SingaporeMotherhood | Baby & Toddler

March 2023

From Infertility to Adoption & Becoming a Mum at 40

Founder and director of Relish PR, Rachel Raeburn, spent her twenties exploring the world as a flight attendant. During that time, she met her husband-to-be, who was a fellow cabin crew. Like many before her, Rachel decided to hold off becoming a mum, so that they could focus on establishing their careers. What she did not expect were the difficulties that came with the biological clock ticking down.

(See also: Fighting to Have A Baby through IVF; Fighting to Make Time for Baby)

Unexplained Infertility

“We spent two years working together, creating wonderful memories in many cities all around the world. However, it was not our intention to climb the ranks, so at 29 years of age, we both left the airline in pursuit of a career change.

For almost a decade after, we hunkered down to give it our all in our new jobs and established ourselves in our respective fields. Throughout that time, we didn’t give much thought to having children until my maternal instincts suddenly kicked in at around the age of 37, when the idea of having a baby constantly occupied my thoughts.

Like most couples, we assumed that we could have children when we dictated so. However, it was not to be. Three rounds of intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) followed but to no avail. According to the doctors, there were no known causes ­— unexplained infertility, they called it.

(See also: When Should You Consider IVF, if you are Trying to Conceive?)

The worst part was the emotional rollercoaster that came with the fertility treatments. From the hopeful anticipation after each procedure to the abject disappointment when the pregnancy test was negative. I experienced it three times and that was enough.

Adopting Love

Rachel becoming a mum

Thankfully, it was easy for us to come to mutual decision to embark on our next option, adoption. With blessings from most family members and friends, we initiated the tedious process of the Home Study Report. We went through rounds of interviews and health checks, and copious amounts of documentation.

(See also: What you Need to Know about Adopting a Child in Singapore)

Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Little did we know that our little angel had already been conceived. In fact, it was just under six months before she came into our lives. I had always been open to adoption, so there was no hesitation.

While we felt blessed to welcome this child, being an adoptive mum came with its own set of challenges. For one, I felt like an imposter, not having gone through the whole pregnancy and birth to become a mother. Furthermore, conversations about pregnancy and breastfeeding with fellow mums whom I’d just met were awkward, to say the least.

Blood isn’t always thicker than water. When we choose the people we want in our lives — our spouse, child, pet, or friends — the time spent with them creates a bond that can be even greater than those with whom we are related by blood. Love is love.

Rachel Raeburn

Adversity Loves Company

Our child brought us so much joy and fulfilled our desire to be parents. But the early years were nonetheless fraught with struggles, as she was a very active child. On top of that, she didn’t seem to enjoy sleeping and was a very fussy eater.

Becoming a parent at 40 was in itself also challenging. As an older mum, interrupted sleep left me constantly tired. To make matters worse, I was suffering from hyperthyroidism, which I didn’t discover till years later. On hindsight, it had probably worsened the fatigue I was experiencing as a new mum.

(See also: “How Can I Be a Happy Mother When I’m Always Tired?”)

When I tried sharing with friends about it, no one seemed to empathise. Once, I was even chided — they said that I should just be grateful to have had the chance to be a mum.

Despite the adversities, I was thankful for my husband and my own mother, who were there to support me. We also had a reliable helper who took care of the household chores and our pet dog.

Making It Count

Rachel & family in Perth (Busselton Jetty)

Being matured parents did come with its advantages, of course. My husband and I were emotionally and mentally prepared to be parents, while financial security also allowed us to parent more confidently.

I’m proud to say that our daughter, Oia, is now a very well-balanced, happy, kind, affectionate, and independent seven-year-old. She is well-loved by family, friends, and teachers.

Being a mum has also helped me fulfill my dream of being an entrepreneur. For years I have been on the lookout to design a product to solve a problem. As I struggled to get my daughter to eat during mealtimes, I realised that when I counted down the number of spoonsful of food left to go, it motivated her to eat.

My Story Plate

I thought perhaps a plate with numbered pods, which contained food in smaller, less intimidating amounts, would help. This led to the design of My Story Plate, a unique design with five ascending numbered pods to portion food and encourage young children to eat continuously, and thus faster.

With the plate I hope to empower young children with the confidence for self-feeding and to make mealtimes enjoyable for the whole family — if only there was such a product back then! No food battles, no negotiation, just happy kids and parents. It is so rewarding to hear mums sharing that My Story Plate cuts their children’s mealtimes by half!

(See also: A Mum’s Guide to Successful Baby-Led Weaning (BLW))

Looking Back

becoming a mum and dad - Rachel & family

Our journey towards becoming parents certainly had its share of ups and downs. However, we believe that some things are truly meant to be and it was in God’s perfect plan for our little one to become a part of our family. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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From Infertility to Adoption & Becoming a Mum at 40