New Mum Suicide with 2mth Baby – Wake Up Call or Just another News?

I cringed when I read the title “New mum’s suicide casts light on struggles of working mums: Coroner from ChannelNewsAsia. Mdm Koh “Googled “what to do when there is no way out” five days before she fell to her death, clutching her baby girl”. A 29 year old young lady left this world feeling helpless. Apparently, she had been sucked the life of her when she googled this and to even hold her most precious angel to leave with her. Her little 2 month old princess could have grew up to be a fine young lady.

I felt a stream of emotions flowing in, not exhaustive of sadness, pain, desperation, helplessness… What could we have done better both as a family and company unit? 

“Depression affects about 10-15 % of women after childbirth. Postnatal depression is regarded seriously by medical health professionals and is upsetting not only to the women suffering from it but to their families as well. Many mothers may experience mild “postnatal blues” and tearfulness a few days after delivery. In cases where this lasts beyond two weeks, professional advice should be sought. Approximately 3-5 % of women experience a moderate-to-severe depression that require medical attention. “

Source: https://www.singhealth.com.sg/PatientCare/ConditionsAndTreatments/Pages/Postnatal-Depression.aspx

This is not just happening right here in Singapore. The Huffington Post wrote on last Dec 2016 as well. 
Suicide is the leading direct cause of death for mums within the first year after their child is born, a newly-published report has shown. The MBBRACE-UK report on ‘Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care’ investigated the greatest risks to the lives of pregnant women, new mums and their babies. It showed that the most common cause of death in pregnancy or in the early weeks after childbirth was heart disease. However, suicide, which has been reclassified by the World Health Organisation as a direct cause of maternal death, was the most common direct cause of death in the year after pregnancy. The rate of maternal death by suicide remains unchanged since the last report was published in 2003.  It is shocking that one in seven deaths of pregnant women and new mothers in the UK is by suicide,” Dr. Alain Gregoire, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ perinatal faculty and chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, told The Huffington Post UK.”
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/new-mum-suicide_uk_58481bdee4b07fd553cef3d3

Are we just taking the woman turned mummy for granted? That it is only right the childcare responsibilities should just be on us? I am not implying that none of the man are being hands on. I had seen cases of hands on and responsible daddies. The truth is the percentage is pathetic and far from few. Our Asian guys are happily still in a dreamland that it is just the mummies who should be carrying this role on our shoulders despite us holding multiple roles in the society and no longer just a homemaker. 

As a single mom who was married way back in 2006, it was not exactly an easy experience even when I was married. Back then, I cried many nights away telling myself that I could do it and I could have done better. Self reprimanding if I could even do as much as I wanted. Just wanna share with mummies out there that you are not alone.

Pregnancy Stage
I was a full time working lady but the stress of having to face a spouse who made endless promise to quit gambling despite the amounting debts led immerse stress on top of work stress. I do not dare to confide with my mom for fear of making her worry. Made my choice to be married to this man and wanted to stick to him with his assurance that he would change.

Wake up Faith, that would never happen for a gambler with stormy temper. It took me a good 8 years 8 months to wake up from this. There was many quarrels and maybe due to the hormonal changes during pregnancy, I cried myself to sleep almost every night. We had no domestic helper then I had to manage most of the household chores.

Post Childbirth Challenge
My first child Jayden had a TGA condition which was an accidental discovery as he was sent to KKH for jaundice treatment. On day 10 and day 14, he had 2 major heart surgery on his tiny main arteries and was in the ICU and Stepdown unit there after connected with many tubes and medication. I could barely hear his cry at all due to his tube down his throat. If I hear a baby cry, to me it sounds like magic of life. A cry and a breathe of life and hope.

Being a new mom, my heart was torn to pieces when the doctor broke the news to me. Can you imagine what would have started being a registration at the children A&E, seeing your child pushed to the room with more nurses and doctors checking on him would have made a mom who spent 24 hours of tough labour trying to get this little angel out felt? I told myself that if he could not survive, I would not too. I will die with him. Life would have no more meaning without my one and only angel sent by God.

I was doing my research on how I could start my breastfeeding journey before I gave birth. The initial journey was really tough as I was so stressed by Jayden medical condition and problem with my supply initially. You could read more about my 5 years breastfeeding journey.

A newborn needed to be latched on about every 1.5 hours, plus the multiple change in soiled diapers and carrying the baby would meant almost no sleep at all. The fact that I do not have any confinement lady or domestic helper  or a hands-off daddy don’t help a wee bit. To me, I wanted the best for my child which is the breastmilk which I know this was exactly what Mdm Koh wanted to give for her little princess too.

I could totally feel for Mdm Koh with the physical demand from breastfeed, family and work that she felt too stress to be producing enough milk without ample rest from both body and soul.

State Coroner Marvin Bay “urged more support for working mums. “It would be ideal for the workplace to acknowledge the needs of working mothers with new babies, and take steps to ameliorate the additional stress imposed on them by providing better work-life balance, flexible working conditions and affordable, quality childcare,”

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-mum-s-suicide-casts-light-on-struggles-of-working-mums-8831694

It certainly didn’t help with the increase in the unemployment rate and the rising costs of living with Singapore’s ranking as the world’s priciest city for the fourth consecutive year by Bloomberg.

In an article by Business Times dated in 27 Aug 2016 on the stress in Singapore:

“The survey “Working in Asia”, by Roffey Park, has found that not only do Singapore workers spend more hours at work relative to their Hong Kong and China peers, more than half (52 per cent of Singapore workers surveyed) say their stress level has gone up over the last six months.”

“More than two-fifths of employees said that they work more than 50 hours a week, the survey found. In Singapore, 27 per cent said that they worked 51-60 hours a week, and 16 per cent, more than 60 hours.”

It is time that companies do wake up and realise that woman do play a vital part in our society for our future generation. To create a win win situation for your female peers in the organisation would be an asset that you will gain value in the long run. Woman had proven ourselves to be capable but we do need the support minus the discrimination. As as single mom, I faced difficulties trying to cope with my work and balancing the quality time with my kids. Sacrifices had to be made and I felt so guilty towards my kids for not being there for them as much as I wanted to.
Mdm Koh is a wake up call. No matter how bad is the economy, we do need a humane element in dealing with mothers doing our best for our children whether it is at home as a mother, wife, daughter or at work as your staff or boss. 
We will pray for you Mdm Koh and Princess Jaelyn. 

For those who are facing depression, please recognise it and move on to get it treated. Remember, you need to love yourself to love others.
“Symptoms of Depression:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, and/or suicide attempts”

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About me
Celestia Faith Chong

A blessed single mom of three kids, Celestia came from a humble background with a roller coaster life journey. Single-handedly, she overcame the challenging hurdles and strived for success.