Archive for May, 2008


I don’t know how to write this… … is it cheesy to say my loss of him is like the elevator music of my life?

— it’s always playing. sometimes it’s not really heard as other things take over. Sometimes it’s loud, and annoying. irritates me out of my skin. But, like in the elevator, I look around, see the buttons, spot the camera, but can’t see how I can switch off that music.

I don’t like to say this because I don’t want to portray that he is annoying, irritating.

It’s not about him; it’s how *I* have to deal.

I don’t know why but I thought of these mythical creatures in fairy tales– those ferocious dragons that guard the enprisoned princess whose eyeballs still look and stare even when they are asleep?

I feel like that sometimes too. Staring at my grief all the time.


Today was a crazy day of preparation for Val’s birthday party tomorrow. So many places to go to, so many things to do. The day was hot, the girls whiny and I just want to check myself into Gelato 64 and eat every flavor there.

Then as it cooled down in the early evening, just the two of us, me and Val, we went to get the balloons for her party tomorrow.

She was so terribly excited, and happy and chatty. I felt excited too, and happy. Thrilled that she is seven and we’re going to have a party tomorrow. I even thought of drawing a mandala on her cake.

Then, as we drove back home, and I saw the balloons bounced in the rear-view mirror, the wave hit.


He will never have a party like this.

With cakes and balloons and friends and presents and songs and games… …

No, it’s not him… I will never get to do this for him. Never. Ever.

I felt again, that it was my fault. ok, we will never know (though sometimes I feel I will, in the distant future, like, after I die. I think I will then be able to access these special place of records and find out exactly why this has to happen) but because he died while still inside of me, it is my responsibility. Which is really shitty.

I felt the momentum of us, moving along in our car. I sped along as traffic was free, and I thought of how he stopped moving, one day, inside of me.

could not help recalling my short days on the stage. tried to imagine myself in the role of a stillborn baby.

Still. Be very still. Do not move.

The amniotic fluid is decreasing. No food. No oxygen. can’t move. can’t breathe. gag. struggle. gasp. kick. struggle. fight. scream silently within. gag again. gasp for breath. then, slowly die. do not move. still. be still. be born, still. and silent.

This is what kills me. Thinking of him screaming to me from within, “Help me, mom! Why are there no more fluids! I cannot breathe, and I have no food! What is going on?! Help!”

And there I was, going about without any inkling at all. I had NO idea at all. This makes me want to give myself a good beating up.

Tears flowed down but I did not sob. dared not, with Val at the back of the car.

We got home, and I quickly make dinner, assembled the cake and got everyone off to bed.

Then I sit down here, in-front of the computer, and spew out the dark that had been slamming against my insides.


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Internet woes

Guess how long it took for this “Write new post” page to load?

Thirty minutes. I kid you not. Three-zero. 3-0. THIRTY. THIRTY!!!

We’re using slow-poke dial-up now. I know, sounds like a very quaint idea, but it’s not very authentic. Our wireless has not been able to kick in, and when it does, it will crash the computer. Six or seven times over. So we succumb, crawl to our dial-up diety, and bow and beg for a connection of some kind. Dial-up God begrudgedly said “yes” but to punish us for our greed for speed, gave us super-slow connection.

Sometimes my Google Reader would not load at all. Then, when it loads, it does not get to the new posts. Then, when I try to post a comment, I lose it.

These words I see often nowadays: “Problem loading. “; “Try again.”; “Try again.”; “Try again.”

Sometimes i just get a blank page.

If it is not because my brain is so chatty, I would have been done with the blog already and go scribble on a piece of paper and then float it away somewhere. That is, when it so soon rains in our desert.

I tried to upload my post on Glow in the Woods yesterday and I could not login. In fact, the screen kept flashing, as if threatening the end of my blogo-existence. Before the screen started rattling and the keyboard began smoking and before anything worse could happen, I ran far far away from the computer.

Maybe someone is trying to tell me something.

