"This Baby Saved My Life", Says Seven-Months-Pregnant Cheryl Wee
Read all about Cheryl Wee's extraordinary baby-making journey here.
No, no, no. Despite the titillating title, this story is not about sex, God forbid. Cheryl Wee’s babymaking tale is so much more interesting than boring ol’ sex. For most couples, getting preggers means one fateful night of wham, bam, and nine months later, thank you m’am... waaaaahhhh waaaah goo goo ga ga. But for this wholesome actress-singer-model-beauty and lifestyle empire heiress and her architect husband of seven months, Roy Fong, their route to almost-parenthood is a dizzying fable of periods that won’t come, and then, a miraculous positive pregnancy test. Miss Wee has an amazing story to tell, and she knows it.
When Cheryl arrives at our shoot, a slip of a girl radiating bliss without a shred of make-up in a tasteful baggy pleated black dress, it’s not just her cute six-month belly that’s bursting. Mrs Fong is eager to let us in on all the finer details of how she came to be where she is today. As we begin our shoot in a suite at the hip Andaz Singapore, she starts with anecdotes about how, when previously she was a dessert addict, she now cannot stand the sight of cake. In fact, during the first three months of her pregnancy, she’d vomit whenever she ate sweet stuff. But that’s okay, ’cos her husband was making up for it by being totally saccharine-sweet to her, like applying cream on her tummy when she was too morning-sick to do it. There’s also the adorbs tale of how she hasn’t bought any maternity togs, ’cos her mum and aunties are happily passing her their larger clothes so they have an excuse to go shopping. Ironically, waiting for the team post-shoot was a huge hunk of kueh salat her mother, Jean Yip herself, had made for us. (It is, as you’d expect, super tasty. And no, Cheryl doesn’t have any.)
She’s quite limber for someone who’s carrying around a six-month old fetus (granted, her tummy isn’t that big yet), aceing the shoot with a big smile, posing with her bare burgeoning belly for our pics, and even rolling around on the bed and on the floor. She gleefully tells us that people had no idea she was preggers even just a short while ago, ’cos her face is, miraculously, less bloated and slimmer than when she was childless and weighed much, much less. It’s due to the fact that she’s eating much less sugar, and related to why she tells us, “This baby saved my mind, and my life.” But more on that later.
First, she’s enjoying being the centre of attention at our shoot, her signature wide peepers cheery and bright. “I was so happy when you called me to do this shoot,” she tells us. “Being on the cover of 8 DAYS is one of the things on my bucket list. I’ve been on other magazines, but 8 DAYS is the one that was a bucket list item for me. I think it’s ’cos I read every issue when I was younger, and there are all these memories for me.” To prove she’s not kidding, she fishes the current issue of the mag out of her bag: “See, I still read it all the time!”
Awww. Much as you wanna hate her for being a poor little rich girl, for being pretty and slim, for leading a charmed life under the watchful eyes of her well-known and successful mum and dad, for her devoted husband and their enviably fabulous (and some say overly-lavish) wedding tea ceremony and dinner, the photos of which were splashed across newspapers, magazines and websites when it happened last July, you just can’t hate Cheryl Wee when you actually get to spend time with her. The 30-year-old is earnest, eager to please, down-to-earth and easy to like. We’re not saying that just ’cos she loves 8 DAYS. We’re not even saying that ’cos she came bearing gifts of cake, chocolates and tea. It may have something to do with how, unlike so many reticent and boring-to-interview celebs, her soundbites tumble out breathlessly, fast and furious. One hour into our interview, and we had barely glanced at our list of questions. She had already answered half of them, without our prodding. She’s refreshingly candid, despite professing to come from a family so conservative, they would never, ever, ever discuss sex. (And yet, oddly, they’re in the business of beautifying, slimming and sexifying people.) In fact, mama Jean Yip and papa Mervin Wee are so traditional, they forbade Cheryl and Roy from going on holiday together without chaperones, and in their 10 years of dating, the couple were not allowed to be alone in her room with the door closed. So is she one of those virtuous lasses who — gasp — waited till after marriage to consummate her relationship? We’ll leave you to figure that one out for yourselves. And now, the extraordinary story of the #weefong baby, and how he saved his mother’s life.
