“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” - Christopher Reeve
The gift of a baby is precious, and losing it while it is still in one’s womb can break even a strong woman. However, more often than not, moms who survive miscarriage come out even stronger.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, miscarriage or spontaneous abortion (SAB), is “the term used for a pregnancy that ends on its own within the first 20 weeks of gestation.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that it is the most common type of pregnancy loss, and studies reveal that around 10 to 25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. (Note : a baby lost after the first trimester is referred to as “still birth”).
Whatever the circumstances are at the time of miscarriage, it is definitely a painful experience to recover from. I have come to have a special place in my heart for the mothers who have experienced losing their babies while still in their wombs since I've heard about women in Timor Leste who experienced the same, sometimes not just once but many times over. As a mom myself, I cannot even begin to imagine how they recovered from such loss, and question my own ability to deal with such a situation, should it ever happen to me (God forbid!).
This piece features the true stories of mothers who have moved beyond their painful past experiences, and we hope other people will be inspired by their examples of faith, courage and hope.
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Aissa K. Andrade-Briones, 27, is a pre-school teacher and mom to 3-month old Lucas (as of this writing). Aissa is married to Ronald Matthew who is also a teacher. She lost their first baby when she was 9 weeks pregnant.
Aissa and Ronald had been married for almost 9 months, and she had been having difficulty conceiving. After a complete medical check-up with her OB-gyne it was discovered that Aissa’s right ovary was polycystic.
She was given medications to correct her cycle. Armed with prayers, Aissa took a pregnancy test on Christmas Day 2009 and she tested positive. Needless to say it was a very happy moment for her and the whole family!
However, her happiness did not last. Two weeks after her first ultrasound, she began to experience spotting and she informed her OB about it. She was given medications to stop the bleeding and was advised 2 weeks of bed rest. However, the bleeding still continued, even after doubling the medicine dosage. After undergoing another ultrasound, Aissa received the heartbreaking news that their baby was gone. She was then admitted to the hospital for a D and C (dilation and curettage) procedure. Before the D and C, her contractions were induced. According to Aissa’s doctor, the embryo did not develop as it should, and it was possible that there were abnormalities that prevented it from developing.
This experience left Aissa physically and emotionally shaken. Up to now, she says that there are still nights when she would think about it and cry. However, she just keeps spiritually positive and claims that God has a reason for that difficult period in her life. Says Aissa, “I knew that it wasn't the right time yet so I just kept on praying and continued with my novena to Padre Pio, though there are still times that I can't help but cry”.
Thankfully, Aissa had the support of the people around her during those trying times. The loving encouragement and inspiring stories from her own husband, mother, parents-in-law, friends and co-teachers helped her move on. It also helped that she had 30 days of leave after the miscarriage to recuperate both physically and emotionally.
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Returning to work and being with her students also helped her to cope, and she even ended up with a small rosary bracelet-making business afterwards (She had initially started making rosary bracelets to keep her mind off her baby’s death). Aissa says that keeping herself busy helped her go through the different stages of grief.
Looking back, she thinks the miscarriage strengthened the bond she and her husband share. Ronald “stood strong” for both of them, never once showing his grief to Aissa. She now considers the incident to be “just one of the challenges that God gave me, so I could be stronger emotionally and spiritually.”
After accepting what had happened and moving on from her painful experience, Aissa says she continued to remain positive that they would be given another chance to be parents. Being positive paid off, and in May 2010, four months after losing their baby, Aissa and Ronald discovered that she was pregnant again. This time, she had a problem-free pregnancy and by God’s grace gave birth to a healthy baby boy on January 15, 2011. Aissa says that her little son is a sign of hope and the “fruit” of her optimism and prayers.
When asked to give some advice to other mothers coping with having had a miscarriage, Aissa has these words to say: “I consider it as a test of how steadfast my faith was." Aissa also emphasizes the importance of the support of your husband, family and friends in journeying towards healing. Most of all, she says that faith in God and praying for Padre Pio’s intercession helped her move forward with her life. In fact, Aissa borrows the words of Padre Pio himself, “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry.”