Today is the day.
My good friend, Marla, is going to become a mother for the fifth time. I will never forget where I was when I got the news that she was headed to the hospital the first time. I was so excited. It was 6 in the morning almost 6 years ago. I had predicted what day she would deliver (and I was RIGHT). I also will never forget where I was when I heard that everything was NOT okay. I was in the teacher's lounge using the phone to call her and find out how Halley was doing. Marla answered and said, "You haven't heard?" She was obviously still in shock. Halley wasn't breathing on her own, her muscles were constricted, and they had no idea what was wrong.
I prayed and prayed for the next two months.
I really thought she would be healed.
Then, Nate and Marla had to make the hardest decision of their lives. They had to remove life support from their precious Halley because her organs were all failing.
I didn't know what to do. How do you help someone who has just lost their first child to an unknown disease? Our small group planted some flowers for them, and we went to the memorial service. I now cannot hear "Fly to Jesus" without bawling. Halley's life, though brief, changed mine forever. I told God, "I really thought you were going to heal her."
He said, "I did--just not how you thought I would."
It was hard to watch Nate and Marla grieve. Especially when I became pregnant shortly after Halley's death. The guilt I felt for being pregnant when her baby was gone was hard to bear. Sometimes, I just didn't know what to say.
I was about 4-5 months pregnant with Sam when Marla announced they were pregnant again. We were all overjoyed, but we were also scared because the doctors thought it could be a genetic disease that was not yet documented. No other known disease really explained it. I had Sam, and Marla continued to grow and blossom in her pregnancy. Things were looking okay, but they didn't really know what to think because Halley's pregnancy had been normal (to their knowledge). Just over 14 months after Halley was born, I got a phone call from our good (and mutual) friend, Melissa, telling me that they were doing a c-section to get Porter out because his non-stress tests looked concerning.
I remember yelling in the phone, "No!!! This is NOT happening again!" Melissa and I cried together over the phone, and once again, I started to pray.
Porter was taken out several weeks early, but his symptoms looked frighteningly familiar. And again, two months after he came into the world, Nate and Marla had to, once again, remove their baby from life support. At the visitation, I just didn't know what to say. My baby was healthy and six months old. That guilt returned.
"I'm so sorry," was about all I could muster. His little body in the casket was almost too much to bear. It was good for me to see him, though. It helped a little. I just could not believe I was going to yet another funeral for one of their children. Of course, now the doctors had determined that the disease was genetic, and that they had a 25% chance of a baby having it each time they conceived. That is devastating news to bear.
Marla told me later that people often said insensitive things to her in hopes of cheering her up. I didn't want to be one of those people. I found it hard to find things to say, but I tried to listen if she was willing to talk.
A few months after Porter's death, I found out I was pregnant again. Guilt returned (also because I had another close friend who had miscarried that summer as well). But then, there was finally some GOOD NEWS.
Nate and Marla were going to adopt a baby.
I prayed and prayed that the adoption would go smoothly and that the birth mother would not change her mind.
And Shepherd was born. We had a baby shower after he arrived, and it was so sweet because Marla didn't let anybody hold him. But no one tried to--we all wanted her to hold her baby as much as she wanted!!! He was theirs. I had Maryn about two and a half months later.
We all went off to our separate residency programs, and we grew closer than we'd ever been. We talked weekly (sometimes multiple times a week). I watched Marla grow in grace. You could see the Lord was healing her. She is very transparent and honest about how she's feeling. It was good to hear her talk about her grief and her journey to healing.
She called one day and dropped the bomb that she was pregnant AGAIN! I didn't think she was crazy. I knew that she and Nate were not flippant about this. I knew that they listened very carefully to what God was telling them to do--especially in this area. I prayed and prayed for her baby, had others praying, and when the day came, Owen was born, and he was healthy!
I cannot begin to describe the joy that we all felt over this news!!!
Marla and I have grown so close through the years, and I am blessed to be in this spot once again, praying for her and her sweet baby girl, Marley, who will arrive in the next hour or so. I have learned so much from Marla about trusting God, about being real, about grief, about fear, and about being healed.
I may have prayed for Marla, but she too has prayed for me. She doesn't minimalize my struggles by comparing them to hers. This is what the Body of Christ is supposed to look like. I'm sure of it! Holding one another up as we walk through life--the good, the bad, and the devastating. It's mutual.
So, now, would you join me in praying for the safe arrival of Marley Grace? I'll post again with the news. We're believing God for another miracle!