Baby Birthday Party Guide: How I Planned Ethan's 1st Birthday Party


Ethan is my firstborn and this was his FIRST birthday celebration! I felt that I had to throw a party to celebrate the one year that we have been through with him since the day he was born – it was kinda like the husband and I shouting out loud in joy "WE SURVIVED!"

As you know from my pregnancy story, he wasn't a planned baby and so his arrival caught us off-guard. We weren't in the right mindset to be parents but we did the best that we could and well.. things turned out pretty great after all!

I didn't have a baby shower and I didn't organise a baby's first month party either. So this was the first baby party that I had ever planned. It was nerve-wrecking because I had all these thoughts in my head about what could possibly go wrong, what if it clashes with his nap time, how to make the party baby-friendly, how to keep both adults and kids entertained?

All in all, without saying, the party went well. We didn't have a very big party. The venue could fit about 100 pax but we chose to keep it small and cozy, so we invited about 60 of our close friends, colleagues and family. It was a great idea because I had the opportunity to mingle and speak to everyone. People who were there, we knew them well and we wanted them to BE THERE to share our happiness – we didn't invite acquaintances, so no awkward small talks (YES!).

Due to the nature of my work, I was lucky to have a few clients who were willing to collaborate with me. There were of course some items which we had to pull out our wallets and pay for on our own. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about having expenses. I am sharing about this point because I want to talk about budget in this guide as well.

As parents, money is a BIG factor. Kids are expensive. We found ways to cut corners while planning for this party and I am going to show you how we did it in this post!



#1 | Venue

Venue, venue, venue. It's all about the venue. A venue can make or break a party. If your house has the space to host a party, then do it in your house! It is free, more flexibility, no rules and regulations... although, the after-party cleaning process can be quite a bitch.

I spent quite some time searching for a suitable venue. It didn't help that I started my search pretty late and most places were already snagged up by weddings. I did look at hotels, but damn... they were pricey. I did like the idea of having a "free" hotel room if we did book a function room for the birthday party – but the husband wasn't game for it.

Leow + Chew Family

In the end, I went with Civil Service Club @ Tessensohn and NO REGRETS BABY! The location was the most centralised that I could find, pricing was reasonable and the space was exactly what I wanted! I have this thing against pillars and low ceilings because they don't look nice in photos and they make me feel claustrophobic. I booked two function rooms to fit 8 round tables and it cost me about $780++ (not including table cloth).

The booking included tables, chairs, sound system, mic and projectors. You'd be amazed by how some venues charge extra for these items and the bill can go WAY UP THERE.

They do not have a standard list of caterers that you have to get your food from, so you are free to chose and cater from whomever you like!

OT Friends

SQUAD

There is an additional point about CSC @ Tessensohn that I would like to add. I LOVE my coordinator, Jacqueline Tang. As some of you might know, I had to postpone Ethan's birthday party because my husband's grandmother passed away just a few days before the party. Jacqueline went above and beyond to help me find a new available date so that I could host the birthday party in December, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I have had my fair share of horror stories with event coordinators, hence when I am able to meet and work with such a nice and dedicated professional, she deserves a mighty good praise!

Did I mention about how caterers are allowed to enter the venue an hour prior to the actual booking time just to set-up? And how I arrived an hour and a half earlier than my booking time to check and decorate the place and I was AMAZED to see that everything was already done and set in place! The air-con was already turned on, the room was cool, the tables were placed and arranged, chairs organised and table cloths laid. They also gave me two rectangle tables for administrative purposes and the mic was already set up and neatly placed on those tables. Damn, good job you guys! I was seriously impressed.




#2 | Decorations

Happy Birthday

We did the decorations all by ourselves. We just did a little bit so that the venue wouldn't look too bare. The husband and I bought some balloons, a portable helium tank from Lazada, some ribbons, and then we blew them up on our own.

So here is how you cut cost. You would be shocked to find out how expensive balloons can be. We bought these "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" foil balloons from a value-dollar shop in our local neighbourhood. It cost us about $5.90? The same set of balloons can be found in Kiddy Palace for TRIPLE of that price. I shit you not. We also bought two packs of varied colour balloons from the value dollar shop for $2.90 per pack – we only picked out the blue and silver ones to blow up because we wanted to fit the party's colour theme!

