And, I need to keep my brain sharp so I can still catch up to whatever the children are learning at least until they’re in college.

Both are real challenges. I need to find a way to keep my children interested in studying and at the same time, I need to do something with my brain. I mean, age will catch up soon and if I don’t do anything, my brain will become dull.

So, overall my strategies are these.

  • Taught my children that education is part of our deed to Allah, and whoever has good knowledge will be rewarded nicely
  • Told them that wealth and money will not last, but education will.
  • Live a frugal life to teach my children how to live humbly.
  • Keep my mind sharp: Doing some Math and Physics A Level, reading lots of books.
  • Live a healthy life. More water and exercises.

I think that’s all? Yeah, I still have a long way to go. Hopefully, these will work well.

For now, Zal is still a very cute toddler 🙂 I love playing with him albeit tiring. I will enjoy these moments until I need to be a tiger mom x)