Proverbs 18:21 in the Bible, says "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Very true words. The words that we say carry power. They can either bring life or death. And the words that we tend to focus on, the words that we love to speak, and speak the most often, we shall eat that fruit, we shall reap the rewards or consequences of the words we say and believe in the most.
One thing that I've been really sensitive about are the words that I say and the words that other people say about Alicia and about our condition.
I may be a bit oversensitive, but I really believe that the words we speak out carry power. When we speak, we make proclamations. The proclamations can bring about blessings or curses over our lives.
If you think about it, it makes sense. In another part of the bible it says, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." The things we say come from what we believe in our hearts. What we believe becomes our personal "truths". And we interact with our environment based on what we think is ture. This brings about the results that we see day to day in our lives.
To drive the point further, the Bible also draws a connection with the tongue being like the rudder of a ship. It's a small part of the whole, but it can steer the entire body. The words we speak can influence how we see things, and therefore influence the direction we head with our lives.
A few weeks ago, I was speaking with an acquaintance of mine about Alicia. And she casually said, "It's OK, Campbell. She's a little weak right now. But she'll get stronger." And immediately, I stopped her. I said, "No, she's not weak. She's strong. She's a fighter." Perhaps, I was a bit harsh with her. But as Alicia's Daddy, I felt very protective over her, and I refuse to allow someone to speak such words over Alicia.
Linda and I are very careful not to say things like, "Poor, little girl." Or "Oh, look at her, it's so sad." Or "Oh, she's so sickly." I feel like these words are proclamations over our Alicia that bring about a curse. That's why Linda and I are very careful to proclaim life and health over our little girl. Things like, "You're growing so well!" "You're so strong." "You're powerful." "You're beautiful." "You're doing great." We want to make positive affirmations over her life.
Linda and I do not treat Alicia as if she were sick, or lacking. We do not go about our days moping about because we don't believe that she is weak. Did she come out in the way that we had hoped or expected? No. Does this mean that she's at a deficit from other kids? Heck no! Do we have to fight a bit harder in order for her to stay healthy and strong and for her to maintain her life? Yes. But that just makes her all the more precious to us.
I don't know if I'm making any sense. But it's just a deep sense in my heart, and I want to encourage all of you to examine your language. Not only about us or about Alicia, but about yourselves.
Are you constantly saying, "I'm no good. I'm ugly. I suck. I'm so tired. I'll never succeed. I'll never get anywhere. etc…" Check yourself and change your speech. You may be inadvertently pronouncing a curse over yourself.
Now I'm not saying that you start speaking positive things and that like magic everything will turn around. But as I said earlier, I do believe that the words you speak come from what you believe about yourself and what you believe about the world, and that influences the way you act and behave. And these behaviors therefore bring about results. So really watch what you say about yourself and others.
So we speak over Alicia the promises of God. That he has a plan for you, a plan to prosper you, not a plan to harm you. A plan to give you a hope and a future. He has come so that you may have life and have it abundantly. You are fearfully and wonderfully made for he created your inmost being; and he knit you together in your mother's womb. You are his work, and his works are wonderful. All of the days ordained for you were written in his book before one of them came to be. From birth you have relied on him. He brought you forth from your mother's womb. He will carry you even to your old age! Do not fear for he has redeemed you. He has summoned you by name. You are his. When you pass through waters, he will be with you; and when you pass through rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For he is the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. You are precious and honored in his sight. Do not be afraid, for he is with you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go!
Speaking of words, a dear friend of mine, sent me an interesting article from the Internet entitled "Ten Things Not to Say to Parents of Preemies." It was actually very interesting.
Here are the 10 things they mentioned:
WHAT NOT TO SAY
1. “You’re so lucky that you didn’t have to go through the end of pregnancy!”
2. “At least, with the baby in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), you can get rest at night!”
3. “He’s so small!”
4. “When will she catch up?”
5. “What did you do, that he was born so early?”
6. “Everything happens for a reason.”
7. “Now that you have her home and off all that medical equipment, everything will be fine.”
8. “You’re just being paranoid about his health.”
9. “She needs to be exposed to germs to build up immunity.”
10. “He’s how old? My child is the same age and twice his size.”
While some of these things don't bother me personally, I can see why they might be offensive or why they might hurt.
1. Yes. The end of pregnancy is hard. But you know what, we would be willing to face that if that meant our daughter wouldn't need to go through all of this medical treatment.
2. Uh. Yeah. This is something, maybe that is OK for the parents to say? But definitely not for someone else to say it. I think you'll remember me saying in an earlier post that I'd take sleepless nights and her crying any day, if we could have skipped the NICU.
3. Thank you, Captain Obvious. Although, this one, I don't mind personally. I'm proud of the fact that she's small, but strong!
4. Again, I don't mind this one personally as much. But I can definitely see why this would sound bad? I mean, "catch up?" as if she's falling behind?