8 DAYS: Congrats on the little one growing inside you! You guys sure didn’t waste any time getting pregnant!
CHERYL WEE: Thanks! (Laughs) Yah, we were supposed to go for our honeymoon to Barcelona, San Sebastian, Bilboa and Bordeaux in September [the wedding was in July]. We found out about the baby in September, which means I would have been six to seven weeks pregnant, so my mum said no. I’ve always had irregular periods, and for a while, my period actually stopped. It was when I was acting, about 2014 or 2015.The longest I didn’t get my period was one-and-a-half years. It’s was due to my dieting, and the mindset that I kept wanting to get thinner and thinner. When I was in Taiwan, they kept telling me I was too fat. And I was 42kg. That’s how I got an eating disorder. I’d binge-eat and then I’d not eat. So my mother was very worried about me travelling when I got pregnant. For me to even get pregnant and so quickly… it was a miracle.
Totally! But your period had become more regular just before your wedding?
Even just before the wedding, it was still irregular. [Last year], my period didn’t come in April and May, and in June it came once and that’s about it. Then two weeks after the wedding, it came, and I was very happy. I still remember the date: July 19! (Laughs) I don’t see a gynae regularly, but I went to see one after I got my period. She told me that my period was so irregular that it might take some time before I can conceive, like three to six months.
So you guys actually wanted a baby so quickly? Most couples would wait for a year or two.
I was like, maybe after three to six months lah. But Roy really,really loves children. He wanted to have a baby after three months. Before that, he was still busy with his job in DP Architects, but he was going to quit to join our family business in October. He’s now with the development arm of Jean Yip Holdings. In DP, he worked late all the time, so my mum felt that in the family business, there would be more flexibility. So yeah, he said that if we try after three months, he would be less busy. I was like, “Can you give me three more months or not?” (Laughs)
Yeah, it would be nice to have more time for just the two of you, especially since you and Roy have never lived or travelled alone together.
We have travelled together but it was always with my parents. Since we started dating when we were 18 years old, he would come with my family on family trips. He’d share a room with my dad, obviously. So no, we never went on a holiday with just me and him. I think Roy would feel uncomfortable also, like he would be like, “What would your dad think? ”We’re conservative like that. And now, we live with my parents, but it’s fine — at least we’re together and I see him every single day. That’s why I was so excited about our honeymoon — it would be the first trip we plan and go on ourselves. With my mum and dad, it was more about what they wanted to do. We travelled one week after our wedding to Bangkok for two days, as he could only take two days’ leave. I was joking that for our honeymoon, we just go Bangkok can already lah, and now, it’s really true that we just went to Bangkok! (Laughs)
So you started trying for a baby immediately after the wedding?
I was counting [when my fertile days were] already, not that I thought I was so fertile, but just in case, you know? I was praying to God, and I said, “God, let me enjoy a few more months of freedom, okay? To have a baby in the middle of the year, quite nice also right? Since Roy and my dad’s birthdays are in the beginning of the year and my birthday is in April, let’s spread out the birthdays so we have more things to celebrate. But… yeah. (Laughs) The baby is actually due on my birthday, April 24!
Amazing! So you were actually counting the dates and trying not to get pregnant so quickly. What happened?
Before we got married, as Catholics, we had to go for a natural family planning class. We’re not allowed to use contraceptives. They explained that natural planning was actually better for someone with irregular periods, as any form of contraceptive may delay your period further. They say it’s very accurate — you can count the dates. We used the method and I guess it works ’cos the first month after the wedding, we said we couldn’t get pregnant as I was still filming [telemovie] Déjà Vu, Inc and running around. Then my gynae told me, “Oh, for your case, don’t even count, don’t do any natural planning.” She actually told me, and I was so flabbergasted when I heard — “Cheryl, treat yourself like an ATM, you can stuff in how much, just stuff in how much!” I felt so embarrassed! I was so shocked I didn’t think about whether what she said made sense or not! She was like, “Don’t worry, it will take three to six months. You need to menstruate more before it will happen.” So we planned our honeymoon and I went filming, and I told Roy, “Don’t count lah, whatever happens, happens.”
