This post is a part of EmpowerU Life Writing’s Final Exhibition: check out this post for more information!
Angels of Mine
written and performed by Shendz
I was 29 years old when I entered married life, with my husband being a year younger than me. Being in a lifetime commitment is far different from being a single woman, that is so carefree and having all the time of my life thinking only about myself and my own family. Adjusting to each other’s behavior and flaws was actually hard because my husband is a jealous type of a man, he doesn't really want me to get along with my male friends and colleagues. But since we wanted our vows to last a lifetime, I gave my total understanding to him though it felt like draining my energy dealing with his baseless jealousy. Nevertheless, no matter how jealous he was, we tried hard to make our life smooth and happy but sometimes circumstances appeared beyond our control, to test how deep our faith and love was for each other. Like other couples we also wished to have our own baby. We were very much hoping for it that we even said our devotional prayers every night. Two years passed and I still wasn’t able to conceive so we decided to see a doctor. We found out that I have fibroids in my ovary, making it hard to get pregnant. It was really frustrating but we still hoped for the best and that one day we would have our own baby.
I was feeling pressured and annoyed when it came to fulfilling the dream of my husband to have a son and my in-laws to have a grandson since my husband is their only son, though my own family understand and support me all the way, I decided to quit my job as a sales supervisor and try my luck applying abroad to try and escape from the pressure. My husband hated the idea of me quitting my job and applying to work as a domestic helper because he didn’t really want me to leave him and to work as a helper. We had a huge argument. However, as time passed I persuaded him by promising that I would only try to finish a two-year contract before going back home.
It was May 13, 2014 when I left home to work abroad, three days before our third wedding anniversary. It felt like I was being cast away since we usually celebrate our anniversary by watching a movie or having a " simpleng salu - salo" with our families.
When I arrived in Hong Kong Airport, I was so nervous since it was my first time being away from my family. Homesickness is not easy to deal with and it made me sick. But gradually I got used to it until I finally overcame it. Working abroad is not as easy as your abc’s. Living with people who are far from the culture I was used to was not easy. I needed to adjust myself in extreme ways to adapt to their food, like eating steam fish and meat, and some soup that I never used to eat at home. I had to adapt to their culture, like I could not just simply move anything in their home when I was cleaning since they had their own meaning when it came to why they were placed there. Then there was their belief of paying homage to their ancestors by burning some special sticks and bowing in a specific place inside or outside of their house and many of them didn’t really go to church.
Two years passed so quickly, even though my lady boss was not so nice to me. I successfully finished my contract and due to my good work performance, my employer asked to renew my contract. I hadn’t discussed it yet with my husband, but I agreed to renew since it was actually hard for me to leave the kids whom I had already learned to love. They are so affectionate, adorable and I was even used to sleeping with them together.
I went home to my native land to have my 14 days vacation after I renewed my contract. When I arrived at Philippine airport, I was overwhelmed when I saw my husband standing in the crowd holding a bouquet of flowers. He smiled when he saw me. I immediately ran into his arms. “Welcome home sweetheart,” he said and then he kissed me. He handed me the flowers and hugged me so tight, and held me in his arms then we headed home. When we arrived home I was moved by his effort when I saw the dining table full of my favorite foods. I really missed eating the traditional “laing” cooked in coconut milk, spiced with chili, lemongrass and shrimp paste that he used to cook for me. The "bicol express" was really my comfort food, with pork cubes cooked in coconut milk and chili peppers and it is so creamy, spicy and delicious. And there were also different mouth-watering dried fishes that he fried. It really made my stomach growl. “I woke up early and cooked all this food,“ he said, trying to impress me. I smiled so widely and thanked him. He smiled back at me and kissed my forehead then he handed me my bowl of rice with the dishes in it. “You eat all of these, you are so thin,” he said and put all the food right in front of me. I thought I would probably become a big fat pig if I finished all the food but I was so happy that he pampered me.
