Saturday, December 31, 2011

New members to the Bereaved parents club:Darrin and Rachael West

A little tree has been chopped down before it has a chance to grow. Rest in peace Jackson.

This new year, a couple will not be rejoicing. I do not know them personally, but I know them by default. They have joined the Bereaved Parents like me. For we belong to the club of bereaved parents. Membership is not by choice but by compulsion. Jackson lived longer than my Andrew, but their experience is similar to mine. I too knew my son wasn't going to have the chance like healthy children. My thoughts are with you, cry and feel the pain, don't hold back.

Darrin and Rachael West always knew that their son Jackson had only a small chance .
He was born with an extremely rare form of leukaemia that causes purple spots - an illness that saw him dubbed the Blueberry Muffin Baby by doctors.

Despite the odds, the Taranaki couple refused to contemplate the possibility Jackson wouldn't pull through.

Rachael spent 10 months in Auckland while Jackson was in Starship Hospital and said the hardest part had been not seeing her other children, Bradley, 4, and 3-year-old Katie.

Six months ago Jackson underwent a bone marrow transplant. His condition gradually improved, and after all the chemotherapy, hospital visits, scans and blood tests, they had even started to see his true personality emerge. His naughtiness and cheekiness showed all the traits of a normal little boy.

But just before Christmas, doctors discovered the aggressive form of cancer had reinvaded the 21-month-old toddler's bone marrow.

The little battler was given 48 hours to live. He lasted 13 days.

Rachael detailed her torment in a Facebook post on December 28: "Well. It's 12:25 and Jackson has stolen another day.

He is very weak and has deteriorated since yesterday. It is gut wrenchingly horrible to watch someone you love so much succumb to this hideous disease. To watch him fighting to breathe, it's heart breaking. But still he clings on. As much as I want him to live, I want his suffering to end."

Jackson died that night in Taranaki Base Hospital.

Yesterday, hundreds of people attended a ceremony at the Inglewood Town Hall. Friends held simultaneous ceremonies around the country, releasing balloons.

Rachael said they had never given up hope that Jackson would pull through.

Speaking before the funeral, she said: "For us there was no way this was going to happen in our hearts. We have got through so much with him, he was going to grow old.

"In the last couple of weeks we started to see his true personality emerge. We have lots of photos and videos of him and we can look back on that and show our 3- and 4-year-old. We are so grateful that we got to see his stroppiness and cheekiness."

Despite Jackson's illness placing a massive financial burden on them, Rachael and Darrin never sought to publicise Jackson's plight.

But the grieving couple say they are proud of the way Jackson battled every day of his life.

"I want people to know about Jackson," Rachael said, "and to know that with so many horrific stories of child abuse, that there are children that are loved."

Darrin added: "The whole 21 months of his life, this has always been a possibility. It's just been a real roller coaster ever since."

Fundraiser for Jackson's Family( may he RIP)

Your Inner Princess made this truly one of a kind headband/hair clip to raise funds for the West Family, and put it on our online trademe. She wrote:
I have a child with cancer, so Jackson's journey is very near and dear to my heart, alone I cant do much to help, but TOGETHER we can. Ka Pai Inner Princess.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Special Needs children,

I am part of the which is an online organisation that fight for justice of the underdog.

Yesterday, I got an email petitioning to end abuse of Autistic students in Mercer County, Kentucky. I did a post
on my blog and facebook.

As I did the post, I was wondering how it affected me or to many, what is it to me? As a bereaved parent. I was told through the experience of parents who have special needs children, the initial feeling was one of bereavement. They are bereft of the healthy baby/child they have hopes and aspirations they have for the child. Once that bereaved period had past, they learn to accept this child who will have a lot of challenges.

During my stay in the hospital, I met two sets of these parents. I will never forget what they asked me," Is it better that your Andrew dies and you suffer an intense lost, and then you can move on, or is it better if we have a less sick child, but we have to help her all her life?"

No wonder Sandra Baker is fighting for her 9-year-old son Christopher. Fight on Sandra, I am behind you.

Here's from my book: 2 mums.

Andrew shares his nursery with three and sometimes four babies. Most of these babies are just premature and have nothing wrong with them. Occasionally some of them have some problem, and with a lot of medical intervention, they survive with some sort of handicap. They stay in this ward 6 and grow until they reach the magical number of 2.5kg or 5.5 lbs. The mothers then joyfully take them home. As we usually do not discuss our babies, many of the mothers do not know Andrew’s situation.
They are euphoric and tell me, “Don’t worry, your turn will come to take Andrew home.”
I smile at them but cry inside. He won’t be coming home with me.
Andrew is the longest staying baby in the ward. I sometimes joke with the nurses that he’s the oldest swinger in town. It is ironic that his ward is the last room in the promotion line. There were some mums who talked to me about their babies. What else could we do when we sit in the tiny cubicle but talk?
There was Sina’s mum T. She was diabetic, and Sina was very premature. Sina was also hydrocephalic. Her head was growing bigger and bigger and was almost the size of a big balloon. You could literally see her veins and her head stretching as though it was going to pop. Sina had a few operations to insert a shunt to drain the fluid. Sina’s mum T was a big Samoan woman. In her simplicity, she forgot the rule of not asking about other babies or telling them about her own baby. She was worried that Sina would be mentally handicapped. Sina’s cot was just next to Andrew. I think she knew that Sina would be handicapped but didn’t know to what degree. One day when Sina was in the operating room, she held my hand and cried.
She asked me a very profound question, “Ann, is it better that your Andrew dies and goes to Heaven or is it better I have a very sick Sina for the rest of her life?”
I couldn’t answer. I held her hand and cried with her.
I said, not even convincing myself, “Of course, you are in a better situation, you will always have Sina, and I have nothing when he dies.”
Sina was discharged.

On 23rd October, a little boy, Jona, was born with Down Syndrome. His dad was a young church minister of the same denomination as ours. Jona was the third child of the young couple. Our similarities were so alike, except that Andrew was dying; and Jona was expected to live though without the best quality of life. Jona’s having Down Syndrome came as a big shock as they had no antenatal warning. Doesn’t that sound familiar? His mum’s gynaecologist had not picked it up? Jona’s cot was next to Andrew’s and I overheard her talking to the doctor. I was crying for her. It was as if she was living a repeat of Andrew’s tragic story. When the doctor left, I broke the rule of not speaking to other mums about their baby’s condition.
I spoke to her, “I am sorry about your baby.”
We became friends. They had no idea how badly affected Jona was; they too were worried about a very bleak future for Jona. You may be surprised to know this discovery I made. If you remember Sina who had hydrocephalus; I wrote that Sina’s mum asked that profound question, “Ann, I don’t know which is better, to be very sick, but alive, or you have a baby and after he dies, your life would return to normal.”
This question was asked not only by an uneducated Polynesian woman. Jona’s mum was a highly educated Pakeha woman. She too asked that same question. I conclude that it is universal for every mum faced with the prospect of bringing up a very severely handicapped child. What is his future? What is my future? Is it better that he died early?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

People who had impacted me.

1999, the first reunion, our teachers Mr. Johnson from UK, Mrs. Rao from Australia, and Miss mamora.

Miss Fries from Maryland, USA

After my book was published, I had been asked frequently how I got into writing. I won't like to say, "Ghosts of my past," but there was a group of foreign teachers from USA, Uk, and Australia who left the comforts of their homes to come all the way to Borneo. They have impacted me in my thoughts and my character.

Thank you Miss Fries from USA, Mr Johnson from UK, Mr. Gregory (not photographed) from Australia, Mrs. Rao from India, and Mr. Temple from USA. This year I found on Facebook Mr. Funk from USA. Mr Funk was teaching when I was a junior. Happy birthday Mr. Funk.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rachel Jean

Stranger things have happened, and this has to be one of the strangest.

I had resisted putting up the Christmas tree, though it's 3 sleeps to Christmas. The water engineer is away overseas on work assignment, and it was just my 15 year old and me.

There was another reason why I was hesistant about putting up the tree. I wrote this in my book, "Dairy of a bereaved mother." which I posted this passage this morning.

"When Andrew died, I gave away all of his things except one, that little brown puppy dog. I kept it with his lock of hair. Then I kept it with my Christmas decoration. Every year, when we decorated the tree, I have told the children this is Andrew’s dog. In my heart, I grieve for Andrew. This is another Christmas he won’t be joining us. I told nobody about this."

We moved to this neighbourhood near Pt Chevalier Beach. The waters are too still to surf, and my 15 year old had been dreaming about surfing for a long time. We went up to Omaha beach on Sunday, bought his wetsuit, and he had become a real surfie junkie.

Yesterday, he came home and told me, I met a friend and he invited me to join him surfing. I asked how old his new friend was and he said 8. As a naturally curious and cautious mum, I wanted to know more. My son gave me the boy's mum's business card. I didn't recognise the company except it was in the media business. I told my son I would email the mum.

She replied and told me she became a widow this year. I wrote," Someone/something brought your son to my son, and then brought you to me."

When I wrote my book, I wrote as a bereaved mum, I not only became a spokesperson for bereaved parents, I also have empathy with all bereaved people, no matter who they have lost.

The Chinese say, "YOU YEARN" or have fate. As this year draws to a close, I thank God for Rachel and Frankie.

The kids are at the beach again, and I went on the google machine. This is what I found about Rachel, and I shed a tear for her.

An insight into the making of her documentary Life, Death and a Lung Transplant about her husband’s Cystic Fibrosis and lung transplant
Pauli O’Halloran is just the 96th person in New Zealand to have received a lung transplant.
Last updated 15:03 01/07/2008

A Sandringham couple has put the hardest years of their lives on the small screen.

Life, Death and A Lung Transplant is the story of cystic fibrosis sufferer Paul O’Halloran, filmed by his wife Rachel Jean.

The documentary spans five years of the couple’s lives, but most of it is based around Mr O’Halloran’s 2006 lung transplant.

He says his lungs had "given up the ghost" and were only working at 21 percent by the time he had the operation.

"I couldn’t do anything. In the last year it got pretty terrible."

The couple were living in Helensville at the time and he could not walk the length of their 50-metre drive-
way without stopping for a rest.

His condition deteriorated and he ended up in hospital more frequently, staying for up to a month each time.

Mrs Jean says a friend who also makes documentaries asked if she could do a story on Mr O’Halloran.

"We said it was fine and I asked if I could have the footage afterwards because I thought I would make a documentary if the transplant happened."

When their son Frankie was born she decided to make the documentary anyway as a record of Mr O’Halloran in case he didn’t survive.

The project became even more important when they had their daughter Violet, who was three months old when her father got his new lungs.

The couple started discussing a transplant with doctors when Mr O’Halloran’s lung function was at 35 percent.

"The specialist used the words ‘on a slippery slope’," she says.

Because the surgery is so risky, doctors started tests early and Mr O’Halloran went before a selection panel.

"It’s one of the hardest surgeries to survive and get through. It’s not fun, but having said that, I would do it again at the drop of a hat if I had to."

Fifteen percent of patients who have the operation don’t survive long enough to make it out of intensive care and only half of the survivors live past five years.

