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Pregnant Over Age 40: Perlyn de Rouvray Leong

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Perlyn de Rouvray Leong talks about her decision to wait till later in life to have children

Singaporean Regional Director Perlyn de Rouvray Leong, 41, is expecting her first child in January 2018. Perlyn talks to Sassy Mama about finding love later in life, how she prepared her womb to get pregnant (and got pregnant immediately afterwards!), her journey being pregnant at 41 and the reason she hasn’t done any birthing classes

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I had plenty of opportunities to meet a lot of people from all walks of life due to my work and social life. But it was only in 2014 that I met my now husband – and we got married a year later. I remember the first time I met my husband, I felt a very unfamiliar emotion. Something that I never felt before in any man that I had met. I knew on the same night that this was the man that I’d be spending the rest of my life with, to have children with and grow old together. It certainly sounds cliché but you know when you know. People always say that and now I’m a true believer on this!

Was waiting till later in life to settle down and get pregnant a conscious decision? 
I’ve always wanted to see and explore different cultures the world has to offer and I felt it would be easier not to be tied down. Please don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong about being married when you’re young. It’s a personal choice. I wanted to be as carefree as I can with no guilt for my choices in life. My parents, divorced when I was at the age of 3, they were married at the young age of 23. Terribly young! That too played a huge part for me not wanting to settle down during my early days. My dad has always been very supportive of my life decisions, never has he pushed me to settle down or do things that I didn’t want to. Having said that I have very conservative grandparents who always wanted me to settle down young, you know, how society portraits woman at a certain age should be married during their childbearing years! Maybe because I’ve always been rebellious during my teens and never listened to anyone but myself and that lead me to be who I am now. My dad’s advice to me was “always be truthful and honest in life, especially to yourself” that just stuck in my head and it’s probably what lead me to this chapter in my life – I’m now 41 and expecting my first child next month.

Did you have any challenges getting pregnant?
No, I do not feel so. Especially now when it is so easy for us to get medical treatment in this modern world. I do believe in acupuncture and traditional Chinese meds though. Before I got pregnant, I had a 10 course acupuncture treatment to “get my womb ready”. And right after I was pregnant. Maybe that played a part for my pregnancy. I’ve always been open to modern and traditional medical treatments. As long as it’s not any voodoo witchcraft!

What kind of birth are you planning?
Natural but with lots of epidural, please! I’ve friends that are against any sort of anaesthetic but I’m no cavewoman. I believe that everyone has their right to choose whatever birth they want. I have nothing to prove but my own wellbeing. Also, I choose not to attend any birth classes as I did not want myself to overthink on certain risks or situations  – I will just take things as they come. I don’t want to see a baby coming out of someone else’s vagina or seeing the pain a woman has to go through, its traumatizing! I shall experience it first hand when the time comes for me.

Did you need to do any extra prenatal tests?
Yes, I did. As I’m over 35 I needed to do a Verify prenatal test. This is to detect if there’s any abnormality on chromosomes 21, 18 and 13. It was a low risk test as they only needed a blood sample. And the beauty of this was that we knew our baby gender during my 10th week. And by then we were going full force buying baby boy items!

Does your OBGYN have any concerns or have you discussed any challenges – what might these be?
Yes, he did initially only because of my age. Statistics, you know. But after all the tests that we did and with my results stating I’m not in any high risk, that made everyone calm.

How have you found the support?
Great family and friends. Also, I’m still working and keeping myself as normal as I can be. Going for meetings and appointments, running errands. Everyone at my work place is so supportive and taking good care of my wellbeing during work hours. Of course, my husband has been my constant pillar of support at home. Especially now that I’m getting bigger, poor man has to sleep in the living room as I need all the space on our bed. I’m building a fort every night with pillows just so I don’t get cramps and numbness in my legs and hips.

What are the pros do you think of having kids a little later in life?
Mentally and financially we are more prepared, definitely. This is, of course, is my personal point of view. There are times when I think back on if I were to be married younger or have kids during my 20’s, knowing me I would have probably ended up in a divorce and likely end up as a single mom! There were too many things that I wanted to accomplish and experience during my 20’s and 30’s – so I am glad I have those out of the way to enjoy parenthood now! 

What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
Ecstatic. My husband was away on a business trip when I got the news I was pregnant, I actually was with a good friend of mine (my son’s future god ma) and once I heard that I was pregnant I cried! I was so happy that I was crying and smiling at the same time! It was an incredible feeling.

What has been your funniest memory over the 9 months?
When I first felt my baby’s first kick. We were in Paris and it was midnight, trying to wind down on our bed. Suddenly I felt a flutter in my tummy. I told my husband and he thought I was imagining things. So, we waited with our hands on my tummy and felt it again. It was ticklish to begin with.

What do you think every woman should know before getting pregnant?
Check to see if you have any blockage on your fallopian tubes, any signs of abnormal cysts in your uterus and ovarian production. Not forgetting your partner should do a check-up, too.! It’s not only the women! Don’t take this for granted if you wish to have a baby in the near future. I find a lot of people take these check- ups for granted, thinking that they are fine and probably missed that one fertile date of the month. Most of the time this is not that case, there’s more to it than just that one day!

Did you follow a fitness programme while you were pregnant?
HAHA! Not at all! Everyone was telling me to do yoga or pilates but I never did get to it. I only did one prenatal class.! But I do tend to walk a lot due to my work, I have tons of meetings a day. So hopefully that helps.

What did you struggle with most being pregnant?
Sleep! It’s the midnight wakes for toilet breaks and getting into the right sleeping position.

Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
I’ll name a celebrity and that’s Tamara Ecclestone. She is an extremely hands on mother despite having tons of help. Totally respect her for wanting to still breastfeed her 3 year old daughter with all the media scrutiny but no one understands that bond a mother and a daughter has together during that special moment. She might seem like she is OTT pampering and spoiling her daughter but who doesn’t? I’m sure every parent spoils their kids to a certain extent.

What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?
To be healthy and mindful. I believe that a mother can only hope for their child to grow up to be well educated, humble and hardworking. Especially a respectful human being in society.

Any words of wisdom to other mums who are older or who have not yet had kids and are worried it may be too late?
It’s always easy to say don’t worry or don’t think too much. But we all know everyone has their own hurdles in life. But what I can share is that, we all make our life choices whether its IVF, adoption or natural, we make our own destiny. Do whatever you can to chase that stork if that is what you want in life! 

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