Friday, August 1, 2014

Oh, How Far We've Come!

A year ago today, in a hospital room not far from here, I lay dying.

My blood pressure was so low that I could barely breathe and the bleeding and contractions just wouldn't stop.  

My mother sat in a chair at the foot of my bed, and my husband sat by my head.  To keep her hands busy, my mom was knitting.  What she was knitting, maybe neither one of us really know, but she was knitting, creating, while I, her youngest child, was dying.  

The drugs they had given me made my mouth so dry I could barely move my lips, and my vision was blurry, so I could only sort of see out of one squinted eye.  

I couldn't raise my arms or my head, and so I had to twitch a finger so that Jimmy would know that I needed some ice to cool my body that was burning me from the inside out.  My hair was a matted mess on my head and my arms and hands were a web of wires and blown veins.  

'I don't want you to be a hero', my mom said.  

'I have life insurance', I said. 'Please take care of the kids', I said.  'Please keep them together', I said.  

She nodded and knit, counting stitches, counting seconds, counting minutes.  

The nurse had insisted that all was fine, while I insisted that all was not, and by the time the doctor came, it was almost too late.  

Thirty to 45 more minutes, he said after the surgery. Thirty to 45 more minutes, he said, and neither one of you would have made it.  The placenta was completely detached, he said.  It fell off in my hands.  

I could feel the stitches, I said.  It hurt so much and I felt every prick and pull.  Why didn't the anesthesia work?  I asked.

It did, he said, but I couldn't stop the bleeding.  You almost lost your uterus, he said, but I didn't want to take it.  That's why it took so long for me to stitch you up.  I knew you felt it, he said.  That's why I couldn't look into your eyes.  You would have seen my fear, and panicked.  

That's how well we knew each other by then.  Well enough to read the signs.  

He prayed over me before the surgery.  He prayed healing over me and steadiness of hand over himself.  His eyes closed in pleading with God to please let this one work out before he stood over me and asked me why I was here.  

He made me say it.  I had to force the words out between cracked lips.  


He wasn't being mean, he was following protocol, you know, to be sure he cut in the right place and did the right operation.  

And then the sharp blade bit into my flesh and through the small hole that he carved in my body, he drew out our tiny Hazel Grace.  All one pound, seven ounces of her.  

And that is where this story began.  This story of life, instead of death.  This story of joy, instead of pain.  This story of celebration, instead of sorrow.  

And we've come so far, Hazel Grace.  You and I.  We are a far cry from the limp bodies that the doctor prayed over.  We are strong, we are healthy, and we are so very very blessed.  

Happy birthday, sweet baby!  May God continue to bless and strengthen you so that this is just the first of many many happy birthdays.  Look forward, Hazel Grace, to the life that is ahead of you, and strive toward it.  But don't ever forget, small one, where you came from.  Don't forget how it all began.  Hold in your heart all the prayers that have been said over you, and know that you are chosen by God and destined for great things!

Hazel Grace, a few days after she was born.

Hazel Grace, today!

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