Wednesday 13 March 2013

Learning Kindness From Pain

I was ‘attempting’ to sort out my burgeoning inbox.  I think each time Yahoo! increases mailbox capacity, they thought of users like me who rarely deletes messages and believes that the search box is the most important organizational tool.  So while I was going through my files, I came across an email I sent out to my closest friends four years ago.

It occurred to me that despite having shared so many things about my pregnancy and labor in my blog, I have never shared this ONE thing.  Maybe that’s the thing, we are fast to share happy and glorious events of our lives but are reluctant for the non-glorious ones.  Who wants to remember them anyway?  

Until I read my letter again and I felt humbled…  and a certain kind of pride and of understated strength.  We are our experience.  Each line on our face speaks stories of our lives.  So after much deliberation of whether I should post a personal letter of mine, I realized that the reason why I started this blog in the first place was to inform, better yet inspire even at least a single soul.  I am grateful others have shared their stories, I am passing it on.

Coincidentally too (some would refute that there is no such thing as coincidence, such the book as Celestine Prophecy), a cousin’s wife just had a similar experience as mine.  I am reminded that we have more similarities than differences than we’d like to think.  After all, we are all part of this journey together. 

22 May 2008
(At home in Singapore)

Hi Everyone!

I have some sad news for you guys this time. I would say sad instead of bad for the reason that bad only means bad if nothing good can come out of it. At least, that's how I choose to look at it.

I have always believed in intuition, especially in a woman's intuition. It was intuition that led me to believe that I might be pregnant just one week after our Italy trip. It was also the same intuition that gave me the suspicion that the absence of associated symptoms like morning sickness, nausea or vomiting was just too good to be true. Either I'm in the most tiptop shape of my life or something was just not right.

My suspicion was confirmed when my husband and I visited our doctor last Tuesday, 20th of May for our regular ultrasound check-up. The moment I looked up at the screen expecting to see an 8-week pregnancy stage, (pictures still vivid from the many books we have studied) and finding something else staring back at us, I knew something was definitely wrong. The placenta, yoke or sac has not grown in size at all after two weeks. It just suddenly ceased to develop and there was no sign of an embryo.

The inevitable was to happen. The doctor had to do an operation called "evacuation of the uterus" or "wash" and was to be done immediately to prevent progressing into an emergency case. That was the last sentence that registered in my mind even when she kept explaining why the operation had to be done blah blah… I was suddenly speaking incoherently, cutting her in mid-sentences and asking questions like "was it because I continue to be very busy at work, etc..?". It's the first thing any mother (or mom-to-be in my case) would ask. She reassured me however that the problem most likely started at the very beginning. It might have been a response to soothe a distressed lady but what's done is done and you make sense of it as you go along.

I would like to think that one of the strengths that my husband and I both share is a rational mind. With just the two of us in Singapore, making big decisions on our own have prepared us to meet challenges on a daily basis. No one ever does the decision alone. We would stay up late at night debating pros and cons till the obvious surfaces. Somehow this time however, the rational mind only helped us as far as accepting that there is nothing that we can do and that's the most painful thing.

The operation happened the following day, 21st of May at 12:30pm. I was to fast 6-7 hours before the operation so I ate my breakfast at 5:30am in the morning. I was very tired. I had to force food down my throat as I barely slept that night, tossing and turning, sobbing, thinking, reflecting, questioning, surrendering… and finally accepting with a  heavy heart.

As I was lying on the mobile bed being wheeled towards the operating room, I was surprised to find myself busy looking at the details of the hospital design, the warm beige paint on the wall, the unique way of how the bright lights were mounted sideways on the walls instead at the usual ceiling. From a distance, I observed the nurses scurrying around for their schedules wearing bright Crocs footwear (my sister is the Crocs distributor in our hometown). The architectural training of attention to details I had for so many years have kept my mind free from worry and my heart from ache.

This is when I realized that everything will be okay. It's all part of the human experience. You expand your heart and breathe it in. You open yourself to a wave of profound emotions and let it take you where it leads you. I remember on our wedding day, my dad in his speech gave this message to us "Be kind to everyone, everything else will follow. And if you try to understand everything in the grand scheme of things, kindness will follow". I have never fully understood the depth of those words till now.

Speaking of parents, hubby and I are always lucky when it comes to perfect timing. Everything about us is perfect timing, from the serendipity of our similar flight from Davao to Manila, to our settlement here in Singapore. So when this fateful event happened in our lives, timing again was on our side. My parents were in town visiting us and are still here to help me recuperate. After hearing the news, my dad despite busy schedule in Davao did not hesitate to extend for another week to accompany my mom and me. They just do everything together for as long as I can remember.

Alfred and I have grown closer than ever. I am truly blessed with such an intelligent and kind man. After the operation, he looked more haggard than I was. I could not forget when I woke up, he was at my side, held my hand and said "thank you". I was puzzled at first at his words, but somehow I knew what he meant. Now, we are excited to plan our next holiday trip in 2 months’ time. Spain and Portugal? Australia? States? UK? The list goes on…

I sometimes ask myself, maybe I should have waited after 1st trimester to announce the news. That would have saved me a lot of trouble explaining. But if I didn't, I would not have the chance to share a sad yet poignant story - a story of human experience that we share to one another, to learn from one another, and ultimately to become a person of empathy and kindness. I am indeed grateful that I have my friends. Thank you for sharing with me the happy and sad events of my life. The story of our lives continues hehehe...

Regards to everyone.


 Afternote:  UK WON!  Sharing some random pics of our 2-week trip =)
Overlooking Edinburgh, Scotland
Traveled miles and miles to get to the middle of nowhere, Scottish Highlands
View of our Country Inn, Scottish Highlands
Enjoying ice cream one fine cold afternoon, Lake District England
Remaining positive through it all - buying Peter Rabbit books (for future children) at Beatrix Potter hometown
At the famous London Tower


  1. I am humbled by your blog post and I would like to thank you for sharing it. It is true, we rarely post those experiences which we want to completely forget. However, I agree with you that it is in these "we want to forget this experience" that we are able to gather our strength and then smile back at the world.

    1. Hi Ianne, you're welcome. Thank you for dropping by and leaving such a thoughtful note. Glad to know we are on the same page =)

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