Sunday, February 05, 2017

My fatherhood journey - Part 1

2017 is such a significant year for me. There are different stages in one’s life and this year is going to be one of the biggest milestone in my life because I’m a father now! My baby was born on the 31st of Jan 2017, same as B's baby. I thought it’ll be interesting to hear about the birth of the baby from the father’s perspective, so I’ll share it here. I will talk about the financial cost of the whole journey, but I don’t want it to be the first thing to come to mind when discussing about having a child. Hence, I’m going to share the entire journey right from the start.

Our little 'buddha' baby - babies truly live in the present. They don't live in the past nor the future. If uncomfortable, they cry. If hungry, they eat. If sleepy, they sleep. Once satisfied, they stop crying. There's a lot to learn from them.

Pre-pregnancy and Maternity check-up

I think we’re quite blessed in the sense that everything comes very smoothly for the pregnancy. I think earlier in 2016, both of us went for a major health check-up to ensure that all of us are healthy. After that, it took maybe 3 to 4 months before it happened. My wife’s breast started feeling very tender and sensitive (that’s usually the first signs) so we bought some pregnancy test kits to check it out. How I came to know of her pregnancy is more interesting. One day, I think I was doing some work when my wife popped in and showed me the results of the pregnancy test kit. I was actually quite stunned by it because I don’t know what it means. We scrambled to read the instruction manual and that’s when we knew we’re going to be parents soon.

Throughout the whole pregnancy, my wife don’t have the usual pregnancy symptoms like back aches or morning sickness, so it’s a relatively enjoyable journey for her. As her belly gets bigger, more and more stranger started to rub her belly. If we could charge a penny for the rubbing, we could probably be financially free by now. I did my fair share of feeling the baby’s movement by touching the belly at different points, feeling all the flutters, the rolls, the twist and the turns, the murmurs, the wave, the pops and the kicks. I love talking to the belly, reminding my son inside that there are two people in the world who will always love him, and telling him we’ll meet him soon and please not to cause so much pain to his mother.

But there’s a ton of things to worry about, like choosing between a private and public hospital, which gynecologist, what kind of birth and so on. So we dive in and did our literature research about the various options and realised what deep shit we got ourselves into! Lol!

We went around ‘shopping’ for hospitals by visiting the various maternity wards of public and private hospitals. Our initial decision of going to private hospitals eventually changed to public hospitals, after hearing horror stories of babies being premature and have to be warded In neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and having to pay a few thousands per night. It can amount to a fifth of a million dollars if something bad happens. This becomes the beginning of what I call a fear based pregnancy journey. It seems that everything is based on fear.

Ultimately we settled for NUH under a senior consultant (Prof Biswas, if you want to know his name), thinking that the cost can be kept affordable should there be a need to go NICU, by downgrading to a lower class ward. It’s quite far from our home and it takes about an hour ride in general, but we treated the check-ups like going on a date. We knew each other in NUS way back when we’re still studying (I’m in Engineering and she’s in Arts). We like Indian food so we always go back to the Engineering faculty’s canteen for their cheap and delicious Indian food. In fact, that’s the part that we most like about the whole check-up routine, plus the fact that we have weird stares from students as my wife’s pregnancy started to become more obvious. I think both of us look like students except for her ballooning belly. Since there’s a discount for staff, the stall owner selling drinks had been giving some slight discount for my wife whenever she bought drinks. A student can’t be pregnant right? Haha!

But the whole check-up is just waiting and waiting and more waiting. It’s a little like army – you rush to wait and then you wait to be rushed. The consultation takes maybe 10 minutes tops, while the waiting can be up to 2 hours if you’re unlucky. Since both of us are self-employed, I often wondered how people manage to take so many leave from work to attend all these check-ups. Due to the nature of my job, it’s good to be able to accompany my wife on such check-up dates, so we re-framed the whole waiting game altogether – instead of wasting time waiting for our turns, we are spending our time together.

During the visits to the gynecologist, there’s usually an ultrasound scan too to see the baby’s development. Here, we can take black and white ‘pictures’ of our son at different stages of the pregnancy and also hear his heartbeat. The first time I heard his heart beat, it was such a magical experience. That little ‘alien’ is actually alive and is living inside my wife! But it always sounded the same, and I wondered aloud to my wife if there’s a stock video and stock heart beat soundtrack that they play to all mothers every time. Hmm… that conspiracy theory remains to be tested.

