Kobe Neoh was born in the afternoon of 31st March 2020, right in the middle of Malaysia\u2019s Movement Control Order (MCO) when the country was in the throes of a lockdown, and when anxiety and frustration reigned supreme. Kobe, named after the late basketball star Kobe Bryant, is the first child of Kelly Teh and Kevin Neoh \u2500 a Project Director in a technology agency, and a Licensed Financial Planner with a financial planning firm, respectively. As if struggling with the stresses of handling a new born and first-time parenthood were not enough, the coronavirus pandemic and MCO up-ended Kevin and Kelly\u2019s well-laid birth plans and put barriers to their access for support at a time when they needed it most. Born in the Midst of a Pandemic and a Lockdown A star is born. It\u2019s written on his shirt. Their son was due to be born on 27th March. During the final ante-natal checkup on 25th March, their doctor had told them that if their baby still hadn\u2019t arrived by his due date, they had better change their original birth path to a C-Section. They set the date for 31st March. Malaysia was at the time, coming to the end of Phase One of the MCO which had started on March 18 and Phase Two would see things tightening up even more. \u201cWe were very anxious about the how things were going to be as during that time, news was being circulated about road-blocks and the high number of cases,\u201d relayed Kevin, mentioning that the level of uncertainty at hospitals at the time was also not clear as policies were \u201cchanging on a day-to-day basis\u201d. So, born via C-Section at Sunway Medical Centre Velocity in Kuala Lumpur, Kobe Neoh Khai Cheng weighed in at a healthy 3.745Kg, but he had to be birthed by his mother alone among strangers, and he was born without his father welcoming him as he entered this world. Barred from Being There for Mum and Baby Reunited at last, Kelly (left) and Kevin with their son in one of their first family photos. In the beginning, Kevin was told that he would be allowed in the operating theatre but then he was also told to be prepared to be disallowed as other hospitals had already begun disallowing visitors \u2500 including husbands. \u201cSo you can imagine the level of anxiety,\u201d he recounted, adding that he reminded himself not to panic or be stressed out by what they could not control. On the 28th of March, just three days before the scheduled C-Section, their gynae\u2019s nurse informed them that they would have to take the Covid-19 test, or else, Kevin would be denied entry to witness the life defining moment of the birth of his child. \u201cWe rushed to the hospital to take the test and we were grateful and relieved that the team there said they would help us escalate the results as they knew how imperative it was for us to have these results.\u201d Unfortunately, their relief was short-lived. "The test results did not come as hoped, even right up to the day we were checking in, right until 1.30pm when the planned C-Section was due at 2pm. Kelly and I took turns following up with calls for the test results until the final moment. \u00a0Without the test results, there would be nothing I could do to build my case as to why it would be unsafe for me to be in the operating theatre. Even our gynae helped to call at the eleventh hour but the result just would not make itself available to us. Hence, I was denied entry at the sliding door to the operating theatre.\u201d Longest One Hour The nurse, however, reassured him that everything would be fine. He would just have to wait in front of the nursery on another floor. So, left alone and waiting out there, Kevin said: "This was the longest one hour in my\u00a0 life for me. \u201cI couldn\u2019t stop myself from worrying,\u201d he rued, and after what seemed like forever, he finally got the good news that his baby was born. He was immensely relieved. As for the test result, Kelly and Kevin eventually got it. It was a Negative but they received it only a day after their son was born and safely in their arms. In hindsight, Kevin does say that the hospital did a good job. The family had a safe and peaceful delivery, and they are grateful to the doctors, nurses, and everybody else including cleaners and security guards who risked their own lives and worked diligently for them to have a pleasant birth journey. Second Set Back Kevin, carrying two huge warmer bags of confinement food for his wife that had just been delivered by the confinement food service provider. Coming out of the hospital, the new family was supposed to have checked into a confinement centre. Kelly and Kevin had earlier made arrangements to get their new born and mum\u2019s confinement needs taken care of by experts. But suddenly, on the 27th of March, due to the extension of\u00a0 the MCO, all plans went awry. The confinement centre was asked to stop their operations to comply with MCO and Kevin and Kelly suddenly found themselves shut out of the centre and left high and dry. Plan B \u201cWe made a quick decision to change plans. Instead of seeking help in a confinement centre where we couldn\u2019t be sure of the changing rules of the MCO, we decided to change the confinement venue to our home and get confinement food delivered to us instead. So with confinement now being at home, I would become the Confinement Daddy and play the supportive role of doting hubby instead.