Saturday, April 2, 2011

Diary of a bereaved Mother: Chapter 1, part three

2nd October 1989, Monday 4.30am, part three.

What can you do?
You cry!
He has a dying episode.
He gives you a glimpse of what death is like.
It is not his time.
You wait and wait and wait.
Sleep eludes you.
You write.
That all you can do.

Don Dickson suggested we give Baby our Baptist Church infant dedication instead of a baptism.

I wanted Deborah to be present. Olwyn went to pick her up. I needed to change my stained gown to look good for Deborah. I asked for a clean gown and some pads. The nurse said they didn’t have normal gowns at Ward 11A but would give me something else. There were only the green scrub gowns. An older nurse said those green gowns were only for the staff and said it rather rudely. I was about to burst into anger and shout that my baby was dying and I don’t care if these gowns were only for the staff. I didn’t; I cried instead.

I was glad I did not shout, because if I had, I would feel terrible. I didn’t know I would be a permanent fixture of Ward 11A for a long time. I wore the green surgical gown and my thick red maternity top. That was the closest I ever came to being a surgeon.
I sat beside the heat table waiting for Deborah to come. How would a mother tell her four-and-a-half year old daughter that her baby brother was going to die?

Previously, Deborah had a pet gold fish. She had called it Andrew. Fish Andrew died one day. We flushed him down the toilet. She was upset for a long time. I should have buried it in the garden. In fact, Deborah had not told us this, she told our neighbour Brina. She wanted to name Baby, Andrew.

Though Andrew was a good name, I thought of her dead fish. I grew up in superstitious Borneo. I didn’t want Baby to die like her fish. I told her perhaps we should choose another name. But Deborah was adamant she wanted Baby to be called Andrew. I agreed reluctantly. I didn’t tell her about my reservations.

CO had gone with the doctors. I was alone; actually, the nursery was full of nurses and babies. I had just mentally blocked them out. I sat gently stroking Baby’s hands. I couldn’t utter Andrew. I thought of Deborah’s dead fish. Was it a coincidence? Was he destined to die because of his name? Would he be a healthy if I had called him Moses or Tom? I couldn’t tell anyone, especially CO. He would scold me that I was stupid to believe in such old wives’ tales.

On the previous evening, on Thursday, Brina told me in great detail about the baby she lost. She had briefly mentioned her miscarriage, but on this occasion, she went into great detail. Brina said she accepted that miscarrying at seven months was the result of her working too hard. Brina accepted that maybe the baby was not normal. So it was better for him to die. At other times, I might have got very upset, talking about such an inauspicious thing so late in my pregnancy. But God in his way provided my first discussion about accepting death.

Deborah came, we hugged. I tried to hold back my tears as I tried to tell her the bad news.

Instead, she told me, “Yes, Mummy I know already, Baby is going to Jesus. Olwyn told me when we were coming here.”

Deborah didn’t cry. I cried even more. On the way to hospital, Olwyn had told her that Baby was very sick and may go to Jesus. Deborah replied that to go to Jesus, you have to die first. Later Olwyn told me that during their discussion, Deborah said that when she dies as an old woman and goes to Heaven, Andrew would be there and he would be an old man.

There was a breastfeeding room at the back of the ward. There were nice sofa chairs, rocking chairs and so on. We could perform the ceremony there. A nurse took some photos. We looked terrible, but I am glad we have them now. We thought it would be good for Deborah to be here. She had been looking forward to her new baby.

I held Andrew at the beginning of the dedication service, and Deborah stood by my side. We told Don that we had decided to call Baby Andrew. Don carried Andrew in his arms and prayed for him. Andrew opened his eyes, without anyone prodding him, for the first time. We all saw that. He seemed to be responding to someone. The nurse offered to use the ward’s Polaroid camera and took our photos, and she was so good.

The nurse wrote on Andrew’s card, baptised. I didn’t bother to get it changed. Later, Christian leaders came and offered to pray for him. When Roman Catholic nuns came, initially I said, “Sorry, we are Baptist.” Later, I didn’t care, let them pray, no amount of praying would stop Andrew from dying.