Test for genetic defects

I’m not young anymore, and so is my wife. Though there are a lot of celebrities’ couple having birth in their 40s and 50s, I knew that the chances of genetic defects are higher due to poor egg and sperm quality. That’s why I was quite worried about all the major developmental test during the maternity check-up. I think I told my wife back then that we have to remember this moment in our lives, especially when our son failed his exams or committed some mistakes. Why? Because once upon a time, we were contented and overjoyed with him just by being healthy and fine.

Contentment is a relative thing.

Parenting is a journey full of worries. I think it’s good to experience this. I guess on a broader level, our parents must have felt the same way towards us too. Being a parent makes me more appreciative of all parents, particularly my own.

Tiny little fingers. You never know great joy until you had held a soft living thing who trusted you so much that he fell asleep in your arms.

Birth plan

We started watching a lot of you-tube on the birthing process. Most of it was found by my wife as she prepares for the birth mentally. We learnt of the continuum concept (there’s a book on that) which strikes a resonating chord in both of us. It’s amazing how a little research can do wonders in preparing ourselves for the actual event. It was also the first time I read books about pregnancy and how a husband can support a wife during the actual birthing. Tons of material are out there, and we both decided to skip the antenatal classes because we think it’s a rip off after looking through the slides shared by Frugal Daddy.

We had a birth plan, jotting all the points that we want and do not want. We presented it to the gynecologist during one of the consultations and he signed on it. It was supposed to be scanned and sent to the records, but apparently on the day it wasn’t found. Thankfully, the birth plan was easy summarised by one principle - LESS MEDICAL INTERVENTION. All the rest of the points are just the details.

For me, it’s good because I know what my wife wants after our discussions, and I’m willing to guide her and give the necessary instructions to everyone in the fog of birth.


I was drooling in my sleep when my wife woke me up at 6am on 31st of Jan. It was the 4th day of the Chinese New Year and just the night before, we went to my in-law’s place for a good dinner. We could not have known that in another few hours, we will be having my epic journey to meet our son.

I think my water just broke.” my wife said calmly.

I was rubbing the sleepiness off me while trying to process what the strings of sound means. My wife showed me the extent of the ‘damage’ while I took some kitchen towels to clean up a little. She told me she that she had been feeling really terrible throughout the night with the contractions, but she didn’t tell me about it. She had also been walking around to ease off the pain while I slept through all that like a baby. Oops :)

She called the hotline given by the hospital and was advised by them to head to the hospital once we’re ready. I told her to take a shower and go wash her hair while I packed our bug out bag to get ready to the hospital. Our bags had been lying on the table for nearly a week, while we waited anxiously for the expected due date to arrive on 28th of Jan. But it was a non-event, literally a no show. You cannot begin to imagine how anxious it was waiting for her labour to start. But I guess our baby will arrive not early nor late but exactly as he wishes to.

Thankfully the traffic was fine, and we reached the hospital in about 30 mins, because we hit the roads before the morning peak hour traffic began. My wife was squirming every now and then, but it’s still bearable enough for her to walk and act normally. I think most people have the idea that once contraction hits, we have to call the ambulance and be rushed straight to hospital immediately, but the truth is far from it. It’s a long drawn out process and technically we can eat a good hearty breakfast before going in to the hospital.

For those not in the know, the magic number is 10. What’s that? Once the cervix dilation reaches 10 cm, the gynecologist can come to deliver. Before that, you just have to endure the labour and contractions until it reaches 10 cm. When my wife came in at 730am, it was 3 cm. We’re admitted to the delivery suite at about 845 am. At 1130 am, it was 5 cm. Time flies for me while I’m there, but I’m sure my wife will experience time dilation because she was living moment to moment in between the regular contractions. I was massaging my wife’s back all the time, providing sips of water to her and giving all the support that I can give while she’s on her toughest journey of her life. That’s the least I can do.

At 330pm, the dilation was still at 3cm and we have to make a decision to inject oxytocin, a drug that augments the labour by making the contraction stronger. So far the pain was bearable but the labour process was still slow. There’s a timeline to rush because the water bag had burst and the baby might get into trouble after a long period (about 18 hours). We’re afraid that the use of such drugs will make the labour much more painful. This has the potential effect of creating a cascade of medical intervention. Oxytocin leads to more pain, leading to the use of epidural that will dull the pain and make it harder to time when pushing, which will then lead to foetal distress because of the prolonged and high intensity contraction and ultimately leading to c-section. That is an end scenario we do not want.

