Welcome to CLAK! I am Charlene and I own an online skincare boutique, www.efreshsingapore.com. I will love to share about my sweet family, skincare tips and reviews, my travelogue and everything that excites me.
Welcome to CLAK! I am Charlene and I own an online skincare boutique, www.efreshsingapore.com. I will love to share about my sweet family, skincare tips and reviews, my travelogue and everything that excites me.
8th of March, International Women’s Day. On this special day that is dedicated to all women, I am also going to share this true story of mine.
My close friends, family and colleagues would know that I was on a complete bed-rest for 7 months when I was pregnant with Alexis. I was diagnosed with Cervical Incompetence when I was 10 weeks pregnant. In layman terms, it means my cervix is too short and weak to hold my pregnancy. My doctor stitched me up to prevent me from premature delivery and ordered me to a complete bed-rest from 13 weeks. You can imagine how it felt for not being able to shower normally for 7 months and how did I keep myself busy while lying on the bed. Many people just felt I was unlucky but not many people know that my Cervical Incompetence could totally be prevented by having a yearly screening and a vaccination.
Back in 2009 after delivering my first child, my Gynae at that time did a routine pap smear for me during my first visit for post-delivery checkup. I had an abnormal pap smear result and the doctor advised that I did a colposcopy, which meant a biopsy to remove a small section of the cervix. Maybe it was because I had just delivered my first child, the procedure was very uncomfortable. The result of my colposcopy came back with a CIN1 and the doctor explained to me it was a HPV virus that could potentially lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. I did not know why I did not take the message seriously or realize the importance of it; perhaps I was young and felt things like that would not happen to me, it was more like a typical kiasu doctor trying to scare me. I did nothing about the CIN1.
Fast forward to 2013, 4 years after my last pap smear. I was trying very hard for my 2nd baby. I had 2 miscarriages back to back and was totally devastated as we wanted a sibling for Lauren badly. Another Gynae who was looking after me then suggested going for a round of pap smear. The result was again abnormal. I did not dwell too much about it then because I remembered my last result was also abnormal and I did a colposcopy for it. Somehow, the naivety side of me assumed the colposcopy was a treatment for the abnormal pap smear (in fact: the colposcopy was only a procedure to test for abnormal cells in your cervix). I went ahead with the 2nd colposcopy and the doctor told me I got CIN3, which was one stage before cervical cancer and I needed to quickly do a surgery to remove the affected part of my cervix. My CIN1 which I learnt about 4 years ago had progressed to a CIN3. I went ahead with the surgery and a huge chunk of my cervix had to be removed. Ok because the surgery was to remove a part of my body that I could not see or feel, I did not think it would have any major adverse impact on my life. No, I was totally wrong until I was pregnant with Alexis.
The Gynae warned me about my short cervix when he announced that I was pregnant. He told me he would most likely have to stitch me up and put me on complete bedrest. I ignored his advise again and told him I would be very careful. Until week 13, I woke up thinking I got a stomachache and then went to my Gynae alone (Hubby was away on business trip). Once he had examined me, he ordered me to be admitted immediately for a surgery to stitched my cervix up as it could not hold the foetus and had showed signs of opening up. I was at the risk of delivering at week 13! I cried while waiting outside the operating theatre alone. Lucky for me, the surgery was a success. The 1st thing I did when I woke up from the surgery was to request for a Doppler to hear the heartbeat of my baby. I could not describe the sense of relief I had when I heard those thudding sound. That marked the start of my 7-months of bed-rest experience. I set small milestones for myself like a 4 weeks goal because I knew my condition that I could deliver anytime if my stitch could not hold the foetus anymore. I aimed for 20 weeks because I read that if I were to deliver at week 20, my baby got a 50% chance of surviving. Then 24 weeks, then 28 weeks and my biggest goal was reaching 33 weeks of pregnancy. Because I knew once I reached 33 weeks, Alexis would be ok even if she had to be delivered then. I got into 2-minutes apart contraction at week 32 and I was sent straight into the delivery suit with doctors telling they needed to cut off the stitch and let me go into labour otherwise the contraction might force my stitch to tear and I would be in the risk of excessive bleeding. I begged the team to load me with muscle relaxants and I told them to give me some time to try to calm this contraction. Thinking back now, I realized I was really playing with fire and how dangerous the situation was at that time. The medical team at the emergency department loaded me with muscle relaxant 4 times within an hour (which was the maximum dosage allowed). The drug was so strong that I puked due to the bad headache. Eventually I did overcome the contraction and I was warded for 2 weeks in case I went into any contraction again. At week 35, my Gynae advised me to go for cesarean as he felt my baby was sitting too low and was a risk for me. I wanted to wait a few more days hoping to hit week 36 but Alexis was too eager to be out. One day before reaching week 36, Alexis came and met the world. I was so grateful when I finally held her in my arms. I am still tearing as I am typing this now that reminded me of the experience then. The baby who gave me the strength to fight this battle fiercely, who changed my perspective in life and made me believe I want to be healthy to take good care of my girls.
