Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If Only I Could Know...


I watched as she fumbled around on the ultrasound, my baby’s thumping heartbeat cutting right through the rising silence and tension.  Please don’t say a word, my heart silently pleaded to the doctor.  Please tell me everything, my mouth followed my mind.  I was 20 weeks pregnant with my third child, another son, and this pregnancy was complicated.  With the gel still cold on my belly, and her eyes still glued to the ultrasound screen, the doctor began to assess and explain the risks, the expected outcomes, and the management plan.  None of it mirrored my own plan, that which included a large swollen belly, the plump fresh body of a baby born full term, and the pictures to send and frame of the smiling new family in the birthing center.  Yet all of her words were muffled behind the sound of that blessed beating heart.    Thump, thump, thump.  It was louder than her grim predictions. 

Two weeks into my mandated bed rest at home, and friends shuffled in and out of the house with meals.  Grandparents came and went with the twins.  And I lay there, shackled to the bed, apologizing and thanking the village that had come to keep us all in tact.  When the sunset and the hustle and bustle settled, I cried out to Jeff, “I just wish I could know that this baby would live.  If only I could know.  I could handle all of this, the fear and the isolation, the separation and the worry, if only I knew…” 

After six weeks of hospitalization for monitoring and bed rest, the doctors, nurses, housekeepers and cafeteria staff had become my friends.  They just smiled and waved as Jack and Webb ran recklessly down the hospital hallways.  They learned to look the other way as the boys spun wildly around in my wheelchair.  When Jeff and the boys went home and I sat alone in that hospital room, one plea circled around my thoughts.  If only I could know that this would all be worth it.  If only I could know…

On November 18, 2010, at 29 weeks pregnant, alone in my hospital room, the labor pains began.  My abdomen began to contract and constrict, and my prayers came swiftly and audibly to the rhythm of my rapid breath.  My hands and voice shook with fear as I made the phone calls and alerted the nurses.  This baby boy was coming fast.  O God, if only I could know…

photo by Amy Free

Two years ago, on January 23, 2010, after 10 weeks spent in the NICU, Jeff and I brought home our four-pound baby boy, Duncan Jeffrey Monroe.  At breakfast this morning, that same boy threw down his cereal spoon and threw up his hand in a tight fist, before shouting, “I am Batman!”  He then leaped out of his chair and sprinted a circle around the table before crashing into me with spread arms.  And I cannot help but remember those desperate prayers, my hope-thin pleas, my constant conditioning of, if only I could know...


With my cheek resting on top of his untamed curls and my chin gently digging into the secret tickle spot in the back of his neck, I feel that holy stirring.  I sense God’s gentle voice.  My dear daughter, you could never have known. You could never have imagined the love.  You could never have fathomed the joy.  You could never have dreamed of the spirit of this child.  To tell you that the sacrifice would be worth it would not even have scratched the surface.  No dear, you could never have known.

And again I hear it, the sound of a blessed beating heart.  Though it is no longer the sound of my son’s, but the sound of my Father’s.  His heart beats, holy and good, cutting right through the doubt, right through the pain, thundering louder than grim darkness.  Thump, thump, thump.  If only I knew…