The quest for an empowered birth: Chapter #1: Giving Up Control

I found out that I had a traumatic birth experience after I spoke to many mothers, doctors, and women who are in the birthing field. I have always relate the sad feeling when I spoke about my first birthing experience to depression. I had a very bad break down first week post-partum and cried uncontrollably. People told me is normal. There were unprocessed emotions, unanswered questions and feeling of helplessness whenever I think about that day, but I thought it was all normal.

I have always been the happy-go-lucky kind of person. When I found out that I was pregnant, I thought, many millions of women has given birth, if others can do it, I can do it too, it was no big deal. I googled the nearest gynaecologist clinic, check the review of the female gynaecologist from the clinic and just decided that convenience is the key since I need to do the check up every month. So off we went.

The gynaecologist was cold, straight forward, speak really fast without smiling, and very clear on what she wanted to say as if she had a checklist in her mind. We thought okay maybe doctor in Singapore just behave like that, they are just being “professional”. As first time parents, we expected the doctor to tell us things to take note of when it comes to pregnancy, but she did not do that. Instead she ask us if we have any questions, assuming we have already done our research. We briefly ask a few basic questions, the consultation didn’t last more than 10 mins. For next few subsequent visits, we felt more fearful and worried about our pregnancy as she shared all the risks that I carry because I am above 35 years old. She tried to convince us to do a HARMONY test (the most reliable test to see if your baby has high risk of Down syndrome). We opted for the cheaper test, when the doctor was explaining the result to us, she said that it is low risk, but it is only 85% accurate, so there is still 15% chance that your baby has down syndrome. What a reassuring comment. She also keep commenting that our baby is “big”, without telling us what that actually means? Will it affect my birth? Is he going to be OK? She simply answer its just big. We felt bad about our visits. We dreaded the check ups just because we always ended up feeling worse about ourselves and the baby, and yet we are paying so much for each visit, on top of the long waiting time and unfriendly service. We have decided to give birth in Malaysia, so we thought since we would not be seeing her for delivery, it will be too troublesome to change a gynaecologist. So out of convenience, we chose to stick to her.

In March 2020, the world went into lock down. Randy and I were able to return to Malaysia a day before the borders closed. We visited our gynaecologist in Malaysia. Contrary to our female gynaecologist in Singapore, he is warm and gentle. We felt much more secured with him. He asked us how would we like to give birth. I confidently answered: Whichever way, as long as you get the baby out. I now realise how ridiculous I sounded. I have given up control, surrendered my rights and my birth to someone whom I didn’t know, thinking that it was his responsibility to get the baby out! It was my single most naive and stupidest assumption that I have ever made in my life.

Reference:
My convenient gynaecologist: http://towyungclinic.com.sg

Books that influenced us

This catalogue is dedicated to our children Seed and Sol, for there are too many things and learnings we would like to share with you.

Meerly:

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael A. Singer

Everything is F*cked, Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson

The Cosmic View of Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein

The Art of the Good Life, Rolf Dobelli

The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday

The unseen body, Jonathan Reisman

Randy:

Salmon Cake Medley

My goal is to prepare well-balanced diet for my family every meal. Getting them (especially toddler) to eat veggies can be a challenge at times. My trick is to dice and mix all the good stuff together and make it a patty. Cheeky but it works all the time! This recipe is my family’s all-time-favourite.

Makes 4 to 6 servings Preparation time: 30 mins

This recipe is so flexible! Keeping the key ingredients (salmon, eggs, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs), you can replace the veggies with anything you have in the fridge. You can either pan-grill or bake the salmon cake. Pair this Salmon Cake Medley with any type of carbs like pasta, mashed potato or rice to make a wholesome meal.

Key Ingredients

300g Salmon Deck

2 Eggs

2 Tbsp of Mayonnaise

1 Cup of Bread Crumbs

Seasoning

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Garlic Powder (optional)

Thyme (optional)

Replaceable Ingredients

2 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter

1 Medium Yellow Onion

½ Red Bell Pepper

½ Head of Broccoli

1 Medium Carrot

1 Handful of Fresh Parsley

Instructions

Bake the salmon (skin at the bottom side) at 200C for 15 min.

While waiting for the salmon to cook, cut and dice yellow onion, red bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, parsley. Melt unsalted butter in a pan and cook all the ingredients above for 8 mins.

