Monday, November 22, 2010

Walking through the hospital ... in His grace

When Constance was born, I was extremely out of it. I had been awake since early that morning, I was stubborn and did not sleep during labor, and my epidural wore off right before delivering. I was also completely amazed and smitten with this new little life that I had brought into the world. I couldn't believe that I, myself, had actually given birth to a child and that she was finally here. It was an overwhelming time in my life.
I remember that I was not able to breastfeed her right away, because they said she needed to be taken to the nursery. She was born with a fever, her lungs were filled with fluid, and her oxygen levels were low. I was able to spend a little bit of time with her, but not much. They said I would be seeing her soon and that everything would be okay. I didn't really understand everything they had said, so I wasn't worried. I figured she'd have a few tests done, she'd be fine, and we would all go home together in two days.
While they left us in the room alone for those few moments, Josh and I decided we'd pray with her. I cannot really remember Josh's prayer, but he tells me now that he told God we were giving her to Him. It was that moment we became parents, we accepted full responsibility of her, and our job was to ensure she'd know Christ someday. I believe everything that has happened from that point on has been God's testing to make us stronger and give us endurance for the life she is going to live. This is the first story of many of how we needed God's grace in staying strong for our daughter.
The next morning, Constance's pediatrician came to our room and told us she wasn't coming home with us. He wanted to do tests on her for various illnesses, one of them being spinal meningitis, and he wanted to make decisions more conservatively for her health. He also had her on antibiotics that required seven days worth of dosages. While I am now grateful for this, that day I was broken and angry. I had always read about women who had to leave their babies in the hospital, but I just knew it wasn't going to be me. Once he left, I fell apart and cried. All of the other Mommies in the post-partum unit had their babies in their room and they would be bringing their babies home with them. I couldn't help but feel angry and resentful.
Josh was pretty broken as well, but I know he was trying to be strong for me. There were many moments that he'd fall apart and I would have to encourage him and vice versa. I am so glad that I have my husband, especially in times like these. We need each other.
I remember going to the nursery to see Constance before they moved her to the Intermediate Nursery, which is a step up from the NICU. She was laying in her little bassinet all snug and beautiful. My heart was so broken and I just wanted to run away with her. However, I knew I couldn't do a thing about the situation and that they had to make sure she was okay. This life was no longer about me and my own convenience, although it had always been before she came. It was about her and making sure she was okay.
The day I got discharged was one of the worst in my life. I remember driving down Dixie Highway to get my breastpump at a medical supply store and getting lost. I thought - can't just one thing go right for us? We had a sermon preached by a friend of ours, Bro. Jaime Sicairos, which was called The Anchor Holds. & It was exactly what we needed to hear at that moment. Josh and I cried together, prayed together, and decided that we were not going to let our first days of being parents end up like this. We didn't want to have to tell Constance how horrible it was. We wanted good memories to tell her. Although we were still broken and naturally unhappy with the situation, we decided to push on and make the best of the situation.
While Constance was in the hospital, we stayed at Josh's Aunt Cindy's home. It was a few minutes closer to the hospital than our own home and it was definitely convenient. I loved staying there. It was nice to have people to talk to and to get our minds off of the situation while we were there. We were also quite spoiled! I will always be thankful for how good they were to us.
Constance ended up being in the Intermediate Nursery for 8 days. They seemed like the longest days of my life. However, walking in and seeing her was always a big treat. I remember washing my hands as fast as I possibly could, so I could get to her and hold her. I always dressed up pretty to go see her, because I wanted to be a proud Mama and I wanted to look good for her.
The nurses in this Nursery were great. They were very pro-breastfeeding, as they were happy to give her expressed breastmilk instead of formula, they set us up with a lactation consultant, and I was able to feed her from the breast whenever I wanted. They also were so nice to talk to, as if they were your friends or long lost aunts. Leaving her there with those ladies definitely made it easier, because they were all Moms who had been there before and knew what it's like to love your baby. It was also nice to have reassurance as to whether or not I was doing things right, as Josh and I were both your typical unlearned first time parents. If there was ever a place you'd want to leave your baby, Kosair would be it!
Josh and I made the best of our hospital visits. We always dressed up nicely, ate in the cafeteria like it was a date, and spent hours talking while holding our sweet girl and marveling over how beautiful she was. Those last couple of nights of her being in the hospital were so special. We always call those days some of the worst and best times of our lives.
Whatever it was that concerned C's pediatrician, it was no longer there when the test results came back. Every test came back normal. They still wanted her to do the seven days worth of antibiotics, but she was fine. She was gaining weight, they no longer had to monitor her oxygen, and she was healthy. Praise the Lord!
During this time, I also learned the important lesson that your problems are never the worst out there. We met another couple who's child was in the NICU with very severe heart complications. This poor baby had already survived several surgeries and was waiting for a new heart. They also told us about a woman who was told her baby wasn't going to make it, but she refused to listen. That could have easily been us. I felt horrible and selfish for being so angry the day I was told she had to stay. I can't imagine the pain these parents go through every day. & I think about them often.
I don't know where it all turned around or how I got through all of that, but I did. I prayed for God to give me grace and to get me through this situation, because I knew that Constance did have to stay in the hospital. One thing that a lot of people do not understand about God is that He is not a magic pill that makes all of our problems go away. He is our strength to withstand those trials and problems. I hated leaving Constance in that hospital, but God gave me grace. He also gave me peace. He gave me that peace that passes all understanding. From seeing how I was those first couple of days, being a basket case and totally angry for how things were turning out, to actually having fun --- I know that wasn't my doing. & I am so thankful that He carried me all of the way.
I am also thankful to my husband. I never have to go through things alone, because he is there with me. He pushes me and I push him. We are each other's motivation. Through the birth of our daughter and our first experiences with her, I have fallen even more in love with him than I ever have been.
I was walking through those hospital hallways in God's grace, that's for sure.

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Thanks for reading my post! & God bless! :)