Singapore mum's story of dealing with the loss of a child

lead image

Read about one mum's heart-wrenching story about dealing with the loss of her child and finding the courage to move on.

We can all learn from remarkable and inspiring mothers such as Tiffany. Having suffered a devastating loss and other blows in life, she still found the strength to move on.

And as much as her tale is heart-wrenching, it is also an inspiring testimonial of a mother’s boundless love for her children.

*This story is from our archives

It all started 6 years ago

Tiffany, like any other mother-to-be, was overjoyed to hear that she was pregnant. However, that joy was short-lived.

Soon after she found out that she was expecting, she was informed that their baby seemed to have a heart complication. In fact, she and her husband, Shaun, were advised to terminate the pregnancy.

Not wanting to abort their child, they made the decision to carry the baby to term and treat the heart condition upon birth.

losing a child

Baby Ayden at birth

Making the decision to keep the baby was a torturous one for the new parents to make, especially because the world seemed to be against them.

But the couple felt that this child, like all others, had a right to live and be loved. They decided to be brave and face what life handed them.

Baby Ayden was born on the 6th of September, 2008.  He was taken to the ICU just moments after he was born to have his heart condition assessed; he stayed there for a week before being given the green light to go home.

The minute Tiffany and Shaun set their eyes on their son, however, they were in love.

losing a child

Ayden and Tiffany during happier times

Something wasn’t right

Two weeks after bringing Ayden home, Tiffany noticed that his skin had started to change colour.  Although they were warned about Ayden’s heart complication, Tiffany and Shaun were shocked to hear that their baby’s liver was abnormal too.

After this diagnosis, Ayden had to be taken to the hospital quite regularly for treatment and check-ups. As time passed, the visits became so regular that as small as he was, he would protest to go.

Tiffany said: “Each visit to the hospital felt like a time bomb, ticking away and threatening to go off anytime, taking my gorgeous son away.

losing a child

“He was so happy when we took him outside,” said Tiffany.

“We tried to make each day count… we tried to take him out once in a while too. But since his liver condition had caused his skin to discolour, we got many stares.

“People even got curious and questioned us quite bluntly about what was wrong with our child. But we tried our best to block out these insensitive comments.

“I was more interested in relishing every single second I had with Ayden. When he hugged me, I held his embrace longer. With every birthday he celebrated, we silently congratulated him on fighting this battle so bravely for yet another year.”

The cause of Ayden’s problems

When Ayden was one-and-a-half years old, he was diagnosed with Alagille Syndrome.

According to Web MD, Alagille Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects the liver, heart, kidney, eyes, skeleton, and other systems of the body.

losing a child

Ayden was as cheeky as any toddler his age.

Tiffany and Shaun were told that problems associated with the disorder generally become evident in infancy or early childhood.

Facing this diagnosis, they started to doubt their earlier decision to have Ayden. Those doubts disappeared, however, when they witnessed their son’s first steps at age two.

“We decided to do whatever it takes to make our son’s fight bearable and block out all the negative influences in our lives,” Tiffany said.

A second pregnancy

losing a child

Happy smiles: Ayden with his loving parents

After Ayden turned two, his condition somewhat stabilised. Around this time, Tiffany found out that she was expecting another child.

Her obstetrician, who knew about Ayden’s condition, suggested extra pre-natal tests to confirm everything was fine with the new pregnancy.

However, when the results came a month later, it appeared that this baby had an unusual chromosome.

“We were stunned when the doctor broke the news to us. We felt like life was playing an evil joke on us and that we really didn’t deserve this, especially {with} what Ayden was going through,” related Tiffany.

losing a child

“Most of the time he was a regular, happy child,” said Tiffany.

The timing couldn’t have been worse

Tiffany gave birth to their second son Atkins on the 20th of March, 2011. But again, her happiness was fleeting.

Ayden’s situation worsened and he had to be admitted into the hospital for a long-running fever. This coincided with the time Atkins was born.

Though Tiffany’s first-born got to meet his baby brother, he was quite unwell by this time and needed to rest in a separate ward at the same hospital.

Tiffany shared: “I remember feeling torn. My new baby was just born and Ayden was really sick. When I left Ayden’s side, he clung to me like his life depended on it… like he knew something bad was about to happen.

“Even when I was asked to go to my new baby, I insisted on staying by Ayden’s side. I also dreamt of a teary Ayden telling me that it was time for him to leave.”

