My Consultant

The day I sat in Ms Al- Habib’s office to discuss Faith’s post-mortem result I just connected with her and felt totally comfortable and was confident I was in capable hands. She was the first person we informed baby number 3 and 4 were in the picture. Ms Al-Habib was with us every step of the way through out both pregnancies. If angels were men, she would surely have been one. She indeed was an answer to prayer. She went beyond the call of duty to look after me and both boys during my pregnancies. No question was silly and there was nothing like asking too many questions. Day or night if I needed Ms Al-Habib she was there for me. Even when she was on her off days and on one occasion she was away at a conference she rang the hospital to check up on me and ensured I was well taken care of. Her ‘wicked’ wink always worked wonders and put my mind at rest anytime I was concerned.

 

So grateful our paths crossed, when I think of Ms Al-Habib I can’t help but smile and say a prayer for her. There is nothing that I can do to repay my consultant for what she has done. As I look at my boys and cherish both blessings I will always remember the part she played in our lives. Many consultants have done well but to me she is a consultant who is in a class of her own. Each time I said thank you, she always replied ‘what for? I am just doing my job.’ If all medical staff and consultants did their job the way you do, many babies would still be here. So Ms Al-Habib, one more time I still have to say, Thank you!

 

 

Broken hearts

Two days after I lost Isaac a nurse walked into my room and asked me where my baby was. I could not believe my ears. It was clear there was no baby from my notes and the sticker on the door. I politely replied ‘we lost him.’ Similar questions are still being asked even years after this incidence. Each time I fell pregnant I had to recount my whole pregnancy history and what happened to each doctor, midwife, sonographer  …  I came across, and that was a lot considering the extra number of appointments I had because of my ‘history’. It makes me wonder why patients have notes in the first instance. Similarly anytime I am asked how many children do you have? I may have to disclose what happened to my two children if I choose to.

Over the years, I have learnt not to be heartbroken each time I have to recount my tale or I am made to remember what happened to me. There’s no hiding from my past. It has actually molded me into the person that I am today which I am totally grateful for. Each time I recall my experience either personally or by others instigating it, I am reminded of the countless women in my shoes that I can reach out to because of common ground. As I end this post let me leave you with the words of Elie Wiesel.

“Better that one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand other hearts need not be broken at all.”

A new dawn

I came across these quotes recently  ‘when life gives you limes rearrange the letters until they stay smile’ and when life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.’ Of course, it was not easy for me to smile after trying to conceive month after month with no success nor after conceiving twice and losing both babies when all was deemed fine. But I came to that point shortly after we lost our second child, that although discouraged I refuse to be down and defeated. In my mind I decided not to be a victim but to be a victor despite my present or future state.

It took a lot of effort as both quotes depict (rearrange the letters until… and show life …) but it was a daily and continuous fight both internally and externally to keep smiling. Just having that mindset gave me the courage to face each day expectant that everything would be alright even if I did not achieve my desire of being a biological mum. Of course physically speaking I had many reasons to smile: we were still together, I was still alive, my blood pressure was under control, the assurance that I would see my kids again and finally my purpose in life was worth me hanging on.

I am grateful that I now have two boys that make me smile each day and for the opportunity to walk beside and encourage other women who have been given limes and I pray you would have many reasons to smile soon.

I still have Faith

Although I was taken aback by my baby loss episodes, I came to the understanding that it is not over and God indisputably has my back. Our second child Faith was born premature. I was confident she would survive and so I prayed. When the doctors told us we were losing her, I prayed the more and trusted God for a miracle. Faith however passed away nine hours after birth. Despite the fact my prayer was not answered, I still had Faith in this God I prayed to. I was more resolute in my Christian faith and made up my mind that nothing would stop me loving God. My journey through loss has demystified certain myths I once held and I have now acquired great insight into certain issues people grapple with in the area of loss.

  • God is still God even if things don’t turn out the way I expect
  • ‘Bad’ things surely happens to ‘good’ people
  • God hears me even when it doesn’t feel like it
  • Times of pain and loss reveal where our hearts really lie and what we believe
  • Even when death occurs, it is not the end

 

Faith is physically not here, but I still have her and I am looking forward to the day we will be reunited to part no more. That’s a little incentive for me to maximise my life, make it count, make a difference in the lives of others and make my Faith proud!

