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I’m going to talk about the B word today: breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is a very sensitive topic of discussion these days. Now that I've been through it with both my boys, I can say that I've seen both sides of the coin: exclusive breastfeeding vs bottle and formula feeding. I’m going to say that there is no right or wrong to either approach. Okay, now that I’ve sufficiently hedged and appeased both sides of a very polarizing topic, let me explain. Here’s my story and why I believe what I do...

My circumstances were very different between the first and second child. With my older one, I did exclusive breastfeeding for one year. Having taken a break from work, it was an incredibly easy and natural thing to do. Oh, and the convenience of it! I never had to deal with any accouterments related to bottle feeding (ie, breastpump, bottle cleaning equipment, etc). The whole experience was special for me and I was thankful for it.

With my younger one who is now almost 9 months, it has proven to be a totally different scenario. He had a more voracious appetite from the very beginning. I also had to return to work earlier when he was 4 months of age. It was the perfect storm – challenging work circumstances, formula feeds to keep up with my absence and with this boy’s growing appetite, and pumping which gradually replaced natural feeds with the baby. I developed a love-hate relationship with my breastpump in the workplace. This “frenemy” of mine accompanied me on every business travel and found me using it in all kinds of inconvenient places just so that I could maintain my milk supply and provide this so-called “liquid gold” to my baby. From airplane toilets, conference rooms, store changing rooms to public restrooms, no place was out of bounds (Fellow moms who’ve done this, I know your agony!). Despite my best attempts, my supply dipped and it was a downward spiral. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed and also resentful towards my circumstances at work that led to this. The naturalist mama in me wants to continue giving breastmilk to Arjun as long as I can (and I'm still valiantly continuing for now) but the practical mama says I have to do what makes sense for both the baby and me.

Too often healthcare providers, society, and fellow mothers are placing unnecessary pressure on other women to breastfeed, come what may. Heck, we even impose this pressure on ourselves. I’ve seen fellow moms utterly racked with guilt when they have to give up breastfeeding or are unable to provide breastmilk for their baby for reasons beyond their control.

Having experienced the challenges and benefits of the different ways to feed, I know now more than ever before that you should never judge another mother on how she chooses to feed her child. We know that breast milk is the most natural way to go. And, in an ideal world, which mother wouldn't want what's best for her child? But the lesson I’ve learned from my different milkfeeding journeys is that we don't know the circumstances, whether it be biological, physical, or emotional, that lead a mother to the choices she makes.

To the mothers out there who are able to nurse – I’m with you, it’s awesome and special and feels great! But to those who are giving formula and bottle feeds to the baby? It’s totally okay. Really. You will not bond any less with your baby. And your baby will not love you any less. As I always believe, a fed baby is a happy baby. It doesn’t matter which B you used – breast or bottle.

New York City holds a special place in my heart. Among the many reasons is that it’s the city where I had my first baby. There are certain memories of my time there as a new mom which I will never forget. Little moments in time which Krishnav will never remember but are ingrained in my mind. Visits to the Central Park Zoo where I pointed out penguins to him, stroller rides along a crowded Times Square, taking him to our neighborhood café on a cold, blustery November evening…

You can imagine then how I loved the book Big Apple Kid. Written and illustrated by a very talented Kavita Rajput, this children’s book brings back warm nostalgic feelings of my time in NYC with Krishnav before I moved to Singapore. The author, who is now based in Singapore, conceived the book when she herself was a mom living in Manhattan with her baby boy seven years ago. It has been quite an incredible journey for her to bring the book to life but the result is an endearing and loveable children’s book. With its watercolor illustrations capturing familiar and iconic images of Manhattan across different seasons and its sweet rhythmic rhymes, this book is appropriate for any kid up to age 4-5. And if your kid just happens to be a New Yorker, by birth or residence, then it’s a must to add this book to their collection!

If you are in Singapore, do support your locally published books and authors/artists. You can find out more about this book and the author at www.bigcitykidbooks.com. Get a copy for your kid today!

Skirts, dresses, pants, blazers – I like to wear them all! Here’s sharing some of my looks from February, an eventful month with an eventful month with Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year Celebrations, and hectic work travels.

Wearing soft pastel colors with this crop top from Platinum Mall in Bangkok and this lavender pleated skirt from Morning Lavender. I love this online store for its feminine, girly pieces. The store does offer international shipping. The pink tassel earrings add a pop of color to the otherwise monotone colors going on in this outfit. 

A work trip to Penang saw me wearing this white Dressabelle top with a front-tie bow (worn last month in a more casual setting) with a pleated print skirt I bought from Hong Kong a long time ago. The Michael Kors work bag is roomy and perfect for carrying tons of stuff. See me posing in front of one of the famous Earnest Zakarverich murals of Penang?

