A bit about myself
According to my birth certificate you would call me by that name and I would not respond because about a month old my parents decided to call me Heta, Heta Helu then – Heta Pohiva now. No, it is not a nickname but there is a cultural belief that when I got sick as an infant it had something to do with the name I was given. I have eleven siblings who are married except for four. Two who are not married by choice and two who are not considered of wed age. If you want to know how things were growing up it was like if you give an excuse to stay from church, mom would say – “if you are not dying, you can still go to church”. That is how Tema and ‘Iteni Helu raised us. Mother’s LDS upbringing mixed with father’s army/scout background. That answer haunts me every time not only when I decide to stay from church but also when I lack to say my daily prayers, scripture reading, etc. So I grew up feeling that all this was routine, little did I know my parents were only building a foundation of where to turn when I felt the only option was to drift further away from the Lord. I came to appreciate these routines as I gained a personal testimony of my own in preparation to serve a mission in the Nuku’alofa Tonga Mission from February 2010 to August 2011 and later have a family of my own in 2013 with my husband, Sione Pohiva, a month after graduating from Brigham Young University – Hawaii in Accounting.
My love for the gospel
My life has experienced the consequences of dating at a young age, choosing to forego my young women standards for less, and all in all causing much sorrow to my family and friends who only wanted the best for me. Looking back on those rebellious choices with the understanding of the gospel I have now, it has helped me to accept whatever battle I face and to fight with all the faith I have in Christ to conquer. Once you understand the gospel your love for it grows. For me, would be because it enables me to become a better person today than yesterday. Though it cannot rewind time yet it erases those mistakes all through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I love how everything is centered on Christ. Yes, from those routines I dreaded as a child to every aspect of life around me.
My Miracle Baby
At first I called him my miracle baby but as he grew I came to think that one word that describes him best is – Heavenly! That is my Viliami Sitauti Sebastian Pohiva. After three months of being married and was still not pregnant, my husband and I thought that we lucked out on becoming parents. We all know the first question someone asks newly weds – is there a bun in the oven? How many months are you now? I somehow felt the pressure of not being pregnant while my husband made sure I did not feel insecure about it. I brushed it off by saying oh, the oven is broken right now or I would say we cannot have two babies at one time, when my husband decides to grow up our baby will come. Six months into our marriage we were extremely happy when we found out we were expecting. Just as we settled into married life and survived each day with each other, the Lord saw it fit for us to become parents.
Sebastian, What a fighter!
The night we almost lost him
As I was ending week 33 of my pregnancy Sitauti Sebastian decided it was time to come. Sunday November 23rd 2014, he made his unexpected arrival weighing 2.2kg. I also consider him my thanksgiving baby. Just as easy as it was for me during pregnancy so was it for delivery. He was out an hour after the time we arrived. It was so easy I told my husband that night that I am ready for number two, I know right? I thought I had passed the hard part of womanhood yet I guess having a preemie in Tonga was not as smooth sailing as I thought. We stayed back in the hospital to make sure his weight came up to 2.5kg which according to my calculation that would take three days but actually took almost three weeks. He only had minor jaundice but nothing major as to his organs or anything, merely just his weight to go up. When my husband and I decided to formula feed him we got discharged. The very next day we got admitted back to the hospital because of some kind of diarrhoea severe for his age along with constant vomiting after every feed. That went on throughout the first night and then the next evening we almost lost our Sitauti Sebastian due to some series of apnoea and I guess just not being able to withstand all the fluids he was losing. I remember crying for him to not leave me to my husband calming me down and looking me in the eyes and saying to be prepared to let him go. I just had him three weeks ago, he cannot leave me that soon.
Commitment to the Lord
Here I was drowned in misery and where did I turn? I turned to the Lord. This was exactly where my parents had taught me to turn no matter what situation I may be in. The doctors still wanted me try breastfeeding to avoid any unseen germs no matter how clean we boiled his bottles. That did not stop me from fasting for my son and surely it was paid off as he started to recover immediately after we ended our fast. Almost losing my son had changed my feeling towards others. The tender mercy the Lord had shown me I started to show others. I may still tend to forget but once I see my son, I am reminded to stay faithful, serve my callings diligently, attend church activities and what is required of me. I may slack but I cannot back out on the Lord when He needs me. I cannot choose to weaken my testimony of the gospel because it was my testimony of the gospel that had built a faith strong enough to help me conquer the most devastating battle I could ever imagine in life.