And it happened.
Wow, eschewing contraceptives and using the natural method — it’s really rare in this day and age.
It’s called the Billings method. They get you to see your discharge [to determine fertility] — it’s very gross. Roy went for the class with me, an they’d show pics of the [vaginal] mucus. If I were a guy I’d be damn grossed out. There are four different kinds of mucus and there’s a chart — so difficult you know! (Laughs)
And Catholics are opposed to using contraceptives.
It’s like children are a gift from God to you, and who are you to deny that gift? Also, they explained that when you use contraceptives, it's like instant gratification. You want it now, you have it now. In life, not everything is about instant gratification. This natural planning method is supposed to build a couple’s relationship, like respecting each other and working together. Like if today is a fertile day and you don’t want to have kids, you have to wait lah. I think it makes quite a bit of sense. Whether you can follow is another thing lah! (Laughs) Will we follow it? We want three or four kids, so after that, maybe we will use this method to continue.
You guys really are devout.
Roy is quite holy, even though he’s a convert Catholic. [Ed: We ran a story last year about how Roy was asked to be a priest five times]. He’s quite old-school, so even though we have known each other for so long, we have never stayed or travelled together alone. That’s why getting married was so important to us.
He’s a rare breed of man.
Roy is very respectful. I come from a very traditional and conservative family, so it means a lot to me. He can think for others before himself. He said that he didn’t want to do what he wouldn’t want people doing to his kids in the future. And that’s the kind of rare person he is.
Tell us how you found out you were pregnant.
The first month, I didn’t even know, right? I did things like go for bounce class, foot reflexology, and my friend made poké bowls so I had raw food, and I took whiskey, when I don’t usually. I still went and did slimming treatments! I had no symptoms at all. What happened was that my paternal grandfather passed away, and on the last day of the funeral, Roy’s mum came. And I told him after the funeral, “Let’s send her home.” After that, I wanted to go buy groceries, and at the checkout, I saw a pregnancy test kit. I said, “Eh Roy, go and buy one.” He was like “Why? ”I was like, “No lah, tomorrow morning, I’m going for womb treatments and when you do the treatment, you cannot have your period or be pregnant. Anyway, I think my period is coming soon, I can feel the cramps already. Just buy to be very sure lah.” So we got home around 10pm, and I peed on the stick, and I was like, “Oh my God”. I sat on the toilet bowl for 10 minutes. Roy was like, “What’s wrong?” I thought I didn’t know how to ‘see’ the stick! I said, “Did I see the line wrongly? Can you go and look at the box!” He was like, “I think so leh! Let’s go tell your mother!”
Your mother must have been so thrilled!
My mother is damn kan cheong! She asked me one week after the wedding leh! She’s like, “Hurry up lah!” After two weeks, she was like, “Why nothing yet?” (Laughs) Of course she was very excited and happy about the news. But can you imagine, if we didn’t send Roy’s mum home, we wouldn’t have bought the test kit and I would have gone for the womb treatments, which are quite intense. Also, they kept telling me that my womb was very weak, that my wall lining was very thin, ’cos I never menstruate, right? That’s when I learned that things happen for a reason lah, whether you believe in God or the Holy Spirit or the universe or yourself.
So your dieting which led to your loss of period went on right up till the wedding? We thought you had overcome your eating problems, ’cos we remember asking you about it for a story a few years ago.
