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Category Archives: Life in Doha

Birth of Quin

Birth of Quin

The day the contractions started, I happened to have a doctor’s appointment. She did a physical examination and said that I was 2 cm dilated. Later in the afternoon, I started to have very gentle contractions. Having nothing better to do that day, we decided to go for a swim at the pool. Afterwards, my contractions got slightly more obvious while showering, and then more.


Mike asked if he should heat up dinner. We timed my contractions and they were 5 minutes, then 7 minutes apart. He went to take a shower. I timed myself while he was in the shower. It suddenly became 3 minutes apart. I waited until Mike got out of the shower to tell him the good news. Close to 7pm, we decided to head to the hospital. I called a taxi and Mike called Jeremy to come babysit Knox. While waiting for him, we decided we probably shouldn’t wait and I called Brooke, our neighbor, to help watch Knox until Jeremy arrived. I bustled down and got into the taxi. Knox seemed fairly surprised at this turn of events as he was handed off without ceremony.

We got to Al Ahli hospital and went up to the maternity ward. It is Ramadan and they are open from 7pm~2am. The nurses seemed to wish we had gone up to the ER as they have doctors there, but then decided to just push me up to the labor room and call a doctor. The nurse in charge kept calling me “My dear,” From admittance into the delivery room at 7:30 pm to birth at 9:30pm, Mike speculates that our previous story of Knox being born within half an hour (of admittance, quickly followed by my water breaking) might just have been due to us waiting too long to get to the hospital. Previously in Taiwan, we had been rejected in the morning due to irregularity of contractions and feared being rejected again. This time, when I (to my genuine surprise) timed that my contractions were coming in 2~3 minute intervals, we decided to hurry over. Am glad we did.

In the delivery room we had a male doctor greet me who said he would be delivering my baby. Then later during labor another female doctor came in and did the actual delivering. It was slightly confusing. Mike went away to do some paperwork but came back quickly. He seemed more stressed out than I was, but once things got into swing he became much calmer. A nurse stuck a needle in my hand for an IV. I later learned that IV during labor is related with the mother’s milk coming in later.

This time besides screaming, I felt it comfortable to recede into a sort of mental haze where I could mumble whatever random thing came to my mind. Mostly it was “This hurts.” in mandarin. When I said “Make it stop.” Mike reassuringly told me that it would be over soon, that I just had to pull through, to which I snapped “Stop trying to reason with me.”


I was anxious that Mike convey how I didn’t want an episiotomy, and how we wanted to delay cord clamping. The
doctor smiled and said yes, yes. I cannot stress enough how important it is to reiterate this to all medical personnel present, because the moment Quin was out they clamped the umbilical cord, and rushed Mike to cut it. I am experiencing delayed disgruntlement about this now a week after delivery. She was born 9:30 pm, 2 hours after our admittance.

Today her cord fell off.

Differences between Knox birth and Quin birth:

  • They did not give me an IV in Taiwan. Here they wouldn’t let me drink but 2 sips of water during labor, and stuck an evil needle in my hand. Hated it as I couldn’t make a fist – it is supposedly a modern plastic needle that will bend with the vein and thus can afford to be two inches long.
  • I could clearly feel pushing out distinct parts of Quin. With Knox, once he started to crown, it seemed but a quick sliding out. Mike said it was because of the episiotomy, where the doctor snipped my perinium and Knox just slid out.
  • Quin cried quite soon after she popped out. That helped me realize that our baby was real. Knox was laid on my chest just a few moments after birth and a quick check, wipe and wrap. Quin was taken away for a bath and it was much longer before I was allowed a (very) brief hold, while the doctor was vigorously massaged my uterus, to my chagrin. Quin’s first pics with me feature an uncomely grimace.
  • It seemed more painful, the uterus massage. And I felt much more provoked with all the probing at my genitals.
  • The doctor said she would not check me too often. But between her and the midwife I felt checked (probed) more frequently than I enjoyed.
  • Mike shot a video! And I got to see the nitty gritty!
  • For 2 hours, we were left alone in the delivery room “to be observed”. No one came in to observe us during that time. The nurses were having their meal. + The baby was taken away ftom us. To be bathed thoroughly in soap. For in Taiwan they only used water or water with some mild green enzyme inside. For days post-birth Knox smelled gloriously of newborn. I sniffed Quin in vain.

