10 Jan 2020 All Prayers will Serve to Propel Towards the Direction of Happiness
Sim Lay Hong
Women Division Leader
My mother started practising Nichiren Buddhism due to my elder sister’s asthma and I followed her at the age of eight. At that time, my father strongly objected our practice. This did not stop my mother from bringing her three children out for Soka meetings. We had to lie to him to attend meetings. If my father was not working and stayed home, my mother would either go to the void deck or hide inside the bathroom to perform her Gongyo and daimoku. This was how tough our practice was when we first started faith.
My faith wasn’t very serious. However, the turning point came when a friend of another faith remarked that she were required to pray five times a day. From then on, I began to perform morning and evening Gongyo everyday. My faith strengthened in the Student Division where I encountered many good comrades, and started reading The New Human Revolution (NHR), looking upon SGI President Ikeda (whom I address as Ikeda Sensei) as my mentor in life. During my Young Women Division (YWD) days, I contributed whole-heartedly for kosen-rufu, accumulating a lot of good fortune.
Challenges After Marriage
I met my husband at work. Though he is not a practitioner, from being the best boyfriend, he became a wonderful husband who supports my practice to the fullest without grudging. I got married in 2008. Like many couples, we wanted children. Our medical tests revealed a bulky uterus plus fibroids for me and a low sperm count for him. After seven years of marriage, we decided to try In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I failed to conceive after three attempts. Despite this, the sheer disappointment did not affect my conviction in faith nor deter me from Gakkai activities.
In 2010, I graduated to the Women Division (WD). To realise kosen-rufu, I sought leadership roles knowing well that staying with the organisation and striving for others’ happiness, construct my family’s happiness. Becoming a WD district leader was not enough, I wanted to do more. I joined the Primary Division as a Sunshine Aunty and subsequently the Dendrobium group, becoming an In Charge (IC). The trainings and encouragement I received kept me going.
Beginning of 2015, my leaders suggested a daimoku chanting session with me at least twice per month for me to have a kosen-rufu baby and successor. Through this frequent chanting with them, I realised that my strong conviction in the Gohonzon had weakened over the years. 2015 proved to be a breakthrough. In March that year, I did the 4th round of IVF. I felt more confident and hopeful that the power of daimoku will surely activate the protection of the “Buddhist gods” (good influence in life), just as Nichiren Daishonin writes, “The stronger one’s faith, the greater the protection of the gods.” (WND-1, p 614) and “A coward cannot have any of his prayers answered.” (WND-1, p 245) I changed my IVF doctor and she suggested a new treatment. She is indeed my “Buddhist god”. I determined to base on daimoku to win over my cowardly nature and that victory must be an encouragement to another person.
As the Gosho states, “Winter will never fail to turn into spring”. Finally, I got pregnant at my 4th IVF try! During my pregnancy, I continued to home visit members and attended activities. However, my challenges did not stop there. When I was in my 26th week, of pregnancy, I experienced spotting and my baby’s position was very low. My gynae warned that I might not be able to hold him inside me for long. I continued to pray earnestly for his good health, strong life force and to be able to carry him as long as possible.
Finally, in week 30, I needed an emergency caesarean as my baby’s heartbeat could not be detected. My only thoughts then were “daimoku” and “healthy baby”. As I was wheeled into the operating theatre, I urged my husband to chant for our baby and he agreed.
The first time I saw baby Davion was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He was inside an incubator with lots of probes and tubes all over him. He looked so tiny… tinier than I had imagined. I firmly believed that we shared a mission and we had to win together. Davion finally came home after eight weeks in the hospital. Today he is a happy four-year-old!
We wanted companion for Davion. When he turned one, I attempted the 5th round of IVF attempt but was not successful. However, I was not discouraged and continued to attempt the 6th round of IVF. Finally, I was pregnant again.
The pregnancy was promising in the beginning; a scan in the 5th month revealed a princess, a sister for Davion, who reveled in anticipating the new arrival. He would kiss my tummy (the sister) every night and helped to apply stretch mark lotion on my tummy.
