Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Walking Through the Valley

In the last few days, we have been experiencing something very painful.  We were so excited as we were expecting another child and now that is no longer a reality.  Last week, I began having some minor bleeding.  That was not normal for my pregnancies, so I called my dear friend and midwife.  She gave me suggestions and a few things that I could take to help, but I think I knew that we needed to plan to say goodbye to our little one.  Each day, I hoped and prayed that the bleeding would stop, but it just increased.  I really wasn't sure what to expect.  We lost a baby about seven years ago, but it was much earlier in the pregnancy and the symptoms were very minimal.  Years later, I began to grieve for that little one, but at the time, I didn't feel the loss very much.  The knowledge of the pregnancy was so short that I had not begun to bond with the baby. 

This time around, it's been different.  I was planning my life around the time of the expected birth.  I bought a new maternity dress that I planned to wear on our upcoming twentieth wedding anniversary.  I thought about the baby every time I would eat or drink.  We were discussing possible names for the little one.  The children were looking forward to another brother or sister.  I talked to the baby, sang to the baby, prayed over the baby. 

As I realized that things weren't looking good, I prayed even more.  I prayed for a miracle.  I prayed that if it was God's will, that He would usher this little one into His presence peacefully.

I'm not going to pretend that I've been handling it like a champ.  I have been fearful.  I have been begging God for another child.  I have been going through times of incredible sadness, constant crying and even anger.  I would tell God that I was angry at Him and then, of course, immediately ask for His forgiveness, knowing in my heart of hearts that He loved me, He loved this little one and He would carry us through. 

On Sunday afternoon, my husband felt I needed to get away from the house.  I was weepy and listless and he thought a little time away together would help.  It did help my heart.  We sat at our local Tim Hortons very close together, holding hands and trying to laugh.  It was very hard when a mom with a newborn baby walked in a short time later.  David just squeezed my hand and spoke his usual words of love.  When we later went to Walmart, I knew we needed to go home as soon as possible.  Things were progressing and I wanted to be home with the rest of the family.

I couldn't be with the kids long as I became increasingly ill.  David gathered the children around for the nightly Bible reading and broke the news to them that Momma was very sick and the baby may be going to heaven.  The children came into the bedroom where I was and laid their hands on me while David prayed.  Stephen said quite emphatically, "Mom, your baby is with the Lord."  Even Mary, days before had told me that "when babies die, they go to be with Jesus and sit on His lap."  My oldest girls had put the kids to bed and were getting ready to serve me tea and put on a show to perk my spirits when the bleeding grew worse.  My trips to the bathroom were more frequent, but I tried to rest in bed as I could.  I wondered if I would be able to tell if I passed the baby, but it was impossible with all of the blood.  I kept telling the baby I was sorry, but that I loved him or her.  I told the baby to wait for me, that we would meet each other in God's good timing.  As the bleeding continued, I became more disoriented, but I kept praying and talking out loud to God and to myself.  I kept hearing the verse from the Old Testament about how "the life is in the blood".  I didn't want to hear that, but I wonder now if that was God's way of reminding me that I needed to hang in there.  I saw my face at one point and didn't recognize myself. I looked like death. I was very faint and finally did black out completely for a few minutes.  David had been carrying Sarah around when he heard the several thumps coming from the bathroom.  He handed her to Rachel and came in to check on me again.  In my weakened condition, I told him quietly that we had to call the midwife.  One moment, I thought I could just get through the nightmare by myself and at another moment, I thought my life was ebbing away. 