I choose to celebrate Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is a day I celebrated once I got married for two reasons: firstly as a mother figure to others and secondly due to the fact I had the potential and opportunity to now become one. However I found myself in a bit of a dilemma (did I qualify to be called a mum) when my trying to conceive period was longer than anticipated and after losing two babies in a row.

As we celebrate Mother’s day today, I have come a long way in my understanding of who a mum is.  Motherhood in my opinion can be biological, non biological and can be envisioned by faith before it becomes a reality in the natural realm. I learnt not to go with society’s label of whether or not I was a mum. I chose to be ‘happy’ each mother’s day and to celebrate with others although physically speaking I had no biological children.  Of course I longed for the day I would hear my children call me ‘mummy’ but my vision of being a mum kept me going, kept me joyful and kept me praising. In the meantime then I spent time preparing for motherhood (reading, asking questions, observing other mums, babysitting (not too often though) and planning) and pouring my life into my non – biological children.

Today, I classify myself as a mother to Isaac and Faith who are no longer here and to both my two sons who are still here.

Perhaps you too have lost a baby (ies) or you are trying to conceive, today is a day to celebrate in expectation of the children that are coming into your life and for the many lives you have encouraged, invested in, sown into, cared for, prayed into, given wise counsel and sacrificed for. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Celebrating Isaac and Faith

I have noticed that babies develop their personalities even from the womb and they are not born has’ blank slates.’ Even though I lost my babies, their memories cannot be erased from my life. I found out that whenever I talk with people who had young or grown children/siblings that have died, when the question of how children do you have or how many siblings do you have comes up, they do state they were xxx number before but xxx passed away. But for some reason, some people feel babies should not be counted. I believe mine were my flesh and blood, they were a part of us and they do count in our household although they are not with us. Whenever I think of Isaac and Faith, it is more in a positive light and I choose to celebrate their lives rather than mourn them as they are only ‘asleep’ and we will meet again.

How we choose to celebrate them

• Each year on their birthdays, we take time out to thank God for the short time we spent with them

• I have decided to fundraise and raise awareness on maternal and neonate causes each year

• We intend setting up a foundation in their honour

And regarding the question; what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4: 13 –14).

I believe my pain and loss can only be worth it when many lives are changed, preserved and challenged as a result of what I went through and my response to my circumstance.

Trying to conceive (ttc)

Trying to conceive is indeed a difficult, hard, stressful, fatiguing, tiresome, wearisome, vexing, arduous, annoying, taxing, aggravating and exasperating time. Although my ttc times were not that long, I still experienced all of the scenarios listed above.  My situation was also compounded by the fact that I also had two losses and had to try again. Here are my thoughts on how I handled this time in my life.

1.       What is His take on this?

 Scriptures are laden with scriptures such as:

Psalm 113: 9 “He gives children to the woman who has none and makes her a happy mother.”

 Isaiah 54: 1 “Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby. Fill the air with song, you who’ve never experienced childbirth! You’re ending up with far more children than all those childbearing women.” God says so!

Hebrews 11: 11 “By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That’s how it happened that from one man’s dead and shrivelled loins there are now people numbering into the millions.

However when things in the natural seemed contrary (after losing Isaac), I had to get on my knees and inquire from God myself what His plans were for me with regards to being a ‘happy’ mother. And because He reassured me through His word and signs, it made my ttc period a bit easier to deal with.

2.       The role of prayer

Each time we tried to conceive (more so after our loss) we committed it to prayer. As I realised this was more than just a biological activity. I just poured our heart out andI was real with God. I spoke what I wanted knowing that He hears and responds. There is also a peace that comes after laying our burdens at His feet.

3.       Counsel

 The counsel from medics can also be beneficial. Having said that it was not everything they said we agreed with or took to heart. I found out that different medics had contrasting opinions in terms of when we could try again after our loss. We decided to go ahead when we felt we were ready to try again.

