Friday, October 29, 2010

37: Is "Thank You" Sufficient?

Warning: this is going to be a very long post. We have so much to be grateful for, I just can't shorten it. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine things would be this good.

12 1/2 weeks ago, I had geared myself up emotionally, mentally, and physically for the worst possible scenario: (1) I'd have another micro preemie with a whole new set of challenges on top of Brynn's; (2) Matt would be gone when I delivered Heidi; (3) I wouldn't have a mother or a mother-in-law available to help me with recovery because both had very tough schedules; (4) Brynn would miss Mommy and Daddy, plus have so many different caretakers that she would completely stagnate in her growth and development (surely none of the family help could be expected to learn all her therapy routines on top of learning to care for a tube-fed deaf child, right?); and (5) This might have to be my last pregnancy.

After getting to 34 weeks and knowing Heidi would be fine, my fears slowly began to change.

I'd always wanted a natural birth, but with each passing week as Heidi's head was getting bigger and bigger, I got more and more scared of the pain. Actually, I got scared of how I would handle the pain. Would I totally break down in the delivery room and become a complete angry wretch or wussy whiner? Or would I have the strength to maintain enough emotional self-control that it would be the sacred, wonderful growth experience my mom (veteran of 9 natural births) has often described to me? Since this might be my last pregnancy, I was acutely aware that I may only get one shot at this, which only increased the pressure and the fear of getting it "right."

I also worried about our move and the stress of everything happening all at once. And to make matters worse, all of our family help (including my dad who has been a total trooper to stay for as long as he has) was planning to leave right before the very week when the baby would be induced and I'd have to pack and move! I would be completely on my own for recovery and breastfeeding, and Matt would have to manage all the packing and moving alone while I just tried to survive our new life with two children.

Knowing my fears, as well as my desire to focus on faith through all of this, I just have to explode with gratitude for the way everything is coming together. I have lost count of all the miracles--performed both by God himself and his living Angels (aka my parents and in-laws). But I will try to recount them not only for posterity's and memories' sake, but also as a pathetic attempt at saying thank you when, really, no thank you can be sufficient to match the service rendered.

First, Heather (Matt's sister) was available immediately when I landed in the hospital. Newly married and prepping for her own semester-long trip to Belgium (starting just a week after she left us in KS), she had plenty of reasons to stay home. But she came at a time when no one else could and was an absolute blessing. Thank you so much, Heather.

Matt's mother Diane (aka Grandma H), made herself available for the 2nd week of my hospital stay even though she had to miss her own family reunion and was prepping to leave the following week for a long humanitarian mission trip to Africa. After returning from Africa, with barely enough time to recover from jet lag, she came back to KS again to help my Dad and I during the weeks Matt would be gone. Then, after returning to UT again, she left to go on another service trip to an Indian reservation with her youngest daughter. Finishing that, she came back to KS AGAIN to cover bases while Matt would be traveling for work.

Did you follow all of that traveling around, each time for some type of service? It was like watching service whiplash!

I don't think she's slept in her own bed more than a handful of times in months. She took enormous gambles that Heidi would arrive on her watch and when the "guest of honor" never arrived, she simply moved forward, never complaining, happy to be of service anyway. Finally, after leaving KS for the last time, she traveled again--this time to Hawaii for a reunion with siblings and a much-deserved break!

I think because Heidi didn't arrive, Diane must have felt as though her sacrifice hadn't really rendered much real service to us, especially since my Dad decided to stay through the times she was traveling in and out so there was double-duty for Brynn. I know how frustrating it can be when it feels like my service doesn't accomplish what I hoped--like when I try to help an at-risk teen who, despite all my efforts, still makes poor decisions; or when I try to help someone in poverty to improve their circumstances, but they simply don't know how to change their thought processes and end up right back where they were before I helped them; or when I went door to door every single day, telling people about how wonderful Christ is, and no one wanted to listen for months at a time. But in the end, I've learned I've ALWAYS accomplished something enormous even if I have little to show for my efforts because "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are ONLY in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17) and God keeps good records. To Diane: if you do feel as though your service here was fruitless, please know you went down in God's service history books! Your willingness to sacrifice meant so much to Matt and I, even though Heidi never ended up coming, and we can never thank you adequately for your love and support. I hope you know you have engraved yourself on our hearts, and your willingness to help will never be forgotten.