\u201d Switching gears was not a problem for either of them. Earlier on, they had scouted around for a contingency plan when they were deliberating on which plan to choose. One of the plans was opting for confinement at home where a confinement food service provider would provide the meals instead. With confinement meals settled, now at least one part of postnatal care could be taken care of, leaving time for the couple to learn the other parts, such as hands-on day-to-day babycare and breastfeeding which they would have to master from scratch. As for the food, Kevin said he paid RM3,388 for two set meals for lunch and dinner a day for 28 days and so far, he says the service has been good. Each set would comprise of two dishes and one brown rice, where one of the dishes would always be premium like getting salmon or whole fish or a whole pot of pork knuckle. The meals are breastfeeding-friendly too as there are lactation cookies provided. They would also be served two litres of red dates tea as well as two herbal soups and one teatime dessert. Sometimes, the red dates tea would be changed to Japanese black rice drink so that it wouldn\u2019t be too heaty. The confinement food, all set out for lunch and dinner with flasks filled with herbal soups and teas. Unexpected Hitches But while they were happy with the meal plan, Kevin said that with the switch of confinement venues, there were still many other matters that needed to be sorted out immediately. \u201cWhen we decided to book into a confinement centre, we initially thought we could put off buying some items until Kobe was well into his first month. But with confinement now at home, we realised we would need all those items immediately. So I rushed out to buy. Of course, we followed the same disinfection protocol and safety precautions we had observed for the last one month-plus before Kobe\u2019s arrival \u2500 such as washing hands frequently, wearing mask in public places, changing clothes and showering immediately upon reaching home, sanitizing the front door, keys, wallets, plus wiping and cleaning everything in between. If before we were obsessed with disinfection, now with a little baby in the house, this increased in intensity and frequency as we became even more \u2018paranoid\u2019.\u201d Upholding Father\u2019s Role All smiles even in his sleep. Little Kobe had to go back to hospital for phototherapy treatment due to jaundice but all is well now. \u201cA father\u2019s role is quite simple,\u201d he answered when asked the question. \u201cI support mother, and also provide for baby\u2019s demand for changing diapers, patting him to sleep and so on. It hasn\u2019t been easy but luckily for us, my mother is around to help out. \u201cOn the fifth day, we had to bring baby back to hospital to check on his bilirubin level to test for neonatal jaundice. He had to receive phototherapy treatment and stay the night. My wife requested to stay in as a lodger while I continued my role as the supply run and delivery specialist. \u201cIn the first few days, our boy hardly slept. We brought him to the pediatrician to check if there was anything we should be worried about. Luckily, he has begun to sleep soundly now as he is settling into his new environment.\u201d Settling in to a New Normal The family settling in and adjusting to the new normal in the age of COVID-19. With order slowly coming back to the Neoh household, and with COVID 19 beginning to show signs of abating in Malaysia, what can Kevin say about becoming a first-time father in these dangerous and unprecedented times? \u201cLife Goes On,\u201d he replied rather philosophically. \u201cWe can let the circumstances around us dictate how we should live, or we can continue to live life based on our terms by taking precaution and adapting to our new circumstances." And with the grimness and devastation of COVID-19 becoming all too apparent to everyone \u2500 not just in terms of health but also in one's financial well-being, Kevin said it is clear that parents should ensure that their financial foundation is sound from the get-go. "As can be seen from this outbreak and MCO, having an emergency fund is crucial. People are seeing their jobs disappear, business owners may have no choice but to end their business ventures and so on. Some employees may still get to keep their jobs, but may have to take a pay-cut. When this happens, the ones who have a high debt-servicing ratio will find their situation much more difficult to handle. Making sure our financial health is kept in check may not be as crucial as keeping our physical health in order but in my opinion as a Licensed Financial Planner, the two are equally as important.\u201d He mentioned that to date, Kobe has yet to register with Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN) because the national registry is closed for the duration of MCO. \u201cWe will have to wait until things become clearer then only can we register the birth of our son.\u201d Kevin is of course, not too unduly worried about this although he advised that when a child does not have a birth certificate, it would be impossible for parents to buy medical insurance to protect him. \u201cHowever, if you have planned sufficiently during the pregnancy phase, and you are currently under gestation week 35, you can still apply for pre-natal insurance so that your baby is covered as soon as he or she is born. This of course, is subject to terms and conditions of your insurance policy." Life Goes On. We can let the circumstances around us dictate how we should live, or we can continue to live life based on our terms by taking precaution and adapting to our new circumstances. Some insurance companies have responded accordingly to the situation, he added, and recently, one or a few of them have announced that babies without their myKID number may now be covered by insurance so long as the parents provide the same name that will be registered with JPN when MCO is lifted later. \u201cIt is also important for parents to ensure that we have planned for the worst. The unthinkable can happen, as can be seen from this COVID-19 outbreak. One or both parents might have to leave this world sooner than we\u2019d like to. \u201cI look at my 17 day-old-son and I cannot imagine what would happen to him if I suddenly had to go. While we cannot prevent this, we can prepare for what will happen if it does happen. It is important for parents to have a valid Will, appoint a guardian in addition to both husband and wife (since we can both pass away), and ensure that we have sufficient life insurance coverage for our children as they need to have food on the table to grow up.\u201d Luckily, said Kevin, since all of this is deeply related to his profession, both Kelly and he have made all necessary preparations. \u201cSo now we can have peace of mind and focus on being parents.\u201d All images courtesy of Kevin Neoh. For more stories on Lockdown Births, Coronials and Parenthood during a Pandemic, don\u2019t forget to visit Motherhood.com.my.