It’s hard to know where to start when I am writing about personal things. Do I go back to the beginning (and what exactly IS the beginning?), or do I start with the here and now and work my way backward? Do I try to give any sort of timeline, or just share experiences as they come to mind? Yeah, I’m not very good at this… 😉
So today, I am just going to share something that has been on my mind a bit lately. I have a precious friend who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer, and her experience has reminded me of some truths that God showed me years ago as I was going through a difficult time. And with this story, I’ll start from (or at least close to) the beginning 😉
Rex and I decided to start a family about 6 years into our marriage. We were excited about embarking on this new adventure together. I won’t go into all the details, but we had trouble. Lots of trouble. My doctor blamed it on endometriosis since there were no other issues she could see in either of us that could pose a problem. Year after year passed—eventually almost 6 years—and I was still unable to get pregnant. If you’ve ever dealt with infertility, you know the feeling. It is like getting kicked hard in the gut for every month that passes that things don’t work out. We were disappointed, discouraged, and ready to give up.
Fertility treatments had not even been a consideration for us, as they were too cost prohibitive, and there was no way we could come up with that kind of money. But when my grandmother passed away in January of 2006, we received a portion of her life insurance money. One of her biggest dreams was for us to have a child, and we knew immediately that putting that money toward fertility treatments was what we needed to do. I contacted a clinic, filled out the paperwork, and was ready to get started when…
Almost 6 years after we began this journey, I got pregnant! We were ecstatic! You should have seen the happy dance we did after that test came back positive. And the joy in my husband’s face . . . it brings tears to my eyes even now as I remember it. It was such a sweet time. Our family and friends who had prayed for so long rejoiced with us. And then . . .
About 3 weeks later, I had some spotting. It was enough of a concern that I called my OBGyn, but she was out of the office. I got an appointment with one of the Physician Assistants at my regular MD’s office and went in. At first, she thought it was nothing, but after some more checking, she said it looked like I was miscarrying and sent me to the ER.
I was so thankful that Rex had left work to come with me. As we drove to the hospital, I sat in teary-eyed disbelief as Rex called my mom. Our dream was slipping away. I couldn’t comprehend how, after all we had been through, after we had waited for so long, it could end like this.
When we got to the ER, they took me right back, did an exam, and started running tests including blood work and a sonogram. Some time later, the OB doc that was on call for my regular OBGyn came in to talk with me. She was a super nice lady, and very compassionate. She explained that she, the ER doctor, and a doctor who read my sonogram had conferred with one another, and they were all three 100% sure that I had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. There are apparently some “telltale signs” that point to ectopic pregnancy, and my case was evidently pretty much “textbook.” And to complicate matters even more, I was carrying twins (!) and so that little embryo was growing inside my tube at twice the rate of a single pregnancy. I would have to have emergency surgery that night to remove the embryo (which had no chance at life), because they feared the tube could be damaged and could even threaten my life, if it were to rupture.
We were crushed. I am so thankful that my mom was there, and thankful for good friends who came up and sat with my devastated husband while I was in surgery.
I remember waking up a bit as they were wheeling me from the OR into the recovery area. I asked one of the nurses if she knew whether my tube had been damaged, or if they had been able to save it. It’s a good thing I was already lying down because her answer floored me. “Your tube is fine. You didn’t have an ectopic pregnancy after all.” What?? So am I still pregnant? “Yes. You are still pregnant.” And I guess that’s all my drug-induced little brain could handle, because with that, I drifted back into Neverland.
When I awoke again in recovery, I wondered if that conversation had been a dream. How in the world? I asked the nurse there, and she confirmed the whole thing: There was no ectopic pregnancy. I was still pregnant. The doctor had explained everything to my family, and when I was ready to go, I would be reunited with them and they could tell me the details. She said doctors never talk to the patients themselves—only family members—because the patients are too groggy to remember everything after surgery anyway. I was disappointed, but I understood.
