There is no coincidence in Providence. No accident in the movement of God’s hand on a life. No matter the unexplained circumstances, when we give our lives over to Him, God will provide for our needs in ways we cannot fathom. As His Word promises, He will protect and find favor in those who call to Him.
“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as a shield.”
Psalm 5: 11-12
He doesn’t promise a life of ease, free from grief. Hardship we will face, undoubtedly, in this world. But He does promise to have our backs, so to speak, to bring us into fullness when we look to His face.
The journey my family traveled for our third child was full of heartbreak and waiting. To say I developed patience would paint me in a better light than I deserve. I cried, begged, and whined to God on a regular basis. I questioned Him, asked guidance of friends and doctors, and worried selfishly. I only hope God’s record of my heart will find that, laced in the threads of my suffering, were faithful prayers for His promises. Our first child was conceived easily, but we needed to resort to IVF if we were to have additional children. Audrey is the result of our first cycle. Originally one of two embryos implanted in my womb, she alone remained strong and came to us as a healthy baby. We were fortunate to have two more embryos frozen in ice, frozen in time. When Audrey was two, we decided it was time to pursue having our third baby. After months of considerations, shots, and decisions that, indeed, we were ready, the baby was transferred to my womb. We were expectant and excited. However, it was not meant to be and the baby was lost to us. Our hearts were crushed. It took a full year to heal emotionally from that loss, to try IVF again, to be in a position of potentially losing our last remaining chance. But with friends and loved ones praying for our frozen embryo, we stepped out in faith. This time, I felt God’s presence as He pounded the shores of my heart with His words of affirmation.
My last pregnancy progressed easily. As always, I was nauseous and fought fatigue, but I was not to be deterred. Exhausting as it is, I love being pregnant. This time, we were surprised to discover we were expecting a baby boy. Friends with sons were thrilled for us; I was more wary of the unknown. His little room filled with supplies and hand-me-down clothing, piled on every surface as I tried to figure out how to prepare for a boy. Our two daughters had been born via C-section (the first in a terrifying ordeal, the other as a precaution against further trauma), so this baby was scheduled for the same. I made plans for him to arrive on his due date giving me time to enjoy spring break with my girls for two weeks before his arrival. But other plans were in store for us and, as usual, God makes all things work together for good.
Three weeks before he was due, I visited my OB for a check-up. The week prior, my amniotic fluid levels had tracked lower and needed to be monitored. What my doctor discovered now was a complete lack of fluid in the sac. Whether from the cough I had recently developed, the OB-approved cold medicine, my age, or something else altogether, the fluid designed to keep my baby alive was gone. I give great credit to my doctors; without their expertise and careful attention to detail, my story would be very different. My doctor calmly asked when I had last eaten, added eight hours to the time, and asked me to be at the hospital to deliver at that hour. No, no, I couldn’t deliver today. Who would watch my daughters? How could Frank be with both me and our girls? How could my preferred OB deliver if he was holding office hours? How, who, what, no way! But my doctor gently and firmly sent me home to pack. “You will deliver this baby today and I’ll see you at the hospital tomorrow.”
Three weeks early? Not on schedule?? I sent my family a frantic text to pray for us, for peace and calm, for direction with the girls, for safety, and for my anxiety. Though nine years had passed since my traumatic first delivery, I was no less terrified to experience another epidural. A last minute, late evening delivery while I suffered a deep cough did not set me up for an anxiety-free event. I called on friends who would pray and encourage me. One dear friend didn’t wait for me to realize I needed to ask for help. “I’m coming to get your girls, they’ll spend the night with us, and I’ll drive them to school. You don’t have to worry about a thing. Just get to the hospital. Now.” That last bit. Get to the hospital now, not later, was repeated by my experienced middle sister, a friend/labor & delivery nurse, a friend who had lost a baby late in pregnancy. With calm, confident voices, each woman spoke to us instructions we wouldn’t have known to follow. And so we went as soon as we could.
At the hospital, I was still reeling with the fact our baby was arriving today. I fidgeted with a new iPhone, trying to keep myself distracted, all the while asking for ice, Tylenol, anything to cut the fever that was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Frank juggled his own anxiety, vigilant by my side, ready to be of service. My oldest sister had left home to drive four hours to be with us. My mother and father were stuck in Florida, on edge, waiting and praying. And from a state away, my middle sister walked and prayed me through my concerns. We were told we had to wait the full eight hours between my last meal (one slice of bread) and delivery to avoid complications. I felt trapped – I wanted this baby out where he would be safe, but I was terrified to be given anesthesia early. None the less, the doctors determined a safe enough period of time had passed. As the nurse wheeled me toward the OR, my sister arrived. I’ll never forget the moment. Her cold cheeks against my fevered face as she leaned to kiss me. Gratitude that she made it in time. Fear remembering the last time she waited outside an OR while I fell into darkness. She prayed for me and walked with me, and then we were gone.
The spinal epidural went as planned. Frank was wearing scrubs, sitting next to me. Delivery was calm with a doctor I had only met once, four years earlier during a routine check up. She was kind and proficient. As she pulled our baby from my womb, she gasped. The umbilical cord was tied in a complete knot. If I had not delivered today, our baby would have suffered words I cannot utter. If I had delivered vaginally, the cord would have tightened. It would have only been a matter of time before it cut off all sustenance to the baby. Except now that wasn’t a concern. He was out. Three weeks early, perfectly on time. Frank held his son, our strong, healthy son.
Months have passed and we have settled into a routine of sorts with three children. Not a day passes that I don’t look at that boy in wonder. That God would bring him to us through the fire of life. That we could experience deep loss and longing, yet be so filled by the presence of this little child. That we came so close to losing life, not once but twice, yet in that losing we gained a richness of faith. That disjointed consequences speak clearly of God’s presence in our lives. During the unplanned C-section with our first baby, I went into respiratory arrest and suffered trauma. Because of that, we opted for a trouble-free C-section delivery of our second child. Because we were unable to conceive again, we used IVF. Because it took so long, I was at an advanced maternal age, was considered high-risk, and monitored frequently. Thanks to that frequent monitoring, a potentially fatal problem was discovered before any damage was caused. After two C-sections, I was required to have a third cesarean and not attempt vaginal delivery. That C-section saved the life of our son, a child God formed in my womb. A child whose life God protected nine years before his birth. Sure, we can call all of this coincidence. Or, we can call it what it is: the hand of Providence.
Knox Bunting Vorndran
March 8, 2016