Jonathan and Janelle with Jannah at 9 months new

Becoming parents to a healthy baby felt like a miracle for Jonathan Poh and Janelle Tang. In one of their two earlier miscarriages, the couple's son had serious deformities. All photos courtesy of the couple.

When it rains, it pours. 

Jonathan Poh, 35, and Janelle Tang, 36, were overjoyed when they found out just three months after their wedding that they were going to have a child. 

But during Janelle’s third ultrasound scan in June 2019, she was told that there were no signs of embryo development.

Although a surgical procedure had been scheduled to remove the empty gestational sac, she ended up miscarrying naturally.

While taking the train home from work one day, Janelle started experiencing intense cramps and bleeding. 

“The pain was crazy, and I could feel like the discharge was coming out non-stop. I was having cold sweat,” she described, recounting the traumatic experience of passing out the pregnancy tissues upon reaching home.

Janelle’s bump shot during her first pregnancy. The couple’s happiness was short-lived.

While the couple was thankful there was no need for any further medical intervention, more bad news followed. 

“Soon after the miscarriage, when I went back to work, my boss told us that the headquarters decided to lay off all the contract staff. So that came as a second blow for me,” said Janelle, adding that she was worried about how they were going to survive on her husband’s modest pay as a counsellor in a social service agency.

That was not all. During that period, the couple had been staying with Janelle’s parents while waiting for their Build-to-Order flat to be ready. 

“But on that same night, my mum mentioned that they managed to find a buyer for the house and that we needed to move out and find separate accommodation within two months,” she recalled.

“Everything happened at one shot, and I remember feeling really defeated and discouraged.”

An ultrasound image from Janelle’s first pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Jonathan was also battling his own inner demons. Just months ago, he had discovered that he was actually adopted. 

“When I first found out Janelle was pregnant, I was very excited because I felt like I finally had a direct family that I know of. So, of course, when the miscarriage happened, it affected me a lot.

“The fact that I was adopted meant that I also didn’t know my family history, so I did think that maybe the miscarriage was caused by me.”

Jonathan’s struggles with his identity were just one of the many setbacks the couple experienced that year.  

The loss of their baby, loss of Janelle’s job, loss of a home – it was really “one thing after another”, related Janelle.

Turning the corner

Her heart hardened by all the disappointments she had experienced in that season, Janelle confessed that she could not even bring herself to worship God in church for the longest time.

One day, however, a cell group session ministered deeply to her. As they sung Chris Tomlin’s “How Can I Keep From Singing”, it reminded her of the joy of worship. 

“When I heard the lyrics of the song , I literally broke down in tears. I felt like all the emotions just came out in that moment,” said Janelle.

“I remember I told the Lord, ‘This is too much for me to bear. I cannot deal with it. Please help me.’ That night I really surrendered everything to God.”

Releasing all her sorrow to God, she felt like her heart was being embraced by a sense of warmth. 

“My situation did not change, but my heart changed that night,” she said.

Over the next few months, the couple also saw God’s hand of provision in their lives.

The couple was blessed by their marriage mentors (on the right) who offered their home as a place to stay for three months.

While waiting to move back in with Janelle’s parents, the couple shared that they had different people who opened their homes to them throughout that one year.

“Although we were moving to and from a few places, somehow we always had a place to stay. Best of all, it was rent free,” said Jonathan.

“Janelle also managed to secure full-time employment (as a regional talent development specialist) and this job actually had higher pay than her previous one, so that really helped us.”

In June 2020, when Janelle was pregnant again, it felt like they were finally out of the woods.

“Once we passed the first trimester, both of us were thinking, ‘Yes, it’s finally over. We’ve gone through the toughest hurdle,” said Jonathan.

After praying about a name for their son, they had even received the name “Jedidiah”.

There’s something wrong with the baby

Who would have thought that a regular second trimester check-up would end up being devastating when they discovered that their baby had major deformities?

Jedidiah had fluid retention in his brain, a twisted spine, and organs that were protruding out of his body. His legs were also stunted and he was missing a right hand.

