LETTER TO MANDY
by Grace Lee
& Infant Loss Awareness
2000 was a date I would never forget. It was the date when I had
to part with my first baby, Mandy. One week prior to this date,
I found out at 18 weeks of pregnancy that my baby was suffering
from anencephaly, a neural tube defect whereby the major portion
of the brain and the top part of the skull failed to develop. It
was a condition incompatible with life. Coming to the decision of
termination was very hard for both my husband and I, but we made
it anyhow. 5 years have gone by, life has moved on, but Mandy is
still warmly remembered. Through this letter, I hope to bring you
the heartfelt message from a loving parent who will never forget
her precious baby.
What year and
age is it in your world, Mandy? How I have missed you, my baby.
It's been 5 years after we said good-bye. Where are you now and
what are you doing? Are you happy where you are? Do you see where
I am? Do you ever wonder when we will meet again? I have Mandy,
these were some of the questions I've wondered when I missed you.
I still remember
the day when we found out that you were a girl. That was the day
when I went back to the specialist's office for the genetic testing
results. Tears filled my eyes, Mandy, doctor told me that you were
a girl. How I have wanted a baby girl. I came back home and I began
to think of a name for you. I remembered at a time I had hoped to
name my first daughter Amanda. Amanda - meaning "Worthy of
love". So there you were, Mandy, that's how you got your name.
And you heard me calling you by that name. Not long after I recovered
from the termination procedure, I met a very nice lady named Mandy
at a party who sat opposite me at our table. We talked all evening.
I recognized the connection right away. The meeting brought me comfort
Did you know
that I wrote a prayer about you, Mandy? I wrote it a few months
after you were gone. At the time, I wrote it because I felt I was
finally healed by God. I realized I was not in torment any more.
I realized that you were already with the Lord. So I was peaceful,
I really was. (Click here
for "Mandy Prayer")
You hear the
lovely song "Mandy" while you read the prayer? Those words
pierce through my heart time after time. "Oh Mandy, you
came and you gave without taking, but I sent you away. Oh Mandy,
you kissed me and stopped me from shaking, and I need you today..."
Have you ever
hated mommy and daddy for letting you go? That we didn't even give
you a chance to come to this world? Oh Mandy, how I wish you could
have come to this world and experienced life. But God's will was
for us to learn through losing you. It was through returning you
to God, by obeying without protesting and loathing that our faith
grew stronger. Do you know what daddy said one night before we parted
with you? He said, "Let this loss wash away our sins!"
Do you feel his sorrow through these words, Mandy? He grieved so
much for losing you.
One thing is
for sure, Mandy, and that is we have never forgotten you. Even now
when we have two girls and another baby coming in a few months,
it doesn't take away the memory of you. You were so special to us,
Mandy, you were our first baby.
noticed the picture of the flower on the prayer? Do you know what
it means to me? It was an answer from God, Mandy!! An amazing revelation!
The story went like this:
The day when
we found out that you had anencephaly, we were utterly devastated.
As we arrived at the specialist's office, we were still hopeful,
as we didn't know. The genetic counselor showed us that my blood
test result was no good. It indicated a large opening in the fetus.
I did not believe her. I did not believe that it would ever happen
to me. And then the technician did an in-depth ultrasound scan for
me and confirmed the condition. You had, indeed, anencephaly.
Oh Mandy, did
you ever realize how that moment had seized me? I heard these voices
churning inside my head saying, "How could this be true?"
"Why is this happening?" "Are they sure about this?"
"What went wrong?" "Nothing can be done? I'd better
accept it..." "What am I going to do?" ......
A lady doctor
then came in to explain to me the seriousness of your condition
and that your life would not be sustained. I then realized there
was no hope of saving you. My heart started to weep. She then explained
to me my options. There weren't many options, Mandy, not many that
would really help us, I thought. Daddy was quiet; he was silently
suffering with mommy. He also realized there was no remedy. That
moment was like a thousand years to us, Mandy. Oh, how our hearts
We were then
escorted to a conference room where we could have some privacy to
discuss things, but I just wanted to be alone for a moment. So I
went into the bathroom and cried. Oh Mandy, how I've howled! The
wailing haunted the entire clinic. I longed to be held tight, but
I felt as if no embrace would ever comfort my deep anguish and grief.
