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  • Michelle Alignay33-year-old Michele Santos Alignay, or “Ichel” as she is known to family and friends, also attributes her strength to God’s grace. 

    Mommy Ichel, a counsellor-consultant and wife to Koots, recalls that during one of her regular check-ups, on April 6, 2004 to be exact, her OB could not hear the baby’s heartbeat.

    An ultrasound was ordered and the OB-Sono-Perinatalogist discovered several conditions that may have caused Baby Miguel’s (they had a name for the baby already) heart failure, i.e. cystic hygromma, hydrops fetallis, and an open abdominal wall.  There was no exact cause identified for Miguel’s death though. Ichel says that a fatal virus may have been transmitted through her placenta, causing the baby to be distressed.

    Ichel and Koots lost their baby. Worse, they had to wait for 3 weeks for the baby to come out naturally, since inducing labor might cause complications on the mother. She leaned on family and friends during this trying time, who “just stood and cried and prayed” with her.

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    Before Miguel finally came out on April 26, 2004, Ichel underwent intensive labor that she describes as “painful – physically and emotionally.” She had requested her OB to put her to sleep once the baby started coming out to avoid the pain of holding her dead child. Going home from the hospital, Ichel felt even more pain because she had all the “rudiments of childbirth but no baby.”

    When Ichel had learned that Miguel had died in her womb, she decided to stop working. Recovering at home, she found herself keeping busy, reading, reflecting, crying and “wailing a lot.” Despite her grieving, she never questioned God, but only asked Him what his plan was. She learned to “cling to His grace, strength and promises.”

    Her husband Koots became her sole companion during this ordeal. There were other people around of course, but Ichel says that only the two of them could fully understand what they were going through. Koots would always listen whenever she would call him at the office, crying. Ichel says that they are doubly blessed because of their solid friendship and good communication, plus their common faith in God.

    To get through this difficult period, Ichel relied on “prayers, reflecting and connecting with God.” It also helped to share and retell what she went through to some people who understood. She also resumed doing research for her MA thesis.  Her adviser-mentor, who was also her counsellor, suggested that she work again.  Her new working environment at Miriam College and her job became reason to get going each day.  

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    Despite the circumstances of Miguel’s death, Ichel said that she was at peace which she had prayed for. She admits to sobbing and shouting fits, but she felt little anger at herself for what had happened. She did however get angry at the people who were insensitive towards their ordeal. She also almost fell “into depression.” However, her background as a counsellor and prayers for God’s healing helped her be rational and prevented this from happening.

    It also helped that Koots was there with her when they lost Miguel. He took care of her physical needs, listened to her woes and held her when she cried. Admitting to not being so affected by Miguel’s death as much as his wife was, he became more focused instead on Ichel’s succeeding pregnancies.  He became a doting husband and took extra care of Ichel when she was pregnant, right through the other two pregnancies that she “lost” due to blighted ova. Currently, Koots is a hands-on dad to their two children, Migo, 4 and Maia, 19 months.  

    Ichel says that after her ordeal she learned to “let go and let God!”  Her faith become stronger, and she became “more trusting in His greater plan.” She advises other moms in similar situations to “grieve if you need to... but move on and seek God’s purpose and greater plan.  Never ask God why it happened to you.”  Being counselled by her MA advisor/mentor, and receiving support from her Couples for Christ community also helped her during those trying times.

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    On a final note, as a counsellor and someone who has encountered losing a child, Ichel wants to share five things that she believes can help other mothers recover from the pain of miscarriage or still birth:

    1.    GRIEVE – Grieving is needed.  Crying is important.  Never diminish or put aside the pain of losing a child because it is real.  Embrace it, then find ways to move on.  

    2.    HAVE A MOVING-ON PLAN – Grieving is important but you cannot stay there forever.  Moving on takes concrete steps.  The goal is find constructive ways to achieve healing.  Find a craft, change your outlook in life, get into something that interests you.

    3.    NEVER BLAME YOURSELF – Some insensitive people will offer unfounded "probable reasons" for what happened.  They the tendency to say things like, “baka hindi ka nag ganyan...” “dapat ganito ginawa mo...”  However, realize that we are not in control of everything.  Don’t be too hard on yourself and never entertain negative thoughts (such as, that you can’t have a child anymore).  Instead, love yourself by accepting the circumstances and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.

    4.    FIND SUPPORT AND HELP – Your husband, your family, your close friends, community or support groups can give invaluable support.  Seek people who would understand you and whom you could talk to when needed. Go to a professional counsellor if you think you cannot find the support you need, or if you feel you need more help.

    5.    CONNECT WITH GOD – Prayer, reflection, and going on a spiritual journey are needed to overcome adversities.  Think of this time as “pruning time.”  After this season, new branches in your life would come out, better and much more beautiful than before.  More than the grief, finding meaning in the experience and finding your own strengths and inner resources are God’s way of making you more mature.

    Indeed, losing a child can be one of the most painful experiences a parent would ever have to go through. The personal accounts of Aissa, Lou and Ichel are living testimonies that such trials can be overcome.  By the grace of God and through the support of others, grieving parents can find the solace, strength, peace and hope that they need to move on with their lives.

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    If you need a list of Grief Resources you may want to check out the following links:
    Angel-Luijoe.net
    Mourningtojoy.blogspot.com
    Compassionatefriends.info


    SOURCE:
    •    www.americanpregnancy.org


    Photo from sxc.hu

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