The documentary, to be screened on TV3 tomorrow night, shows the lead-up to the transplant, including the late night call from the hospital to say he had new lungs.

"I happened to have been filming the kids and I had the camera on the table. When I heard the tone of his voice and what he was saying I knew that was it.

"I picked up the camera and started filming," says Ms Jean.
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A documentary maker for 15 years, she has made more than 50 programmes and says having 24-hour access to her subject made this one of the easiest documentaries to shoot.

"A lot of it is essentially home video footage, we just tend to shoot on better cameras than the average household.

"A lot of the time we would pick up the camera and shoot it ourselves."

Because the other camera crews were acquaintances or friends, the project wasn’t stressful for Mr O’Halloran.

"It really wasn’t a big deal, it felt fine."

Although he had a successful transplant in April 2006, Mr O’Halloran had difficulties and finally got his lungs fully functioning again in November last year.

He takes between 30 and 40 pills a day to stop his body rejecting the lungs and maintain his health.

He will be on the medication for the rest of his life.

But it’s all worth it to be able to play with his children and go surfing again.

Before the transplant, he couldn’t even hold baby Violet because the weight on his chest was too great.

"It was fantastic to see her fall totally in love with her father," says Ms Jean.

The documentary ends with family and friends celebrating Violet’s first birthday.

Andrew's dog and Christmas

October 4th, 1989
I had no recollection who I went with and how I went; or if I did the things I intended to do. I did go to Newmarket and was at the Chemist shop at 277, Broadway. Suddenly, I wanted to buy things for Andrew. I had not prepared anything for him. I grabbed an armful of soft toys, and as I was about to pay for them, a torrent of tears flowed. What was I doing? Andrew couldn’t play with them? Andrew was dying. The girl at the shop saw me and asked if I was okay. She probably thought I was sick. I held the toys to my chest. My poor Andrew, Mum hasn’t given you anything. Eventually I composed myself and chose a little brown puppy with floppy ears and big brown eyes. I gave it to Andrew and put it in the bassinet. Deep in my heart, I had a sense of satisfaction. Sweet Andrew, Mum did give you something after all.
When Andrew died, I gave away all of his things except one, that little brown puppy dog. I kept it with his lock of hair. Then I kept it with my Christmas decoration. Every year, when we decorated the tree, I have told the children this is Andrew’s dog. In my heart, I grieve for Andrew. This is another Christmas he won’t be joining us. I told nobody about this. I wonder what Chen Onn will think when he reads this. In December 2004, Gabrielle and I left Singapore for New Zealand. Chen Onn rang and asked if he could donate the Christmas tree to the students. They were raising funds for the tsunami in Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. I told him, make sure you keep Andrew’s dog.

I still have the puppy dog and I will keep the dog as long as I live. Then I will bequeath it to Deborah. She knew her brother better than Gabrielle and Samuel.
The morning doctor saw the puppy dog. He said I looked much happier. He suggested that instead of dwelling all the time on the sad situation, perhaps I could think of the good things. He had noticed that I was writing a lot and I had a lot of friends.
He suggested, “You have so many helpful friends, why not write about them? It will be good therapy.”

This children’s song I used to teach my Sunday School class came like honey. Count your blessings, counting your blessings one by one.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
I couldn’t remember all the lyrics, but the words “count your blessings, count your blessings” became real and comforting. I thought of all my loved ones, my husband, even though I had threatened to leave him the day before, my two beautiful and healthy girls, and my many friends.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


The flowers on this photo is not perfect, it has defects. Just like this story, it is not a happily ever after story.

Natalie with her son Jackson. She found out she had cancer the day before he was born.

In my city of Auckland,
Natalie Murphy died on Monday afternoon,
She bravely battled cancer,
She was only 35.
Two years ago she found a lump in her breast,
On the day before her son, Jackson, was born.
She was told it was cancer a few months later.
Natalie captured hearts with her determination.

My thoughts are with you, Greg and her son.
Tonight you cry, because it is ok to cry.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Diary: Tree House

As I walk around Auckland, this tree house is nearest to the tree house I once made with my very good friend Brina.

Andrew 10th December 1989

Don’t let his life be in vain,
Do something,
Do something even if you don’t feel like it.

It is a fine line between what reality was and what a dream was. My stress dreams and my reality were rolled into one. They were massive scary, tormenting nightmares. I was a wreck, I wasn’t sleeping, and I wasn’t eating. Even preparing a simple lunch was a chore. I didn’t eat any lunch as I only had Gabrielle at home. I lost a lot of weight and looked really slim but haggard. I didn’t care. I had given up on myself.
The weather was warming up. We have a big oak tree in the front section. Deborah wanted a tree house and had been pestering Chen Onn to make one for her. His procrastination infuriated me. I took the hammer and some planks of wood and proceeded to make it myself. I was stubborn and belligerent
I wasn’t going to wait for Chen Onn. It could be next summer if I depended on him. Brina came over, and we two women went hammering. The house was very crude but it served its purpose. To Deborah, it was the best tree house ever. She and Marisa and Simon had great fun. Deborah still remembers that tree house which her mum and Brina made. The kids laughed and enjoyed the house. Was I happy that I achieved something?
I sat on the stairs of our house crying. I made that tree house, Where was Andrew? I wanted Andrew to enjoy my tree house, to laugh with his sisters and his friends. I wanted Andrew to climb up and down the steps. God! I wanted him back. I cried sad, sorrowful tears. I cried raving, boiling, volcanic lava. I was angry, I was so angry. God! Why did you give him to me if you were going to take him back so quickly? I would rather you never gave him at all. My pain was so incapacitating. I held my hammer in my hand. I wanted to hit the wall. I needed to vent my anger. The house didn’t belong to us, and I couldn’t account to my landlord for the hole if I had bashed on the wall. Chen Onn would be very angry. So I visualized myself doing it, knock, knock, knock!
Deep in my heart, there is a hole. Some invisible being was hammering, and knocking and making the hole bigger and bigger. My heart was gushing with blood. How can my broken heart be whole again? Who can repair it?
Brina came from her house. She made two cups of piping hot tea. She just sat next to me. She knew that was the best thing to do. She didn’t have to say anything. Brina too had buried a son. She understood and she knew the pain. The hot tea scorched my lips, but the pain was nothing compared to the burning in my heart.
It is all very well for people to sing, “It is well with my soul,” These people have never been in turmoil. They have never worn my shoes. My soul had been crushed. If a mirror is cracked, no matter how you repair it, it will never be the same.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Deborah's 5th birthday

