The story appears on

Page A2

December 20, 2013

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Nation

Despair turns to joy for a mother at 60

Sheng Hailin became China’s oldest mother of newborns when she delivered twin girls at the age of 60.

The twins were born in May 2010, 16 months after her then 29-year-old daughter and son-in-law died in a coal gas poisoning accident, the Southern People Weekly magazine reported.

Today, Sheng travels around the country giving lectures on health so she can raise money to support her daughters.

She has a hectic schedule. This month, nine cities, including Shanghai, are on her itinerary.

“I stay at one place for one to four days. When I have to catch planes, I don’t have time to eat,” Sheng said. “I almost work at the cost of my life.”

Sheng could have spent a comfortable retirement with her husband at their home in east China’s Anhui Province if she had not decided to have the girls. But she says the joy they bring is worth the burden. She says their birth helped her to step out of her despair at the loss of her daughter.

The loss of a child is always devastating, but when it’s an only child in their adult years, the loss can be catastrophic for a couple too old to have another child. The bereaved parents are known as shidu fumu, or parents who have lost their only child.

At the time of the accident Sheng was in the depths of despair and felt she couldn’t go on. But then her relatives suggested she have another child and, despite being considered too old, she made up her mind to do it.

Sheng took medicine and had injections every day to build up her health and restore her menstrual cycle. On October 13, 2009, three embryos were placed in her uterus.

Pregnancy for an older woman can be a painful experience, and highly risky. Her body ached constantly, she suffered painful swelling, and she lost one fetus after heavy bleeding, the magazine reported.

But on May 25, 2010, Sheng delivered the twins to become China’s oldest new mother.

Now she works hard to earn enough money to pay for ayi and to save for the girls’ future.

“I am old. I feel it is too hard to take care of the girls by myself,” she said.

Sheng has a full-time nanny and one who is paid by the hour.

Maintaining her household can cost her more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,647) a month.

“I am afraid about how long I can have the energy to raise them. My wish for them is to grow in health and wealth,” she said.

Her lectures around the country help her with the financial side but long separations have gradually alienated her from her daughters. They like their nannies more, the report said.

Sheng says she can stay at home for no more than 10 days at a time before she needs to get back to work.

“I am trying to tell them why I gave birth to them to have them know the facts at a young age. I believe they will understand me when they grow up,” Sheng told the magazine.

Traditional Chinese beliefs dictate that families should have as many children as they can, since they are needed to care for their parents when they reach old age. However, the family planning policy that took effect in the late 1970s limited the majority of urban families to just one child.

There are at least a million shidu couples in China and the number grows by 76,000 every year, according to 2010 statistics.

National census data showed that 218 million children were born as their family’s only child between 1975 and 2010.

Of the people who died between birth and 30 years in 2007 and 2008, 66 percent died between the ages of 18 and 30, when their parents were too old to have another child, according to a survey.

As one solution to the problem, some regional family planning and civil affairs authorities have teamed up with non-governmental bodies to provide community services and counseling for elderly people with no children.



Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend