by Dra. Rio Rita Santiago as told to the Testimonial Ministry
My life can be described as a life of predictability and control. As a doctor, I have developed a strong sense of responsibility. I juggle my schedule between my profession as a pediatrician, and my various roles at home as a wife, a mother, and a loving and dutiful daughter to my aging parents.
When I became pregnant in 2014 at the age of 42 to my fifth son, my heart was gripped with fear. Given my advanced age, I knew that the possibility of chromosomal abnormality for my baby is high. Given my history of undergoing five caesarean section procedures, I knew that I could be prone to excessive bleeding during delivery.
My fears were heightened when a routine ultrasound revealed a suspected heart problem for my baby. I cried to God, praying for a miracle.
Then the day of my delivery came. At this point in my life, I felt I have lost my sense of control. I felt helpless. From being a doctor, I become a willing patient on the operating table, placing my life in the hands of my Ob-Gyne. I lifted up to God my life and that of my baby’s. With a rosary in my hand before my eyes closed due to anaesthesia, I placed my life in total surrender.
After my CS operation, when I regained consciousness, I asked my pediatrician, our senior consultant, if my baby was normal. “Your baby is normal. He was already crying even when he was only halfway out of your tummy,” she told me.
I should be happy to hear my baby is okay but fear and sadness continued to grip my heart. I was still in great pain from my operation. I was crying and I felt confused. I didn’t know I was undergoing post-partum depression.
My husband and my mother were there by my side, comforting me during my recovery at the hospital. But I still felt alone and confused. At this point in my life when nothing seems to help, I turned to God.
Since I have been attending the Feast since 2011, I have developed a personal relationship with God. Despite my busy schedule as a doctor, I find time to talk to him in prayer, no matter how short. So at that lowest point in my life after giving birth, I prayed for help. I asked for Mama Mary’s intercession. I prayed to God, “Lord, help me. Take away my sufferings. Take away my pains. Take away my worries. Take away my confusion.”
Then I saw a vision – Jesus Christ was there, standing in front of me, his arms outstretched with light radiating from behind him.
I felt He was telling me to give him all my pains and burdens. I was crying as I cast upon Him every single thing that was making me suffer. I saw him receive my burdens and I saw him throw them behind him before disappearing in the light.
As the vision ended, my tears stopped. I couldn’t explain what just happened. But what I know was that my depression was gone. There was a feeling of calmness and quiet, like after a storm. My mind was asking if what I saw was real or not.
When I had the chance to open up to a sister friend at The Feast, Sis. Daisy, I told her about my post-partum depression, the vision of Christ receiving all my burdens and the question in my mind if the vision was real or not. She told me, “Do not doubt your vision. It is God moving into your life, saving you, helping you out of that pit. It is God’s way of healing you, of telling you how much He loves you.”
Today, whenever I see my baby boy, Jethro, I look back with gratitude at how the good Lord has rescued me from my post-partum crisis.
I am thankful for The Feast, for being an instrument of God’s love and reassurance through Sister Daisy. I always feel God embracing me, reassuring me that despite my imperfections, He loves me.
The Feast has taught me to live my life in total surrender to God. Today I regularly attend the Feast with my family and, as part of my rosary devotion, I have signed up as a member of the Marian Ministry.
The Lord is always near to those who call on him for help. And when we surrender to his will, He never fails.