You could say that YES 933 DJ Siau Jia Hui’s confinement was very trying. Determined to follow traditional Chinese confinement practices, Jiahui, who’s in her 30s, didn’t shower for 28 days. She couldn’t really walk because of pain from her episiotomy, or rest very well either. Every time she was about to, her newborn — a daughter nicknamed Little T, now 5½ months — needed to be fed. “During the first two weeks, I was crying very often to be honest.”
Says Jiahui, who only washed her hair twice during her confinement, “It takes up a lot of your mental energy because there’re so many things you need to cope with and you can’t control your emotions at all. I think a lot of women will become a totally different person during confinement, like the Hulk!”
Also, since her body is naturally heaty, the bubbly DJ laments that some of the herbs her confinement nanny prepared were hard to stomach. “At one point, I think it was one or two weeks after giving birth, one of the tonics was so bu (strong in Mandarin) that I felt very, very uncomfortable. I had a terrible headache, so my mother added some other herbs [to balance it out].”
“I think a lot of women will become a totally different person during confinement, like the Hulk!”
The affable DJ gives SmartParents the lowdown on her pregnancy, labour and motherhood experience to date…
What do you miss most about being pregnant?
I miss the little punches and kicks in my belly because that’s when you know your baby is connecting with you. Especially when I was reading the news, she’d definitely move. That’s when I know she was actually listening to me. Sometimes before I slept, I’d rub anti-stretch mark cream on my tummy while talking to her and I could feel her move sometimes. I would think to myself ― life is really amazing, that I had this new life in my tummy. It made me feel grateful and special at the same time.
Was your pregnancy and labour experience similar to what you’d read in the books?
I’m the kind who gets easily stressed ― the more I read, the more I get stressed. So, during my pregnancy, I just went with the flow, did my work, went home and ate the things my mum cooked. I made sure I was getting enough nutrition and kept myself happy. Delivery wise, I knew it would be really, really painful, so I had to have an epidural. My gynae told me that my threshold for pain isn’t very high [laughs]. One thing I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t have much food to eat before giving birth. I was hungry for more than 10 hours, so, I didn’t have much strength to push the baby. In the end I had an assisted delivery ― the doctor had to use a vacuum to help get Little T out.
Your biggest challenge caring for Little T, so far?
The toughest part will have to be that one time when she was down with a cold. The first thing I did was to message my friends who were already mummies and asked them what I should do. I started getting paranoid, asking, “Should I get her to the paedi? Is there anything I can do?” Then they told me that the cold would go away on its own and to just make sure to use nasal spray to get the mucus out, then give her ample time to get well. They told me it might also take a toll on you and your helper because Little T might wake up more often than usual. So, I got a lot of assurance and help from my friends when stuff like this happens.
Read on to find out when to expect Jiahui’s baby #2!
You said that you and your hubby always knew you wanted kids ― so, how many?
Two was our ideal number.
Has it changed?
After giving birth, I told my husband, maybe now, one is enough? [Chuckles] Because it is really tough. It isn’t just about the pregnancy or the delivery. Taking care of the baby is really, really challenging. Some people would ask me, “So, when are you going to have another one?” I tell them wait until I gain more confidence as a mother first. Based on what I’ve been through to date, I’m okay but am still not very confident yet. So, I really need more time to get to a stage where I’m not too bad at being a mother, before I contemplate having number two!
What was Mr T’s reaction?
He was both a bit disappointed and taken aback at the same time. Then I told him, “If you think it’s so easy, then you go and give birth lah!” [Laughs] Then I told him, I need more time. Now, he says he understands. Because right now, he also doesn’t have much time for Little T either. He works till very, very late sometimes.
"I told my husband, if she looks like you, ah, she will have very few admirers.”
Do you have “mummy guilt”? How do you manage it?
The first day when I was driving to work, I was crying while listening to YES 933. [Laughs] I was feeling really upset about leaving my child with my helper, nor can I spend as much time with her as I want to. Now, I try to rush home as fast as I can on days when work isn’t too heavy. Unlike other mums, I’m very lucky because my work doesn’t take up a full day. So, in the morning I’ll spend some time with her before I come to work, I’ll leave home at about 10am and usually am home before 6pm. So, I still get to see, carry and feed her before she sleeps. Sometimes, when the work day is longer, I will sneak into her room while she’s sleeping and just look at and touch her, hoping that she’ll wake up so that she’ll see me. At one point — I know that I shouldn’t have done it but I did anyway — I took her out of the cot just to hug her. She opened her eyes for two seconds and then fell asleep again on my shoulder and after a while, I put her back into the cot. I just felt like I needed to give her a hug.
