It is so odd, writing about the loss of a child, you fear that the words can never fully express the pain and the gravity of the situation. But I don’t mean to just express my pain and loss. I mean to show God’s power and love even in the darkest days.
I come from a culture of silence, where speaking about certain issues is almost taboo. One of the most kept secrets is when a woman loses a child, no one talks about it and it is almost like it never happened. People only speak about it when the woman has another child or they find out that you have lost a child. I fall in the category of the latter. I gave birth to my beautiful daughter on the 2nd of March 2015 and she passed away on the 3rd of March 2015 after 42 weeks pregnancy.
I remember my experience and every time, I marvel at the power of God to give unimaginable peace. I found out on the 22nd of January 2015 that my daughter had a condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia; an extremely rare condition in which the diaphragm does not fully develop and has a hole. The diaphragm is the organ that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen. When it has a hole, it leaves space for the organs in the abdomen including the stomach, liver and kidneys to go into the chest cavity. This means they take up space meant for the organs in the chest cavity and barely leave room for them to grow.
In my daughter’s case, her heart ended up being pushed to the right and her lungs barely developed. In fact she only had one lung and that was almost undeveloped. The summary of this, they told me, is that once she was born, she won’t be able to breathe on her own due to lack of lungs and the positioning of the heart. The ironic part is the fact that as they spoke I could feel her kicking and turning. This made it very difficult for me to understand what they were saying and they emphasised to me that I was keeping her alive through my placenta. They emphasized that once she was brought into the world, she had less than a 15% chance of survival only achievable with intense medical intervention. She was also a very small baby and so there was a limit to how much her body would be able to take even with intervention.
They literally told me she was going to die.
Now as a Christian, I only knew one thing. I had FAITH. My Faith was that God would perform a miracle that’ll shock them. They only knew medicine but they didn’t know my God. Jesus woke Lazarus up from death after 3 days in the grave. Jesus Christ said that faith of a mustard seed could move mountains and I TRULY believe that. My faith was completely childlike and I prayed every day that God would perform a miracle for me. I asked God to shame the forces of evil that wanted to hurt my daughter and take her away. I called on my Church family and my husband and I told those closest to us to join us in prayer and I documented the process with videos so I could share my testimony with the world. And my baby girl was so active, she would kick and turn when I prayed and took communion. She strengthened my faith.
When my daughter was born, after 14 hours in labour, I saw her try hard to take breaths but she couldn’t. I saw how beautiful she was in a few quick seconds before they had to take her to NICU to try to save her life. She was so small but so incredibly beautiful with SO MUCH HAIR!!! For some reason I cannot forget her beautiful head of hair. I truly believed when they took her away, they will come back to me with an apology for doubting my faith and they will realise she was completely healthy. I kept waiting for them to come and give me the update and they eventually did. But contrary to my expectations, they came to tell me just how serious the situation was and how bad it looked. They had tried everything but it all seemed to have no effect. They were just going to monitor her for the next few days and see if she improved. I knew when they said this that she was definitely going to improve. I am a believer in the word of God that says where there is life there is hope, so my hope did not wane for a second.
Even when the doctor came to call me that her case had deteriorated and I should come and spend some time with her, I thought it was because God needed me to be present for the miracle (lol…like God needs anyone’s help). So I was very excited to go and be with my baby girl. I will never forget entering the NICU room and seeing all the babies in their incubators and then I saw my baby girl with all types of wires on her while the Doctors were pressing her chest because her heart had stopped. She was so small and they could only use a few fingers to administer CPR and even then I knew she was going to be just fine. God waited 3 days to bring Lazarus back to life so my baby was definitely going to be fine.
I asked if I could carry her and they said yes. I put her close to my chest, and put my breast on her mouth and tried to make her suck but she just couldn’t because she didn’t have the strength, so I just held her close and talked to her and sang to her. I told her how much I loved her and how much I wanted to be her mum and how much I wanted to take her home with me. I begged God to please save my baby’s life. I told her to shame the Doctors and Nurses that told me she won’t make it through the night. My husband took pictures of us and I still look at those sometimes. He also took pictures with her and held her close and just enjoyed having his daughter in his arms and I took pictures of them. I saw him become a Dad in the way he carried her and instructed me on carrying her and that was beautiful and comforting because I knew he was a wonderful father. As we spent time with her, the doctor and nurses kept coming to check her pulse and every time it seemed it was harder to find a pulse but that didn’t deter my faith.