When I started this book blog, it was my intention to post excerpts of my book. I had not done that because it has been so busy this year.

Tomorrow 8th December will be my oldest Deborah's birhday. She is alone in Harbin in China. I am home alone with Sam because the water engineer is on overseas assignment. I think of that particular birthday that Deborah had. The birthday after Andrew had died.

Deborah wearing her dress I made the night before.

A special cake that wowed her friends.

It was Deborah’s birthday on December 8th. In New Zealand, your fifth birthday is a very important day. You start at school on that day. Yesterday, her kindergarten teachers took her to her new school, Maungawhau School, for a visit. She came home all excited: they sang Happy Birthday to her, and gave her a very important chore. They gave her a white mouse to take back to her kindergarten. Her head teacher Margaret said this had never been done before. Margaret had told Maungawhau School about Andrew’s death, and they wanted to make her feel special. On the 7th, they gave her a farewell with a big play-dough cake and gave her a crown for a princess. She stood on top of a pedestal.
On our way home, I promised to sew a new dress for her to start school. I remembered the other promise that I hadn’t fulfilled. I told her that I would sew her a new dress for her to wear to Andrew's funeral. But I couldn't, I simply couldn't.
So off we went to Geoff’s Emporium and bought a length of stretch green stripy fabric to make a dress. That night, when everyone had gone to bed, I sat down to sew. Anyone who sews would tell you that when you sew, you need to give it your full attention to produce a good outcome. I had not slept properly for months, I was not in the right state of mind, but I was determined that I wasn’t going to fail her again. There was a lot of sewing and unpicking. I don’t remember how long it took. I eventually finished it and hung it at her door.
It was all worthwhile when I heard her say, “Mum, it is beautiful” and she gave me a hug.
I was lying in bed when I told her to parade herself and to do pirouettes. We gave her a pink backpack, her stationery, her drink bottle, her yellow lunch box, her new shoes and socks. It was easy for parents to buy presents for their five-year-old to get all their requirements for their first day at school.
Deborah was all set to go to school. Our neighbour Brina’s kids Marisa and Peter had come to take her to school. She was excited, but I wasn’t ready. By the time I was, Marisa and Peter had gone and it was too late for us to walk, so we took the car. Deborah was disappointed. She and Marisa had talked for months about walking to school. I saw the class teacher, and I told her about Andrew. The teacher said she had been told, and she would be watching out for Deborah.
Looking at my little girl going to school in a dress which was shabbily made, and failing in getting her to school on time and upsetting her plans she had made with her friends, must have given me a jolt. I drove home with Gabrielle. No, I didn’t have the motivation and energy to do things. I went on a frantic writing spree.
Yes, that was what I could do, I could write about my feelings. I was struggling with my grief and desperate for an outlet for my pain. My outlet was writing. While I wrote, I told God my pain, I told God my anger, I told God my hopelessness. I wrote to thank all the lovely people at Ward 11A, I wrote to thank all my friends who helped me journey along my hour of darkness. I wrote to my dad, to my siblings, to all my friends who had returned to their home countries in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. I wrote to the hospital superintendent to thank her and tell her what a great job the doctors and nurses had done at 11A, Andrea in the crèche, Cherry Thompson in the Nurses’ Home, the check-out operators at Oliver’s, and Wendy Green. I even wrote to everyone at Ward 11A; I remembered everyone, from the doctors to the cleaner, who was involved with Andrew in one way or another. I even remembered most of their names and what special things they did. It was a six foolscap pages long.
It was therapeutic, all this writing. It was like God was saying; cast all your cares on me. I will not forsake you. The young doctor who spoke to me in the beginning days was right when he told me to focus on the good things, like friends who have helped me. Of course, during the early days, it was easier said than done.