The salmon should only be 80% cooked. Remove any bones and use fork to scrap the salmon into flakes.

Place all ingredients above in a large mixing bowl, then add in eggs, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs and seasoning. Mix well together.

Scoop and form patty of any shape you like. Either bake at 200C for 15 mins, or pan-grill the patty with unsalted butter.

Garlic Rice with Sweet & Spicy Salmon Soup

Having lived in the Philippines for a year, I adopted Filipino’s staple Garlic Rice as my one of favourite carbs! Pair it with sweet salmon soup (inspired by my dad’s special recipe of adding sweet chili sauce in his dried instant noodle), this meal makes perfect comfort dinner.

Makes 4 servings • Preparation time: 30 mins

Cook and refrigerate rice for 4 person the night before. This will ensure that the rice does not stick together when frying. For the salmon, it is best to use salmon with bones for richer taste as you can stew for slightly longer, though fillet works well too.

Ingredients for Garlic Fried Rice

2 Heads of Garlic

Refrigerated Rice

6 Tbsp of Olive Oil / Canola Oil

Ingredients for Salmon Soup

300g of Salmon belly with Bones/Fillet

½ pack of leafy greens (pak choy)

1 Medium Size Potato

1 Head of Onion

2 Tomatoes

500ml of Hot Water

Seasoning

100g Coconut milk

3 Tbsp Chili Sauce

½ Cube of Chicken Stock

Instructions

Finely chop the garlic. Heat up oil in a wok, fry the garlic for 5 mins until golden brown. Set aside the garlic.

Add in refrigerated rice in the remaining oil and mix well. Add the fried garlic back in and stir well while cooking in medium fire.

Slice potato, onion, tomatoes and sauteed them in heated oil until soft. Season with salt and pepper If you are using salmon belly with bone, add in the salmon now. If using fillet, add in the soup last.

Add in boiled hot water and chicken stock. Boil for 5 mins. Add in chili sauce, coconut milk and leafy greens, boil for another 3 mins.

Serve hot.

Kindness Vegeterian Lasagna

Every once a while I will prepare carbs-free vegetarian meals for my family, not only it’s healthier for us, it is also good for the environment. This lasagna recipe creatively replaces the lasagna sheets and minced meat with greens, but it still taste as great as a normal lasagna!

Meat-free lasagna

Makes 4 servings • Preparation time: 30 mins

You can be creative with the ingredients that goes in between those layers. Alternative ingredients are mushrooms, minced beef and even beans! There’s also no rules in the sequence of layering, you can add cheese in every layer if you like, have fun!

Ingredients

1 Eggplant

1 Zucchini

3 Decks of Film Tofu

1 Garlic

1 White Onion

½ Red Bell Pepper

150g of Mozzarella Cheese

1 bottle of store bought pasta tomato sauce

Olive Oil

Seasoning

Salt

Black Pepper

Italian herbs

Chili flakes (optional)

Instructions

Thinly slice zucchini and brinjal length wise that fits into your baking tray. Finely chop garlic, white onion, red bell pepper and tofu.

Preheat oven to 220C.

Heat up oil in a pan, sauteed garlic, white onion and bell pepper for 3 mins. Set aside.

Fry the tofu until golden brown. Add the garlic, white onion and bell pepper and stir fry for 2 mins.

Season zucchini and eggplant with salt and pepper, grill both sides for 4 mins each side to get rid of the water.

Assemble the dish by layering the grilled zucchini, sauce, tofu mixture, grilled eggplant, sauce, Mozarella Cheese and repeat!

Bake for 15 mins until hot and bubbly.

6 Great Places to Stand Up Paddle in Asia Pacific

1. Ola Beach Club, Singapore

This is our regular stand up paddling place. Ola Beach Club has really awesome vibe. They serve Hawaiian-inspired cuisine, beers and cocktails. There is also an indoor pool for guests. Shower facilities is available for you to wash up afterwards. There’s also an XL size board for you to have fun with your friends!

