The abdominal cramping started less than an hour into the trip home from my girl’s weekend away. I figured I was experiencing indigestion from the exceedingly rich and creamy entrée I had devoured at lunch. As we continued down the road, however, I quickly realized this was more than just a stomach ache. Sweat formed on my brow as my abdominal muscles continued to contract with increasing intensity. Then the nausea set in.
“Can you pull over?”
I stumbled out of the truck and dropped to my knees. I could feel the rough roadside gravel digging into my jeans as I hunched over and prepared to expel everything from my insides. Instead, I curled into the fetal position as another wave of pain coursed through my body.
One of my friends urgently called my husband, Chad. It was decided that I should be taken to the nearest hospital where he promised to meet us as soon as he could.
Chad made it to the ER in time to hear the words: “exploratory surgery.” Being newly pregnant, an ultrasound had been ordered and revealed a large mass on my right ovary that needed to be dealt with immediately.
I tried my best to pay attention as the surgeon explained what was about to happen. My husband, a medical professional, seemed confident with the information provided. But I could feel the anxiety rising inside me.
Sensing my apprehension, Chad squeezed my hand and assured me that everything would be okay.
We said “I love you” and then it was time to go. They began wheeling me down the hall toward the operating room. With each step forward, I could feel that fear and uncertainty billowing up again.
My mind was swirling: What if I don’t make it? What will happen to my boys? I’m not ready to say goodbye!
Suddenly, my frazzled thoughts were interrupted by a gentle Holy Spirit whisper:
“Christy, I have not given you a spirit of fear… I am with you.”
Sigh of relief.
I honestly don’t remember much after that point. I think I had to count backwards from 10 as they administered the anesthesia, but it’s all a blur. I woke up a few hours later in another room, my husband by my side.
We were told that a cyst in my ovary had been bleeding uncontrollably. The doctor surmised that the mass was my unborn baby, a rare ectopic pregnancy. I had accumulated about a liter of blood in my abdomen, and they had no choice but to remove my ovary when the bleeding couldn’t be stopped.
That was that. Problem eliminated. And so, it would seem, was my baby.
It was late in the evening. Chad had gone home to be with our two young sons and would be back early in the morning to bring me home.
The on-call nurse came to check on me. She dimmed the lights, made sure I was comfortable, and then said goodnight. Suddenly, I was alone in a sterile, silent room with nothing but my thoughts to occupy me.
I lay in that bed, trying to process everything that had transpired in the previous ten hours. I thought, analyzed, questioned, and finally broke down and sobbed.
I cried for myself, for the confusing circumstances, but mostly I grieved for the baby that I would never meet.
As the tears cascaded down my cheeks, I murmured a prayer to God and entrusted my unborn tot into His care.
That’s when the miraculous happened. I was given a precious gift from my Heavenly ‘Abba.’
‘Abba’, a Greek word translated ‘daddy,’ was the name Jesus affectionately used to describe God. Our Heavenly Father who intimately understands the pain of losing a most beloved child.
The gift I received? A name.
This name that is engraved on my heart like a signature scrawled on stationary. A whisper to my soul, accompanied by an overwhelming sense of God’s presence, peace, and unconditional love.
But it was much more than that. It was a glimpse into the heart of my Creator and an impression of an eternal reality. The name revealed that the 7-week-old miracle that was budding inside me was a person who was worthy of a title. A person, who was not only known, but cherished by God.
“Emelia,” I breathed. My unborn daughter.
The next day at my follow-up appointment it was discovered that I was still pregnant. The mass that was removed wasn’t my baby after-all. A new ultrasound exposed a tiny heartbeat. But this glimmer of hope quickly faded when a couple of days later I really did lose my precious unborn baby.
In many ways, the entire experience felt almost dream-like. Was my hospital revelation just wishful thinking? The result of grief mixed with Vicodin? I’m ashamed to admit that shortly after one of the most intimate and profound encounters I have ever had with the Divine, I began to doubt. And aside from telling my husband, I kept the experience to myself.
I have come to believe that one of the most amazing things about God, is his longsuffering and patience. He knows how fickle humans are. He knows our tendency to question and doubt. And yet, He is faithful and kind to us, just the same. He doesn’t need us to validate him. Yet, sometimes, God chooses to remind us of how good He really is. Even in the midst of our skepticism.
About a week after my surgery, I got a phone call from my sister-in-law. Apparently my medical ordeal had triggered some old memories from her past.
She shared that years before, in the midst of a long struggle with infertility, she had lost a baby. She had never shared this with anyone because it was too painful. But as she was thinking about my experience, and grieving her own long-lost child, God suddenly gave her a name. The name was Isabelle.
Overcome with excitement, I couldn’t wait to tell her the similar experience I had just had, and the name that God had imparted to me. Maybe it wasn’t wishful thinking after all?!
Eagerly, I poured out the details of my hospital room revelation. When I finished speaking, my sister-in-law quietly asked: “What was the name you were given again?”
“It was Emelia.”
“I can’t believe this!” She said, her voice brimming with excitement.
“Christy! I was actually given two names: Isabelle and Emelia. I didn’t mention it at first, because somehow I knew that Isabelle was the name for my daughter. I didn’t know how Emelia fit in. But now it all makes sense!
Don’t you see?! We both have daughters together in Heaven!”
Tears filled my eyes. I was blown away by this beautiful confirmation. God had graciously squelched those nagging doubts, and solidified what I already knew in my heart.
I have a daughter in Heaven. Her name is Emelia. She’s the daughter that I haven’t met… at least, not yet.
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3