Tuesday, February 3, 2009

8 Is Good. 18 Is Better

"Eight" is a well-liked digit by the Chinese as it symbolizes prosperity.

On 26 Jan, Ms Nadya Suleman from the Southern California gave birth to EIGHT babies. It was a great number which coincided with the start of the Chinese New Year. Hers is the 2nd set of octuplets born alive in the US.

I was torn between taking the news as a sign of a prosperous start of the Ox year or the beginning of her horrifying experience juggling life with eight cribs, eight highchairs, eight strollers and a heap of dirty diapers! 

The 1st American octuplets were born 10 years ago and the family has this to say about taking care of eight at the same time, "'If you can take care of one, you can take care of eight. The 'eight' is deceptive, because if you do one, you do eight at the same time."

That sounds easy but I am not convinced. First of all, naming the babies can be a challenging start. The newly born octuplets are temporarily known as A, B, C... and H. Perhaps the parents need a little more time to sort out the shortlisted names.

Meanwhile, here is my suggestion - why not name their brood of six boys and two girls after the UK Royal Family and the US Presidents?

1. Abraham (Lincoln)
2. Barack (Obama)
3. Chester (Arthur)
4. Diana (Spencer)
5. Elizabeth (Alexandra Mary, The Queen)
6. Franklin (Roosevelt)
7. George (Bush)
8. Henry (Charles Albert David, aka Prince Harry)

If those names sound too regal or political, I have another idea - go for something very simple and just name them M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, F1 and F2.

OK, let's face it, baby-naming is not easy (see past article
What's In A Name?)

Obviously, the trouble of naming babies could not have been the cause of Singapore's baby shortage. Many couples are shying from parenthood because of the fear of losing their two-some freedom and bearing the increased financial burden and emotional responsibility.

For some, it is the fear of losing their jobs.

The Singapore government obviously yearn for more babies. They pumped in $421 mil in 2007, up from the $162 mil in 2003, to help families with children. For the working moms, maternity leave has been extended from 8 weeks to 12 weeks and now 16 weeks.

Even though there are incentives for employers to retain pregnant employees, working moms remain paranoid about not being able to return to their post after the break.

The problem is real.

Companies are reinventing themselves to stay competitive. One of the strategies is to stay lean to cut labour cost. For smaller outfits, 'losing' one staff to maternity leave can pose a great strain on the rest of the workers. Issues such as project delay and disgruntled workers need to be managed.

Many female workers choose to cut short their maternity leave just so that they can return to the post without causing too much disturbance and annoyance. Most of all, they are fearful of being axed.

Recently, France's Justice Minister, Rachida Dati gave birth to a baby. That caused a stir as it was unclear who actually fathered the child. However, more shocking was her return to work just five days after giving birth. Apparently, she did so for fear of losing her job, though the reason was more of a political than a commercial one.

Even if moms choose to leave their jobs, raising children full time is no easy task. Putting financial issue aside, the stay-home moms need to be mentally strong to face the demand posed by their offspring.

When I watched a documentary on the Duggars family, I gaped throughout the show.

The Duggars have 18 children making a family of 20 members. The youngest baby girl was recently born on 22 Dec 08. The oldest son Josh recently wedded Anna in last September and thus brought another new member to the family.

The family is run like a mini corporation with clear house rules and organised task-sharing. Dad is the CEO and CFO and mom is the General Manager. The Duggars' children are nurtured with strong Christian values and they seek to develop in each and every child a learning spirit and a servant's heart.

When asked, the Duggars shared the joy and difficulties of having a large family. However, the fear of raising children is not on their list.

No one says that raising children is easy but everyone should know that having them too bring countless pride and joy which are hard to describe. I am not lying - any mom can tell you that.

Go give it a thought. You don't have to aim for 18 !

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