To have or not to have

Most of my high school friends who are married, are now mothers of 2 (at the very least), with the eldest either attending kindie, or are already in primary school. I think I’m one of the late comers, having a child when I was in my mid-30s. And it was by choice. 

6 months before I turned 35, I had a very objective talk with my husband about whether we should embark on parenthood. Both of us were perfectly happy and contented with our lifestyle. Care-free, able to just pack our bags and travel whenever and wherever we want to. We would lose our freedom, both time and finances. Whatever time we have will have to go to the baby. What we earn will have to go to the baby. Basically, our whole entire life itself!  Parenthood scared the sh** out of both of us. And not forgetting my career. How to climb corporate ladder with me being away on 3-months maternity leave, and having to take emergency leaves whenever the baby is unwell. How to stay and work late hours when you have a baby waiting for you at home? I struggled with my own selfish needs and aspirations. 

But then, I told my husband K, as a matter-of-fact kind of way, that I wouldn’t want to die regretting not having tried for a baby. Not knowing what it’s like being a mum. Yea, simple as that. I don’t want to leave this world remorseful, with regrets. And because I was at my mid-30s, being married for close to 4 years without any “accidents” (if you know what I mean 😉), we gave ourselves 6-months to conceive, starting from 31 Dec 2013 (the talk took place in mid-2013). If nothing happens by end of 6 months, we will just call it a day. It’s fated that we will not be parents. Straight-to-the-point kind of decision. 

So we went about our usual routine during the rest of 2013, and we went on our annual pilgrimage to Bangkok in end December to visit my uncle and his family (my late mum was a Thai of Chinese descent). AND KAPOWWWW!! The deed was done. On 31 Dec 2013 (or one of those days. Lol). Never have I seen anything as accurate as this. And K used to say that I conned him into it, telling him that it’ll take at least 6 months before anything happens. And now he had “lost” 6 months of fun time (ie traveling). Crazy traveling fanatics, we are (till today!). 

Fast forward to today, it’s definitely a life changer. The rest is history. And all of you know my story from then on, so not going to elaborate. I’m glad we decided to hop unto the parenthood bandwagon. 

Reminiscing back to when I see my girth size grew bigger by the week. Thank God no morning sickness or any other complications from my herniated disc. The baby will kungfu kick furiously inside, till I can actually see my belly expand and move sideways and up. I naively thought I could survive birthing without epidural (no thanks to superhero F who did without! I realize my pain threshold is very much lower than hers. Sigh) but cringed in pain when the doc inserted his fingers to check my dilation. I begged the doc to increase my epidural but he refused, wanting me to feel the pain so that I know when to push (gasp!). Struggled with breastfeeding. And not forgetting the lack of sleep! Was telling K today how mind bogglingly amazing that I can function normally with so little sleep. Lol. Mums are superwomen, I tell ya. 

But now to the point of this blog post. Will I have another one? 

I’ve got 2 friends /ex-colleagues (F being one of them), who got pregnant shortly (second baby for both) after they tendered their resignation. Talk about being stress-free. Your womb literally goes into overdrive just because of the surge of estrogen and happy hormones (cocktail of serotonin-endorphins-dopamine) in your system! And another ex-colleague who’ve been trying so very hard to conceive since the night of her wedding (literally!) but successfully got pregnant after going on a stress-free getaway (I shared with her my success-story’s “secret recipe”. Lol. Hint hint to another friend of mine, J, who’s stressing out on conceiving her 2nd child 😉). Stress-free getaway entails skipping the bungee jump and roller a coaster rides please. She just delivered her baby girl 2 weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure she’s a very happy mum (her in- laws too I’m guessing coz her MIL was practically stuffing her with all sorts of Chinese fertility herbal concoction!). 

Just the other day, F was telling me no way she’s having a third one with all the morning sickness going on, even in her 2nd trimester. And not forgetting “pregnancy brain” too! I experienced it myself, forgetting simple stuff, losing your train of thought midway of your conversation (the horror when it happens in a business meeting. Gasp!!). F now writes down every single thing she needs to do everyday, and crosses them out one by one. You know, just in case. 

Having a strong support system is crucial in times like these. Husbands, please understand the body and emotional changes your wife is going through. Every pregnancy is different. Don’t expect your wife to still iron your clothes and make you breakfast when she’s struggling with morning sickness and lack of sleep due to nursing a sick and clingy toddler. You’re a grown man. Help your wife and she will love you even more. That’s a promise every wife will make to you. I really salute and respect single mums out there (my mum being one of them) who single handedly manage the children’s upbringing and wellfare (not forgetting household matters) all by themselves. There’s this single mother-of-two whose 3 years old boy, Ethan, was striken with leukemia early this year. As a mum, my heart aches terribly for her. But she’s amazingly strong and steadfast in her faith in facing this life extremely difficult hurdle. I don’t know her personally, but her posts on the mothers connect groups in Facebook makes me feel as though I do know a little about her struggle. If you’re reading this, stay strong and continue to be the inspiration to all of us. Our prayers goes out to Ethan that he will be a strong boy, and that he will recover very very soon, and to you, that you may continue to stay steadfast in your faith and that He will bless you and your family greatly. 

But back to the point of this blog post (finally!). Will I have another child? Let’s list down the pros and cons to it. 

Pro (this is what everyone tells us, but I don’t buy it 100%. But oh well)

1. Another sibling for my child to accompany her throughout her life when we are no longer around. 

2. The more the merrier. 

Cons (the list is longer!)

1.   I can’t see how I can split my time and love (and finances) for another child. It will kill me inside to have to spend less time with my precious lil girl. And losing even more sleep?! Can I cope with any less sleep?? Having the stamina to run after a toddler and managing an infant is a whole new level altogether! 

