Friday, April 20, 2018

Horrible Nightmare on the Last Leg of my Pregnancy Journey




I am exactly at Week 39 today and 7 more days to count down to my EDD on 26 April 18.

From about Week 36 onwards, many people around me predicted that I would deliver earlier at Week 37 due to the size of my bump and all the symptoms I was exhibiting.

Although I was given home hospitalization leave to rest at home since last week, I am only officially using it this week. I didn’t like being alone at home as it reminded me of my Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) days and made me sicker. I also preferred to be doing as much work as I possibly could before going on maternity leave, to be around people and feeling the warmth of my colleagues instead of mopping about at home. I am also blessed with colleagues who willingly volunteered to drive me to the hospital in case of any emergency.

I finished running the last “Baby A Errand” on Tuesday, that is to register her into our Number 1 shortlisted Infant Care Centre (IFC) and then I am all ready for her arrival. While I was getting lots of new signs and symptoms of her impending arrival since last Friday, all these suddenly stopped yesterday and I’m feeling a little bummed.

My mind tells me that I am able to make use of this time to settle lots of other things while waiting for her arrival whereas my body doesn’t allow me to.

I could sit down and open the tonnes of unopened letters and bills and file them all up.

I could read up on some insurance policies.

I could pack my existing clothes into drawers to make space for Baby A and the confinement lady.

I could pack all the stuff out from the baby cot and wipe it down instead of waiting for the hubby to do so.

I could update my blog with many posts and slowly post them on a timed schedule.

I could check in with some groups of friends which I have not been doing so religiously during my pregnancy.

However right now, I could only do things that do not require much brain juice and physical strength. In other words, I have become stupid and handicapped in my own ways.

My eczema rash from the stretch marks on my bump has gotten more serious. The rash are spreading to more areas, are unbearably itchy and painful and have become angry open wounds. Besides prescribing me with mild steroid cream that is pregnancy safe, my gynae also prescribed me Xyzal which is a much stronger oral anti-histamine than Piriton (which I have been using to knock me to sleep).

Xyzal is NOT supposed to be drowsy but somehow while on it the past 2 days, I feel drowsy and sickly that I only wake up in the late morning and still nap in the day. I am also nauseous and queasy quite a lot and I can’t really function well.

Then just now during my nap, I had the most horrible nightmare ever. I dreamt that Baby A was gone. When people asked me what happened to Baby A, I was at a loss for words.

In the dream, I knew that I had lost her but I couldn’t recall exactly what happened. There was haziness about having to choose between the well-being of my family and friends and whoever I cared for over having a smooth delivery and survival for Baby A. I believe I chose the former as I rationalized that these people were physical/tangible and hence more important whereas Baby A isn’t as physical yet and that I could make another baby next time.

It was difficult to finally have Baby A in our lives and I don’t know why I am so horrible to have rationalized it in that manner. I don't even know why I was made to choose. Was there some horrible being wanting me to make a choice? Was it all in my mind? I screamed and wailed in the dream so much that I had no voice left and I woke up tearing.

I also dreamt that to cope with her loss, I was going to use back Baby A’s English and Chinese name for the next baby in memory of her and got chided by people around me for not leaving a proper memory of Baby A. I explained that her legacy and memories would live on in my next child by using the same name but got more criticisms instead and said that I totally deserved it that Baby A was taken away from me.

My dreams are always vivid and I had 2 bad dreams during my HG phase which I recalled vividly. Ever since then, I did not encounter any pregnancy nightmare till today. I read up on the side effects of Xyzal and was horrified by what I read. Apparently it caused drowsiness in many people and some had nightmares too! I wonder if this is one of the side effects and perhaps I should try to bear with my itch instead of continuing to take it. Apart from the drowsiness and nightmare, some people experience more itch which is what is happening to me now. I'm not sure if it's the pregnancy hormones causing the spread of rash from bump to other parts of the body or if it is one of Xyzal's side effect. The itch is so bad that I feel like tearing my skin away!


~*~*~*~*~

Dear Baby A,

Please be a good girl and make Mummy as comfortable as possible before your arrival.

You are so heavy that the pain and pressure is almost too much to bear standing, sitting and lying down. I could hardly move about now.

At times, you would be pressing onto some nerves that would make Mummy's legs give way all of a sudden while standing or walking. There was once my legs gave way while squatting and I sat on the floor not being able to get up till Daddy helped me up.

The many lighting crotch experience from your little movements inside that feel like a T-Rex clawing at my cervix is getting annoyingly painful.

