Pastoral Exhortation

A Young Christian Mother’s Testimony

Sunday, 27 August 2017

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Gethsemane Young Mothers is a special ministry of our church that ministers to the spiritual needs of the young mothers in our midst. But it is also attended by other Christian young mothers. One of them is Sis Chui Yin. She worships in Calvary Pandan BPC together with her husband, Jack and their two little children. Both Jack and Chui Yin are medical doctors. However, in order to fulfil her biblical role as a wife and mother (Titus 2:4-5; 1 Timothy 5:14; Psalm 113:9; Psalm 128:3) she became a homemaker. Recently, her pregnancy led to a severe medical condition and the loss of her child. The testimony of God’s help in her trial was published in Calvary Pandan weekly; and it was brought to my attention by Sis Low Hui Lin. For the glory of God and for the edification of all the young mothers in our midst, I publish the WhatsApp message I received from her on Friday and also her testimony below.

Dear Pastor Koshy,

Thank you for your concern. I’m doing fine, resting at home and waiting on God for full recovery of strength and health. All these weeks that I have been confined to the bed whether at home or in hospital, I have been greatly blessed by being able to tune in to the live streaming of Sunday worship service of Gethsemane B-P Church. While seeking God’s will for me and my baby, I remembered the few messages I heard at Gethsemane Young Mothers’ meetings, especially about God’s gift of children with disability, and also about bearing the death of children. I thank God for your faithful service in teaching us how to bear these trials in motherhood. It was by God’s grace that I could have attended those meetings earlier in the year. I look forward to being able to join Gethsemane Young Mothers again when I can.

- - o o o o O O O o o o o - -

At 6am on 17 June, I had to be rushed to KK hospital, where investigations confirmed that my water bag membrane had ruptured, and I was leaking amniotic fluid from the water bag. I was in my 18th week of pregnancy.

Doctors advised that the prognosis was grim. My womb was susceptible to infection and prone to pre-term labour. Baby would be extremely premature. Even if by some miracle the pregnancy could be sustained for many weeks more, the baby would most likely be born with multiple problems of prematurity and chronic lung problems.

Doctors advised for termination of the pregnancy in view of the poor outlook. We declined and started on the long journey of waiting on the Lord, hoping that the pregnancy would be sustained. I was admitted to the hospital for complete bed rest, rigorous round of antibiotics and regular monitoring.

At that time, I had not fully understood what was to come. All I knew was the precious promise in God’s Word that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. Amidst all the uncertainty, these precious words brought peace.

The difficulties of the path ahead soon revealed themselves. I was fearful of moving as I didn’t want to worsen the leaking. Enforced bed rest was also a difficult adjustment. I lost my physical freedom, the comforts of life, my “modesty”. I needed to depend on nurses to help me with all my basic needs. I had always been the main caregiver of my 2 older children, and was frustrated that I could not take care of them, and frustrated to see how my family members had to struggle to take care of them, and shuttle to and from the hospital to see me.

Doctors advised that there was nothing they could do to save a foetus at this gestation age. The baby was deemed pre-viable. The pregnancy had to be sustained till 24 weeks minimum for there to be any hope for this baby.

At that time, in the 18th week of pregnancy, 24 weeks seemed like an impossibility.

I felt discouraged and frustrated by the helplessness I felt. Clinging on to those precious words that all things work for good, we trudged on, and I soon realized that it was to be a season of rest and waiting on God. The enforced bed rest gave me much time to read and reflect on God’s Word. I started to read the Psalms. Psalm 4, a psalm of David, verse 4: “Stand in awe and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still…” encouraged me to persevere in the adversity, and to purpose in my heart to not have a sinful response, but to be still before God. Several psalms later in Psalm 22:10, another psalm of David, where he proclaimed unto God, “thou art my God from my mother’s belly…” – these words brought me much comfort because they reminded me that God is the God of the baby in my womb, and He will watch over him.

In this first hospitalization, there were many other problems. For the first 2 weeks, Jack still had work commitments, including 24-hour overnight shifts and the care of the children would be a problem. But truly, day by day, God's grace was sufficient. And we had no lack. There were times where at the last hour, Jack would be relieved of his night duties and released to go home at 6pm. His subsequent night calls were also assigned away to other colleagues so he only needed to go in for the day's work, and could return home in the night to manage the children, and even bring me some supplies from home. Some time back he had already planned to clear long leave for the entire months of July and August and this worked out perfectly, enabling him to take care of the children.

Day by day God provided everything that we needed, and we truly experienced the sufficiency of His grace.

At this time, I was greatly encouraged by 1 Peter 4:19, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” I rested in God’s faithfulness, and slowly counted the days as they crawled by…

With much prayer, God sustained us for 5 weeks, and I even managed to be discharged home for 2 weeks for a short reprieve from the hospitalization. We were hopeful as we approached the 24th week – the golden age of viability.

In the wee hours of the morning of 24 July, at 23 weeks and 6 days of gestation, at the brink of foetal viability, I was awakened by contraction pain and bleeding from the womb. We went back to KK and I had to be hospitalized in preparation for a possible premature delivery. The neonatologist came to see us, and advised that while baby was at an age where it was medically acceptable to resuscitate him, severe neurodevelopmental deficits would be expected in the babies that do survive. He advised that the outlook would be much more favourable if the baby could make it to 26 weeks of gestation.