It was four days before my vacation ended that I finally got the courage to tell my husband that I renewed my contract. It was actually hard to tell him since he had been expecting me to stay home for good, just like how I had promised him before. “I renewed my contract,” I said, looking intensely at his face. He just looked at me and said nothing. I couldn’t figure out whether he was angry or fine. He showed me a poker face. But after a few minutes of silence he looked at me again and said, “You already made your decision. What else can I do?” My guilt ate at me and I couldn’t even utter a word. He knew I was very persistent. So he just looked away to avoid any arguments. When he sent me to the airport, he didn’t say a word but I could see in his actions that he was a little upset. However, he still managed to smile and kiss me, “Take good care of yourself, I will wait for you,“ he said when I already needed to go inside the departure area.
Days went by. I noticed that I still hadn’t had my period for three months, though that was fine with me since I have an irregular monthly cycle. But my friend insisted I buy a pregnancy test. When I used the test, I was confused by the result. It had two lines but the other line was so blurry. My friend told me to keep it for a week, so I did. It happened that the line became clear after keeping it for a week. It made me so happy to think that I was pregnant. I had been waiting and wishing for this for so long and at last I finally got the chance to have my own baby. I immediately informed my husband and I could feel his excitement and happiness over the phone. “Come home now so I can take care of you and our baby,” he said happily. I agreed. The excitement of going home pushed me to break my contract and give my one month notice to my employer. However, I still need to work for a month so that I would not need to pay them for breaching the contract.
After a week, I went to see an obgyn near my work so that I would be guided on how to take care of myself since I still needed to work for a month. It was then that I found out that my baby was already 13 weeks old. I was so glad that my baby was in good shape though the doctor said I had some fibroids that might harm my baby. I didn’t pay much attention to what she said. When the doctor allowed me to hear my baby's heartbeat I was so happy and I became happier and more overwhelmed when I learned about the gender of my baby. He was a boy. I cannot express the joy I had in my heart, especially considering that we had been waiting for this for so long. During the night, whenever I lay on my bed I used to listen to Mozart since it is said that Mozart is good for the brain development of a baby. I also used to talk to my baby. I would say, “I love you so much baby, just hold on and we will be home soon, dada is waiting for us.” My husband also used to talk to our baby on the phone. “Hello baby, we love you so much. Please be good and soon we'll be together.” This was our nightly routine. And during the daytime I worked slowly to avoid getting too tired. I needed to take extra care of myself since I had no one to hold onto in Hong Kong and also I was still in the delicate stage of my pregnancy. I was very careful with what I ate and drank.
It was Sunday morning when I decided to pack my things so I could send them back home. I only kept enough stuff for the one month before going back home. After packing all my things, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. It made me unable to walk. I was so scared because I thought that I might have harmed my baby due to tiredness but at the same time I was hoping and praying that the pain was just because my body was adjusting and dealing with some physical changes due to my pregnancy. I kept whispering to my baby to hold on.
After one week I went to see my obgyn again since I needed to be checked weekly. I told my obgyn that I wanted to hear my baby's heartbeat again but she said, “Hold on, I cannot find your baby's heartbeat.” I was so scared. I was so scared when I thought that bad things might have happened to him due to the pain I felt a few days ago. When she handed me my ultrasound results she said, “Come back again next week and let’s see if we can find the heartbeat, sometimes there are cases like this.” I left the clinic with an unstable feeling. Since I was so restless and uncomfortable with what I had heard from the doctor, I decided to book another obgyn. When the doctor checked on me she said, “I can see that your baby died a week ago already, I cannot find the heartbeat.” I was dumbfounded by what she said. I was shocked but I tried to calm myself down although I felt like I was going to pass out. When she handed me my ultrasound results and my referral letter and asked me to go to Tuen Mun hospital as soon as possible it was only then that I could no longer hold back my tears.
