Celeb mum-to-be Cheryl Wee: My pregnancy freed me from the jail in my head

The Mata Mata actress, who’s about to deliver her first child, opens up about her plans for motherhood and beyond…

Like any actress obsessing about her figure and looks, Cheryl Wee’s unhealthy obsession with weight not only sparked an eating disorder, it impacted her menstrual patterns.

In fact, at one point, Cheryl, 31, and heir of the Jean Yip lifestyle empire, didn’t menstruate for 1½ years. “I started to be afraid because I kept wondering when [my period] would return, so I went to see a Chinese TCM physician.”

Since the idea of popping her gynae’s hormone pills didn’t appeal to this owner of women’s wellness centres, Cheryl W, she opted for a year’s worth of TCM meds.

“He gave me the boiled, powdered — whatever type of medication you name — I’ve most likely tried it before. It came to a point when he had to stop giving me medication and he said if you don’t change eating habits or lifestyle, no medication is going to cure you.”

However, it took falling pregnant to turn the former Miss Singapore Universe 2009 second runner-up’s eating habits around. For someone who used to binge on desserts, she now can’t “stomach anything sweet”.

Now, Cheryl, who’s married to her junior college sweetheart, Roy Fong, 31, an architect, restricts herself to just one small square of chocolate. Indeed, even a teensy bite of chocolate cake left her hugging the toilet for the rest of the day.

Besides anything overly sweet, her cannot-eat-list also includes anything spicy, oily or fried. So, she is forced to commit to a clean diet which comprises mainly clear Chinese soups.

“So I guess we are supposed to find out about my pregnancy on that day because my grandpa wanted my father not to feel so sad?”

Nor did the changes stop there. Having a growing bump has also changed her attitude towards body weight and body image. “I used to be stuck in the jail in my head, thinking about dieting, about how much I weighed and what are the things I can or cannot eat.”

A newfound focus has replaced her unhealthy preoccupation with body weight. Cheryl notes, “Now after becoming pregnant, I have better focus — my mind is so clear… Now, I’m just able to focus on the things I need to do.”

The bubbly and down-to-earth mum-to-be, who was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of our interview, opens up to SmartParents about her plans for birth, her baby boy and beyond.

Congrats on your pregnancy! Can you share with us who was the first person you broke the news of your pregnancy to?

Thank you! Roy was the first person to learn the news as he was there with me. I remember it was about 10.30pm on the night of the cremation of my paternal grandpa, Jolly Wee. We had bought a pregnancy kit on a supermarket errand. So, there I was in the toilet, peeing on the stick. I actually sat on the toilet bowl for a good 10 minutes after the results were out because I was in disbelief. I thought, no, cannot be, especially since I remember feeling my period was coming. To make matters worse, we bought the kit that has the + or – sign not the digital kit with the positive or negative results. Roy was waiting outside the toilet the whole time and he was asking me why I was taking so long. So, I came out and both of us stared at the stick for a very long time.

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What happened next?

We both went to tell my mum and dad. I remember the mood in the room was actually quite sombre, so, my dad was quite sad. I told my mum, I need to tell you something. She was shocked and asked me if something bad has happened. So, I just told her “We’re pregnant!”

The mood in the room must have changed immediately...

Yes. As a Catholic, I believe in God but I’m not super-staunch [laughs], but that night made me realise that in life, things happen for a reason. My late grandfather was a person who liked to pray a lot for other people. He was a very happy man, even in his final days, when he was bedridden because of his hip fracture. I remembered Roy and I were dressed in traditional Chinese outfits and actually served him tea in the hospital. My granddad was very happy and asked Roy what he would want him to pray for. Roy told him to pray for us to have a baby. So, I guess we were supposed to find out about my pregnancy that day because my grandpa did not want my father to feel so sad?

 

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Talking about your pregnancy, do you still remember when you felt your baby’s first kicks?

The earliest memory was when I was in Perth around last November. I was about 17 to 18 weeks at that time and I remember I was in bed in the morning and my stomach felt like it had air bubbles. And ever since I knew it was the baby moving, he will move at a very specific time — around 10.30 every night. Roy also bought BellyBuds — a special kind of earphones that you can attach to each side of your baby bump — to let the baby listen to music or he will also read to the baby and the baby will be very active then, too.

Roy would read to the baby?

[Laughs] Yes, he would. We try to do it every night when we have the time. We’ll also play things like Aesop’s Fables and other stories because we want to teach him important values from the start. We also got the app, Nuryl, and we play the songs on it like jazz music.

Do you have a birth plan?

