My heart sank deeper and deeper as the minutes ticked by waiting for the doctor. Minutes earlier, delight exuded as the gender was revealed. But the quietness and timid smile of my ultrasound technician that followed dimmed the excitement. Immediately, I knew something was not right, and I felt the hope of an uncomplicated delivery slip out of my hands again.
After walking through an at-birth Down syndrome diagnosis with my firstborn, I thought surely it would be smoother this time around. But the extra fluid detected in my son’s body placed me on an unwanted, unexpected path again.
On a warm Friday morning in October, I awoke early to the familiar feeling of contractions. But with my December due date, they were out of place. My body continued to tighten and relax rhythmically as I fed my daughter breakfast, powered on my computer to begin my workday, and kept my composure as I waited for my doctor’s office to open.
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My face was pale, my breath shallow, and tears threatened to fall as I walked into the examination room hoping for some relief and answers. My doctors had been very calm and optimistic about this extra fluid they were monitoring, but I could feel their optimism fading as they sent me down to labor and delivery.
There was a wave of unknown that washed over everyone.
As I settled into my hospital room, I had a steady stream of puzzled nurses and doctors working on my case. My mind went numb to the situation, overwhelmed by the physical pain and uncomfortableness I was feeling. My belly felt like a balloon about to pop, and I was ready for relief. The rumblings of an early delivery were discussed. But I was only 32 weeks, it was too early.
After a bustling day of visits from many doctors, the evening was a welcomed change of pace. Fewer people in and out of my room, a moment to breathe, and an attempt at some rest. It was the calm before the storm. And overall, I was thankful to still be pregnant. I knew every extra minute mattered for a 32-weeker. But the next afternoon the time came to put a C-section plan into place.
We didn’t hear him cry. We didn’t get to hold him. We barely got a glimpse of our new baby covered in a mound of blankets hiding his distended belly as they whizzed him away to diagnose what was going on.
At first, a wave of relief rushed in.
No longer was I physically stretched to my limits, or my mind left wondering when my baby might be delivered. Although traumatic, there was peace and hope as we moved on to the next chapter of the story. The doctors discovered he had a blockage in his intestines, which was causing fluid to build up. Surgery was performed right away to resolve the blockage. If we had waited any longer to deliver him, there could have been irreparable damage.
I definitely wouldn’t have chosen to have a baby at 32-weeks. Everything felt completely out of my hands, there was no birth plan to follow, no choices were my own, only driven by what my body and baby demanded. There was no other option but to trust God. To trust He had the right medical team in place to handle our situation. To trust He would be with me regardless of the outcome.
And I know He was there because that’s the only explanation for the peace and hope through not only the whole scary and life-threatening delivery, but also the 66 days we spent in the NICU as he recovered from surgery and grew strong enough to go home.
No one expects to have a baby at 32 weeks, but God knew he needed to be born early.
God’s timing is hard to understand, especially in the moment.
When things are going against the normal path, I often cry out and pray for things to change. I wonder why this is happening to me. And my birth stories filled with trauma have had me questioning God’s timing. It’s hard to see the greater picture, the higher purpose, especially when the experiences are painful. But as time ticks away, it gives the gift of perspective. As I look back at my life, I can see how critical decision points and experiences put me exactly where I am now. Allowing my belief and trust to grow in God’s perfect timing.
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Not every unexpected story ends like mine, and I’m grateful to be spending my days with my little guy, watching him grow and thrive. We are enjoying life as a family. But I often look at his little face and praise God for the miracle of an early birth and medical intervention that saved my son’s life.
We may not always understand God’s timing or ways, but we can always trust He will be there with us through it all.