L ife in the Ho family is simple and
heart-warming. With their two young children, Jaylene and Jayna, the home always
rings with laughter. Sometimes, the five- and four-year-old girls would collaborate on a
birthday card for their father. Sometimes, the co-conspirators would “vandalise” the table with
colourful markings and stand up to their parents’ reprimands together. As an only child, Peter
Ho’s childhood was starkly different. “I remember playing alone and spending most of my time
with my grandma. I didn’t have a sibling to share times of need and happiness with, and longed
for a companion,” says the 41-year-old property agent.
Despite his personal experiences, Peter and his wife, 40-year-old headhunter Jasmine Lim
considered stopping at one. A difficult childbirth and initial parenthood struggles put a pause
on their plans to have more children. “We initially planned for a natural birth. They burst my
water bag and my cervix had dilated, but the baby wasn’t moving down the birth canal. We took my
gynaecologist’s advice and had an emergency caesarean. We later realised that her umbilical cord
was too short and was hanging her. The trauma of the experience and the fear that we were close
to losing her made us rethink our plans to have another child,” says Jasmine.
Peter and his wife, 40-year-old Jasmine Lim considered stopping at one. A difficult childbirth
and initial parenthood struggles put a pause on theirplans tohave more children.
This emergency caesarean lengthened Jasmine’s recovery process, and the first-time mother found
herself struggling with night feeds and baby care. Her husband chipped in to help with the
chores and night feeds. Their fragmented sleep began to take a toll at work. “I was very tired
and started to miss appointments and lose focus at work. My income dropped by 30 to 40 per cent
during that period,” shares Peter. Jasmine’s career was also affected. Having started a
headhunting firm with a friend in 2013, a year before childbirth, she found herself struggling
to juggle baby care duties and her new business. “Financially, it was very tight because of
back-to-back big-ticket expenses. We got married in 2013, had a baby in 2014 and were expecting
our executive condominium in two years,” she says.
Peter, as an only child, also had to shoulder the expense of caring for his elderly parents. His
78-year-old mother was semi-paralysed from a stroke and cared for by a helper. “I felt like I
had to manage two families – my parents and my [nuclear] family. When your business is not doing
well, you start to think of the financial burden. So we thought: One is enough,” he explains.
It felt like my life was upside-down.
Peter, on why he wanted more kids
I realised no matter how capable you are, if
you have no siblings, you won’t have another person to rely on".
Expanding Their Family
All this changed when the couple went on a late honeymoon to Europe between January and February
2015, eight months after having a baby. They had originally planned to spend two weeks exploring
France and Italy. However, three days into their trip, they received an urgent call. Peter’s
father required emergency surgery after an intestine infection. Since Peter had no siblings, it
fell on him to make important decisions. The couple initially wanted to cancel the trip and fly
back, but they managed the stressful situation from Europe via WhatsApp calls and messages. A
friend and an uncle helped to take Peter’s father to the hospital for the emergency operation.
Peter also followed up with the doctors via WhatsApp every day.
This stressful experience led Peter to question the decision to stop at one. “It felt like my
life was upside-down. I realised no matter how capable you are, if you have no siblings, you
won’t have another person to rely on,” he says. “If Jaylene had a sibling, she would not have to
go through what
I went through alone – she would have someone to share the burden with, to love and depend on.”
The couple reopened the conversation after visiting a friend at the delivery ward. “Peter’s
friend gave birth to an SG50 baby in 2015 and showed us the special birth certificate and gift