You arrive in a country as an expat with a treasure chest full of knowledge based on home. If you’ve travelled extensively then some of the everyday comforts won’t be as much a surprise to you when you walk in the local store and are confronted with 10 brands of toothpaste but not 1 of them is THE 1 you’ve used since, well since the age of dinosaurs. Sure, they have Colgate, a few other brands you recognize, but um, where’s the Crest? Quickly you acclimate to the diverse landscape of the store and simply pick one. I just need clean teeth and fresh breath. Why is this so darn hard!

A good friend of mine once explained “culture shock” as that just above. When you have to truly learn the idiosyncrasies of the everyday, in a new place.

Almost a year ago we moved from Australia to Singapore. I’m an expat for the 2nd time; albeit I never really thought of myself as an expat in Australia, but truth is, I was. One would think I’ve got this expat thing in the bag, but still certain things catch me off guard.

Such as buying rice wine vinegar, which is a key ingredient to my Asian inspired salad dressing I created while living in Australia. I felt fairly confident, and a little smug, as I placed my rice wine vinegar in my cart at The Giant (a local store in Singapore which is akin to a Walmart). Meanwhile an older gentleman who worked at the store looked sideways at me and tried to explain what it was I was buying “not regular vinegar” he stated. I nodded my self righteous head, “Oh, I know what this is. I use it all the time in Australia!” All I can say is I hang my head low and wear my humility on my sleeve to this gentleman. Because what I took home was not what i use in Australia. It was wine vinegar, and it’s actually not good in my salad dressing! At all!!! And not good for children!

As time progresses those comforts of home grow less and less of a concern. Except maple syrup, no matter where I am in this world I will covet thy neighbours maple syrup!! I still stock up on Crest toothpaste when back in Canada and was so excited when the local grocery store in Australia started to sell Tide laundry detergent – so much so that when it obviously wasn’t selling at their astronomical price, I bought the remaining 6 units when it went of sale! Score!!

There are other funny things I find living here in Singapore. We have many of the same stores; Esprit, American Eagle, Zara, H&M. A major difference though is in the sizing. It’s ALL size 0-4. You ask a store clerk for a size larger than that and they shake their head as if you’ve asked for a bar of gold! My takeaway here, if you need a larger size than what they stock, you probably shouldn’t be wearing the outfit!

I recently went bra shopping, quite by accident, and 1 word of advice, don’t! The lady was lovely and seemed eager to help me. She did the usual, “do you know what style bra you are looking for?” “do you know your size? You look small, may l?” And without warning she is flat palming my chest and saying quite clearly that i am flat up top, “not like me, see i am very full up top”. Yes, i can clearly see that and yes, I could have told her myself I am not full chested like her! Oh i love the honesty here. If I hadn’t heard these things before I could possibly walk away feeling quite dejected and embarrassed. Instead, I buy the nice lace padded pushup bra in hopes i can trick her into feeling my lady lumps overflowing. Ha, trick is on her!!!

All these moments are part of the experience. The excitement of being somewhere new. Some make you laugh, others bring about a sense of being overwhelmed, shocked, uncertain, others help you see the world in a new way, to appreciate life outside Your little treasure box you brought from home.

I’ve been so fortunate to meet some very amazing people on this Singapore journey. I left behind close friends and family, never forgotten, but I add new friendships to my life. I love this life, I love how I get to learn new things, new ways of being and try new things. Life is a journey worth travelling so venture away!

Some of you know this story as a turning of a page, others know it in more detail, the whole chapter.

Today, October 12, 2017

* Please be warned there are personal and detailed photos at the end. Do not scroll to the end if you do not wish to see.

3 years ago yesterday I was induced into labour. I was 17 weeks and 5 days pregnant. 3 years ago tomorrow I gave birth to my first baby boy, 18 weeks gestation. Did I tell you I named him Baby Jack? Not at first I didn’t. In fact he was only known as Baby Bump #2 for a couple years. Then some time this past year I decided I needed to give him a name because being baby bump #2 was not significant enough. And Jack means something to me.

It was mid June 2014 when our baby was conceived. Randal and I watched over the little window as the 2nd pink line showed itself to us. We looked at one another and both kind of froze. The first words out of my mouth were “Oh Shit”! Randal’s were something along the same lines. In our living room sat his mum and Dad and youngest brother. They had no idea I had just peed on a little white stick and that we were pregnant.

Randal asked if I wanted to tell them. I felt foreboding life growing inside me. This pregnancy was already different for some reason. But we agreed and walked out holding our prized possession of a positive result – a new baby. We just didn’t know this baby had a bigger purpose for our lives.

We all hugged and congrats were said. Let the life begin. Grow baby bump #2, grow. And this baby did grow. Over the coming weeks the baby thrived but still something deep in my heart caused my happiness trepidation; I felt that perhaps this baby was not meant for me. Not all baby’s are meant for this world, but they all have a meaning was something I always believed, and was about to be given the chance to know.

I shared the news with 2 friends from Mother’s group in the early days of the pregnancy. I told them I wanted them to know in the event that I miscarried and needed support. How strange I felt that need. What I didn’t know I knew. Maybe you were speaking to me Baby Bump #2? Forewarning me of your early departure? Thank you to both those friends for sharing your losses with me and providing me a safe place to share my worries of loss as well! Thank you as well for being part of the party to help pick up the shattered pieces.

At 11 weeks and 5 days pregnant we had our first ultrasound. Oh how I love an ultrasound, but fear was hiding in the recesses of my uterus niggling so as not let me forget it was there. Randal watched with a careful eye, taking in all the measurements and quietly realizing the data being input was not in my favour. His brain was bringing him to the same place my body already was – there was something wrong.

The technician told us the NT (nuchal translucency) measurement was a little outside the norm. But “not to worry. Other measurements need to be consider as well” was what she said. When we left that appointment I recall saying to Randal, “I wished we just knew so we could make a decision and get on with life.” I wasn’t being blasse I was being realistic.

On a Thursday afternoon I received a call from the Dr’s office asking me to come in. Randal was traveling for work so a good friend of mine came rushing to my side. She held my hand and gave me support as I walked into the Dr’s office to receive the results which indicated there was a possibility of something amiss. Thank you friend for being there to give me strength.

