In my head I waged a war of battling fears. How many times had I already told myself that everything would be fine? So what if they had needed me to go buy my own anesthesia, gauze, etc and find my own blood donors? Yes, in the States that would never happen but here it was common practice. Babies still made it into the world...even in this hospital that didn't have soap in the bathrooms. Breath. It was ok. God was with me. But my emotions were being held together by threads as wispy as spider webs.
Oh, God! I breathed those two words over and over. Oh, God, Oh God.
Most of all, I needed to keep my mind off the horrors. In the tiny hospital of a Patagonia town I was going to go under the knife as an over-worked gynecologist brought my daughter into the world. The million and a half things that could go wrong danced inside my head like naughty little demons.
I could feel the terror building up inside me as the nurse came to take me away. My husband gave me a kiss and Mamá hugged me, but they couldn't travel into the surgery ward with me. I was alone. The nurse talked away in Spanish and the words got all scrambled up in my head. I could feel my breath coming short and shallow and begged myself to stay calm. This will all be over soon. Everything is going to be fine. Just fine. I'll be holding my little girl before I know it.
Another surgery was underway and I was ushered into a room with a TV. The nurse started me on an IV drip of something and I had no idea what was coming into me through the tube. Whatever it was, it did nothing to calm me down and I could only stare blankly at the remote in my hand. A jittery chuckle blasted from my trembling lips as I looked at it...nothing playing on TV could possibly help right now. I closed my eyes and begged the fear away, feeling my strength beginning to crumble with my terror.
God, please, please, please. Get me through this. Let me stay strong and do whatever I need to do to help this go well. Be with my daughter. Be with the doctor.
Something eased within my chest...a completely unearthly feeling.. like a strange detachment and serenity came over me. The anesthesiologist came in and smiled at me. I smiled back. When he spoke I was surprised that the Spanish words were no longer scrambled and bizarre. He was talking to me about a cousin of his who had been to the United States. It wasn't everyday an American woman opted to have her child in their small seaside town. I asked him about the IV drip, thinking they must have started me on drugs since I felt so peaceful. He laughed and said it was only nutrients since I had been fasting. He was going to administer the epidural for the surgery.
I didn't hardly feel the needle when he gave me the epidural but eventually I felt the medicine take over and I was wheeled to the surgery room. Everything happened so fast. A sheet went up. A nurse reminded me not to talk. And I laid there peacefully wondering at the calmness that had begun long before I had came into the room.
Then I heard the most exciting sound in the world. A little cry, one unhappy little whimper, and then a grumpy newborn with pudgy cheeks and black hair was nestled next to me. I broke the rules and spoke. How could I not? "Hello. Wow, you're so beautiful. Hello, love. Hello." I begged the nurse to tell me if she was ok and the lady laughed. My daughter was perfect. Oh, God, Thank you!
But I must not speak more, the doctor was still finishing the surgery.
That peace stayed with me even after they took my baby away, and finished the surgery. It wasn't until I got back to my husband and saw the bundle in his arms that any tears came from my eyes. The great waves of fear and anxiety washed over me in a gentle crest of emotion. God had held back that storm.
"She's beautiful, Honey." My husband said. I nodded, but couldn't stop crying for a while. Finally I took a deep breath and took up that precious child in my arms. Every baby brought into this world is a miracle and my daughter was no exception. And I'll never forget that experience as God walked with me through my nightmares and held my hand until I was back in the light.
"And surely I am with you always..."