It was over.
My parents had returned to Virginia, my husband had gone back to work, and I was at home alone for one of the first times since I’d given birth to Angel. I got out my Bible for devotions. I had started reading through the Bible recently and found myself in Exodus that morning. Chapter 23 began with verses full of instructions to the Hebrews on how to structure their lives. Then, in a most unexpected place, I found richness for my soul.
Verse 20: Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
I read it again and again. And as clearly as if someone had spoken the words aloud, thoughts flooded my mind. God had sent our Angel to us. And while I may not know every reason why, the rest of the verse convinced me that it was for our good. The trial we had endured truly brought us to places spiritually – as well as relationally as husband and wife – that I believe we never would have reached if not for our Angel. The memory of God’s working through every detail of Angel’s diagnosis, pregnancy, and birth would continue to comfort, encourage, and inspire us for the rest of our lives.
Then I thought about how, when that verse was penned by Moses thousands of years ago, surely my God, who knows all, knew that on that December day in 1997, His words would speak to me. And while they were written directly to those people for their day, so I truly believe that He wrote them for me. He knew what encouragement they would bring to my hurting heart. The tears rolled down my face that morning as I thought of God’s love and compassion and caring for me. Eventually I called my husband and shared this precious verse. We later had the reference engraved on Angel’s tombstone.
As for what happened after that? I got a permanent job at the hospital where I’d been working temporarily. I was blessed with wonderful coworkers and a great boss. My husband and I struggled with infertility for almost two years. After a couple of tests, I was told by a doctor that my chances of having a baby were about half that of a normal woman. Within a few months of that doctor’s appointment, I found out that I was expecting a child.
I was treated as a high risk pregnancy and I tried not to get too excited during those first 12 weeks. Anencephaly can be detected by ultrasound around 12 weeks, so that was our first hurdle to clear. Once we found out that this baby appeared to be developing normally, I finally began to hope. I remember being 8 months pregnant, sitting in a rocking chair in the back bedroom that we had painted and fixed up as a nursery, and wondering if it would really come true – that I’d bring home a baby this time.
After a textbook labor and delivery, our now 12-year-old daughter was born on December 1, 2000. Amazingly, when she was just seven months old, I found out I was pregnant again, but miscarried about seven weeks into the pregnancy. I was so stunned to be pregnant that we’d hardly even told anyone about it.
Then in March of 2002, we were excited to find out that another baby was on the way. An ultrasound near the end of that pregnancy gave me a scare when they determined that I had an excessive amount of amniotic fluid. At a week past my due date, I was induced. After being in labor all day, they determined that the baby was too large for a natural delivery, so she was delivered by C-section – weighing in at a healthy 9 pounds 1 ounce.
I wanted to include a quick update on a couple of people I’ve mentioned in this series.
Debbie, who did the initial ultrasound that revealed our baby’s diagnosis, conducted all of the ultrasounds on our other babies as well. She also performed the ultrasound after my miscarriage, which was done to ensure that nature had taken its course. That ultrasound was scheduled for the morning of September 11, 2001. It was while we were in the waiting room that the first tower of the World Trade Center was hit, and she was the one who first clued us in to what was going on.
Sandy, our labor and delivery nurse, was another of God’s blessings in our lives. After nearly sixteen years, we continue to send Christmas cards to each other every year.
While many lasting lessons were learned during those five months, the two greatest ones are these.
God’s grace is sufficient.
God is always good. His goodness is not based on our circumstances; it’s part of who He is.
Thank you for taking this journey with me over the past seven weeks. I so appreciate the encouraging words many of you have shared with me and I’m grateful to have recorded these memories. It’s been a sweet time of remembering how God has worked in our lives and how blessed we are to have a God whose goodness and grace are never ending.