Do you know this saying?
Last night at 2:00am, I couldn’t sleep and I was thinking about everything that had happened since November 10th when my water broke. I was thinking about how nervous I was going into surgery on November 18th. I had no idea how bad it was going to be or even how bad it was.
I remember laying in the bed before surgery staring at that curtain with my stomach doing flip flops and just praying for God to help me surrender my fears. I remember John walking down the hall with me as they wheeled me away, saying he loved me and would see me soon. I remember the bright lights of the operating room, of the vulnerable feeling of being naked on the table while people hustled and bustled all around me. I remember that the anesthesiologist talked me through what was happening in this calm voice but I felt like I was being suffocated under the oxygen mask (fear and claustrophobia). He kept saying, “Sweetie, it’s oxygen. Oxygen isn’t going to suffocate you.” I heard my name being stated, what we were there to do and that is all I remember of November 18th.
November 19th. Flashes of memory of what I thought was during surgery and have since figured out was the wee hours of the morning in ICU, after Nora’s birth, after my hysterectomy, after interventional radiology, after or maybe while I was bleeding out. Another piece of a memory- John, Philip, Parwin, Chris and (strangely) the hospital chaplain praying around me. Everyone’s face teary and tired and worried.
Finally my first lucid memory. I wake up and feel the tube in my throat. I feel how puffy my eyes are and I feel out of it. John and Bethany greet me as though I’ve been gone forever, eyes wide and faces stressed. I look at the clock and take note of the time. 1:00. I look out the window. Daylight. I went into surgery at 10pm. Why isn’t it 1:00am?
It’s November 19th. As the day goes on, I find out that sweet Nora was born and doing better than expected. I find out that she’d fared far better than I had. I find out that I was a hair’s breadth away from death. I find out that even the amazing MFM doctors were sure they were losing me but never gave up. That my family and friends and people I don’t know prayed me safely from the brink. That I’d needed twenty seven units of blood in surgery. (Three more while I was in ICU, bringing the grand total up to thirty.) That I’d nearly lost my life on November 19th.
And last night, as I laid in my bed and stared at the gray blue walls that John painted for my birthday…I treasured these things in my heart. My story could’ve ended that day. My husband could’ve ended up on his own with two little girls and a broken heart, missing his wife and stepchildren because the whole structure of his life would’ve changed without me. My children’s story- Julia could’ve lost her mom at twenty, Aubrey at seventeen, Chase at fifteen, Lila at only five…what would she have remembered? Claire, only two…she wouldn’t have remembered anything except what pictures and other people’s stories told her. The same for Nora…except she would’ve carried with her the fact that she was born and then I died.
I just couldn’t think about much else last night as I laid awake.
November 19th, it was the first day of the rest of my life.
I’m processing through all of this stuff and thinking about what God would have me do with it. I know I feel more raw, more vulnerable. I know I’m more prone to tears that come awfully quickly. I know I feel more compassion than I used to. I know I feel even more mercy than I used to. And oh, do I feel more gratitude. Every minute I have with John. Facetime with Chase. Hugs from Lila. Laughing with Aubrey and Julia. Claire climbing into my lap. The warm, soft weight of little Nora. I hold her close in the nicu and I breathe her in. She is the prize for all of this hard work and pain and physical suffering. Her presence in my world makes it all worth it.
But there is more that I have gained. My eyes are opened wider to the beauty and blessing. Even as I type those words, Lila and Claire are arguing over Christmas toys which isn’t particularly beautiful but even that makes me grateful. I am here to break up the squabble. I am here to explain that we love our sister and we don’t fight in this house. My eyes can suddenly see His gifts even more clearly and I am looking even harder for them. November 19th was the first day of the rest of my life and I don’t want to miss even one gift He’s given me.
Even those days when my pain level is high, when I’m so tired that I fall asleep in my chair or in the car or while I’m reading…even those days when it seems like Nora will be in the NICU until she’s in kindergarten…even those days when the drive to and from Norfolk just seems impossibly long…no matter how down I feel, I am thankful.
I am here.
And the changes I want to make are quite simple. I want to love more, pray more, serve more, give more. I want to walk with Jesus, pressing in close to His side, learning His ways. I don’t want to squander all of these new days He’s given me.
And now, because I know you are a praying people, would you join me in some special and persistent prayers for two of God’s beloved ones?
1. My friend Laura is going for a PET scan on Friday. Laura has been receiving chemo for quite a while now. She is doing this while being a busy mom to two little ones. She has her own Nora and Jacob too and she is an amazing person. Chemo is slowing her down though and she is ready to be done and begin the first day of the rest of her life. Will you pray that her cancer is gone for good?
2. My little cousin Makayla is thirteen and she is struggling deeply with anorexia. Will you pray that she will be delivered from this? Will you pray that she would know the truths of God and how He loves her? I want to see her thrive and begin the first day of the rest of her life. I want to see her live with a free heart and a healthy body.
Thank you, beloved ones.