ad·vent/ Noun: The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. As Christians we hear about it every year, we spend 4 weeks preparing for it, studying it, and singing about it. Our Pastors and church leaders live for it, it's one of the basics of our beliefs. Advent Season is at the core of what we believe and why we believe it. This year I learned more about 'Advent' from personal experience that I ever have in church. In fact, I didn't even make it to one advent service at our church this year. No, not because I've become a rebel and quit attending church, but because my husband and I were living out our own season of advent in our lives.
Many of you know that this past year we became pregnant with our second child, due today, January 10th. My previous pregnancy with my daughter ended in an "emergency" induction at 37 weeks due to a condition called "preeclampsia" which affects the mother's blood pressure, and the her body's ability to release toxin build up (liver function). The only cure for this condition is delivery, but ironically sometimes it is not safe to deliver because it could be too early for the baby, if left untreated it can be harmful, even deadly to either the mother and/or the baby. With my first pregnancy my blood pressure had gotten so out of control, there was a major concern for stroke, even though I was not experiencing any symptoms or side effects of the preeclampsia or high blood pressure. So it was no surprise when we found out my blood pressure was on the rise at around 34 weeks with this second pregnancy. In fact, deep down inside I was kind of expecting it. The only difference is that because of my history my doctor decided to get me on blood pressure medication right away and maintain strict monitoring of my health so we could have better control over the situation. For several weeks I spent many hours, days, sometimes overnight at the hospital's labor and delivery triage unit. I believe I made six individual trips to the triage unit. I found myself on strict bed-rest, on the same week that we moved! Yeah, we sold our house and bought a new one (rather quickly) in my last month of pregnancy (that's another story for another day...). How does a doctor expect a nesting pregnant woman to be on bed rest in her brand new home, with a 2-year-old on Christmas break from preschool?!
My doctor was very clear that I would need to bring in some outside help to take care of my daughter while I stayed on bed rest. This was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Not being able to take care of my own home, child, and family was heartbreaking to me. Thankfully my wonderful mother was able to put her life on hold for several weeks to come lend a helping hand, and when she wasn't here, my sweet mother-in-law was always "on-call" to drop what she was doing to drive in for quick overnight visits until my mom could arrive from Florida. I reported to the doctor weekly which always resulted in a visit to the triage center for the same monitoring, and lab work. Every Tuesday was a mystery as to whether or not we would be meeting our sweet son that day/week or not. This is the point at which we began to live out a personal season of advent.
Living in expectation of Lucas' arrival, not knowing when it would be, or how it would come caused great excitement and even anxiety. Part of me wanted him to be born right away, mostly out of selfish reasons because I was struggling with my bed rest situation, and then I had those moments where I was just plain terrified to be a mother of two children so I wanted him to stay put. Not only did we anxiously await for the doctor to give the go ahead on an induction, but there were several days/nights where I was positive I was going into labor on my own! I lived in a constant state of expectation for nearly 1 month! This brought excitement, anxiety, fear, and disappointment and I had to deal with this for just under 4 weeks. Can you imagine how God's people felt after hundreds of years believing that their Messiah would come? It's no wonder the Israelites acted out so often in the old testament! I know I would get mad, sad, and bitter while literally crying out to God to not let me be sick this time or because I was missing out on fun times with my daughter and husband, or because I was simply lonely from being home alone all day, and then literally locked in my room at night to help keep me calm because of my elevated blood pressure!
