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Our Arkansas Adventures: Part Four

March 13, 2017

We’re in the home-stretch here as I fully intend for this to be our final post about our time in Arkansas…which means it could be a little longer than previous posts, since it covers several weeks of time.

No hating allowed! ūüėČ

Let’s pickup where we left off – Christmas Eve. It was a super rough day because we saw Charlotte regress after having such a rapid turnaround. My parents (who’ve never spent even one Christmas away from Omaha) drove down to be with us in Arkansas. It meant a whole lot to us.

Within an hour of Charlotte arriving at Children’s, they successfully got a PICC line in her leg. WHEWWWWW! They also took some blood gasses and they were starting to look good again, so they began to wean the oxygen down. It was now a waiting game as she received a four-day course of steroids to shrink any swelling in her airways before she’d be ready to come off the ventilator again.

There was always the possibility that it wasn’t actually swelling and there was an obstruction in her airway (like a growth or something) but we’d wait to see if she failed extubation again before getting an ENT evaluation to check for anything abnormal anatomically.

We sang Christmas songs at Charlotte’s bedside that evening. It was so peaceful and we could finally relax because she was doing well again.

Christmas morning was bittersweet because Charlotte wasn’t with us but the family we were staying with really made it special for us. They had a few gifts for our family, which JoJo especially enjoyed since opening presents is a favorite activity of hers.

Jonathan and I had left all our Christmas presents for Josie in Omaha so a quick run to Target and a few Melissa and Doug toys later, we had plenty for her to open. I’d forgotten to buy Jonathan anything until a couple days before Christmas and after assessing his Amazon Wishlist,¬†only one of the items would actually be able to make it to the house before Christmas. It was a nose-hair trimmer so that’s all I gave him. LOL

That afternoon we went back to the hospital and opened some gifts at Charlotte’s bedside. My heart broke as we left when I saw another baby’s bedside surrounded by dozens of loved ones. The hospital has a strict policy of two visitors at a time unless it’s critical enough to invite family back to say goodbyes. We had to walk past them as they wept on one another’s shoulders. My heart shattered for them. The NICU is a place where you realize as a parent how precious and fragile life is and that none of us¬†are in control. All we can do is trust God with the lives of our kids and do our best to protect them in ways we can.

The day after Christmas they ended up losing Charlotte’s arterial line. This was allowing them to take blood from her artery so they could measure her blood gasses but they could poke her heel to test, just wasn’t as easy or fun for her. This meant that I could FINALLY HOLD HER!!! It was just perfect. Jonathan also got to hold her the next morning.

On December 28th, after all the steroids were given, it was time to try taking her off the ventilator again. It’s funny since I absolutely wanted this to happen but I was also super scared it would end up like last time. In the NICU it’s easy to get used to where your kid is at and if they’re stable you don’t want to mess with it. Even good steps can be scary because it always poses a risk of stable becoming unstable. I was at her bedside when they took her tube out and she did amazingly. I even heard her CRY!!!!!! That’s when I was certain the steroids worked and it was swelling and not an obstruction preventing her from breathing. She hadn’t cried the last time because she couldn’t get the sound out so this was quite the improvement.

Gazing at me in first few hours off the vent! Lovin those TMNT socks they put on her hands to prevent scratching!

BUT THEN JoJo, Jon, and I all got struck with the flu!!!!!! Nooooooooooo!!!! This meant that we couldn’t get into the NICU (because hello, sick babies). Thank the Lord that my mom was in town (she stayed while my dad went back to Nebraska for work). She moved into the hospital for the next several days while we took every conventional and homeopathic remedy available to get the flu gone fast.

Of course the day Jonathan finally got better, he had to fly down to San Antonio, TX to attend SEEK 2017. I was also coming out of the woods so I ventured back into the NICU but made sure to wash and sanitize myself every few minutes! Since Jonathan was gone, my mom stayed at the house with Josie and took care of her all day while I stayed with Charlotte.

