Founder of The First Wife, a fashion and beauty blog, photographer and model, second time mama Sabrina Sikora chats with us in this edition of The Bump!
No stranger to Sassy Mama, Sabrina Sikora is a well loved Sassy girl around these parts and we were thrilled to hear that she’s expecting number two! As a contributor, model and photographer at Sassy Mama, we’ve had such a pleasure working with her and are beyond ecstatic to feature her as this month’s The Bump! Having lived in Hong Kong for several years, as well as being pregnant and delivering her first bub, Adam Easton here, she has now relocated to the Lion City, Singapore where she’s expecting a little girl in the fall. Experiencing two pregnancies in two of Asia’s world cities, she’s definitely learned a thing or two and dishes on the differences of her experiences of being pregnant in Hong Kong and Singapore.
What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
I was extremely happy yet also surprised! We were in the process of traveling through the USA to Singapore and had a stop in Tokyo and Hong Kong along the way. While hanging out in the hotel room in Tokyo I saw a test that I had thrown in my bag and thought “Why not?”. I took it and went on playing with my son and ordering room service as I expected it to be a ‘No’. After the food was ordered, I gave it a peek and when the word “pregnant” appeared I thought, “Whoa. I need to sit down”. I looked down at my son who was playing and immediately thought how awesome it was going to be to give him a buddy. We had planned to start trying this year anyway so this was a very welcome surprise!
Your funniest memory over this pregnancy?
My son loves his tool kit and is constantly “fixing” things around the house. He uses his little screwdriver on all the chair and table legs. While fixing my make up table he looked up at me, held up his screwdriver, and said “Open belly… get baby out!”. I told him that we would have to wait a few more months until baby was a bit bigger. Guess he is ready to have a playmate now!
Any great books and resources that prepared you for when your baby arrived?
Having a child already was the best thing to prepare me. Deborah Taylor of Infant Sleep Resources in Hong Kong helped me loads with his sleeping and feeding when after a year he was still waking every 45 minutes! This time I am following her tips along with the “Moms On Call” series of books that were recommended by my friends in the USA. I’m also part of an awesome mummy chat on WhatsApp, which never fails to offer great advice from the other moms that have been there and done that.
What do you think every woman should know before getting pregnant?
It’s a physical and emotional roller coaster. One day you are up. The next you are down. It affects every part of your body in some way but the good thing is that it is (mostly) all temporary. The moment you feel that first flutter of a kick makes every challenging part worth it a million times over!
How has being pregnant in Singapore compared to being pregnant in Hong Kong (in terms of doctor’s care, maternity classes, fashion options, and other resources)?
It’s not so much being pregnant in the two different cities as much as being pregnant in two different seasons! My son was born in March so I got to enjoy layers and bulky sweaters over leggings and fashionable maternity jeans. I hid the weight gain with long blazers over fitted dresses. If you’re looking for some inspiration, you can check out my guide to maternity dressing in Hong Kong for casual wear and my guide for maternity dressing for those special occasions.
This time I am due in October and in the endless summer of Singapore so I am constantly in flowy dresses as I just don’t want anything touching me. I found some great summer pieces at Mayarya and Grana. I prefer buying pieces that I can wear before and after so I opt for items that aren’t traditionally “maternity”.
ASOS has been good for the basics including kimono style feeding tops, swimsuits, and leggings. Buying generous dresses at Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 in a size larger than I normally would works well and they are easier to resell than maternity pieces.
In Hong Kong I did the maternity classes at Central Health and the Annerley CPR/First Aid class, which were extremely helpful. I hired the most amazing confinement nanny, Sandy Li, through E-Mother and am looking to recreate the experience here by using Confinement Angels from Thompson Hospital. The doctor’s care has been wonderful in both locations. I went with Dr. Grace Cheung of Central Health in Hong Kong and am currently with Dr. L.C. Foong here in Singapore.
Have you been following a fitness programme while pregnant?
