NOTHING could prepare me for what I was about to experience. It was after 10PM as we waited in pre-op room. Dancing between denial of the situation with nursing staff, sometimes in aloof banter, some of which was light-hearted, my wife lay there; her abdomen a distinct shape, in that I could see the contour of our infant, motionless, still for all time.
As I conversed with others, and, as my wife lay shivering through shock and fever, because of infection, I massaged her abdomen; the shape of my son’s left side, hip, and thigh, discernible. I found myself strangely aware of all that was going on; strangely calm given my son had passed away hours beforehand. Indeed, as I faced those very interminable moments I found God, there, with me, giving me the strength to be real. And it wasn’t hard to be real. Through it all, so was my wife very real, despite the spiking fever that presented.
And, “through it all” was an anthem for us, when this period might have rather been an anathema to the enemy of God who would seek us pile-driven into the ground; a time when God’s Presence transcended any numb indwelling. “Through it all my eyes are on you… it is well…” were the words of a song we played twice through, during the birthing process, through tears of eternity’s longing and through the fearful anticipation of what lay just before us as an unprecedented experience.
I will never forget the moments leading up to Nathanael’s birth. It was a long Caesarean Section birth procedure, (in comparison to having had my previous four children born that way). The mood inside the theatre was stark. Silence, apart from Kristene DiMarco’s voice and her ethereal music. Nobody wanted to mention the elephant in the room. My response was to issue grace — heaven knows, we all needed it in spades.
Every time we discerned a movement from my wife’s abdomen, as the surgeons manipulated tissues, we prepared ourselves for the moment of Nathanael’s actual arrival. There seemed to be several iterations where we readied ourselves. The medical team were struggling to get Nathanael in a position where they could extract him. When they ultimately did birth him, our midwife gave me the cue. She draped my cradled hands in a towel. As I got up from the stool I was sitting on I was greeted by the surgeon who gave to me my son. As with the births of all my children nothing could prepare me for the emotions I was now feeling. But this moment was world’s different. There was no feeling of positive pressure amid joy to care for the baby. There was no eye contact or interaction from the surgeon. The moment was dormant; void of something. It was an incredibly sad moment for which courage was made.
I grasped Nathanael with both hands — my boy, every bit nearly 8 pounds, which was very healthy given 36 weeks and 2 days gestation — and immediately kissed his forehead; a kiss of longing. His skin had a distinctive smell about it. He had a frown on his face. He looked like his older brother, just asleep. I just wanted to hold him. I took him over to Sarah and we both cried for a while. The operating staff just got on with their jobs, leaving us alone. We were not rushed. We spent an initial 3 hours with Nathanael, including bathing and dressing him back in my wife’s delivery suite.
Moments like this life and time stands still. Nothing else matters. And you get the distinct impression that your life has changed forever; a very surreal feeling demanding surrender. Yet, strangely, I was also so happy I got to meet Nathanael this way. God was good in sustaining me and us when we could have been so awash with emotion not to make the most of the moment.
Later that morning — literally only five hours later — all the family were in attendance whilst Heartfelt took photos for us. It was a difficult experience for several in our family, but everyone did their best and that’s all anyone can ask. We were so proud of our family throughout the whole period.
Nothing prepares us for an encounter with fear that is certainly coming. Times like this we just simply pray, “God give me strength and courage.”
One thing I learned in that darkest hour,
It was definitely not me that held the power,
Only by faith did I have God’s grace,
Because I walked obediently and sought his face.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.