For Mandy Loh, having children has never been an option.
“That has always been how I envision family life. It is not just about the husband and wife; children must always be in the picture,” said the first-time mother.
She took the I Love Children Parenthood Pledge in 2009, even before marrying her husband, Tim Loh. “We were only engaged at that time and I had to persuade him quite a bit to go for it,” Mandy recalled.
The couple, both 32, plunged into parenthood sooner than they expected. They had their first child, Cristan, within the first year of their marriage.
“Even my parents –in-law were shocked and said: ‘So fast?’ when they heard that I was pregnant,” said Mandy, who believes that Cristan was conceived during their honeymoon last September.
Their foremost concern? Finances, which Mandy described as a “big, black hole”. It was not clear how or even whether they would cope with expenses as their new home and honeymoon had almost wiped out their savings.
In spite of their fears, everything fell into place by the time Cristan was born.
“Nine months is a long time, things can be worked out,” Mandy said. They tapped into Medisave while relatives and friends would offer some useful items. “We just have to be a bit more prudent, it is just like saving for a car or a house.”
Her family-friendly employer that has agreed to let her work from home, allowing her to be a full time mother, without compromising on other aspects of life. “Being there and doing all the small things really helps me to get to know my child more,” Mandy said.
During her confinement period, she wished she had more chances to care for Cristan as there was always a nanny and her in-laws to attend to his needs and wants.
Now that she is taking care of Cristan full-time, she is thankful for Tim’s support and his willingness to be a hands-on father. Tim makes it home on time as much as he can, bringing home his work instead of staying at office to complete them. He also helps to change the diapers and bathe Cristan, among other little acts, giving Mandy some chances to rest.
Mandy had not seen the need for any strict division of labour between the two. The couple simply fell comfortably into their new roles.
“There’s magic in having a child. Sharing the responsibility of parenthood with my husband brought us closer,” said Mandy.
To those who are hesitant about having a child, Mandy said: “Life is not going to be upside down, just some adjustments will do,” she said. The couple intends to have at least one or two more children before Mandy hits 35.
“Yes, you will lose sleep and cut down on having your own fun, but there is really a lot of joy in having a child of your own.”