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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Trust

I’m not one of those moms who is too busy or tired to shower on a specific day. I don’t care how tired I am, or how much has to be done, I shower every day. (I do give credit to my husband here for his help in the evening so that I CAN shower!) It’s my favorite time to unwind at the end of the day. It’s my favorite place to think. 

One Friday night in the shower, my mind went to all of the medical bills that we have to pay and all the things we want to save for and student loan payments and credit card payments and wondering how to hold a job without sacrificing family time at night and without sending 2/3 of my paycheck to childcare. I was particularly stressed, and no matter how hot the water was, it did not soothe any of it. 

I got out of the shower and opened up My Utmost For His Highest (my favorite devotional book). The verse stood out right away — “come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Immediately, I prayed, I worshipped, I felt peace.

In an instant, I didn’t have the weight on my shoulders. But I still could not get the thoughts about money out of my head. I thought, “God, if we could just make $xx,000 then I wouldn’t worry.” 

That’s when I heard it. 

If you made $xx,000, you wouldn’t need to trust me.

Whenever I hear people talk about hearing God’s voice, I always wonder how they know it’s Him. I always wonder what it’s like. I always wonder how they can be sure. When I heard that, I knew it was Him. 

I’m not called to have everything together. I’m not supposed to do everything by myself. Life is definitely not perfect and there are dreams that I want to attain that I don’t know how I possibly could or would. I just have to trust, even if it means my plans will mess up. 

My year started out with this word too. On January 2, my son Ethan (who was 7 weeks old at the time) was rushed to the ER because he was sick and could not eat and was very dehydrated. It was the new year and I just wanted to spend time with my family as a whole, and my newborn baby had just been diagnosed with RSV. But the ER visit turned into a night at the hospital and then a middle-of-the-night ambulance ride to the PICU at another hospital when he was fighting for his life because he was working so hard to breathe. In all, we spent almost a week at the hospital, but it was on day 3 that I realized that I have to surrender my wants and focus on God and worship all that He is. I had to trust that this happened for a reason, that my helpless son was in the best place to get better, and that my God was in control. I had to trust that we were going to come out the other end and think “wow, I cannot believe that happened. And look how far we’ve come!”

Ethan’s very first smile on his last night in the hospital.
I knew at that moment that the timing was not a coincidence. I don’t know why my baby had to fight for his life, but I understood that 2016 started like that for a reason. I knew it would set the tone for my year. And I truly believe that the reason (or one of them) for me being there was to refocus on God and His plan for my life.

I have a plan for my life. I have a timeline for when things could/should happen, for everything to work out as ideally as possible in my human mind. But, as a friend reminded me the other day, and as I have seen in my own life, God laughs at our plans. He doesn’t laugh because they’re funny or silly, but because we’re so simple minded. We can only see so much and therefore cannot fathom all there is to go through in this life. 

There WILL be troubles, but even with what I picture to be an ideal circumstance, God has a plan for me that will blow my mind. 

His ways are higher than mine. His thoughts are higher than mine. 

I choose to trust Him.