Afterall, three out of four of us are now sick in this house. *COUGH* *COUGH*!!!

Maybe I ought to lay down and rest. Or should I be churning butter and mending socks? You know, doing something useful.

Not writing gibberish yada-yada.

So I am trying to keep abreast, but some invisible evil forces are at work here. If I post a comment with typos it is because it made me cry to think I have to delete and try to re-post, which will take about two hours at the rate things are going now. If I do not post, it is because I got blank pages or too many “try again”‘s that I started to think it is a comment on my own life. Sheesh.

Honestly, i asked dh to smudge the house the other day. Did not work.

Got any spells for me to try?

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  1. My life is made up of my lists.
  2. I think in bullet-form.
  3. with lots of pauses, enter/returns and backtrack/deletes.
  4. I wish I can do this:
  5. My son Ferdinand died.
  6. My son Ferdinand died.
  7. My son Ferdinand died. is ten months old.
  8. It is not enough that the memory is alive; that he lives on in us, and through us.
  9. So sometimes I will eat a lot of chocolates.
  10. And I hide my chocolates from the girls.
  11. I think of what others, people further ahead of the road, have told me.
  12. In fact, they re-assured.
  13. Promised, even.
  14. That one day I will laugh, carefree.
  15. That one day I will remember and smile, not cry.
  16. Gingerly I wait for that day.
  17. Deep down I know that day will arrive.
  18. Lately the older girl has been asking a lot about “another baby”;
  19. it starts to freak me a little.
  20. She said, “The day the new baby is born will be a happy day.”
  21. Pause. Silence on my part, not daring to utter a word.
  22. “I hope another baby will not die.”
  23. Silence.
  24. “Mommy, one baby dying is enough, right?”
  25. The last time I held a (live) baby must be about six months ago.
  26. That time I did not feel sad.
  27. It was good to hold the baby.
  28. Even though she was born about six weeks before Ferdinand died, and therefore sort of a bellwether.
  29. There is this other baby born 28 days before Ferdinand died.
  30. But I do not get to see her often.
  31. The times I have seen her,
  32. my heart bled every. single. time.
  33. I tried not to show that,
  34. because I know that mom tried hard to keep her baby out of my way.
  35. I so appreciate that.
  36. But triggers are many, and unpredictable.
  37. Some days I am fine, rather fine.
  38. Some days not so good.
  39. Some days I en-prison myself.
  40. There are times when I feel that my mission is:
  41. Have another living baby.
  42. That’s awful.
  43. And then I will defiantly think my life can be bigger than that.
  44. And I will think:
  45. I should go for a few (expensive) cooking vacations. (See Gourmet May issue)
  46. Or pick up archery.
  47. (Something one can’t do while pregnant.)
  48. Even better, archery on horse-back.
  49. (Definitely not to be done when pregnant.)
  50. Or, sky-diving.
  51. (Again, not to be done while pregnant.)
  52. It seems every time I think “baby” I feel I am locked in.
  53. Time ticks and I am pressured to deliver.
  54. And. Not. Fail. Again.
  55. Actually, the time is always ticking.
  56. Two days ago we celebrated Valerie’s seventh birthday.
  57. I felt sad when we sat to enjoy the cake.
  58. Because he is not here to enjoy with us.
  59. Because he will never get to taste any cake that I will bake.
  60. Because Sophia asked when is Ferdinand’s birthday.
  61. And I think of us,
  62. sitting at the table; the four of us.
  63. Singing a song for him;
  64. eating his cake.
  65. While he is
  66. absent.
  67. (Although at this point I am not really sure what we will do yet, on that day.)
  68. It does not matter (at least right now) that his soul lingers with us.
  69. I am of flesh and blood and I want to touch flesh and blood.
  70. Warmth.
  71. To hug and snuggle and cuddle.
  72. Something truly tangible.
  73. Occasionally when we are in a store, I drive our cart past the maternity section.
  74. Just to look.
  75. And I am always afraid someone will catch me red-handed
  76. fantasizing.
  77. Hoping.
  78. So I just stop by briefly.
  79. As if to deposit my vote of confidence,
  80. and hope,
  81. that one day,
  82. his soul will return.
  83. I miss him.
  84. It feels weird to say that.
  85. Like we were together forever.
  86. But those weeks, those months I carried him in me
  87. did feel like forever.
  88. There was always another week to count, to the day he will be born.
  89. I still count the weeks, and the months.
  90. I still count the weeks, and the months.
  91. I still count the weeks, and the months.