I am someone who believe we should never regret as we look back in life. But if there was one thing that I had regretted, it would definitely be the ignorance of my first abnormal pap smear result. Things would surely be different if I had heeded the doctor’s advice then. I would not have lost half my cervix and my pregnancy would not be that horrifying. Till now both hubby and I still discussed about life with a 3rd baby but we all knew the answer. How life-endangering it would be for myself and the baby. Anyway, I should be thankful that my CIN3 was treated before it became cervical cancer. I was so close to that.
After hearing my long grandmother’s story, I urged all woman to protect ourselves. Not just for ourselves but for our loved ones. I want to be well for my daughters and hubby. I want to be there for their graduation, their wedding and I want to look after my grandchildren. Like what you have always hear, prevention is better than cure. Precisely so hence I recently did another round of cervical cancer prevention vaccination. This was my 2nd course of vaccine. I did one a few years back but there is presently new technology to the latest vaccine so I wanted to protect myself further because I truly understood that this disease could be totally preventable. FYI, I do my Pap smear twice a year now.
I approached Dr Quek Swee Chong, a good friend of mine for a collaboration. This man with a heart of gold is always in support for educating women the importance of prevention and early detection of any illness.
Dr Quek trained as a gynaecologist in London and worked there for 10 years before settling back in Singapore. He was the Clinical Programme Director for Pre-Invasive Services and Head of the Pre-invasive and Screening Unit in KK Hospital, before setting up his own practice in Gleneagles Medical Centre at ASC Clinic for Women.
He has a special interest in women’s cancer prevention, particularly cancer of the cervix, and has conducted many training courses for doctors and nurses in cervical cancer prevention.
In addition, he also founded and heads the Himalayan Women’s Health Project 10 years ago. This is a humanitarian health project that provides free screening and treatment for women in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh, India.
You ladies are super super lucky! In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Dr Quek has agreed to sponsor one session of his consultation, ultrasound scan and a pap smear worth $300! eFresh Singapore is so honored to have such a renowned doctor coming forward to collaborate with us! To do our part, the lucky winner will also walk away with eFresh Products worth $389.90 (all the best selling items on eFresh) after Dr Quek’s consultation.
The kind-hearted Dr Quek will also be offering 3 more ladies a super good deal for the cervical cancer prevention vaccine. (NEVER WILL YOU FIND THIS DEAL ELSEWHERE. I CONFIRM PLUS CHOP)
The package of 3 doses of this vaccine will be at the shocking price of $535 instead of $800. Basically Dr Quek is sponsoring 1 out of the 3 injections given. Thus the price you pay will be for 2 doses and Dr Quek will absorb the cost of the 3rd dose. eFresh will also sweeten the deal with a pack of Aqua Defence silk mask worth $49.90 for these 3 lucky ladies!
FYI, the 3 lucky ladies will be paying lesser than what I paid ok..
How to take part in these giveaway on our eFresh Instagram page?
1. Like this post on eFresh instagram
2. Follow @efreshsingapore on Instagram here and ASC Clinic for Women Pte Ltd on Facebook here.
3. Tag a woman in the comment of eFresh instagram post. 1 comment per tag please. Tag all the women you love in your life, your mum, your sister, your bff, etc…
4. Repost this post for the additional chance to win and also to share and protect more women.
Contest is open to women residing in Singapore only. Results will be announced on 30th March 2018 via DM.
Here was me getting my 2nd shot yesterday.
