Surrendering to God’s will
When Moses and Olivia lost their child in the early stages of pregnancy, they chose to trust in God’s plans for their family.
Olivia and I got to know each other through the NUS Catholic Students’ Society in 2006, but only started dating since in early 2010. Almost five years later, having felt God’s call for us to marriage, and after much discernment and challenges, we exchanged our marital vows on 19 December 2015.
Those who know us well will know we love kids a lot. Initially, we wanted to try having a baby as early as a couple of months after our wedding. We wanted to start young as we felt ready to share our love as parents. However, because we made plans to participate at World Youth Day in Krakow in July this year as part of our honeymoon, we delayed our plans for a child till after the event in Poland.
By God’s grace, we found out that Olivia was pregnant after we returned from Europe. There was great anticipatory joy in both of us as we prepared to welcome our first child into this world. We were excited as this will be the first grandchild from both sides of our families. We started thinking of names for the child, who we want to be his god parents and how we want to bring him up.
Just then, Olivia contracted an infection and had fever for 10 days. She was hospitalised and diagnosed with pneumonia. We thought we would lose this child when she started to experience some bleeding. As a doctor, Olivia knew the implications of having bleeding during early pregnancy. We were afraid that we would lose this child because of the infection she had and perhaps her body was too weak to carry on with the pregnancy. We prepared ourselves for the worst when we did a scan. We were fearful of losing this precious, God-given life, so we were thankful to hear the doctor pronounce that the baby was alive and that there was a strong heartbeat. Indeed, the worries of a parent do begin at conception. However, we were told that the risk of miscarriage remained, and Olivia was placed on hormone pills to maintain the womb lining and hopefully sustain the pregnancy.
Just when we thought all was nice and dainty, we discovered during our appointed check-up, that our baby’s heart had stopped beating. We were utterly devastated. I remember discussing plans for the future with Olivia just before the check-up. Yet, in one moment, our hopes and plans and dreams came crashing down on us. Olivia even asked the gynae if she was very sure of her diagnosis of a missed abortion. We desparately wished that this was just a bad nightmare we could wake up from. Olivia was particularly sad and devastated, thinking that her womb had become a tomb for her child.
Many thoughts rang in our heads, but I told her it’s no one’s fault and she shouldn’t blame herself. As painful as it can be, the first thing we did as a couple was to hit the floor and start praying. We offered our child to God and asked Him to lay His comforting hands upon us. At this point, it was very easy to blame Him. It all felt like a divine comedy, and we lamented with God and bargained for a miracle. We went through quite a struggle to surrender and trust that He knows what’s best for us.
As our friends and family members began to know, many prayed and tried to comfort us and offered possible explanations for our loss. To us, it was no longer important to find out why this had happened. We will not know the true reason until we meet Him. But we trust in His love and plan for us.
In our grief, we prayed and wept like never before. We were also grateful that we had friends who prayed together with us. During our time in the adoration room, Olivia and I received similar visions. I saw Jesus carrying a baby boy, and looking at me. Then He hugged both of us. Olivia told God that our child is scared and lonely and she saw Mother Mary carrying him. The visions gave us great comfort, reminding us that our baby is not alone and is well taken care of in Heaven. We named him Josiah Tobias, a name which means God heals/supports and God is good.
Last Tuesday, 18 October, Josiah Tobias’ earthly remains were evacuated from Olivia’s womb. For us Catholics, we believe life begins at conception, and we thought we could give him a proper memorial with a cremation and niche. But there was nothing left for us to collect. Nevertheless, he lives on in our memories and hearts.
Fr Jude David told us he should be in heaven now as he died without any personal sin. We firmly believe so. The comforting irony is, Josiah Tobias is praying for us more than we are praying for him. The doctor encouraged us to close this chapter and start new ones after today. This is so true. If there was one positive outcome from this episode, it was that we treasure life even more today. We will definitely cherish our children in the future if He decides to bless us with them.
Our faith in God was challenged in this trying ordeal. But the Lord also gave us the strength we needed to cling on to Him. I believe our faith has been strengthened. We share the cry of Job: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I shall return. The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back. Blessed be the name of the Lord! If we take happiness from God’s hand, must we not take sorrow too?” (Job 1:21,2:10)
The support of the community is very important. We are grateful for those who called to check in on us and offered to pray with us. Without prayer and support from the community, we would not have been able to testify to this. We offer our loss to those who are grieving and have lost hope in God. We pray that one day you will find solace in Him.