Cheryl Wee talks motherhood, breastfeeding and more with theAsianparent
"At the end of the day, don’t forget and lose focus on the beauty and miracle and joy that is in front of you. Your baby!"
We all know Cheryl Wee as an actress-entrepreneur, and daughter of beauty maven Jean Yip. But now, she wears yet another hat with pride and grace — that of motherhood!
The actress gave birth to a baby boy on Apr 26, 2018, just one day after her birthday. We caught up with Cheryl recently for an exclusive interview about all things motherhood-related.
What was the birth experience like? How’s breastfeeding going? What’s Baby M’s real name? We had many more questions for this yummy mummy!
Cheryl Wee on Motherhood and More
First, a huge congratulations to your and your husband on becoming parents! We would love to hear more about your birth story. What was the toughest part of it and how did you cope? And the most beautiful part?
Cheryl explains that her contractions started about a week before her due date — which was the exact day as her birthday.
But, she didn’t want her little one to share her birthday: “Baby M’s due date was exactly on my birthday and I was saying the whole time I didn’t want to share my birthday because cos I want to have more days and occasions to celebrate,” she explains.
She was in pain for “a good seven to eight days, and the nights were the worse when contractions hit hard.” Cheryl’s birthday (Baby M’s due date) came, and by then, she was really anxious and worried.
They say babies can sense their mum’s emotions, and it didn’t seem to be any different with this little one too! The gorgeous mama explains: “Guess he’s really smart and knows how I feel, so after my birthday, past midnight, after our dinner party etc, I went home. Bathe and change and lie in bed and 10 mins later my water bag leaked. And I was like uh oh is this it?”
So they finally headed to hospital, where Cheryl was monitored, as it was discovered then that she was dilated 2cm. But dilation was slow and on top of everything, she was also running a fever. Luckily though, she was fully dilated by midnight (still with a burning fever). And Baby M finally made his grand entrance to the world!
For Cheryl, the toughest part of the labour and birth experience was the contractions she felt. Then there was the anxiety that all mums have: “they kept asking me to monitor his fetal kicks and movements and just this worry like why am I contracting but he’s not out yet. And when I was running a fever, will it cause him any harm when I deliver. It’s the whole worry thing that was tough.”
And the most beautiful moment? The new mum explains,
The most beautiful part didn’t come immediately that second when he was born and they placed him on me. It was about 45 mins later when they cleaned him and I was more settled and the baby started latching on my for the first time. Roy was beside me, and I felt this miracle and bliss I’ve never felt before. I couldn’t believe this little human came out of me. And that we are now a family.
Her happiness at that moment became complete just seeing the love on her husband Roy’s face.
So that other new dads (and dads-to-be) are encouraged, do tell us how Roy supported you in pregnancy, birth, and now.
We know that a supportive husband is a great source of strength to any new mum. This was definitely also the case for Cheryl.
“Having Roy as a strong support and being there helped me cope so much. To ease me when I over worry and knowing that he’s always praying for me and with me,” she explains.
Even through her pregnancy, “he was there every step of the way, from gynae visits, to telling our baby stories when I was pregnant, to cooking dinner for me cos I didn’t particularly like dining out, to being next to me whenever I puke, and when I woke up with a leg cramp he would startle and quickly wake up to stretch my feet that sometimes I’m half asleep during a cramp, to rubbing my back, peeling apples or making toast for me when I got hungry at 4am, to accompanying me the whole night in the hospital before I deliver, pray with me, keeping calm and assuring me it’s all ok.”
Even now as a dad, Roy is always there for his gorgeous wife and baby.
“He makes me comfortable and feel secure and loved and that helps a lot. Because after birth, everything is so overwhelming and hormones are all over the place. So knowing your husband has got your back is a huge help and support,” she tell us.
Not just a supportive husband, Roy is very much a hands-on dad too. Cheryl says he helps bottle feed the little one in the night, so mummy can get some rest. She says, “even in the early morning at 6am when I’m nursing him, and I need Roy to go over to his nursery and get my haaka pump or carry the baby, he’ll do it willingly. I know I can count on Roy and I depend on him for so much.”
You’ve passed the 40 day mark already. First, we would love to know what Baby “M”‘s name is (but of course we understand if you don’t want to tell us just now!). And second, tell us how easy/hard it’s been sticking to confinement practices. Did you follow the traditional rules? Or did you make some exceptions?
Sorry readers, but the little one firmly remains known as “Baby M!”
But Cheryl playfully tells us, “Ha ha, I’ll let you guys know his name in due time.”
But why the big secret?
“Actually I dunno why we are keeping it a secret,” she says, “but maybe for the suspense of it. And we chose his name because it has a meaningful reason behind it.”
OK Cheryl — we have to be the first to know the little one’s real name when you’re ready to tell the world!