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Price: SGD$35 per hour for board rental
Beginner course: SGD$90/person/2 hours

Location: Siloso Beach, Sentosa
Operating Hour: 10am – 6pm daily
Phone: +65 6265 5966
Website: www.olabeachclub.com

Email: aloha@olabeachclub.com

2. The Wild Swells, Singapore

The Wild Swells organise day trips, sunset paddle and eco-friendly sessions for you and your friends to explore the Southern Islands of Singapore on a stand-up paddle board.The Southern Islands comprise Lazarus Island, St John Island, Kusu Island, and Sisters’ Island. This cluster of islands offers idyllic scenery for an enjoyable paddle session with blue seas and lush greenery as the backdrop.

You will be able to enjoy a 10-minute boat ride from Sentosa to arrive at Lazarus Island. Ice box will be provided so  you can bring your own drinks, ice, snacks so you can enjoy them after the paddle session by the beach!

Watch our video with The Wild Swells here.

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Price including boat ride, board rental, and a guide.
Day Trip (1-2 persons): SGD$100/pax for 2.5 hours

Location: ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove, Singapore <> Lazarus Island
Operating Hour: by booking
Website: www.thewildswells.com

Email: thewildswells@gmail.com

3. The Coastal Paddle, Johor

Starting off in a Malay Village was already a fun experience by itself. It would be better if you drive here as it is not easily accessible by public transport. We were escorted by a guide throughout the 3 hours paddling through the mangrove. 0CA03584-2E8A-4A4F-8A53-A3B4C61FEBAC.JPG2DB29FE0-2FCF-4E8C-93B6-33F134B15F89.JPG0C88FD57-1CB8-4F9A-A7C6-1C214C807968.JPG40E64C60-46DF-4E82-888A-25C798600B37 2.JPG

Price: SGD$60 for 3 hours

Location: Kim Kim River & Pulau Nenas, Johor Bharu
Operating Hour: by booking (10am-1pm / 3pm-6pm)
Website: www.coastal-paddle.com

Email: booking@coastal-paddle.com

4. Cat Ba Island, Hanoi

This is a must-do in Hanoi! If you are looking for some off-beaten track, come to Cat Ba Island, rent a scooter and enjoy ​the splendors of Lan Ha Bay while stand up paddle boarding! You get to enjoy the stunning karst archipelago going into hidden lagoons, limestone caves, through archways, and past floating villages.

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Price: $830,000 VND for full day tour (approx. SGD$50)
Location: ​No: 210 – 1/4 Str, Group 17th ​Cat Ba Island,Cat Hai District, Hai Phong City, Vietnam
Phone: (0225) 368 8450
Website: www.asiaoutdoors.com

Email: catba@asiaoutdoors.com

5. St Kilda West Beach, Melbourne

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Price: AUD30 for 30 mins (approx. SGD$31)
Location: ​They operate via a Stand Up Paddle Boarding Van (not a shop) which is parked right on the water’s edge, on Pier Road, St Kilda West Beach (located 150 metres on the right hand side of the St Kilda Pier), near the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron. Look out for a white and orange stand up paddle van and black trailer, blue paddle boards, an orange tent and flags on the beach. Booking required.
Phone: 0416 184 994
Website: https://www.supb.com.au/

Email: info@supb.com.au

6. Hakata Bay, Nagatare Kaisuiyokujo beach, Fukuoka

Watch out for blue giant jelly fishes! We spotted more than 30 giant jelly fishes while we paddles there. We asked the shop owner afterwards and found out that they are not poisonous and they do not sting. Phew…

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The friendly Japanese who took the photos of us launching into the sea. That was a horseshoe crab!IMG_2262.JPGPrice: ¥500/30 min (approx. SGD$15)
Location: ​Kaoi Surf 1-11-8 Imajuku-ekimae, Nishi-ku, Fukuoka.
Located a mere five minute walk from Imajuku subway station.
Phone: 092-807-2050

 

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Bun Nem aka Vietnamese Rice Noodle with Fried Spring Rolls
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Attended cooking class with mom at Hanoi at Rose Kitchen to learn how to make my favourite Nem (Vietnamese Fried Spring Roll)

Ingredients: (make 20 spring rolls)
– Carrot, Yellow Onion, Spring Onion, 1 each
– Minced pork, 250g
– Bean Sprout, Shitake mushroom, mint leaves 2 handful
– Glass noodle, a bunch

– Vietnamese rice paper

Directions:
Dice and mix all of the above together. Season with pepper, oyster sauce and salt. Roll in Vietnamese Rice Paper and fry!

