Faith

Heartbroken after years of infertility, we were slowly losing hope

Jessie Tan // May 8, 2020, 12:29 pm

7 YEARS OF INFERTILITY FEATURE

All photos courtesy of contributor.

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.

When I first met my husband back in 2002, I didn’t think we’d ever get together. But as it turned out, we would start dating in 2008 and tie the knot two years later.

As we were relatively young both in our age and our relationship, we decided to take things slow. We could always have a kid at a later timing, we reasoned.

We never thought we’d have difficulties conceiving a baby. But before we knew it, we were six years into our marriage and still childless. We couldn’t understand why and decided to consult a gynaecologist in 2016 after much consideration.

While my husband and I knew that there was a chance of receiving bad news, nothing could have prepared us for the devastation that came with being told it was almost impossible for us to conceive because of a medical condition.

We were heartbroken.

We sought a second opinion, but it only reaffirmed the initial diagnosis. It was then when I realised why so many couples with difficulties conceiving hesitate to see the doctor.

If we didn’t know for sure, infertility would have remained as a possibility – we could have pretended nothing was wrong. But this possibility was now a reality for us. It’s like watching your worst nightmare coming to pass.

The days following the diagnosis were difficult. My husband and I had to both grieve individually, and yet learn how to protect and honour each other above our own disappointments. 

Will I ever be a dad?

We tried finding solutions, but they didn’t work out in the end. 

So we decided to trust that if God wanted to give us a child, He would give us one. We also shared our situation with our church leaders and friends who prayed for us continuously. Some even received prophecies of me having a kid.

But while we were very thankful for the community support, we couldn’t help but slowly lose hope. It was too difficult to keep our expectations up while being disappointed with our reality, time and time again.

Eventually, my husband and I decided that while we couldn’t have our own child to love, we could still experience the joy of loving others through meeting the needs of others in church.

Life went on for us.

The journey of infertility and unanswered prayer

In June the following year, I was at a prayer meeting when the pastor told us to write down our hopes and dreams for our kids. God imprinted the name “Samuel” in my heart so I wrote it down.

But I lost that piece of paper since as I didn’t think much of it. So I was surprised when I discovered that I was two months pregnant later!

My husband and I were so shocked, relieved and happy at the same time. After being caught between hope and reality for so long, we felt like we could finally breathe again.

I was also very thankful for God’s protection because while not knowing I was carrying a baby inside of me, I actually went for a full back massage and the masseur stepped on my back! God kept watch over us, even when I didn’t realise it then.

I waited 22 years for my baby to be born

Preparing for the arrival of our child was an exciting process for both of us. As a first-time parent, I dove straight into hours of research and shopping for baby clothing and room decor.

My husband also decided to change his job to one with shorter working hours so that he could spend more time with the baby when he arrives. He had to take a pay cut, but we didn’t mind it. We wanted to give our child the very best.

Then life threw us another curveball.

“Your baby has water in the brain and a hole in the heart,” my doctor told me. “He will most likely be born with Down Syndrome.”

In fact, he was so convinced that he told me that I did not need to do the Down Syndrome test and advised me to abort the baby because of the social and financial costs of raising a special needs kid.

I was already 20 weeks pregnant then.

By then, I was so familiar with disappointments that I felt nothing but tiredness. Why was my pregnancy journey so difficult? Why did this have to happen to me?

Continuing on, the doctor informed me I only had about two more weeks left to decide if I wanted to terminate the pregnancy.

And that’s when it really hit me. I had been filled with so much hope for the past five months. As it turned out, I was carrying false hope. Telling me that I now had to abort my baby was even a bigger blow than finding out that I couldn’t have kids.

They said my unborn baby is incompatible with life

I didn’t know how we did it, but almost instinctively, my husband and I made the choice to keep our baby that weekend. However, I struggled to come to terms with it even after making our decision.

“Why didn’t You give me a perfect baby?” I cried out to God. “It would be better if I had not conceived!”

I was plagued with fear, despair and helplessness. How was I to care for a special needs child? What kind of life would my baby live? 

There were days where I took out the ultrasound scans and simply stared at it. There were nights when I cried myself to sleep. I was even afraid to go for future checkups because I was so emotionally scarred.

But every time I felt my baby kicking in my tummy, I felt like I had made the right decision to keep him. I can’t explain it… It’s like a maternal instinct. Whether my baby lives or dies, he is still my child. I just couldn’t give up on him like that.

My brother, our special gift

I also began to understand that while my baby wasn’t perfect in the world’s eyes, he was perfect in God’s eyes… in my eyes. He was perfect simply because we loved him.

After deciding to keep my baby, my husband and I decided to switch from a private hospital to a public hospital. We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to afford the medical fees in a private hospital if there were birth complications – especially with a baby like ours.

At the new hospital, the gynaecologist decided to redo all the scans for me. To our unbelief, he couldn’t find anything wrong with my baby! Scan after scan, we remained unconvinced until the head of the fetal centre was roped in to look at my case. He, too, found nothing wrong!

The rest of my pregnancy journey was a joyous one. Of course, there were times when doubts and worries crept in. But we knew we could trust in God. 

After many twists and turns, I gave birth to a healthy boy on April 11, 2018. We named our miracle baby Samuel – the name that God dropped in my heart at the beginning.

Samuel means “God hears”, and indeed God has heard me.

I know not everyone gets an ending like mine. One of our friends who identified with our pain and journeyed with us through the entire process is still facing fertility problems.

I don’t have all the answers, but from my experience, here’s what kept me going through the darkest of nights.

1. START LOVING TODAY 

The joy of having a child is being able to love. But even if you can’t have a child, there are other avenues to channel this love. I have friends who decided to take up child sponsorships. Fostering and adoption are also alternatives as well.

But it doesn’t have to be children. Giving back to the community in general is a possibility too. If we just look around, we will realise that there are so many people out there to love. We don’t have to wait for a baby before we experience the joy of giving and loving.

2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH COMMUNITY 

We were very grateful for a loving community who not only supported us through the trying times but also shared with us their own experiences.

Infertility, abortion and miscarriage are more common than we think, but not many dare to speak up about these issues. Their openness and vulnerability helped us to be honest with our emotions and what we were going through. 

People in my church also frequently share testimonies with one another. It doesn’t have to be on a similar issue but hearing those miracles built our foundation of faith. Just like how these sharings have encouraged me, I pray that my story will also build up faith in you wherever you are. 

Don’t give up.

THINK + TALK

  1. What are you hoping for today?
  2. Do you believe that God has heard your prayers? 
  3. Are you able to trust in His plan for you? 
  4. What can you do while waiting?