A post dedicated to our firstborn Nathaniel, born and died on 10 October 2004.
He would have been 9 years old today.
I rushed to the clinic only to see my wife lying there. The same place where over ultrasounds the last few weeks offered life, hope and anticipation…now these words, the same place, takes on a different twist – “Please survive, please hang on. Don’t go. Will he be ok?”
Within a few hours, my wife was whisked to NUH where she was warded in an isolation ward, trying to save our first born, who, at 22 weeks was threatening to be delivered. Irony isn’t it? Birth is supposed to bring life but…
We lost Nathaniel 9 years ago today. We had tried for so long to have a child only to lose him in the wee hours on a Sunday morning – a day of hope and rejoicing but…Nathaniel died in-utero as my wife’s water bag ruptured prematurely on her way to her classes. There was just too little to pull him through. We were too shocked to know how to react – couples we know, have not had their baby died on them before…So shocked were we that I made a decision to let the hospital cremate him incognito – my main task is to be with my dear wife who had to undergo a traumatic emergency D&C to remove her retained placenta…
We were to go on to lose 2 more babies (conceived through IVF), tragically a boy-girl twin. Ashley survived one day in the NICU when she was delivered at 24 weeks; her brother Joash, wasn’t so fortunate , he too died in-utero, under the same circumstance as his elder brother Nathaniel 3 years earlier.
The day Ashley died…I had to register her birth first at the hospital then moved one chair over to the next booth to register her death. These are situations that happen only in drama and literature. Not to us. But it did.
By now, my wife and I are no strangers to total helplessness.
Prayers…intecessions…fasting….pleading…I’m sure they are effective but perhaps in another dimension. We were all too familiar with people’s probing ‘eyes’ on us, painfully juxtaposed with friends, relatives and strangers who all seem to ‘multiply’ without even trying. Are we cursed? Why did God do this to us? What do we do now? How do we face our tomorrow? Where do we go from here?
Dana’s arrival resurrected us from the living dead. Finally! The promised one. A special one. She was perfect – pretty, healthy and we were determined to bring her up right since both of us are educators but most importantly…we were determined not to leave things to chance.
For us, after having tasted the bitter pain and anguish of being helpless. Just standing there, pacing, praying, hoping, waiting but yet… gone. Who is to blame? God? Oh no…He is perfect. The doctors? No…they have told us there’s always risk. Us. Somehow…it has to be us. When something happens to your child when you are not with them, who can you blame? For us, we would trade anything to bring them back….
No…Nathaniel, Joash and Ashley’s existence has taught us that life is a gift, life is fragile…take chances with it, at your own risk. Couple time? Couple trips? Sure….at the risk of your child? No. Not without my daughter.
Years ago when we were at Gold Coast, we saw many young Australian couples, struggling with their children’s pram while feeding them or pacifying them. No complaints. Not even a frown. We have much to learn. I realised that for these parents (young as they may be), once a child comes along, the child IS part of their lives, the child IS part of their existence…Our children ARE our responsibility whether we are with them… or not. It’s a lifestyle of sacrifice, a whole new paradigm shift.
Once we allowed Dana to join my sister-in-law’s family for a day trip to Johore Legoland. It was one of the longest afternoons of my life when we lost contact with them (due to their mobile phone batteries being 100% depleted). That few hours’ wait became one of the longest in recent years…No, It’s not worth that ‘couple time’. No, she is our responsibility and we shall not be helpless again…if we can help it.
No, not without my daughter. This we owe to Nathaniel, Joash and Ashley.
To learn how to support a grieved loved one, visit http://www.howdoesshe.com/dos-and-donts-for-supporting-a-grieving-loved-one/