When her unborn daughter died in her womb, Mrs Chow Yun Fat did not cry. Not because she wasn’t devastated, but rather, she was too shell-shocked.
In an exclusive interview with Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, superstar Chow Yun Fat’s wife Jasmine Tan talks about her painful memories from 1991.
The Singaporean has been married to the iconic Hong Kong actor for 31 years and the couple are known to keep a low-key lifestyle outside of showbiz.
In the first part of a 15-episode interview with Apple Daily titled My Husband is Chow Yun Fat, Tan talks about her pregnancy five years into their marriage in 1986.
She revealed that they were both elated when they found out that she was expecting and Chow had even announced the news to the media – but a twist of fate led them on a different path instead.
When Tan was nine months into her pregnancy, her unborn baby died due to strangulation from the umbilical cord. Her doctor advised her to remove the baby by caesarian, but Tan refused to and chose to deliver the stillborn.
“I said no matter what, I still want to go through it [giving birth naturally]. After all, I’ve already carried my baby for nine months,” Tan recalled.
Chow had instructed the nurses to carry the baby away immediately as he did not want his wife to have to go through another painful episode. However, Tan managed to catch a glimpse of the corpse before they took it away.
That fateful day
In the tearful interview, Tan said: “I still think about her today. This experience is indeed… unimaginable.”
A day before she found out her baby had died, Tan said she was telling Chow that their daughter was being good and did not kick or move around in her womb. She found this odd and consulted her gynaecologist the next morning.
Till today, she still remembers details from the fateful day: “It was raining so heavily the next morning when I went to see my doctor at Mongkok that the rainwater reached my knees.”
At the clinic, the doctor did not reveal any details and told her to go to the hospital immediately.
“I looked at the doctor and realised that something was not right. But it never occurred to me that it would be this bad,” said Tan, who added that Chow took her to the hospital immediately after the consultation.
St Teresa’s Hospital was a short car ride away, but she began to worry and pray for her daughter. There, a scan showed her baby had been strangled by the umbilical cord, but neither the doctor nor the nurses would break the news to her.
Her husband then told her: “The doctor says, let’s have surgery.”
The doctor and nurses were all sad for her and hoping to spare her the pain of pushing out the stillborn baby, but she insisted.
When she knew her baby girl had died prematurely, Tan said she was not able to cry.
“I didn’t know what to do or think. I didn’t cry. All I could think about was ‘Why me? Why must this happen to me?'”, revealed Tan.
What Chow did next was the most memorable thing he had done for his wife, she once told The Straits Times in 1997. “He stayed at my bedside for five continuous days,” she said then. “He didn’t go home and he didn’t shave. We slept together in the same hospital bed.”
It took the couple seven years to try to overcome the trauma.
“My daughter has died. The love that I have [for her] is something I’m not able to give her anymore. But it is something that I can give to others,” said Tan, now 57.
Ever since the incident, the couple have been helping out the needy. They have also committed 99 per cent of their assets and belongings to charity.
The two decided not to have any children after, as Chow, 62, did not want his wife to suffer from any complications. Though childless, the couple are known to have a loving marriage.
The Apple Daily interview can be found here.
A version of this article appeared in Asiaone.
(Photos: Apple Daily screenshot, The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao)
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