Chapter 20 – Heavenly Gift

The Family Planning and Population Board of Singapore’s most prominent poster
in the 70s was: “Girl or Boy, Two is Enough” so in the eyes of family and
friends, my family was just perfect – a son and a daughter, nicely spaced at
two years apart. This idyllic life continued until late May of 1977 when I
realised I had missed two ‘periods’! I couldn’t possibly have fallen pregnant
again, could I? I was on the pill… but just in case, I purchased a home
pregnancy kit and the result was negative, as I had fully expected. By the time
Rick came home on leave, I was convinced that I had fallen victim to the
dreaded cancer. Rick, practical as always, got me to make an appointment with
Dr. Richard Lee, my gynaecologist.

I entered his surgery full of apprehension at what the diagnosis would be,
shuddering at the mere thought of the numerous tests I would have to undergo,
not to mention the treatment involved in saving my life, IF IT WASN’T ALREADY
TOO LATE!!! There I sat in his waiting room, with my heart pounding and tears
welling in my short-sighted eyes. I was mad at Rick – how could he sit there
calmly smoking his cigarette while his wife’s life was ebbing away? He was
probably wondering how long after I’ve died could he re-wed! Heartless prick!
How would my darling children cope with a new step-mum so soon? Tears of anger
and despair were on the verge of overflowing when Dr. Lee called us in…

After prodding my belly here, there and everywhere and listening with his
stethescope, Dr. Lee stepped back with a grin and announced that I was
pregnant! “That’s impossible!” I declared, “I have been religiously taking the
pill whenever Rick is home!” Upon further questioning, an astounded Dr. Lee
learnt that I only took my contraceptive pills when Rick was in town as I was
not in the habit of sleeping around! Well, no one ever told me that I had to
take the pill everyday regardless of non-sexual activity!

What a relief to know that I wasn’t a cancer victim after all… After I had
calmed down, we discussed various pertinent issues regarding this unexpected
surprise. I was given the option of terminating the pregnancy if I so desired,
an option that was very quickly dismissed as I am a pro-lifer. Discussion over,
congratulatory handshakes ensued and an appointment was made for my next
prenatal check-up. Rick and I floated out of the surgery on cloud nine and we
were grinning long afterwards.

As with the previous pregnancies, I did not develop any strange cravings and
sailed through the waiting period without any complication. Remembering how
easy it was getting Sharon out into this world, I elected for another Caesarean
section. At a few minutes past noon on December 31st, baby
(Greek goddess of the moon) Jayne (Hindu origin, meaning
‘Victorious’) became the youngest member of my happy family. She was perfect in
every way…

Rick phoned home to tell DJ that he had a new baby sister and the somewhat
disappointed little lad responded with, “Could you send her back as I already
have a sister, I much prefer a brother!” Rick managed to convince him to see
the baby first before deciding… Rick brought Brother, Rahimah, DJ, Sharon and
Ridhwan to Gleneagles Hospital to visit me and see baby Selina for the first
time. DJ took one look at his new baby sister and whispered, “Awwww… she’s
cute! Yep, we’ll take her home, even though she IS a girl!” Thank goodness
Selina was cute…

It wasn’t long before the name ‘Selina’ was shortened to ‘Nina’ as little
tongues of her siblings and cousin found it hard to pronounce the name in full.
Right from the start we could see that she is an achiever – from cutting her
first tooth at the age of barely 4 months to walking unaided by the age of 11
months. By her first birthday, she was fully toilet trained and before long she
was joining in boisterous games with her siblings and cousin and rivalled big
sister Sharon in collecting cuts and grazes! Being the youngest child did not
cause Nina to become a meek follower, as to this day, she is no pushover.

Unlike Sharon’s case, I didn’t have to worry about using Jochem’s ™ Hair
Preparation on Nina’s head, delighting instead in braiding, plaiting or tying
up her hair with pretty ribbons. Within the first year of her life, I decided
to enrol in a hairdressing and beauty course. Why? Simply because I enjoy
gaining knowledge that I knew would be of benefit since becoming the mother of
two daughters. Brother and Rahimah stayed with me whenever Rick was away at
work so there was never any worry about getting a baby-sitter. I came home
after my class one evening and was most surprised to see little Nina wearing
one of Sharon’s old bonnets but didn’t give it much thought until I noticed my
rather worried sister-in-law…

It turned out that my nephew Ridhwan had gotten hold of my hairdressing
scissors and had given Nina a hair-cut! Removal of the bonnet revealed the
extent of the damage done – Nina’s head of hair looked like a newly-sickled
padi field on a mountainside, with that terraced look all over the top of her
head! I took one look and literally cracked up with laughter, much to Rahimah’s
relief. (What a pity I didn’t get a photo of the rather funky hair-cut.) Even
with my newly-gained hairdressing experience, I couldn’t do much to repair the
damage but it was no big deal as there wasn’t any harm done. From then on
though, I made sure that all scissors were kept out of reach of little
wandering fingers.

The four young cousins got along rather harmoniously on the whole, with only
the occasional trivial squabble over what game to play or who got to be the
ring-leader. They loved nothing better than to spend time in the above ground
swimming pool in the front yard or to play in the rain, dressed only in their
undies. Meal times were organized with all four children sitting cross-legged
on the floor and being spoon-fed by either Rahimah or myself from a “communal”
bowl or plate. There they would sit, as good as gold, like four little
nestlings all in a row… I like a well organized routine so by 6pm, all the
children had been fed, bathed and gone to bed! The grown-ups could then relax
and enjoy peace and quiet for the rest of the evening and night. I know it
sounds rather strict by today’s standards but hey, it worked for me!

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