June 27, 2017
Starting a business is hard. Being a mum is super hard. Juggling a startup and motherhood is unbelievably hard and most days I find myself doing a terrible job at both. But I’ve learnt the importance of believing in yourself and knowing what you do is enough.
This is my birth story – raw and uncut – of Little L and babykins.
Before I brought Little L into this world, my head was filled with romanticised images of how the birth experience would be. You know, that Hollywood moment where you hear the baby’s first cry and you hold him in your arms for the first time, and now you’re crying as well, from overwhelming joy.
Not just on-screen celebrities perpetuated this idea of how it should be. Friends on social media who became mums echoed this amazing experience in their exuberant posts – sharing how their hearts were bursting with a love they never knew they could experience and how their lives were now finally complete the moment their baby arrived.
So imagine my dismay when I felt none of these emotions with Little L’s arrival. After 7 hours of labour and a rather stressful session of pushing, I didn’t bask in the joy of holding my baby. I was exhausted and shaking uncontrollably from the side effects of the epidural. I didn’t feel like being with my baby. I just wanted to stop shaking, to rest and orientate myself.
After a short rest period apart, the nurses brought Little L in to breastfeed. Again, there was no immediate connection or undying bond felt towards this tiny creature presented before me. Was this the endearing peanut I’ve been carrying around, whose kicks I’d come to enjoy in the last few months? I silently reprimanded myself for feeling the way I did, very much afraid to share my thoughts and be called a fraud.
Breastfeeding didn’t help make the experience better. I didn’t feel a magical bond holding my baby to my bosom. Instead, I felt stress, pain, awkward, uncomfortable. The weight of the responsibility to provide my baby with all the sustenance he needed made these “intimate” sessions feel like a constant test. Am I worthy of motherhood? Would I pass?
While on maternity leave, my sleep-deprived self was struggling to keep track of when I last fed Little L, how long he’s been up and his bowel movements. I was using a good old pen and paper to note down nursing times and diaper outputs, which meant I had to memorise timings until I could write them down after. After two months of struggles, it finally occurred to me that I should check if there were any solutions out there to make my life easier. Duh. That’s when I discovered baby tracker apps.
These apps not just make recording and tracking baby’s progress easier, they were great for me to deflect any questions from family members – “Check the app, please!” I no longer felt I had to be on top of so many different numbers with my mommy brain (trust me, the struggle with memory loss is REAL).
But existing apps didn’t feel easy enough to use and seem to fall short of their potential to be a one-stop lifesaver for mothers. So that’s when I started thinking about what pain points could baby tracker apps help solve and how different should it look. Wouldn’t it be better if we could share aggregated data insights across mothers? If we could create a community to crowdsource support and information, all within the same app?
This was when I decided I would leave my regular job and take that leap of faith into the startup world. I wanted to come up with a solution to help new parents, mothers like myself, better navigate parenthood. To weed through the overwhelming clutter of baby tips & info, remove as much subjectivity as possible and share collective insights based on real data. With these objectives in mind, babykins was born.
It took a while for me to fall in love with Little L, but when I finally did, the love I have for him continues to amaze me. It took a longer while (and a lot of hard work) to take babykins from idea to app, but when it finally launched, the positive feedback from other mothers kept me going. Of course, there is so much more work ahead to realise its full purpose! Both motherhood and entrepreneurship are roles I’m just starting to grow into.
There are loads of parallels I can draw from the birth of my babies (Little L and babykins). Both very much relied on the love and support of my husband to become a reality. Both took a while to bake and formulate. Both journeys can get very lonely, are filled with self-doubt, and subjected to much scrutiny and judgement from spectators at every turn. But both are products of my love and my dream of a better future. And for now, like you, I am enough.