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suffering

Adoption

Our Arkansas Adventure: Part Two

February 15, 2017

In typical fashion I left last post with a cliffhanger. I don’t feel like there’s been enough drama or suspense in our world right now, so just trying to supply some. ūüėČ

Kidding.

Our story picks back up on December 14, 2016, the day of our dear Charlie’s birth.

As the birth family got all checked into their room, we hung out in the lobby, trying to figure out where we were supposed to be when the baby was born. Charlotte was coming via c-section and neither Jonathan or I would be present in the room. Navigating how the baby would get to our room was proving difficult for the hospital social worker and staff.

One nurse in particular earned the nickname Nurse Ratched because she just had this horrific attitude towards us. Obviously Jonathan, myself, and the agency were being nothing but kind and cooperative as we tried figuring out where we were supposed to be. This nurse was just unbelievably rude towards us…me in particular.

That’s when I realized it was because this was an adoption. There are certain people in healthcare that treat adoptive moms like some psychopath woman from a Lifetime movie…like I was sneaking around the Labor and Delivery floor waiting to snatch a baby and make a break for it. I’ve had friends talk about this with their past adoptions but I hadn’t come up against it until Nurse Ratched. She and I will cross paths again here in a few minutes and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

We finally (after 2+ hours of wandering hospital, calling social workers, talking to nurses, etc.) figured out that we were supposed to wait in a room and that Charlotte would be brought directly to our room after birth to the warming table to get weight and vitals. Whew.

It’s now after 1pm and Miss Josie is one feisty, stubborn girl when she’s NOT tired but she had reached full blown tantrum mode at this point. We knew Charlie would be born any moment so we white-knuckled through thinking we would meet Charlie, snap a video of Josie meeting her sister, and then Jonathan would go drive around Little Rock while Jo napped in the car and I snuggled Charlie.

The door busted open and in walked the doctor carrying Charlotte and a few nurses. They took her to the warming table and clearly were trying to encourage her to cry. At this point Jonathan¬†was excitedly taking video footage of everything. Since I am a nurse, I knew straight away that something wasn’t right. I told Jonathan to put the camera away. (BTW we still haven’t watched that footage. I can’t come to do it quite yet.)

After a minute or so Charlie let out a cry but it sounded like she was drowning. We never heard another cry again. Her oxygen sats were dropping and at this point were in the 70’s and falling. The team working on her said they needed to take her to another room to evaluate her/apply C-PAP to try and get her oxygenating better.

Everyone was saying, “Oh this is no big deal, she’ll perk right up.” It’s not that uncommon for c-section babies to have a little trouble breathing after birth since they didn’t get the fluid pushed outta them on delivery. This wasn’t that though and I knew¬†they were just trying to stop us from worrying. In my gut I knew something was seriously wrong.

At this point Josie was like a nuclear war head. Screaming, thrashing, tantrums on a level we’d never seen. We decided that Jonathan should still take her on the drive so she could nap and that I would stay and wait for news about Charlotte. It was an impossible decision but we had no other options because hello, living in a state where we don’t know really anyone.

After a 15 or so minutes of sitting in the room with the social worker from the agency, I began to get restless. Why hadn’t they returned to update me? What’s happening to my baby? I peeked my head out of the room and Nurse Ratched was there. She told me to “SHUT THAT DOOR AND DON’T COME OUT UNTIL WE GET YOU!”

What?

Would she have spoken to the birth mother that way? No. It was crystal clear I wasn’t a real mom in her eyes. I know legally at that moment I wasn’t but the birth mom chose us and I knew that she’d want me to be with Charlotte since she couldn’t while she recovered¬†from a c-section. I was in shock so I just shut the door. I went over to the hospital bed and started crying as I texted family about what was going on.

A few more minutes passed and I just decided that no was not an answer I would accept – I needed to be with Charlie. So I went back into the hallway and the Charge Nurse was there. I went into a big speech about how I would gown up and stand in a corner but by golly I was going to be in the room with my daughter.

I was crying¬†and must have looked like the most desperate person she’d ever encountered.

“Follow me” she said.