5. This one bugs me. Or another variation, "How did this happen?" Uh. We don't know. Or how about my personal favorite was someone saying to Linda, "What's wrong with your body? This didn't happen to any of your sisters." Uh, thanks.
6. This one, I believe is true. But I can see how it is not very comforting. It's kind of a pat response. But since we do believe that God is control. We do believe that he's got his plan and purposes in place.
7. We haven't gotten her home yet, so I'll let you know how I feel when someone says this after it happens.
8. Again, haven't been home yet. But definitely can understand why this could be annoying. It's one of those things, unless you've been through it, it's hard to understand the concern.
9. This is just stupid.
10. Again. How insensitive.
And then there was the other well-meaning relative that said, "We of course hope for the best, but you know, she's so small who knows what kind of potential problems she may need to face in the future. If doctors say that she's going to have a lot of challenges, you may need to prepare your hearts and let her go." Thanks for the love. But what?
I mean I know it's not always easy to know the right thing to say in a situation like this, and I can understand wanting to show your care and we receive the love and concern, so most of the time I just laugh off comments like these, because, I honestly believe these people don't have any intent to harm or hurt us. They're just showing their care in the best way they can.
On a more positive note here are some things that the article suggests that you can say:
WHAT TO SAY:
1. Congratulations! (Though this is somewhat controversial: some parents are offended at being congratulated when their babies are very ill. Others are offended because no congratulations are offered.)
2. “Tell me about your baby.”
3. “How can I help?” (Or better yet, offering specific assistance.)
4. “This experience must be very challenging.”
5. “He’s beautiful — he looks like you” (or the other parent.)
6. “I’ve brought you a meal.”
7. “I’m available to talk” — indicating what you’re really offering is to listen.
8. “Can I drive you to and from the hospital?”
9. “Tell me what’s going on with her medically.”
10. “I don’t know what to say, but I am thinking of you and your baby.”
I think these things are great. Two big thumbs up from me. =)
Anyway, so just my thoughts for today. Check your words! Not just about us, but about yourselves too!
As far as Alicia goes, she's doing really great! =) She's three days away from her one-month birthday and she's up to 648 grams today - nearly gaining back her birthweight. =) Yahoo! Straight up from here, Alicia! Go! =) We claim it. She's eating so well and we're so thankful. She's taking 10cc per feeding now and hasn't seemed to have any problems digesting and excreting. Hallelujah. Good girl! Pray that she can continue to do so!
Doctors said again that her condition is pretty stable now and right now the focus is to grow her and get her bigger and stronger then a lot of problems should resolve themselves.
A few prayer requests.
1. Doctors are trying to wean her off the ventilator. And she's been doing pretty well except right after she eats and when she has a lot of mucus. Right after she eats the stomach gets bigger and presses on her lungs, so they don't have as much room to expand. When this happens she has a harder time taking in air. Also when she has mucus it's harder for the air to get into the lungs. But the good news is that the mucus is not as thick as it was in the past. They used to have to drop some thinning solution down her throat to thin out the mucus so they could suck it out. But now they don't need to do that as much. Improvement! So pray for more and more improvement in the breathing department and that she can be off the ventilator soon and stay off. She also still has apnea where she forgets to breathe. It is improving, but please continue to pray over that.
2. Pray that any damage caused by the use of oxygen would be minimized. Oxygen causes oxidation (think rusting) which is damaging to our bodies. So extensive use of oxygen causes a lot of problems. Unforunately without the oxygen she can't survive at this point. So pray again that she can get off the ventilator ASAP.
3. She'll have an eye exam on Tuesday. The day before her one-month birthday. Pray for the development of her eyes. That they can be healthy and that she can have perfect vision.
4. Pray for her brain development. The doctor confirmed today that she does have some brain damage along the part of the brain that controls motor skills. He said that in a few months when she's older, he's going to have a physical therapist come in and look at her and start her on some physical therapy to develop her motor skills. Usually the earlier they can intervene the more successful the results. It's better to do it while she's flexible and can move about more freely.
Alicia continues to delight everyone in the nursery. Apparantly, she likes attention. The nurses say that when they walk away for awhile, something usually happens to Alicia where she forgets to breathe or something that forces them to come back to her. They're kidding of course, but the nurses say that she likes to have someone watching her. Hmm… takes after Daddy? She's also pretty active and moves around a lot. During this morning's visit she was pretty awake and alert, and was moving her arms and legs a lot. She was sleeping on her side and did this funny twitch thing like a dog with her top leg. It was really cute. Haha.
Also, yeah, no doubts that this girl is mine. Every time we go back to see her, and I mean every time, in just the few hours that we don't see her, she grows a bit more. She's really filling out and we can see her features more and more clearly. And man, does she look like me as a baby. I really feel like I'm looking at a mini-me. Heehee. So cute.
Anyway, thanks for keeping up friends! =) More updates soon.