Ahhhh the age old question of why do bad things happen to good people. I mean, I consider myself to be a pretty decent person, so why is all this happening to me? Why do I have a preemie baby and why are her lungs so bad??? Why are we going through all of this?
Pastor Dan had an interesting comment about that question last Sunday. He made the comment that that question is very much a first world question.
Oh, how true!
Let me tell you a bit of our story to prove my (his)point.
My pregnancy with Hazel Grace was not an easy one. It was fraught with pain and complications from the get-go. When i finally came to the hospital on the 28th of July, it was because I had lost so much blood that I was lightheaded and it was getting hard to breathe. My blood pressure was so low that I could not brush my hair. Getting out of bed was hard enough let alone contemplating the task of actually wielding a brush with enough vigor to cause it to make its way through my tangled mass of hair.
At the time that I came to the hospital, I was not yet 24 weeks pregnant. Or at least the doctors had not dated me as such. That meant that the nurses didn't really try to care for the baby and they were only interested in caring for me even if that meant 'letting' me miscarry. Which was disconcerting to say the least because I was in active labor with contractions coming every 4-6 minutes.
Then, the doctor wheeled in a big sonogram machine and I was dated at exactly 24 weeks and the action began. I was given magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions and to help protect Hazel's brain if she was going to born early, and I was given the first of 2 shots of steroids which were to help her lungs develop more rapidly, again, in case she were to be born early. (The hope was that the contractions would stop and I would be on monitored bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy.)
By now, it was Monday afternoon.
The Mg could be given for 48 hours and the second steroid shot was also given 48 hours after the first.
We were now pulling up on Wednesday evening. I had also received 4 units of blood to try to replace some of what I had lost, but my blood counts were still very low and my blood pressure was still extremely low sometimes dipping below my 'norm' for the time of 80/50.
The reason for the severe blood loss was originally contributed to placenta previa, which is where the placenta is very low and covers all or part of the cervix, but then it was determined that I also had a placental abruption, which is where the placenta tears away from the uterus. An abruption, if minor, is not a big problem for the baby or the mother, but if the tear gets large, the baby will not be able to get enough oxygen through the placenta which can be fatal, and the mother has a high chance of 'bleeding out' which basically means that the woman would begin to bleed, and not be able to stop, which, of course, can also be a fatal condition.
Anyway, since my blood pressure was so low, and the drugs that they changed me to after the Mg was done to keep the contractions at bay was making it dip lower, my dose was reduced and I started contracting and bleeding again.
When I first told my nurse that I was contracting, she told me that I was not. When I insisted that I was, she denied it yet again and told me I had gas or cramps or round ligament pain, but not contractions. But I knew what I was feeling and I kept insisting, and finally my mother got involved, too, and the nurse reluctantly agreed to call the doctor.
My doctor arrived within a half hour or so, and he called the neonatologist and they both had a look at me and what was going on, and they both agreed that the baby had to come out...now.
So I was given one more short dose of Mg and I was prepped for an emergency c-section.
It was now Thursday evening, and I was scared.
I called Jimmy and he got to my side as quickly as he could and I was rolled out and cut up.
And Sweet baby Hazel Grace joined us.
Later the doctor came in to see me.
You know, he said, you were blessed that we got your baby out when we did. In another hour or two, neither one of you would have been here. Your placenta was almost completely abrupted and it broke away as we lifted her out. For a moment, he said, I thought that I would have to take your uterus out because you would not stop bleeding, but you are blessed. Your baby is here and alive, you are here and alive and you have your uterus intact. You both have a road to recovery before you, but praise God you are both here.
That stopped me for a moment.
First of all, through it all, I never knew how close to death I really was until he said that. A few hours...
A few hours!
That in and of itself is enough to make me stop and lift my hands in praise to the Almighty One! In a few short hours, had things not played out as they did...my insistence that I was in labor again and my mother's intervention and the doctors' quick response...my kids would have no mother, Jimmy would have no wife, my sister no sister...
God is good. My aching incision is a blessing to me and my family!
Secondly, had things not been orchestrated by God as they were...had I not come in on Sunday to be dated at 24 weeks on Monday to have the mess that helped Hazel develop, had she not been held in my womb until Thursday, when all that could be done for her had been done, had the placenta not held on until all the help possible could be given to her, she would not be here, either.
And so, here, in my first world country, as I look at my sweet baby Hazel Grace who is breathing only through the support of sofisticated machinery and as I feel the ache subside little by little day by day as my body heals, I realize that it's is not a bad thing that has happened to me, but rather a blessing.
What we see as bad things can be, in the whole plan of things, a blessing. But we here, in this privileged country expect other things.
I expect a whole healthy baby. I expect food on the table and a roof over my head. I expect clean water and the ability to provide an education and a future for my children...
And in those expectations, I believe that sometimes I lose sight of the blessings that I have.
I have travelled in third world countries and I have slept in huts with dirt floors and I have seen the hands lifted up in praise for the chicken that runs between legs as barefoot babies are nursed and in thanksgiving for the water that tastes strongly of plastic and that I drink with hesitation because it has been pulled from a well far away and brought to me in an old plastic bottle that has seen many uses. And they do not ask, 'why do bad things happen to us, good people?'
But they say instead, praise the Lord for He is good.
So today, sitting here by my baby Hazel Grace, I vow not to stop asking the question, but rather to change my point of view. I do not know what lies ahead in our situation...there could be much joy, but there could also be many tears. Or perhaps the two will come hand in hand as they often do. But I can know that God has a good and true purpose both for Hazel Grace and for me even though I may never know that purpose until I stand in awe on the other side. We are alive. He has set us aside for a special purpose that He has yet to reveal, but no matter what, we have already been fully and truly blessed merely by both of us still being here on this planet!
So I vow here...now...that I will, by God's grace and with His help, I will lift my hands in thanksgiving for all situations...
Both the good and the 'bad'...
Because aren't they all intertwined anyway?