2. Education is gonna cost us a bomb with the crazy inflation (coupled with the fact that our currency is devaluing faster than you can say devaluing) happening these days.

3. And being in my late 30s, the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome will be way higher. I don’t think I’m strong enough to cope with that. 

So, with that, I conclude a no. Call me selfish (for depriving my girl of a sibling), but I don’t think I’ll have another child. Not at this point of my life. 

But then again, no one knows what the future holds for anyone of us. Also, I’ve not tied my tubes (apologies for the info overload). So if it’s God’s will, then so be it. But if you were to leave it to me (and K will agree too), we are now perfectly happy with being just the 3 of us. Happy days ❤️

p/s If babies can come delivered to the doorstep (without having the 40-weeks incubation period) with an instruction manual and million dollar education fund, I won’t mind another one. Or two. The more the merrier right? 😁

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Mama on a budget 

When one no longer draws a 5-figure monthly paycheck, and you see your bank balances depleting by the day, especially when you have a new start-up, every dollar counts. Seriously. Before I quit my bank job, the once-a-year long haul holiday is an absolute must, with loads of shopping and dining. Back at home, branded toiletries and make-up. Japanese and Thai eat outs every other day. Imported foodstuff. Even placed a deposit for a Merc!

Those days are over. For now at least. Now, my focus is on my child and business. Don’t get me wrong, I still provide the best for my child. I buy all things natural and organic for her, as far as I can. Her wardrobe is more extensive (and expensive!) than mine now. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I shopped anything fancy for myself. Boohoo. But that’s the thing. Mums, generally (those who’s otherwise, please don’t shoot the writer!) are willing to spend more on their children (be it education, toys, clothing, food, etc) eventhough they need to be on a tight budget themselves.

So now. In view that I’ve got limited budget, and overseas trip is a no-go (for now!), what can we do instead? I figured, why not I list down a few not-so-expensive stuff to do with your family, and keep everyone happy at the same time? Here goes.

1. Support local tourism

Visit your local cities and go off the not-so-beaten tracks (can’t be too adventurous with babies now, can we?). Instead of checking into your usual (boring!) hotels, why don’t you opt for homestay? They’re affordable, but yet gives you a slightly different experience as compared to a hotel. Of course, you won’t get your standard hotel breakfast and gym/pool facilities, but hey, a break from the norm can be rather refreshing for the soul!

The recent trip we made to Malacca, the historical state of Malaysia, courtesy of Mr Hubby who decided to take us for a short excursion to celebrate my new found “corporate freedom”. He found us a nice, cosy homestay called The Stable for RM380 a night, located right at the centre of Jonker Street, and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. Not super baby friendly, but we managed comfortably. Thanks to the very comfortable king sized bed and soft pillows, M enjoyed her beauty sleep so much, she slept till close to 10am the next day!

Looking out at ya from The Stable. Do not let the facade fool you, Inside’s cozy and gorgeous!

Or go on a foodie trip (perhaps a stay over too!) and fill up your “tanks” with good local hawker food. Try to avoid weekends or public holidays if you can, less be overwhelmed (and frustrated) by the sheer number of people surrounding you waiting for your table. Totally not baby friendly, unless your tot is so well behaved, he or she doesn’t crank up in the heat and hustle and bustle, I would avoid going to these places on a weekend at all cost. Last weekend we were in Ipoh for a quick getaway, good weather (thank God!) and (almost) well-behaved baby. Happy days 🙂

Artsy mailboxes, perfect for the camera! Outside Sekeping Kong Heng
2. Visit your local parks and zoo
We took M to Aquaria, a bit pricey in my view, but it was M’s first time, and she loved it! So, anything to keep her happy and entertained, i say!

Thoroughly enjoying the “seaview”
Next would probably be the zoo, bird parkbutterfly parkFarm in the City. Or you can even go to your local swimming pools for a swim! It costs less than 5 bucks per person, go early and if possible, avoid weekends, to have a decent time of splashing fun with your little one.

3. Have a cook/ bake-out at home

I’ve been cooking and baking more at home these days, reliving my yesteryear passion, one that was put on the back burner ever since I joined my last employer 4 years ago (no thanks to the long hours and stress). Also, wanted to make sure the little one is well fed with as much unprocessed food possible. Japanese meals (udon, teriyaki, chawanmushi, etc), pasta (with tomato paste made from scratch!) and even cheesecakes. Might not be easy juggling all that work that entails, including attending to a fussy baby (not forgetting the cleaning up afters) but the little one learns as we go along, that mommy is making food for her, that she might as well watch and learn! I’ll hand her the kitchen utensils to play (and throw!), spaghetti noodles to fiddle and figure out how to feed herself, bits of fruits to chew on while I finish cutting up the rest. She’s mighty busy herself, with all that “work” that she’s assigned with. But on days when Ms Fussy Pots decides that she needs to have a close up helicopter view of whatever that I’m doing at the kitchen, I’ll end up carrying her in one arm, and working with the other. Just yesterday, I attempted to make thin crust pizza for the very first time. I thought I did good, with all that effort in making my own tomato paste and all, until I took a bite off that crust. OMG! I forgot to add baking soda to my dough! My pizza ended up tasting like biscuit. Lol. Next time, we shall try again. Next experiment, spinach hand made noodles 😁

Looks can be deceiving. LOL
So yea. Life doesn’t have to be a bore eventhough one is on a budget. There’s much to learn and explore as a family, just need to be more imaginative and willing to try on new things.

p/s. Oh, did I also mention that I’ve cancelled my Astro (cable tv) subscription. STRICTLY NO TV (and NO children/baby shows on iPad/ laptop!) for my child until she’s at least 2. I would rather spend time reading and playing with her. And no tv for me coz I just don’t have the time! Any time that I have left at the end of the day is spent on work. And blogging 🙂