The eczema rash from the stretch marks are so itchy and they have become angry open wounds. Mummy had no choice but to use steroid and Xyzal.

The gastrointestinal pain and stomach upsets are getting way too frequent. They sometimes come along with queasiness and nausea which should have stopped by now.

The panting and shortness of breath is worsening every day; I feel like I can’t take in enough oxygen for you.

Mummy is at Week 39 today. It has been 9 months of having you growing inside me and this is the closest we would ever be. Although you’re causing me lots of discomfort so much that I want to evict you, I love having you inside me and the bond we share. I know that despite all the discomfort now, I would still wanna stuff you back into me as I know I would miss this feeling of having you so close to me.

You have caused quite a lot of problems to Mummy from the start:- The initial bleeding for days after the test kit showed positive, the difficult HG phase and then for the past few days, you had been giving Mummy all sorts of discomfort and signs of your arrival which suddenly stopped after Tuesday.

You have been so obedient to stay inside when Mummy kept telling you to do so for the past one week when we were not ready yet. Right now, Daddy and Mummy have finished running the last errand for you and are ready for your arrival. As much as I know that having you out means a whole new set of challenges to overcome, everything would be all worthwhile.

Daddy and Mummy love you!

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Eyelash Extensions by The Lash Company




I simply LURVE my eyelash extensions by The Lash Company.

The very first and last time I did eyelash extensions was 10 years ago. While I love the effect of the eyelash extensions, I detested the inconvenience of caring for them and vowed never to do eyelash extensions again.

When my gal pal asked me if I wanted to do it with her before the Chinese New Year, I rejected her after telling her how difficult it was to upkeep my Snuffleupagus-look-alike extensions 10 years ago. In the end I got persuaded to try it again and I did not regret my decision.

The Lash Company totally changed my mind about what I did not like about extensions back then. I now wonder how I would survive without fluttery yet natural-looking enough lashes to wake up to every day. On most days, I don't have make up on except eyelid tapes and I feel like I already have my basic eye make up on.


Before extensions front view
Yeah yeah... I have 1001 freckles so now you know my Instagram selfie shots are all filtered. =P




After extensions front view
I opted for the 2D volume lashes which is much longer and more voluminous than my usual mascara-ed lashes yet natural-looking enough for daily work. 2D volume lashes simply means 2 lash extensions glued onto one natural lash.




After extensions side view
Not that drama mama but drama enough for me to like. 




The eyelash extensions look heavy in this video but the lashes are actually very soft and fan-like when you see them in real life.




This is my daily look after eyelash extensions with no make up except for eyelid tapes, fading eyeline tattoo and lip balm. Oh and 美图秀秀 (Meitu Pic) filter of course! As I mentioned above, I have 1001 freckles. So if you see any selfies of me without freckles, those are all filtered.




I've stopped applying BB Cream on my face ever since I became pregnant because of sheer laziness. I'm constantly tired and I'm too lazy to remove a full face make up. My basic make up routine before the lash extensions were mascara and eyeliner coz I cannot live without enhancing my small eyes and it's a lot easier to remove eye make up than a full face make up.

Now with eyelash extensions, I don't need any eye make up. I love how the extensions cast a shadow on the tail end of my lower lash line at certain angles and make it look as if I have make up on.




I love how fan-like they look from the side.




With eyelash extensions and heavier make up on, it would take more effort to remove my make up especially when I line my eyes with waterproof retractable eyeliner. You're not supposed to use oil cleanser anywhere near the lashes. What I do is to dip cotton buds into my oil cleanser and slowly remove it while using the other clean side to quickly dab away the oil. I do this 2 to 3 times before all traces of eyeliner is removed.




Here is my full bare face before eyelash extensions. Can you see how much smaller my eyes are without any form of eye make up or extensions? Thank God for the invention of mascara, eyeliners and eyelash extensions!




There are also the flip side of all things good and I would be realistic about it. From my very first extensions, I had a few gripes as summarized below (in red), followed by how the extensions from The Lash Company differ (in purple):

Extensions in the past
The lashes felt really full and heavy.
It was as if there was a black curtain covering a quarter of my vision. I felt like Snuffleupagus, that elephant looking creature from Sesame Street. The lashes felt synthetic, glossy black and unnecessarily heavy.
Extensions from The Lash Company
The lashes are dramatic yet soft, light and fluttery.
I felt so pretty and bimbotic fluttering my eyelashes without anything weighing down on my eyelids at all. The lashes felt light and more natural. 


