One year ago … one year ago I awoke early in the inky black, pre-dawn hours with a sharp labor pain. I urged my husband awake, thankful that my mom was visiting to keep the four older kids, and we quickly got into the car. The clock read 1:19 am. At 1:52, we arrived at the hospital, grateful that midnight labor made for little traffic. Just one hour later, our fifth child made her debut. At 9 pounds, 9 ounces she was my biggest baby, my strongest little warrior …
And yet her lungs were weak.
Shortly after her birth, they whisked her off to NICU, and my heart followed right along after her. What I thought would be a few hours for observation turned into a three-day NICU stay. Our daughter had a pneumothorax, a condition where a lung sac bursts, causing air to get trapped between the inner and outer walls of the lung, making it difficult to breathe. Her little body labored for each breath.
I can still picture the scene as my husband first wheeled me into the NICU. He pushed me towards her bassinet; she was swaddled and sleeping soundly with a mess of wires and tubes attached to her little body.
It wasn’t the scene we’d hoped for. No parent does. But it was our reality. And in the midst of it all and the fog of postpartum pain and exhaustion, there was miraculous peace. We prayed and prayed that her lung would heal on its own, and praise God … it eventually did!
But it took three days … three days that felt very much like three long, heavy weeks. When the pediatrician told me I would likely be discharged before her, I broke. I’d held it together until that moment, but every tenuous thread of strength came crashing down when I realized I might leave the hospital with empty arms while my daughter remained in NICU.
By the grace of God, that didn’t happen. Our NICU nurse advocated for us to to stay in the Special Care unit. This was a private room that allowed my husband and I to room-in with our daughter the night after I’d been discharged. This act of provision alone was such a gift to us. I pulled her into my bed that night, wires and all and didn’t let her go. She was healing, and she was finally nestled right where she should be. I was so immensely grateful!
She was discharged the next day, and her much-anticipated homecoming was met with great fanfare. Our fourth-born, who hadn’t yet had a chance to see her baby sister due to age restrictions in the NICU, was the first to hold her when we arrived home. They have been nearly inseparable ever since.
Now, one year later, we are eternally grateful for the gift of Lily … the surprise of the pregnancy, the experience of her birth, the healing of her lung, and the immense joy that she brings to all of us!
I never fathomed I would be a mom to five kids, and yet every single one of these children were written into the fabric of my heart before they even came to be. And now, one year later, we simply can’t imagine our family without her. Her presence gifts us with light and laughter, goodness and grace, beauty and blessing … every single day!
Happy birthday, sweet girl! May you always know how loved and cherished you truly are.
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