Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hitting the Big 4 (and over) – oh, and Happy 2011

No, not me – I’m still 18, remember?

It’s our girl. In case you were wondering whether we went MIA after our Christmas Pingyao trip (which I have to blog about, having just sorted out the 500+ photos, and having my lousy laptop hang on me a few times – think it’s my external hard disk that’s giving up on me as there are so many photos in there…), and whether we scooted off somewhere to welcome 2011, no. We were all here in Beijing, and basically and home, because see, our girl fell sick, the poor thing.

Here’s what happened – the next day after we got back from Pingyao, on 28 Dec, she started having a runny nose and an occasional cough, which I paid scant attention to as these things usually clear themselves up within the week. Then, on 30 Dec, she woke up in the morning with a temperature of 38.2 degrees, and against my lousy parenting call, I still decided to go ahead with the plan I had for that day – to bring her to collect her visa from the bureau, then head to Raffles City for some ladies time (i.e. shopping and lunch). Well, I’d asked Rosabelle whether she wants to stay on at home or follow me, and of course she would say the latter, right? (Like Wayne said, she’s a child, so she won’t know better that she should rest at home.)

So I booked a taxi as there were strong winds that morning, and went by the back door of the provision shop downstairs, which meant we only had to scoot about 20 metres to the taxi, great! Once we reached the place, we had to walk across the road to the bureau as apparently, no taxis can stop outside its main gate or they get a fine (goodness, do they think everybody drives???). It was pretty straight forward once there as I presented my slip, paid up (RMB800 for a two-year visa) and got her passport. Easy-peasy, except that you have to remember that we had started on the whole denounciation of Chinese citizenship thing like in April 2009 (yes, you read that right, in 2009, NOT 2010), and it’s been more than 1.5 years, a lot of red tape, a lot of trips, a lot of documents and phone calls, and a lot of whatever bureaucratic shit we’ve had to deal with.

Since we are on the subject of red tape, I really like dealing with Singapore establishments – they are very erm… by the book and cordial, but at the end of the day, they are at least around and revert. I have been the super-kiasu mum and actually enquired with my alma mater primary school, Rosyth, on how to be an alumni. They said just pay a one-off SGD300 fee, but I can start contributing/volunteering when I am back in Singapore, which is like a few years later. I wasn’t really keen to be a sleeping member and asked if I can share my Chinese skills (!), give talks when back etc, but they did not revert. Hmm… guess I should just pick this up again when I am back, since my status as a former pupil already accords me a Phase 2A2 priority for Rosabelle in future. It’s never too early to plan ahead right?

I have also enquired with the Ministry of Education on the documents we’d require, since Wayne likely won’t be in Singapore when we register (so the entry permit etc won’t apply) – turns out we just need originals of all documentation, like his passport. And I even made sure that his expired passport number won’t need to be updated on Rosabelle’s birth certificate. The Singapore folks have been most responsive, replying via email and even calling my overseas number. However, the Singapore embassy staff in China, the China staff, are really lousy. When I first enquired with them about whether there was a need to change the information on the birth certificate, the Chinese lady said (1) they don’t know and (2) they can’t change the info even if they need to. So I very firmly told her that I, a Singaporean living in Beijing, am turning to the embassy as a first point of contact/information, and if even they weren’t able to direct me to somebody, how the FISH was I going to know better, right? That made her wake up and say she will direct my query to an officer, who very nicely returned my call within 15 minutes with the info I needed. See, you need to be tough with plebians and front-line folks who think they know better – speak to the people who matter and can make decisions and don’t waste my time, that’s my mantra.

Anyway, back to this post.

I was SO DARN GLAD to not have to come to the bureau again (until my visa expires in April 2011, that is… $%#^&!!!), and because of the ‘no taxis at main gate’ crap, I had to walk about 100m down to wait for a taxi. Now, the winds were getting quite strong, and I was carrying our girl and trying to shield her as much from the winds, whilst carrying my bag, whilst trying to flag a cab down. You’d think an able-bodied man of about 40 years old would see that I needed a taxi more than he did and give it up to me? Nope. This bloody faggot went in front of me and hailed an empty cab, and that lousy fat-ass of a taxi driver actually stopped and let him in, in spite of obviously seeing that I was frantically flagging him down as well. Drivers don’t like to pick up kids – they make their car seat covers dirty (I take Rosabelle’s shoes off as soon as we get in, though their covers are not the cleanest at times….), they might have potty problem, they might cry and bawl, or woe behest if you picked a sick kid and they puked in the taxi! I was very pissed and kept pointing to the man and shaking my head as I told Rosabelle that ‘This uncle is very bad, snatched our taxi from us…’ as I tut-tutted away. Luckily I did not have to wait too long for another empty cab to swing by.