Yeah, it was still bad. I was filming My Love Sinema and the last part of Mata Mata 3, and I was still eating badly. It would get better for a while and then dip again. My eating problem was not just binge-eating, it was overeating sweets and relying on sweets to ease my stress. It’s psychological — I’d fall into that pit where I tell myself I need dessert and eat too much of it. It was a vicious cycle of self-pity. It’s very weird, but it’s like you want, but don’t want, to get out of it. It carried on till six months before wedding. My maternal grandmother passed away during Christmas, and I was very close to her. I also met a few health coaches and they said I can’t continue like this, and with the wedding coming up, it just slowly came together. I thought it was about time to wake up and stop behaving like this. Slowly, I focused on the wedding and things became a bit better.
So things are okay now, especially with the baby?
Last time, I didn’t know when I was full or hungry — I was so used to starving myself. When you’re full, you still want to eat some more. And during the wedding prep, I was so busy and wanted to lose weight right? But now, after the wedding, I’m better. I’m working at my Cheryl W weight management company and I go to work and have a normal life. You don’t really have things distracting you and it’s peaceful and quiet, even with the baby. If I still had that eating problem, I would be like, “Oh good, I’m having a baby, I can eat more” or I might not wanna gain weight during my pregnancy or freak out over the weight gain. Now I just want to gain weight within a healthy range. If I’m hungry, I eat. If not, I don’t eat. The eating was only one thing — I think it was an escape to something else, like it stemmed from feeling you’re not good enough, or something I didn’t want to face.
Sounds like this pregnancy has been really good for you.
It taught me not to just focus on myself, ’cos I have to care about another life inside me. With the eating disorder, the problem was I became too self-absorbed. But when you stop thinking about yourself and your problems and stop to care about someone else, that’s when things start to get better. Also, the baby’s due date is my birth date. I don’t like to share birthdays ’cos I want more days of celebration, [but I think the baby is teaching me how to share]. Before the baby, a lot of things were really wrong. Even my bowel movements were irregular, and my face was bloated. If you see pictures of me in Mata Mata 3, looking at my face, you’d think I was fatter then, but I was maybe only 43 to 44kg, actually way thinner than now. A low weight doesn’t mean u look thin, you know?
Was it the sugar that caused the bloating?
Yes. I just wanted eat sweet things. I did a blood test and the doctor told me I had to stop eating like that. Sugar makes your body go crazy. The bingeing on sugar and then the absence of it is really a double whammy to your body. I had loss of period and ketones in my urine and if I carried on, possibly a fatty liver. My blood sugar level was quite high at one point — it was almost pre-diabetic levels. I was scared, but even then, I couldn’t change things. Dessert becomes a comfort, like I was using it fill a certain void or to suppress anger.
Ironically, you couldn’t stand eating sweet things during the first three months of your pregnancy.
I never felt so sick in my life! And the ironic thing is I love desserts and sweets so much. That’s why I say it’s almost like this baby saved my mind and my life. I’ve been trying to quit sugar for the longest time, and then, for the first three months, I just didn’t want to eat it. Now that I can eat it, I eat a bit, and it’s enough. Last time, I’d eat very irregular meals, like an apple for breakfast, and fish soup for lunch and dinner, with no rice. So I’m very hungry ’cos I’ve consumed less than a thousand calories, right? Now, I eat breakfast with carbs, like beehoon or macaroni soup or some yoghurt. For lunch, I’d eat rice with some soup and for dinner, I’d also eat rice. It really recalibrated what I knew about dieting — I used to think carbs are so bad. Now it’s like wahhhhh… I can finally eat carbs. I eat five meals a day now. I wake Roy up at 3am every night to eat. (Laughs) And that’s the right way to eat, also — to have many different small meals and eat carbs and whole grains and a mix of things. I’ve only put on 1kg a month so far in my pregnancy, and I’m eating a lot more now and hardly exercising. I used to over-exercise. Now I just walk and do yoga, and surprisingly, I’m not ballooning. I thought I would be so stressed [about the weight gain], but I’m in a very happy state ’cos I can accept how I look now.
You started Cheryl W Wellness & Weight Management two years ago. But at that time, you hadn’t resolved your own issues with weight.
