How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant at 18… And with twins, too!?
“I felt happy but also quite scared. Scared because both of us were still studying and my boyfriend (now husband!) was only 17 then! We just didn’t know what to do and what our future will hold.
“That year (2012) was a pretty tough year for me as I had to sit for my N levels. So when I went to take my papers at the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board I was 25 weeks pregnant.
A happy couple – Amanda and Gerald on their wedding day
“My husband was especially confused and, as we were not financially stable, he even considered abortion. He felt that if we were to keep the babies, we might not be able to fulfil their daily needs.
“But abortion was never an option for me. From the moment I found out that I was pregnant, I was determined to bring my babies into this world.
“Even though I am their mum, I didn’t feel I had any right to take away their lives, and thankfully my husband and both our families respected my decision!”
24 weeks pregnant – one of the few pictures Amanda has of her being pregnant.
Tell me a bit about your pregnancy journey.
“My pregnancy was tough as I had morning sickness for almost half of the pregnancy! At first, I didn’t know I was pregnant until I started vomiting — every single day, all day.
“It was so bad that I needed to vomit even when I was resting in bed. I also felt sleepy during the day. Oh, and the very sight of eggs made me feel sick to my stomach.
This young couple’s life as they knew it was about to change…
“I had started smoking since the age of 14… and I was still smoking about 3 cigarettes a day until my 5th week of pregnancy.
“Then one day I saw the photo of a dead baby on the cigarette pack while smoking. I felt really bad about what I was doing and threw the entire pack of cigarettes away. There was no way I wanted that to happen to my babies.
“I’m proud of myself that I managed to stay off cigarettes throughout my entire pregnancy and I’m glad my babies are healthy!”
How did you know you were in labour?
“I was in my 28th week of pregnancy and I was obviously not expecting the babies to come so soon. So I didn’t even know that I was actually having contractions.
“On that particular night, I couldn’t sleep well. I was having constant and severe abdominal pain and had no idea they were contractions.
Hanhan (the younger twin) in the incubator
“I struggled to get to the toilet and noticed that there was spotting! Feeling that something obviously wasn’t right, I rushed to hospital with my husband and in-laws.
“The pain soon became unbearable, and my bump had ‘dropped’, it wasn’t at its usual position.”
Qiqi (the older twin) spent the first month of her life in an incubator
What was the birth like for you?
“All in all it was a really scary experience for me! When I reached the hospital, I was dilated to 6cm. So, the doctors gave me 2 shots of steroids to help my babies’ lungs develop quickly – since I was only 28 weeks into my pregnancy.
The 1st day Hanhan came home with feeding tube. (Left Hanhan, Right Qiqi)
“The doctors wanted to try to prolong my pregnancy for at least a week more. But it was not meant to be and I just couldn’t bear the pain.
“So finally they agreed to deliver the babies through a C-section. Even though there was no pain, I felt a lot of pulling and pushing.
“After some time the doctors told me that Qiqi (my older twin) was out, I felt relieved but worried at the same time as I did not hear a single cry – I thought she was dead!
A photo of the family taken during 2013 Chinese New Year
“The nurses calmed me down and said she was crying, but just that her respiratory system was still immature for us to hear her cry.
“After Hanhan (the younger twin) was out, I felt relieved and happy. All the pain was definitely worth it!
But everything wasn’t OK, was it?
“Yes, the girls spent almost 3 months in the hospital. I pumped breast milk for the babies every 4 hours and visited them twice every day during visiting hours.
Strong little angels at 5 months. (Left Qiqi, Right Hanhan)
“Although my parents wanted me to rest more, I insisted on visiting them and spending as much time as I can with them.
“Then on the 3rd day, I nearly lost my younger twin. When I visited her in hospital, all I saw were tubes all over the incubator, needles pricking her tiny body, and an eye shield over her eyes.
“Doctors explained that Hanhan was having a host of problems from pneumothorax and jaundice to a suspected blood infection.
“She had to undergo surgery, be injected with morphine and caffeine, and had a tube punctured into her lungs to drain out air bubbles.
Chinese new year 2014 – say cheese!
“As her mother, I couldn’t bear to watch her suffer like that. She was so tiny and had to go through so much pain… I just broke down crying, it was just too much to handle.
“My older twin came home before meimei. Hanhan had to stay back in the hospital because she had problems feeding.
“So even though my Qiqi was back home, I still went to [the] hospital every day to visit my littlest darling, talk to her and give her support. This carried on for another month.
“Finally, she was allowed to come home with us. But there were conditions – I had to learn how to insert a feeding tube and how to perform CPR on babies.
“Initially it was very tough handling both girls, but thankfully I got the hang of it pretty quickly and things fell into place.”
Another one of the girls at 5 months of age. (Left Hanhan, Right Qiqi)
What has being a young mum taught you?
“I may not be the youngest mummy in Singapore… With twins… But, my girls taught me how to be strong. They taught me how to cherish one another and be there for one another.”
Do you have any advice for other young mums like yourself?
“Try not to panic when things get tough. At first, handling a tiny baby (babies, in my case!) may seem daunting, but don’t be afraid – you’re the best person to handle them. They really need you!
Happy 1st birthday princesses! (Left Qiqi, Right Hanhan)
“Also, although giving birth is painful, loving your babies will be the most unconditional and infinite love you will ever experience in your life!
“My girls also inspired me to start my blog. After what we all went through, I wanted to let all pregnant young women know that nothing is impossible.”
How has your husband adjusted to his role of being a dad?
“To be honest, he didn’t feel much for the girls initially. Everything happened so quickly. So understandably he wasn’t ready for them yet.
“To top that, we didn’t know that they’ll be premature, so we really didn’t have much time to prepare for the girls.
Pretty girls. Amanda with the two little darlings who changed her life forever
“But as time passed, his ‘daddy instinct’ kicked in and although he couldn’t see the girls every day when they were in hospital, he managed to be the first one to hold Hanhan in his arms!
“And then she smiled at him, and he was in love! They are almost 2 now and he is a dutiful father and I’m proud to be his wife!
“He is also very supportive. He tries to spend as much time as he can with the girls, given that he get home pretty late after work.
“Because of this, at times I take the girls to his workplace to see him, or I let them have extra naps in the afternoon so that they can wait for their daddy to come home.”
Growing up fast! The twins at 1 year and 10 months.
Are you planning for any more children in the future?
“I would love to have another child in the future. But my husband wants to stop at two. Of course, I also have fears that my next pregnancy will be another set of twins! OMG!”
You can follow Amanda and her girls in her blog www.gustomama.blogspot.com. Or view her Instagram @amandakyl.
Young mums, we hope you’ve found Amanda’s story to be insightful! Do share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below!