Wednesday, January 27, 2010

`Stay With Me'

We had known for a couple of weeks Julie was going to have another miscarriage. It was such a shock to hear again that the little life inside her had inexplicably died. Her body was still thinking she was pregnant, the doctor said, which was why she still felt nauseous and tired all the time. He couldn't explain what went wrong, why after so many healthy babies she had two miscarriages within the matter of months. We trust God's plans and purposes in all of it, even as we wonder if we'll be blessed to hold another little baby or if Olivia is the last wee one in our family. The doctor advised waiting for Julie's body to miscarriage naturally rather than going through a procedure that he said could complicate future pregnancies. We waited for two weeks before the bleeding began. By Monday afternoon, it was so heavy I found Julie lying on the bathroom floor, talking to the doctor on the phone. When she hung up she told me she felt as though she would faint whenever she stood up. She was pale and I asked if she needed anything and what the doctor said. He told her to wait a while to see how things progressed. They got worse.

By 7 o'clock I was helping her into our van to take her to the hospital in Williamsburg where the doctor would meet us. The hospital in Gloucester doesn't deliver babies so Julie's doctors are 45 minutes away. I had asked Ethan to remove Olivia's car seat, which is directly behind the driver's seat, so Julie could lie down. Ethan mistakenly took out the whole bench seat, so Julie laid down on the second bench back and I sped through Gloucester, praying the whole way. I asked Julie occasionally how she was doing and she always said fine. About five minutes from the hospital she said she wasn't doing well and that she was bleeding a lot and I heard her moan softly. I raced up to the emergency room entrance, parked and ran inside for a wheelchair. An older man and woman were inside the first set of doors and and I said I needed a wheelchair for my wife. He directed me to them and I grabbed one and wheeled it out to the van. When I opened the door Julie was on the floor and looked out of it; a short time later I would understand she was hemorrhaging and losing blood rapidly. By then the older man was right behind me. When he saw Julie he asked how he could help and then grabbed the wheelchair and got it closer to the van while I helped Julie into it.

I rushed inside to the nurse's station and said my wife needed help. Julie was slumped in the chair moaning softly and when I looked behind us I saw a trail of blood splattered on the floor. Beneath her blood was puddling on the floor. The guy in the nurse's station said he'd get someone. I wasn't shouting, but telling him forcefully my wife is having a miscarriage and bleeding heavily and I needed someone now. He said he would call someone. Julie was still moaning, her eyes closed. I moved in front of her and patted her cheek. "Stay with me, Julie," I said. "Stay with me." I'm not sure what I said next to the guy at the nurse's station, but I know was desperate. I remember at one point -- whether it was when I first arrived at the nurse's station or seconds later I can't quite recall -- looking to my right at a couple seated in the emergency room and they had this horrified look on their face. I'm pretty sure I demanded help. Again. The older man who helped us inside was pleading for help as well. "She's bleeding," he said. I felt so helpless. I remember talking to Julie, telling her it was OK and help was on its way. I kissed her forehead and felt it and her skin was cold and clammy. Finally the doors swung open and a nurse appeared. She looked at Julie and told me to follow her. We rushed down the hall, took a right past all these rooms and I kept thinking we didn't have time for all of this. We finally reached an empty room, a doctor and another nurse showed up and we lifted Julie onto the bed. Her clothes were soaked in blood and I remember at one point seeing blood smeared across the doctor's smock.

Praise God they got the bleeding slowed and stabilized her condition. I think we arrived at the hospital just after 8 o'clock. Sometime after that, when I knew she was going to be fine, I headed out to move the van, which I had left running outside the emergency room. I was disoriented and unsure at first which way to go outside her room. Then I looked at the floor. It was easy to find the van: I followed the trail of blood to the emergency room doors. By 9 o'clock Julie was headed to surgery. Around 9:45 her doctor met me in the waiting area and said the surgery had gone well, but she would spend the night. It wasn't until around 11:15 that I night that I saw her in her room, where I was waiting while she was brought up from surgery. She looked much better and actually had some color in her lips. We talked for a little while and I made plans to pick her up in the morning. I told her I loved her and drove home. The next morning on our way back to Gloucester, Julie told me she remembered a few things about the night before. She said she remembered feeling horrible and she remembers me patting her cheek and talking to her. She could hear me, but she couldn't respond. "I wanted to," she said, "but I couldn't."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Christmas 2009

Here's a portion of our Christmas letter from 2009. We sent the photo above with the letter. It's a wee bit past Christmas, but it's the thought that counts, right?
Merry Christmas! The remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ is such an excellent time of year. We're back in Gloucester, Va., at the tail end of an extraordinary journey that took us to Oregon and back. We lived in Corvallis for about nine months -- leaving in September 2008 and returning in June -- while I attended Cornerstone School of Ministry, with the idea of becoming better equipped for whatever the Lord has for me. Little did I know that would involve planting a Calvary Chapel here in Gloucester on Sept. 6. God has been so faithful and good to our family, through many good times and trials alike. The verse from the year is from Hosea 12:6: "Observe mercy and justice and wait on your God continually." The word `continually' in Hebrew means `to stretch' and the word `wait' means to `bind together, perhaps by twisting.' The picture I have of our lives is like tying a shoelace and how you pull the loops apart and the harder you stretch them, the tighter the knot. That was us this year, being stretched and yet being drawn closer to the Lord. Thank the Lord for His grace and mercy.