Still Missing You…

Still Missing You…

It’s been more than 4 months since we lost Nathaniel. Today, I thought of him out of the blue while I was at the office.

For those of you who know me personally, I write a lot at work. Before N was born, I wrote a lot about how parents can plan the finances for their kids.  Since we lost N, I have stop writing those articles – for obvious reasons.

This afternoon, I was writing  an article about life’s journey and I covered a portion about starting a family and “expecting the unexpected”. Both of these hit me. It reminded me about the loss that we have experienced.

Dee asked me just a couple of days ago if I still think about N. I told her the truth, and that was, I try not to think about it too much.

I thought about N today while I was in office. I thought about how I wish I could have just spent a little more time with him while he was in Dee’s womb. I wished I talked to him more, especially during the later stage of the pregnancy when he would react to sound.

Seeing Nathan made it all real. It reminded us that life, while fragile, is created by God. It reminded me that even as parents, we are only temporary guardians of our little ones while we (or them) are on this earth. Last but not least, it reminded me that every little being, be it a child, a toddler, a newborn, a stillborn or a miscarriage baby is still a precious child of God, regardless of what society “terms” them.

Dee and I promised one another that if another pregnancy comes in the future, we would treasure the time we have with our baby as much as possible, even while him or her is still in the womb.

I don’t cry much over him these days, except when I am writing or talking about him. But I really miss him so much. And I am sure I speak for Dee as well.

Nathan'sGift

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Why You Sometimes Don’t Recover From Losses. And Why That’s Okay

Why You Sometimes Don’t Recover From Losses. And Why That’s Okay

Over the past week, I have been reading a book call “A Grace Disguised” written by Jerry Sittser. It’s a book that talks about grieve, loss and grace through the author’s perspective. The author lost his mother, wife and daughter in a single accident.

Every Loss Is Painful…And Personal

One of the key things that the author shared was just how every loss in this world is personal in it’s own way. Some losses appear more tragic than others from the outside, but only the people going through them know the real pain of what they are experiencing. Every loss is personal to someone.

You Don’t Recover From Some Losses

It’s nice to think that time could heal all wounds. Growing up, we learn that a bad breakup with a long-time ex would take us some time to get over it. When we flunk our exams, we are disappointed. When we fail to get a job, we try again. We do our best to recover from these things.

However, they’re some losses in life that you simply don’t recover from. For example, while you can recover from a broken limb, you don’t recover from an amputation. We don’t go up to an amputee and wish him or her speedy recovery, because what does recovery really look like for the person?

Over the past years, I had a couple of long-time friends who lost their moms. And I am starting to get a really really small glimpse on just how useless it is to be asking someone to recover from such a loss. Because none of us really know how they feel, or what is it that they are dealing with. We can only be there for them when we know they need us.

Moving On And Living With It

I remember the first hour after Dee & I found our that Nathaniel had left us. We were waiting outside the clinic for the hospital bed to be ready. We had just made the calls to our parents to tell them of the news. We also knew the next few days, weeks and months would be difficult. My mind was all in shock. I remember telling Dee just how excruciating and unbelievably painful this is.

I was scared too. Scared of what’s going to happen. Just then, I knew that our lives were never going to be the same again.

Before Dee went for the delivery of Nathaniel, I asked God to keep her safe. I wanted, maybe even needed, to move on in life with her beside me.

Be Brave

Sometimes, life throw at us shocking and unexpected tragic twists. It could be something that came without reason or warning, like what happened to our baby. It could be the deteriorating health of a loved one due to terminal illness. And having to watch the person struggle with things that we all used to take for granted. It could be a horrible relationship betrayal.

Most of these times, none of these things are our own doing. We did nothing wrong. And we ask ourselves, why is life just so freaking unfair to me? Why can’t I have what other “normal” people?

I don’t have a great answer to that question.

But what I do have is a response. And that respond is to Be Brave. Face up to what life has thrown to you. Do your best to move on to the next chapter of your life not because you need to, but because you want to.

My wife told me this a week after we lost Nathaniel. “Happiness is a choice.” It always has been.

 

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Will A Mom Ever Stop Being A Mother?

Will A Mom Ever Stop Being A Mother?

Mother’s Day this year took on a slightly different meaning for us.

Personally, I have never really been a fan of all these celebratory days (i.e. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day). The reason is simple, I don’t think we need a special day to celebrate with our loved ones. This is of course, a personal opinion.

Why You Become A Mom The Day Your Child Conceive

Dee carried little N for a total of 39 weeks in her womb. Having went through this 39 weeks with them, it is difficult not to accept the fact that a woman becomes a mom the day her baby was conceived.

