This article was edited and published at Smart Parenting PH.
“Your body is killing your baby.”
These are probably the last words you would want to hear in your lifetime.
For someone who is dreaming to become a mother, it brings unimaginable pain to be told that you are the reason why you are not carrying your pregnancy to term. How ironic is it to want to become a mother and yet, your own body decides to do otherwise.
I am now a mother of two wonderful rainbow babies, Santi and Lucia, but before I was able to hold them, I had been through hell and back.
My motherhood journey started in 2012, right after my wedding. I was 28 years old then. My husband and I have been together for six years before we tied the knot.
We got a positive pregnancy test in my fifth week. We were ecstatic to be first-time parents and we sought out an obstetrician to confirm my test. I had an ultrasound but we were told that we have to wait for another week because there was no heartbeat yet.
“Masyado pang maaga.” That was what the doctor said.
Twenty four hours after, I bled. I did not know what was happening. I thought I was bleeding because of the procedure I went through earlier. Little did I know that I was already going through a miscarriage.
That was the first time I lost a baby. That was also the time that I experienced the deepest kind of grief I have ever felt in my whole life.
When people around me knew about my miscarriage, many were sympathetic. Some were just cruel.
“Ingatan mo kasi.” Someone told me this at work. While I wanted to scream at his face, I just did not have the energy to retaliate. LikeTeflon, I just comments like this slide by me. There are just many insensitive people in this world. Nothing I could do about that.
My heart bled. A lot of women apparently miscarry. But not a lot would talk about it.
In my case, I suffered in silence, shutting out the people who were trying to reach out. I didn’t think that anyone understood what I was feeling at that time. Yes, it might have been too early. Yes, we did not have a heartbeat so technically, my baby was not “alive” yet. For me, however, that moment when I saw two red lines from that pregnancy test, I was already a mother. When I lost that pregnancy, I just did not lose a child. I lost all the dreams that came with it and it was utterly heartbreaking.
The months after my miscarriage just went downward spiral.
My relationship with my husband was strained. We both did not know how to deal with the loss. I hated him for acting so nonchalantly about my miscarriage. He hated me for the “monster” that I became.
I was not clinically diagnosed with postpartum depression but I think that was what happened to me. I had a hard time coping with my loss so I poured all my energy at work. At least that was one area I could control.
When I lost my first baby, I also lost my husband. When I miscarried, I also lost my marriage.
It took several months before my husband and I reconciled and tried to fix our marriage again. Shortly after we got back together, I got pregnant again.
My husband doted on me and gave me everything that I asked from him. We just transferred to our new house and we were excited to start anew. This was it, I told myself. I was finally going to be a mother.
That happiness was short-lived.
On my 11th week, I had spotting. I told myself that it was just implantation bleeding and that there was no need to worry. Our baby had a strong heartbeat a week ago during my checkup and there was no reason to panic. I rushed myself to the hospital and I was sent for another ultrasound.
The doctor was eerily quiet when she was looking at the ultrasound screen. She called another sonologist to confirm her findings.
I already knew what was happening even before they uttered the words. Tears streamed slowly from my eyes as I felt a deep punch in the gut.
“We are sorry. We don’t have any cardiac activity.”
I wanted to vomit right there and then. Everything went hazy. I went out of that ultrasound room and looked for the nearest restroom. I slumped on the restroom floor at Makati Medical Center, not knowing what to do.
It was happening all over again. It felt like a sick movie. I wanted to punch someone. I wanted to shout. I wanted to curse and blame God for allowing this to happen.
I called my husband, asking him to pick me up. I then called my Mama and just cried my heart out.
I lost it again.
That was all I said. The truth is there was nothing I wanted to do but to go back to Bacolod and crawl beside my mother to feel a little bit of comfort.
Ganun ba akong kasamang tao para di mabigyan ng anak? Yung iba dyan, ayaw nila ng anak. Yung iba, pinapabayaan lang anak nila sa kalye. Bakit ako ayaw akong bigyan?
I probably blacked out after that. I did not know how I was able to go home. My next recollection was that we were already at the hospital again for my D&C procedure.
The procedure was almost the same as if you had a baby. Only there was no baby. Only the products of conception. My baby was called products of conception. I wanted to kick someone on the face.
He had a name. His name was Basti.
When I asked my doctor what happened, she told me that I might have APAS. My mind reeled.
What the hell was APAS?!!!
This was in 2013.
When I was diagnosed with the condition, there was not much information it. I was on a wild goose chase. I found abandoned blogs and very few medical articles about it. I promised myself to research about APAS amidst my grief.
