Jena is a 21-year-old fresh graduate from Singapore Polytechnic with a Diploma in Business Information Technology. Prior to her graduation earlier this month, Jena was a web developer in Airfrov, who spent her hours working hard on revamping our blog and the back-end development for our admin portal to make things simpler for us at Airfrov (thanks Jena!).
In her free time, Jena enjoys catching up on her favourite TV series, including popular South Korean variety show, Running Man. Once in a while, she buys herself some pyjamas from Primark via Airfrov. “They are SO comfortable and fit so well to my size, and they have a ton of designs to choose from too,” she quips. Her favourite singer is Kang Gary and like many of her age, she is still uncertain with what the future has in store for her. All in all, Jena seems like a typical 21-year-old. However, there’s one defining factor that differentiates Jena from her peers.
In her second year as a polytechnic student, Jena gave birth to her son, Gordon.
When she first found out she was pregnant, Jena was excited. “I loved kids and have always wanted my own child,” she said. Then, reality hit her and she began to worry about how to break the news to her parents. She knew her parents would not approve of her keeping the baby: “I knew my parents would probably be upset at the thought of it since being a mother before marriage is considered a “disgrace” to traditional Chinese families and I happen to be a teen AND soon-to-be single mother.”
Yet, abortion was never an option for her. “I’ve never thought of not keeping the baby because it was an innocent life to me,” she explained.
Against her parents wishes, Jena was adamant that she was keeping the baby. A cold war soon started when her parents made an appointment at an abortion clinic without consulting her. For a week, Jena drank only water and cried all day and night. She recounted: “I did that not to upset my parents, but to let them know that I really wanted to keep this baby no matter what.”
Eventually, her parents’ hearts softened after a trip to a nearby gynaecologist. And in September 2016, baby Gordon was born.
Gordon was named by Jena’s father. “Because that was supposed to be my name,” she quipped. “21 years ago, my mum had an ultrasound at her doctor’s appointment and they were told I’d be a boy – so my parents prepared everything ready for a boy, only to be surprised by a girl. Oops?”
Described as a “teacher’s pet” among her peers, Jena’s friends were supportive of her as a parent albeit the initial shock. Her class even came together to raise a sum of money and gave it to her at Gordon’s full-month celebration. “I shedded tears of gratitude because they really cared so much for us and we really needed the money,” she said. “I even had a friend’s mother reach out to me with encouragement and offer support in whichever way I may need.”
A month after giving birth to Gordon, Jena soon started a blog, Dear Little Ones, to record her journey and milestones as a first-time parent. To date, Jena has collaborated with multiple brands through her blog and even sponsored by a number of them. Her very first post was about Gordon’s birth story and she hopes that she would be able to show Gordon these posts one day.
In March this year, Jena was invited as a panelist for Carousell’s Mummies Get Together event. “It was my first experience being a panelist so I didn’t know what to expect, but everyone there was welcoming and listened to our sharing,” she shared. “I was humbled to see that most parents were probably older than me, but they were listening attentively to what I had to say – even though I’m just a young, single mother.”
Today, Jena’s parents help her with looking after Gordon when she has to be out for work or school. Perhaps that might be the reason for Gordon’s love for music by Wakin Chau (周华健). Just like every child his age, Gordon has a chouchou that is a teddy bear named Potato. Jena muses: “Gordon hugs it to sleep all the time, and even takes care of it!”
Although Jena has to sacrifice time with friends and struggles to find a balance between work and family now that she has a son, she feels that all is worth it when Gordon runs towards her with his arms wide open, smiling from ear to ear. “That’s one of the moments when I feel the most love,” she shares.
Jena is an advocate for young, single parents and is not afraid of sharing her views on the topic. “Why does being a young or single parent make us any less of a parent than those who are married,” she wonders. “More importantly, why does it make our children any less of a child than those who are born to married couples?”
Her advice to all young, single mothers is: “Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.” She is also open to all who needs someone to talk to and is reachable via her blog. She also believes that parents should get multivitamins, just like the ones that she got from Germany via Airfrov. “It helps us to feel on top of our game while looking after our little ones – especially for busy, working parents who never seem to have time to eat a proper meal,” she said. “I saw that local brands like Redoxon are over $10+/bottle, and these vitamins were only $10 for 5 on Airfrov – I immediately went to request for them so I could have them at home when needed too!”
Jena is a part-time web developer and blogs at dearlittleones.com.