We did drop by a SKP store at Chinatown to pick up some party supplies. Mind you, their party supplies are nice but also pretty expensive. I bought a pack of 5 blue balloons (YES, FIVE) that had gold confetti inside. This pack cost $6.50. Each balloon was about $1+... expensive. They did look very pretty though when they were blown up. If you have some free time on your hand, you might want to consider DIY-ing these confetti balloons yourselves. You can definitely save on the cost and get a whole lot more confetti balloons than just five.

Helium balloons

As mentioned earlier, we bought a portable helium tank from Lazada. I got this idea from my friend's husband who planned a surprise birthday party for her! He knew her love for helium balloons so he bought a helium tank, a couple of balloons and decorated the house with the blown-up helium balloons! He bought his from Qoo10 and well, I am not a frequent customer of Qoo10 and so I wondered... could Lazada have it too? (They practically have EVERYTHING and thus Lazada is one of my all-time favourite shopping sites!)

On Lazada, they have portable helium tanks of different size and different price (ranges from $30 - $60) from different sellers. You should have a rough idea of how many balloons that you intend to blow up and do keep in mind that you might lose some helium in the process of blowing the balloons so do cater for the loss!

I am so happy that we had helium balloons during the party because 1) it looked pretty, 2) it kept the kids (and some adults) entertained!

Hot Air Theory

I was very fortunate to be sent a Hot-Air Balloon by The Hot Air Theory (T.H.A.T) and I had requested for the special balloon to be delivered on the day of the party.

It played a great part as a decorative piece during the party – some friends came forward to take pictures of the pretty balloon/floral arrangement! The best part about it was that I could carry it home as a momento of the birthday party, and that was exactly what I did.

Happy Birthday Hot Air Balloon Floral Arrangement

You would be amazed by the longevity of this "hot-air" balloon! It lasted for almost a month and could probably have lasted longer if my cheeky son hadn't burst it. Because they gave me baby breaths – which are essentially dried flowers – this arrangement is one that can last for a really really long time!




#3 | Birthday Cake – Bob The Baker Boy

The star of any birthday party, the cake. I hesitated for a long time on this one. I have never been a fan of cakes and don't have the best impressions of tiered cakes – owing to the reason that over the course of my 26 years, I have had my fair share of tiered cakes that looked great but did not taste so great.

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Cake)

So, when I did my research on birthday cakes, I came across Bob The Baker Boy. Now this bakery caught me by surprise because 1) their buttercream cakes look so darn pretty, 2) they had an amazing amount of positive reviews with many moms raving about how delicious their cakes were. I reached out to BTBB and to my surprise, they agreed to collaborate with me and sponsor Ethan's birthday cake!

The theme for Ethan's party was Baby Shark and so naturally, the birthday cake was designed around the theme as well. They created some baby shark & pinkfong figurines with fondants... and sheesh, would you just look at that amazing artwork!

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Cake)

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Fondants)

I had seen so many baby shark birthday cakes online but this artwork by BTBB is a whole new level and the best that I have seen so far! So many of my guests walked up to take a closer look at the tiered cake, were impressed by the realistic artwork, wow-ed in amazement and snapped a few photos with their phones. I gotta admit, it felt great seeing all of the positive impressions that the cake made on my guests and I was glad for having found and chosen Bob The Baker Boy.

Bob The Baker Boy (Belgian Chocolate Cake)

Moving onto the cake flavour, I went with their best-seller "Belgian Chocolate" and oh my gosh, as a non-chocolate lover, IT IS SO GOOD. Everybody at the party was surprised at how delicious it was and loved the cake – my best friend went for second helpings. The chocolate cake wasn't too sweet, sufficiently rich in cocoa, moist and fluffy.

The only thing that I wish I could change was for one of the cake tier flavours to be "Strawberries & Cream" – a diabetic-friendly option. Yes! You can make the request for a double flavour and so guests can have a choice between two cake flavours. I have already made a mental note to myself that the next birthday cake (which I am definitely ordering from BTBB) to have Strawberries & Cream and another one of their custom cake flavours!




