The past few days have been hard. I felt stuck. I felt like my life was going nowhere fast, and yet, I felt frustrated because it didn't seem like there was much that I could do about it, or maybe no motivation to do anything about it. Last night, as I lay down to go to bed, it all came to a head. I felt completely weighed down, and shackled. I felt like I was an inmate on a life setence with no hope for parole. I wanted to fight and break free, but I felt completely helpless to do anything. Linda noticed me struggling and asked me what was wrong. I told her that I felt like I was in a cage and that I wanted my life back! My sweet wife. Sometimes she really has to put up with a lot from me. Instead of giving me a retort, she asked me gently, "Did you talk to Daddy about it?" I wanted to shout at her, "Of course I've talked to Daddy about it? What do you mean?" But I calmed myself down and realized, well, I hadn't really talked to God about it. I mean not really had a conversation about it.
I mean to be honest, I didn't even know what it was that I was struggling with. I was just unhappy, frustrated, angry, anxious,tired of the unvarying routine of our current lifestyle and really wanting to figure out something productive to do with our time. Then Daddy, as he often does, showed me what it was - I was stir crazy.
This morning when I woke up, I had to look it up. And the definition I found on Wikipedia made me laugh. Not because it was funny, but because it was the perfect description of what I was feeling and struggling with.
I won't go into the everything that wikipedia says, you can read it through the link above. But I like the one section that says: "Stir crazy [includes] the urge to engage and attempt doing anything perceived to be even slightly more constructive and productive, given the extreme limitations of the environment, even if plainly destructive, than doing nothing at all." YES!
You see, it's not that I'm not thankful for this time off to be with Linda and Alicia. I'm so absolutely grateful that I can have this time. And it's not the physical environment that's making me feel all bound up. In fact, God has been great to us. We're living in a beautiful apartment, in a wonderful city, we've got all of our needs taken care of. We're actually quite comfortable.
I think what it is is that I've been feeling stuck in a routine. Those of you who have been following on the blog know. We wake up, eat breakfast, Linda pumps. We go see Alicia. We come back, eat lunch, Linda pumps. Linda takes a nap. She wakes up, eats dinner, she pumps. We go see Alicia. We come back, eat a snack/dessert, Linda pumps. We take a shower, go to bed, then do it all over again the next morning. As you can see, much of the above requires little or no interaction from me.
I was struggling last night, I was getting mad at myself. When I'm really tired from work, I long for a time off, and now that I have it, I long to work? What's wrong with me? And so many people have told me to not worry about work, and to focus on taking care of my family and those words are very true. But I just feel so restless.
What I realized is that it's not so much work that I long for. But productivity. I long to be productive, to do something that is making a difference. I've even taken to helping Linda with her pumping (giving her a massages, getting her drinks, adjusting pump settings) just so that I can feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.
And boy have I been agitated, the slightest thing will set me off. And sometimes, I'll pick fights. I mean, I wasn't aware that I was picking fights while I was doing it, but now that I look back on it, I realized that a lot of the things that I was getting annoyed about, could easily have been let go and dismissed, because they were stupid. (Bad husband, I know.)
Wikipedia also says, "Stir crazy might colloquially be defined as finding yourself trapped in a waiting room without any apparent appointment time scheduled." Very apt description. I think this is another part of the struggle.
Many people ask, "So have the doctors said when Alicia will be able to come out of the hospital?" or "When do you think you guys can come home?" And my answer is always, "I don't know." Three simple words that can drive a man crazy.
I don't know when we can go home. I don't know when we can start a new life with our daughter. I don't know when she'll be out of the hospital. I don't know when this ride will be over ... sitting in a waiting room without any apparent appointment time scheduled.
It'd be almost easier if there were a set date, then I could at least have an end in sight. Right now the end is som illusive date in September, October or even later.
I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining, because that's not my intention. Again, I'm very thankful for my life. I think it's been building up, and I've been struggling so much with it over the past few days that I needed to figure out what it was. And once God showed me what it was, it was like there was a breakthrough.
What do I do about it now? Well, I'll need to pray about it some more. But I'm sure we'll figure something out.
Like I said before, writing this blog has helped. Oh, that was another thing, I had somewhat of a writer's block the past couple of days (hence the lack of posts) and as I sat down to write yesterday, again nothing, which I think exacerbated the situation even more. The one productive thing I was doing was now gone. =) I know. I'm being super melodramatic, forgive me.
So we walk forward. I'm thankful for a God who understands and knows me better than I do. He knows how he made me and fashioned me. He created me to be creative and productive. He knows exactly what my struggles are and he doesn't blame me, condemn me or criticize me for them. He just lovingly shows me what it is that I'm struggling with and invites me to bring it to him and work it out with him. He's a good Daddy.
