SUBANG JAYA: Christopher David is an adorable and happy eight-month-old with beautiful eyes and a sweet smile. But it took his mother 12 long years, which included four stillbirths, before she had him.
The stillbirths were the result of complications from high blood pressure and diabetes that developed during her pregnancies.
This makes the child a “rainbow baby”, a term given to infants born to families who have lost one or more children due to incidents such as miscarriage – categorised as pregnancies before 24 or 20 weeks – or stillbirth.
Speaking with FMT for Mother’s Day, 39-year-old housewife Nasira David, a UNHCR refugee from Pakistan, shared her long and painful journey that culminated, thankfully, in a happy ending.
Nasira had previously delivered two healthy baby girls with no issues and had hoped for a baby boy. In 2010, two years after her second daughter was born, she became pregnant again.
During monthly checkups, she was assured there were no problems. However, in her eighth month, Nasira learnt her blood pressure was high – and was later informed by a midwife that her baby no longer had a heartbeat.
“I remember feeling very sad because I did not expect it at all,” she said, adding that the child would have been a baby girl.
A year later, she conceived again. Similarly, during her seventh month, her blood pressure increased.
Sensing no movement from her baby one day, she called for the midwife and was devastated to find out her child – again, a girl – had died.
The following year, it happened again. Her blood pressure rose and, in her eighth month, she discovered the baby wasn’t moving. Once more, her infant was no longer alive.
“I felt so hopeless. Yet, at the same time, the dream of having a baby boy still lived in me. My husband even suggested I adopt a child, but I didn’t want to,” she shared.
All this happened while she and her family were in Pakistan. Two years later, in 2014, they arrived in Malaysia.
In 2016, she was happy to learn she was pregnant again. But now, she developed both high blood pressure and diabetes. She lost her baby in her eighth month.
Much to her grief, it was a boy. “I started crying when I found out, and all my hopes came crashing down,” she recalled.
A different outcome
In December 2020, Nasira discovered she was with child yet again. This time around, things were different: she found out about Klinik Kecheerian, a clinic in Subang Jaya that provides free antenatal care for refugees, among other services.
“She came to us very early, so I started seeing her from the first trimester,” said obstetrics and gynaecology specialist Debbie Teh, who set about preventing Nasira’s previous complications from happening once more by prescribing the necessary medications.
“We also had a team for Nasira, which included an eye doctor because diabetes could cause complications with one’s vision,” Teh told FMT.
“Additionally, we had a pharmacist teach her how to store and inject insulin. Our social workers also looked into her nutrition because, with diabetes, she had to watch her diet.”
Nasira attended appointments at the clinic every month, which turned to weekly visits when the baby was almost due. Klinik Kecheerian also provided a blood pressure machine and a glucometer – a device to measure the concentration of glucose in the blood – for Nasira to use at home.
“It’s the period between doctor visits that are crucial for pregnant mothers, and [refugee mothers] need to be educated about how important it is. If a mother only visits the clinic once a month, a lot of things can happen within that period before the follow-up appointment,” Teh explained.
She recalled the day she told Nasira the gender of her baby. “When I told her it was a boy, she started tearing up. She had waited so long for this child.”
Finally, last Aug 20, Nasira safely delivered her rainbow baby through a Caesarean-section.
“When I first heard his cry, I was so happy. I kept asking the doctor, ‘Is he okay?’ The doctor assured me he was,” Nasira said with a laugh. She named her long-awaited baby boy Christopher.
On her hopes for him when he grows up, she shared: “I want him to become a pastor because I had prayed to God: ‘Grant me a healthy baby boy and I will give him to You’.
“With Christopher here, I don’t remember the past anymore,” she added with a joyful smile.