ORIGINALLY WRITTEN MAY 4, 2012
I had a funny feeling when the blooms began to pepper the branches this year. It was hazy like a dream, but familiar like I’d been there before. Getting close to the day Asher came.
I’ve had many moments like that over the past year. De’ja vu in a way, like your senses remember.
It takes a full 365 days to cycle through a year. It’s been 365 (and only because of Leap Year) since Asher was born–his first birthday is on Saturday.
We awaited Asher like some people await the mailman. Like, sure, there are probably good things coming in the mail–but the mail comes all the time, same song different verse. As our third boy in less than 5 years, we presumed to know how the whole process would transpire.
Boys to grandparents, parents to hospital, baby born, siblings meet, mom recovers, baby and parents go home–life back to normal…barely a beat skipped. The rest of the world surely keeps turning.
But, on Cinco de Mayo 2011, Asher Brax surprised us being born a full 4 weeks early. The labor was fast and furious, barely time to get everyone where they needed to be before he came.
But come he did. He was healthy and happy…at first. But, then…
I did not expect him to go into Septic Shock. People die on Grey’s Anatomy from Septic Shock. What started out as grunty, wet lungs (which has been normal for my very quickly delivered babies) proved to be congenital pneumonia. That pneumonia took days to show on X-Rays, but in the meantime, the infection spread like wildfire through his body. Not even 12 hours after he was born with perfect Apgars, he was on a paralytic and a ventilator being rushed by ambulance to a more specialized hospital. Apparently, newborns don’t localize infection well.
I now know what it feels like to “rend your garments”. I know that your body can viscerally and innately respond–what it feels like to be so in your body and so out of body at the same time. I felt that when the neonatologist on the transfer team answered my question “But, he’s going to be okay right?” with a quick and honest answer. “We hope so, but newborns don’t always survive this. He is in shock and his organs are shutting down.”
My instinct was to get as close to the ground as possible, face pressed hard against the cold linoleum floor. The world was spinning, like an emotional loss of control. I couldn’t contain the sobs that racked my body. All rational thought had left me at that point. My eyes swelled and tears were made even more abundant from the bags of IV fluid I’d gotten hours before. I literally cried an enormous pool on the hospital floor.
Our sweet Asher, he’s okay now. He spent almost 3 weeks in the NICU, the first 5 days of the stay being extremely critical.
I think it was God’s good grace that the neonatologist assigned to his case the first day in the NICU spoke very little and very thickly accented English. I couldn’t mine his speech patterns for hidden meaning behind the words. He didn’t explain every single medical worry, because there wasn’t time. I wouldn’t have understood him had there been. I was comforted by his brusque take-charge attitude.
I was oddly and transcendentally calm that first day, the peace that surpasses understanding.
Asher was so sick. He barely moved at all. His nurse, a 28 year NICU veteran, daily fought to have him handled as little as possible. She turned off all extraneous beeps and bells, allowing him quiet. She stood fast in her opinion that he needed calm, he needed peace, and he needed time to heal. She stood up to doctors wanting to be aggressive in their treatments, asking that they give him more time on the vent, more time on the morphine, more time on the dopamine, more time to recover.
It was a delicate mix of medications that kept our baby alive long enough to allow the antibiotics time to battle the infection. I am enormously thankful for medical intervention–and am no longer cavalier about the miracle of conception, pregnancy, birth, or really life at all.
finally able to hold my sweet boy, all of the wires are in the blanket (the nurses are pros at making it FEEL normal!)
Husband called the NICU each night before bed to see how our littlest boy was doing. One night, in the most intimate Compassion, we found out that a girl Husband went to high school with had asked to be Asher’s nurse on overnights (I forget exactly how she knew it was our family, I believe she saw a family picture I brought in to put in Asher’s little cubicle). She would tell us how our sweet guy was doing and would assure us that she was praying while we were sleeping. She prayed while we slept. She prayed through the night so we could sleep. Truly…the comfort. The most precious and intimate attention from God.
I still endure flashbacks of the events of Asher’s birth and illness. I don’t know if a mother ever forgets moments like that. It is natural when you go through a miracle to have the sparkle and shine of that miracle wear off after awhile.
Not so with sweet Asher. Daily, I look at Asher, my little Ebenezer and thank God for His Faithfulness. Grief births joy in God’s economy. Peace enters the unlikeliest spaces. Grace extends in tiny and life-changing ways.