Through the Valley of the Shadow

As Taryn and I walked through the residential streets near downtown Evanston, it began to rain. Late March is still winter here; there were no leaves on the trees and no green in the grass as yet. The rain began to leave streak marks on Taryn’s glasses. We admired the eminently practical hat of a passing mail carrier, which suspended a small umbrella above her head. The early stages of Taryn’s labor continued as we walked; it was all terribly romantic.

The delivery process didn’t lose its romance that evening. Everything was perfect, textbook. As active labor became more serious, Taryn requested an epidural, which worked so beautifully that she began telling the anesthesiologist that he was a morally wonderful human being. The first signs of trouble came about an hour or an hour and a half later, when noticeable pain returned to the parts of Taryn’s body numbed by the drugs. Yet Taryn found the situation manageable.

Shortly after midnight, we were told that Taryn was fully dilated and ready to push. She found this process exhilerating, describing it as an endorphin rush. The hours began to pass, however, and our baby’s head was making little or no progress through the birth canal. Three and a half hours in, the ob-gyn told us that a Cesarean section would probably be necessary. This was Taryn’s greatest fear regarding childbirth, and the news that it was likely imminent brought her to tears. I asked the doctors and nurses to give us a few minutes alone, which they did — with seeming reluctance and a great deal of (quite unnecessary) advice that I not allow Taryn to fall out of bed.

When we were left alone, Taryn and I began to pray. I acted as the voice, pleading with Heavenly Father that, if it be his will, we be granted an intervention allowing for a vaginal delivery. Partway through the prayer, Taryn vomited copiously — all over herself and all over me. This we took to be an answer of a sort, whether divinely ordained or not.

As the nurses prepared to move Taryn’s bed from the delivery room into the operating room, Taryn asked me to bring Stephen Colbert’s book, I Am America and So Can You, so that I could read it to her while the procedure took place. She was wheeled off and I was taken to the recovery room to wait until the anesthetics were arranged. The nurse who took me there told me that, while it would seem like forever, I would probably be waiting for about a half an hour. In fact, the clock on the wall showed that over an hour had gone by before I was brought to the operating room and seated next to Taryn’s head behind a curtain that separated us from a direct view of what was being done to her body. I had waited because the anesthetic had not worked well and a great deal of adjustment was necessary. Shortly after I arrived, the surgery began; Taryn immediately reported pain and I was removed from the room so that she could be placed under full sedation.

We had now passed beyond the boundaries of the normal in childbirth. Full anesthetic places the child at risk and requires the greatest speed in getting her out of the mother’s body. By this point, I was simply terrified; the fact that I couldn’t be present made things all the more frightening. In spite of the hospital’s policy that cellular phones not be used except in lobbies, I called my parents and woke them in the middle of the night. As I described the situation to them, I burst into tears of fear and stress. Partway through the conversation, a nurse came in and asked me to return to the operating room; Taryn had decided to simply go through with the surgery in spite of her imperfect — read largely nonexistent — anesthetic.

So I turned off my phone, quickly cleaned up my face, and reentered the operating room. I sat down by Taryn’s head and held her hand as the procedure went forward. Someone near us asked Taryn to describe her pain level on the standard 1 to 10 scale as the operation took place. Taryn started with lower numbers (2, 3, 4) and escalated to higher figures (7, 8, 9) as the talk from the other side of the curtain became more urgent. As the ob-gyn instructed another person to “Put some pressure right here from below,” Taryn reported her highest pain figure. The medical personnel above the curtain with us seemed stunned that she was calmly describing her predicament, rather than screaming, passing out, or otherwise reaching a crisis state. Finally, the doctor said, “She’s too tense. I need her sedated.”

So I was rushed back to the recovery room. I got back on the phone with my parents and quickly began crying in terror once again. It surely didn’t help that I could see through the window in the recovery room door into a window in the operating room. I watched as more and more medical personnel crowded into the room, something I took to be a less than optimistic sign.

At this point, I could not help but think about the blessing I had given Taryn just before we left for the hospital the previous afternoon. I have always found the responsibility to speak for God, inherent in the act of blessing, to be a terrible and nearly intolerable burden. Of the many blessings I have been given in my life, a high proportion have ended up offering blessings or counsel that have proven profoundly, even diametrically, misguided. For example, I was given two unconditional blessings of health throughout my mission while I was at the MTC, one of them apostolic; less than five months later, I nearly died of a mosquito-born fever. It seems a grave thing to place such false promises in the mouth of God, and so my faith routinely waivers when I am asked to bless another.