What is Little T’s personality like — what are some of her likes and dislikes?
She’s very playful and I think she’s like her daddy, she really likes to eat. When she sees other people eating, she will swallow her saliva and open her mouth. And when she was born, the paedi said our baby is very manja (coquettish in Malay) because of the way she cries. Little T is like a sa jiao (撒娇, coquettish in Mandarin) queen you know? If she wants certain things, she will pout. When she wants me to carry her, before she cries, she’ll pout and act like she’s a very poor thing. So I’ll go, “Okay lah, mummy will carry you…” [Laughs] and then after, she acts normally. She’s very xiao jie (like a princess in Mandarin) lor.
Who does Little T resemble in looks?
When she was born, she looked exactly like me but now that she’s older, she looks like her dad. We’re hoping that when she hits puberty, she’ll look like me. I told my husband, if she looks like you, ah, she will have very few admirers. [Laughs]
Care to share a memorable experience?
Seeing my daughter’s smile, especially when I’ve to wake up in the middle of the night to feed her. Sometimes, she will smile at me or while drinking milk, she’ll look me in the eyes while drinking. At that moment, I’ll feel like it’s all worth it. It really makes me feel very happy that I’m spending that moment with her, just the two of us in the room.
Who’s the stricter parent? Find out…next!
Who’s the stricter parent?
I am ― I believe in caning. Because I am the type who was caned by my parents when I was young but I’m still okay, so why not? [Laughs] I don’t believe that caning emotionally damages the kid ― I was caned and until now, I still love my parents. There are certain times when talking to them just doesn’t work. It also depends on the personality of the kid, I mean if she’s really guai (well-behaved in Mandarin), why would I want to cane her for no reason?
How do you strike a balance between sharing stuff about Little T online and protecting her privacy?
I post updates to let other people know how Little T is doing but not to the extent of overexposing her to the media with personal info or details like location. All the pictures I’ve posted are of her being happy because I feel happy when I see these pictures and I want to share this happiness with other people as well. Also, because I really love babies and I think that all babies are really cute! Even before I was pregnant, I’d look at pictures of other people’s babies and I’d think to myself, “One day, I am going to have my own baby!” [Laughs]
“It really makes me feel very happy that I’m spending that moment with her, just the two of us in the room.”
Your thoughts on exposing Little T to gadgets and screen time?
I try to keep it as little as possible for now, at least. My main concern is the health of her eyes. I don’t want her to get myopia at such a young age. I started wearing glasses when I was in Primary 3 and now, my myopia is so bad that when I take off my glasses, I cannot really see. So as far as possible, I will like for her to be exposed to these gadgets at a much later time. Sometimes, I want to watch TV but if I can’t stop her from turning her head in that direction, I’d switch it off and not watch. So, I’ve sacrificed watching TV until when she’s in her room sleeping. I also try not to expose her to my phone ― I don’t let her watch anything on my phone, I just play songs from it. But once in a while, I’ll take selfies.
What is one piece of advice you’ll like to give Little T about dating in the future?
[Laughs] I’m not sure if it’s good advice but it’s the advice I got from my mum [Chuckles] — that when she is getting to know a person, she won’t give her 100 per cent just yet. Because let’s say the guy cheats on her, then she will be devastated and heartbroken and it will be very difficult for her to get back on track. I think it’ll be good for her to know more people first before she settles down in a relationship. Learn how to differentiate between people who are true and sincere to her and others who are not before she embarks on a new relationship in her life.
What is your biggest wish for Little T?
I just hope that she can find what she likes in life and pursue her own dreams. I don’t want my child to pursue a career just because it is considered “high class”. Most importantly, she must have a goal in life. Know what she wants and then go for it!
Catch Jiahui on YES 933 with co-host Chen Ning, weekdays from noon to 4pm.
Photos: Siau Jiahui
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