If you regularly listen to local radio stations, then you may be familiar with the voices of popular radio presenters. But really, who are the personalities behind them? Well, 987 DJ Natasha Faisal is a first-time mum who gave birth to a little girl during the pandemic. And one half of Class 95’s Muttons in the Morning, DJ Vernon A (a.k.a. Vernon Keith Anthonisz) juggles three sons whose ages range from two to 19 years! Off the air, the two Mediacorp DJs let us in on their unique parenting journeys.
987 DJ NATASHA: “I’m just a regular girl-mum.”
“I’m quite a relaxed mother, I think. I don’t restrict my daughter too much. I place priority on respect and safety. That’s the only time I intervene. Otherwise, I let her progress at her own pace. My influences are all the women in my life, who played huge roles in shaping me as a person and eventually a parent.
Growing up, I was surrounded by a lot of love and support from not only my parents but also relatives and especially grandparents. Both my grandmothers came from humble beginnings, but they always enforced the value of keeping the family close. I also had an aunt who helped to raise me when my parents were out working.
My mum is a fierce protector. She’s my best friend and my comfort all at the same time. I love the relationship we have, and I was sure I wanted the same for myself quite early in life. I love children and I’d like to think I work well with them — I was a speech and drama teacher to preschool and primary school kids before I became a full time DJ.
My husband, Iqmal, and I were still staying with my parents and the plan was to wait until we moved into our own place. So, finding out I was pregnant was a surprise for sure. But we embraced it and everyone in our circle was incredibly supportive and excited.
I remember breaking the news to my husband and he cried, called his mum and two best friends, sat and looked out the window by himself and prayed. All within 5 to 10 minutes!
Confinement in Lockdown
In general, pregnancy was kind to me. This held true even till the delivery, something that I always describe as the most fun day of my life. My water bag broke at week 38 and we welcomed our daughter within a few hours of labour.
However, my pregnancy also happened during the pandemic. That was quite the curveball. But it was a blessing in disguise that let me focus on myself and the baby without too much distraction.
At the time of giving birth, we were still in lockdown. A lot of businesses were forced to close; even postnatal massage services were considered non-essential. So I made do with what I could at home. I cooked my own confinement meals and mostly managed on my own in the early days of becoming a parent.
To be honest, the parenting bit came easy. It was more of the environment that was the greater challenge. Iqmal and I were still adapting, trying to figure out our dynamics and work out a system that worked best for us. We were fortunate to be at my parents’, who helped ease the load when they returned from work in the evenings. But I felt bad for taking up so much of their space and time.
Just two weeks after giving birth, Iqmal and I went house-hunting. We really needed a space of our own and looking back, even I’m surprised at how efficient and decisive we were given the circumstances. We viewed 11 houses within two days and very quickly managed to buy our first marital home. Then we got straight to finding a contractor and renovated the house. And that was how I spent the most of my confinement!
About 13 to 14 weeks after giving birth, I went back to my on-air shift at work. My aunt and mum helped me greatly with caregiving at that time. I could not have done it without them.
Loving Little Luna
The baby was probably the easiest part — I know, I’m blessed! I remember she would sleep through the night, almost from the start. And I’m not pressured regarding breastfeeding. Two months in, I had a bad episode of mastitis that affected my milk supply and output. The obvious solution: I simply started introducing formula and stopped pumping.
Luna is now two-plus, and she’s definitely a character! Many people think she’s an angry and moody baby because it’s so hard to capture her smiles and laughs on camera. But really, she’s quite the joker. She loves music and dancing and will even move at the sound of the blender going!
She’s my best friend. She copies everything I do. When I’m in the kitchen, when I’m doing my makeup… She’s my little shadow and the brightest light in my life at the same time.
Definitely not opposed to having another baby in the future. Luna is super into dolls right now; she loves playing make-believe, pretending to feed, change diapers, put to bed. So it’s not hard to imagine the doll being a younger sibling! We’ll take this as a trial period to see how everything goes.
For sure, motherhood changed me. I’ve found more purpose in everything I do. I’m driven to lead by example and every day there are new discoveries, whether it’s about the progress and growth of my daughter or within myself and the dynamics in the family.
And I trust that with every problem, there is a solution and a way to work around it. I try to let go of what I have no control over. My hope for little Luna is that she grows to be bold, fearless, and hopeful. To have enough love to see the good in the world and heart to embrace everything else in between.”
CLASS 95 DJ VERNON A: “My passions are family and radio.”
“I’ve heard some people say they’ve always wanted to be parents. Personally, I never gave it much thought or had any aspirations to become one. But my role models are my own parents, who always made it a point to make it a loving environment growing up. My other role model is Steve Martin in the movie Parenthood. #IYKYK
Born to British, Dutch, and Portuguese parents, it was a very happy childhood in an age without the internet. My parents were very authoritarian but most of the punishments were well-deserved.
Attending Christian Brothers all boys’ primary and secondary schools, I think I picked up some good values that helped to shape who I am today. I’m generally an easy-going person but my biggest pet peeve is rudeness because it stems from an entitled behaviour. While there’s little time for hobbies, I do enjoy console gaming.
The Best Feeling in the World
I’ve got three boys: Ethan is 19, Liam is 4, and Niall is 2. All three pregnancies were relatively smooth with no major hiccups. I was there for the births and yes, I’ve been a very hands-on dad since day one.
My youngest was born during the pandemic. Well, the biggest difference would be the hospital rules but it was generally pretty smooth sailing. I wouldn’t say there was any hindrance but it was necessarily different.
I think inevitably your life changes when you become a parent. From lack of sleep to social habit changes, and of course, forget about leisure travelling the way you used to. Firstly, going overseas on a whim is now impossible. And planning for a holiday revolves around finding places that are kid-friendly, with activities for their entertainment.
To hear your children call to you for anything and everything, and to have them run into your arms the second you come home, is the best feeling in the world.
Life has its ups and downs so I guess fatherhood is no different. All my ‘free time’ has disappeared since having the little ones. Sleep deprivation is another thing most parents have to deal with but having said all that, I wouldn’t trade being a parent for anything else in the world.
I don’t think I have a particular style of parenting. I just try my best to be there for them. My wife, Jayne, and I are very hands-on and we don’t have a helper. So while it really is 24/7 parenting, we’re loving every minute of it. Balancing work is relatively easy because my wife is always ready to look after the kids when I have to work, and vice versa.
Liam and Niall are still very young, so at the moment it’s still about the basics. For example, being polite and trying to calm them down when play gets a little too exciting.
On the other end of the spectrum, Ethan is completing his polytechnic studies. This means he’ll soon be serving his national service. It’s going to be an interesting time in his life and I’m just glad I can be around if he needs any advice.
Yes, the age gap between the eldest and the youngest is 17 years, but it works great for us, especially because we have a live-in babysitter when we need one. Ethan loves his younger brothers and is great with them. In fact, the little ones enjoy his company more than mine — I think it’s because they can bully him!
I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to parenting. You’ve got to just roll with the punches and try your best to instill good values as best you can.
As for their future, every generation will have their own set of problems and triumphs. I just hope my kids turn out to be good human beings and whatever they decide to do, I’ll just happily give them my full support.”