Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas for the bereaved.

Photo: My little brown puppy, 
what an unusual Christmas tree decoration.
It's Andrew's puppy.
I bought it for Andrew,
Even though we knew he was dying,
And he would never play with it.
Every year, I take the puppy out.

If you have friends who are bereaved,
Given them some thoughts.

For all my Sands Manukau, Sands New Zealand Sands Auckland Central and Grieving Mothers.
My little brown puppy,
what an unusual Christmas tree decoration.
It's Andrew's puppy.
I bought it for Andrew,
Even though we knew he was dying,
And he would never play with it.
Every year, I take the puppy out.

If you have friends who are bereaved,
Given them some thoughts.

Today in our news, a survivor of the worst tragedy off New Zealand, tells, he never celebrate Christmas. It's been 50 years.

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Book Launch

I am still having that warm fuzzy feeling. I was very very lucky. I was there at the right place and right time. Friends asked how I got a Government Minister to be my guest of honour. 
Photo: Proud of you, Ann
With YB Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh  at Ann Chin's Book Launch at RH Hotel today.

Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh offered to be my VVIP guest. I wrote to him, as his student if the Government had funding to aspiring writers, and the rest is history. He was proud to be my teacher, and I had done him proud.

Francis Chen very happily helped me with the logistics and my Chinese MC. When my Malay and English MC couldn't make it, John Benet stepped it.

Who could dream that my book launch was such a Ministerial affair and my own clan people organising it. Thank you Mr. Kong Tze Ling.

Proud of you, Ann
With YB Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh at Ann Chin's Book Launch at RH Hotel today. — with Ann Chin.


My sister in grief Megan Lee.

This is my sister in New Zealand. Megan Lee, Through very unusual circumstances, we got to know each other, me a bereaved mum once, Megan many times over.

When I feel sorry for myself and have a quiet cry, I think of Megan.

You woulde have noticed her short hair. Megan shaved her hair for charity. That is very brave of her. She didn't worry if she might not raise a lot of money. The thing is she did it. I had contemplated shaving my hair, but I was a coward.
I love you, Megan.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Zealand Herald Link to my first news paper writeup.

The New Zealand Herald is a daily newspaper published in Auckland, New Zealand, owned by APN News & Media. It has the largest newspaper circulation of any in the country, peaking at over 200,000 copies in 2006, although numbers had declined to 162,181 by December 2012.[1] Its main circulation area is the Auckland region. It is also delivered to much of the north of the North Island including Northland, Waikato and King Country.[

Words of healing

A mother's account of the death of her newborn son has been turned into a book in the hope it will help other mothers heal. Rebecca Blithe meets the author. "The specialist said, 'You're going to have a normal baby'," says Ann Chin, as she sits with a pile of her recently published book, Diary of a Bereaved Mother.
But the days that followed the birth of her son, Andrew, proved anything but normal.
"Once I had my baby they realised he was dying," she says, of his diagnosis of Campomelic syndrome; a bone and cartilage condition resulting in short limbs and breathing problems because of a small chest capacity.
"They knew because of the scans, but they didn't investigate because it was a rare thing," she says, of the abnormalities. "When the baby was born, they resuscitated him. He was going to die that night. He survived for 55 days.
"One afternoon I was told he had died. He stopped breathing, he turned black, he was dead for half of the afternoon. Then he began breathing again." Describing that afternoon, the author seems lost for words. "You can't really give words, except that it was heart-wrenching, I was in a black tunnel."
During this period, Mrs Chin stayed in the nurses' home at National Women's Hospital, awaiting her baby's death, and writing.
"It was not only a diary for myself but I was writing letters to family in Australia and Singapore. I kept carbon copies," she says, adding her father had made his six children write daily compositions from a young age.
Twenty-one years later, after meeting other women who lost children, she decided to revisit her ordeal, in the hope of helping mothers cope and those close to them understand.
"Six hundred babies a year die. That's more than the road toll. [Compared to the funding for road safety] there's just nothing provided for us."
Mrs Chin, who teaches English as a second language, says reliving the experience was difficult but cathartic.
"I took out all my old files. I read them and I cried. I sat at the computer and I cried. But after a while, I was okay. Then I finished the first draft on his anniversary."
She says the feedback so far has been positive, especially from those who have had similar experiences.
"One of the mothers [from a Stillborn and Newborn Death support group], she just cried. She said to have someone writing about it was really helpful. I've spoken to grandparents as well. People tell me, 'Now I understand'."
Her story also tells of her disappointment with some of the staff at the antenatal unit and the importance of cultural sensitivity. "We had two doctors who kept saying, 'This is his problem'," she says, of medical staff shifting the blame.
The book has been requested by one of Mrs Chin's doctors, who is now based at the University of Toronto, Canada, to assist with training and hospital management procedures.
Dr Simon Rowley is a consultant at Starship Children's Hospital who's been given a copy of the book.
"It is a good reminder to all health professionals that when our patients leave us, the story does not end for the parents. The detail is amazing, and every little thought and action seems to have been recorded as it happened, and then has been reflected upon.
"For parents undergoing similar experiences this book could be a great comfort. For health professionals, I would see it as essential reading."
Further reading
Diary of a Bereaved Mother is available at The Women's Bookstore, 105 Ponsonby Rd, or  email Ann Chin:

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Ok to cry, you tube. I did a workshop on Grieving in the Asian prospective. 

