I tried to concentrate. Really I did. The pastor was preaching on Luke 18:16, but the sporadic tightening around my stomach caused me to lose focus. At 39 weeks, I was more than ready to meet our little Grace and this new development seemed very exciting.
“But Jesus called them unto Him, and said…”
It had been thirteen hours and still no baby. I stifled a scream as another contraction tore through my body. My husband, Joe, looked on helplessly wishing he could end my pain.
My doctor, worried about the length of time the delivery was taking, made preparations to use a vacuum type device to aid in the birth.
“I’m attaching the vacuum now,” he instructed. “On the count of three, I want you to exhale and help push your baby out as I pull. Are you ready?”
“Yes!” I panted--half due to excitement and half to the onset of another contraction.
Moments later I felt the indescribable sensation of my daughter passing through the birth canal. Relief flooded over me as I knew I would soon be holding my precious child and the pain would all be in the past.
However, one look at my doctor’s face told me something was wrong. Immediately, orders were yelled to those assisting in the birth. My husband stood worriedly by as he watched the doctor cut through the umbilical cord that was tightly wound around Grace’s neck. He looked at me with a weak smile, but I could see right through it and knew things were not going well.
The room suddenly buzzed with activity as NICU nurses and doctors seemed to appear out of nowhere. Grace was blue – she needed oxygen.
“Please! Let me hold her. Just for a minute. Please!” I begged, oblivious to the worried glances passed between the medical staff. As Grace was placed in my arms, I looked into the beautiful eyes of my daughter for the first time. Within moments, they whisked her away to the NICU leaving me with empty, aching arms.
“…‘Suffer the little children to come unto me….”
“Your baby’s heart has several defects.”
I sank back on the hospital bed; blood draining from my face. My hands shook as I searched for the reassuring touch of my husband.
“We’ll need to move her to another hospital and perform open heart surgery. The transport team is on the way.” The words were cold and indifferent but carried with them life changing details.
Two days later, Joe and I were relieved to hear words of a more encouraging nature as we were told the surgery had been a success. We thanked God for watching over our tiny treasure. While Grace recovered, Joe and I learned about the challenges we would face with this special child. There was to be careful monitoring of wet diapers, meticulous recordings of every ounce eaten, and medicines of various dosages to be administered around the clock. Life would not be easy…but we would have our daughter and would move Heaven and earth to care for her.
“….and forbid them not...”
“Her heart is doing well but she needs one more procedure before going home. We’ve discovered some abdominal abnormalities that must be surgically corrected.”
The news devastated us as we had been so close to having our daughter come home before this setback. The surgery was scheduled, and we prepared for this new leg of our journey.
While Grace was in surgery the next morning, Joe and I sat in relative ease in the waiting room. We had been through far worse – this procedure was minor in comparison to open heart surgery. We chatted with other parents who shared how their children were waiting for transplants and other unfathomable miracles. Inwardly, I breathed a prayer of gratefulness for how well our little sweetie was doing while also offering up a prayer for those who were facing almost certain loss.
A half hour passed from the time we had been told that Grace was through surgery. Thinking the nurses had forgotten about us, we walked down the now familiar hallway towards the NICU.
As we swung the door open…the pale face of Grace’s surgeon met us.
“…for of such is the kingdom of God.’”
Our little Grace never made it home. Moments before we arrived at the NICU, she was welcomed into the waiting arms of Jesus. I know my little Grace is helping to make His Kingdom, truly beautiful.
Author's Note: This was written in loving memory of my daughter who would have turned 8 years old this May.
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