In the end, we opted for oxytocin, and within 30 mins, the pain level went up drastically. There are many medical professionals coming in asking if my wife wanted epidural or laughing gas, but I think she can take it and firmly rejected their offer. At the same time, I had to constantly caress and comfort my wife as the contractions get more intense, longer and more frequent. After about 1030pm, the pain level really shot up a lot and my wife experienced the final thrall of the labour process. It really pains my heart to see my wife in agony and pain. While we might not be able to avoid pain, we can certainly avoid suffering. Suffering comes when there is no meaning to the pain we’re taking, so I constantly encouraged her, held her hands tightly while she goes through her waves of labour, and reminded her that each pain will bring us closer to seeing our son. Once the meaning is understood, there is great capacity for us to withstand pain with meaning and without suffering.

The nurse checked that it’s about 9 cm dilation now and called the doctor, who came in around 11pm. And in about 30 mins, our son was out hearing his first cry to the world! It was such a surreal experience, and I’m very relieved to hear that my wife and son are fine.

Ending note

That ends the first part of our pregnancy journey. I hope that reading this will give strength and courage to would be fathers. In the next post, I’ll let my wife share her experiences, before the last post about the financial cost of all this leading to the birth. Hopefully this would put the financial cost in the right perspective.


Singapore Man of Leisure said...


What an epic post!

First, congrats to being a Dad!

Second, can you high five the missus for me? She's one hell of a girl! No epidural and C-section? She's Amazonian warrior princess!

Third, I'm going to erase all those graphic descriptions about 3, 5, 10 cm...

Friend, I went to the Science Centre while in primary school and after watching the video on child birth, it destroyed me for several years before I finally got over that "trauma"...

Fourth, you son of a gun! How many Arts faculty babes will give nerdy Engineering guys any time of day? You have made your Engineering brethren proud!

Fifth, nice touch on that line about the Buddha-baby living in the present ;)

Many grew up and start setting goals and plans and venture on their journeys veering further away from their 初心.

You are right. Never forget your joy in learning your baby is HEALTHY.

This is the only thing that matters.

Poke yourself if you find yourself heaping Great Expectations when your baby starts school ;)

Createwealth8888 said...


Once your baby is older; you will be happily playing with him. I have seen many happy fathers playing with their baby or kid. Once I saw one fearful looking Ah Beng with Dragon tattoo; but a loving father who was playing with his son. :-)

Anonymous said...


Unintelligent Nerd said...

Congrats LP! :D

yeh said...

Congratulation Lp

Sanye ◎ 三页 said...

Congrats LP, for becoming a father!

OT83 said...

Congrats LP!! You will be happy playing with him even when he is baby!
Just been through it! Now I missed my baby when he was just borned!

wk said...

Congratulations LP. Enjoy the journey !!

sgdividends said...

COngrats,its a wonderful feeling and the first 6 months can be quite shiong..when he reaches 18 months ...its damn shiok and they are really cute and funny and you can play with them

Kate said...

That's a very sweet post coming from a dad. But kudos to your wife for not choosing epidural. I have no idea how I will survive without that. The fun life begins! Enjoy!

Sillyinvestor said...

Congrats to being a father!! LP

Anonymous said...

Congra !!

la papillion said...


Thanks man :) I'll show her your comments. She actually haven't read my post about it, as she's still reading her own piece (to avoid prejudice lol). I'll let her know you high fived her :)

Haha, rmb to poke me and remind me if I stray far from this origin story post :)

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Every parent loves their kids, I think that's the thing I get from this whole experience. The initial experience of holding a baby makes me realise how much my parents must have loved me too. That comes from a full circle of experiencing life :)

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

Haha, I know it's very long, it's alright :) Thanks!

la papillion said...

Hi UI,

Thanks man :) When is yours? :)

la papillion said...

Hi yeh,

Thanks thanks, really appreciate your well wishes :)

la papillion said...

Hi Sanye,

Thanks! I think bullythebear will transit to bullybybaby :o

la papillion said...