CO went to take Deborah to our friends’ house for the night. They were our other very good friends, Ian and Dawn DeStiger. As I had not read my notes since I wrote them 21 years ago, I had always wondered where the girls slept that night. Ian and Dawn are still our very good friends.

Olwyn and Don stayed with me until CO came back. I held Andrew. Poor Andrew, he was going to die. He couldn’t even cry; and occasionally he whimpered like a tiny kitten. I suggested that Don go back as it was very late, and Olwyn could stay with me. Don was going to, then he changed his mind. He wanted to wait for CO because he wanted to talk to him.

Finally CO came back, and Don and he had a talk outside. Later, CO said that Don had told him about making the funeral arrangements. CO needed support as he was the head of the family, and he had to support me. As I had carried Andrew for nine months, I was naturally more attached to Andrew than he was.

The nurses had removed Andrew’s drip for the ceremony. They asked if I wanted to breastfeed him.

I said, “No, I will feed him with a bottle.”

I asked for soya milk even though he was going to die; I didn’t want to give him something he might be allergic to. They had to get special permission from the doctor. They went to get it specially made for him. They could only find Isomil. Gabrielle had Infasoy. It was just a brand difference, so I didn’t mind.

In fact, the main reason I didn’t want to breastfeed him was that I was frightened of getting attached to him. And when he died, it would be harder for me to let go. I didn’t tell the nurses this. It was just as well: when the milk came in the bottle, Andrew couldn’t swallow. He could suck weakly, that was all. They had to tube-feed him. It hurt me in the stomach to see how it was done.

The nurse took a sterile tube, measured it from his ears to his stomach. Then they put the tiny tube down his nose. By this time, I wanted to vomit. Then from about one foot length hanging out of his nostril, they attached a syringe filled with milk. The nurse gave the syringe to me to hold above. The milk went down by gravity. The charge nurse prepared the milk for us.

By then, I had got to know the nurses. They were all very friendly and warm. My lips became very dry and raw and they got me a small jar of petroleum jelly to smear on them. It soothed my physical pain, but not the pain in my heart.

The nurse taking care of Andrew was called Anne; the nurse who admitted me to Ward 2 was also Anne. They constantly gave me tissues to wipe away my tears. We formed an affinity. I don’t think it was because of the special nature of Andrew’s condition -- they were all very very good to me.

I cried; I would rather be ordinary and have a living baby. A Chinese nurse, Dana, was there. I think she was from Hong Kong. She asked what I had named him, and I told her his Chinese name, but I didn’t know how to write it as I wasn’t good in Chinese. She helped me write his Chinese name.

At 10.30pm, CO said he was very tired and had to sleep. I suggested that he went up to Ward 2 to my room to sleep. I resolved to be with Andrew when he died. The Chinese have this saying “Shoon Chung” which bidding farewell for the last time.

I was thinking to myself, “If I can’t be your mum for a long time, let me at least be there when you go.”

Olwyn stayed a little while longer. We fed Andrew again. He had to be fed very regularly at short intervals because we were feeding him a very small quantity, smaller than a test- tube. His stomach could not handle too much or he would vomit. Olwyn went home. I was sitting on a rocking chair by the heat table. CO went somewhere in search of pillows to make me comfortable.

It wasn’t the comfy pillows on the rocking chair that gave me strength. It was God. Prior to the day, I was very sick and coughing and not sleeping. Miraculously, that night, my cold, my cough, was gone. It was as if I had become super strong for my dying baby.

There were six babies in that nursery 10. A mother was there taking care of her baby. In fact, most of the times, the mothers were helplessly looking at their babies.

