The week before Grace's birthday is always filled with a lot of excitement and some tears. There is something really special and fun about celebrating the birth each year of a child born weighing 18 ounces...and yet, this week also brings back memories and emotions that are forgotten the rest of the year. The memories of fear and helplessness, of a journey no parent ever dreams they will take.
Grace was almost born today, on May 19. My liver went into failure in the late afternoon/evening, and I went from being pre-eclamptic to having toxemia and HELP syndrome. I wasn't very coherent or understanding what was happening, but my husband knew that he stood to lose both his wife and the daughter he had yet to meet.
A week earlier, while I was already on partial bed rest, I had severe liver pain and Greg rushed me to the hospital late at night. I was barely conscious during the 20 minute drive, but I still remember the exact part of the road we were on when I heard God say to me “For such a time as this.” I was immediately filled with a peace, the kind that surpasses all understanding. All I could think of was that there was an old Crystal Lewis song by the same title. I knew there was something more, and held on to those words over the next few days as I was hospitalized.
Grace arrived at 12:18am on May 20. Some Rascal Flatts song was playing during the c-section...Greg heard her cry once as she was being rushed to the NICU. I later learned that the words God had so clearly spoken to me came from Esther 4:14 “...Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” For such a time as this. When I think back to the stress, exhaustion, and worry of Grace's time in the hospital, I wish I could tell the 28 year old me that I didn't need to worry after all. That not only would Grace survive, she would become a beautiful, highly intelligent, creative, artistic, intuitive, kind, compassionate, and gentle girl.
For such a time as this. I thought then that applied to just Grace. But it was also words for the people who became involved in our lives, who prayed ceaselessly, wept with us and laughed with us in joy over the frequent miracles over Grace's life. The people that we would have never known otherwise, who feel more like family, and without whom we would be less than who we are now.
For such a time as this. The words that launched me on my journey as a mother. Without that time, I never would have known how strong I really could be, or the lengths I will go to to fight for my children. I learned that I had gifts and talents that had been hidden until then.
For such a time as this, Greg became a father. There is a different quality to fathers of preemies, not to say that all fathers aren't special, but preemie dads learn different skills. There is a deep and intimate bond between father and daughter in the NICU, and it isn't easily broken or changed.
A lot of preemie parents celebrate their child's due date, but we do not. I believe that the due date became irrelevant the night Grace was born. For such a time as this, Grace was born 15 weeks before that due date. God's grace is sufficient, his strength is made perfect in weakness. There isn't a much better example of weakness than a child weighing just over a pound, whose eyes are still fused shut. God's strength has been made perfect in Grace's weakness, over and over and over. His grace was and is, undoubtedly sufficient for us. God also gave us Grace Emma Overman, perfect and sufficient for his kingdom.
Grace is healthier than ever, and louder than ever too! We are at the 6 month mark after her vocal cord surgery and Greg and I laugh every time we have to tell her to be quiet, that she's going to wake up her sister :) Grace is quite dramatic these days, likes cars more than princesses, and is turning into a little gymnast! She is still obsessed with zebras, and we get to have a birthday party on her actual birthday tomorrow...the theme, of course, is ZEBRA. This birthday blog has turned into an annual occurrence, and I think will continue for many years...it makes me pause, remember what to be grateful for, be a little gentler and kinder, and wonder what such a time as this will mean to me in a few years.