Hong Huifang’s husband Zheng Geping might be starring in a Ch 8 show called Fifty and Fabulous, airing this June. But in upcoming Ch 8 drama Babies on Board, Huifang will be playing a woman who’s Fifty and Fabulous…ly Fertile. That’s right. Forget the image you have of Huifang as your friendly neighbourhood auntie. Come May, you will get to see a very different side of the 58-year-old.
In Babies, Huifang plays a 50-year-old single mum, who gets involved with a younger man against her 32-year-old daughter’s wishes and — gasp! — finds herself pregnant. The last time Huifang played a pregnant lady was… so long ago, we don’t even remember.
You may also know Huifang as the proud mum to two budding stars, Tay Ying, 21, and Calvert, 17. But what you probably don't know is that the actress has gone through her fair share of pregnancy woes that come with being an older mother.
8 DAYS: Your character in Babies on Board seems like new territory for you.
HONG HUIFANG: I haven’t acted as a pregnant woman in a very long time. These days, I keep playing someone’s grandma. It’s rare and refreshing that at [58 years old], I still can play a pregnant woman. The feeling of sporting a baby bump is quite shiok. (Laughs) But one very scary thing I learnt after filming this show is that older pregnant women face a lot of health risks, some of which are life-threatening. So I’d tell the youngsters, “If you want to give birth, don’t wait till you’re too old to do it ’cos it’s very dangerous.”
You yourself got pregnant at the age of 45.
I gave birth to my daughter [Tay Ying] at 36, and my son [Calvert] when I was 40. And I got pregnant [with my third child] at 45. But, maybe ’cos of my age, two months into my pregnancy, my baby’s heart stopped beating. I did many injections to try to save the baby. But I ended up having to abort it. I felt devastated for quite some time. I got pregnant the same time as Ivy [Lee] — she gave birth to twins. So every time I see her twins, I think, “If my kid were still around, he would be this big now.”
You also had a very tough time with both your pregnancies.
I had very bad morning sickness for both pregnancies. When I had Tay Ying, I vomited every day for four months. Once, I woke up feeling nauseous. I didn’t make it in time to the toilet, and ended up vomiting all over my bed. Geping was sleeping, and I didn’t wake him up. So I had to clean up my own vomit — I was cleaning and crying at the same time. (Laughs) Later on, I just placed a cushion on the toilet seat cover and slept next to the toilet bowl. With Calvert, I survived on only the 100Plus drink and cashew nuts every day for about four months ’cos I had lost my appetite from severe morning sickness. I was diagnosed with threatened miscarriage. So I had to do three hormone injections every week during my first trimester [to prevent a miscarriage]. It was very painful.
Despite all that suffering, you still wanted a third kid.
I’m afraid of loneliness. I’m scared that there will be no one by my side once my kids grow up. I remember [Australian singer] Olivia Newton-John once said that if you give birth to three or four kids, each a few years apart from each other, you’ll always have someone by your side. ’Cos after your older kids grow up and go through puberty, they’ll grow apart from you, but you’ll still have your younger ones by your side. And once your younger ones hit puberty, your older ones will come back and stick to you. Usually, that's what happens — when we’re older, we’ll start becoming more attached to our parents again. In that way, you won’t have empty nest syndrome — which is what I’m having now lor. (Laughs)
’Cos Calvert enlisted into the army recently…
And my daughter is in university and has her own friends. If my third kid were still around, he would be 12 years old now, so he’d still be by my side. So having more kids isn’t a bad thing.
You must have loved to work with the kids on this show then.
I acted with a baby in only one or two scenes. The baby was only a week old. In that scene, after I gave birth to the kid, I went into a coma. And they used that baby to try to wake me up. When I woke up and saw the baby, I thought he was very cute and I liked him. So I said, “Eh, can I don’t give the baby back to his mother? Can I bring the baby home?” (Laughs)
Babies on Board debuts May 7, on Ch 8, 9pm.
PHOTOS: CHEE YAN/EALBERT HO/CH 8