TV host and emcee Daphne Iking isn’t new to motherhood. But going from having just two girls to a sudden addition of 2 boys in such a short amount of time, puts her on the spotlight for this month’s Mother’s Day celebration. Daphne open up on her pregnancy and labour experience with her baby boy and also talks about being a step-mum to her husband’s 22 year old son.

 

On Being a Mum

Have you always envisioned yourself as a mum?
As a little girl, when I played with my towel dolls (my parents could not afford dolls, so while everyone owned a Cabbage Patch doll or Barbie, I had a rolled up towel of a doll that my father made for me. So sedih kan? LOL), I’d imagine that doll as my real child. Remember those days where we had to parent an egg? (make sure the egg doesn’t break etc), I’d take that assignment really seriously. So yes. From a very young age, my maternal instincts were strong.

When I was 11, I kept begging my parents for a younger sibling (my brother was a year younger than me, so I couldn’t “baby” him) and my mother was reluctant as she was approaching her 40s. So my father was contemplating on adopting. Mum became pregnant and I took care of my younger brother Damian as if he were my own. I knew how to bathe a newborn at the age of 12. Even before I got married, I was ready to adopt this baby whose mom was an unwed single mom.

Who you look up to as a mum figure? Besides my own mother? My Grandaunt Anthonia Manjapun @ Gusili. I stayed with my Godmother, Aunty Patricia for a few years during my teens as her daughter, Wyomia, was also my classmate and bestfriend. So it was “Mamak” who looked after all of us while our parents were busy working. She was so motherly warm yet strict. Made the BEST meals and would come looking for me with a torch light when I sneaked out at night to go dancing with friends!

It’s A Boy!

What was pregnancy with Isidore like?

I kept my third pregnancy a secret for fear of not getting any emcee and hosting jobs. Only close family and friends knew. I wore loose clothing and minimized my social media postings. I hid it so well, I forgot I was pregnant until I feel the movement in my tummy! He was a surprise blessing. So though unexpected, of course I was still ecstatic.

How did it feel to know that it was a boy?

We told our Gynae to keep the gender of the baby a surprise. But I sort of guessed it was a boy because she kept hinting (cue:eyeroll) to my husband , “if she gives you a boy, what are you going to buy for your wife?” over and over again. LOL. I’ve always wanted a baby boy.

Was there a difference in this pregnancy?

I was much sicker during my first trimester, which wasn’t the case with my first two pregnancies. But otherwise, smooth sailing.


How did the girls react?

They were SO excited!  But because I had to keep it a secret, the whole family including the two girls had to keep mum too. They felt it was like playing a long game of “mystery”. They’d come for my checkups if time permits. A day before my surgery, Isobel posted her “secret is out” vlog.

How did hubs react?

He was so disoriented when he found out I was pregnant! We decided after Iman Daniella, we won’t have anymore children. And being my manager and having lined up a few confirmed jobs (deposit paid upfront) he was worried how work would be since I lost some jobs when I was pregnant with Iman. He eventually “grew” into the idea and reality that he was going to be a father again.

Labour Time

What was labour like this time around?

Because the other two deliveries were a C-sect, Isidore was to be delivered by surgery too. I remember FINALLY being excited as I revealed the secret that I was pregnant over Instagram 2 hours before going into surgery. I HATE needles, so I was not looking forward to my epidural and I was shaking in fear and cold. My husband had to get into his scrubs and I suddenly felt so alone and frightened. Again, because I sometimes forgot I was pregnant, the cold reality was sinking in during my epidural jab. Please know that I was still emceeing and doing shoots right till my surgery.

“Had we waited for the original date, the doctor said I could have internal death – so first the baby would die, and possibly me too.”

After the epidural settled in, I was wheeled inside the OT and my gynaecologist and anesthetic doctor were extremely chatty and chirpy, obviously trying to calm my nerves and it worked. I was not sure then, if it was the epidural- but all of a sudden, the OT went quiet. Before you know it, Isidore was brought to us for the father to recite the adhan and takbir, and for skin to skin contact with me. It was all woozy for me. I slept right away as they wheeled me into the recovery room. When I woke up hours later and wheeled to my room, Azmi told me it was a good thing that we chose a slightly earlier date for the C-sect surgery. When my doctor cut me open, she was shocked to see that there was already a small rupture in my uterus. She signaled her team to get the baby out quickly. That was why the room went suddenly quiet. Isidore took some time to cry too, which also worried Azmi and the doctors. Had we waited for the original date, the doctor said I could have internal death – so first the baby would die, and possibly me too. Because my uterus wall is so fragile and weak now, my doctor has advised us not to get pregnant again.

Isidore Daniel Iking Azmi

How did you come up with his name? Any reason behind it?

Isidore is my paternal grandfather’s name. I told Azmi that when I first found out I was pregnant with Isobel, we thought she was a boy. So I had planned to name “him” Daniel Isidore (to follow my initials DI). But when she came out, we changed her name to Daniella Isobel but somehow, it didn’t sound as nice. So I switched it around to Isobel Daniella. So Azmi said, “if this third pregnancy is a boy, we shall name him Isidore Daniel”. And we did.