We hadn’t celebrated Deborah’s fifth birthday in anyway. She went to bed thinking that we didn’t celebrate because Mummy wasn’t feeling well because baby Andrew had died. I baked her a cake after she went to bed. It was going to be a surprise. I had not baked since we found out that Gabrielle was allergic to egg and dairy products. Before that, Deborah enjoyed baking very much.
I made a rectangular cake, and wove a basket of patterned brown chocolate icing around it. Then I cut part of an ice cream carton and used it for the handle. I filled the top with lots of miniature fruit candies. There were red strawberries and yellow bananas. It really looked very good, like a basket of fruit. It conjured up images of Red Riding Hood taking a basket of goodies to her ailing grandma. If only you could see the photos. I must have stayed up the whole night baking, waiting for it to cool and then icing it. Chen Onn was used to me staying up and not sleeping. Sometimes, he would call me to bed; at other times, he just went to bed by himself. It was useless calling me to bed because I wouldn’t come.
I hid the cake from her, and in the morning, we just carried on as though it was any other day except Dad was home.
In the afternoon, we took Deborah and Gabrielle with Marisa and Peter to McDonald’s at Broadway in Newmarket. It had a nice indoor playground. Deborah thought were were just going to McDonald’s for a meal. There we surprised her with her friends Joy and Craig DeStiger, Miriam and Joanna Finch, Anna and Scott Bettridge, the Teal boys and others. Deborah was over the moon when she saw the cake. She had a marvellous time, and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Birthdays at McDonald’s playground and birthdays were a new thing at that time. An employee of McDonald’s coordinated the games and party favours, so I didn’t have to do much.
I was in turmoil: if only Andrew was alive and was a normal baby, I would be the happiest person in the world. I let the employee conduct the party and I just sat there reflecting. Deborah was our first-born, and Andrew was our first-born son. Having a son is so important to a Chinese family. I had failed Chen Onn, I had failed the Chin family.
Towards the end of the party, my brain was so numb. Someone touched my shoulder. She was someone I had worked with in Auckland Hospital when I was the crèche administrator. Her daughters went to the same Auckland Hospital Crèche as Deborah and Gabrielle. Her older daughter later went to the same kindergarten as Deborah. She had brought her daughters to McDonald’s, and Deborah was glad to see them. I forgot her name, but I remember her face because she was in the photos. We sat and I didn’t say much.
She said, “Still hurting, huh?”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remembering Andrew

These booties,
These slippers,
Are never worn and will never be worn.
You see,
They belong to a little boy, 22 today.
Officialdom deems that he doesn't exist.
How wrong they are.
He grew in his mum's body.
He lived for 55 days in her arms.

To be philosophical,
This year, Andrew made his mum known.
They featured a newspaper article on her.
They made a TV documentary.
Thank you, my dearest Andrew.

29 Sept 1989-22 Nov 1989.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reader's Digest Story Contest.

Dear all,

Voting ended on November 15th. I did not expect to win as I entered really late, on October 20th. But it was a great exercise. I wanted to bring exposure to baby Loss Awareness and bereaved parents.

I joined the International Catergory, and a quick counting showed I garnered enough votes to rank 4th out of 800 entries. The TV New Zealand You tube clip had more than 400 hits, compared to the other clips that were aired that day.

Thank you to all who voted, and those who rallied for me.



When I was young, I always read the Readers' Digest and marvel at the bravery of the mothers who struggled with sick children. When I had Andrew in the hospital, and accepted the doctors' advice that the kindest option was to let nature take it's course. When Andrew didn't die when the doctor predicted, I struggled with myself and spoke to the doctor about those mothers I read in the Readers' Digest, and I wanted to be these mothers, Dr James said that Andrew was different.

Today, I found out that Readers' Digest was inviting people to submit their stories. I am submitting mine for media exposure. But if you like to vote for me, it is appreciated.

"Diary of a bereaved mother"
My journey of having a baby who died and now I am the self appointed spokes-person for bereaved parents. My story is from my heart and will resonate with anyone who has had the misfortune to give birth to a child who has struggled to live. Synopsis: Your baby is dying. Andrew did not die that night as predicted by the doctor, he didn't die after 3 days, 10 days and finally he died at 55 days. Friends did not know whether to congratulate or commiserate us. He was declared dead after his first at 40 days, but he bounced back. That was more excruciating than his actual death. After Andrew, what have I done? Have I become a better person? There are many 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. I volunteer at teaching new immigrants.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

idiots steal from the dead

In Waikumete cemetery in West Auckland where my son was buried, a gang of idiots, brainless hoons had been removing brass plaques and selling them for $21 each. It cost the loved ones at least $500 to have them made.

These idiots are not young kids. Last year, a 33-year-old Lower Hutt man has been arrested and charged with theft following the disappearance of more than 40 bronze plaques from the Whenua Tapu Cemetery, north of Wellington.

"This kind of offending is absolutely appalling. These plaques honour graves of people's loved ones," Inspector Gary Davey said.

Dan Sales from Waikumete Cemetery said after a search of records it was found out that 13 of the plaques were from their graves.

The plaques were ripped from the resting place of loved ones at the cemetery.

Just scum, just the lowest of the low," said Sales.

"There are certain things that you just do not do in life and one of them is grave rob. People used to be hung for that, graverobbing and I'd put that in that context."

A bronze or copper plaque costs families about $500 but the scrap metal value is just $21 at today's rates.

"It's part of that grieving process and people do like that visual name, they do like to see that name on their loved ones' take that away it's just unbelievable," said Sales.

Police are still hunting another person in connection to the case.

They say families with missing brass plaques on graves at Waikumete Cemetery should contact them.

My Andrew's plaque is cemented in my heart where nobody can steal.

3 more days to vote:

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Mother buries her son.
Last 10 days to vote.

Photos courtesy New Zealand Herald.

This morning, a mother buries her son.
She is no random mother I read in the newspaper.
She is the mother of 4 of my students.
She is someone I talk to.
She is burying her first born.
Sanele was 17.
Sanele was killed by a drunken driver.

This month is Andrew's anniversary month.
I had Andrew for 55 days.
Teevao had Sanele for 6207 days.
I understand Teevao's grief.

I saw Sanele's sister Faith.
She came to school just one day.
I hugged her tightly.
I didn't have to say anything.

'I don't want him to die' - anguish at Cup teen's death
By Anna Leask
5:30 AM Thursday Nov 3, 2011

Teevao Pauli sits next to the body of her son Sanele at their home in Pt Chevalier. Photo / Steven McNicholl

The parents of a teenage boy killed on his way home from celebrating the All Blacks' World Cup win wanted him to stay at home that night.

But Sanele Pauli, 17, was so desperate to be part of the festivities that he pleaded with his mother for a week until she let him go.

