Thank the Lord for Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the miracle of the telephone—my connection with the outside world, to help me succeed in my human incubator role.
While my husband was unraveling in front of my eyes, I did manage to glean support from phone calls bearing happy, encouraging voices. (Remember, this was WAY before laptop computers and text messaging on slick, ultra-lightweight cell phones!) Uplifting cards also arrived in the mail and were added to my growing mail stack lying beside me.
Eventually, though, I even had to forgo the phone calls because simple, animated dialogue resulted in contraction episodes. Contractions that became harder to control even with the prescribed Terbutalin. My “Vitamin T” as Dr. Landry liked to call it.
One friend I was able to maintain consistent contact with, though, was a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse and Unit manager—the woman from my church who had the infant daughter I couldn’t bring myself to hold so many months before. At every stage—and every week I joyously ticked off my calendar—I called her for a detailed update on fetal development for that particular week of gestation, and about what to expect should I deliver at that particular time.
She was always a great encourager, particularly when I confided to her that I really didn’t know how much longer I could lie in bed like this and that I seriously doubted my resolve and ability to keep my “promise.”
“I don’t know how you’re doing it,” she’d say. “But you need to think of the baby; every day means a bigger, stronger baby, with a better chance of survival. You’ve got to hang in there. You’re doing a great job!”
With words of affirmation being one of my love languages, sometimes that’s all I needed to hear from someone: “You’re doing a great job!” I’d received so few affirming words from the most important people in my life. And if there was ever a time I needed them, it was then.
Always honest and impartial, she never withheld any adverse medical information about preemie infants. As much as I occasionally wanted to don a pair of rose-colored glasses, her tell-it-like-it-is, clinical approach suited me better than others compelled to be high-spirited, super-positive cheerleaders. “Everything’s going to be just fine,” they’d chirp. “It won’t be very long before you’re going to have a beautiful, healthy infant in your arms, and you will forget all about this!”
How did they know everything would turn out happily-ever-after? Did they have a private line to God? Because He wasn’t giving me any super assurances all would be well. And I knew all-too-well that sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you want or expect. I had physical and psychological wounds to prove that.
Happy chirping didn’t make me feel more secure, or happy. Ironically, I felt more spiritually lifted by my friend, Sandy, who years earlier was bed-ridden while carrying her daughter. She had pretty much been to hell and back in that event, and we thrived on repeatedly shared horror stories. (I know what you’re thinking, but you had to be there. And isn’t that one of the reasons people attend “group?” So they can commiserate together?)
Anyway, this woman really knew deep down in her gut what I was going through. She had been there, and survived! Rather than find her stories depressing, I found solace in them; a kindred spirit who understood the fathoms of my suffering and commiserated. She didn’t try to water down the reality, or risk. She didn’t try to distract me from the suffering. Here was someone else who had taken a dangerous chance and emerged victorious. We even laughed about the embarrassing dilemmas we faced, the all-dignity-gone vulnerability we encountered on a daily basis. She understood me, and my heart. Oh, what a witness she was to me! Oh, did the Apostle Paul ever know what he was talking about when he said that we can laugh with others and cry with them; that when we have suffered, we can commiserate better with others in the midst of their afflictions.
Even Dr. Landry, like an encouarging father, told me I was sacrificing a very small measure of my life; that I needed to regard myself as a human incubator.
So, I continued to gather my calendar every morning, count the days, divide them into weeks, then count the remaining time, only to repeat the process again that afternoon, and the next day. That precarious moment, when I was solidly entrenched in it, certainly didn’t seem to me to be such a small interval of my life.
And it caused me to repeatedly ask myself the question: What does “having faith” really mean?
My friends loved me and wanted to protect me, but I reminded myself—often—that my faith and hope must remain in God’s will, and in His will alone.
No matter what the outcome would be.
Even if I failed to be a good human incubator.
Even if I failed to be a good human incubator.
NEXT WEEK: Being pregnant and bedridden and dealing with the physical pain of a growing, developing baby…
Until next week,
Thanks for joining me!