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Sunday, September 8, 2013

The "Peace" of Christ on 9/11 (and happy birthday Pauli!)

If you didn't already know, my son was born on 9/11...on the 5th year anniversary of the bombing.  When Noe and I went to the hospital and were trying to pass the time, we turned on the tv...of course, every station was covering the anniversary.  Not a great upbeat, positive thing to watch when you're getting ready to give birth! :)

But let me back up a bit and tell you what happened in the months leading up to that day.  It's a wonderful story and I like to relive it in my mind because, on a day of such death and despair, it gives me hope and peace that God is, indeed, with us.

During my first trimester the doctor found a cyst on my right ovary.  He said it was very large,  but they didn't seemed real concerned.  Of course, once I found out what it was, I did what everyone does - I googled it :)  I found out what kind of cysts there are, what happens when you have them and on and on.  One of the options is to have surgery to remove them - if it needs to be removed.  Looking back, I already had a Peace with me.  I wasn't worried (although google sure wasn't helping).  Once I saw the word "surgery" I looked up "having surgery when pregnant".   According to what I read, if you HAVE to have surgery when pregnant - it should be done in the 2nd trimester - specifically 14-17 weeks (remember those numbers).  Not a lot of breathing room there.

I was due Oct. 3rd.  I was a special ed teacher at the time and I remember telling my boss (a wonderful Christian lady) that, although I couldn't explain why, I didn't think I was going to finish out the school year (this was around feb/march).  She of course wanted to know why - was I planning on quitting?  I said no, I just had this feeling that I wouldn't be there for the end of the year.  I couldn't explain it.  God was preparing me...

At 12 weeks pregnant, right at the end of the first trimester, I woke up at 2am with a very painful, dull throbbing where the cyst was.  I tried to forget about it but it wouldn't go away - no matter what position I was in.  I called the on call doctor and he said to try a heating pad.  Noe, being the loving husband he is, went out at 2am to get me one :)  It didn't help and the pain was not lessening.  I called the doctor again and we talked about the cyst and the possibilities.  He said the only other thing he could suggest was going to the ER and having surgery.  I declined and hung up.  However, at 4am - after two hours or pain - I was getting desperate and decided to call him back to tell him I'd meet him at the ER.  But first, I needed to make a quick stop in the bathroom.  I got up, walked across the room and the pain immediately went away.  I stood there, waiting for it to come back, but it never did (remember, 12 weeks is NOT a good time to have surgery).

During the next two weeks the pain would come and go, but it wasn't as strong and only lasted a minute or two.  At almost exactly 14 weeks (the right time to have surgery!), I woke up at 6:30 with the same pain - only this time it was worse.  After trying to shake it off for 30 minutes I called the on call doctor who told me to come in at 8 when they opened.  By the time I got there I could barely stand.  They did an ultrasound and couldn't really tell what was going on - appendix?  cyst?  ovary?  The doctor informed me the only way to really tell was to do surgery.  Let me be completely honest here.  I knew that this was going to happen.  I never voiced it out loud, but I knew.  God knows us, and He knows I like to be prepared.  For weeks...even months...He had been preparing me for this moment.  I knew it was coming and I had no fear.  I had complete peace.  Hard to believe that in that moment of pain, confusion and the possibility of losing my baby, God was able to give me that wonderful gift of peace.  The doctor warned me that the baby might not make it and I almost smiled at her (had I not been in so much pain I may have :)  It's okay.  I thought.  I have peace that the baby will be okay...but even if it's not, I have peace with that as well.  Whatever the outcome, it would be okay.  I simply told her, "ok". 

As soon as the doctor started making the calls and preparations for the surgery, the pain went away - 2 hours exactly just like the time before.  God's timing.  I was able to get in the car and make it to the ER with hardly any pain, then they began prepping me for surgery. On the way I made one call - to the secretary of my church.  I asked her to pray and to please tell the pastor.  It wasn't until I was minutes away from surgery that I began to get nervous.  I'd never had surgery before and the idea of it was beginning to give me the hibbie-jibbies :)  It was at the exact moment that the associate pastor of the church popped his head in my "room".  The secretary had called him and he was visiting someone else nearby and wanted to know if he could pray with me before I went in.  Is God's timing not amazing?  My mom sat and waited at the hospital during the whole surgery, but God didn't make her wait alone.  A close friend of hers happened to be visiting someone and walked right passed her in the waiting room.  She waited with her throughout the whole surgery.  God is good.