4.      Readiness

Before attempting to try again, I ensured I was physically well enough to proceed. I think readiness also involves the ability to keep going month after month even when conception ‘eludes’ one. We did not take a break as there was always the thought of what if it was going to happen and we had taken a break. However I think it is okay to take a break if deemed necessary.

5.       What’s faith got to do with it?

The one thing that kept me sane was my faith in God (Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see, Heb 11:1). This gave me the courage to hold on, keep trying, over look negative prognosis and comments.

6.       Mental preparation

I decided to go into Mother Care shortly after I lost Faith to buy any baby item as a sign that I would one day go shopping for my baby and make use of this item for my baby. Each time I felt low I brought out the item to remind me that one day, my baby would have this. I learnt to day dream and night dream of the day I would hold my baby, push him/her in a pram and experience all the wonderful things other mums take pleasure in.

7.       Thanksgiving

There was this song I sang over and over again and I still love it so much; I praise you, I praise you o Lord, in my life I see what you are doing, one more time, I lift my voice in praise of your name, I lift my voice in praise of your name. It served as a declaration of my hope and trust In God and of a beautiful ending.

I have always loved Sarah’s story in the bible and more so present day testimonies I hear all the time. I believe it does not matter how long one has been trying for, what the past history is, the woman’s age is, the physical, medical or spiritual barriers that exist when He says it is time, it indeed is time.

To cut or not to cut others off!

Trying for a baby before and after my losses was a really difficult time in my life. I just could not   understand how ‘others’ supposedly could decide when they wanted to have babies and they did so successfully and here I was after two pregnancies I had no baby to show for it.

I am eternally grateful that not once did my in-laws ask us what was going on. This indeed took off any additional pressure. Instead they were praying for us and likewise my parents (and I am sure other family members and friends).

However I tried to keep communication lines short and sweet with some people who may venture down the route of asking me what was going on with children. Indirectly, I also cut family and friends off by not letting them know ‘on time’ I was expecting as I just thought it better that way. I remember some people were not too happy when I told them between months four and six then there was a baby on the way. But after our first loss, I consciously decided to tell no one until the pregnancy had progressed to a certain time. I only informed our families when I was five and a half months pregnant with Faith and it was only then that those who met me in person realised I was pregnant. And alas less than two weeks after sharing our good news, Faith was gone in a flash. I then made up my mind I would not inform others until very late in future pregnancies or after the birth of our babies.  For the subsequent pregnancies I had to undergo a procedure that could possibly lead to the death of my babies right in theatre or afterwards. Although the procedure was meant to ensure I did not have a premature birth again it had its associated risks. It was a real dilemma. We did not want to make a wrong choice. Anyway after prayer and weighing our options carefully we decided to go for the procedure and thank God it worked for us. So in my situation, I felt it better not to inform others until the end of this journey.

The day I told my dad we lost Faith, the first thing he said was not again. Just hearing those words brought great sadness (temporary) and I decided it is best to only tell people who knew about my second pregnancy about what had taken place. I thought my dad was the stronger one and he would relay the news to my mum. He could not and handed the phone to her, so I had to tell her myself which was very hard. Sometimes people got upset that I did not tell them about my pregnancies but the reality was there was so much I was dealing with and I could not couple that with unintentional unhelpful comments.

Some things I was told that was meant to bring comfort actually did not. For instance, some people told me after we lost Isaac, that I should not worry that God would give me more children. At that point, more children was not what was on my mind, it was my loss of that child. As every child is unique, he/she is irreplaceable. As an African, some people believe in my culture that when bad things happen it may be that someone you know is the cause of it. It got to a point I nearly became paranoid. I began to think perhaps it is this person or that person that is behind my misfortune and I cut them off. Thank God that I have a heavenly father. He whispered and told me one day, the whole world cannot be after you, so stop suspecting this person or that person. He made me realise that I am the apple of His eyes, therefore He has my back. What a relief and deliverance for my troubled mind. But this did not happen automatically. I had to remind myself through God’s word (meditation) and build my faith to combat every negative thought, pregnancy complication and plan of the enemy. I knew as a result of my Christian faith that even if someone actually had ‘evil’ plans against me and my babies, it cannot work and I was confident and happy to sit and dine with them.

