Many of you probably don’t know most of what I’m about to tell you – not in it’s depth or entirety I’m certain. I’m going to press the rewind button on 2020 and share my own personal journey in a way that is hopefully encouraging to you. As we are each navigating so many unforeseen moments in our daily lives this year and learning new normals, I think it’s important that we continue to share our lives with one another and do this thing together. My prayer is that you would see some of the high moments and the severely low struggles I’ve faced this year and know you’re not alone in whatever you’re facing.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.”
This year has brought forth many difficulties for many people and I think we have all experienced a better understanding of what living in the moment looks like. The future has seemed unknown and unpredictable, the things we’ve encountered in our daily lives have been uncharted territory for most, yet somehow we’re called to trust in God without living discouraged or being afraid.
If I’m being honest with you, I’ve had so many moments of fear in 2020. I’ve wondered why God has allowed me to walk a journey like this. I still have moments of questioning, but I’m beginning to understand that I’ve been strengthened, refined and equipped for something greater that lies ahead. Plus, it’s the year our beautiful daughter was born. There is obviously beauty in 2020. See for yourself.
At the start of the year, I was midway through my second consecutive pregnancy in 12 months. My son was approaching a year old and I was just 4 months away from welcoming another baby to our quickly growing family. My blessing meter felt like it was off the charts to know that God was giving us two healthy children to love and nurture. I’d love to tell a story of two perfect pregnancies, but it seems that thought is a fairytale for most and for me, was quite the opposite.
“I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”
I had experienced several months of being so sick that home health administering IV fluids several times a week became the norm. I would move from the bed to a chair to get my juice for the day all while I watched my son crawl around the floor and play with grandma or daddy. At the time, I remember feeling helpless but still reminded that I was giving everything I had to a healthy baby girl growing in my belly. There was still so much to be thankful for and so much joy in our lives.
Have you ever thought, “good thing I didn’t know what was coming?” That couldn’t be more true for me.
Just four weeks before my daughter arrived, 36 weeks pregnant, I woke up one night with my nose bleeding. Nothing to stress about, so I thought. The next day, I made an ENT appointment just to follow up. COVID-19 had just hit our country in a big way with changes and new protocols just starting to emerge in our city. My husband drove me to the appointment but wasn’t allowed in. Again, no big deal. About 30 minutes into the start of the appointment, the doctor had found a tumor in my sinuses that had caused the bleeding. In the most comforting way he could, he suggested we call my husband in to go over the results. Breaking medical safety protocols didn’t seem to be a good thing – I began to worry. The doctor explained to us that this tumor was something he’d only ever seen 1 time in his career and attributed the growth to pregnancy hormones. He told me that emergency surgery was necessary, amidst a global pandemic.
Within the hour I was alone in an empty Emergency Room, awaiting my first ever surgical procedure while being 9 months pregnant, during COVID-19.
There were so many thoughts racing in my mind that day. I definitely didn’t plan on the day unfolding as it did when I woke up. I was scared and confused, but ultimately knew God was protecting me and my baby. I began to experience a peace and a trust in God like never before. I may have been without my husband or my family, but God was with me. He made His presence known that day and put nurses, doctors and anesthesiologists in my room from beginning to end that seemed to have a supernatural purpose. The surgery was successful and my baby was at perfect peace the entire time. My surgeon advised that we send the tumor to pathology, just to be sure it was nothing. More than anything, I was just relieved to have that day behind me. As I recovered, we were just a couple weeks from our new baby’s arrival, so I decided to put the surgery behind me and focus solely on having my baby.
Four days prior to delivery, the pathology results were in and I was told that the tumor was cancer.
I tried to keep a brave face as the surgeon began to explain the depth of what that meant and all the surrounding details for further treatment. But, I found that the word itself can be a very cancer to your logical thoughts. While I knew in my heart that God was in control, that moment with the surgeon was paralyzing. I was alone due to COVID. As I left and explained the news to my family, nervous thoughts, worries about my baby, unknowns and tears were all a part of the next few hours. We all began to pray and believe that God had a plan and would bring healing to my body.
“And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up.”
I have seen God do the miraculous and had experienced personal healing before in my life, so I knew and believed that He would do it again. Now, it was just time to have my baby. So, again we put it all behind us and leaned into the moment.
Our new baby was born perfectly healthy, I had a smooth delivery and a quick recovery. New life was born and welcomed into our family. The joy and thanks to the Lord were overflowing.
Three weeks post-partum, a specialist took my case and strongly suggested they perform another surgery to remove any cancerous margin that was left. If the surgery was successful, I wouldn’t require any chemotherapy or radiation. Back to the hospital I went, alone for another procedure; this time with a one year old and a 3 week old newborn baby at home. My human nature was just angry that this was happening, but my spirit was still at peace trusting in God. The recovery wasn’t easy with two babies, but my husband and family stepped in and truly saved the day. My kids were so loved and cared for that they never missed a beat.
I will never forget the day I sat in that specialists’ office awaiting to hear the results and what the next steps would be. He said, “Your nose looks completely normal and there is no sign of the tumor ever even being there.” He said it was unbelievable and he was right.
God will do the unbelievable in your life according to His perfect will, if you will trust in Him alone.
I was so relieved knowing that chemotherapy and radiation were off the table and the only thing I had to focus on was raising two beautiful babies. We started learning our new life as a family of four, getting the babies on schedules and navigating our crazy days together. It was chaotic, but everything I ever wanted.
A few weeks went by and I started having gallbladder attacks almost every single day. The doctors had found a gallstone early on in my pregnancy, but my diet corrected the issue….for the time being, apparently. The gallbladder issue began to rear its ugly head and surgery was necessary to remove it. This news actually seemed more devastating than the cancer, ironically, because I was back in the ring for round three. COVID was still a factor, I now understood what recovering from surgery with two babies looked like and everything in me just wanted to say “no, I’m not doing this again.” I seemed to have no choice as the attacks were worsening and the doctors ultimately found it to be packed full of stones and immflamuation. This recovery was very difficult. In fact, as I am writing this I’m being cautious because lifting two babies makes it very easy to re-strain after they remove an organ. Go figure. But, the surgery was successful and I am healing well. God gets the glory.
The timeline of events was the most overwhelming part of it all. Everything that transpired all happened in a 4 month time span. But, if I have learned anything in 2020 it’s that things can change moment to moment. And the only constant through it all is the Lord.
The song that plays on the radio right now couldn’t be more true in my life: “God is still God and He holds it together.”
I’m here to tell you, YES HE DOES. I may have experienced moments of feeling afraid, but I don’t live in fear. I may have felt discouraged, but I believe that I can have victory through Christ. He really does help us, if we call His name. And the difficulties He allows us to face will prove to strengthen our faith, if we let them.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Isaiah 41:10