The first time I knew I would be a father, the pregnancy didn’t go as planned. You can read my account on what happened here. It’s also the reason we started this blog. For some of you who had only known me over the past couple of years, this post may shock you. But don’t worry, I am okay now.
I never shared this before, but on the day Nathaniel left us, I learned a lot about being a daddy to a stillbirth child. And I think it’s useful for me to share some of the stuff that I learned. I hope this would just be interesting, good-to-know, knowledge, for most of you who read this.
(This is based only on my personal account and not any research. I think it’s fairly accurate but do check on your own if need be with the relevant authorities)
# 1 Just like livebirth, stillbirth needs to be registered
When Nate passed away, I was informed by a friend of our pastor (I think he is an undertaker/funeral director) that we needed to register the stillbirth. He was really helpful and drove me to the police center (we went to the one beside KKH but I think you can do it at many other places). It’s quite surprising and I think many people don’t know this, but stillbirth in Singapore needs to be registered.
I have never shared this with anyone except for Deanna, but I can clearly remember the registration encounter with the police officer. Nice guy, about my age (I was 29 then). I was 2nd in the waitlist and there was a guy before me. I wasn’t sure what was the issue, but the officer wasn’t exactly in a good mood dealing with him. He was kind of lecturing/telling the guy off.
Then it was my turn. I passed him the hospital documents and told him I needed to register for my son. Immediately, his face turned. He was professional but he felt my sadness. It was like my sadness spread to him. He didn’t say much until the registration was done. He then told me “I am really sorry for your loss”
Thank you, bro. I will never know you again even if we meet, but you didn’t know how much your words meant to me. Thank you, SPF for having such officers.
# 2 You need to handle the funeral on your own
Another thing I learned was that if the pregnancy goes beyond a certain period – after 24 weeks I think, you will need to handle the baby on your own. The hospital won’t be able to do it for you. For us, we did a cremation the next day. You need to get a permit for the cremation. I got it from the police station as well. Our pastor, along with the undertaker, helped us with the cremation service at Mandai. There wasn’t a wake.
# 3 The hours after you know your boy is gone and before he is delivered, dammit. Those were some of the longest and worse hours of your life
It was traumatizing. I can’t think of any other words to describe it. I can’t give you any advice. But I can only share what we did.
The first thing is to call your parents. They deserve to know it and they need to hear it from you (or in your absence, at least your brother or sister). My parents are staying on their own. I remember calling my parents and my dad picked up the phone. And I told him “Dad, Nathaniel is gone. He is no longer around”
It was tough. My brother was living overseas during the period so his family wasn’t physically being able to be around us during the period.
# 4 Type of delivering is also a decision
We opted for a C-sect because we didn’t want Dee to have to endure the pain of natural birth. I remember being afraid of seeing Nate, scared of how he may look. He came out and he was perfect. Just like how most newborns look, except of course that he was no longer here. I remember the nurse coming over and saying softly to me “he’s a boy” It wasn’t until Sib was delivered a year later that I realized just how noisy the delivery suite ought to be.
Thank you, Sib. Without you, Daddy would not be okay today.
# 5 You can choose to do a post-mortem but we didn’t
Besides our gyno, there was a pediatrician in the delivery suite with us. The idea was to see if they could better understand what happened to Nate. However, based on what they could observe, they couldn’t find anything wrong.
The hospital will give you the option of doing a post-mortem. They also said that the post-mortem may not undercover the cause of death either. We declined it.
# 6 We did a funeral the next day. It was really hazy
You know the TV screen at Mandai when they tell you which funeral is at what time and which hall it’s held. Since Nate didn’t have an official name, it’s just called “Child of Timothy Ho”. This was one of the more light-hearted moments for me. Many of our relatives came, even though I don’t remember telling anyone about it. Thank you for being there.
# 7 A baby coffin is really small
Typically, coffins are pretty big and need to be carried by 4 people. A baby coffin is really small. The undertaker carried it in on his own. We went into the hall first, with our pastor. We said the Lord’s prayer and kissed him goodbye.
Gosh, I really miss you, baby boy.
# 8 We went into depression for about a month after that
The month after was tough. We had some friends visiting but we tried to keep interaction to a minimum because we didn’t really want to talk to anyone. Dee and I showed symptoms of depression. What helped was that both of us were going through it together. So we could be there for one another. And we cried many nights together.
# 9 You don’t need to collect his/her ashes immediately
I can’t recall exactly how long, but Dee and I only collected Nate’s ashes a month or so later. You don’t have to do it immediately so don’t rush. Check with your funeral director on this.