***P.S.: It's a lengthy post but took me a lot of courage to write. I have believed in sharing even when not at my mountaintops, as I believe it is a testament of God's faithfulness and not mine; like how when I became jobless and Mori was then still not sustainable as a full-time venture, but this episode was difficult. If you are going through grief/loss (it may be things like losing source of income or your pet - any pain is personal to the person), I pray that you know that you are not alone and there is hope ❤️️
It was a season of waiting for me to becoming a mother. I was diagnosed by some gynaecologists with PCOS, and 2 years ago uterine polyp was found in me. The constant bleeding led what was a hospital A&E visit for high fever (on a weekend and during Covid-19 times) turned into a diagnosis of me being anaemic. I had to undergo blood transfusion. When the doctor was surprised I had never fainted before at the low haemoglobin count I was at, I knew God had been protecting and sustaining me all those while.
The polyp was removed surgically subsequently, which led to discovery that I was not ovulating and hence was put on Clomid pills for 3 cycles. After the 3rd cycle, I was still not pregnant and our gynae had suggested for us to go for IUI or IVF. On the next cycle that I was off Clomid, I got pregnant.
I recalled my hand shivering as I told J the news over text. We were so happy and excited over the next few weeks! Our first gynae appointment was scheduled 2 weeks + later.
On the day of the first gynae visit, I had told J to dress up so that we could do what typically couples would do - take a photo with the first baby scan! When it was finally time to scan, gynae said that he could only see what seems like 5 weeks+ pregnancy (although based on calculation of dates, it should have been 6 - 7 weeks). However, he said to come back again 10 days later to see if the baby has grown.
The 10 days wait was crazy. I journaled and talked to God a lot. And prayed. And worried. And prayed believing the best for baby. I sang worship songs with baby, read and meditated on verses with baby. I googled a lot (lesson learnt: “over googling” when being anxious isn’t helpful- the conflicting and sometimes extreme information can be confusing). We prayed for baby at nights. Friends stood in faith with us and prayed.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17
"Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2,4
I was meditating on bible verses and these stood out to me. What a contrast that in trials, I may not be steady, but our heavenly Father does not change like shifting shadows. By putting my trust in Him, through trials, I can let steadfastness have its full effect that I may lack in nothing.
I raise a Hallelujah
in the presence of my enemies
louder than my unbelief
One of the interesting things was while we were waiting for our turn during the first gynae visit, J and I read a devotional together and the theme of that devotional was Praise. I learnt during the 10 days that like David in Psalms, praise (and faith) need not be mutually exclusive with questions. David wrote true, hard questions; he also lamented, but he praised God.
On the weekend before the 2nd gynae scan, I started having spotting. I panicked and continued praying over baby. We went to KKH A&E and it turned out that the bleeding was not a cause for concern. However, the gynae wanted us to go back to our own gynae to check if the baby had grown as she wasn't the gynae who did the first scan. I was relieved and filled with so much hope. I slept again soundly that night.
Then came Tuesday, the day of our scheduled second scan. An hour before, I saw fresh red blood when I went to the toilet. I was so shocked and for the next hour I didn't dare to pee for fear of red blood coming out. When our gynae saw us, we showed him the scan from the weekend at KKH A&E and he confirmed that the baby did not grow. He asked if we wanted to scan again, but from his voice I knew he was sure with his diagnosis. He said the bleeding over the weekend was already onset of symptoms of miscarriage. There, I finally mention the word in this post.
While leaving the clinic, my mind was in a mess. On one hand, I believed my God, God of miracles. I have no doubt in His power to save baby. On the other hand, the diagnosis seems extremely clear. Finally in the car, the tears started gushing and didn't quite stop for a while that week.
Having a miscarriage is hardly something one would think of. No one told me that it would be so painful (I wonder if it's close to birth labour contractions). I could feel intense cramps not just in lower abdomen, but at the groin area, inner thighs and lower back. We didn't even thought of painkillers. At some point, I was begging God to save baby and bargained for all sorts of things. J then asked if I was tensing up so as not to let the blood flow out (or so I thought "holding it in" would stop the blood from flowing out). At that point, I asked him if I couldn't still believe in God and ask God to save baby. J told me gently that I am first a child of God and he believes God's heart aches to see me like that. I also read the message from our wedding prep leaders who said,
"The words that came when I saw your message.
Trust His heart.
It is difficult. We'll be praying for both of you. Hugs!"
At that moment, I knew I had to let go. God is the giver of all gifts, and baby belongs to God. Can I let go and trust His heart despite of the outcome that I never wanted?
Over the next 2 weeks, I did a mini confinement and also took time to grief. Most of you would be familiar with the 5 steps of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The process need not be linear and can go back and forth or jump from one to another.