I didn’t care about the other babies in the incubators or on the heat tables. I only cared about Andrew. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I just looked at him. The charge nurse asked if I wanted to go to the end room where we had the dedication so I could have some privacy and it would be more comfortable. Since were now letting nature take its course with Andrew, he was not a medical priority. He was no longer attached to the wires and tubes, he was mobile. It was well past 11pm. I said yes and they moved us. Andrew didn’t require a bassinet because I wanted to hold him. I walked with him once again along the corridor with the charge nurse by my side.

Wai Seto, a Malaysian friend from Church who was training to be a paediatrician came to talk with me. He knew my students when I was a relief teacher after I finished High School. We had a good talk. He and his wife Elaine knew Ipswich where Mother died. My sadness went away momentarily. Wai perused Andrew’s notes and photos, and examined Andrew.

I asked, “Why is he floppy like a rag doll?”

Wai replied, “His cartilage is not well formed and his bones are sort of soft.”
I asked again, “You mean he will not be able to stand?”

Wai told me, “You needn’t worry about him not being able to stand; he will be gone by then.”

He asked, as a friend, how I was coping. I said I was coping.

I was alone with Andrew in the breastfeeding room. He slept in my arms and I looked at him. How could it be? He looked so perfect and normal. At 12.30pm, he whimpered and cried in his little voice. He looked as though he was in agony. I thought the time had come. I prayed to God to take him to Heaven to be with him; I told Andrew to go, to let go and not to fight. For a long time, he was struggling and gasping for air. I rang for the nurse. She saw him and knew that he was dying; she rang the ward to get CO to come. CO came and we hugged each other. Inexplicably, he stopped whimpering; he must have been so tired that he had no energy to struggle anymore and just flopped.

Having seen his agony of struggling against a near-death episode, we talked.
Earlier in the evening, Andrew James had said, “We won’t prolong his life artificially, but make him as comfortable as possible.”

What was that, what did it mean? Feed him when he needed, but no treatment?
A Dr Knight came; the nurse must have told him that Andrew had a near-death episode. I asked him what to do when Baby was in distress.

Dr. Knight said, “Sometimes we give babies a sedative to help their distress. They go to sleep and do not wake up.”

I asked CO: when we fed him, were we prolonging his life? Therefore we were prolonging his suffering. If that was the case, maybe we should not feed him; then he would die naturally.

CO said, “We must feed him, otherwise by starving him, we are playing God. It is euthanasia or mercy killing. We must not do that.”

So I felt comfortable by this explanation that by feeding him, we were not prolonging his life but keeping him comfortable.

Then we realised that Andrew had done his poo. He didn’t like it. The nurse cleaned him up and changed his nappies. He felt better. I remember Mum telling us that when Grandpa died, he did a big bowel movement before hand.

Mum said, “He was very clean when he met his maker in Heaven. This is very important to the Chinese.”

In 2006, this happened to Dad too, we had dressed him very smartly his business suit. Just before he died, he did a big bowel movement. I kept thinking.

Mum had said, “It was important to be clean.”

CO and I sat facing each other and we talked. CO was crying. After Andrew settled for a long while, CO went to Ward 2 to sleep. We agreed that should Andrew cry again, we should check his bottom or feed him or call the nurse, instead of panicking.

CO said, “God is so gracious. He gave us two healthy children first. We definitely would not have coped if Andrew had been our first child.”

We were not going to have any more children. The doctors told us to wait for six months and have genetic counselling before we took drastic action.

I stayed in the room and held him while he slept. At 4.30am, I went to Room 10 for Andrew’s feed. I was very tired, and Nurse Gill could see it. She said she would put Andrew in a cot next to me in the breastfeeding room. I couldn’t sleep. The whole episode of the day kept replaying in my head.

God, please let your will be done, please do it quickly.

Even Jesus on the cross prayed, “If this cup can be taken away.”

Jesus experienced suffering. Why was I chosen to undergo this painful experience? I have not done bad things.

