What I Have Seen & Heard

“As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:20

Things I have seen & heard, that I will not forget; brief moments that I caught a glimpse of while in the NICU, that will not leave me or let me alone…

The young mother, still dressed in the green hospital gown, silently and slowly wiping away tears as she stands beside her micro-preemie’s isolette, her baby still too unstable to be touched or held.

The passionately sweet, heartfelt words from mother to son, spoken in Spanish, as she cradles him by his bedside. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard, and while I understand none of it, I understand all of it: love, and devotion, and wonder, and maternal pride.

“I’m just trying to be strong for her,” says the young, first-time father, speaking about his wife, in answer to the question how is he doing. Their baby is missing part of his brain.

The beautiful mother who some nights stays half the night in the NICU — she can’t sleep anyway, she says — rocking her baby, coming as often as she can because she has no car and must rely on rides in order to see her precious son. 

The mother who bravely and calmly receives difficult news about a new issue, or concern, or complication with her preemie, then cries silently to herself when the team of doctors, nurse practitioners, and residents walk away.

The absent, blank stare of the mom who has been faithfully spending her days at the NICU going on two months, way past the point of exhaustion, struggling to keep from dozing off at baby’s bedside while she waits to talk to the nurse.

The foster family, beaming, laying eyes upon the preemie suddenly entrusted into their care, awash with excitement, and the little girl with them, giggling about how excited she is to finally  be a big sister. They are the first visitors to that baby I have seen in two weeks. 

“I just want to sneak over to their beds and tell them ‘I love you’ just so they know what it sounds like,” says my new friend, a fellow NICU mom, about the precious preemies who never, ever, seem to have someone come visit them.

The way a whole roomful of parents tense when alarm bells go off, signaling some baby whose heart rate or oxygen saturation has dropped too low. Sometimes we sadly joke we hear the alarms at night, as we go to sleep. 

The new admit, a 26-week preemie, is so tiny, so covered by cords & lines, so sweetly and tenderly wrapped by nurses in little soft preemie positioners, that when I walk by on my way to the twins’ beds, all I can see is the smallest kneecap, no larger than my thumb, sticking out. I always get a lump in my throat. 

———–

I do not know how I can be the same after spending almost all day, everyday, in the NICU the past 26 days. I pray I am never the same. I pray I do not forget what life was like for us during this time, how we truly felt pressed on every side, with all the range of emotions. I have seen things in the NICU that are so beautiful my heart physically hurts. I have seen things in the NICU that are so sad that I feel like I can barely keep from sobbing.

I am so amazed and thankful we live in such a time where babies as young as 24-weeks gestation and as small as one pound five ounces actually live. I am so amazed by the nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors who genuinely care for these souls in fragile bodies and who work hard to give these babies the best chance and best care possible. When the day comes where we leave the NICU with both our boys, and launch into a new ‘normal’ life outside the NICU, I hope I do not forget the other families still there, still waiting for their preemie to grow & mature, until it is safe to bring them home. I hope I do not forget the NICU nurses, who work long shifts, who are a wealth of knowledge, and who love and care for your children when you are not there. I hope I do not forget the sweet preemies, who are so fragile and small, who have a long road ahead to maturity, but who are still valuable and miraculous nonetheless. 

Where is God, you ask? He is in the NICU, sustaining life in little bodies; giving wisdom to the medical professionals; upholding parents and caregivers who have no strength of their own left; and never sleeping nor slumbering as he watches over all their comings and goings. 

{I am so tired, emotional, hopeful, and sensitive all the time. My heart breaks everyday, and yet my heart feels a surge of hopefulness everyday, too. I am slowly finding my voice and allowing myself to write about the road we have walked. I want to share, for my own sake, and for your sake, that you & I would be blessed and grieved to glimpse a little-known world that is both beautiful and awful… the NICU.}

 

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One response to “What I Have Seen & Heard

  1. Melissa Robinson

    Oh Lacy. The way you write…I feel like I am there beside you experiencing it all. No wonder I can hardly stop thinking and praying for you during this wonderful, heavy time. I LOVE you Lace. We love those boys and girls of yours.

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