It's been a long week. I left Linda and Alicia Monday morning to go back to work and didn't get back to them until Saturday night. These six days were the longest that I've experienced in a long time. And when I finally was able to get back to be with Linda and Alicia, I literally broke down. I haven't cried at Alicia's incubator since she was first born. And while six days doesn't seem that long to some people, to me it was interminable, and when I finally was able to get back with my family, and hold Alicia, I just started sobbing. And as I did, I felt the weight and stress of the past week melt off my shoulders and disappear. I was "home".
You know, I never really understood the idea how "home is where the heart is" until just now. Even though during the week I live in our house, the "home" that Linda and I have lived in for over a year now, it's not really home. I leave our house, and I'm with my wife and my daughter in the sterile NICU, and somehow, that's "home." I feel rested, and my soul stops striving. The only thing that matters is the three of us being together. Everything else is peripheral.
I saw a commercial on TV last night for one of our local telecom companies. It was an ad for long-distance phone service. The ad showed a mom calling her husband overseas, and while they're on the phone the husband hears the squeak squeak of his daughter's shoes as she walked. He asks his wife what the sound is, and she explains that it's their daughter. She can walk now! I don't know how you interpret that, but to me it means that he probably hasn't seen his daughter in awhile.
Every time I see this commercial, my heart aches a bit. I mean for this to be an ad concept, it must be a something that people can identify with, right. So this tells me that there must be a large majority of families in Taiwan where the father lives separately from his family. And I can't help but think, how do they do it? I mean I can understand the desire to make money and provide for the family, and sometimes the opportunities are just not where your family is. But still, I think I would go crazy. I mean I've had people tell me that I need to be brave, and that many, many families live separate lives. And I guess eventually if I absolutely had to live under this arrangement, I would maybe grow numb to the dull ache of longing for my family. But is that a good thing? I'm not making any judgments here, I just really don't think that's not something that I would want for myself or our family. I mean I barely lasted six days. And if I'm to be honest, I really firmly believe that many of our societies struggles and problems these days is the absence of the parents in the household. We're so busy working and making money that we're not home for our kids. And there's a whole generation of people who have grown up and are growing up without parents. And that can't be good, can it? But that's a whole other issue and maybe I'm just being too sensitive.
Our little Alicia continues to grow and get bigger and stronger each and every day. Her ventilator has finally been removed! Yahoo! I love how things are slowly being cleared off of and away from her. She started her life with IVs and wires and tubes stuck in and to her. Various body parts were connected to machines that monitored her vitals and alerted nurses and doctors when things were wrong. But now as she gets older and more stable, these wires and machines are slowly being removed one by one. First, it was the IVs, then the endotracheal tube, then the blood oxygen monitor, and now the ventilator. Hmm. Just realizing that it's kind of a metaphor of our spiritual walks as we continue to grow stronger in our faith and our relationship with God. As we get stronger and healthier, more and more of the shackles and trappings that held us down get removed and we gain more and more freedom. I look forward to the day when Alicia can shed the incubator, and get rid of the last of her wires and tubes so that I can hold her and squeeze her without worrying that something might get caught or wedged, or that I'm pulling on something that might make her uncomfortable.
Yesterday, Alicia got up to 1665 grams (3.65 grams) and gained another 32 grams to 1697 grams (3.74 lbs) today. And she's eating up to 30cc per feeding now, most of the time on her own! It's truly been amazing to witness the miracle of our daughter growing. I've said it before, God in his grace and wisdom has chosen to let us see with our eyes and feel with our hands something that most people can only imagine and read about. I don't know why he chose to do things in this way, but, I do believe in his goodness and sovereignty, and that he allowed Alicia to come out early for a purpose. As hard as this was, I believe that this is what was best for us. Who knows what would have happened if Alicia was carried to full-term. We might think that that's what is best. But maybe there would have been other issues, worse issues if Alicia had stayed in. Only God knows.
Yesterday, when I got to the NICU, I got to see some pictures that the nurses took for us during the night shift when they usually give Alicia baths. We're never there for this time, so the nurses were sweet to document this time for us. We have some really adorable pictures of Alicia smiling with satisfaction as the nurses carefully bathe her and get her clean. Our little girl really loves bath time. As I was looking through the photos, I saw a bunch of photos of the nurses all take turns cradling and holding Alicia. They really do love her. It's touching to see. One of the nurses I had never seen before. Linda told me that she usually works the night shift and she is often the one given charge over Alicia. The beautiful thing is that this woman is a strong Christian. Hearing that really warmed my heart. God really does take care of the details. He set one of his devoted daughters over Alicia in the middle of the night to be her night watch person. And you know the amazing thing? As I looked at the photo, I couldn't help but notice the uncanny resemblance between this woman and Linda. It could just be her hairstyle, but these two definitely could be sisters. Is God cool or what?
Still not sure how much longer Alicia will need to be in the hospital. She's more and more stable, but we still haven't been moved upstairs yet. And once we move upstairs it might take another few weeks. But I definitely believe that we're getting closer and closer each and every day.
Praise the Lord! Thanks for all the prayers and support friends.