#4 | Food & Drinks

A happy guest is one who goes home with a full & satisfied tummy. For my buffet catering, I went with Manna Pot, a catering service that has over 16 years of experience in the industry. Manna Pot offers catering for birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, corporate events and more.

Buffet Table Layout

Buffet Table

Buffet Table

For birthday parties, the buffet catering comes with a thematic styling of your choice. They will offer you FOUR themes: Nautical (which is what I chose), Barnyard, Hot Air Balloon and Jungle.

As for the food, you can choose between a standard menu, high tea or mini buffet (note: this option does not come with a set-up). I went for their high tea menu as the timing for my party was from 2-6pm. Here is a look at the food and drink that I chose:

Fried Rice
Yang Chow Fried Rice

Mee Siam Goreng
Mee Siam Goreng

Chicken Wings
Honey Glazed Mid Wing

Siew Mai
Siew Mai

Honey Prawn Dumplings
Honey Prawn Dumplings with Chilli Dip


Prawn Fritters
Tempura Prawn with Wasabi Dip

Quiche
Quiche Lorraine

Muffins
Mini Muffin

Nachos with Cheese
Nacho with Cheese Dip

Dessert
Ice Jelly With Peach & Lychee

Bird Nest Cordial

Overall thoughts, the food was well-received! Before the halfway mark of the party, we ran out of Siew Mai and only one-third of the Honey Prawn Dumplings were left. Manna Pot was generous with the food portion, especially for the carbs. The Mee Siam Goreng was so good, I went back for it THREE times!

Everybody loved the Nacho with Cheese Dip (movies, anyone?), it is a brilliant snack to have at a party! As for dessert, we went with the safe option of Ice Jelly With Peach & Lychee. It was very obvious that there were no complaints about it because when the party ended, that bowl of dessert was empty LOL.

The husband and I decided that we can be a little adventurous with the drinks option hence we chose Bird Nest Cordial. I think everyone enjoyed this small change – my sister raised an eyebrow when she saw it, she went "Hmm. Bird's Nest. Interesting." She poured herself a cup, took a sip and commented "Nice" with a nod of approval and walked away happy. :)




#5 | Dessert Table


Happy Birthday MiniChew

I don't mean to boast, but the dessert table that I got from Divine Artisan was pretty damn awesome. My Baby Shark Dessert Table looks GREAT – probably the best Baby Shark dessert table that I have ever seen – and the dessert was super yummy too! I was so surprised by how well it was taken!

Dessert Table

I chope the dessert table for awhile because it was so pretty and worked great as a backdrop for photo-taking LOL, but the moment that I opened it for consumption, my guests flocked towards it, took a couple of desserts that they fancied, went back to their table to eat and CAME BACK AGAIN for second rounds!!

By the time that the cake-cutting ceremony was supposed to happen, my dessert table was actually pretty bare LOL! You can scroll back up and look closely at the photos! Desserts that were well-received are the Earl Grey Macarons, Fruit Tarts and Tiramisu Shooters.

Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread Cookies

Tiramisu
Tiramisu Shooters

Oreo Cheesecake
Oreo Cheesecake Squares

Meringues
Meringue

Early Grey Lavender Macaroons
Earl Grey & Lavender Macarons

Fruit Tart
Fruit Tarts

Cupcakes
Fondant Cupcakes




#6 | Goodie Bags

I hate for my guests to go home empty-handed, hence in collaboration with Yolky Chips, all of my guests got to go home with a pack of Yolky Chips! If you've never tried Yolky Chips before... YOU SHOULD. I fell in love with their potato chips at first try. Available in 3 flavours - truffle, spicy and salted egg yolk.

Yolky Chips + Hot Air Theory

I LOVE ANYTHING TRUFFLE, and for the longest time ever I wondered why there were an abundant of truffle fries available (like seriously, so many cafés! Even Mac had their own rendition of truffle shaker fries for awhile) but no truffle chips in the market. Yolky Chips filled the gaping hole with their yummilicious truffle chips.