Further testing was scheduled clearly indicating that I may not have been growing healthy baby. A first attempt at a CVS (Chorionic villus sampling, which is similar to amniocentesis where a long needle is inserted through the abdomen and into the baby’s private space – I bear this scar to this day. A constant reminder) was attempted at 12 weeks. The Dr felt he could not draw a proper sample so away we went only to return a week later to attempt again. Success! The Dr was able to perform the CVS and off went the biological material to the US to be analyzed.

The results were provided in 2 batches. The first set of results examined many chromosomal abnormalities which are more commonly found in unhealthy babies. That’s when we got the call Baby Bump #2. But the voice that streamed through our bluetooth system in Tiggy (our car. Yes, we named our car) told us the results from those test were all negative. We thanked her and said we looked forward to the next call a week or so later with the same happy result. We disconnected and I will forever remember where we were. In fact I recall all the moments where I received calls about you and test results that gave me permission to acknowledge my worry from the start.

Breathe … I took a breath and then I cried. I cried because I was so happy to hear those words, “the test results are negative for …” I think I grabbed Randal for dear life while I cried into his shoulder, “I didn’t realize how much I wanted everything to be okay and for this baby to be in our lives”. And Baby Bump #2 you were in our lives, just not the conventional way. I called my sister and her words were, “So we get to keep our baby?!” I never stopped think that this baby would be a loss for anyone other than myself and Randal. Thank you Chantal for caring so much from the moment you knew.

The final results took longer than usual due to holidays in the USA and a backlog of work somewhere. Who knew so many people had this test done like us? I was starting to understand. My nerves were frayed and I was starting to show that I was pregnant. Baby Bump #2 you wanted the world to know you were there, but I was too afraid to let them see you. Slowly I began to embrace the pregnancy and the bump that was making itself known to the world.

That 2nd call, I remember. I remember all of it. I was driving down West Esplanade in Manly, pulled over on the side of the road so I could speak with the geneticist. It wasn’t good news. “Chromosome 13 … long arm … material missing, a fair amount of it.”  I was told that more testing would be done on Randal and I to see if perhaps we had the same chromosomal material missing as this baby did. So I held on to hope in any way I could that maybe, just maybe, it would all turn out okay and Baby Bump #2 would continue to be part of me. What I know now Baby Bump #2 is you ARE always a part of me, you are a part of my life journey.

Back to the clinic we returned. Needles pricked our skin while our hearts were jabbed with fear mingled with sweet dreams of hope. Further instructions, be patient and wait. Wait some more and then when you are tired of waiting and feel you’re going to implode, sit down and well, continue waiting! So obligingly that’s what I did. I carried on doing all the motherly things with Chloe that I had been doing for over a year and a half already. We attended playgroups, music classes, played at the beach and on the Corso, met some new and (now) very dear friends. Thank you dear friend for giving me a 2nd chance when I stood you up on our playdate. Glad you were understanding about me being a little preoccupied with birthing a baby; and placenta, which actually ended up being a DNC, just in case I neglected to tell you that part. Thank you for listening to my rambling about the journey and letting me piece together my thoughts. Your accepting nature is very appreciated.

We  shopped at the same store for our groceries and visited the same coffee shops for decaf coffee and mixed berry smoothies. Meanwhile the winter sun kissed our cheeks and brightened our days just in the right ways. I thought you’d see and experience all this with us Baby Bump #2, and in your own way you did, from the comfort of my body right next to my beating heart.

This whole pregnancy was like a waiting game with negative test results being the winning trophy. So far our trophy count was a little low for the liking. Maybe the big trophy was waiting for us, YOU, and we could look at all the trophy’s we’d lost and say, “Well at least we have you Baby Bump #2, at least we have you.” We’d win your cheeks to kiss and your arms to feel around our necks when you squealed with delight at the feeling of our love. Sadly we didn’t win that chance the way we envisioned.

We went to NZ for a little holiday when I was 16 and a half weeks pregnant. I bought pregnancy jeans, 2 pairs, and gently talked about the baby with my in-laws. Randal’s parents knew what was happening but no one else in his family. In fact, they were the only people who knew other than my sister and a small handful of friends. Few friends actually knew we were even pregnant. It made for a small world who knew about you Baby Bump #2.

A few weeks after announcing our pregnancy to one particular friend, she shared her pregnancy news with me. I almost jumped across the table to congratulate her I was so excited. We had always said we’d have our 2nd baby’s together and here we were with due dates only 2 weeks apart. She was a great pillar of support for me and days after my expected due date, when she had her beautiful pink baby to match our blue baby, she was gentle and open.  She was all the things you want from a friend when your matching blue baby doesn’t get to meet his little pink friend. Thank you friend for simply being YOU.

We returned from New Zealand with a scheduled appointment with the Senior geneticist for the 9th October 2014. A couple weeks prior he said he would be researching and discussing with geneticist around the globe to get a better picture of what it meant to be missing material on the long arm of Chromosome 13. He hadn’t seen this situation as yet but what he did know was that chromosome 13 was responsible for much of our cognitive and developmental DNA. He didn’t sound overly hopeful. So this is what being deflated feels like. Hope, just grab the hope.

On the flight home from NZ Chloe sat on my lap and excitedly pointed to things she was seeing, the life outside our window that only a 22 month old child can see. The person seated next to me dared to ask me if I was pregnant. It was the first time a stranger had noticed that under my loose fitting t-shirt and uncharacteristic hunched shoulders was a little baby bump. I told her yes although I felt like lying. I am sorry Baby Bump #2 that I still wanted to shield you from the world. Or more likely that I wasn’t ready to share you with the world. I don’t know if it was fear of losing you or fear of being judged if I did lose you. It is a horrible feeling to have to reconcile.

One of the most important days as a parent was looming for me and Chloe. Two days after returning from NZ Chloe was to start her first 2 days of daycare. And as if that wasn’t enough for me to cope with, it was also the day of our big appointment with the geneticist. The test results were to be revealed in their entirety and your life as we knew it was to be decided.

Promptly at 9am we dropped Chloe at her home away from home for the day. Mixed emotions swelled in my heart. Longing to hold her just one more minute with the growing need to escape; if only I could be a fly on the wall and see her day unfold. I was proud of her and I was scared shitless for me, for you too Baby Bump #2.

