I come from a big family, and having kids seemed to have come easy to my mom. So never once did think it would be hard for me.
I had my first kid easily. After a week off the pill, I was pregnant. I was encouraged to have a c section because of a pelvis injury when I was 17. I still believe this was only for convenience, and that’s a story on its own. Thereafter, I started having trouble. I developed pains and endometriosis, cysts etc. By the time I wanted another child, I struggled. I was told I had 5% chance of conceiving again. I did artificial inseminations as well as IVF and it didn’t work. By God’s grace I had my second kid about 6 years later, naturally. No IVF needed.
When she was 1 year old she started having seizures because she drank acetone by mistake. At the same time, I was pregnant again, but I had placenta previa complete.
Placenta previa complete is when the baby’s placenta totally covers the mother’s cervix, which causes severe bleeding during pregnancy and birth and is very dangerous. This is usually the result of scar tissue in the body, so for me it was due to the 2 c-sections I had.
Mine was the worst kind. Even though the baby was always healthy, it was a really dangerous pregnancy and I had heavy clots of blood throughout. While this was happening, my kid was getting seizures and we didn’t really know our left from right. If she wasn’t in hospital, I was, or the other way around. But I fought and persevered. I fought for them both.
But we can’t win them all…
If today were 14 December 2013, I would be wheeled into theatre at about 5am. I would turn to the nurse and plead that she gives my child steroids so his organs can be boosted and his chance to live would increase. She would tell me that he is only 23 and a half weeks and that they don't do that nor do they resuscitate kids at that age.
If today were 14 December 2013, I would pray Psalm 91 until the meds kick in to put me to sleep.
...A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
If today were 14 December 2013, I would wake up in ICU, I would be stitched from navel to pubic bone. I would have a waste pipe near my groin. I would have a pipe in my neck leading straight to my heart. I would be on a Morphine drip.
If today were 14 December 2013, I would open my eyes, I would turn to my husband and ask if my son was alive. My husband would say no, and tears would fall down my face. Well that's how I can remember it. I don't remember too much due to the trauma and morphine. I was too high to realize just how bad the situation was at that moment.
If today were 14 December 2013, I would ask to see my son. The nurse would bring him wrapped in an old white plastic cloth still covered in dry blood, unwashed, uncared for. She would lay him on my tummy, left to right. He would lay there with his hands in fists under his chin, his legs bent as if he were praying... my Little Angel. I would take my trembling hands and brush his face with my fingers. I would say he had a bit of both my kids in him. I would say how beautiful he is. Tears would flow, but with a smile on my face. I would hear my brother and my husband cry behind me. The nurse would call other nurses to say how big he is, bigger than his age, and then... not even too much later she would say they are understaffed and she needs to go back to the Maternity Ward, and she would take him away and I would never see him again, and I would continue to fight for my life... I almost died, but God had bigger plans.
I lost my child and my womb that day, but I never ever lost my faith. My sister in law bought me a book while I was in the hospital and on every page, it read:
“Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see” Hebrews 11.1
That scripture really resonated with me and until today, it still does.
I may not have had my womb, but I knew what I wanted, and I believed God wanted it for me. Doesn’t scripture say that you should make your desires known to the Lord with prayer and supplication? Doesn’t scripture say that God wants you to have an abundant life?
Now I didn’t set out to have 3 children, it just happened. Before my 3rd pregnancy I was content with my 2 girls. But then, one day I was pregnant, and suddenly 5 months later… I was not.
I felt a hole, an emptiness, a sadness. People didn’t really understand, and I’m sure some people still don’t.
When you lose a child by miscarriage, interrupted pregnancy or stillbirth people don't always allow you to speak about it too much and don't support you through your pain. If a family member passes and you talk about that person, it's ok. You can cry for a long time, its ok. You can speak about a memory you have. But when you talk about this child that no one knows but you, there's this taboo, this awkwardness. They expect you to get over it. So, you just keep it to yourself. You see unless someone has lost a child themselves only then can they understand. The fact is, you do know that child. From the time God formed him/her in your womb. You know that child. You bond with that child. You had hopes and dreams for that child.
Sometimes I wish people spoke more about their loss instead of keeping it inside. I read about a lady who was balling her eyes out 30 years and 2 sons later. She said from the day she left the hospital she and her husband didn't utter a word about the son they lost. She said her sons didn’t even know they had a brother. ( From the book: I Will Carry You by Angie Smith) How can we heal if we don't talk?
Anyway… Back to my story…
I remember from the first moment they took my son from my arms, lifeless, I knew I still wanted to have another child. I remember the most important thing I wanted to know from my doctor was whether I still had my ovaries. I wasn't sure what I was going to do or where to start, but I just wanted to try again... with a surrogate.
My doctor was so negative, telling me having another child would not replace the void in my heart. He didn't understand. In no way could I ever replace my son Cayde, and that was never my intention. But I heard from so many women that the emptiness they felt in their hearts when they lost a child, diminished significantly when they had another child. So, if they could have the chance to have another child, why couldn't I? Just because they had a womb and I did not? This was also not in any way saying my 2 girls were not enough because they are, and they are amazing, but unless you have lived it, then only will you understand.
I must say that it wasn't easy. The process of surrogacy is not easy. You need a lawyer and a someone selfless that would give up their time and body to help you. It took a long time and a lot of wrong roads. Until finally someone right under my nose offered to be my surrogate. I kept telling her that she didn't realize the sacrifice and I kept brushing her off. But she would keep offering to be my surrogate. One day she asked if I was ready and I finally decided to go ahead. It was a long road to get our lawyer, Adelle Van Der Walt who specializes in surrogacy agreements, to get a court order approved from the high court. Only once that was done, could we start the fertility process.
Some things you need to do before the court grants you an approval to proceed with IVF:
A surrogacy lawyer and Advocate
A psychological assessment and a few sessions
A psychiatric assessment and a battery of tests proving you of right mind to proceed
HIV test, the couple and the surrogate
At least 2 reference letters from family or friends
My surrogate was awesome. She was easy and chilled. Mainly she never took advantage of my vulnerability (be careful, as many do). Finally, on the second attempt she was pregnant. January 2016. After 3 years of pain.
It wasn’t an easy road. My son was born at 7 months. But miraculously he was only in ICU one week just for observation. The doctor called all the nurses, she told them my son had defied all they have learned and seen in medical school and in that hospital. My own flesh and blood!!! My eggs, my husband’s sperm. In no way is this a replacement for my son who died, but life had been restored to a dead situation.
How profound is the scripture which encouraged me daily to keep trusting the God of miracles? The God who let manner rain from the Heavens and opened the Red Sea for His people to walk through it. In no way am I a great Christian. I fall short every day. I'm an average woman...with Faith. I believe in a God that does impossible things and that's what he did for me... Gave a barren woman the chance to fulfil her plan for a bigger family.
My son is 2 years old. Things for us are normal as a family, and up to now, everyone is happy for us. I think sometimes of how I will tell him one day, but you know what I’m just enjoying my kids right now and like my daughter who used to get seizures, we will deal with it one day at a time.
“For I know the plans I have for you say the Lord, plans to prosper you and give you a hope and a future’’
It is early morning, the 14th December 2018, and naturally, I will think of my son Cayde on the anniversary of his death. Naturally, I will be a bit sad. Naturally, I think of how he would have looked or what he would have been like. I will have snippets in my mind of the trauma I faced but survived and overcame. But this time, if I cry today, it will not be tears of pain, but tears of joy. When I look into my son’s eyes, I see the beauty of God’s grace in his eyes. I am restored, and restoration feels so damn good.