It was the fall of 2016, in Denmark, a country that became our adoptive motherland more than 15 years ago. We have reached these lands through the mobility program for European students, Socrates Erasmus, which allowed us to complete university studies. We have gone through many trials, but with great patience and patience, it has been ordained by the good God that my husband should practice as an assistant at a caring house for the elders, and I teach high school in Haslev.
Our life was taking place with the usual speed. We were in the middle of many projects and plans that had to be done. In the middle of the family, Ana (6 years old) went to the kindergarten group and was very pleased with the things they were doing and learning every day. Our boy, Mihai jr. (18 years old), was in the last year of high school and studying for the baccalaureate.
What I remember very clearly from that almost frenetic period of our lives is, in addition to the joy of every day, the innocent joy of Anna that was molding us and gave us the power to maintain the tempo! In June I had just finished teaching and I was motivating my students to embrace the universe of mathematics and physics. I was preparing a lot, but the efforts were rewarded, and it seemed as if fatigue did not matter when we saw the progress of the students.
I really wanted to have another child, and Ana did not care to ask, “Mama, when am I to become a big sister?” And I answered gently, “You will never be a sister,” trying to silence with the voice of reason, that longing of the heart that did not stop whispering me from the depths. Ana was born prematurely, and the pregnancy was very difficult, and after Ana we lost a pregnancy, a very painful experience that made us value what God gave us, two wonderful children, we somehow resigned the thought that we would have any more children.
And suddenly I discovered I was pregnant! It seems like the world stopped for a moment! Together with Mihai, my husband, we were looking at the two pink lines of the pregnancy test and we were screaming! I had not planned this task, but we did not even think of hindering her appearance, thinking that anyway, at our age, it’s almost impossible to get a baby. It’s true that I got a little panic because I realized I had not taken vitamins and folic acid, that vitamin complex recommended for those who planned pregnancy.
But I did not have any doubt about keeping the task, and as God had planned to have a few days off, we fled to the Romanian monastery at Isenvad, to ask for the blessing of His Grace Bishop Macarie of Northern Europe.
It was even the patronage of the monastery and hearing the news, His Grace was rejoiced. By sharing my fears of the power of carrying the task to the end, we prayed together before the icon of the Virgin Mary, and then we received a blessing, accompanied by the words: “This child is a great blessing, and God will help you carry this task. But if needed, work less and take sick leave. And receive the Eucharist as often as you can.”
We have chosen not to tell anyone about pregnancy until we have passed the first 4-5 months. But the task gave me wings, as though I were floating, and as if evil states turned into a blessing. I just wanted to get the moment to embrace the little baby I was wearing in my womb. It was a time of exuberance, hope, but also fear, much afraid that I would lose the pregnancy again. Our parish Father always encouraged us to entrust this fear into God’s hands. Easy to say and hard to do, but I did not stop saying Jesus’ prayer when I had a moment’s respite.
When I passed the 4-month threshold, I told Ana that she would become her older sister in the summer. I can not describe her joy in words, embrace my belly, draw on it, talk to the “baby” inside.
Four months later, I performed the first in-depth scan. We enjoyed enormously for this moment, because at last we could see the heart beat and contemplate the wonder of the “baking” of a small being, our little child. And then we found out we were expecting a little girl and Ana said that her sister “must” be called Emma. And so it remained. We also added the name “Theodora” (the gift of God – in Greek) as a sign of gratitude for this unspeakable gift offered by God.
The infinite joy of that day was, however, overshadowed by the attitude of the hospital staff, with the insistence that they wondered if I was sure I wanted to keep the task. They did not stop telling us about the risks, the high probability that the baby would suffer from Down syndrome, and so on. I replied categorically, to their astonishment: “No matter how this child is born, we shall keep it.”
