Miracles in Everything

Two years ago today, I brought Ethan home from the hospital for the third time in his short eight weeks of life. He had spent 7 days in two hospitals and I was so relieved to be bringing him home.

If you knew me two years ago, you probably know that, in an effort to not be a hypochondriac first time young mother who calls the doctors with a zillion questions and takes their child in for every ailment, I rarely voluntarily took my kids to the doctor. At that point, I had high respect for nurses and midwives, but for the most part, I only took my kids to the doctor at schedule times because that’s what I was supposed to do.

So, on the morning of January 2nd, I sat in the bathroom with the hot water running so that Ethan could breathe. He had a nasty cough and was extremely congested and he was very dehydrated because he could not nurse through his congestion. I was also coming down with something but decided, despite my fever and how I felt, that *maybe* I should take my infant to the doctor.

We went to urgent care and I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but the doctor told us that due to his age and the fact that he was a preemie, that since he had a temperature over 100.4, we had to go to the ER. I think I was excited to go. They would give my baby an IV, he wouldn’t be dehydrated anymore, and he’d spend the remainder of his sickness at home.

Because he had a respiratory illness, the ER doctors did not give him a spinal tap (thank the good Lord!) and were able to test him for RSV, which was positive. He also had bronchiolitis. They had suctioned out his mucus, given him oxygen, and he was able to nurse, which I thought was amazing. But, given his diagnosis and his age, they decided to admit him. I was hot and cold and feverish and had a horrible sore throat and just wanted to be in bed, or at least have a cup of tea with honey, and to be able to cuddle with my little boy at home, so I was not exactly happy about staying overnight in the hospital. To my eyes, he seemed to already be getting better.

1/2/16 – The ER and his bed that night.

The next day was worse for me, but seemed better for him. He was able to be off of the oxygen for a while. I was ready for someone to tell us we could go home. He seemed OK — not great, but he was alert and he could breathe and nurse, and I trusted my ability to care for him at home. The nurses were great and commented that he looked much better than the night before. This was exactly what I had wanted to hear.

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1/3/16 – A sad look, but he was off of his oxygen and doing OK, especially compared to the previous day.

And then came the resident doctor. “I think we should transfer him to another hospital where they have a PICU and better equipment than we have here,” she said. I was confused — my son was clearly looking better and I honestly thought we’d be going home already.  She explained that with RSV, the peak is usually around 4-5 days, and I had retorted that his cough began last Tuesday, so he was already at/past his peak. She tried remaining gentle and yet firm: “babies this young are like really old people. Sometimes they seem fine, but they can go downhill really fast. The choice is yours, and I will come back later, but I strongly recommend you transfer him.”

That was the hardest night of my life. I nursed him again, wondering if she really said I could lose him so quickly, especially when he seemed so much better. I resented her a bit. I’m not sure exactly why, but I think it’s because I really felt like they could only do so much at the hospital. Through tears, I realized, “if I agree to this, it is so he can get better faster.” Around midnight, I agreed to go, and they arranged for an ambulance.

At 3 am, I was woken up by the EMTs. I watched as they strapped my tiny infant into a huge stretcher. The other hospital, where I had given birth to him, wasn’t so far, but the ride felt extremely long. I had on my heavy winter jacket and stared half awake with beads of sweat from the heat at my infant boy, recalling the nervous excitement I felt when I was in the car not even eight weeks before, getting ready to meet him. I didn’t know what to expect this time around, though.

When we arrived at the PICU close to 4 am, he had a high fever and was placed on antibiotics for suspected pneumonia, in addition to his other diagnoses. They started him on high flow oxygen, and I made my bed on a small armchair and went to sleep.

Monday morning, Jan. 4, came, and I familiarized myself with where I was. I went to the waiting room to help myself to some much needed coffee. I was not where I expected I would be only two days before. Those 48 hours seemed like a blur and I wondered when my son got so bad that he had to stay in an intensive care unit. I was confused about what I should pray for. Up until that point, I had prayed that we would get they OK to go home and that Ethan would be healed right away. I then saw a handwritten sign on a Styrofoam plate on the bulletin board there: “God can do exceedingly abundantly above what we ask or can think!”

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1/4/16 – The words I needed at the time.

I wept. I realized that I didn’t know what to pray, but it didn’t matter, because God had it all in His hands anyway.

For the next few days, I rested. I rested in His presence in that hospital, I rested in the prayers of loved ones, I rested in the care of his incredibly medical team, and I even went home one night to get a full nine hours of solid sleep.

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1/5/16 – Between the oxygen, the feeding tube, and all of the monitors, there were so many wires, but I was so thrilled to just hold me baby.