Pardon me while I laugh out loud! Nope! Pregnancy sickness had me laid out for four months and almost in the hospital for dehydration twice. My doctor told me not to go outside between 10am and 4pm and considering even sitting up made me lose it some days I had no interest in doing anything physical. I had the same extreme sickness with my son too (for all 40 weeks!) so it was not new, but still not exactly something I was excited about revisiting. Once the sickness was gone, I landed myself in the hospital with a pulled abdominal muscle from lifting my son out of his bed while twisting. The doctor has told me to take it easy and not do any lifting. It is a strange feeling to be so chill as I was still shooting until 32 weeks with my first pregnancy. Now, I’m just trying to make healthy choices and I figure I will lose it once I’m ready to. Thankfully, I did Kenzai after my son, which was amazing and put me down lower than my pre-pregnancy weight so that will be my go-to again when the time is right.
Any fashion tips and tricks for maternity dressing?
Shopping for items one size larger at the high street stores is a great way to still feel like yourself and have useful pieces that you can resell easily after the bump is a baby. I also really like loose dresses with this pregnancy that are midi length as they allow me to play on the floor with my son but also still feel “dressed” when we go out. I always add a statement piece of jewellery and a great bag to up the style factor in a second. While my balance was actually better with my first pregnancy and I could still rock massive heels till the very end, this time that has not been the case. I found some great loafers from Kotur, which look equally cool with boyfriend jeans as they do with something dressier for a night out so those have been on repeat.
Now that I am in the third trimester I am pushing the limits on my non-maternity clothing. I have finally given myself over to the maternity section on ASOS and have been obsessed with the black Bardot midi dress. You can literally wear this everyday and change out the accessories. As a fashion blogger, I am missing my wardrobe and am looking forward to being able to wear the other 95% of what is there again at some point.
How do you dress differently while pregnant in Singapore compared to Hong Kong?
It is all about dressing for the heat here. All of my leather pieces have been pushed to the back of the wardrobe and have been replaced by loads of breathable silks. Plus, the styles here are much more relaxed than those of Hong Kong. I love styling a look head to toe and pushing a few boundaries here and there and I find I get quite a few more stares and sideways glances here in Singapore vs HK where I mainly got ignored. I have loved rocking the vyshyvanka embroidery dresses here as the boho vibe plays better here than in HK. Innika Choo’s smocks have been perfect for the bump and the heat. I have also loved my Vamastyle dresses and Christing C.’s flowy frocks are perfect for a growing bump. TWS also had a great ruffled off the shoulder dress that is very preggo-friendly and works well in both cities as you can dress it up or down.
Now that I have one kiddo at home I find that the body con styles that I favoured during the last pregnancy aren’t as friendly this time around as I can’t bend over the stroller or get down on the floor to play. I prefer looser dresses that allow me to move and live life. I am still embracing the bold lip colours and chunky jewellery, as I know that all disappears for a while once baby is born. Little tiny babies do not appreciate your oversize necklaces when they are smashing their face into them. And because you are constantly kissing and smelling their perfect head red lipstick isn’t the best choice.
What do you struggle with most being pregnant?
Just feeling out of place in my own body. I have a very physical job that requires me to haul gear and be up and down on the ground over and over to get the right angle for a shot. I’m used to knowing my body’s limits and with pregnancy I think I can do more than I really can (i.e. pulled ab muscle). It’s hard to take it easy when you are used to being constantly on the go but that is what is needed for baby. Plus, when you feel the kicks and when you see baby on the scans it really does make it all worth it. You know they are there and that they need you to be strong and focused for them. I’m using this time away from shooting to work on my website and blog and spend loads of quality time with my sweet boy who is growing like a weed and talking up a storm!
Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
Pernille Holmboe of Chicameo. She is a mom of three and every time I see her she has the biggest most genuine smile on her face. I’m sure she is just as crazed as the rest of us running around chasing kids and juggling schedules but she always seems to have it all under control. She also designs and models for her own Chicameo brand. We shot together eight weeks after her third was born and she was back in sample sizes jumping around on set with the energy of a high school cheerleader. I was in shock! Her energy is inspiring as is her dedication to her family.
What are your thoughts about finding out the sex in advance?
