In the wake of tragedy, 60-year-old Sheng Hailin of Hefei, China, decided to become a mother again.
Hailin's 29-year-old daughter and son-and-law died in 2009 from carbon monoxide poisoning. Grieivng over the loss of her only child, Hailin decided she wanted to bear more children.
"To survive and free myself of the loneliness, I decided to have another child in my old age," she told China Today.
After months of fertility treatment, Sheng became pregnant via in vitro technology. The pregnancy was difficult, but she gave birth to healthy baby twins, Zhizhi and Huihui, in May of 2010.
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Hailin's case is extremely unusual not just for the age of the mother — she is thought to be the oldest woman to give birth in China — but because of China's strictly enforced "one family, one child" policy. For 30 years, China has granted few exceptions to this rule. Hailin and her husband are not alone in having lost their sole descendent: 76,000 families lose their only child every year, estimates indicate.
Nevertheless, doctors in the military hospital where Hailin lives agreed to help her pursue treatment to become pregnant.
Hailin, who has resumed her job traveling China as a health lecturer, now has to work harder than ever instead of retiring in order to support her two daughters. She hopes to provide them with a comfortable life and a quality education.
"For the baby girls, I have given out all I have," she told China Today.
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Hailin tells Zhizhi and Huihui, now 3 years old, stories about their sister.
"I am trying to tell them why I brought them to the world — to let them know the truth from childhood," she said. "They will understand me when they grow up."