All along, I thought I’ll be going through with a C-section because that was what my mum went through as well. I’m also very scared of pain, especially after hearing what others have said about natural birth. But my thinking changed, thanks to my gynae — whom we found through Google because we weren’t ready to tell anyone during my first trimester. [Laughs] This doctor likes everything to be natural. So, I decided I’m not going to force anything by having a plan in place. We’ll just see how everything goes on the day itself. And it’s the same attitude I hope to take with motherhood. Like breastfeeding, which I know is quite a hot-button issue. I’m not going to be the kind of mum who thinks if I can’t breastfeed, it’ll make me a bad mother.

“I was about 17 to 18 weeks at that time and I remember I was in bed in the morning and my stomach felt like it had air bubbles.”

Have you and Roy been attending any prenatal classes?

The hospital which we will be going to, Thomson Medical, has been really, really kind. Ever since they knew I’m seeing Dr Paul Tseng, they contacted me. I couldn’t attend prenatal classes as I was busy with shoots, so they made a separate one ― an intensive class for me and Roy. They have been very accommodating ― they let us see the labour ward, the suites and even advised us on a suitable confinement nanny and are taking care of all my other confinement needs.

What are your plans for life after baby arrives?

I’ll still be working and, in fact ever since I was pregnant, I’ve been starting to look for products that are more pregnancy-friendly. So, I’ll be looking into products like soaps, body lotions and slimming creams, and I’m planning on expanding on the product side of Cheryl W. I want my products to be affordable.

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Speaking of Cheryl W, what made you start the business?

A lot of people asked me why you want to open a slimming centre, I’ll tell them that I don’t see Cheryl W as a slimming centre. I see it as a place that’s focused on women’s wellness, offering services like body cleanse, body scrubs and body detox. A place to redefine what staying slim and wellness is to women. I don’t want the public to be fixated on sizes, it’s not about size zero being seen as slim. It’s aimed at giving your body that boost to feel confident.

Will you still be pursuing any projects in terms of show business?

Yes, I still want to do that too. In the past few years, I was still dealing with the idea that jobs in the media industry aren’t good for me because at that time, I was still battling with my eating disorder. I went from loving it a lot to hating it actually. I was also busy planning the wedding and the baby, so I didn’t have the time to sign on with an artiste-management company. I still want to go back to acting but I have to find a [artiste management] company first and see how it goes from there.

Sounds like you’ll be juggling a lot. What are your childcare plans?

Since I run my own business, I’m not tied to being in the office or the shop all the time. So, if I need to, I still can be based at home as well. But we will definitely get a helper to watch over the baby but we won’t be throwing everything to the helper, either. I won’t be taking a hands-on approach every day, but the good thing is I live with my mum and my aunty, so at least there will always be somebody around at home.

 

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What kind of dad do you think Roy will be?

I think he’s going to be a very good dad, he’s going to be like my dad, or at least way better than me as a parent. [Laughs] I’ve been learning a lot from him, since we found out we were expecting. He’s the one who started buying the wallpaper and designing the baby’s room. That said, I see a lot of similarities between Roy’s and my father’s characters. They are both very endearing and kind. I think for a lot of other people, their mother is the loving and kind one while their dad is the stern and strict one who never says I love you. I think Roy is the loving and caring kind of dad.

Who's your parenting guru?

I think it’ll be a mixture of my mum and my dad because my mum taught us a lot of good values. My dad’s a firm but very loving dad, so I hope to take after that. He has a lot of wisdom, too ― he won’t spoil us and he teaches us a lot of good financial values. He is very kind and gentle and he teaches us strength through his kindness and gentleness.

Have you decided on a name?

We have some ideas in mind. We know that he will be named after a saint because we are Catholics. But we want to see the baby first before we decide on one.

Any nicknames in the meantime?

We had a gender-reveal party and some of the guests were joking with us. They were saying, “Why don’t you call your baby Cheroy?” [Laughs] But I told them cannot lah.

Complete these sentences:

* The one thing people don’t know about me is… Being the eldest kid, I’ll usually have to be mature and responsible all the time as it is expected of me. I sometimes feel that there’s a lot of responsibilities and burdens… But I feel relieved that I’m able to shut off and just be a kid with Roy.

* If I could be someone else for a day, it would be… Anybody in Disneyland because I think that is the happiest place on earth.

* The one superpower I wished I had is… To teleport, which can save a lot of time.

* The one word or phrase I’ll use to describe Roy is… He’s a person who has depth. He’s isn’t materialistic but at the same time, he has good taste and can appreciate the latest fashion.

Photos: Instagram/Cheryl Wee

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