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On Toddlers and Sharing

Collecting all the info I found on sharing in one place

The first time we had a Montessori playgroup at my home, this issue came up: How to get kids to share? This is really a difficult question. As moms, we feel ashamed of our skills as parents when our kid goes up to another kid and grabs his toy from him. Knox does this to me all the time. But on the other hand, should that be the prime directive in parenting? Should our shame be the first reason why we want our child to stop doing something? Does it make a lasting impact on our children? How does the child feel about sharing? I brought this up during my consultation with Stephanie Woo, from Montessori on the Double. She has written 2 great posts about sharing, here and here. One thing that struck me during her talk was when she said:

We don’t use the word “share” in our household.

But then, how do you convey this very important concept? The first step is for ourselves as adults to exhibit generosity. When children see that we are gracious to others, they will model that behavior. Also, we must treat the child the same way we expect them to behave. For example: to show respect when taking something away from a child. Stephanie said I should hold out my hand and ask Knox to give something to me, instead of taking it away forcefully. If it is something he should not have and he refuses, I have respectfully given him the opportunity to give it back to me and now can take it away from him. This would be modeling the correct behavior in interacting with others (we do not grab, we ask for it).

*In the case of something he should not have, it is good to establish boundaries on the first hand – no you cannot have my coffee, no you cannot play with that vase; and/or have most of the items he is not allowed to touch somewhere inaccessible, AND have many things he can explore accessible.

When interacting with others, the main value we want to impart to a child is to be generous, it is not the word ‘sharing’ that counts, it’s the principle. What makes a person generous? A person who feels satisfied and fulfilled is naturally generous. A person who is made to feel deprived will never be generous. (Having things constantly taken away, being ‘forced’ to share.) In this Montessori lecture concerning normalization, “sharing” is indirectly mentioned among socialization, but framed as part of a greater trait:

There is only one specimen of each object, and if a piece is in use when another child wants it, the latter—if he is normalized—will wait for it to be released. Important social qualities derive from this. The child comes to see that he must respect the work of others, not because someone has said he must, but because this is a reality that he meets in his daily experience. (The Absorbent Mind, p. 223).

The best thing we can do is create for our child an environment of plenty, so he/she can feel satisfied. We also need to give children the space to interact and figure out their own social issues when interacting with other children. Of course this is a controlled environment. A toddler does not need unlimited amounts of candy at his disposal. But if he has a generous amount of fruit, then he can eat until he is satisfied. When a child is focused on working on something, we do not take it away from him because another child wants it and it shames us when ours is “Hogging it”, stressing that “bad trait” only make kids more material conscious and fearful of having it taken away, even beyond the point of themselves needing or enjoying it. I was at a pediatric clinic one time and there was a 5 year old child who was sitting on the car on springs there. He had bounced there happily for a while and was almost ready to leave, until Knox went up to it trying to climb in. The boy’s father called out to him “Let the younger boy take the car.” and the kid suddenly became focused on Knox. Staring at him while bouncing on the car, making a great show of enjoying the car to Knox. He only left when Knox wandered off, suddenly losing all pretense of finding the car amusing anymore. To focus on the ‘bad behavior’ seems to cultivate it.

“Encourage sharing. Don’t force it. A reluctant sharer may feel that his needs are less important than the other child’s needs. Forcing a child to comply is not the same as teaching him to be generous. Praise sharing when you see it.”

– online Montessori quote from forum (if you know the source please do inform me!)

With preschoolers, usually if their right to that item is protected they will typically share within 2-3 minutes of being asked, if not sooner.

– online forum quote from a Montessori teacher

At such a young age, control of one’s desires is very limited. Toddlers want something Now. It is up to us to ask the right questions, to facilitate the right connections. This does not involve forcefully taking one object away from one child and giving it to another. That will just create bad modeling. Instead, we articulate their needs and help them hear the other person’s needs. (A more advanced version of this with older kids for them to do themselves is conflict resolution through the Peace Table.)

For toddlers as young as Knox, it is important to keep the language simple and the options limited (never more than 2). I have just started trying this with Knox and I am amazed at how much he comprehends, despite not speaking yet.

Recently Knox has become interested in manipulating a pen – drawing and painting. About 2 months ago when I tried him on the Buddha mat I had just bought in Taiwan, he was more interested in poking the pen into the mat and splashing the water. I was alerted to his new interest last week when we participated in a free-for-all coloring workshop that we happened across while browsing the Museum of Islamic Arts (a most gorgeous building in Qatar, definitely worth visiting). I expected he would dab the paintbrush a little and then leave, but he actually sat with me for 10 minutes spreading lines of colors across the picture. Knox buddha matKnox buddha mat Of course, he wanted my pen. I told him “When I am finished with this pen, I will let you use it.” This calmed him down. He would still try to get my pen a few times, but whenever I said that he stopped and went back to his own pen. Knox buddha mat eventually I gave him my pen after I was done using it, and he was happy to exchange his pen for mine.

