Chapter 19 - Along Came Sharon

Oh what joy it was to be back in the island I grew up in! Everything just fell into place - upon our arrival, we picked up a copy of the local newspaper and found a fully furnished bungalow for rental the very same day! We moved in immediately and very soon I had slipped into a familiar comfortable routine. To further add to my joy, Brother and Rahimah were also expecting a baby. My cup of happiness just about brimmed over when I saw how happy the parents-to-be were. The excitement didn't stop there as our close friendship with the Naquins resumed almost like we never parted at all when the family also returned to Singapore from Louisiana and lived in a bungalow one street away from me in Toh Estate, Changi. Unfortunately, it was the Muellers' turn to pack up and leave Singapore to return to Calgary, Canada, so after an all too brief reunion, we said our farewell.

New friendships were formed with our new neighbours - a sweet but terribly naive Thai woman named Nok whom I befriended and later assisted out of a messy relationship with an unscrupulous Aussie guy; a Filipina beauty, Amy, who was newly married to an American; a Singaporean model, Saleha who was also married to an American and three other Thai women married to Australians. The Naquins were members of the Changi Swimming Club so before long, Rick and I also joined in and many a happy time was spent there with our kids and friends. Ah... this is the good life indeed!

Delighted with the prospect of becoming an aunt, I spent a lot of time with Rahimah when Brother was at work and Rick was out of town. We enjoyed a lot of fun things together and must have watched every Indonesian movie being screened in the cinemas when we were not shopping for baby stuff or eating! Brother and Rahimah became proud parents of a healthy baby boy they named Ridhwan on July 9th 1975. Their dream had finally been realized.

How true it is that once you are a mum, your life will never be the same again. By Derrick's second birthday, he had developed a lazy eye - it started quite suddenly, at first, just a couple of days a week but very soon it worsened to every other day. Soon after his second birthday, while I was heavy with child, a corrective surgery was successfully carried out at the Mount Alvernia Hospital. The anxious wait and non-stop prayers for a happy outcome brought home to me the true meaning of motherhood.

By early December, according to an old wives' tale that I remembered, I had a feeling I was going to have a daughter. When I was pregnant with Derrick, you couldn't tell that I was pregnant if you looked at me from the back; I actually had a waistline and walked with a purposeful gait. This time however, when viewed from the back, I looked like I had a pillow strapped across my waist and I waddled like a duck! Similar to the first pregnancy, I did not develop any cravings nor suffered from morning sickness and I sailed through the whole nine months trouble-free.

As the delivery date drew closer, Rick made sure that he was in town by the first week of December and this time there was no 'first time dad' panic involved. The only anxiety was the possible onset of labour before the date of the elective Caesarian Section advised by Dr Lee due to some possible complication that he wanted to avoid. Talk about being organized - we had my hospital bag packed with every conceivable thing that I might (or might not) need long before the due date. Best of all, I was able to shave my legs before going into hospital! Brother and Rahimah had been staying with us each time Rick was away at work and stayed on this time Rick was in town to look after Derrick (DJ as we all fondly call him) while I was in hospital. On the morning of December 12th, armed with a carton of cigarettes and a paperback novel, Rick drove me to Gleneagles Hospital. Sharon (Hebrew meaning 'Princess') Dawn ('Daybreak') entered our world a little past 2pm that day. As it was with Derrick, I examined her from head to toe and was over the moon that she was simply perfect! My happiness is now complete with a son and daughter of my very own.

One rather damp day I jumped on a bus to take baby Sharon to the paediatrician for a post-natal check-up. It had been raining very heavily resulting in the monsoon drains in Orchard Road being full and floodiing parts of the road. Anyway, I carefully got off the bus and crossed what I thought was a little bridge to the doctor's surgery. Big mistake! One step later, I found myself in the fast flowing water of the monsoon drain! Most fortunately for us, an Expatriate passer-by came to my rescue, shouting at me to give him my baby. Another passer-by grabbed me and hauled me unceremoniously out of the water and thus we were saved from becoming newspaper headlines the following day. We entered the surgery dripping wet, causing gasps of concern all around. The receptionist was despatched to buy a set of baby clothes from a nearby department store while Sharon was given a most thorough check-up. Gone was my idea of shopping after the doctor's visit, it was straight into a taxi, homeward bound.

Sharon suffered no ill-effects from the unexpected public "baptism" and in fact, thrived and grew into a miniature laughing Buddha! Not only was she getting more and more rotund, she was also losing a lot of hair... or so I thought. So worried that I would end up with a bald daughter, I invested in several bottles of Jochem's (tm) Hair Preparation (treatment for thinning and falling hair) to combat the problem. I remembered my eyebrows shaving experience and how thickly my eyebrows grew back, so I began by first shaving all the hair off Sharon's head. Then began a rigorous twice daily application of the hair treatment on Sharon's scalp. I was absolutely delighted when by the age of two, she had a headful of lustrous brown hair.

She was a colicky baby so Woodwards (tm) Gripe Water was on my shopping list for some time. Aside from that, she was a healthy and generally contented baby. With my dream of having a baby daughter finally fulfilled, I began sewing baby clothes and even taught myself how to crochet just so I could make cute baby girl outfits. Sharon loved eating - and would have a go at tasting everything in sight - from leaves and flowers to dirt and pebbles! Rick thought I had gone completely bonkers when I began clicking my camera when she was caught in the act of eating the potting mix in one of my potted plants one day, instead of cleaning her up. For goodness sake, I argued, she had already eaten all she wanted, so why waste a Kodak moment?

Visions of having a dainty little girl had vanished by the time Sharon reached her second birthday. Apart from the one occasion when she dabbled in a make-up session, she would more often than not, be found playing with DJ's Tonka trucks and cars rather than with her dolls. Instead of playing house with the little girl from across the road, she would race around in the front yard on her tricycle in competition with DJ on his bicycle. Memories of her delighted shrieks as she stomped around in the rain with DJ and their cousin Ridhwan still make me smile. As she got older and bolder, she delighted in climbing trees or hanging upside down like a bat on the bars of their swing set. Her pursuit of boisterous adventures resulted in numerous cuts, grazes and bruises that equalled if not bettered DJ's and Ridhwan's! What a tomboy!



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