A young mother came to pump her milk for her baby. She knew I was a newbie and she shared with me her early experience. She said she bawled her eyes out when she got her news. Then she told me the etiquette of being a mum in the ICU. We can say Hi to the other mums, and if they smile back, you can talk to them. But if a mum doesn’t respond, respect her privacy. Her baby is likely to be very sick. Never look at the baby unless she invites you. Preemies can look very grotesque or very small. The mums do not like that. We formed a sisterhood, two mums with very sick babies. The only difference was her baby was getting better and better, and she would eventually take her home.

I went back to Nursery 10, there was a Maori mum whom I had befriended when I was admitted on Monday at the antenatal ward. I had forgotten her name; she had diabetes, and her baby came very early. She was surprised to see me as my baby wasn’t due for another three weeks. She hugged me as she was the oldie and me the newbie. We both cried, and I briefly looked at her baby; he was like a rat covered with black hair. I was grateful that at least Andrew was a proper baby.

This Maori mum was there for a long time, and then I didn’t see her. I thought she had been released from hospital and went home with her baby boy. But before Andrew died, she came back. She hugged me and told me her baby died, and they went back up north to have a proper Maori burial, a tangi. She came back to Ward 11A to return the blanket she had borrowed when she took the baby home. It was heart-breaking for her to come back to the place her baby died; and likewise for me, because soon, I would be like her.

I asked questions and talked to myself. You read in books, you watch on television or movies. You don’t think such tragic things happen. Now, it was happening to me. I cried, but I sure would like to know why is there such a cruel thing as Campomelic Syndrome. Why are the babies in this ICU dying?

Sometimes, I used to imagine dramatic things to add a bit of spice to life. But within 20 months, I had two dramatic events happen to me. Mother’s accident and death and Gabrielle’s early arrival were all dramatic. I didn’t get the chance to grieve for Mother. Now, less than two years on, I have to grieve for my son Andrew. How was I going to take it? In movies, I see mothers stoically at their children’s funeral, throwing soil into the grave. Would I do it, will I visit his grave, and will I never go to see his grave? One hundred and one questions with no satisfactory answers.

CO came down around 6am. He couldn’t sleep any more. We agreed he would take care of Andrew. He said after breakfast, I should take some sedative and go to sleep because I really needed it. I must have looked like a zombie.

I came up to Ward 2. An enrolled nurse saw me. She was an elderly Maori woman. I don’t know why, I burst into tears. She hugged me tightly with her huge body, engulfing me. It was such a good hug. She said she would get a nurse to check me out. They had not known that I was up the whole night. They looked in my room and saw CO sleeping there. They thought it was me and assumed I slept very well.

The nurse checked my blood pressure as I was getting light-headed, and said I should get some sleep. They would tell the doctor to get me some sedatives. They told me I must keep healthy and strong for my baby. If I fell sick, the ICU would not let me go there.
I had a long hot shower and shampooed my hair. The hot water refreshed me. CO had brought a hair drier to dry my hair straight away.

It is the Chinese belief that if a woman has delivered a baby, she isn’t allowed to shower or shampoo her hair. Otherwise in the future, she would get arthritis and rheumatism. As I had all three of my babies born in New Zealand, I did not adhere to this practice, but I dried my hair very thoroughly and quickly.

The shower refreshed me. Breakfast was served at 8am. I told the nurses to keep my breakfast because I had to see my baby. CO wasn’t happy to see me because I had not rested. But when he saw how well I looked, and I told him, I wanted to be with my baby, and not to force me to do anything else, he conceded. I was just concentrating on Andrew and being there when he died.

CO mentioned about the sad puppy picture on the wall. I didn’t bother to look or reply to him. Later he talked about the other babies in the room.

I said quite sharply, “Honey, don’t talk about anything else. Now, I don’t care about anything else but my baby.”

He said, “Sorry.”

Later he apologised and said his intention was to distract my mind from our sad situation.

Then came the inevitable question.

CO asked, “Shall we talk about the funeral?”

I was in denial and I screamed, “Andrew is alive, why are you talking about his funeral. I don’t want to talk about it.”

