It's the last night before we bring Alicia home. I know I've said this before, but I can really hardly believe we're at this point. We've been praying for and longing for so long, it's unreal that it's finally here! I've pictured this day and believed for this day for so long. It feels so strange that it's finally a reality. For so long it was some far off distant event. One that started off as something that may or may not happen, then developed into a potential possibility, then into a strong probability, and now it's happening tomorrow!
The thing is that this is not just an event that I've been waiting for for four months. It's something that I've dreamed about for years! I've wanted to be a father since . . . forever. And now, we're truly bringing our baby home. We get to dress her up in pretty clothes, teach her things, play with her, sing to her and watch her grow. Thank you, Lord!
Walking out of the hospital tonight after our last and final visit with Alicia at the hospital before discharge, I was almost sad, as if I was saying goodbye to my daughter for the last time, rather than getting ready to take her home with us. I felt sentimental and lingered at her incubator as long as I could after visiting hours, and even turned back to say a quick, "We'll be back tomorrow to pick you and bring you home, Sweetheart," as if it were the last time that I was going to see her for awhile. I don't know why I was sentimental, we'll be bringing her home tomorrow. And I'll get to see her whenever I want to.
No more, restricted visiting hours. No more needing to share time with guests because we're only allowed two visitors at a time. No more wearing hospital gowns to see her. No more touching her through an incubator, or asking permission to take her out and hold her. No more checking with the nurses each and every time I wanted to do anything with her. She's going to be home!
The doctors and nurses have been so very sweet to us. We've really made some wonderful connections here at the hospital. Many nurses have come over to us these past few days and have told us that we need to make sure to stop by and see them before we leave. They're sad to see us go, but also excited for us as we start our new life as a family.
Linda and I have been talking about this transition a lot these past few days, and one thing that we've said is that we'll definitely miss these past four months. As hard as it was, we'll definitely miss the times we've had in Taichung. It was a trying time, but a sweet time of growth and development. It's really interesting how no one really ever hopes and wishes for wilderness times. Times when it's just you and God, and life seems dry and barren, and things are hard. But, at least in the two times I've experienced extended wilderness periods, I seem to always look back on those days with fondness.
I can't even imagine what life will be like at home with this little one. What will it be like living having our empty house be filled with the sounds of lullabies, coos and cries? What will it be like to add diaper changes, routine feedings and naps into our schedules. How will we orchestrate our schedules with this new addition into our lives. It's as if we're bringing home a newborn, even though she's already 4 months old.
Please pray, pray for Linda and I, especially Linda. She's going to be the primary caretaker for Alicia. And unlike other moms and dads that we've met these past few months at the hospital, Linda will be mostly on her own. There are no grandparents to come over and lend a helping hand. So pray that God would give Linda extra grace and that the transition would be very, very smooth.
We've never done this 24 hour thing before. There is a lot to do for this little one. Other than the requisite diaper changes, nap, feeding and bath times, we've got to give her medicine and vitamins, massages and therapies. Lots to keep track of. Linda has been amazing these past couple of weeks, learning and practicing the home care techniques that the nurses have been teaching her. In a way, it's nice, I feel like we've had a lot more time to prepare for our daughter to come home than others have. And we've had time to adjust to parenthood, before bringing our daughter home, so that's a good thing.
At least these past 4 months at the hospital, Alicia has already been on a routine, so the nice thing is we won't need to work too hard to establish a schedule with her. Also, with all the noise in the hospital, Alicia can practically sleep through anything. Today, one of the NICU nurses came by to see Alicia. She was napping peacefully on my chest. The nurse started cooing and pinching her cheeks, and speaking to her. Alicia just slept through the whole thing and didn't even stir. Amazing.
Pray for our car ride back to Taipei tomorrow. It's a three-hour ride. Alicia's never been outside the hospital, let alone in a car. Great thing is that she's big enough now to fit into a car seat, so at least she'll be safe without needing us to hold her the whole time. Pray that we'll have a smooth trip, no accidents, no traffic, no getting lost. Pray that everyone will be comfortable and that we'll get back safely. Pray that we'll all be comfortable through the ride and Alicia will adjust quickly to the car ride.
Pray for all of us, especially Alicia to adjust to life in her new home. Ask the Lord for protection over all of us as this is cold and flu season and we're praying that none of us will get sick. Also, pray that Alicia will get comfortable quickly in our house and that she will adjust to life with us as we adjust to life with her.
Pray that God would give us wisdom on how to care for her, protect her and train her up without going overboard and being overprotective.
For all of the big and small ways that all of you have done to reach out and bless us and help us, thank you! So many of you have offered to cook meals, supported us financially, helped us to prepare our house, given us rides, visited us, laughed with us, prayed for us, cheered us on. Thank you for offering to drive us up, for helping to stock our house with baby stuff, for clothes, and advice and everything! It's been amazing.
We really need to say a big THANK YOU to my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and their family for their love and support these past few months. They put us up for free for three months, let us borrow their car, and just basically took care of every one of our needs. God has really blessed us through you guys. THANK YOU THANK YOU!
I can't believe we've reached the end of this leg of our journey! FINALLY!! PRAISE THE LORD!
Tomorrow, we start a new chapter in this Charis Life! Stay tuned!