Happy Belated Birthday Canada
By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
While many adorned themselves in red and white yesterday, perhaps wolfed down some burgers and dogs off the barbeque, and craned their necks to the sky in anticipation of well orchestrated fireworks in celebration of Canada’s 145th birthday, I, too, was busy preparing a festive party for my son who had grown into a fine, young man of eight!
Eight years ago, while mobs of people were gathered on lawn chairs, at picnic tables, and the hoods of their cars while fireworks exploded in the sky, I was deep in labour, crying out to God for the survival of my unborn child.
I was in 25 weeks gestation, which is equivalent to six months pregnant, watching the movie, 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore on DVD, and wolfing down a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken when an excruciating pain sent me hunched over to the floor.
I could easily blame Adam Sandler’s nasal voice, the predictable outcome of yet another romantic comedy, or the salty grease of KFC as the culprits of my early labour, but there was no time—the baby was on its way.
And while the neonatalogists went so far as to prepare my husband and I for the potential outcome, we were given a choice: “terminate the pregnancy” since it was in most likelihood that the “baby would not survive” and “should the baby survive, it will most likely have severe physical and mental disabilities.”
I hesitated, but my husband’s faith was strong. We stood firm in our belief that the life and care of our child was in God’s hands and that it was not up to us to interfere by choosing to kill our child even before he or she had a chance at life simply because of our fear of difficulty or even death. I had already carried for six months and in all things, there is a purpose. I wasn’t by any means going to purposely end my child’s life because of fear. This baby was our unborn child and regardless of the outcome, we had decided to surrender all of our faith and trust in God to do His will. Instead, we decided to intervene and intercede through prayer to God to fight on our and our baby’s behalf—for life.
And so, while many marvelled at the fireworks in the sky in celebration of our country, Canada, the explosion of my own labour and desperation for life to continue rumbled on. My husband prayed out loud over me.
As soon as the baby was born the doctors took the it into another room. I was left alone in tears and silence, exhausted, relieved, yet anxious to hear the verdict: life or death…
The doctors and nurses waited with me. Though we didn’t speak of it, the stench of fear mingled with hope lay heavy under the hospital light.
My husband eventually came back into the room and announced, “He’s alright!”
And I exhaled a breath of gratefulness, joy, and relief, thanking God for His faithfulness and compassion with my tears and from my lips. We were given a son.
The nurse asked me, “What would you like to name him?”
I answered with affirmation, “Michael Isaac. His name will be Michael Isaac,” and she squeezed my hand.
Michael means “Who is like the Lord?” (mi-who, ke-as or like, El-deity), a rhetorical question that really implies that no one is like God. We had chosen the name Michael is in honour of God’s warrior and victorious spirit and as a symbol of our humility before Him.
In the New Testament Michael is also the archangel that leads God’s armies against Satan’s forces in the Book of Revelation, where during the war in heaven, he defeats Satan. What better name could we give our son?
Michael Isaac was born a mere 1 lb. 12 oz and battled against the odds of illness and death everyday for the first three months to four years of his life. We had been in and out of hospital for the majority of his toddler years, battling always against the sickness that would try to overcome his immature lungs, his lack of immunity. Doctors marvelled at him with scientific curiosity, pity, and awe. Other parents and members in our families secretly thanked their “lucky stars” that he was not their son.
But, God and our faith in Him persevered. Suffering can only lead you to two choices: defeat or resignation to defeat—or a fervour in faith to continue believing and hoping for the best. As Christians, my husband and I chose the latter and surrendered our memory to the origins of our son’s name. And God did the rest.
Yesterday, Michael turned eight and is healthy and strong.
So, for us, our celebration of Canada Day is much more than wearing the colours of our country’s flag or watching fireworks in the sky. It’s an annual rejoicing of God’s compassion and faithfulness in answer to our trust and submission to His will in all things as found in our testimony of our son’s life.
(Which is why, I couldn’t post anything at all yesterday! The festivities, however small and intimate, had in its own way, a set of continual fireworks.)
It goes without saying, “Happy belated birthday Canada! Happy belated 8th birthday, Michael!”—and let the fireworks continue on.
How did you celebrate Canada Day yesterday?