Saturday, May 28, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: Testimony

Tonight, I made a special friend. Janice was calling the Powhiri (The traditional Maori welcome) to our visiting Fijian visitors. Then she explained the Hongi, generally known as the rubbing of noses, and the breathe of life. She explained if a baby is born without the breath, you smack it's bottom. In the hongi the ha, or breath of life, is exchanged and intermingled.

What she didn't know was seated at the back of the auditorium was me, who was impacted by this message, and modified my talk.

The title of my talk was Free to share.

Every year, nearly 600 babies are stillborn or die within 28 days of birth in New Zealand. Their parents do not feel free to share that they are bereaved because people just don't talk about it.

I was born in Borneo to a Chinese family. If I had remained in Borneo, I would be shackled by tradition. I would not have the freedom to share my story.

When I was in primary school, my aunt had her baby in the hospital. The baby died. Nobody was allowed to mention this baby. My mum paid $20 to a trishaw man to take the baby away to be disposed off as garbage.

The Chinese are shackled by this sad belief. They think that if a baby dies, his spirit will return to his mother and dwell in the body of her next baby. The next baby will die and the cycle goes on and on. If you give him a funeral, it makes it attractive to come back. But if you pretend that he was never born and treated a rubbish, he won't come back. You will bear healthy babies in future.

During the Powhiri, Janice Thomson talked about babies and the breathe of life. 21 years ago, on 29 Sept 1989, my baby son Andrew was born. He did not have the breathe of life even when he was smacked on his bottom. The doctors said he was dying that night. Amazingly, I had to wait 55 days. Long enough to love him. The wait was heart wrenching and I do not wish it on anyone.

On Good Friday, I launched my book. It covers my journey, the kindness of the post natal doctors and nurses, and sadly my disappointment and anger with the ante natal doctors.

When I went to my mother-in-law's house, I suffered the same fate as my aunty. My mother in-law told me to forget Andrew, burn his photos and get pregnant quickly. How could I?

I share my testimony publicly. Because you never know if it will impact someone and comfort them, or if some one will come and comfort me.

I survived because God sent friends/community to give me practical help, moral and spiritual support. He sent Olwyn who was always there for me.

God sent me his Holy Spirit as my comforter. I remember the Bible Verses I had memorised. These verses came to my mind in situations when I needed help. Assurance O f Answered prayer John 16.24 Assurance of victory 1 Cor 10:13

What had I gained from this excruciating experience?
An empathy for others, an ability to comfort.
A touching testimony to bring people to the Lord.
A reminder to myself that God had been great during my worst case scenario. God will continue to be with me.

In short, the good news is God did not fore sake me, and I did not reject God.

I wrote this book to inspire you, to tell you from experience that during trails and tribulations, Proverbs 3:5-6 is very real. Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Janice came to sit beside me after the Powhiri, we briefly whispered before my talk. After my talk, she whispered that she too belongs to the exclusive club, the club nobody wants to belong too. See my synopsis. During dinner, a couple of women came up and said they too, are members of that club.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Diary of bereaved mother

Knitting was what I did as therapy during my bereavement. isn't the jumper stunning? People, strangers came up and asked me where I bought it. They couldn't believ that I knitted it. Then they offered to buy it or commission me to make one for them.

I told them, my knitting was not for sale. As each knit or purl I made, I thought of Andrew. Deborah loved wearing it. The pink skirt was part of a set. I sewed that too.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Diary of a bereaved mother: News exposure.

I asked Kelly if I could take a photo of her, and she said she wasn't used to being photographed. I wish I had done a good photo and showed you her big camera.

This is Rebecca who did my interview.
I was very happy when the reporter from The Aucklander rang to say she wanted to do a feature article on me and my book. I didn't want them to come to my house as it is messy so I asked my deputy principal if they could come to school. She said yes, and I could use my colleague's room as mine was busy during lunch time. Another said I could use her as it is more suitable.
My principal Sandra let me use her. I am so thankful.

The Aucklander was the best Community paper in 2008 and 2009. It comes out on Thursdays with the New Zealand Herald. The Herald is New Zealand's leading metropolitan newspaper.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: Hospital Angels

This was Andrew's Dutch Physiotherapist, Majolien who persisted in coaching Andrew to feed, and devised an elaborate feeding plan.

Dr Bobby Tsang was not only Andrew's doctor, he was our personal friend. Here he was at the garden of the Corbetts with Ling Ling his wife, taken during a farewell party for us as we were leaving for Singapore. Bobby, You are the best.

Daphne, Andrew's favourite Day nurse. She was nursing until last year, and I wish I had gone to the hospital to see her earlier. I am happy she is now married. I gave my book to Nurse Janny to pass it to her. Daphne is what the Chinese would call, " Money can't buy." She had two Polaroid photos taken, and she gave them to me later when we had left ICU.

The hospital is now here. I went back and had a tour guided by Doctor Aftimos.

the theme for May 13 is in honor of Nurses. May 11th is Nurses Day. So show us your medical personal, nurses, doctors, helpers, hospitals, doctor offices of your town.

Now the calendar I have next to my computer has May 11th as Nurses Day. When I tried to find info on it, I found a National Nurses Week tribute, all with different dates. ?? It is celebrated from May 6 to the 12th.
National Nurses Day, also known as National RN Recognition Day, is always celebrated on May 6th and opens National Nurses Week. National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, the birth date of Florence Nightingale.

The history of Nurses Day can be traced back to 1953 when Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower to proclaim a "Nurse Day" in October of the following year. The proclamation was never made, but the following year National Nurses Week was observed from October 11 – 16, marking the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's mission to Crimea.

In 1989, I "lived" 55 days in the ICU at the national women's hospital in Auckland New Zealand. My son Andrew was born with a fatal syndrome called Campomelic dysplasia . The nurses, doctors, social workers were ministering angels. I published my book

Unfortunately I didn't take many photos of the ward and the doctors and nurses.


To doctors Andrew James, Simon Rowley and Salim Aftimos

All the caring nurses, physiotherapists and staff at Ward 11A in National Womens’ Hospital back in 1989

Wendy Green

Rev. Don and Olwyn Dickson

They are part of the Hospital life of my late son Andrew.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: Brina Vlassic

Brina was our next door neighbour. I went to went her on Friday. She is the bestest neighbour you can find. When you read my book, right from Chapter one, you will know why.

But by the time we got ready, waking Deborah and Gabrielle and sending them to our neighbour Brina’s house and making all the necessary telephone calls to arrange for the girls for the day, it was almost 8 am.

I made reference to Brina a lot. She too, is a bereaved mother.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: Ministering Angels

My book is out, I am invited to have a short talk at the Auckland and New Zealand's Baptist women's annual gathering. I will be given a table to sell my book.

I will be featuring the wonderful people who helped me walk my difficult journey.

This is Don and Olwyn Dickson. Don was the minister at the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle. Olwyn was with me when Andrew "died" that first time, Don was with me with Andrew was struggling. Olwyn said, I am available 24/7, and she said,"I am your mum now." ( My mum had died 20 months earlier)

Last year I posted in my Friday Shootout for my thankful post. /fso-thankful-don-and-olwyn-dickson.html. God has blessed Olwyn for her elegant look. Twenty years had passed, she looks the same.