Medically, it was a tumultuous week. I had recurrent episodes of contractions and was sent to and from the labour ward for monitoring for the onset of labour and imminent delivery of the severely premature baby. Many of these episodes happened when I was alone, sometimes in the dead of night when there was no one I could turn to for help or support, because close friends, and husband were asleep. Spending many hours at the labour ward also meant no visitors except for my husband who came when he could, no proper rest because of the constant monitoring and frequent doctors’ rounds.

It wore me out physically, and emotionally I felt defeated.

After 4 trips down to the labour ward within the first 72 hours of admission, I had a final blow that required me to be sent down to the labour ward for the 5th time that week.

I was back in the general ward and was taking a quick shower when I started feeling giddy and close to losing consciousness. I felt helpless but thankfully, I did not lose consciousness, and managed to dry myself and get back quickly to bed.

Because of this near fainting episode, investigations were performed and revealed an abnormal heart rhythm, and I had to be sent down to the labour ward again for close monitoring and a cardiologist review. I lay there for many hours watching the cardiac monitor which displayed long runs of an abnormal heartbeat which I could feel as a discomfort in my chest. I recognized that I had been having these abnormal sensations for the past months of pregnancy, but had not recognized that it was abnormal.

All this while the struggle had been for the survival of my baby, but this new diagnosis that there has been something wrong with me was a great blow. And I understood how frail and weak I was. It was the final blow to an already very battered confidence.

At this time, I drew comfort from the words in the hymn “How Firm a Foundation”, for the hymn reflected the words from Isaiah 43:1-2, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

God was teaching me not to be afraid.

With those events, the 24th week slowly and painfully went by. And we continued to wait on God, and prayed to reach 26 weeks.

On 10 August, at 26 weeks and 2 days of gestation, things took a drastic turn for the worse. I developed a high fever, and had regular contractions. Womb infection was the likely cause and it was clear that it was time, and the baby would need to be delivered quickly.

I underwent an emergency caesarean section and our baby was born that night. His scores were very poor at birth, but God preserved him in the initial 12 hours of his life while I struggled to recover from the general anaesthesia and post operative blood loss and pain. I managed to go and see him in the ICU. Soon after, he succumbed to overwhelming infection and had massive bleeding in his brain and lungs and he passed away. I managed to see and hold him as he took his last breaths.

When he died, I was deeply saddened but I had peace in my heart. What I went through in the preceding weeks of seeking and waiting on God’s will and timing, pleading in prayer for this baby, contemplating different permutations of bad outcome, and reflecting on the hand of God in our lives, receiving comfort and instruction from God’s Word and receiving God’s goodness and grace day by day, and the eventual unspeakable peace that God gives, has led me to the undeniable conclusion that this is God’s will and His will is perfect.

The testing was severe, but the journey has been blessed in many ways. God had provided wonderfully along the way and I have so much to be thankful for. I have no time to go into the details but God was with me, and we truly had no lack.

He knew my weakness and gently led me and provided for me each step of the way. He took away all the crutches I had in this life, whether material comforts, personal freedom, solace from family and friends, health and life itself, and led me to the lowest point, so that I could see clearly, and experience the fullness and sufficiency of His grace and love. And today I can say to you: God is love. He gives peace. His timing is perfect. He knew everything. His will is perfect.

To my dear family and friends, and especially my brother Ern, I know many of you grieve with us. Take heart, for we do not grieve as those who have no hope. For the Bible tells us that his soul is with God, and though we do not have a chance to be together in this transient earthly life, we will see him again in heaven for all eternity. This child has been spared the toil of this earthly life, and he is in the presence of God.

To brethren who are facing fearful uncertainties, I want to encourage you not to lose heart and not to be afraid. We are fearful because we do not know what lies ahead, but God knows, our paths have been determined and His will for our lives is perfect.

To brethren who are suffering while waiting – When I look back at the past events, I can see how they have been orchestrated so well, every single step.

Our baby was born at a time when we had the full support of our family. God provided for Jack’s long leave these 2 months (which was planned way before anything happened), and my parents who had an unplanned travel cancellation exactly in this period and have been available to help. As someone who is usually slightly obsessive with planning, I am truly humbled by how impeccable God’s timing is. And so I want to encourage you to be patient and wait upon God’s timing. His timing is perfect. I have truly experienced this.

To those of you who do not know Christ – I believe with all my heart that there is a God who created us, and who holds our lives in His hands. And He gives peace and security amidst the storms of life. And I hope that everyone can experience this too.

When I left KKH on Tuesday, after 8 tumultuous weeks, I had peace in my heart. I thank God for everything that He has given us, even life itself, health and strength, being able to get into the car and go home, being able to sit at the table to eat, seeing how the 2 children have grown in my absence, how God has preserved them, and me.

All we have is by the grace of God and He has given me new eyes of thankfulness.

We didn't have a name for the baby when he died, and only named him after. I wanted to name him wen xi - for 喜乐. Joy, for the joy that he brought us, and the joy he has in the presence of God right now.

But we changed it to 文悦 - 悦 for 喜悦 which has the same meaning of joy. Most of you know our two older children by their English names, but their Chinese names are actually 文杰 and 悦祈. So Wen Yue has one character from each of his siblings’ names. He will always be a part of our family, and the memory of him will live in our hearts.

This child was a precious gift from God. Even though he did not live long, 26 weeks and 2 days in the womb, and 2 days in the world, his short existence has shown me how God's will and timing are perfect, and a powerful reminder of God's grace and tender mercies. I will never forget these past 8 weeks, all those days and nights I struggled and waited, where for me and that little baby in my womb, we had no one and no help but God alone.

His life was not given or lived in vain. My child has now been promoted to glory, and my faith in God is strengthened.

All glory be to God. ■