Many of you haven't been informed of our most recent life event, so I figure this is one way to share. I hope that as you read this post, you too will be reminded to count your blessings.
Different people use different methods to cope with stress, to sort out emotions. For me, writing is theraputic. Not scholarly writing, or even writing to impress others... but raw, heartfelt journal entries. So that is what I am about to do, in order to sort through the myriad of emotions that are hovering around me.
I'm not even sure where to begin, so I suppose I will start from the beginning. The day began like a walk in the park. Literally. Breakfast and morning devotions were spent on our deck with the woods as our backdrop. We took our nieces out for lunch and then to the park to play. The weather was perfect, warm yet crisp with the shining sun making everything seem more glorious.
Later I went with my mom and sister to run some errands. We were getting things crossed off my to-do list and it felt great. And then it all began.
As we approached the 24th Street exit I could see traffic slowing ahead. I remember making a remark about a game taking place at Rosenblatt. Then I realized my mom was slowing pretty quickly as not to run into the slower cars in front of us. Immediately I reached to look for the emergency lights to warn the cars in back of us. My next reaction was to look to my passenger side mirror. That is when I saw it. A black car coming right toward us. It didn't look like it was slowing down. I yelled out, “We're getting hit.” I think I grabbed my belly and braced myself as if I knew what was coming next. And it did.
The thundering crash as the cars collided. My mom's blue Prius lurching forward as our bodies were treated like rag dolls. Me holding my baby gasping for air in between my sobs. “My baby, my baby,” is all I could get out. Shakes took over my body and I tried to practice the breathing techniques we had just learned at our birthing class.
It wasn't long before God granted me strength. Something inside me told me I needed to calm down. For the baby's sake. He had already been through enough, he didn't need my entire body convulsing on top of it. But a thousand things were running through my mind. Was my baby okay? Did I realize before how much I really loved him? What should we name him? Why wasn't he moving?
I just wanted him to move, but there was nothing. Nothing but people asking if I needed a squad car and police lights flashing behind me, insurance information being exchanged and car registrations being asked for. My sister immediately called John for me as I squeaked out, “We've been in an accident.” Not exactly a phone call any expectant dad wants to receive.
John arrived on the scene what seemed like an eternity later. Although it couldn't have really been that long as he later informed me he had been driving 100 mph in order to get to me. We took off for the hospital praying along the way, me talking to our baby... pleading with him to move so I knew he was okay. I was trying to recount to John what had happened and was second guessing my decision not to take an ambulance to the hospital. What if everything wasn't okay? Could I ever live with myself not knowing if those extra minutes cost my son his life?
Check in at the ER was a breeze. It wasn't long before they had me in a wheelchair and were pushing me to the new maternity ward. I just wished the guy were running instead of seeming to take his sweet time. The janitor in front of us took an elevator while we waited, and I was just praying for the ability to stay calm.
I was taken into a room right away, given a gown and immediately hooked up to monitors. It was then that I could finally breathe a sigh of relief as I heard my son's heart beat. I didn't know at the time how strong it was, but I heard it. In that moment in time nothing else mattered.
I would later find out that I was experiencing quite a few contractions. The nurse didn't let onto the severity of them at the time, I assume in order to help me remain calm. The doctor was called and I was given an IV to see if that would help lessen the contractions. After that didn't seem to work, I was given a shot to see if that would help. Further tests were run and taken to the lab to ensure my blood wasn't mixing with the baby's.
By 2:00 in the morning I changed positions to sitting up as my side was hurting too bad and started experiencing cramps in my lower abdomen. John got up from his fold out bed and got the phone so I could call my nurse directly. My uterus was still showing irritability according to the monitor and after another phone call to the doctor I was being given another shot.
The rest of the morning seemed to progress in similar fashion. Nurses coming in and out. IVs running out and beeping, having to unplug myself and drag the IV machine to the bathroom with me. By 7:00 in the morning I was starting regular contractions once again though and so yet another shot was delivered.
The good news was that our baby seemed to be doing great. In fact, the nurses said his fetal activity resembled more of a full-term baby than a 32 week old one. His heart rate stayed high and his movements were frequent.
My doctor came to see me, which was a reassuring and calming all at once. I trust I am in good hands with her, and knowing she was there made things a little easier on my nerves. A cervix exam was completed and we had to wait about an hour to know the results of a test done to see what the likelihood of delivering in the next two weeks would be.
That hour seemed to drag on forever.
I prayed silently. John prayed with me. I sent out an e-mail to my girlfriends. I tried hard not to think of all the “what ifs” but those came anyway.
And then John left to go get some food and came back instead with some great news. The test came back negative and we would be allowed to leave shortly!
After a wheelchair ride to the car and a car ride home (in which I did quite a bit of praying to combat the fear involved with getting back onto the Interstate and passing by the exact location of the wreck) I was home. Free to take a shower. Free to move in my bed as I pleased without machines getting in the way. I pretty much passed out as John snuggled me and continued to comfort me.
And then it all hit. Several hours later. The emotions. I wrote in my journal, “I seem to be at a loss for words. I am having such a hard time articulating the mix of emotions swirling inside. Relief. Gratitude. Love. Grace. Forgiveness. Peace. Comfort.”
And then, “Thank you for my sweet little boy. I knew I loved him, but I didn't realize how much. Suddenly when everything flashes before you, the stark reality of what could have been has a way of making you realize what you do have.”
And that is about where I am right now. The tear gates had already been opened, and closed again for now at least. When I have the flashbacks of the black car speeding toward us I remember in that moment how much I just wanted to protect our son. I know that the years ahead will bring many more times of wanting to protect him but not always being able to do so. I am so thankful that I serve a God who loves my child even more than I do. He may not always answer prayer requests according to how I might see fit, but I know His plan for me, John and our baby is far greater than what I could ever comprehend.
Now I am left realizing now, more than ever, how excited I am to meet our little son. I can't stop staring at his picture. I am ready to watch him inhale those first breaths of life and to hear those first cries. To hold him, to smell him, to feed him. I am ready for those sleepless nights. I refuse to take a single moment for granted; you never know when it might be your last.