Snakes and ladders, one of the most simple board games children play. Sadly for some, they never get to play them. More tragic for their mums, they don't get to watch their kids play.
I was reading Hurting Hope by Charles and Joanne Hewlett. I got the book on Sunday. I think of my friend Ellen Hope, who is thinking of baby Addison's death around this time. Addison is not her first to die, her first, Avery's death was why I got to know her.
I think of another person who will be scattering her son's ashes. A close friend tells me that they are taking his ashes back to the islands. Who would have thought a healthy teenager would be returning to his roots in a vase?
Would you terminate your unborn baby if he has a pre-birth lethal problem?
My answer is "I don't know". My personal testimony makes me convince that this is not a Yes or No answer.
22 years ago, I gave birth to a gravely sick baby. Because the doctors didn't know his problem, they aided in his first breath, otherwise he would have died shortly after his birth. He lived for almost two months, and I watched over him everyday waiting for him to die.
Would it have been helpful if I was told? In hindsight, the doctors would have known about my baby's problems from the numerous ultra sound scans I had since I was sixteen weeks pregnant. Because he had such a rare syndrome, they did not pick it up.
But what if they had, how would it have helped me. Abortion is not an option for my religion. A personal friend said, it would be terrible for a woman to go through labor knowing she was delivering a baby who was going to die. At least I was spared of that. However, if I was told, at least I would be mentally prepared.
It took me a long time to recover from my loss. I often ask myself, what if I have known, and asked the doctors not to resuscitate him when he was born, he would have died shortly after he was born, would my grief be less. Sometimes I tell myself yes, I didn't have to wait painfully everyday for two months for his demise and feel his pain. But on the other hand, I had that two months to hold him and love him.
Each woman's situation is different, some opt for a quick fix like therapeutic termination. But they are unaware that all terminations have side effects and they affect the women for the rest of their lives.
This is an excerpt from my book. This is a real case scenario. A mother carried her twin babies to full term. Ome was very sick and one was normal. The mother chose not to abort the sick baby in case the procedure affected the "good" baby. After delivering the babies, she went home with the "good" baby and left the sick baby to die.
Do you remember Dr Bobby Tsang? He was our friend who told me about this twin who was abandoned by her mum on the day. Baby Lo had spina bifida and had hydrocephalus. She was in Nursery 5, the cubicle just before Andrew’s. The cubicles were partitioned on the top by glass and her cot was diagonally across from Andrew. I could see Lo’s cot from my chair and the nurses didn’t mind me popping over to see poor Lo because she had no visitors. Like Sina, the fluid was building up some much that the head was very big. Unlike Sina, she had no operation to insert the shunt to drain the fluid to relieve the pressure. You might think she was a space alien or ET. Lo was just waiting like our little Andrew. The only difference was that Andrew was surrounded by love and lots of people. Lo had that wait alone. Andrew and Lo were the two oldest babies there and were “hopeless” babies.
Each time I felt moody, the doctors and nurses told me to look up across to poor Lo and reassured me that I was a very loving mum and Andrew and the whole hospital knew it. Indeed, just looking at her gave me this warm fuzzy feeling. I did not abandon Andrew. I wasn’t self-justifying or glorifying myself. When you are in a disastrous situation, you cling to anything that gives you hope.
When I went back to the hospital to say thank them after Andrew had died, I asked how Lo was. Though her mum had abandoned her to die, she still came to give her four woollen gowns. Most of the times she came in for a fleeting visit to pick up her soiled woollen gowns. They needed to be hand-washed and the hospital would not wash for her. I had seen her couple of times and I asked the nurses who she was. They told me she was Lo’s mum.
What’s the profile of a mother who abandons her dying baby? Was she a grotesque person or an ogre? She was a slightly older Pakeha, not a young mum. No, she was your ordinary person who made her choice of not wanting her dying baby. Her reason, only she knew. But I think I had a good idea. She didn’t want to form an attachment and when the tragic time finally happened, the separation wouldn’t be so painful. Besides, God had given her a healthy twin. I am not quick to judge people now. She was also a kind woman. She told the nurses to give the knitted gowns that Lo had outgrown to another baby. Or was it? Was it that she didn’t want anything to do with things used by Lo? You wouldn’t know.
Andrew wore Lo’s hand me down knitted lemon gown to meet his coroner. Her head had grown too big for her to pull the gown over it. His nurse Daphne gave it to Andrew.
Lo’s short life impacted me in a way that nobody would understand. God put Lo in my life to gently remind me that I am not a failure. She constantly told me that I was a good mum, I did not abandon Andrew the way her mum had abandoned her.
During the Christmas holidays, Dr Bobby Tsang came to our house and told me that Lo had gone to play with Andrew in the Heavenly gardens. No more pain, no more big head. He said he knew I would want to know.
Gruelsome isn't it. But here is one that is worst.
Tragic mix-up in which a baby was mistakenly aborted in Melbourne will be investigated
- The Australian
- November 25, 2011