As a result of China’s one-child policy, there is a common term for parents who have suffered the loss of their only child: Shidu fumu. When that devastating loss occurs in the middle age of a woman’s life, beyond the years of healthy fertility, she has no choice but to carry on somehow and eventually settle into retirement. But Sheng Hailin did not gave up on her life, instead, she decided to have kids again at the age of sixty.
Sheng lost her 29-year-old daughter after a coal gas poisoning incident in early 2009. She was devastated and even thought about ending her life. She had often dreamed about her daughter coming back to life.
Eight months later, with the help of medicines to build up her body’s strength, Sheng decided to undergo in vitro fertilization as a way to “get her lost daughter back”.
“She was my pride and she was my everything. I came from a military family, she was very tough and obedient as well,” Sheng said.
Months later, she gave birth to a set of twins, and became the oldest mother to do so in China.
“For me, the twins are like a continuation of my oldest daughter’s life, I can’t live without them.”
Now, sixty-three years, old Sheng travels around the country giving lectures on health so that she can support her family.
“The twins could not get used to it at first, then I told them, if you want to have candy to eat, pretty skirts to wear, mommy has to work. They got used to it eventually.”
Sheng wants to live long enough to see her children grow: “I will try to live up until the age of one hundred and four for my kids, whether on my own or through the help of science. I think that’s definitely possible since I’m leading such a healthy life.”
She is hoping to one day write a book about her story.
By Isabel Quan