We came to our country of service with a 13-month-old in tow. After the first few months of unmet expectations of jumping into ministry with my husband, I declared we needed another baby to keep me busy. All day, every day with a babbling toddler and similar-sounding babbling aunties outside (because I couldn’t speak more than 5 words of the language) had me bored!
I got pregnant quickly and was immediately excited to have something to do, something to plan for.
At around 9 weeks, my body started feeling off. I knew in my gut something wasn’t right, but I tried to stay positive for the next few days.
After some outward signs of something truly wrong, I decided to go to the local hospital to get checked out. At the time, we lived on the very outskirts of a huge city. So far out that one mile out of our little town, and we were immediately into farmland. All that to say, I knew the local hospital wasn’t going to be anything to write home about, but I wanted to start there instead of trekking 2 hours into the international hospital.
Since I could speak almost nothing of the language, I took a local Sister with me to translate. The hospital was dirty and dilapidated. I immediately decided I wouldn’t let them poke or prod—external exams only!
I was led into a large exam room with only one bed, but with 4 nurses crowded around. I exposed my abdomen to let them do an ultrasound. As I lay there, the nurses were chattering back and forth with my friend. They were surely commenting on my fair skin, eyes and hair. Since they knew my friend could speak English, they pelted her with questions of how to say this and that. It was endless, bubbly conversation while I lay there, trying to control my emotions, vulnerable and exposed.
The nurse doing the ultrasound flatly told my friend the results: no heartbeat. My friend, being the compassionate soul she is, carefully told me the news. I was so, so grateful she was by my side in this culture-clashing moment.
The nurse suggested I wait a week and come back to confirm her findings. I definitely knew I wouldn’t be returning! Instead, my husband and I went into the city to the international hospital. There weren’t as many nurses in the room, and the doctor had a smidge more compassion (in English!), but the results were the same: no heartbeat.
Throughout the entire day of the second exam, the Lord had been pouring out His peace on us. It can only be described just as He did…beyond our understanding. Over our delicious Indian meal (a rare treat), we praised God for knowing more than we did and clinging to His promises of doing what is the absolute best for us all.
The following days were not pretty. We had decided to let the baby pass naturally instead of a D&C. The day it happened, I locked myself in our room (that happened to have an en suite bathroom—what a gift for this exact moment!), journaled, cried, and prayed as this little life exited my body. It was awful, and yet that peace was still present. Glory to God alone.
In the following weeks, I waited for my cycle to return. Dr. Google said it would come back 4-6 weeks after the miscarriage. By week 8, I was worried. I had also been violently sick, vomiting everything that entered my mouth, for a few days at a time.
My husband thought of it before I did: take a pregnancy test. I laughed it off thinking he was crazy, but obliged. The expired pregnancy test declared two little pink lines. I was both shocked and a little hesitant. To be sure, I bought another one—still positive!
I was young and uneducated in this area because I didn’t even know I could ovulate without my menstrual cycle returning! A few months later we went to Thailand where we had a much more western doctor experience and she confirmed there was definitely a little healthy babe! I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t fear during most of the rest of the pregnancy. Yet, the peace was always waiting, ready for me to grab hold of it.
Over the years, I’ve learned even more differences of how my passport culture and culture of service handle medical issues. Some of the differences break my heart for the millions who have endured compassion-less care. Yet, the community here rises up like no other I’ve seen to bridge the gap of care for their loved one. It’s a beautiful sight to see His hands and feet still at work, just differently.
Have you experienced any medical culture clashes? How have you had to choose to see your culture of service through the lens of God’s perspective rather than your own?