Milestones in Project Life
"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." -Thomas Jefferson
"We're sorry, but the pregnancy is not viable. I'll pass you over to our front desk, and they'll help you schedule a D and C." That one comment carried all of the emotional weight of a body slam from one of those bulky entertainment wrestlers. How could this be happening... again? It was our third miscarriage since our first daughter, Lauren, was born less than four years prior. Despair was setting in. Hope was waning. Questions were persisting. After my wife finished the phone conversation, we both just sat there. I could surmise how she must be feeling. Others we knew had struggled with multiple miscarriages, and there are not words to describe the grief that expectant parents experience when the pregnancy ends unexpectedly. After our third strike, I was feeling like God's Little Chew Toy, and the look on Shannon's face told me that she was right there with me.
"I'm so sorry, Tim," were the first words out of her mouth. Here was a woman who was experiencing her third miscarriage and her first words were an apology to me. That left me dumbfounded. She continued, "You didn't need to have this on your birthday."
True. It was my birthday. And it was a day that I determined at that point in time would probably be marred from there on out. Sure, maybe some day I would be able to smile and enjoy the day again, but nothing would probably ever wipe away the grief that my wife and I shared at that exact moment. Maybe some day.
Fast forward exactly one year.
I was dressed and ready to leave for my morning workout at the Y by 4:45. After all, it was my birthday (big whoop) and I wasn't getting any younger, so the need to stay in shape was impressing upon me even more as each year passed. As I was quietly trying to slip out the bedroom, my wife stirred. She was still having backaches, which had been a recurring complaint for the last 3-4 weeks. I encouraged her to get some rest, and I would be home in just over an hour. At least it was Friday... we'd both be able to get caught up on some rest. For some reason, I was just not in the mood for abdominal crunches that morning, so I headed straight for the exercise bikes. I was feeling tense and irritable, the way I usually do when I feel I'm about to get hit by something big. I wouldn't have to wait long to find out what it was.
The cell phone rang at 5:40, just as I was huffing and puffing my last pedals on that blasted bike. The voice on the other end of the call was terse, yet calm. "Those backaches are coming in five minute waves, so if you want a shower before we leave for the hospital, get home NOW." Bidding adieu to my gym-buddies, I beat a hasty retreat home. I showered and dressed in record time before my sister-in-law and my mom arrived to tag-team assistance with Lauren. Shannon was utterly serene, which to this day astounds me. "You may want to eat something," she admonished. "We have no idea how long this will take." I inhaled a breakfast bar and - after everything was in order at home - helped my wife into the car for a quick (yet safe) trip to the hospital, where we arrived just before 7.
"Believe it or not, we're out of rooms. We'll have to put you in the outpatient testing room." The orderly was nice, and even apologetic. We really didn't care. The next three hours were a blur of doctors and nurses and machines and advice and suggestions and orders and issues and movement and... at 9:47 AM Abigail Meredith arrived (13 days before her due date).
A little over an hour later, all of the nurses and doctors had left, and my wife and I were enjoying the first moments of peace with our newest family member. I was sitting in a chair near my wife's bed. She looked over at me with a little grin and merely said, "Happy Birthday.... hope you like your present." We both know how random birthdays are... or can be... so to have our daughter arrive on my birthday, given the significance of the day from the year prior was nothing short of a small miracle, a 6 pound 14 ounce miracle.
"You do realize what the name Abigail means, don't you?" I had suggested the name a few weeks prior, but it was always my wife who had to see what a name meant. After I prompted her for the answer, she informed me that Abigail meant "my father's joy." A chill ran down my spine at the exact same speed a tear rolled down my cheek.
Abby turns two today, which means it's also my birthday. It's a great time to reflect back. I'm not a believer in coincidence. Now that I'm celebrating the milestone ending my fourth decade on this whacky little terrestrial ball, I've noticed that life runs in patterns, and that there is a synchronicity to events. You can call it fate or faith (I prefer the latter), but it just seems like, in retrospect, things fall into a well-executed master plan. Some of you out there may be experiencing a period in your life similar to my birthday three years ago. Thomas Jefferson's words hold true. Sometimes life is just about hanging on. There's no amount of doing, thinking, planning, demanding, cajoling, or carpe-factum-ing that is going to get you out of a slump. Stay objective about your current situation. See what you can learn about yourself and others from it. Maintain your health (both physical and emotional) while you're going through it. And when you do come out of your slump... Watch Out World!!! It may not seem like much encouragement now, but trust me on this one: the wait is worth the reward. Sometimes patience is our greatest accomplishment.