A moment like this

No words can describe what I felt as I held my third baby who was born alive and full term. That moment was priceless. This is one moment I had looked forward to with great expectation, faith and longing the first and second time. But on both occasions I returned home to an empty cradle. Having experienced both sides twice (2 babies that are no more and 2 that survived) I am very grateful and feel privileged to have both boys in my life.

The journey from losing two babies to having another two more was an interesting one. The main thing that kept me going was hope. Hope that believed, relied and trusted in God. Hope that God would not let me down and I could count on him. Hope that my expectation would be a reality. Hope that there would be light at the end of this ‘dark’ tunnel. Hope that my desire and dream of having my family would materialise. Hope that my story would take a different turn. Because I had hope, I kept going month after month, I persevered when my medical prognosis seemed bleak and I chose to try again after two ‘unsuccessful’ attempts.

In my situation because I lost two babies in a row, hope did not occur automatically. It was a daily battle which I conquered by taking my eyes off what had happened to me and what I was told. Instead I chose to focus on God’s take on my situation and have faith in him so that my hope for ‘living’ babies would actually happen in the near future.

Miracles still occur, as you look ahead don’t give up hope.

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Ears in my pain

I discovered that my ability to really ‘hear’ in the midst of my pain was a determinant factor in whether my pain would break me or serve as a spring board to greater things. And what I heard gave rise to faith in my situation and instilled confidence in me that things were not over, although in the natural it was over (laid two babies to rest in a space of ten months).

 

So how did I hear and what did I hear?

 

How I heard

I have often heard the statement that when a product breaks/things go wrong you should either consult the manual and/or the manufacturer. So in my case due to my Christian beliefs, I consulted my manual, the bible and my maker (God Almighty).  

  • Personally when God speaks to me, he does so through every day analogies that flash across my mind as thoughts
  • The bible is a living testament that is applicable to every life situation, as I read it, I heard him speak through various scriptures about what had happened and what was to happen

What I heard

In a nutshell God assured me through his word that he loves me, will never leave nor forsake me and I will end up with babies that would live and not die. As a result of what I heard God say to me regarding my situation, I developed faith to be ‘a mum again.’

 

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10: 17).

 

My resulting faith in God demonstrated that I had absolute confidence, trust, assurance and conviction that I would have healthy, full term babies and easy childbirth experiences going forward. Let me point out here that even though God gave me his word that I would have more children, challenges still showed up.

For instance when I was 33 weeks pregnant with my third baby, I was in hospital for my regular antenatal check. My baby was monitored for over an hour and I was soon to be taken off when suddenly his heart rate dropped drastically (extreme bradycardia) and a few times the machine did not record any readings. All I could say was Jesus and screamed for the midwife. Immediately she saw the CTG trace she called for other colleagues and they started preparing me for Theatre, in the midst of the commotion, I remembered to call my consultant who dashed in and asked them to recheck his heart beat.  And gradually it picked up. I believe within those few minutes his heart rate dropped something happened but God saved my son. He was born exactly at 37 weeks full term with no complications and labour happened just like that, in 22 minutes.

 Each time I got a negative report about either of my subsequent babies, I meditated on the particular scriptures God referred me to and the ones that related to my circumstance in the bible and enforced it in my situation. 

The fact that God spoke into my situation did not mean I should sit back and accept my fate when the arrows came flying in my direction again. I had to call forth the word to do what it has been assigned to do.

Regardless of your situation (whatever it is) spend time seeking God’s face to know his mind regarding what you are currently facing and once you hear, run with it.

God’s word is living, alive, powerful, active, and effective. It surely works!

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

Why are you afraid?

Trying for a baby indeed is a time most women (like myself) become ‘afraid.’ I would like to share three areas that gave rise to fear and address them.

My expectations

Prior to getting married, I had envisaged myself having three kids before I hit thirty. So when I had a delay for over a year, then lost two babies in a row, I was much shaken and quite concerned. Especially when there was no good reason for our babies’ demise.