But, in a little while, the doctor came in to talk with me. The nurse had convinced her that I was lucid enough to be able to understand and remember (and I do, to this day) everything she might tell me. She was almost giddy as she explained that yes, I was still pregnant. There was a possibility that the spotting I was having was still the beginning stages of a miscarriage. But, the possibility was just as good that I could be having twins! It was too early to know, and I would have to wait a week for another sonogram to show anything.
Needless to say, I had emotional schizophrenia that whole week. Let’s see, we are either having NO baby, or TWINS? Are you kidding me?? The waiting was the WORST. I was recovering from surgery. I was up, I was down. And . . . the spotting continued.
There was one morning that it was the worst yet, and I was convinced that I had truly miscarried. As I climbed back into the bed and began to process the finality of it, I began to cry, and to cry out to the Lord:
Well, I guess this is it, Lord. After all this, it’s done. I am really upset, really disappointed, and so very, very sad. I guess I might as well give up any hope I had of this working out. I guess we are not going to have a baby after all. It’s obvious that…
And then the Lord spoke.
“What’s obvious, Susan? There is nothing here that is definite. You thought your pregnancy was over when you went into surgery. But that wasn’t the end of the story, was it?”
Well . . . um, no . . . but all this bleeding? How can that be good? How can that work out? All the signs are pointing to a miscarriage.
“My Dear One, why are you getting all caught up in ‘signs’? ‘Signs’ are not important. What about Lazarus? ‘Signs’ didn’t matter with him—he had been dead for three days! But that wasn’t the end of that story either, now was it?” (See John 11:1-44.)
Well, that’s true, Lord.
“So why are you so upset? Don’t look for outward signs to give you an accurate picture of what I’m doing. That is not how I work. I am much bigger than anything you can see. I am the One in control here. And nothing is impossible for Me.”
I LOVE hearing from the Lord, and I love when He reminds me of His power and His truth! I didn’t know for sure if this was Him telling me that He was going to save my pregnancy or not, but I was just thrilled to hear His voice reminding me that He was there, and that He was taking care of things.
A few days later, we went to the doctor’s office for THE sonogram—the one that would tell us whether we were having no baby at all, or if it might be twins. Wow. I was so nervous, but so excited at the same time. As I waited for the sono tech to come into the room, I had a strange peace in my heart about what was to come.
As the tech moved the wand gently over my post-op belly, I closed my eyes and squeezed Rex’s hand. And then the tech said, “I see a little baby with a healthy heartbeat!” I don’t think I even realized I had been holding my breath until it audibly escaped my lips with a burst of laughter and joy. Relief and renewed peace washed over me. Just one? “Yes, just one.”
The remains of an empty second sac were visible on the sonogram, which indicated that the other baby, one of the twins, was gone. The spotting was from the miscarriage of that one little twin, but in spite of the fact that my body had gone through a miscarriage and surgery in the past week, the other little baby was holding his own, healthy and strong. There was some sadness over the loss of the one, and I dealt more with that grief later, but the joy and thankfulness in our hearts over the life of the one remaining child was overwhelming! I was still pregnant, and I was going to have a baby! Thank You, Lord!
Lesson learned? There are no “telltale” or obvious signs in our lives or in our world that cannot be pre-empted by God. He is Sovereign. His will prevails no matter what statistics say, no matter what doctors say, no matter what x-rays or lab work or sonograms say, no matter what scientists or other professionals say, and no matter what any outward appearance might tell us. If we get caught up in all those other things, if we allow ourselves to be distracted by appearances, we take our focus off the One who holds our world—our very lives—in His hands, and we forget that nothing is impossible with Him.
And as my sweet friend looks over her PET scans, and visits with her doctor who presents disheartening statistics for her cancer, I hope she can turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to those things, look into her Father’s eyes, and listen to Him gently whisper, “I hold your world in my hands. Nothing—no, NOTHING—is impossible for me.”
Maybe you need to listen for those words today too.