And then we headed on to Raffles City literally just around the corner, and I really miss Singapore’s great planning of sheltered taxi stands where you are delivered right to the door step of the building. In Beijing, you normally need to walk a distance after getting down hastily at some busy junction, leap over a tall fence (or in my case, around it), and brave the winds again to get into the shopping centre. Now, two spates of cold winds… I was hoping my girl wasn’t going to be too ill from all these…

Luckily she was alright and happily walking around the stores with me as I went to Mango and got a T-shirt as she snacked on a slice of cheese (though I had to stop her from running out, and lifting the curtains, whilst I was still in the changing room!), and after looking around a bit at Zara and H&M, slowly made our way to lunch at Tai Hung, our usual place. However, there was a long queue, so I headed to Genki Sushi instead and saw that they have set meals, and got ourselves a small corner. When I left to get her a teaspoon, I saw that she had spilled the cup of water all over the table as she had wanted to transfer it into her bowl. Oh dear… of course she got told off for not just drinking water from the cup – why must kids do their own ‘teh tarik’ demonstration when given two containers and some liquids?

That’s her eating her lunch – pre-fever, or pre-HIGH fever, I should state, as I could feel she was quite warm. She enjoyed the peas and corn, as usual, and the fish I ordered was rather chewy, so she didn’t take much to that. She did seem to like crab stick, something she was trying for the first time, and the pork that came in the noodles. She even managed to almost polish off the milk pudding that came with the set, though not before she managed to again spill water one more time all over (yikes!!!). I even had to go to the washroom once and asked the staff to watch over her – the waitress looked quite queasy and asked me if she would cry, heh!
After lunch, I had my usual fix of Happy Lemon bubble tea and got some BreadTalk and TipTop curry puffs, and wanted to go into another store, Bershka. Even though it was already past 3pm… however, it’s not everyday I get to come out like this, and our girl seemed to be ok, so I quickly browsed around, grabbed some items to try out, and ended up with 5 other tops… haha! All this time, I was keeping an eye on my girl, though I would lose sight of her sometimes as she’s so short and there were quite a lot of people. How irresponsible would that sound – “Shopaholic mother loses daughter jostling at Bershka sale”. Anyway, luckily she was most cooperative, except she chose to run out once and I told her she has to make sure she stays in as I was still in the shop, so she was very well-behaved, going to the changing room and basically staring at the store assistant and the stalls, heh!

After that, I quickly headed out and the winds were even stronger than the morning. It was hard to get a taxi where I stopped this morning, and about 5 minutes into futile waiting (with our good girl trying to also flag a taxi down) as there seemed to be just a massive jam at the roundabout, I walked about 100m down to see if I had better luck. I think we spent about 10 minutes in all waiting and walking, but the winds were blowing against us all the time, and I could see my girl was cold. It’s seldom that she would reply in the affirmative when asked if she’s cold, and this time she did. When we finally got into the taxi, I almost wanted to kiss the taxi driver, if only he did not look so, erm… not-handsome. Anyway, once I seated Rosabelle down next to me, it wasn’t 10 seconds before she closed her eyes and wanted to sleep. Poor thing! It was already past 4pm by then, and she must have been tired, especially since she has a fever, and was walking around with me all morning.

I did not dare let her sleep as she would then be carried in the wind when we get back, and not sleep properly that afternoon. So she was easily distracted by the magazine in the taxi, and I made the driver stop us at the back door of the provision shop again. However, this time, there was an uber-rude lady who wanted to also board the taxi (count your lucky stars and kiss my toes that you managed to hail one in this weather, bitch!). She then opened my taxi door as I was dressing Rosabelle – I had to scream at her and say that I was still getting the kid dressed, for goodness sake! I told the driver if the bitch was freezing her tits off (not exactly in those words), she could have jolly well just gotten into the front seat, right? But no, bitch chose to stand 2cm from the door, as if afraid anybody would run and snatch the cab from her (nobody else was around, for that matter, maybe bitch was too smelly). So when I opened the door, which I needed to open wide, as I was carrying Rosabelle and a bag and trying to get out, of course the door banged into her. She had the cheek to tell me, ‘你慢点啊!’. My goodness! If not for the bad weather and the kid I was carrying, I would have given it to her, but all I could be bothered to say was, ‘我抱着孩儿,我只能尽量慢点!只能尽量了!' Felt like telling her that she was the one in a hurry, and now she’s asking me to slow down. HISSSSSSSS………..