Peace.  As I came out of the anesthesia, a nurse came in to check the baby's heartbeat.  As "woozy" as I was, I realized that this was the moment when we'd find out if the baby survived.  I should have been shaking, I should have been crying or anxious or something...  But I was all smiles as the nurse put the machine on my stomach.  Heartbeat, or no heartbeat, everything was going to be ok.  Heartbeat.  God is good :)  (btw, I was told moments later that the pain was caused by the softball size cyst rotating my ovary completely around - twice.  Each time I felt the pain was when the twisting occurred.  Eventually, it would have ruptured...hence the pain.  The good news was it was benign)

Peace.  This idea of peace that God gives us - it's a powerful thing.  I try to imagine what the ordeal would have been like had I not had that peace.  How could a first time mother go through something so horrible without God's peace?  I know there are mothers and fathers enduring situations way worse than what I went through that don't believe in God...I ache for them.   The suffering must be unbearable.  Why did it happen?  Who knows?  Who knows why anything happens?  It's not my place to question or judge...even if God tried to explain it to me I probably wouldn't understand.  Thank goodness I don't have to - because He does.  God is good - all the time.  People aren't, situations may not be, but God is.  I am a blip on the timeline of the world, I only understand the moment of time I am in - and even that is limited...God not only created the world, but can pick it up, hold it in His hands, and study it...from beginning to end.  I will not question "why".  However, that's a discussion for another day :)
After all the stress he went through in the womb, the only trouble he had when he was born was regulating his temp for the first few days

What's amazing about this story is that there is more - at the beginning and end - that helps remind me constantly that God is with us and will give us peace whenever we need it - even when we don't realize we need it.  What happened to my family on 9-11-2006 will be a reminder to me forever.  God will not let this stubborn person forget :)  Right after I found out I was pregnant, I started noticing that I inadvertently was looking at the clock when it said 9:11.  After about the tenth time in a few months, I started to take notice.  Isn't that weird?  What's that about, why am I always looking at the clock when it says 9:11?  If it wasn't such an important number, I probably wouldn't have even noticed.  Once I even thought, maybe the baby will come on 9-11...but no, that would be too early.  You may think I'm crazy...or perhaps you don't believe me (I've only told my husband this and he gets freaked out :)  But it's true.  It did nothing at the time except remind me of the catastrophe that happened in 2001.  I found it odd at the time (not peaceful).  And I promise, that not once did I sit there and wait for the clock to turn to 9:11.  I would instinctively look up and there it would be.

After Pauli was born, it didn't stop - if anything it increased.  And now that I knew that this was his birthday, it became more significant.  I notice still, 7 years later...and sometimes in odd places - the timer on the DVD player, my food timer, the timer on my phone, clocks...everywhere :)  What goes through my head when it happens?  It depends.  Usually, my first thought is my kids - which brings a smile to my face...and if I'm not with them I say a little prayer.  But it also reminds me...almost every time...of peaceGod's peace.  This may seem strange considering what happened on 9-11-2001 - that was certainly not a peaceful day... and when most people hear those numbers they conjure up thoughts and words that resemble nothing having to do with peace.  But once you think about it, it's not so strange.  When the worst things in life happen and we don't know what to do or we doubt if we can even make it through - that's what we seek - God's love and peace.  That's when we cry out to God.  We want to know God is with us, that God is on our side and that He will never leave us.

Maybe you're thinking that it's not that big a deal.  Maybe not - but you try it :)  I notice that it happens more at different times in my life - when I've got a lot going on, when we're going through a difficult time or when things aren't running "smoothly".  God sends me a reminder.  9-11 don't forgetI was with you then and I am with you now.  I decided to do a little experiment and actually take note of the times that it happened in the last 2-3 weeks.  It happened only 5 times - but three of the times came the week before school started and I was having a hard time "letting go" of my kids.  It's a wonderful reminder - Don't forget who's in charge.  Don't forget the peace you had and will always have...don't forget all you need to do is ask.  Don't forget I love you, I'm here for you and I will never leave you...

When 9-11 comes this year, every time you hear the numbers, instead of making yourself sad or hurt or angry; say a prayer for those that still grieve, then thank God.  Thank God for all you've been given, for your life, for God being with us every moment of every day of our lives.  Don't try and understand - you are not God.  Just accept the peace that comes with giving yourself to God and living your life with Him.  And if you are searching for peace right now in your life, look around for the subtle signs God may be sending you..."And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” .Matthew 28:20


What reminders does God place in your life?