Peaks & Valleys

JOSH BARTOLAZZI


In life, everyone has ups and downs. For some, these can be a series of ant hills; for others, they can be great peaks and valleys. None should be discounted, as we know everyone grieves each situation differently.

A couple of years ago, my family was feeling the effects of a joyous season when my sister, who had struggled mightily with infertility, had announced she was pregnant with twin boys.  

On May 20th, 2017, at nearly 25 weeks gestation, my sister was admitted to the hospital for pre-term labor. Having really never gone through anything overly traumatic nor having had my own child, I did not allow myself to get too worked up over it. Even the next morning, the doctor eased the nerves of everyone. She told us that we were going to meet my nephews sooner than we wanted, but that the survival rate of babies born at 25 weeks was approximately 80%. I kept telling myself that everything would be okay. But as time went on and new tests were being done, my family and I were all restless. Restlessness became helplessness. “Present and out of the way” became my mantra. What else could I do but pray? But, it was new(ish) to me. How do I do pray? Did God really want to listen since I was only coming to him, for the first time in a long time, in a time of need?  

The doctors were really good. By the second evening, May 21st, they were able to slow her contractions to almost a halt. It appeared that prayers were being “answered,” so Sahra and I left the hospital and came home to Peoria. Seemingly as soon as we walked in our door, we got the call that they were delivering the babies. It wasn’t time. She was just 25 weeks to the day.

I talked to my parents later that night and they were calm. They mentioned there was no “scary rush” when the twins were born and everyone was at peace. The next day, Sahra and I went back to the hospital and were able to meet Emmett and Henry. Although they were connected to every machine imaginable, they both seemed okay. I felt okay because nothing bad ever happened to my family (so we believed) and there was an 80% survival rating. My sister was in good spirits, just very sore and sad that she was unable to hold the boys.

May 25th, 2017, just before my sister and brother-in-law were to be discharged from the hospital, the doctor told them to wait, that one of the boys had taken a turn for the worse. Within hours, my sister held her son, Henry, for the first and last time, before he took his last breaths.

By then, we were on a free fall down one of our valleys of faith. What did my sister do to deserve this? Again, I’m just trying to be present. By now, what can I do?  If I could lean into God at this time, then He would lend His hand to my sister, as told in 2 Corinthians 1:4 (“…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”)

The whole time lapse still seems surreal. My faith was shaken. Why do bad things happen to good people? But as I sit and reflect on it, I can tell how my faith has grown and what God had in store for Emmett. Hebrews 11:1 says, “…faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”


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Josh has been attending Imago for the last 4 years with his wife, Sahra. They are the proud parents of three dogs, Dulce, Charlotte, and Maverick. They are also expecting their first child this June. In his free time, Josh enjoys playing golf and watching Cubs baseball.



Christina Hite