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A Difficult Entrance Into 2008

I was touched by reading a friend's blog last night, at the level of honesty and transparency as he shared about his life journey since we graduated from Bible school over a decade ago. In our second year, we had to twice present a speech, and I can still remember how moved we all were with his message about an injured bird. In the same spirit of transparency, I felt that I needed to open up and share about something I really could not talk about for about a year. Sean and I barely spoke about it as the emotions were too raw; as the first anniversary came up, we found ourselves weeping at the mere thought of the experience. That anniversary passed, we are doing much better (our vibrant baby is a continual balm to the achy parts of our heart), and this is a testimony that God is wonderfully compassionate and a very present help in our time of need. Our baby, Keizo, had to be checked into the hospital on New Year's Eve, two days after he was born because his bilirubin levels were soaring. After a wonderful birth experience in a warm tub with a midwife, we went home after one night in the hospital. Our new pediatrician checked the baby after we got home and was concerned about jaundice. But her frantic call later that night insisting we take him immediately to the hospital left me shaking. Sean and the older children were out at a church New Year's Eve party, but he rushed home after my call. Though we were new in town, this church family covered us in prayer and took care of our children while we went to the hospital. After an agonizing wait for paperwork and personnel (didn't they say this was urgent???), we were taken to the pediatric ward. It was time to nurse Keizo, and the doctors/residents insisted I stop in order to get baby under the lights immediately. They turned up the heat by stating frightening things like he might need blood transfusions if I didn't comply, etc. We said that was not going to happen but allowed them to take him, though we were close by. Their response as I sobbed was to ask me if I needed to leave. I was too emotional and exhausted (I had given birth about 48 hours before) to rebuke their insensitivity. Ten thirty p.m. on December 31, 2007. The world seemed a cold, lonely place as Sean and I stared out the window and at our tiny baby in the incubator with coverings to protect his eyes from the blue lights. From our room, we could see downtown Baltimore and the celebratory fireworks welcoming in the New Year. We just looked at each other with sadness; we wanted to be home with our little boy and with our other precious ones. The next few days were an excruciatingly slow drag of pumping milk, urging baby to drink to flush his system of the bilirubin, changing diapers, and trying to sleep. I started to experience signs of a breast infection (fever, chills, uncontrollable shaking) and knew I had to get more rest. After the first night, Sean had to leave to take care of the children and to reassure them. I wanted desperately to hold my baby but could only touch him through two holes in the incubator. They pricked his heels numerous times to draw blood, but he stopped even grimacing after the first few times, though I wept. Maybe I cried enough for the both of us. After two whole days at the hospital, we finally got good news on the morning of the third day: his levels were coming down and I could hold him. I held that baby close to my face as I continuously prayed and spoke to him, almost breathing him in, as I reassured him of Mommi's closeness and love. Later that night Keizo was released, and the entire family surrounded him to bring him home. I don't think I've let go of him since... That's not true, really, but Sean and I cherish these precious gifts we've been entrusted with. God has blessed us, and He watches over them with even more diligence and care than we ever could. God did bless us and answer prayers during the time in the hospital, though it wasn't directly in response to my pleas to heal Keizo so we could go home right away. Our nurses, the daytime and overnight shifts, were handpicked by God. They lovingly cared for Keizo, calling him by name from the first moment as they gently coaxed him to drink. They took care of me too by assuring me of their care for him while encouraging me to rest. Though I wasn't the patient, the hospital provided robust and surprisingly tasty meals for me because I was a nursing mom - that kind of support was totally unexpected. The doctor in charge of the pediatric unit was extremely compassionate and kind, taking time to answer questions and reassure me of the course of treatment, explaining everything. She visited often and shared understanding as a mother. Her residents in training need to study her manner very closely. God's grace enveloped Baby Keizo as he lay peacefully under the lights all those hours. He looked like a sunbathing baby, chilled out and relaxed under the lights. A baby's health and release from the hospital after birth is taken for granted as the natural course of things, which it is for most people. We had two previously uneventful births and totally expected to transition to home right away. For parents whose babies have to remain in the hospital for whatever reason, it is a very scary, lonely time. The emotions are intensified when you consider this fragile, tiny baby - your brain registers the facts and reasoning but it doesn't seem to make it all the way to the rest of your body, which is frozen in fear. It's one thing to deal with things as adults, but when it involves a child, your child... It takes time for equilibrium to set in. We need to reach out to one another and care for those experiencing the hospitalization of a child, baby and older. A parent's heart is as fierce as a lion but also so delicate. This experience opened our eyes to the unique needs and challenges of parents when their child is hospitalized. God is compassionate and responsive - He needs our hands to be the ones to reach out to those in times of crisis or need. He works through His Body to touch the world.

1 comment:

Mark D said...

That post really touched me, Miki. Life is so very precious, and often taken for granted. Just got back from a wake for someone who left this world much too early. Each day here is a gift. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!