I could not control my emotions anymore and I cried a river. The pain was killing me and eating away at every inch of my body, heart and soul. I was not in my right mind anymore. I was so blank and I felt like I was trapped in the dark. I was not able to breathe. I left the clinic without knowing where to go. I decided to sit in the park for a moment since I felt extremely weak. I could not calm myself down. I kept on crying and looked up into the sky like I could get the answers to all the questions I had in my mind. I asked my baby why he needed to leave me so soon? I asked myself what I had done to deserve this severe pain.? I asked God, Why does it need to be my baby? Why God? Why did I need to suffer this severe pain? You knew how much I wanted this baby. Why do you need to take him so soon? I kept on whispering those words to myself while looking at the nothingness up there. I wanted to scream, to blurt out the severe pain I had inside. I wanted to disappear at that very moment but how could I? I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to tell my husband. I was so scared that he would blame me for being careless. I was so scared to see the disappointment on his face. I was so scared that I ruined his and my in-laws’ dream to have our own baby. I kept asking God Why?Why me? What have I done to be punished like this? Why does it need to be us? There are other people who intentionally terminate their pregnancies. Why is it not them that are punished? I only wanted to have my own baby. I wanted him to be alive. I wanted to hold him, kiss him, and take care of him. Why does he need to die so early??
I didn’t understand. I was sobbing uncontrollably without minding that there were people looking at me. Lots of emotions filled my heart and I wanted to escape. I felt so weak after a long time of crying. I decided to walk to the MTR station and go back to my employer’s house. My head was spinning so I lay down on my bed hoping to get to sleep but the pain continued tearing me up. I curled up myself and silently cried out the agony in my heart. I felt so weak and exhausted. My tears continued oozing. I wanted to stop crying but I just couldn’t.
After two days, I finally got the courage to go to Tuen Mun Hospital. I still wasn’t in good shape when I headed to the hospital. I was so broken that I wasn't able to put myself back into good shape. I handed the referral letter to the nurse just like it was only an ordinary paper. After a few minutes I was already inside the hospital room waiting for who knows what. I actually didn’t know what I was waiting for because no one told me that I needed to undergo a miscarriage operation until I was called in by the nurse and asked to fill in some forms. It was 7 in the evening when they took me to the operating room. The last thing I remember was when the doctor told me to focus my eyes on the light and after a few minutes I became unconscious.
It was already 8:30 in the evening on the same day when I regained consciousness. I was so scared when I found myself lying in a hospital bed. I was placed in the corner. There was a white blanket wrapped around my body with so many blood stains. I immediately touched my belly hoping that my baby was still there but I felt nothing but pain. I cried silently in my bed. I was about to curl up my knees due to severe pain in my abdomen when the nurse saw me and screamed at me saying, “Mm tak.” She came to my bed and screamed at me and said, “You are not allowed to bend your legs, just let the blood flow.“ Then she beat my knees. The pain in my abdomen was so extreme that I could no longer stand. I clenched my jaw, wishing the pain would stop but it felt like someone had beaten me down there. The blood kept on flowing. I couldn’t do anything to ease my pain since I wasn’t allowed to move. I endured the pain even though it was taking my breath away. My bed was flooded with so much blood. I called the nurse to fix me up since the sanitary napkin she had put on me wasn’t in the right place but she only looked at me and didn’t approach me. Maybe it was because I’m just a helper and that’s why she didn’t pay much attention to me or maybe she was just very busy. I didn’t know.
After one hour they came to me and moved me to another bed since my bed was full of so much blood already. I cannot describe the pain I had in my heart from losing my baby and the feeling of being alone with no one to look after me in the hospital. I cried myself to sleep day and night. I stayed in the hospital for three days. In the room all I could see was white--white paint, white bed, white blanket, white pillow. Everyone was so quiet, the lights were so dim, and that added sorrow to my heart. The hospital bed witnessed how miserable I was, the white pillow caught all my tears day and night, and the blanket never got clean despite the blood stains. The fact that no one dared to visit me, not even my employer or my friends added salt to my wounds and made me more dejected and empty.
