We Prayed for a Baby for Seven Years
by Amor Aurelio B. Alvarez
“Where’s the baby?” This was the question that baffled my wife, Maricar, and me at the first ultrasound exam.
It was the year 2000. We had only been married for a few months then, and the thought of becoming expectant parents was exciting! So when the exam suddenly turned into a search, we started to take stock and ask ourselves, We’re pregnant…right? After all, all the signs were there:
“We’re pregnant, right?”
As if following a script, the medical technician instructed us to consult our doctor, who would be more qualified to interpret the results. It didn’t really hit us until we finally went back to the doctor, who explained the official diagnosis:
“You had a false positive. You’re not pregnant.”
As it turns out, Maricar has a complex endocrine disorder called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which caused hormonal imbalance in her body that triggered the “positive” result on the pregnancy test. We would later understand that this was also why she had grown up with an irregular menstrual cycle, erratic mood swings, a predisposition to weight gain, among a host of other symptoms associated with her condition.
As we left the doctor’s clinic, the reality of what we were told started to hit us. By the time we reached the stairs, our knees buckled, and we ended up sitting on the steps, tears streaming down our faces as we began to cry in each other’s arms.
The days, weeks, and months that followed were difficult, to say the least. But soon, we embarked on an active campaign to get pregnant: frequent check-ups, consulting with specialists, undergoing a battery of laboratory tests, and taking medication to regulate Maricar’s menstrual cycle.
“Maybe you’re just stressed,” one doctor offered, which later resulted in Maricar stepping down from her position as the Philippine Director of Guidelines International Ministries, an international ministry that reaches 100 countries through radio, television, books, conferences and seminars, and the Internet.
As if her PCOS and other health issues were not enough, Maricar’s health was challenged again in 2005.
One day, while cleaning our apartment, she reached down to pick something up from the floor and—snap! One of the discs on her lower back had herniated from her spine, pinching the largest nerve and causing excruciating pain down to her right leg.
This led to two hospital confinements, four expensive sessions with a chiropractor, even more tests, months of physical therapy, and countless doses of pain medication. For months, the pain was so severe that Maricar would twitch uncontrollably until she passed out. At one point, she had to be administered morphine and cancer-grade medication to relieve her pain.
One evening, the doctor assigned to give her next dose of morphine was running late. As the morphine began to wear out and the pain crept back in, she began to hallucinate, convinced that the Lord was about to take her home. I had her vital signs checked so I knew she was not in any danger, but how I wished I could spare her from all the pain.
If I could only trade places with her, I would do it in a heartbeat! I felt so helpless in that moment.
After more than a year, Maricar eventually recovered from her slipped disc and learned to manage her pain. But all this added to the bleakness of our dream to have a baby. We were told that while it was not impossible, the current condition made it more difficult. Nevertheless, we returned to the doctor and got Maricar back on another series of diagnostic medical examinations.
By October 2006, another year had passed, and we were tired from all of it—the check-ups, the expensive fertility treatments that yielded no results. Our resources were depleted, so we decided to drop everything and start again the following year.
We surrendered to the Lord our desire to have a baby, believing that He is in control and His will is always perfect.
Meanwhile, Maricar and I continued to pour ourselves into God’s work. I had succeeded Maricar as the Philippine Director of Guidelines, and we were experiencing incredible growth in the ministry! As an artist, I had always enjoyed graphic design, and more and more opportunities came up for me to use this gift in Guidelines—designing newsletters, book covers, and the presentations that our founder Dr. Harold Sala used in his speaking engagements all over the world.
More than just our bosses, Dr. Sala and his wife, Darlene, have been our mentors, guiding, discipling, and correcting us in our growth journey as individuals and as a couple/family. They were like our second parents who lovingly opened their lives to us, cared for our well-being and constantly modelled the amazing love of Jesus. Many times, we would cry on their shoulders, especially about our longing to have a baby.
In November 2006, Dr. Sala brought me along on his ministry trip to Dumaguete, where we ministered to pastors and their families who were serving in the remote, impoverished areas of the region. On one session, he had just finished speaking on 2 Corinthians 4:1, where it says:
After the message, everyone broke into small groups for prayer. Dr. Sala joined the group I was in, and after praying for the needs of the pastors, he began praying for me and Maricar, who was back in Manila.
It was the most heartfelt prayer I have ever experienced. It felt as though we were the only two people there, in the presence of the Lord, and he was pleading my case.
Right after the prayer, he embraced me tight, like a father, reassuring me that God’s best is yet to come.
The following month, Maricar started experiencing the “symptoms” again. We laughed it off and humoured ourselves into buying a pregnancy test and found this on the strip: “+”. We laughed some more! And tried it again… and again… and the results always came out the same! Not wanting to get all worked up about this, I said we should just go back to the doctor and get an official confirmation.
This was December 12, 2006—just a couple of months after we had decided to surrender our desires to the Lord, and a month after Dr. Sala and I had that momentous prayer. And in a small clinic in Pasig City, looking at the monitor of the ultrasound machine, there he was—our first child at five weeks old, heart beating and all. We’re going to have a baby!
Nine months later, Maricar gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Adrian Adam. And two years later, we welcomed another amazing baby boy, Azriel Aiden. Today, they are growing up to be smart, young guys who are both coming into their own.
Looking back, we thank the Lord for making us wait seven years before blessing us with our first baby. It gave Maricar and me the opportunity to thoroughly get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company. In those seven years, we spent many days and nights talking for hours, catching late-night movies at the mall, serving in all sorts of church activities together, going out on intimate dinners, and countless nights dreaming of the day that we would be blessed with a child. Having waited all those years also gave us a deeper appreciation for our kids, realising they are truly gracious gifts from God.
There are periods in our lives when our situation may appear impossible. But isn’t our God the God of the impossible?
This is a Gospel truth that has taught us who God is. And so, whenever we face insurmountable odds, let’s remember whose we are in light of eternity—we are His children, whom He loves, protects, and provides for against all odds.
This story was originally published in Against All Odds: Coincidence or Miracle? IV. This version has been adapted and edited by YMI.