Now Teevao Pauli must say goodbye to her boy for ever - and is left wondering if he would still be alive if she had not changed her mind just hours before kick-off.

Sanele was on his way home in the early hours of Labour Day and had just stepped off a bus with his brothers when a car hit him in Great North Rd, Pt Chevalier.

He was 500m from home. The Herald revealed last week that the man driving the car was a disqualified driver with three previous drink-driving convictions.

The 38-year-old had a breath-alcohol level of 512mcg - the limit in 400mcg. Police allege he was also speeding.

Mrs Pauli was sitting waiting for her boys to come home.

"The whole week Sanele was asking me. I said, 'No, I don't want you to go," she said. "But I could tell that he really wanted to."

Mrs Pauli eventually agreed to drop Sanele and his brothers Tapu, 15, and Sefo, 14, in Queen St.

"Sanele was so excited. He was the last one to get out of the car. He turned and said, 'Thanks mum,' and I knew he was so happy."

Tapu had a cellphone to call home if they needed a lift, or text if they were taking a bus.

"I stayed up, sitting and waiting for their call. Tapu called me and I heard him crying ... 'Mum, mum, come ... Sanele got hit by a car and he's not breathing'."

Mrs Pauli woke her husband, File, and they rushed to the scene.

"I was crying, I was just begging, 'God, please, God, please, I don't want him to die.'

"When I got there I saw him lying on the road on his own. I asked the policeman, 'Why are you not helping him?' He just comforted us and said, 'I'm sorry, we couldn't do anything. He's already gone.'

"I asked if I could go and hold him and say goodbye, but they couldn't let me. My boys were saying, 'Sorry, mum.' They were blaming themselves for what happened, especially Tapu."

Sanele was crossing the road with Tapu when he was hit. Tapu told his mother he saw the car coming towards them. He was between the car and his brother.

"Sefo got off the bus and ran across the road. Sanele and Tapu stayed on longer to say goodbye to their cousins. When the bus left, they crossed the road. Tapu didn't know if Sanele saw the car. He said it happened so fast. He stopped, he was right there, he was looking at the car ... then he heard the noise of the car hitting Sanele."

Mrs Pauli said the boys were taking their brother's death very hard.

His younger sisters Celyn, 15, and twins Faith and Hope, 7, were also devastated.

"The police tried to explain about the driver but I didn't want to know. Nothing's going to bring my son back. I'm still just trying to focus on my boy. I haven't thought about the driver yet."

Sanele's body has been at home with his family this week. His funeral is on Saturday.

He would have graduated from Avondale College this month and had enrolled in a mechanics course at Unitec. Mrs Pauli said Sanele was a "daddy's boy" and wanted to be a mechanic like his father.

"He was his father's right-hand man. His father relied on him to help with the cars. I'm just asking myself, how do I say goodbye to him when I bury him? How will I accept that? I know I will never see him again."

Mrs Pauli said that if she could say one last thing to her boy, it would be "Go in peace".

"We're praying that he's going to be in heaven. I know he's going to be a good angel - our guardian angel."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Peekaboo: A movie about bereaved parents


A powerful and compelling short film looking at baby loss, starring Lesley Sharp and Shaun Dooley.
Finally, here is our teaser for Peekaboo. Please take a watch here, and help us by donating to help us complete our film. Please share this with friends and help spread the word. Hope you enjoy it.

Click here for trailer. It is very sad and solemn. But the who won't be sad when their babies die?
Our Story "The gift of life gets taken back but the love goes on and on." We are Big Buddha Films, award winning film company based in the UK. We are making a powerful short film called Peekaboo. Our film looks at stillbirth and terrible suffering it causes to families.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Diary of a bereaved mother

School reopened last week and I showed some of my students the TV Clip of my interview for the Baby Loss Awareness Week. They said they felt very sad and asked if I was still sad.

We can never get over our loss. One of the blogging things is I had some very good blogging friends. YTSL went on holiday to Japan and her post on "broken" touched my heart.

"This bodhisattva is particularly revered among East Asian Buddhists -- and beloved in Japan, where he is popularly venerated as the guardian of unborn, aborted, miscarried or stillborn infants.

Put another way: every figurine in the photo represents people's unborn, aborted, miscarried or stillborn babies. Looking at them, it's not just their numbers that can overwhelm. For often placed amidst the cold stone or cement statuettes are stuffed toys, tiny shoes and other items associated with babyhood."

I think this is a great idea. It is something symbolic for Mums and dads to do.

On the other hand, I just read last week that some insensitive people have messed up other children's grave and to the extent of stealing their toys. How callous is that?

In this little grave lies a loved child at Okahu Bay. The parents must have chosen this to represent themselves. It is heart breaking
Vote for my story, you can vote once a day. Voting finishes on November 15th. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Readers'Digest Entry

When I was young, I always read the Readers' Digest and marvel at the bravery of the mothers who struggled with sick children. When I had Andrew in the hospital, and accepted the doctors' advice that the kindest option was to let nature take it's course. When Andrew didn't die when the doctor predicted, I struggled with myself and spoke to the doctor about those mothers I read in the Readers' Digest, and I wanted to be these mothers, Dr James said that Andrew was different.

Today, I found out that Readers' Digest was inviting people to submit their stories. I am submitting mine for media exposure. But if you like to vote for me, it is appreciated.