Extensions in the past
Unable to wash face normally.
I was supposed to wash my face while avoiding the whole eye area. It was really difficult to wash my face cleanly in this manner. Just the very next day, I washed my face as per normal, running water against my face from the shower nozzle. My lashes never got back to their fan-like shape again. They got a little tangled and messy. No amount of combing helped.
Extensions from The Lash Company
You could wash your face normally one day after. Lashes still remain curled and beautiful. 
On the day you do your extensions, you would have to wash your face avoiding the extensions and slowly wipe foam and water away with a sponge that is provided. After a day, you could wash your face as per normal. I bought a lash cleanser from them and I really like how clean my lashes feel whenever I used it on my lashes while washing my face with normal facial foam. I could also aim the shower nozzle to wash my face whenever I'm in the shower. After that I would use the spoolie brush that is also provided to comb my lashes into shape. 


Extensions in the past
Lashes went awry and curled downwards within a few days which poked my eyes frequently.

I supposed because the lashes felt more synthetic and heavier, they tend to curl in all directions after a while and many times when they curled downwards and poked my eyes, I ended up with red eyes. I wasn't able to sleep on my side as I tend to tug at them and wake up with a few lashes on my pillow. 

Extensions from The Lash Company
Lashes remain curled upwards and fan like.
There were only one instance when 2 of the lashes curled downwards. I did not experience all the hassle of awry lashes and I could sleep on both sides without much worries. Of course, your extensions would drop together with your natural lashes due to natural dropping of lashes even without extensions so you would still see lashes on your pillow or on your face as time goes by. 


Gripes in general
Extremely troublesome to remove eye make up

I’m those kinda lazy people who wipe off eye make up with cotton pad soaked with eye make up remover. With my new extensions, I’ve to slowly use cotton bud to remove the eyeliner carefully. Removing eyeliner now takes a few minutes per eye instead of the usual few seconds. Fortunately I only did heavy eye make up on 2 occasions thus far and on most days, I just go out without make up.

Collapse of double eyelids crease = ugly eyes
This only happens to me. For some of my single/ hooded eyelid friends, eyelash extensions actually gave them a slight crease. One of my friends even has permanent crease now due to years of extensions. Ok to give some credit, the long lashes would take the attention away from my thin crease. Hence, not so much of ugly eyes.





This photo has nothing to do with eyelash extensions but it happened on that day. This cute little girl bounced out from the nursing room at Orchard ION and waved hello to my gal pal and me. After that, she kept touching my baby bump and once wanted to lift my top to see what was underneath. She also held my hand and hugged me. So super cute! Her mummy allowed me to take a picture with her. I took a few shots but this is my fave shot.




Lash extensions usually lasts for 3 weeks. I'm already into my 5th week. There are some "bald patches" now but overall, I'm still satisfied with how they look without feeling the urge to get them removed immediately. Now I'm wondering if I should do a new set when I next remove them or should I wait till nearer to my delivery date before doing again... because you know la, bimbotic me need to look pretty in the Mummy, Daddy and Baby A shot after delivery.



Disclaimer:
This is not a sponsored post, just a post from a satisfied client.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hello 2018 Goodbye 2017



2016 was a year of major ups, many major downs and many little bumps here and there. So for 2017, I told myself that I would:

1) Try very hard to keep my mind in check and let go of what I can’t control.

2) Undergo deep healing of the mind, body and soul.

3) Cut myself some slack on the many expectations I put upon myself.

4) Practise yoga and exercise regularly.

5) Blog more often even if it means documenting events I hold dear to from a few years back just so I have something to read back on and smile.

6) Count my blessings.

7) Fill my heart with love and positivism.

8) Release things that cause negative attachment.

9) Let go of poisonous past and live the abundantly beautiful present.

On the last day of 2017, I’m happy to know that other than not fulfilling point 5 and blogging way way way less frequently than in 2016, I’ve achieved all that I’ve told myself to do! Apart from being stricken with Hyperemesis Gravidarum for the last quarter of the year which was something beyond my control, things fell in place when I learnt to do all that I’ve set myself to do.

2018 would be a year of major change with a new addition to the family, hubby being on a yearlong course and lots of new changes at work. But I say, let’s bring it on!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

What It Feels Like to Have Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) robbed me of my life the past few months. If morning sickness is a misnomer because it strikes in the morning, afternoon, evening and night, HG is a hell ground that consumes me every day.

