16 Dec

It was late afternoon of November 16 and my monthly period has not yet started. I'm 4 days late! Jay and I have been wanting a third child and name him Benedict. We bought a pregnancy kit at a nearby pharmacy. It was cheap and thin. Nevertheless, result came out positive! We were overjoyed as everything went as planned. Four more weeks to wait and I can have my first ultrasound!

Six weeks and 3 days, my sonologist told me. Fetal heart beat was 116 beats per minute. It was still within range, however, at the lower limit. "Is it something I should worry, Doc?" I asked her. With great reassurance, she told me not to worry about anything and repeat the scan in a week. I was supposed to come back for another scan after 1 week but it was so timely that I had a scheduled surgery to assist. A week passed and came the day I had to be rescanned.

"Seven weeks and 2 days," my sonologist said. Seven? Could my counting be wrong? I am supposedly 8 weeks and 3 days. Why did the age of gestation lag? My heart was pounding so strong I could barely hear her say, "Shi, wala nama'y heartbeat si baby (Shi, baby has no more heartbeat). I am sorry ako pa gyud ang naka break sa news nimo (I am sorry to break this news to you)." My mind was blank. I kept nodding. Nodding. Nodding. What just happened?! I became pale, cold and clammy. It was the longest 5 minutes in my life! For the first time, I got confused in my own field of specialty! Early embryonic demise - small paper with the baby's photo was given to me. My sonologist hugged me... tight! She was a doctor when she told me about the ultrasound result but this time, I felt a friend comforting me in my confusion. It was only then that I started to cry.

DENIAL. I will be okay. I am okay. I can manage. I am an Obstetrician. I should know what to do. I should face this situation with composure. A demise of an embryo with chromosomal abnormality should be considered a blessing 'coz if it were to survive the entire pregnancy, the quality of life will be poor. I denied myself to grieve. A few tears and I will be alright. But this stage did not last long. I became angry at everything!

ANGERLooking at all my Folic acid tablets, I took and threw it all! My medication bag fell on the floor. "You are useless! I took you for 6 months before just to prepare for this pregnancy! Damn the chromosomal abnormality! Damn all the "blessing" reasons! I have used all these in my patients! Don't use it to me! What have I done wrong?" If only the tablets could answer me, they would. But it couldn't, neither my colleagues. "It's not your fault. It's nobody's fault," they keep telling me while rubbing my back as I drown myself with tears. I have not eaten since I learned my baby is gone.

BARGAINING. I have searched through our books. I recalled all my possible past exposures or any possible cause of the mutation to cause a chromosomal abnormality. Maybe... if we were careful then, we could have prevented the mutation. Maybe... if only my work is not that demanding then maybe I could have a healthier pregnancy. Maybe... if I rested longer, I could have established a good pregnancy. Maybe... Maybe... Maybe...

Then came DEPRESSION. I cried the whole day that I felt so dehydrated. I can drink a liter of water in 30seconds. My friends could barely look at me. They almost could not bear looking at how messed up I look. The words, "Shi, wala nama'y heartbeat si baby..." came so noisy in my head. My Mom kept calling, telling me to stay strong for the family and to pray. I didn't pray. I didn't know then what to tell Him. Until I found the courage to let my family and friends know about my condition, the loss and the grief. I became so overwhelmed with love and support. All those prayers might have stormed heaven that God answered all their prayers.

I allowed myself to grieve. I tried to pray but nothing came out of my mouth until a friend shared a wonderful song by Babbie Mason, "Trust His Heart." Indeed, God is too wise to be mistaken, too good to be unkind. When we don't understand, when we don't see His plan, when we can't trace His hand, we just have to trust His heart. It struck me so much that all these happened to remind me I am just the captain of the ship in the Operating Room. Beyond its four walls, I am nothing. No matter how much I prepare and anticipate for things, He is still the Captain of my ship.

Benedict's loss made me realize that I am not strong all the time. I bleed, I fall, I mess up. It was the strength of my family and friends that made me survive all these. It was in this vulnerable time that I felt so loved by the people around. The simple hug, message, call, and the tears they shed for and with me, meant a lot. It also made me realize that children are gifts. This generation taught us that children are responsibilities. "Dili lalim nga naa'y anak!" ("It is not easy to have kids") we often hear parents say. Married life is hard with kids but it is harder without them. Not all couples are blessed with children. These people spend millions just so they could produce at least 1 offspring.

ACCEPTANCE. I am God's servant. I am only a steward of the children God lent me. Anytime, in His will, He can take my kids away. I am never in a position to question His plan. I surrendered. I took medications so I could spontaneously deliver Benedict. The abdominal cramping was severe but I took it with a lighter heart. "Benedict, Mommy is letting you go. Watch over us." I asked him to go out spontaneously to make my recovery faster so that I could take care of Nica and Phil. When I said it, the cramping stopped and a large clump of blood with tiny Benedict came out. Indeed, "it is only by letting go that God grants the greatest desires of our hearts."

APPRECIATIONYes, this is not included in DABDA thus I make it DABDAA. Appreciation is important in the process. It is through this that any loss is healed. It is important that we appreciate what is left. Be contended and love them even more. I am blessed with an intact support group: Papa, Mama, Jay and the kids. I was amazed how mature Nica grasped the things that have happened to our family. My friends at and outside work became so visible. Obstetrician friends really came handy. You may say my healing was fast since Benedict was just a few weeks old... others at 9 months, others at 4 years old. But, we must also remember, no matter how short or how long, loss affects us all the same. The process is all the same. It is up to us how determined we are to reach this far - beyond acceptance, APPRECIATION!

I belong to the Millenials, the generation with multiple intelligences, but nothing, no matter how smart can surpass God's wisdom. Indeed, He is too wise to be mistaken.

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