It wasn’t always easy while he was in the PICU. For starters, I had a 2 1/2 year old who needed caretaking – I couldn’t even bring him to the hospital because he was starting to get sick, too. (With the help of multiple family members, he was cared for every day and I did not have to worry once, and I am ever grateful for such a great support.) I had some issues with insurance that I tried to clear up from the hospital room while on the phone. I learned that Ethan had a partially collapsed lung, which is incredibly scary to hear in morning rounds. But, I also had inexplicable peace which can only come from Christ. I knew that I was in the best place to be at a not-so-great time, and that was amazing enough. I met some other parents who were in the PICU and realized how great I had it, and was able to share in their troubles in whatever small way with the love of Christ.

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1/7/16 – Healthy baby sleeping on me and ice cream sundaes in the PICU.

On Friday, January 8, I got the OK from his pediatrician to take him home. I wept the second I started driving away from that hospital as I listened to the words of the song that was playing: His love is relentless.

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1/7/16 – Ethan’s very first smile, the night he was out of the PICU

I was told Ethan would continue to be congested and his lungs wouldn’t be clear for the next month. When, only days later, his doctor listened, impressed, and said his lungs were “clear as a bell,” my first thought was, “that’s the power of prayer.”

My baby was healthy, the healthiest he had been since he was born. I always felt that the timing, the first week of the year, was very purposeful in all of this. God knew I needed to rest in Him, and I don’t think the timing was coincidence at all. My baby was sick, and I hated it, but received top notch medical care, and was restored to full health and did not suffer much, thanks in part to his medical team, but, as He would prove days later, thanks also to my amazing God.

I could explain most of this by reason. I could just brush it off to good doctors doing their jobs (which, they did do a great job, and that week had garnered a whole new respect for that profession for me). I could say that having helpful family members is the reason I could simply rest with my infant in the hospital. I could argue that the clear lungs were not really that miraculous after all. I could point out coincidences.

But really, God was working miracles in every little step — the main one being to draw me back to Him in a place where I had almost no distractions; speak to any mom of a toddler and a newborn, and I’m sure they’d agree that NO DISTRACTIONS for DAYS is an outright miracle. Being in the right places at the right times were also miracles in all of this — from urgent care, to the ER, to the pediatric ward, to the PICU. Living where I live, with easy access to these places, is a miracle. And I am beyond thankful for the way that things played out in such an uncertain time and that God shows his faithfulness when I needed it most.

I love looking back on that week, because it reminds me how gracious God is. It gives my heart a million reasons to be grateful. And as this new years starts out, I am doing my best to practice gratefulness and to see miracles in everything. Because, if I start seeing miracles in the small things, then I have no doubt I’ll see them in the big things, too.

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1/8/16 – After coming home — the healthiest I had every seen him up to that point.

 

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In All Circumstances


I want to be grateful for the things that often get overlooked, and to genuinely express my thankfulness. 

Those are words from my last post

Have you ever heard that you shouldn’t pray for patience because then suddenly your patience will be very tested?

Well

I have to admit that if you had seen me at any random point this past weekend, you would’ve never thought that I was trying to be more grateful in life. If you were to look up complainer in the dictionary, I could almost guarantee that you’d see a picture of me and my ol’ grumpy, tired, stressed self. 

On Thursday night, we noticed that there was a leak in the basement coming from our apartment’s plumbing. We live in an old 2-family house and, unfortunately, leaks and plumbing issues are a fairly common occurrence. Thus, they’ve been normalized. It means we have to rent the snake from Home Depot, put it through the drains, clear the clog, pack it up, bring the machine back, enjoy the use of our water. 

I was told on Thursday night to not use the kitchen sink. On Friday, I was told to not touch any water in my home. (I have a small bladder and two kids with sticky hands. I need to use the water in my house. And you know how much I love my shower.) As annoyed as I was, I was happy that my husband would be home soon with the rented snake to go about business as usual and that we can then enjoy our pizza/movie Friday night with the boys. 

Five hours

That’s how long my amazing, determined, hardworking husband worked to get the snake to go through the drain. To no avail. It just kept getting stuck. He decided he would try again in the morning through the opening under the toilet. 

The next morning, we enjoyed a nice breakfast with homemade pancakes and fruit. Afterwards, I wished my husband good luck as he went to the upstairs toilet. I was convinced we would have the afternoon to enjoy ourselves. 

I was so happy when he came down and said that all 75 feet went through and he was going to check for leaks. That is, until he noticed that all 75 feet were on the ground in the driveway. 

