by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh
After waiting for what seemed too long already, I was finally pregnant. When my OB told me the good news, I cried—and I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my husband.
I was a busy lady at the time. I had been married for five years to the man of my dreams, and I was enthusiastically involved in buying and selling imported oil paintings.
Buying the artworks in Europe and then traveling throughout the American Midwest to market them, I embraced as an exciting adventure. I loved what I was doing—and both my husband and I enjoyed the financial rewards. However, I am also quite domestic in many ways, and I always wanted a family. So, when I found out we were going to have a baby, my business involvement lost some of its shine and my personal world took on a glow that I had never experienced before. I was going to be a mother—and for the moment that put me into a state of reverie and wondrous futuristic expectations.
And yet, maybe out of inexperience or just plain foolishness, I thought I could continue my rigorous work activities at least until the actual appearance of our soon-to-be born son or daughter. In those days, you didn’t usually find out the gender of your children until they made their earthly appearance.
So, I kept on plodding—and one day, about three months into the pregnancy, I had packed up a big box with framed paintings to send to one of my out-of-town customers. Always independent and used to taking care of myself as well as my responsibilities – mentally and physically—I heaved the container step by step from our basement workshop to the first-floor backdoor leading to our driveway.
The stairs weren’t that many, but they were too steep for me to conquer without a lot of strenuous pushing. Over time, I had learned to use my entire body to accomplish that task. And so, as I had done multiple times before, I maneuvered the bulky box out of the house, before loading it into my car and taking it to the shipping company.
Mission accomplished, I returned home and rested—and then the cramping began. Soon I was buckling over with pain.
Terrified now, I contacted my gynecologist. A visit to him and some checkups later, I knew a tumor growing inside my uterus had ruptured. My feisty efforts in taking care of business as usual had resulted in jeopardizing the one thing I desired so much. I had put my precious newborn in danger. Aware of the possibility of a miscarriage and wallowing in guilt feeling for having brought this upon myself, I felt devastated.
So, of course, I was willing to do anything the doctor ordered—just for a chance to make everything turn out okay. I was on bed rest for a month and I also swallowed the prescribed painkillers, even though I worried about potential side-effects to the fetus.
Upon learning we would be parents, we had moved from our apartment into a house. So, here I was now, lying on the couch, in an about to be revamped living room freshly stripped of its old wall paper—hoping and wishing for something, anything to make everything all right.
Day after day, my husband went off to work, leaving me alone to study the bare walls that had yet to be painted. At first I entertained myself with imaging what they might look like later on, but soon I did not care about any of that anymore. I just wanted the constant pain to go away and my predicament to be over—but in a good way. I wanted to be told that I would be able to keep and have this baby.
Toward the end of my one month of bed rest, my physician laid it on the line for me. If my situation didn’t improve any time soon, I would have to undergo surgery to get my problem – of course, he meant strictly the medical one – under control.
“What about my little one?” I asked. And then, interpreting his long silence as an answer I didn’t want to hear, I quickly added, “At least tell me at what stage a baby is capable of surviving outside the womb?”
“Well,” he finally said, “at around six months your child might have a good chance to make it.”
“All right.” I looked him straight in the eye. “I will wait with the surgery until then.”
He gave me a thin smile and shook his head. “No way, you can’t stand this much pain for that long.”
“I can—if I have to,” I shot back.
The conversation stalled at this point.
The following weekend, my husband went alone to attend Sunday services at our church. When he returned home, he announced enthusiastically, “Honey, the entire congregation prayed for you today.”
His beaming smile betrayed the comfort he took from the simple fact that so many others had been willing to invest a few spiritual minutes in our fate.
Did he actually think something heavenly would come from it?
He didn’t say—I didn’t ask.
When we got married, I had agreed to join my husband’s faith. Even while we were dating, he had come across as being utterly devout, so I thought I should honor and respect his deep belief as an honorable part of him. So now, here I was once again skeptical, but also extremely desperate – and utterly touched by his well-meaning effort to recruit the divine to help us out.
Needless to say, I ended up being the one who was most surprised, humbled, and forever grateful when my pain ceased that very evening and the remainder of my pregnancy went smoothly. Actually, not quite, because my dedicated doctor himself fell ill in those crucial weeks before my due date. After waiting patiently for his return, I finally received a phone call from his office telling me to meet another physician the upcoming Monday.
But the weekend before, I went into labor and my husband rushed me to the hospital – where the staff arranged for a C-section, since the baby had not “turned.”
I delivered a healthy boy who not only attempted to enter this world backwards, but also kept right on moving along in that direction. Today this much worried about and dearly wanted baby is a tall, handsome, dark-haired, charming and extremely bright man whom I love dearly.
Who says miracles don’t happen?
Helga Gruendler-Schierloh is a bilingual writer with a degree in journalism and graduate credit in linguistics. Her essays, short stories and poetry have appeared in the USA, the UK, and Canada. Her debut novel, “Burying Leo,” released in 2017, won second place in women’s fiction during Pen Craft Awards’ 2018 writing contest.