Still Standing

“Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.” – Max Lucado

I am sitting in the NICU with my sweet baby girl for the second time in less than two weeks, and we just got word that we will not be released today as I had hoped. It is indescribable to be here again…to see the same cotton hospital blankets with the baby feet, to fight through the same cords and pulse ox monitors and tubes every time I want to change Eliza’s diaper or pick her up. We are at a new hospital now since our delivery hospital does not admit from outside of their labor and delivery, but so many things are the same…the smells and sounds and routines. I am amazed at how quickly I have fallen back into the pace, maneuvering new halls to get to a new but familiar parent lounge with an identical coffee machine. The rounds, the meetings, the nurses…all of it blurs into something that feels strangely normal, even comfortable. But while my body and mind have fallen into the rhythm of life in the NICU, my heart resists it as much as it did that first night in July. Resists the beeping monitors, the invasive tests, and the goodbye waves and hugs with Amelia. That’s the worst part…the goodbyes.

We are here because of a few terrified instances on Monday afternoon when Eliza struggled to breathe, coughing and gasping with a terrified look on her face that I had never seen before. The incident came seemingly out of nowhere and yet it didn’t completely surprise me. I feel like I’m coming to expect the unexpected. But what’s more, I realize I’m coming to expect difficult things, especially in recent weeks. The sleep study that showed apnea we didn’t expect, the swallow study that showed aspiration we didn’t see coming, the loss of a beloved dog who went from healthy and happy on a Sunday to paralyzed and in pain the next day. Even after his heartbreaking death, I managed to bounce back to hope. Surely, this was the end of our string of tough stuff. I was sharing just that with a group of incredible women last Friday when I got the call from Amelia’s preschool. She had thrown up…something she had never done before but managed to do another eleven times before the day was done. I went to bed on Sunday physically and emotionally exhausted, joking with Derrick that I wanted nothing more than an uneventful, boring week. The next day, Eliza was admitted to the NICU, which brings us to where I am now, four days later, writing and thinking.

I don’t share this to complain, although it feels nice to vent. I guess I’m just marveling at the relative calm I feel despite all the craziness. I’m an emotional person by nature, but I haven’t felt the swelling worry or deep grief that have followed me like a shadow through so many recent trials. What amazes me is the realization that I’m doing it. That despite all the moments when I thought I could not possibly handle another setback, I somehow did anyways. I am tired and scared, but I am still standing, and we are still okay! And I am thankful for that…thankful for all the helpers holding us up in prayer, sending sweet messages of encouragement, caring for my girls, and bringing food who have kept me going.   As my mom says, “the only way through it is through it.” But thank God I am not going through it alone!

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