I kind of see myself as a little kid throwing a tantrum because I can't figure out how to put together some toy that I've been given. Daddy gently offers to help and I fight him. I say, no! I want to do it myself! And he just waits. He waits until I tire out and realize I can't do it on my own and let him take over.
It reminds me of Alicia's neighbor in the NICU, Kai Ge. He was born three months before Alicia at 26 weeks gestational age. But he weighed a lot less than she did at birth, only about 500+ grams. But now he's a chubby kid with lots of strength and personality. He's notorious in our NICU for being the kid with the temper. All the nurses love him, cause he's so cute, but they also know that he doesn't like to be messed with. If feedings are late, he'll cry. If he's uncomfortable, he'll cry. He'll even pull out his tubes and wires if given the chance. The most extreme case, was one time he was getting a blood transfusion, and he pulled out the IV, getting blood everywhere. Now keep in mind he's barely a few days old now (adjusted age), so I doubt that he's doing these things consciously to be bad. But it just shows his personality.
I was thinking about it last night, and I realized that I'm just like Kai Ge. (Ironically, he and I both have the same character in our Chinese name.) I'm restless, I don't like being bound, and I fight to be free. But maybe now is the time to just rest and be still. But I think I need to find the balance between being still and being lethargic. I think we can be still, yet productive. How? Good question. I'll let you know when I figure it out. =)
Now onto Alicia, she's doing well. She's up to 708 grams. Yay! We haven't seen her yet today so, she may even weigh more than that, I hope! =) Anyway, she's steadily growing bigger. She continues to be a sweatheart and all the nurses love her. One nurse yesterday told us that as she was changing Alicia's diaper yesterday, Alicia pooped all over her. Haha. When we apologized, the nurse laughed and said, "Oh, it's OK! I thought it was adorable." What? And she added, "It's better to poop than not poop right?" I had to agree there. So apparantly Alicia's digestion is doing well. She poops a lot apparantly. She goes through a package of 40 diapers in like five days. Seriously, someone remind me to buy stock in Huggies or Pampers or something.
Alicia continues to struggle with breathing during and after feedings. But doctors don't seem too concerned. It's a pretty common thing with preemies her size. I think I mentioned before that they've put her on timed feedings now to control how much milk goes in her body at one time, and that's helped. But I think sometimes she just gets too comfortable when she's full, so she'll fall asleep and forget to breathe.
Alicia's Uncle Jeffrey (my brother) came to visit her last night. It was a sweet time. Jeff and my sister-in-law, Faith, are expecting their own little bundle of joy in September. Actually Alicia and her cousin were originally only due two weeks apart that is until Alicia decided to come out early. =) I really enjoyed introducing my brother to his niece, and watching him touch her and pray for her. It was really nice.
1. Pray as usual for Alicia's development. Lungs, brains, eyes, ears ... everything. Pray that everything would be perfectly formed and whole, and that any damage would be healed or reversed.
2. Pray that she'll continue to eat well and grow healthy and strong.
3. Pray for her emotional development, that she will not remember any trauma from this time in the NICU, but that she'll just sense God's presence surrounding her every moment of every day.
4. Pray specifically for the damage in her lungs that the Lord would reverse it quickly and that he would place a layer of protection inside her lungs so that the oxygen wouldn't damage them anymore, and that Alicia can get off the ventilator soon.
5. Pray for wisdom for our family. My vacation days are running up soon, so I'll need to go back to work. But Alicia might need to be in the hospital a few months more. So pray for wisdom to know when I should go back to work and how to work out the logistics. I'd like to save some vacation days for when she's actually out of the hospital, but I really don't want to leave Linda alone at this time. She's a strong capable woman, but I need to take care of my wife.
6. Pray for balance. Pray that God would show us how to use our time wisely so that we can have a good balance of rest and productivity.
7. Pray for our finances. God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider, we know he will provide and he has already provided so generously through many of you. Thank you so much! Pray that we'll have wisdom on how to use what's been given to us well.
8. Pray for our relationships. Thank you, friends for respecting us and giving our space. Please do know that we think of you often and we do want to connect, but to be honest sometimes at this point, it can be draining. But don't get me wrong, we want to connect, we just ask for wisdom on the best way to do it. Plus with Linda's schedule, it makes it hard to really spend a good chunk of time with people. Again, praying for wisdom. Also pray for our relationship with the other NICUers. Pray that we can build some solid bridges and connections so that we can be a blessing to one another.