When they saw our passion, they programmed me for many scans, blood tests, and so on, telling me I’m a rarity, because I chose to keep a pregnancy at 47, already having two cesarean operations. I told them I would come across all the controls, but I refused the amniotic fluid test that could have revealed DNA abnormalities and I was obviously scheduled to give birth by caesarean section. In December 2016 I started to have sharp pains in around the inguinal muscles and the abdomen, especially after a day of work at school, where I taught 6 to 7 hours and ran around the lab. It all culminated in January 2017, when the pains intensified that the family doctor referred to me at the hospital and then decided that I had to stay on medical leave and go to physiotherapeutic treatment. And so I did. What a blessing and relief! How much blessing and peace I felt was flowing over us. I was at home with my family, I was able to indulge in good food, while I felt Emma moving in the womb. The fellow laborers were polite but shocked that I chose to keep the task. They never opened the subject, but I read the puzzled expression on their faces. When the signs were more than visible, I chose to tell the others about the task. Some looked at us with amazement and admiration, some skeptical, and some even with a kind of compassion, but nothing matters anymore.
When we were seven months old, our joy was indescribable because I felt I had gone over another obstacle. With the permission of the Divine Providence, at that moment our Emma could survive a spontaneous birth. Together, counseling with our confessor priest and receiving often the Holy Communion, grafted with some intensity of faith and neighborly prayers in despair, gave me strength and certainty that I would carry the task to the end. But I can not hide that the frequent controls and the positive response of the doctors, along with Emma’s ongoing efforts contributed to it.
The doctors chose caesarean delivery to be held on May 29th. It was a day on Monday, and on the Sunday before, at the Divine Liturgy in our Romanian parish, I had confessed and received the Eucharist, and I must admit it was the first time that I walked peacefully, with serenity and a feeling of unearthly peace to the hospital. I was ready for anything, but the happiness that I would finally embraced Emma made me almost impatient.
In the morning we took our Ana to the kindergarten and told her that in the afternoon she would be able to embrace her sister. And we went to the hospital. I had requested the blessing of my spiritual father, who urged me to pray as follows: ” Lord, in Thy hands, I lay my struggles.” But as I did not have my glasses with me I read “Lord, in Thy hands I lay my the beatings (of my heart),” I added. I arrived at the hospital at 9 o’clock and started preparing to enter the surgery room.
Mihai, my husband, was standing next to me and holding my hand. I received the anesthesia and I only remember that at some point I could not breathe, but the anesthetist doctor kept telling me it was okay, it took a few moments and then I came back. What I remember is just that terrible fear that I do not have any more air! In the last effort I raised my head and screamed to the nurses that I could not breathe. I put my head down again. And the only thing I remember is that I was trying hard to remember that prayer. I managed to say in my mind, “Lord, in Thy hand I lay my heart’s beatings.” Then everything turned black.
The next thing I remember is that the nurse asked me how I feel, and I answered, “now I feel well.” I looked instinctively towards my husband, who stood to my left and seeing not only the pallor but also the despondency on his face, I realized that I had just passed through an experience at the limit of death. I asked him, “Are you okay?” He nodded, but he could not speak and I did not understand why he was so shocked. I could not understand because I had lost my consciousness. Before taking him out of the operating room, Mihai was able to see how the medical team tried to restore my vital signs in an indescribable agitation. Luckily, they had stabilized me in a few minutes, and recalled him to the operating room.
They had just done a caesarean and I could hear a few baby cries . The nurses urged Mihai to come see Emma, but it was hard for him to get away from me. Then he stood up and turned his knees trembling to the left of the salon, where the neonatal team was taking Emma. After a few minutes he whispered, “She is gorgeous!” It seemed he caught a little color on his face, and his joy was visible. In my subconscious the Savior’s words echoed: “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world (John 16:21).”
And the magic moment followed, a long awaited time for which I prayed to the good God: to embrace the miracle given to us by Him! The nurse put Emma on my chest – a moment that can not be described in words, and the tears did not stop to flow on my cheeks, and while the little girl searched my chest, I tried to embrace her with one hand, because the other hand was attached to the monitors. My recovery after the caesarean section was longer than the first two cesareans, but our baby grows visibly more and more each day, eats and sleeps and develops wonderfully, filling our life with joy and good will. Now, when I think at all that happened with my pregnancy and especially with the birth of Emma, I realize how blessed we are and how great the power of God is!