Little wonder then that Sonya Davison, 26, has more than 250,000 followers. Born in Thailand, the Thai-British former model and Beam artiste now calls Singapore home, by way of Asia, Australia and the UK.
Sonya is married to American-born Filipino Judd Sanchez, who works in a technology company. The couple are parents to Tristan and Raiden, who turned 1 in April.
Sonya has been in countless print and TV commercials, appeared in music videos, hosted numerous gigs and even had a role in the 2010 Naomi Watts movie Fair Game, but nothing compares to how much she loves being a mum... She spills the beans to SmartParents.
Were you trying for kids right after you got married?
Oh, I wanted to try for a baby right away, but Judd doesn’t ever want to rush into anything ― he says we should enjoy our marriage, we should travel a bit, but I was like urggh! So, that happened for a year, and when he said, okay we’re ready, I was, okay let’s go to the doctor and get IVF! He said, what, we haven’t even started trying! I’m like, but I don’t want to waste time! You know some people try for a year? Let’s do it now! And he’s like, don’t be ridiculous, let’s do it the normal way [laughs].
How did you react when you learnt you were expecting?
It was the best day of my life! Of course, when I found out it was twins, I had a bit of a heart attack. My husband was like, yes, he “scored a touchdown”. I was terrified, to be honest. Oh my God, how am I going to carry two babies? How am I going to do this, I’m going to die! I was terrified of giving birth, and now I have to give birth to two? I was really scared, but as my pregnancy developed, I gained more confidence.
When I found out it was twins, I had a bit of a heart attack.
Looks like you’ve completely embraced motherhood, Sonya!
I can’t tell you how much I’ve always wanted babies! My friends, who have known me since I was little, they would all say that I just want to have kids, more than any career or anything. I would happily admit that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, but it was not negative because I’ve wanted it for so many years. I wanted kids since before we even got engaged. I was like, I don’t even care about getting married… I just want to have kids! On the first birthday I spent with Judd, I told him, I want to have six kids!
Is that still the plan?
Well, with twins, I know what it feels like when they both only want mummy right in that moment. If they are both crying at the same time, or if both of them only want me and I can’t take both of them ― how do you explain to your baby that he just has to wait? There’s no worse feeling… I feel like a baby should never have to wait for their mum! Maybe, when they’re older and they don’t need me as much, things will be different. But right now, they very much still need me, I can’t imagine having another one.
Tell us about your boys! How similar or different are they?
They are total opposites! Judd says don’t use the word naughty, but one of them is very naughty.
Ok, we have to ask ― which one is that?
[Laughs] It’s Tristan ― it’s cute though ― in a particular moment, he will look around and think: What’s the naughtiest thing I can do right now? So, he’s broken my phone, he’s broken two plates, he’s just broken so many things. As opposed to Raiden, who’s never broken anything! Raiden is a thinker. He will sit there and look around and calculate his moves. For Tristan, if you put him on the bed, he will just jump off headfirst. But it’s really cute and I love how they’re opposites. It’s so interesting because with twins, you can see what’s nurture and what’s nature.
How do you respond when someone asks you which is your favourite?
Honestly, before I had kids and I asked parents that, I’d be like, of course you have a favourite ― you’re just never going to say so. But now that I have my own kids, I absolutely don’t have a favourite. They’re so different and I love them so much for who they are, even though one’s naughty and one’s good [laughs]. I really mean it. Before I had kids, I thought it was a lie, but now that I do, I know it isn’t a lie.
What were you like when you were pregnant?
I had so many worries! I didn’t wear deodorant, I didn’t even wear perfume. I stopped wearing makeup because I was scared the chemicals would seep into the babies. I was absolutely crazy! I never tell anyone this but I took four tests when I was pregnant, including two listeria tests. I once ate a cupcake, and I later found out there was raw egg in the icing, and I was like, oh my god, I have listeria, I need to go to the doctor tomorrow and take a test.
I started finding all these diseases online, and when I went to the doctor for the fourth time, he was literally like, okay, what test do you want now? Once, I wanted this particular test that was so rare, the doctor said he had never heard anyone asking for it before. I’m like, yeah but I have to get it because I ate this and this. He had to call the lab to see if they even did the test in Singapore. He found he had to import the thing ― and I was like okay, do it, do it! My husband was like, do you know that the $2 cupcake cost us $500 at the doctor? Do not eat stupid things anymore! But seriously, he was pretty supportive, and let me take the test, even though I was pretty crazy!
