On March 3, 2018, former local actor Joshua Ang married air stewardess Shannon Low.
Ang is best known for his starring role in Jack Neo's "I Not Stupid" movies.
The couple welcomed their first son, Jed, on August 4, 2018.
Three days later, the couple brought their child home.
Recommended by a friend
According to Ang, that was when their nightmare began — with a confinement nanny recommended to him by a friend.
In a blog post on June 8, Ang recounted his experience with the nanny whose actions and negligence would wind up landing their son in the intensive care unit (ICU).
They were told that the nanny had 12 years of experience, and was fully booked till the next lunar new year.
Seeing how healthy their friend's child was, they thought the nanny would do just fine.
They hired her for the next 28 days for S$3,000 (including a S$500 deposit),
But within four days on the job, Ang alleges the nanny did many disagreeable things, such as:
- Never following the couple's instructions and insisting on doing things her way
- Disallowing the couple from carrying their own baby
- Disregarding the herbs and tonics that friends and sponsors prepared for Low
- Using formula milk because it was "easier", and wasting Low's breast milk that she spent days and nights pumping by not putting them into the freezer
- "Poking her nose" into private family matters
- Asking Low's mother to buy her skincare products, claiming that her previous client had done the same
At this point, Ang wrote, none of them said anything, as they just wanted the nanny to carry out her job — which was to take good care of Low and Jed.
Overfeeding the baby
Although Ang admits that the family had no experience taking care of a newborn, one thing angered them — the nanny was grossly overfeeding Jed.
According to Ang, Jed's paediatrician had recommended a maximum of 60ml per feed, but the nanny reportedly fed the newborn at least 120-150ml each time.
Ang claims this was because the nanny wanted Jed to sleep for longer periods so she could have more rest.
Despite their suspicions of malpractice, the couple decided to trust the nanny's way of doing things, considering the fact that she supposedly had more experience — something they sorely regret now.
"We were too kind and nice towards her. Total regret. She was too complacent, authoritative, and took advantage of our kindness and made us feel as if we are overly-worried parents."
Wheezing in the middle of the night
On August 8, 2018, Ang and Low brought their baby out for a jaundice check, which went smoothly enough.
But on the same night, Jed started wheezing in his sleep. Ang noted that it was not his typical wheezing, and when the baby tried to cry, it sounded like he was out of breath.
Low sensed that something was very wrong, but when the couple asked the nanny for advice, the nanny allegedly accused the eight-day old baby of "faking it", and added that Jed will be "okay in a while".
Ang then ignored the nanny's denial and went out to buy a nose bulb, which was supposed to help clear the baby's nose in case it was stuffed.
However, nothing came out, and Jed's wheezing only got worse, with his cries becoming muffled.
When Ang and Low wanted to bring their child to the hospital, the nanny tried to stop them, allegedly declaring she had seen such cases before.
Low then realised Jed was feeling much warmer than usual, but the nanny brushed it off, even chiding the couple for their "ill-ventilated" house.
Frustrated and worried, Low started crying and insisted that they leave for the hospital.
Instead of helping, the nanny allegedly told them off for not listening to her before taking her time to pack Jed's diaper bag.
Ang took the baby's temperature, which had soared to 38.3°C. Jed was even starting to turn purple, so his parents rushed him to KK Hospital immediately.
The nanny went back to sleep.
Admitted to ICU
Upon arriving at the hospital around dawn, Jed was rushed to the ER and subsequently admitted to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).
From the look on the doctors' faces, Low and Ang knew right away that their instincts were right and something was seriously wrong.
The doctors tried to reassure them, saying they would do their best.
Ang describes how he and Low waited helplessly outside while listening to Jed screaming and crying when the doctors inserted multiple needles for drips and blood tests.
By noon on August 9, the couple learnt that their son had aspiration pneumonia, with milk in his lungs.
This, Ang is convinced, was due to the baby choking on the milk that the nanny was overfeeding him with.
Jed was put on multiple drips.
By August 10, however, Jed wasn't responding to the medicine he was being given.
The baby's fever wouldn't subside, and his oxygen levels kept dropping.
His right hand was also so swollen from the drips that the doctors had to insert new ones on his legs instead. There were around seven or eight drips on Jed altogether at one point.
Firing the confinement nanny
When Low and Ang finally got back home (Jed was still at the hospital), they found the nanny using her phone in the living room.
Her things were packed and she was ready to leave.
Not only was Low's confinement meal not prepared, used bottles and pumps at home were all left unwashed.
To make matters worse, Ang wrote that the nanny did not apologise or express any concern for Jed.
Low's mum gave the nanny a red packet and told her to leave.
According to Ang, the nanny left in tears, insisting that it wasn't her fault.
However, given the seriousness of their child's condition, the couple felt that something else — apart from *just* overfeeding — was amiss.
True enough, when they checked the teats of the bottle she was using to feed Jed, Low and Ang discovered that the nanny had cut them big enough for a straw to fit through.
The milk flow would therefore, of course, be way too fast for Jed, who was only a week old then.
Tubes through the nose
On August 11, Jed still hadn't gotten better.
His oxygen levels continued to drop, and he had an infection caused by the milk that had entered his lungs.
Instead of a mask, doctors and nurses had to put two tubes through his nostrils — one to feed him and one to help him breathe.
Jed couldn't make any noise after that.
"This was the last that we heard him cry, because the tubes went right past his voice-box, leaving him unable to cry. He wanted to cry from the pain, but he couldn't make any sound. His eyes were swollen like a toad from crying the past few days."
Low and Ang cried plenty too, of course, even as they tried to stay strong.
Unable to carry their child, they could only touch him gently.
"Never in our lives did we feel such heartbreak. Touching him was all we could do. Not being able to carry him for a week made us miss holding him so much."
Just when they thought it was rock bottom, things took a turn for the worse.
Jed's chest started bulging, as his pneumonia had led to a pneumothorax — a collapsed lung caused by air leaking into the space between the lung and chest wall.
Ang described it as "a hole in his [Jed's] lungs".
The bulge was so severe that Jed's organs had shifted to the left, and the doctors had to insert a new tube through his chest to remove the excess air.
After all these procedures, Jed lost so much blood that he needed a transfusion.
And Ang had to pull himself together not just for his son, but also his wife.
"Almost every other hour, Shannon was crying. And when she cried, I had to hold everything inside of me to stay strong for her. When she finally gets to sleep or stops crying, the thought of Jed just brings tears to my eyes. I felt like I failed him, as a father."
Ang prayed for his baby, too.
Road to recovery
Thankfully, on August 14, Jed started getting better. The hole in his lungs had healed, and the baby could even smile.
The couple was allowed to hold him up:
After six days in the ICU, Jed was transferred to the high dependency ward.
His oxygen levels stabilised, and the air tube was removed.
He was also able to cry again, although his voice was a little hoarse from the tubes.
After the week-long ordeal, Low and Ang could finally hold Jed in their arms again.
On August 17, Jed was discharged and arrived home.
Although the baby had lost weight and looked fragile, Ang believed that Jed was glad to be home again.
As Jed is soon turning one, Ang ends his post warning others about the confinement nanny they hired (and fired), and encouraging parents to speak up and assert themselves should they ever feel uncomfortable with how the nannies they engage are treating their children.
He then thanked the nurses and doctors and KK Hospital, as well as friends and family who have helped out during the period.
You can read his entire blog post here.
Top image via joshanjed.com