As my pregnancy progressed, I tired easily and woke often in the middle of the night. Shortly before the next gynae appointment, I sensed no baby movements and I thought it could be due to my uterus not being too sensitive. In the middle of sleepless nights, I would sit in front of the Gohonzon and pray for my princess’s good health. During my routine checkup, my husband was not able to join me as he had to attend a course at work. While lying down for an ultrasound scan, I sensed something unusual. I then had to do a more detailed scan. The results were devastating! My gynae told me, “I am sorry. The fetus has no more heartbeat.” I was shocked and as I was alone, I told myself to remain calm. As I had two surgeries on my womb before and my princess was an almost six months old fetus, which means she is not very small in size, it is not advisable to have an abortion done immediately. The abortion process required a vaginal delivery of the fetus. The gynae advised me to wait one more week for the fetus to shrink in size.
I broke the news to my husband. He rushed down immediately. When we met, I told him that this was my karma but he replied me, “This is our karma.” Though he is not chanting yet, he understands what I had shared with him, that in Buddhism there is this concept of “voluntarily assuming appropriate karma”. We decided to accept the fact and move on with life courageously. We broke the news to our closed ones. I am thankful to my close comrades and leaders who reached out to me immediately.
After one week my little princess had indeed shrunk. The previously round and cute little head had flattened. I wanted to get this over with, but my gynae advised me to wait another week to avoid any complications for me. Left with no choice, we followed her advice.
To carry a stillborn around for two weeks was mentally challenging. There were awkward moments when people enquired about my pregnancy. During those two weeks, my tummy got smaller and smaller. Little Davion continued to apply stretch mark lotion on my tummy. I had to hold back my tears as I told him there was no more sister. That two weeks, I chanted a lot of daimoku. My mother also initiated a marathon daimoku chanting with me together with my sister. My leader encouraged me this way, “Our own suffering now is for us to encourage another person in the future. Your little princess staying with you one more day means she can hear your daimoku one more day.”
Finally, on August 7, a Mid Trimester Pregnancy Termination (MTPT) was done. The gynae told me that for MTPT, three to five pessary medicine is normally required to abort successfully. The patient might need to be hospitalised for two, three days. I wanted to end this episode fast and move on with life. Furthermore, there was a Soka Fortune Baby Ceremony two days later on August 9 which I very much wanted to bring Davion to.
Though my husband wanted very much to stay with me, we thought that it would be the best arrangement for him to look after Davion at home. At 11pm, the doctor came to insert the first pessary. I started to shiver non-stop, developed fever and felt intense labour pain. I stayed strong, holding my prayer beads tightly and continued to chant daimoku. Three hours later, I expelled my little princess. The whole room was quiet and I was calm. The entire episode had ended. It was August 8. I was ready to start afresh. I was discharged the same day, meaning I could bring Davion to the Fortune Baby Ceremony the next day.
After that incident, to spare me the pain, a few friends and even my father asked me to stop at one kid. Deep in my heart, I wanted to close the entire chapter of this stage of life with a resounding victory that demonstrated true courage and a never give up spirit which could inspire many people, transforming my karma into mission. My strong wish for Davion to have a companion was not forgotten.
Last year, 2018, I mustered all my courage to go for IVF, again, my 7th attempt. To my surprise, I became successfully pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. This is really an unimaginable benefit! What great good fortune! As if a norm, my twins chose to come out earlier again. They were born prematurely at 30 weeks. The girl weighed 1.02kg and the boy 920gram. Though I have prior experience in bringing up a premature baby, this time it is two babies and though the challenge is doubled, the joy is doubled too.
Synchronising My Heartbeat with My Mentor
I deeply appreciate what I have now. Also, I am very grateful to my family members, leaders and members who have encouraged me and chanted for me. It is never easy to bring up three premature babies. Contrary to being an obstacle, my children have created the great cause for me to be courageous and show the greatness of this Buddhism.
Ikeda Sensei has completed 30 volumes of The New Human Revolution and I vow to complete reading all 30 volumes and sync my heartbeat with Ikeda Sensei. The following guidance from Ikeda Sensei best describes my journey in having three kosen-rufu babies: “Viewed from a deeper, longer-term perspective, all your prayers will have served to propel you in the direction of happiness. Sometimes our immediate prayers are realised, and sometimes they aren’t. When we look back later, however, we’ll be able to say with absolute conviction that everything turned out the way it did for the very best.”
(Adapted from July 2019 issue of Creative Life)