Here at HoneyKids Asia we’re kind of a nosey bunch, so we love tracking down cool parents and getting the lowdown on their lives. This time around we’ve been speaking to Nadine Linneberg, mummy-of-one and co-founder of awesome vertical gardening systems, Aerospring, about her difficult labour, her red-haired cutie and her realisation that hangovers + a baby = no fun at all.
Tell us a little (or a lot!) about yourself…
I was born and raised in Singapore to a Singaporean mother and a German father. I attended the German School Singapore, which has now evolved into the much larger GESS. After finishing the school’s inaugural apprenticeship program where I was working for a German company whilst attending business school classes, I jumped at the first chance to leave Singapore and spent the next six years in Sydney.
I started off my career as a production manager in a graphic design agency which specialised in presentation graphics and large run print projects. I then moved to New York in 2001, and worked in a variety of interesting jobs including construction project management before I found my calling as a video editor. A friend had a spare Avid editing suite and I learned the ropes by spending hours on the machine compiling selects for actor/model showreels, events, weddings and a small documentary project.
When I returned to Singapore in 2008, I continued a career in TV and video production until I was tasked to start up a content marketing agency called Brand New Media. Those were exciting years: we launched an online health channel called ‘Healthy Me TV’ backed by the Health Promotion Board of Singapore as well as a supermarket food channel called ‘Food for Life’ which was sponsored by Fairprice.
I left the company in 2015 to start Aerospring Gardens with my husband Thorben. We had started gardening as a hobby and were growing our own food in a prototype system he had devised. We were so wildly successful at urban farming with his invention that we decided to leave the corporate world and start manufacturing them. When we started, we knew nothing about plants, but today, with over a 1000 systems sold, we’re proud to see how many of our customers have become accomplished gardeners.
Tell us about your little girl and how she came into the world
Liva is now 10 months old and to our great surprise, has red hair! Neither of us have red hair, and neither does anyone else in the family. Apparently it’s a recessive gene which has expressed itself and made her into a little carrot top.
During labour, unfortunately, the birth didn’t go according to plan, and I had to have an emergency c-section. Things got very scary after she was delivered: I developed a very rare complication called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) and started bleeding out faster than they could transfuse me.
I awoke the next morning with breathing tubes down my throat, all kinds of IV lines inserted into major veins and wasn’t able to see my little girl for six days while I recovered in the ICU and HD ward. I was very fortunate to be in the hands of a very experienced doctor who recognised the condition, and to be in a hospital with the facilities and experts to cope with this complication. Suffice to say, I am lucky to be alive, and we are blessed for Liva to have arrived without any health issues.
How has becoming a mum changed you as a person?
Because of the traumatic birth, I’ve realised that I can’t control anything in life. I’ve learned to roll with the punches better and try to enjoy each day as it comes as nothing is guaranteed. I used to be a prolific planner, and always needed a plan to execute any project or task, but now I am letting every day happen and no longer get upset with a lack of planning. It’s inspired me to be a better person: to be gentler and kinder to myself and those around me.
What things have surprised you most about becoming a mum?
The immense love I feel for her surprised me because it feels very different to the love I have for family, friends and even my husband. It’s an incredible feeling to look into her eyes and feel all jello with love. I guess this is what’s called unconditional love. I’ve also developed a patience and a calmness that has surprised those around me. All of a sudden, I have this little being in my arms who’s completely dependent on me and is unable to communicate in words what she wants when she’s distressed. Being calm in those moments when I have no idea what she wants or what to do is crucial!
Is Thorben a hands on kinda dad? How is he coping with it all?
Thorben has earned plenty of brownie points by being very hands on. He’s been happy to change diapers, take on the late shift when she stirs at night, make bottles and keep her entertained when I need a moment to myself. He’s wanted to be a dad for such a long time and has completely embraced parenthood. He can’t wait to get home to see her and he gushes every time he speaks about her. He’s been an absolute superstar dad and husband in our first year as parents and I am so very grateful for the support he lends.
Share a funny story about your parenting journey
We spent New Year’s Eve with friends in Thailand and decided to let our hair down that night by indulging in many alcoholic beverages, and ended up going to bed very late, way after the clock struck midnight. This was most definitely an amateur parenting mistake… both of us managed an hour or two of sleep before Liva woke up, bright eyed, bushy tailed and wanting to be fed, entertained and amused. I have had some amazing hangovers in my life, but this one really took the cake: the responsibilities of parenthood hit me straight in the face that morning and it’s been a new year’s resolution since that day not to overindulge like that again!
How are you managing to juggle your company, Aerospring, with the demands of a small human?
We are very fortunate to have an amazing helper who we trust to look after our small human when we are at work. Liva has much more of a social life than we do including playgroups and daily outings to the playground! She certainly makes friends wherever she goes. I took a few months off after the birth to recover and nurse her, but when I returned to Aerospring, it was all systems go again as we prepared for the kickstarter campaign. We try to make it home before bath time so that we can spend an hour or so playing with her before she gets put to bed. Our retail store is open on weekends so we bring her in on Sundays and she’s been a delight to have in the shop.
We hear cool things about Aerospring’s new kickstarter campaign… tell us all about it
We’ve recently concluded a kickstarter campaign to launch Aerospring internationally. The campaign gave us the opportunity to spread our wings beyond Singapore and to introduce the Indoor System to the worldwide market, directly to the consumer. We sold over $130,000 worth of systems in 30 days and demonstrated the ability to sell the product online to people who have never seen it or met us. We’re really busy with the new production run right now and will be sending indoor and outdoor Aerosprings all over the world in June. In the meantime, we’re expanding our product line to include a solar panelled version so that you can go off-grid with the Aerospring.
And finally, what advice do you have for first-time-mums that you wish you had known?
All that matters is that the baby is fed, and it doesn’t matter how. I stressed myself out trying to breastfeed and carried on for as long as I could, but recovering from the birth made breastfeeding so difficult. She had a healthy appetite and I couldn’t keep up, so eventually I had to supplement with a bottle. I felt so guilty and inadequate for a while, but she soon started gaining weight and being less cranky. It was the best thing for her and for me when I think back on it now.
Also, make sure you and the baby are properly insured! Despite my penchant for planning, I expected the birth to be uneventful and never expected anything to go wrong. Luckily my insurance covered this rare complication in the deep fine print but I shudder to think if I hadn’t had coverage.
Photography: Nadine Linneberg
Like this story? Here’s more cool parents we’ve interviewed:
Madeleine Beale: three kids, no helper and the author of the Sarah Series
Valdir Rodrigues: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt champion
Shermaine Chngy: the truth about being a young mum in Singapore
Jacqui Lane: the secret to looking 37 when you’re 57!