That’s hilarious! But otherwise, the pregnancy was smooth?
It was a very smooth pregnancy. I had a C-section at 35 weeks because they were both breeched. You know how much I said I wanted kids? I was equally, on the other end, terrified of giving birth. I didn’t want to give birth, I just wanted babies! I think I’ve spent days of my life, worrying about the day I gave birth because I’m afraid of the pain.
But you know what? It was literally the easiest day of my life. I went to the clinic in the morning because I felt like I was having menstrual cramps. I was sure it was nothing, then the doctor said, okay, your contractions are 5 minutes apart. I’m like, contractions? What? I don’t even feel anything! And he said, yup we should deliver in about two hours. I was so shocked, I didn’t even bring the hospital bag that I had packed!
I’ve spent days of my life, worrying about the day I gave birth because I’m afraid of the pain.
So, was the delivery as painful as you thought it would be?
I was so scared of pain! So, they gave me the anaesthetic and the doctor said, before I cut you open, we need to test if the anaesthetic has worked. So, he poked me in the leg and asked me, can you feel that, and I was like yes! Do NOT cut me open! He did it again, and I said, I can STILL feel it! The third time, the doctor said, can you feel that? And I was like, yes I can! And he said, I didn’t even touch you [laughs]. I’m just so nervous about everything!
Now that the twins are here, how has life changed for you as a couple?
Nothing is the same as before. When I was pregnant, I would read all these parenting books. I read this one book that said, even for couples who wanted to have kids, the quality of marriage declines in almost a 100 per cent of relationships. Everyone thinks you have kids and it brings you closer ― no! It does the exact opposite. So, I told Judd, okay this is what’s going to happen to our marriage. What are we going to do to prevent that from happening? So, we decided that we were going to do date night every week from the moment they were born, and we try to do all the right things, but obviously it takes time to figure it out and find a groove. I confidently say we’ve done that now, but it did take a while.
You breastfed your twins exclusively. How difficult was that?
The first month was by far the hardest month of my life. I had never been more determined to do anything else in my life ― I just wanted to breastfeed them exclusively. They were premature, born at just 2kg each, so that meant that they each had to be fed every hour to hour and a half, all day all night. I couldn’t sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time, because I’d need at least 20 minutes to feed each of them. I couldn’t feed them at the same time because they had bad reflux and they would choke. Even the doctor told me that I should just supplement or switch to formula because I was not going to survive ― you’ve got two premature babies, he said! I was actually quite upset that he wasn’t more encouraging instead of giving me an easy way out. Actually, everyone was telling me to do that as they wanted to make it easier for me. But my husband was supportive, and I have no regrets. Now it’s so easy, and I love it. I’m so glad I stuck with it.
Do you get more sleep now that they are older?
Someone told me they slept through the night at three months ― oh my God, that is not true. I still probably wake up five or six times every night. But I’m used to it, it’s not bad.
Yikes ― do you have help at home, and time to wind down?
I’m pretty much a full-time stay-at-home mum, but I have a helper and if we go out and do stuff, she usually comes with me. If I go out without the boys, I won’t leave them for more than two hours. More often than not, I will bring one baby with me, and one will stay at home. Plus, she watches them when we go on date night, but those are never longer than three hours, and it’s after they’ve gone to sleep. The good thing is they sleep really early, at 7pm, so I have the whole night with my husband.
Is there anything you wish you had done before you had kids?
Honestly, there’s nothing. I can’t tell you how much I really wanted kids my whole life. It’s probably got to do with my unstable upbringing. There was a lot missing in my own childhood. I think from a very young age ― when I was 7 ― I wanted to have my own family, and I wanted it done the way it was supposed to be done. I always felt that I shouldn’t have been treated the way I was, and so I always thought, when I have kids, I want to make sure, more than anything, that they get the right treatment. And I think that stuck with me.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you as a mum?
I’m always breastfeeding because when you have two babies, you’re breastfeeding all day! I feel like my father-in-law has seen my boobs so many times, which is so, so embarrassing. And I used to leak so much in the first month. When we went out on date night, my boobs would be so completely huge, like an E cup by the end of the night! I’d never had boobs before becoming a mum ―I was so flat-chested ― and I told my husband that when I have boobs, I’m going to dress like such a slut (laughs), I’m basically going to milk it when I can.
