Prayers in the OR Waiting Room
By now many of our friends know, and some of my readers have inferred from an earlier post, that Anna has had a miscarriage. This has happened in the midst of some other difficult circumstances related to my own family, which only deepened the sense of pain and loss.
Coupled with that is the vertignous realization that I nearly lost my wife to this miscarriage. The baby had died about three or four weeks ago (roughly about the week of Thanksgiving), but Anna’s body had not yet expelled the tiny lifeless body. She followed the counsel of her health care team, and we thought we were pretty well prepared for what was to come.
I had stayed up late Monday finalizing grades, and got to bed about 1:00 a.m. Tuesday. About 2:00 a.m., Anna started bleeding significantly. We had been given a measurement–if you bleed so much in an hour, get to the hospital–and after about ten minutes Anna woke me as she had already passed that mark. We called friends who had agreed to come stay with the girls, and I prepared to get Anna to the car and to the ER. Only a few minutes later, Anna passed out from the blood loss. I took her in my arms and tried to get a grip on her to carry her out of our small, cramped bathroom. Somehow, I managed to do so. I sat her upright on our couch, and gasped, “Jesus help us.” I called 911. After just the space of about a minute, Anna came to again, and we did what we could as we awaited the ambulance and our friend.
In near-perfect tandem, the paramedics arrived, followed shortly by the ambulance, and then by our friend. I went ahead of the emergency team to the hospital. After being misdirected to one area of the hospital I finally got back to the ER, where they had already placed Anna, and we allowed the medical staff to do their thing.
It was clear to me almost immediately that every staff person knew this to be gravely serious. Just how serious they thought it was, I was not to realize until later that morning, but instinctively, from observing their faces and the grim efficiency with which they did their work, I knew something was up. Anna passed out again in ER while I was there, and at that point, the staff immediately got an OR room set up and ready. She was transfused in ER and would be given a second unit in surgery. As before, she came to very shortly, but her blood pressure and heart rate were dropping. So we left the ER room and headed to the third floor.
They wheeled her to the OR, with me following. The doctor exhorted me to give her a kiss, and we parted. I was told the procedure would be very brief, about ten to fifteen minutes, and there was nothing explicit in the doctor’s words that gave any indication of the gravity of the situation. But somehow instinctively I had a sense that this was bad.
I had brought my prayer rope with me, and so I proceeded to simply pray the Jesus Prayer for Anna: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on Anna. I interspersed these prayers with the invocation, Most Holy Mother of God, save my wife. And a few times I invoked the prayers of our baby who had died for its own mother. Despite the pain and the tears, and the tiredness I felt, I kept at it doggedly.
I do not know how long I prayed in this way, but it was incessant until the doctor came from the OR with the blessedly good news. Anna was fine, there were no anticipated complications, and this was not to presage any negative implications about having other children or having problems with other pregnancies. He took pains to reassure me, but I could not get out of my head that he had said that in all his few decades of work, this was the second worse case of bleeding he’d seen. At this point I did not have the courage to ask him the outcome of the worst case.
He left and I finally sat down, limp and numb. I was deeply, deeply relieved, of course, but felt shell-shocked. I looked at my watch and noted that it was already past five. The ordeal had been less than four hours.
I’m still catching up on sleep. And being in the hospital gave me the chance to catch a nasty, nasty head cold. And I’m trying to balance the girls, work, Anna’s care, and child care for the girls (though Anna is the one orchestrating the child care). But in the midst of the loss of our baby, my family issues, and all of it, I am so so very thankful to God that he spared my wife. If this had happened even just a few decades ago, I may well have been a widower and our daughters motherless. By God’s mercy, I am not, nor are they.
Still, the realization hits hard. I woke myself tonight from a nightmare in which Anna was dead. I have not been able to return to sleep. Which is why I am posting this at about three a.m.