Recently Taryn confronted me on this point, reminding me that the blessing I offer comes from my lips, not God’s. When I invoke divine power in blessing on another, she suggested, that is a prayer of faith, not a prophecy. Before we went to the hospital, I had given Taryn a blessing putting this advice into practice. I blessed her that, God willing, she would have calm and courage throughout the delivery; that she would be healthy and would recover well; and that our child would be born healthy.

As I waited in the recovery room, I felt that the first of the three blessings I had prayed upon Taryn had surely been realized. Taryn’s physical courage overwhelmed me. Yet, perhaps, the last two blessings might not be granted. At least, the passing minutes and the crowd of doctors and nurses working on Taryn suggested otherwise.

After some infinite interval of time, I heard an infant cry.

A few minutes later, a nurse entered and told me that the baby had been delivered but that surgery was still under way for Taryn. Upon birth, the baby had not been breathing well, and so she was to be taken to the infant intensive care unit. But if I hurried, I would get a chance to see her for a moment at the elevator before she was taken up. For a matter of seconds, I saw a little red-headed girl with gigantic blue eyes looking out from an isolation unit. Then she was gone.

I returned to the recovery room and to the eternal wait. After geologic ages, the ob-gyn came into the recovery room. After answering affirmatively — three or four times, to be sure — my urgent questions about whether Taryn and the baby were all right, the doctor proceeded to describe the operation. The baby had become lodged in Taryn’s pelvis during the several hours of pushing, it would seem. A standard C-section incision was inadequate. Delivery had required an additional, vertical incision as well as pushing from below, pulling from above, and a range of other heroic interventions. She told me that Taryn would never give birth vaginally; any future pregnancies would require a scheduled C-section before labor began, because Taryn would be at substantial risk for a ruptured uterus if she went through any labor ever again. Otherwise, everything was probably fine. A nurse present at the delivery later told us that the doctor ended the surgery, quite uncharacteristically, with the words, “Thank God.”

Some time later, Taryn’s bed was wheeled into the recovery room. It was several minutes before she became aware of me. When she noticed me, I told her that I loved her and her response was “Hi.” Some time further on, a doctor came by and informed us that Taryn had been given a drug that would cause her not to remember anything that was happening at the time. I asked if that meant she wouldn’t remember the conversation we were having in that moment. The doctor said that was correct; Taryn immediately stated, “That’s not going to happen.” To this day, Taryn cannot remember a bit of this.

As we left the recovery room, Taryn and I were taken to meet our baby, Artemis Mary Nelson-Seawright. At the newborn intensive care unit, we were told that Artemis had begun breathing on her own a few minutes after birth and that no other problematic symptoms had shown up. She would be released to us in Taryn’s hospital room that afternoon. The rest of that day was a blur of sleep (for me), sleep and breastfeeding (for Artemis), and sleep, breastfeeding, and drugs (for Taryn).

The second day of Artemis’s life was quite a bit different. She woke up at about 8:00 in the morning. As the day tricked by, Artemis stayed awake and gradually grew angry. By 3:00 the next morning, she had been awake for most of a day without almost any sleep. She was inconsolable. Pain was etched in her face. The nurses kept suggesting that Taryn feed her again, but feeding didn’t calm her at all.

Finally, a nurse noticed that Artemis was having seizures in which her right arm and leg would, in unison, jerk up and down repeatedly. Taryn and I had also seen these, but we didn’t know what to tell the nurses. When one saw the seizures, Artemis was immediately whisked off, once again, to the intensive care unit. Soon afterward, a doctor visited to explain the possible reasons for the seizure. Taryn and I authorized various tests.

When he left, I wanted to read scriptures with Taryn. We discovered that we had forgotten to pack them in the rush to the hospital. Taryn recited parts of two Psalms that she could remember. One was the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (She couldn’t remember the last two verses.)

The words of this ancient poem hit me. It surely seemed appropriate to describe the experience Taryn and Artemis went through the night of the birth as a trip through the valley of the shadow of death. Taryn made that trip with remarkably little fear; my best guess is that Artemis lacked the capacity to meaningfully fear the experience.

A doctor arrived and explained to us that Artemis had suffered a skull fracture some time during the delivery. A CT scan showed evidence of some bleeding inside her brain. Pressure from the fracture could account for the seizures. She would be given an MRI later, and she would be on a drug to prevent further seizures for months.