So, I didn’t know how to dress for my new body type, and one night, I was wearing this really low V-neck dress that cut all the way down to the waist. I would normally leave the house after feeding the boys, and I’d have a couple of hours before I’d have to come back. In that time, my boobs went from small, to full and exploding, and I couldn’t even hold my top together. The milk stains were all over and it’d be wet on both sides! I’m was at this fancy restaurant, and it was a complete mess.
You’ve clearly lost all the baby weight ― how did you do it?
Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding was the biggest thing. I breastfeed all day, two babies, and all night, and that burns calories like crazy. I didn’t gain weight anywhere else other than my stomach during my pregnancy, so it wasn’t that hard. If I could give advice to anyone who has yet to become pregnant, it would be that you don’t need to eat for two… You can eat regular, which is what I did, plus maybe a bit more. Then, you don’t gain everywhere else and you don’t have to deal with that after. But I totally understand, how do you tell a pregnant woman not to eat ― but yeah, that would be my advice.
I think when you start sharing things on social media, people see details of your life and they start to think they know you, but they really don’t.
Do you always eat healthy?
Since I’ve been with my husband, I felt that I needed to take care of both of our health, because if it were up to Judd, he would just eat anything. I decided we were both going to start eating healthy, so we can both live longer for our children. I don’t usually eat junk food, anything canned or anything packaged. I eat fresh vegetables, fruits, proteins and whole grains. I don’t limit what I eat, I just eat till I’m full. But I have McDonald’s before shoots like today ― it’s like a tradition for me because I’m always in a rush. And I have cheat day once a week, and we have pizza or whatever.
You know, when you have kids and you start weaning them, you learn so much! Because the things you wouldn’t give your kid, you shouldn’t be eating either. You give them vegetables and whole grains and fruits, and proteins. I eat what they eat now, and I feel like they’ve taught me so much.
You’ve got a huge following on Instagram ― do you ever feel like you should be more private?
I used to worry about how much sharing is too much. But now, when I share things that are personal and if I feel that it has helped at least one person, I think it’s worth it. Like I get messages that say, “You have no idea, but I just went through that!” Once, I wrote about how marriage got very hard after I had kids, now we’re working on it… I got so many messages that said that it was good to know they weren’t the only ones feeling like that. That said, I would never share anything that would make my husband or my family feel uncomfortable. But I’ve always been a pretty open book. If it helps others, it just breaks down all my walls and makes me want to share more.
Have you had any, erm, unusual experiences with your fans and followers?
I get about 100 private messages a day and I try to answer them all, but it’s really hard. And you know, they ask me the most personal questions! Just yesterday, somebody messaged me, “Life is perfect now, but what if, one day you found out your husband is cheating on you? What would you do?” Like, what am I supposed to say to that? [laughs]
And often, even if they don’t know me, they want my advice, which can be the strangest thing. Someone else once asked me, “I see you’re really happy in your marriage, please tell me how to find my soulmate because I’ve had such bad luck!” She was really depressed about her life and told me everything about herself. People have shared such deep things with me that I don’t even know how to respond. Sometimes, I don’t feel comfortable responding. I think when you start sharing things on social media, people see details of your life and they start to think they know you, but they really don’t. It’s like reality TV ― if you watch the Kardashians, you start to feel like you know them because they share everything. Maybe that’s what it is.
Will you go back to work?
I stopped modelling and hosting since I was pregnant ― I just don’t want to be away from the boys. But I feel that it’s really important for a woman to be independent, so I do want to go back to work eventually. I know I pull my end of the deal ― I take care of the kids, I take care of the household. But at the same time, I think it is important, for any woman, no matter how many years you’ve been married, to buy your own things because a man will always respect you for that. So, I would love to start modelling again ― but when the time is right.
Main photo: Mediacorp
Photography: Ealbert Ho
Assistance: Steven Imanuel
Art direction: Rachel Lim
Assistance: Lim LiXuan
Styling: Ben Chin
Assistance: Joan Tay
Hair: Kenneth Ong, using La Biosthetique Paris
Makeup: Angel Gwee, using RMK
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