At the beginning of the year, Parenthood held a Cover Star search for the cutest baby or toddler with the biggest personality. Elva Lim Rae Lynn who turns two this month prevailed as the winner after competing with 9 other contestants and stealing the hearts of the judges and audience.
During the cover photo shoot, Elva was such a sweetheart and melted everyone’s heart with her wide smile and camera-ready personality. Mummy and Daddy were also such great sports doing everything they can to make Elva happy during the long shoot. From putting on masks of her favourite cartoon characters to putting on her favourite tune, just to make her happy and comfortable throughout the shoot.
We wanted to know a little more about her through an interview on set, but unfortunately baby language is still a mystery to adults (or is limited), so we asked Elva’s mum, Tan Saw Yan a little more about how Elva came into this world and dug deeper into what Elva’s personality is really like at home and also their parenting style in raising Elva.
Parenthood (PH): What was Elva’s birth like?
Tan Saw Yan (TSW) :Elva’s birth was an eventful one. We had been preparing for a natural birth but had an emotional moment when we found that she was in a breech position. She decided to stay that way till few weeks before my due date and I had to schedule for an elective caesarean section. The procedure was planned on Week 39 of my pregnancy but I started having pain and difficulty in walking by Week 37. The pain gradually became worse and my gynae suspected that it could be a condition called Pubic Symphysis Diastasis (PSD) which is a type of pelvic girdle pain caused by misalignment of the pelvis.
Elva being in a breech position made it worse as it was adding pressure to the pelvic region. I was told this only happens to a minority of expecting mothers and not many are aware of this condition (including us). I tried to tolerate the pain but on the night of July 22nd 2016, the pain was so intense that I had trouble lifting myself and getting off the bed.
With the help of my husband I had to force myself to get down from the bed, out from the house and into the car to be rushed to the hospital (while crying inside in pain!). I had to be admitted and the doctor advised us to reschedule the c-sec date earlier.
The next available date was only 5 days later, so I was on bed rest with need for regular painkillers and also needed a nurse to hold on to me whenever I wanted to go to the washroom. The whole experience served as a reminder on how grateful we should be when we are able bodied and walking freely without assistance.
July 27th 2016 finally arrived, and I was very nervous as they pushed me into the operating theatre not knowing what to really expect, yet part of me was excited as I will be seeing my baby girl very soon! The whole c-sec process was done within an hour and I was relieved the moment I heard my baby crying.
Confused and tired I briefly heard that Elva had elevated breathing and they needed to quickly bring her for further inspection. Elva had to be admitted to the NICU due to a suspected infection and was started on a course of antibiotics. As I was recuperating from the surgery, I had to visit regularly to breastfeed her. Thankfully, she was cleared of any infection and we were allowed to bring her home after spending 4 days in the hospital.
PH: How's life after having Elva?
TSW: Life was definitely very different compared to when it was just the two of us. There was more freedom and flexibility before but we had to adjust our daily routine since we welcomed our little one. The first few months were challenging but thankfully with each other’s support, we were able to pull through. Our life has since been more colourful and exciting as we look forward to each day, watching our little one grow and learn new things along the way.
PH: What's her daily routine like?
TSW: During the day, she likes to play with a mini cooking set she has at home. She always finds joy in pretending to cook and preparing meals which she would then pretend to feed to her stuffed animals. She also likes listening and dancing to children’s songs and happy tunes. Before bedtime, she will usually request for us to read a few of her favourite books together with her.
PH: What's are some of the favourites?
TSW: She loves eating fruits. After dinner, she usually gets to enjoy a fruit platter with a mix of different fruits. Her favourites are bananas, kiwis and papayas. She has no particular color she is attracted too but we have noticed that she likes dresses with floral patterns.
PH: What’s her character like so far?
TSW: I would say that she is a strong-willed and independent girl. She usually insists on doing things on her own. For example, she will ask to hold her own spoon while feeding and turn pages on her book by herself. Lately, she has also expressed interest in helping out with household chores like folding the clothes and sweeping the floor.
PH: Most parents want their children to be pilot, doctor and so on... How about you? Her choice or you will decide?
TSW: We think it is still early now to decide on her future career. But when the time comes, we both agree that her interest, abilities and passion should be what guides her ambition. We would want her to enjoy what she does rather than being forced into it.
PH: As new parents, what are the struggles faced in the first year of raising her?
TSW: Life as a new parent brings a lot of challenges. We found that there were new things to learn each day about our baby and our responsibilities as a parent. Sleep during the first 6 months was also a luxury as she was still adjusting to a sleep routine and we had to endure quite a few sleepless nights. Having each other’s support and understanding was important as there were times where it could be become overwhelming for both of us. But the joy of seeing our baby girl smile and watching her grow healthily makes every hardship and struggles we went through worth it.
PH: Are you a strict parent? What's your opinion on this?
TSW: Yes, we are strict when it comes to respect and good manners. We always encourage her to greet people she meets, especially the elderly. We were taught the same values when we were young and we hope she will practice it as well. We also promote good manners by setting a good example for her. We teach her to use phrases like “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me” by using it at home.
PH: Every parent has their own parenting style, what's yours? Can you share or give tips to the other parents out there?
TSW: We find that kids learn best through observation rather than by force. So as parents we always try to set by example. When teaching her about good manners and respect we find that the best way is to always practice it in interactions between ourselves, with her and others. We also encourage good habits by giving her praises when it’s due. From our experience, it is also important to be persistent and consistent when teaching her something new. We have to have patience and confidence in our children in order for them to explore their creativity and be able to learn new skills.
PH: What's your future plan for her?
TSW: We hope she can find joy in learning when she’s ready to go to school. We are preparing her for early education by promoting her interest in reading as well as activities which enhances her soft skills and social interaction. As parents, we hope to continue providing the guidance and support she needs as she continues to grow and explore the world.