It was not just the couple who were taken aback. Even the medical professionals were baffled. 

Questioned about her diet, the places she visited and what could have caused the sudden deterioration, Janelle could not pinpoint anything that she did differently.

“It really came as a shock to us because just two weeks ago, the scan had showed that Jedidiah was developing well.”

The couple was then asked to return two weeks later for another scan, to see if there was any improvement.

“Worship helped us to focus on God instead of the situation.”

Recalling how their hearts sank that day, Janelle said: “When we went back home, all we could do was to hold each other and cry. We were asking God, ‘What’s going on? It doesn’t make sense.”

But in that moment of sorrow, God brought to mind a song she had not heard in a long time. Together, they started worshipping God and proclaiming: “I stand, I stand, in awe of You.”

“I felt I was encouraging my spirit to stand strong with the Lord. At the same time, it felt like God was reminding me that He’s very much present – He’s here,” shared Janelle.

“It’s time to stand strong together. He’s going to walk through it with us.”

After breaking the news to their cell group, one of their friends suggested to come together every night to worship and pray that God would turn the situation around.

“For two weeks, every day from 9pm to 10pm, we would gather via Zoom,” said Jonathan. Members in their cell group also took shifts to fast.

“There would definitely be one or two people who were always there, and the rest would join as and when they could. Even those who didn’t come onto Zoom prayed for us.”

“The two weeks flew past very fast even though I expected it to be very long,” remarked Janelle. “Worship helped us to focus on God instead of the situation.”

Jonathan and Janelle’s cell group from Church of Singapore (Bukit Timah). They were grateful for how their members fasted and prayed alongside them for two weeks.

Over that period, the couple also met with prayer intercessors from their church. During the inner healing sessions, they were led to confess their sins to one another and ask for forgiveness from God, even for sins committed by the generations before them.

“There were a lot of things I did in the past that I told myself, ‘I would bring them to the grave,'” Jonathan divulged. “But because of these things coming to light, it really strengthened our relationship.” 

Back then, Janelle was also struggling with bitterness, as she wrestled with thoughts that Jonathan’s genes and his past might be the reasons why they could not have children. 

“God was bringing to light a lot of things that we tried to hide. Only then could healing come,” said Janelle, adding that being vulnerable and transparent brought them closer together. 

When the time finally came for them to return to the hospital, the couple’s spirits were lifted and they were hopeful that there would be a miracle for their baby.

But there was only more bad news – a scan showed that Jedidiah’s condition had in fact worsened.

When the couple returned two weeks later for another scan, they were crushed to hear that there were even more deformities.

There was an increase in fluid retention in his brain, both his eyes were at an abnormal distance from each other and a suspected heart defect was diagnosed as well.

“They even wanted to study Jedidiah because his deformities were very rare,” recounted Janelle. 

Due to his deformities, the gynaecologist explained that Jedidiah was unable to survive outside her body. 

Then came what felt like a death blow when they were asked to meet the hospital’s head geneticist. 

Jonathan recalled: “She told us that because of the first miscarriage and degree of deformity for Jedidiah, we needed to be mentally prepared that we will not be able to have children.

“When we heard that news, it was almost like a death sentence being meted out on both of us. We love children a lot, and I also used to serve in the children’s ministry.”

Sharing that they were advised not to try for children, Janelle said: “I clearly asked her, ‘If I were to try, what would happen? Will it be a miracle? Will the next one be alright?

“Then she looked at me and said, ‘Based on my experience, usually no. It happened with the last two, it will happen again.'”

During the conversation, they were also informed of other alternatives, such as adoption, or to pursue in-vitro fertilisation with the help of an egg or sperm donor. 

The next step was also heartbreaking as Janelle had to go through an induced labour since Jedidiah had already grown to a certain size. Even before he was due to be delivered, Jedidiah had already passed on inside her womb.

Recovering from a broken heart

The healing journey was a long process, acknowledged Janelle.

“Every special occasion like Father’s Day or Mother’s Day we would think, ‘If Jedidiah were still around, he would be of this age. He would be here, celebrating with us,” she said.