Because I had three flavours to give out, I came out with a little game for my guests. As part of the pre-party preparation, I cut out small squares of red, yellow and green paper and chucked them into a black cloth bag. Each coloured paper represented a pack of Yolky Chips in its respective flavour (RED = SPICY , YELLOW = SALTED EGG YOLK , GREEN = TRUFFLE)

My guests were required to shove their hand into the "Bag Of Unknown" and decide on their own "chip" fate. Some of them freaked out and refused to do so, thinking that it was some kinda prank lol.

If you are looking for inspiration for your party goodie bag, try Yolky Chips! You won't regret it. Their chips are really really good! You can pick up a pack of Yolky Chips from Cold Storage, Giant, Redmart or Naiise stores.


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This pretty much sums up all that I have to share about Ethan's 1st Birthday Party! I know I had a splendid time with my guests and because we kept it to close friends & family, I had the opportunity to sit down and catch up with people – unlike my wedding where it was mostly "hello" and "goodbye".

If you have extra money to spare, I would highly recommend you to hire a photographer. The day would go by so quickly and you are so busy chatting with people, liaising with the different vendors, chasing after kids... you'll need the photos for you to help remember the details of this day.

Check out my Instagram stories of the birthday party here.

Fallot's Tetralogy (Part 2)


It was 10am. The paediatric cardiologist would only arrive at 1pm and I was asked to return at 12.30pm to wait for him.

"Because there is still some time before the appointment... Would you like to take a walk somewhere around first?" I gave another aimless nod, stood up and left the centre.

I hadn't had breakfast yet, so I made my way to the Killiney coffee shop on the first floor. I mindlessly ordered a plate of noodles for myself with a cup of teh-o. I sat down with my food and without touching it, I began my research on heart defects.

My sister was born with a heart condition and so did my cousin, hence heart defects were not new to me. Both of their defects healed up over the years as they grew up and they were left with a precautionary advice to be careful in their activity choice and not stress their heart. I've heard from my mother and my aunt that they were difficult babies to raise. The first few years were tough as hell, a shit ton of crying, sometimes medication was required and it took forever to feed and finish a bottle of milk.

As I went on with my research on heart defects, I wished hard that Nathan had ASD (atrial septal defect). A hole in the upper chambers of the heart. ASD will heal up over the years or can be repaired with a cardiac catheterization surgery (a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a vein from the arm, groin (upper thigh) or neck and threaded to the heart). I braced myself for the supposed first few years of endless crying and fussing. I'll get through it, I told myself.

I wished hard that he didn't have VSD (ventricular septal defect). This type of defect usually require an open heart surgery to close up the hole and very often, the surgery occurs immediately after birth or within a few months of his young life. I couldn't bear the thought of an open heart surgery. It was tough to digest the paragraph on VSD and tears started welling up in my eyes. I finished the last mouth of noodles that I cuold stomach, grabbed my bag and headed for the nearest washroom.

I closed the cubicle door and my tears began to flow. I sobbed quietly in the toilet. Mixed emotions of worry, anxiety, helplessness, despair and denial rushed through me. "Why my baby...?"

I stayed in the cubicle for a good 15-20 minutes till my tears decided to stop defying my will. I wiped the remaining tears dry, cleaned up a little and found a seat at the lobby reception. There, I continued my research on the human heart. I wanted to use every minute I had to get every knowledge possible. I wanted to be able to understand every word that the paediatric cardiologist would be saying later on. I needed to refresh my memory on the human heart anatomy. I didn't want to be stuck in a place where I was stumped due to a lack of knowledge.

2 hours flew by so quickly. At 12pm, the husband arrived from his workplace. He flashed me a tiny smile, I could tell that he mustered all the strength he had in him to give me that tiny smile... a smile that he hoped would give me some strength. He went to grab some quick lunch, I followed along. I had no appetite, so I chose to get a simple toast from the same Killiney coffee shop. He couldn't finish his bowl of macaroni. We had too much thought and anxiety in our minds. I guess we were thinking the same foolish thing, "Please let our baby be okay".

On the dot at 12.30pm, we walked into the centre. The receptionist saw me and said, "Oh is it 12.30 already?" To her, those 2 hours might seem like any hour of the day. For us, the last two hours were heart-wrenching.