Met friends who told me their bereavement. Their baby had died inside her. They never saw the baby, and paid the hospital to disposed of the baby. I felt so sorry for them.

I am  fortunate that I had Andrew here in New Zealand.

It is my sad privilege to be able to talk about it and to share with you. This U-tube is from a Television New Zealand documentary where I was interviewed.

Old friends belonging to the same club.

Now I can joke that despite a horrible pregnancy and labour, God made me beautiful in this photo.

The Gladioli flower, God gave it to me. The gardener drop it from his truck at the Winter garden. It was because of my dear friends that I went there.

Here the Gladioli stays, next to my tapestry.  Can you believe I made it in a month. it's 1 meter by 1/2 meter. I was grieving when I made it.

Spent a morning with a very old friend and his wife. I had seen him only once since school days. While reminiscing old days, he came up with, "You are not alone." I thought he was comforting me with the lost of Andrew. His wife took me they too lost a baby , and they never got to see her.

I belong to an International Grieving group. The administrator asked if I had Andrew's photo. I dug up his album. Here is a good photo of me with Andrew, the day after he was born and we were told he was dying. Thank you my friends.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Rainbow child

The weather is hotting up, my rainbow  child is back at the beach, getting very tan.

I learn for the first time the term Rainbow babies from a fellow bereaved mum, Caterine from Australia.

Rainbow babies are conceived after the lost of a baby.

"Rainbow Babies" are the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow 

appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds. Storm clouds may still loom over but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and much needed hope.

Many mums for various reasons choose not tohave rainbow babies, and many well meaning people tell them, " You will be alright, you can soon have another."

For me, my rainbow baby came 7 years after Andrew died. I had not planned for him. I went through hell during my pregancy because I was worried I would have a repeat of Andrew.

excerpt from my book.

1996 Samuel, the final chapter

He hears your cries,
He sees your tears,
Enough is enough!
He dries your tears.
He makes you laugh.

In January 1996, I thought I was having gynaecological problems. Every morning I met with my older friends doing Tai Chi. They were menopausal women so we talked a lot about women’s problems. I was bleeding when I shouldn’t be bleeding, and was dry when I was supposed to bleed. Once, I had a gush of blood rushing down my legs. I was really frightened. I went to the doctor and she said, perhaps the pills did not suit me, so she prescribed another type. She did this twice.

Around Easter, I told my neighbour Dorothy Debrah from Ghana. She was training to be a dietitian in England.

She asked, “Are you sure you are not pregnant? Some women bleed when they are pregnant.”

I had no symptoms of any kind, no nausea and no craving for particular food. I was climbing up and down a steep slope gardening. Dorothy frightened me and I insisted that CO took me to the doctor. We went to her and she wrote me a referral letter and rang the gynaecologist for an urgent appointment. We went to Dr. Selina Chua straight away. Dr. Selina Chua listened to me, and read the GP’s letter. She told me to get on the bed and hooked on the machine. The machine went Bop! Bop! Bop!

She said, “Congratulations, you are pregnant.”

I burst into tears. She was baffled. I was married and why was I crying? CO told her about Andrew. Selina was a very understanding doctor. Immediately she rang the radiology department to make reservations for a very urgent ultrasound scan. She recommended that I had an amniotic fluid test because I was 42.

Dr. Chua explained the options I had. I didn’t have much choice. I was too far advanced in my pregnancy to have an abortion by D & C, and scrape the baby away. I would need an induction to deliver the baby if I wanted to get rid of him. By induction, the hormone prostaglandin is intruded into the cervix. This hormone softens my cervix; the induction mimics the process of natural labour. Prostaglandins will usually cause ‘period type’ pains in the back or lower abdomen and these result in my cervix opening a little, to enable the midwife or doctor to break my waters. This artificial labour can be tiring and painful, and until the baby is expelled. Either way, the baby is killed in the process.

Selina said, “Let us not worry prematurely, and wait till we get the scan results.”

This didn’t pacify me a bit. I was crying and crying.

God in his infinite wisdom planned it that when I found out I was pregnant at 28 weeks; it was too late for a normal abortion. If it had been earlier on, there was no telling if I would have aborted the baby. The odds were too much against me. It was literally hell I went through when I had Andrew. Would I have the strength or be stupid enough to go through it again? I seriously contemplated getting rid of it.

 I remembered Olwyn Dickson telling me that it was terrible for a woman to go to labour knowing she was having a handicapped child. It was worse for me, I was going to have not only a handicapped baby but one that would die. My world had turned upside down, and helplessly, I was hit over and over by a sledgehammer.

