Saturday, July 16, 2011

Defeated or Sure-footed

I nearly lost it last night.

We were in the NICU and Alicia had another one of her episodes. Her oxygen levels dropped, her heartrate slowed, and I just couldn't deal with it anymore. Usually, when Alicia goes through one of her moments, I'm standing right next to the doctors and nurses eyeing their every move. Last night, I didn't have the strength. I pulled up a chair, sat down and just stared. I don't remember what I was staring at, but I remember I just stared.

I think I just felt defeated and deflated. I felt beat down and stripped of all power. We had been making all this progress and then one small thing sets her back. I started to feel completely frustrated and I just couldn't take it anymore. I just wish that my daughter could breathe on her own! I don't want her to be so dependant on these machines. When will she breathe on her own? When?

The pressure is so intense sometimes. And what's frustrating is that there's nothing I can do about it in and of myself. And truth is I think sometimes I can forget how stressful this situation is. On the surface our lives seem pretty easy. We go to the hospital twice a day, other than that we're just hanging out at home. What's so exhausting about that?

But truth is, it is exhausting. It's exhausting trying to stay brave. It's exhausting trying to be strong and stable. It's exhausting not to get discouraged when my daughter has been in the NICU for a month and a half and we don't know when she will get out.

Imagine running on a treadmill and not being able to get off. The numbers on the machine tell you that you've run the equivalent of five miles or six miles, but physically, you're still in the same place. It can be defeating.

Then add on to the fact that I don't really know how to rest. I give myself pressure, saying I need to do this and I need to do that. I mean, why not use my time wisely. Take this opportunity while someone's watching my daughter to do some extra stuff. What I forget is, that our daughter is not just at the babysitter. She's in intensive care. INTENSIVE care. Why would I think that our situation is any less intense?

But for some inexplicable reason, I do forget, and I try to take on more and then end up crashing, like last night.

Thankfully, God has given me an amazing wife. Linda was my lifesaver last night. There were some logistical things that I had to take care of, but I just didn't have the strength to deal with anything or anyone. So Linda sprung into action. Here she is she's just carried a child for 6 months, gave birth no more than two months ago, expending a lot of energy every few hours pumping milk, and she still has the strength to carry her husband's burdens when he collapses and melts.

I seriously felt like a little child last night. I had nothing left to give. I got home from the hospital and literally just prostrated myself on the floor because I was so spent. Linda just coddled me, let me vent, and just encouraged me to rest.

Rest. Such a simple word, yet so hard to do. Physically, I've been resting. But what I've realized is that I have not been resting in my soul. My soul has been striving and struggling. I've been working myself into a frenzy, trying to make everything work and juggle a hundred balls. But yesterday, I came face to face with my limitations.

Linda said it best last night, when she said that she feels like we've been treading water. We've been kicking and kicking, moving our legs as fast as we could to stay afloat. But what God really wants us to do is just float. Just let go, stop kicking, and float.

But honestly, I don't know how to do that just yet. I am fighting within me to retain any amount of control that I can grasp onto. It's like I've moved into the passenger seat of the car, and just like Carrie Underwood sings, I've let Jesus take the wheel. But, even though he's driving, I'm still sitting there telling him where to go or what to do, screaming, "Watch out! Be careful!" every time I see danger. I haven't given him complete control. It's so hard to just sit there and say nothing, and do nothing. I'm trying to retain whatever power I can have, but truth is in this situation I am completely impotent.

I can go and see Alicia every day. I can hold her and sing to her and talk to her. I know these things make a difference for her. But beyond that, there's not much I can do. I am powerless.

I am powerless to revive my daughter when her vital signs plummet. I can't be with her throughout the day to comfort her when she's pricked by needles, or scared.
And as a man, I naturally want to run away from a situation that makes me feel powerless. I want to feel useful. I want to demonstrate my virility, but there's really nothing I can do. So I just want to escape, except there is no escape here.

And something else that's frustrating? Even if I could runaway, I wouldn't want to runaway. The thought of going back to work and leaving my wife and child is hard to accept. Right now Alicia is in a hospital far from home, so when I go back to work, it means that I'll only be able to see her on the weekends. And I know that she's in good hands. Linda will go see her every day twice a day, the nurses and doctors all will take good care of her. But not being able to see her myself, somehow I feel like I'm being neglectful and negligent.

God is really stripping me down to the bare bones and it's really hard to take.

The good news, this isn't the end of the journey. He never strips down without building back up. He never empties without filling to overflowing. So I just surrender. I pray that through this time, as it says in Ephesians, that God would give us the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know him better.

I admit it, I am a man, and in and of myself I am powerless. But in and through the Holy Spirit we will get through this and we will soar.

It's like it says in the book of Isaiah, "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

And in one of my favorite Bible passages Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.

So we wait. We wait on the Lord. He knows exactly the amount of time that Alicia needs to be in hospital. He knows the exact date of her discharge. He knows the road ahead and he will be our guide. We wait. And as we wait, he will renew our strength. We will mount up on wings like eagles. We will run and not grow weary; we will walk and not faint. He will lift us out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he will set our feet on a rock and give us a firm place to stand.

Our family will make it through this and we will thrive. We will go from being defeated to sure-footed! He has promised!

Prayer requests:

1. Pray for Alicia's breathing. The good news is that after they reinserted the vent tube, Alicia has been able to breathe well on lower vent settings than she's had in the past. This is good. Problem is she still has a lot of mucus buildup and so sometimes this makes it hard for her to take in air. So please pray that the mucus would dissipate.

2. Other than that, she's doing well. After three days of no weight gain, she's gained 16 grams today. She's up to 836 grams now. Thank God, for that.

3. She continues to eat well. She's up to eating 15cc right now which is a good amount for her.

4. After her episode two nights ago, she was pretty lethargic yesterday. We're guessing the situation with the tube really exhausted her. Today when we went to see her, she was sleeping for most of the time. But the nurse said that her vigor is back and that she does move around a lot when she's awake. Pray that God continues to give her energy to keep growing and stay active.

5. Pray for peace and strength for Linda and I. This journey really is exhausting. I really don't know how people go through this without God.

Thanks, everyone!

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