I had all the pent up emotion, and I released my anger at CO. He said Don Dickson had a good talk with him and there were a lot of things to be done, and it was good to be prepared. I had almost forgotten that Andrew was supposed to have died in the night, and I was just buying time. He wasn’t going to be better.

Some time later, I asked CO to bring the girls. CO said Dawn had arranged for Deborah to go to Mt Albert Baptist Church for some drama. Then I asked for Gabrielle. She was 17 months at that time.

CO went to pick Gabrielle up from Dawn’s house. After he left, the nurse must have asked if I had had my breakfast and sent me up to Ward 2.

“Remember, you need your energy”. The nurses kept reminding me.

I couldn’t eat; I had no appetite, but I knew I must eat. I was not Wonder Woman. I had not eaten anything the previous day.

I told the nurse I would come back.

I came down to ICU as quickly as I could. There was a new nurse, whose name I didn’t catch. She got Andrew’s bath ready and asked if I wanted to bath him. I said, I would not bath him but I would wash his face. I think I was afraid to see his misshapen body. Actually, he wasn’t so bad, his handicap was hardly obvious to a lay person. As I held the face cloth to wash his face, a torrent of tears came pouring down my face. I started sobbing. Here was I, such a hopeless mum who couldn’t even give her baby a bath.

Someone touched my back. I thought it was the nurse, but through my blurry eyes, I could see that she wasn’t in uniform. She hugged me, it was Olwyn. She had come at the right time when I so badly needed someone to comfort me. I had asked CO to ring her to come with writing material, tissues, Bible, and a book on the topic “Why” and breakfast for CO.

With Olwyn, suddenly I could talk about death and funerals. I surprised myself as just a couple of hours earlier; I had refused to talk about it with CO. We sat talking, with me holding Andrew.

I told Olwyn the Chinese funeral and burial customs. Dad and Grandpa had told me that the Chinese don’t cremate their dead. Grandpa had specifically said he didn’t want to be burnt. He said it was very “meat sour” to be burnt after you are dead. I remember going to the exhumation of my maternal great-granddad’s bones. Many of the older people even wanted to take the bones back to China.

Mum was buried in Australia and I often wondered if Dad wanted to exhume her bones and rebury them in Sarawak. He had talked about it saying if the Australian authorities allowed it, he would like it very much.

In fact after Dad’s funeral, this issue was discussed. Dad died in Sarawak. Mum and Dad had three graves, one in Sibu, their birth-place, one in Australia, where they lived together after they retired and where Mum was buried, and one in Kuching, Dad’s final resting place.

Now, I have this dilemma, though we have both lived in New Zealand for more than a dozen years, we have not made this our permanent home. What were we going to do? Would we bury Andrew here and then leave him all alone here?

What if we went to live in Australia where many of my siblings are? Poor Andrew, he would have nobody to visit his grave. Maybe Deborah and Gabrielle would visit him. Maybe I will come over from Australia and see him every now and then.

Should I cremate him, keep his ashes and then bury him in Australia? Olwyn said it would be terrible to have the ashes at home for Deborah to imagine Andrew in the fire. I remembered Grandpa talking about “meat sour”.

So I thought I will bury him here and while I am here in New Zealand, I will go to visit him. Olwyn assured me whenever I wanted to visit his grave, she would take me. I talked about when, how often and so on.

The Chinese have a particular day, Chin Ming when they go to the grave. The Roman Catholics, whose customs was my background visit, on All Souls Day. Now I am a Baptist, when do I visit? Olwyn said, here, there is no particular day, you go when you want. My neighbour Brina visited the cemetery very often. I understand why, it was not to visit her late father-in-law or aunty, but to visit her late baby son. Her husband Paul told CO that their baby was buried next to his dad.

We must have talked enough on this morbid topic. So we talked and talked about other things. We diverted our discussion to other nationalities’ way of cooking. Olwyn is a New Zealand, and I am an ethnic Chinese, born in Sarawak but living in New Zealand.
The Chinese have a practice commonly known as “confinement”. When a woman has delivered her baby, she has someone come to take care of her and the baby. It was a way of pampering so she gets plenty of rest. When I had Deborah and Gabrielle, I didn’t have the luxury to being pampered because they were born in New Zealand; besides, CO didn’t believe in this.

