Thursday, March 31, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: Foreword

Ann’s account of losing her infant son Andrew will resonate with anyone who has had the misfortune to give birth to a child who has struggled to live. As pastors at Ann’s church and as bereaved parents ourselves we felt for Ann through these recordings of her journal. These pages tell of the trauma she felt during the 55 days of sitting by Andrew’s side watching him struggle for breath, loving him but being helpless to save him. Although Ann’s loss occurred many years before we began our ministry at Mt Albert Baptist Church, there exists between us an indelible empathy that is experienced by those who have had to bury a much wanted and adored baby.

As a Christian woman and as an Asian woman, Ann’s journey with grief grants insight into the pillars that shape a soul; one’s faith and one’s culture. Her account is raw. There is no answer given for her loss, the pain is not neatly packaged. To be a grieving parent just hurts.

Ann sensitively gives her view on how friends and hospital staff alike can help rather than hinder those on their path of pain. She gives examples of both from her own experience, and shows how her own pain enabled her to speak into the grief of others to help them feel less alone.

The death of a child leaves you changed forever. The world feels less safe, less reliable. The walk of Christian faith becomes more beautiful, more achingly bitter-sweet. It is as if the sufferings of God have been entrusted to you.

You also understand to a greater degree our need for each other. We have found this true in our own lives and through this book Ann opens her arms and says, “I have been there too”.
We can give each other no greater comfort than this.

Robyn and Jonathan Dove
March 2011

Mt Albert Baptist Church
New Zealand

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Diary of a Bereaved Mother: Introduction


Cindy Farquhar, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Auckland, says the number of babies who are stillborn or die within four weeks of birth is higher than New Zealand's road toll, Funding for prenatal death support and research, to help reduce these deaths, is minimal in comparison to the millions poured into road safety campaigns, she said.

For every 1000 babies born in New Zealand, eight will be stillborn. One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Nearly 600 babies are stillborn or die within 28 days of birth in New Zealand every year. Many parents are bereaved in New Zealand, and in all over the world, but very few people talk about them.

This book is not just a sad saga, it is a book to help anyone struggling to cope with the loss of a child, in particular, a new born. The Genre is: Self Help/ death and dying/child’s death/survival It is a Read first, and then Act.

In my life game of “Survivor”, I emerged the winner; I didn’t emerge unscathed without forming alliance with caregivers and assistance from the medical personnel.

To the bereaved: You will read the various ways of how I grieved. You may like to act on some of them. Remember, everyone grieves differently. There is no right or wrong.

I found great solace to be found in reading another person's account of their tragedy and survival. In my association with others in my situation, they feel the same too. We also found others who suffer similar afflictions, derive consolation reading about others who suffered. I trust you will find a glimmer of hope after reading this book.

To the care givers: Do not try to distract the newly bereaved, do not avoid the topic. Instead allow him/her to talk her feelings. Just be there.

To the medical personnel: My personal experience with good doctors and not so good doctors will give you awareness and understanding of how to help the bereaved or soon to be bereaved person in your charge.

To the general reader: If you love reading non fiction, and also like to understand other cultures, I have included some aspects of the traditional Chinese culture on bereavement. This is a fusion of East and West. East, I was born to a Chinese family which had immigrated to Borneo more than one hundred years ago. West, because I have become a Christian and have lived in New Zealand for many years. My story reflects the multi cultural nature of the New Zealand community today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Diary of a Bereaved Mother : Synopsis.

From the conception of my first blog I had shared with you about my late son Andrew.

In October 2010, fellow blogger Ginny inspired me to write my book about having Andrew. Since then, I had shared with Betsy and George. They have been pivotal in encouraging me.

The book is almost done, my editor suggested that I post some parts of it and I welcome your comments.

This book is not just a soppy and maudlin story of my tragic life. This is non fiction, and the genre is: Self Help/ death and dying/child’s death/survival

The book is my journey of having a baby who died in Auckland National Womens' Hospital and suggestions to help bereaved parents, their care givers and doctors.

It has been edited: It is a wonderful account, written from the heart.

Comment:I know that no words can adequately express sympathy for this tragedy. You must be a very brave woman to come through this ordeal and write about it.

My pastors wrote this introduction in my Forward: Ann’s account of losing her infant son Andrew will resonate with anyone who has had the misfortune to give birth to a child who has struggled to live. As pastors at Ann’s church and as bereaved parents ourselves we felt for Ann through these recordings of her journal.

Here's the synopsis.

Synopsis: Your baby is dying - Diary of a bereaved mum.
In 1989, I was told. “Your new born baby is going to die tonight.”
The book covers my journey, the kindness of the paediatric doctors and nurses and sadly, my disappointment and anger with the obstetrics team of doctors.

Friends did not know whether to congratulate or commiserate us. Andrew did not die that night, he lived for 55 days. He had 7 apnoeas. He was declared dead after his first, but he bounced back. That was more excruciating than his actual death.
I loved him despite his sickness. I stayed with him everyday because, as a Chinese person, I wanted to be there to bid him the last farewell. This is deep in the Chinese culture that it is a saddest tragedy for a person to die alone. I stayed with him because I didn’t want to accuse myself of that I had abandoned him.

This book has been twenty one years in the making. Throughout my traumatic time, I kept a diary. This November on the 22nd will be his 21st anniversary. It is the right time for me to finish writing the book, or I might never do it. It is just as heart wrenching as the day I wrote my diary. I cry, as I revisit the agonizing days. I can’t believe how I could have written a nineteen foolscap page entry three days after Andrew’s birth.

This is a true account of my life. I also recount what I have done with my life after Andrew. Most of the information was from my diary, the rest was retrospective writing. All the people are real; I have changed some names so they can not be identified.

After Andrew, what have I done? Have I become a better person? These are but some of the things I am most proud of.

I spearheaded raising funds to separate a pair of Siamese twins from Nepal in Singapore. For 16 years, I raised funds for the Deaf Children in Kenya. I did the publicity, marketing, cooking and selling. When I lived in the Nanyang Technological University, I showed young mothers, caregivers and grand parents to have meaningful play with their charges through song, dances and story telling. I volunteered in schools helping with learning and reading recovery. I welcomed new comers to the campus.

In 2005, I joined Child Bereavement Support (Singapore). I had the advantage of both being an Asian who had lived in a Western Society and received a Western education. I am a member of the Campomelic Families. Campomelic Syndrome was what Andrew had. I comfort those newly bereaved parents.

I am an ESOL teacher teaching adult immigrants and children. This gives me a lot of opportunities to share my life story. I write of my experiences in my blogs and writers’ websites to bereaved parents. For we belong to the club of bereaved parents. Membership is not by choice but by force.

I give my testimony publicly. I shared of how my care group and my church showed their care and love. They were angels. They all helped me walk my difficult path. Today, I testify that God is good, God is great.

I write this book to inspire you, to tell you from experience that during trials and tribulation, Proverbs 3:5-6 is very real, Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Times change, feelings do not, and neither do emotions.

My book is timeless. It is as relevant now as in years to come. To the unfortunate mothers, I had walked that journey. To the loved ones, this book tells how you can help. To the doctors, this book gives good examples of what to do and what not to do, because I went through both.