Five things I would say
I can come up with more than five things to say to a sister who may face the same battle of losing or almost losing a child. However I want to say one thing, simple yet so powerful in many ways – PRAY! I felt like I was running a prayer marathon like them old mission days. But what I was praying for earnestly was different. Imagine a hand over your shoulder with a smile,.I would simply say to:
Pray for comfort
During this time, your thoughts are everywhere. I am grateful for my husband’s calm attitude throughout this time. Somehow the Lord comforted him to comfort me to not be confused between what the Lord wanted and the doctor’s advice. I would be the one who would just say yes to whatever the doctor advised. As baby was improving with his feeding my husband felt they were feeding him too much as baby could not hold it in his stomach. He told the nurse what he thought while I kept saying, this is what the doctor said just listen to them. After reporting to the doctor, the nurse said my husband was right. I am grateful for the doctors and nurses that cared so much for my son, but do not let your frustration lead you to follow their orders and not the Lord’s. If you are not comforted you will be torn between what you want and the Lord’s will. It may lead to giving the doctor’s the okay to operate when you were prompted not to give the okay.
Pray for understanding
I saw this as a test of my faith. So my prayers started to change to ask to understand that whatever happens that it is the Lord’s will. To understand that the Lord still loved me despite the pain I was feeling. When we have a clear understanding of what is happening to us, we accept the outcome peacefully. It prevents us from blaming the Lord, blaming others, and most importantly blaming ourselves. I am grateful the Lord gave me understanding that avoided me from blaming myself or my husband saying that this is because we did this we did that rather we looked at things positively.
Pray for strength
All the frustration, crying, and sleep deprived days will drain your energy. You start to lose your appetite to eat or even be happy. Pray for strength to keep moving forward. The Lord truly does lighten our burden when those that are heavy laden come unto Him (Matt 11:28-30). As I prayed for strength, I was strengthened spiritually and physically.
Pray for happiness
Though you are in the hospital because of your child, do not forget those that are around you. We were in the hospital during festive season; thank goodness they discharged us Christmas eve. But during this time my sister ‘Alisi and brother Alioth was visiting to celebrate dad’s 75th birthday. I was much too focused on the tragedy neglecting how I should be happy that my sister and brother were visiting or even my husband being supportive and his family’s joy over my father in law’s election and government win. Was too sad to appreciate the outpouring messages from family and friends near and far, those who visited personally to comfort and show support. Talk about being Mr Scrooge of Christmas Season. Do not miss out on the happy things that are happening around you. They lighten the load of sadness weighing on your heart.
Lastly, pray for gratitude
Whether you are in the hospital for two days with no improvement, be grateful. It is like what my brother always says when I tell him I am starting my diet for the millionth time – “it doesn’t happen overnight sis.” Your healing may take weeks or months or not at all, be grateful for what you are going through; because it is transforming you into the person the Lord wants you to be. The Lord is showing you how to appreciate black and white days so that when you have those colourful days you will cherish every moment. Be grateful no matter the outcome because your life will be changed for the best not only for yourself but how you react to others and future situations. As the late Gordon B. Hinckley said so is my prayer – “Let the spirit of thanksgiving guide your days and nights.”
Sitauti Sebastian Today
He has a warm welcome in his smile that draws others to him. My husband and I watch him sleep with amazement at how much he has grown from that 2.2kg infant who did not reach 2.5kg till he was a month old, and couldn’t stabilize food in his stomach till he was two months and has not ceased to grow. He definitely does not get his looks from either one of us as he is just too darn cute to be ours. I just say he gets it from his grannies. Sione speaks highly of our son like he is a new topic of the day, every day. He drools nonstop as he goes through calm teething. He has difficulty trying to sit up straight as his baby beer belly keeps him unbalanced. He has become the turning point when we are to make wrong choices or when we slack. His immune system is really good to him as he has been our little international baby traveller since two months. He turns eight months in a week and we are blessed to have smile in our hearts by his presence. My dear sisters, whatever situation you are in right now – it is where the Lord wants you to be because he wants you to become a better, why not “best” person you can be.
Featured Image Above: Thee beautiful Heta with her husband