Gift of Conception, Gift of Pregnancy, Gift of Child-bearing...giftsoften not realized are gifts until one experiences a loss
— Chingboi Guite Phaipi —
So, I missed my period last month(April). And I feared I might be pregnant because, honestly, with a busy toddler Nunhoih and just starting to work on myPhD Dissertation besides our ministry responsibilities, I was not ready for another baby.I also began to feel a little weird—tired, nauseous and that sort, around the end of April and first week of May. But then, after a week or so that weird feeling went away. SoI thoughtI was just tired and stressedsince I'd usually get up to study after putting Nunhoih to sleep(from around 10pm to 2am).On the other hand, some suspicion remained and finally I bought a home testing kit from CVS pharmacy. StillI waited a couple of days to test because, honestly, I was nervous. So, after fulfilling some big responsibilities (such as planning and hosting graduation party for ThM & PhD students), I finally tested on May 13 (Friday) night. As usual I was putting Nunhoih to sleep, and though I was tired, I woke up to do the test.Perhaps my mind was half-asleep, I interpreted the result as "not pregnant", and then I quietly went back to bed. In the morning, I told hubby that I did the test last night. And I added, "sorry you might be disappointed," to which he responded, "No, I have a feeling it'll be positive, I prayed about it." Then Igot the kit from the bathroom to give it to him, and as I glanced over the instructions it dawned on me that I seemed to have read the result wrong. So, we all (including Nunhoih) checked the kit and saw that it did show two lines: "pregnant"!We were happy and 'dancing' and thanking the Lord.
What was interesting was that even though I was not ready and nervous, God in His grace enabled me to embrace the news with joy. I was happy and excited and very thankful to the Lord that I didn't have morning sickness this time (I suffered at least three months while carrying Nunhoih), and that I could continue to work on my dissertation. I even told hubby that now that the baby is on the way, I'd have to work hard and try to finish as much as I can before the baby comes. With our busyness, we couldn't go to the clinic soonfor confirmation and to start prenatal care, but finally we went on May 18 (Wednesday), and the expected delivery date would be Dec 25, 2016. Yay, a Christmas baby!! What a special child this would be!! We became even more excited.
Even on the day when we went to the clinic, I had some spots of bleeding, but for some reason we were not too worried. Since we did a walk-in, we didn't get an OB/GYN doctorbut an internal medicine doctor. I told the doctor about the spots of bleeding, but she also didn't seem worried and just said I should follow up with an OB/GYN. So we came home. On that same evening we were invited for a thanksgiving fellowship by a church member, so we went to their home. Then, very early the next morning, around 2:30am not long after I went to bed, I felt like a gush of blood came out. I ran to the bathroom and found that a clot had come out. I screamed softly and called hubby, and we were just shocked and didn't even really know what to feel. I googled about this and read that some people had a similar experience but were fine and had healthy babies. So, even though we were worried, we prayed and tried to sleep. Early morning, hubby had to drop a friend to the airport and then help a church member with a job application, so when he returned in the afternoon we went to the Emergency Room.
Even at the ER, we still prayed in our hearts that we would go back with good news, that the baby would be safe. Urine tested positive. Big relief. Then they drew blood, and when I asked what that was for, the nurse said for evaluating if the pregnancy is viable. So I thought to myself, "What if they'd ask me to stop the pregnancy because the baby is prone to develop disease or disability or that sort." SoonI resolvedthat I/we'd want to go ahead with the pregnancy whatsoever. So, no thoughts rang in my mind of losing the baby. Theythen didan ultrasound but couldn't find a baby, and the lab technician said it could be that it's too early to spot the baby, sothey did another internal ultrasound. Back in my bed, after some time, the doctor came and said they diagnosed me for a miscarriage. As I recall, my only response to the doctor was: "What?" Even though I had been worried that anything could happen, I was not ready to hear this. Up until this time I just couldn't imagine the baby would really be lost. The doctor said "Sorry" and encouraged me that at least I was not in pain and that this didn't mean that it'll happen again in the next pregnancy.Headded that miscarriages usually happen because of a (genetic) problem with the baby, not because of what the mom did or did not do. I wasdischarged with instructions to come back to the ER in two days and then follow up with an OB/GYN the next week. Feeling lost, I just wept for a while,then gathered my stuff and walked out to the waiting room for hubby and our little girl to pick me up. We'd lost the baby.
Praying for a miracle
Yet, I still kept praying, like a child, for a miracle, for a resurrection (like Jesus was raised in three days), between now (Thursday, May 19) and Saturday (May 21). But also, I'd always conclude my prayers with " but only if it is for Your Glory, and if it is best for us."On Saturday afternoonwhen we went back to ER they drew blood and found that the hcg level did go down, confirming a miscarriage.No miracle happened. But I still tried to put a pinch of hope and prayed for a miracle again that when I go to the OB/GYN the next week that the doctor would listen to my belly and exclaim that there's a heartbeat! Monday came. I saw the doctor. No miracle.I stopped praying for the baby to return. The doctor simply said that as I was pregnant before with no complications, I need not worry. She added thata miscarriage at this early stage is very common and usually happens because something is 'wrong' with the baby, and not because of what the mother does or does not do, such as lifting heavy objects, falling, stress, etc. The baby is not coming back.