"Diary of a bereaved mother"
My journey of having a baby who died and now I am the self appointed spokes-person for bereaved parents. My story is from my heart and will resonate with anyone who has had the misfortune to give birth to a child who has struggled to live. Synopsis: Your baby is dying. Andrew did not die that night as predicted by the doctor, he didn't die after 3 days, 10 days and finally he died at 55 days. Friends did not know whether to congratulate or commiserate us. He was declared dead after his first at 40 days, but he bounced back. That was more excruciating than his actual death. After Andrew, what have I done? Have I become a better person? There are many 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. I volunteer at teaching new immigrants.

Vote up!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sands New Zealand: Stillbirth and Newborn Death Support

I wear these two Sands bands all the time and talk about Andrew when people ask why I am wearing them.

Welcome to Sands New Zealand. We are a voluntary, parent-run, non-profit organisation set up to support parents and families who have experienced the death of a baby.

Most of our members/supporters are also bereaved parents. While we do not know exactly how you are feeling, we have been in similar circumstances. We offer empathy and understanding. We are not counsellors and do not give formal advice but we do offer an opportunity and environment to share experiences, to talk and to listen. We promote awareness, understanding and support for those dealing with the death of a baby in pregnancy, birth or as a newborn, and due to medical termination or other forms of reproductive loss.

The TV Program was available in New Zealand only.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Baby Loss Awareness Week: 9-15 Oct 2011

When I see the millions of spring flowers on my tree, yet only a few develop into fruits. I see a parallel of many babies who don't survive and have a full life. I think of the bereaved parents whose hearts are hurting this week, their branches once laden with beautiful flowers of promise. But now are empty and barren branches. Ann Chin.

9th Oct-15th Oct.
October 9th, 11am. Sunday TVNZ 1

If you are in New Zealand, you can watch the program online. Click on chapter 3. Watch Sands Manukau mums and a segment of my interview, "Diary of a bereaved mother."

Monday, September 19, 2011

diary of a bereaved mother: When you are down, you need a friend.

I chose winter trees with no leaves for Glenna. I understand her heart is heavy, and she would feel like these trees, gloomy and leaveless.

I told my friend Teresa about Glenna and this week is the 1st anniversary of her baby. Teresa wants to cheer Glenna up.

I knew Teresa from our days as faculty wives in Singapore. Teresa knew how to laugh and make others laugh.

Here is what Teresa suggested," maybe we can be friends in FB if u can give me her name as I used to helped at the church with single parents and abused women. Maybe we can chat and make her laugh. What u think?" Teresa, you are a great friend.

Friday, September 9, 2011

diary of a bereaved mother: Potters Park

Glenna took me to Potter's park to shoot some reflection shots for the documentary for the Baby Loss awareness week. This month is appropriate, September is Andrew's birthday month. It is also Glenna's baby JG's birthday.

Potter's park is ideal, I used to take the girls when I was pregnant with Andrew and after he had died. The playground was empty and again I thought how poignant it was, empty playground signifying to me that Andrew and his angel friends were not longer on earth, but playing in the playground up in heaven.

I am the one in the red Lightweight Swing Cardie, it wasn't spring yet, but under the sun. The weather was quite warm. Here we are, two bereaved mums. We are linked together, we both have sons who are angels in heaven.

GLENNA CASALME | Associate Producer | Asia Downunder
Address: 4 Newton Road, PO Box 68835 , Newton , Auckland , New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 360 0803 Fax: +64 9 360 0477

Check out our Asia DownUnder web pages:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Diary of a bereaved mother:The Book Depository. UK orders

Now you can buy my book from UK and they will take orders from all over the world with Free worldwide delivery.

Diary of a bereaved mother: Television Documentary: Baby Loss Awareness

GLENNA CASALME | Associate Producer | Asia Downunder
Address: 4 Newton Road, PO Box 68835 , Newton , Auckland , New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 360 0803 Fax: +64 9 360 0477

Check out our Asia DownUnder web pages:
Glenna contacted me to do a documentary of my book and me for the Baby Loss Awareness Week. It will be screened in October. Glenna googled me and invited me for coffee and asked if I was interested.

It is a documentary on how we can make people more aware of bereaved mums and dads and hopefully our sad experience will improve the sad statistics.

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.

Thank you Glenna and Dave for helping us. Baby Loss Awareness week is on 9th October to 15th October.

Sadly, Glenna herself is a bereaved mum, hence you can appreciate her passion in this subject.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Diary of a diary of a bereaved Mother: Google Books

My book is listed in Google Books.

Google Books (previously known as Google Book Search and Google Print) is a service from Google that searches the full text of books that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition, and stored in its digital database. The service was formerly known as Google Print when it was introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2004. Google's Library Project, also now known as Google Book Search, was announced in December 2004.

Results from Google Book Search show up in both general web search at and through the dedicated Google Books site ( Up to three results from the Google Books index may be displayed, if relevant, above other search results in the Google Web search service (

Subscribing users can click on a result from Google Books that opens an interface in which the user may view pages from the book, if out of copyright or if the copyright owner has given permission. Books in the public domain are available in "full view" and free for download. For in-print books, Google limits the number of viewable pages through a variety of access limitations and security measures, some based on user-tracking.[1] For books that may be covered by copyright and where the owner has not been identified, only "snippets" (two to three lines of text) are shown, though the full text of the book is searchable.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Klaus Peter

Thou Shall Not Pass
Klaus Peter, 1960-2011

We are sorry to share with all the MyWorld Tuesday and Skywatch Friday participants news of the passing our friend and fellow blogger Klaus Peter. Klaus was an active participant, supporter, and eventually owner/maintainer of Skywatch and the founder of That's My World. He loved nature, photography, and sharing his knowledge and beautiful images with us all. We can't begin to say how much we will miss him.

Today's post on his blog, Virtua Gallery, featured this photo which he titled "Thou Shall Not Pass." It is a fitting tribute and farewell to him, and in his honor we will publish My World Tuesday with the words and graphics Klaus always used. I hope you will join me in dedicating this week's posts to Klaus.