When we went down to the newborn intensive care unit to see our daughter, the experience was dreadful. Taryn and I were afraid, of course, that something more serious and more permanent might be wrong with her. And yet as we looked around at the other children in the unit, we quickly realized that Artemis was almost certainly in the best shape of them all. We were surrounded by tiny premature babies in isolettes. The walls had information about the hospital’s policies for families of babies in critical condition. I felt an awkward blend of distress at Artemis’s situation, a shameful relief that she was better off than so many other babies, and sorrow for everyone in those families.

That afternoon, Taryn discussed her sense of guilt that, by pushing too hard during delivery, she had broken our baby’s skull and caused her suffering and medical problems. I responded by invoking the New Testament story regarding who was responsible for a man’s blindness: was it his fault or his parents’ fault? Jesus famously responds that nobody was to blame. I don’t know how comforting this was.

I also mentioned my mother’s strong spiritual intuition that Taryn’s mother had been with her during the labor and delivery. Taryn’s mother had died during Taryn’s sophomore year of high school, so I never met her other than through people’s stories. A central theme in those stories was the woman’s extremely high tolerance for pain. Hearing my mom’s impression about this brought Taryn to tears. Clearly, it was true, at least at a symbolic level. It felt true to me at some other level, as well, although I couldn’t define why or how I felt that way. It has never seemed right to me to believe that our dead ancestors are literally active in our lives. And yet in this particular instance it also doesn’t seem right to me to believe that the idea is entirely false.

That evening, our bishop, Matt Downs, came to the hospital to give me a blessing and to assist me in giving Taryn and Artemis blessings. Before we began, he sat down to share a spiritual thought. The little message he offered, based on something he’d said in a meeting earlier that day, was the exact same passage from John 9 that Taryn and I had talked about in response to Taryn’s feelings of guilt over Artemis’s predicament. Was this a miracle, evidence of the loving attention of our God? For me, in that moment, it felt that way; my sense is that Taryn shared this feeling. As logical evidence of God, this is merely a petty coincidence. It is, however, quite convincing evidence of Matt Downs’s love for Taryn and for me. And I think that love is a powerful token, although certainly not a logical evidence, of God’s care.

The three of us entered the newborn intensive care unit. We anointed Artemis’s ankle with oil, because I was perhaps irrationally worried about hurting her fractured skull. I pronounced a blessing on her that was filled with the exuberantly supernatural and metaphysical. She would have “angels to protect her and the Spirit to ease her pain.”

The story continues. Over the last month, we have had doctors argue among themselves about whether Artemis experienced a very modest stroke — one that would have no practical consequences — or simply bleeding from the surface of her brain. She appears to be a normal and healthy infant. When I sing to her, she smiles.

By nature rather than preference, I tend to conceive of a highly non-interventionist God. My heart speaks to me of the human aspects of sin, as well as of the mortal component of compassion. My soul tells me that senseless tragedies are, indeed, senseless. I am willing to see God’s hand in everything, and I do in the sense of accepting God’s decision not to act and not to alter events as a necessary part of every explanation. I want to believe in a more activist God, one who will protect my daughter from starvation, rape, and murder (and also, if He has time on His schedule, from bad grades, skinned elbows, and awkward social situations). But when I strike those chords with my mind, I usually find little sympathetic resonance in my heart. There’s an episode of the Simpsons in which a character describes God as “an impotent nothing from nowhere with very little power.” I don’t think of God like this, but I nonetheless usually experience Him like this.

Did the events surrounding the birth of Artemis change everything?

She is a miracle in so many ways. Without modern reproductive medicine, she would never have existed in the first place. We are beyond lucky that we lived right next to an excellent hospital and a large collection of exceptional doctors and nurses. In other times or other places, Artemis would not be sleeping peacefully in our living room right now. There are many places on this earth today where Taryn would likely not have survived, as well. My family is become a living symbol of inequality.

I felt the miraculous presence of God and not just capitalism in Artemis’s birth. Did God intervene to ensure her survival and health? I don’t know. The answer depends on too many unobservables. The question of God’s action in the world is vexed because, if and when He acts, He does so in ways that are generally indistinguishable from His failures to act. Even if God acted, we have no direct information about what would have happened in case he failed to act. I feel that Artemis is a gift from God, but I don’t know how literally that statement should be taken.