I am currently 21 weeks pregnant and after 5 months, I feel like I’m finally getting my life back. I still feel nauseous and queasy. I still suffer from occasional giddiness and severe headache. I still feel like my intellect has gone down and I cannot formulate proper sentences but at least, I can function like a normal person now.

Before I was pregnant, I had always envisioned myself as a happy and healthy pregnant lady. One of my gal pals even said that she could see me being one of those active mummy who would still run about and practise yoga with a big belly. Alas, I never expected to have such a difficult pregnancy when HG struck me.



I could not function like a normal person at all

I vomited so much that I learn that vomit comes in many forms. There is shallow vomiting when I cannot keep anything in. There is deep vomiting that comes with extreme pain, tears and panting. There are the foamy phlegmy ones. There are those that resemble whatever I eat or drink. There are the yellow and green bile that come from deep inside especially when I have nothing else in my guts. There are also the bloody ones when I vomit too much. Due to excessive saliva production, I was also spitting loads of saliva in between vomit sessions.

Other than feeling nauseous and vomiting many times a day, I could not do normal things at all. I was mostly bed-ridden or sofa-ridden. I did not have the strength to stand up for long without feeling giddy, headache or pinking out (blacking out but in my vision, everything is pink). Walking to the toilet many times a day to relieve myself was agonizing and every successful walk out of my room was an achievement.

I could not even look after myself, not to mention looking after my cat, Miyo. Miyo was severely neglected and I had no choice but to send her to my parent’s home. I respect all HG mummies who have to look after their other kids even while suffering.

I could not do simple household chores which really put a toll on my hubby when he had to juggle his busy work schedule and household chores. My parents had to come over to my place to look after me and made sure I get food into my system each time my hubby was on long hours at work or had overnight duties. They also helped me do the daily chores like the dishes, basic cleaning, feeding and clearing Miyo’s litter box, throwing away my many puke bags etc.

There were times when I thought perhaps I was well enough to switch on my laptop and work from home or to catch up on my blog posts but nah, I had never been that well enough to do those.

I spent my days doused with anti-nausea medication and sleeping all the sickness away. My awake time was spent going to the loo, trying to eat, watching mindless TV and replying to messages on my phone. The only places I travelled to were my parents’ home, my OBG clinic and the chiropractic clinic. I even stopped the fortnightly visits to my TCM clinic coz with each long car ride, I needed a few hours before and after to settle my guts.

I was almost handicapped and depended heavily on my hubby and family to get by my daily life.



Drastic weight loss

I vomited everything I consumed and was losing weight when I should had been putting on weight with a human growing in me.

During the initial phase, my weight kept plummeting with every single visit to the OBG. My lowest weight recorded was 45.1kg when I used to weigh 48—50kg before pregnancy. I became so skinny that my parents who saw me every day could not help noticing me growing so thin and frail as the days passed. The bimbo in me liked how my legs looked though. I finally had nice slim legs like my 2nd sis.

I was so weak and dehydrated that each time my gynae saw me, she would ask if I wanted to get myself hospitalized. As I was given home hospitalization leave, I thought it was unnecessary as I was able to rest in the comfort of my home. I did outpatient IV drip as I was too weak and lazy to check myself into hospital. I read that many HG mummies feel better after having IV drip but I felt that it did not really help me much. The drip was cold and made my whole right side so cold in freezing air-conditioned clinic. I felt very nauseous but I could not move to a comfortable position with the added restriction of being hooked up. I don’t like needles being poked on the top part of my bony hand and would bruise badly.



Supersonic sense of smell, taste and hearing

It really sucked to have heightened sense of smell, taste and hearing because everything grated on my nerves and made me even sicker. Everything broke down into layers of disgusting smells and tastes.


Smell

Every human, every product and every place has their own unique smell and I could smell them all with this dog nose of mine.

You know how you could smell the lovely scent of someone close to you? I could smell every human’s individual scent and trust me, you wouldn’t want to smell those scent every single minute. I could smell my hubby’s scent many times more than before and it was nauseating to me.

The smell of food is obviously the enemy of anyone who is nauseous and cooked food nauseated me the most. I hated the smell of Chinese cooking which means I could not stand the smell of all my favourite home-cooked food. My parents had to cook everything without garlic because I totally hated garlic then. I could smell all the neighbours’ cooking wafting from their windows and had to close all windows, jump under my comforter and still smell all these disgusting smell. The smell of the stove and blue fire triggered me too so I could not do simple cooking when I was well.

