National Service, soon

National Service is coming soon. And our blog is still named Sengkang BABIES haha.

Kids are in their teens already, and very soon National Service (NS) beckons. To our kids, I have been trying to spin some positive tales for them.

In this post, I try to share my past experience and set some expectations for the kids.


Army Open House 2017 and 5 observations for kids
Army Open House, Guards Light Strike

What is National Service?

The kids might remember SAF from:

– The ex SAF Open Houses (Army, Navy and Air Force). Now only got small scale Vivo Navy and small Heartland exhibits
– or perhaps Jack Neo’s Ah Boys to Men series

They might not remember that National Service started with Singapore’s independence. They might not care that National Service is a rite of passage for Singapore (both boys and girls).

Total Defence (TD) might ring a bell from their Social Studies. Being a soldier or Home Team member helps protect Singapore. Or perhaps how TD can help deal with Covid-19 scenario.



Terrex Jack New Ah Boys to Men

..NOTHING quite prepare you for National Service

-Say bye to your Freedom, Image and girlfriend.
-Enjoy Pulau Tekong staycation for 3 months BMT.
-Crew cut will be your only hairstyle till you become a recruit.
-Girlfriend would be so near yet so far, weekend rendezvous or night phone calls.

Welcome to bunk living. You will have smelly neighbours (post-exercise) for your mates, snores for company. And we used to shower together!
(Heard they have cubicles for privacy now).

For some, Culture Shock might be an understatement.

Hey, your bunk mates will not only be Chinese, Malay, Indians or Eurasians.
You will encounter many mix-parentage buddies, who are likely PR’s 2nd generation.

Truly multi-racial society 🙂

New Lingos to learn in NS, new corners to explore

-One for all, and all for one. (normally drilled through the knock-it-downs or stand-by-beds)
-Do it but do not get caught (Is this still happening in camps?)
-Sign Extra (aka bye weekend)

-Malingering(Keng2, sometimes go together with Lobo). Not asking you to Keng, but do not be sabotaged by those who do so! Life skill, you will meet many “keng” folks in society too.

– You might explore new corners in Singapore, so dark you cannot see your fingers. And you thought we are familiar with 700 km2 tiny Singapore.

-Area D (near Sarimbum Reservour) overlooking the Straits. No HDB here, only vast water and hills. Most scenic spot in Singapore!

– Mosquito and marsh (swamps are waist deep) become your nemesis, and powder bath (snake prickly heat) your best friend

– Well, camps are located at ulu corners. Still better access than Pulau Tekong.  (Last time no MRT worse)

New experiences. Suck it up!

National Service is only 2 years. But I know the 2 years for a 17 years old means EVERYTHING!

The buddies you make during your NS days will stick with you for LIFE! (and countless reservists too)

Independence and Fitness. These two attributes will stay with us after our NS.

No helpers to tidy your bed or Mom to warm up your meals.
Most of us would be fittest during our NS days (chin-ups, 2.4km and sit-ups)

In missions, we must learn to trust our buddies. They will be the ones looking over our shoulders and covering our six.

Think Positive, ok?

Since botak (bald), it will be more cooling. No need to waste time grooming infront of a mirror.

Thanks to my NS training, I can doze off quite easily (and anywhere) when I am in my Greens.  Might not be an attribute, but sometimes, we need a catnap to powerup.

I was telling the active kiddos. Since you all have an appetite for adventures and thrills, SAF might be an avenue to enjoy more thrills. Read Taiwan cycling, Cebu Kawasan cliff jumps or JB ATV runs, GoKarting and hiking.

Maybe SAF can offer you a buffet for adventures and platform to discover yourself

Look, you can skydive and rappel for free with the Commandos, insurance provided. Free tours (R&R) with overseas mission and training :p

Regulars are paid to enjoy skydive.

Red Lions NDP performance

So many more Free activities:

-Free atv rides with Guards
-Free Laser tag games (Atec)
-Free arcade and simulation games (Armour)
-Free cruises (With the Navy)
-Free air tickets (C130, Chinook or chartered flights)
-Free gym membership, aka 5PT exercise
-Free class 3,4 driving license (those with MT line, drivers)

Singapore Army Hunter

Joystick (remote UAV) and keyboards (Cyber security) are new “career” choices in the armed forces.

2030 will bring new toys and doctrines to the surface.

Image credit

Although my experience is with Armour, I always told the kids that the home team is equally important. Salute to our brave Nurse, Police, Firemen etc, putting themselves at risk sometimes.

This is not a blog post for Army recruitment :p

Image credit

No particular reason for this post. Just wanted to remind the kids (girl too) that National Service is a rite of service for Singapore kids. From Boys to Men 🙂

More National Service FAQ at

We planned for 2 kids but ended up with 4

We had planned for two kids, but ended up with four 🙂
Destiny or fate? Some buddies even joked that I cannot afford to buy condoms haha.

The simple reason is we both love kids. For first time visitors, you may read more about our stories here.
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The first child always holds the most impactful memories.
I can still remember myself sobbing uncontrollably in the theater, bag full of mixed feelings. Anxiety about my elevation to fatherhood and concern about Missus’ suffering.

Read on, as I try to share our love for kids, and perhaps a tip or two for newly forged Dads.
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…40 weeks
The journey to fatherhood starts from the prenatal visits to our gynecologist (or gynae), hearing the soft heartbeat through ultrasound. She or he (the gynae) will be your most trusted consultant in the operating theater. Read about our gynae (Dr Madeleine) and pediatrician (Dr Koey) here.