How to make the sauce:
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon lime juice / vinegar
3 tablespoon sugar (or less)
6 tablespoon water
garnish with carrot

 

7 things to do in Melbourne for the adventurous travellers

7 things to do in Melbourne for the adventurous travellers

Melbourne takes pride as one of the most liveable city in the world. During my 10 days stay there, i fell in love with the culture, people and way of life here. Melburnians are super friendly and helpful. 

Conversation usually starts with “Hey how are you” whether you’re buying coffee, shopping, or would like to ask for information. They never fail to lend a hand when you need help. It is a multi-cultural city where people from all over the world live together as a community. 

Me and my husband always find some unusual things to do when we travel, besides visiting the landmarks of a city. Here’s some things that I strongly recommend you to try out!

1. Do a self-drive tour
Melbourne is easy to drive around. Only 30-60 mins drive away you’ll find yourself in a completely different environment where you can enjoy great nature, scenic landscape and explore suburb neighbourhood. We booked a tour to Great Ocean Road with a travel company, we regretted it as it didn’t give us enough time and freedom to roam around. If you are like us, who enjoy more freedom and time in exploring places yourself, I strongly suggest that you rent a car and do a self-drive trip!  

We rented a car and drove to Yarra Valley and Healesville. It’s known to be a place for wine and food indulgence. Since we are not a fan of wine, we chose to explore other places other than vineyard.

The drive to Yarra Valley is very easy and scenic. With the help of google map, we never lost our way. There are 3 things that I highly recommend you to do if you’re visiting Yarra Valley, more details follows.

Here’s some useful information for driving to Yarra Valley:

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2. Watch and bet at greyhound race at Healesville
You have heard of horse racing, but have you heard of greyhound racing?

At Healesville, it happens every Sunday afternoon. Greyhounds will run after a fake rabbit for 350m and the fastest runner wins. Ask the friendly counter ladies on how to bet. We were handed a booklet by a greyhound owner whom we asked for racing schedule. She passionately explained the statistics of the competing greyhounds on the booklet. I won $12 by betting $5 on number 4! (not sure how the winning goes up to $12. I bet on #4 because she has the fastest records on the booklet, no brainer or luck?) 

There are not much information about the race online. Just head to the Healesville Sporting Complex about 12pm on Sundays.

3. Stand up paddling at St.Kilda beach
Try the morning session when there are not many crowd and the weather is not too hot. you can go to St.Kilda a by earlier to enjoy your breakfast, then head over to stand up paddle hq (they operate from their truck!) and get yourself ready for a calm and peaceful stand up paddling session. 

Booking is required: Stand Up Paddle HQ

4. Ride a 100 years old puffing billy, non for profit business and mostly run by volunteers
We had doubts going to this touristy place, worried that it’s for kids and will be overly touristy. But it turned out to be an amazing experience! Book the 2.30pm session to avoid crowd. 

Sit on the edge of the train and dangle your legs out of the train as puffing billy brings you on a journey going through the villages and homes of the locals. Locals will always wave at you, making you feel real welcome and loved! Puffing billy still runs by burning charcoal, so at the end of the ride, you’ll find tiny bits of unburned charcoal splattered on your shirt. Bring some sandwiches along with you and had a quick picnic at Lakeside before taking the last ride at 4.15pm back to the destination.

Pre-book your ticket online is recommended: Puffing Billy Website

 

5. Attend yoga classes with Class Pass
Class Pass is an app (think GuavaPass and KFit) which allows you to attend fitness classes at different studios. If you’re signing up for the first time, you can enjoy 3 classes at only AUD19! I tried out 2 yoga studios with ClassPass.

Move Yoga has frequent schedules catering to the working class at CBD. The teachers there are experienced, sequences are interesting and no 2 classes are the same. 2 classes I attended at Yoke Yoga were fantastic. Teachers usually start the class by sharing a story or a lesson they’ve learned. 

Move Yoga offers 2 weeks unlimited classes; Yoke Yoga offers unlimited classes for $49 in a week.


6. Play chess with a stranger at State Library of Victoria
In front of State Library of Victoria, you will find giant chess sets which you have to walk around to move the pieces. Invite a stranger to play with you or just sit and watch them play.