Jesse (aka Grandpa H) was jealous he missed all the "fun"--because he was needed both at work and to raise the teenage daughter they still have at home--but let the record show his sacrifice was great, too. He barely saw his wife at all summer! To Jesse: Thank you for sharing Diane with us and with everyone else, too.

And then, there's Kerry (my Dad), aka Grandpa B. He came the third week of my hospital stay and has been here ever since. That's over 2 1/2 months so far. He has a bad back and knees, which isn't great for picking up Brynn all the time or for carrying her up and down the stairs. But he does it anyway. He also learned how to tube feed Brynn, care for her cochlear implants, carry on her many therapeutic changes over the last couple months, and--horror of horrors--change poopy diapers. Believe me, he has plenty of other things he could be doing at home that would be much more in line with his idea of "retirement." His consistency and reliability have no doubt given Brynn a much-needed feeling of security during all the turmoil of Mommy and Daddy being gone so much. He has also given ME a sense of security that no one else could have done. I really don't know how to thank him, but I appreciate him immensely just the same. So, to Dad I say: No Grandpa should ever have to be asked to do what you have done for us and yet you were willing. You have been and continue to be indispensable. Thank you.

Other remarkable miracles that have made this whole mess much less stressful are these enormous "coincidences" straight from God Himself:

- The medical staff at OPRMC were wonderful!

- Insurance coverage. Matt's end date with B&V and start date with WECC, dates that were planned well before we knew we'd need the insurance as much as we did, literally saved us. Had Matt started WECC just two days later, we would have not been covered by insurance for a whole month of my hospital stay. As it was, B&V's insurance ended Aug 31 and WECC insurance started Sept 1. Not a single day was uncovered and we didn't have to mess with Cobra. Talk about a huge blessing!

- House Buyers and closing date. Keeping a house looking like a museum while buyers siphon through is tough for anyone with a 2 year old--but for Heather, Diane, and Kerry, who were also trying to learn all of Brynn's special care requirements, it was only an added stress. As if by miracle (which it was), we had a buyer look at our house in late August, make an offer, and then accept our proposed closing date of mid-November. What buyer is in a position to wait that long for a house? In this market? Our house was listed only for a short time, visited by double the number of people as all the other houses on the market, and under contract with a buyer that would save us from keeping it in tip-top shape for all these months. We also didn't have to move to some interim residence while we waited for Heidi! Just amazing.

- Job Flexibility. Matt's new work is like a dream job for the whole family. I already spoke about this in another post, but it's worth mentioning again. How lucky we are that they are willing to pay his flights back and forth, as well as support him in his family role.

- Brynn's explosive development. I also detailed this out in another post, but it was so remarkable in every respect, that it needed to be mentioned again.

- Today, I am officially 37 weeks, which is the medical qualification for a full-term infant. I made it to full term. I MADE IT TO FULL TERM. Not only is this an absolute miracle for the health of baby Heidi, but also this is an enormous confidence boost for me. I DO actually have the physical capability of bringing a child safely into this world and I DO actually feel like I could get pregnant again! Of course, we'd do the cerclage to avoid hospital bed rest and we'd hire a nanny while I was on bed rest so we didn't have to impose so much on our families ... but we actually have a shot at another healthy, term infant. Miracle of miracles.

Have you noticed how every single fear and/or worst-case scenario I had prepped myself for in the beginning has been resolved? I mean, I really had come to terms with them all. I was fine. I was willing to face any of those challenges if God required it of me. But (1) I didn't have a micro-preemie, or even a late-term preemie for that matter; (2) Matt will be here for the delivery, guaranteed; (3) Diane's sacrifice made me feel like I'd always have an experienced mother there to help me with delivery, recovery, and nursing; (4) Brynn has exploded in growth and development; and (5) This doesn't have to be my last pregnancy.

