In a rare turn of events, we received a huge refund from the IRS this year. My husband claims he did our taxes properly… he’s pretty nerdy and even reads tax books for ‘fun,’ so who am I to second guess him on that? We were pretty sure we just grossly overestimated our tax withholdings the previous year. Which left us with a large sum. We weren’t really sure what we would do with the money. “Hmm…maybe we could save up for a new car when mine dies?” My hubby said. His car did have over 200,000 miles on it. “Or maybe we could save up for a new A/C in case ours goes out?” I suggested, sure that our A/C was over 20 years old. We threw some other boring ideas out there. None of the options were very exciting. For once, we didn’t seem to have a huge pressing need for income (such as needing to buy a new car, replacing the fridge, etc). It felt odd. So we decided to wait before making any decisions. And we prayed about it.
Little did we know we’d be using that tax refund to buy international plane tickets. Less than a week later, I started bleeding and was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma (SCH). My doctor put me on strict bed rest. We weren’t given an exact time on how long it takes these things to heal, but were told that most heal up by 20 weeks. Well, that seemed a bit daunting as I was only 6 weeks along. I did a ton of research and discovered that the majority of women had markedly improved results from bed rest. There seemed to be a direct correlation between activity and bleeding. So I knew I would certainly be taking it easy. The only question was how much time off of work would my husband need? We still had 14 weeks to get to the 20 week point, with that being the worst case scenario. He had maybe 4 weeks of vacation saved up, tops. We weren’t really sure what the best course of action was. Burn up all of his vacation now? Save some for later? What if things got worse later on?
A day after my SCH was discovered, a thought occurred to me. What if my sister, who lived overseas, was able to come help us out for a few weeks? It seems pretty extreme but the fact of the matter was that everyone in our family has a job (which is a good thing!). My parents and my husband’s parents are all still working. Our siblings all have jobs. My sister who lives locally would have been a great help, but she had recently started a new job, making her free time almost non existent. My sister who lives overseas doesn’t have an official fill-out-a-time-card-type-of-job, per say, but she’s a full time missionary, a home schooler of her 3 children, and she does Bible translation and checking, as well as several other duties. I think she is probably busier than anyone I know! At the same time there was no ’employer’ she would need to ask for time off (other than her family). I gave her a call and set forth my proposition to pay for her and one of her three children’s tickets so that they could come out and help me get through bed rest. I knew I was asking a lot of her. At the same time, I know she wanted this baby of ours to make it just as much as we did. She responded to my proposal by saying that she and her husband would pray about it. The next day, they agreed for her to come and they were able to get tickets that same afternoon. The very next day, she and two of her children (they paid for another one of their kids to come) were en route to the U.S.! We were completely amazed at how quickly they were able to obtain tickets (and for an affordable price)!
My sister arrived pretty exhausted and obviously jet lagged, but I cannot fully describe the blessing she was to our family the nearly three weeks she was here (her kids went to visit their Grandma up North for half of the time they were here in the U.S.). She cooked delicious and hearty meals. When I was nauseous (which was about 90% of the time) she merely placed food in front of me –without even asking me if I was hungry– and I discovered that if I didn’t have to think about food, I could eat it. She cleaned, did laundry, prepared leftovers for my husband to grab on his way to work, and made muffins and cookies for the freezer, as well as extra meals. She also played with Josh, took care of him (did I mention that he loved her right off the bat? It was his first time ever meeting her!) and took him on walks every day. Best of all she MADE me stay on the sofa as much as I could stand it (there’s something commanding about older sisters….). In short, she was a total lifesaver. Literally.
A week later, we went in for an ultrasound. The hematoma hadn’t shrunk or grown. It had changed shape a little. Thankfully, the baby had grown a ton in just a week’s time and was almost twice the size from the previous week.
So bed rest ensued. And my sister continued to labor on our behalf (quite cheerfully I might add). We had my husband’s parents over for his dad’s birthday and my sister did all the cooking and cleaning for that. We celebrated Josh’s birthday with a party (invitations went out before the SCH was discovered) and she did a ton to prepare for that as well. By that time my SCH had shrunk to a narrow sliver- long but almost so narrow that it looked like it was almost healed. We were SO encouraged.
A few days after Josh’s party, my sister had to return home with her kids. I went in for another ultrasound not long after she left and this time, the SCH was no where to be found! My OB said I no longer had any restrictions, but I continued to take it easy for another two weeks. I didn’t want the tear, which had so recently healed, to rip open again. For the past week I have been back to regular life and I am starting to believe that the SCH is forever behind me.
And so God used a shockingly large tax refund, a new pregnancy, and a very scary SCH to ordain a special visit with my sister that I don’t expect to have again in my lifetime. My sister and I are very close– and if you could see the massive amount of emails we have written to each other over the years, the hours and hours of phone conversations that have taken place– you would understand what kind of sisterhood friendship I am taking about. My sister lives overseas, and I don’t get to see her much. The separation feels almost crushing to me at times, as much as I am grateful for the work they are doing. And I think the Lord just happened to heap blessings on my head when this SCH happened. What I thought was going to be the beginning of a miscarriage and a despair threatening to delve deeper than what I have probably ever experienced, instead turned into laughter and joy in having my sister nearby for many deep conversations and times of prayers.
I never thought i would be able to thank God for something as scary as having a SCH threatening my baby’s very existence. But I do. I see now how He has used it to bless me– a blessing I will remember my entire life.
God works in mysterious ways, does He not?
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9