The house we’d been staying at, while awesome, was 25-30 minutes from the hospital. You can only imagine how much we spent in gas money that month doing several roundtrips each day! I got a call saying they had a spot at the brand new Ronald McDonald House across the street from Children’s. It was gorgeous. The rooms were like a hotel. The living rooms were so comfy and the dinning room/kitchen had a giant glass enclosed playroom off of it where kiddos could play. Oh and they also had a Golden Doodle named Mac that Josie became OBSESSED with. We were so grateful a spot there opened up so I could walk to the hospital but also have access to a kitchen during the day to cook meals. The families we met there were also invaluable as we all got to lean on one another while undergoing some of the hardest chapters of our parenting journeys.

Charlotte’s big task after getting off the vent and oxygenation well was learning how to feed. They predicted she’d have trouble for several reasons. She had a lot of choking going on so we literally had to take it one feeding at a time. We’d offer her bottle and then whatever she didn’t finish in a 20 minute window, she’d get through her NG Tube. With almost every feed she’d do better than the last, which was encouraging since her first feed she only took 9ml…so I thought it would be forever before she’d be able to take the 75-90ml at a feed a baby her size would typically take. We were even told sometimes the feeding issues would take longer to overcome than the initial respiratory! EEP!

It took her a little over a week before she decided to suck down an entire bottle but once she gone and done it, the girl never looked back. She was slamming the bottle consistently so it was suddenly time for us to move into a live-in room to take over her care completely before discharging. I packed up our van with ALLLLLLL the things we’d accumulated in Arkansas and sent my mom and Josie home, knowing we’d only be a few days behind them.

Jonathan flew back to Little Rock on Saturday January 7th right as the Docs said that if by 9am the next morning she’d continued taking her feeds, we would be discharged immediately. Just in time!!

We could hardly believe it was happening so fast. It’s as if she decided she was done with the hospital and it was time to get home! Fine by us, Charlie! ūüôā On January 9th we were discharged from the hospital. We took that last night in Arkansas to visit with her birth family one more time since it’ll be a little while before we make a trip back down South.

The next morning we hit the road to beat Winter Storm Jupiter (which ended up not being as big a deal in Nebraska as they thought it would be!) Charlotte did great on the trip and it was soooo very good to get home and start the settling in process.

It’s funny because while we were in Arkansas for six weeks, it felt like we were never going to leave¬†and we couldn’t imagine life beyond the hospital walls. Here we are, two months since we were discharged, and its starting to feel like a bad dream. It’s getting hazy. It’s harder to recall the horrendously negative emotions I all too often experienced. And when I look at Charlotte, I can’t picture her face with tubes anymore unless I look at a picture.

We’re humbled and grateful we got to see Charlie completely heal and come home. We’re filled with thanksgiving when we think of ALL THE PRAYERS that were lifted up on her, ours, and her birth family’s behalf. We praise God for seeing her through this rocky road and restoring her. Thanks again to everyone who walked this road with us. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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What’s in it For Me?

July 3, 2012

Part 2 of a series on the Field of Dreams

Check out the clip* here

*You’ll have to watch the clip, let the next one load, and watch some of that one, too.

This is a great scene. Let’s look at it with this angle: Shoeless Joe is God, Ray is us, and Terry is anyone other than ourselves.

We’ll address this scene in two parts: The Gift and What’s in it For Me?

I’ll present each section with a transcript of the scene, with some¬†translations in italics.

Section 1. The Gift:
Shoeless Joe:
Hey, do you want to come with us? I have something special for you. Would you like it?
Ray: You mean it?
Shoeless Joe: No not you, [points to Terry] him.¬†It’s not for you. It’s for him.
Ray: Him?¬†Him? That guy? Seriously? You’re giving¬†him something?
Terry: Come with you? You want to give me something special?
Ray: Him? Seriously!? Him?
Shoeless Joe: Out there. Yes, something very special. Would you like it?
Terry: What is out there? What is it?
Shoeless Joe: Come and find out.¬†It’s good. And it’s for you. Come find out.

This is one of the coolest parts of God. He loves us and wants to shower us with gifts. Jesus tells us about the goodness of God in Luke 11:What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;¬†or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?¬†If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” God only wants what is good for us. He is not out to “get us,” but only out to get us the very best, and most of the time, he knows so much better than us what we need, what will truly bring us joy. He is offering us these good gifts all the time, we only need to say yes and accept them, even when we don’t know exactly what they will be, knowing that if God’s giving them to us, they will be good.