Hi ot,

Haha, I've heard that people are lamenting that babies grow up too fast :) I'll treasure what experiences we had with him now, all the good and the bad :)

la papillion said...

Hi wk,

Thanks wk :) Definitely one hell of a ride for us :) You'll see me blogging more about parenthood I guess ;)

la papillion said...

Hi sgdividends,

18 months? Okay! That'll be 1.5 years later lol! First month with confinement lady around, I think it's still honeymoon for us :) Wait till she's gone, then we'll bear the full brunt of it!

la papillion said...

Hi Kate,

Haha, there's really not a lot of dads posting such stuff, so i thought i'll do my part :) Not choosing epidural is a very conscious choice, and I think my wife prepared for months for that eventuality. Very relieved that she did it without much interventions as planned :) I think the amount of birthing videos I watched on youtube can make me a mini expert on this subject lol

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

Thanks thanks :) It's a very different journey for sure. Suddenly no time for frivolous stuff lol

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,


simplefolk said...

Congratulations! Enjoy your journey into parenthood and have fun.

Rena said...

Hi LP, CONGRATS for your bundle of joy. Enjoy parenthood!

I too had my kid at a public hospital(KKH) with the same consideration that if there is some emergency stuff, private will be too expensive.

I did it via the public subsidised mode, where you go polyclinic, get referral. This method has no fixed gynae, but works for me since I have no particular gynae in mind.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations LP! Great post too. Keep writing stories like that and you may solve the low birth rate problem in Singapore.


Jes said...

Hi LP,

Congrats and do take care of your wife more! Nights will be long, days will be hard but you will never be happier. I am happy that your wife thinks like me, no epidural is needed! =D

Ricky Chen said...

Congrats !!!

Ricky Chen said...

Congrats !!!

Sun said...

Congrats! Very happy for u! I am so
Looking forward to your new milestone posts!
Exciting and sleepless time ahead. Stay strong!

FuzzyView said...

Hey LP,

A late but hearty congratulations! It's a whole new world by itself and you'd start to see EVERYTHING with a new set of eyes. I bet you're at least already mentally labeling stuff as baby-friendly or not... :D

Anyway, have fun and enjoy the journey. Welcome aboard!

la papillion said...

Hi simplefolk,

Thanks man :) So far so good, been enjoying the good and bad :) If it's bad, I just tell myself this is all part of the experience. Next time, when the kid grows up, even if I want the 'bad' so badly, I can't have it anyway :)

la papillion said...

Hi Rena,

Thanks!! I get it, I guess mine is private rates at public hospital. Oh well, it wasn't expensive also...I'll soon blog about it :) For my case, someone close referred a particular gynae, so we went from the east (where we stay) to the west (NUH) for it. On hindsight, if we were to choose a gynae again, I'll ask their philosophy about child birth first, rather than whether it's good or bad. If the philosophy is the same, then we can go ahead with it, haha

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

Wah, really ah? I will really continue writing more of such stories for sure!

la papillion said...

Hi Jes,

Haha, you're also one brave girl! You've no idea how many times I've read through your posts as a localised guide for child birth :) Since it helped tremendously for us, I thought I'll pay it forward by writing it so that other father and mums to be can have an idea of what the whole process is like. More knowledge, less fear :)

la papillion said...

Hi Ricky,


la papillion said...

Hi Sun,

Haha, thanks Sun :) Definitely more writing under the 'parenthood' tab in the days ahead :) I think those readers who had followed me from all the way will see how I've progressed over the years :) Hope that my son will read it in time to come too :)

la papillion said...

Hi Fuzzyview,

Nono, not late :) Thanks for the well wishes! I think as parents, we're quite slack lol! I was just 'scolded' by my mum on why we didn't have baby towels, pram, and even a cupboard to store all the baby stuff! hahaha

Me and wife just looked at each other and smiles sheepishly. I think it's going to be a fun ride together :)

Joyce Leong said...

Congrats LP and if your Wife is breastfeeding, just keep an eye on the confinement lady as sometimes they do say awful things to scare you into giving formula to your baby. Enjoy fatherhood

la papillion said...

Hi Joyce,

Thanks! Haha, it had already happened. Many people, including the confinement lady, are encouraging us to use include formula milk so that the baby can drink more. We don't think it's right, so not doing that at the moment.

So far it's very enjoyable :) Different experiences haha