He knew

Anyone who knows me knows that I love conversation. I particularly love to hear how God is working in someone’s life. I am moved when I hear accounts of an active and loving God intersecting with a broken and hurting humanity. So today, I want to tell you a story from my life. This is the story of biblical truths moving from the knowledge of my brain to the recesses of my heart.

The story begins on a Monday, a little more than five years ago. I went in for a regular check up, 31 weeks into my first pregnancy. I felt fine, but the tests revealed that my body was not fine. I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia, affecting my blood pressure, my kidneys, and likely, the placenta. I was sent to the hospital. My mind was racing. My emotions were in turmoil. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to go.

I had a lot of back and forth in the following days. To the hospital to get steroid shots that would help the baby’s lung development. Back home to follow the unclear instructions of “bed rest.” Back to the hospital with a skull-splintering headache. As I was monitored, sometimes things were fine. The baby’s heart rate was normal, and my blood pressure was high but not dangerous. Other times, the baby’s heart rate dropped, or my blood pressure spiked to life-threatening numbers.

So, on Sunday, six days after I went in for that regular check-up, eight weeks before my due date, the doctors induced labor. But then, another setback: the baby’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction. Not knowing how long labor would take, a c-section was needed. They warned me of the risks. My pre-eclampsia had progressed into HELLP syndrome. I was in danger of having a seizure. I would have to be put on a magnesium sulfate IV for 24 hours after the surgery.

Still whirling with the emotions and reality of the situation, I asked my husband to remind me of the meanings of the names we had chosen. I wanted to feel like something was in our control. But then, he looked them up, and found that Cameron, the name at the top of our boy list, meant “bent nose.” I was annoyed. Really? It didn’t mean armor-bearer? Or child of God? Did we have time to pick a different name? Would anything go right? This felt like the last straw.

Just a little while later, a tiny 3 pound boy was born. A baby boy with a healthy set of lungs… and a bent nose. It appears that his hand had been pressed against his face in the womb.

After the birth, my husband followed the baby to the NICU, while I waited for post-op. As I lay there by myself, I started to weep. They were not tears of anxiety or anger or sadness. They were tears of joy. All I could think was, “Bent nose! Bent nose! His name is Cameron!”

My entire week had been filled with uncertainty. I didn’t know my birth experience would be this way. I didn’t know it would be full of complications. I didn’t know how it would turn out.

But God knew.

God knew this birth story before it happened. He knew my son would be born with a bent nose. He knew his name was Cameron.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  –Psalm 139:16

The next 24 hours are a blur. I went in and out of consciousness and nausea as the effects of the magnesium sulfate flowed through my body. But in the midst of it all, I had a peace that surpassed understanding. I knew that God was there in the NICU, watching over Cameron. And I knew He was there in the hospital room, watching over me.

Cameron spent 19 days in the NICU. There were many difficult times in those weeks, not the least of which was coming home from the hospital without my baby in my arms. But I learned about trust. I felt God’s presence. I understood God’s faithfulness.

So, as I celebrated Cameron’s birthday just a few days ago, I celebrated for more than one reason. I celebrated not only his life, but his birth, and how that birth changed me. His birthday is the anniversary of my heart being taken over by Psalm 46:1.

God is my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in trouble.