I think Howard Hendricks said, "God doesn't give us children for us to raise them, he gives us kids so they can raise us." What a tumultuous 19 days. I can't think of a more emotional time over such a duration at any point in my life. And there are yet weeks to come. Most days are marked with joy in seeing the small strides Harrison is making. And I can't get away from the word gratitude. We keep getting cards and emails from so many that want us to know they are praying and that you love us.
A normal day for us is going to see him at 12 noon and 8pm. We can go in whenever we want however long we want 24 hrs a day. We just feel like that is a good routine for us to balance the stress and get some healthy time to take care of ourselves. Everyday before we go to the hospital as the time gets closer our hearts get more and more anxious praying and hoping he is doing well. And then we walk down the hallway. The other day I was getting a haircut with my dad in the middle of the afternoon, we were both being worked on and another man wearing nurse scrubs came in to wait for a haircut as well. When I saw him my heart just instinctively did a back flip and sank for no apparent reason.
And then as we leave most days after seeing, holding and getting an update on Harrison our hearts begin to sink as we leave him there at the hospital. If you've had any NICU experience you alone can relate to the torture it is to have to wonder, "will we get to take him home?" "will he be okay?" It has become easier with each day bringing good news of progress, but I wouldn't put this burden on my worst enemy.
We sort of feel like we are in a fog. We know we are going the right direction and we know as we keep moving the right way we will soon see the horizon ahead. But at any moment something could happen, we could hit a complication. These are vulnerable days for Harrison. That being said he continues to be doing all the right things. Nothing going on is concerning for doctors. So we patiently wait and wonder in awe as this child transforms into further maturity.
He already looks different. And this is a miracle, but he is growing and making great strides. His body is having to do things its not quite ready to do, because he is supposed to be in the womb. But he is doing it. The respiratory performance he's having is such a huge piece to the process. Foundational is a good word, because everything else can happen after that vital piece is in place. His little frame isn't supposed to be processing O2 at all at this age, but it can. While all the organs and bones are growing, he simultaneously has to supply the fuel for life-O2. He can breathe well, but it is one more part he isn't designed to do at this stage, so his body is adapting to its needs. This on top of all the growth going on is pretty demanding for his body.
From what I've understood, red blood cells would only be moving nutrients to his body inside the womb and the O2 would come from Mom's red blood cells. But now that he needs to produce O2 on his own, his body is in overdrive. Red blood cells now deliver both O2 from his own lungs AND nutrients from his intestines. Red blood cells are made in our bone marrow. His tiny frame may have a hard time keeping up with the demand with all these simultaneous needs. So many things are constantly happening while bones, muscles, the nervous system are still in process of developing. It is phenomenal to think this can even happen. But it is! He is doing so great. So he needs a lot of red blood cells and may become anemic if he can't keep up production from his limited amount of bone marrow. This is a common issue for premies. But pray specifically for that. They have been giving him Iron and we just found out today that his red blood count is normal! If it was low, they were possibly going to have to give him injections to help him produce red blood cells, but they dont have to do that for now. Keep praying that he produces them on his own and that his numbers stay good, like they are now (that was our big PRAISE from today!)
We've been worn out the past several days acclimating to this new lifestyle out here. And I've been pretty melancholy most days trying to see the big picture and I can't help but wonder what God might have in store for Harrison's life, thinking about why we get to walk this path. I heard some wise counsel from a pastor that it's not entirely helpful to try and justify why cause it's a mystery. Yet, I can still hold fast to the gospel of grace and it is still good news even in all of this drama.
I worshipped Christ this weekend at church through communion in a very new and unique way. I tend to be fairly emotive for a guy. But I have never cried while partaking of the elements. All these new experiences and emotions as a parent have put colors on Christ that I've never seen before. As the pastor led us to consider the Story of the Bible and the promise that Christ has secured for us a day when all will be made right, I wept. Communion is a foretaste of a wedding feast between Christ and his bride, the church. That day the church will be with Him and have every longing and desire met and fulfilled in Him. With one foot was squarely fixed in this broken, twisted, corrupt world filled with death and despair I wondered if my son will be okay. And with one foot squarely fixed on the Surety of this great Savior who is good and will provide a perfect way to Himself I rested and worshipped him as the Provider for my son.
With all these longings my heart is bursting with, I began to rest in this great love. Christ is better than being a parent. He is better than raising a healthy child. He is better than holding my son to my chest. For he holds Harrison closer. I believe that, but at the same time I don't. As we sang songs of praise there were tears of anger still as I wrestled with the why, but I beheld Christ in a new satisfying way. Pray that this whole experience would keep us tender toward the Lord and his promises.
So maybe Hendricks is right and God wants to grow me through this process. It is causing me to worship better and more purely. And as I am sorrowful while longing for the day to know Harrison will be okay, I rejoice that there is a day secured when all will be right and beautiful.