Sweet Child 'O' Mine

I used to say migration is no big deal. Thousands of Singaporeans have migrated. I'm the only one making a mountain out of a molehill, writing a blog and what not. I can't help it, migration is big deal for me.

Billions of people had children before me. Everyone knows someone who is a parent. What's there to rant about child birth of parenthood? Nothing and everything. It's not the big deal, it is THE DEAL.

There are some emotions that one can never understand unless one experiences it. We can watch the bungee jumper and imagine the feeling in his shoes. Imagine very very hard. Reading books about swimming, watching videos of swimmers, perfecting swimming strokes on the sofa. When we finally step out and try it, it'll be nothing like you have prepared yourself.

I read adequate text, watched relevant videos, completed a hospital tour and could virtually imagine a vivid childbirth process. It did nothing for me. It was a totally different and overwhelming experience.

Jen had a near-perfect pregnancy. No sickness, no swelling, no cravings, no significant pain, no complications. Perhaps Albany was way too comfortable in Jen's womb. She was 8 days late and would easily, I suspect, be 2 weeks late if we allowed it. 

Even when all inducement procedures were performed, she was never ready to be delivered after 8 hours of contractions. Perhaps she might be if we waited several hours more but we couldn't. A blood test indicated she was low on oxygen and undergoing distress at the 8th hour.

The staff in King Edward acted supremely fast. A big group of staff came in and performed a very well rehearsed drill to get Jen into the operation theatre. In less than 5 minutes, I was the only person left in the room zipping up our last bag. Everyone else disappeared, including Jen and her bed.

I was genuinely shellshocked. For hours, we waited and waited. Before this day we waited for 8 days for things to happen. Nothing did. In a span of 5 minutes, things happened at light-speed. I was ushered to a bay to change into sterile clothes and left sitting for a few minutes.

Parents would laugh at my reaction. My sisters assured me Jen was going to ok. I had female friends who dismissed my fears casually with that "Oh it'll be alright," the manner you suspected they don't mind doing it again any day. Pretty ineffective telling a student taking 'O' Levels for the first time that it is easy to pass it because I did, don't you think?

I had never been strong in adverse situation. I proved to be consistent in this case. Tucky returned the messages via watsapp fast and furious. If we were in Singapore today he will be at my side, I'm dead sure about that. He tried his best and I could feel his presence. He distracted me being distraught. 

Before long I was ushered into the operation theatre. I was told to sit on the chair right beside Jen. I held her hand. She looked fine and I could hear surgical equipment making sucking noises. I knew Jen was bleeding profusely at that point. There were more than 10 members in the room. All familiar faces. Many doctors, midwives, that chap which did Jen's epidural was there was well. Several of them spoke to me when they walked past, asking questions that required a one-liner answer. 

In what felt like 5 minutes, I heard a baby cry. I wasn't prepared for it at all. I looked around to see if there was another pregnant woman having her Caesarean section done. The only patient was Jen. 

It was Albany's cries. There is no way to describe how I felt at that moment. I don't think any father could. Her cries were loud and clear. I've heard a baby's cry for probably a million times but this one was simply different. It was enchanting music in my ears. I stood up to have a look at Albany. Everyone congratulated me and commented how lovely she looked. By then I was dazed and didn't know who I responded to and what I replied. I kept my eyes fixed on my daughter.

I felt tears welling up and returned to Jen, held her hands again and praised her for holding herself exceptionally well. She received a lot of compliments from staff as well. 

"Baby's ok," I relayed the information with a weak voice.

The surgical staff urged me on. "Where's your camera, daddy?"

I whipped my mobile phone and passed it to Lina, the veteran midwife. She handed me a half bloodied surgical scissors and told me to go ahead. I stepped forward and cut Albany's cord. It was harder than I expected, I took about 3 cuts to snip it off. The flash went during my final cut.

I took a picture of Albany and showed it to Jen immediately. Her eyes were sparkling, glinting with excitement as she took her glimpse. Just as quickly as the whole event lasts, I was asked to leave the theatre. With a last look at Jen's heavily bloodied abdomen of, I pushed Albany out in her trolley with lingering worries.

In another room, a Korean nurse gave Albany an injection, weighed and measured her. She demonstrated how to change diapers for Albany and asked me to have a go. I did it and she gave a surprised reaction.

"A natural father!" she cried.

Then she demonstrated how to hold the baby and demanded I did the same. I did it.

"Well done. You are a natural."

"Huh? What?"

"Now let's go to your ward. Your wife will be joining you in an hour or two," Ms Korean nurse commanded.

Albany and I were left in a quiet private ward. I took a look at her and she took a look at me through the tiny slits of her eyes. I knew she couldn't see me at that stage. Nevertheless I pat her gently and kissed her. She smelt of bodily fluids.

