Then Job answered: I wish my suffering could be weighed and my misery put on scales. My sadness would be heavier than the sand of the seas. Job 6:1-3 New Century Version
I hate my life, so I will complain without holding back; I will speak because I am so unhappy. Job 10:1
Have you ever experienced similar feelings? I once felt this way when my son, Paul, was born 10 weeks premature. It was an agonizing and painful time for me when I was discharged from the hospital, and my son was too sick to go home with me.
I left the hospital in a desperate state. There was no snuggly baby to hold in my arms. All my dreams of walking out the hospital door with my precious baby had been crushed. My heart ached more intensely than ever before in my life. Uncontrollable sobs shook my body. Someone tried to calm me, but I couldn’t escape the overwhelming sense of sorrow. I couldn’t be quieted because my time had come to leave the hospital, and Paul was still in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He was born on a Wednesday, and I was discharged on Friday. Friday came too quickly. I was not prepared for the awful feeling of guilt that pressed its heavy hand on my heart. In my mind, I had committed a terrible crime by leaving my poor baby all alone in the NICU. The guilt that accompanied my sorrow made my suffering more intense. I was forced to leave; the insurance would only pay for two days of hospitalization after I had my baby. I hated leaving. Although I was only going a few blocks away to the Ronald McDonald House for parents of hospitalized children, it seemed inexcusable for me to leave my baby who was struggling for his life.
The day that I left the hospital reminded me of the night Paul was born. It was heartbreaking. I held him in my arms a few, brief moments and spoke loving, tender words to him. Then nurses started connecting him to IVs and heart monitors. He was whisked away to the NICU.
Once the NICU staff had stabilized him, I was taken down the hall in a wheelchair to see my tiny, premature baby. Paul was a mere 3 pounds 4.4 ounces. When I saw him hooked up to all the life-saving equipment, my heart was filled with despair. I touched his hand, but this was not enough for me. I longed to hold him; however, that was not possible. While I was studying my child, tears were quietly falling down my face. All too soon, a voice said, “It’s time for you to go back to your room.” I was not ready to leave him. He had been taken from me just moments after he was born, and now they were asking me to leave him again. It was more than I could bear. The tears that had been quietly flowing down my face turned into torrential sobs. I heard another voice say, “She’s not ready to leave yet.” My tears began to subside when I was given a few more minutes with my son.
Two days later when it was time for me to be discharged from the hospital, I was given no similar reprieve. No one would utter the words, “She’s not ready to leave yet.” The tears that had been checked the night of his birth would not be held back the day that I left him.
An added sorrow came as I prepared to walk out of the hospital doors. I saw fat, healthy full-term babies being taken to their mothers. This was the ultimate insult. Why should these mothers be allowed such a privilege when I had to walk out of the hospital with empty arms?
Despite the injustice of it all, I still held to one flickering hope that one day soon God would bring Paul home from the hospital and fill my empty arms. On October 2, 1995, almost six weeks after he was born, God answered my prayer and my son came home.
Reminder: The cause of your heartache may not be the premature birth of a child, but the Source of all comfort is the same, no matter how deep the sorrow. Although your own suffering may weigh more than the sands of the sea, there is always hope when you look to God.
Related articles that deal with the pain experienced from the death of a child.