Rambling Saturday Conversation

In which I considered alternate realities, discussed infant mortality, food culture, and compared the UK to SG.

Well, I did say it was was a rambly conversation.

It started with a toy.

Z was trying to make this traditional toy work (Whammy Diddle), and when she couldn’t make it work, she cheated by turning the “blades” of the “propeller” directly.

PL laughed and yelled to me that Z cheated and how.

I told her that Z was a born cheater – other babies had to squeeze out through the birth canal. She took the side door.

She was born by C-section, after 11 hours where PL’s cervix dilated to 4 cm (by 9 am), and then no further progress. Despite being on oxytocin (which should induce labour and help with the dilation) for the next 11 hours or so.

So at 6 pm (still 4 cm) the doctor waited two more hours (no progress in dilation) then proceeded with the c-section.

Yes, some women are highly affected by not being able to have natural childbirth, and if PL had her way, I believe she too would have wanted to go the natural way – with oxytocin, and epidural. But some things are not to be, and PL and I have one thing (or at least two things) in common – we both have rather strong self-esteem. And we are realists. So yes, of course PL would like to have had a “natural” childbirth, but it is what it is.

And Z was born.

I had thought about this before – if we were in a different time, in a different place, Z might not have been born and PL might have died during labour and childbirth. In a different time with less medical advances, I would never had a daughter, and my wife might have died in childbirth.

Of course, it was also entirely possible that if labour had proceeded, after 24 hrs or 36 hours, eventually, Z might have been born. And PL might have died giving birth. Or Z might have been stillborn after the stress of an extended delivery.

But because we live in modern times, in Singapore, where medical care is of a high standard, and infant mortality and maternity mortality is very low, Z’s birth was relatively low risk.

I asked PL if she had thought of the danger if we were living in a different time or a different place. That she might have died with Z unborn.

She said she did not.

So I told her that I had thought of how fortunate we were. That in a different time and a different place, I would never have known a daughter, and I might have lost my wife in childbirth… and I would be FREE to date other women!

[Please see above regarding our self-esteem.]

She stuck her tongue out at me… then said that when she was studying in the UK, one of her professor was very surprised that Singapore’s infant mortality was (and still is) lower than the UK.

Infant mortality rate is one of the key indicators of health care standards in a country.

But, not to put down Singapore’s achievement in healthcare, we do have an advantage of being a small city state, which is 100% urbanised. This means that our healthcare is uniformly good throughout the country.

However any larger country (like the UK) where there are rural areas which may not have ready access to healthcare, standards of healthcare may not be so uniform. In the event of complications, medical help may be hours away, and that could mean life and death.

So that might pull down the average.

Later that afternoon, while waiting for the bus, and talking about food (Hey! We’re Singaporeans. We talk about food the way the Brits talk about the weather.) I recalled that one of our ministers had suggested that what Singapore needed was our version of Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl to write about Singapore hawker food for kids so they grow up valuing hawker food.

PL thought that was a silly idea. If actual hawker food cannot inspire the craving for hawker food, why would reading about it do any better?

Well, I did recall Enid Blyton painting word pictures – how she would describe rich people’s cucumber sandwiches as two thin slices of bread with a thin smear of butter and cucumbers sliced so thin it was translucent, and then the crusts were cut off, and the sandwich cut into small, dainty, bite-size triangles.

In contrast the country (or poor people’s) sandwiches were robust, hearty fare – the bread slices were thick (almost rough hewn, not sliced), the butter slathered on, and then topped with crispy bacon, thick cuts of ham, and generous carvings of cheese.

But really. Did Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl really inspire children to love British food? I mean, come on! It’s British Food.

Some kids born in Britain might have realised, “OMG! I’m in Britain. The food here is Horrible!” and then killed himself.

That might explain their higher infant mortality rate.

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