Our third baby boy was born June 8th at 2:11 pm. That first primal scream we waited months to hear, proclaimed, hello world, I’m here, I’m finally here. The doctor held his still scrunched up figure, all arms and legs flailing over paper blue curtain, clamp still dangling from his umbilical cord – our last physical tie. For a moment it was his turn; he was the freshest of babes. A beautiful blank slate ready to be filled up with love and tenderness from the outside.
Daddy brought him over swaddled in a soft faded hospital blanket, blue and pink footprints splashed here and there. Pink faced with eyes puffy and pressed shut, I strained to get a good look at this child I prayed for. The physical exhale of his birth and my once again fully expanded lungs breathed relief and contentment knowing he was safely here.
After surgery and recovery, Jason and I headed up to our room. We happily chatted about naming our boy and dinner, about making phone calls and announcements. Once we were settled, the nurse said our boy was struggling a bit with his breathing. They believed it merely to be fluid swallowed at birth, but they wanted to monitor him over night in the nursery.
It was strange, our room, with no baby. I wanted to pour over his face and give him kisses and see whose nose he had. Did he look like his brothers, maybe his dad? I couldn’t get out of bed yet, so I sent Jason down to take a picture of him to give me something tangible to hold on to. By 9pm, I couldn’t take it anymore, Jason and the nurse helped get me into a wheelchair and wheeled me down to see him.
He was lying in a heated bed, with oxygen in his nose, 3 leads on his chest and a monitor for his heart & lungs. He looked calm, peaceful.
We decided to name him Jonah, meaning peace.
The next couple of days, still admitted myself as a patient, a parade of doctors, residents and nurses came in to talk to us about TTN, lung development and possible infections. There was a cardiac team and a nicu team, ruling out heart and other plausible causes for his initial labored breathing.
The doctor on staff at the time thought Jonah possibly had pneumonia and recommended starting a 7 day course of antibiotics even before they were certain to get ahead of things. It turned out to be a very good idea, as 2 days in they determined Jonah did indeed have pneumonia.
Eight days he stayed in the hospital. Four nights I stayed as a patient, four nights I stayed with him as a guest. He endured the setting of 3 different iv placements and countless proddings, pokings and checks. Every 2-3 hours we changed his diaper, fed him, swaddled him and then he slept. Every 12 hours he received two doses of antibiotics through his iv.
During the day I sat by Jonah’s isolette, feeding him, holding him, changing his diapers. At night I crawled back onto the hospital cot, wincing with each up and down, waking only to feed him.
I had a front row seat to the behind the scenes happenings of the nursery. I watched the new babies come in, just minutes old, with the new doe-eyed dads, watching with equal parts fear and amazement as the nurses cleaned up and prepped the babies to send back to mom. I watched the isolettes form a chain like train cars in the middle of the night, when the moms would send the babies to the nursery in return for a few cherished hours of sleep. So tightly swaddled, the babies barely peeped, even if their eyes were wide open. Clear blue pacifiers bobbed up and down with each instinctual suckling.
I watched 4 nurses save a sweet waif of a premature baby who was turning blue and aspirating spit up into her lungs. I watched my nursery neighbor 3 feet over decorate her daughter’s isolette with pink leopard blankets and adorn her daughter’s frail little head with tiny elastic headbands affixed with pink satin bows. I chronicled the tree of relatives that came in to visit her, as well. Cataloging the mom, dad, brother, boyfriend, other children, etc. etc.
I learned the nurses names, which ones had children, which were married. I quickly established great respect for how diligently they all worked, taking in stride the constant fluctuation of babies – first 3 babies, then 5, then 8. All the while, monitors flashing, intermittent crying spells, diaper changes, blood tests, antibiotics administered, doctors called, residents tracked down for circumcisions – 12 hours a shift – at a non-stop pace.
And through it all, I kept thinking about the language of love. How just as each of the nurses cared for their patients just a bit differently, each of our family members loved us with their own unique love language. Each nurse followed her protocol, but each graced us additionally with her particular gift: patience, humor, strength, empathy, efficiency.
And each of our family members supported us, too, but each in their own way.
I’m so thankful for our prayer warriors, our encouragers and our empathizers. Thank goodness for those who showed up, brought chocolate, held Jonah, picked me up to take a shower, fed me breakfast, made me coffee, brought clothes, brought dinner and texted heart-felt prayers for peace, competent care, positive outcomes, healing. I’m so, so thankful for friends and family that call and care, that congratulate and celebrate small victories.
Thank God we all love differently and abundantly when called upon.
So, thank you to our people. You are all amazing.
And, thank you God for this little man and his story.
Now home and with a clean bill of health, I can’t wait to read the rest.