The flowering crown of thorns that Father Barnabas Stephan gave us on Good Friday lives more beautifully than a rose in our family, and blooms day by day. The child at that time believed lost is well, and she becomes larger and stronger day by day.
On February 4, 1996, I was admitted to hospital with my cervix dilated in spite of a normal pregnancy. I was in the 21st week of pregnancy then, and (due to an infection) a surgical procedure to close the cervix could not be performed. The doctors explained to us on Good Friday that the baby could not be saved, they could not prevent a late miscarriage.
It was a very sad message for us, because we were looking forward to this wanted child--it meant so much to us. At the same time, it was terrible to be unable to do any thing for this baby, who was probably healthy. If it would be delivered at this point of pregnancy, it would not survive. In our despair we asked the hospital chaplain, Father Barnabas, for advice and comfort. How could we live with this diagnosis--and the waiting that was connected with it? It would be our second miscarriage: Why would this second child be taken from us as well?
Father Barnabas brought us a flowering crown of thorns. At first, we were seeing the thorns only. We asked for information about baptism and burial of the baby, and advice for those who would ask why such a thing was happening to us. We wanted to know how we could prepare the baby for death in a religious sense. Father Barnabas gave us hope--pointing out that the child was still well. He tried to direct our attention to the roses that flourished so magnificently. We didn't dare to believe--but continued in a hope encouraged by our baby's kicking and lively movements, and we tried to dedicate as much time as possible to the child. We tried to dedicate the child to God, commending it to Him each day in prayer, patiently coming together for
services in the chapel. However, I was under a strict regimen of bed-rest that even required to attend the services in the hospital chapel in bed.
When we learned that the child was a girl, we gave her the name Nadja--hope.
On a Wednesday, the doctors began to induce labour. They could not see an other possibility but treating the vaginal infection with strong antibiotics. I was instructed to get up out of bed again, at least for washing and the toilet. It was unbelievably painful to wait constantly for
a miscarriage, for which the labour ward was already prepared. Hours in despair passed, during which Father Barnabas pointed out the flowers in the crown of thorns again and again. He gave us the anointing of the sick in a modified form--since I was healthy but the child continued to be in danger to die. It was a painful yet marvellous experience by which we learned to understand the words "Thy will be done."
But nothing happened and since the medical staff could not understand why I did not go into labour we hoped for the baby's survival. I was on bed-rest again and my husband spent all day
in hospital. Our thoughts were with the child only and we prayed for a miracle. The whole family, many friends and acquaintances, nurses and other patients in the hospital prayed for us as well. An unbelievable solidarity developed, which helped us during this hard time of anxiety and hope.
Then the miracle happened: the infection cleared, and after six long weeks the amniotic sac slipped slowly back into the uterus, the dilated cervix closed, and the child continued to grow magnificently. From the 26th week onwards the doctors gave me medicine to mature the lungs of the child.
In the 31st week of pregnancy--nine and a half weeks after the first disheartening diagnosis--I started to go into labour again, and Nadja was delivered by Caesarean Section on a Sunday.
She is a beautiful tiny girl, breathing spontaneously from birth and developing very well. She spent the first six and a half weeks in the paediatric department, but now she is at home and needs breast-feeding only. She is a precious and completely satisfied child. It is a miracle to see our tiny Nadja--this small and beautiful rose whose painful thorns we have almost forgotten.
Written by a female patient of the Medical Mission Hospital in Würzburg, Germany.