A mum has lost a son, when I read how young Klaus was, I feel for his mother. I am a participant of MyWorld Tuesday and Skywatch Friday, These are two of the earliest memes I participated. Klaus, you will be missed.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: Running

Running for a good cause. When I ran the quarter marathon some 7 years ago with my friend Lydia, I didn't know we could run for a good cause. It was only after I had done it that I was told. What a pity, because I knew a lot of people then, and had been doing a lot of charity work.

My fellow bereaved parents are raising funds through running. Catherine's friends in Australia raised friends Brett and Shelley Pritchard who ran today 14 Aug and raised $535 for Bears of Hope.

There is plans in England for a Sands team to run the Bupa Great South Run in October.

21 May 11 12:54 PM
posted by Catherine Dodd

Our friends are aiming to raise money for Bears Of Hope Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support by completing the City2Surf. We welcome any contribution, great or small, that you could make!

For every $45 I raise, a Bears Of Hope Gift will be donated in loving memory of our precious daughter Eden Hope Dodd.

Through the donation of a bear of hope, parents are provided with the comfort of knowing they are not alone from the very beginning and offered significant ongoing support to heal their broken hearts. All Bears will be donated to Liverpool and Campbelltown Public Hospitals.

Bupa Great South Run - 30 October 2011 - The Bupa Great South Run is held in Portsmouth and it is Britain's biggest and most popular 10 mile road race. It is a fast, flat scenic course ideal for runners of all abilities. If you would like to join Team Sands and apply for a Sands Charity Place or if you have your own and would like to use it to raise funds for Sands, please get in touch with us by emailing fundraising @ or calling 0845 6520 448

Friday, August 12, 2011

Diary of a Bereaved Mother: Design gives back.

My fellow blogger and bereaved mother Marydon has lots in common with me. We both lost our sons. Today, she did a post and invited me to comment.

Mary featured on ~ Charlie Grady aka Charlie Santa ~ I invite you to check this out to watch this incredible and awesome boy.

We are sharing the story of a little boy who is probably a lot like your son, grandson or nephew; he loves cars, trucks & trains. Charlie loves riding his bicycle, also. He is different than most 8 yr. olds in two ways: he has brain tumors & he leads a toy drive to help kids in chemotherapy to have happier holidays. "Charlie Santa" was founded when he was just five & in his first round of chemotherapy. This is one of the reasons he was chosen to be an ambassador for kids with Neurofibromatosis Type 1, & a recipient of a Miracle Makeover.

I have another friend Linda, who is wearing the same shoes as Charlies' mum. Shoes that are too small and pinching her feet causing great pain in their heart.

Designgives back is not screened in New Zealand, but what a great job they are doing,

In my book, I wrote a poem about shoes.

I modify it here,

The hole in the heart is bigger than life,
The hole never mends.
My child has cancer.
Life is never the same again.
Only a fellow mum who has a child with cancer,
will understand another mum's pain
For she wears the same pair of shoes,
For she feels the pinching at the toes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: sad victims.

I choose this one frond of a fern found in the bush. Nature has stained it red. Red like the blood of the Kahui Twins, and growing wild in the bush because their mum had neglected them.

If there is a bereaved mother in New Zealand that nobody has anything good to talk about. It is the mother of murdered 3 month old Kahui Twins.Chris and Cru Kahui died of massive abused wounds, and everybody hushed up, and the police and judge could not convict anyone.

In July an author announced the publication of his book in collaboration with the mother. There were national wide protest. Two big book chains will not stock this book. The book will be launched next week.

As a bereaved mother, I don't know if all the drugs and P and her undesirable lifestyle had immuned her. I would not be buying her book.

A Facebook group has been set up urging people not to buy a book written in collaboration with the mother of the Kahui twins.

As the inquest into the deaths of three-month-olds Chris and Cru Kahui inches forward at the Auckland District Court, a Facebook site called "Boycott the Macsyna King Book" has been set up in response to the news that the twins' mother, Macsyna King, is about to release a "tell-all book", written by journalist Ian Wishart.

Chris Kahui Snr was charged and later acquitted of the boys' murder in 2008 and King's involvement has been questioned, including by Kahui's defence team at the trial.

"Somebody like this should not be allowed to profit from preaching her perverted view of the horrific events which led to the deaths of the only two children who hadn't already been taken from her by CYF's," the Facebook site says.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: fellow bereaved mothers.

In my book, I wrote about uncanny incidences that happened to my life.

Last night it happened again. I got an email from a bereaved mum C, if I had the contacts of another Campomelic family I had told her about.

The thing is, I have not told her about a family I knew, but I knew of another family K who sadly just lost their child.

C replied that was the very family she was looking for.

Our angels in Heaven were leading us to connect each other through email and Facebook.

Something uncanny happened when I read about K, and I asked her if her child had Campomelic. She replied yes, and we became friends. She wrote that she heard about me from a mutual friend before I FB her.

You may not think it is strange, you see, I am in New Zealand, and C and K are in Australia, and we are separated by the Tasman Sea.

The following is copied from C's Facebook.

If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who is important to them, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn't forget they died. You're not reminding them. What you are reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that's a great, great gift.
Elizabeth Edwards

Here, this post and flowers is for C and K. As an older bereaved mother, I love you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Diary of a Bereaved Mother:

I used to read and watch Winnie the Pooh with my children. After this video, I will never think of Winnie as just a child's book.

If ever there's a tomorrow when we're not together...

If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. i'll always be with you.”

“Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would I'd never leave.”

“If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever”

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”