Randal and I walked into the office hand in hand. Hoping the love we shared would be enough to ward off anything bad we may face that morning. We sat down on hard bottomed chairs, don’t get too comfy those chairs said, you won’t be here long enough. Opened on the computer screen was a different language, medical terms that I quickly scanned and realized I had no idea what it all meant. But my eyes grazed across the letters, “X,Y” and that’s when I broke and cried Baby Bump #2. “He’s a boy?” It was a barely audible question, almost more to myself than to the Dr. “Yes, it’s a boy. I didn’t realize you didn’t know. I’m sorry.”

At this moment the reality of who I had growing inside me was abundantly clear. A baby BOY. Quickly all those images of your baby boy and who he will become were shattered as the Dr. continued on. “Unfortunately the result of you and Randal did not show the same missing material as your baby … what is missing is on Chromosome 13, responsible for much of the mental and physical capabilities …. so much missing material … we have no idea what it will impact …multiple Dr’s have been consulted … we could not find 1 other case worldwide with the same situation … we know this baby will not have a good outcome … yes, it is your decision to continue with the pregnancy … induced miscarriage … hospital in the next couple days to begin the induction …” Those were the snip-its of what I heard escape the Dr’s lips and slowly seeped into my heart and brain.

I sat there stunned into silence letting Randal be my words and thoughts. I pictured a baby boy giggling as he looked up to us, learning to crawl, walk, running with arms stretched open to embrace us, throw a ball, play at the beach, go off to school, meet his first best friend, meet his first girl friend, graduate from school and go on to University, explore the world, find a life partner, create his own family, live life. All the possibilities that were lost, realized in one standstill moment while sitting on hard white chair reminding me not to get too comfy.

My only question to the Dr revolved around the “idea” that “this baby could be okay though, right?” His simplistic answer which made me both sad and angry was an easy and quick “NO. With the amount of material missing AND being on such an important chromosome I can say with certainty it would not be a good outcome for this baby. He may not even make it to term.” I pulled myself together just enough to walk out of that office with my head high, tears daring to break from the dam, and my heart silently breaking. Sorry Chantal that I had to call and tell you we don’t get to keep this baby. This was Thursday October 9th, 2014.

Early in our relationship we discussed having children and we had an understanding of each other’s beliefs and desires should we ever find ourselves faced with a pregnancy that was bearing an unhealthy baby. Who ever would have thought that conversation would play such an integral part of our later years? But thank goodness we did. There are so many feelings on this journey that I could not imagine having to cope with making a decision followed by accepting the decision; whether you choose to continue with a pregnancy or decide to end it. Time is not on your side for moving through this experience.

The following day we had appointments at the hospital. I was adamant that I wanted to “deal” with this situation as quick as possible. I went into survival mode, locking off as much of the emotion around this experience as I could. I didn’t want to feel the sadness and pain, I only wanted to move forward. Step, step, step, keep moving and survive.

Living away from all family was difficult, but I saw the difficulty more from the perspective of who would look after Chloe. Our special friends came and spent the day with Chloe and we are forever thankful to them. I felt peace knowing she was with people who love her. We had my mother-in-law fly in that weekend to help with Chloe as well and thankfully she stayed a few extra days to help me when I got home. Without her support and kindness that first week would have been much worse for me. An endless thank you!

Saturday morning I was admitted to Manly hospital, for the 2nd time, with a baby in my belly who was getting ready to enter this world. I was sequestered to a separate section of the maternity ward. All on my own, away from the cries of mothers in labour but my ears could still hear them and the wails of their new baby who had just entered the world. It was music to my ears, beautiful music. I was so happy for these new mothers because I knew how they were going to feel the first time their baby was placed in their arms. I knew their hearts would open wider than they ever believed and I knew how their worlds were going to change. Their world was going to explode in love. This brought me happiness.

The process: A drug was inserted vaginally on the uterus to help the uterus soften then dilate to bring on labour. How many doses does this usually take I ask? She tells me usually 3 or 4 before labour starts to happen, worse case they did have 1 person who had all 10 doses before labour began, 36 hours. Based on how far you are in the pregnancy, she said, it should be around 3 to 5 doses. Okay, I can deal with that. All I needed was to set my frame of mind and I could do this! I would do this and I would be okay.

Prepare yourself, I was told. The baby could be born alive, but it likely wouldn’t take many breaths and then it would slip to his next life. So this was it Baby Bump #2. This was our process. Soon you would be done in this world and off to the next place.

The first dose was administered at 10am. Next dose scheduled 6 hours later. The midwives entered the room with sensitivity, kindness and gentle affection. Some were more matter-of-fact in their approach, which I can appreciate, while others were softer. It was in this softness towards me I found my strength and courage to be who Baby Bump needed me to be, His Mommy who was going to bring him into this world. There were 2 midwives specifically who I felt a connection with, whom I felt were invested in our journey, Jennifer and Corinne, thank you to those 2 beautiful souls. You held my hands with your kindness and touched my heart with your dedication.

Unfortunately it seemed I was joining that 1 person in her elite group. My number of doses were quickly edging up and my uterus was proving to be stubborn. The 9th dose showed promise when I could feel the change. This is it I thought. This is the dose to bring us to the end. Labour was slowly starting, slowly. The midwife looked on with hopeful eyes as she handed over the clip board and introduced me to my nighttime midwife. I had a love-dislike memory of her for quite some time after. But through her I learned to find my voice when I needed it later in life. So thank you to her for being different but being true to herself. I respect that now even if it wasn’t what I wanted at the time.

The 10th and final dose of the drug was inserted on Sunday night. Most of this time I was on my own at the hospital. Randal was torn between 2 responsibilities, Chloe and his unborn baby boy. His strength and ability to cope with conflicting responsibilities amazed me. I watched tv, read my kindle, talked with the nurses and midwives, and walked the halls until walking was a potential hazard in making it to the toilet in time. I barely made it a few times. See, the drugs make your body get rid of everything! Anything that goes in must come out. Towards the end I was given a bedpan for the toilet, just “in case” the baby should happen to fall out while I was pooing. Much to my horror at the thought of finding my baby in a pile of shit, I was thankful it never happened that way!

