Friday, August 14, 2015

Fourteen

Married in April of 2000, Ron and I knew that we wanted to start a family early on. That vision for our lives became real for us when we found out that we'd be having our first baby, due in December 2001. Excitement was high as we lived in anticipation of the birth of our first child.

Everything was tracking along as planned, but at about 6 months I knew something was wrong with me. I was experiencing weight gain unlike any I'd experienced up to this point. My feet we swelling to the point where it was causing pain. I thought my feet might explode. I sought medical advice, knowing that this wasn't right. I was met with virtually no response from my doctor. "Keep your feet up." was the only response I got. I wasn't satisfied with this because it didn't help. My mother's intuition was telling me this was not right. Unfortunately, the doctor did not take my complaints seriously and I wound up in the ICU clinging to life with severe pre-eclampsia. In fact, the hospital could not handle my situation. I had to be transferred to a large medical facility across town in Houston, TX where they could treat me appropriately as well as the baby should it be born that early. 

There is so much I do not remember about what was going on because I was so incredibly sick. I was going to be in the hospital until the baby was born - should I make it that long. I was hooked up to monitors around the clock. I don't know why they decided to "give me a break" from the fetal heart monitor one night, but they did. It was during that night that our precious baby passed away in utero. I remember the ultrasound in the morning - the one that detected no fetal movement or heartbeat. I remember the ultrasound technician saying nothing but disappearing quickly to get a doctor. I remember the devastating news that our much anticipated first child had died.

Fourteen years ago today, our son, Jeffrey George, was born still.

Labor was induced and I endured the long process of laboring through hours in the same way a woman about to deliver their precious live baby would. In the years that followed, I would endure labor two more times, delivering my daughters Moira and Peyton. Delivering Jeffrey was the same - except that we knew that we would never get to hear him cry. He would never take a single breath in this world. He was delivered and I held on to him for hours following delivery.

One of the most difficult things in life is to lose a child. Letting them go - well, there are no words.

Just a year and three months into our marriage, Ron and I were dealt a tragic blow and our lives were forever changed. We were not in relationship with Christ at the time. We went to church sporadically and we were not being filled when we did go. Ron and I had a good relationship, but this event tested the limits of it.

Looking back, I have no idea how we endured the loss of our son. Our marriage shouldn't have survived what we went through. In fact, there are statistics which show extremely high divorce rates after experiencing such an event. I don't know how ours survived, but it did.

As I sit here today, I know that God carried us through this time of our lives, though it certainly did not seem like it during those painful years that followed. We didn't come to Christ until after 2009, some 8 plus years after losing precious Jeffrey. In the time in between, I suffered another life-threatening event where I developed massive blood clots in both lungs (two weeks following this stillbirth), an early miscarriage, another round of severe pre-eclampsia and yet another massive pulmonary embolism in both lungs (the worst the head of the ER of a major Houston trauma center had ever seen without the person being dead). We've endured even more tragedy and loss since we came to Christ.

Our fifteen years of married life has been marked by numerous tragic and life-altering events. Yet somehow we are still standing together. I know now what I didn't know then - that God's hand has been at work throughout our married life, carrying us through events which seemed insurmountable, events which would would break some people, events which would cause some people to turn their backs on Him.

I have learned much in the last fourteen years. God has been at work through our experiences. I don't understand why we have had to endure so much but I know that He will use these experiences to help others. God "comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:4) He has been faithful to us even when we haven't been as trusting in Him as we ought to have been, especially in those early times. 




Fourteen years have passed and I still miss Jeffrey terribly.  I treasure the hours I held him - all 1 pound three quarters of an ounce of him - in my arms before it was time to let go.  I look back on the years of misery that I unfairly put myself (and others) through.

I can't change who I was then.  I didn't know God.  I didn't understand anything about relationship with Christ or walking with the Lord.  I probably would have scoffed at the idea of this being part of a plan.  In fact, I probably did.

I know now that I still don't understand why events transpired the way they did.  I don't understand why anyone has to lose a child at any stage of pregnancy or at any age thereafter.  It's not right.  It's not the natural order of things.  But I do know that God does, indeed, have a plan.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
If I knew then that God was for me and not against me.  If I knew then that God was with me no matter what circumstances I found myself in.  If I knew then...

I think in the grand scheme of things, the loss of Jeffrey, as difficult as it was, was the very beginning of our road towards Christ.  A long road to be sure.  A dirty, pothole-filled, gravelly, rocky, scary road at times.  I know I couldn't see how there was any "good" in what happened.

Romans 8:28 says it this way:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I may still be trying to discern the purpose in all of this, but I know that our journey - beginning with this great loss - has brought us closer to God than we have ever been in our lives.  I know now that God is for me.  I know that He has been with me through every single trial I've endured.  I know that He is my strength and my comfort.

Yes, things happen that we cannot predict or control.  God knows our journey.  He knows our sorrows and our trials.  He knows us.  He is strength in our weakness and in our weakness we are made strong.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)



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