This Mother’s Day I’ve been thinking about my mom. She passed away in December 1982, at the age of 70 after a long illness. She died earlier than many, but I’m grateful that Mom never had to live in a nursing home.
Today I listened to a message my pastor Colin Smith preached a couple weeks ago on Hagar, the maidservant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. My mom’s life was nothing like Hagar’s, but the message caused me to think about my mother’s suffering as she went through my birth. She almost died. Even though I’ve known that for a long while, this morning the thought jarred me as I realized I could have been raised without her in my life at all.
My mom was in nursing school when she came down with Juvenile Arthritis. Almost out of her teens, it was very unusual for one so old to get the disease. After being told by doctors that she’d never walk again, she proved the them wrong and did walk again, but she also had a permanent curvature to her spine. The curve wasn’t overly pronounced, but it was there. Because of that, she was told that if she ever became pregnant she’d have to have her babies by C-section rather than natural birth. And back then C-sections were not often done.
After my parents married, it was six years before she became pregnant with me. I sat here this morning, wondering if like Hannah in the Old Testament, my mom prayed daily for a child and God delayed the answer. I’ve heard bits and pieces over the years but never about the years of barrenness. Maybe that part was too private.
How much Mom must have rejoiced when she found at long last she was pregnant. I wonder if that joy was tempered by the warning given to her over 12 years earlier that she should deliver her babies by C section.
The sad thing is that by the time she reached her ninth month of pregnancy none of the doctors who had advised her against natural birth were around, and the only doctor available to do the delivery waved off the warning. He told her she would be fine.
Of course, I remember none of it and that’s probably a blessing, because after about two or three days of labor, I entered the birth canal and it wasn’t long before the doctor realized those other doctors were right. To deliver me the natural way would be very dangerous for my mother.
The doctor found my dad in the waiting room (those were the days when husbands paced the floor and were not in the delivery room). He told my dad I was too far into the birth canal and he could save me, but he couldn’t promise that my mom would live through the birth.
Of course, as you have figured out, my mom again proved a doctor wrong and lived through the birth. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I heard the entire story, and when I did, I immediately realized why I’m an only child. And also why my mom loved me so fiercely.
Another profound thought popped into my mind today—if it weren’t for the grace of God I wouldn’t have known my mom at all.
The picture is one that is printed at the back my book, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I was about two years old at the time—not that long after the ordeal Mom went through having me. How deep must have been the joy she felt being alive and able to hold me and enjoy a beautiful summer day at the beach.
I’m very grateful that God chose this Mother’s Day to bring these thoughts to mind.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who read this!