I realized that I nonetheless must face up to a reality that was
cruel but unmistaken.
I finally composed
myself again to step out and return to the conference room where
daddy was waiting. I sat down. Daddy came to me and held my hand.
He was lost with words, but he knew no words would ever fit the
scene. I was hopelessly staring with tears in my eyes. I felt a
part of me leaving the body as if it was too painful to bear and
to remain within myself. That part of me seemed calm and with perspective.
She was observing the moment. She was there in control of the other
half of herself that was falling apart. That was how I saved my
I sat there
sobbing while daddy was trying to coordinate with the nurse about
the termination. The nurse signaled to daddy to step out for a minute,
and I heard her saying, "...The earliest we can get you in
is next week. I'm so sorry about that..."
So we waited
week, Mandy, was agony. You were at 18 weeks, and already moving
in my womb. Every time you moved, my heart sank. There you were
still living, but soon you would not be. How that thought tore me
apart over and over again. I was tired, fatigued; I was lifeless.
I didn't understand why I couldn't have you, but I realized that
you wouldn't have survived even if I insisted on having you. There
was nothing I could have done but to pray.
I prayed every
minute for days that God would forgive me for not having you. I
prayed that God would receive you in heaven. During those days,
I felt myself drawing closer and closer to God through constant
prayers. I still remember asking God this question in my most desperate
pleading one day, as if I've come face-to-face with Him, "Lord,
does an unborn baby have a soul? If so, will you please receive
my baby's soul into heaven?" I pleaded and pleaded. That was
the only prayer I could say repeatedly thereafter.
On around the
fourth day of waiting, I heard God talking to me, Mandy, He did!!
He whispered to me the story of Abraham.
And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Take now
your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land
of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the
mountains of which I shall tell you...'
Do you know
what Abraham did, Mandy? He obeyed God. He took Isaac up to the
mountains and offered him to God. But do you know what God did,
Mandy? God is a merciful God. He was merely testing Abraham's faith.
He had already prepared a lamb for sacrifice instead of Isaac. How
awesome and admirable Abraham was, Mandy! Those days prior to and
after the termination, I carried on living by reminding myself what
Abraham did. He had faith. He obeyed God. So I said to myself, "Obey
God and submit to His will." And I did.
I was lying on the bed in a dream state. I thought I was asleep,
but I felt as if I knew what was happening around me. There were
many activities going on. I remembered feeling the presence of your
grandpa, my deceased father, momentarily. I remembered feeling as
if you were lifted away. I heard some voices; whispering, gentle
voices chattering. But when I woke, I did not remember clearly what
happened. Just a very vague memory, fragments of visions. However,
something changed after that night. I felt lightened somehow. I
felt as if I've finally come to terms with the termination. I felt
brave enough to face up to it. That day was October 30, 2000, one
day before Halloween. I suddenly found this strength to live the
festival. I said to daddy that I would like to welcome the "trick-or-treaters"
the next evening. "I love children", I convinced myself.
So he went out to buy candies for them.
in the morning on Halloween day, I spent some time in the back garden,
looking at the flowers to cheer myself up. I suddenly noticed that
out of the green leaves of a particular plant that had never flowered,
there came out with one single eye-catching flower in full bloom.
It was a very familiar flower but I didn't know of its name at the
time. I remember daddy came out at that point and I showed it to
him. I said to him that there must be a message in this flower,
and daddy nodded. We had no idea until much later on that it was
God with us, talking to us through this flower before we had to
go through the most dreadful day of giving you up, Mandy.
The day came
when we had to part. At the crack of dawn, daddy admitted me into
the hospital. You were still moving inside me, but I was calm and
ready. As I was wheeled into the surgery room, the doctor comforted
me by telling me that I made the right decision for the best interest
of everyone. He put on me the gas mask, I closed my eyes...... When
I woke up again, I was already in a different room. As my eyes opened,
tears came streaming out. I felt my tummy with my hands and realized
you had really gone. "Bye-bye, baby..." Mommy was sad
but mommy accepted it.
I looked at
my watch, it was 9:30 a.m.. The nurse came over with a sympathetic
smile on her face. She asked if I was hungry. I told her that I
would eat something. She brought me some water and crackers. I ate
while consoling myself in my heart. Tears kept rolling down, but
I kept chewing. "I have to live on... I have to keep going..."
