Lying here, I feel love washing over me, covering me head to toe, the inevitable inbound wave. I can’t avoid it. I feel the gift of life, just now, just in this moment. I am in hospital with my baby in my arms. My beautiful baby boy. I relish the joy of him…his perfect mouth […]
Lying here, I feel love washing over me, covering me head to toe, the inevitable inbound wave. I can’t avoid it. I feel the gift of life, just now, just in this moment.
I am in hospital with my baby in my arms. My beautiful baby boy. I relish the joy of him…his perfect mouth and fat little fingers, his immaculate fingernails, his hearty cry. I smile.
But my joy dies as quickly as it came, and of course the wave ebbs; all waves do. In the pit of my stomach is a clenching sickness. I have nowhere, no-one, nothing. How will I keep this perfect child alive?
My name is Som.
It’s as if there is only me and my baby. But of course his father must exist, too – even though I have scrubbed him from my mind, disinfected every nook in my brain that his memory stained. He lied. He already had a wife and children. How could I have been so stupid?
I can hear the woman – no, the mother – next to me. She screams in agony. She has no money for medicine. As the nurse moves around her, the flimsy curtain separating us flutters. In a fleeting instant I glimpse what might have been my own fate: sickly sweat, blood and pain. Her baby died, and I feel guilty.
My baby lives and I can’t look after him. But, oh, how beautiful he is!
I think about my own mother. I want her to comfort me, I want it so badly. But I have invited the monster of shame into our household.
‘Your sick father needs looking after’, she said. ‘We need money for food’, she said. ‘We can’t feed another mouth’, she said. ‘You must give that child away’, she said.
The memory kills me inside.
A lady from the hospital comes to me. She has a different aura. She carries hope. She wears it openly, so that even I can see. O, what a garment…hope. I long to wear it. I close my eyes, but the lady doesn’t go away. She is still there, waiting for me to be ready. She touches me gently. She tells me she has good news for me.
I don’t believe her. I open my eyes, but only because it’s not polite to feign asleep. She tells me there is a place for me, somewhere to go. There are people who will help me, protect me, care for me.
She says it’s called Home of Grace and I can live there with my baby for two months, while I find my feet again. There are other mothers-to-be and new mothers and babies there too. I could make decisions about what’s right for my baby, without pressure. Often things change for the better, she tells me.
They have experienced counsellors, nurses and staff who will help me with everything I need. They won’t judge me. I can ‘just be’.
Home of Grace. What is that? I must have said that out loud, because I hear her explaining.
It is run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT) and its purpose is to offer hope to mothers like me and to our babies, hope for a good future.
But why is this lady talking to me? She must be mistaking me for someone else. Of course I can’t go to this Home of Grace. I am not Christian. Most of Thailand’s people are Buddhist, including me and my baby. O the pain of yet another heartache, another hope crushed!
She sees the look on my face and I think she reads my mind. There are no barriers, Som, she tells me. They accept everyone at Home of Grace. It’s free and you don’t have to be Christian.
Here comes the wave again, the wave of hope, the glimmer of a happy future. I will go to the Home of Grace with my baby and I will let the Christians help me. Am I being selfish for wanting this?
I look into the eyes of the most amazing gift in my life, knowing he can’t see me properly yet. But I see him.
Yes, with grace and hope, I can do this. I can accept this gift.
This story is based on interviews with a new mother and with staff of the Home of Grace in Bangkok. Identifying details have been changed in order to protect ‘Som’s’ privacy. While the dialogue is imagined, the circumstances in which ‘Som’ finds herself and the way in which her life is changed are accurate reflections of the lives of the mothers coming to Home of Grace and the women who care for them.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner churches in Thailand at https://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/thailand/