In our new photoblog format, we get to know our mummies and daddies better by asking them questions about their pregnancy journey. In this first edition of Photoblog Conversations, we speak with new mummy Farah about her experiences leading up to the birth of little Sofia as well as why she decided to have a newborn session done. We also find out the surprisingly uncomplicated reason behind her name. Hint: It's in the title.

When we first met Farah and Chris during their newborn session, we knew that they were one of the more laid back new parents we had ever met. New parents tend to be as different as newborn babies themselves, and nothing seems to faze these two as they arrived at our studio as cool as cucumbers from the freezer. Coincidentally, their session was also the very last session we did before the Circuit Breaker, while we didn't manage to do their Fresh48 session at the hospital due to the increasingly strict limitations on guests that only came into effect on the day of their shoot. Nevertheless, they were glad to be able to have their precious Sofia's newborn photographs taken just in time.

At first...

How did you find out that you were pregnant?

My husband Chris and I were back from our summer holiday in Europe and I had continued on with a business trip to the US right after. Needless to say, when I was finally back in Singapore, I was exhausted. I traveled frequently (When will this ever happen again?) and did not suffer much from jet lag (yes, I’m one of the lucky ones) so after a week of feeling constant exhaustion, almost like I was under the weather, I knew something was not right. One morning, before heading to work, I randomly decided to take a home pregnancy test and to our extremely pleasant surprise, we discovered we were expecting!

How did you announce your pregnancy to the world?

The first people we told were both of our parents. My parents live in Singapore so we told them in person over lunch at home, and since Chris’ parents live in Germany, we announced the good news to them over FaceTime. The next group of folks we informed were our bosses, as we were both very involved in our work and knew that we had to plan for contingencies early on. We only told “the rest of the world” after my first trimester, through WhatsApp for close friends, and via an Instagram post for the rest of our friends; a very cryptic one at first, of my missing home but not being “alone” on a business trip, and a more obvious announcement of me getting priority entry through immigration and customs because I was expecting. I didn’t share any ultrasound photos or shots of my belly until much later on.

and then...

Did you have any weird experiences or cravings during your pregnancy?

Strangely I had almost no cravings throughout my entire pregnancy (a big relief for Chris) except for citrus fruits at the very beginning. I tried to maintain a healthy diet in the first few months but as the discomfort grew (I had severe water retention from early on) I thought, life is too short, I need to be a happy wife and mommy-to-be, so I started indulging in my favourite food more as long as they were not harmful for baby.

How did you find out the baby’s gender? Was it a surprise?

We took a blood test that revealed baby’s gender from early on. We had no preferences but somehow both had a gut feeling I was carrying a girl. I guess our first instincts as parents were not too bad! We wanted to know the gender of the baby because we felt we needed to know what we were in for and make the necessary preparations.

How did you pick out your baby’s name? Is there a special meaning behind the name?

Due to our mixed heritage and wide circle of friends, we wanted an “international” name for our baby that would fit in anywhere. Sofia means ‘wisdom’ in Greek (Chris is half Greek) and ‘beauty’ in Arabic (we are Muslims). Coincidentally, I’ve also loved the name Sofia since I can remember so it seemed to make sense. It was definitely one of the easiest conversations we had when deciding on our baby’s name!

The birth...

What hospital/birthing center did you give birth at? What was your experience like?

We were originally seeing our doctor at Mount Elizabeth Novena. When COVID-19 hit, our doctor could only practice in one location and since she had a larger client base at Thomson Medical Center, we followed her there. Thomson is also one of two hospitals where one could have a water birth so that encouraged me to go for it. To be honest, the clinic experience for regular antenatal check-ups was always a bit less pleasant than her clinic at Novena. I was getting anxious that my birthing journey would be a frantic one if our experience at the clinic was a prediction of the future. To be fair, I overheard a lot of other couples also having to transfer from other clinics so I understood that it was a time filled with adjustments and changes for a lot of folks. Thankfully, the delivery and ward staff were very pleasant, patient and friendly so in the end I felt satisfied and cared for. The recovery wards were nice, too.

Do you have a story from the birth you would like to share?

It was a long road! My water broke on Friday evening while we were asleep, but since we had a check-up scheduled with the doctor on Saturday morning, we didn’t panic and went back to sleep. During the appointment our doctor confirmed that I was in the early stages of labour and if nothing happened over the next 48 hours, I should come see her first thing Monday morning. We went on with our day to eat brunch at a cafe and even visited another couple friend who had just given birth ten days earlier. On Sunday morning, I woke up feeling completely fine, and was starting to feel disappointed that I was going to have to be induced the next morning. However, the contractions started kicking in by mid-afternoon really sneakily and Sunday evening was spent at home before we finally decided it was time to head to the hospital on Monday morning. I don’t know why I though it was a good idea to go to the supermarket at 10 pm on Sunday night just to buy some tea. We were in the delivery room for about 14 hours and I was pushing for 3 hours. There was one particular nurse who (I kid you not), between my bouts of pushing, was casually holding the baby monitor on my tummy with one hand and scrolling through Instagram on her phone with her other hand, occasionally glancing at her watch as if to say, “come on lady, you better push this baby out during my shift or this will be such a waste of time”. I was on laughing gas and thought I had imagined seeing this, but both Chris and our doula confirmed she was in fact doing that. LOL!

What is the one thing you will never forget about the birth of your baby?

How long, painful and full of blood it was! Seriously, I am forever grateful to Chris for handling such a stressful situation so well, even if I almost broke his hand while squeezing it to get through the contractions, and for being my rock throughout the entire long weekend. I remembered hearing Sofia’s first cries when she first arrived and feeling relieved when they placed her in my arms right after but it was for such a short while and to be honest everything happened so quickly that it is almost a blur to me now. I remember feeling extremely exhausted after but not wanting to close my eyes because I kept looking at her next to me when we were finally wheeled into the recovery ward. It was one of the quietest, most intense moments of love and wonder I had ever felt.

The session...

Why did you decide to have newborn photographs taken?

I didn’t know exactly why I needed one at the time, but I knew that I wanted a keepsake to help me remember her when she was really small and brand new to the world and in our lives. She is 3 months old now and already looking different and I’m starting to realise the importance of capturing and enjoying each moment because she is starting to grow so fast and we won’t ever have this time again. Sometimes I still wish we could have had a Fresh48 session done at the hospital because I was so exhausted and did not think to take photos of the little one. But the reason why we couldn’t go through with the Fresh48 session (COVID-19 meant that hospitals were strictly limiting visitors) was understandable.

What was the most memorable part of your newborn session?

Your beautiful and cosy studio and how amazing you were with Sofia. I would seriously engage you as our baby whisperer if we could. In retrospect, she must have felt very comfortable with you to have remained asleep the entire time.

It was also the first day we went out as a family, other than for our doctor's visit, before the Circuit Breaker in Singapore started. That was definitely a period that will go down in our family history!

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