Once again, I was back on the plushed wooden chair, waiting. 1pm arrived, the doctor was nowhere to be seen. 1.30pm came, the doctor wasn't here yet. We googled the doctor's name and found his portrait. We kept a lookout for him. I tried my best to remain calm. I didn't care about how long I had to wait. I felt grateful that the doctor was taking time out today and head down to Mount E Novena just to see our case. I was willing to wait, however long it takes. I wanted answers.

It was close to 1.45pm when the doctor arrived. He was ushered into one of the ultrasound rooms and we followed in soon after. Before starting his scan he instructed us, "Let me do the scan first. After it is done, I will discuss my findings with you, ok?" We nodded.

The scanning took a long time. Unlike the previous scan, he focused only and only on the heart. Tears streamed down my eyes while he was doing the scan. I hadn't meant to cry but I couldn't hold my tears in. At that moment, I understood the severity of the situation. My baby was sick. Very sick.

The husband held my hand tight. I could tell that he was struggling to keep his tears in. Halfway through the scan, he could no longer hold the questions in. "So what's wrong with him?"

Remembering the doctor's words from before and not wanting to interrupt the scan, I shushed the husband and told him to be patient. The doctor replied in a gentle tone, "Let me finish the scan first or I'll be giving you half the story only, right?"

The husband pursed his lips as he struggled to keep his anxiety and worry in check.

A whole lot more probing, ultrasound gel and a few nods from the doctor later, he said that I could sit up. His scan was over, he had a diagnosis for us.

I moved to sit in one of the chairs within the room. The husband pulled his (chair) closer. We huddled around the paediatric cardiologist, he grabbed a pen and piece of paper.

He started by drawing a human heart. He did his best in explaining the four chambers and arteries to us. And as he explained, he started listing the problem areas that Nathan's heart had. My heart sank. I struggled to stay in tuned with reality. My baby has 4 defects in his little heart. This was a lot more than what I had braced myself for... and he had a ventricular septal defect. The defect that I wish he wouldn't have.

"These 4 defects are also known as 'Fallot's Tetralogy'." The doctor scribbled the name at the top in his illegible handwriting. "And your son's condition is of moderate severity."

Me, "Will he get better? Can the hole... the ventricular septal defect heal on his own?"

Doctor, "No. He will never get better. He will either remain the same or get worst. He will require open heart surgery, either at birth or a few months down the road and another surgery at 8-9 months of age. He will be blue at birth due to the lack of oxygen in his body. This condition is known as cyanosis, he will be a cyanotic baby."

I can barely remember the things that happened after this point. I was numb. My mind had gone blank. I was trying to keep up with the conversation. Nodding my head, asking a few questions, but nothing was really getting registered.

At some point, we ran out of questions and the doctor ran out of things to share with us. I recall leaving the room, sitting back on the chair, being told by the receptionist that my gynae would be calling me in a minute.

My phone rang and I picked the call up. It was the nurse from my gynae clinic on the other side of the phone. And then the tears came. It wouldn't stop. I struggled hard to contain my sobbing.

We scheduled for an urgent appointment with my gynae clinic for the next morning. As babies with fallot's tetralogy often come with Down's Syndrome or DiGeorge syndrome, I was asked to head down the next day for another round of bloodworks to test for those two conditions.

I had passed my triple test previously but my gynae was worried that I might have slipped into the 5-8% who received a false negative for Down's Syndrome from my triple test – after all, I had fallen into the 0.8% category of women who failed her copper IUD contraception.

Fallot's Tetralogy (Part 1)


Fallot's tetralogy. Two words that crippled my heart. Before this, I didn't know that there were any two words other than "break up" that could tear my heart apart. Yes, it sounds silly and naive and incredibly immature. There are probably a ton of other two worded phrases that could cause a heart break as such.

I didn't know that it could possibly be this hard to have a healthy baby. I never expected it to happen to me. I am at a prime age. I passed my triple test. I gave birth to my firstborn healthy – very healthy and also feisty. I thought my second-born would be like his elder brother. Healthy, fat and well. I thought we would pass the fetal anomaly scan with flying colours. The first time I heard of the words "fetal anomaly scan" when I was pregnant with my elder son, Ethan, I freaked out. I asked if I could opt out of the scan – the word "anomaly" was frightening. Turns out it was just a name. Just the name of a scan to screen for any possible abnormalities in a foetus' organs. I was nervous throughout Ethan's scan and the wait for his results. Thankfully, Ethan passed his with flying colours. His younger brother on the other hand... not so much.