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Thank you for your kind comments to the previous post.

Yes, it does make it all so fresh again. Like lightning striking a second time. Darkness descending all over again and the door slamming shut and not finding the exit.

Yes, time played a nasty joke. So true.

And this morning, I thought, did they perhaps think, I did not send them the happy birth announcement? That I forgot to include them on that list?  Did they finally write after seven months (back in February) because they have been waiting and waiting for a birth announcement, a Chinese New Year card (we used to send one out every year with pics of the girls), or some baby pictures? Were they puzzled that we forgot them? Were they wondering, how could we have neglected to shout out the good news to them?

I know, all fruitless speculations, but I can’t help it, trying to think from their perspective.

My suspicion is that, death was never on their minds. Stillbirth was not a part of their bandwidth. Grieving for a still baby was never a part of their world. They have two healthy children. Actually, now I wonder if she may not be pregnant with their third?

Now, I’ve thrown this, this….. thing into their lives. I think of all the emotions they could experience: rude shock, utter disbelief, sadness, sympathy, empathy, helplessness, regret at knowing so late. I think of them struggling to find the words to say to us and my heart just aches. Bleeds.

I feel like sending out an email saying, it’s ok. Just say nothing. It’s been 10 months. We are coping. We’re ok. Not really OK, as in, everything is alright, and fine. But, the scar is scabbing over. I know it is hard to find the words. We are just trying to… move on… sort of.

And then I started to cry. It has indeed made it all so fresh again. Like he just died. Once over again.

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All those months, they thought I had been immersed in the bliss of goo-goo baby world.

It made me keel over to think that.

I have these two friends, a most wonderful couple, back in Hong Kong. I adore them, these wonderful people. We don’t communicate often because they are not the “email-ing” type and prefer to talk on the phone but with the time difference and all that, it had been hard. But we think of each other often. And, if I need any help, I know I can rely on them. No questions asked. Last year they sent me some books on Chinese post-natal recipes, since R volunteered to be the post-natal cook. I had asked for those, and they bought them for me and mailed them and did not want any money for that.

Then Ferdinand died. I included them on the announcement email. They did not write back. Because I know how they are, I expected they just could not find the words and were just grieving silently along.

Turns out that email announcement somehow fell through the cracks.

This February, I got a brief email about greetings for Chinese New Year. I was home and away from the computer for a good three weeks, and by the time I dug back through my emails, it was May.

So last week I replied and said we are ok, blah blah… how are you guys doing?

Then he replied and asked, can you send photos of your three kids? What’s the name of the youngest? Are you getting help now that you have three?

That lightning went right through me. I went totally cold. I felt like dying.

Oh. my. goodness. They do not know. How could they not know?! They were on the list. Yes, I am sure, they were on the list. How could they not know?

I wrote back, saying that it appears you missed an email I sent out last July. I had a stillbirth. Our baby son did not make it. His name is Ferdinand. It means “ardent voyager”. We did not have the reason why it happened. We are coping.

How could they not have known?! What happened to that email?? What are they going to say now? How are they going to react?

All those months we did not get in touch, we were fumbling, stumbling, bleeding, trying to find some crack of light around an exit door. And they thought, oh, they must be busy and full of bliss juggling another kid. Imagine, three kids for them now! When are they ever going to send us pictures!… …. The baby is 10 months now. I think we ought to ask for a picture, let’s email them and see how they are doing…

And instead of an attachment of a photo of a chunky, drooling, happy baby, I sent along a piece of overdue, stale bad news. Sad news. Awful news.

