Hard things are hard.
My call started out quiet, but by the time the sun began to rise, three babies’ hearts had stopped, and I had been called to restart them. Every code was interminable. . .epi, calcium, compressions, breath, reassess, reevaluate. Two hearts started beating again, one did not, and I took a deep breath as I contemplated the variations of answered prayer.
I talked to the moms, paced a bit as my adrenaline returned to normal levels, set up care to give them the best chance of healing, and breathed deeply to combat the exhaustion. . .
I handed over to my colleagues at 5:30 am, drove to Nairobi with the girls to get their passports renewed, and thought through the resuscitations – proud of my team, but worried about the babies and their precious mamas.
Both babies made it through the next48 hours, but in the days that followed those, after 3 more codes, our team sat down with the moms for different conversations, ones that ended in tears and letting go – with their babies gone too soon, and my hands emptied of their strength.
As I tried to process the whys and how sick these babies already were when they came into the world, I kept thinking about a sign that sat on one of our president’s desks. It said, “Hard things are hard.” No explaining them away, no minimizing. Acknowledgement.
Hard things being hard does not mean that God is not still good, and it certainly does not mean He is surprised.
But, those two facts still do not make the death of a child easy. They do not ease my weariness as I walk home under a black diamond sky or still the shaking sobs of a weeping mother.
So I keep hoping. I keep running back to the hospital. I keep praying through compressions. I keep believing that the next child will be a miracle.
Some days we see it. The child with the sky high sodium goes home cooing. The baby that came to us with her intestines cut in two starts breastfeeding. The child who came to us unconscious because of a tree that fell on him while he played walks down the hall.
And some days, hard things are really horrible. . . the much desired baby comes 4 months to soon, the kidneys fail, the heart doesn’t start beating again. . .and I come back to the verse that I read two weeks after I came here in Isaiah 63. . where He promises to redeem it and to carry us.
For in their affliction, he was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them;
in His love and in His Mercy He redeemed them;
He lifted them up and He carried them, as in all the days of old.
As we walk through hard things, as we walk beside people in the valley of the shadow of death, may we fear no evil and trust that he feels our pain and sorrow and he lifts us up and carries us, as He always has before, and will again.