Between the end of last school year and my current maternity leave, I've spent a lot of time watching television. (To tell the truth, I always watch a lot of television, but that isn't really my point.) Jeremy introduced me to Frasier, which was on while I was in high school and college - i.e., before I was a couch potato. This post isn't to praise the virtues of this show (which, for what it's worth, are endless - such a smart and touching comedy) but to share an epiphany I experienced after a recent episode.
I cannot remember the episode's title, but one of the major characters, Niles, is in the hospital having heart surgery. As he is wheeled off to the operating room, Niles makes a comment where he wonders whether hospitals have memories - after all, many of life's most impactful moments happen within their walls. The rest of the episode shows Niles's loved ones in the waiting room recalling significant events that happened inside that hospital - births, illnesses, accidents, disastrous diagnoses. And because Luke's crying stopped for the duration of the episode, I was really able to take it all in.
Most of you know that the first few months of 2008 were very difficult for my family and me. My dad spent the first two months of the year in ICU at Baylor Grapevine - the hospital where Luke was born almost six weeks ago. When Dad went into the hospital with trouble breathing, we all imagined the problem could be easily remedied. But within 24 hours he was being intubated and moved up to ICU. January 14 marked the beginning of several weeks of anxiety and stress for Dad's loved ones. There were several points where we didn't think he'd make it, and I can vividly recall all of my emotions during those difficult hours in the ICU waiting room. I was in agony, and not just because I didn't know if Dad was going to make it. I was in agony because, at the time, I was just six weeks pregnant. I knew I had to try to keep my emotions and stress in check, not only for my overall health, but for that of my baby. And I tried to sleep when I could, to eat right, to stay positive... yet my mind was never far from the fear that I might lose not only Dad, but also my baby - or harm him or her by not taking care of myself. I knew how important it was to be as careful as possible during my first trimester, and in the darkest of times, I just didn't believe that things could have a happy ending on both fronts. I guess that's what happens when life brings you hardship and blessing simultaneously; it's awfully difficult to embrace the good times when the bad ones are so prominent.
A day that epitomized that dilemma took place after my eight week appointment. My OB's office is right next door to Baylor Grapevine, so after my appointment, Jeremy and I headed next door to tell Mom how it went. We had a picture of little Luke - who, at that point, looked like a gummy bear - and a good report that everything was progressing just perfectly. I wanted to tell Dad about the appointment, too, but he was unresponsive. I will never forget going into Dad's room to tell him about the appointment. I shared the wonderful news through muffled sobs - because I didn't want to be telling Dad this when he couldn't truly be there. I hated that I was sharing this news without Dad's questions, without his jokes about names for the baby (in time, he'd choose "Otto Hubert," which drove me crazy), but with tubes and beeps and monitors responding in his place. Again, joy and despair merged. Quite the emotional roller coaster, particularly for one with surging pregnancy hormones.
You know, of course, how this ends: it was a long road to recovery, but Dad finally came home in mid-May, and he's doing wonderfully. As that Frasier episode reached its fitting end (a character recalling his child's birth), I looked down at my Luke - asleep in my arms, beautiful, safe, and healthy - and I broke down. In the months since Dad has been sick, I've heard of others who did not survive what he went through. Since I've had Luke, I've heard of mothers whose babies haven't been so healthy and strong. I realize how faithful God has been to me. I feared the worst of outcomes for no reason at all. Luke's grandfather does know him, and he's crazy about him. (Crazy enough to think a Youth Medium shirt fits him, as you may recall.) And the baby whose safety I worried so much about is just perfect. I'm thankful for so many things God has provided - from Dad and Luke to the grace and knowledge I've needed over these past six weeks. But after a seemingly random rerun, I'm thankful for His reminder that when hardships and blessings appear simultaneously, we should always focus on the blessings.