He called and Becky came very quickly.  It helps that she lives on the next street.  When she arrived, I was shaking uncontrollably.  I was so cold.  She covered me in blankets after checking my blood pressure.  I knew by the look on her face that my situation was an emergency.  She called the squad while my husband called our neighbors to come.  Becky and David did their best to make sure things were out of the way so the EMT's could move me out of the house.  You know, things like my ironing, a bag of unmatched socks, school papers, books.  I remember telling her how sorry I was that the house wasn't cleaner.  When the squad arrived, the two men worked to make sure everything was in place.  They gave me an IV and as soon as they could, they moved me to a stretcher chair.  I was only in my pajamas, so they moved me to the real stretcher quickly as I was shaking from cold again.  As I lay outside waiting to go in the ambulance, I saw the stars that my Maker created and thanked Him that He cared for me.  The EMT's moved me into the ambulance and heated it up for me.  I learned that one of them was a home school dad, so we talked while I breathed into my oxygen mask.  David followed behind the ambulance and we made our way to the hospital.  They didn't blare the sirens until we got into town, so all of the farmers wouldn't wake up.  Boy, the things I do to get a ride to the hospital. 

On arriving, it was the usual hustle and bustle.  Nurses, doctors, and other emergency workers running around like crazy, stopping to ask me questions like my name and date of birth and how many kids we had.  Giving me more IV fluids, moving me, examining me, attaching wires to me.  I was still scared, but relieved I was there and that everyone knew what to do.  To tell the truth, though, I was more worried about my husband.  I knew all of this was hard on him.  Losing a baby, seeing his wife gravely ill and not sure of what was going to happen next. 

The doctor came in to examine me and to talk to me about the D&C.  She told me it was the only way to stop the bleeding, but reassured me that it was a quick procedure and I wouldn't be under anaesthesia very long.  She talked to us about saving any "pregnancy tissue" and I wanted to scream, "you mean the baby, right?"  I knew it would be very hard to see anything because of the blood and even if we could, I'm not sure how we could have handled it.  So, we just placed the little one into the Lord's hands once again, knowing we would see this baby again in a perfect body. 

When it was time for the surgery, the workers wheeled me through the halls to the operating room.  Before going in, I prayed to the Lord and told Him if He wanted me to come home, I would go, but that I'd rather stay here a little longer to take care of my husband and children.  He heard me because I woke up in the hospital.  I was having a hard time seeing because of the effects of the anaesthesia and my throat hurt so badly.  I learned later it was because of the tubes that had been down my throat so that I could breathe during surgery. 

It was a welcoming sight to see my husband again and to feel his touch.  We stayed in the recovery room until just after lunch.  They wanted to make sure I could sit up, move to the wheelchair and use the bathroom.  When they felt I was strong enough to leave, I was wheeled to our car and we made the trip home.  I was able to make it up the porch and into the kitchen holding onto David, but slumped into a chair as soon as I made it inside.  Our dear neighbor gave me a hug and after resting a few minutes, David helped me into bed and that's mostly where I've stayed.

I think the recovery is going to be slow.  Dealing with the exhaustion, the throat and neck pain, the headaches, the constant pounding of my heart that I can hear in my head and the fact that our baby is not going to grow inside of me anymore can be overwhelming.  I still cry, but I'm almost too tired to cry now.  I'm sure there will be more days for that.  Even through all of the pain, I do have hope.  Hope in a God that is infinitely wise, infinitely sovereign and infinitely loving.  He knows me down to the hairs on my head.  He holds me in the palm of His hand.  He knows my future and is bringing about His glory and my good through all of the trials that I face.  This life is only a shadow of what is to come.  My babies in heaven never had to walk through this shadow.  They were instantly ushered into the arms of Jesus who loves them, who already gave them a name.  No shadow for them.  Only Jesus. 

My mother always reminded me that when the psalmist David said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," that meant that God would always walk through the valley with us.  He never intends to leave us there.  And, in these valleys, we grow.  True growth is in the valley, not on the mountaintop.  My hope is in Jesus, who is alive and has promised me eternal life.  Yes, I will see my babies again.  Yes, I will spend eternity with my husband and children, but the best part will be seeing Him.  It's always about Him.  Everything that we face has passed through His hands first.  It is for His glory that we are here and for His glory when we finally reach our real home. 

So, no matter what we may be facing, we can walk through our valleys, knowing that our loving Heavenly Father is guiding us through them and holding our hands.  I want to come out on the other side, stronger and loving Him more than ever.  Soli Deo Gloria!