I have loved getting to know the sweet lady who's writing today's post, because she has been such an intentional and loving friend to me the past few months that I've gotten to know her! She and her husband Hai just celebrated their son Henry's first birthday last month, and today, they're sharing on the blog about how to stick together in adversity. I love hearing how they stood by each other through sickness and in health and am so encouraged by their faith and genuine friendship to us recently. I hope you enjoy hearing the story of their baby boy and its happy ending!
On June 8th, 2016, I was 24 weeks pregnant. My husband and I went in for a “random” appointment to check on our baby, due to some spots they had seen in his heart a month before. The specialist informed us Henry looked great, but something was going on with my cervix. After checking me, she told us I had already started to dilate and I was at 3.5 centimeters, without actually going into labor. I had NO CLUE. Due to my cervix dilating on its own, I was rushed to the hospital on immediate bed rest. I remember we felt as if someone had dumped a bucket of cold water on us! Needless to say we were shocked, scared and full of questions.
All of the things we hoped to do like prepare his nursery, have a baby shower and the quintessential maternity photo shoot all took a backseat to what was most important, Henry. It’s funny how those things are so minuscule in comparison to the bigger picture, but how dearly I held them in my heart, I learned that I had to grieve those things and that was ok. And these wouldn’t be the last in the days and weeks to come. After all, our experience was not the norm, but God was weaving together our story and Henry’s beginning. We’ve already seen God use his life and birth story to bring reconciliation to our extended family, something that to us at the time seemed impossible.
In the midst of all of that, I remember a deep peace carried us through every single moment. These two scriptures came to mind always and kept hope in our hearts as we moved forward into the unknown.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
The steadfast of mind you will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord we have an everlasting Rock.
While I was on bedrest at the hospital, the doctors and nurses told us they hoped Henry would stay in my belly at least 8-10 weeks. My husband Hai, was going through everything with me. Even though he was able to get out when he went to work, he was juggling work, preparing our home for our baby, driving back and forth to the hospital and literally being my hands and feet. Two and half weeks later, Henry had other plans, he came into this world 3 months exactly from his actual due date. We were so grateful that he came without any complications during labor, but what we weren’t prepared for were the next three and half months in the NICU.
I remember we had met someone from the NICU prior to Henry’s birth and they explained what “could” happen, but looking back I don’t think I allowed myself to go there emotionally, always hoping for the most optimistic outcome. I don’t think anyone can fully prepare you for days, weeks, months in the NICU, but we can’t say enough good things about our hospital and the care we received from the team of doctors, and our sweet nurses!
It’s amazing to me how much those three months consumed our lives and felt like the days were an eternity, yet it hasn’t even been a year since we brought Henry home from the NICU, and there are times I forget how hard and heavy that season was. I look at Henry and I can’t see a trace of the NICU days. All we can do is give thanks to God for such grace.
When I think back, it was many different things that helped us come out stronger on the other side. One of them was my relationship with my husband. In sickness and in health, that line from our vows kept going through my mind as we walked that road together. It’s hard to imagine what that truly means when you’re standing in front of your beloved in a gorgeous dress, months and months of planning all culminating into one special moment, surrounded by beautiful things and the ones you love. So much expectation goes into our wedding day, with so little knowledge of what’s to come.
Oneness in our marriage through this trial came by being honest with one another on our good days and our bad days. When the stress of seeing Henry with so many tubes and cords stuck all over him was too much to handle we would take turns at being at his bedside. The word that comes to mind when I think of our marriage is team. We are a team. Through the difficult circumstance we were forced to learn how we each dealt with stress and stressful situations. They popped up all. the. time. from holding your baby and watching him stop breathing and going limp, to the nights when we would be home looking at Henry through a camera the hospital so graciously provided, but even then, dealing with a different nurse from time to time who took care of him differently then we would, and not being able to do anything about it. It was incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking. We had to learn to be patient with each other when our actions under stress made no logical sense to the other, we had to extend grace, over and over and over again. It truly was such a picture of God’s love for us.
Adversity has a way of bringing out what things are made of. It was evident our hearts wanted to retrieve every time things got hard, or we were tempted to isolate instead of being vulnerable with each other because the days were so painful. But Christ at work in us allowed us to seek reconciliation always, freed us to ask for forgiveness when needed, and helped us not dwell on the things we could not change. We love because Christ first loved us, His perfect love casts out fear. It’s that love which allows us to say “I am for you, I’m not going anywhere” creating a oneness in marriage that this world can not offer.
Another thing that was vital during that time was our community of family and friends who were faithful to pray for us, bring us meals, also threw us a spontaneous baby shower! And most importantly the peace that comes through believing that Jesus Christ holds all things together.
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:
We knew God would sustain Henry’s life or take it. We knew this baby had been entrusted to us, but he was God’s and He alone knew what was best for Henry.
It was that truth that made the waiting and the really hard days easier to walk through, and made the good days make your heart want to explode with gratitude! the pain was just as deep but it did not overwhelm us.
Even though we would not have chosen that painful road, it is the one God had for us. And because of it, we now have such a greater appreciation for Henry’s life and our marriage.