Anyway, when we got home and I measured her temperature, it was 38.4, and she fell asleep soon after nursing. Guilty, guilty… bad mother! If only I had not brought her out that morning, if only I had tried to call and see if I could book a cab coming home, and if only I did not indulge in my shopping whim and went straight home after lunch… sigh! Anyway, when she woke up around 9:30pm (had woken intermittently for about an hour, crying and fussing), she was measuring 38.8 and I put a cold patch on for her when she got up at 6:30pm. I didn’t give her any fever medication yet as I wanted to see if external help (e.g. barley/green bean drink, cold patch) would help, and not mess up her own body’s viral-fighting capabilities, so she went to bed with just a cold patch that night.

The next day, she seemed to be fine – eating and playing well, and talking as much, that I even considered taking her for our last Kindermusik class the next day on 30 Dec. (What the hell was I thinking?). Luckily I thought better as she was sleeping even at 9:15am and I did want her to rest and not have to wake her up. She was most cooperative and understanding when I told her later that morning that as she was sick (38.5), we could not go for Kindermusik class, and she even nodded in agreement. When her temperature went down later (37.9), she told me, ‘可以去Kindermusik class了', and when I said that it was the last class, she pretended to look disappointed and gave 'crying’ sounds. I was actually really looking forward to the class as Yuliya promised a celebration, and Rosabelle really loves the sessions. Sigh! If only I did not bring her out the day before, she might have been in good form to attend the class!

Anyway, that day, she was still ok as we stayed at home to play and rest, but she slept for only an hour in the afternoon (kept coughing and disrupted her sleep). She went to bed at night with a 38.0, so I was hoping she had gotten better on her own but the next day, on 31 Dec, she woke up looking very lethargic, and her cough had taken a turn for the worse as she coughed her way through breakfast and measured 38.7. When she hit 39.0 at noon, I gave her 5ml of paracetemol after lunch, and before she went to sleep at 2:15pm, she clocked a high of 39.5 degrees. Poor thing! She wasn’t her usual self and did not talk much the whole day.
All we could do was to put on cold patch, rub on some bear rub, and give the fever medicine, as I realized I did not have any cough medication like Bernadryl at home – horrors! That evening, she hit the big 4, measuring 40.0 when she got up after a disruptive 3.5 hour nap. Thankfully the paracetemol somehow reined the fever in and she seemed better after washing up that night, though she still measured 39.5. I have not been daring to bathe her – the last time was on Monday when we got back from Pingyao, so it’s been a week since Rosabelle took a bath or washed her hair! But we wash her hands, feet, groin and crevices every day, and apply loads of nice-smelling lotions for her, especially the pure olive oil that my brother-in-law had given me long ago for her cradle cap then (and we never used) – helps her dry skin. Another Singapore momma advised I could give her a spoonful of honey before bedtime, so I let her try it for the first time, but maybe she wasn’t used to the gooey blob and almost choked on the teaspoonful, haha…

When she went to bed that night with a 38.3, I was thanking my lucky stars but as we spent the New Year countdown all in bed (ya, that’s how exciting countdowns get when you are a parent with a sick child in tow… happening ya? Only thing celebratory was we ordered Annie’s for dinner to have at home…), she hit 40.1 when she woke up 2am on 1 Jan. I wasn’t planning to specially wake her for her 6-hourly paracetemol, but she awoke just exactly on time, so Papa got the medicine and cold patch ready, and she was actually quite eager to have it, keeping quite awake after as she slept with us on the bed.

On New Year’s Day, we didn’t have any celebrations, of course, though she had 速冻饺子 for the first time at lunch, haha… and we even brought her out in the evening to get dinner from泰和草本 at Wanda – it was her first time out in awhile and she was quite happy. However, when she made me go all the way down the stairs to the toilet and remove her clothing, saying she needed to pee, then protest and say she did not want to when I was carrying her over the toilet bowl, it did make me mad, whether she was sick or not! As we were heading out of the carpark, I remembered that we had left her water bottle on the table and Wayne went back to get it – phew!