Before we left for our Europe holiday, the girls were sulking as we did not bring them along. Thus,
we promised the girls a staycation when we were back from our holiday. We thought a staycation
would probably be the best substitute for a holiday and the girls would be happy. They should be,
because we need to beg them to roam around most of the time during our overseas holidays! The
girls were always happy just staying in the hotel and whenever we were out exploring, they would
always ask when we would come back. Thus, we felt a staycation would be the best idea for them.
As we had done numerous staycations in the past, we wanted something with more tranquillity this
time round. The first hotel that came to our mind was Shangri-La! Now, I had heard a lot about the
wonderful service of Shangri-La, but had yet to stay in one of their hotels. Thus, I thought it would be
a good time to experience the highly raved-about service of this hotel. If you had read my previous
post on Mileslife, you will be glad to know that you can also book your hotel stays through the app
and earn Skywards Miles at the same time. Of course, I did just that.
Booking a hotel stay through the app was a breeze – just like how you would usually make any hotel
From the moment we checked in, the service from all the staff at Shangri-La was impeccable. The lady who did our check-in advised us to switch to the Garden Wing as the room was more spacious. I am glad we did, as the girls needed the space to play and the room was perfect. The room at the Garden Wing was also bigger as the booking with Mileslife came with an additional kid’s bed (free of charge!), which was perfect for us. Usually, we have to either all squeeze into a King size bed or sleep with the girls on twin beds. But with an additional bed, we were comfortably set in this room. Watch this clip for a tour of the room.
As we did not want to make this staycation all about staying in the hotel, we tricked the girls out by telling them we were going to hit the nearby Toy’r’Us store. Hahaha… They jumped out of bed immediately. There is a free shuttle service to Orchard road every hour. If not, you can always request for a complimentary parking ticket each time you leave the hotel. After all the shopping at the Forum, we headed back to the hotel for a nice dinner at the Shang Palace.
The booking I made through Mileslife came with free breakfast!!! I have to tell you the breakfast at Shangri-La is a MUST!! The selection was one of the biggest I have seen. Good news to all families with kids 6 years and below. The kids get to dine free with each paying adult!! For us, Lauren paid half price ($22.50) as she is 8, but it was still very worthwhile too. All in all, we had a two-hour breakfast with Nasi Lemak and Laksa, and hit the pool right after.
We were surprised to see many Singaporean families there for staycation too!!! The girls made some new friends and were so reluctant to leave because it was almost time for us to check out.
We truly enjoyed ourselves and I am already scrolling through Mileslife for the next hotel to plan for our staycation! ;p
For those who are interested to know, I spent $441 and I earned 3,500 Skywards Miles from this booking. This will be so helpful for my family holiday to Melbourne next year. FYI, an Economy Class Saver return ticket on Emirates to Melbourne will require 45,000 Skywards Miles. Inclusive of my earlier spending on Mileslife, I am already a quarter way through the Miles required! Additionally, if you link your Emirates Skywards account to the Mileslife app as your frequent flyer programme of choice, you will be able to earn bonus Skywards Miles ranging from 25% to 75% if you are a Silver, Gold or Platinum member! Do keep a look out for special promotions on the app as well – the promotions may help you earn more Skywards Miles than usual!
I am definitely going to use this app whenever possible to accumulate more miles! For those that plan to download the app, do use my code “MSCLAK” under the referral code section to get additional 1000 miles on your 1st purchase (min. $49)!
As I bid 2017 goodbye, I want to sit down and reflect on the good and bad things that had happened the past year.
I am grateful for a fruitful 2017. I had 5 holidays and went to 7 countries. Out of the 7 countries, 2 places were my first visits. My first visit to Vietnam was with my company for an incentive trip and Iceland was with hubby. 2017 also marked the first family holiday with my mum and my 2 brothers.
I also celebrated our 10th year Wedding Anniversary in 2017, with my sweet hubby surprising me with an extravagant Europe trip.
Work wise, 2017 marked the year I relaunched eFresh. This baby of mine had been an erratic journey since 2009 and so I hope it will be a smooth journey moving forward. I am truly grateful to all who have supported me with the love for eFresh. You never know how much it meant to me to see all the reviews and referrals.
