When God has a plan it trumps everything else.
I knew I would probably go into labor this week but that was the tiniest fraction of what would happen. After nearly 3 days of false labor Adam and I pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that “the kid was never coming out” and relaxed once again into our normal schedule. We went to Ash Wednesday Mass and took the girls to Catechism after, and then we went home. We decided to do the house projects we had been saving til after the baby came and simply enjoy being together. The girls and I made a crown of thorns out of rosebush branches and decided to prep our garden and backyard for Spring. Daddy took the little ones to bed and fell asleep with them and I had some good one on one time with our oldest. I started feeling contractions around 1pm but decided to keep it a secret in case it was another false alarm. Around 5:30 I started getting ready to leave for the hospital.
When we got there we were already at 9 cm! They quickly got me to a room and about 3 contractions later I knew baby was just about to make his arrival. The nurses quickly called the doc, who, upon arrival, asked if he could just check and make sure it was safe to push. When he did so however, my water broke and we realized baby had flipped to transverse and was presenting cord first. In case you are unaware, this is pretty much the worst case scenario possible. Baby’s position was putting both of our lives in immediate danger, so, what had been up to this point the most peaceful, beautiful and surreal labor ever, suddenly turned into terrifying chaos.
I knew at that moment my Lent was going to be different than I planned.
I did not have a choice if I wanted my baby and I to live. They took my husband away from me and rushed me to a cold operating room, they stripped me and spread my arms in the shape of a cross to help keep me from falling off the table or involuntarily flailing. They only thing they didn’t take from me was my rosary which they helped me tape to my hand so that I wouldn’t drop it. (Funny how Mary was pretty much the only one Christ had at the Cross too).
And then they told me something was going to burn. I felt a searing pain shooting up my left wrist… and then nothing. My body was no longer mine. I had no control, no autonomy. when I woke up the first thing I remember was them telling me I needed to latch my baby because he was hungry. So I did.
I didn’t know exactly where I was or how I got there but as I fed him, I looked out the window. All I could see was the Table Rock Cross, bright against the night sky, bright in the intensity of its solitude, it’s heights and it’s grandeur.
I felt for the first time in my life I had a genuine and personal experience of the cross, of what it costs but also what its reward looks like – literally, new life. An experience of what it feels like to be afraid of it and yet willing to embrace it because the love of one tiny person makes that fear pale in comparison.
When I woke up I was told I had had a breathing tube down my throat and in my lungs. My center, the core of who I am, the source of all my physical strength had been sliced in two. I could not walk, eat, sit up or even pee on my own. I had given everything I am, my entire autonomous life, both physically and emotionally to love the baby in my womb and to stay alive to continue that love.
I stayed in that room looking at that cross for 3 days and 3 nights (yes, all the correlations to the Bible story are freakishly similar). Now I am home, with strict instructions not to do anything besides rest, heal and care for my baby.
My Lent has been planned for me. My Lent has been custom designed for me by the One who designed me! I am going to be working on finding new ways to love my kids and my spouse, becoming a better and more patient communicator and listener, learning to let go of my desire to control ordinary household tasks, learning to let go of my pride and allow myself to be helped, learning to take more quiet time out for prayer and to simply count my blessings. Anyone who knows me knows that most of the things on this list are what I struggle with most. My calling this Lent is to embrace my cross like Christ and discover what new strength and new life it brings when I am finally resurrected with Him at Easter (incidentally, exactly 6 weeks out, the same as my minimum required recovery period).
It sounds scary, but I am excited! Why does something so daunting fill my heart with joy? Why am I so at peace with something that has completely changed my already “perfectly wonderful” little life?
Life is about change. Without change we do not grow. Apparently, God had a plan for what I needed this year. I am confident He has the perfect Lent planned for you as well. What it is, I may not know… but I know that He will tell you, and, whatever it is, it will bring you peace. Peace you’ve never felt before and peace you cannot know unless you look at the plan as an opportunity to discover it. (Read also, post on Trust)