WHEN my husband, Les, and I discovered I was pregnant with our son, John, we were delighted! But 13 weeks into my pregnancy, complications started and never stopped. I went to the doctor, who ordered an ultrasound. She uncovered a uterine condition that put me at high risk for a second trimester miscarriage. Subsequent ultrasounds showed a one-in-a-million problem with the placenta that limited John's growth. Every time we went to the doctor, the news was worse. We dreaded each visit.
By week 18, I developed pregnancy-induced hypertension and was put on complete bedrest. I was given steroids to help John's lungs develop; the doctors knew that with his tiny size, if John couldn't make it to week 28, he wouldn't survive. I felt miserable all over, and the medications made it worse. I was even too sick for visitors. That's why the prayers of others were so important to me.
Every time the doctors expressed a concern about John's lack of growth, friends and family started praying. There were times we hadn't even had an opportunity to mention we were going to the doctor, and someone would call to say, "I was up praying for you all last night. Just wanted you to know." People who didn't even know us prayed faithfully for us! I've never known that kind of support before.
Help for Hard Times
1Need some inspiration? If you're too sick to read the Bible, write out Scriptures, such as Philippians 4:6, in large letters, so you can focus on those instead.
2Need a helping hand? Let others pitch in. Whether it's giving the keys to a friend who offers to clean your house, or letting someone bring you a gourmet meal, allow others to gift you with the things they're good at doing.
3Need a distraction? Work at keeping your joy. We tried to plan celebrations for the things we could celebrate, such as my birthday or my in-laws' anniversary. Find anything to laugh aboutand do it. LP
Miraculously, we made it to week 28. On February 8, 1998, John was born. He weighed one pound, eight ounces. He immediately dropped to one pound because of a problem with his intestines. John had to have major surgery, then was on total life support and a ventilator.
We were tender emotionally. I was recovering from surgery, and John was so tiny, Les's wedding band fit all the way up to his little shoulders. But the prayer support of people who gathered around us kept us going. I felt a strength, a peace beyond myself that enabled me to get through everything we faced.
After three months, John came home. He was still on oxygen and weighed three poundsthe smallest baby the hospital has ever released.
Today, John's such a little go-getter. By his first birthday, he weighed 14 pounds, 5 ounces. When you have a preemie, there's no guarantee about his physical or developmental well-being. That's helped me focus on what's really important: John's knowledge of God.
Our experience has changed my view of prayer. The best gifts we were given were those prayers for baby John; no other gift has meant so much. I now know with new certainty it's the most powerful way I can join others in their struggles, too.
as told to Jane Johnson Struck
LESLIE PARROT is co-author with husband, Les, of numerous books including, Becoming Soul Mates and Relationships (both Zondervan), and co-director of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University.
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