Monday, July 1, 2013

Painless contractions and wordless groaning

A year ago today, July 1, 2012 my OBGYN walked into my hospital room.  It was good to see a familiar face.  "I can't believe you're here" she said, as she sat at the foot of my bed, "I was sure that they wouldn't need to admit you."

"So was I," I replied, "I thought this was just like last pregnancy."  The last pregnancy I had  had to be checked no less than a half dozen times due to false labor.  I'd come to believe that all labor before 36 weeks, in my body at least, was false.  Seems I'm really good at faking myself out.

"I heard you chose to go for the circlage" she said, "A risky choice, but I would have done the same thing."

She explained to me how things would work from here on out, how I'd be followed by the MFM (maternal fetal medicine) doctors and by her office, and how she would defer to the MFM doctors.  They were the experts on high risk pregnancies, so they were now running the show.

She left and, even though it was Sunday, I started notifying work and family of my situation via email. I was on bed-rest now. I didn't know for how long. No one had really talked about that. I didn't know of anyone who had been in my situation and then was allowed to walk around a week later like all was normal.  I assumed I was in this for the long haul, for a few months at least. "We won't keep you past delivery." the MFM doctor had said when I asked him about it, "We'll take it a day at a time."  An obvious statement, but maybe it was to give me some hope. I was stuck for a bit, but this would end, eventually. Later was better than earlier.

Despite being on bed-rest, things weren't boring. Doctors and nurses came in to check on me regularly. I was still contracting off and on. I was monitored carefully and so was the baby. I pressed a button every time I felt a contraction as my uterus was still too small for the machine to pick them up most of the time. Sometimes I wasn't quite sure if it was a contraction or not. We went for ultrasounds regularly to check the cervix and make sure the baby was okay.

At one ultrasound, the technician said, "are you feeling anything right now?"

"It's a maybe-contraction," I said, "I don't think I'd count it if I were counting."

"No," she said, "it's a real contraction.  Look at what your body is doing."

I looked at the screen and watched as the top half of my cervix, the part that wasn't sewn shut, grew perceptibly with the barely perceptible ache.  That little tiny contraction produced THAT dramatic of a shift? "The top is four centimeters dilated when you contract."

And that was a contraction that I thought didn't count.  Wow.  This was the groaning of childbirth?  My soul groaned more than my body with each contraction.  This is not the birth experience I wanted.


TODAY, a year later, I spend much of the morning praying for another family.  Their child was born a micro-preemie, like mine. That child is still in the hospital almost six months after delivery, with no "go home" date in sight, and they're on my heart.  I do not give much detail on purpose. Their story is not mine to share.

All that said, I learned something this year. I learned that though I had ideas of what my child needed, God gave to praying friends details of unseen needs.  So many times I'd have a friend send me a note that said, "I'm praying for his heart" or "I'm praying for his lungs" and I'd think, "Why his heart?  It's his kidneys I'm worried about" or "Why his lungs?  He's doing great on the vent, I just want to know if he's going to be able to digest food!"  And then a few days later it was clear that the very organ that had been put on that person's heart was truly what needed work at that time.

So, without knowing more details, please pray for this micro-preemie that is still in the hospital.  God leads, surrounds us, and works through prayers.

This was one of many lessons I learned through my micro-preemie.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  - Romans 8:22-27

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