I don’t even know where to begin.
This past Friday morning the contractions began and the day we have been anticipating with much fear and trepidation and hope and excitement was finally upon us. Phoebe was going to be born.
BORN. As in ALIVE!
31 weeks ago we were given pretty bad news: “Your daughter has a cystic hygroma. Those are often associated with something called “Turner Syndrome”. 99% of girls with Turner Syndrome do not make it to term. I am so sorry.”
We were numb. Ninety-nine percent don’t make it. Some of that is because of the chromosomal abnormality and some of that is because, when given those statistics, many families choose to end the pregnancy, but it doesn’t appear that the statistics differentiate between the two.
My body threatened to lose her many, many times over the course of the next 3 months. And for the months following we were given good news (“The omphalocele has resolved! Her hygroma is gone!”) and bad news (“She has congenital heart disease… open heart surgery after birth… a month or more in the hospital…”).
And through all of it we prayed.
We prayed and prayed and prayed, as did many of you.
We prayed for healing. We prayed that God would be merciful and spare Phoebe pain. We prayed that she would not need surgery. And we kept praying.
Up until 2 days before the birth at the final ultrasound the main concern was her heart. I think we had grown comfortable, if one can say that, with the idea that within hours after her birth, Phoebe would be transported to Children’s Hospital and we would begin the long, long journey of life in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. I had come to accept that the last week of summer I would spend in the hospital with our newborn, by her side as she lay in a special little crib with wires attached to her body, tubes coming from her nose and stitches going down the front of her chest instead of helping my other children get ready for the first day of school.
I knew I had prayed and prayed and prayed and had entrusted God with Phoebe’s life and the outcome of the pregnancy and birth and what happened afterward, but to be honest?…
I didn’t think He’d let her get better.
I have seen so much heartache among dear friends and so much hardship in the world that I had come to believe that as a Christian I am supposed to present God with my cares and troubles and heart concerns, but that the outcome will likely be bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I have full faith that God is good. I am confident that He loves us in a way that is so powerful that it’s incomprehensible to our finite minds, but I have grown more comfortable with the understanding that, as a follower of Christ I will constantly be undergoing the refining process, which is often painful. Joys happen, yes, but they’re to keep us moving forward toward the finish line, not a gift of love from the King of Kings.
I. WAS. WRONG.
God hears our prayers. Every single one. And He knows what is better for us than we do, which is why sometimes He says “no”. Those “no’s” stink. I don’t like being told “NO.” And it seems like He says it a lot.
He doesn’t say “No” to be mean or because He doesn’t love us. Quite the opposite, really. He loves us so much that He won’t give us everything we want because what we desire is not His best for us. If we could see our lives from His perspective and see His plan, His BEST for us, we would agree with Him.
But we can’t see our lives from His view so we often feel grossly disappointed, even HURT that “He doesn’t seem to love me” because we didn’t get what we want.
Going into this delivery of Phoebe I was expecting to be grossly disappointed.
As I labored so hard, my heart was troubled about what was to come. I was afraid. I knew I’d get to hold her for a few minutes, but after that she’d be whisked away and I’d not get to hold her again… potentially for weeks. I wanted her out, but wanted her inside just the same because I knew I was still holding her then, and we were connected as a mama and her baby should be.
Then I heard her scream a cry that said, “I’m here! I’M HERE!!” A scream that identified life; a beautiful, unexpected, highly anticipated life.
And I began to weep.
Never in the births of my previous 5 children did I cry when they were born. Not because I didn’t love them like crazy, but because I was so happy. I didn’t realize how great the fear of loss could be until Phoebe. I didn’t realize how fragile life was until we were told time and time again that our girl simply didn’t stand a chance… so I wept because… GOD.
He knew what He was doing before even putting Phoebe in my womb.
He knew our fears and our doubts and our hopes.
He knew our hopes for healing and my faith-lacking belief that it would happen just as the doctors had said.
Last July I was just starting this blog and wrote a post here here about what it’s like to follow God when He asks you to do something terrifying.
He never, ever asks us to begin a journey that He will not accompany us on and walk us through.
When Jesus asked Peter to climb out of the boat and join him on the water (Matthew 14), Peter did it willingly. Then he saw the waves and the wind and the stormy seas around him and he began to panic and freak out, taking his eyes off the One who called Him to the task in the first place; the ONE who could bring him through it. And he began to sink.
“Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?“ -Matthew 14:31
Just call me “Peter”.
Why did I doubt?
This is God We’re talking about here! He has brought our family on a journey. He has promised that He will never leave us or turn His back on us. Our job is to keep our eyes fixed, unmoved by the wind and waves and storms around us, on HIM who is immoveable and unshakeable.
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible. With God ALL things are possible.” -Matthew 19:36
Let’s encourage one another with that, okay? NOTHING is impossible with God.
And friends? Let’s keep praying for one another because “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” -James 5:16
Phoebe is evidence of that. Thank you for your fervent, faithful prayers! God heard and He said, “YES!”