Sunday, July 22, 2007

When the stock comes a calling

Having been pregnant six times, while holding a full time job , I would like to state once and for all that being pregnant is neither a medical condition nor a disease. With a few simple considerations and courtesies that we normally offered to senior citizen workers or the disabled, pregnant woman can remain equally productive and efficient.

Yes we do suffer from discomfort like swollen legs and back pain but most of us are made of stronger material then soft tofu. While carrying that extra bundle around, several of my friends have travelled to as far as USA for business trips.. Often we continue to work overtime, taking simple precautions like lifting our leg up regularly or putting a cushion behind our back.

Of course, we cannot be expected to carry heavy objects around but as Singapore is a developed society, most of our jobs are found in the tertiary or quaternary industry where we used our brain more then our brawn. Beside in the agricultural society, women are expected to continue to plant and harvest rice when while they are pregnant.

My husband and I did not employ a confinement maid after the birth of our first three children, nor did we accept any help from our mothers. Neither did we have a live in maid. We were young and we wanted to bring up our children our ways without the interference of maids, mothers or mystifying myths surrounding child birth.

I had three children within fours years and managed to remain in good health despite horror stories being circulated about not having a confinement maid. During that one month of rest, I continue to wash clothes, cook, clean and to shop for grocery. I breast feed my children for at least six months. And yes I did bath and wash my hair.

When I had given birth to my sixth child, we could not get a maid in time before I return to work one month later. I entrusted my new born baby to the care of my other children and the baby survived.

Of course my experience is an exception to the rule and some might considered it an extreme that I do not conform to the expectation and demands of the society.

The decision to have a child is a difficult choice to make. We have to consider our financial capability, our time available for each child, our career prospect and our parenting skills.

Too often, we hear our friends complain that it is so expensive to have a child in Singapore that they refused to have any at all. If we examine this argument carefully, we realized that most of the time it is what they want for the child that is expensive and not what is needed.

Our gynecologist, Dr Tham, who delievered 4 of our six children.

For example, we did not engage a specialist from a private hospital for our first child but a register from NUH to look after my gynecological needs having full faith in our health system. Secondly instead of spending up to fifty dollars a week on baby formula (incidentally cows milk is best for the calf) we decided to breastfeed our babies. Thirdly, we did not send our babies and toddlers to enrichment classes where we pay a bomb for them to do activities that can be easily completed in a play ground.

We did not have a car which we did not consider as a necessity nor did we bother to provide our children with expensive birthday parties. We welcome hand-me-down clothes from our relatives and friends and do not see the need to outfit our children with expensive brand clothing. Visiting the out patient clinic is as good as a visit to a pediatrician. Nor were we seduced into buying expensive prams, crib and other unnecessary accessories.

What our children need most is for us to offer a warm home with laughter and a good measure of discipline. The love between a husband and a wife is the best give that any child can received and this is something that cannot be bought with money.

Of course society in general and employers in particular must change the perception pregnant woman are a burden to their company. Unless this is corrected in time, the amount of baby bonus and other procreation incentives will only falls on deaf ears and the stork will not be able to deliver any more bundles of joys to Singapore.

The write is a mother of six and is taking every precaution to prevent the stork from delivering another bundle but if the stork chooses to do so, the bundle will be received with joy.