On the other hand, I believe it is beneficial to open up. Some of the people in our lives were instrumental in praying for us, giving practical advice, encouraging us and signposting us to a senior Consultant in another Hospital that took care of me during Faith’s pregnancy. From experience I also found out it can be awkward when informing others about the bundle of joys I subsequently had and inviting them to celebrate with us when they had not been a part of my world.

Thank God for good friends and family that still forgave me even when I chose not to involve them. In some cases, we may need to restrict the amount of information we share with others because of the situation at present. However we can avoid cutting others off.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? Romans 8: 31

God is not my problem

Four weeks after my first loss, I was back at church. This was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I felt every eye was on me and wondered what they were thinking. For some reason that day, all the songs were focussed on the goodness of God. Although I sang along, I could not connect with the songs or God. I thought how can God be good and allow such a horrible thing to happen to me? As the months progressed, I came to a point of accepting what had happened but deep in my sub conscious I still believed God ‘let’ me down.

The turning point for me came when I heard a sermon at church ‘God is not your problem.’ At the end of that sermon, the weight of disappointment was lifted. I knew for sure that:

  • God is full of goodness and he cannot be anything but good
  • Despite the fact I lost my son that doesn’t make God any less good

The following scriptures testify to God’s goodness:

  • For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100: 5
  • You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:68
  • “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. Mark 10: 18
  • As newborn babies want milk, you should want the pure and simple teaching. By it you can mature in your salvation, because you have already examined and seen how good the Lord is. 1 Peter 2: 2 – 3

 

I accepted that God is always good following this paradigm shift. Personally, I have discovered that if I do not ask questions, most likely I would not get answers and grow in my knowledge as a Christian. As I have a living relationship with the Almighty, I believe it is okay to ask him questions when I am confused. So, what was the point of my pain?

First and foremost it occurred to me it really is not about me. Once I became a Christian, I chose to follow his cause and trust that he has my best interest at heart and what he has designed me to be and to do is just right for me. This includes my past, pain and his plans. Secondly, my life experiences can serve as a stepping stone in bringing hope, direction and healing for others. Following my loss it became apparent to me ‘who’ the lord was sending me to. I am of the opinion that we all have a specific purpose (our assignment) on earth. And sometimes we cannot effectively minister, assist and make a difference to the people he is sending us to if we have no clue what life is like for them. It is recorded in 2 Corinthians 1: 4 that ‘God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.’

One of my consolations following this heartbreak is that fact that others and I can be inspired to live again, trust God and bring comfort to others in our shoes.

 

Bad things also happen to good people

As a Christian I was totally unprepared when ‘death’ came knocking. I never imagined in my lifetime I would ever bury my own children. I remember someone telling my husband, we did not deserve what happened to us as we were such a lovely couple (Committed Christians). I have come to the conclusion no one deserves to lose a child whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

Despite my frail state a few weeks after Isaac’s birth, I decided to take time out to pray and fast. I had to know what was going on and get answers to the many questions swirling in my head. Although I did not get all the answers I was seeking, the understanding I acquired set me free (to an extent, more about that later).

 

Some Insights gained

  • Even Christians experience pain and in some cases it has nothing to do with sin
  • My reaction to ‘bad’ things reveals my maturity
  • My commitment to God and love for Him should not dwindle even when things don’t seem to make sense
  • This world is not my home
  • All things would work together for my good in the end
  • Despite losing my son, overwhelming victory is mine through Christ who loves me
  • Not accomplishing my assignment on earth by the time I am called home is worse than death

 

From my teenage years, I had always being afraid of ‘death’. My maternal grandmother died when my mum was 13. For some reason, I always had this fear that my mum too would die when I was around that age. Well, she did not. Thank God. But that dread of death remained. But after losing Faith, the hold of death was broken. I found out it was nothing to be afraid of and God has the power of life and death. I could then boldly say to the enemy ‘try me.’

I knew without a doubt, I would have and celebrate with living children. However I made a conscious decision that nothing would separate me from God’s love – neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither my fears of today nor my worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell (Romans 8: 38).

So, are you going to follow Him irrespective of the ‘bad’ things that happen in your life?