Throughout the day, she was seemingly back to her normal self, talking and singing a lot, except for the temperature, which was already under control. However, the cough was very bad, and that night, even though she got down to 37.2, she had a bad cough and at one point, was coughing for about 15 minutes, sitting up at times. She was sleeping on her chest so that must have made her feel worse, so we decided to bring her to Amcare the next day on 2 Jan even though her temperature was fine at 36.7. The fever was really a result of something else affecting her, and the paracetemol only made the fever subside, but there was still the cough (and runny nose) to tend to.

However, Amcare only had slots available that afternoon at 4pm, so I gave her a last dose of paracetemol after her breakfast that morning (as my brother-in-law - my ever-trusty e-doctor, whatever will we do without him – advised that we give her paracetemol for half to one day after the temperature falls to 37.5 and below). Maybe the effect of tending to a sick kid was getting to me, but I was quite impatient with her that morning as in succession, she hit against me (accidentally of course) three times, leaning on my thigh with her elbows, hitting my mouth with a book, and crashing against my specs. Maybe she was also quite clumsy from the medication/fever and I really should not have scolded her – I felt bad after that as she looked very sheepish. Sigh… At least she was her usual, happy self when I offered to take a photo after styling her week-long-unwashed hair…
As the appointment would coincide with her nap time, we quickly got her ready for bed after her lunch, as she was already looking rather drowsy. In the end, she managed to sleep for about an hour as she woke up when I went into the room to carry her out to go out. We went there in time and saw a senior doctor (they didn’t have the junior ones, which we normally prefer, as they are more friendly and consultative…), who surprisingly was very nice and reassuring. Rosabelle was rather cooperative in letting her listen to her heartbeat and breathing (she said her respiratory system and lungs were ok), but protested when they pressed her tongue down to check her throat. She cried a little, maybe because she thought they were going to force-feed her something, heh! Turns out the doctor said her throat was very red, so they sent her for a finger-prick blood test. Our girl was so brave, not even crying as they drew two small straws of blood, though the trick is to distract her and not her look at the blood (I pretended to eat my specs – ya, don’t ask me…).

After about 10 minutes of waiting for the test results, the verdict came in – she had a virus, as shown by the high lymphocytes count, so I’m glad that it wasn’t as bad as the last time we went, where it was an upper respiratory tract infection and her fever did not go down. The doctor prescribed the same Western cough medicine as the previous time (Stada Guaifenesin, Methylephedrine and Chlorphenamine), and Chinese medicine 抗病毒口服液. She also said in Western medicine, healthy/nutritious foods like milk and eggs should still be consumed, though I stopped them as a result of her fever and because I was afraid milk is mucous-inducing and would worsen her cough.

Luckily I asked the doctor about the medications, as the pharmacist wasn’t the most friendly/informative. I wanted to be sure the 3 times/day for cough medicine was after each meal, and she said, ‘三天一次就是这样吃的啊!'Erm… I am not the bloody pharmacist here, so I can interpret it to mean 8-hourly, right?!! Anyway, I clarified what I needed to, and our girl was the most cooperative in taking her meds – Chinese medicine before dinner, cough medicine after dinner (she has to take both meds a total of 5 times a day).

However, on the way back, half-way through, we realized that Wayne had left her big water bottle on the cashier counter, so we had to turn around and get it. They even called us seconds into us realizing it. Haiz! In two days straight, Daddy dearest almost managed to lose both her bottles!

Maybe it was because of the meds, or because she was weak from the virus, but as she was clambering out of the clothes pail (she likes to sit in it these days by the window), she lost her balance and fell, smacking her face against the window. Of course she cried, and pointed to her nose when I asked her where it hurt. Well, that taught her not to play in the pails when nobody is looking after her!