Other than food, every product had a base, middle and top note smell to me and as long as there was a base soap smell, it would trigger me. I puked at what was supposed to be fragrant shower smell. It got so bad that I dread showering. I had to change a few shower foams till I found a fruity one that did not trigger my vomit. I could no longer do the dishes and the laundry because all these smell triggered me even on days when I could function more normally. I stayed over at my parents’ home when the hubby was overseas for a few weeks and also intermittently when he had overnight duties. My sis had to remove the air freshener in her room and seal it in a Ziploc bag just because of me. She had to quickly run to her room after her shower because I hated the shower foam that she used. Heck, I could even smell the shower smell from their neighbours’ home. My dad had to change my sheets and blanket when the softener smell overwhelmed me on the first day I moved back. He took out sheets after sheets from the cupboard to let me sniff for my stamp of approval before changing a new set.

I could smell the unique smell of every place too. I could only rot in the comforting smell of my bed because every room in my home and my family’s home has their unique smell. I could not watch TV in the living room when the smell of dried flowers on the shelf triggered me and I used to love the smell of flowers whether fresh or dried. The carpentry smell in my study room, the mixture of different smell in my parents’ and sis’s room and the unique Miyo smell in the room we keep her in would trigger me badly. Even the bedroom I grew up in in my parents’ home, the very same room I retreated to from disgusting smells didn’t smell the best too. The smell of every place outside the sphere of homes was worse. For example, the lift at my parents’ place has an atomic bomb of smell of many different people, smoke, pee, perfume and products all in one confined space. I used to love the scent of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital which is where my OBG clinic is located. During the last few months, I felt so nauseated by the scent that it was an agony to visit the clinic. I could go on about smell but I guess that by now, you would have gotten the drift.


Taste

Moving on to taste, every fresh food had its various layers of taste too. It was so bad that I hated food so much for somebody who used to be a foodie. My body rejected whole real food especially meat, fish and eggs. I retched them out and simply could not swallow them at all. I could taste the urea taste in meat especially pork. Every kind of chicken boiled, fried, steamed, well-marinated etc had a frozen chicken taste. No matter how fresh a fish was, I could taste the pungent fishy taste. I also finally understood why some people dislike eggs. They just had a kind of eggy taste that’s so nauseating.


Hearing

A lot of sounds grated on my nerves and triggered my nausea and headache. The sound system in my hubby’s car is a little spoilt and the static base sound made me so nauseous that I had to command him to switch off the radio when I could bear it no longer. My pounding severe headache sounded like a troop of galloping horses. I hated the daily tuneless whistling of one my neighbours that I felt like screaming for him or her to shut up. I even wished for the sound of the splashing pool water feature downstairs to stop.


Sight

Yeah, if only my vision heightened on top of everything, that would be great. My vision did not improve but perhaps you could say that my sense of sight was heightened because even looking at pictures of food and reading text about food would induce vomit. I could not look at my handphone screen for long as I would get very bad headache and nausea. There was once I puked big time after watching a funny song video about Little India that my colleague sent. It was probably the mixture dynamic colours and food in the video that triggered me.

I started to empathize with those super heroes with heightened senses. Give me normal human senses any time!



Emotional to the point of depression

I cried a lot during my 5 months of pregnancy. I could not control my tears. I was feeling so sick and miserable that I cry myself to sleep while wondering why I was suffering so much.

I cried when I thought about how lousy and useless I was each time I saw people going all out of the way for me.

I cried all 3 times Miyo jumped hard onto my tummy.

I cried and whined a lot to my hubby and he always looked so helpless whenever I did that. Sometimes I would feel like punching him when he said that it was all in my mind, that I should not coop myself indoors, that I should walk around and get some fresh air etc. I feel like punching anyone who said that because it really isn’t all in the mind at all and f*** you I was so weak to even stand, how to walk around and get fresh air? The first time I tried to get fresh air and walked in the reservoir park, I vomited nonstop when I got home till my guts and shoulders hurt badly and cried while thinking why I was so weak and lousy.

I cried for weird reasons. There was once my hubby opened the blinds saying that the darkness was causing me to feel depressed. My tears flowed down uncontrollably at the sight of sunlight streaming in and I begged him nonstop to close the blinds.

My gal pal who went through multiple HG pregnancies would often remind me that "it's the damn hormones". Well, damn those hormones!



Counting my blessings and how I coped with HG

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, certainly brought awareness to HG when she was afflicted by it for the 3rd time this year. If not for her, there would be many people who are still unaware of HG.