“Every time when we go out and see people having children or babies in the train, both of us would also tear up.”

Meanwhile, friends around them were getting pregnant and giving birth. Questions such as “When’s your turn?” and “How come still no baby?” were particularly difficult.

For more than a year, the couple struggled with the intense emotions stemming from their loss. “We were feeling anger and asking why. How come people can have children and we cannot?” admitted Jonathan.

Janelle said she also found it hard not to shake her fist at God. “We prayed. We were so honest and transparent. We brought out all our secrets. What else do You want?” she had asked Him. 

The two days when Janelle was preparing to give birth to Jedidiah were long and difficult too because of the side effects she experienced due to the medication to induce labour.

Trying to make sense of it all, Janelle finally received a new revelation during her Quiet Time one day.

“I was asking God, ‘Why would You allow this to happen to an innocent baby? It’s not justifiable for a baby to be deformed in such a manner,” she said.

“You can do anything. Why couldn’t You save my child? You’re God right?” 

It was then she felt that God spoke through the silence: “At what age then is it justifiable for someone to suffer? When he turns 10? Or when he is in his 20s or 50s?”

While she had been pinning Jedidiah’s condition on God, that was the turning point when Janelle started to see her circumstances in a new light.

“God is not the cause of this. God does not go and create a child like this. It was never His will,” she clarified.

“The truth is, it was never part of God’s plan or His intention for any of his children to suffer the effects of sin. Sin entered the world and distorted everything (Genesis 3), but God does not want anyone to perish (John 3:16).

“They say time heals all wounds, but I beg to differ. Jesus is the one who heals all wounds.” 

“God is not the cause of this.”

For Jonathan, the entire experience also helped him to have a deeper awareness of God.

“My own journey was about trying to understand what does it mean that God is with you in the highest mountain and God is with you in your lowest valley,” he noted.

“I came to this point where I realised that there are a lot of things that I don’t understand, but I can trust that God is right there with me.” 

Pointing out that he felt God’s presence with them throughout the pregnancy, Jonathan said that even before they knew whether they were expecting a boy or a girl, the name “Jedidiah” had been impressed on him as he prayed over their child.

“After Janelle gave birth, we were actually given a few moments to be with Jedidiah. Just seeing that it was really a boy somehow gave me this sense to know that God was in control and God will continue to be in control.”

After the miscarriage, Jonathan said he also found himself praying for even simple things such as asking for God’s help to get through the day.

With God, all things are possible

In fact, it was this building up of their faith through prayer that led them to their next bold step: to try for a baby again. 

“We started with a lot of fear – that’s why for one-and-a-half years we didn’t even try,” revealed Jonathan.

“Even when we were intimate, we would always make sure we were very careful not to conceive. The fear came from: What if we conceive and it happens again?”

But in January 2022, the couple had a change of heart.

Sharing that their church had been cultivating a culture of blessing during that season, they too had been intentional about praying a blessing over each other daily.

“God is the only one who can bring things to fruition.”

“Every single day without fail, before I go out to work in the morning, I will bless her and she will bless me. That helped me to really centre on God,” said Jonathan.

“One day Janelle said, ‘We’re going to renounce whatever words of death were spoken over us. We’re going to believe that in the Bible, it says to be fruitful and multiply.

“So I started blessing her womb, that it would be healthy, that it would be fruitful and multiply.” 

Explaining why she decided to take a leap of faith, Janelle said: “Man already proclaimed that we cannot have babies. How much worse could it be? Just try lah. I wasn’t going to take anyone’s word for it. 

“I felt that until God comes in and tells me Himself, ‘Janelle, you cannot have babies’ then I would stop. I had this mindset that if God said all things are possible with Him, I’m going to trust Him.”

Having remembered how God was sovereign even during the conception and birth of Jedidiah, Jonathan also decided to put his trust in God.

“I came to the realisation that I don’t have any power. It’s not me. But God is the only one who can bring things to fruition,” he said.

Having a strong sense that God could do anything, Janelle decided to pray and see what would happen.

Five months later, the couple were elated to receive the news that they were expecting again.