I arrived in the room where they had Charlotte and my heart sank because there were about a dozen doctors, nurses, and respiratory staff working on her. Obviously it was far worse than they originally thought. They were getting ready to intubate Charlotte and were sedating her through the umbilical line she had in place. Her oxygen sats never picked up with the C-PAP or anything else they’d tried and she needed oxygen so going on a ventilator was the next step.

They loaded her into an incubator with a ventilator running so she could transfer to the NICU. I grabbed all our bags and followed while I called Jonathan, updating him of the situation.

JoJo was still asleep in the car but I needed Jonathan at the hospital with me. Things had gotten too serious. We called the family we were staying with and asked if they’d be willing to take Josie for the afternoon/evening. They said absolutely which was such a gift. They were literally the ONLY PEOPLE WE KNEW in Arkansas. We were so grateful we hadn’t chosen to stay at a hotel at this point because it wouldn’t have allowed us to be at the hospital together without Josie at a time we needed to be.

Jonathan returned to UAMS (University of Arkansas Medical Sciences) NICU that evening. We both had more questions than answers but a diagnoses finally came: Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. Her doctor sat us down and explained that the first 72 hours would be the rockiest and that hopefully she’d begin responding to medications and make a turn for the better. She told us we’d be in Arkansas for a long time. She told us that this disease was very serious and can be life-threatening (later Googled…first and only time I mistakenly Googled her disease….that as recent as 2000 40% of children with this diagnoses didn’t make it). She told us they’d do everything they could to stay in front of it and that they’d work their way down the treatment options available.

We sat on the couch, dear in the headlights, processing everything that was happening.

The agency social worker remained by our sides which was a huge source of support. I remembered how nervous I was before Charlotte’s birth, wondering if we’d bond right away. Recalling that now makes me laugh because I was so bonded to her and she’d only been on the outside world for a few hours. Instead of her illness making us hesitate about the adoption it drew us closer to her. I became Momma Bear the moment I saw her. We were forever in love with¬†Charlie no matter what played out over the days and weeks ahead.

By the end of her first day of life she had¬†tubes coming outta everywhere. She had several IV medications running. They tried Surfactant on her lungs and it didn’t work and were gearing up to start Nitric Oxide to help her lung alveoli relax and oxygenate well. We prayed over Charlotte for a while and eventually pulled out the couch and chair beds in Charlie’s NICU room somewhere in the wee hours of the morning. It was time to get some rest (which I laugh about now because seriously who can rest when their kid is in a life-threatening state AND there are constant monitors beeping and people coming in and out of the room).

Before she was born we were told that Charlotte would be discharged to go home from the hospital 24 hours after birth so Jon and I didn’t think to pack extra clothes. Heck, we’d only even packed Newborn clothes for Charlie and she was born at 10 pounds so those weren’t ever going to fit! We were totally unprepared but trusted the Lord would provide. As I drifted off the sleep (for multiple 15 minute increments LOL) I remember feeling overwhelmed by all the unknowns ahead but totally confident that God would take care of Charlotte, her birth family, and us.

I also knew it was going to be rough waters but that we wouldn’t be alone in the storm. That Oceans Song I referenced in our last post (the one that’s all about stepping out into the water like Peter the Apostle did when Jesus asked him to) was becoming a reality in our lives. Jesus essentially set fire to our boat out at sea and it was going down. He was inviting us to step out of the sinking ship in faith in a way we’d never done before.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

OK, Lord. We stepped. The rest is all up to You.

Catholicism, Infertility

God Is Always Good

June 20, 2014

Ever read the book of Job?

To sum it up,¬†life is going really well for Job. He’s got lots of kids, land, sheep, camels, etc. For the time in which he lived, Job was more or less Bill Gates. You couldn’t miss the abundance of God’s blessing on his life.¬†Job was also was a God-fearing man, so he knew where his blessings came from.

If you fast forward a bit to a conversation between God and Satan about our man Job, things begin to change. (Not sure I ever want to be the topic of such conversations…)

In summary, God brings up Job proudly and points out what a faithful follower he is. Then Satan points out that it’s not like Job has had any reason to NOT be faithful, everything going so well for the guy and all. Satan even bets that if God stopped this abundance of blessing, Job would likely be singing a different tune altogether…and not one of praise but of curse.

God then permits Satan to test Job’s faithfulness by allowing him to curse all Job has except his very life.

