Surrender to the sovereign will of God is not always easy.
by Karen Foster
A sharp pain jarred me awake at 4 a.m. Rubbing my large belly, I urged my unborn son, “Settle down in there.”
I breathed deeply, but another searing pain made me bolt up in bed. My heart pounded. I can’t be going into labor. Please, Lord, not yet.
Thoughts of my previous three miscarriages taunted me. What if God lets me lose this baby too?
I had given birth twice and knew what to expect. But this baby wasn’t due for another three weeks, after the new year. With my husband on the other side of the country, I was alone with my two children.
I shivered as I dialed my midwife’s phone number. She dismissed my fears. “Wait till your contractions are ten minutes apart and call me.”
“I have a history of short labor, and I’m alone.” My voice quivered.
Her tone changed. “Go to the hospital, and I’ll meet you there.”
I called my nearest friend, hoping she’d hear the phone ring. When her message recorder answered, I panicked. “Terri, are you there? I’m in labor and Dan is gone.”
I heard a click followed by Terri’s voice. “I’ll be right there.”
My kids were stunned when I woke them with the news. “I’m going to have a baby. You can come with me to the hospital or stay at Terri’s house.”
Jennifer, my nine-year-old daughter, opted for Terri’s. But eleven-year-old Jonathan dutifully came in his dad’s place.
While we waited for our ride, I phoned my husband. By then, my brave front was crumbling. “My contractions are four minutes apart,” I whimpered.
Dan’s flight was leaving soon and would arrive that afternoon, but his assurance couldn’t mask the fear in his voice.
Prepping for birth
By the time we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m., my contractions were two minutes apart. I kissed my son’s flushed cheeks. “You can come with me or stay in the waiting room. But I’m warning you, I might groan.”
Jonathan elected to join me, but he stood off to the far side of the room as the nurses prepared me for birth. Terri held my hand and coached me along. With each push, I buried my head in the pillow and squeezed her hand.
“Push harder, push longer,” Terri said. “Bear down.”
At 7:15 a.m., on December 16, my son was born. Wide eyed, Jonathan came to my bedside to meet his baby brother.
Terri hugged me, but other voices whispering over my newborn son upstaged her joyful congratulations.
A nurse handed me a grunting, red-faced baby boy. An oxygen mask covered his nose and mouth. “We need to take your baby to the nursery and observe his breathing,” she said. “There might be fluid in his lungs. If so, they’ll be clear in about six hours.”
Although nothing in their demeanor alarmed me, I choked back tears as she pried him from my arms. The next few hours were blurred with phone calls and post-birth attention. When Dan arrived that afternoon, he leaned over and hugged me.
“Do you feel like seeing our son?” he asked, handing me a flower bouquet. There were tears in his eyes. He helped me out of bed, and wheeled me to the nursery.
Our newborn son was lying on his stomach inside an oxygen tent. His eyes were open, but his eyelids were red and swollen. The skin on his back was soft and pink like a peach, but his lungs heaved up and down with each breath.
I swallowed the knot in my throat and whispered, “Mommy’s here. I love you.”
Early the next morning, the pediatrician visited me, dark circles under his eyes. “Your son had a rough night. We increased his oxygen to 100 percent and gave him a substitute enzyme called Surfactant, hoping his lungs would kick in. He still can’t breathe on his own.
“We’re going to transport him by ambulance to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hospital. They have an oscillator that is gentler on the lungs, and the staff there is better equipped to handle this.”
The doctor asked if I was feeling all right. I nodded, but I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach.
After he left the room, a transport nurse rushed in with paperwork for me to sign.
“Mrs. Foster, have you decided on a name for your son?”
“N-no,” I stammered as I signed my name on medical forms. “We weren’t expecting him till January.”
“Well then, we’ll call him Baby Boy Foster. Before we take your son to the hospital, we’ll bring him to your room to say goodbye.”
Goodbye? Her words and matter-of-factness pierced me. How could I say goodbye without feeling this was the last time I’d see my baby?
“I don’t want to see him.”
Her face dropped, but she left when I waved her away. My breasts were full of milk, and my arms were empty. I buried my face in the pillow and sobbed. Lord, why is this happening to me?
When I was able to talk, I called Dan at home. “They’re releasing me, but we need to gobe with . . . our baby.”
“We need to give ‘our baby’ a name,” he answered.
“I know, but now is not the time. Please hurry.”
Fearing my son would die, I hesitated to name him or get attached. To make matters worse, when we arrived at Memorial Hospital, I saw memorial plaques lining the waiting room walls — names of babies who hadn’t survived.
Prayer of faith
Our assistant pastor and his wife had arrived. Rising from their chairs, they walked up to us, and I explained the gravity of our son’s health.
My stoic air didn’t fool the wife. She looked me square in the eye. “Don’t let fear control you. Focus on a God of healing and of power. He’s a God of miracles.”
She prayed with so much passion, I could feel a host of angels hovering in the room, vanquishing the darkness. From that moment, my peace never wavered. God was with me. He was with our son.
We found Baby Boy Foster in a plastic bassinet on his back. A three-foot long tube ran from the oscillator into his mouth and down his throat, pumping oxygen into his lungs. He was drugged and stretched out like a frog ready for dissection. Spaghetti-thin wires attached to suction cups dotted his little body so the staff could monitor his vital signs. He was fed by an intravenous needle inserted into his arm.
“Don’t let fear control you,” I repeated, brushing my finger against my infant’s soft cheek. His eyes opened. He frowned and his lips moved as though to speak or cry. But the tube interfered with his vocal chords.
“Maybe he’s in pain or afraid?” I gripped Dan’s hand as the momma bear within me rose up, ready to battle for my son.
That same hour, we named him Jason.
While families celebrated the holidays, we traveled forty minutes each day to be with Jason. We whispered encouragement in his ear, held his fist, and prayed for a miracle.
Jonathan and Jenny bought gifts for their baby brother. My best gift arrived when the nurse asked, “Would you like to hold your son?”
I slipped on a hospital gown that opened in the front, and reclined in a chair. The nurses painstakingly maneuvered the wires and repositioned the ventilator tube so they could lay Jason face down on my chest.
The warmth of his soft skin and the rhythm of his heartbeat next to mine soothed my soul like a healing balm. I didn’t know the name Jason means healer.
“Thank You, God,” I prayed. “No matter what happens, at least I was able to hold my baby.” As my heart surrendered to God’s sovereign plan, the last vestiges of fear disappeared. And the void left by three miscarried babies was filled.
The evening of December 30 Jason came home. Our children met us at the door and smothered him with hugs and kisses. A warm fire burned in the hearth. Hot coco simmered on the stove.
Our miracle baby — our answer to prayer — was home at last. But he wasn’t the only miracle. I was too, freed from fear and filled with peace.