On the 26th of March, I went for my scheduled appointment at the Prenatal Diagnostic Centre in Mount Elizabeth Novena. I was a lot more chill as compared to when I went for Ethan's. I had gone through it once, I knew what it was about, I thought there was nothing to worry about. Just a scan. Nothing frightening. We'll get it all done within an hour or less, the results would be great like his elder brother's and then we will be on our way home.

The scan began. The sonographer started with the heart. It seemed okay at first. Then I realised... she was scanning a lot more than usual. Taking a lot more measurements and pictures. I took a closer look at the scan. Something didn't feel right. It looked like there was a gap where there shouldn't be. I kept quiet. I didn't say a word. She clicked a few more buttons and what seemed like a projection of the blood flow in Nathan's heart appeared, more parts blue than red. That couldn't be good. Still, I kept my mouth shut. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to interrupt her either. Actually, I think I was more afraid of disturbing her and bursting my own fragile bubble.

Finally she moved on to scan his other body parts. I took the effort to make some small chat. She showed me his face (I think he looks a lot like me), the five fingers on each hand, his penis which seemed large and so prominent on screen (lol), his spine, his toes, his brains and more. I couldn't resist and so I asked, "How is he? Everything okay?" I think I might have croaked at the last syllable. She answered "Mmm. Let me scan more and I'll tell you later." My heart sank. I didn't have a response. I stared at the screen in front of me and clutched my hands tighter together. My hands were clammy.

Fast forward to the end of the scan. Nathan was incredibly obedient. He finished his fetal anomaly scan in approximately 20-25 minutes. He took half the time required as compared to his elder brother. Ethan was super active during his fetal anomaly scan. Constantly punching the probe, turning around, rotating, circling... showing his protest that he didn't like being probed lol. Nathan on the other hand, just a few gentle first bumps on the probe, probably out of curiosity. It was easy scanning him and the sonographer managed to capture all the required shots swiftly and every image appeared beautifully.

I guess, I should have known. That was the first warning sign. The lack of activity in my belly. I could always feel Ethan. He was strong and active, constantly moving and reminding me of his presence. Nathan was quiet... too quiet. Sometimes I could feel his jabs but they were little and infrequent. Most of the time, I relied on seeing my belly move to tell that my baby Nathan was alive and moving. He was so different from his elder brother. I should have known that something was up.

The sonographer finished the scan and told me to make payment first and go back up to see her. She said that she needed to talk to me. I was anxious and calm at the same time. Braving myself for the worst. I texted my husband while I was making payment. I told him about my worry. I wrote, "His brain, legs, lungs, and penis were very good. I know cos she say “very good”. She said his penis was very prominent, big and clear 😂."

He replied, "Heart. Is missing." My husband could tell. Something was up.

He took the rest of the day off work and came down to join me. While waiting for my husband to arrive, I headed back up to the centre to see the sonographer. She broke the news to me. "There is something wrong with your baby's heart. I called your gynae and he said that he would like the baby to be seen by a paediatric cardiologist for a more detailed scan. When would be free? Let me arrange something for you."

I was numb. I tried to gather my senses together but my mind had gone blank. I gave an aimless nod. "Take a seat. We'll get back to you shortly". My legs headed for the plushed wooden chair and I plopped myself down.

An appointment was made for later that afternoon at 1pm. The paediatric cardiologist would come down to the centre and do a fetal echocardiography for Nathan.

The News Is Out


[Written Date & Time: 8 April 2019, 01:40am]

I am just done editing the photo... The photo of the post that would announce Nathan’s demise. It was something that I had been avoiding for the past two weeks. It was so hard editing the photo. The difficulties faced weren’t technical – I couldn’t keep the tears from falling, my vision kept blurring up.

