Advent - Day 7

LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

People frequently assume that the 10th of December must have been the worst day of my life. I can see why - the day of my son's birth and death is a day filled with so many emotions. But it was not the worst day. That day was today.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

The home care nurse arrived for my first appointment. And I failed the test to stay home. My blood pressure was too high and there was too much protein in my urine. And so I found myself back in the case room at the hospital. Laying on a narrow bed, shivering.

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

It seems strange when I think of it, that I would shiver. I am always warm. Always. But the coldness, it sunk it my very being. It did not matter the number of blankets they brought me, I shivered. It was not a physical coldness, but the weight of fear and sorrow and terror that had pervaded my very soul. It was cold in my heart.

You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

I remember sitting on the bathroom floor at home that morning as Mr. Spit packed my bags and made phone calls, cancelling the meals that were to be arriving, letting others know that things had changed, again. I remember petting the dogs, and weeping, I just couldn't keep living with this sense of fear and dread and hopelessness. I remember sobbing that I couldn't keep doing this, that I couldn't be this powerless, this weak, this fragile.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

It seems strange to me, but I don't recall a definitive moment when they told me this was the end of the road for Gabriel and I. It just seemed as if things got worse and worse, darker and darker, and I shivered more and more. Every test, the news was worse.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

I remember trying to read The Shipping News, and when I look up from my computer, it sits on the shelf unread. I remember knitting Mr. Spit a cabled hat, but unable to concentrate on the stitches, unable to make my numb and swollen hands co-operate, form stitches.

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

I suppose the end was when the Perinatologist on call came in, with a better ultrasound machine. She ran the wand around my belly, and then reached over and turned off the machine. Handed me Kleenex to wipe the goop off.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

I remember her sitting down. I imagine she took a deep breath. And I started hearing words. No amniotic fluid, the baby was sending all the blood to its brain, to keep itself alive. Baby had dropped 100 grams or so. My blood pressure. Low platelets, high urine. Kidneys failing. Baby dying. Me dying.

even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

It seems strange, I should think those words, the words she used to tell me that it was time, this road had come to an end, it seemed as if I should remember those words, they should be etched into my very being.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"

And it is like a vacuum has sucked them out of my memory. I remember the last kick, but no memory of the words that signaled the end of Gabriel's life.

even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

I remember discussing next steps. Phoning my mother, my midwife. I remember making decisions. Not to intubate, not to save my child. I remember the pain, gasping out the words that I didn't want him to suffer.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I remember the C-section vs. natural birth discussion, and the choice to try to do this on my own. I remember the offer, my mother's wish that I could just have this done, and I remembered the words in a Yarn Harlot story about it being a certain truth that a thing begun must be ended. I remembered the words from my school, that the end of the matter is better than its beginning.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

I remember the God awful realization that God had given me my son on the 28th of June, and now he asked for him back. As the world around me celebrated Advent, this was Good Friday, and I was Mary by the cross. I would be Mary preparing her son for burial, one last act of service to a child my body brought forth. I remember the words to a worship song running through my head, lines about Blessed be the Name of the Lord, though there's pain in the offering.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

I remember the phone calls I made, and the phone calls Mr. Spit made. I remember my best friend's cry of "No, surely there must be some hope". I remember telling her there was none, it had to be this way.

your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me
were written in your book before one of them came to be.

I remember my niece offering to get on a plane that night, friends offering to come to the hospital. I remember hushed discussions and my insistence that Mr. Spit bring the scrabble game from home.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

I remember waiting for an IV pump, and a student nurse that I smiled at, and told her that she could practice her IV skills on me. I remember apologizing that I would be her first labour patient, wishing that she could have a happy memory for her first birth.

Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.

I remember my midwife and my mum. I remember my mum asking Cathy how long an induction would take, and I remember Cathy biting her lip and shaking her head. I remember her saying a long time, that my body would not so easily give up this child it sheltered.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

I remember Cathy sitting with me, putting me in the shower. I remember the start of the Mag drip, and finally I remember Cathy reading this psalm to me, flipping the pages in my bible.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24