Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: Chapter 5 part 1

Chapter 5

11th October 1989 Time-line

Beware of what you put pen to paper,
For when it is in black and white,
You can’t deny what you had written.
It may come back to bite you.

After Andrew survived his 10 days, I started to doubt the doctors. I remember reading the Readers’ Digest stories about mothers who defeated all odds and saved their loved ones. I thought to myself I did not fight for him like those mothers in the Readers’ Digest. Here I was, nothing but a loser who gave up so easily, unlike the heroic mums I read about. Now I wanted to fight for him. I asked myself if I could cope if he lived on and couldn’t eat solids, couldn’t crawl, couldn’t move and worst, if he was intellectually handicapped. I rationalised that if those mothers could do it, so could I. I said God would work a miracle, and Andrew would become a complete child.
It’s 7.55am, the girls are in the crèche. The nurse told me that at 4am, Andrew had cyanosed, which meant he had turned blue with discoloration of the skin, fingernails, and mucous membranes caused by gasping for air for 10 minutes. It happened half an hour after his feed.

We were in a meeting in the medical library. I told Dr James that I had changed my mind. I wanted full medical intervention. He touched my hands and told me those Readers’ Digest mothers were different. If Andrew had any glimmer of hope, Dr James would fight together with me to get him well. But Andrew in all aspects had no hope of survival. I told CO too, and he reacted the same way. I was really confused.

CO said he didn’t have the strength to take care of a handicapped child even if he wasn’t so severely handicapped as Andrew. It was like a bucket of ice cold water had been poured on my head and dampened any hope I had.

Andrew had not spilled since his 9 am feed after they reduced his feed. But in the afternoon, he cyanosed again. The nurse was experienced and gave him a dummy half way through the feed. He got upset again. Then the nurse stopped his feed to get him to settle. I fed him again when he settled again. He got upset again and cyanosed. The nurse said to stop feeding for the moment, and she would top it up. She gave him a sedative in the tube. This nurse Jane was very experienced. I had not seen other nurses doing it. Using the dummy became part of his routine. This dummy is made of soft rubber which is different from the shop bought one.

I wanted to stay in Ward 11A that night. Nurse Jane was very understanding. No mother who sees her baby cyanosed is not affected by it. I touched his mop of hair. I wanted my mum. I wanted her to tell me it was alright. But Mum is buried across the ditch in Australia. Mum was there when my eldest sister gave birth to her oldest child. Mum was there when my second sister gave birth to her daughter. I thought of the Chinese song that mum used to teach us, titled “Mum is the best.”

I taught my niece Emily to sing this song and she dedicated it to my brother Charles. It is a lovely song.

Mommy's the only dearest in the world

You can click on this link to hear it.


  1. I see you are going through the stages of grief?? And without your mom, and without a really understanding and supporting husband. Of course he was hurting too. I have read many times that the death of a little child will break up a marriage, many are not strong enough to handle it. I guess it either brings you closer together or you separate.

  2. You are right, my grief started the moment I was told that he was dying that first day when he was born. I mourned for that healthy baby I never had.

    Throughout the grueling time, Olwyn, my pastor's wife kept reminding me that men and women grieve differently. If I bore that in mind, I could be in the right prospective.

    So here we are 32 years married, 21 years bereaved parents. God was the glue that held us together.

    Now he is the one helping me in the formatting of my book.

  3. amendment:

    Now he (my husband) is the one helping me in the formatting of my book and my 14 year old son Sam.