I am trying to get my previous writings from different places all together on the blog so here is the second of three parts sharing Evan’s story of birth and the NICU. God used that time in such a profound way in my heart and life, in my marriage, in motherhood. I hope that as you read this story that your heart is touched and your faith renewed in the God of grace and miracles.
That sleep and rest was such a gift from God. Those drugs, such a blessing. That first day was fairly pain free because I wasn’t coherent enough to realize what was happening, and I think that was God’s grace.
I am naturally a planner. I like to plan for the worst and pray for the best, but my optimistic tendencies never really plan for the worst and I end up disappointed, a lot.
In my “planning for the worst” I tried the best I could to come to terms with the fact that my baby might not live. So to wake up on January 14th to the fact that he had made it was amazing. And then just an hour later to get a visit from the director of the NICU explaining that there were more complications and with that, quite a few unknowns, it was devastating. I hadn’t planned for the NICU.
There seemed to be internal bleeding but they couldn’t pin point where it was coming from. He was stable, but it might be a while until we see changes, and answers. It’s like she was preparing us for the worst and hoping for the best. He needed another blood and platelet transfusion.
The day before I had made a choice that me and God would be ok, nothing would change between us, even if Evan died, I would trust that God was enough for me. But would I be ok now? In the unknown, in the not sure if and how he will recover? Could I keep trusting and keep believing? This one was way harder.
The reason I always wanted the c section is because it’s fairly predictable. There’s a start, a baby, and an end. Clean up, sew up and recover. Natural birth sounded so messy and terrifying. Honestly I had planned for drugs as soon as they were available and then to give up if at any point the pain or discomfort or fear made me want to shout rude things to Gunnar.
There is nothing predictable about a baby in the NICU to a first time parent. I already had no idea how to be a parent and now he was sick and I didn’t even know if he was going to live. Tears, so many tears.
I appreciated the visitors but it’s hard to have a good, solid cry when you are interrupted so many times and are trying to explain things that make no sense to begin with.
We prayed a lot. That’s all we could do. We physically could do nothing else, heck, I still had a catheter and couldn’t even get out of bed! We prayed for healing and for knowledge, wisdom and discernment for the doctors, nurses and technicians treating Evan. We prayed that he would not only live but fully recover. We prayed for faith and hope to believe that God was good no matter the outcome. We prayed that many would come to know God and his love and grace through Evan’s life. We prayed fervently and faithfully, knowing full well we had no other options.
The one bright spot was that his lungs were already doing better and they took off the cpap.
Once the catheter was removed and I met the pee quota I was allowed to get in wheel chair and go meet him. As we got to the door of the NICU I could hear crying. It was sad, that poor baby. Gunn knocked. The door opened a minute later, still a lot of crying, and they informed us that he was having an ultra sound and would have to come back in 20 minutes.
I’ve never felt bad or sad about not seeing Evan on that first day. He was well taken care of and I was in no shape to see a baby, I literally could not stay awake, much less hold one. But that first meeting, or lack of, that was hard. I didn’t even see him, just heard him and my heart broke.
I cried all the way back up to the room and the whole time we waited. Nobody warned me about the rush of post-partum hormones! Well, they probably did I just didn’t realize the intensity of them and the emotion they elicit.
Gunn is a great husband. He is the most encouraging and kind man. He is so gentle with me. And with his soft voice and reassuring hug he prayed for me and thanked God for Evan and for the fact that he was crying. The day before he wasn’t crying. Apparently when you lose that much blood you don’t have the energy to cry. Those two blood and platelet transfusions must have already been helping if he could cry for a sustained time!
What a beautiful perspective change. I was so sad for my baby and that we were missing out on each other and Gunn was just thankful he was crying.
This is why we need each other, husbands and wives, family, friends, fellow humans – to speak the truth the other needs when they can’t see it themselves.
I got myself together and we headed back down.
We went in, set the timer and washed from the elbow down for two minutes, then I went and met my baby. He was in an open bed not an isolet, I took that as a good sign. He was sleeping. He had an IV in his hand with a splint to keep him from bending it and monitors on his chest and tummy and a cuff around his ankle. They told me I could touch him. I laid my hand on his back and rubbed it side to side a little. I’m sure she was just trying to be helpful so the nurse told me to not rub, just lay my hand there. That the firm pressure is more comforting. I felt like such a failure! I didn’t know how to do this. I just met him and already I’m doing it wrong. Gosh what a terrible mother! I was embarrassed and couldn’t keep the tears in much longer so we headed up a couple minutes later. And with that a seed of insecurity planted, that I wouldn’t realize until years later when it was a huge ugly weed in my heart. But that’s a story for another time.
This sucked! All of it. It was all terrible and I was a terrible mother. And know what else was terrible? Everything!
The doctors and nurses that came in what felt like every 10 minutes to check my incision or teach me how to pump. What is more humiliating than being naked and exposed, doing it over and over and over again and then being hooked to a machine like a cow! We were on day two and motherhood was pretty much the worst thing ever, and I sucked at it. Awesome!
Thank God for grace and mercy and for love. The love and comfort of my husband, the love and care of my mother, the love and support of my dad and siblings, the love and genersosity of my in-laws, the love and encouragement of my family, friends and even acquaintances who prayed for us, sent us texts and cards and messages and voice mails. They all were a tangible expression of God’s care and provision.
I especially appreciated one lactation nurse who came back two minutes after we had finished another pumping session and said, “Can I pray for you? My husband and I had a NICU baby 17 years ago and I know how hard and scary this can be. I can tell you know God, so can I pray with you?” And pray we did as tears streamed down my face. I wished my milk ducts worked that well.
It was all these little things that pulled me out of the depths of despair and reminded me that I could trust and hope in the very same God who just yesterday had filled me with a peace that was beyond anything I had ever experienced.
How quickly we forget. How easy it is to lose faith and lose hope.
It reminds me of Peter walking on water and then sinking as he looked around and was overcome with fear and I think, silly Peter, Jesus is right there, why are you such a coward? You’re fine, don’t be such a doubter!
That was me. Just 24 hours earlier I saw miracle after miracle.
Waking up at 7 am instead of 9 or 10 like every other day of my maternity leave.
The quick wisdom to not shower and not eat the bagel. It may not seem like a miracle but me having those thoughts from the Holy Spirit and then not eating, it was huge.
As little traffic as we had on the 91 freeway. If you’re not familiar with the area then I don’t think you truly appreciate the miracle, but it definitely was one. (Think everything you’ve ever imagined about LA traffic, and then add more. That is the hell known as the 91).
The fact that I had pre-registered. The fact that I was so compliant about a c section. These all saved seconds and minutes that saved Evan’s life! It was no accident. My God was there all along, way before any of it started he was making a way!
How could I forget so quickly?!?! How could I discount it all just 24 hours later?
I love that God is gracious and kind. I love that he doesn’t despise my weakness. My weak faith. Instead he gives more grace and more faith and more love than I can ever imagine.
And we needed it, because this was just the beginning of what would be a season of new and unknown and uncomfortable and what felt like a whole lot of failure.
But we had God and we had each other, and for another day, it was enough.