Archive for the ‘PSA’ Category

joy and sorrow, how to tell

My dear friends,

you have always been here but invisible. It was with Ferdinand’s death that you and your worlds became visible to me. I realized that every day, mothers’ hearts are broken, bent over their babies they will not get to see grow up. Though we may never meet, you have made life after so much more bearable, even beautiful. You are not just company, but also comfort and inspiration. Once again, I thank you.

I need your help here. I have been contacted by a mother whose daughter will only get to keep one of her twins. I know some of you know this story well, and I understand how going back to the beginning of the story once again must hurt. So I appreciate any way you can help. M will have two grand-children, both names starting with L. One is a boy and one will be a girl. Baby girl L may not get to breathe life outside her mother’s womb, while baby boy L is looking healthy. M is wondering about the announcements and how to go about it. I am also wondering about any support sites or groups out there for their circumstances.

Your ideas, suggestions and experiences are going to be most useful and deeply appreciated.


Much love and gratitude,




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you are a beautiful mother

May 1 is International Babylost Mother’s Day.

You are a beautiful mother, always, forever more, even if your baby is not with you.

Thank you for walking along, sharing your love, allowing me to lean on, lending your support. Your kind words, your gestures, all means the world to me. Please know that.

This is my flower to you, in love and remembrance.

Read more about International Babylost Mother’s Day on the amazing Carly’s website.

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who this person is

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
~ William Shakespeare

I cannot remember how long ago now but one day I received an email from an editor called Janel Atlas asking me to contribute a story for a book that will be called They Were Still Born: Personal Stories about Stillbirth.

My first response was as always is: self-doubt.

Me? I can’t write. This blog is just spit-up from my mushy brain. This place is where I come to re-gain sanity by spewing, by skimming the froth. No, I am not a writer. I can peck away at the keyboard and string together letters and words, but you will need to beat me up very good or bribe me with three lifetime supplies of dark chocolates before I will agree to call myself a writer.

Yet, I agreed to write. I felt compelled to tell the story. Of Ferdinand, of Lyra, of Life, of Death. Of us.

It was not an easy thing to do. During the process I came to experience extreme suicidal thoughts, probably caused by re-visiting the dark worlds over and over again. I re-read all my old entries to figure out how I wanted to tell the story. Waves of disbelief drowned all light in my world and I felt I may never find the way out of the labyrinth.

But eventually I did manage to send my manuscript out to the editor and miraculously she did not shred it apart. I think I will have to thank a friend, an unnamed English professor, for graciously helping me at short notice. He read my drafts, gave me candid and effective advice, and got nothing for it. I am deeply thankful.

Two major things happened during the writing of this manuscript. One, for the first time I had to write to a major publisher to ask for permissions to use a poem in my chapter. I had to pay for the permissions myself, and I am only grateful that they allowed me to use the poem and processed my request in time for my manuscript submission. Second, I had to decide who is the person who wrote the story.

You see, the name “Janis” does not appear on any of my legal documents. It is a name I adopted out of convenience, after getting tired of people mis-pronouncing my given name. I have used it for more than 10 years now and it had grown on me. But I love my given name too. Transliterated from Chinese into “Meng Kiat”, its original meaning is “bright and understanding.” That was the name I grew up with, for years longer than I am known as “Janis.” I decided to use this given name on my manuscript, so if you read the book and read a story by “Meng Kiat Tan”, that is me.

While discussing with R about which name to use, I decided that when I next return home, I will take up a deed poll to include “Janis” on my legal documents, and I will forsake my maiden name of “Tan” for my married name. My father’s family name had always had negative connotations for me and I feel it will be a good time to shed it and give myself a fresh start.

Writing the story made me step back to look at my story, and re-think all that had transpired, and it also helped me re-establish my identity. So, I really should also thank Janel for giving me this wonderful opportunity.

The book They Were Still Born can be bought from three different sites:

Publisher’s site (Rowman & Littlefield): http://tinyurl.com/3alabqs

Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/39m8mrz

Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/36jlxsx


If you will like to purchase a copy to donate to your local library, please know I can get 50% off publisher’s list price. I will need to turn around and mail the book to you. Or, if you want it faster and is OK paying a bit more, I have Prime account on Amazon, which means I can have it shipped to you cost-free in two days. Just let me know.