Who does he look like? Remind you of anyone?

Isidore Daniel reminds me a lot of my late dad and his Uncle Damian Jerome (the sibling I begged my mom to give me). My father had always loved boys, so he managed to see Isidore just before he passed on 6 months later. Damian and Isidore have the same eyes and hair. Isidore has my father’s twinkly eyes and smile.

What’s his personality like?

DRAMA KING.LOL!  He is a typical boy. Loves his cars, trucks and balls- and is boisterous and happy. But when he doesn’t get his way, Oh My Lord… he will run a bit, fall on the ground and then wail as loud as he can! I don’t give in to that. But his nanny pities him. I have to remind her to be firm. A no means no. One thing for sure, my girls were SO much easier to manage.

Bringing Up A Boy

So far do you notice a difference in bringing up your boy?

Yes. My daughters had their fair share of challenges, but boy oh boy! The tantrum and energy of a boy is a whole different ball game!
He’s not as independent as my two girls, and he learnt how to walk later. He’s 2 years old now and still not talking! My niece who is just 2 months older is already actively talking and I am getting worried. But I was told it’s normal for boys to be slower in speech.

 

Hands- on Papa

Is Isidore closer to his Papa?

YES! They say daughters are closer to the father and the sons are closer to the mum. Nope. The kids all LOVE Azmi. They come to me for food and cuddles, but it’s Azmi whom they confide in- even Isidore (who can’t speak). When Isidore was still a newborn, Azmi kept saying he has to be stricter with him. But he’s the complete opposite now! He’s a softie with the boy and he knows it. Overall,  Azmi is such a hands-on father. Strict and frugal. Practical and direct. His children are his everything.

Step-Mum Duties

Ariff Jazzmi is Azmi’s 22 years old son from his first marriage. 16 year old Daphne would have never imagined I’d have such a blended family! Ariff is extremely talented and an amazing musician! Azmi doesn’t like me using that term stepmom/stepson. He says I should use the word mother which honestly? I sometimes feel uncomfortable using since he lives with his biological mum. So I like to alternate the word with “parent or co-parent”. I call him my son when we go out and introductions are required. What is more important is he knows I love and respect him.

At the beginning, it was tricky.  I won’t deny that. There were some bumps along the way but boys grow up, and God finds a way to help build bridges and connect souls. He confides in me as I confide in him too. He’s a young adult, but when he’s living with us, he follows our rules and he’s cool with that.

I told him once, I am not taking over his mother’s role as his mama. I respect the boundaries BUT I am still his parent, and especially if he’s under our care (holidays etc), he has to abide by our house rules (cleaning up, waking up early, eat what the rest of the household eats, doing chores) and especially since he is the eldest sibling, he needs to set a good example.  It’s been okay so far. He’s a good son and we all love each other.

 

Kids + Technology = ?

You’re really active on social media and even your kids have their own social media accounts. What’s your opinion on bringing up kids in this digital-first era?

I can’t deny them this technology so we embrace it. But I have parental controls and have their passwords. They have limited screen time and we monitor their devices. I have also explained about child predators and tell them about cyber crimes. I’m open about sex education and they know we check their accounts from time to time. It’s a no device zone during meal times and Azmi has set a day in the week of no ipads/tv/phones. I think that’s important to explore the world in reality and not just through the web.

Mum-Me-Time

What are some of your favourite things to do for ‘me time’?

I wake up 2 hours before the household to do the things that I like. I run 10kms x 3 time a week. Teach Community Yoga and I love reading and gardening. I do this early in the morning before everyone wakes up.

 And how do you manage to do so?

I wake up at 430-5am everyday. I also have my husband who manages my schedule and my nanny Linah who assists me with the kids. I work from home, so that can be tricky sometimes, especially when I have deadlines or I need to go out for work too.

 

Post-Partum Secrets

What’s your secret to losing all the baby fat and maintaining your figure?

I always do so well during my confinement! I lose weight so quickly because someone else is taking care of my meals and helping with the baby. But right after that, when reality sinks in and you have to do all on your own, the tendency to eat irregularly or revert to junk like fast food, the weight just adds back on. I notice I can only start losing weight and toning up after the 2 year mark. When I stop breastfeeding (cause breastfeeding makes me SOOOO Hungry!) It still boils down to eating well and exercising regularly.

How do you manage to look good all the time?

I’m blessed because pregnancy gives me such beautiful skin and hair! Post natal hair loss is horrible and because all babies were delivered through C-sect, I have this ugly flabby skin that won’t go away, no matter how hard I exercise or diet! I have learnt to accept this. Most days. I run and do yoga now.

One thing that all mothers or mothers-to-be should know about motherhood

Please find out more about breastfeeding. I wasn’t prepared at first when I had Isobel. But then I found a support group and read more about it to prepare me for baby number two which resulted in me breastfeeding Iman till she was 4!

 I am still breastfeeding Isidore from time to time. But yes.. I wish I knew more then for my first pregnancy.