As the cake bakes and the ice cream gets ready to be devoured, Kim and I can’t help but remember the day that God blessed us with our second son. Everyone has a few days in their life that, for various reasons, stand out above the rest. Those days may even be remembered with vivid detail until death comes. Well, that day (exactly 10 years ago today) is one of ours. Here’s the story:

Kim woke me up at about 1:30 in the morning. For me, 1:30 only comes one time a day and it takes place just past lunch time. However, the announcement of Zach’s arrival had come at the same time two years earlier and so I came to realize that an inconvenient pattern was beginning to develop. But, hey, this was the day that my second son was to be born and so I jumped out of bed and got moving.

Our 2-year-old Zach was sound asleep in his room down the hall but that wasn’t a problem. We had worked out a plan if Sean’s arrival came during the night. However, it didn’t quite turn out as we had planned.

We had previously talked with my sister and brother-in-law who lived about a mile away. Should Sean decide to come at night, one of them would come over to our house and stay with Zach while we went to the hospital. I picked up the phone and dialed the phone number a few times but no avail. They were sound asleep. But it was 1:30am, after all. Ordinarily, I’d be sleeping soundly, too.

I raced out the door to exercise “plan B.” I arrived at their home a few minutes later and began to have second thoughts about ringing their door bell. They had two young girls that where asleep inside that house. If I rang the doorbell, I would probably wake up my nieces while my son lay asleep at home. That didn’t seem fair. So I went to “plan C.”

I brainstormed and came up with a stupid idea. I found a couple of empty coke bottles in my car and started throwing them at my sister’s upstairs window. The first one missed. I threw a second one just as the front of the house lit up. It wasn’t coming from the front porch. It was coming from a car that had  pulled up behind me. It was a state trooper.

Now, if you were that state trooper and you saw someone throwing coke bottles at the second story window of a residence at 2 in the morning, what would you think? Naturally, he wanted to know what I was doing. He may have been reaching for a breathalyzer.

After a crazy explanation, he volunteered to ring the doorbell for me but I decided that I would go to “plan D.” I went back home and Kim called some other friends of ours who took a sleeping Zach from us as we headed to the hospital.

We ended up at a training hospital because Kim’s regularly OBGYN was out of town hunting moose. That created a little bit of anxiety for Kim until she heard the last name of the doctor who would deliver our second son, Dr. Zachman. In fact, Zach’s nickname around our house at that time was “Zach man.” We found comfort in knowing that God was working out the details.

Kim was prepped for the c-section (she had previously had an emergency c-section and was encouraged to have another one because of potential risks). The painkiller was administered and I was ushered to her side. The surgery began.

Because of the previous c-section, there was a lot of scar tissue which made the procedure take longer … definitely longer than the anesthetist had allowed for. The anesthetist, as I understood it, was doing his residency while his mentor was stepping in and out of the surgery room.

After what seemed like an hour, Sean was born. I had the privilege of taking him in my arms and following a nurse out of the surgery room, down a hallway and into the room where he would get cleaned up, have a few tests run, get his foot print on his certificate of birth, etc.

However, my heart wasn’t in it. I loved my new son but wanted, in fact felt compelled to get back to the surgery room. Kim had been complaining of pain much more so than during Zach’s birth. As I retook my place beside her, the doctors were still doing a lot of work on her. Cleaning, stitches, etc.

That’s when the nightmare happened. She had started complaining much earlier that she could feel her feet. That wasn’t good because the epidural was supposed to block all feeling below the chest. She was also saying that she could feel them working on her abdomen. The anesthetist in training assured her that it was just pressure. He gently encouraged her to just relax and everything would be fine.

Soon, Kim said that she could feel her lower legs and eventually her upper legs. She began to cry and moan from the pain she said that she was experiencing as the doctors continued to work.

Finally, as the doctor’s neared the end of the surgery and began to do some pushing, Kim screamed and almost jumped off the table. One of the doctor’s whispered below her breath, “What’s going on?!”

As Kim’s cries and obvious signs of pain could no longer be denied, I’ll never forget the look one of the doctors gave me. She had a mask and hat that covered everything but her eyes. As she looked at me, there was horror in her eyes. We both knew that the epidural had been allowed to run out. The anesthetist in training had failed to allow for the extra time the c-section would take because of scar tissue left from the previous surgery.

I was immediately ushered away from Kim’s side to a room across the hall where I was left alone. Doctors and nurses were barging in and out of the surgery room doors. As those doors flew open, I was able to watch in horror as Kim continued to cry out. I felt utterly helpless and scared.

The next ten minutes seemed like an eternity but the newly administered sedation took affect and Kim’s surgery was completed.

About 30 minutes later, Kim was back in the post-op room. They brought Sean, our new pride and joy into the room. He was bundled tightly in a blanket and the pride I felt mimicked what I had experienced 2 years earlier at the birth of my first son. As Sean was placed in Kim’s arms, with all of the pain and trauma she had just experienced, she still had “that” look … the look a new mother has for her child.

As I think back on that day, I cannot help but reflect on the significance of the name we gave our second son. We gave him the name “Sean” because it means “God is gracious.” Even as we went through the ordeal of that day, we realized that God, in His grace, had entrusted us with a healthy son and Kim had no lasting problems from the ordeal.

But we were also reminded that God’s grace does not guarantee that life will always go well. If life was easy, why would we need God’s grace, right? But it is in those time of trial that God’s grace shows up in all of its beauty.

We continue to enjoy God’s gracious gift that He gave to us that memorable day ten years ago. We also look forward to how God will continue to shine His grace upon us and Sean as he grows into the godly man God is preparing him to be.