“I strongly believe that Jannah was conceived through the blessings of our prayers because our words have power, especially when we put them together with the Word of God,” said Janelle. 

“Every day we would bless her and speak life, so it felt like we were literally sowing into her every single day, and the seed just kept growing and growing and growing.”

“The moment we conceived her, we blessed her all the way while she was in my womb. We would say things like, ‘You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. You’re loved.’ Basically we used the Word of God and what He says about us. 

“We would speak directly to all her organs, her systems, her cells… we would ask them to function according to the way the Lord has intended them to function.” 

“Whenever we felt anxious, we would pray.”

But having gone through two miscarriages, the couple also disclosed that there were many times fear would creep in.

“While we had this sense of peace, at the back of our heads there would always be these voices that say, ‘Oh don’t be too happy, you never know what would happen,'” confessed Jonathan, describing it as a rollercoaster ride.

“So whenever we felt anxious, we would pray.”

Every visit to the gynaecologist would turn up mixed feelings. During their scans, it was often hard to take a good look at Jannah because of how she would end up blocking herself.

“(The doctor) mentioned non-stop to us that this is one of the most peculiar babies he has seen because of the fact that she’s like a disco ball, running around in the womb,” recalled Jonathan.

“Even when she was of a certain size in the third trimester, she was still turning around,” said Janelle. One visit she would be engaged in the correct position for birth and the next, not.

“So everything was by faith,” she added.

It was not until Jannah was delivered safely at full term that the miracle of having a healthy baby sunk in.

Janelle delivered her baby through C-section, which was another story of God’s provision because they later discovered that Jannah’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her head.

“I remember when I heard the sound of her voice, I cried,” shared Janelle.

“I felt like everyone in Heaven was rejoicing together. That was the image that I got. She’s the breakthrough baby.

“It was a journey of walking through the valley where you couldn’t even see what was ahead of you and just trusting God.”

Agreeing, Jonathan shared that when he was praying for a name, “Jannah” came to mind. It was only when he researched more that he discovered that the name meant “God is gracious”.

“I felt it was really from God because this whole journey for us is really one of grace – having the Lord’s grace upon us despite all the things we faced,” said Jonathan.

As it turned out, Jannah’s name also sparked curiosity in some of their friends because its Arabic meaning is “paradise”.

“Just finding out that her name is Jannah and finding out about our whole journey became our way of sharing,” he added.

Highlighting that the miscarriages had also opened the door for them to share about their faith, Janelle said that people were amazed at how they could still praise God despite all they had been through.

In the first two years of their marriage, the couple experienced two miscarriages. But these strengthened their relationship with God and with one another.

“They were asking where do you get your strength from?” she recounted. “When we started ministering to them, we ourselves were ministered in return when we reflected on God’s goodness.

“Whenever people hear of our journey, whether Christian or non-Christian, they would always tell us they feel encouraged.”

Letting on that early in their marriage, it had been prophesised over them on separate occasions that God would use them to encourage others, the couple said that they have now seen how this has come into fulfilment.

“Of course we didn’t want to go through all of this. But because we went through all this, it definitely placed us in that space,” said Jonathan. During a mission trip to the Philippines, he even had the chance to share his testimony. 

“I didn’t realise that there were so many people who were going through something similar. It was an opportunity for me to share about my experience and to pray over them.”

Back home, the couple has also ministered to couples who are trying to have children.

“They find comfort that we have been through it,” said Jonathan. “Or when they face disappointment because of their miscarriage, they really feel like there’s this sense of hope that they can trust God.

“Realising how we can encourage others also encourages us.”


When the weight of grief is too much to bear: Turning the pain in her heart into a platform for healing

Declared inoperable and given months to live, she saw the hand of God throughout her battle with cancer

She is one of only 20 known cases in the world: This Singaporean baby born with a rare skin condition has beaten the odds to survive and thrive

About the author

Gracia Chiang

Gracia used to chase bad news — now she shares Good News. Gracia's different paths in life have led her from diverse newsrooms to Living Room by Salt&Light, but her most difficult and divine calling to date is still parenting.