There is no known cause of HG, and no proven cure. Tips for alleviating morning sickness do not work on HG patients. Medication only help take away the symptoms and most of the time, we have to suffer while trying to live a normal life. I read somewhere that some HG mummies had to terminate their pregnancy because they are unable to cope with it. Having a kid was difficult for us so I would never ever terminate my pregnancy though I would be lying if I said the thought never crossed my mind.

While most mummies with morning sickness have their symptoms subsiding after 1st trimester, HG mummies take a much longer time. Some HG mummies suffer for the whole 9 months of their pregnancy. Many HG mummies I personally know or whom I got to know from Facebook groups recover from 15 weeks to 20+ weeks with most of them recovering after week 20. And when I say “recover”, it simply means to function more normally. Most of us still continue to have symptoms of nausea and vomit occasionally even after recovery.

I am currently at 21 weeks and have officially returned to work. I started to function better at 20 weeks but with very bad symptoms in between that it was difficult to predict when I was actually recovering. In fact, my symptoms returned while doing this blog post and along with the uncontrollable tears, I moped and sobbed in bed till dinner delivery arrived.

I think I fall in the middle range in terms of HG severity and I am only able to cope with it because I am fortunate in many ways.


Supportive people around me

I have a supportive husband, family, in-laws, friends, bosses and colleagues who empathize with me. I always hear of HG sufferers having people around them who do not understand what they are going through and do not take their predicament seriously. Sometimes, even fellow women with morning sickness discount HG women's suffering thinking that they are exaggerating their condition. I am blessed with kind people around me who empathize with my condition.

Other than empathizing, I am thankful to the people who help me get through the past few months. A HG hubby is a sufferer too. I know I had been a nuisance and huge liability to my hubby with all the added load I gave him at home and how he had to pander about me. The list is too long but I'm sure you get a rough idea.

I am thankful to my mum for coming all the way to my home to buy food or cook for me during the initial phase. I am thankful to my dad who ferried me around when my hubby was not available and cooking for me when I stayed over. I had my regular serving of fresh fruits at my parents’ home because my dad would skin and slice them for my comfortable eating and “served me” while I lazed on the sofa. My hubby never did that until I compared him to how my dad spoils me and forced him to slice apples for me. I am thankful to my 2nd sis for being Miyo’s main caregiver, accommodating to this arrangement without complaints even though she is already very busy. My in laws also helped out in little ways they could like calling me to ask after me and buying food when they visited.

I need not worry about work because my branch colleagues and immediate boss covered for me. They did not bother me about work unless it was really necessary to get urgent information from me. Sometimes the lack of them disturbing me for work made me wonder if I would be asked to leave but to be honest, I was often too sick to worry too much about it. My colleagues had been very sweet and thoughtful and it’s really the people that made me miss going back to work.

I have a Whatsapp group with 2 other gal pals and together, the 3 of us all happen to be pregnant at the same time with our babies being due 2 months apart. Another coincidence is that all 3 of us are HG sufferers! That thread became our support group. We rant and we whine and we “report” our daily suffering on that thread. Most importantly, we encourage one another to hang in there.


Resting at home with home hospitalization leave

I had the privilege of being able to rest at home and managed to avoid undue stress and worry.

With that, I also avoided having too much medication in my system. Before I was pregnant, I had successfully avoided Western medication for a while when I embarked on a journey of healthy lifestyle. No matter how much I suffered, I would feel proud of myself for having abstained from popping pills then. However during pregnancy, I had no choice but to take western medication for my HG symptoms as the suffering was too extreme. Also, I thought that my little one would not grow well if I'm suffering daily, affecting my emotional health and chanelling bad energy.

Nevertheless, I managed to avoid taking too much medication and the very strong ones because I had the liberty to stay at home to sleep it all away. Furthermore, I did not have to get myself hospitalized and hooked up in drips because I could simply rest at home.


Sleep sleep sleep

Despite the dark gruelling days, I caught up with years of lost sleep during this period. I had such a healthy sleeping habit waking up early, sleeping early and having lots of naps in between.

I know I finally have sufficient sleep when years of bloodshot eyes became all white. Yeah, an eye specialist once told me that little capillaries are formed in the sclera (white part of the eye) to obtain as much oxygen for the eye as possible and the only way to get rid of the visible red capillaries is to get enough sleep.

Having sufficient sleep certainly helped tide me over the discomfort I was going through. I also secretly thought that it was the best time get all the sleep I could coz I know how sleep is a precious commodity once the baby pops.