The growing bump, the nausea spells, the midnight cravings and the cramps through the trimesters. And all the discomforts which pregnant Moms need to go through.
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The l-o-n-g wait after checkin
Bring some reading materials along, chat with the Missus to pass the time.
If she finds you nosey or if you are making her anxious, go for a coffee break.
Give her space.

Braxton hicks or contractions will grow with intensity and frequency.
Gynae might burst the waterbag if it has not already leaked.

Meanwhile, engaged in some Dads bonding along the corridor.
You will see them pacing up and down the corridor, share in their moment of glory.
The nurse might be measuring baby’s head circumference, weight and length, your 4D numbers for “Singapore Pools” 🙂

Treat the experience as a rehearsal before your own baby arrives.
Dads will try to appear strong but we all feel helpless in shouldering and easing our wife’s discomfort.

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The last 10 centimeters
As we watch the contractions interval shortens on the oscilloscope scope, the nurse will be asking whether the Missus prefer laughing gas, pain relief or epidural.

No Mediacorp dramas here, with Moms screaming at the top of their voice or barking at anyone in sight. Breathe in, breathe out, nurse will be encouraging the Missus to keep calm and regulate her breaths.

The nurses and sometimes midwife will be busy attending to a few wards, updating the Gynae when a baby is due. They will be the Missus’ best friend and can offer encouragements for the next few hours.

Please inform your Gynae beforehand if you wish to video the child bearing process.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4cm…
She is feeling the intense discomfort from the contractions. The husband’s arm might be bruised by now, from the Missus’ grip.

3, 2, 1cm. Full dilation
The Gynae appears. Dr Madeleine is our kids’ gynae, and it is always reassuring to see her in the operating theater.

Slowly but surely, we witnessed a lump of hair appearing at the vagina birth canal.
Everytime we see the contraction peaks, “Meng Choo PUSH“.

** Huff, puff, catch your breath **
Meng Choo PUSH again“, baby is coming. Repeat.

As the head slowly appears, anticipation mixed with anxiety made me teared.
So proud of Meng Choo, yet so excited to meet my newborn for the first time.

After a few more cycles of “Push, Huff, Puff and Push again“, the gynae performed an episiotomy. Snip, and the baby literally slide out!

(* Guys be-warned, this might be the moment when you ever see so much blood spilled!
I will let your imagination runs wild about the placenta.)

You can do the ceremonial cut (umbilical cord) before the nurse proceeds to clean and dry the baby.
Oh, a new born is full of “wrinkles”.
Then you hear it for the first time. Your own baby wailing 🙂

Every child is special, and I went on to witness three more deliveries from Meng Choo.
Is Meng Choo (and all Mums) awesome or not! Salute!

Wei Kang IMG_3975
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(Big family Singapore)

Tips for Dads-to-be before they enter the operating theater:
– For those with multiple kids, arrange for your parents to take care of the older sibling/s
– (subjective) We will buy toys on behalf of the newborn, to assure the older kids that parents love all our kids. Hopefully they will feel less jealous and more welcoming towards new family member.

– The waiting room is cold, or maybe we are nervous. Bring a pair of socks for the Missus. It is a miserable feeling to have cold feet (literally), while we wait for one more centimeter of dilation

– Guys beware, it will be bloody when the baby pops out. Not every man can handle the sight of blood and some might faint (real story)

– The moment (can be hour or hours) before the child appears at the birth canal is the best time for you to show moral support for your wife. If need to, allow her to grip our strong arm (otherwise, we guys are practically useless in a theater haha)

– If you are documenting child birth, ask the Gynae for permission or opinion first. No need to photo or video genital area (I am conservative).

– Cutting ceremony, do indicate early that you would like to cut the ribbon (ie umbilical cord)

– If you intend to donate the child’s cord blood to a Public bank (Singapore Cord Blood Bank), you need to “register” your intent a few weeks before. Private cordblood banks can be activated within hours.

– Most importantly, stay cool. Be the man whom your wife can rely upon. Even when water bag has burst, stay calm and slowly drive to hospital. If in doubt, call the hospital hotline.

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Today, my eldest boy is already 12 years old, I can still remember him crawling under the table and wobbling to take the first few steps.

Parenting is an ongoing journey. We believed we are educating the kids, but the little ones offer an opportunity for us parents to learn and adapt too. Our resourcefulness and patience will be stretched to the limit, and there is no user manual for parenting 🙂

This post is part of the ‘Birth Stories’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other exciting birth stories please click on the picture below.
owlswellblog babies blog train-001

If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this one here by Sandra from, where she chronicles her life as a mother of three, now staying in Sydney, Australia. Once a fancy-free girl, life is now chock-ful of quips, questions, dinosaurs, trucks and trains.

From pregnancy to handling newborns and now with three talkative toddlers, Sandra shares the joys and challenges of motherhood. Parenting, after all, is a road best travelled with good company and a healthy dose of humor and perspective! Her motto in life: Outsmart … or be outsmarted by the kids!

The next parent on the blog train is Geraldine from MummyChuck. She is a Stay-at-home-mum to three boys, 4 years old Jaden and baby twins Jordan and Jonas. She blogs about family life, adventures and fun outings. Read about her birth story of her firstborn and how she feels 2 births and 3 kids later.

* Click for more parenting insights from our blog. We have also shared the efforts distribution betwen 1 to 4 kids at this link :p