Gorgeous maternity photography in Sassy Mama’s ‘The Bump’!
This month’s ‘The Bump’ features stunning maternity photography of mama Cheryl Curties by Gunilla Lindgren of Sugarlight Photography. Cheryl is an architect-turned-SAHM, and has a very busy house right now with two little ones under two years old! Her daughters are Sophia (born in 2018) and Amelia (born in April 2019). Read on to hear more about how having skin-to-skin contact with her baby miraculously stopped her negative reaction to the epidural, how she got her groove back in record time second time around, and her parenting tips.
What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
This second pregnancy was a big surprise; I was still adjusting to being back at work after maternity leave. I was juggling my projects with late-night meetings and Sophia frequent fell sick while at infant care. I felt guilty for not being able to spend as much time with her after the birth of her sibling. This was intensified when I felt bad towards Amelia for feeling this way! It was an unending cycle of negative feelings for a a few months, and I had to concentrate on the joy of the new addition to our family.
What’s your funniest memory over the 9 months of pregnancy?
It happened just before we were leaving for the hospital for the birth! I developed a really strong nesting instinct after watching the Marie Kondo series on Netflix and spent at least 4 months reorganising the house. I had spent the last few weeks cleaning out our oven, working on it bit by bit as I had my huge bump. I decided to finish working on it that weekend but my husband ended up reassembling the gutted-out oven while I was in bed timing my contractions!
Any great books and resources that prepared you for when your baby arrived?
My mother-in-law gave me What to Expect – The First Year and that was very helpful for the first few months! I’m also subscribed to the same app with provides updates on my children’s expected progress, two forums from the same series based on the girls’ birth month and year, Ovia Parenting and a breastfeeding mums group on Facebook. It’s quite a lot but I read whenever I can. It does help to know that your parenting challenges aren’t unique and it’s good to learn from the experience of others. Babies also grow so quickly in the first few years, and progress so quickly that there’s always something new!
What do you think every woman should know before getting pregnant?
There will be a barrage of well-meaning opinions and comments from family, friends and strangers. You just have to hear and filter them out, stand firm and do what’s best for you and your family. I have learnt to take it easy and cross the bridge when you get there, or it can get overwhelming very easily. I think being pregnant has made me a lot calmer!
Your body will also go through immense changes, so learn to love the body you have. One of my biggest challenges is memory loss and the ability to process and retain information. It started during the pregnancy and sleep deprivation with the multiple night feeds has exacerbated it. I used to pride myself for being sharp but I now live for the moment.
What was the easiest trimester and which one proved most difficult?
The second trimester was the easiest hands down. The third was the worst as severe nausea and fatigue came back and I felt so heavy and sluggish all day. By this point I was so well-trained with dealing with vomiting that I would calmly walk to the bathroom with a plastic bag, trigger the vomit reflex with my mind, clean myself after doing the needful, and get back to business as usual.
Did you follow a fitness programme while you were pregnant?
I wish I could have, but chasing after Sophia during the last five months of the pregnancy was a good enough workout for me! Despite not working out, I made sure I made healthy food choices.
Any fashion tips and tricks for maternity dressing?
Before I was pregnant, I loved to wear casual shirts or baggy tops and skinny jeans or leggings. This allowed me to stretch my clothes out for as long as possible, but I definitely did invest in a few maternity bottoms (Uniqlo leggings and jeans are the comfiest!) as well as nursing dresses and tops (mostly from Seraphine Maternity and Mothers En Vogue) to get more use out of them after pregnancy.
I was fortunate to be able to wear comfy sneakers and flats while working.
Did you have any weird and wonderful cravings?
I wish I did but I’m so glad I didn’t develop a strong aversion to garlic, onions and spicy food with this second pregnancy! I could not stomach water, so I had to have diluted flavoured drinks. My go-to was a particularly sharp lime cordial.
What did you struggle with most being pregnant?
Nausea and fatigue 24/7 hands down. I was tired of feeling tired!
Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
I find entrepreneurial mums with online shops like Eileen from Elizabeth Little or Corinna from Lovejomink inspiring as they have chosen to follow their dreams in spite of a young family. I’ve always been good with my hands and have been dreaming of setting up my own online shop for quite a while.
What are your thoughts about finding out the sex in advance?
I’m not one for surprises and I love planning ahead of time. Knowing the baby’s gender feels like a natural step of getting to know our baby better before the birth. That said, we wanted it to be special so we got our OBGYN to write it on a card where we would open it at home and have a quiet celebration with just the two of us.
Did it take you some time getting pregnant or were you one of those mamas who got lucky on the first try?
Definitely the latter! We have always wanted 2 children, but we hit the jackpot for both pregnancies when we weren’t even trying.
What kind of birth did you have? (hospital, home, epidural, c-section, with a doula, etc.).
I had a vaginal birth in hospital with epidural as my contractions were very intense. I reacted very badly with the side effects of epidural by shaking and vomiting before and after delivery! It miraculously stopped when I had skin to skin with Amelia in the first hour of her birth, and it was magical having her in my arms for the first time. The side effects continued thereafter until I was administered medication.
Who was your OBGYN, and where did you give birth? How was your birth experience?
Dr Paul Tseng was my OBGYN and he’s very popular! I appreciate that he puts me at ease and it also helps that TLC is close to my then-workplace. As this was my second birth at Mount Alvernia, I knew what to expect but still needed to psyche myself to calm down before the birth. As one would after 9 months of waiting! Fortunately my contractions started on a weekend, so my husband was with me and we didn’t need to rush about as we did for my first birth.
My second birth experience was quite different from the first. While in the delivery ward for a few hours, my water bag burst and being on epidural, I only felt a little pressure followed by a loud gush of water.
As it was late at night, my husband and I tried to rest as much as we could, but the next thing I knew, something had popped out and was stuck between my legs after 3 big contractions! I yelled at him to get the nurse in quickly as it couldn’t be anything else but the baby! Fortunately it turned out it was only her head and the rest of her body slid out after a tiny push. It was a walk in the park unlike the heaving and clenching of teeth at the first delivery.
What helped you get your groove back after being pregnant?
Being Chinese, we got a confinement nanny. She was amazing as she did basic household chores, apart from cooking and taking care of my newborn. She even helped out with my very active 15 month old! That allowed me to rest as much as I could and concentrate on nursing my newborn for that month.
I believe that one month of rest helped immensely as we didn’t have a confinement nanny with our first-born. I also had post natal massages which I find helped with the aches and pains and swelling.
Do you have any mama-friendly favourite places (restaurants, parks, etc.) to hang out with your baby? Why?
I’m sensitive to heat and humidity so I prefer to keep myself and baby cool, especially when I’m baby-wearing a lot. We love going to Din Tai Fung as they’ve got long cushioned benches to lie Amelia down while we eat. As a family we love going to Jewel for its convenient location and Sophia loves the playground with play equipment by Essa Grace.
Any local businesses (or websites) that made your pregnancy journey easier?
We attended antenatal classes at Mt Alvernia and found it particularly helpful in learning how to breastfeed and care for the baby.
What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?
That she will be God-fearing and live her life full of love, joy and health, while fulfilling her potential and living her dreams. As parents we can only provide for her to the best of our abilities and guide her along.
Thanks so much for chatting with us Cheryl and big thanks to Gunilla Lindgren of Sugarlight Photography for the beautiful maternity photos!