Yes, you’re right... The first year was quite a struggle. We’re not a slimming centre — we are more like counselors and wellness coaches, sort of. Everyone knows how to lose weight, but we are like tuition teachers — you just need someone to journey with you. I focus on holistic wellness more than weight — things like coffee and ginger body scrubs and lymphatic drainage massages.
Isn’t it ironic, you trying to help others with weight issues when you were suffering yourself?
Yes it was a bit ironic. I wanted to give up so many times. From my mum’s business point of view, the idea works, with the wellness and the teas and all that. For my dad, it was like, “This thing of yours could jolly well be a better idea than your acting thing” and he also thought it was time for me to get into the family business. I subjected myself to all kinds of diets, and I know how dieting burns you. In a way it’s a good thing I went through all that, ’cos then I can share what I’ve learned with others.
You’re having a boy. Did you want a boy?
It doesn’t matter to me whether I have a boy or a girl first, ’cos I definitely want to have both eventually. I feel a boy and a girl will have different relationships with you. My mum jokes that having a boy is more secure. If you’re conservative, it’s natural to want to have a boy is to carry on the family name. We plan to have three kids, as we both grew up with three kids in the house. If we end up having three boys, then I guess it’s meant to be. Like Roy says, it’s not about whether a boy or a girl is more filial or can carry on the family name, but how you bring up the child.
Earlier, you mentioned that when your mum was pregnant with her third child, she wanted a boy so badly, she almost willed him into existence.
Yes! (Laughs) She already had my sister and I ,and when she was pregnant for the third time, she went for a scan and the doc told her it was a girl. She was like, “Cannot be! I prayed so hard!” And maybe she had a natural instinct about it. So she said, “Okay, I go and eat one round and pray about it.” And she came back, and it was really a boy! (Laughs)
Your son is going to live with you and your parents in their house. Do you think his grandparents will spoil him?
My mum said, “Don’t worry, I won’t spoil your son. ’Cos I’ve already spoiled my own son!”(Laughs) I don’t think my parents will spoil our son lah. I think Roy and I will bring up our kids the way our parents brought us up. Roy’s parents gave him a lot of freedom to explore different thing, like his tennis and all, and his father was a bit strict. For me, my mum is very fierce, which is good, ’cos you need to scare the kids sometimes. She was strict, but as long as you do your best, she’s okay. My dad is firm but loving — he loves us so much, like he’d physically hug us a lot. Roy looks up to his dad, who’s a dentist, and to my dad, too. He’s thankful he met me early in life, ’cos my dad is a very good dad. I mean, my mum is very inspiring, but my dad was the one who went for my ballet recitals and did the parent-teacher meetings. Roy says he’s good to me ’cos he learned from my dad.
For a lot of mothers, a concern is getting back in shape after the pregnancy. Given your past struggles with weight, are you worried about getting your figure back?
If I still had an eating disorder, it would be a big problem, but I really feel that in the past year, I can say I’ve overcome it. The baby really saved me. Now I eat better and healthier and sleep better. He saved my sanity and he saved my life. I can focus so much better at work now — I don’t have the sugar highs and lows.
How about showbiz — is that off the table for you?
No, no! That’s the reason I did Déjà Vu, Inc right after the wedding. I’m so happy now that showbiz is not my full time job, at least not for now. I appreciate it a lot more. I look back on moments when I took my showbiz career for granted, like maybe when I was filming Mata 3 and was so concerned about my weight, and not about the role. Now, I enjoy every opportunity and don’t think too far into the future. I don’t think performing will ever be out of my life — it’s in my blood. But now that I don’t have to do it for a living, everything is a bonus. And if you think I’m too fat or not talented in acting, then never mind, ’cos I’ve got something else. (Laughs)
Your wedding tea ceremony and banquet was lavish and heavily covered by the media. Some said it was too show-offish.
