In a small rural hospital in Udon Thani, a region known for being the poorest in Thailand, Wongduan, a young pregnant mother, waited anxiously for word from her doctor. The day’s heat was bearing down on her.
She wiped beads of perspiration from her brow, rested her hands on her swollen abdomen, and leaned her head against the wall. Feeling nauseated, she closed her eyes, hoping to rest, but the memory of her two earlier miscarriages was haunting her.
When Wongduan was a thin 25-year-old she married the love of her life, a farm boy from another village. The young couple was happy and wanted to build a big family together.
So, after two years of marriage, Wongduan stopped taking birth control pills.
But on a hot summer afternoon, as Wongduan bent down to transplant rice sprouts into the wet soil of a rice paddy, she felt a sudden, strong cramp in her abdomen.
“I didn’t know I was pregnant until I saw blood running down my leg. I was horrified.”
To her dismay, Wongduan was informed by her doctor that the baby had died. After treatment, the doctor ordered bed rest in order for her to regain strength and prepare herself for the next pregnancy.
A few months later, Wongduan became pregnant again. She and her husband were hopeful. But another storm loomed.
Wongduan weighed 103 lbs before her second pregnancy. She weighed the same four months after conception. The news was alarming — she had an ectopic pregnancy. The only way to save her life was to induce labor immediately.
After receiving a labor-inducing drug, the battle began. Wongduan endured contraction after contraction for two days.
At 3:00 a.m. on the second day, Wongduan pushed until she delivered a stillborn baby, whose heart was outside of its chest. Wongduan and her husband were devastated again.
Now, waiting in the doctor’s office, Wongduan was startled when the nurse called her name. She followed the nurse and sat down nervously as the doctor smiled and broke the news, “Congratulations, your baby is normal and looks healthy.”
Relieved, Wongduan thanked the doctor and walked out to meet her husband.
“I was very afraid that there would be a repeated history. My husband and I were so distressed that we couldn’t handle any more bad news.”
With the good news, Wongduan took great care to stay healthy and look after her baby as she prepared to be a parent. She had only babysat her nieces and nephews, not raised a child of her own. She wasn’t sure what to do.
One day, Pipat, a Compassion Child Survival Program coordinator from Na Riang Church, visited Wongduan’s older sister, who was already registered in the program.
Pipat learned of Wongduan’s traumatic experiences and decided to register her into the program.
“We put her into the program as soon as we could. Her doctor said that it was almost impossible for her to have another child. And if she ever did, it would come with great risks.”
The hope of every Child Survival Program staff member is to see every mother and baby healthy, self-reliant, exhibiting continual development and, most importantly, trusting in God.
Another Child Survival Program coordinator shares,
“Currently, there are 30 out of 800 families living in the communities we serve that are Christians; and only six out of 35 mothers in this Child Survival Program. The rest are Buddhists, including Wongduan.”
When Wongduan joined the Child Survival Program, she was eight months’ pregnant. She immediately received nutritional help and gained more weight. She enjoyed the fellowship and interaction with the other mothers.
“I enjoy coming to the [program] a lot because the staff always teaches me new songs. Singing makes me happy.
“I also get to exchange ideas and experiences with other moms, who are more experienced than I am.
“One thing I learned there is how to control my emotion caused by hormonal changes. Because of the two miscarriages, I never experienced the mood swings. Now I know how to deal with myself.”
She learned about calcium in small fish and vitamins in local vegetables to keep herself healthy. In the near future she will be learning new income-generating skills, such as weaving baskets.
“My life would be different if I hadn’t been a part of the Child Survival Program. I would have stayed at home with my limited knowledge and learned nothing new. Now, I have teachers who not only teach but encourage me in my living.”
Wongduan gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Tien, a Thai name translated as “candle.” Tien was born strong, stubborn and kicking her way into this world.
Child Survival Program staff have helped provide basic needs such as milk, eggs and clothes for Wongduan and her baby, which has helped to reduce expenses. Wongduan has also received financial support to pay for transportation and food when she has to go to town to see her doctor.
Today, a warm, sunny day, Wongduan holds her newborn baby and celebrates life.