Eat whatever I can and whenever I can

Even though I vomit almost everything I consume, there are moments when I could keep food and water in. Chewing and swallowing very slowly also helped in keeping the stuff in. Since I could not eat whole real food for a period of time, I could only eat processed and dry food. I survived on crackers, chocolates, junk food, milo, oats, maternal milk and whatever that I could stomach. Instead of water which tasted bland, the tanginess and sweetness of processed fruit juices appealed to me and that was how I got myself hydrated. For a while, my gynae gave me the green light to eat unhealthily because at least I was getting some calories even if I was eating and drinking junk.

I used to take prenatal multi vitamins on empty stomach thinking that even if I did not eat, at least I had the vitamins to get me through. Big mistake. Taking any kind of vitamin or pill on an empty stomach can make you feel nauseous. In the case of prenatal multi vitamins, iron is an added culprit and ironically, we need lots of iron during pregnancy. When taking my prenatal vitamins with food did not help, I took it just before I go to bed so that I would be sleeping any sickness away.


Ultrasound scans of my little one kept me strong

Without having witnessed my little one's heartbeat and growth through the monthly ultrasound scans, it was just a "thing" in me that was making me really sick. What kept me going was the 20-week detailed ultrasound scan. I was feeling so sick lying there with the cold gadget pressed onto my belly that the sonographer had to pass me her little container of peppermint paste to keep me from vomiting.

My little one was so cute and active "swimming" here and there, up and down, left and right, kicking about, doing yoga poses and somersaults and then going to sleep just when the sonographer had to take the spine's measurement. I was so thrilled to see all these cute little acts that for a while, my nausea was gone and I forgot about how much I was suffering. Knowing that this thing making me sick is a life... a precious little life... kept me going strong. It made all my suffering worthwhile.


Be thankful for every small step I take ahead

I felt really proud of myself each time I completed something small. For example, when I washed that dirty cup without feeling nauseous, when I cleared Miyo’s poo all by myself, when I ate half my meal without vomiting, when I survived a car ride without feeling too sick, when I walked alone outside etc. They are really insignificant acts to a normal functioning person but to a HG patient, being able to do normal things are all huge achievements that we should be thankful for.

~

As time passes, I look back to see that I have accomplished a little more than before and have come a long way to battling this dreaded HG. Everything passes and this too shall pass. I still feel nauseous intermittently and vomiting has so far come to a minimum but I have already crawled out from the dumpest dump and I am proud to wear the badge of a HG survivor!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

7 Tips To Gain Instagram Followers

This is a long overdue blog post on how I gain more Instagram followers on my personal Instagram account iamjolene which is currently at about 17k.

Anyone can use my strategy to gain followers if you hustle a little more. I won't call myself a "blogger"; I am just somebody who writes a blog. I don't quite like the term "influencer"; I'm not like those IG influencers who are mini celebrities commanding high rates. Of course, I'm not some actress, model or celebrity too. I'm just an ordinary person who has a personal Instagram account. And if an ordinary person like me could gain 17k followers, you can do it too! :D




When I experienced an exponential growth of Instagram followers and reached 10k followers 2 years back, people noticed and asked me how I did it. I readily shared my tips with close friends and some of them put them into practice and saw growth.




There are lots of articles on the Internet about how to get more Instagram followers. They have got really good tips there, from curating your account to holding contests to using the right hashtags.

I won't be repeating rich information which could readily be found in many articles so in this blog post, I will share with you MY WAY of gaining real Instagram followers ethically without buying fake followers or doing those annoying follow unfollow methods.

The key word here is GOOD ENGAGEMENT. Sincere ongoing engagement leads to organic followers and these are the followers who usually stick by you for a long time.





Tip 1:
Find IG accounts of similar niche as yours and like a few photos from them.

Liking a few photos would certainly get the IGer's attention. Some of them would return the likes back and might even follow. Depending on whether their account is to my taste, I'll follow back.





Tip 2:
Comment sincerely on photos that you have something to comment on.

Liking is easy but commenting takes more effort so it definitely catches the IGer's attention. This needs time and effort so I do it during commutes and pockets of free time. Everyone appreciates sincere engagement. I follow back IGers who have been engaging sincerely even though their feed may not be my liking coz I appreciate them. Such followers eventually become long time IG friends. Likewise, there are also IGers out there like me who would appreciate your sincere engagement and follow you back.





Tip 3:
Scroll through the likes, comments and followers of other IG accounts and engage in them.

After that, follow Tip 1 and 2.





Tip 4:
Leave sincere comments on famous accounts. 

