I clenched my teeth to keep from screaming as the surgeon's scalpel drew a crimson line across my lower abdomen. The anaesthetic wasn't working. If they find out they'll put me under. My thoughts ran wildly while I tried to gain control. I won't be asleep when my babies are born!
Momentarily, I forgot the pain as one of my babies was lifted out of my womb. “A fine little boy,” the doctor announced just before I heard my son's loud and angry cry.
The sensation was surreal as the head of my second twin was manipulated through the incision. It seemed like everyone in the room sucked in their breath.
“Come on baby! Come on baby!” The doctor's strained words made my chest tighten with fear. Finally, I heard the thin cry that my ears were aching for. Thankfulness surged through me.
One at a time my two sons were brought to me so I could see them before they were whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
I felt strange sensations of tugging and pushing deep within as the doctor stitched layer after layer. Panic rose in my throat. Breathing deep, I tried to calm myself and keep from thrashing my head. The eyes of the anaesthesiologist met mine with an apology. He knew.
Finally, it was over. I lay in the recovery room utterly spent. But moments later my body started jerking uncontrollably. “She's going into shock!” I heard one nurse yell out. Steaming blankets were piled on top of me until I began to relax.
“Are you okay?” A nurse asked while softly stroking my hand. Her voice was as kind and gentle as her touch.
“Yes,” I said with a nod.
“Are you really okay?” Her empathy broke down the wall that held back my tears, and I sobbed over the fear I had felt for my premature babies and the horror of the pain.
“Get some rest,” the nurses gently admonished, but how could I sleep when I hadn't even held my babies? I stared at the moon and felt terribly alone as I mourned the loss of the last months of my pregnancy and waited for morning to come.
Perched in a wheelchair, I spent the next day going from one twin to the other. It was strange to see them in separate isolettes; they had spent seven months nestled together in the fluid darkness. I marvelled at their wrinkled red skin and their tiny heads little bigger than an orange.
“He recognizes your voice,” a nurse said when my son turned his head towards me as I sang “Jesus Loves Me.”
That night, I heaved myself into the bed and collapsed. It had been almost 40 hours since I had slept. I reflected on all that had happened that horrifically long day: the fear I felt when I went into labour too early and the mayhem at the hospital when they found a foot in the birth canal.
Sleep. I needed sleep. I had exactly two and a half hours before I would have to pump milk again.
“You awake?” came Mary's voice from across the room. I had met her earlier in the day and had learned that she also had a baby in the NICU. Sliding the curtain out of the way, I smiled for an answer. Maybe it was the fatigue but the situation struck me as humorous as we sat opposite each other in identical hospital gowns. Mary had very short dark hair, and looked to be in her late thirties.
“Do you mind me asking a question?” she asked looking down at her hands.
“Not at all,” I said.
“Do you believe in God? I noticed you and your husband praying earlier.”
Really, God? Now? I tried to focus my blurry vision and asked God to give me strength. Long into the night, Mary and I talked like old friends. I told her about how God reached down and wrapped me in his love when I was surrounded in darkness. Mary told me about growing up in a home filled with religion, but void of God and the hunger for truth that filled her heart.
It was then that I truly realized that God was bigger than my loneliness, fear, and pain. In spite of my weakness—no, because of it—God revealed his love through me that night.
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