Guest Post by Caitlin Burdick
Last week I started a conversation here around the topic of “waiting.” And I shared a little story about my three-year-old to get the ball rolling. Since then, I’ve heard from many of you–mostly via e-mail and facebook–who have spent time in the proverbial waiting room. And some who are waiting still. I look forward to hearing more. Keep the comments coming!
(Side note: If you have a short comment, the best place to make it is here on the blog so others who are interested in this topic can benefit. However, I did hear that a couple of people were having trouble commenting on the blog. You do need to make sure that you are viewing the individual post and not the “This Odd House” home page. To get to the individual post, click on the title of the post and scroll all the way to the bottom to comment. If that doesn’t solve the problem, do let me know.)
Today I want to share a story that I received from Caitlin Burdick. Caitlin’s husband Chris was a student in one of my writing classes a few years ago. And since then we’ve connected via this blog and e-mail. Caitlin’s story is about waiting. And it’s also about loss. Often, it seems, these two waltz into our lives hand-in-hand.
Here is Caitlin’s story in her own words.
I emailed you a few months ago about having a hard time dealing with God asking me to wait on children.
Since then, I’ve seen Death’s doorstep and have survived to say that God is good. He has spared my life and I have no choice but to give Him glory.
I can’t recall the last email exactly, but I do know that it was in the agony of one of the darkest seasons I’ve had to date. God had put the possibility in front of me that He may ask me to be childless.
Since then, God convicted my husband about his view of birth control and we decided to go off it just to see what God’s plan was for us. Then I hurt my back, herniating it to the point of daily excruciating pain, tingling and numbness. Weeks of physical therapy only resulted in my condition worsening. The “S” word was uttered many times and before I knew it, I was scheduling my first surgery.
The day of the surgery came and my husband and I went through all the pre-operative motions. We were waiting in the pre-op room, answering various questions from various nurses. People who came into the waiting room after me went into surgery before me. I started to think, to wonder, “Is something wrong?
Then we were approached by a nurse. She had something in her hand. “When was your last period, Mrs. Burdick?” It’d been a question I had to answer several times that day. But I saw what was in her hand. 3 pregnancy tests. All positive. I couldn’t hear or think from then on. My mind was blank and in awe.
We cancelled everything that day. Instead, I went to get blood drawn and tried to figure out how to tell family. In exhausted, excited resignation, we called our family members. We didn’t want to tell anyone until things were certain, real. But canceling the surgery would warrant many questions from family and friends. We couldn’t ignore them.
Two weeks later, we had an ultrasound. I’d been battling debilitating morning sickness and was flat-out exhausted. I had taken the month off work to recover from my back surgery, so I had the time to rest and let my baby grow. But the ultrasound showed nothing, an empty womb. No heartbeat, no fetal pole, nothing.
My heart shattered. Words like “ectopic” and “miscarriage” were uttered. I was frozen.
I went down to the lab and got more blood drawn. I was still pregnant. We went for a high resolution ultrasound that next week. I had blogged and begged my family and friends to pray for Baby B. The high resolution ultrasound popped up on the screen. Again, my womb was empty. The ultrasound tech kept searching. I waited, holding my breath, hoping to see a heartbeat, anywhere.
I had fallen in love with my baby. I loved the feeling of being a mother. I loved planning, dreaming, hoping. I loved.
The tech left the room and came back with another doctor. He looked, he searched. I waited.
Then, there it was. A bright red “ring of fire” on the screen showing blood flow. But it was in the wrong place. Instead of being in my womb, my baby had decided to make its home in my fallopian tube. I had an ectopic pregnancy.
The doctor and tech left the room after explaining what we needed to do. My husband and I sobbed. I held my stomach, rocking back and forth, gasping, “My baby! My baby!” We left the room to go sit in an office with a phone so I could get the play-by-play from my OBGYN. In that time, my husband put his hands on my belly and raised his voice to God, begging, pleading, sobbing, asking God to welcome our dearly beloved baby into His presence. He pulled up various Scriptures on his phone, reading Romans 8 about the Future Glory we have in store for us. In that moment, our baby was named Glory. I believed from the moment I learned about her that she was a girl. The very gender I feared and didn’t want. The very gender I grew to love and cherish beyond life itself.
We left the office after talking to my OBGYN and ventured down to the ER where we waited 8 hours for me to get a shot that would turn the “clump of cells” into scar tissue and end the pregnancy. If I didn’t do this, I would die.
I got the shot and was told what to look for in the rare case it didn’t work. They emphasized and re-emphasized the fact that it would be very rare. We went home and grieved. People sent flowers. Our church set up a 2-week meal train. My parents came to grieve with us.
We waited. I went in for more blood draws to make sure my levels were going down. We waited.
Six nights after I received the shot, I climbed into bed and felt a gas-like pain grow in my belly. The pain gradually grew. It persisted despite Gas-X and antacids. I tried going to the bathroom and was unable to stand straight. I almost passed out and was immediately drenched in mammoth beads of sweat. I needed to vomit but couldn’t.
My husband rushed me to the ER. In less than 30 minutes, I was being wheeled into the OR. My fallopian tube had burst. Glory resisted the shot and continued to grow. She wanted to leave on her own terms. I had lost 1.5 liters of blood and was in dire shape. I lost my left tube, lots of blood and my baby. She was 9 weeks gestation. I would have given birth to her this coming Spring, around the same time of her Papa and Daddy’s birthdays.
I was in the hospital for 4 days. I was bed-ridden at home for a week after that. I have a 12-inch long scar that was sealed with staples. Almost a month after the surgery, I am almost back to normal. Almost. My heart will forever feel a little whole, forever longing for Heaven, to see my Glory Baby and Jesus, the first face she ever saw.
It would make sense if I was stark-raving mad. It would make sense if I didn’t want anything to do with God. But that hasn’t been the case.
Our prayer from the moment we found out we were pregnant was that no matter what would transpire in the pregnancy, that God would be given the glory. And not only did he get Glory, but I haven’t been able to stop giving Him praise. I got to love Glory for 3 weeks. I got to be her mother. I got to see my beloved husband become a father. He would snuggle up to my belly and wave at it saying, “Hi, Baby!” I got to lay on the couch, caressing my belly, talking to Glory about how much Daddy and Mommy loved her and how much I wanted her to chase after the beautiful things in life. I was put into the care of many doctors who helped me know what was happening, why it was happening, and what to look out for.
And simply, God spared my life. I can be angry that He took Glory, but if He didn’t, I would have gone to bed that night and would not have woken up that morning. My husband would have woken up to find me cold, motionless, dead. If He didn’t take Glory, my husband would have been a widower at the age of 24. That is more than I could take, imagine, fathom. My stomach wrenches when I contemplate it all.
Despite all of this, my doctors promise that my fertility won’t be hindered. I can still get my back fixed. By the end of October, I should be 100% healthy.
So, waiting is the name of the game these past few weeks, months. I haven’t enjoyed it all, but I am thankful for every single moment. Those moments of waiting have caused me to cherish life, to cherish my husband more deeply, to cherish the God who saved me. What more could I ask?