Last week I broke my arm.
It was really scary. And obviously it happened at a really bad time. That was the second thing I thought after I fell and knew that something had broken -- that 36 weeks pregnant is an inopportune time to break one's arm.
The first thing I thought was "Is my baby was okay?" -- which he is, thank God. The thought of the little guy was probably the only thing keeping me from passing out as I stumbled back to our house from the beginnings of an evening stroll, clutching my arm. I just kept thinking that the only thing that would make the situation worse was if I went unconscious before we got to the ER, so somehow I held it together.
My husband and I managed to get to the ER with me still awake, where I thought they'd tell me that I had a really simple fracture, because honestly it didn't hurt all that badly. Instead they told us that it was fairly serious and that I needed to have orthopedic surgery on my arm the next day.
Cue terror. And of course it was made all the more alarming because a) I didn't want have surgery all, and b) I especially did not want to have surgery during pregnancy. Being pregnant, they couldn't perform the surgery with be unconscious -- they had to keep me awake.
Um, what? I thought, you want to cut into my elbow and pop all the bones back in the place and drill things into them and you want me to be awake for all that? I don't think so.
But that is what they needed to do, for our baby, so that is what I had to make myself okay with, however begrudgingly. We arrived home from the ER late and I basically spent the night crying in bed wondering why this had happened to me, and why now.
It felt a lot like grief to me, a lot like when Eve died, because many of the same thoughts scrambled through my head.
And on top of feeling really terrified, I felt even more cheated -- we'd gone through 31 weeks of our first pregnancy only to have our baby die, and now we'd gone through another 36 weeks of a second pregnancy and I felt like I wouldn't even be able to hold our baby because my arm was so messed up.
I complained about it to God. At length.
But in the end there was nothing I could do but go through with the surgery, so that is what happened -- and it was really good. And what I mean by "really good" is that we had an amazing anesthesiologist, an amazing doctor, and amazing nurses that all helped me to feel really cared for in the midst of my fear and sadness. And somehow the calm sedative they gave me let me sleep through most of the procedure -- which was especially good because it ended up taking twice as long as they had expected. What a mercy.
Since then I've had a pretty good beginning of my recovery and haven't had to take much in the way of pain drugs. So now I'm just back to impatiently waiting for our baby to be born in addition to wondering how this arm thing will affect our lives, especially with a new baby.
I am grateful to my grief experience because I think that it has prepared me to handle the ups and downs of life much better than I would have beforehand. For example, when I broke my arm, instead of just complaining to God -- which I did do at length, admittedly -- I was also able to look beyond the immediate circumstances of pain and fear and questions to ask both God and myself what good thing could be hiding in this experience for me.
I have come to believe that nothing is wasted in this life -- or that nothing has to be. If we're going through a horrible time or painful time or a terrifying time, there is something that we can take away from it, something helpful. It might not be a fun lesson, and it probably won't be comfortable but I feel that there is something in everything that could make us grow, if we let it.
And I want to grow. I don't want any of my experiences to be wasted, especially the pain because the pain is the most costly. And in this example of my arm, the cost really isn't too high -- I'm still in good health; I'm young enough that hopefully my arm will heal without complications even though it will probably take a long time; and no life has been lost, although things have certainly become more challenging as a result of it.
But even in the truly costly times, I feel that there can be growth discovered. Maybe that's a really mercenary or capitalistic way of looking at things. But I think it can be a really redeeming way of looking at things, too. I believe God can make something good out of nothing, out of the worst things. That's why the tagline of my blog right now has to do with finding beauty in ashes.
So right now, with my broken arm and my impatience to be in labor, I'm trying to look for the beauty here in this uncomfortable place. I don't think I will be disappointed because I think there is something good to be found everywhere. And, as I said before, it might not be easy to find and it might not be comfortable to find, but I think that if we use the right lens we can see that there is something redeeming happening throughout this thing we call life.
~ Ann Voskamp
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Because it's my dominant arm that's out of commission, typing is s l o w for me. As a result, I expect to be writing less, and when I do it will be with the aid of dictation software (thank goodness for my iPod Touch!). Thanks for being patient with my silence and/or temporarily altered writing style -- and, I'm sure, the many typos that will ensue. :)