On top of eFresh, I made it to the 10k followers mark on Instagram this year. I made many friends since I started becoming active on social media, and many have became the person I go to when I needed advice. I started sharing more about my life on social media in 2015. I started because I thought I was going to be a stay at home mum and I wanted to have an avenue other than just kids and home. Who knows, I backed out on the idea of SAHM when another job offer came right after I tendered my resignation. LOL.
While achieving the above, I did not neglect my mainstream work. My manager/good friend gave me the space to progress and I did what I needed and had good results at work. What I enjoyed most while working in a pharmaceutical industry is all the rapport I built with doctors and nurses. They are more than just business contacts, many are my closed friends now.
Oh how can I forget that I did my first 10km run in 2017! That was really an achievement for me as I went with the intention of walking the 10km but I ended up running almost the entire 10km!
With so many fantastic achievements, you must be thinking what bad can I get.
Honestly, I am truly grateful with all that I have. The only thing that I hope to be better is the health of my family members. Mum is still battling with her stage 4 breast cancer. Grandma has been very frail after her hip fracture. Someone very dear to my family is also fighting a terminal illness. I pray very hard that all my loved ones will receive a miracle potion.
I am also guilty of spending lesser time with my girls this year. I used to be able to set aside time daily to read and revise school work with the girls. But with so much on my plate, I got tired by the time I got home. Many times, I also lost my cool with the girls over trivial matters. This is something that hubby is not pleased of. Hubby is also not too pleased with me constantly on the phone. Thus I need to ensure I set aside time for phone browsing in 2018.
Thank you for treating me well, 2017. I will work hard to make 2018 a year with new goals in life, and I will be sharing my 2018 resolutions shortly. Have you also had a thought of what you want to achieve in 2018?
November is an important month to me. November is my wedding anniversary and also Alexis’ birthday.
As my hubby had planned a Europe holiday for our anniversary, I wanted to do my part to plan some nice date-nights for him too. It was also meant to part of a celebration for his victory at this year’s Apex Sustainability Award.
Before I share the details of the outings, let me introduce Mileslife; it is an app which I can use to quickly earn miles on major airlines. The beauty of this app is that I can use my credit card to earn my rebates or miles even when I am paying through the app. I used the app to pay for our date-nights and you will be amazed at how many miles I collected just for these 2 occasions!
As I will be travelling to Melbourne with my family on Emirates next year, I was thrilled to find out that Mileslife has recently partnered with Emirates Skywards. With this tie-up in place, Mileslife app users who are Emirates Skywards members can now earn Skywards Miles through dining, hotels, spas and other recreational activities with both local and travel merchants in Singapore, China and beyond. For every SGD spent, members will earn up to 5 Skywards Miles and an additional bonus based on their Emirates Skywards tier. Emirates Skywards Silver members will earn 25% bonus Miles on every purchase, Gold members will earn 50% bonus Miles and Platinum members will earn 75% bonus Miles. To celebrate this partnership, for a limited time, members can instantly earn 200 Skywards Miles when they link their Emirates Skywards account to Mileslife, as well as earn triple Skywards Miles on all purchases via Mileslife till 30 November 2017.
Let me share more about our date-nights and the details of my Skywards Miles collecting journey:
Our 1st date-night was a dinner date at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Bacchanalia. And you know what? The restaurant accepted payment via the Mileslife app!! The staff told us that quite a few customers had requested to pay by Mileslife! Alright, I shall admit – this is no coincidence. I chose this restaurant for a reason as there was no better time to impress the Hubby and earn Skywards Miles at the same time.
We had an eight course dinner with wine pairing for my hubby. Needless to say, the service was impeccable and the food was world class.
The dinner was $537, and given the current promotion (which lets you earn triple Skywards Miles on all purchases till 30 November), a whopping 4,833 Skywards Miles were awarded!!! My hubby was so impressed by the amount of Skywards Miles I received that he immediately downloaded the app and linked his Emirates Skywards account, receiving 200 bonus Skywards Miles in the process. LOL. The Skywards Miles were automatically credited into my Emirates Skywards account within a few working days! How convenient!
The 2nd date-night was a SPA session at SPA by JW. Located inside the 5-Star JW Marriott Hotel, we were welcomed by the warm and friendly staff of the luxury spa. We picked a 50-min massage in a couple room. Of course, we told them we wanted to enjoy the much raved-about facilities of the SPA before our massage. My tip – do plan to spend an additional 1 to 1.5 hours on top of the allocated time for massage to truly enjoy the facilities. From the relaxing warm Jacuzzi pool, to the steam bath and sauna, and I would highly recommend to try the relaxing space chair in the Relaxation Lounge over a cup of tea or coffee. We were told most customers fall asleep on the space chair. Totally unwind the mind and body from the stress of the day.
