In 2015, in the middle of a shoot for a TV drama, local actor Andie Chen received a phone call that would change his and his wife’s life forever. His wife Kate Pang, who was then just about four weeks pregnant at the time, suffered a miscarriage.
“I remember getting a phone call from [Kate], I was in the middle of my shoot. She told me what had happened and she was crying,” Chen said, describing the moment as devastating.
The 35-year-old said though a prior visit to the gynaecologist has warned them that “something does not seem right,” he and his wife were not prepared to hear of the sad news.
“So when she told me what had happened, I walked off the set and started crying,” Chen recounts.
‘I felt very helpless’
“I felt like it was my fault because I was busy as well and when I am busy I couldn’t take good care of her and I allowed her to be so busy, too” the father-of-two shared.
Chen’s wife suffered a miscarriage in between her hosting gigs. Chen revealed that Pang had to undergo a procedure to remove the foetus as it was no longer developing and the umbilical cord had shrunk.
“I think it really hit me hard, after the procedure. When I saw her after and I could tell that she was in pain both physically and emotionally, I felt very helpless. I felt like failed as a husband and a father that I couldn’t protect my wife and our baby,” said Chen.
“There was a strong sense of guilt because I felt responsible but much as I want to, I could only wish to share the physical pain she felt,” Chen revealed. “She is my responsibility and I allowed this to happen and I couldn’t protect her, I couldn’t and I didn’t protect her. I feel like, on my part, that was a bit hard to swallow.”
More Determined to Have Another Child
Chen shared how he knows other people who have gone through a devastating loss chose to not try again because of the fear of the possibility of a miscarriage from happening again.
Thankfully, he said, such was not the case for the Kandie couple. According to Chen, the miscarriage has made them more determined to want to try again and have another child.
“I think we were even more sure that we want to have another child after what happened,” said Chen. “And I am glad we did.”
A year later after the unfortunate miscarriage, Chen and Pang saw the rainbow after the rain and welcomed their second child, daughter Avery who was born on the actor’s birthday. They also have a son, Aden, who was born before Pang had miscarried during her second pregnancy.
On Keeping Health In Check
Chen said he learned a lot from the whole experience.
“I learned a lot and I am sure my wife did too. But if there’s one thing, I learned that you whether you are trying or not, and because you really do not know when a baby comes, you really have to keep your health and stress levels in check,” said Chen.
“I realise when I and my wife we go through a rough patch, it’s usually because we are stressed or overworked. I think that’s the case for most couple. If one party or both parties are just stretched too thin and if you don’t keep your health in check when pregnancy comes, you and your spouse might get even more stressed,” Chen added.
“I don’t know whether if it is scientifically proven or medically proven, but I believe stress levels affect your pregnancy as it does with your overall health. So always keep your health in check for the sake of your family.”
“It is important to talk about it”
Though he admitted that he initially felt hesitant to talk about the loss of their baby, saying “to me, initially, I thought of it as a private matter [that] we didn’t have to tell people about,” Chen said he, later on, realised how important it is to talk about it, especially because it is part of the grieving process and that it can help raise awareness.
“At first, I didn’t want to talk about it,” said Chen. “[At the time,] we haven’t many people that she was pregnant because she was in her first trimester.”
“But [Kate] wanted to [share the story] and I was convinced because we realised that there were a lot of parents out there, a lot of mothers and fathers out there, who experience the same thing and it’s like really common, in fact, surprisingly very common.”
And it is true. According to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, 25% of pregnancies in Singapore end in miscarriage.
“Communicate your willingness to support but respect the way they deal with the loss”
According to Chen, while he knows that there is no one-size-fits-all advice for couples who have experienced a miscarriage, as well as for those around them, it is important to “over-communicate your willingness to support in any way you can,” and that timing is very important.
“Test the waters. Do that every day. Start with something small like asking them if they want to talk, or go out, or eat, ‘what can I do to help?’, these things. Constantly check the waters and constantly remind the parents—the mum, especially—that you are there to support them and are willing to do whatever it takes if anything.”
Chen also said it matters to be sensitive about what you say when you are being supportive.
“Some people would tell couples who suffered a miscarriage, especially those who are just starting to build their families, that ‘it’s okay, you’re still young, you can have another one’ and that does not help,” Chen emphasises. “The baby lost is our son or our daughter, he or she is not replaceable.”
Chen said that while people grieve in different ways, support, in the end, is about giving the grieving parents respect by allowing them to deal with the loss the way they want.
This interview is in line with theAsianparent‘s initiative Project Sidekicks which aims to help families have healthy pregnancies and babies. Join us as we work on helping reduce the stillbirth rate in Southeast Asia by 10% by creating awareness about the benefits of sleeping on the side during pregnancy, counting the baby’s kicks, giving up smoking and having a strong support system for both mums-to-be and parents who have suffered pregnancy loss. Visit https://project-sidekicks.com/ for more details.