At the ripe age of 22, just married a little over six months I sent my new husband, Scotty, to Iraq to serve as an Infantry Platoon Leader in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The first couple months I made it through by telling myself “Scotty will be fine. What are the chances that he would be killed, or severely injured? There is no injury that would be too bad, plus our chances are so slim, I believe God is protecting him and won’t allow something bad to happen to us, after all, we just got married! He will be fine.” I said this mantra to myself daily during those first couple months of deployment.
Until I received a phone call on April 6th, 2005.
This phone call was from Scotty’s Commander telling me a suicide car bomb had blown up and blown through Scotty’s eyes. He said he was hurt very badly and that the doctors were not even sure he would survive. This phone call shattered everything I believed in about Scotty’s protection, I felt so naive and stupid for lying to myself for so long. I felt that God had abandoned me.
Fast forward a very difficult two years later, and there I was, 24 years-old living on the other side of the United States from my family, with my blind husband, pregnant with our first child. I was new to life growing inside of me and new to life with a blind husband. I lived every day convinced that nothing good could happen to me. I was beaten down, raw and tired.
I remember my Mom telling me that your first child’s birth will be one of the best days of your life, “yeah right” I thought. How could I ever have another “best day of my life”?
Scotty’s injury had ruined all hope of any good days, all I could see from my life over the last two years was hardship and hopelessness. I thought we were so stupid to be bringing life into this world when we didn’t even know how we would get to the hospital after the contractions started. How dumb of me, how dumb of us. I would say to myself, “Tiffany, you can hardly handle life as it is now, how are you going to handle life with a new child?” My real fear was history repeating itself. I worried that there would be something desperately wrong with my baby, or something would go wrong like it had before.
But I could not stop it. On May 11, 2007 I began having contractions, way earlier than my May 28th due date, which meant no one in our family was ready to fly out or visit and help. It was happening and there was nothing I could do about it.
Scotty was nervous, we both were nervous, we knew we were embarking on something big, but we were not sure what it would be like, sorrow, joy, or a mix of both? One thing we knew for certain was that we could use a little joy in our life.
The first experience of joy came in the form of a large Air-Force doctor whom I had never met. He came into our room and knowing our circumstance began to prep Scotty for the delivery of his child. He helped him put a gown and gloves on and pulled up a stool for Scotty right next to his. After 20 minutes of pushing and me thinking I was going die, out came our little black haired 6 lb boy with an umbilical cord wrapped around him, including his neck. It was loose enough to fit a finger under it and the doctor guided Scotty’s hand to unwrap our new baby from his cord. It was in that moment I realized that Scotty’s blindness did not matter, he was still able to save and protect our baby with his own hands. Scotty guided his hand down to reveal that we had just had a boy! Then Scotty literally breathed in our little boy with such joy, with such life and with such purpose, and as he held him so tightly, I saw true happiness on his face for the first time since I could remember.
As I watched all of this take place I saw that joy had just been uncovered again for Scotty, and for me. I thought back to what my mom had said, and with tears streaming down my face, I looked up at Scotty, though he could not see me, and I said “We did this! We created life!”
In that moment I learned not to believe everything you think. Grady brought us so much joy. Buried very deep down inside of me was actual joy. Joy in life, joy in birth and even joy in Scotty’s blindness, it erased the ugly fear and lies. I did not believe this until my sweet Grady was born.