Tuesday, February 7, 2012

NICU Babies

I have a vivid recollection of the NICU.  I remember an early Monday morning, after the babies were born late Friday afternoon, being wheeled up to see them.  I was escorted out of their room by their NICU nurse, an angel named Melissa, because they were going to put baby boy's feeding tube in for the first time.  (The previous two days he'd been solely on IVs.)  She told me I could come back in after they were done.  So I sat, 50 yards away, in my wheelchair and began to hear alarms ringing.  Then a rush of staff flooded into our babies' room (the NICU was under remodel so we, blessedly, had a private NICU room for just our three).  I had no idea what was going on, and I can remember sitting there and just sobbing because I didn't know what was happening.  I found out later they almost lost him.  That it was the kind of emergency they normally see in NICU Level 3, but not in NICU Level 2.  That we just happened to have a NICU Level 3 nurse as our primary care nurse in Level 2 who knew, along with God's great healing hand, just what to do. 

Two weeks later, as the babies were improving, I remember Bray's and my phones ringing at midnight with dark news and requests for a spinal tap on baby girl.  I had been staying with the babies during the day but then would sleep at home at night.  Baby girl hadn't been herself that day, and I had told our amazing (and intuitive) neonatologist Dr. Fin about it.  As a result, she'd run a battery of test and our little one had tested positive for an infection.  We were told before we delivered that the leading cause of death in the NICU was infection.  We had to give permission to allow them to perform a spinal tap to rule out some things and determine how to treat her.  I hadn't even nursed her yet. 

I remember all the tubes and wires.  I remember completely isolating myself from everyone but Bray because no one could possibly understand what I was going through but him.  I remember melting down the first night I came home, without them in their nursery, because I couldn't find the book that I'd been reading to them in utero that I wanted to finish in the NICU.  I remember holding my breath.  I remember holding their tiny bare skinned bodies against my chest so they would know me and bond with me despite my nights away.  I remember loving them yet being terrified.  I remember all the prayers that went up from corners I didn't even know existed in the world.

I share this tonight because I heard a story today from a woman sitting with her sister over her four week old baby in the NICU.  Praying that all the things that caused him to be in that place would heal.  If you are sitting with your child in the NICU, I'd love to pray for you and your precious one or ones.  If you are visiting a hospital to bring lunch or companionship to your family or friend who is playing the NICU waiting game, I'd love to pray with you for them.  It doesn't matter if it's one baby or six.  It doesn't matter if it's one day or one hundred.  I really do understand what you or your loved one is going through, and I would love the opportunity to stand with you in prayer.  Or if you're too scared, or unfamiliar, to pray on your own I would be happy to pray on your behalf.  If you'd like me to pray with you, or listen, just leave the parents (or your) and child/children's names so I can wake up in the morning and remember you. 

This was my prayer in the NICU, I hope it brings you comfort today: 
Ephesians 3 - For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory...

(From top to bottom, our NICU: the eldest the day he was born, the baby boy before he got his feeding tube, the baby girl the day after her spinal tap, mommy with little girl, daddy with the eldest, and us with the babies our first day in the NICU.)

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