Father's Joy

Abigail means "Father's joy" -- this name was chosen by Mark at my 15th week of pregnancy when we found out that the tiny embryo growing inside me was going to be a 'she'. I had always thought it would be a boy, so I had already had in mind a name for him, but God had other plans.

Shimei was with me for this ultrasound scan and I remember telling Dr. Choo, our OBGYN, to double confirm if there was a little penis hiding somewhere -- if she could have mistaken.

When Mark found out, he immediately embarked on finding her a name. Some trivia for you -- Mark's pet bird was also called Abigail (haha), but as we further researched, it meant "Father's Joy" and the Abigail in the bible was known for her beauty and wisdom -- Wisdom that saved her then husband, Nabal, from having his entire family wiped out due to his irreverence for David.. and also, not to mention her great beauty and eloquence, that left an indelible mark on David, and he later took her in as his 3rd wife after Nabal died...

Having a child can really change things in your life (major understatement), the nights Mark and I spend together now have been put on a back burner, and we are busy with 2-hourly feeds, lots of soiled diapers and broken sleep. But what a joy it is to have her, this little addition to our family.

I am blessed we have family support as well as a confinement lady to stay with us this first month, I wonder how people cope without help elsewhere!

The first 3 weeks have been trying. Abigail was born on 26th October at 4PM, after an intense delivery. She was in distress in the birth canal with her heart rate racing to up to 190 BPM (norm is 110 - 160 BPM) and also passing meconium in the birth canal as she had trouble descending. Being a new mother in labour, I was very anxious to have her out and the thought of an emergency c-sec or assisted delivery really scared me. I had been reading and confessing prayers on supernaturally smooth delivery, but when anxiety hit, my prayers turned into desperate pleas for God's help. Mark was with me throughout the entire labour, and he was such a great help in the process, encouraging me along, although he probably felt helpless most times. By the grace of God, I mustered all the strength I had and in around 15 pushes, Abigail was born.

The first thing they did was extract all the meconium from her lungs as it was toxic, after which Mark saw her being whisked away to be clean up and examined. When they first placed her on me, I must honestly say that I did not have any motherly emotions, I was just very relieved the ordeal was over. But as I cradled her a few minutes later, I was filled with awe at this tiny squirming creature that lay naked on my chest. Wow, Mark and I had 'made' this. Abigail was born at 2.35KG, much smaller than the average baby (2.5KG - 3KG), but with huge lungs that had the ability to scream like no other. I was very worried for her when she was born and doctors had ordered her to be on formula milk in the meantime to supplement her low sugar levels. I was desperately trying to get her to suckle on me, but unfortunately, the first few days did not yield any colostrum and I had secretly spent a lot of time crying out of disappointment at how my body was not cooperating. I felt guilty that not only was I not able to bring Abigail into a good birth weight, I was not able to provide her with the nourishment she so desperately needed. So many emotions flooded my mind and as I confided in Mark, we both cried together... I think he cried more because he saw the anguish I felt, yet could not console me.

What was beautiful was seeing Mark jump with joy and excitement whenever Abigail was pushed into the room to try to get her to latch on to me. He would be so excited to hold her little fragile frame and so enthusiastic in helping to position her on me to get the best "latch" possible. Looking at him enjoy his baby girl made this so worthwhile for me and despite all the anguish I felt inside, their father-child bond made it all worthwhile. I truly think the best gift you can give your wife is showing how much you love your child. I was so proud of him stepping up to be the father to our little girl.

Each night when Abigail was wheeled in to latch, I would sing and declare over her God's promises and as I looked at her tiny fingers and toes, I would fight back tears of awe, and thank God that He created her so perfect for us. And my thoughts would race back to when I was pregnant with her and all those scary test results had come back on risks of her being genetically abnormal, all those tears I cried then, all the worries and fears during my pregnancy... how I questioned God, cried to Him in my secret place, all those times, yet in my hands now, a healthy baby girl... tears of gratitude would fill my eyes and burn as their trickled down my cheeks.

I thank God for Abigail and I thank God for my husband, for my little family, for God who has shown me a glimpse of how a parents' love can be for their little baby... it surely mirrors only a fraction of the love our Father in Heaven has for us...

Psalms 139:13-14

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it."