Here are some of the questions I had asked, and some things that I had processed during the time.
1. Anger in grief could be directed at God, others, and even self
- Dear God, did I do something wrong somewhere? Perhaps there was still something wrong with my body?
- You have the power to heal and save baby through the blood of Jesus, and my body was healed from not being able to conceive to being able to conceive by You! So why didn't You save baby?
- Was it that my faith wasn't strong enough compared to others who escaped miscarriage? Did I not pray or believe enough?
I wrote at length earlier this year about our pains being treasures, and learning to hold spaces for ourselves and others in the midst of facing pain.
In the bible in the book of Job, when Job lost his children and almost everything overnight, his friends found many reasons to pinpoint faults on him (you didn't do this, you did this, and so on). God did not give answers at the end as to "why", but He did show Himself for who He is and His character - He is the sovereign God who created heavens and earth, and it is also He who has the power to withhold leviathan (a sea serpent) from hurting. In John 9, Jesus was asked if it was the blind man's sin or his parents that cause his blindness. Jesus said, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in Him." Many times, many of us go back to this "do good get good, do bad get bad" mindset, and feel anger and guilt towards God, others and self. But the truth is, this world that we are living in is not black and white (it doesn't take some years of life to see that, does it?). You may read more about it here.
Is God then a ruthless and psychotic God who chooses who to "torture" as He wishes? I found myself being anchored back in the overarching redemption plan of our good good Father again -
Sin came into this world when Adam and Eve (whom God made) took the forbidden fruit. The devil had tempted Eve by saying that taking the forbidden fruit would allow them to be like God. God gives Man whom He creates free choice, because, what will make of a dictator with robots? Anyone who has loved or been loved before knows that true love involves free will and choice. Sin then separated Mankind from God. In His redemption plan, He sent His own beloved child to die the death that we deserved. Jesus rose to life again, conquering death, making a way for us to be redeemed and restored back to Him (the only way is through accepting Jesus - yet again, a choice).
This redemption will only be complete in heaven (where God promises there will be no more tears), BUT we do get to see the beginnings of this reconciliatory work here on earth by God's grace. This is why we see wounds being healed, lives saved, mourning turned into dancing. But the truth is, this is not the place where everything becomes perfect (it also doesn't take too many years of living as an adult to recognise that it is impossible to have a perfect life here). Logically, even if we put faith aside, there would be no such word as "healing" if there weren't wounds to begin with, would there? And we are still imperfect people with free will to hurt one another.
I read again recently in Genesis and realised that Eve was tempted by the devil to take the forbidden fruit because she believed that God was withholding goodness from her that she wanted (i.e. she wanted her eyes to be opened, to be like God). But can we let God be God and trust that He is good even when the outcome is not what we want (it’s like a child thinking playing with fire is good for him but as a parent do you really think that is good)?
So there I was- wanting to attribute the miscarriage as wrongdoing of someone, something, and that God withheld something that I wanted. But now I see God's heart. Thank you God for sending Your beloved son Jesus to die for us that I who is undeserving may receive this redemption. And Your redemption over my life is still on-going and will be made complete till I see Jesus face to face in eternity. And even in the fallen state of this temporal place, Jesus has provided a way (He always does). I stay rested in my heart that our baby is with Him where there are no more tears. And as C.S. Lewis says, "If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."
If you have been tempted with such thoughts against God, others or self like me, it is okay. Going through tough circumstances is well, tough (in fact, what a courageous one you are for staying and not quitting!). Being tempted is not a sin, for even the best of men are not exempted from it (even Jesus Himself was tempted in the wilderness). It is how we respond by not turning away from God but to stay with Him. One very good way which Jesus exemplified is to go to His Word - not that He wants more bible students haha but that really knowing the Word reveals His true character and nature and reminds us of and debunks some of the wrong thinking we have. Also, Jesus desires to be with us in whatever circumstances we go through!
If you have questions, ask God. He isn't afraid of hard questions. We are.
2. Jesus wept (He sees our pains!)
John11:35 "Jesus wept" - the shortest verse in the entire bible, but something that hit right at my heart when going through pain. The context of this verse is that the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary went to find Jesus after their brother Lazarus died. While Jesus did raise Lazarus from the dead eventually, it is true that Jesus allowed Lazarus to die. He could also have healed from afar like He did in Matthew 8:13 with the centurion's servant. Whatever Jesus does is always to bring the Father glory. Yet, Jesus wept at Lazarus' tomb. He understood the pain and suffering that sin had brought upon fallen Man, and He did not take the suffering lightly.