Section 2: What’s in it for Me?
Ray:
Wait a second! Wait a second! Why him? I built this field! You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me. well you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t- He’s getting a gift? What did he ever do for you? Look at all I’ve done!
Terry: I’m unattached, you have a family.¬†This gift is for me and my unique situation. You can’t have it. I wouldn’t be good for you.
Ray: I know, but I want to know what’s out there. I wanna see it.¬†I know, but I don’t care. I want it!
Shoeless Joe: But you’re not invited.¬†But it’s not for you.
Ray: Not invited? What do you mean “not invited?” That’s my corn out there! You guys are guests in my corn!¬†Not for me! Not for me! Alright then, even what I’ve given you, I want back!
Terry: Ray-
Ray: No, wait. I have done everything I’ve been asked to do. I didn’t understand it, but I’ve done it. And i haven’t once asked what’s in it for me.
Shoeless Joe: What are you saying, Ray?
Ray: I’m saying, what’s in it for me?
Shoeless Joe: Is that why you did this? For you? [long pause] I think you better stay here, Ray.
Ray: Why?

The prodigal son‘s older brother comes in from the fields and his name is Ray. Check it out: a man has two sons. The younger demands his¬†inheritance¬†early, sells everything, leaves town, and wastes it all on prostitutes and “loose living.” Broke, working for a hog farmer, and jealous of what the pigs are eating, he comes back home, repents, and is accepted by his father. He pop is so glad he’s back, he throws a huge party. The older brother, coming back from working in the fields all day, sees the party. When he finds out it’s for his brother, he turns into a world-class grump. His father comes out to talk to him. He tells his father. “Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.¬†But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’¬†And [his father] said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”

The older brother/Ray/us from time to time, is pooping his diaper because he can’t understand the love of the father.¬†Wait, your love for me isn’t based on what I do for you? Just who I am as your son? ¬†Just like we can’t work our way into Heaven, we can’t work our way into God’s heart. We’re already loved by him. Instead of seeing Shoeless Joe’s invitation to Terry as a gift, Ray views it as a payment, a¬†privilege¬†given for services rendered. And Ray reveals his own dried-up, selfish heart when he admits he wants to know¬†what’s in it for me? ¬†He didn’t build the field because the voice asked him to. He didn’t drive to Boston and take Terry to a game because the voice asked him to. He didn’t go to Minnesota and pick up Doc Graham because he thought it was a good idea. He did it because he thought it would pay off for him in the end.¬†

He’s so desperate to get something out of his labor, that he wants to take anything that’s being given out, even if it’s not for him. We find him snatching at Terry’s gift, knowing that it’s not only not for him, but he can’t even take it! An invitation beyond the corn, into the unknown. Terry makes a wonderful point when he says, “I’m unattached, you have a family.” He might as well be saying, “We don’t know what’s going to happen when one of us non-ghosts goes out there. Who knows if I’ll live? If I’ll ever come back? You’ve been given the gift of a family. It’s your job to stay here to provide for and to protect them.” And Ray says, “I know, but I want to see what’s out there. I wanna see it.” It’s like he’s saying, “That’s a great point, Terry, but frankly, I don’t care. I’d rather satiate my curiosity than be prudent and think about others for a change.”

Shoeless Joe confronts him about it. Asks him point-blank. “Is that why you did this? For you?” And if we approach God is prayer honestly, he’ll sometimes slap us upside the head like that, too. And then Shoeless Joe tells Ray, “I think you better stay here, Ray.” Not so much as a correction, not so much as a punishment for his selfishness in wanting to go beyond the corn, but rather as an encouragement. Like he’s saying, “Ray, be patient. If you leave, you’ll never receive what I have in store for you.” That’s a message we need to hear, because sometimes right before the blessings rain down, it seems like all hope is lost. Like the dark before the dawn, the silence before a concert starts, the pain before a birth, all are necessary, all are little reminders that all hope is never lost, we are always just waiting for the next time our heavenly father showers his gifts on us. And that gift Ray receives? That’s the subject of my next post…