Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Time to Read, Philippines! (Or why we need to have our own version of ‘World Book Night’)

Mold. Prints. Folds. Ink.

Pages bound together. A tear in the corner of a copy loved. Adventures colliding in silence. The weight of a world in a single flip. Rejuvenating, intoxicating, surreal.

The power that a good book wields is irresistible enough as it is. But if that book is FREE, how much harder would it be for any of us to say no?

That’s exactly the kind of euphoria that World Book Night brings—250,000 free books, ten thousand volunteers, one awesome day.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

To The Woman Who Has Miscarried --- Happy Mother’s Day

I was pregnant.

After all the treatments and pills and injections and debts, I was pregnant.

All it took were two pink lines and our joy was complete. I remember exactly the way my husband grinned at me when I rushed out of the bathroom, waving a gross peed-on stick around in the air.

In the sky that night, we gazed up at the fireworks exploding gloriously just as our own hearts were. We squeezed each other’s hand and knew that by this time next year, our holidays would be filled with a wonderful little addition to our married life. This was it. Our baby was here.

And then it was gone.

We’d always known it would be a high-risk pregnancy. The years of fertility treatments, blood transfusions, and failed inseminations made sure of that. So when our baby came, I transformed into the most delicate person in the world. The masks, the home injections, the quarantine, the house arrest. I was hospitalized twice in three weeks and couldn’t leave my room for days. All of these to make sure our precious little miracle hung in there and made it out safely.

But no amount of medical treatment could keep our baby alive, and at just 8 weeks, that tiny heart stopped beating.

And then mine broke.

It was cozy in our doctor’s clinic. While everyone was staring up at the game show flickering on TV, I was huddled in the corner with my stupid face mask on and the blurred photo of our tiny one in my hand. Nobody was looking at us, at my husband who was trying his best to be strong for me. Nobody was looking at how I tried to muffle my sobs because this just wasn’t the time and place. Nobody cared about the life we were losing.

Our baby was struggling inside me, her heart weak and frail and beating at 50 beats per minute. “Too low,” the doctor said. Too low to sustain the pregnancy, too weak to go on, too impossible to live.

When her heart rate dropped to zero, she was taken from me.

A lot of preparation, a lot of waiting, and a lot of blood. What was once my baby was now called a “specimen”, and that was it. In my last desperate act of clinging to my little one, I asked the nurse if they found anything during the procedure. But they didn’t. Not a tiny speck, not a single piece of evidence that my baby was once alive. Just bits of meat and blood, blood, blood.

The moment I woke up from the anesthesia, there was a sound in the other room, the beautiful cry of a newborn baby being delivered. And there I was, having just had mine removed.

They told me it was normal. They told me that losing an early baby was just like having your period. But when that baby has lived inside me for eight weeks, how could I not love her so, so much? Towards the end, all I could say to her was that it was okay. “It’s okay, sweetie, I’m still here. Don’t be afraid; I’m not going anywhere.” And it was true. Even in our baby’s final moments, I was still there. And that hole in my heart reserved for her would remain empty forever.

There are no funerals for a miscarriage. There is no ceremony to mourn the death of an unborn child, no eulogy for a dead baby, no socially accepted outlet to grieve over this loss. And even though your body heals itself in a few weeks, your heart just can’t recover the same way.

To you who have miscarried, I am sorry for your pain. I’m sorry that the world tells you to be quiet about your agony, to suffer in silence, to hide the baby you’ve lost. I’m sorry that not everyone understands how losing a baby means losing a part of yourself, and that no matter how long you tried to keep her alive—days, weeks, months—you will always carry that death in your heart. I’m sorry if every baby shower, every children’s party, every TV ad, and every pair of onesies on sale in the window reminds you of the child you never got to raise.

But that is how a mother is. Horrific and scarring and excruciating as the loss might have been, your child is your child, and no miscarriage can make you any less of a Mom. Our baby may only have been with us for a brief time, but for those magnificent two months, my husband and I became the happiest parents in the world. And that’s something nobody can take away.

So to you who have ever had a miscarriage, I salute you.

You were willing to do whatever it took to keep your baby healthy and well for as long as you possibly could.

You took that seed and nourished it, planned your baby’s life ahead of you, and knew exactly what he or she might have grown up to be.

You carried her and took care of her, stayed up late on troublesome nights to make sure she was okay.

You took her to doctor’s appointments to keep her healthy; you played with her and read to her and sang her to sleep.

You were brave enough to stay with her throughout her whole life, and even though you were scared, you were strong enough to hold on to her and never let her go.

You touched her with a mother’s touch and loved her with a mother’s love.

You are a Mom.

Here’s to you then, dear sister, and here’s to every beautiful unborn baby in the world. You are our children, and we are your Mom.

And no matter what happens, sweet little one, you will never be forgotten.