The Blessing at Rafter J

Mom H. and me and Fremont Lake

It was my first pregnancy.  I was already considered “old” for the job, at 34 (little did I know then, that my last baby would come into this world when I was 45).  Further, we were not ready for this.  Well, truly, is anyone ever ready for parenthood?  It’s as ironic as saying you are ready to be married, or ready to die.  There are certain factors we may feel reconciled to, or eager about…but none of us is ever genuinely ready for these monumental life events, without God’s grace.

I was due to deliver around Thanksgiving of 1996.  Or so they thought.  Doctors always seem so certain, until things come ’round the bend and don’t seem very certain anymore.  There was no sign that this baby was interested in a turkey dinner.  Patrick’s mom had flown out to be in Wyoming with us for Erin’s birth.  So, when there was no baby for nearly a week, I was beginning to feel pressured.  We had an appointment with the OB December 4th, to see if everything was okay.

I remember the drive up through Hoback Canyon.  We were supposed to arrive at the

Battle Mountain, going into Hoback Canyon.

hospital in Jackson Hole by 8 am, so we got an early start.  The drive was over an hour, but so beautiful. The morning light was dazzling as it caught crystals of ice on the red willows which flanked the highway.  The shale in the river made it seem like emeralds in contrast against the snow.  The roads were clear, for which we were thankful.  We had done “impromptu” 360’s down this same road in a Suburban one winter when the ice had coated the road.  I wasn’t up for that kind of excitement this time around, and I was pretty sure Mom H. wasn’t either.

I had my check up with the OB.  Little baby Erin was saying “nothin’ doin'”.  Some very fun procedures were engaged in order to induce the labor, and the doctor told us to go walk around KMart for a while and see if anything might happen.  If not, we were to just go back home.  We had lunch at Teton Steakhouse.  We walked around.  Nothing.  So, we climbed back into our Jeep and began the drive home.

As we approached the outskirts of town, my husband pulled off in a subdivision called Rafter J.  We meandered around, up and down the streets and cul de sacs.

“What are we doing?” I asked.

“I just don’t feel right about going home,” was Patrick’s reply.

So, we turned around and went back to Jackson.  Dinked around a bit.  Got a guest room at the hospital, right across the parking lot from the labor and delivery wing.  I was restless.  I thought it was mainly because of all the excitement and anticipation of the day.  At 1 am my water broke.

We pretty calmly walked across the parking lot.  They got me settled into a room.  The doctor felt it would be best for me to sleep some so I’d have

Pretty rough shape.

more energy when the time came for delivery, so I was given some sort of sleep aid.  I had wanted the whole “natural” delivery scenario.  Already I was being medicated.  I wasn’t crazy about it.

Things were going pretty slowly.  I won’t go into all the details, but eventually I was hooked up to monitors and given pitocin and an epidural.  I could not walk around as I had hoped to do.  I couldn’t do anything but sit there.  I won’t say anything else about details, timing, and who was where when and why, but suffice it to say that all of a sudden things happened.

The doctor had to be located.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Erin did not want to wait anymore.  I was not dilated.  The result was pretty serious.  I did not get to see her or hold her.  I was wheeled off to surgery.

The next afternoon, the doctor came for a visit.  He may have been there earlier, but I don’t remember.  He held his hand out for mine.  When I placed my hand in his, he turned it over, palm up.  He pressed his finger into my palm.  There was very little color change.  Then he did the same to his.  You could see the mark where his finger had pressed the blood out of the way, and then watch the small white impression turn rosy again when he released the pressure.  All of this was done in silence.  Then he said, “Had you been at home, we would have lost you.”

Mom H. holding Erin.

Turns out that sometime after the sun went down on the 4th, there had been a large snow slide in the canyon.  We would have been trapped on the other side of that mass of snow, with me in labor, had we gone home.  In the quietness of that drive around Rafter J, my wonderful husband had listened to that “still, small voice” guiding him.

After a few days of special care, we were able to go home.  Recovery was slow.  Because of Erin’s precipitous birth, it was decided that c-sections would be a good idea from then on.

Erin was born perfect.  They discovered that there was something odd with the blood vessels of the umbilical cord…some were external instead of being enclosed.  God knew all of that.  Perhaps there was a reason she needed to make a quick entrance.  I don’t know.  I don’t need to.  I do know that these things are brought into our lives so that we might praise Him.  And so I do.

The Bible says,

“He gives snow like wool;
he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.”~Psalm 147

He knew about the avalanche.  Nothing ever surprises Him.  There is never a time when He exclaims, “Oh no!”  It was His choice that we should be on the hospital side of the snow, that we might give Him glory.  And so, I do.

Finally home.

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5 thoughts on “The Blessing at Rafter J

  1. OHHH! You have a wonderful way with words! I loved this story!Thank you for sharing it!!! I was just looking at the words to “How Should A King Come”. God bless you!

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