A Life Giving Exchange

“Mom, do you think miracles still happen?”  “I do, why?”  “Because I really need one. Do you think Jesus would do that for me, a miracle?”

My son spoke those words just a couple of years ago.  The tears we shared were tender and sacred.

Miracles, I believe they happen.

This morning I sat quietly, ten minutes on my timer for centering prayer.

“Jesus, please.”

Breathe in Jesus.

Exhale please.

Quietly repeating it, stilling my mind as it wandered, inhale Jesus, exhale please.

I felt a desperation deep in my core in the exhale, the vulnerability of it highlighted with the inhale, Jesus.

I opened my eyes and the quiet outside was enhanced by the burst of heavy snow that started while I prayed.

Desperation comes when I am feeling out of control, it becomes deeper when I have been holding hope for a particular outcome of something and it seems my hope will be unrealized.  The higher the emotional stakes, the more tender and vulnerable the space inside of me becomes. Picking up my journal the words began flowing. My writing led to a story I unexpectedly found myself sharing in a therapy session recently.  I took notice of this and continued to write. Here is some of what I journaled…

The day started out perfectly.  I’d never had any problems delivering my babies, just keeping them in the womb long enough to be born. (5 miscarriages.)

Dr. Cox came to check me and was concerned when he broke my water, as there was some blood, but after 15 minutes the baby’s heart rate looked good, all was well and he left.

10 minutes later things changed.

A nurse came in and started adjusting the monitors and asked me to lay on my side, the steady beep of the heart monitor had stopped.  I wasn’t too concerned, after three deliveries this felt pretty standard, until she began pressing a button and calling for help.  After three semi calm “could I get some help in here?” she began screaming loudly for help.  

Dr. Cox was paged to my room stat.  He came running in followed by nurses and the anesthesiologist.

He quickly examined me, “We have a prolapsed cord and placental abruption.  WE ARE GOING NOW!!!!”

The baby was suffocating from the prolapsed cord and drowning in blood.

Everyone moved rapidly, cords pulled from the wall, a syringe of something slammed into my iv, so many words flew back and forth as my bed was wheeled towards the door.

Rushing me to the OR  a nurse was calling out how many minutes had passed since they lost her heartbeat.  Dr. Cox leaned down and said, “Tracy, things are going to move fast and you’ll need to trust me, I will get her out as quickly as I can.”

I remember laying there as they rapidly wheeled me down the hallways my mind racing with thoughts of God taking this baby.

To hope in those moments felt impossible, the desperation real and coursing through me.

All I could say was “get her out, get her out, get her out”. 

They transferred me to the operating table and Brian (Dr. Cox) asked, “Can you feel this?”  No time for anesthesia to take effect, the pressure from the scalpel being slid across my belly was easily felt.

I felt alone in the sea of blue scrubs around me, where’s Mark?  (he was stuck outside the OR “gowning up” while they were quickly trying to get the baby out.)

Several minutes later Mark’s voice was in my ear, “She’s out, they’re working on her”.  There was no sound from our baby girl, she was blue.

The tears began to flow from my eyes.  My blood pressure was dropping and I was struggling to stay conscious.  My eyes frantically tried to focus on Mark’s face searching it for some sign of hope.

The first good news came from Shelly, my best friend and our pediatrician, as she walked in, “She’s so big and pink”.

Inhale. She’s pink.

Exhale a little bit of my desperation.

Shelly picked her up and told the Neonatologist, “Her mama needs to see her.”

I can picture Shelly’s face, serious and calm, “I’ve got her, now you take care of you and I will take care of her, promise.”

I felt like we needed a miracle.

Shelly stayed right by her side as Mark went back forth between the NICU and me.

They couldn’t get my core temperature to rise, so I lay in the recovery room with hoses hooked up to my bed, warm air blowing under the mountain of blankets they had piled on top of me.

We got our miracle that day and Elizabeth Hope, (Libby) was out of the NICU and in my arms later that night.

I hold memories of that day inside my body.  I notice when I am cold, and it isn’t because of the outside temperature.  Sometimes fluorescent lighting can leave me feeling anxious, I remember staring at the lights that day in the ceiling above me.

I believe desperation is acidic.

Exhaling it felt good.

Inhale Jesus.  Exhale desperation.

My journaling came as part of a practice encouraged by our pastor, AJ Sherrill, in his book Quiet, which we are going through for Lent at church.  It has been quite life giving for me and today, it felt miraculous.

I am grateful.



DSC_0512Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  She is the Founder of Red Tent Living.  Married for 30 years, she is mother to five kids.  After a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.  She writes about her life and her work here.