Even one of my latest fears--that of running out of help just at the moment when we needed it most--was taken care of. My Dad agreed to stay past the day he'd planned to go home and instead continue to help us until we moved. Talk about major relief. And major gratitude.

I had just one more fear left--that of wanting my very own amazing mom in the delivery room with me, coaching me through my fear of physical pain in the way that only my mom can do. I actually thought this miracle was going to be possible when Mom said she could fly out here on November 3rd to make it for the November 4th induction date. I had a new goal to make it to 38 weeks! But then, I found out I was at 6 cm and we had to move the induction date up to Oct 30th again. I was really disappointed.

Then, yesterday, I experienced another miracle. Mom said she could re-arrange her schedule--against all odds--and be here for Saturday's delivery. We had a free flight left on Southwest for her to use, but the free seats are NEVER available the night before. Matt didn't even want to check to see because he already knew the answer. When we asked him to check anyway, he was blown away to see three free seats left! We booked her flight and she's scheduled to arrive at 5 PM today. If Heidi can hold off for just 10 more hours, all my dreams will come true. Both my husband and my mom will be here for the delivery.

And as if all that weren't enough, my most-trusted OB is even on call this weekend so she will be present for the induction and delivery.

This has really swept me off my feet. If any single move of any one of the chess pieces in this great game of life had gone even one square's difference, I'd have been check-mated. But instead, everything has worked together like the most intricately planned game. God totally let me win in every possible way. It has created one of the most remarkably beautiful experiences of my life.

I don't know why I've been so blessed. I don't know why I haven't had to face at least some of the fears I've had through this experience. I don't know why I have been saved from so many troubles and difficulties that were just milliseconds from happening. I don't know why even the little things that mattered immensely to me have ended up working out just perfectly. Because I know that life doesn't always turn out this well, I really don't know why it worked out so well this time.

But I know some things: God delights in blessing His children when we exercise faith, God really is a God of miracles, and my priesthood blessings really were prophetic: I have, indeed, learned a lot about faith and the Being in whom my faith is rooted.

Thank you, Overland Park Hospital Antepartum Nurses and doctors.

Thank you, Heather.

Thank you, Diane.

Thank you, Jesse.

Thank you, Kerry.

Thank you, Lynda.

Thank you, God.

Although my thank you can never be sufficient to equal your service, I hope you feel your sacrifice was worth it nonetheless.

Love, N


Alyson said...

So, so glad for you that you've arrived at this day, 37 weeks—you've been great at documenting it, and it was clear that you've had a lot of help along the way. I'm sure they all feel the miraculousness just as you do. :) Can't wait to hear about Heidi's arrival! Prayers that it goes as well as everything else has.

Heather said...

I deserve no thanks Natalie, it was no sacrifice but a joy to be with you guys. Very touching post though, and it helped me to remember how much I have to be grateful for. I feel that regularly--that thank you isn't sufficient. The last few months to me have been a reassurance of the power of prayer. Heavenly Father answered all of our prayers for your family, and I know he will keep doing it. love you and can't wait to see you. Mitch and I will be in London this weekend, so I'll be so anxious when I get back on Monday for news!! Good luck!!

Kate said...

It really is amazing thinking about all those blessings. I can't believe you really want to go natural, but good luck! We love you all.

The Lingo Family said...

Thank You Natalie, for sharing all of these precious moments with us. :)

Unknown said...

Much love and cheers for your delivery! So happy that everything fell into perfect place for you!

Brady and Rachel said...

You have been SO BLESSED for your faith in HIM our Savior! Thank you for all you have taught me through these past 12 1/2 weeks. Our prayers are even more so with you today and all that lies ahead. I realize there is still SO MUCH for you guys to experience and make it through and we pray that your delivery will go wonderfully and Heidi will arrive healthy and safely and you will both recovery perfectly. And SO MUCH MORE! Good luck and God bless you guys! Can't wait to hear of her arrival. :)