Finally, thank you for reading here and always having kind words for me. You have no idea what this means to me.

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how to treat a deep wound

A friend of mine posted this on her FB, but knowing I am not on it, forwarded the information to me. That was so kind of her, for this information needs wide dissemination. It is based on the comments of Suzanne Helzer, who spoke to a group of nursing students about pregnancy and infant loss and bereavement. (My friend is a nursing student, and I know she will make an excellent nurse!) Helzer works for Bereavement Services/RTS Coordinator at Banner Desert Medical Center. I am sharing her words here. Feel free to post on your blog or forward to friends and family, or the uninitiated.


What is needed to treat a deep wound? The wound of losing a baby is deep and painful, and requires many of the same things as a deep tissue wound.

First is nutrition. The person should take small frequent meals in order to keep up the energy to heal. They have to take care of themselves. Sometimes others have to take care of them, bring them the meals, sit while they eat. This provides a sense of not being alone.

Next, the wound needs to be cleaned. If it sits under a bandage and is never looked at or thought about, it will become infected, possibly even septic. It needs regular wound care. You must remove the bandage. Then you must wash the wound, remove all the dead tissue and exudate. This is very very painful, but the wound must be looked at daily. If you give it frequent wound care in small sessions to remove the dead tissue bit by bit, it is much easier than waiting until there is a large amount to remove all at once. One woman who lost her baby boy in pregnancy said, as she was leaving to go to her bereavement class, “I’m going to get my wound care! It’s going to hurt like hell, it will probably hurt for a couple of days after I get home and I won’t feel like doing¬† much. But if I don’t do this, it will all build up and become too overwhelming to handle.”

A wound needs to be medicated and bandaged. After cleaning it, put on some ointment. Spread it gently, as the wound is still tender. Cover with a clean, dry bandage. The bandage is white, not skin-colored. It is not supposed to be part of the body. It does not take the wound away. It just covers it and protects it from injury. The bandage is a constant reminder to others that something has happened to this person. They are different. They are hurting.

After many painful cleanings, the wound starts to heal. It takes a long, long time. The new skin is very fragile. It is not the same color as the original skin. It will never be the same color or texture as the original skin. That person is changed forever by the experience. They will always see that scar. They will remember the pain of having it cleaned. They will remember the stares of people who saw them with the bandage. Do not overlook the scar after the wound has healed. Do not pretend they were never hurt. Ask how they are doing when you see them, allow them to talk about it if they need to.

How to treat a person who has experienced an infant loss-

– Do not be afraid of your own tears as you talk to them.

-Ask about the birth experience.

– Ask to see baby pictures or a scrapbook.

– Provide a journal or books for them.

– It’s okay to say, “I just don’t know what to say”

– Ask “How are you doing?” And when they say “fine” ask again, “How are you *really* doing?” and allow them to tell you.

– Do not think that because they are acting normal that they are over it.

– Use the baby’s name in conversations.

РKnow that holidays are going to be especially hard, and send them notes about how  you are remembering them and their baby at those times.

What NOT to say-

– You are young, you can have more.

– At least you already have two healthy children (They will watch those children go through stages and mourn the stages the baby did not get to go through)

– You have an angel in heaven. (They will want their angel with them, not in heaven, even if they are saying that to make themselves cope.)

– I know someone who was farther along than you when their baby died. (Do not share stories of others– they don’t want to hear about it).

– It was just a miscarriage.

– You didn’t want to be pregnant anyway, right? Maybe this was a blessing in disguise.

– Was it a planned pregnancy?

– This happened for the best.

– Aren’t you glad it happened early, before you could get to know the baby? (The baby is known and loved from the moment it’s known about. For the rest of their lives they will know how old that baby was supposed to be every year. They will think about what halloween costume it was to wear, what books the mom was going to read to it.)

– Everything happens for a reason (What good reason is there for a baby to die?)

