The IVF Dad: David Ngiam, 46, with his daughters, Sarah, six, and Hannah, two
Six years into his marriage, David and his wife Christine still had no child to call their own despite both being in optimal health. They turned to In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) in a bid to conceive but failed to produce a viable embryo. Ten years later, the couple tried again, and this time to success, happily welcoming daughter Sarah in 2013.
“I got married when I was 24 years old and Christine was 23 but it was only about 16 years into our marriage that we got our first child. We didn’t want to have kids right away. We wanted to spend a few years as a couple first so we only started trying for a baby in our late 20s and realised it wasn’t as easy as people said it would be,” recalls David.
“Our first IVF cycle failed and it was very stressful for Christine. We thought that even if it was just the two of us in the end, we’d be okay. But at the persistence of my parents, we tried IVF again when I was 40, and we were blessed with Sarah. We are very, very lucky to have her.”
Four years later, David and Christine struck gold again and got pregnant with a second baby. Conceived naturally, Hannah was born in 2017.
“The body works in mysterious ways,” says David. “Hannah was totally unplanned for but it was really nice to know that Sarah would have a sister. After all the trouble we went to the first time around, we felt truly blessed.”
Forty may be considered a tad old for being a first-time father, but David says it does come with other advantages.
“The great thing about being a father later in life is that you’ve already done all the things you want to do as a young adult,” he says. “It’s all pretty stable for me right now so I can devote a lot more quality time to my two precious girls.”
Photo: Vee Chin
The Divorced Dad: Wayne Toh, 44, with his children, Ethel, 17, and Elliot, 13
As a single dad of four kids when he and his wife divorced nine years ago, Wayne had to quickly learn how to be both a father and mother to his children growing up.
“They were so young when their mum left. My eldest, Seth, was 10, Ethel was eight, Tertius was six and the youngest, Elliot, was only four. At that age, they still needed a lot of attention and care so I had to learn to be a very hands-on father,” Wayne explains.
“I was heartbroken after the divorce and they witnessed all the nights that I cried myself to sleep. They are very close to me as a result. I am constantly learning how to be a good dad. My fathering methods have changed along the way as my children grow up and I think this is normal; the world is always changing, and parenting has to evolve to keep up with the times.”
In a rare move, Wayne gained custody of all his brood of four after finalising his divorce proceedings. He confessed that while it may have been easy to give in to his emotions and turn his children against their mother, he chose to nurture them with love instead.
“Divorce is ugly but try not to speak ill of the other party or brainwash your children with hatred. I tried to spend as much time as possible with my kids during the divorce period. I may have not forgotten the hurt that I felt at the time, but I made the conscious decision to forgive my ex-wife so I could teach my kids that value of forgiveness,” he says.
“Children are innocent, and in a broken marriage it’s often the children who are the victims. I showed them that I was there for them through my actions, not just words. As much as I’ve taught them, I feel they have also taught me many lessons like patience and positivity, and I’m still learning how to be a better father for them, each and every day.”
Photo: Vee Chin
The Celebrity Dad: Tim Oh, 41, with his son, Charlie, one
After he hung up his mic in 2017, radio deejay Tim soon found himself changing nappies when he and wife Sabrina welcomed their baby boy, Charlie, in June 2018. However, he couldn’t keep away from his passion, and is now helming the evening drive time show on Kiss92 with Carol Smith.
But how is the new dad juggling parenting with fame? “I think any ‘celebritydom’ I might have had, I’ve lost to Charlie. At least on social media, any friends or fans I have are far more interested in him than they are me. I think these days it’s more of a case of ‘He’s Charlie’s Dad’ rather than ‘He’s Tim Oh’s son’,” says Tim.
He’s not entirely wrong. On Instagram, Tim has about 3,000 followers but the posts that garner the most “likes” are definitely those of him and his little bundle of joy. When asked to describe fatherhood, Tim has a very frank answer to share.
“You know how there’s that whole stereotype about newborns and how they’ll turn your life upside down? You’ll hear all sorts of horror stories and the truth is that all the horror stories you hear are true, they’re absolutely true,” explains the first-time dad.
“But at the same time there are also a lot of good things that people don’t really tell you about so it all kind of balances out in the end. Sure, there are a lot of scary times involved when it comes to being a dad but honestly, there are a lot of magic moments too.”
The way Tim sees it, regardless of what he does for a living and what his social standing is, becoming a dad was truly life-changing.
“One of the first things Sabrina and I said after the delivery was ‘Our lives are no longer our own anymore’,” he recalls.
“Parenting can be stressful but I know Charlie is an extension of ourselves, and through him, a little piece of us lives on even after we’re gone.”
Photo: Vee Chin
The Widowed Dad: Keith Leong, 55, with his daughters, Esther, 25, and Fiona, 23
When Keith lost his wife, Lydia, to stomach cancer 14 years ago, his world changed forever. Once part of a doting couple with four children, he found himself alone and adrift without his wife by his side.
“When my late wife was still with us, I outsourced most of my fathering duties to her as I concentrated on my career. When she passed away, I found the transition into becoming a full-time working dad really hard,” he confesses.
“I took a year off work to really sit down and plan out our lives, because coordinating four kids, each with very different personalities, is no easy feat. That initial year was the most challenging period for me.”
What Keith found worked for him was giving himself time – time to heal from the pain of losing the love of his life, as well as time to build upon the relationship he has with his children.
“As a widowed dad, I had to take on more responsibilities to help my family stay strong. So, I really took the time to get to know my kids and spend time with them, together and also one on one. This paid off for me because the trust we’ve developed between us now can’t be broken,” explains Keith.
“It’s important for parents to not just take part in fun activities with our children but to also truly listen to them and bounce ideas off them. Parenting is not a one-way street. You can’t just tell them what to do, it needs to be collaborative because they should have a say in the decisions they make as well, especially as they get older.”
In times of uncertainty, Keith has found solace in his faith, which has also helped him bond with his children.
“As a Christian, I pray with them and that allows us to open up to one another in ways that I can’t describe. Sometimes, as men, we tend to jump to conclusions, but my faith has taught me to be more patient, to lend my kids a listening ear so I can truly attune myself to their needs,” says Keith.
Art Direction: Ivy Choong
Styling: Sifra Vania Yulius
Hair: Ash Loi/Sonder Salon using Revlon Cosmetics
Makeup: Audrey Wee, using YSL Beauty
Photo: Vee Chin