Whether God saved lives or not, though, I feel confidence in saying that divine gifts were given. God gave us the gifts of friends and family who loved us enough to see us through our darkest hours. God gave us the scriptures that spoke to our souls when we were in need. God gave us each other. God gave me moments of emotional transcendence that strengthened me when I felt near the breaking point.

And so I’ll wrap this up with a prayer, in the words of a song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, for Artemis:

I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do.
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you.
Not to touch a hair on your head,
To leave you as you are,
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms.
And I don’t believe in the existence of angels,
But looking at you I wonder if that’s true.
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you,
To each burn a candle for you,
To make bright and clear your path,
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms.

Comments

  1. Randy B. says:

    Wow. I’m speechless. That is absolutely beautiful. God bless you all.

  2. Thank you for sharing all this. Congratulations on your daughter.

    A couple comments: I’ve often wondered if things promised in priesthood blessings are things that will be a challenge for us. My PB mentions my health; I have health problems. My husband’s mentions him earning a good living for his family; we’ve often struggled financially.

    I had a blessing by my fil before going into labor with my third child in which I was told I would feel the minimum amount of pain. That delivery hurt worse than either of my previous two. But I got through it with the knowledge I was experiencing the minimum amount of pain necessary.

    As for our dead loved ones being involved in our lives, it’s been my personal experience that they are, very much so. I have no doubt about it at all.

    Nick Cave is one of my favorite songwriters.

  3. Rechabite says:

    Beautiful indeed. Thank you for sharing that holy story. (I also wish more people would quote Nick Cave in their testimonies!)

  4. As I read, I felt as though I were there.

    I feel the same way about priesthood blessings.

    It appears this is a beautiful “experience” with a happy ending. I sometime find myself substituting words in a well known scripture, it comes out: the glory of God is experience.

  5. Very well expressed. Congratulations to you both. This brought back my own memories of our last child that came to us in an emergency C-section. I hope the blessings of God continue to follow you.

  6. Ben Pratt (aka mistaben) says:

    My thanks to both of you. The moments I’ve spent reading this post and Taryn’s recent post have been somehow sanctified, and sanctifying.

    This reminds me so strongly of when my older daughter was born. We went through an emergency c-section, and were left with a deep impression that both my wife and my daughter owe their lives to current medical practice and technology. 100 (or even 50) years go neither would have survived.

    Indeed, although we chose it beforehand, my daughter’s middle name is Halsey, from the maiden name of Parley’s first wife. She died from complications of childbirth.

    On a lighter note,

    …Taryn had been given a drug that would cause her not to remember anything that was happening at the time.

    Seriously? I didn’t think such a thing existed outside of fiction.

  7. J – this is just beautifully written. I sit here quietly weeping a little as you so eloquently describe the pain and anxiety of this. I’m so glad Taryn and Artemis are ok. This paragraph is beautiful:

    Whether God saved lives or not, though, I feel confidence in saying that divine gifts were given. God gave us the gifts of friends and family who loved us enough to see us through our darkest hours. God gave us the scriptures that spoke to our souls when we were in need. God gave us each other. God gave me moments of emotional transcendence that strengthened me when I felt near the breaking point.

    Whether God really intervenes, I just don’t know, but I do know that I have the same things as you – friends, family, scriptures. All of which I feel are God given and helped me many times.

    Bless you and you lovely family.

  8. Latter-day Guy says:

    That was wonderful. Thank you. You have no idea how much your observations resonate with me.

  9. JNS,

    A very nice post. Thanks for sharing it.

    What is amazing is that the memories of tough births tend to fade away somewhat as the child ages. My own preemie twins were fighting for lives for a month in the NICU. Now that they are running around beating each other I can barely remember that tough time.

    Are you in the NS1 ward?

  10. capt jack says:

    I concur with the others; nice post, JNS. I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way for Artemis, Taryn, and for you.

    Mike

  11. kristine N says:

    What a beautiful account. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Best_post_ever. Thank you, it’s just what I needed today (and probably some other days too).

  13. Mark B. says:

    With a wry sense of humor, you could have expressed gratitude that it was Evanston, Illinois, and not Evanston, Wyoming. :-)

  14. JNS,
    What an astounding experience. My heartfelt congratulations to the both of you. You really entered the wonderful world of parenthood with astonishing flair. Thanks for taking the time to share a life changing experience.