We really didn’t think it would be like that. (Laughs) It was all really beyond my dreams. I just enjoyed the wedding process. Whatever you do, there are people who will like you, but there are people who won’t. If people think I’m showing off, let them — I can’t control what they think. We had our own photographer and videographer, but my friend’s friend wanted to help with the pics and do some behind the-scenes shots for us to keep, and do an Instagram takeover of my account @weecheryl. And his videos and photos were so nice, so I said just post on my account, no need to check with me for approval first. So that’s why [the pics were nice and put up on social media almost instantly, where the media picked upon it and covered the wedding extensively]. But other than a few small things, Roy paid for everything — from the dinner to the flowers and my gown. He’s very independent and he told me it would be his dream to pay for the wedding of my dreams with his own money. He said that my parents were not that young and he didn’t want to take money from them. I felt very touched.
He sounds like an amazing guy. Lucky you!
I was very proud of him — he emptied his bank account for the wedding. He’s very simple and he doesn’t overthink things, yet he’s a very confident person. ’Cos he not only has to marry me, but my entire family as well, and he has to live with my parents. My mother said, “You want to get married? Can. But you have to live in my house, for seven to 10 years.” He said okay. It’s not easy, you know, I’m sure he wants to have his own life also. He really grounds me. And he’s the one who kept telling me to do wedding stuff — he made appointments for me with Vera Wang and other bridal places in London, and you have to pay for appointments in London. Now, he’s like, “We need to buy baby things, like for the stroller, we must get Stokke and Bugaboo, ”and I’m like, “What is that?” (Laughs) I don’t know anything! Thankfully, he will read and find things out.
How does he feel about his life being quite public now? After all, he married an actress who also has a famous mother.
I don’t think my mum planned on being so famous. When she was working, she just cut hair endlessly. She went through very tough times when her family was even thrown out of the house. When she was pregnant with me, she was still cutting hair, ’cos if she stops, there’s no income. And her water bag burst when she was about to give birth to me, and she still wanted to finish cutting the customer’s hair. She didn’t even think of herself, she just knew she had to feed her brother and sisters and my grandparents, and now, a new family. She put some of my uncles and aunties through tertiary education, and she herself never went to university. After she gave birth to me, 12 days later, she went back to work. Until today, she works non-stop. It’s not like she doesn’t want to be a motherly mother, but she says she wants us all to have the best.
So Roy is fine with living a life in the public eye now.
He understands that all this comes along with my job, and he’s quite okay. To join my family, you have to be confident. We are boisterous and opinionated, we meet Monday to Sunday and we are together all the time. He has to get through not just my mum and dad but my uncles and aunties. If he can survive that… I guess he can get through anything! (Laughs)
So when you say, “Let’s make a video and put it on Instagram to announce our pregnancy”, he’s fine and enjoys playing along.
It’s fun for him lah. Actually, he acted before me, you know! He acted in a short film with Aileen Tan as his mother or something. He was a child model — he modelled a lot more than me! Like he was in ads for McDonald’s and OshKosh B'gosh. (Laughs)
Are you ready for your life to change forever? Like, now you can’t decide to just go out for dinner when you feel like it.
I guess that all along, I never had the life that most young people have, like you said, just go out for dinner. Because it’s never just go for dinner — sometimes for things like Valentine’s Day, my mum would be like, “I wanna come along.” My parents are just very used to being very involved. Yes, we celebrate Valentine’s together. We never had the freedom to do whatever we wanted, like decide to go for a holiday and just go. We always had commitments.
Then I guess you’re well prepared to meet this baby in April!
I mean, it hasn’t really hit me yet! Though now I can feel him moving inside me, so literally, he’s already hit me. (Laughs) I can’t come to terms with being called a mum yet. It’s like a mum is like an older woman, like my mum or my aunties. Sometimes, I feel like a kid myself — I make mistakes, I say and do the wrong things, I’m not aware of so many things… how can I be a mum!!? Maybe I can be the kid’s friend, or an older sister. My sister and brother will say I was more like a mother to them than my mother, ’cos our mum was always working. I’m very fierce to them and I’m the one who would scold them, “Why didn’t you turn off the light or air-con?” And if my brother was ill-disciplined, I’d get more agitated than my mother! So part of me is like, I’ve been doing it all my life, but part of me feels like a kid also! (Laughs)