Somehow, it had gone up the exhaust and over the roof until it spilled on the driveway.

We rolled our eyes and laughed as he started his work again. 

For five hours

But then, something happened!

One of the PVC pipes cracked. 😩 Which meant that our issue was not only in the clogged pipe, but also in the broken piece that my husband now had to fix on Sunday after church. On top of this, I was stressed and overwhelmed with the boys, being inside with them all day, and the dishes that were piling up in the sink that I couldn’t wash. I wanted the day to be done. 

Eventually, nighttime came and we got up on Sunday and actually had a nice break from the reality at home. We even stayed extra late to avoid going back home and facing what was there. 

But my husband had a plan to temporarily reroute the water so that we could run the shower and sink, but no solid waste was allowed. I found that to be very annoying, though I was grateful to use my own shower on Sunday night.

Two plumbers came on Monday. Plumber 1 insisted he could do nothing because, well, our whole plumbing system is messed up. Plumber 2 stayed longer, tried diagnosing the problem with a camera, but came to the same conclusion. Also, they cut open a coupling that completely undid what Roland did on Sunday. 

To top all of this off, Ethan decided it would be fun to sleep like a newborn this weekend so I’ve been exhausted. And tired me = grumpy me. 

So here we are, on Tuesday, and I’m still waiting for a conclusion to this story!

Now in all of this, there was one prayer in the back of my mind. It was one that I was too afraid to utter or even think because I wasn’t sure I would be happy with the answer.  

“God, what are You trying to tell me?”

But I heard Him on Saturday night. He said to me,

Just the other day, I taught you about having the thankful heart of a child. I showed you what it was to unashamedly thank Me for even the smallest things in your life that often go unnoticed. If I took one of those things away from you — the ability to use the running water in your house with little discretion — what would you do? Would you complain about what you now lack? Or would you still be thankful for the things that you do have? What if you were to lose everything, like Job did. What would you be thankful for?

The words of the Bethel song played in the background. “We thank you for the cross.”


See, I conveniently left out many things from this story. 

In this old 2-family-house, we live in one apartment and my parents live in the other. So every time I couldn’t use my own toilet or shower, I was able to use my parents’. I was still able to use their washing machine which meant I didn’t miss a beat with keeping up with laundry. As much as this old house drives me crazy with all of its issues, I have a really good deal living here. And my husband, the amazing man he is, was able to take over inside the house for twenty minutes when I was overwhelmed on Saturday so I could get the boys down and simply have to worry about the dishes (which I could do next door) all while he had work of his own to do. 

In all these things, I am so blessed and fortunate. In all of these, there are reasons to be grateful. Because even when I am frustrated by what I temporarily lack, there is so much that I still have. 

every post could use some baby pictures – these boys are something to be grateful for
But even if all of that got stripped away too, there would always be the Cross. I pray that I will one day learn to be content in that alone. 

To Become Like a Child

I was praying about what to write for today. There’s a list of things that I have on hold to share, but none of them seemed right for today. So in these times, I ask God for guidance. 

In the midst of these prayers, I heard the prayer of my 3-year-old son. 

“…Thank you for my toy, 1-2-3-7-9 toy. Thank you for napkin, thank you for tissue, thank you for baby food…”

I watched him, hands together under his chin, speaking ever so quietly, like a whisper for only God to hear, peeking out through eyes he was trying to close, looking around the dining room, finding things to be mentioned in his prayer. I almost lost it when I heard him say “thank you for my spoon.”

I watched my little boy and I tried to learn from that moment. It made my mama heart so proud to watch him WANT to pray and then make a huge thank you list of everything. As his mom and his Sunday School teacher, I often feel like I don’t set a good enough example, like I could always do more. And yet somehow, with the help of his dad and many other influences, he had learned from somewhere the values that I want him to learn. (We clearly have to work on counting, but that’s besides the point. ;))

But I learned something else. I listened to  him thank Jesus for every little thing that he saw around him — things that I so much take for granted. 

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.18.2-3.esv

Oh, to be like a child. To not feel ashamed or silly to pray “thank you for my spoon.” Rather, to see the beauty in the small things and realize the value in having them. 

There are so many things that I am blessed to have. Often, it’s easy to focus on what I don’t have. But if I list all the things that I do have, I would find it to be a very long list. 

I want to have that mindset. I want to be grateful for the things that often get overlooked, and to genuinely express my thankfulness. I want to look at what I have and know that it’s because my God is the God who provides.

It is work to practice this line of thinking, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll make for a happier lifestyle. 

Yeah, I wanna be like this silly kid. 😁