The journey from trying to conceive right through to a baby being born and beyond is often not smooth. This powerful and honest letter from a mother to her son, shares the ups and downs of trusting God in the midst of challenging times…
You are so fearfully and wonderfully made by our creator. He has watched over you and held you in his hands while he knitted you together in the womb. I prayed so often during my pregnancy that he would protect you and bring you safely into this world. For someone who doesn’t like crying I shed many tears for you and had quite a journey as you grew inside me.
We waited and prayed for the blessing of a second child for many many months and were so thrilled to finally have a positive pregnancy test in August 2015. But it was coupled with anxiety as at the same time I was experiencing bleeding and blood tests lead to the doctor telling us: ‘I’ve never seen such low hormone levels and it not be a miscarriage.’ While waiting for a second test to clarify the situation I went to church that Sunday and wept for the baby I thought I was losing. As I broke down in tears Ben and Mary came and looked after your sister (Daddy was on a plane to India with work), Mary made a coffee and Anna sat and prayed with me. While praying Anna had a picture which she was concerned about sharing due to the potential meaning but she spoke out in faith…she had a picture of Jochebed putting baby Moses in the basket and letting him drift down the river. There was an element of concern that this could mean God was taking the baby away but my over-riding feeling was that this was not the case. Instead I felt strongly that God was telling me that I needed to trust this baby to him, not just 90% and hold onto 10% but completely, totally, whole heartedly trust the pregnancy over to him like Jochebed did with Moses. Oh how that rang true over and over again.
I trusted in God everytime the bleeding sporadically re-occurred over the next 6 weeks and when early scans found a bleed 3 times the size of the foetus. Medics were unable to say whether it would bleed out, be absorbed by the body or break away in clots triggering a miscarriage. Everytime I had another bleed I feared it was the beginning of the end.
I was so thankful when we reached the 12 week scan and there was still a heartbeat.
I trusted God when we were told the screening tests had returned as high risk of chromosomal abnormalities. I stood firm in my decision not the take invasive tests and thanked God for his provision of finances that meant we could have a different screen which gave us more information without any risk of harm. I am thankful these tests came back clear and I stood firm every time a new doctor reviewed my case and I had to listen to the words ‘so you refused a chorionic villi test’. I wanted to scream back; ‘no, I haven’t refused, I have carefully considered, cried and discussed with many councillors on advice lines what I do with the information from the screen and my over-riding desire is to protect my baby and not risk any harm, so I am not going to have a needle placed in my womb when there are other options.’ I am so grateful for homegroup friends who listened and were completely non-judgemental in what I might want to do. I learnt in this situation that your mind can consider things you never previously thought you would. The most helpful thing a friend said when I asked about their similar experience was that they decided only to accept intervention that would help the baby and avoid any risk of harm. This became my mantra and really brought me peace of mind.
I trusted God when your growth checks were dropping off the projected size and further scans were booked for closer monitoring.
I trusted God when I spent Easter Sunday in hospital for low foetal movement. I trusted God when this lead to almost daily checks for pressure in the umbilical cord and placenta function.
Perhaps now is the time to caveat what I am saying. I say trusted God. I confess, I did not always stand strong in this trust. There were so many times I walked into church carrying a week of worry on my shoulders. No sooner did I get in the church door and I would collapse in an emotional heap exhausted by it. I am so grateful to the many many women who sat with me, prayed over me and listened to me speak out my fears for your well-being and my struggles not to listen to the enemy’s voice. Having experienced a colleague have an unexplained still birth at 42 weeks I feared everytime I went for a check that I would hear the words: ‘I’m sorry, but there is not heartbeat’.
I trusted God when the Consultant made the call to admit me and bring you into the world on the day you turned 36 weeks. It was rather quicker and sooner than I had anticipated. I trusted God when your arrival was delayed while they awaited a neonatal bed to be available for you. I trusted God when you got into difficulty and we were rushed into theatre for an emergency C-section. Hearing the words: ‘this baby will not survive a normal delivery’ I then lay on that table, the lower half of my body numb from anaesthetic the upper half uncontrollably shaking. I waited for what felt like eternity to hear your cry…it didn’t come. Eventually your Dad caught site of you lying on the observation table, looking around with your big eyes not making a peep.
I trusted God when you struggled to feed and your blood sugars were unstable. I trusted God as we went down to NICU for feeding and praised the Lord as your admitting blood tests came back within acceptable range and we were given another 3 hours to keep you out of intensive care. And praise God we managed to keep you on the up. I am so thankful for the specialists who managed to get you feeding with aids and we no longer needed ‘top up’ bottles.
Looking back now I think I was in shock during those early days just processing all that had happened in such quick succession and trying to release 36 weeks of worry. It rather hit me like a brick wall when I spent a morning in hospital on my own with you. I was exhausted cycling round 1 hour of rest, 1 hour syringing 0.4ml of milk into you, 1 hour expressing 0.4ml of milk. Those quantities sound so ridiculously small now, they felt massive at the time. All I could do was weep.
I trusted God as the surgeon later cut your tongue tie to help your feeding further. It took another 4 months but we eventually got you feeding without support.
I trusted, I trusted and I trusted some more. I am still emotional when I think about all we went through. However, you are now strong, healthy and a growing happy boy. We love you so much. Your sister has adored you since the moment you came home. I will always feel a little sad you didn’t come into this world naturally and we didn’t get that immediate skin-to-skin contact – ironically something I didn’t really give much credit to before. I will always wonder if such high levels of medical intervention were actually needed or not. But you were safe and well, that was the main thing.
On reflection I recalled 2 dreams I had while pregnant. For some reason I asked God to tell me what we were having and that night I dreamt we had a baby boy. Later on, when there were concerns about your health, I asked the Lord to show me how everything would turn out. That night I had a picture of us standing holding a baby and saying over and over again ‘ It’s a boy and yes he is fine, he’s fine.’ After all the worries that was exactly what we found ourselves saying!
Finally, I am so grateful for 2 women God placed in my life. I met Joannah 2 days before your arrival while we sat next to each other for 3 hours waiting for our daily CTG. Both being monitored for low foetal growth. We immediately ‘clicked’ and exchanged contact details. Somehow she was one of the most supportive people when you arrived even though we’d only just met. We kept in touch and I was able to return the support when her boy arrived 2 weeks later. Sadly Samuel Archie went to be with the Lord shortly after that, but we have remained in touch and I am sure we will be lifelong friends.
God then placed Julie in my life. We met at gymnastics, both sat watching while bouncing a baby. Turns out you and Sophie were born 2 days apart, both a 36 weeks due to low Pappa-A hormone. It’s been so lovely having another person to chat to who is managing the same concerns and worries. During those chats we’ve sat quietly celebrating that our babies have made it onto the growth charts while other Mum’s are worrying that their baby has dropped to the 91st percentile.
I am so grateful for these 2 special friends I have met. Our shared experiences have meant so much as we have an understanding and insight into each other’s feelings that goes so much deeper than any good-willing person can offer unless they too have been in that same circumstance. In further conversations it’s come to light both women are also Christians and we have shared our faith together. We agreed it is no coincidence we were sat next to each other on those days, God was totally in it.
So, as you see Sebastian, God watches over you, protects you, loves you and knows you intimately. We chose your name just because we liked it. But some name books suggest it can be shortened to Bastian – a wall of a castle that sticks out to protect it. Or another meaning is something that defends or keeps a belief or way of life that is disappearing / threatened. When I picture a ‘Bastion’ I think of a solid brick tower that is strong and then I think ‘how fitting’ for my son who fought off all those medical concerns and is strong and healthy.
All my love