I carried her clumsily, trying to recall what I was taught a few minutes ago. Albany did not cry out and rested contentedly in my arms. We sat on the ledge by the window and enjoyed the sunset.

When Jen was finally delivered into the ward from the recovery room, Korean nurse came along and told Jen how much of a fast learner I was. That was when I learnt that many fathers fumbled and tumbled their first attempts.

As a hospital policy, Jen and Albany were bonded skin-to-skin. Albany was stripped out of her cosy layers and put in Jen's arms. Instinctively, Albany suckled. Jen's face glowed with pure contentment in her fatigue. 

Time came and went. I fussed over Jen, feeding her before packing things up. By 2000 hrs Albany was separated from Jen and put in her cot right besides Jen's bed, where she would spend the rest of the night until the next morning when her dad returns to visit.

To visit his amazing wife and sweet child.


  1. Congratulations!

    Your life will never be the same again!

  2. Congrats!! :-D
    ~ SydneyLibrarian

  3. While i was enjoying my sunset in midst of my yoga lesson, i thought of Jenny and Albany. so this lil girl was already safe in daddy's arms. :)

  4. Happy Father's day to you heehee....

    ah pooh

  5. I'm so happy for you bro! Congrats and YNWA!

  6. Congratulation!!! By reading this entry, it made me feel touched. (I don't know why too. lol)


  7. The way you wrote your experience touched me so deep that I too could not hold back my tears.

    Congratulations! I am truly happy for you!

  8. Congrats to you. This is AT.

  9. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Congratulations on your daughter! ~ @joelynalexandra

  11. congrats to the notti family~!!


    send me more photos leh... =P


  12. Congratulations. It is a touching post.
    I believe her arrival will bring much joy
    and contentment to both of you.

  13. Your posts have all been brilliant! Congratulations on the arrival of Albany. She will be fine in Australia. Wishing your family A Very Happy Chinese New Year....

  14. Congratulation.... another touching post..... Albany is a lucky star that will bring luck.....

  15. Congratulation! You must be a proud and happy man today and rightly so, a precious daughter as you and Jen wanted, and I am so happy for you both.

  16. congratulations, i am happy for you :)

  17. Congrats!

    I feel happy for you even though I only virtually know you. Read all the entries here and am so glad Albany is all right. You certainly made the right choice in moving to Perth. Albany is fortunate to have Jen and you as parents, I'm sure she will be very touched when she grows up and read your blogs. Take care!


  18. Congratulations on the addition to your family and just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year!

    A fellow Singaporean in Perth

  19. Hi,
    Congratulations to the birth of Albany... now you have one more reason to make this migration works.

    A fellow Singapore, also in Perth
    Take Care!

  20. Great to know mommy and baby are well :)

    Take care and hope to see you and the new addition to the family soon.

  21. Congrats!!! wow , i think now i share something in common with you ...daughter same birthday as Albany !

  22. Just in time for cny too! Congrats!

  23. Jen can't eat the CNY goodies during her confinement. Make sure you reward her after confinement. And... Congratulations!

  24. Welcome to the club !

    Confinement period critical to resetting system back to "standard mode". No sure about ang mo methods but thousands of years of Chinese "wisdom" can't be too far wrong.

    Hope the diligence in blogging are equal in researching for what best for her & her, especially in this new new environment, with seasonal changes, cold and wind that most of us islanders did not grow up with ...

    A fellow father

    1. We'll try to do it as much as we can. I've gotten some stuff ready, food wise.

    2. growing up in a more or less constant weather environment (except for the "occasional" "pondings") make one forget that these things do affect human greatly ... there are people who became "double-quitters" within a year just because of the climate in Perth ...

  25. Thousands of years of Chinese 'wisdom' and they ended up killing themselves during the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square incident. Not to mention the high levels of corruption and unethical practices (toxic baby milk anyone?), amongst many others.

    Thousands of years of ang moh non-wisdom and you don't see their mothers dying off without doing confinement?

    1. yep, starting WWI, WWII, GFC were definitely some non-wisdom.... amongst some others.

      Anyway, just for information; besides the Chinese and Southeast Asians, it seems that Indians, Greeks, Koreans, Japanese, some Middle Easterners have similar concept (of course most are not 1st world countries ...)

  26. Thank you so much for all the congratulations. I'm surprised and honored. I wish everyone a great CNY back home as well as the folks in Perth.

  27. Belated, belated congrats! :-D

    So nostalgic for me too, over 3 years ago at year-end.
    But in my case, they only allowed me to see only him coming out, bawling 'loud and clear', exactly as you described.

    And although it was my 2nd time, it was my 1st having someone new to the world, staring intently at one who had already been around for over 4 decades!

    1. thanks Alan. I still remember that moment though it has faded a little. i'm glad i wrote it down..