When I was discharged from the hospital and arrived at my employer’s home, my employer terminated my contract. I don’t know what made them decide to terminate me. Maybe they thought I would cause them trouble since I didn’t tell them the real reason why I stayed in the hospital or maybe they were persuaded by the grandmother who disliked me from the very beginning. They told me to pack all my things. I felt so weak and in pain, I had hardly packed all my things when they brought me to my agency. When we arrived at the agency, the staff looked at me like I had committed a crime. I wondered why they were looking at me with mockery when in fact they didn’t even know what I had been through. They didn’t even know my struggles and the pain that I was feeling at that very moment. I wanted to tell them that I didn’t abort my own child. I wanted to tell them that I lost my baby without knowing the reason why he died. I wanted to tell them that I wanted my baby to be alive because I had been wishing to have him for a long time. I wanted to explain myself to them but I chose to shut my mouth. I decided not to waste my time with narrow minded people. I got my salary and plane ticket and left the agency without looking back.
Three days after the termination, I flew back home. When I arrived at the Philippine airport, I was shocked when I saw my husband standing near the money changing shop. He was holding a bouquet of flowers. I didn’t expect to see him since I didn’t tell him I’d be home on that day. He handed me the flowers and kissed me without saying anything and then we headed home. I guessed he already knew that I had lost our baby. Maybe my sister had told him already. I wanted to cry, I wanted to say sorry and ask him not to blame me but I was so afraid that it would only trigger his anger so I just kept it to myself. It was so painful to be judged by other people but it was more painful when the one you loved the most chose to create a gap between the two of you. I wanted to explain my side, I wanted him to understand me, I wanted him to comfort me, I wanted to cry on his shoulder but I couldn’t reach out to him. He was angry that I had lost our baby. He was angry because I didn’t tell him what had happened to me and that he found it out through my sister. He was very disappointed and he chose to give me the cold shoulder. He seldom talked to me and he even chose to sleep on the sofa. The pain I had inside me was too much to bear. I could no longer hold it in my heart. The coldness of my husband was killing me. He talked to me like I was just someone else. It had been a month and it was driving me crazy. I was so exhausted by my life that I even wanted to die.
Until one night, I had a bad dream. In my dream I heard a baby crying. I wanted to reach out to him but he suddenly slipped away. The sound of his cries kept lingering in my mind. I woke up crying hysterically, like I was losing my mind. It was a nightmare. I was so terrified that I screamed out loud. My husband rushed to me and saw me sobbing uncontrollably. He hugged me so tight. I was afraid of him, I thought that he would hurt me. I wanted to push him away but he hugged me so tightly that I wasn’t able to move. “Stop,” he said. “Sweetheart, please stop,” he said, but I just couldn’t stop myself from crying. My husband held me in his arms while saying, “I’m sorry, I’m very sorry, forgive me, please stop crying. I’m sorry I deserted you, I’m sorry I held a grudge against you, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, I’m sorry I didn’t comfort you, forgive me please,” he repeatedly said while hugging me and kissing my head. He was crying. It was the first time I saw him cry a river of tears. It was only then that my husband realized the pain I had been through.
I suffered from a relapse that I needed to cure with a traditional doctor. My husband brought me home to our province to have a vacation, to freshen up our minds and spirits. He took care of me like he used to do. He gave me gifts and flowers, cooked food for us, and we took walks or strolled around. We ate lunch out and dined out. He tried his best to take us back to a harmonious relationship, a simple yet happy couple like the way we had been. Staying in love, we’ve been faithful and understanding to each other since then.
Time heals all wounds and it took three years before I was able to accept the fact that the baby I longed to have was really gone. I stayed home to overcome the feeling of melancholy. I stayed with my family and friends who comforted me during my sorrowful days. Three long years before I totally recovered. It was just like a dream, a nightmare that kept on haunting me. No pain was greater than losing my baby. I wasn’t able to escape the agony of losing him and I almost went crazy. But I still managed to hold on. The pain I had been through taught me how to be strong. It taught me how to accept frustrations and failures. It taught me to trust God and believe that He has a better plan. Everything happens for a reason. It may be difficult for me to understand things on that very day but God made me see things positively and made me understand all. It still brings me tears whenever I remember my baby but what can I do? Sometimes memories really bring us tears or the other way around, tears bring back all the memories. However, we must be strong to move forward and start a new chapter of our lives to keep our dreams alive, and that requires faith, belief in yourself, strenuous efforts, positive vision, hard work, determination and dedication. Pain hurts us but it also changes us to be a wiser and better person.