Looking at the natural

I discovered I had Preeclampsia after delivering ‘Isaac’ (our first son) which developed into high blood pressure. I was told different things by medics. Some said I can never have Preeclampsia again others said there was a greater likelihood of reoccurrence in future pregnancies. In addition, I was told the high blood pressure was here to stay. But that did not deter me from trusting God that all would be well the second time. 23 weeks into my second pregnancy I went into premature labour and delivered our daughter ‘Faith’.  Although we were shocked that this labour was premature we were totally confident she would make it. But after a ten hour battle she was gone. All I said to my husband a few hours later was I can’t do this anymore. What was the point of trying for babies only to lose them?  At that point I was hesitant to give it another go in the near future.

Comparison

Although I got married a few years before many of my friends, a number of them had one or two children before me. Just thinking about it increased my anxiety levels and I could not wait to have, hold and keep my own babies.

What I did

  • Gave over my desires to God and decided to let Him make all things beautiful in His time
  • There was this particular day I was so discouraged about the whole issue. My husband then pointed out to me that my faith level was low. Just like cars need refuelling, likewise our faith needs refilling through meditating on the word of God. So I decided to write down bible verses that relate to conception, safe pregnancy and childbirth and reflect on them on a continuous basis.
  • I came to the realisation that although some of my friends had children, some were not even married and I should be thankful despite my situation. At the end of the day I too would get there even though it is later than planned.

Perhaps, maybe other things are giving rise to fear in your situation, you do not have to tolerate fear. Fear brings pain, distress and torment. Rest in God’s love for you and that He would not withhold anything good from you (which include babies).

Don’t give up in this difficult time, build your strength up in God’s word and expect your miracle.

While waiting

I got married in my early twenties and being the planner I am, I had the next couple of years all mapped out. Step one was to finish my post graduate course then start a family. As my course was about coming to an end, we started trying for a baby. Initially I was not worried when nothing happened for the first two months. As the months went by I became a little bit apprehensive. Month after month I dreaded that time of the month.

Then I thought, this is it, I have finally conceived and was about to perform the test, only to see the unwelcome guest later that day. We just had to keep going (because no effort, no result) but it was not easy. We began to consider going to see the doctor. I just kept hoping and praying I would not need to resort to that option. To my dismay this saga continued unfailingly for sixteen months.

There was this particular day I was just so moody. Nothing seemed to cheer me up. That evening we attended a naming ceremony. As the custom is they usually pray for anyone trusting God for a similar blessing. The pastor actually asked anyone in that category to signify. Of course I did not indicate but muttered along as he prayed. When we got home my husband and I sat on the stairs in our front garden and chatted. Out of the blues my husband pointed out I could be pregnant. It never dawned on me. As my period was late by a few days we decided to do a pregnancy test. It was positive. I just stared at the test kit for a long time in shock. At long last, I was pregnant. I was over the moon. But being the secretive person I am, I thought it best to at least wait for three months before I told anyone.

In hind sight I am grateful I did not have to wait that long. But waiting for sixteen months seemed like a very long time. I am aware of other women who have experienced delay for five, ten and even as long as twenty years.

Here are 5 P’s to consider while you wait

1. Praise
Miracles happen in an atmosphere of praise. Fear and doubt have no chance. Praise also inspires your hope and faith in God.

2. Pray
It helps you get direction and brings about peace in the midst of your storm

3. Prepare
Sometimes we are so focussed on the blessings that we have no clue what to do with the blessing when it arrives. Some areas you may need to consider preparing for are; how to care for a baby, appropriate childcare after maternity leave, work- life balance, parenting skills and discipline/setting boundaries (they do grow up so fast).

4. Ponder
The word of God is what would keep you going. Meditating on God’s word is very powerful. I would suggest getting a journal to write down relevant scriptures in this area. Read, speak, study, and reflect on the scriptures till you believe it 100%.

5. Pour your life into others/yourself/His kingdom
Try to take your mind off your issues. Make others happy. Give of your time to offer practical help to others especially those with children (what you sow is what you would reap). Invest in yourself, enjoy yourself and make God happy by doing what He called you to do (your assignment on earth). Once the children arrive, time just does not seem to be enough.

In conclusion

However long you have been waiting, please do not give up. I hear testimonies day after day of women who finally have their own babies. God is still in the business of miracles.

For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfilment (Luke 1: 37).

Celebrate in anticipation! You too would be called ‘Mummy’ sooner than you expect.