A year and a day ago our first son, Jack, was born. While at a Braves game, Erin began feeling contractions that were more than Braxton Hicks. Jack was on his way and no amount of drugs would prolong his arrival. His birthday would be in June, not in August as prescribed. The outcome was unknown.
Funny thing about the unknown is that it’s scarier before and after the fact than when you’re actually in it. We were scared, but we were together. That togetherness gave us a calm you cannot factor in when worrying about upcoming events. Had I known Jack would be early, I’m not sure Erin and I would have been up for parenthood to begin with. The unknown may have scared us out of a wonderful gift.
Erin’s parents were in town as Jack’s baby shower was scheduled for this particular Sunday. When we knew for certain Jack was coming, I looked at my father-in-law with tear-filled eyes and asked if he could pray. This was a special moment I’ll never forget. Erin’s parents and I huddled around Erin, holding hands, asking God for health of both baby and momma. I felt weak in this moment. Erin’s father gave us strength. God gave us strength. Without this moment, our family would not be as close as we are today.
Once the ultrasound revealed Jack was breached (feet first), the nurses and doctors moved to action. Thirty minutes later, I’m beside Erin in the operating room covered head-to-toe in surgery gear. I had no idea what to expect. Would Jack fit in one hand? Would he have fully formed feet? Would he even look like a human baby? I knew what newborns looked like, but not 30 week old newborns. The doctors and nurses operated like a well oiled machine. Their communication and teamwork in a time of stress provided much needed comfort. As much relief the fantastic medical staff gave me, Jack’s crying just seconds after birth gave me much more reason for joy. He looked normal, albeit small, and made the noises a typical newborn made. Right then, I saw firsthand God’s answer to our prayers.
As Jack was carted to the NICU for tests, I knew he was in good hands. Erin was being stitched up so I went to the waiting room to find some good friends, Chris and Anna chatting with my in-laws (brother-in-law included). It was so nice to have their company at this time. Chris can always lighten a mood and once he heard all was well, he jumped right in. Anna was so sweet as always and together the six of us had a moment to recount the last hour. This community was such a relief and gave me energy for the rest of the day. The visit from our friends showed the immense impact just being there can have. If you are present for a friend during times of hardship, you will always be remembered.
Today Jack couldn’t be better. He’s caught up to his birth age in size and maturity. He continues to grow each day and is a pretty easy baby. We couldn’t ask for more. Had Jack been born as planned, I may have missed the lessons now etched in my persona. I can look back and say:
- The unknown may have scared us out of a wonderful gift
- Our family would not be as close as we are today
- I saw firsthand God’s answer to our prayers
- If you are present for a friend during times of hardship, you will always be remembered
Most importantly, we can draw on this experience as a testimony of God’s faithfulness through all things. Though I have the benefit of hindsight and am grateful for it, on June 26, 2016 I wrestled with the unknown, and was comforted. Today I know that future trials can and will work for the glory of God.