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When I think back to that day now, as the strong me, the me who is on the other side of the storm, the me who has placed three years between that day and now, I’d like to get in that “well-meaning” nurse’s face and say, “Have you ever had a baby in the NICU? Don’t pretend to know what I’m going through.” And I might pinch her nose just to make me feel better.
Don’t get me wrong; there were some really great nurses who took care of Grace. We were thankful for the care she received. But this nurse made me feel like I was in the way. She was Grace’s nurse several days and always sighed when we walked in. All we did was sit by her bed quietly and offer to change her or feed her when she needed it.
Wasn’t that our job as parents? Allison told me the NICU nurses usually encouraged families to be involved. This one was more concerned about schedules and ticking off her to-do list. One day, she left early and another nurse took her place. I watched as she took the new nurse aside and spent some time whispering and looking my way. The new nurse then walked up and took the same mantra – “You should go on home. It’s hard for your other kids to be away from you so much.”
The other kids were spending time with their grandparents and being spoiled rotten. But I just nodded and blinked away the tears, thinking what an awful mom I was.
But for that one bad one, there were three times as many people who blessed us. As I sat there that day with teary eyes, my head hanging, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was the receptionist. “Are you okay?” she asked me.
I nodded, knowing if I opened my mouth a wail would escape. “Are you sure?” she pressed, seeing the monsoon about to spill over the bottom edges of my eyes. Even my fervent head nod didn’t convince her. She leaned down to hug me and whispered in my ear, “God is still good. All the time.” And with that she was gone.
I knew God had sent this woman with encouragement at just the moment I needed it. I imagine Him watching my hurt and wanting to make it better, just as I wished the same for my child in the NICU bed.
You don’t realize how much hugs, phone calls, emails and cards mean until you are going through something like this. Every night around 10:30 p.m. when Alan and I got home, our answering machine was filled with messages… “Just wanted to tell you we are praying for you.”
“…I love you and am thinking of you…”
“…let us know if there is anything you need…”
One message after another with the same general theme: you are loved. I cried when one sweet lady sent us $100 in a card because she said she knew we had to eat out every meal. It was a perfect example of God providing for us through the hands and feet of others.
One evening I was going through the mail and opened a card. The outside had simple flowers, but inside was filled from one side to the other with tiny handwriting from 26 prisoners. In tiny words were prayers for my newborn girl.
You see I had been volunteering at the prison from time to time, teaching with N.O.B.T.S. (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) a class of prisoners who were working on their seminary degree. But I honestly never considered that they thought about me when I walked out of the prison campus. Something about those prisoners praying for my baby girl caused a dam inside me to break. I sat down and sobbed.
Grace’s 10th day in the NICU was one of the hardest. We were starting to lose hope that she would ever get to leave. It was Saturday, and we decided I would go alone to see Grace, so Alan could stay home and spend some time with the kids. Then he would bring them to see her later.
I remember the tension when I walked out the door that day. Alan was upset because his time off from work was over, yet he hadn’t spent even one day at home with his new baby. As I made the 20-minute drive to the hospital, the song “Blessed be Your Name” played on the radio.
I listened to the lyrics about how when things are good we praise God, and when things get bad, we still praise God. The words struck me. They exactly matched my circumstances and how I felt.
“On the road marked with suffering,
Though there’s pain in the offering,
Blessed by Your name.”
Tears streamed, and I raised one hand in surrender. Do you hear me Lord? I’m still praising. Even in this, I’m praising God. Even in this.
I had no idea what awaited me at the hospital.
Click HERE to read Part 5 of Grace’s story.
Come back tomorrow for the end of Grace’s birth story! 🙂 Don’t want to miss anything? Get an email subscription to Sheep to the Right in the upper righthand corner of the website. Just be sure you look for the confirmation email and click on the link.
I hope this song blesses you as much as it did me.