The post is scheduled to be released later on this week. I prepared the caption a long time ago, well not that long. I wrote it on the night that I found out about Nathan’s heart condition. I wrote and saved it in advance because I knew that I would have a terribly tough time thinking of a caption now, having to recount the various emotionally-wrecking instances of the past two weeks, squeeze my messed up emotions into sensible words and tapping the “post” button. I was also trying to save myself from a teensy bit of heartache — the bit that would set me off the edge again, crying to sleep.

I don’t think I have ever cried this much or continuously for these many days in a row (14 days now and counting). On day 11, my eyes were so swollen from all the crying, I looked like I was suffering from a severe case of conjunctivitis. It was also then when I realised, I have to do my best and restrain my tears... all the crying was starting to affect my vision... I've been stressing my eyes out way too much. As you can tell from the day count, I am trying – and failing.


That bear. There is a story behind it. The whole family was at Ikea, shopping for furnitures for the new house. We bought a new place because of Nathan, for Nathan. There isn’t space in our current home to accommodate his arrival so my in-law’s decided to sell away this home of 25 years, to get more space for their second grandson. Oh, the irony of it, because now we will be moving in without him. It hurts so much to say this line.

We were at Ikea, shopping for furnitures. I walked by a mountain pile of this $1.90 bear and thought to myself, “This would be a nice first toy for Nathan.” I walked towards the husband. He saw the bear and raised an eyebrow at me. I defended, “It’s for Nathan.” We bought and brought the bear home. I’m glad I bought the bear. It is something to remember Nathan by. But damn, the bear... a second irony in this mess. That embossed heart on its chest. A stone cold joke.

Two days before the procedure, the husband held the bear in his hands, and he made a request. “Can we never buy this bear again?” I understood why. This bear is Nathan’s, it belongs to Nathan, it symbolises Nathan to us and thus it would unfitting for any of our other children to play with it like its their toy.

My Lasik Journey With Shinagawa Eye Centre


It’s been more than 5 months since I did my lasik surgery at Shinagawa Eye Centre. I haven’t had a moment where I second-guessed my decision to go ahead with the procedure. I have been enjoying every minute of my “new” eyes and parenthood has been a whole lot easier without the need for visual aids — ie. my kid can no longer smack my glasses off my face! Yes!

Read on to find out more about the lasik surgery that I did (Intralase Lasik) and my thoughts about it.

I have had tons of people asking me “How is it?”, “Is it scary?”, “Is it painful?”. To the three questions above, it was fast, not scary at all and absolutely pain-free!

Recovery time was amazingly quick! By the end of the day, I was able to read words off a computer screen (about a metre away) and my husband was amazed by the surgery’s quick results.

Now here is a couple of things that you have to know about lasik surgeries. There are many methods to perform this surgery and after the initial assessments, your surgeon will typically recommend you the type of lasik procedure that is best suited for your eyes.

In my case, I was recommended to undergo the IntraLase Lasik by Dr Lee Sao Bing.

My eye surgeon, Dr Lee Sao Bing of Shinagawa Eye Centre

Here is a bit of background information on this lasik method.

IntraLase Lasik is also known as the “All-Laser Lasik”. An expensive laser machine makes use of an advanced femtosecond laser technology to achieve a more accurate, and safer flap-making procedure.

Because this IntraLase lasik method is empowered by a computer's precise control, it allows the surgeon to customise the depth, width, shape and location to create a very thin cornea flap – thus customising to the needs of an individual patient.

The IntraLase laser creates air bubbles in the stroma of the cornea and the air bubbles create space. The flap is not lifted until the LASIK surgeon uses a special surgical instrument to lift the cornea flap, which also means that the cornea is still intact after the IntraLase laser and the patient can blink and walk around normally without any fear

(Pic credit: Shinagawa Eye Centre)

As mentioned previously, the first step to any lasik procedure is the pre-lasik assessment as not everyone is suitable for laser surgery. Every individual is required to undergo this assessment in order to determine their suitability for lasik and which lasik procedure is best suited for them. At Shinagawa Eye Centre, a pre-lasik assessment costs $22 (including GST) for individuals aged 49 and below.




You are advised against wearing any contact lenses a week before the pre-lasik assessment. This is to ensure the accuracy of the test results. So yes, your glasses will be your bff for that entire week!

The whole assessment takes about an hour to complete and results from the pre-lasik tests are generated immediately. Thus on the same day, your doctor will be able to inform you on your suitability and provide you with a (lasik) recommendation.

