In August 2004, six months into my first pregnancy, I attended a routine antenatal checkup with my husband. The midwife was moving the Doppler around my abdomen unable to locate the baby’s heartbeat. She told me that it wasn’t working so she needed to go and find another one. At that moment, I instinctively knew something was wrong. She returned later and told us to go to the hospital as they had better equipment. On the way to the hospital, I called my mum and began to cry uncontrollably because I knew that the Doppler was not faulty.
At the hospital, we were taken to a room for an ultrasound. There were a few other medical staff in there as well as the midwife. The midwife held my hand during the scan. Another nurse left to find the obstetrician. I can vividly recall the obstetrician’s tone of voice and his sadness as he confirmed the news to me.
We opted to have an induction that night rather than wait till the next morning. My mother, brother, and sister-in-law came to visit me together with my aunt. I was unable to converse, so my brother just hugged me and we both wept.
Whilst waiting for the drugs to induce delivery to take effect, I tried to read Psalms and prayed in my heart that God would perform a miracle. God heard my cry for help.
One midwife sat with me for a long period during her shift and talked to me about what to expect and how my baby’s appearance might be. In my heart, I was praying to God, that it was all a mistake and that when the baby was delivered, she would be alive and crying. Sadly, there was no mistake. My baby girl was not crying. I was not shocked at her appearance nor disappointed that God had not performed a miracle. The midwife passed my baby to me to hold. I was surprisingly calm and able to accept the outcome.
When family members visited, I appeared too composed for someone who had lost a baby. I remember my uncle saying, “Sheila, it’s okay for you to cry.” The truth was that I could not cry. I didn’t know what to say to sisters who called me to comfort me. Sisters who had been through the same experience. Tears only fell when I prayed or sang Hymn 140, “God Understands Your Sorrow”, and Hymn 336 “Does Jesus Care?”.
I grieved quietly and I felt immense loss, especially as my body went through the post-delivery phase. The emptiness of having no baby in my arms and my body assuming I had a living baby was difficult. But God gave me a peace in my heart through it all. I felt His love and comfort through the words of friends and church members who wrote sympathy cards to us, and through conversations with my older brother who relayed to me conversations with my friends who felt too uncomfortable to contact me directly.
Post delivery I had a dream. I don’t know if it was from God or not. But in this dream, I had two babies. A boy and a girl. The girl seemed to be very faint and for some reason, I wasn’t able to love and grasp hold of her. But the baby boy, he was very vivid and I was able to love and cuddle him. The strange thing was that this dream made me feel quite confident that I would be able to have another child.
The cause of my baby’s demise was unclear, so my obstetrician asked me to undergo some tests for autoimmune disorders. The waiting period for the results was longer than expected and one day, on a call with the obstetrician, she noted the despair in my voice, and she told me that I should not be anxious about trying for another baby. Even if I tested positive, there were ways that they could manage my pregnancy.
Thank God, I did not test positive for any autoimmune disorder and less than a year later, my husband and I welcomed our son Sean into the world. His Chinese name means joy and peace because he was the joy and peace that God gave me.
God prepared me through the midwife for what to expect when my baby was delivered. God did not give me the miracle I had been praying for, but He allowed me to have a peaceful submissive heart to accept His will.
Though I was in pain and deep grief, I can confidently attest, I know He cares for me!
A short period after the event, I met one of my close friends who had returned for a vacation from the US. She told me that she had not received news of my loss but around that period, she had suddenly felt an urgent need to pray for me. This was comforting to hear and it was an assurance of God’s loving embrace. God moved my good friend to pray for me so that I had the strength to accept His will and receive His comfort and peace.
In times of distress and deep grief, we need not fear. Look toward our heavenly father and cast our burdens and sorrow to the Lord. He will hear us. His heart is touched with our grief. He sees our falling tears. He understands and cares!
“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”
(Ps 18:6 )
I cried out to the Lord and He heard me. He sent a midwife to counsel and prepare me to face my baby’s stillbirth. He whispered my name in prayer to my good friend in distant shores. Although God did not give me what I asked for, the Holy Spirit helped me to submit and accept the outcome. Consequently, I received comfort and peace in my heart that can only come from above.
May all glory be unto God. Hallelujah, Amen.