One week after,
your grandma - my mom - visited us. Mom is always so kind and understanding,
she took such good care of me. Her visit helped to heal not just
my body but also my soul. Her care was there reminding me that I'm
very much loved. While she was staying, I told her about this beautiful
flower, Mandy, and I led her into the garden to see it. She said,
"Oh, that's Bird of Paradise..."
of Paradise!!!" I finally clicked. God replied my question!
"Yes, Mandy flew to heaven".
Mandy, I believed that was where you went, and I imagine that is
where you are now, and it brings me comfort thinking about it every
time. And then, Mandy, do you know how many "Bird of Paradise"
flowers we now have? Each year, we have a total of twenty to thirty
"Bird of Paradise" flowers in full bloom!! Every time
I walk past them, I'm filled with joy knowing that God's blessing
is with us. Since you, Mandy, we've had two beautiful girls, Mary
and April. I thank God for blessing us with more children over the
years. Mandy, do you share my joy? I hope you do, I hope you are
up there in heaven watching over us like an angel. I know you are,
for I feel you. I feel your presence every time I think of you.
I use to wear
a mother-of-pearl pendant around my neck to signify you. I bought
that pendant when I was still carrying you in my womb. But I now
understand that your spirit is with me always, that I do not need
to lay my emotions on a pendant to remember you. You're in my heart,
Mandy, forever in my heart.
So Mandy, what
is there from now on? What other work is there to do? I know that
you inspired me to write this letter so I can share with others.
I know that you also have a compassionate heart and you feel for
people's grief and pain when they go through the same hurtful experience
as we did. I know that if I can share my story with those parents
who lost their pregnancy or infant, then it will not only encourage
them, but also help with healing my own heart.
life does move on after you. I didn't believe it would, but I somehow
strived on. I realized you were more than a baby to me; you were
a teacher as well as an inspirer. You came to show me a life lesson
and gave me enlightenment. Do you know that if it wasn't you, I
may never have experienced God the way I did? The day when I finally
found peace in my heart about you, I was sitting alone on the couch.
I closed my eyes and prayed. I felt this glow all around me. I saw
the vision of Jesus Christ placing you in my arms. A great sense
of warmth rushed through me, I could feel you and smell you. Such
peace, aaah Mandy, such peace. Only the Holy Spirit could have imparted
me with such tranquility. I was rested, Mandy, I rested my grief
and sorrow, anguish and hurtfulness. I accepted healing and I moved
you're still lovingly remembered. One day when Mary and April grow
old enough to understand, I will tell them your story. They will
realize that they have a sister in heaven. They will rejoice that
God protects and guides through knowing you exist. They will find
comfort in understanding that they are an extension of you to me,
an extension of God's unconditional love. And they will also realize
that their purposes in life are as unique as yours.
Mandy, I love
you. Always have been, always will.
© 2006 Grace Lee, Milpitas CA
Spina bifida are serious birth defects that occur when the neural
tube fails to close properly during fetal development. Anencephaly
is a lethal defect, and spina bifida results in serious long-term
morbidity and disability. Before folic acid fortification, approximately
4,000 pregnancies resulted in 2,500--3,000 births in the United
States each year affected by one of these two neural tube defects."
indicates that 0.4 mg (400 ug) per day of folic acid, one of the
B vitamins, will reduce the number of cases of neural tube defects
(NTDs). In order to reduce the frequency of NTDs and their resulting
disability, the United States Public Health Service recommends that:
All women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable
of becoming pregnant should consume 0.4 mg of folic acid per day
for the purpose of reducing their risk of having a pregnancy affected
with spina bifida or other NTDs. Because the effects of higher intakes
are not well known but include complicating the diagnosis of vitamin
B((12)) deficiency, care should be taken to keep total folate consumption
at less than 1 mg per day, except under the supervision of a physician.
Women who have had a prior NTD-affected pregnancy are at high risk
of having a subsequent affected pregnancy. When these women are
planning to become pregnant, they should consult their physicians
of Health & Human Services: Centers for Disease Control and
Time to Decide, A Time to Heal"
- For parents making difficult decisions about babies they love.
Related Web Sites:
Infant Loss Support, Inc. - www.nationalshareoffice.com
A Heartbreaking Choice
of Rare Disorders -
Alliance of Genetic Support
Groups - www.geneticalliance.org