Ten weeks before her due date our first daughter, Annalee, was born. It was traumatic and sudden and the full might of technology was immediately engaged in keeping her alive. She was rushed off to be intubated. I did not even get a chance to see her or hold her or welcome her to this wild place. In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Annalee was hooked up to what seemed like a hundred machines and monitors, all beeping and buzzing and flashing lights. She was so tiny and surrounded by all the cold mechanical things this world could offer her.
During her birth my lungs had filled with fluid and I had a very difficult time breathing. I was put on oxygen and I, too, was monitored by a team of nurses and Doctors, all having hushed conversations off to the side, just out of range of my hearing. My husband, Fred, was in the NICU, desperate to be with Annalee as soon as they allowed him.
After a few hours, a team of Doctors and Fred came to my room. They believed she had a herniated diaphragm which prohibited her right lung from inflating. They needed to operate on her quickly. The risks, of course, were enormous. I had not yet even seen her and, in order to save her life, we had to risk her life. I begged them, in my gasping voice, to let me see her and they arranged for me to be taken down with nurses and oxygen and IV’s to the NICU. That is how I first met my daughter.
During the surgery, I asked to see the Hospital Chaplain. It was late at night when she came and I asked her where God was in all this. Tears began to pour down her face and she said, “I don’t know.”
Annalee survived her much compromised condition for ten months. The night of her birth I did not feel God with me. What I grew to understand in the days and weeks that followed was that God was all around. The nurses and Doctors and friends and family were with us. They were God’s hands and they helped us fill the months we had with Annalee with love. There was God, in all that love and in all the love that has never died. In the dark of that first night, I just couldn’t see.