Do note that one of the tests requires the clinic assistant to dilate your pupils and you might experience blurry vision for up to 4 hours. This blurry vision is kinda like 老花眼, so I was tilting my spectacles down, holding my phone up high and at a distance like an old woman with long-sightedness. LOL

In the event that you are suitable, you can make an appointment for your lasik surgical date before leaving the clinic. It is recommended to have the lasik surgery within a month from your pre-lasik assessment in order to ensure the reliability of the test results.

Usually there are available slots almost every day except for weekends; I had my lasik surgery arranged at 3 weeks after the lasik assessment. My husband took a half day-off so that he could accompany me home after the surgery was done.


To be honest, I had pre-surgery jitters the night before... I mean, how couldn't I? I had been living a bespectacled life for over a decade and had gotten so used to hiding behind my glasses for all these years. But all it took in that second was my baby boy knocking my spectacles off my face (and out of my thoughts) to remind me of how much I would enjoy a life without visual aids.

My day at the clinic took about 3 hours. The other two hours were spent on tests and checks, reminders and advices, keeping my bag in the lockers, changing into the surgical gown and waiting – for the anaesthetic eye drops to kick in, resting at the recovery lounge after the surgery and there was also someone else doing the lasik procedure before me. The laser procedure itself was rather fast, like in split seconds I’m done!


Before I knew it, I was ushered to my husband and ready to head home. The entire procedure went by without any hiccups.

Dr Lee was incredibly reassuring and I like how he kept me up to date on each step of the procedure. This is very important because the surgery happens while you are wide awake and you are required to keep your eyes open throughout the whole thing. Because of each heads-up that he gave me, I wasn't caught by surprise from any of the actions taken.

For instance, when he was about to lift my cornea flap, he warned me that my vision was going to get blur and it is okay. When the laser machine was gonna do "its thing" and correct my vision, he warned me that I might smell something burning and not to be alarmed.

Dr Lee was also very generous with the anaesthetic drops. Because I am coward at managing pain, I requested for more eye drops to be placed into each eye prior to each machine. I have a normal cornea thickness hence I am only required to undergo two machines. One machine to create the cornea flap, another machine to reshape the cornea. The nurses also wrapped me up in a thermal blanket to keep me nice and warm.

I know all of these sound like very minor details that don't play much into the big action (ie. the actual lasering) but they really do make a huge difference in keeping me calm throughout my lasik procedure.

I was discharged home with 3 types of eye drops – an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory and an eye lubricant. I had to drip them according to the schedule provided by Dr Lee and then return in 3 days for a post-surgical check up.



Fast-forwarding my recovery process to the current date. Everything went by smoothly. I regained control of my vision so quickly that it was amazing. A week after my lasik surgery, I actually went to Halloween Horror Nights! I had a ton of fun wearing the different shades that I had bought during my travels but never wore – I even borrowed my mother in law's Kate Spade sunnies to wear! LOL

Because I wanted my eyes to heal as quickly as possible and to prevent post-lasik dry eyes, I was very generous with the amount of eye lubricating drops that I was dripping into each eye. The recommendation was to place only a drop or two into each eye, but I often found myself using up an entire tube for both eyes (oops). I also bought extra tubes of vidisic eye gel (a soothing eye lubricating gel) to place around the house and in my bags.

All of these paid off because I am currently not experiencing any of the side-effects that come with lasik and am incredibly thankful about it!


So here is the part that everyone wants to know. How exactly are my eyes right now?

Prior to my lasik surgery, my eyesight was -6.00 in my right eye and -7.50 in my left eye. 5 months after my lasik procedure, I have perfect 6/6 vision in both eyes with no post-lasik side effects.

Shinagawa Eye Centre is conveniently located on the fifth floor of Wheelock Place.

For more information on the services and fees at Shinagawa Eye Centre, click here. To make an appointment, you can either call +65 6738 8222 or submit a webform here.


Shinagawa Eye Centre
501 Orchard Road
Wheelock Place #05-15
Contact: 6738 8222

Monday to Friday, 9am - 5:30pm
Saturday, 9am - 5pm