Not long after that last dose was given I started to feel real discomfort of my uterus preparing to release its grips on this baby. Or maybe Baby Bump #2 you felt it was your time to depart. Either way this is how I experienced labour and giving birth. At this point Randal was with me full time. He was there to see as my eyes widened with each growing contraction and waited as I squeezed his hand for it to pass. He walked me to endless showers. He changed my hot and cold packs. He sat by my side with love and admiration in his eyes which radiated to my heart. Due to the situation internal exams were limited, so as to reduce likelihood of infection and complications to the process, I really didn’t know how much longer I needed to endure the pain. Wasn’t making the decision to end Baby Bump #2’s life pain enough?

The midwife offered morphine as a pain relief but said it could slow the labour. She also said it could make the contractions more powerful. I didn’t really understand it all at the time, and today is not much different, but I finally agreed to it. If you can’t tell me how much longer I need to be strong, then “Give me the drug!” I may have even shouted at the midwife? I had almost lost bowel control multiple times during the process, each contraction made my body feel like it was being ripped apart, slowly and deeply. My last morsel of dignity was gone when I lost control of my bowels, right there in front of Randal. I had no strength to get up and get to the toilet; I shit the bed and he had to watch.

For those who know us well, you know poo is a common conversational pull in our house. But to have your husband watch this happen to you in this way, it must be love. That was it, it was my moment of complete and utter vulnerability to him. I was at my weakest and I let him love me through it. I let him tell me it was okay and I let him say that he loved me more. I cried. And I loved him more. Thank you B, endlessly.

The morphine was given in the early hours on Monday the 13th of October, around 1:30am. Not long after I recall telling Randal that I felt I needed to push and he went and got the midwife. By the time they returned the sensation had passed. The contractions subsided not long after that moment, then I closed my eyes and drifted. I finally felt nothing. Just past 2:30am I slipped into a peaceful sleep, the first time since, well probably since the first scan at 11 weeks and 5 days.

Hours passed and Jennifer, the midwife from the day before, quietly came into the room. We joked about how I was still there and she explained how the labour had stopped and we needed to get it going again. She went to consult with the OB because they needed to devise a plan since I had used up my allotted 10 doses. Welcome to the elite group of stubborn uteruses. Population 2!

9:30am Monday October 13, 2014 the Dr. reached into my body and calmly explained, “well the baby is out”. What? Wait? Did I poo him out? Where is he and what happened?? I was incredulous. No, he is sitting just on the outside of your uterus, in your vaginal cavity, she told us. She instructed, take a deep breath and when I say breath you breath, and then I’ll delivery him to you. This is how I experienced giving vaginal birth, my only vaginal birth. This was his gift to me. One of many gifts. I am sorry I could not give you the gift of our world.

Breath now she instructed. And so I did and at that moment my body opened and released you Baby Bump #2. You were from that moment your own being, separate from me. You did not enter this world with a cry, you did not get placed on my chest to find my breast, nor were you held in warm arms to be cuddled. You entered this world asleep, peaceful and gone. Your birthday, October 13th 2014, at 9:40am, 18 weeks gestation.

In the end I did hold you, I kissed you endless times and I felt your skin next to mine. You were cold but still I could feel love and hope in life. We had your lifeless body blessed, twice in fact – just to make sure. And even though you were gone I knew that you weren’t really. This place in my heart that has your name on it Baby Jack, it is your place to rest in peace and where we share our lives with you.

Last night as I fell asleep I finally cried my tears for you. Writing our story of our brief journey together has allowed me to remember you, how it felt to hold your tiny precious body wrapped in a little blanket. How it felt to kiss your sweet head, how my heart broke when I handed you back to the midwife knowing I’d never get the chance to kiss you again or see you grow. I cried because I left you there alone at the hospital and I didn’t realize at the time how I would miss you and how empty and guilty I would feel. I cried because you gave yourself as a gift to me and I’ve never known anyone to be so selfless. Thank you from the bottom of my soul Baby Jack.

Love always and forever
Your mommy

Why haven’t I shared this chapter earlier? Judgement. I worried each and every one of you would judge me, and Randal, for the decision we made. What I have come to realize and accept is that it doesn’t actually matter what anyone else thinks. This was our decision. And I love our little Baby Jack. Nothing will change that.

It wasn’t an easy road to travel. I am not sad for us to have gone through this. I hope that perhaps it happened to us so it didn’t have to happen to someone else. Someone who maybe didn’t have their own Randal to hold them and care for their heart and soul. Someone who would feel shattered and not try again for that baby to bless their lives. I doubt things work quite like that so bare minimum I hope our chapter helps someone. I hope that Baby Jack gives them hope that good things do come after. Beautiful things really do happen in so many different ways.

I was sad for YOU Baby Jack, I felt (Catholic) guilt and I was mad. Mostly I was angry. Thank you friend for giving me the words to define this anger; “it’s like wasted time”. And that was the truth to my anger. Her honest and raw words about how she felt on her own journey (albeit her journey was not by choice) was time had been wasted. But it wasn’t really wasted time was it Baby Jack? You had a bigger purpose for me than living your own life.

I must express a special thanks to Chantal for picking up the phone and calling our parents to share the heartbreaking news. For shedding tears on my behalf and facing their platitudes and expressions of condolences. And thank you to all 4 of my parents for not letting your religious beliefs judge me, but rather for sharing in our grief and continuing to love and support me. Randal’s family was as well a great source of support and comfort, both physically in your attendance and emotionally in your love, thank you.

And of course, I am forever grateful for you B. If I had to endure this experience I am fortunate I had you with me. Passionate in your love and enduring in your affection. Thank you!

Sensitive photos of Baby Jack

Baby Jack photo 2 Baby Jack photo 3

Baby Jack photo 4

April 20th, 2017

It’s 10:50, the moon is high and the stars are twinkling in the Grey black sky. My eyes should be heavy with sleep, but the sandman has yet to find me. My brain is working overtime, but yet I don’t get paid.

Today I received messages from 2 friends. One was from a friend who had read one of my Diary blog posts (not including yesterdays because I hadn’t posted yet). She was honestly concerned for me and wanted to bolster my spirits, remind me that she is always there for me. That she thought it was cool that I was “owning all the highs and lows”. I appreciated her message immensely since sometimes being far away from close friends and family can feel a little alienating. And well my posts were a lot about the “lows” of this journey up to this point.