This time round, with two babies under two, we had arranged for a Chinese student, Chen Jie Wen’s friend Chen Mu to be our nanny for two to three weeks. We would pay her $150 a week, and she would live in and eat with us while she helping out with housework and minding Deborah and Gabrielle. CO said he didn’t want her to cook because she wouldn’t know how, and he himself would do the cooking. Now that Andrew was dying, our present circumstance meant we didn’t need Chen Mu.

The nurse reminded me that I hadn’t had breakfast, and the wards don’t normally hold the breakfast trays for patients. They held mine for me because of my special circumstances.
I was back in Ward 2 for my breakfast.

The cleaner came in to take the water jug. She was a Polynesian woman, and she knew something just wasn’t right as I didn’t have the baby with me in the room. She told me she would come back in 45 minutes to take the tray. I knew she gave me special treatment because she had come in a couple of times and asked if I had finished. I was embarrassed for holding up her work and said sorry.

She kindly said, “No love, you eat slowly, then see Baby.”

I gobbled down my breakfast without looking at what I was eating.

As soon as I finished eating, I rushed down to Ward 11A. I couldn’t bear to be away from Andrew for one minute. CO came with Gabrielle and a friend. I have no recollection who that friend was. If I had not written this diary, I wouldn’t even remember that she came.

Gabrielle just brightened the place, She kept saying, “Babe, Babe.”

She was barely 17 months, and had no idea what was happening. I stopped crying when I saw my other baby. I hugged her tight as though I was worried she would die too.
The doctors decided that since Andrew was off the ICU case, he could be up in Ward 2 with us so we would have our privacy. A baby dying is very traumatic and it would affect the other mums in the ICU. We brought Andrew up to my private room.

We had lots of visitors.

Dr Bobby Tsang said something very profound which cut into my heart: “You and CO are the best parents for Andrew.”

I asked him to elaborate. He said that God chose us to be Andrew’s parents because he knew that we would love him. That same weekend Andrew was born, Bobby told me that a pair of twins was born. One of them had a fatal condition, but the mother couldn’t abort her because the abortion would affect the good twin. After the babies were born, Mum left the hospital with the good twin. The sick baby was left to die.

Actually it was this dying twin who reminded me and gave me the assurance that I was doing the right thing and telling me that I did not abandon Andrew. Later in the week, on the fourth day, when Andrew went back to ICU, that little twin was in the next nursery or cubicle to Andrew. The nurses would come and say Hi to their most precious babies. There was Andrew with his mum by his side everyday, and at the next nursery was this baby who was abandoned. One day, I asked the nurse and she told me that the baby was Lo, the baby that Bobby told me about.

Paul Khor came to visit. Paul took our wedding photos. I asked if he would come and take our new family portrait. He came, and we had wonderful photos. We removed Andrew’s feeding tube out from his nose. The photos were so good that I didn’t look haggard despite after two nights of no sleep. I sent two photos to the Campomelic Families group. We were the only Asian CS family.

After Paul had gone, we waited for the nurses to come and feed Andrew. But no one came. Eventually, I rang for the nurses. They said they would page for the ICU nurses to come, but they were really busy down at Ward 11A. It was a long time, and I thought maybe since Andrew was dying, feeding him was not a priority. I didn’t complain. Neither did Andrew. Eventually, a Malaysian nurse who started to come to the Baptist Tabernacle came on duty. She was Sim.

Sim explained that the normal ward nurses are not allowed to insert the nasal tube into babies to tube feed babies, and the ICU nurses were really busy. Sim had worked in ICU before, so she was allowed to insert the tube to feed Andrew. She rushed down to ICU to get the tubes to feed Andrew. Sim became a very good friend, often coming to see us when she got off duty. She was an angel, and cooked some confinement food for me.

