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Early in our relationship, Steve and I knew we wanted children. After a few years of marriage we decided it was time to start a family. Nothing happened. We went to doctors. Underwent testing. Tried fertility treatments.
Still nothing. Six years passed without even one positive pregnancy test. Eventually, doctors told us we probably would never have biological children. Those of you who have experienced infertility know how devastating this is. We grieved the children we would never have.
Eventually, we realized that we wanted to be parents and it didn't matter how children came into our family. We started researching adoption. A few months into the process--Surprise!--we found out I was pregnant. (God's sense of humor again! I'm sensing a theme here.)
Since we were not yet matched with a child, we put our adoption plans on hold. My pregnancy was not easy. At six months, I went into pre-term labor. I was hospitalized and very, very sick. I couldn't eat. I had fevers so high that I hallucinated.
For two weeks, doctors were able to stop the labor. Then the baby's heart rate dropped. They did an emergency C-section and our son, Zachary, was born. He was two pounds fourteen ounces and fit in the palm of my husband's hand.
Miraculously, he was healthy. I wasn't. I had suffered a bowel perforation and was in multi-system organ failure. I was on life support, and doctors told my family I probably wouldn't survive.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, I have Crohn's disease. Pregnancy made the disease flare, which caused my complications.
After six weeks in the hospital and several surgeries and medical procedures later, I was allowed to go home. Two weeks later, Zach came home. It was an exhausting and emotionally trying time. I didn't understand why God had allowed this to happen. Yes, I was alive. I had a healthy son. But I was still very sick. I weighed 82 pounds when I left the hospital and had 18 inches of open (not stitched or stapled shut) incisions.
I'm writing this the weekend of Zach's fifteenth birthday. You would never know he was a pre-term baby. He's at the top of his class and has skipped two grades. He's in an advanced program at school studying Bio-medical Science. He wants to be a cardio-thoracic surgeon.
It took me several years to come to terms with Zach's birth and with my diagnosis of Crohn's disease. In the past fifteen years, I've had seven surgeries and numerous medical procedures.
For a long time, I felt like God had abandoned me. I couldn't hear Him or feel His presence. I had to learn to live with this new reality that I could get sick--very sick--at any moment. Several nights that I have gone to bed feeling fine, only to wake up in the middle of the night and have to rush to the emergency room, where I'm admitted and spend several weeks in the hospital.
I pulled away from faith and religion.
But God shines brightest in our broken places. Once I let go of all that fear and anger, I could see God's hand. He was beside me the entire time, and He used one of the hardest times in my life to point me toward special needs adoption.
This is the way God works. If we let Him, he always brings life from death, good from bad. It might not be in the way we expected, but if we are brave enough to trust Him, He will use our weakest, most broken places to bring about the greatest good in our lives.
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