The other friend was replying to a birthday message I’d sent her and asked me a most thought provoking question in return. She asked me to tell her something new and enjoyable that i had discovered this week. Her question caused me to pause. I don’t think she had read my posts but it really got me to look at the last 2 weeks and see what was hiding in the recesses of my mind, something caught in the spider web of activity that has been happening.

Her question made me realize that when I am writing I am documenting thoughts of our challenges but somewhat neglecting the amazing things unfolding before me. What came to mind was a mix of “things” that were good. The journey’s tapestry was being woven with a fabric comprised of so much positivity as well. Both messages I’d received reminded me of that; indirectly.

I’ve shared some of my inner most feelings about this move. Many can be seen as challenges, difficulties. If any of you know me, I’d like to think you’d agree that I take these times in full bull fashion, head on! I am a Taurus (yes, eye rolls acceptable) so makes good sense that I am determined and bullish (no, not stubborn). But with these challenges are also moments and memories of smiles, laughs, amazement, astonishment at so much.

Today though I want to share the ‘Glad Game’. These are the things I shared with my friend. Note she only asked for 1 thing and I provided a barrage of gladness for her consideration.

  • The most impressive is how well Chloe is adapting to her new life. She still wears pants and long sleeved tops but her new wardrobe (thankfully) now includes shorts and t-shirts. Massive applause acceptable. Don’t fret however, her back bubble, bunny ears and various other “accessories” (i.e. a serious winter toque from Canada, different one from the one in this photo) have made an appearance as well.
  • She taught herself (without actually practising) how to use chopsticks. Just picked them up, told us to watch and BAM!
  • This morning I mentioned that her pull ups have been fairly dry lately. I asked her why, thinking it was dehydration. Her reply, “I’m practising!” Huh!!!!? Ummm for what? “To wear underwear at night time!” She is growing up so quickly and quietly mastering skills. It is like she is blossoming.
  • There is a part of her that is more open to new things, such as sushi! And she likes it!!!
  • Another amazing thing here. The food! I love it ♡
  • The train system is incredible, the cleanliness, and how courteous people are.

Really I am not a facebook fraud after all, those smiles were and are real. It is important to me that I share all sides of the journey; good and bad, easy and challenging, fun and boring, lonely and overwhelmed at the lack of privacy (primarily when I am trying to use the toilet. Parents, you know what I’m referring to).

So, the short and sweet, and much is sweet, I am enjoying myself. And this is fun, I like it.

“Everything always works out. Always!”

Rachelle C Foo

That’s it for the positivity for the day. I need to rest so when tomorrow arrives I have fresh eyes to view the world from and find new and exciting things to take my breath away.

Jet pack outfitsuperhero testing the fountain waterWhy not wear a toque, it's only 35c

April 19th, 2017

It seems I may be a tad focused on the challenges we face. And as much as I’d like to be honest about this experience, I realize I need to document a bit more about the actual fun. Not simply saying, “there have been moments of fun”. Because exploring has been fun! Tiring AND fun.

This city has so much to see and do. Almost like a clean Vegas. And those who know me well know I LOVE VEGAS!!!!!!

What have we seen with our wondrous eyes, felt with our gentle touch and where have the soles of our feet taken us in this city of awesomeness? We’ve been all over! Well not everywhere but a few places.

Our first day here we went to Toa Payoh, the community right next door. On our walk over we weaved through the concrete overpass instead of climbing the stairs – this is what happens when you walk with a pram holding our precious cargo. Got to the other side and saw a nature park where turtle’s swim freely, gracefully, until they see you then they dive for cover.

We were on our way to find the bank and stopped for breakfast, traditional Asian style breakfast noodles, curry puffs (which ended up being too spicy for the little mouths) and coffee for us older kids. It was a taste sensation. Not because it was culinary genius, but because it was authentic, it represents a part of Asia in which I am not familiar with. But I will become familiar, intimately.

We learned our first lesson of cultural correctness. Children should be wearing shoes! We’re from the beach, they were fortunate we had clothes on other than buggy smugglers, rashies and a bikini! Ha! Could you imagine if we wore that!? Climate wise it makes good sense though.

Our feet have travelled on crooked sidewalks, jumped the gap in the train platform, through the paved pathways in the Bay of Gardens and many other spots. We have been to malls, parks, new neighbourhoods and always with a keen eye to experience what the locals provide to us.

This city has a plethora of activities for us to experience. Our plan is to take this opportunity and engage with the culture, the environment, the people. It is expansive and rich in diversity. The world of Singapore is here for our enjoyment. And enjoy we shall.

April 18th, 2017

We got it! We got the condo we put an offer in on. No, we didn’t buy it, we are lowly renters – wink wink. This place is like being on permanent vacation. A staycation of sorts. It has 7 different pools, multiple outdoor exercise equipment stations (Chantal & Philip), a karaoke cafe (mom and Emily), a coffee cafe (Mike), nail spa and hair salon (Riley), 2 tennis courts (Zelma and Yeap), 1 basketball court, a running track (Derek and Helen) & an RV racing track. Oh and we must remember the bamboo maze which is where Chloe stated she wanted to live.

Take notice family, we seriously took you ALL into consideration when choosing a place to call HOME. So come visit well BEFORE we move from here!!!!

We viewed 10 units in the complex in multiple building blocks and decided this unit was for us. Maybe it was the 9 month old baby that sealed the deal (1 time she was slumbering peacefully, the other time she was full of smiles), or the friendly nature of the parents who made the place feel so welcome. It felt like walking into OUR home as soon as the front door parted for our entry.

The view isn’t like the one on the 29th floor, but how could a view on the lowly 15th floor be as good. We will still see the sun kiss the day goodbye and the moon welcome the starry night sky. We will sit on our balcony and enjoy noodles with a myriad of side options and maybe a glass of wine on occasion. This is how I see it all enfolding.

Reality…our night will likely look more like this.

Nicholas stop throwing food on the floor if you don’t like it. Put it on your plate.

Chloe, keep your butt in your chair and stop trying to have fighting games with your pasta.

Phew, dinner over!

Kidlets will run around to burn off engery, but in the house instead of in the bamboo maze where maybe I could loose them for even 10 minutes of peace?!

Back to the bedtime routine….

Nicholas, stop peeing in the bathtub and trying to eat the bubbles. Oh wait, is he taking a poo??? Shit!!!!! (seriously, this DOES happen!)

