Tuesday, March 12, 2019

SUBSIDISED WITH A ‘C’



     Barely a month since Humblet’s discharge from the hospital and Singlet gets warded for stomach tract infection. He never really recovered from the cough he caught from her, and that worsened into a ten-day vomiting episode. On day ten, he threw up eight times, water included, and we knew we had to bring him in before he got dehydrated. As expected, the poor boy was put on a drip and stomach rest ordered. Meaning he had to fast from milk and solids completely so his gut could reboot.

     Unlike his sister, who stayed in an air-conditioned four-bedder B1-ward, Singlet stayed in the eight-bedder non-air-conditioned C-ward because his heart condition does not allow him to have medical insurance of any sort. In the waiting area, we overheard a wife say to a husband, “later the nurse ask you, just choose A-ward. Subsidised ward a lot of bad influence. The parents let the kids watch TV all day long. They give formula milk to their babies and many of them don’t speak English properly.”

This post is really a response to her and all others who feel the same way –



     The first night was sheer torment for both Singlet and I. He was hooked up to both a heart rate monitor as well as the IV drip, so I could take a maximum of five paces whilst carrying him. To make things worse, he was on full stomach rest, so he was in agony from hunger pangs, but even then the nurses came by often to make sure I did not latch him on the sly. All night, I tried rocking him, carrying him, patting him, but still he cried and cried. I felt so bad towards the other seven patients, all beds were occupied that first night.

     But the thing is - none of them ever complained or confronted us, or even glared at me for the matter. For sure, one mummy walked toward us angrily at about two in the morning, but when she saw the drip and me bouncing Singlet up and down, she nodded in sympathy and went back to her baby. The dad across from us, went down and bought me a drink around midnight from the convenience store. He said the baby had to fast, but I did not need to starve myself. Another asked if she could do anything to help, even though it was four in the morning and she must have been exhausted herself. Yet another kind mum bought Singlet a toy the next day, telling him to be brave even though she knew how hard it was for a baby to be hungry.

     It was because of these kind parents and grandparents in this so-called subsidised ward that I could make it through the night. There was absolutely nothing subsidised in their kindness or generosity towards us, I can vouch for that. Over the three days, we got to know some of them. One child had multiple urinal tract infections and had to come back for surgery. Another was suspected to have HFMD but was discharged when the fever cleared. Yet another had to have a spinal cord sample extracted due to a prolonged illness at a merely two-and-a-half months old.

     They may not breastfeed their children, give them a little more screen time and speak an English mixed with other languages. But all around me, I saw mums caring for the sick babies as best as they knew how. Dads tanking the overnight-stay, rocking their crying children to sleep tirelessly. Grandparents bathing the little ones so parents could eat a meal undisturbed. Aunties hovering around the older siblings with toys, games and balloons, while mums tended to their infants. 

     Please do not assume we are second-class Singaporeans, or human beings for that matter simply because we are in a subsidised ward. We may not have much financially, but for one, we love our children enough to ensure they get timely and appropriate treatment in the hospital. Please do not make such thoughtless and mindless comments, whilst hiding behind your LV clutch bag and your limited-edition Tods loafers. Instead, may I ask that you sprinkle your wealth with graciousness and the world will surely become a better place. We do not need your charity, all we demand (and deserve) is your respect. If not for anything, for the fact that we are fellow adults on this difficult enough and challenging journey called parenthood.

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For those reading this to the end, thank you. 

Musing,
Amy

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