God is good. It’s a simple phrase of three words that we hear often. It’s usually followed by “all the time.” Right now, for me, the phrase reminds me of a raw fear I felt 13 years ago at this time. Thirteen years ago on this day, I was a few days post-op from having my first Crohn’s-related surgery.
It had been a painful time leading up to this emergent surgery. I had months earlier happily discovered I was expecting my second child, something I had been hoping for. I knew almost as soon as the early pregnancy test showed a faint positive that Fourth of July, that this pregnancy was very different from my first.
I was sick…morning, noon, and night sickness for three months that ended when the real pain began. I had such severe abdominal pain that by the time evening arrived each day, I was literally crawling to bed because I was in too much pain to stand upright.
Doctor visits and ultrasounds revealed an intestinal narrowing–an unfortunate but common occurrence in Crohn’s patients. The plan? Wait it out and see what came first–delivery or bowel perforation. I prayed for a healthy delivery.
I prayed for my children before they were ever conceived. I had been blessed with a perfect first pregnancy, delivery, and longevity with breastfeeding, something that was of incredible importance to me, for obvious reasons but also because I’d read that the longer I nursed my babies, the stronger their immune systems would become and the smaller the chance they’d develop Crohn’s disease.
But now fervent prayer kicked in. I knew the longer my baby was nestled in my womb, the better off he’d be. (Yes, he. We found out on my daughter’s fourth birthday that we were having a little boy!) Every week when I marked the next week along in my pregnancy (week 22, 23, etc.), I prayed for ten more weeks. I knew with the strides made in modern medicine that early 30s in weeks of gestation offered a great chance for a healthy baby.
I was due March 12, the birthdays of my nephew and best friend, but in mid-January I was hospitalized with pre-term labor and intense abdominal pain. As the baby grew, the inflammation got worse and as the inflammation got worse, the pregnancy became more dangerous to us both. The waiting game continued as I was sent home with prayers that I’d be able to carry him a few more weeks, at least. But my boy’s birthday came much earlier than planned. At 34 weeks gestation, I was being rushed to the hospital late one night in severe pain, worse than it’d ever been. The perforation, as it turned out, came before the baby and I underwent surgery to remove a portion of my intestines. The surgeon later told me that he patted my son’s precious head while performing the surgery. Days following this surgery were brutal. I was in terrible pain and didn’t want to risk taking much medication for pain relief. I was suffering and a week later, still hospitalized with the hopes of being discharged with a chance to begin to recover and schedule a C-section to safely deliver my son.
God had other plans and exactly one week to the day after the first surgery I was still hospitalized and found myself being rushed into the OR to deliver my son by emergent C-section. Although the hospital I was in wasn’t equipped to deliver a baby of his too-early gestation, we had no choice. The closest one that was equipped for premature deliveries was an hour’s drive away and I couldn’t risk delivering “naturally” in an ambulance en route. In a flurry of panicked medical personnel (something that gave me a feeling of foreboding immediately), C-section commenced. My son was delivered and wasn’t breathing. Within seconds, his father (a respiratory therapist) got him breathing. Relief. But when he started breathing, my breathing stopped. For reasons they wouldn’t discover until later, I was suddenly rendered unresponsive for the next several hours. However, in the many minutes following his birth–as doctor after doctor rushed into the OR to try to determine what was wrong with me–I could hear every word that was spoken.
I can’t say I had an out-of-body experience, although I could tell where every person was positioned in the room. I recalled exact words that were spoken, every test they performed trying to solve the mystery of why I stopped breathing and was coding. I later retold the story in exact detail of who did and said what, even their gestures. I did not think I was dying. I had decided while I was “out” that since I hadn’t seen my Mom come to greet me, then I was going to survive this. Meanwhile, the doctors had told my family who was in the waiting room that he didn’t think I was going to make it.
But again, God had other plans. Despite many medical mistakes made that day, my son and I survived. My little preemie was tiny, jaundiced, and we both had bottomed out with our sugar levels, and my organs were quickly shutting down due to an adrenal crisis caused by a major mistake. But by His grace, we are here and I am telling our story. It humbles me, what happened. It marvels me. It makes me so very grateful.
My tiny 4 pound, 3 ounce boy was ready to leave the hospital before I was able to and on Valentine’s Day that year, we brought our tiny bundle home. He was a fighter and I had known early on that God had special plans for this boy. He is beautiful and tall, funny and tender-hearted, creative and athletic. Though this boy had a rough start and had to fight for his very survival before he even made his debut into this world, God has protected him. When I look at him sometimes, I know how blessed we are and I am moved to tears. I know how sick I was, less than 110 pounds when he was born. I know how tentative the situation was. But I know this more…God is good. He has plans for my son who is now becoming a teenager with no residual effects from his traumatic birth. He knew when he was but a tiny, tiny baby not-yet born, that he was going to achieve greatness.
When I start to worry about silly things, things I know in my heart God has promised to take care of…things I have no business worrying about, I remember how good God has been and how much he has brought us through. When I look at my children, I know how much God loves us. He saw fit to allow me to be the mother to these amazing children. Every day I am blessed and when this once tiny 4-pounder who’s now taller than I am celebrates another birthday, I am reminded how much He loves us and how amazingly good He is.