Chloe, you need to wash your hair or I’ll have to chop it off! It looks like all the birds from the jungle up north have taken up residence in YOUR hair! Seriously!

Phew, bathtime over!

Kids will get pj’s on and of course this will be very easy.

Nicholas, get your naked butt back here! You need a nappy/diaper on before you pee on the floor – seems to be a recurring theme with him, pee. Maybe we need therapy? ??

Chloe, No, I don’t know where you most wintery pj’s are. We live on the equator wear shorts! And No, it isn’t cold in here! Sesh, seriously, who’s kid is she anyway, she’s crazy!

Phew, pj’s on and no mess on the floor and winter Roots pj’s still in the drawer (note to self, pack them in the back of the drawer and bring only to Canada! Or New Zealand).

Read book quietly and calmly

Nicholas to stop eating the pages, this isn’t desert!

Chloe all babies eat books, your brother is still learning all the same lessons you had to learn hence why half the age appropriate books for him are missing pages..

Phew, book(s) done

Time for bed now my beautiful babies.

Oh I love my babies so much when they are snuggled into bed, ready for me to sing them to lala land. Let sleep cover their eyes and peaceful dreams of everything sweet occupy their minds.

Slowly, quietly, creep out the door. Ssshhh! I said quiet!!!!!

Now for adult time, wine, relax, some good conversation. All sounds so civilized.

Just nee to sit on couch for a quiet moment before indulging in our exotic dinner and $100 Singapore bottle of wine (which is likely imported from Australia somewhere).

ZZZZzzzzzzzzz….WHAT WAS THAT!!!!

Eyes jolt open….was I just sleeping? The pool of drool in the corner of my mouth tells me it was definitely sleep and the snoring was definitely what just woke me….? So how was my adult time tonight? Great, I did nothing! Why? Right, I’m a parent and the evening was exhausting! But I loved it. How do I know I’m not tricking myself with delusional talk? Because I’m not drunk, they’ve only been asleep an hour and I’m already talking and laughing about them and their crazy antics. Don’t deny it, you do it too

Sat 15th April

So up till today I thought the most challenging element of moving overseas was; where to buy groceries, how to decipher one brand from another, how to save money on anything & everything, where to live, which school.

What I have come to realize is most challenging is navigating a new medical system. Your heart plummets when you see your baby not feeling well and knowing you need a Doctor. But you don’t know where to find the Doctor, which Doctor is “good” and even how to go about booking an appointment. Now forget the fact that today is a Saturday, that has only added another layer of complexity to the situation.

What I have discovered is that Doctors here only work till 1pm on Sat in newer clinics – which apparently is the case where we live. I’m not sure if there is a walk-in type Centre in Singapore – I don’t know yet anyway.

As a parent you may take to Google to find the answers but of course you are faced with an abundance of irrelevant info and you need to wade through the sites to find something, anyone, who can help.

It feels very overwhelming and downright scary because this is YOUR child. You want to get it “right’ because health is all we have in life to live. An unwell child is heartbreaking enough then add this unknown, I can finally say I’ve found what “Culture Shock” is to me! No more worrying about finding my beloved toothpaste brand (which is Crest by the way), or favourite coffee to satisfy my heart….a healthy child is all I need.

Those other things still hold an element of cultural unknown, but they are surmountable. They will hang on a low rung of the ladder from here on in.

I posted a couple pics to FB and feel like such a fraud. As if I am deceiving the public into thinking all this is easy, fun, exciting. And well there are moments of each of those. The reality however is, this is HARD! It is SO challenging and in ways I never imagined. Like the heat, the humidity! Walking down a sidewalk with a pram. Isn’t everywhere pram friendly? First world problems eh!

Each day I wake with a new attitude towards the day. May depend on how much sleep I’ve had or what day of the week it is, or how many more days till the weekend when I don’t have to do the day on my own. My mind bounces like a yo-yo, up-down, sideways, constantly, making my brain hurt. One minute I am revelling in the fact that we made it out the door with Randal to walk him to the train station and have breakfast. The next I am wiping my brow to stop sweat from dripping into my ears and eyes thinking, “seriously, can I really survive this?” “How much sweat can one person produce” and “could I survive off my sweat in case of a drought?” (how does one collect sweat while walking anyway?) The answer to all is YES. I can survive and I will.

In all seriousness though, a drought? haha! This place has torrential downpour almost daily! Today it rained so hard I could barely see the building next to us. And if you could see how close that building is you’d be astounded. The laundry that hung complacently on the balcony drying rack was almost lost to the wind and rain that came in all ways & threatened to throw it overboard! Now that is some rain.

When we packed house and left Vancouver, we were young (early 30’s IS young!), energized and threw caution to the wind to let our hearts take us where we wanted. As you may recall from an earlier post, we yearned for that ugly red brick building lurching on the edge of the cliff in Manly. We got that. It took work and perseverance, but we made it happen.

We left Vancouver with a 100 liter duffel bag and backpack each. This time we added about 10 times that, oh and don’t forget the 2 little tyrants! I mean people. Things are not as simplistic as last time.

We were not delusional believing this would be easy. In fact we have been braced for catastrophic devastation pre departure and probably hourly even now. We pictured having to tear Chloe (who is 4.5 yrs old), away from our apartment, Tiggy (our beloved car), her friends, from everything she has ever known, with tears coursing down her sweet round cheeks. In reality, she has done quite well. She’s been here a week only and already knows how to use chopsticks! I mean REAL not for children chopsticks. She never even practised, she just did it! Crazy smart kid (gotta tell Annette!).

Us on the other hand I think is fair to say we miss everything 132 Bower Street represents to us. I can only speak for myself here, but I do find it difficult to see photos of Manly beach flashing across my screen as I troll through Facebook. My heart feels confused; pride mingled with sadness to know that Manly was once my home too. Alongside fascination, hesitation and bewilderment that funky half-missing skyscrapers dot my worldly view for the moment. The complexities of all this can be overwhelming.

