Betty Duffy

Monday, December 8, 2008

Still...and Forever...Waiting (it is Advent, after all)

“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.”
(Is 30:15b)

“You’re trying to play God,” my husband told me the night before we went in to the hospital for the induction of this baby. “It doesn’t feel right,” he said, “choosing a birthday, not letting things happen naturally.” I was 38 weeks on the nose, and because of my diabetes and history of large babies, my doctor was mentioning C-section, if things didn’t move a little earlier than the normal 40 weeks. I don’t want to say that pregnant women are irrational, since I have, more often than not, been pregnant in the last eight years, but they are/ I am highly suggestible to anything that sounds like a terminus to pregnancy once I hit about 37 weeks. If the doctor says, "Let's induce," I say "OK." What's more, if it were safe for the baby and I could be un-pregnant on a Monday, then being pregnant through Wednesday or Thursday sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to my pregnant mind.

So the induction went as planned, and wouldn’t you know, it went perfectly. All the prayers for a peaceful labor and delivery paid off, and even without epidural, I had, for the first time, a totally manageable pain experience in labor. As it happens, I do have an opinion on natural birth vs. birth with epidural. My opinion changes just about every other labor, and lands on whatever I have most recently managed to accomplish. This time, it worked out to have my baby without epidural, and I’m glad. I can see what might have been, the potential problems of not being able to move around during labor, the inadequacy of my pushing when my stomach has been paralyzed. I heard the sounds of alarm as the woman in the room next to me failed to progress, her baby became distressed, and she was rushed off to the operating room for an emergency C-section.

My baby, a projected 11 pounder, only weighed 8.5 lbs since he was somewhat early, and I dilated from 5 to 10 in about a half hour, and pushed twice for Duffy #5 to burst onto the scene.

He’s every bit a Duffy—looks just like his siblings, and Hubby and I enjoyed our baby-moon for the first three nights after he was born, until his jaundice shot up to an unacceptable range and he was readmitted to the nursery for 48 hours of treatment under the bili-lights. And so it happened that in spite of my desire to dispense with waiting another day for this baby (on the first day of Advent, no less), I was served another sentence of waiting.

I was able to stay at the hospital with him and nurse him exclusively (even though the docs were quick to prescribe formula supplements). But every time someone mentioned that jaundice is related to pre-maturity, I felt a twinge of remorse, and when my husband said it, I just started crying. Of course, his comment was perfectly timed to coincide with my fourth sleepless night, and the onset of the weepies that I always get about four days after birth, but I cried loud and passionately for an embarrassing amount of time (that will teach him to speak his mind).

“It becomes especially clear during a time of illness that man is always waiting. Every day we are waiting for a sign of improvement and in the end a complete cure…When time itself is not filled with a present that is meaningful, that is not there now—if, in other words, we have nothing here and now and the present is completely empty, every second of our life seems too long. When, on the other hand, time itself is meaningful and every moment contains something especially valuable, our joyful anticipation of the greater experience that is still to come makes what we have in the present even more precious and we are carried by an invisible power beyond the present moment.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Seeking God’s Face pp 77-78)

It was sitting under the bili-lights with my sunglasses on, nursing my four day old son, that I realized how I have let myself yet again lose sight of what this life, mine and my children’s, is about. All of my hope during the past nine months has been aimed at holding this child in my arms, and also, in no small part, being relieved of his imposition on my body. I wrote in a poem about childbirth several years ago how “The vocation to waiting ends in a day.” But the statement is wrong. The vocation to waiting DOES NOT END. Waiting is the state of human life whether I like it or not: waiting for my husband to come home each evening, waiting for my kids to pass each milestone, waiting for a baby to be born, waiting to be with God in eternity. “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.”

Why am I so opposed to waiting? Because it means that I have to admit that the outcome of most things is completely out of my hands. It means I have to trust God to do his work—and the bringing forth of life into this world, in spite of all the medical knowledge we have at hand, is God’s work. Even (and especially) when we try to control it, we cannot control it.


Jus said...


May God grant you many years, health, salvation and all good things!

JenX67 said...

I wish I could remember who wrote this - maybe Henri Nouwen? "God takes six months to grow an acorn; 20 years to grown an oak tree." I draw from that wisdom often. Waiting brings many gifts as this post suggests.

I induced my last baby and have regretted it since. I BEGGED to be induced. But, everytime I think of her birthday, 7-2-07, I think, it might have been on July 4th instead, or 7-7-07 - had I not been in such a hurry. I was there with you when you cried passionately. I've soooooo been there Betty. I'm glad the baby is here, safe and sound and that you continued to nurse while in the hospital the 2nd time.