It's been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. The eyes reveal much about what a person is thinking, feeling and experiencing.
I really miss seeing my daughter's eyes. Since her laser procedure Alicia's eyes have been covered for a majority of the time. As I look at pictures of her now, and I spend time with her in the NICU, it's not the same. Don't get me wrong, I cherish each photo I receive from Linda, and each moment I get to spend with her. There is a certain amount of satisfaction and pride that I feel as I watch her cheeks get progressively rounder and her legs and arms get gradually thicker and thicker. I mean it's not like I'm doing anything physically to make this growth happen, but you know, there's a certain amount of pride involved when God is accomplishing something great in your child.
But back to what I was saying, while I enjoy each moment I have with my daughter, there's is just something about being to see her eyes and have her be able to "see" me. For those of you who have seen pictures you'll know that Alicia has these huge, beautiful eyes that are so bright and full of life. Her eyes are so expressive and so alive. And when I look into them, there is this connection. When her eyes are covered it's like you're interacting with someone who is on the other side of way mirror. You can hear them, you can see them, but they aren't aware of you.
Having said that, though, I do know that Alicia is still aware of us when we are around. There are certain moments throughout our visits with her that she gets stressed for one reason or another, and I see definitely that our voices and our touch really do help to calm her down and bring her peace.
And I also know that all of this is temporary. Her eyes will not be permanently covered. And I know she will see and see well. I can't wait.
Speaking of seeing, I do want to challenge all of you with something. How do you see your life?
What are you focusing on? What about the people around you? How do you see them?
Since Alicia's birth, I've felt challenged in my heart over and over about how I look at Alicia and our new role as her parents. On the one side, I can choose to look at her like a sickly child, one that needs special care, and must be handled with kid gloves. Or I can see her as a healthy child that has had a unique birth and first few months.
How I see, determines how I act, and the way I act they kind of life I live.
I've heard stories of parents of preemies who pretty much isolated themselves from the outside world after being discharged from the hospital for fear of their child getting sick and needing to be back in the hospital. Now, I definitely understand the concern. It's a very real fear, and a very legitimate thing to be concerned over. Scientific studies have shown that children who were born early are more susceptible to viruses and infections because their immunity isn't as strong. And we parents are often cautioned to avoid bringing our beloved children to places with too many people for fear of catching illnesses.
There are even stories of kids being discharged from the hospital and then catching a cold or pneumonia and then ending up back in the hospital or even dying.
Hearing all of this, it's hard not to worry. It's hard not to want to put Alicia in a plastic bubble and not allow her out until she's 18. Maybe I should build a tower, seal off the door and grow her hair out so I can use it to climb up to her. Haha. I jest.
But seriously, it's easy to get anxious. But I do not believe that the Lord wants us to live a life of fear. In fact, I am sure he does not want us to live a life of fear. Fear is bondage. Some of you may not realize that. But the fear, the worries that you decide to mull over and over and over again in your head, your under bondage! Think about it. How often have you wanted to do something, but you don't because you are afraid. How much of your life have you missed out on because you've allowed fear to control your life.
That's no life. Jesus said, "I've come that you have life and have it more abundantly." (FYI, I just did a search for this verse in Google and the first site that came up was a site about pregnancy. =) Isn't God cool?) Jesus gave up his life so that we could be free. Free from the bondage of sin, free from the bondage of bad habits, free from the bondage of lies. Free! Yet, so many of us are NOT living lives of freedom.
We worry about money. We worry about illnesses. We worry, worry, worry. We think we're being responsible, but we're being trapped.
Now I'm not advocating being reckless. I'm not saying that we're going to let everyone and anyone come and see Alicia and cough all over her and we won't care. No! And of course we're going to watch where we take her and how long we spend there. We are going to be wise and pray for wisdom. But truly we're not going to live in fear of what might happen.
Alicia is God's child. She is on loan to us for the time being. And we want to take care of her the best way that we can. But I do not believe that this means keeping her under quarantine for months until the "threat" has passed. Our God is MIGHTY to save. Our God is GREATER! Our God has CONQUERED the GRAVE!
Alicia has already died once and God sent her back. She has a purpose and destiny to fulfill on Earth. So we rejoice! We celebrate. And we live in anticipation and not fear.
So thank you for all of your love, prayers and concerns. But I ask for all of you to choose to see and focus on the wonderful life that Alicia can and will live. Do not focus on all the negative things that can happen. Pray for God's protection and provision. Pray for her to thrive. Don't pray that she won't get sick and that she won't be weak.
Celebrate with us! Don't worry over us. Celebrate because Alicia is doing great! Celebrate that she is a miracle. Celebrate that she is full of life and full of spunk. Celebrate!
Pray that Linda and I would have wisdom and insight into how to take care of this precious gift in the best way possible. Ask for God to show us what things to avoid, and what things to enjoy. Ask him to direct us. And ask him to speak to your hearts as well. Ask him to show you how you can live your life in freedom and not under bondage.
I truly believe that to live in fear is dishonoring to God. You want to bring God glory? Then learn to trust, learn to have faith! Believe me, it's not easy!
I am speaking so adamantly because I'm speaking to myself as well! I have my moments of doubt and fear for sure. But this is me proclaiming and battling for my family, and for you guys. Let's live lives of boldness! Let's live lives of confidence.
God tells us, his children, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10.
GOD WILL UPHOLD US! He will protect us.
What if we mess up? Well, then there's grace. And his grace is ever ever abundant and it will never run out. =)
And if I may ask a favor, in giving us advice and showing your love, can you focus on encouraging us and not warning us? Help us to find wisdom on the best way to care for Alicia. What are some things that we CAN do to help her to get even stronger and healthier. Focus on, "Do this and this because, we hear it has this and this benefit." not "Don't do this and don't do this, because we hear that it can cause this and this harm." The former would really help us a lot more, I believe.
Before I go, some quick stats.
1. Alicia is 1472 grams (3.25 pounds) today. She's averaging growth of about 100 grams/week.
2. She's eating about 26 or 27 cc of milk per feeding.
3. She's breathing better and better on her own.
4. She hates the nasal cannula and will often pull it out. Feisty little girl.
5. Digestion is still pretty good. She poops a lot. Yesterday, she apparently pooped on one of the nurses hands again.
6. She loves attention. The story goes that one night during bath time some nurses crowded around Alicia and started cooing over her. They all took turns holding her and talking to her. And Alicia was just looking around wide-eyed and completely soaking up the attention. As soon as she was put back into her incubator, she started bawling. She didn't want the show to be over.
7. Speaking of bath time. She loves being clean. The nurses say she loves being washed, and she hates dirty diapers.
So young and her personality is coming out already. Can't wait to see what she'll be like as she gets older. =)