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2013/June 5th Update – Recently read developmental psychologist Paiget’s theory on children and sharing:

Piaget argued that children’s understanding of morality is like their understanding of (the law of conservation): we can’t say that it is innate, and we can’t say that kids learn it directly from adults. It is, rather, self-constructed as kids play with other kids. Taking turns in a game is like pouring water back and forth between glasses. No matter how often you do it with three-year-olds, they’re just not ready to get the concept of fairness, any more than they can understand the conservation of volume. But once they’ve reached the age of five or six, then playing games, having arguments, and working things out together will help them learn about fairness far more effectively than any sermon from adults.

– From The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion, by Jonathan Haidt

Update March 19th, 2015 Sharing: The Magic Words


Other resources:

“Forced sharing comes from a sense of obligation, but genuine sharing is giving from the heart.”

“If they’re satisfied with the outcome, whether or not we adults view it as fair simply is not relevant.”

Children will often demonstrate that the interaction with another child is what interests them, not the toy itself. This is evident when there are multiples of a certain object available, yet the children are only interested in the one that has ‘heat.’ Soon after the struggle is over, the toy is usually dropped, becomes ‘cold,’ and no one wants it anymore. Children are best left to work these situations out by themselves while the adults insure that there is no hitting or hurting.

It is through play that children learn to get along with others. In play they must take into account the other children’s needs, learn to see from others’ points of view, learn to compromise, learn to negotiate differences, learn to control their own impulses, learn to please others so as to keep them as playmates. These are all hard lessons, and they are among the most important lessons that all of us must learn if we are to live happy lives. We can’t possibly teach these lessons to children; all we can do is let them play with others and let them experience themselves the consequences of their social failures and successes. The strong innate drive to play with others is what motivates every normal child to work hard at getting along with others in play. Failure to get along ends the game, and that natural consequence is a powerful learning experience. No lectures or words of advice that we can provide can substitute for such experience.

Day 1 West Bay Montessori Play

Today I had a Montessori inspired playgroup in my home. The ladies who attended it were so lovely and Knox was so excited to greet each new guest at the door! (and happy to hold other people’s toys, apparently!) We sort of had too many people in this one session, but despite the crowd it was relatively calm and I got to talk to some mothers at a time. Here is a summary of our exchanges in case some moms missed it:

Demonstrating Montessori at home: Scooping activity-

Materials: 3~6 Ping pong balls (can be styrofoam), one large container with water, one smaller dry container, one scooper (can be a small sieve, a spatula with holes…etc for the water to runout)

Step 1: Take the dry container with the balls in both hands and tip carefully into the water bowl.

Step 2: Scoop each ball slowly into the dry container, until all are in it.

Step 3: Put scooper down and pour balls back into water bowl.

Retrieving materials from his cabinet

Retrieving materials from his cabinet


When you demonstrate it, as with all Montessori activities, you demonstrate an entire cycle. And you do it the same time every time, until you feel like the child has mastered it and perhaps you want to play with it in a different way. This helps with children’s need for order.

Usually I have him put his activity back on his shelf. In this case I take it to dump out the water.

How to know your child is finished? He/she will start playing with the project in a messy manner: splashing the water, throwing the balls around…etc. Tell them “Okay, you are finished.” and take it away. If they do this too much they will cease being able to work with this object in an orderly fashion in the future. Always keep an eye out for when this sort of thing happens. This activity will likely amuse them up to 10~15 minutes a day. Our goal is not to have them do something so we can go do something else for ourselves (I wish!), but to build up their capabilities and concentration gradually, so they will be able to work in a focused and constructive manner. I have read that one does not expect children under 3 to be able to work too long. But one will be rewarded later on with a calm, proactive child. Indeed, from the Montessori classroom I observed, it is lovely to see the 3+ year olds go about purposefully getting an activity from the shelf, laying it out, working on it for a long while by themselves, and then going to put it back. I have also heard that there are Montessori activities that foster team-work, and research shows that a Montessori classrooms foster a “greater sense of community” among kids.

*Demonstrating cycles: Children this young may be impatient for your entire demonstration to be finished, they may try to grab it before you finish and start. Try to limit this, but if they become very anxious let them go ahead and do as much of the routine as you just demonstrated. And next time you demonstrate it again with more of the routine. If there are multiple steps this is even better, as a child may not remember all the steps that is required on the first get-go. Remember to not be anxious and not rush. As before 12 children’s brains operate at half the speed of adults, and they have all the time to master skills that seem simple to us. They are not goal oriented – they do not see cleaning up as the goal, but they enjoy the process of imitating you wipe. Be very consistent in your demonstrations and think it through before you commence it. What may seem obvious to us may not seem so to them. Example: Today when I was demonstrating the scooping activity. When I was done I should have put down the scooper before using two hands to pour the pingpong balls back into the water.

