When Brandt left the NICU, his discharge summary stated his diagnosis from birth: “prematurity and multi-organ failure.” Seeing that stark four word summary caused me to feel afresh how awful his first week of life really was. At the time, we kept the true gravity of the situation somewhat at bay. We knew our baby was terrifyingly fragile, but we didn’t dare acknowledge the thought lurking in the shadows – that our son might die. There was a degree of denial necessary to survive those early days.
But there was more than denial. There was also a tide of rich grace from God that carried us. I can remember, during the years of infertility, reading that our trials often prepare us for something in our future. That notion didn’t console me then; the anguish of infertility could be getting me ready for something worse? But now I see how the sufferings of waiting for a child filled up a storehouse to sustain me during the touch-and-go days when Brandt was born so early and so sick.
During the hectic week when Brandt and I were both in the hospital, I was so grateful that words of God had been imprinted on my soul through suffering. So many passages that had comforted me while I waited to conceive returned to console me while I feared for my baby’s life.
As I quaked with fright on the night he was born, Isaiah 40:26 came to mind. “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.” Because of God’s power, not one star is missing from the sky, so I knew that neither was one week missing from Brandt’s gestation.
As I fought feelings of guilt that my body couldn’t carry Brandt to full term, and as I worried about Brandt’s development, Psalm 139 assured me that both of our bodies were fearfully and wonderfully made by God, who planned every one of our days in advance. He knew how long my pregnancy would be, he knew how it would end, and he knew how Brandt would grow both inside and outside the womb.
When Aaron and I sought comfort together, we turned to 2 Corinthians 4 to be reminded that God’s power is shown through human fragility, that we carry in our bodies the death of Jesus in order to manifest the life of Jesus. Though we felt afflicted and perplexed by Brand’ts premature birth, God’s word promised that we would not be crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, or destroyed.
When it was hard to sleep due to worry and being apart from my baby, Psalm 127 called me to rest. “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Rather than fretting vainly, I could rest knowing that God watched over my child.
How thankful I am that, faced with my baby’s “prematurity and multi-organ failure,” God’s word had been stored up in my heart. My emotions were reeling, my mind was in shock, but I had specific places in Scripture to go for hope and help. In those scariest days of my life, God’s goodness and mercy were greater than the fear.