Close in age, close in spirit

Close in age, close in spirit
Teacher Leung Sau Wai says her seven-year-old daughter Xuan Pei and six-year-old son Zheng Hao can play and enjoy the same activities together as they are at the same developmental stage.

Three months after the birth of her first child in November 1994, Madam Siti Hawa Shaini found herself pregnant again.

The 52-year-old recalls: "I was surprised and worried about whether I could cope."

After two months of maternity leave, she had returned to work as a teacher and, earlier that year, had also started a part-time five-year degree course in mathematics at UniSIM.

In October 1995, she delivered her second girl, 11 months after she had her first child. She left both children in the care of a babysitter during the day and took them home in the evening.

She says with a laugh: "I don't know how I eventually managed to get my degree, without taking no-pay leave. Luckily, my daughters were not difficult. After six months, they were sleeping through the night."

Her husband, Mr Aminuddin Noor, 53, a senior customer service officer, helped her with them and also took care of the cooking and housework.

She adds that she was able to be intimate with him about six weeks after giving birth because her first child was "quite easy" and her husband was "very supportive", so she did not feel "too tired".

Looking back, she is glad she had them so close together because the girls, now aged 20 and 19, are "very close to each other".

Madam Siti, who was nominated for Jamiyah's exemplary mother award last year, has a third daughter, now aged 17, a pair of 11-year-old twin boys and an adopted son, aged 16.

Anecdotal evidence suggests many women resume sex by six weeks after giving birth and, in theory, a woman may be able to conceive as early as 45 days after giving birth, says Dr Anita Kale, a consultant at National University Hospital (NUH) Women's Centre. Breastfeeding may delay the conception process, though it is not foolproof, she says.

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