This puffed sleeve top says high-fashion but the price tag is that from H&M. Looking expensive at an affordable price - Winning!

I didn’t expect this look to be so popular. Many of you commented on my Instastories as this being your favorite look from February. I love this oversize blazer from ___ and the purple tank top is something I bought 4 years ago from Macy’s in New York when I was pregnant. You never know how certain pieces can last forever in your closet! Oh and say hi to my furry friend, the Furla bag.

Global Desi is an awesome website for getting ethnic Indian and fusion wear at an affordable price range. This dress is something I bought over a year ago but couldn’t wear much because I got pregnant! So the dress sat quietly and patiently in my closet for the day I could wear it again (let me tell you, there are many others like this in my closet and I’m hoping to get back to my pre-baby weight to wear them again!).

I like to mix high and low fashion pieces together. This summery skirt with pockets and the gingham top is from Iora, a Singapore store with a range of everyday closet essentials at an affordable price.

I fell in love with this fringe top the moment I saw it in Club Monaco. Luckily the store is having sales and this piece (also available in different colors) can be purchased at a discounted price even now. 

Lastly, for a Valentine’s Day look, I got this red top with cut-out sleeves and bows from Iora (again!). The midi-length black skirt is from Mango, so super versatile for work and other dressy occasions. The clutch is from a local Singapore boutique, Photophactory, which makes beautiful vivid designs using the famous facades and landscapes of this city. Definitely check them out on Instagram at @photophactory.

 The new year started off with me spending half the month in Thailand. From family vacation in the northern mountainous provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to a business trip to Bangkok, I knew I had to pack a broad range of clothes to suit different purposes. The family vacation called for casual and comfy attire while work required something more polished and formal. Check out some of my looks from January.

When it comes to casual clothes, I don’t believe in spending a whole lot of money. Enter SheIn, a great website for cute and trendy clothing that you don’t want to spend a bomb on. This quirky tee is from the website and works for a chill, vacay mode look as pictured here.

If you’re looking for a summer dress, then this Jaspal dress is for you. Jaspal is a Thailand-based fashion brand which I love for its contemporary pieces. This sleeveless A-line dress with a cute bow detail works well for all body types and is roomy enough to allow your tummy to expand from all the vacation eating and drinking. What’s more, it has pockets! What’s not to love? 

I talked in a previous post about how I love shopping at Urban Revivo. Consider it the Chinese “Zara” with similar style sensibilities. This burnt orange ruffle top is from this store. I like to pair it with jeans for my go-to weekend outfit.

The color you’ll find most in my color is white. For me, it’s a super versatile color, a canvas against which you can add additional colors and designs. The white top with a front bow is from Dressabelle and is flattering on most body types. I had fun adding some funk to the look with these mint colored shoes from Rubi (this shop is great for cute, inexpensive shoes and sandals) and the colorful clutch from Mumbai (a gift from my dear sis-in-law).

This dark floral number is also from Jaspal – I love how you can dress it up or down.

Hey, it wasn’t all play and no work! Here’s a put-together work look that is easy to achieve. While my office wear is usually conservative overall, I do like to add a bit of color or statement pieces to the mix. In this case, it was my pink skirt, a piece that I’ve owned for a long time and have worn multiple times in the work place.

Remember when you had your first kid? You'd go to Dr Google for every little thing, from what it meant if your baby didn't drink enough milk to the meanings of different colors of poop. You'd obsess over their sleep schedule or lack thereof. You'd drop everything and run to your baby if they so much as sneezed or let out a whimper. You had the desire and enthusiasm to take your 6-month old to all sorts of classes - music, dance, baby gym - to instill early childhood learnings and raise a genius child. As a first time parent, you were full of vigor and anxiety at the same time, trying to do your best and praying it was good enough.

But the "second child parenting approach"? Oh, it's a different ballgame! I have less of the anxiety and uncertainty about things that came with being a first time parent. I feel more in control and at the same time, have learned to let go a bit more (and honestly, who even has the time to sweat the small stuff with two kids?). I'm not constantly worrying about my baby's sleep routine and whether he'll ever grow out of his 4-month sleep regression going on month 7 (he will, eventually). If he's crying, I know the world won't collapse if I let him cry a little more while I finish up something I was doing. Oh and that "no salt, no sugar" rule for one year thing? I've totally thrown that out the window. Even going back to work was easier this time around. I had less of the emotional baggage with leaving my kid at home. Raising a child isn't any less hard but what has changed is my perspective.

For you new moms out there, believe me that it does get easier. For the more seasoned parents, how is it like for you?