Two years after Choy, 35, tied the knot with 37-year-old Indonesian-Chinese Michael Tanujaya, who works in real-estate investment, the couple welcomed their firstborn, Dylan James, in April this year.
Hi Choy, what have you been up to lately and how has motherhood been?
I moved to Hong Kong at the end of May, as my husband, Michael, was posted there for work. I'm pretty much a full-time mum and wife now. Motherhood is very rewarding and fulfilling, but also quite tiring at times! It's 24/7 non-stop!
Tell us more about your baby boy…
Dylan is one of the happiest and “smiliest” babies ever, but he sure is feisty and loud when he doesn’t get what he wants immediately. Hunger and tiredness sets him off, and I think he’s just starting to teeth, so he’s extra loud. He definitely walks to the beat of his own drum and is very active, but I love that he’s developing a strong personality. I’m pretty sure once he gets older I'm going to be exhausted chasing him around. Oh and he's super “manja”! He loves cuddles and lots of kisses, plus he’s a foodie like his mummy and daddy. He started solids two days before he turned 4 months old, and he's been eating everything that goes his way, such as sweet potato, carrot, avocado, bread, rice cereal, banana, yoghurt and much more.
Did you have an easy pregnancy?
I was pretty fortunate with my pregnancy and didn’t have much to complain about. The first trimester was uncomfortable as I was tired all the time and felt nauseous (but no vomiting), but once I hit 12 weeks, I went back to normal. I stayed pretty active the entire time ― I was packing and cleaning up our place for the move to Hong Kong, and I kept busy, so I was in pretty good health.
It was intense but amazing ― the human body is nature’s greatest work of art.
What about the birth?
I had a pretty easy and fast delivery, five hours in total, which I am so thankful for! I mentally kept telling myself I want a quick, fast and easy labour and it happened. I stayed positive and had no expectations of the intensity that was to come. I did some exercises and went for chiropractor treatments to prepare physically. Basically, my water broke around 10.30pm while I was at home and I remember feeling excited, literally “yay the baby is coming!”. When I rang my doula, she told me to take a shower and go to bed, as contractions may not come so quickly. So I did just that, but two hours later, active labour began, and boy, was it intense! I laboured at home for over three hours with my husband and doula till I could’t take it anymore. When we arrived at Thomson Medical by 4am, I was already 10cm dilated! I planned to have a drug-free water birth ― an hour and a bit after I went into the water, Dylan made his way into the world. Michael was my biggest cheerleader – he kept saying “I can see the head, baby, c'mon you’re doing great!” It was intense but amazing ― the human body is nature’s greatest work of art.
Has motherhood been all that you’ve expected?
It’s more! It challenges you, frustrates you but also leaves you in wonder and awe. It's beautiful to witness all of Dylan's little milestones, I've not known such pure joy until he came along. At the same, you also experience moments of anxiety because you love this little person so much, you worry about his health, his emotions and also his future. But now I can't imagine life without him. He has brought Michael and me so much happiness, and also happiness to our families and dear friends. Motherhood has also made me realise I’m a lot more capable than what I thought I was. You can achieve so much in a day and have a lot more resilience to handle the most awkward, or messiest of situations.
But is it all sunshine and rainbows? Read on for the ups and downs of Choy’s parenting journey.
What were the high and low points of parenting so far?
The high points are when I see how well Michael and I work as a team together raising our little boy. Seeing Dylan smile at us first thing in the morning, and watching him gaze in wonder at the world are big highlights for us. Even his little laughs are so addictive, and, of course, the delicious baby smell.
The low points would include the broken sleep at times, watching him cry and not being able to soothe him. Michael and I also haven’t had a chance to have a proper date night yet, but I hope that will improve once he gets a little older!
Tell us more about Michael, and is he a hands on daddy?
He is a wonderful individual, husband and father. He’s one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet ― his loud laughs and silly jokes make him the life of the party. He’ll always go out of his way to make you feel welcome at a party.
We met five years ago, and early on as a couple, I knew he’d make a wonderful life partner and parent. He was so kind and patient with my nieces, which gave me an insight into our future together.
“I’ve not seen a father more proud than when his son takes a giant poop.”
Michael’s been very hands on since day one. He basically does everything except breastfeed Dylna. He wakes up in the night to change diapers and comfort him, and hardly complains about it. And he’s so patient with our son, sometimes more so than me. When I’m feeling down or frustrated, he calmly talks to me and makes me see sense.
His favourite thing to do is to make Dylan poop! He’ll patiently rub his tummy and make the er er sounds to get things going! I’ve not seen a father more proud than when his son takes a giant poop.
How do you and the hubs divvy up the parenting roles?
We fell naturally into a consistent rhythm, but I don’t force a 50/50 rule on him. I’m with Dylan most of the day, so when he comes home, he gladly takes over. He’ll usually feed Dylan dinner if he’s home early enough, play him Elmo songs, then give him his evening bath, so that’s their time together. In the morning, he’ll give Dylan his breakfast and let me sleep a little more. I’m with him the rest of the day. We don’t have a helper, so we only have each other for help and support. Weekends, we’ll take turns to hold, entertain, feed or nap with him. When we're on a flight, we take turns as well. We’re a good team, I'm very thankful for that.
Find out what happens when you’re carrying a sleeping baby, wearing a playsuit, and (gasp!) need to go to the loo?
What’s a mummy skill you never knew you had?
That I’m now the Master of the One-hand Tango! Basically, I can do a lot of things now with one hand, and sometimes even my left hand (I’m a right hander). I can eat lunch, do laundry, cook, type, clean, you name it, I can do it! I was an absolute maestro when Dylan was about 2 months old, I was wearing a short playsuit and he was napping in the carrier (he still wasn’t good at sleeping on the crib or bed yet). Desperate for the bathroom, I managed to manoeuvre my playsuit and underwear to one side to do my business, while he was on me asleep. Needless to say, I can take on the world a lot more boldly now!
What’s something you wish you have?
Patience, especially on those “off” days where he decides to fuss more than usual, or is going through a growth spurt.
If you get two hours of free time to yourself…
Netflix, Netflix, Netflix! That, or a massage, or a mani or pedi if I'm lucky.
When you don’t have enough sleep, you get by on…
Keeping myself busy, and a bit of morning coffee.
The day he was born, we had two hours of skin-to-skin contact… I'm so glad I have that moment to cherish forever.
Your parenting role model is…
My sister May! She's been such a conscious parent to her two girls, and seeing how wonderfully they’ve turned out, she’s someone I look up to and I constantly get advice from.
The TV mum you’re most like is…
Jane the Virgin! Well, not so much the drama of her life, but I just watched her struggles with motherhood on Season 2 and it reminded me of my own experiences.
The one moment you remember most as a mum…
The day he was born, we had two hours of skin-to-skin contact. It was amazing and I’m so glad I have that moment to cherish forever.
Are you intending to go back to work?
Not full-time for the time being, as Dylan takes up my time 24/7, and I’m enjoying taking care of him. They say the first seven years of a child’s life is fundamental to their character development, and I intend to be there to nurture him into a well-rounded individual. In between all that, I would love to do some part-time gigs like hosting events, baking or PR work.
What’s your top tip to looking good and feeling great as a new mum?
I would say go for facials or spas, just to pamper yourself a little. Also, spoil yourself with new clothes or shoes. It’s not life changing, but makes a whole difference to your self-esteem. Exercise also helps, I started going to the gym for the first time when Dylan turned 5 months old, and while it’s not an overnight result, I felt more energised and motivated to keep going until I’m back to my pre-baby weight. And spend time with family and friends who encourage you every step of the way!
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