I’d never seen the short brown haired lady who appeared at my bedside before. A kind face with intelligent eyes looked intently at me while she spoke slowly and clearly so I would understand. She was a representative from the land of sick babies, here to explain words I’d never even heard before. Neonatologist. Five hours previously I couldn’t have told you what that word meant. Even now I just knew that it was code for “smart person who knows a lot about tiny babies”. Please just go away. You are a busy person, and our baby is fine. I’m only here for observation, don’t you know that? Even as the thoughts swirled through my brain her voice droned on and on…statistics of survival, probable and possible problems micro-preemies face, typical treatment plans…not the sort of information any mom ever plans on hearing, let alone having to understand. And then she was gone, and I was left listening to the sound of the tiny heartbeat thumping across the monitor from my belly.
Not twenty four hours later, I watched the the ceiling tiles above my head whiz past my eyes as several nurses wheeled my bed down the hallway to the operating room. Somebody trotted along behind me reeling off information to another person hastily scratching it onto piles of paper forms. Somebody else was poking me with a needle. Breath. Just breath. My birthday? You want to know what my birthday is? Hmmm. Good question, why don’t you ask my husband, he’ll probably know. Honestly, I don’t even think I thought to pray. I don’t think I had a single thought in my head except that I had never fainted before in my life, and now would not be a good time to try it. I’d never seen an operating room before. I wondered silently if they were always this crowded. My Doc walked in, patted my shoulder and asked how I was doing. “I’m fine thank you, how are you?” What a ridiculous thing to say. Thankfully the Mister arrived just in time, just how many traffic violations occurred for that to happen we will leave unspecified. I squeezed his hand, and tried my best to ignore the voices and sounds around me.
“No medical reason”. That’s what they’d all been telling me. I didn’t smoke, drink, do drugs, have high blood pressure or have any known health issues. I’d had two healthy babies before with no problems. But despite all that, this baby’s placenta wasn’t working, she wasn’t growing, and now her heart wasn’t keeping up with the pressure of not getting the blood it needed. “No medical reason”. They kept saying it like an apology… only I didn’t need them to apologize. I’d already made up my mind that God had a plan for this tiny little life. This baby girl didn’t need us to understand why, she just needed us to fight for her. She was doing her best, and it was up to us to do ours.
Fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, who knows really, ticked by. I heard Doc’s voice ask if I wanted a peek at my baby girl. Um, is the sky blue Doc?! For one half of a second he held up the tiniest human I’d ever seen, red, flailing arms and legs, looking for all the world like a newly hatched bird. One pound of perfection from her impossibly miniature toes to her fuzzy haired, toy size head. For a short second I heard a thin little cry drift through the room, no louder than the mewing of a kitten. It was the most beautiful sound I think I’ve ever heard. Within minutes she was headed up stairs, shrouded in a plastic bag to hold her body heat, to her new multimillion dollar baby bed nestled in a web of tubes, wires, blinking numbers, humming machines and around the clock care from the highest trained baby sitters in the country. Pretty impressive considering God made a woman’s body to do all that work all on it’s own.
Six hours later, when I finally could wiggle my toes energetically enough to the nurse’s satisfaction, I was granted permission to go introduce myself properly. Hello baby girl, I’m your mom. That was quite a show you put on today, I’m super impressed! So listen, I know you’re probably not all that excited about life right now. All those needles and tubes and things… don’t let them get to you, they’re not going to be around for forever. And you know that whole breathing thing, I know it’s tricky business, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty soon. These gals in here taking care of you are way smarter than mom, you just let them know if you need something. They say you are pretty fragile right now, so don’t take it personally that I can’t pat your back or kiss your cute little head. We’ll have lots of time to catch up later. You just try your best, ok? We’ll get you home just as soon as we can, I promise.
Mother’s Day holds different meanings and emotions for everyone, some good and some not so good. One of the saddest beliefs in our society today is that being a mother is just a horrible punishment for having fun, a sacrifice of personal ambition, servitude, a lowering of one’s worth, or at the very least a major inconvenience…and because of these beliefs we find it acceptable to choose which human lives are worth keeping, and which are disposable. We call it “choice”.
Let me tell you a little secret, when I first found out I was pregnant, I cried. Oh yes, I did. Big buckets of crocodile tears, and they were not happy tears either. This was not in my plans. I was quite satisfied with my two girls, and I don’t like surprises. Add to that my little visit from the NICU who burst any guarantees for the “perfect” child. (Does one exist anyway??) Top that off with hospital bills that certainly don’t fall into the “convenience” category in anyone’s world, and especially not mine. (Bye bye bathroom renovation.) I guess God really messed things up for me. Or not. Maybe, just maybe, my little one pound wonder is evidence that the God I know has more mercy and love than any of us can ever imagine. If there is one thing I understand ever so clearly, it is that my heart is no better than yours, or that girl’s who has decided to end her baby’s life before it’s even had a chance to cry that first cry. The very fact that God chooses to allow such selfish humans to have the care of another completely helpless person is proof that He wants better things for us. A child is God’s gift of a chance to try again, to do better, to see life differently, to experience love, to give something of worth to the world, to witness a miracle. What if babies’ got to choose moms based on what we could give them and our level of perfection? Do you suppose a single one of us would have a solitary child? I think not! Maybe we have Mother’s Day all wrong. Instead of the day being all about how wonderful moms are, maybe we moms ought to spend it in utter thanks of how wonderful God is to allow us the privilege of having children despite our shocking flaws and failures. And to the mom who might be reading this who may be devastated to find yourself in the “mom” category…please know that God loves you so much! The little life you have been entrusted with shows how much value God finds in you. Let that little person help you find all the love God meant for you to know.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to spend my Mother’s Day with the most adorable mini person you’ve ever seen…we have important nursery decorating plans to discuss.
Ephesians 2:3-6 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
P.S. Thank you to all you kind folk who have left comments, emailed and messaged me with your concern and well wishes. I’m so blown away with your kindness. I’m not sure what the future for this blog is…I suppose when I have something to write about, and have the time to write it, I’ll post something. How’s that for a non answer?! =)