Saturday, August 14, 2010

Caleb's Birth Story Part V

Days in the NICU are long and bipolar. One minute things seem increasingly optimistic, and the next, it seems that any great achievements are suddenly depleted because of new, different issues. Caleb's progress was fast at first; one day he was breathing with a CPAP--the next he just had a small oxygen line in his nose--the next no oxygen at all and he was moved out of the heated bed into a regular "box"--etc. But then things just slowed down. Way down.

The days kind of ran together, so I can't accurately remember on which days exactly what happened. He got off the IV and started drinking a bottle pretty quickly, too. (I do know that the bottles came before the IV left.)

That first weekend my parents brought our children up to see us! We stayed in the Ronald McDonald house, so the kids got to stay the night with us. They had missed us a lot, obviously. It was so nice to see them, but it was also very difficult because they couldn't understand why Mommy couldn't do anything with them. Kate wanted to be held and snuggled or to climb into bed with me. But I was just glad to at least see them.

Sunday night the kids went back home with my parents, so Matt and I got some more time together just us and Caleb. I knew what was coming, but I thought I would handle it okay. Boy, was I wrong. When he finally left me around 9:00 that night, I cried some of the deepest sobs I've known. I felt so alone, so desperately alone. I knew it'd be a whole week before I'd see him again, and I didn't know how much strength I'd have on my own...so far away from home.

The next day I woke up and went down for a late breakfast. I didn't finish my biscuits and gravy before I was crying again. That was probably the lonliest day I had. The minutes and hours dragged on. There didn't seem to be an end to the tunnel I was walking through.

God did some sweet things the rest of the week, though. On Tuesday I had two visitors who made the day go by quickly and brightened my spirit! One-Samantha from high school-I hadn't seen in years and the other-one of my very best friends, Gwen-were just what I needed. They both brought gifts that warmed my heart.

Later that day a nurse suddenly came into our little closet-room in the NICU and said that they were going to move Caleb to the PICU on the 7th floor. I was so confused, but she said this was a good sign; it meant that he was the best candidate out of the other babies and that it was one step closer to going home. When we got up there, I couldn't believe what God had just done for me: we were given a major upgrade! We now had a large room with a real bed, a recliner, a T.V., and my own private bathroom! Thank you, Lord.

The next day was my birthday, and I was kind of dreading it. Since it was Wednesday, I knew there was no way Matt could come up, so I was prepared for a long, lonely day. But that wasn't God's plan! Around 11 am, I was changing Caleb and heard a knock on the door. I turned around to find two ladies from our church standing there! The tears came immediately, but these were joyful tears--tears that said, "I can't believe God loves me this much to send these ladies here today!" And He did. They had come to steal me away for a lunch date, and it was so wonderful. We ate at the Olive Garden--my favorite restaurant. It ended too quickly, of course, but I soaked in every moment.

I was so delighted that God had used them to surprise me, and it made the rest of the afternoon so much more bearable. For dinner, I walked across the street to Wendy's and ate a small dinner. I'd planned to go back to feed Caleb and just wind down for the night. As I walked back toward the hospital, a burgundy minivan drove past, and I thought to myself, "There's a van exactly like ours." It took a few seconds for me to see the Fuel Church sticker on the back, and once I did, my heart literally danced in my chest! Could I really be looking at our minivan, meaning my husband would be inside? He hadn't seen me, obviously, since he kept driving. I was too excited to think about my incision hurting, and I nearly ran up the inclined street to the hospital! I hadn't felt that much joy actually threaten to burst my chest open in a long time.

I beat him up to the room, and as I waited for him to show up, I started doubting what I had seen. What if I had imagined that out of loneliness? What if I'd just set myself up for the longest night so far? But I hadn't. He finally made his way up to our room with his handsome smile as well as an armload of presents! I just could not believe I was actually standing in front of him! It was the best birthday present I remembered getting in a long time! I opened gifts from different family members one by one and then he took me out to dinner. We shared amazing food and talked about what all was happening. It had only been a few days since I'd seen him, but it had felt like weeks. We went to Walmart and bought me a second pillow for the bed and a backpack for Keagan, who was starting Pre-K the next day.

When he had to leave that night, I didn't cry; our visit had refreshed me and I knew he'd be back that weekend, too. I knew then that it would somehow all be okay.

Peace of Christ to you,

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