They couldn’t scan me straight away because the clinic was closed for lunch. We had an hour to wait. We went to the cafeteria and I told CO I couldn’t eat. Food was the last thing on my mind. The horrors of the 55 days with Andrew flooded back. I was on tenterhooks. History was repeating itself. What had I done to deserve this? CO ate his lunch and I sat crying. I didn’t care that the other patients and their friends were looking at me.

The radiologist came back from his lunch and was very good when he did the scan. He had never encountered a Campomelic baby, and we told him, the most important sign was the femurs bending; you will see a kink.

I remembered telling him, “Check the femurs! Check the femurs!”

He reassured me that the baby was normal. I didn’t want anyone to say my baby was normal. The last time Dr. Tan said my baby was normal, my baby died. He told me the baby was a boy. I got no joy from this news. I think it was CO who told the technician to tell us the sex of the baby. All my previous three pregnancies, I hadn’t wanted to know. I wanted the element of surprise. CO later said, he thought if I knew I was having a boy, I might feel better. It didn’t.

We went back to Dr. Selina Chua. She made an appointment for the amniotic test. I was so confused and worried. Dr. Selina Chua informed my GP. My GP was very worried. The contraceptive pills she had prescribed me were very potent. There were a lot of male hormones. If the baby was a girl, she would be very masculine. I was thinking about the Campomelic SOX9 sex reversal. She rang CO to tell him this information and told him we were better to have an abortion.

In 2010, there was controversy over a gender row concerning champion South African runner Caster Semenya. She was suspected of being a man or of having male sexual organs. There were reports that claimed sex swap tests had shown she was a hermaphrodite. I thought of Andrew and other Campomelic babies whose sex was ambivalent. When people discuss Semenya, I refrain from saying, you don’t know about being Campomelic.

We had the whole issue of debate about abortion again, and I was worried. Though the scans showed the baby wasn’t Campomelic, I was worried that the scans were wrong. I went to the amniotic test. It was the biggest syringe needle I had seen; the technician injected the long needle near my navel. I asked if the needle would poke the baby, and she said no. The fluid the technician drew out was dark brown, almost black. I asked her why; she said she didn’t know. That was probably caused by the bleeding I had been having. The contraceptive was not foolproof; the human body sometimes gets tired of it. That was how I got pregnant, when my GP changed the contraceptive pills.
I was worried sick, and getting depressed. I was a mental wreck. The amniotic test results came back. Baby wasn’t Down Syndrome. We told Deborah and Gabrielle that they were going to have a baby brother.
Deborah aged 12, asked, “He is not going to die, is he?”
I said, “No,” without conviction.


To me, it’s like God saying, “Sorry for taking Andrew, I am making it up doubly.”
Time has diluted the grief in me. Having Sam helped a lot.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Breast Surgery.

When I had my third breast surgery, my second for a cyst, Dr Susan Lim in Singapore had a thorough consultation. It was in 1991, when Silicone were known to be bursting inside the women.

I decided if I were to have Mastectomy, I opt for flat chest rather than have silicone implant. Praise God, it was just a cyst and not the big C.  So when I heard yesterday's news about this idiot was still using silicone, I want to crucify him.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

it is well with my soul.

This hymn was a favourite of mine and a great comforter when I was waiting for Andrew to die and when I was grieving for him.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 
 when sorrows like sea billows roll; 
 whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, 
 It is well, it is well with my soul. 
 It is well with my soul, 
 it is well, it is well with my soul. 

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, 
 let this blest assurance control, 
 that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, 
 and hath shed his own blood for my soul. 

3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! 
 My sin, not in part but the whole, 
 is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, 
 praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! 

4. And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, 
 the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; 
 the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, 
 even so, it is well with my soul. 

S.S. Ville du Harve was struck by the English vessel Loch Earn and eventually foundered. Spafford's four daughters—Anna, eleven; Maggie, nine; Bessie, seven; and Tanetta, two—were among the 226 who perished in the aftermath
Spafford immediately sailed for England to join his grief-stricken wife. As his ship passed the approximate location where his daughters had drowned, his deep sorrow mingled with his unwavering faith in God's goodness caused him to compose this hymn. 

Today is my oldest daughter's 29th birthday. I started a tradition, copying from the Taiwanese. Mum's SHOU NAN RI,  Day of mum's greatest
suffering. Having Deborah was painful, but it was nothing compared to the
SHOU NAN RI when Andrew was born.

I am reminded again and again when people asked me how I coped. I told them it was because I was surrounded by Christians. Today, my Pastor Jonathan Dove spoke on Focusing on who is with you rather than what is happening to you. 

This is precisely what was happening to me. I focused on the Godly people who encouraged me and gave me practical help. I did not feel bitter towards God for giving me a dying son. I still do not, after 24 years, ask Why Me, because God has a greater plan for me.