When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Psalm 63:6 NKJV
As promised, Dr. Gordon arrived early Friday morning to check my status. He didn’t appear to have slept any better than I had, although he was cheerful and encouraging, particularly since I hadn’t bled during the night, my vital signs were good, and the baby was doing well. To avoid moving me around, he elected to return Saturday morning to perform an ultrasound to take a look at the placenta’s exact location, confident that his diagnosis – without an ultrasound confirmation – was correct. Until then I’d remain confined to bed, resting primarily on my left side, enjoying a liquid diet.
I spent much of Friday wondering how Parker was enjoying his preschool party and reflecting on what had brought me to this unthinkable position. I also spent too much time and precious energy worrying about the next hour, day, or month. In between my anxious wondering, I attempted to divert my attention from the negatives and fear by reflecting on the significance of the day – Good Friday – and preparing mentally for my own personal celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
The vacant hours plodded forward, and the television droned on throughout the night for company while the nurses continued to make their timely visits with blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, and fetal monitor. No matter the time of day or night, it thrilled me to hear my baby’s strong, steady heartbeat.
Saturday morning sunlight arrived, as did Dr. Gordon with an ultrasound machine. Within seconds of smearing the contact gel around my abdomen, flipping the switch on and peering carefully at the monitor, he pronounced his diagnosis valid then – after giving me an opportunity to relish another view of my beautiful, precious baby – pointed out the life-threatening problems illuminated on the monitor screen. He was cautiously optimistic, since I’d made it through another night; but the continual fluid loss and spotting concerned him. He chatted amiably for several minutes, reiterated his concerns, prognosis and treatment plan, and ordered more rest – along with the “no moving a muscle” instruction. He punctuated the last order with arched eyebrows and a warning index finger waved my direction. I offered a resigned nod and submissive “okay.” Then he smiled a sympathetic smile, told me he’d be checking on me later in the day, and wheeled the ultrasound machine from the room.
Once again I was left alone to my overactive, fearful mind, an uncertain future looming before me.
A more soothing view might have helped. The large glass window in my room overlooked an inviting, sun-dappled courtyard, but savoring that tranquil sight meant rolling onto my right side. Every once-in-a-while, I’d twist my head and shoulder around to relish a quick peek. Otherwise, while the hours dragged on with my monotonous, white-walled scenery, I entertained myself by reminiscing about Parker’s past birthdays – a little something to smile about.
Chris and Parker visited Saturday afternoon. Parker arrived with an armload of his birthday gifts to show and entertain me; Chris arrived complaining about his profound fatigue and Parker’s obstinate, unmanageable behavior. Parker did appear agitated, and the longer he stayed, staring wide-eyed at the machines surrounding my bed and the tubes entering and exiting my body, the more his behavior deteriorated. What was to be an encouraging visit dissolved into anger and sharp words. Chris lost his temper with Parker, and I collapsed in tears. How selfish Chris is for complaining about his difficult day and the trouble he’s had with Parker, I thought. Does he think I’m enjoying the bed rest? What does he expect me to say, do? How can he burden me with his frustration and anger when I can barely shoulder my own? Is he unable to see beyond his own needs? His own pain?
I expected Chris to understand my physical and emotional anguish. He could see the tubes and IV lines threaded into my body; he knew I wasn’t free to move around or sit upright. Certainly he could at least appreciate my helplessness and extend me some extra tenderness and compassion.
Yet, he remained unable to comprehend the intensity of my emotional and physical pain; and I failed to consider the depth of his stress, fear and exhaustion. I’d always been a survivor type, and Chris had grown familiar and comfortable with my independent, stoic, competitive nature.
Overnight those personality traits faltered. Now I needed Chris to be strong, understanding and sympathetic; and Parker desperately needed his father’s strength, reassurances and gentle parenting. I could no longer fill in the gaps. I only possessed strength for our baby. Rapidly diminishing strength.
I’d told Dr. Gordon I was willing to do anything necessary to prolong the pregnancy and maintain the health of my baby. Slinking around my mind, however, was the hope that I wouldn’t be pressed to accomplish that “anything.” Deep in my heart, I wondered if I possessed the stamina or will to endure the effort. Shamefully, I admitted to myself that concern about my own discomfort was rapidly overtaking my desire to persevere.
From the pregnancy’s onset, I struggled to visualize the end: a healthy baby bundled contentedly in my arms. Why did the feeling of an unfinished end – an ugly, gaping void – keep nagging at my conscience? I repeatedly tried to dismiss it, but now it intensified again.
Nonsense, I berated myself after Chris and Parker left. We’re going to make it through this ordeal. I’ll be tough, and God will certainly reward me with a miracle!
NEXT WEEK: Recognizing the protective hand of God, battling myself and my former medical group, and the dangerous pitfalls of relying on positive thinking.
Thanks for joining me!
*name changed to protect privacy