Because of all this craziness that became our lives,our idea of Christmas and what it was all about was completely turned inside out. We barely had any gifts to give to our family members, sweet Amy Kate only had about 2 main gifts from me and Matt, and Matt and I had not purchased a single item for each other. Christmas all of a sudden was not about giving and getting presents, but about family and time spent together with the expectation of Lucas' arrival. Every Tuesday we would wonder what the doctor would say, and every Tuesday we would get phone calls and texts from family and friends wondering what did the doctor say. Each week we would report that it was back to the bed for me. A few times this was sad for me, because my expectation was that I would be having a baby that day. Each week we went with our bags packed ready for a full on labor and delivery stay at the hospital, and most weeks we ended up back home. There was one trip that resulted in an over-night stay for a 24 hour lab test, but those labs came back "clean" showing no signs of the preeclampsia - which of course was fantastic news for my health, but not my aching heart that longed to meet my son. I finally took the approach of going to my doctor visits with no expectations other than to trust that my doctor knew what he was doing, which resulted in happier endings of understanding for his continual delay of my delivery.
In the end, at 37 weeks pregnant (just as before) I was sent over to the hospital in a flash because of preeclampsia, and the labor induction process was started. This was such a blessing, even though December 20th was not the day I wanted to hear that news. I did NOT want to give birth that close leading up to Christmas day - mostly because I did not want to end up stuck at the hospital while my baby girl was home waiting for Santa's big arrival! The blessing was this, due to our experiences over the previous 2 or 3 weeks, we knew that a trip to triage was in store for labs and another possible 24 hour lab. I had taken this 24 hour lab twice at this point, once at the hospital and once at home. Because I had done it at home once before I happened to have extra supplies to be able to do it again. That particular week my doctor was off because of Christmas and I knew I would be seeing someone different who would mostly likely want to have that same 24 hour lab done. I decided to do the lab in advance of my visit so as to not delay anything or any process by yet another 24+ hours. It was a good thing I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, because that particular lab is the one that came back barely positive for the onset of preeclampsia. The doctor I saw that day called me and told me to report straight to labor and delivery - it was time to have a baby! This was a much healthier situation than with Amy Kate, because we caught the preeclampsia before it could progress and worsen, plus my blood pressure was already controlled by medication. We reported to the hospital at 2pm on December 20th - only to have to WAIT in expectation some more!
We waited 5+ hours to see an actual doctor and even slightly begin the induction process. I found myself laboring through the night with little to no sleep, but with such joy and excitement because the day had finally arrived! I was going to meet my son! I will spare you the gory details but active labor cranked up around 4 or 5am and at 10:14am Lucas Matthew entered the world at 7.0lbs and 20.5 inches long. He was absolutely perfect and we now count it such a blessing to have had this Christmas miracle. We made it home in time to enjoy "Santa" with Amy Kate and both me and Lucas are doing great! At 2 weeks post -pardum my doctor significantly lowered my blood pressure medication and I am on a great road to recovery.
My fears of having 2 children were immediately relieved when I held both my babies in my arms that first day and my heart has grown leaps and bounds in order to hold all the love I have for my family. I pray that one day each of you can experience a true season of advent for yourself so that you can better understand the coming of the Christ child and his imminent return in the near future. I will never forget the Christmas/Advent of 2011.
Ask the Lord to give you a season of advent, a season of expectation of something amazing! Maybe for you that is a child of your own, or to see an adoption come to fruition, or maybe its a new home or job. Ask the Lord to put a new expectation in your heart today and then pray over it, and watch it grow. When it comes to be, you will be so overwhelmed with God's goodness you can't help but give him praise!
For our family, we waited and expected a child for 4 years, and welcomed her into our lives in 2010, we naively said we expected to get pregnant again (not believing it would happen...as soon as it did) and found ourselves literally expecting an addition to our family right away! We proudly welcomed our son into the world in 2011. My husband says he does not want to be expecting again in 2012 LOL...so this year we are expecting to fully enjoy our new home and family of 4, expecting many days of joy, laughter, and memories!
Thank you for letting me share my story and journey with you. I count it a blessing to have such a story to tell you about. I didn't always count my struggles and hardships as a blessing, but I wouldn't be who I am today or have the faith I have today if it weren't for the journey the Lord allowed me to go on. He knew what he was doing when he delayed "my plans" for His own.
Until Next Time, Be BLESSED and Be a BLESSING!