I had another night shift on the labour ward on Friday night, and it was quite surreal. I assisted with a c-section on a mum-to-be who had laboured for 24 hours, saw a ‘normal’ delivery with another couple, and then spent six hours with a couple as they progressed from early labour, to prolonged labour, to a terrifying emergency situation where, as the midwife ran to get the medical team, I was left holding the hand of this mother, hoping and praying that her baby would make it through. After a lot of intervention, her baby was born, and there was a horrible, silent fifteen seconds or so where he didn’t cry, and just lay there, blue and still. From now on, hearing a baby cry means so much more to me. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked God quite so much. It shook me up a bit, to be honest.
In the gap between the two, I went up to the post-natal ward to check in on some of the mums and babies I’ve helped with earlier in the week. One of the midwives asked me to feed a baby for her, so I had an hour or so with a total cutie in my arms, just the two of us, together. His mother is a methadone and heroin user, (and he will be taken into care) so this little lad was born premature and with all the extra problems of being dependant on drugs. He was so small, just over five pounds, his feet dwarfed by the feet of his orange baby-grow that just highlighted his jaundice all the more. He lay against me and snuggled in, suckled on a syringe full of ‘first feed’ and then fell asleep gripping my finger in both tiny hands. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so protective of something. When you are holding a baby, you are holding something more valuable than the greatest of riches. When you are holding a baby, you are letting them know that they are not alone, that someone’s heart is beating right there, close to theirs. This little man has a tough life ahead of him; from the day of his birth, the odds are already stacked against him. He lay against me sleeping, not knowing the adversity he will be up against, but I do hope that somehow, someday, he might know that for that hour we spent together, someone loved him from the moment they saw him. I hope he knows, if and when things get hard, that there are people around him who will pitch in and help him over the hurdles. It’s things like this that I so want to change – I want all children to be born with an equal footing, I want them to grow up nurtured and wanted and treasured, I want them to have someone there when they fall, and cry, and ache. I think I need to be some form paediatrician, in all honestly, or heavily involved in child welfare some other way!
Psalm 139 is one of my, and most other Christians, favourites. I thought of it last night as I held him, about how God has known us since we were babes in the womb, how he is with us, alongside us, every step of the way. He knew me, and you, when we had little hair on our heads, the smallest of fingernails, and eyes that couldn’t help but stare at the strange world around us. He knew what we would grow to be, and what we would struggle with. He knew where we would cross paths with each other, and fall away. I thought about how small we are compared to God, how defenseless and uncertain.I thought of the Israelites depending on God each day for Manna, as babies depend on their mothers for milk. I thought about how this little lad slept, not knowing that it would have taken little persuasion for me to actually carry him off home (don’t worry, I really will not ever turn to kidnapping, no matter how tempting), how he nestled against me, not knowing that for that hour, I could feel myself loving him, could see myself forgiving him anything, could imagine putting myself inbetween him and anything the world could throw at us. Our hearts were there, beating against each other. So many of us are like this with God in that we don’t know, or accept, or remember his love. He loves us as children of his own, which is probably a lot more strongly than the love a young medical student has for a baby in the middle of the night on a quiet hospital ward. He loves us, from our first and weakest breaths, through the growing pains and rebellions, the dirt and the dust. Near or far from him, he loves us. His heart beats with ours, it beats for ours. Loving – so easy sometimes, isn’t it? Yet when we find it hard to love, it is so hard to change that feeling. If only all loving were easy.
I see L again (counsellor) tomorrow and have thought of it a lot today. I decided to write something and read it, to try and get over the fact that once I get inside that room, words just seem to fail me a lot of the time. I’ve never written something with a view for a particular person to read it, with the exception of letters to over-seas friends, and this is different. I’ve certainly never read anything I’ve written aloud. When I write, the words just seem to flow in a way they never will verbally. I am, as usual, anxious about going. Sometimes, I feel like God is revealing things I need to learn so frequently – he puts all these people in my way, he gives me babies to hold that remind me of Psalms and homeless men to feed who remind me of Hebrews – but sometimes I wonder if I’m acting on all of these things, or just thinking on them. I want to be an actions-not-just-words person. I want to be a faith-by-example person. It’s difficult to live up to expectations, sometimes. I know that, no matter how hard it feels, that He must be in this whole counselling thing too, and that there are probably a lot of messages from Him I’m ignoring by choice. I want to get through this, but learning, as always, is hard.
I’ve been blogging about a month now, and am so glad I took the plunge and started. Some of the comments I’ve had have really built me up, and it’s been so good to stumble across people who have walked a similar path to mine, and come through. The world feels smaller, somehow. I feel really blessed. I hope that if you’ve been reading this a while, that you’re getting something from it, because knowing that you’ve stopped by, is such a gift to me. Love, Char48.