I feel like dying. I feel so awful.

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Actually, it was more like a “wow” to me when i read this quote that fell into my Inbox today:

When we fall on the ground it hurts us, but we also need to rely on the ground to get back up.

-Kathleen McDonald, How to Meditate

I think I’m going to try to get that book and read it.

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The past couple of weeks every time I tune into NPR I hear about the cyclone in Myanmar, of the earthquake in China. The death toll climbing. Every. day. Every hour. Every second. The suffering. The grief. The loss. The devastation and the exasperation.

In a few weeks, these news will slowly slip off the radar as fresher news take over.

While those two countries stagger and scramble back to “normal” life again. Trying to re-build, re-establish, and re-cover. On so many levels. As a country, a community, a family, an individual.

We think of all the life losses, and we think of all the bereaved parents and all those who have to lose their loved ones. It is a very hard thought to hold and often I close my eyes and tremble because I am not grand enough to hold all these. To be honest, I just want to turn off the radio and run away. Go swing in the backyard with the girls and only look at the blue sky and butterflies and not think about these things.

I thought of how, growing up, I have always been told how lucky I am to be born in Singapore, in a time of peace. No war, no bombings during the night; no seeing people being brutally killed right in-front of my eyes. Not having to be betrayed or be the traitor. Sufficient freedom. Being situated just below the equator, we have no fears of earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones, hurricanes, or whatevers. Safe little haven. Maybe boring, but safe.

Of course, these days I never feel safe anymore. If you tell me I am safe, I may sneer. I may become hysterical and corner you and demand a reason to why my baby son died.

Why? I have always wanted an answer. Still do. That Thich Nhat Hanh thing about insufficient conditions and therefore he ceased to manifest is probably the answer. The reason. But I do not want that. No, I don’t want to admit that I have seen the truth, found it and looked at it. Held it in my hands. I want something else. Some long, difficult-to-pronounce medical term. Some rare conditions of some sort. Something that would have us founding a cause to research more into sdhfUIWYICn-whatever-disease.

So as I drove along, listening to the news, I thought of what I had always been told growing up. You are so lucky. Singapore is a safe place. I thought of the people in Myanmar and China. Do they ask “Why?” Will they? Do they think why the freakin’ hell did they have to be born there?? And have their loved ones die that way??

And what will the answer be? Because the cyclone came. Because earthquakes happen. Because you happen to be there when it happened. Because your child happened to be there when it all came crashing down. Will they accept those reasons? Will they look for more? Like, why didn’t the scientists or government see that coming? Prepared more? Why my child, and not my neighbor’s?! (I remember the day I sat in an OB’s office, relating circumstances surrounding Ferdinand’s death and the many no-answers. And he shrugged and he said, in the most compassionate way possible, that there is this hand, and this hand belongs to whoever you believe in is that Supreme Power. And this hand moves randomly and when it stops, it takes a life. And he paused and he said, “That time, his finger stopped at your family.” and I totally broke down and bawled.)

In the end, no matter what the circumstances of death, the reason is because, it is life. So we are born, and so we die. Unfortunately, we do not get to choose for how long, nor how we depart. I have always had a paranoid fear of dying a violent death. Like being robbed, raped and murdered and hacked into pieces. I am not sure why. Maybe some past life memory lurking in my cells. I have the same fear for my family, my friends, people around me. I wish everyone lives a long, ripe, healthy life and dies peacefully.

And, as a friend told me what her father told her, “There are two types of chances: fat, and slim.”


I hate to have to admit this. I always say there is no reason good enough for Ferdinand’s death. No reason is good enough to lose a baby, a child. But the reason is the same as why I am alive and breathing today. The reason is Life. Death is a part of it. I just hate that we can’t choose the manner and the when. I so despise that. It totally kills me. Shreds me to bits and reduces me to pulp. Hate it. And then can’t help being grateful for being alive and having living children. Oh, this life!

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