Posted on July 19 2022
“You have seen that word, you have read about other people’s stories, and you get a sense that it is devastating. But you never really think that you would become one of the statistics of ‘one in four’.”
In this month’s edition of Motherhood Diaries, Goh Xin Lei and her husband, Adrian Ang, open up their hearts and lives to share with us about love, marriage, happiness and road to pregnancy after going through the pain of a miscarriage.
This is their story and testimony of strength.
Adrian, On Screen, Off Screen
Adrian and I were schoolmates in secondary school slightly more than 20 years ago. And no, before you think we have been in a long-term romantic relationship since then, that was not the case. It was also not love at first sight. We were at most acquaintances. In fact, we barely knew each other and spoke no more than five sentences over the four secondary school years. But it is strange how life works out some times. We reconnected in mid-2009 through MSN because we coincidentally had the exact same status, which was a phrase from the lyrics to a song by Dishwalla, ‘Angels or Devils’. That prompted him to ‘ping’ me and we caught up about life during our teenage years. Thereafter in that same year, we went on a trip to an orphanage in Siem Reap and that was when he made his move!
Other than being Xiao Ming on screen, Adrian is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at HEPMIL Media Group. I am extremely proud of the good he has chosen to do with both profiles. He started the Xiao Ming persona only in 2012 when he started SGAG, and trust me, I definitely did not plan to marry a man who would prank his wife at every opportunity! Until today, many strangers, new friends and maybe even his clients do not quite know how to process the real-life Adrian. This is because the essence of his being when you see him in person comes off as vastly different from his ‘reel life’ character. What you see is the funny bone and the cheeky side of him, which bears only 5% similarity to him off social media. As his wife, I have the privilege to witness the tough days and nights, the number of times he has walked away from what seemed like a shortcut to success, and to know his heart for his staff, his family and his friends (and not forgetting his plants!). I wish this alter ego would never converge with the person at home!
The First Journey
Our first pregnancy came after two years of trying. We were over the moon to finally see a positive sign on the kit! Our mental states definitely evolved over those two long and hard years. It went from “If it comes it comes.” to “Hey, this is taking some time, are we okay?”, to ‘I don’t think this is ever happening for us, but let’s still keep the faith’. Then eventually, “Let’s lead our wonderful two-people life”.
Adrian: My wife and I had been trying to conceive for close to two years with no success. So, when my wife surprised me one afternoon as I woke up from my nap with two lines on the pregnancy test kit, I was in a state of disbelief. After two long years of nothing but disappointment, one wasted test kit after another, it was finally happening! My wife is pregnant, and we might be having our own baby!
I remember clearly how excited I was seeing and hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time at the gynaecologist clinic. The little thing in my wife’s womb is a living being! Little did I know that that indicator of life would also be the one that would cause us the biggest heartbreak.
The Day After…
One day after we found out that our baby had gone to heaven, I went to watch the sea, hoping that the waves would take away the grief. It was an unimaginable reality for both of us. We learnt that we grieve differently.
For me, it was tears, questions, guilt and then more tears. Nothing in life can really prepare you for the emotional valley that comes along suffering a miscarriage, regardless of when the loss happened. You have seen that word, you have read about other people’s stories, and you get a sense that it is devastating. However, you never really think that you would become one of the statistics of ‘one in four’. Even though our dearest families and closest friends showered us with love and care, I kept the real emotions to myself. I even tried convincing myself that I should not wallow in self-pity. I am glad Adrian took the courage to share our story on his platform because through that, we received so much love and encouragement from strangers. Furthermore, it was only after reading a few hundreds of stories that I realised I was not alone. Until today, we have strangers walking up to us to wish us well. We are blessed.
Adrian: What was supposed to be a routine week nine scan, turned out to be our worst nightmare - our baby had no heartbeat. At that very moment, my world came crashing down. I knew that miscarriages happen, but I never imagined it did to us. Everything felt almost surreal, like my soul had left my body. All was a blur. I remember driving back home with my wife and suddenly, tears came streaming down my face as everything sank in. We had just lost our precious baby. When we finally got back home, reality really set in and our emotions hit us like a truck. We hugged and cried for hours. We couldn’t understand why life had to be this cruel to us. Why our baby? Why us?
Even though our baby was only nine weeks, it was still a precious life lost, loved one lost, our precious baby with a heartbeat lost. We should allow ourselves the time and space to grief properly. There was no need for either of us to put up a strong front, hide our emotions because then we were not being truthful to each other. Additionally, we allowed ourselves to feel sad. It was a good thing that the miscarriage happened during the Circuit Breaker, so we didn’t have to face colleagues, friends, and family. We were not emotionally and mentally ready to do so.
A week after our miscarriage, I announced this unfortunate news on my Instagram profile to share my grief with the community that have journeyed with me through the years. Many dropped me messages of comfort and support following the post. But what I did not expect was the hundreds of messages and stories from people who have been through similar circumstances. I remember reading these stories in the middle of the night with tears streaming down my cheek because for the first time, I felt like someone out there actually understood my pain and grief. I’m not alone. Reading those personal stories and words of love, comfort and support really helped pull me out of a very dark place that I was in. For sure, that is something that I would forever be thankful for.
Second Chapter Of Motherhood
Having gone through a miscarriage wavered my hopes of ever becoming a mother. I was not so keen on planning too far ahead in terms of life with Adrian beyond just the two of us. I kept thinking that what I have now may be lost in an instant.
It took some time before we became pregnant with our current baby-to-be. In the time period between the miscarriage and becoming pregnant again, Adrian and I focused a lot on being happy and contented as a couple. We did not place our worth and marriage success on starting a family.
Adrian: After the miscarriage, I approached conceiving again with honestly, very little hope. I didn’t dare to hope anymore because hope is a very dangerous feeling to have. With hope comes the potential for more disappointment and heart break, and I wasn’t sure if I could experience yet another round of that. I guess it was my coping defence mechanism. We decided that we would just focus on our own happiness and take things naturally without expecting too much.
This pregnancy journey has been so surreal. Having been through a miscarriage stripped off my ability to feel genuine happiness with this pregnancy. Adrian and I were cautiously happy and reserved expressing our joy only after we crossed the fourth month of pregnancy. I spoke about this baby hypothetically at the start, as a mechanism to prevent myself from becoming disappointed again. It was only after our closest friends spoke to us about making a choice between enjoying the moment and over-worrying that we decided on the former. Now, I am savouring every joyous moment crossing each milestone and also learning to embrace all forms of discomfort. Some days, I still cannot believe that we’ve reached this far into our third trimester and that this is all becoming a reality for us after so many years.
Motherhood was once a distant concept to me. But I would not change what I have experienced with Adrian to be where we are today. Like work, it is going to be challenging. Yet unlike work, where you can put a pause on climbing up the corporate ladder, I don’t think there’s a pause in motherhood. It requires endless giving and mindfulness. I believe this blessing was perfect timing for us. Adrian and I are a lot more mature and stable as a couple and will give parenting our best shot.
Unlike the perfect plans we endeavour to execute at work, motherhood plans can become derailed unexpectedly. Bite on it, go forth with your life, and take your husband along for the ride. You’ll soon realise that you cannot connect the dots moving forward, you can only connect them looking backwards, and you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect to your future.
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Photo Credits: @sgagxiaoming on Instagram