The growth of little N through all these months, the caring of the body for the two of them during the period, the expansion of the tummy, putting on 7-8 kg during pregnancy, outgrowing all your clothes, developing the stretch marks and rashes. You can’t deny it even if you want to. Pregnancy takes a toll on the body.

But beneath the physical toll hides what this actually is – A bond. A bond between mom & child. N lived his (short) life in Dee’s body. And while we didn’t get to witness him breathing or crying through our own eyes, it doesn’t take away the fact that he lived his life with us for that period in our lives, and that he was loved and cared for. And yes, we still love and remember him today.

Because of what happened, I don’t like the term “expecting mom”. It gives the impression that a pregnant lady is not yet a mother, and that the baby in her womb is somehow…not yet her child, which of course, is not true. We can stick to the term, pregnant woman. Not the coolest term ever but much more accurate in my opinion.

I still remember the days during the latter part of the pregnancy when little N kicks could be felt. The two of us would get up in the morning and I will ask Dee if little N has woke up. The answer would usually be a “yes”, since I pretty much slept through the night, while little N would be giving those random kicks to mommy during the night and disrupting her sleep.

For that period of 9+ months, little N was with mommy wherever she went. He went to the office with her, was with her during all her meals, was with us when we went to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when we watched the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan playing in the NBA (we got him a father-son jersey). He was with us when we went to church. We even joked about how he was trying to get the attention of the pastors whenever they asked “who is joining us for the first time today” during service. He had a habit of sleeping through the sermon though…

He was with us in this end-of-year photo we took at a church event. TIM & DEE & NATE

That pair of suspender I am wearing was bought for our wedding. I still have it. 

The day we finally saw little N was also the day we said our goodbyes to him. My eyes welled with tears whenever I think about the day we found out he has left us, and the people we had to break the news to, particularly our parents (Nathaniel’s grandparents). People advised us not to worry about others, but it pains us knowing how heartbroken our parents were, and maybe, still am. They are afterall still our parents, we feel for them.

Happy Mother’s Day To Dee

We woke up in Seoul today, about 5,000km away from Singapore. It’s a trip that we booked after losing N. I woke up and said “Happy Mother’s Day” to Dee. I said it because I think Mother’s Day shouldn’t just be celebrated by those who currently have children, but also for all the moms who have went through the journey of motherhood – the joy and the pain.

Dee

Just 3 months after having been through a 9 months pregnancy, and having gone through what she had went through, this amazing girl hiked up with me a 1900m mountain in Jeju which took us about 9 hours in total (19.2km). Those are clouds in the background. 

Dear D, thanks for being such an awesome mom to our little boy.

PS: To both our moms in Singapore, Happy Mother’s Day! We love you 🙂

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A confinement that’s different from others

A confinement that’s different from others

The toughest moment has passed and I’m truly thankful for having wonderful people around us. And it’s also through God’s everlasting love that has been shielding us as we grieve over the loss of our little Nathaniel.

Doing confinement wasn’t easy for both Tim and I. The initial excitement about taking turns to look after the baby and Tim volunteering to be my confinement ‘nanny’- it just didn’t feel so fun now.

While every other mothers are happily getting busy with breastfeeding their newborns during confinement period and parents coming over to make confinement food, mine was a terribly lonely one.

With no baby to look after, the confinement was just solely focusing on my physical recovery. No baby cries, no midnight feeding either.

It was truly the toughest moment we’ve ever had. So much for having everything all planned for Nathaniel’s arrival. I remembered those sleepless nights (while Tim on the other hand suffered from some mental exhaustion). Thankfully after sharing my insomnia issue with our close friends, they suggested a few good christian books to read before bed time. It helps. Dabbing a few drops of lavender aroma oil on my pillow helps too.

P/S Drop us a message if you need some book recommendations. 

The mental recovery wouldn’t be smooth without the honest sharing with one another too. It help us understand each other better and knowing what’s going through our mind whenever we think about the loss our little boy.

I am truly grateful for having Tim around with me through this difficult time.

To Tim, thank you for nursing me so well when I was at my weakest. I wouldn’t be able to go through all these alone without having you beside me. Thank you for staying awake through my sleepless nights and making sure that I share all my thoughts with you. Truly, I have never once regretted bearing Nathaniel, our son. It has been a wonderful journey for us three in the past 10 months. Though it was short, but it is a meaningful one. Lets continue to create more wonderful memories together. Love you always.

To moms who are going through the same phase of life as us, you are not alone in this. Join our private Facebook Group to share and give support to one another. Your invaluable sharing may help others in overcoming their loss as well.

