Hospitals and hope

Hope Giving Key

I chose my word for 2015 – hope - while in the hospital for the last two days.

For the last two years, choosing a word of the year has been a healthy practice for me. In 2013, I chose the word brave. Last year, my word was enough. Both shaped and guided my year, sometimes in unexpected ways.

This year, I'd been oscillating between two words, both heavily related to my pregnancy.

Then on Sunday, a gush of blood (something you NEVER want to see when you're pregnant) landed me in the hospital.

After seeing the blood, I called my doctor in a panic. She asked a few questions and told me she'd meet me in the birthing center at the hospital.

This, of course, led to more panic. At 23 weeks, we haven't yet taken the hospital classes or tours so we didn't even know where the birthing center was.

On the way to the hospital, I feared the worst. I suspect my husband did, too.

This was strange because I'd finally begun to relax; To not fear blood every time I entered the bathroom. I'd finally begun to picture life with our baby in May.

Then suddenly, I was confronted with the reality that perhaps there would be no baby in May.

A kind-faced nurse with a comforting demeanor met us at the door of the birthing center. I immediately burst into tears, knowing I wasn't yet supposed to be there. She ushered us into a room, handed me a hospital gown, and immediately hooked me up to a set of monitors. As she did, I felt like everything was spinning out of control.

In that moment, I realized there was very little I could do except hope. So as people swarmed around me, I laid there, desperately clinging to what little hope I had left.

A few minutes later, as a fetal monitor was hooked up to my stomach, hope grew as I heard the baby's heartbeat.

After an exam and blood work revealed no real cause for alarm, hope blossomed.

It grew even further as the talk of steroids (needed to help a baby's lungs develop in case of premature birth) abated; And then again yesterday morning when a specialist confirmed the ultrasound looked good.

Thankfully, I was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon with instructions for modified bed rest for the next week. 

I have to admit that although the freedom feels good, without the false sense of security that constant monitoring and a host of doctors and nurses bring, fear is back.

Despite how much doctors know about pregnancy, there is something still utterly miraculous about it; There is still so much mystery in it; There is still so much people don't know – including why I'm bleeding.

In those moments, “sometimes this just happens” isn't very reassuring.

But hope is.

And what I'm learning about hope is that it isn't merely meant for those times when all is well; When it's easy to come by.

In actuality, I think hope is meant most for desperate people, during those times when life is unraveling; When there's no other word to describe how you feel except “scared”.

In those times, hope gives us a reason to hang on. It gives us a reason to believe – not just that everything will be OK because unfortunately, sometimes it won't be – but that God is present and good.

Knowing there's much I cannot control, that's the kind of hope I'm clinging to now. 

That's also the hope I'll be searching for throughout the remainder of 2015 and in particular, throughout this pregnancy (which we pray will last until the baby's due date – May 23).

Next year at this time, I want to be able to look back on 2015 and see that no matter what happened, I chose hope. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. When not doing ministry, she and her husband Doug can be found hiking, backpacking, and traveling.

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