Days have passed since my wife Quennie and I came home from our holiday trip to Taiwan (technically not a holiday) and poof… we’re already in Sydney, Australia. Our few days in Manila were dedicated to packing up for an 8-day trip and myself working again (for two days.. LOL). I thank the LORD that we’ll spend less here especially that our finances kinda ran out during our previous trip. It was my parents and my youngest sister whom are originally planning to go here but decided to tag us along. Even though I’m not fond of depending on my parents especially that I’m married, for the love of travelling, I gave it a yes for me and my wife. Anyway, my sister whom is based in Auckland, New Zealand will also come in Sydney with her partner. So this trip will also serve as a mini-reunion. On the other hand, Quennie shall be reporting back to work as soon as 2nd week of October so why not enjoy the rest of her leave.
I know some people will tell us that we’re “living the life” or “enjoying.” Who would’ve thought that we’re going to have a back-to-back overseas trip including our recent Palawan trip (which is intended for work actually)? Even I never thought about it myself. They might also conclude that we’re “moving on with our lives” or will say that they envy us. Some people are even mocking my wife just using her maternity leave “for fun and leisure.”
But in all honesty, I feel bittersweet about it.
Yes, it may be true that in a certain way, we’re indeed… “living and enjoying” our lives. That our life right now may be what other people are dreaming of. Still, there’s much more than what they see us posting on our (my wife and I) respective facebook and instagram accounts. More than us booking tickets and flying (or driving) to different places.
Our hearts are still hollow and wounded.
Apparently, our feeling of being at an abyss after losing Marvel Zane is still there. Our series of crying, frustrations, anger, sadness, and sometimes sleepless nights seemed so endless. The feeling that we envy other parents whom also just gave birth, heard their respective children cry, and took them home; same with parents who just conceived and having a seemingly normal and enjoyable pregnancy. Starting from celebrities and public figures up to our relatives and friends. Seeing them go to their homes happy with their respective children while my wife and I go home, robbed and left with nothing but…
Quennie’s physical scars
Stretch marks, post-partum bleeding, post-partum depression, auto lactation (I don’t know if this is the right term), and others are the usual symptoms that manifests on pregnant women after giving birth which lasts for up to more than six weeks. These things are going worse if you don’t have your child with you. Kindly include the elders who believes in set of rules and superstitions for pregnant women to avoid a sickness which is called “binat” in Filipino. We comply out of respect but believes that no matter how many of these superstitions we happily follow, it will not bring our child back.
My permanent tattoo
I heard someone from a certain movie saying “tattoos are like scars.” Indeed it is.
Immediately after Quennie was discharged from the hospital, the first thing that I did was to get inked. My original plan was to only have a large Q on my ring finger since my wedding ring is too loose on my pinky and too tight on my ring finger. But after my child died, I have her name and her birthday inked underneath my collarbone. She may be nameless in the eyes of the other people, but for my wife and I, she’ll always be Marvel Zane. This also served as my visible scar after I lost her. The process was indeed painful but nothing compared to when that unfortunate happened.
Set of hospital bills
Quennie and I lost a huge fraction of our savings to pay her hospital bills, follow-up check ups, and her prescribed medicines. All our joint bank accounts went lower than its maintaining balance. We’re pressured trying to return the money on its amount before all this happened. I thought: “It would be more worth it if we have our daughter with us.” There are also instances wherein I wonder if did we missed our tithe even just once that these things would happened to us. Indeed, the famous saying “when it rains, it pours” were proven.
Pulled-out wisdom tooth and its after-pains
I have impacted wisdom tooth located both the leftmost and the rightmost part of my jaw. Even before my baby died, my dentist is already asking me to have it removed through surgery but to no avail. My hard-headed self doesn’t want to do it. Why? First, it involves money. Second, I’m so busy and I don’t have time.
This went on until just earlier last month when my toothache starting to attack more often. After experiencing a lot of my wife’s scolding, I hesitantly agreed to have it removed. We hired her dentist friend to perform the surgery. After two long hours of trying, the left tooth was indeed successfully removed. But the pain after the anesthesia was removed is indeed unbearable along with the hassle of swelling cheek and frequent changing of tissue to clot the blood on my mouth. Thinking that the pain should’ve stopped already after the operation, I constantly tell my wife during those time of pain “Dying would be much easier” which angers her. Pain lasted for more than a week. We decided to schedule the removal of the other tooth after our trip.
