Couplehood

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By Adeline Lim

 

Six years of partying screeched to an abrupt halt the moment I became a mother. Suddenly, all my favourite nightspots became completely out of bounds to me.

 

Out went the booze too. For the most part of my pregnancy, and another 14 months until I weaned my daughter off the breast, not a single sip of white wine or champagne passed my lips. From quaffing five to eight drinks a night, I became a teetotaller.

 

I was a party animal who loved the nightlife. Having married young, at 24, starting a family was just not part of my immediate plan.

Twice a week, my girlfriends and I could be seen in the latest hotspots in town. Velvet Underground at Zouk, Attica at Clarke Quay, Bar None at Marriott Hotel and Centro at One Fullerton – we were near-permanent fixtures there.

 

Bar-top dancing was then the rage, and it was no surprise that after a string of drinks – wine, tequila shots, vodka orange, lychee martini, the killer Long Island Tea and the Flaming Lamborghini – re-enacting a scene from Coyote Ugly became an easy thing.

 

Then, gradually, a new phenomenon happened. A close group of married friends started getting pregnant one after another and I was getting more invitations to baby showers than club openings! The pregnancy bug was contagious and my husband and I started contemplating having a baby too.

 

While at a friend’s birthday party hosted at Thumper, I remember feeling vaguely suspicious that I could be pregnant. It crossed my mind that this could be my last time clubbing with my friends before I became a mummy. Strangely, however, there were no sad feelings. I think subconsciously, I was already prepared to move on to another chapter of my life.

 

Two weeks later, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive.

 

Motherhood arrived before I turned 30, changing my life completely. I cried when I saw Katie for the first time. I thought to myself, “This little earthling is my pride and joy. It should not be too difficult to care for her.”

 

Was I in for a huge surprise! That little earthling demanded to be fed every two to three hours. Though I was amazed at myself for having such wonderful milk “machines”, the task of expressing milk every three to four hours round the clock took a toll on me. During my clubbing days, I could go home at 3am and be up and out to work at 8am in the morning without much difficulty. Looking after Katie day and night proved more difficult!

 

Thankfully, I found that I could apply similar coping techniques from my previous lifestyle. In the past, I had designed a routine to deal with the demands of a late night out – drink lots of water to flush out the alcohol, eat an egg for protein to help the body absorb alcohol better, and wear glasses instead of contact lenses to work to disguise my bloodshot eyes.

 

Now, as a new mummy, I used the same tricks, except for a new wholesome purpose – drink lots of water to produce more milk, eat an egg to enhance the nutritional content of my breast milk and wear glasses because I was homebound and no one was going to look at me anyway!

 

Another change: Because I was breastfeeding, I didn’t allow myself to touch alcohol. It was a big sacrifice. There were numerous times when I felt tempted to fall back on my favourite lychee martini, but my resolve not to taint my breast milk was, thankfully, stronger. After a while, I even forgot how white wine tasted.

 

Then came the night I decided to accept my girlfriend’s invitation to a Halloween party at St James Power Station. I left the house in a modest non-clubby outfit, feeling really strange that I was leaving my six-month-old baby with my husband at the late hour of 10pm.

 

When I entered the club, there was none of the usual adrenaline rush. I even felt I did not belong on the dance floor. Worried that Katie would cry for me, I spent my time texting my husband rather than talking to my friends.

 

My maternal instincts proved right: By the time I reached home at 1am, Katie was wailing at the top of her voice. My husband looked visibly stressed. After that, I stopped going out late at night.

 

In any case, I was more than happy to be home with Katie. Finger-painting was one of my favourite activities with her. One fine day, after one such messy session, I hurriedly cleaned her up and then dressed myself without so much as a glance in the mirror, before heading out to meet my husband for dinner. On the way, I thought I saw many passers-by staring at me in a curious manner. Hmm, I thought, maybe I still looked like a yummy mummy after all!

 

To my horror, when I visited the public toilet to check myself in the mirror, I saw that a large swathe of skin on my neck was covered in bluish finger paint!

 

Now I look back at everything with a laugh! As Katie learned to walk, talk and achieve other milestones in life, I would look at her proudly and beam at her, my little pride and joy. Indeed, she is the most wonderful thing that has happened to me and my husband and it is no wonder that we went on to have another baby three years later.

 

Since I do not go clubbing anymore, I bring the clubbing atmosphere home. I play the likes of Katy Perry, Flo Rida or Taio Cruz in my living room and dance crazily with Katie, now five years old. My night-time ritual these days consists of reading to my two daughters in a warmly-lit bedroom and smothering them with kisses as I tuck them into bed. Nothing beats saying a prayer for them and looking at their angelic faces as they drift off to sleep.

 

Adeline Lim used to be a go-getter marketing communications executive in a statutory board. She is now working as a polytechnic facilitator on a part-time basis so that she can spend more time with her children aged five and one. She has hung up her party heels for now, but promises to return with a vengeance.

 

This is an excerpt from an essay, Party Pooper, first published in Muddlehood: What Not To Expect When You Are Expecting. The new book is a collection of candid confessions by first-time Singapore parents on what really happened in their first year of parenthood. Laugh, cry and be inspired. Muddlehood is available at leading bookstores, online at www.booksandmore.sg and Muddlehood Facebook. 

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