by Lorie and Jed Velarde
Lorie and her husband, Jed, work in the largest online stock brokerage firm in the Philippines. She’s been there for 20 years; started as the Head of the Accounting Department and currently serves as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) . Jed joined the company 5 years ago as an Executive Assistant to the Chairman and now also heads the partnership efforts of the firm.
About us and our Faith
My husband and I met in 1996 at a Christian theater missions group where we became good friends in spite of our age gap. We got married in May of 2002 at the Church of the Risen Lord, U.P. Dilliman. Three years into marriage, our doctor broke the sad news that we only had a 50/50 chance of conceiving. That is when we decided to go through a series of fertility work-ups which lasted almost 2 years. Every time we received a negative test result we ended up in tears. Each unsuccessful work-up stretched us and our frustration grew. Sharing the journey together has made us appreciate more of each other’s patience and sacrifices and has strengthened our resolve to be there for each other.
After several failed rounds of fertility work-ups, we finally agreed to stop the medical intervention and start totally trusting God. It was only then we were able to conceive naturally. Unfortunately, our first pregnancy ended with a miscarriage. We were able to get pregnant a second time and the doctors were not optimistic about a live birth. But God had a much better plan and we heard our baby girl’s cry on the 25th day of September 2008. We named her Vera. Vera is a Russian word for ‘faith’ and in Latin it means ‘truth’.
Our baby’s condition
We had learned our baby had a special condition through the pre-natal screening protocols. The pedia-cardio informed us that Vera had a rare congenital heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus. This is a condition in which, instead of 2 blood vessels coming out of the right and left ventricles, she only had a single one, and that required a crucial heart surgery. We were initially saddened and were faced with a lot of questions like; Why does it have to be us? Why did God bring us to a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the journey of conceiving-miscarriage-conceiving and now a birth defect?
No one likes to be subjected to a surgery or to see a loved one subjected to one. But our new born daughter was going to be subjected to two different sets of surgeries, one when she was 4 months old and the other when she was 4 years old. The truth is, we almost lost her. At one point in time, we were practically living in our car parked at the hospital just so we would not have to leave the medical facility. Thirty-three days spent in the hospital ICU and living in a car can be draining — physically, emotionally and financially.
It’s not all about us
One day, as we peeked into the ICU unit window where Vera was, we heard a deafening cry of another mother whose child had also been operated on. This mother and child were in the “service ward”. This means they had to cover specific medicines that were not available in the hospital. Her child, Jonah, needed one of those medications desperately. We felt led by God to pray for and encourage the mom and even take care of the needed medicine. Our initial response was: Why do we have to concern ourselves about her child while we have our very own to worry about? Why do we have to pray for and encourage her and pay for his medicine, while we ourselves need prayers and encouragement and have our own mounting bills to pay? Why?! BECAUSE! Because we could relate… because we could help. We personally knew how hard it is as parents to see a child (our very own) being treated in the hospital for a serious condition. It’s doubly hard to go through the ordeal with limited financial means. We had the choice of ignoring the need of our neighbor justifying that we also have our own needs, but that’s not what God wanted us to do. Even in the time of drought, we sow the seeds as an act of obedience to Him. We chose to OVERCOME RATHER THAN TO BE OVERWHELMED! Baby Jonah survived while our Vera was thriving.
What people don’t see
A lot of people looked at us, parents of a child with CHD, and would think or say with pity, sadness and gloom, “Oh poor child, she should not have to suffer that way or she’s too young to go through that.” But, what they didn’t see were the stories of courage, hope, victory, and faith! Vera’s story is indeed a miracle and a testament of God’s sovereignty, provision and faithfulness. Those early days of taking care of her, with all of the doctor visits, hospitalizations, waiting times, and uncertainties led us all the more to hold on to God and to each other. It is only through God’s empowerment that we made it through, one day at a time.
Vera at 6 months old, 10 years old, and 12 years old.
Family, friends and God’s promise
It was helpful for us to focus on seeing Vera thrive rather than give in to dismal, negative thoughts. This was re-enforced by the caring group of family and friends who walked alongside us especially during those extra tough days. We were also glad to have fellow believers who kept us grounded on the Word. We held on to God’s promise in Zechariah 8:12, “The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people.”
There were a few key reasons why we were sustained during our ordeal. As husband and wife, the power of agreement for our child was paramount! Seeing opportunities to be a blessing helped us in the waiting process. Surrounding ourselves with fellow believers who would journey with us, releases the power of Christian fellowship. Of course, it helps to be firmly anchored on God’s promises.
Message to the parents
To parents who are going through similar circumstance: Live, operate and declare God’s Word together as a team. Be there for each other, invite God in your journey and run with His word. Give some spaces to release the tension; cry, be vulnerable but after that, pick each other up. I think that as a couple, you have to learn to move forward. Moving forward demands courage and requires us to have hope, that this story is not just about God, but it’s a story about Him living and working in us.