Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dangled Over the Valley

Two years ago, on Super Bowl Sunday, I struggled to get myself and my three children ready for church and out the door. My husband, the church's worship director, had left early as usual to prepare for the services. Nine months pregnant with a six and a half year old, a five year old, and a seventeen month old in tow, being motivated to even go anywhere was a challenge. Physically, I was exhausted and uncomfortable. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for many weeks and they were beginning to get stronger each day. I decided to go ahead and go to church because my c-section was scheduled for a couple weeks later and I knew I'd miss church for a while after the baby was born. I left for church looking forward to an afternoon of rest.

Just after dropping off my children in the nursery and classrooms, I walked through a common area and had a sharp back pain, not unlike usual pains I had experienced after carrying the kids or wearing high heels for too long. I did happen to catch a glimpse of the clock hanging on the wall when the pain was followed by a contraction. During the Sunday school hour, my back continued to bother me and I watched the clock, timing these mysterious pains. I picked up my older two children and headed into the sanctuary for the worship service. Midway through the service when my husband was sitting down across the room, he mouthed "Are you okay?" I gave a very firm "No" nod. I walked the kids to children's church and went to my husband's office to put my feet up to see if rest would slow down or stop the contractions. Every twelve minutes I was experiencing a contraction - not a painful one, but firm and steady. Knowing that having three previous c-sections would put me at serious risk for uterine rupture if I were to go into labor, I called my doctor. She told me to come in right away. Someone notified my husband, who quickly left the stage (without his jacket and wallet!) and met me downstairs. We hurried through the potholes, which were not pleasant during my contractions, and made our way for the hospital.

Once we arrived, they hooked me up to monitors and of course, my contractions stopped. Shane left to go get himself some lunch and go home to pick up the camera - just in case. I assumed they would send me home until the anesthesiologist entered and asked me to sign papers. I asked him if we were doing this today and he said yes, they would be taking me back to the OR at 3:00 that afternoon. It was already a quarter 'til two and Shane hadn't gotten back yet. He made it back around 2:20 and not much later, I was whisked away into the O.R.

In the meantime, friends had taken our children and van home and my mother moved her flight up so she would be able to take care of the kids and me when I got back home.

At 3:11 that afternoon we met our precious fourth child, a girl, born with a head full of black hair, weighing 8 lbs, 8 oz.- our biggest baby yet! Obviously, my due date was miscalculated as she arrived seventeen days earlier than the anticipated due date.

I have learned to look forward to those first couple of days in the hospital when there is a quiet calm in the air, and even though I'm waking to nurse every couple of hours, I find it a very restful time physically because I no longer have eight pounds weighing heavily on my bones, making sleep very uncomfortable. Meeting my precious child is an awakening experience, pouring over each finger and toe and hearing everyone's take on who she looks like, and feeling a deep, unique love for this new little person that I'm seeing for the first time ever.

After two nights in the hospital, we were anxious to get home. My husband had started his first seminary class the second day we were in the hospital and I was ready to sleep in my own bed. We had one last night to stay, then we could go home. Our last night, around eleven, a plumber inspected several rooms on our floor and concluded that flooding could occur in our room. The hospital staff kindly asked us to transfer rooms and offered a restaurant gift certificate for our trouble. We didn't mind, after all, we'd be going home the next day. I didn't sleep well on the labor and delivery bed that they disassemble when one is in labor; it felt broken and hard. The next morning the head of hospital staff, or someone with a very official title, came in with two $25 Target gift cards, and a gift certificate to a ritzy spa where I could order one spa treatment. What a nice gift and on what a great note to leave the hospital!

The next morning we showered, dressed and packed our bags then waited patiently for our discharge papers. About an hour before our time of discharge, the nurse practitioner who had been examining our baby entered. She explained that she'd had difficulty locating the pulses in the baby's legs and it needed further investigation, as that could be the sign of a heart defect. Our hearts were worried, but she reassured us and said she was waiting for someone else to come in and see if he could find the pulses. We waited, and waited, and finally, we were told our new baby would need an ultrasound of her heart because he too could not find them. Our hearts were anxious. Never before had we experienced such helplessness. We could do nothing but wait. The nurse brought this precious new little one back to us while we waited for the ultrasound to be performed, sent to a radiologist, and the readings to be sent back. During that time we asked for prayers from loved ones and our church family. As we waited my thoughts raced over what this child's life beheld. Death? Pain? Suffering?

The answer was and is a resounding "Yes!" Death IS inevitable for my child. Pain also AND suffering. When I come face to face with any of those hard things will I look to myself for comfort, to other people, or to the One who holds my life, my very breath in His hands, my God and my Creator...? Will I teach this daughter to look to this world or to her Savior?

Today, we are celebrating my precious daughter's second birthday. I don't know what I would have done if the outcome that day had been anything but good, but I know that my King is good and just when he gives me joy AND when he calls me to suffer. My life is His for the taking. My life is not about me, my husband, my children, my stuff, my job. My life must be consecrated to His perfect will. Sometimes He brings me beside the still waters and sometimes he dangles me over the valley of the shadow of death.....yet - He. is. good.

Why is there sin and sickness, death and despair in this world? My only conclusion is that we could not know the bounty of heaven, the depth of His love, nor the holiness of Christ, if we did not taste this world and still remain thirsty.

John 6:35
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The 23rd Psalm:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 63:1-8
God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

John 7:37-38
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful.

    I love how you are such a storyteller.

    You glorify God with your words and recounting every minute of it...

    Holy ground.