Don't leave cursory ones or simply emojis. Cursory ones are done by insincere people only trying to gain attention. Emojis are usually done by bots.

Your comments with thoughts put in will definitely get their followers' attention who might visit your page back.

Take for example, when I comment on famous hairstylists' accounts, other hairstylists and funky hair pple would visit my feed and like all my purple hair photos. Some would follow too.

Another example would be when I comment on a few famous travel accounts, somehow other travel accounts would visit my feed and like my travel posts. Likewise, some followed too.

Even if you don't gain followers this way, you might have those famous account liking your photos. I had Guy Tang's mydentity account liking my purple hair posts and the official Lululemon account liking my yoga wear post. It really felt good to have famous accounts liking your posts.





Tip 5:
Reply to comments.

Because people appreciate you when you reciprocate and it definitely shows your sincerity!

Yes, I know. It is hard to reply to every single comment when we have a life going on outside of Instagram. Take a few minutes to reply as a way of saying thank you. I appreciate people taking the time to comment and I would visit their account and engage their posts too.

As you gain more followers, it becomes harder to reply to every comment and I don't reply to every single one now. Giving a heart to acknowledge would be the least you could do.

You should also note that one-word or few-words comments such as "great post" or "cool" or emojis are usually left by bots or insincere people in a rush to get attention. It's up to you if you want to reply to them to get their attention back, give a heart or just move on.





Tip 6: 
Like many photos of IGers who have a lot more following than followers.

If you simply want to grow followers without bothering if they are of your niche or theme, scroll through followers of famous accounts and do the above. IGers with a lot more following than followers are highly likely to follow you back. Remember not to spam too many likes though. I personally dislike it if people who visit like every single photo of mine.

Do note that this way of gaining followers would get you lots of "dead" or inactive followers. That means they only follow you without ever liking or commenting on your posts at all. Suddenly having lots of such accounts following you would generate more of such accounts following you. I don't understand this logic or how the IG algorithm works but I noticed this when I had my exponential growth.

You may not like such "dead" or inactive followers but they certainly add significantly to your followers count. When you have a good follower is to following ratio, people are more likely to follow you.





Tip 7:
Be bold to ask politely and sincerely. 

When I often have to and fro likes and comments from the same IGers, I would be open and ask if we could follow each other because I appreciate the connection. Most of the times, they would follow back. I built many real connection and IG friends in this way. Some of these IGers grew to be so popular in the high 5 digits follower range but they never ever unfollow coz there is a rapport built right from the start. However don't do a "Hey, I followed you. Follow me back." Nobody likes that. Of course, don't be discouraged if fellow IGers do not want to follow you back. You may think that they are a bitch but it is fine. It's just frivolous Instagram. Be gracious, move on and don't take offence.





I'm sharing what worked for me to get to where I am now before I started joining Instagram communities or more affectionately known as pods. To grow followers and engagement organically is super hard work when you don't do the follow unfollow method. People seldom have the time now but I really dislike people who do follow unfollow. It is downright insincere.

Many people are also turning to bots and Virtual Assistants (VA) that would do all these back-end work for them. That sure sounds great but for now, my IG is still a personal space and I would like to manage it myself. Moreover, bots and VA do the follow-unfollow method too so I personally would stay away from them until perhaps one day when I get famous, busy and insincere. ;P




With the introduction of the Instagram algorithm whereby posts are not shown in chronological order on news feed, my rate of followers gain and likes are seriously affected. While gaining a steady stream of followers, I realised that I'm losing followers by the few hundreds since the start of this year even though my engagement is more. I could gain a few followers every 3 days but I lose about 10 per day. I could never cross back to my 17.4k mark. I discover that many IGers also experienced the same problem and it could be an Instagram algorithm issue where our posts are not readily available to people who would follow and engage. Nevertheless, quality over quantity. It is a natural way to detox my account when these unfollowers are the inactive ones.

I will continue with sincere engagement because I believe that a little hustle and sincerity would perpetuate real growth in followers.


Image Credit: All the beautiful images on this post are used with permission from with_love_martha. Even though we just knew each other this year, I know she's such a sweet lady from our interaction on IG. Check out her Instagram page for loads of beautiful edibles made by herself and follow her while you're at it. 


😔
Side rant: I know that parts of my blog look unsightly now because I hosted years of images (which include images on my main blog page like the blog buttons on top) on Photobucket. I'm mad pissed and completely upset that years of photos hosted with Photobucket are all replaced by their unsightly banner now. RAWR!!! If you haven't already known about the Photobucket saga, read more about it here.

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