I was 29 weeks pregnant and hemorrhaging while at home on bed rest with my first child. Diagnosed with a complete placenta previa, I was warned to expect painless bleeding. However, that dire warning in no way prepared me for the experience of bright red blood pouring from my body. A 911 page was sent to my husband and my mom. The doctor was notified, and I was instructed to get to the hospital 30 miles away, which was located on the opposite side of St. Louis from where I lived. Without traffic this was a minimum 40-minute drive; with traffic, the trip could take double that time. How long could I bleed at this level and remain alive? Would my baby, the long-awaited promise after 10 years of infertility, live through this crisis?
Tim drove as fast as he could to get me to the hospital while I stretched out in the back seat with a towel between my legs. I couldn’t feel my baby moving as the miles clicked by. Fear was palpable. How could all we’ve been through bring us to this impossible conclusion? Suddenly from behind us, sirens wailed. Moving towards our rescue, we were now forced to pull over and explain to the officer the reason for our speeding. Unlike what you see in the movies, there was no offered escort from the state trooper. Even upon seeing my predicament, we were told to either wait for an ambulance to arrive on the side of the highway or drive the speed limit the rest of the way. We chose to drive the speed limit, as overall that seemed to provide the fastest route to the hospital.
When we arrived at the ER, there was a team waiting outside for me. They pulled me out of the car, onto a gurney, and moved straight past the ER and up to Labor & Delivery. There was a flurry of activity as cautious decisions were made about an emergency c-section. Miraculously, as suddenly as the bleeding started, it stopped once we arrived at the hospital. Everyone involved was able to catch their breath. Hooked up to the monitors now I could hear the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of my baby’s heart pumping. As fear receded, my baby’s movements returned too. A quick ultrasound told us our wee one was fine; this initial and terrifying round of bleeding only threatened me.
The next 5 weeks were critical during that pregnancy in early 1997. My doctor said he slept with one foot on the ground waiting for the call to operate. My family was encouraged to donate blood since I would likely need a transfusion. I was also told to expect a hysterectomy, which threatened that my first birth would also be my last birth. There were such heavy and terrifying words levied about my condition. While I was released from that hospital after a few days, I soon found my way back again with another major bleed and a similar car ride across the city. After that 2nd bleed I remained on hospital bed rest, in the room closest to the OR until St. Patrick’s Day arrived. On the same day our baby hit the 34-week mark, my final bleed occurred. Our precious daughter, Lydia Jean, was delivered via C-section while I was under general anesthesia and her daddy waited outside.
Nearly 24 years later, today we are facing another crisis with our daughter. Lydia lies in a hospital bed in Guatemala, after serving as a missionary for the past year. She was only a few days from coming home for Christmas when an infection she had been battling for several weeks took a turn for the worse. Guatemala, the country that gave us our last two children, now held our first. We’ve been told her situation is serious. With the potential of a colon rupture and possible surgery, it was time for me to come. A ticket was graciously and unexpectedly provided by a family member and the hospital approved me not only to visit but to sleep on a cot in Lydia’s room. With all roadblocks cleared, it was time for me to return to Guatemala once more to bring a child home.
This morning after an early, peaceful drive to the airport filled with worship, I discovered an expired passport in my hand. Hard to believe a former travel professional could make such a major mistake for such an important trip, but I did, and the clock was ticking hard. I called Tim at 5:20 am and said you need to get out of bed right now and bring my valid passport to Tampa. We live a solid hour from the airport and boarding for my flight was scheduled to being at 6:30 am. This committed husband and father flew out of the house within minutes, leaving our two young teens under the care of angels and the dog, to deliver my wings – literally.
With all of the last 24-hours rush-rush behind me, including the mad-dash through security, my soul is finally catching up to my body. Confined to this airplane seat, I am absolutely helpless to do anything to help Lydia right now, much in the same way I was helpless before or during her birth. The predictions and fears may be dire, but I remember the story of her first rescue! That baby girl born six weeks early never required oxygen and left that NICU after only 9 days. There were so many terrifying threats over both of our lives, the worst of which simply never came to pass.
Before I even land in Guatemala, please know my heart is overflowing with worship for the mighty miracles we’ve seen before and full of faith for the one we are about to see revealed ahead. For those of you who walked through the days of Lydia’s birth alongside me, let me encourage you that we will once again see a miracle for this daughter. For those of you who have not known the details of Lydia’s story until now, let me encourage you to know God has rescued her before and he will do it again.