“It used to be just about me, now it’s we”
– Yvon Bock, 40, Founder & Managing Director, Hegen
Motherhood has been anything but easy for Yvon who went through C-section surgeries and multiple complications during all four of her births. Ever the optimist, the intrepid entrepreneur says while she remembers feeling utterly helpless and upset during those moments, it taught her to never take things for granted.
“Becoming a mother has definitely changed my perspective on what should be prioritised in life. I now feel the need to be even more responsible for my decisions and actions as it has a direct impact on my children. It used to be just about me, now it’s we,” says Yvon, who is mum to Russell, 15; Brandon, 13; Lucas, 11; and Kimberly, nine.
“Having my four beautiful children is truly a blessing despite going through several near-death experiences. It certainly gave me renewed clarity on what matters most. Looking back, this paved the way for me to create Hegen, which was developed as a solution for breastfeeding mothers all over the world. It was my way of paying it forward.”
As the founder of an extremely successful business, Yvon has become an expert at juggling work with her parenting duties but she says the journey has not been without its ups and downs.
“Constantly juggling between being a wife, mother, daughter and business owner means there’s never enough time to do everything that I want to do, but I’ve learnt how to quickly prioritise and deliver on the urgent things. The biggest lesson I’ve taken away from having children is to be present: Be in the moment and seize every opportunity to spend time with your kids,” Yvon shares.
“In many ways, children are the best teachers for their parents. Parenthood is a constant state of learning on the job and no matter how much we think we know it all, we don’t. The process can be humbling.”
While Yvon has also always been confident about her body, it took her some time to find that same comfort after giving birth.
“It’s unbelievable how a little bean can grow into a full-sized baby in one’s body within nine months. For me, the real miracle was that I was able to lose all 20 kg of my baby weight and regain my pre-pregnancy body within a matter of months. The secret? Breastfeeding! It worked for me all four times,” she says.
Mothers are amazing because… “they epitomise unconditional and unlimited love.”
Photos: Vee Chin
“My kids shine a light on my frailties and strengths”
– Jaelle Ang, 39, CEO & Co-Founder of The Great Room Offices
As a mother of four children – Ying, six; Xuan, 4; and twins, Han and Wei, two – it’s safe to say that Jaelle has been put through the wringer when it comes to all things parenting. But while she hasn’t emerged unscathed from the experience of becoming a mother, she does feel more powerful than ever.
“I think I’ve learnt about myself more than I’ll ever manage to teach them. While I’ve taught them the developmental stuff like how to eat with a spoon and tie their shoelaces, they’ve taught me that I am even more flawed than I always secretly suspected I was. But they’ve also shown me that I am stronger than I ever imagined possible,” she proudly declares.
“My kids do this through a clever combination of shining a light on and holding up a mirror to my frailties and strengths; especially at 3 am when they’re projectile vomiting and I’m nursing them back to health before my investor meeting at 8 am.”
Jaelle adds that one the biggest lessons she’s picked up from her kids includes how to say no, which she had trouble doing before her parenting journey began.
“I’ve never been good at saying no to things, partly because I care about making people around me happy, partly because however uncool it is, I sometimes suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). But four children and several cities later [The Great Room has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok], I have become good at turning things down,” she reveals.
Jaelle’s learning curve after become a mum doesn’t just apply to her emotional growth. It also redirected how she felt about her post-partum body.
“I have an architect’s metaphor: Becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you’ve lived in for years. Nothing feels like mine anymore. I was once a competitive swimmer doing 200 sit-ups a day and I took two years after the birth of my twins to work up towards being able to do 40 sit-ups,” she says.
“The mum-bod is real, the struggle is real, and I know I already got lucky in the gene pool. But perhaps the biggest and most unexpected change is the secret space in my brain that opened up – harbouring feelings of overwhelming love, fierce protectiveness and constant worry, which was unimaginable before this.”
Mothers are amazing because… “they’re right about everything!”