After this, Ayden’s condition rapidly deteriorated; he started bleeding internally and the family was told that he might not survive another day.

That night, Ayden had extremely high fever, coughed up blood, and had to be moved to the ICU.

losing a child

This is a sight that no parent deserves to see – the grave of their own child. Although little Ayden’s life ended way too early, the memories he created will remain in his parents hearts forever.

The worst part of the ordeal was that Tiffany and her husband couldn’t be close to their son amidst the buzz of doctors and nurses rushing around to attend to him.

Tiffany said: “I knew it was time. I grabbed my hubby tight and cried bitterly. The time had come for our baby to leave us. But I begged the doctors to save him – even after they told us he was gone.

“I know the doctors did their very best – but nothing could be done – my Ayden was gone. I was furious and in denial all at the same time. My hubby pleaded with me to let him go… I just couldn’t handle the pain and collapsed to the floor.

“My first baby was gone just 9 days after I gave birth my second baby.”

Coping with the pain of losing a child

The couple tried everything to cope with the pain of losing a child. “We even tried to get away for a short break, but nothing worked. Our son Atkins needed us. So, we made up our minds to treasure the present and spend more time with Atkins,” Tiffany said.

losing a child

Tiffany with her second son Atkins

Tiffany and Shaun both quit their hectic jobs and took on work that gave them more flexibility. They even moved to a new house, which Tiffany said helped them to move on.

“Talking to those who are close to us, especially our family, kept us going. My husband and I also kept on talking about Ayden without burying our feelings. We talked about how happy we were that we indeed let Ayden live. In his short life, he brought us tremendous joy,” Tiffany added.

Dealing with more challenges

losing a child

Tiffany’s beautiful family with her husband’s parents

In the midst of their struggles, the family found out that Shaun’s father was suffering from stage two liver cancer. In addition, Tiffany’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after too. The couple’s elders are both doing fine now, with Tiffany’s father-in-law already in a stable condition and her mother-in-law now cancer free after chemotherapy.

The bad news, however, was still not over for their family.

losing a child

Atkins and Adele have given Tiffany the courage to move on after her devastating loss of Ayden.

Tiffany shared: “When Atkins was a baby we were thrilled by simple things like taking him out to shopping malls and playgrounds. We couldn’t do these things with Ayden.

“Yet, we noticed that even by one year, he wasn’t attempting to communicate. Upon doing tests, doctors informed us that he is autistic.

“Our world collapsed around us, all over again. But we championed on and enrolled him into a school for special needs children in addition to taking him to speech and occupational therapy.

“School and therapy are helping Atkins. Now he makes eye contact with us and even hugs us when he is in a ‘happy mood’.”

Hope for the future

 

losing a child

Picture perfect: Tiffany’s family – her reason to smile again!

On the 11th of March 2012, Tiffany gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. However, as with her previous pregnancies, this one came with a shadow of bad news too.

Tiffany and Shaun were told that their baby’s spine seemed abnormal. Yet again, they were faced with the dilemma of terminating the pregnancy, and yet again, they chose to keep their little girl.

To date, apart from a slight case of astigmatism, baby Adele is doing very well.

Tiffany credits “having a very patient and caring husband” in helping her face the experience of losing a child.

losing a child

It takes a very strong and courageous woman to move on and find happiness as Tiffany has done.

She shared: “He supports me with the tough decisions we have had to make regarding our kids. {He was} so patient with me when I was on the brink of depression and losing my temper every so often.

“He gave up his engineering job and took on a part time job so he could be around our kids and so I too can have a job.

“He was my pillar of strength in all our troubles, and without him, I would have given up. Because of him and my beautiful family, I have hope for the future!”

Tiffany has indeed been handed more than her share of challenges in life, and the story of her  motherhood journey is nothing short of inspiring.

losing a child

Tiffany and Shaun. “He was the ‘rock’ that kept me afloat! I wouldn’t be happy again if not for him.”

Tiffany is currently looking for answers as to why all three of her children were born with these issues. She plans on setting up a blog or Facebook page to offer encouragement to other parents who find themselves facing similar situations. 

In the meantime, if you wish to send Tiffany and Shaun any words of encouragement, you may email them at [email protected].

We believe that everyone has a story to tell. If Tiffany’s story inspired you to share yours, you could do just that by leaving a comment below.