Wow. I wasn’t sure where to start with an update, so I began by reading through previous entries and your sweet comments. Friends, I cannot begin to describe in words what your encouragement has meant to me. I have so much in my head and heart that I want to put into words here. After all, you’ve been such a part of our journey and our ability to keep putting one foot in front of another, so the least I can do is continue to keep you posted. But putting it all into words is an incredibly daunting task, and my prayer is that God uses whatever words I manage to get out on ‘paper’ for His glory.
Looking back on Struthers’ 105-day (15-week) journey through the NICU and my 27-weeks of pregnancy prior to that, I’m still in disbelief over it all. Many of you know that Eli and I are both the very definition of eternal optimists (swimming friends, think “No Complaining Day” at camp), and I’m realizing now that kept us both from comprehending the gravity of what we were going through. And maybe that’s good, but it’s kind of all hit over the last few weeks as I watch Struthers grow way too fast! The easiest way to describe the inner turmoil (and perhaps allow me some good ol’ journaling therapy) is to provide you with a picture of contrast that has consumed our lives for very nearly a year.
There’s the joy of finding out we were expecting, but the knowledge of the very real threat it was to my life.
There’s the excitement of telling people, and the fear that it was once again not meant to be, or that we would be judged for the risk we were taking.
There’s the surrounding of friends and family for a perfect baby shower, but having to keep the festivities to a minimum because blood pressure was too volatile all weekend.
There’s the welcome challenge of taking on a new leadership role at work and beginning to establish repoire, but one day just not coming back from a doctor’s appointment.
There’s the comfort in having the best physicians in the world watching you like a hawk, but just wanting to be back at home and enjoying the pregancy.
There’s dreading what the pregnancy is doing on my insides, but so wishing that little belly to show on the outside!
There’s finally knowing that your body cannot provide what your baby needs on the inside, and the realization that it’s actually him sustaining you instead of the other way around.
There’s going into a delivery room for what’s supposed to be the happiest moment of our lives, and realizing it could very well be the saddest moment.
There’s your baby fighting for his life in his ICU, and you fighting for yours in your ICU, separated but so connected.
There’s wanting to see pictures and videos of the child you have not yet met, but jealousy of whoever is by that bedside when you cannot be.
There’s wanting him to know and feel that family is there for him to wrap his tiny fingers around, but not wanting anyone else to have that experience before you do.
There’s seeing your little one-pounder struggling for every breath and so tiny, but so perfectly formed.
There’s knowing he’s going to survive at a certain point, but not knowing what that means or what his quality of life will be.
There’s knowing you’re a parent, but not feeling like one because you aren’t the one caring for your child in the middle of the night, or any other time for that matter.
There’s a loneliness brought about by feeling like no one in the world understands, but renewed kinship with old friends you had no idea experienced the same things in days past.
There’s joy in new friendships made through hardships, but a broken heart that anyone else ever has to go through this.
There’s absolute trust in nurses who handle him so well, and wondering if you can ever live up to how they care for your child.
There’s wanting so desperately to share and introduce your son to friends and family, but very real fear of compromising his weakened immune system.
There’s anxiously awaiting the conquest of new skills and ticking deficits off the list, but not wanting him to grow up quite so fast.
There’s the 5-minute explanation to the simple “how old is he?” question, but the pride in seeing how far he’s come in that short (but too-long) timeframe.
There’s the yearning for normal new-mom problems and sleeplessness, but the fear of him actually not waking during the night.
There’s wanting desperately for him not to be tethered to the oxygen tank, but fear of him not having that constant pressure to breathe.
There’s the knowledge that he needs a healthy mom, but the deep sadness over knowing I’ll never birth him a sibling.
There’s the awe at knowing he is God’s little miracle, but not knowing how or why I deserve this.
There’s the wondering what plans God has in store for him and us, and fear that I will get in the way.
Lord, please be with us as we navigate all these conflicting feelings, and help us to alway choose the paths that bring you the most glory. Help me also to realize that even in the midst of bad, you work things together for good. Amen.