For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
It is a beautiful dry season morning in the topics. The kind of morning that inspires camping, and going to the beach, and just generally wanting to be in the great outdoors. It is the sort of weather that makes you believe that anything is not only possible, but achievable.
And it’s a great day to not have a birthday.
A year ago today, I was in the delivery suite at Royal Darwin Hospital, at risk of premature labour, thirteen and a half weeks early. I had been having contractions on and off since twenty weeks, and by week twenty six they had got so bad, I had to take myself off to the hospital. That night, exactly a year ago, I was given pethidine for birthing pains, and I honestly believed that my dear little angel would be born.
But she wasn’t.
For no other reason, than by the grace of God.
I love the milestone of the first birthday. It celebrates so much. Not just the arrival of a new person, but all the incredible changes that happen in that first year. When they are born they are so passive and extraordinarily ordinary. But soon they begin to focus and smile. They learn to roll over, crawl and sit up. Some start to to walk and talk. They laugh at the most random things, and you can’t help but laugh with them.
But today marks another kind of milestone. The milestone of God’s grace. Today we will have cake but it is not because Ava was born; it is because she wasn’t. Because God heard our prayers, and kept her safe inside my womb until the perfect day for her birth.
In the old testament they used to build pillars of rocks to mark the places where God had done something awesome, or made a specific kind of promise. I think taking a pile of rocks into the birthing suite would probably draw more strange looks than it is worth, and break all sorts of health and safety regulations, so that’s kind of out of question. Instead tonight we will take time as a family to think about what God has done. Instead I will blog about it here, and you can see my metaphorical pile of rocks.
Last April 18th, I was all ready for birth. I trusted God that if she came, all would be well. He would keep her safe and continue his precious craftsmanship in a humidicrib in the special care nursery. I had faith because I know that God is faithful in all circumstances.
But the coming weeks brought with themselves challenges that would have been next to impossible with a premature baby. Coughs and colds, that could have been fatal. Gastro that led to hospitalisation for Bridie. Ear procedures, and scratched corneas (all Bridie) and other things I have forgotten. Each time I went to a doctor, or the Emergency Department, I thanked God that I didn’t have to worry about a tiny newborn alone in the nursery, because mummy was busy with the others. I did have to worry that I didn’t do too much, because any kind of activity brought on contractions, and the risk of labour. But again God’s grace covered us. Every time I had to do something, he kept the labour pains at bay.
Every mother thinks her children are the most wonderful, or the most beautiful, and so they should. But there is something extra special about those ones who suffer more; or cause us to suffer more. We hold them dearer and closer, because we have had to be stronger, and love harder. It was love for Ava that kept me on the couch on ‘bed rest’ when all I wanted to do was go shopping, or help out at school, or even do the washing. And it is the same love now that makes me sure that regardless of how awesome your kids are, she really is the most amazing baby ever.
Happy un-birthday Ava.
Thanks for not being born.