“For he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men." Lamentations 3:33
One of the most comforting things through my grieving is knowing that Jesus understands my pain, and God collects all our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Faith in Jesus is not a religion, but a personal relationship with God. It is a personal journey to take and Immanuel (God is with us). In grief, our pain is a very personal one. Sometimes people with good intentions may pass comments like "he/she is in a better place" or "it's just early pregnancy stage", but know that whatever you feel need not be denied. Jesus truly sees and empathises with our pains. We can literally bare our pains to Him.
Lest you think after processing all these, I have "gotten it altogether" - may I say that I still sometimes have fear for my next pregnancy, or even whether I can get pregnant again. I want to tell you that "I am so filled with faith all the time!", but fear gets me at times. There are many stories out there about what happens after miscarriage, yet one thing a friend who has been through miscarriage shared with me was "What happened to me, or someone else, may not be what happens to you. Every one of us has our own personal faith journey with God".
The thing is, I realised that my fear stems from fearing of an outcome that I do not want. Granted, no one wants a miscarriage. But God Himself always provides a way. Even though nobody wants a miscarriage (or death, and death happens eventually anyway because of sin that entered this world), God provided a way and baby is now with Him. Likewise, we have eternal life and will be redeemed from all pains and tears fully when we see Him face to face, if we choose to and turn to Him. Even though I didn't want my job contract to end, God provided for Mori's growth leading to where we are today.
In the bible Genesis 4, when Cain got jealous and killed his brother Abel, God sought him out. God could have struck down Cain for doing something wrong right away, but yet He was the one who sought him out (giving him a chance to be corrected and restored). Cain then lied to God about killing his brother.
Realising that you have no control can be a very scary thing, especially for those of us who grew up having to be in control and have lived like that for long (and yes, trust in others than ourselves is hard for people like us, but I know God is healing and redeeming me from my past). Wanting to use faith to control outcome is also a form of control. One of the psychology articles I read about grief was about bargaining, and used an example of bargaining with God, then coming to realisation that we have no control over the outcome. But can I say that we can learn to trust bit by bit knowing that our trust is put in the One who has 100% control (sovereign) and whose nature is good and just.
My growth journey through this will be an upward stumbling, but each step of the way I pray that I will continually trust that His ways are higher than my ways, His thoughts higher than my thoughts. And that He cares deeply for me (1 Peter 5:7).
4. We are not alone; pain is universal!
While isolation when in grief seems attractive, being completely withdrawn can void one from receiving comfort and encouragement from others. You may also at some point feel singled out, that you are the only miserable one going through all these.
One thing I found after my miscarriage and talking to people is that miscarriage isn't as uncommon as I thought previously. Some of their faith journeys with God through it all have been very encouraging for me and when pieced together, answers some of the questions I had (God indeed works in wondrous ways!). People are God's gift to us to journey and spur each other on.
There can however be comments and events that might make you feel miserable - it’s okay if you feel you’re sliding back again for awhile, just let the person know that you’re not feeling well and would like to rest.
It is also very necessary to take time alone and with God to process your grief and pains that are very personal to you.
5. To be broken is to heal
I have no doubt about God being a God of miracles and in mission trips that I have been on, we have heard of testimonies of the deaf hearing and coming to accept Christ. But as we live in this temporal place, we constantly live in the tension of the fallen state and the glimpses of restoration that will be made finally complete in eternity. Do not compare your journey with others- you are loved where you are, and God writes your story uniquely and purposefully; just stay close to Him and don't quit. There is purpose in your pains.
Earlier this year, God has surfaced to me trauma I had in my teenage years and thought I had "grown up" from it (or should have grown up from it). In the healing process, going deeper with God may at times feel worse than before, but God isn't afraid of our darkest secrets and pains and His light is greater than any darkness.
I have also grown up not knowing how to take good care of my body, and have now learnt that we are mind, body, spirit. Having good diet and exercise also affects our mental well-being, just as anxiety also causes stress on the body. A broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22). Always remember to be whole is not to be perfect.
I read about clay sculpting recently that depicts a beautiful picture of "to be broken is to heal". A clay sculptor knows that to have cracks in the clay before putting it into the kiln to fire up will cause the thing to break under fire. It is better for it to be broken before firing and in my clay sculptor friend's words "remoulded" before putting it into the fire. Our loving Father shapes us like that.
6. He has made everything beautiful in its time
One of my favourite verses which was also theme for our very first Mori Planner back in 2019.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11
Ending with Footprints in the Sand someone reminded me of :") Do keep me in your prayers and stand in faith with me- I am believing and expectant to see His healing, redemption and restoration through all these! I also pray that you will see beauty rising from ashes and Daddy God's redemptive work in your life, and that His unspeakable joy and peace envelope you through your pains, in Jesus name amen!
☝️ Flip-through of my journal of the pregnancy and miscarriage in Mori's Pursebook handmade by Mori mothers for sustainable livelihoods