And it begins. Job’s life falls apart piece by piece. All his hard work, dreams, and health begin to be shred a part.¬†Job’s support starts to dwindle away. His friends and even his own wife began to question WHY Job was staying faithful through such hardship. Despite it all, Job does NOT curse God and deny his faith.

I want to highlight my absolute favorite verse in the book of Job. It’s straight from his lips right when everything is starting to fall a part:

Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground, and worshiped.¬†And he said, ‚ÄúNaked I came from my mother‚Äôs womb, and naked shall I return; the¬†Lord¬†gave, and the¬†Lord¬†has taken away; blessed be the name of the¬†Lord.‚ÄĚ(emphasis added) Job 1:20-21

that’s something we don’t hear much of in our comfort, perfection, and blessing obsessed society. Just log in to Facebook once and you will see that 99.9% of the posts (if relating to God in any way, shape, or form) will be praises of God in times of blessing. Now, there is nothing wrong with praising God when times are going swimmingly. We should!!! But, it’s all too easy to ONLY praise God when things are going well. It’s really hard¬†to privately or publicly praise the Lord in times of suffering and hardship.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, of course, in relation to our battle with infertility. I cannot claim that the pain in my life looks exactly like Job’s because that would be a gross overstatement and dramatization. However, ¬†infertility is the worst suffering I’ve ever experienced and I find myself relating to many of Job’s questions to God.

With infertility, I feel like so much potential for good has been stripped from our life. That many¬†hopes and dreams we had have been shattered, since much of them involved children. Unlike Job I can’t say “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away…” because the Lord has simply not given any children¬†to be taken away. It’s tempting to feel like the Lord has simply withheld. Or to think that “better” people receive the blessing of children from the Lord but not us because we must be undeserving or bad.

Another line from Job sticks out and brings me closer to the entire point of this post:

“Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”¬†In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:10

Job, who had everything and then watched it all be taken away, simply states that we should receive whatever the Lord gives to us…and to praise him despite the circumstances we face.¬†That’s incredilby hard to do, especially in our culture today that is hyper-focused on positive, instagramable, pintrest-worthy lives.

The way in which it’s become so EASY to publicly praise God when things are going well sets us all up for something dangerous.

A subtle lie.

The lie that God is only good in times of blessing. That God is only worth praising when things are hunky-dory.

And that is so untrue. God is always good. No matter what our circumstances look like. And our praise? It’s even more powerful when we’re NOT in a season of blessing. When we’re in a season of *$#@ and we can still shout “GOD IS GOOD!” That’s when that statement will hold the most power because it’s a tested statement.

Who¬†wouldn’t shout God’s praises when everything is sailing along nicely and everything is going according to their plans? It’s those times of hardship when Christians need to step up and proclaim God’s faithfullness and goodness. That will speak volumes. I actually think Christians, specifically Catholics with a deep history of redemptive theology ,¬†need to show people how to suffer with hope. They need to know how to allow God’s goodness and mercy to show up in rough and painful times. They need to be taught how to cling to God when it feels like God has turned on them.

I¬†want¬†to praise God in the midst of infertility but it’s hard because of all the anger, fear, and rage I feel inside… He knows my desires even if it’s not always shown in my actions but I have a deep need to proclaim his goodness – for my own sake and for the sake of anyone else reading this who will inevitably run into suffering now or in their future.

I need¬†to testify that GOD IS STILL GOOD even in a life filled with struggle, pain, and un-fulfilled desires.¬†I’ve seen examples of others testify to this when a family endures a tragic illness with a child or an untimely death and they still choose to praise God in the storm. Those proclamations have encouraged me. They’ve given me hope and gratitude that we have a God who can redeem anything, no matter how dark and scary it may be….even if we don’t¬†see that redemption yet.

They’ve inspired me to cling to hope…and I want…I need to do the same.

I don’t want to adopt a kiddo or have a miraculous pregnancy someday (hopefully sooner than later, Lord!) and only THEN praise God. It will be easy to praise God then. You will have to strap me down to keep me from praising God wherever I go. His blessing and goodness will be palpable and clearly seen.

That’s why right here, right now, in the midst of a season of *$#@, I testify that GOD IS STILL GOOD! He is now and will be forever, no matter WHAT happens with our family. God will take care of us and YOU even if we don’t know how it will look.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.” Psalm 34:2