Talking about confinement rules, the bubbly new mum tells us, “Thankfully my mom is not super super strict on confinement rules. But the ones that are important, she’s adamant about it. Like no bathing for at least a week. Or like showering with the herbs and boiled ginger is a must, or eating the confinement food and red dates tea.”
Cheryl explains that she followed all these rules because, “at the end of the day, it’s good for my health and it’s not like I have to live like this for three months, only 40 days, so I just tolerated. And it wasn’t all that bad really. Uncomfortable yes. But bearable.”
Up to now, what have been your biggest ‘new mum’ challenges? And I’m sure new mums reading this would really appreciate you telling them how you’ve overcome these (if any).
Being a celebrity mum does not exclude you from the challenges that accompany new motherhood — and this applies to Cheryl for sure.
Her biggest hurdles?
“For starters learning how to let go is one. As a new mum I was fussy about how they’re carrying the baby and if they’re carrying him right. Will they drop him? Is he safe?
“Secondly as I started going to work on my 40th day, other than trying to get into a pump routine, bringing the pump out etc is one part of the challenge, but having my heart at home with him is another.
Perhaps the biggest challenges for Cheryl, however, are those that are of the emotional kind.
She explains, “I feel the physical challenges like lack of sleep, or being tired or feeding issues can be settled. For me the biggest challenges are those I face emotionally like at balancing between work and home and the guilt when I can’t do both properly. Or letting go emotionally of others who will be taking care of baby.”
But, she also knows that this can be overcome with time and with her husband’s support. “I tell him all my worries and challenges and he talks me through them. He breaks it down into baby steps and we work things out slowly. When things are less daunting and I know I have him as a support, bit by bit I find it easier to overcome.”
How has your breastfeeding journey been so far? Do you know yet for how long you hope to nurse Baby M for?
Cheryl’s breastfeeding journey has been smooth so far.
She explains, “Baby M latched well from the second day onwards and I won’t lie, it hurt! Not just my nipples which started to crack and bleed, but also when the womb contracts when feeding. So I rested my breast for two days and went back on it.
“I’m pumping about 90-140ml each time and I really just go with the flow. Like last week when I started work, I was pumping a lot less. Like I even tried stretching to seven hours! And my boobs started to hurt and I could feel some lumps.
“So I quickly went back on a pump schedule and let baby latch more. Because I’m working and it can be quite tiring and I don’t wanna stress about it. So I’m taking it in three months blocks. And we’ll see from there.”
What has been your best advice thus far when it comes to breastfeeding? Any milk boosters you’ve taken and that have worked?
It’s fish and papaya all the way for this breastfeeding mummy! Mummy knows best they say, and true to this, Cheryl’s own mother made sure her girl had plenty of fish and papaya through the confinement period.
Other than these, Cheryls reveals, “lactation cookies and bakes taste good and did help with the yield but usually have to eat quite a fair bit and it’s fattening so I’ve cut down on it.” She encourages other new mummies to drink plenty of water and rest and relax when possible.
Finally, your words of encouragement to all new mums out there, especially related to baby’s first month and breastfeeding.
New mums, Cheryl has a beautiful, uplifting message for you:
“The first 12 days were really overwhelming for me. And my emotions were all over the place. But it’s okay. I know they say don’t cry but when I needed to cry I just cried it all out to Roy.
“Let it all out once and for all with someone you can trust. But after that pick yourself up and start again. And have people around you to support you to pick yourself up.
“If you really need the space like I did, ask your husband to diplomatically tell them to give you the space you need and excuse your emotions and behaviour for now.
“And at the end of the day, don’t forget and lose focus [on] the beauty and miracle and joy that is in front of you. Your baby!!
“Nothing else matters and easy to say but hard to do, to not sweat the small stuff, but once you’re more settled, take it step by step and let it go.
“When I was really down and worried, a friend told me, “your baby will grow up and once they’re adults they’ll have their own lives. But our husband will be with us for life.” And I found comfort in that advice. Because I know that enjoying baby M together with Roy now is our journey together as a couple.
“But keeping my focus on Roy will be my constant and my pillar. And knowing I have him and that eventually we have to let our kids “fly on their own.” So, I am learning to accept letting baby M grow.
“About breastfeeding, really don’t sweat it. Try your best and be patient. If your milk don’t come in the first week or so don’t worry, it’s normal.
“If your baby is hungry, personally I chose to supplement with formula cos firstly he had jaundice and the doctor advised doing so. And to me, most important is what’s good for the baby. And also breastpumps — find one that works for you. I find that the type of breastpump you use can really affect the yield too.”
Such good advice! We at theAsianparent would like to thank Cheryl for this interview and wish her and her family all the very best. We can’t wait to see you continue to flourish in the amazing journey that is parenthood!