The Butterfly Story
The loss of a newborn. A contracted disease. A journey through depression. Mey Chan shares her story of life, loss, and transformation.
In the garden
Life is good.
Life for me had been largely smooth sailing. Sundays are happy days – growing up and discovering God in the big church family. I am blessed with a loving family, good education and stable jobs. I enjoy volunteering: visiting the elderly, serving in church, other volunteer groups, and on the board of Care Community Services Society (CCSS).
In the storm
Life is full of surprises.
In October 2018, I felt my body cycle shift, and thought perhaps I was experiencing early menopause. One day, I was jolted awake with a message in my mind. “Go take a pregnancy test” rung in my mind. Really, God? At my age of 44? At 4am, God brought this verse to my mind:
“He will be a great joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of His birth.” (Luke 1:14)
My pregnancy test was positive – a wonderful surprise for my husband Damien and me. We named our baby, Noah. In the days to come, God continued to drop many words into my mind. I kept a journal to remember the promises.
As time went by, the messages started to feel heavier. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged” (1 Chronicles 22:13). I had an inkling the journey would not be easy.
Mey and husband Damien's pregnancy journey.
Full of excitement, at week 10, we revisited the doctor. The results of the first scan were disturbing.
The doctor advised us that our baby had a high risk of Trisomy 13 – a genetic disorder that causes facial deformations and under-development of major organs. In these cases, the baby’s survival chances in and out of the womb were slim. Subsequent tests and scans further confirmed that our baby’s heart, brain and face had many abnormalities.
The doctors offered little advice or comfort. All they could say was that, “In such cases, most people choose to terminate.”
We were crushed. But we knew, without a doubt, that terminating our baby was not a choice. A baby is a gift from God. We have no right to take life away. We will do our best to take good care of God's gift to us.
We couldn't help but feel lost. We constantly wrestled with our decision. We cried a lot together. At the same time, we were still thankful that God had allowed us to experience parenthood. In the storm of negative reports, we clung on to God’s promises.
“In that day – "Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the LORD, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.” (Isaiah 27:2-3)
We decided that we would make the most of every moment. I had a mental image of Noah as a little farmer boy. Our family of three farming (serving people) together. So we did. I volunteered throughout my pregnancy. We shared our stories with those who were also struggling in life. We enjoyed family times at home and on many outings.
God saw that we were struggling with our skeptical doctors so He made a divine connection. Damien’s brother introduced us to a friend – a well-respected geneticist, just what we needed at that time. She helped us find a new team of caring doctors who greatly respected and supported our decision to keep our baby. They gave us a wonderful journey.
Arrival and farewell
Baby Noah arrived a month early. Despite the doctors’ warnings that he would resemble an alien and be a “blue baby” (with no cries nor the ability to breathe), baby Noah came crying loudly. He looked like any healthy new born would, except for a big cleft lip. In fact, he came out as a big boy for a premature baby – 2.1 kg. What a miracle!
We had eight precious hours with him, until he peacefully slipped away in my arms that stormy, wonderful night.
We were beyond sad. When birth and death crossed paths in one fleeting night, agony hit hard in exhilaration and devastation. The feeling was indescribable. At the same time, we felt unspeakable joy and peace. Joy unshakable. Peace in the midst of suffering. Inexplicable yet so real. Beyond natural, from the supernatural. Knowing we are always in the good hands of God, our heavenly Father, we will be well.
Our little farmer boy did indeed bring great joy and delight to many. We changed. People around us changed too. Baby Noah taught us to treasure life.
A new wave
When it rains, it pours. Our storm did not just blow over after the passing of our baby.
A month after I gave birth, I contracted Chikungunya, a dilapidating mosquito disease. It wrecked my body. I had constant body pains. My sleep was greatly disrupted. I suffered chronic insomnia and fatigue. Coupled with afterbirth hormonal changes, I fell into a deep, dark hole – the dark nights of the mind.
In the cocoon
In September 2019, I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. Psychiatric medicines did not work for me. The psychiatrist and psychologist were making little headway. I was just living in silence – emotionless, empty, in my own world. In desperation, we cried out. God, have You abandoned us?
God may have seemed silent but He never left us. He sent many people to remind us constantly that we are not alone. Family, friends and godly people – pastors and church friends – they all prayed relentlessly for us. They also supported us in practical ways – quietly spent time with us, helped us clean up, and gave us little treats. They cheered us on, on my road to recovery.
Out of darkness
One day, I was introduced to a therapist who knew that I believed in Jesus. I still remember what he said. “Are you ready to let God take full control? Do you trust Him? Do you trust Him to use me? Joy and peace belongs to you. You are an eagle. Fly high and take them back."
So we went on a journey, me and my "all-natural ways" therapist, alongside my pastors who provided great spiritual support. They kept assuring me of hope. "Believe. I will be better. I will be well. Believe. I will emerge a better version of myself."
Step by step, in hope and trust, I worked hard on my road to recovery. The mind and the body healing in tandem.
Today, I am pleased to say that I am well, fully recovered and even better than before. I still have some body aches, but thankfully, I have a physiotherapist friend who is helping me with that. These days, I share my experiences and journey with others who are in similar struggles. I want to let people know, they have hope! God is the ultimate cure. Complete healing comes from the Healer. The cure is in the Maker’s hands.
Many tell me that mental illness will be a cycle for life. You never know when it may hit you again.
I asked God, is this true? Shortly after, a butterfly flew into our house and I started noticing others posting pictures of butterflies on social media.
Then God reminded me of a law in nature: a butterfly will never become a caterpillar again. It is a new creation. Until the day it dies, it remains a butterfly – transformed from its former self. In that moment, I knew. I will never cycle back into the same mental illness again. I am completely healed, transformed by my Creator.
To all who may be in a cocoon of sorts at the moment, know that you do not need to fear. Know that you are never alone. Joy and peace. They belong to you. Always.
Reflect & Respond
How do you feel knowing that God is still with you despite His seeming silence?
Have you suffered the loss of a loved one? How are you encouraged knowing that joy and peace belongs to you? And what steps can you take towards seizing these back? How can you share this encouragement or journey with someone who has suffered the loss of a loved one?
Do you know this God who is the Creator and Healer, and who loved us so much He was willing to go through the pain of sacrificing His only Son for us? Read more about Him here.
You never walk alone. Let us journey with you. Email us, speak to a pastor or leader in our online altar call after services, or join a Connect Group.