To Live is Christ
After having been in the hospital for 4 days, and being told that I was probably not in pre-term labor and would be sent home to rest and “last a lot longer in my pregnancy,” I woke up early Tuesday morning with tightening in my uterus. I wanted to throw up. I tried to continue to sleep and ignore what I was feeling, chalking it up to nerves and maybe being dehydrated. By 7:00am, I knew that something wasn’t right. When I started bleeding again, I called the nurse, who called the Physician’s Assistant on the floor, who rushed into the room to check my cervix and tell me that I had dilated to three centimeters. As they looked at me with pitied expressions, they threw me on a stretcher and rushed me up to labor and delivery. I mean, they rushed me. Like the stopped people on the elevator and made them get off, yelling, “We need that elevator! Stop the elevator!” This obviously did a lot to ease my anxiety about the situation, and by the time we made it into my room in labor and delivery I was convinced that this baby was coming out any second. I mean, I was even afraid to pee. They quickly started me on magnesium for the baby’s brain, did a quick ultrasound and told me that my water had broken, and then proceeded to load me with antibiotics. We were told our baby was coming, and NICU doctors came in to give us some sobering statistics of our little girl’s chances of survival. Did we want to do everything we could to save her? Yes. Did we need a moment to talk it over together? No. Did we understand the risks? Yes, oh yes we did. In the midst of all of this, Esteban was reminded of a song–Vivir es Cristo, by Jonathan and Sarah Jerez–and we listened to the song as we waited in the room where we thought our daughter would be born. And as we did, God calmed our hearts and reminded us of His presence. Because to truly live is to have Christ. Living is Christ, and everything else is dying. While our hearts’ deepest desire was for our baby girl to do well, to thrive, to live, God somehow gave us the ability to want His name to be glorified and exalted more than anything else. Oh Lord, may they see Your face through all of this, may Your will be done and may Your name be exalted above all other names. Here are the lyrics to the song. The original song is in Spanish, and I translated them into English below. It doesn’t sound as nice, but you get the gist.
Como recibiré de ti el bien y el mal rechazaré, si sé que tú eres Señor Soberano y Justo.
Como no he de alabarte en bendición y olvidarte en el dolor, si sé que tienes el control de toda tu creación.
Como he de creer en ti al tener y dudar en la escasez, si sé que tu eres siempre fiel y que nunca cambias.
Como he de seguir en libertad y huir en la opresión, si sé que guardas para mí una eterna posesión.
Bendito sea el nombre del Señor en todo tiempo, se haga tu perfecta voluntad en mí, Daré gloria a tu nombre a través de mi aflicción dame tu gracia para ver que vivir es Cristo
Como no he de confiar en tu bondad y tu gran amor por mí, si enviaste a Jesús en mi lugar, a morir en una cruz
Tu gracia es suficiente, tu gracia es suficiente
Fija mis ojos sólo en ti, en lo eterno, en el cielo, La aflicción de este mundo jamás se compara con la gloria que ha de venir
Vivir es Cristo, Vivir es Cristo…
How can I receive good from you and reject the bad, if I know that you are Lord, sovereign and just?
How can I praise you in blessing and forget you in pain, if I know that you have control of all your creation?
How can I believe you in times of plenty and doubt you in scarcity, if I know that you are always faithful and never change?
How can I follow you in freedom and flee in oppression, if I know that you save for me an eternal possession?
Blessed be the name of the Lord in all times, may your perfect will be done in me, I will give your name glory through my affliction, Give me your grace to see that to live is Christ.
How can I not trust in your goodness and great love for me, if you sent Jesus in my place, to die on a cross?
Your grace is sufficient, Your grace is sufficient.
Blessed be the name of the Lord in all times, may your perfect will be done in me, I will give glory to your name through my affliction, Give me grace to see that to live is Christ.
Fix my eyes only on you, on the eternal, on heaven. The affliction of this world can never compare to the glory that is to come.