7. Shop at Direct Factory Outlet, walk along Yarra River and picnic with the seagulls
I am not a shopper, but the deals and discounted items at Direct Factory Outlet is too good to resist! You can find brands like Nike, Puma, Adidas, 2XU, Lorna Jane, Timberland, Clarks, Ecco, Coach, Kate Spade, Karen Miller, Swatch and many more at 70% discount!

Walk along Yarra River during sunset and enjoy the laid back scenery.

Then pack some dinner and picnic with the seagulls. I guess a lot of people will feed the seagulls while they eat, hence they always patiently wait around you to see if you will give them food, or maybe you will have some leftovers. A unique experience i would say.

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Air Plant

Air Plant

We have decided to take up the whole apartment in 2018! We are revamping our apartment and now our dining area is one of my favourite place in the house! I am never a fan or plants until recently, I find that adding greens into a space can add life and make the space more liveable.

We got our air plants from Tiong Bharu Market. Some of them are pre-designed, some of them we bought the drift wood and plants separately. Air plants cost around $8-$10.

I finally discovered my green thumb!

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5 lessons I learned about teaching yoga

5 lessons I learned about teaching yoga

I started teaching yoga since Dec 2016. It’s been 5 months now and the journey has been absolutely rewarding! Here’s the summary of the lessons I have learned from my yoga teaching experience.

1. I am a yoga teacher, not a performer
I like to ask my husband (who is also my student) “How did I performed?” after each class. I want to know that if I showed the best side of me, my sense of humour, fun sequences, clear instructions, if I look fat in this top. So before I teach a class, I spend time thinking of fancy sequences that I am not familiar with; thinking of some jokes that I could incorporate or story that I could tell. I become nervous 2 weeks before the schedule class. I told my teacher Trish about this during a breakfast meeting, she told me: you are a yoga teacher. Then I realised, yeah… I am a yoga teacher, not a performer! I don’t have to perform and impress the students, but I am there to guide them through a yoga practice, I have to look at what they need (body and mind), observe their reaction and set an intention that they could contemplate on while they practice. It changed my preparation for class. Instead of focusing on what to wear, how to impress, I thought through the sequence according to the intention I would like to have on that day.

2. Be vulnerable & authentic
I sometimes tried to fit in the definition (or my impression) of a yoga teacher: soothing voice, serious face, perfect sequence without making mistakes. That usually cause me to teach from my head, trying to remember what are the sequences I have planned, it has never worked. Those classes that was good, are those when I set my intention in just be who I am and open to the possibility of making mistakes. It almost never fail.

3. Connection is additive
If there’s one advise that I could give to new teachers is to connect with your students. There are multiple ways to do that. Talking to them before the class, understand the reason why they do yoga or just ask about what’s up in their life helps to build rapport. The other way is to encourage the students to connect to each other by starting the class with high-fives, or nod to acknowledge everyone in the class. You can also incorporate partner or group work in your class, depending on your intention. It has become the highlight of my classes now.

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4. Empowering students through verbal cues and positivity
During my yoga teacher training, my teacher Trish will coach us to use essential language. One example would be, “See if you could try to lift your feet to get into crow pose” vs “Everyone can do this! Lift your feet off the mat.”. I find the latter works for me. There was a time I taught baby crow in a class, one student couldn’t lift up after several tries, claiming that she doesn’t have core strength. I simply said “Your core is like the gravity of the earth, it is ALWAYS there for you.”. And she lifted into baby crow! The other time a student said “I’m not sure if I can do crow, I’ve never done that”, I said “YES YOU CAN”, and she did for a split second. The power of positivity and encouragement is simply powerful and did more than what I thought it could. Try it next time you teach.

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5. Don’t rush the process. Teaching is lifelong journey.
Whenever I attended a well-taught class by an experienced teacher, I will jot down all the things I’ve learned from the teacher and want to incorporate that in my teaching next time. That overwhelming thoughts and the feelings of I am not good enough like: “When will I be as good as him/her?”, “Why couldn’t I give precise cues like him/her?” almost throw me into a depression. Then I remember that like all good things, it takes time. I have a life long time to learn and teach. Teaching is a process. Where is the destination anyway? When will I arrive?

 

I teach regular Saturday classes at Lululemon Duxton. Follow Meerly Go Round Facebook Page for updated schedule.

I earned my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training certificate from New Angle Yoga, trained under  Trish Corley.