Dr Andrew James said Andrew would probably die by the third day. We trust God’s will be done to him. I had a good sleep on Saturday. I prayed before I slept. I asked to God to give us a sign. If he was going to take Andrew, would He please take him quickly with just one death episode.

I continued to ask God to give us the sign when he was going to take him. God was good to me; on Friday and Saturday my cough and cold was gone. On Sunday, my church prayed for us.

On Sunday after noon, Gwen Bettridge came with a pot of brownish orange chrysanthemums. She said she didn’t want to buy me flowers because they would fade. She would rather give me a live pot plant. Gwen said I could grow it in the garden when the flowers were gone. I told her I like chrysanthemums because I had seen the beautiful ones in the Winter Garden at the Domain. We sat chatting; Gwen was a nurse.

The ward clerk came with the Plunket Baby Book and gave it to me saying, “This is your Plunket baby book.”

I told her, my baby doesn’t need a Plunket baby book.

In her uppity manner, she said, “All New Zealand babies need a Plunket baby book.”

She must have thought I was an uneducated immigrant woman.

I told her, “My baby is dying, he doesn’t need a baby book,” and I burst into tears.

I wanted to fling the book at her. But I didn’t. I had never thrown anything at anybody, and I wasn’t about to do it now. She quickly retreated out of my room. Gwen went after her to explain.

I held the Plunket book, a book in which all mothers recorded the development of their babies. I had one each for Deborah and Gabrielle. What was I going to do with this book? How much could I enter before Andrew would die and I would be left with an almost empty book. The clerk had stuck Andrew’s sticker on it so there was not much point in returning it. I clutched the book to my chest and cried.

After about 15 minutes, the poor ward clerk came to apologise. She was only a reliever in the weekend, and she said that nobody had told her about Andrew. She only did what she normally did in the case of a new admission.

I told her, “It wasn’t your fault, someone should have told you.”

It was only that she came at the wrong time when Andrew was going to die any minute.
Later I told Olwyn, and she said that while Andrew was still alive, I could enter notes in it. I did not record anything in it.

On Sunday night, I started coughing again; my whole body was aching. My milk was coming, and my breasts were engorging. They were crying for Andrew to suck on them and clear the blockage. I was feverish. I took this as a reminder that I must take care of myself. I had not taken any sedative because Olwyn had said, it was important I wasn’t doped off kill of all my sensations. God’s been giving me strength. Andrew was supposed to have died by now, and he was still hanging on. The waiting on tenterhook was sapping my energy.

Monday, October 2nd. It was the third day; these days had been the longest days of my life. It is 9.40am. I have just finished my breakfast. I had a fitful night’s sleep. I kept dreaming about Mother’s funeral and Andrew’s.

Dr. A Lim came in and checked me over. Then he dropped the bombshell. He said since Andrew is a boarder, we should really go home. I was upset. How could I take Andrew home? I couldn’t even feed him. I have not bathed him because I couldn’t bear to see his body. He mentioned something about hospital policy and the government didn’t have money for people who didn’t need the medical services to stay in the hospital. It was as if he had delivered a swift dark whirlwind, bringing debris to my life. Didn’t I pay taxes? Didn’t CO pay taxes?

Olwyn came. I was crying loudly when Dr. Andrew James came. I told him that Dr. A Lim has discharged me and Andrew, and I was not ready. He said Dr. A Lim was wrong to discharge me. As long as a baby is tube fed, and needed oxygen, and his mum is not competent to feed him that way, and if he needs oxygen, he is a patient and not a boarder.

So Andrew was whisked off back to intensive care as the ward nurses were not qualified to take care of a baby on nasal tube and oxygen. This time he was transferred to the last but one nursery. This nursery is when the babies are almost recovering and will proceed to the last-stage room. In all cases, except for Andrew, the babies were getting ready to go home. I knew in my heart, when Andrew went home, it would be go home to his Father in Heaven.


  1. How very sad, your ordeal just seems endless.

  2. I can see how these three days must have seemed endless.