Last night when I laid down to go to bed I was flooded with the memories and emotions of that OR on February 10. It was as if I was there all over again.
It's been five weeks since then and it still feels like yesterday. The days seem so long, from wake up to sleep, it just drags and feels huge and ominous but it doesn't feel like it's been 5 weeks either. Each day brings with it a different set of memories for me to sort through and process. Some of them I will always cherish so deeply. Some of them I will forever know and feel but will wish I could forget. I guess that's why writing feels so good. I can actually hash out the good from the bad. I can identify, through the beauty of hind sight, the ways in which God was at work in our lives even in the midst of the fears and frustrations.
When the doctors told us at 25 weeks that our son would very likely not survive the 3 weeks until our next ultrasound, we were devastated. We faced a decision that no parent should ever have to make. Do we go ahead and deliver this baby so we can meet him, hold him, and know him, knowing that the outcome would be his death? Or did we continue the pregnancy, not knowing if we would ever get to hold our living child? I was terrified of a still birth. I was terrified of never meeting my son as a living and breathing person. I was equally as terrified that if I chose to deliver him simply so I could meet him before he died, was I limiting the ability of my God to provide us a miracle?
In the end, regardless of the stress or fear we felt, we chose to pray for a miracle. I will never second guess that decision. I carried my son for 38 weeks. That was a full 10 weeks longer than any of the doctors thought was possible. And not only did I carry him for 38 weeks, I got to meet him; hold him, kiss him, take pictures and document his short but precious life. I'm so very glad we decided to do nothing medically and to just pray. (Just pray seems silly too... that was a huge thing that we did and that so many people across or lives did as well) Our amazing God got us to that OR with a living baby. At my 34 week OB appointment, we finally started talking about a plan beyond pregnancy. We scheduled a delivery date. A scheduled c-section was how the doctors agreed would be the best way to introduce George Mason to this world. February 13, 2017. It seemed so far away on that day, but it also seemed so attainable. We marked it on our calendars. People booked flights. All the details were arranged and life seemed to finally be rounding out to some sort of manageable normal instead of the chaos of the unknown we had been experiencing since October.
George Mason had his own plans. I went into labor on February 9th, just four days before the calm of our scheduled c-section and just one day before my sister arrived from back east to help us prepare for the hospital stay and to care for and love on Audrey. I woke up that morning like normal. We had coffee and breakfast as a family. It was like any other day. After adam left for work I got out the paint and worked on finishing our bedroom. I went to the chiropractor. Life was going as normal and then suddenly it wasn't. As I drove home from the chiropractor I felt contractions. They were more painful than the Braxton hicks I had been feeling throughout the pregnancy but I didn't think much of it because they were random. I had lunch with a friend, like every Thursday, and she noticed me pausing to breath through the pain; about every 10 minutes. I knew something was wrong but I didn't want to admit it. I called my OBs office, despite wanting to just ignore it and hope they went away, and they said to put my feet up and drink lots of water.
The pain got worse and the contractions got closer together. I made Adam come home from work. I didn't want to admit that labor had started... if I went into labor it meant my son, our beautiful miracle, was coming early, and early was the worst word in the vocabulary of my pregnancy. I laid in bed for the rest of the afternoon. I took a bath. I prayed these contractions would stop. I took a shower. I cried. I even contemplated going to ladies night with my girlfriends hoping that the company and some laughter would calm things down. I didn't make it to ladies night. We left for the hospital after we put Audrey to bed. My contractions were 5 minutes apart. If I thought I was terrified before that moment, I was truly terrified in that car ride to the hospital. I couldn't explain it, but I knew that this early arrival meant my son wasn't going to come home. I cried every time a nurse came in the room. I cried when they finally made the decision to stop monitoring me and get me to the OR.
As they walked me into the OR and I climbed on the table, I was overwhelmed by everything. I don't remember exactly what I was feeling or thinking but I know I was exhausted. It was just after 4am on February 10th. I'd been awake since 5:30am the morning before. I had been given a sleeping pill around 10:45pm but the contractions were strong and close together. I couldn't relax between them and I certainly couldn't sleep. I remembering lying down on the operating table and listening to the anesthesiologist tell me what to expect: pressure but no pain, some possible dizziness, and nausea. He wanted me to let him know if I felt nauseous because there was something he could give me to help with that.
I was so overwhelmed in that moment that I couldn't even form the words for a prayer. I just squeezed Adam's hand and listened for the cries of a newborn baby.
It's in the moments like that one on the operating table that I'm thankful for our community. I'm thankful for the body of believers that went through this journey with us. Even though I was incapable of crying out to my God in that moment, He had been listening over the last several months and He was listening to the prayers lifted on our behalf in that particular moment by those that love us. 5 minutes later we heard our son cry. It was small and meek, but he cried and we praised our great God. That delivery was a miracle and we will never forget that or take it for granted. George Mason lived to meet his parents despite what the best of modern medicine had to say about it.
"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." - Isaiah 43:1-2