Then I got really tired all of a sudden and I could barely keep my eyes open. My husband was holding our daughter and somehow I drifted to sleep. I have no idea how many minutes I had been asleep for but it felt quite long but also quite short. I can’t explain it but I knew it was God who put me to sleep to avoid seeing the actual moment she passed away. When I woke up, my husband was still holding her but I immediately knew that my baby girl had gone home to heaven to be with her ultimate father and creator. I asked my husband and he told me she was completely cold and stiff in his hands and I was okay with it. I still cannot explain how I did not run mad and how my heart was so calm. I just accepted it or maybe it was because a part of me still knew God could turn the situation around. We eventually called the Doctor and told her our baby girl was gone and she took her from my husband’s arms. We quietly went back to our room in complete silence; there was just nothing to say.
Even as the Chaplain came in to the room to comfort us with pictures of her and birth certificate and little mementos from the hospital, I was still just numb. I told him I felt ashamed that I lost the battle despite my faith. He reminded me that in this world we fight many battles but we are in a war and it is ultimately about winning the war. I also remember our dear friend Erina Raji came to see us a few hours later, I just wanted to sing and praise God! I wanted to so badly sing that I was humming the words to ‘My God is Awesome’ by Charles Jenkins and Erina goes ‘Tito wants to sing’ and I just sang.
This is the point I saw my test become my testimony. This is when I realised I had reached a new level of faith. A point where like Job I could say ‘Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.’ I NEVER in a million years thought I would be able to praise God when my daughter had just passed away and this is why I call this experience a testimony. God put peace in my heart and song on my lips. I knew even in the blur of my pain that ‘everything would work for my good’. I was also able to say that ‘God loves her more than I could ever have loved her’ and I knew it hurt him more than it hurt me to see me in so much pain because as my Father he always wants to give me everything I ask him for. I immediately knew that the fact that our daughter was taken away must eventually be part of God’s purpose for our lives in someway. After all I knew that God is the Alpha and the Omega and he knows the end from the beginning and his plans for me are always good.
This might all sound contradictory to someone who is not acquainted with my God and I might have agreed if I was an outsider. However, my relationship with God had gotten to the point that I realised that although it was the enemy that caused us the pain, God could have stopped it but he chose not to. I realised that with the way we called out to him within the 6 weeks period leading to her birth, God could have definitely changed things but he didn’t because he had a different plan. I remembered Jesus Christ before He was crucified was in so much anxiety as He prayed that blood dripped out as sweat and He asked His Father to take the cup away from Him but He ultimately said the words ‘let your will be done’. And I remember saying to people that even though the enemy thought he had won, he was going to regret it because God is the one who restores and when He does He would bring more blessings just as with Job. I just wondered HOW????
I realised that my love for GOD is supreme and being his daughter was the most important reason for my life. As Christians, we pray all the time ‘let your will be done’ and assume there will be no pain. I wonder if many of us will still praise God when we experience pain. Would we still proclaim his love for us or would we give up on him? I realised that I had grown so much that this storm did not distract me from the still small voice of my God which says ‘be still and know that I am God’. Beyond all of this, I am able to thank God for everything he has done for me through my experience.
My relationship with my husband is on a new level of closeness that I did not think was possible. Our love for each other has grown deeper and this also translates to our love for God. My husband is such an incredible support system that I know for a fact God brought the two of us together for a reason. He had a small settee to sit on when we were at the hospital but he was just so focused on me that his discomfort was almost non-existent. We prayed together so much and his faith strengthened mine and I will always praise God for blessing me with a man after His heart that I can share my faith with. I should also apologise that this experience seems like it only happened to me but we both went through this emotional roller coaster and reached the conclusion that God remains God.
The reason I am sharing this is not because I want a pity party but because I want to share God’s love even in the midst of pain. I want to share His love NOW. A lot of times when we go through difficult moments as Christians, we seem to forget all about God and we just wait until times get good again before sharing our testimonies. We almost forget that it is God that holds us up when we could have broken down. It is God that sustains us and gives us the ability to move forward. I love the quote that says ‘until the doors of blessings open, praise God in the hallway”. A lot of people have marvelled at my husband and I’s ability to move forward so fluidly and so strongly but we are always quick to give God the Praise. My best friends kept asking me the question ‘are you sleeping now’ a few days after and I always laughed because sleep was not a problem.
God told me he expects me to share this with the world and not wait until the next baby dedication. He wants you to know that he remains God even when you are hurting and he is the balm of Gilead. I acknowledge that this was not just by my strength, God sent us so many helpers and they truly built me up during the times when I got so low that I didn’t even know how to pray or read my bible. God really would not give you a challenge you cannot handle. I have complete confidence and peace in my heart and know that greater things are coming, but right now I just want to let the world know that God is ALWAYS good even while you wait. Praise him always!