  15. Mark IV says:

    Thank you. I am so happy for all three of you.

  16. I’m so glad that everyone is okay.

    A beautiful, if painful, story to read. Thanks for writing it. I liked having your account and Taryn’s earlier one too.

  17. Thank you for telling your story.

    One thing I feel deep gratitude for is, whatever else is going on in the Creation, the gospel opens up ways for us to deal with the results of our choices, others’ choices that affect us, or the just plain intractability of events and conditions in our lives. Where the gospel is concerned, I’ve never found myself at a loss. It’s been fishes and loaves all the way.

  18. Everyone, thanks for your thoughts and well-wishes.

    Susan, interesting thoughts about blessings. I agree that they often address areas that are challenges for us. It’s hard for me to separate human and divine components of this, but both are valuable to me. I’ll take the faith and love of my friends and family any day.

    Ben, yeah, the drug was real. They said it interfered with the formation of short-term memory. If I had a better memory, I’d tell you what it was called.

    bbell, yes, we’re usually in NS1. We’re currently serving in a young single adult branch.

    Mike, thanks for the positive thoughts. It’s good to see you around!

    Mark B., we spent a night in Evanston, WY, when we were moving here from California a few years ago. I think we like this Evanston better, although there are doubtless those who prefer wide open spaces, etc.

    Amri, yeah, you all can live our daughter’s birth in stereo. Here’s a cross-link to Taryn’s earlier post, in case anyone missed it or wants to compare.

  19. Wow, J. What a post, before Mother’s Day. Thanks for this post. And I’m so glad to hear that Taryn and Artemis are doing well.

  20. Kevinf says:

    Thanks, JNS, for this thought-provoking piece. I’m glad all is well for you and your wife and daughter. I appreciate your willingness to share such personal thoughts and feelings. It’s why I keep coming back to the ‘nacle, and this one will carry me for months.

  21. sister blah 2 says:

    JNS, your ambivalence about receiving blessings while others continue to suffer is very moving, you have a true Christian heart.

    Pregnancy and birth have a way of tearing down the facade of modern American life, and exposing us to the kind of primal, life-and-death struggles that have defined the human experience for all but a vanishingly small number of us through the ages. Stepping into that realm can be simultaneously harrowing and enlightening.

  22. What remarkable experience, JNS. Thank you for sharing it. I wish your family well.

  23. CS Eric says:

    I have appreciated you and Taryn’s sharing your struggles with infertility in the Bloggernacle over the last couple of years (that’s all the time I’ve been reading here). Thank you for sharing this story. Modern medicine also saved my wife in similar circumstances, and this story takes me back to that terrifying night. It’s funny how something that is so routine for so many millions of people can still, as you say, lead some of us through the valley of the shadow. I am glad for the health of both Taryn and Artemis.

  24. My son, who’s now 22, was born in similar circumstances– head too stuck to get out easily in the c-section, but I didn’t have to have the extra incision you described. Oddly enough, I dreamed that night that his skull was fractured, one of the most vivid and horrible dreams I ever had. (Maybe because of the drugs, which mostly did indeed make me forget much of it all). Just reading this account brought back a lot of frightening memories. I hope that you’ll be able to find peace and calm in the next few years as you raise her. I know that every time anything seemed a bit unusual about my son, like some minor delays in development, I worried way too much. I must have an expressive face because after the three month check up my pediatrician called me at home and said he’d realized that he had worried me, probably unnecessasarily (how do you spell that) about a few aspects of development that were a bit slow. He’s fine now, and graduates from Stanford next month. (And we did have another child without complications a few years later. He was born vaginally because he was three weeks early, before the scheduled C-section and in about an hour of labor– too late for a C-section when I got to the hospital.)

  25. You should send this to Stephen Colbert….

  26. Wow. I’m so glad for your family that you are all well. Thank you for sharing, along with Taryn.

  27. RT,
    I’m so sorry. I am glad it was a faith-promoting experience for you. I am sorry that you went through it. Life and Death sucks.

  28. Having only read the post and not the comments, I just want to say thanks for sharing this with us. There are no words for the experiences it brings back to me – the memories it resurrects and the emotions it rekindles.

    As to the “intervention” question, I also am torn – but I have no doubt whatsoever that He does in some of the most unexpected ways. Perhaps there is a reason for that – so we don’t reach the point where we fail to appreciate the truly miraculous.