I am all for it! Knowing whom I am doing it for makes it all the more worth it for me. It gives me something to visualise and hold on to through the experience especially on the more difficult days. Plus, my husband and I have the hardest time agreeing on baby names and getting it down to one gender to focus on makes the conversations more bearable.
What kind of birth did you have with your first child? (hospital, home, epidural, etc.) Are you planning to do the same this time around?
I did an elective c-section at Matilda Hospital in Hong Kong. I gave it loads of thought, as all moms do, beforehand and decided that was the right road for me as I really liked that it was more of a controlled process. I did an amazing meditation class at The Sanctuary a few months prior that was recorded and sent to me. I then listened to it every night before bed and that morning of the procedure to relax me as well. It focused on turning your self off which allowed me to handle the needles more easily as I typically pass out or get sick whenever I am near them. I was singing along to the songs in the room and chatting with my husband and just a few short minutes later my son was lifted high in the air, wrapped in a towel, and laid on my chest. We were skin to skin within the hour and stayed that way all day. Seeing and holding your child for the first time is pure magic no matter what route you take to get there. I had such a wonderful experience with my son’s birth that I plan on doing the same with my daughter.
Who is your OBGYN, and where are you planning to give birth?
Dr. L.C. Foong at Glen Eagles was referred to me by a friend and has been wonderful through this process. I will be delivering at Glen Eagles.
What helped you get your groove back after your first pregnancy?
Getting back to work made me feel like my old self again for sure! I had my first shoot about five weeks post baby and it felt so good to be back on set. I have been working in fashion since I was 14 years old so it felt quite odd being away from the camera for so long. The other part that really made me feel like my old self was getting back into shape and into all of my old clothes. I did Kenzai and ended up dropping to 15 pounds lighter than I had been pre-baby. I didn’t aim to lose that much as I had just aimed to get stronger but it felt so good to be able to take him to the pool and not even think about myself or be self-conscious in a swimsuit while we were splashing about. Plus, I had loads more energy and knew I was eating incredibly well for him as I was still breastfeeding through the workouts. I plan on doing the same program again once I am recovered and able to. It gave me so much more energy and confidence and you need both for raising kids.
Do you have any mama-friendly favourite places (restaurants, parks, etc.) to hang out with your toddler in Singapore?
We are at the pool at our building several times a week as my little Pisces loves a good swim. Not sure if our neighbours enjoy seeing me in a bikini though! We also love family dinners at Super Loco and lunches at Jones the Grocer as both are relaxed and don’t seem to mind if the food doesn’t always end up in the mouth. We recently took our son to Diggersite and he went wild for it! He got to be a real life “Bob the Builder” and wear a vest and hat and operate an excavator, which was a dream come true for him! We have also done quite a few trips to the zoo as it make for a great gentle walk for me and a chance to talk about mommy and baby animals to my son.
Any local businesses (or websites) that made your pregnancy journey easier?
It’s not local but one random pregnancy thing I loved is the NevaSic app, which is a playlist you listen to when you start to feel nauseas. You have to use headphones to get the tones as close to the inner ear as possible but can listen to it in the background and over and over if needed. Just be careful not to listen to it when not nauseas or it can make you sick! It’s pricey for an app but saved me a multitude of times.
Otherwise, I’m still learning my way around and always taking recommendations from friends. I’ve been calling on all of my friends in Hong Kong to link me up with anyone they know in Singapore so I have been on the coffee scene quite a bit. It’s been awesome to have that resource, as the moms here are quick to help with any questions I have and all have awesome recommendations for where to go and who to call for what. Sassy Mama has also been a great resource for all things family friendly and I have a big list of places to try.
What are your hopes and dreams for your kids?
Every night when we say our prayers I ask for my babies to grow strong, healthy, and happy. I also ask for protection around my family and seek to provide a safe and secure environment for them. That’s all I can ask for. I can give them everything I can, surround them with a stable and loving family, provide a framework for a solid education and morally sound upbringing but in the end as long as they are healthy and happy then I am satisfied. It’s all about giving them the right platform to succeed and I am trying to do my very best to do just that.