To live is Christ, To live is Christ.
Music and Lyrics by Jonathan and Sarah Jerez “Vivir es Cristo”
As they told me that my water had probably broken, and that my placenta may be tearing apart from my uterus, they reminded us that there was a “very real possibility” that our little girl would not make it through all of this. “We could look for the heart beat and not be able to find it—and that would be terrible.” Given all of this, they asked us if we wanted to rush into an emergency cesarean section. No, we said calmly. We are going to wait. Somehow God gave us peace to remember that He was in control, and He just kept telling us to trust Him.
We waited and in that time almost 48 hours passed. Every time the clock struck 12 midnight, we all celebrated that our baby had lasted one more day inside the womb—every day counted for her development and growth! When I was sent back to my room early Thursday morning, they told me I would basically just stay there until she decided to come, but that maybe I would stay pregnant for a while longer. In my heart though, I knew that Anamaria would be born sooner rather than later, but we continued to ask that God be glorified in everything.
On Thursday evening, everything happened very quickly. I started having intense contractions every 3 minutes, bleeding heavily, and dilated to 6 centimeters. As I was rushed up to labor and delivery again, the nurse grabbed my hand, cupped my face and told me that I was having this baby today. My whole body was shaking from fear, I had tears streaming down my face, and I cried out to God to give me peace and strength. Many things happened that day that reminded us of God’s overwhelming presence in that delivery room. Anamaria turned and positioned herself perfectly for delivery just in time. My water had not broken, and she was born still in the sack, cushioning her journey a little bit. Her heart remained strong and consistent throughout the labor and delivery, despite the fact that my placenta was in fact tearing apart from the uterine wall. God’s hand was overwhelmingly apparent that night. And yet, because we are fallen children, we still allow doubt and fear to enter our hearts—we make room for the devil to set up shop in the crevices of our beings. At around 10 pm the doctor came in and told me that I was about 9 centimeters dilated, and that he could feel Ana’s head. Because she was so tiny, I didn’t need to be fully dilated to push, and he said we could get started and get this baby out. They called the NICU and began to prepare for Anamaria’s entrance to the world. At this point, my body began shaking again, and the intensity of not knowing whether our baby would be born and survive or not was overwhelming. As the doctor’s prepared, Esteban and I listed to this song again, and another by Jonathan and Sarah Jerez, Glorificate. We closed our eyes and worshiped together, asking God above all to be glorified and exalted. Somehow God allowed us to be at peace once again—and made it our heart’s desire that His name be lifted up in that room that night. That people would look at Anamaria and see God’s face, His power and His love. Because to live is Christ. Christ makes all the difference. Without Him our lives are filled with distress, fear and anxiety. But with Him we can have confidence, peace and grace.
In those next moments, God allowed me to be strong enough to push harder than I ever had before, and Anamaria came flying out after only a few minutes. A few seconds after she was born and scooped up by the NICU team, we heard our daughter’s voice for the first time, and our hearts stopped from pure joy. We were prepared to not hear any cries, given the fact that she was so tiny, but she cried and cried the whole time the NICU team was checking her out and getting her breathing tube in. What a gift! As we cried tears of relief and joy, we thanked our God for being so good to us and to our baby girl.
We know we have a long road ahead of us. Doctors keep telling us to “take it one day at a time.” Anamaria is doing as well as she could be doing right now, and is proving to be a strong little munchkin. But we know that we are not in control–the doctors are not in control and neither is little Anamaria. God is over and above all things and He is the one holding Anamaria in the palm of His hand. It is our deepest prayer that God would be glorified and His name exalted above all else. Our hearts desire is for our daughter to breeze through these next few months of life in the hospital, and be discharged with absolutely no issues, and we humbly ask God for this. But we also recognize that He is good, He is just and He is sovereign. And so we trust Him with our little girl.
Because to truly live is to have Christ. May His name be glorified in our affliction and in our pain; and may He give us the grace to always remember that to live is Christ.