Questions asked:

Imagination/ Reading real stories

One mom said that she had read that Montessori says children should mainly read stories that are based in reality (as adverse to make believe). I found this passage from “To Kill a Mocking Bird” congruent of children’s real attitudes towards make-believe:

“Miss Caroline began the day by reading us a story about cats. The cats had long conversations with one another, they wore cunning little clothes and lived in a warm house beneath a kitchen stove. By the time Mrs. Cat called the drugstore for an order of chocolate malted mice the class was wriggling like a bucketful of catawba worms. Miss Caroline seemed unaware that the ragged, denim-shirted and floursack-skirted first grade, most of whom had chopped cotton and fed hogs from the time they were able to walk, were immune to imaginative literature.”

Children want to learn what is real about this world. Make-believe/fantasy/myths are part of the tools we as humans utilize to make sense of a world we do not understand. But we are no longer living in the stones-ages. I think it would be disrespectful of them as little humans not to allow children access the wealth of information that is already known about our world.

Update June 5th, 2013: A great post summarizing Montessori points about books for toddlers. + 1 tip I recently learned: Try to find books that display the whole picture of something, and not just part of it. For example, the whole animal, a whole person…etc. 

What does Montessori say about sharing?

I haven’t read anything about it yet (there is a lot I need to learn) so if any moms have suggestions, ideas please do share with us all!

From what I understand though there is usually enough materials in a Montessori space for all the kids to choose their own and work on. You shouldn’t feel anxious for them to get off one project and try to ‘distract’ them with another if there is another child waiting for it, as if they are focused at the moment the best thing is to allow them the space to work. One of the cool things about the Montessori method is that there are no recesses, no 45 minute time limit intervals. This allows the students to work at their own pace, to switch activities as they like while maintaining the flow. They do not have to anticipate that they will be interrupted after 15 minutes (Don’t you hate that?) so they can truly concentrate on what they are doing.

*Update: New Post on sharing On Toddlers and Sharing

Today the play was less structured than it could be, as there were too many kids! The moms who were here were great and I wish I could invite you all again! Unfortunately we’ll need to keep strictly to 8 moms per playgroup in the future, so stay tuned for RSVPs! (Next week we will be on vacation, so perhaps the following week) Feel free to start your own at your home too! A lot of the info I looked up myself, there are a lot of resources in books, articles and blogs to be inspired by. Just keep learning! (and sharing!)

Also, feel free to check out my Facebook page, where I regularly post new things I’ve learned about Montessori, and pictures of doing it at home.

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Had health test done for renewing Qatar Family Visit visa

So this past week I had a health test done to renew my family visit visa. Knox went with and he got pricked in the big toe. He saw it coming too! Immediately started to pre-cry when the man in the lab pointed at his shoe for me to take off. And then when it was all over, Knox pointed at his toe saying “Eh!” He’s an expressive kid, truly. The pricking seemed to be for a blood type test on a smear plate. I am O+. This was conducted in a clinic. The rest of the test was done at the Qatar Health Commission. Women went off to a different section of the building than the men. We paid 100 QAR for the health test (Mike’s company footed this) and I had blood drawn (bruiser! I never saw a nurse prick up your skin when drawing blood!).

My bruiser blood draw, day 5 (it was even worse yesterday!) :


They were supposed to do an X-ray for tuberculosis but since I’m pregnant they did a Tuberculin skin test instead. Cool facts I learnt about this test:

  • It’s called the PPD test, or Mantoux test, derived from non-infectious molecules of the bacterial culture that tests for previous contact with the agent.
  • Considered safe for diagnosis during pregnancy.
  • Dr. pricked my skin upwards with the needle to inject this under the skin, creating a welt upon injection, which very quickly dissipated and in 3 days is now a red irritated circle. We are not supposed to rub/scratch it.
  • A positive result usual results in a welt, diagnosed within 50 hours of injection. The doctor had me come in again in two days for her to inspect it. Positive result measures the diameter of the welt (not the irritated red part). False positives are possible, and has to be interpreted according to the person’s history (did he/she come from a high prevalence region? …etc)

This is my negative result:

It does feel a little swollen and sore though, This is day 3.

I hear that I will need to go in for another health test for the residency. Wonder if there’ll be same procedures… probably more extensive? We shall see. Am excited about our upcoming Turkey trip! Cappadocia and Istanbul! Some fun time before I get too large to move. We’ll be needing an exit visa for that (so we can come back to the country!) Hopefully Mike’s company’s HR will get that sorted soon.

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