– Saying nothing at all

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cards for cancer patients

sometimes I just retreat into my own little world. But that tunnel that lead into my tiny selfish little world, is no through road. Always gotta get back out, either butt first or head first. Either way it is never very pretty, sorry.

This past week someone on our homeschool group posted that she was going to head a card collection for cancer patients at the local Children’s Hospital. Handmade cards will be delivered to cancer patients all over the world on April 10, 2010. More info here. I signed us up (though I did ask if the girls will be interested in joining me). I am not sure how many we will make, or even how to go about it, but we have a ton of art supplies. And I know I will be thinking of many sweet, lost babies as I draw and write. Sometimes it feels I will never do enough, or that I do nothing. This is a small bit of effort.

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ordinary days

I’m coming up for light and air for a few seconds. It’s been kinda wet here, which is good, which makes me want to be under layers of blankets eating trays of truffles reading heaps of trashy novels. But the truth is I have been busy doing nothing. Putting out fires. When we bought this house we did not know it has a self-renewing-clutter function. Clutter keeps popping up. They multiply overnight as I sleep, a smug smile on my face thinking about the big bag of stuff I am going to haul to Goodwill soon. I’ve had enough. I’ve resolved to reduce like crazy this year. Simplify and all that. And it’s hard work. We’ve got stuff, lots and all kinds. Including invisible ones that needs to be sloughed away.

I also have a confession. I said I will not buy anything but I bought this:

Before you start wagging your fingers at me, let me tell you its virtues: it requires hardly any detergent, it dries fast (so no yucky mold or anything of that sort), its bright colors make washing dishes a fun job. It’s made from recycled corn cobs and peach pits, so eco-savvy. Oh, did I forget to mention you don’t eat it even though it’s name is Spa.ghetti? You scrub your pans and dishes with it. You can buy it here, if you wish. May your dish-washing be more fun and guilt-free in 2010. (But don’t send me death threats if you find you do not like them!)

The other thing is, the girls’ notebook had been acting up and would not connect to the internet so they have been using this same one that I am banging on right now, which means vastly reduced internet time (on top of putting out fires). I’m afraid to post something because I have not been to my Google Reader in ages. It used to be what I do before I even go to the news. I’m afraid I may be missing some big news in blogland and inadvertantly writing something stupid here because of missing out on the news. My mind is not often far from this circle of women, but the mouse and keyboard had not been mine much.

In any case someone sent me this link a few days back and I had been choking on it. It is very moving indeed and made me wish I have a lot of ordinary days, many many of them stretched out ahead, almost endless. Ordinary but peaceful, joyful and filled with chocolates, bubbles, glitter, grass, clouds, sand and sea. Ordinary is a gift. I wish we all have such ordinary days. I was thinking of all of us mightily when I watched and as I listened and tried not to bawl. We all deserve ordinary days like these. After a storm, ordinary days are priceless.

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the second post

I know it is not nice to post so much in one day but sleep is escaping me and I really wanted to get word out about HOME. If you have not watched this documentary yet, then double-up and go watch it. It is a great movie… erm, not exactly make-you-feel-good, but it is wonderfully made and is a very good and well-needed slap for us to sit up and get up and do something.

Val actually burst into tears half-way through because she could not believe human beings are dumb enough to destroy their own habitat. She was so emotional we had to pause (thank you, Youtube) to explain, discuss, comfort and re-affirm. (Truth be told, at some point I had to wonder at this world myself but I told her this movie was made not to make us sad but to make us realize that we are all responsible and therefore ought to do our part to make it all better.)

This film was made Luc Besson, whom I heart. I love love love Le Grand Bleu and of course, The Professional. Well, actually, once I told a fren I really liked Le Grand Bleu and she watched it and wondered how I could like such a movie?! She thought something was quite wrong with me. (heck, I cannot remove this italics…) And sometimes, I do enjoy violent movies, if they are, erm, well-made, with crazy cops like Stanfield (I thought Gary Oldman was very good in that role).

Anyways, I am not getting the italics to go away, which is annoying… but I wanted to tell you to watch this movie. It is worth that 93 minutes, it being so beautifully done. Of course it will also gnaw at your conscience, which may not be a bad thing.

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