So, as I said, every day is a different bag of emotions. Every hour can be different. A journey is like that though I suppose. Challenge our deepest rituals and comforts and see what new colours we can add to the rainbow of our life. It is my long held belief that every emotion, every life experience good &/or bad, deserves it’s place in your life and heart. I remind myself of this often (with the help from a good friend) and try to appreciate the emotions for what they are; a moment in my life. This too shall pass and I will miss these days of newness and confusion. I will likely long for it again as I long for the mountains in BC and the sound of waves in Manly. Until then, this is my reality and I shall enjoy.
Please enjoy with me


I’m sitting on the airplane, with a sleeping baby on me while eating the best sourdough bread ever, when it hits me; the excitement. I’m finally excited to peruse the streets of Singapore and find out what wonderful tales we will weave of this adventure.

He’s gently snoring, she’s busy shoving an ice cream cookie in her face and my other half is enjoying the finesse of business class. I’m content; happy even, and excited.

Well that moment last, a MOMENT. Nicholas promptly woke. Chloe started to complain, but notably she quickly fell asleep curled up in her oversized chair, and R sat watching his movie completely oblivious to the impending ticking time bomb I had on my lap.

Overall the flight was good. My first experience of business class will make it difficult to return to the normalcy of airline travel; back in the sardine pack. No leg room and no menu choice. How did I survive before?

We cleared customs and collected our 12 pieces of luggage (that’s not including the 7 pieces of carry-on & the pram we had). The whole process was so civilized and efficient that I thoroughly enjoyed my least favourite element of air travel. R’s Uncle collected us in a taxi van and brought us to our Airbnb. What a nice guy. I’m certain he couldn’t appreciate beforehand just how much luggage we were traveling with, despite the warning.  Not sure anyone could be prepared for what we brought.

I wish we had taken a photo as it really was ridiculous. Maybe when we finally move from the Airbnb to our new place I can recapture the silliness of it.  I did capture a portion of the items that came with us while I was packing.

Packing to move

It’s morning, I’m not impressed to be awake at whatever hour it is. Chloe and I shared a bed with her stuffies, and they probably had the best sleep out of us all. Between fighting for my place in the bed and Chloe stealing the covers of warmth, I had a sore throat and stuffy head. My eyes revolted at the waking process and my brain starting screaming, “get out of here! This isn’t what I bargained for!” The feeling of nostalgia rose deep in my heart and I wanted to be waking up in our bed with the sound of waves crashing around me. The reality that this is our new chapter really sank in. And when I woke I really wasn’t certain I appreciated what I was getting myself into by moving.

Alas here we are. In Singapore.

View View to the right from our Airbnb condo

Stay tuned for more of this story. Please join me on the journey


And in a moment the decision is made, off we go! Or here we come. Either way it is a new chapter of the Foo Family life. It is filled with trepidation, excitement, overwhelm, eagerness, and being downright scared shitless.

8 years ago, we packed our house and said a temporary ’see ya’ to our good friends and family in Vancouver BC Canada. Living there was enviable but adventure called. Actually, truth be told I was sick and tired and decided on a whim to apply for the 1 Year Working Holiday Visa for Australia. 24 hours later the email arrived in my inbox claiming an opportunity existed for my heart to explore. Randal is an Australian by descent (through his wonderful mother) so the choice of applying to Australia for my late-in-life work abroad experience was influenced by the ease of only 1 of us needing approval from a foreign government.

Vancouver BC

Vancouver - Yaletown, where we called home

Our planned year away turned into 8 years in the blink of an eye. That’s not to imply the time rushed by, simply that it is amazing to think that it has been 8 years already! Our time in Australia brought us many wonderful experiences: 2 Australian born babies, I obtained a passport to another lovely country, work experience that perhaps neither of us would have been fortunate to gain and the chance to live right on the beach in an iconic Manly building.

When we first walked down the streets of Manly to the main beach, we looked left, we looked right and we set our sights on this ugly red building dangling on the edge of the walkway, “We will live there one day!” I proclaimed. Never did I think we’d make that building our home for so many years, almost 5! Our prized position in the building is what makes leaving so difficult. We love our unit, our view and the home we have built here.

Manly - Where WE live

Notice the black line on the right hand side upper middle. That's where WE live

How many 4 year olds can stand on their bed and see the whale migration happening? We can say Chloe can. We look out our balcony and see stingrays dancing in the ocean, groupers gently owning the sea and we even once saw a dead Wobbegong shark scare the daylights out of swimmers and kayakers the like. We had a good chuckle about that one. Cockatoos scream at us from our balcony railing, we’ve had birds take flight in our house and a few large huntsman spiders take refuge from the rain. We’ve seen some of the worst storms in over 100 years from the windows of our world, sunrises that make your spirit soar with the rise of the day and the wild ocean in all its grace and grandeur. All this without leaving our front door!

Manly Beach - calm morning waters

Manly Beach - calm morning waters

A friend of mine gave me some very valuable advice, “Never plan your life around a home you don’t own.” Those words were the turning point in my attitude about leaving this mecca. Thank-you Abbie for the invaluable words. Now let’s hope this adventure is as grand as it is in my dreams otherwise you may have hell to pay J. In all seriousness, she is right. We don’t own this slice of heaven and therefore it can end at any moment and likely we won’t have any choice in changing that outcome. Each year when our lease is up for renewal we sweat wondering what our fate will be. So far we’ve been very fortunate, and we realize that to its fullest.

So although we have settled in this little piece of paradise, we are willing to walk away knowing the ramifications it holds for us. All in the name of adventure. Where are we headed? We will be boarding a flight that will land us in a city filled with trees and gardens. With food hawkers and fancy restaurants, upscale malls and street markets, bright sky’s and torrential downpours, old city mixed with bright skyscrapers relishing their resort style living, fast trains and slow walkers, beaches and nature alongside playgrounds and amusement parks, this city apparently has it all. Well maybe not all, but it has loads for everyone. This city? Singapore! For all the unknown it holds for me I know it will be great fun and something we will always look back and say with fondness, ‘remember when we lived in Singapore?’

Who knows how many years 1 will turn into over there. We go with an open mind and open heart. Once we get past this feeling of, “what the heck are we doing leaving all this?”, “are we crazy” (Randal actually said that to me this morning while he was giving ME the grounding hug), we will embrace our new diggs. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is wherever Randal and our babies are.

So, I’ve been on a journey. Well life is a journey, but as expected the journey changes as the seasons to our life change. Part of this journey includes an online course I came across on the DailyOM site called, ‘A Year To Clear What is Holding You Back’. I felt stuck so figured hey, why not try to clear that block?