  29. You got me misty-eyed with this wonderful post. Thanks for sharing, and God bless the lot of you. You beautifully expressed one powerful way of experiencing petitionary prayer and LDS faith healings.

    On the medical side, a wide variety of drugs (called amnestics) have that effect, and are used routinely in a variety of settings. It’s a sign of poor quality care if a patient remembers through one of those drugs. (The most commonly used class is benzodiazepines, of which VALIUM is the culturally most familiar.)

  30. Thomas Parkin says:

    Congrats to you and your wife, JNS. Both for the birth of your daughter and for being so lucky to have passed through such difficult experiences, so charged with life.

    Both my sons had to spend extra time in the hospital either right after birth (Alex was in the ICU for two days), or shortly thereafter (Drew had to be brought back to the hospital about two weeks after he was born, and stayed there for almost two weeks.) Your post recalled to me the awful intensity of those times, and my feelings of helplessness. Olivia, too (Alex’s mother) was on her last legs during delivery. There are places in the world – and a whole history of the world – where both mother and baby may well have died. Reminds of something Olivia says whenever someone talks about natural childbirth. She says, “Remember, death is natural.” Hurrah for science!!

    You’re a good, honest and very bright man, who loves his family. Worthy of the place you hold. It strikes me that you think too much. But I tell you that the day will come when you will give blessings with complete confidence as the Lord’s words pass easily and surely from your lips.

    Best to you and your family.

    ~

  31. Thanks, J. That was beautiful.

  32. God Bless your little family. Thank you.
    We had a bad time of it too with my first ( not nearly as bad). That little baby is now on a mission and turning twenty on Mother’s Day. Difficult to believe that much time has past.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    Very nice, J. I’m looking forward to meeting little Artemis. God bless you all.

    I could relate to a lot of what you were feeling. I too feel the terrible burden of being voice for a blessing in a dire situation. Once when I was a green missionary a pregant woman’s fetus had the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck or something (I forget the details), and the doctors were saying she would lose the baby. They were an inactive couple, but they asked for a blessing. My companion and I and the WML were there, and we all were almost fighting over who would offer that blessing; none of us wanted to touch it with a ten-foot pole. As I recall, we made the WML do it. And the baby did indeed die. A horrible situation.

    I also remember the helplessness I felt when I was kicked out of the delivery room when my son Grant was being born, “stat” announcements were made and just like that a team of about 15 doctors and nurses were surrounding my wife. Something had gone wrong with her epidural, and she almost died. I too could see through a little window, and felt nothing but absolute and utter helplessness. But they got the ship righted without the same kind of trauma Taryn had to go through.

    All of which is to say that your account really resonated with me.

  34. Aaron Brown says:

    JNS, this post, like so many others of yours, resonates with me in a way that few others’ do. Your thoughts on divine intervention and the burden of blessings, among many other things, very much mirror my own (except you express them so much better, and without snark).

    Congratulation to you, Taryn and Artemis. I am very happy for you.

    AB

  35. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad (that word feel so inadequate to express what I really feel with stories like this) to know that you are all well.

    And that connection with giving birth — *particularly* in such an experience as yours — and the 23rd psalm is simply stunning.

    The tender mercies you experiences were plentiful, and I loved how you captured some of them, from friends to scriptures to emotional and spiritual strength…but most of all to have your wife and daughter come through the valley of the shadow of death and not be called to pass that threshold.

    I have been thinking about your reflections today, and I think we all have felt that struggle of why some things work out ‘well’ and some don’t, and if and how God is involved. I can’t help but think that we will be simply astounded when we realize how involved God has been, even if we can’t see or understand it now in our limited mortal sphere…how even the grossest injustices to our mortal sensibilities will have an eternal sense of justice and mercy that will bring us to our knees in awe and gratitude for the plan and for the Atonement.

  36. BeckySueby says:

    Thank you for sharing this experience. It brought me to tears at several points. I am sorry you three had to go through such a harrowing experience but very thankful all is well now.

    The question of God intervening in our lives is one I’ve wondered about too. At times, I have sought that intervention without it being given – at least not in the manner I’d desired. Yet, at other times I have been ambushed by too many things being *just right* for them all to be coincidental. I have to agree with m&m that His involvement will astound us when all is made known.
    Congratulations on the addition to your family.

  37. Randall says:

    Thanks for sharing your moving story. The births of our children have been the most spiritual experiences I’ve had. Anguish by proxy followed by existential bliss.

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