Agony and Understanding

The nurse slowly slid the rectangular wand back and forth, up and down, across my belly and finally stood up.“I’m sorry. We can’t find a heart beat.We’ll send you to the University Medical Center for a live motion sonogram.”

I didn’t need to go, I already knew. After two months on bed rest I knew I was having a girl and I felt her spirit leave me on Friday. It was Monday and Steve wouldn’t, couldn’t believe it. He was holding out hope and I tried to be hopeful for him, but I knew.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to Christians. My pregnancy was a miracle. The Dr. told me I was sterile and I got pregnant on my honeymoon. It was just wrong.

A while after the live motion sonogram, the Dr. came in. Her expression was enough. Steve fell across my extended belly weeping. Dad Sharpe pulled him off and took him into another room. Mom held my hand as the Dr. started talking. Her words made no sense and I begged, “Just take her. Just get her out.”

“We can’t. Not yet. We’ll bring you back in a week and induce labor. It’s better that way.” She turned, nodded to my parents and left the room.

I was an emotional zombie that week, wondering how this could possibly be better. I didn’t think life could be more cruel, but so many attempts to bring comfort only deepened the wound. “Don’t worry, you’ll have another.” “It’s probably deformed.” Or worse, “What is God trying to teach you?” “What is your sin?” “You didn’t have enough faith.”

Finally the week ended and we were back at French Hospital. A nurse gave me a shot, and performed an amniocentesis. “It can take 12 to 24 hours before labor begins, so just relax. I’ll check on you later.” I wanted to smack her. “Relax, just relax?”

It was only twenty minutes. With Steve on one side and my Mom on the other I worked through each contraction until 5pm when a nurse told us visiting hours were over. Stunned I cried, “No! No! I can’t do this alone.”

Mom and Steve had to go, leaving me alone to deliver my Jennifer. Lonely, scary hours crept by while I begged for help, for relief, but no one came. No one wanted to deal with a woman delivering a dead baby.

In the wee hours of the morning, the shift changed, and God provided a compassionate nurse to help me bring Jennifer into the world on March 7th, 1978. “She’s perfect. Do you want to hold her?”

I slumped back on the bed and said, “No. I just can’t. Her name’s Jennifer.” That sweet nurse handed Jennifer to an orderly, and then held my hand while I wept.

Two days later I was home having a full blown temper tantrum, when I heard God call my name. It wasn’t audible, but it was unmistakably Him.

“Suzanne.”

“Why God? What did I do? Did I sin?” I spit my questions up toward the ceiling.

“Suzanne I know how you feel.”

“How could you possibly know how I feel? My Jennifer’s dead. I lost her.”

It was very still for a moment and then I heard Him, distinctly, quietly, “I know. I lost my firstborn too.”

I’m still overwhelmed by the intimacy of that moment. God gave me the tiniest sliver of understanding for what He felt on that first Good Friday. His love is beyond comprehension.

Hebrews12:2, “… who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross ….”

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