Monday, March 7, 2011

Life in the Wilderness

This post is part of a Synchroblog on the season of Lent and experiences in the wilderness. Check at the end of this post for a list of the other blog posts that are part of this synchroblog.
I knew something was wrong by the look on his face. You don't miscarry two sets of twins and not get good at reading the faces of doctors when they are looking at your ultrasound.

This time was supposed to be different. My husband had given me a blessing when we found out that I was pregnant. In that blessing, he gave me two distinct promises. First, that this child would be born into mortality with everything he needed to accomplish his mission on earth; second, that I would be happy the day he was born.

I had panicked at the first promise. That language means something to a Mormon. It means that something is wrong, that the child will die quickly because all he needs is a body before he returns to his Heavenly Father. But I couldn't reconcile that promise with the second one. How could I be happy if my child died? I decided that I must be overanalyzing the language of the blessing. God promised me happiness. Happiness would be had.

As the doctor started listing off all the problems he was seeing - hydrocephalus, a missing heart chamber, no kidneys, and on and on - I felt as if a fluffy warm down comforter was wrapped around me. I know now that God walked me through the rest of my time with this pregnancy. I was supported by the love of my Father for me through the hardest experience of my life. I was protected as much as I possibly could be and still allow me to learn from this experience all the lessons that I needed to learn.

Even through the grief, I felt at a distance from the pronouncement. I knew I was supposed to be happy when this child was born, and that could not happen with this set of facts. We were sent to a specialist to confirm the diagnosis. They concurred that the fetus probably wouldn't make it to term, and if it did, would only live a few minutes at the most. We were given the opportunity for an abortion. We declined. That was my baby. I was going to treasure each moment I had with him.

And so our time of waiting began. We waited, not knowing how long the pregnancy would last. Every week we went in for a doctor's appointment. Every week his heart was still beating. Week after week I clung to the promise of happiness, expecting a miracle.

Finally, at about 31 weeks, my OB sent me in for another ultrasound. He told me that there was no way I should have made it that far in my pregnancy, and he wanted to see exactly what was going on. The ultrasound showed not my expected miracle, but that the baby's hydrocephalus had progressed to the point where his head was already measuring 41 weeks. The specialists told me there was no sign that the pregnancy was going to end on its own, and if I ever wanted to get pregnant again, they advised me to induce labor as soon as possible to prevent a c-section scar so significant that it would prevent me ever having another pregnancy.

And so we did. The next evening, I went in to the hospital and labor was induced. The next morning, my son was born. His heart had stopped beating at some point during labor, so they handed me his body, wrapped in a blanket. I held him. And I was happy.

Those 11 weeks of waiting, of not knowing, of wondering what was going to happen, of all the science saying one thing and my faith saying something else, led to one of the most marvelous revelations of the love of God in my life. I had a son. And I knew that because of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the sealing ordinances of the temple, that regardless of the amount of time I held him here on earth, that he would be my son for eternity. I held him, and I could feel his spirit in the room. We all held him, my husband, grandparents, uncles and aunts. We told him we loved him. We cherished him. We welcomed him to our family. I can honestly say that the happiness I felt at the birth of my son was no different than what I felt at the birth of our next son, who is currently running around the living room at top speed impersonating an airplane.

I thought that God had to fulfill his promise in a specific way. Like the Jews of the Old Testament, I was not expecting the fulfillment of promise in a radically different manner than my mortal understanding could predict. God showed his power over all things in the fulfillment of promise in his own way. He sent me a son, to remind me of the Son of God, and to await for the promised blessings of the resurrection that His Son made possible.

So now, I wait. This life is a wilderness of preparation to be brought back into the presence of God. My not knowing is subsumed in what I do know.

God fulfills his promises.


Even, and especially, in the wilderness.


Anastasia said...

Thank you for sharing this.

Sarah said...

I wish you'd post kleenex warnings.
I love you!

The Hill Family said...

thank you for posting this and for helping me through my difficult moments with my special boy. you're incredible and i'm glad i met you in 300 all those years ago.

gracerules said...

thank you for sharing your beautiful and moving story

gracerules said...

PS - I have my post up now if you don't mind adding it to your list

Jeremy Myers said...

You have a miracle baby. Thanks for sharing this story.

Tammy Carter said...

Wow! What an amazing story of love and I bet your son felt ALL of that love that held him that day! And I agree with Sarah about the kleenex! ;-)

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