Many thoughts and regrets overwhelmed us the following days. I should've done these; shouldn't have done those.I should've checked right after I suspected pregnancy and should've gotten medical care sooner. I should've rested instead of trying to work hard on my dissertation. I shouldn't have carried Nunhoih around; shouldn't have carried the heavy stroller up the steps. I should've been careful with what I ate and so on. It's my fault.
Deeper within,I had thoughts that maybe it was because I prayed that I was not ready for another baby. Maybe it was because of my judgmental mind, that when someone we knew had a miscarriage recently I said (though not to the them) that they shouldn't have moved their house, she must've been lifting heavy stuff, she was put to too much work, and such. Also, when we found out that we are pregnant, I said that I wish our sister-in-law (and brother) is pregnant first, because they have been wishing but struggling to get pregnant. Who was I to say that, questioning God's way.Could my miscarriage be a payback for my unthoughtful words? Similarly, hubby also shared that he felt that it might be because he did bad things in the past.
The following few weeks were confusing; yet, they were also a time of reflection over life and of much prayers. Gradually, I felt that it was not helpful to dwell in these thoughts. These thoughts could've been right, or they could've been wrong. I came to the realization thatmy God is not a God who'd simply payback evil for evil. If I were to be paid according to my unkind words or thoughts or actions, I wouldn't be alive today. Asking the question "Why?" does not really help. Yet, all these thoughts and questions have taught me to be kind and understanding and not to speak or think or act like I know the answers.
Conception, Pregnancy and Child-bearing: Truly Gifts from God
Through this experience, I began to realize clearly how being able to conceive, being pregnant and bearing a child are truly gifts. Simply being a woman of age and married does not make one able to have a child. One could do everything to have a child but still not have child/children. To conceive, be pregnant for nine long months (anything can happen during these nine months!) and to deliver a child on time—all these seemquite natural.But actually, they are not natural. They are all miracles. They are gifts from our creator God. After experiencing the loss of a baby through miscarriage, I came to realize that I have been given these gifts and I now appreciate these giftsvery much.
Learning to be More Understanding
This same experience also helps me/us to be more understanding towards and stand with many others who have had miscarriage/s or struggle to have children. The feeling of loss, devastation, regrets, feeling of guilt, anger, frustration and such. The feeling of anxiety and nervousness for the future, what if I cannot get pregnant anymore, what if I have another miscarriage and such. It is not easy to be "strong" and not worry at these moments. Until one experiences the same thing or the same pain, it is easy to judge others as overreacting or to blame others. Even though I may not experience the same thing that someone else is going through and not able to understandtotally, at least I want to try to listen genuinely to their stories with a full open heart and not judge.This experience has taught me to be more empathetic to others.
Why Would God let this Happen?
Another thought that bothered us was: perhaps God let (or allowed) this to happen to us, so that we can be more effective in ministry, so that we can understand better the experiences/hardships of people we care for, not just in theory but to be able to speak the same language with them. So that theycan at least feel comfort that they are not alone, and that even we are experiencing the hardships they face. Yet also, I don't think God will simply put such hardships on someone (us) just for that purpose. That will make God equal to humans. Evil and hardships happen in the world, and they happen to anyone, everyone. At the same time, if this experience makes us more understanding and stronger for our ministries, it truly will be a benefit and a blessing.
For a long time we couldn't share what we went through with others, perhaps because it's hard to talk about miscarriage, like or unlike any other grief. Yet, a Sunday in July a team visited our church and one woman from the prayer team (who also had experienced a miscarriage recently) shared that she wanted to pray for moms who have lost a child. That hit us hard and we just burst into tears and were compelled by the Holy Spirit to share with our church. Once we shared, our church members prayed for/with us and stood with us, and it became much lighter. Though hard to open up and share hard experiences such as a miscarriage, sharing with others truly helped us in our healing journey.
We love our child whom we lost before we could meet, whom we thought would be a very special child, born on the birthday of Jesus. And, I don't think we can ever forget. Our unborn child has already touched us dearly, has given us so many blessings, and our child will remain special in our hearts.And this story I/we will share with his/her big sister Nunhoih and other sibling/s in the future as God gives us opportunities.
Thank you Lord, for your ways are higher than our ways and always the best. We surrender to You and Your will. Amen.
[From the personal diary of Chingboi Guite Phaipi. May 30, 2016]
*October is "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month" in the USA*