For the massage, I fell asleep almost immediately into the session. I loveeeee the massage bed, it was a heated bed. Not the usual heated bed but one where the temperature differs from head to toe. The masseur set a nice body temperature for the upper part of the bed where my body was and warmer temperature for the lower part for my cold feet.
The SPA session costed us $376 and we were awarded 2,907 Skywards Miles on the Mileslife app!!!
Wow!!! A total of 7,940 Skywards Miles on Mileslife. I am really on track to my Melbourne holiday! FYI, a return reward Economy Class Saver ticket between Singapore and Melbourne requires 45,000 Skywards Miles on Emirates. All I need is just 5 more dates-nights like this and I am on my way to book another trip Down Under! Definitely the smarter way to fly!
To make your deal sweeter, input my personal referral code “MSCLAK” after you download the app and receive 1,000 bonus Skywards Miles when you make your 1st purchase!
*This is a sponsored post but all reviews are non-biased.
My darling Alexis turns 3 today, penning my thoughts on this post made me realised how fast time flies and soon my little feisty Alexis will become a young tenacious lady (a figure that Hubby and I always visualized Alexis would grow up to be). Every time I looked at her, I am very thankful to have her in my arms. The fact that both Alexis and myself almost could not make it during delivery made me treasure my girls in every possible way. I had got a complication when I was pregnant with Alexis that I almost delivered Alexis at 14 weeks. Yes 14 weeks! I was pushed into an emergency surgery to stitch me up and then put on a strict bed rest for a good 22 weeks. When I finally delivered Alexis at 35 weeks, I had an uterine rupture which the doctor told me both of us could have died. I was truly thankful to my gynae for pushing both of us out of the operating theatre safely.
On this special day, I would like to write a short Birthday note to my girl.
Happy Birthday!! Thank you for coming into my life. For teaching me how to fight hard for something that I yearned for. For making me believe what love at first sight is and for completing my life.
You are such a pain to care for as you are always so demanding and persistent in whatever you wanted. But that is also something I am really proud of you for; your courage and tenacity. You made me take back my words when I told everyone around me that I have absolute control over my children as each time you kicked up a fuss, I would quickly find the easiest way to make you calm down. That had never happened to your sister, Lauren. There were many times I hoped you would grow up fast and be independent so I did not have to run over to your room every night just to calm you down from the nightmares or thunders. Yet, I often cried myself to sleep thinking about the day you will grow up and Papa will walk you down the aisle. I am sorry if I had spent lesser time with you compared to your Sister as I believed your Sister needed more 1 on 1 time with me for her school work. Maybe because of that you are much more independent than her.
I love you Alexis, very very much. Please continue to be that little baby whom surprise me each and every day and thank you for giving me the best 1095 days (and counting) in my life.
As I got really caught up with work, I told myself that this year’s birthday celebration for Alexis would be just a simple family and school celebration for her.
Here were the highlights of her birthday celebration at the school:
We celebrated slightly earlier as we were going away and her birthday was actually during school holiday.
A special mention to Sweetest Moments for helping to solve this busy mom’s woes. I got my cakes, cupcakes and customised cookie (as goodie bag) from them. Glad to know that they are Halal-certified as there were other religious students in her class and all the bakeries were yummy!! Do opt for the surprise M&M chocolates in your cake as the children from Alexis’ class loved it!
We got the personalised cookies as gift for the goodie bags. Grandma and Great Grandma loved it so much that they took half of what I had prepared to give them away. LOL.
Sweetest Moments has just launched 3 new premium flavours for their Celebration Cookies – Melting Butter, Velvety Brownie and Cocoa Marshmallow, and is having a launch special! From now till 4 Dec 2017, standard cookies label is at $5.20 per tin (U.P. $6.50) and personalised cookies label is at $5.90 per tin (U.P. $6.90). T&Cs apply. For more info, visit www.sweetestmoments.com.sg.
*Products from Sweetest Moments were sponsored but all reviews are non biased.