Days after I booked our Taiwan stay thru AirBnB and weeks before our trip, I lost my wallet. I can’t find it at home so probably it got lost somewhere when we went out. There’s no money inside but all my IDs (Driver’s License, Supermarket ID, etc.) and credit cards were. The frustration of experiencing the hassle of reapplying for all my IDs and credit cards suddenly shot up. The pain of trying to find it knowing that it won’t show up anymore. I started venting out to God: “I lost my child, now I just lost my wallet.” That time, I don’t know what to do. We don’t know what to do.
Permanent life of longing for our child
Amy Elzy of facebook page Never Forget Lily Grace said that “Once you lose a child, there are constant reminders that they are not here.” These constant reminders are like salt placed on our bleeding wounds. Starting from seeing kids particularly infants until birthdays, anniversaries, or any other memorable dates which seemed to be never-ending. Many instances, we thought we already got over it; until something trigger us again.
That feeling of being isolated
My wife and I, being both introverts, are sometimes feeling alone on this battle. Despite our church giving us the assurance that we have them; and even our respective families, there are times that we just don’t want to show up. We’re always thinking “they don’t understand our pain” or sometimes “they’ll just remind us of our loss.”
Whenever the family conversation goes to my cousins’ living children, I get silent then slowly walk out of the conversation. I even don’t want to show up on family gatherings given that their children will just trigger my senses. Seeing other kids at our church and even on other places sometimes made me feel a little bitter. Knowing that others are pregnant and they didn’t even want that pregnancy made me cringe all the time. Worse, if that child out of unwanted pregnancy lived healthy and normal. Inside my head I say “We may not be prepared when she came, but we wanted her in our lives. Why did you took her away? What about others who don’t even want to get pregnant but their child lived?”
Fear and anxiety
After losing our child, my wife and I are in fear of losing another. Even the fact that pre-eclampsia might happen again on her next pregnancy. We don’t want these things to happen again in our lives. Who would want to lose another child? Who would be happily accepting that they’ll be losing another child? Who would want to have another complications? I think no one wanted to. Attacks are becoming more often despite the fact that we’re trying to fight it. I know that we should be in faith that these things will not happen again by God’s grace. Still, the trauma was left in us.
And many more…
I hope you don’t mistake me of being ungrateful.
I know still that there are things to be thankful for despite of these things that happened to us. One of them is that my wife was saved and is still living with me. Worst case scenario would be me losing her too and I honestly don’t know what to do if that happened. Her blood pressure upon admission to the hospital is 240/160 mmhg which may lead to seizure. That my wife is physically recovering and that we can travel now. And of course, I wouldn’t be writing here in our flat in Sydney if not of the grace of God amidst the storm.
“If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years, how man would marvel and adore.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Still, I would be honestly telling you that applying these things to ourselves are much easier said than done. But I know that time will come when I’ll be able to tell you that we did it and keep on doing it.
One of the things that we did during our trip in Taiwan was light a lantern at Shifen Old Street. Well, I fully understand that I don’t have to light a lantern for God to hear what we pray or hope for. We just did symbolically. We wrote everything that we’re hoping for. Trying to hold on in faith that God will graciously give these to us. We’re fully aware that our daughter wasn’t named Marvel Zane for nothing. She’s Marvel Zane to remind us that (1) God is a god of miracles and (2) God is gracious.
PS: Here are just the snippet of it. The rest I’ll be posting on another blog post.
Another thing, we also bought a keychain that reminded us of her. We’re supposed to buy the July 21 keychain which pertains to her birthday but the vendor said that it’s sold out already. So instead, we bought July 18, the day that she died. Coincidentally, September 21 is the date when we went to Shifen Old Street; her second month already. I felt a little guilty when I just found out.
I would like to be honest with you that we have a desire to conceive for another child. But knowing this isn’t the right time as Quennie still needed to recover physically and both of us spiritually and emotionally, we’re trying to not be pressured and frustrated by everything around us. We have to trust the process and the timing.
Anyway, we’re back in serving on our ministries in our home church this October. Quennie in praise and worship. Myself both in production and praise and worship (music). The following week upon returning to Manila, Quennie will be coming back to work. I just don’t have an idea for how long. I’ll also be trying to do a thesis proposal for my graduate studies in this season.
Despite doing the things we usually do before, we’re fully aware that our lives will never be the same. Most of all, we’re hoping to have joy in us again in the days to come. It’s not that we’re unhappy with our lives. It’s just that the damage of losing a child is devastating and somehow left a permanent mark in us. The reason why we decided to seek counsel to our Pastors starting when we return home.
“Restore to me the joy of YOUR salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” – Psalm 51:12 (NIV)
So far, I know that there’s still a long way to go before we can say that we’re fully healed. But my wife and I can say that we’re one step ahead that where we are before. Who knows? I may be telling you in my next post that we’re completely moved on.
Or maybe not. But I’ll keep you posted.