Two weeks ago I (Scott) was on a video chat with my mom when Annemarie got home from her doctor’s appointment and said, “well, the baby might be born tonight.” I said goodbye to mom, ended the call, and quickly asked Annemarie for more details. According to the doctor, the level of amniotic fluid in the womb had dropped significantly and waiting another two weeks until the due date could put the baby at risk. She would need to be induced that night, or the next morning. After recovering from the suddenness of the news, we both decided that we would wait until the morning. This would give us time to arrange care for the other kids and to get everything ready.
We didn’t really sleep that night. I’ll chalk it up to excitement. The next morning Annemarie took the inducing pill and then we waited…and waited. Nothing happened. We went to see the doctor at about 5:30 p.m. and Annemarie was induced again, via better methods. By about 10:00 p.m. the contractions were coming and we headed out to the hospital (note to husbands: watch out for speedbumps!). By 11:25 p.m. our little Juliet was born. It soon became clear that she was not getting the oxygen she needed. The hospital we were at did not have the necessary medical equipment to care for her, so an ambulance was called to transfer her to a better hospital. It took about an hour for the ambulance to arrive. It is México, so maybe that’s normal. Thankfully Juliet was not in critical condition.
The next hurdle was getting the medical staff to allow Annemarie to go with Juliet to the other hospital. We worked it out in the end, but we didn’t realize that Annemarie was actually getting discharged rather than transferred (4 hours after giving birth!). After dealing with forms and paying bills in Spanish (at 3:00 a.m.!) I drove our van over to the other hospital, about ten minutes away. I helped Annemarie up to the NICU and we spoke with the doctor about Juliet’s condition. She was stable and getting oxygen support, but they didn’t think it was too serious. After that, we left to go home and get some needed sleep.
We slept from about 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. By 9 o’clock we needed to be back at the hospital and get a further update from the doctors. The update showed she had fluid in her lungs which was causing her to not be able to breathe in enough oxygen. Thankfully the doctors spoke sufficient English which made it easier for us to understand everything that was going on. They had put her on a CPAP machine to help her get oxygen and she seemed to be doing alright.
That night we slept well knowing she was in a good hospital under the care of good doctors. God was sovereign and in control. And good thing, because unbeknownst to us, the pressure from the CPAP caused her lung to collapse and the doctors had to perform an emergency surgery to inflate it again. In the morning the doctor called me and asked that we come a bit early to our visit. At that time, they told us exactly what had happened. When we went into the NICU and saw Juliet covered in tubes and surrounded by machines, we both cried. She was completely sedated, and a ventilator was doing her breathing for her.
The next couple of days were hard, but we really felt the peace of God in all of it. Standing at our little girl’s side, we had lots of time to think and pray and sing psalms and hymns. It is in situations like this where we must ask ourselves: What does faith in God really mean? If we confess, He is sovereign, how then must we live? If the worst happened, would we still hold on to God? We know what the answers should be, but sometimes it takes some talking to God to get that knowledge into our hearts.
Since those difficult first days, Juliet has been steadily improving and as of right now she is stable and we are waiting for some mucous to clear from her lung before we can take her home. We are extremely grateful for the prayers we have received from all over the world (we don’t know that many people, we just know a few missionaries 😊) and especially for the support from our community here in Querétaro. There’s no doubt it is hard to be far from family at a time like this, but that pain has been lessened by the many people willing to help, even when we don’t ask. We feel loved and cared for and deeply thankful.
The last two weeks have been rather strange. Our days are filled with feeding and caring for kids in between visits to the hospital and interspersed with sending updates to family and friends. Added to the irregular schedule is COVID-19 which is headline news all over the world. The virus is disrupting lives and economies all over and its threat looms large. For us here in México, life has not been drastically different. Schools have closed (so I won’t be teaching at Pan de Vida) and there are some restrictions for stores and restaurants, but life goes on for most people.
Our state government is trying to get people to stay home, wash their hands, and practice “healthy distancing.” I say trying because it seems like most people are not too concerned. The streets are still bustling and most shops are still open. I think part of that is so many people live day-to-day and cannot afford to stay home and skip work. The known threat of going hungry or losing your job wins out over the unknown threat of COVID-19.
The other part of the lack of concern here is the “hugging president” we have. The “hugging” moniker comes from his slogan of “Hugs, not Guns,” which summarizes his stance towards the drug cartels. Anyway, he has been encouraging people to continue going out to restaurants and hotels and not to be panicked. He’s worried about the economy, which is a legitimate concern in my view, but he sure appears naïve. It’s one thing to try keep the economy moving, but it is another thing not to prepare for a deadly virus.
So, we’ll see what happens. Things can change quickly and if they do, if the virus hits hard, it won’t be pretty. México is not sufficiently prepared for it. But whatever happens, God is sovereign and nothing is out of his control. Whatever the situation is like in the next several months, God will still require that we humbly trust him and seek to serve him faithfully, as always.