After that, during dinner, Wayne was feeding her and maybe she leaned too far ahead on his arm when she got out of her seat, lurched forwards and fell through the gap. Luckily Wayne caught her in time by the arm, saving her a fall onto her head. That was really a close shave, as she looked very guilty and frightened, placing her hands behind her as she listened to us reprimand her sternly for always playing a fool in her high chair. Her lips even turned black from the shock till it was all quite funny! If it had been Nainai or I, not sure whether our reflexes would have been so fast in saving her… shudder…

Anyway, that night, we got her ready for bed early since it was a long day, and she had only an hour’s sleep in the afternoon. True enough, it’s been eons since I last nursed her to sleep, on only one side at that! And we were all amazed she slept within 5 minutes at 10:30pm! And she did not cough much that night, so the meds must be working…

But I really should have seen it coming… she woke up at 7am the next morning on Tuesday and could not go back to sleep, so Nainai and I had to wake up by 7-nish, and I let her try to feed herself some bread and cheese cake first, but she wasn’t the most cooperative and kept fussing/whining until I lost my temper and placed her back into her own bed, asking her to go back to sleep if she was such a grouch. That shook her up and she later sat down by herself and at least finished a whole cup of milk without making more noise.

Nainai, and a lot of people, tell me that Rosabelle is a very good girl, and if it were other kid having a cough and such a high fever, they would already be very sticky and crying the whole day. I also think she is very strong, and am very proud of her for being such a fighter – I can’t imagine measuring 40.1 myself! However, I think kids become sticky when you let them – when she says she wants to sleep on the big bed at night, I don’t let her. She can sleep better on her own bed without us rolling onto/around her, and it does not make her fever/cough go away. I only reassure her, give her some water, and then tell her sternly it’s either her bed or the sofa in the living room. That usually works and she will go back to sleep.

When she starts fussing during meal-times (or at other times), I do not tell myself, ‘Oh, she’s sick, give her a break’ – I will tell her that I KNOW she is sick and that she is fussy, but if she does not have a valid reason, she had better stop it. And that usually works. I can’t imagine if I start babying her and she becomes even more sticky to me… although it helps that Wayne has a great source of distraction now ever since downloading Tom the Talking Cat app on his phone, haha! Rosabelle even took the old Nokia 8850 I passed to her as a toy, and told me to look at the screen, saying, ‘妈妈,你看玥玥手机上有猫猫喝奶呢!', heh!

On Monday, she was much better, and Wayne finally got to enjoy his three-day break as we went for dim sum lunch at 陶朱公馆 with Nainai. On the way there, she even took a 30-minute nap as she was so sleepy, so I just let her sleep as Wayne drove on and let me off to buy some New Year decorations and angpows for my family. Just nice that she got up as I entered the car, and we went for lunch. However, we didn’t dare order anything heaty as Wayne is also having a sore throat (thinks Rosabelle infected him!), and I also have a congested head with a slightly runny nose…

After lunch, I also went to Jenny Lou’s to get some stuff as they waited, and scheduled a facial for myself. So when Rosabelle refused to sleep after I nursed her, I asked if she can let Papa sleep with her instead. She was most cooperative but then I found out Wayne had gone out to get the car washed… so I asked if Nainai could sleep with her instead. Luckily she agreed but cried slightly as I was leaving (though I did tell her I was going for my facial), and Nainai told me she slept very quickly after I had left… for 3.5 hours, without coughing (and today went relatively well, so maybe we can even stop the meds tomorrow). Nice!

But I’d really better let her rest well these few days before I bring her out to anywhere, or meet anybody (in case she’s still infectious!). I really think if I hadn’t brought her out that day she had a slight fever, she might be ok, or maybe we all picked the virus up in Pingyao… we aren’t sure. Anyway, it’s the second time she’s been to a hospital for an illness, and I sure hope there won’t be a third time!

This time round, I was really much more relaxed, maybe because she’s older and also she can voice her discomfort. But it was like… 39.0? Oh, ok. 39.5? Erm.. cold patch lah… and she’s eating/playing well, so no biggie. 40.0? Erm… well, she just woke up, so maybe she was sleeping on that ear? But I remembered her first fever and I was up all night checking her temperature constantly, wiping away her perspiration, applying cold towel to her neck… I was so afraid the fever would go up (maximum was 39.8 then).

But this time round, it wasn’t like I wasn’t caring as much, or that I was heck-care, and of course it still hurt me every time she coughed or looked lethargic from the fever, but it’s just that I feel more in control. Being a mum really all comes with experience, and hey, I’m getting better at this, except that I really need to make better judgment calls in future when choosing between an early rest for a feverish toddler, and wanting to cover a shopping complex of stores I like. Guilt, guilt, guilt…

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