Answering the Impossible Questions as a 24 year old expecting mother

by Yeung Yeu-gynn

When I was 12 weeks pregnant with my bean.

Photo Credit: Yours truly


That double line I’ve been waiting for. My 24 year old heart skipped a beat.


Elated at the news, all my husband wanted was to lie on the floor immersed in the moment. “Let me lie here for a while!” was all he could verbally muster in delight.


Being pregnant at 24 and having my first baby at 25 wouldn’t have appealed to teenage me. But this is the path I consciously chose when I decided to marry three years ago. I never saw myself as the kid-having type - I mean, I still feel like a baby myself.


Seeing my ‘bean’ for the first time

My 9 weeks old bean in-the-making.

Photo Credit: Yours truly


Where do I go for my scans? My husband wanted to accompany me to my first doctor’s visit (and so did my in-laws!). But the ongoing pandemic meant strict rules requiring the pregnant mother to go solo. So alone, I made my way to the nearest government clinic for that mandatory registration for pregnant mothers.


Seeing your first baby for the very first time ever can be quite exciting. But I didn’t even know what ‘it’ is supposed to look like. “Where is the baby?” I sheepishly asked the doctor as I stared at the screen.


She obligingly pointed and, finally I spied a cute bean floating inside of me. I nearly teared up in joy - how could this little bean morph into more of a baby? (Spoiler alert - it did!)


When I brought a printout of the scan home, my husband asked the same question, “Where is the baby?” His enthusiasm took over and he immediately snapped twenty or more photos of our little bean. He even emailed them to himself just so he could print and laminate the best-looking one!

A family portrait of 3 during Christmas last year.

Photo Credit: Yours truly


My husband’s older and has been ready to have children for a while now. So you can imagine his excitement and how heartwarming it is for me to see him excited. This was not how I thought my 2020 would have been. I imagined my year filled with travel adventures but life and COVID had another plan for me, and I’m not complaining at all.


I had my second ultrasound at a private hospital. This scan was more detailed, and the bean had grown into a semi-baby. This semi-baby even moved during the ultrasound scan! Seeing our bean, now growing in my belly made my heart fluttered.


How could something so small make me feel so much love?


Confinement - for or against?

As our baby grew in me, there was a nagging question - should I get myself confinement services?


Postpartum confinement is a traditional practice where a mother confines herself with nannies, who not only look after your child but the recovering mother. Confinement services usually come with many traditional taboos but some mothers choose to not practise this tradition anymore.


I felt confused and overwhelmed by all the different advice and traditions. My favourite taboos so far would be - eating the right herbs to shrink your womb, getting massages and not bathing in cold water. A loyal fan of warm showers, I’ve been too posh to suffer what feels like sub-zero temperatures. I'm lucky in this respect! I probably couldn’t subscribe to the absolute no-shower confinement belief though!


I asked around, and the consensus was resounding - confinement will make your life easier! I thought then if everyone is doing it, it must be working somehow.


Now that I am interested in confinement, the next question arises - should I have my confinement at home or at a centre?


I liked the comfort of my home after childbirth and wasn’t keen on confinement centres. Yet after surveying a few confinement homes nearby and talking to experienced mothers, I’m starting to think it could be our best option. A relative or a confinement lady at home would mean I get to be in the comforts of my home… but I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with the idea of putting the burden of caring for me and the baby all on a single person. At least in a confinement home, the ladies work on shifts. The carers are less likely to be too tired to support me or the baby when we need them.


Being Pregnant is NOT Glamorous

Unglam photo of me lying down before my ‘night sickness’.

Photo Credit: Yours truly


One thing I learned from my first trimester, it’s not glamorous. Far from it.


I knew it was going to take a toll on my body but didn’t expect it to be so tiring. I thought I would enjoy not having my period, but I barely had time for the thought to cross my mind these days.


I’ve had to pick and choose my daily activities and cut way back on household chores (thankfully, my husband picked up my slack without complaining). Especially at night when the nausea hits.


My baby daddy and I, ready to embark on our parenting journey. Photo Credit: Yours truly


Instead of morning sickness, I get “night sickness”. This has led my friends to joke about my baby being a vampire. On the bright side, at least this allows me to properly work during the day!


Before my pregnancy, I used to have many negative thoughts about my body even though, I l rationally knew I looked fine. After having our little bean, I now have resolved to be kind to myself in the presence of my child least it affects him or her negatively. I hope setting a kind-to-self mindset will help my baby be happy throughout his or her whole life. (which makes me realise, our baby has already started impacting my life positively!)


Answering so many questions in my head


How painful is childbirth? None of my mommy friends would let on about the pain of childbirth.


How long should my maternity leave be? I’d like enough time to heal and spend time with my baby during the first few months.


I don’t know much about being a mom and I am still learning. One thing I know for sure, is that I want my baby to be born feeling like a happy drop of sunshine.


With so many questions, thoughts and resolutions.. I am tired, but happy. Anxious, but excited.


It makes me think there isn’t a universal answer to our questions. Most expecting mothers are also still finding out - we’re all just secretly winging it.


So here I am, winging it one day at a time, see you next trimester… by which I’ll know my baby’s gender. (And yes, I did try to guess it based on my skin’s condition - a Chinese belief said that if the mother’s skin becomes oilier than before pregnancy, it means she’s having a boy.) We shall see!


---


Be a part of the TAW Community! A space for Asian women to connect, to voice out, to laugh, to share experiences and to bounce life's question.


Click here to join!