 

The Day We Lost Nathaniel

The Day We Lost Nathaniel

2 Feb, 2016.

Dee & I will remember this date for a long time, perhaps even, for the rest of our lives here in this world.

It was on this day that our first child, Nathaniel, was found to have lost his heartbeat. He was subsequently delivered later on the same day at 4.35pm. Nathaniel weigh 2.535 kg and was pronounced a stillborn child. He was 39 weeks old at the time of delivery.

Nathan lived his entire life within the womb of Dee. It was as safe a place as he could have been in. Doctors didn’t know what happened. He looks as perfectly fine as how babies looked when they are first delivered. Despite having his eyes closed, I could see immediately he had my eyes. His lips were similar to Dee. Having kissed her so often, I immediately recognised it.

There Are Things In Life That Are Beyond What We Can Understand

It’s normal to ask what happened, especially when such a tragic incident occurs. As human, we want to have answers. We want to know why. We want science to explain it to us. When science fails to, we sometimes turn to God.

I have run through many scenarios in my mind. Had we taken Nathaniel out earlier, would he still be around today? Had we rushed to the hospital earlier when the kicks stopped, would it have make a difference? These are questions with answers we will never find out.

Or even, what really happened?

According to what the Doctors observed, there was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong with Dee’s womb, or any other related health issues following the tests she took during her post pregnancy check (we are thankful for that). No umbilical cord twisted. No signs of infection for Nathaniel. No passing of stool either, which could sometimes signal baby distress.

For some, not knowing “why” might make things harder. For us, it’s fine. Perhaps nothing really went wrong. And that God simply wanted to take Nathaniel up with him without letting him pass through our world. We doubt Nathan had a say on this either.

The Days After…

The next afternoon, upon the encouragement of our pastor, we held a simple funeral for Nathaniel. On behalf of Dee & Nathan, I shared a simple eulogy, which consisted of some of the loose thoughts that we had after spending the night talking to one another. Dee was on a wheelchair. We had to sign an indemnity form so that she could check out of the hospital to attend her own baby’s funeral. It was hard.

The next day, we were discharged. As with all moms who went through pregnancy, recovery of the health and womb was slow. What makes it even more difficult was seeing the scar, the blood, the rashes (she developed them during full-term) and the vulnerability that comes with being physically weak, and knowing that we went through all these and yet, our baby boy wasn’t around anymore.

Even surfing the Internet for simple post-pregnancy tips was not easy. There are many great websites out there that helps mom through the post-pregnancy journey. Unfortunately, most of these websites are not sensitive to moms who lost their baby. For example, innocent tips such as encouraging moms to rest as much as possible so that they have more energy to care for their baby didn’t really help us.

I am thankful for all the people who have been with us over the past 1.5 months. Our parents, our brothers, our relatives, our church’s pastors and close friends, our colleagues, my DNS guys, my office buddies, and so many others who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers, you guys know who you are.

The pain of losing our baby is simply indescribable and I won’t try explaining it today. However, it also caused us to see things from different perspectives. Personally for me, I am thankful that Dee is fine. Maternal death is not something we think is possible in Singapore, but it does happen, and when things like this happens, you can’t help but wonder if there was a reason why God intervene in his own hidden ways. Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps I am overthinking it.  We will never know.

I am grateful that Dee is still here with me today, and that we can continue to create memories together, or go through bad experiences together.

To Dee, I want you to know that you were an awesome mom to Nathaniel. You never complained about anything during the pregnancy, even when it wasn’t easy. I am glad you got to spend time with our boy like baking cookies, playing music for him, eating durians (which by the way she absolutely hate before that) and getting him all excited while watching movies. It was an amazing journey which ended too early. But it’s okay. Even as we grieve, let’s appreciate what we have.

Why I am Writing This

In the coming future, Dee & I will continue to pen down our thoughts. But I would like to share on why we decided to start this website, and why we are sharing our thoughts to the rest of the world.

One of the things we realised was just how common such things are in life. And just how little we talk about these things. Parents all over the world lose their young ones all the time. It could be a early-term miscarriage, a mid-term loss, or a still-birth during full-term. It could even be a loss days or months of a newborn baby. We have met couples who have shared their stories with us.

And my heartbreaks whenever I hear about this.

If you are reading this and have went through something similar. All I want to say is that I am truly sorry for your loss. Losing a child could be the most painful thing ever that someone can experience.

Just know that you are not alone in going through this.

In Loving Memory Of Our Little Boy, 

Nathaniel Ho Kai En, 2 February 2016 – Dad & Mom