I learned that women who suffer from recurrent miscarriages (sunod-sunod na pagkalaglag ng pagbubuntis) are possible APAS patients. APAS is a common medical term the medical community use to refer to a condition where the body rejects its own baby.
But technically, APAS is only one out of five reproductive-immunological disorders or RID. RID categories are autoimmune or alloimmune disorders where one’s immune system rejects the fetus because it is being treated as a foreign object. In some cases, RID can also be a cause of unexplained infertility.
These were the things I learned when I stumbled upon a Facebook Support Group about RID. When I joined that group, I found my tribe. It was the first time that I did not feel alone anymore. There were hundreds of us going through the same challenges. I was inspired by the stories of mommies who have overcome the condition and were able to finally hold a child in their arms.
I was spiritually renewed with their stories.
I went through all the treatments for my condition and found the best doctors. It was emotionally, physically, and financially draining but we had to do what we had to do so that we would not look back with regrets. There were many sacrifices that we had to take. I took a sabbatical from corporate life and had to turn my bad lifestyle habits around.
Despite this, we were not lucky. More than the expenses for the treatment, the psychological effect was more taxing. Waiting was painful, especially because you do not know if you are really waiting for something or not. We did all novenas, prayed to the highest heavens.
Kulang nalang sumayaw kami sa Obando.
Almost a year had passed and there was still no baby. My husband and I decided to give up on our baby project. We told ourselves that we were okay not having a baby. We have done everything humanly possible and it was enough. We started our marriage together, just the two of us – a baby is just a bonus. Maybe it was just really not meant for us.
A day after this surrender, I had a very weird encounter.
I don’t know if I was going crazy but someone (or something) whispered in my ear that I would be pregnant if we made love that night. I told this to my husband and he just laughed it out, thinking I was only making my moves. I let him believe what he believed in.
This story cannot be left out from my pregnancy journey because a month after that whisper came, I was pregnant. I knew then with all conviction that the baby I was carrying was a gift from God.
From that first moment, I knew that the baby I was carrying would be a boy. He was a testament of God’s infinite blessing in my life like all the childless women in the Bible who were later on blessed with a son Sarah had Isaac, Rebekah had Jacob and Esau, Rachel had Joseph and Benjamin, the wife of Manoah had Samson, Hannah had Samuel and Elizabeth had John.
The journey was not easy. I had to inject blood thinners on my tummy every 12 hours. I had to have monthly infusions. We only told close family and friends and never announced my pregnancy on Facebook until I was on my ninth month for the fear of jinxing what was already so close to reality.
I woke up every day in fear. The first thing that I do the moment I wake up is to check if my baby was still moving. There was never a day that passed that I did not pray for the safety of the child that was inside of me.
And God answered.
He was in every step of my pregnancy. I prayed the Angel’s Prayer every time I injected, asking Angel Gabriel to continue protecting Santi from my killer cells. I made a promise to God that if he would give me this child, I will praise His name in any way that I can and I will make it a personal advocacy to help other women who may be in the same boat as I have been.
May 2016. Nine months after my encounter with my Angel Gabriel and 4 years after my first miscarriage, I held my son. It was surreal and yet there I was, holding the most precious thing in my life. I could not stop my tears.
The promise I made resulted to my blog, Chronicles of a Clueless APAS Mama at www.callmebalot.com where I share about my journey as well as the stories of many rainbow babies. By God’s grace, I was also made an administrator of our Facebook Support Group where we try our best to assist those who are still going through the hardships of an RID pregnancy and continue to promote awareness about the condition in the hopes of saving the lives of many unborn babies whose mothers suffer from this condition.
It is a personal dream to be able to put up a foundation to promote awareness for the condition in many parts of this country. Having handled many advocacy projects in my previous job, I have seen the power of information in changing lives. Prevention, as they say, is better than cure and one way of prevention is spreading awareness and information. However, that still remains a dream because quite surprisingly, one needs to come up with a million pesos to set up a non-profit organization. As to why, I do not understand, but that is another story for another day.
I can’t tell you that the journey of an APAS mommy will be easy. I also cannot say that all treatments will be successful. I can only tell you that we have to do what we can and let God do the rest. And if a baby is not given, know that you are complete, no matter what.
But I am praying for and with you every step of the way. May you have a rainbow baby in your arms.
If you are lost and want to know more about this condition, please visit our Facebook Support Group at www.facebook.com/groups/allaboutapasandrid.