Here is me. I am a mother of 2 children with beautiful souls. 1 lovely little girl full of so much life and determination, love and kindness. She’s sensitive and a bit of a fire cracker with a gentle inner nature! We also have 1 little boy we call “the gentle bulldozer”. He is loving, sweet and a tank. He’s not “huge” in stature, although he is bigger than average. He is not rambunctious, but he is lively and quite entertaining. So, currently my life is being a full time mother. Some days I am in love with being a SAHM (Stay at Home Mother) and other days I am a little less infatuated with the role. No romanticism here! Saying that, I always feel blessed/fortunate to have this time at home with them. Yes, even when I am not in love with it I feel that way. Rose coloured glasses eh!

The questions I’ve been seeking answers to for years are: Where am I going? What am I doing? What do I want from life and how do I want to help my family achieve our goals? How am I going to contribute to our success; not only financial but emotional, mental, spiritual?

Just over 4 years ago I was a top producing sales rep in an industry where I truly felt I had found my place and could be doing good for others. My friends and husband used to laugh at me for my constant enthusiastic commentary about my job. I was a wheelchair sales rep (our actual title was “Mobility Consultant”). To me the role was cool, interesting. I mean, how many people do you know that sell wheelchairs? It wasn’t a “sales” role in the conventional sense (and truly believe it). How can you sell a wheelchair to someone who doesn’t NEED one? It is not one of those things you see and say to yourself, “I just have to get one of those!” No, it was a role that was more about providing a real life solution to a real personal need.

I’d like to believe that my contributions to the wheelchair industry were numerous. From the companies I worked for to the manufacturers, the physio and occupational therapists to the care facilities and most importantly to the end user and their families. In my heart I believe I made a difference, at least once.

It came as a shock to me when my last employer, the one where I put work above my own life, all in the desire to become a top producing sales rep, told me they were having to make some organizational adjustments. Government funding was changing, both federally and state wide, and they were worried for the survival of their company being that a bulk of their business was from Government funded clients. I cried openly for my boss, the owner, as he explained that he had to remortgage his family home, how he and his wife were worried for their retirement. I accepted that it was a real possibility that I may not have a job when I returned from maternity leave. It was all just a “maybe, and possibly” that a few employees would be made redundant; I was one of those people being considered. My sadness at this point was not for me, it was for THEM. I even told my boss that I was concerned for my co-workers and that I totally understood his situation.

It was a month before I was due to return to work from maternity leave, and my daughters 1st birthday, when I opened the mailbox and inside was a letter outlining my dismissal and the redundancy package. I knew the letter was coming but my outrage was due to their explanation for choosing ME for redundancy. My ego took a massive hit. My journey was taking on a new vastness of space, a new path; I felt very lost. My belief is there is always a silver lining if you are open to finding/seeing one. I decided mine was this: I no longer needed to worry about childcare and juggling the details of all that. Phew!

Fast forward to today, over 3 years on since that letter was in my hand and devastation was in my heart. I’ve been afforded the daily opportunity to see my daughter grow and be her primary carer. She and I have travelled extensively together, mostly to Canada and New Zealand, but we got to do it, us 2 hand in hand. We have a very connected bond and I believe it is due to the opportunity that was provided to me by my last employer. See, another silver lining!

My husband and I got pregnant about 6 months after our daughter turned 1 but sadly that pregnancy only got to 18 weeks when our sleeping baby boy was delivered. That’s a story for another time though. Do not fret or feel bad for us. The experience gave us plenty to be thankful for. One thing in particular was the chance for me to finally allow myself to be vulnerable. Also, my husband was able to show me that I could be taken care of, emotionally, physically and spiritually by someone else. Yep, the silver lining! Without that baby I could still be wandering this earth believing the misconception that I only have me!

7 months after that baby was born I was growing a new life inside me. A life that my husband and I felt positive was meant to be. I didn’t even need a pregnancy test to know if I was pregnant. I will always recall the moment I knew our new life was growing. I was sitting on the floor near the TV and I knew! Something in me clicked and I said to myself, “well, I’m pregnant. Hello little baby!”  No need to spend the money to confirm or pee on a little stick hoping you missed your own hand as the stream flows out. We waited a few days and bought the test anyway. No surprise! That 2nd line announced itself like a raging fire. We were delighted!

Welcome world, our little boy is here! Born on the day of LOVE even.

When our son was born I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to worry about what career was next, like I had for the preceding years. Instead my focus was about being a mom to 2 and enjoying that life. Somehow my promise sprang a leak and I was seeping air, quick! I was floating around the sky like a balloon that slipped out of your fingers mid inflation. I was going left, right, up, down and with no detailed map to keep me on course. I was everywhere! There were hair-brain ideas, some good ideas that simply became stale, and some ideas that hit the trash before I could even finish verbalizing them to myself.

I was feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, unable to enjoy what was right in front of me and worried that I wasn’t contributing anything to our family. Sometimes I was even angry (yikes!). What I realize now is that I AM contributing. I am helping to raise 2 wonderful children. Helping provide a framework for them to grow into kind, thoughtful and productive members of society, while giving them space to discover the world themselves. Most days I feel I’m doing pretty good at this parenting thing. Not every day though. Don’t misinterpret me, I have my share of “Oh, did I really just say/do that?”  I’m not perfect but I am perfectly me. And that’s enough.

So, why am I writing this if it seems I’ve got it all figured out? Well secret is, I don’t! That is the point of my words. I am embarking on a new journey. My balloon is laying on the floor deflated and I am going to leave it that way. The next while (notice my lack of time frame provided?) I am going to do a bit of self reflection, self building and sculpting. My mind, spirit and soul will be nourished.

When that is accomplished I believe that my wild floating balloon will be more of a developing road map. With obvious construction zones being tended to and definitive paved roads with flowering trees and green grass for me to venture down. Nothing will ever be complete but certain things will be clear. What I am supposed to do will just be “there” for me to construct and nourish into whatever it is going to be.

At this moment in time I believe it will have something to do with spatial clearing, physically and internally, nurturing of our lives, our homes and our earth. Perhaps something minimalism like. It is exciting to see where this time will take me. This is the first time in awhile that I am excited for the journey and not seeing it as groundhog day. I invite you to come along for the ride if you like….

Edited by Rhiannon