By Molly Kennedy
In John 16:33, Jesus makes us a promise. He tells us that in this world we will have trouble. He promises that. I don’t know whether I should be comforted or annoyed by the fact that life is hard and he knows it. But I didn’t know how challenging it would be to become a mom.
I had always wanted to be a mom. I babysat when I was younger and then progressed to a camp counselor, pet owner, and teacher. My college roommates voted me the most likely to own a station wagon…the irony of that being that I was the last of all of us to get married and have kids!
I knew how it was supposed to be—babies brought indescribable joy. When I finally got pregnant (after a year of frustration and thoughts of possible infertility), I was thrilled. I had seen friends and family members who loved being pregnant. I looked forward to sailing through my pregnancy and bringing home my beautiful baby. I knew how it was supposed to work.
Looking back, I know now that God will sometimes give mountaintop experiences but He’ll take you on a completely different trail than the one you had planned. And I am a planner. I like seeing the schedule in advance so I know what to expect and what items to take. I prefer a nice, easy ascension where I can stop and smell the columbines, have a sip of water, and enjoy the view. I don’t expect to be clawing my way to the top, hanging by a tiny rope, unprepared for anything.
My pregnancy wasn’t exactly textbook. Morning sickness—ha! I longed for morning sickness. I had twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week of nausea for three months. And, as it turned out, that was the easy part.
In the third trimester, my body started breaking down. My body—my baby’s only home—started to betray me. The doctor told me that the baby was safer outside of my body than inside. My body had become a toxic wasteland, and the baby had to come out—it was seven weeks before my due date.
The doctors started inducing labor. Because of my condition (preeclampsia and HELLP), I was hooked up to extra drugs so that I wouldn’t have seizures (another side effect of this condition).
I had been in labor for twenty-four hours and was a half hour away from delivering when the baby’s heart rate dropped. All of a sudden, a whirlwind of doctors and nurses flew into my room and rushed me down the hall. I found out later that my mother and mother-in-law were frantically trying to get my husband into his scrubs (not an easy thing with his huge feet!) so that he could be with me.
Four minutes after we had entered the delivery room, our baby girl was delivered by emergency c-section. 16 inches, 3 pounds 14 ounces. She was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; I didn't even get to see or hold her that day because they couldn’t unhook me from all the drugs yet. Not exactly the easy, beautiful trail I had been expecting.
Since I was unable to leave my hospital bed, and my baby was unable to leave the NICU, I had to use a pump in order to get a few drops of milk for my baby. Since she was so early, my milk hadn’t fully come in yet. My husband would whisk the precious liquid off to the NICU in order to feed her.
The following day, I held Grace Ellen for the first time, and she was beautiful and small and perfect. She stayed at the hospital for twelve days, a miracle in itself because the doctors expected her to be there for at least a month. St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown Denver and suburban Littleton are not exactly next door but with the distance between Grace and me, it felt like a world apart.
John 16:33 starts with Jesus’s promise about having trouble in the world, but it ends with Jesus saying this: Take heart! I have overcome the world!
Kurt and I brought Grace home on a beautiful summer day. We had finally reached the mountaintop! Looking back, would I change anything? Would I change the journey that I had? The strange thing is I don’t think I would. Even though God’s plans to get us to the top were not exactly the way I would have done it, He got us there. He was with us every agonizing step of the way. And I know I saw more of God’s glory through the trail He took us on than I would have if we would have had the ideal, easy baby story.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Glory be to God on high….when things are easy but more importantly when things are not.