The weeks following Annie’s ultrasound were insane. We got the most horrible news of our lives on Thursday, and the following Monday I had to take my first test of my last semester of nursing school. My world was crumbling around me, and I needed to study critical care concepts and the respiratory system. There was no way I could focus. I called and let my clinical instructor know about our situation the day after we found out, and she advised me not to even study that weekend. She told me I needed to spend time with Robert and the girls and process the news. (Sharon, if you’re reading this, I want to thank you so very much for this advice. It stripped me of my guilt and allowed me to be present with my family which is exactly where I needed to be) She also gave me all of my options for how we could proceed with the semester. I could apply to take the semester off with no penalties, I could postpone the test for a few days, or I could take it and see how I did before I decided whether or not to proceed.
I opted to take the test as scheduled. For reasons I can’t explain, it was very important to me to proceed with school as planned. I guess I needed to restore the normalcy into my life that had been stripped away. I spent the weekend crying with Robert, laughing with my girls, and didn’t even look at my books. I woke up early Monday morning and crammed as much information into my weak and tired brain as possible and took the test. I passed (barely) and that was all I needed. I knew if I took the semester off, it not only would delay me finishing school and doing the job I know God has called me to do, but I would just sit at home alone with nothing else to occupy my mind and slip into a deep dark place. I was not going to let that happen.
School proved to be more difficult than normal this semester (understandably so). My clinical group was amazing. Word got around to all of the other students in my group and they each helped me in their own way. Sharon was incredibly understanding of my situation. She allowed me to double up a few of my clinicals so I could finish early. This was such a blessing because the further along I got in the semester and in this pregnancy, the more difficult it was for me to concentrate. Finishing clinicals early gave me extra time to study toward the end of the semester.
Test days were extremely challenging. The room would be silent, I would be sitting still, Annie would start kicking me, and then my mind would wander. The first three tests weren’t too bad because her kicks were small and gentle, but the fourth test was the worst. Annie was having a dance party (she’s half Myles after all) and I couldn’t concentrate to save my life. I ended up with the worst test score I’ve ever gotten in the entirety of nursing school. This is when God revealed to me that there is no way I can do this by myself.
Test number five I knew I needed His help. Before I began my exam I closed my eyes and prayed. I told God that I couldn’t do this without Him. I asked Him to help me to focus, guide my thoughts and to please please please calm my girl. And He did. I did better on that test than I had on any of the previous tests, and Annie didn’t move a single time. I am so thankful for the peace He gave me in that moment. Some might view that as a small thing, but for someone who is begging for a huge miracle in every waking hour, I’ve become much more aware of His smaller ones as well.
Finals were a different story. I had to stop and pray quite a few times during that test, and looking back that makes me laugh. It’s so funny to me that God used actual academic tests to teach me how to rely on Him better during life’s tests. Having to stop multiple times during my final and ask Him for help was a beautiful reminder that we need to be in constant prayer and petition with Him during all of life’s tests. We cannot do this life alone.
One of the things we have been told countless times since Annie’s diagnosis is “God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle.” Although I understand people’s intentions by telling us this, I could not disagree more. This statement seems absurd to me. I feel that life gets overwhelming and can often be more than we can handle so we must rely on Him to make it through. A verse that I’m clinging to and know to be true is this: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28) I want my baby to be whole and to live a long life on earth with me, and I’m never going to understand why some babies live and some babies die. But I do know this. My life and my testimony have been forever changed just by what we’ve gone through these last few months. I can only imagine what my testimony will be when we are on the other side of this. God has already used Annie to change my heart, and it comforts me to know that he has given her that power. I will likely never know the magnitude of the impact her tiny life is going to have in this big world.
I’m so proud to say that tonight my family and I are going to my nursing school graduation and pinning ceremony. I actually passed, and could not have done it without His help, or without the help of my amazing husband. I’m not going to tell you by what margin I passed, but I passed. (Let’s just say C = RN) I didn’t finish school in spite of Annie, I finished school FOR Annie. I know that I will be able to use this experience to be able to reach patients and family members in a way I never would have been able to before. Now I have to go find a dress that my big ole tummy can still fit into…
***I would especially like to acknowledge a few women who have helped me in more ways than they know this semester. Cathy, Ani, Lauren and Kelli, you girls are amazing. You will all make wonderful nurses, and thank you so much for being there for me, crying and laughing with me. Anita, thank you so much for closing the door to your office and letting me cry and organize my thoughts. I am so thankful that you took the time for me. And Sharon, thank you for letting me cry to you, and thank you for distracting me with your hilarious stories. I love you all, and couldn’t have done this without you.