Photos: Vee Chin
"I've learnt to be more gracious and patient after giving birth"
– Sabrina Goh, 34, Fashion Designer, Elohim
New to motherhood, Sabrina gave birth to a bouncing baby boy in February and is still processing her entry into the parenting arena. Still, what she’s learnt in this short amount of time has taken her by complete surprise.
“I’m still a new mum so I don’t think my outlook on life has changed that much, but I’ve definitely learnt more about myself in the process. I thought that I would be a very tough mother but after giving birth and getting to know my baby, I’ve learnt to be a little more gracious and patient towards the needs of another person,” says the fashion designer.
“I conceived my baby though in-vitro fertilisation, or IVF, and the lesson I took away from that experience is that you cannot control life and death. IVF does not give you a 100 per cent guarantee that you’ll end up with a baby at the end of the journey. Because of this, I’ve learnt to put more trust in the hands of God.”
Like any mother after giving birth, Sabrina is coming to terms with her changing body and doesn’t yet know if she will come to love and appreciate it.
“I gained 13 kg during pregnancy and I still have 5 kg to lose before I get to my pre-birth weight. I’ve tried to really take care of my body and have been careful of the things I put into it, and as a result I think I’ve actually got more body strength than before. The downside of this is I feel tired a lot of the time because having a little one means adapting to a new sleepless lifestyle,” shares Sabrina.
“I’m also not 100 per cent comfortable with my body at the moment because I’m still getting used to the saggy skin around my mid-section and the look of my C-section scar after giving birth. I can’t do any form of tummy exercise either because I’m still recovering from my wounds.”
Wholly appreciative of her own mother during these early days of caring for a new-born baby, Sabrina says balancing motherhood with her own business has been a challenge of epic proportions but she’s learning to cope with her changing status as a mum one day at a time.
Mothers are amazing because… “they genuinely care.”
Photos: Vee Chin
“With every new child, love is multiplied not divided”
– Dr Elaine Kim, 36, Palliative Care Doctor and Co-Founder, Trehaus
As a medical doctor, Dr Kim is well-versed in the art of bouncing back in the face of adversity, but little did she know how handy this knowledge would be during one of her own tumultuous pregnancies.
“I think I’ve learned that I’m stronger and able to do more than I thought I could before I became a mother. I would not have imagined that it would be possible to start a business while going through a difficult pregnancy where I went into labour at 28 weeks,” she reveals.
“Around the same time, I also lost a beloved grandmother so you can imagine how difficult that period was for me. However, getting through it with the support of loved ones, and faith in God, has made me stronger coming out on the other side.”
Mother to three sweet little boys – Kyan, seven, Luke, five, and Nate, two – the super mum adds that her biggest lesson was realising she had love to spare for every baby and herself after having children.
“There is no limit to how much you can love someone, and with every child I felt that love is multiplied, not divided. After giving birth, I also think my body is a completely different body. I never lose all the weight I put on with each pregnancy, I have stretch marks and my shape has evolved,” she explains.
“But I’m more comfortable in my skin now because I know there’s so much more to a being a mother than how we look, and my three darling children are worth any change in my body.”
The business-savvy doctor reveals that being mum to three young children has also ignited her passion for early education.
“I believe in having a village to raise a child, in women supporting other women, and I want other women entrepreneurs to also be able to balance work and family. That’s been the impetus behind co-founding Trehaus, a co-working space where families don’t have to compromise on either their career or cherished bonding time with their babies,” says Dr Kim.
“That experience is also driving me to start Trehaus School, a pre-school and children centre in the upcoming Funan Mall. Here, we aim to raise change makers by creating a holistic education curriculum that prepares kids for the world of the future, that focuses on developing character, resilience, empathy and future skills.”
Mothers are amazing because… “they love their children.”
(This story first appeared in the May 2019 print version of The Singapore Women’s Weekly.)
Art Direction: Ivy Choong
Styling: Jerome Awasthi
Hair: Ash Loi/Sonder Salon, using Revlon Cosmetics
Makeup: Audrey Wee, using YSL Beauty
Location: One Farrer Hotel
Photos: Vee Chin