Katherine Sng had broken up with her boyfriend – and then she found out that she was pregnant.
“There were moments when I thought of terminating my pregnancy because I was scared of what society would think of us,” says the former account manager, who started online magazine BubbaMama during her pregnancy.
“I was also worried I would be unable to support the child. But at the back of my mind, I always knew that I would go through with it.”
That was five years ago, and each time looks at her son, she knows she made the right decision. She is no longer in contact with her son’s father, except for one time last year when she had to ask him for more financial support. He now gives her $700 a month.
“My son is the love of my life and I’m blessed to have such a supportive family who help to look after him,” she says.
“Family support is of one of the most important things to an unwed mother.”
IT’S AN INNOCENT BABY
Katherine’s mother, Teo Mui Hong, 67, says: “She’s my child, I cannot just leave her to fend for herself. I help in whatever way I can.
“I told her to keep the child, it’s an innocent life. Some people who want children can’t even conceive.”
Mui Hong adds that although she was initially caught between the feelings of “sadness and joy” when she heard that her daughter was pregnant, she is proud of her for having the courage to face life as an unwed mother.
Katherine lives with her son and her retired parents in a three-bedroom flat in Pasir Ris. Her three sisters are married and live with their families. On weekdays, her mother takes care of her son when she is busy at work.
LIFE IS TOUGH
Being an unwed mother is tough, Katherine says, because she is unable to enjoy certain benefits that married parents have such as buying a HDB flat, parenthood tax rebates and the full 16 weeks of paid maternity leave (Here’s what they are entitled to.)
Katherine earns about $60,000 a year, so has to think twice before splurging on branded shoes and bags.
She says candidly: “As a single parent, I have to do the job of two people. But I’ve made my bed and I have to sleep in it, so might as well make myself comfortable.”
She admits that social stigma towards unwed mothers still exists and she cannot escape from gossips, which is why she avoids being around when her relatives visit her parents during Chinese New Year.
She says: “My mum understands. So while my son is happily receiving red packets and snacking on goodies, I’m usually out of the country or out visiting friends.”
Since giving birth, she has been on only several dates as she has no time and energy for dating while juggling work and taking care of her son.
“My heart is only so big, 80 per cent is with my son, so it will be hard for any man to win over my heart,” she said.
A version of this article first appeared in The New Paper. Check out a new portal which aims to support unwed mothers, Hey Solo Sister.