See Luminosity

Windows in the NICU

Windows in the NICU

Before, Dominic, I’d never been to the Neo-natal Intensive Care unit (NICU) in my life. After Dominic, I never wanted to go to the NICU again in my life.

God had a different plan.

Doesn’t He always?

I continue to be left breathless in amazement from the ways the Lord has shown Himself to me since Dominic, and how He has used connections to demonstrate to me His power. He did it again, recently – once again through a sick baby.

My Friend’s Loss

God has placed some unbelievable people in my life, and in the lives of my children. One of those is my midwife, who delivered my children at home. This amazing Christian woman has been with me through the most intense and profound experiences of my life – the birth of my children and the death of my son. She has provided so much more than medical expertise; her emotional support and her quiet, steady faith in God were a lifeline for me during those emotional, overwhelming times of birth and, most recently, of death.

In a spiritual irony that I do not understand, even though my friend has worked for many years to minister to women by bringing their babies into this world, she has not been able to have her own children. That is, until this year. Right after losing Dominic, I learned that she was pregnant – with twins! In spite of the fact that other people’s pregnancies have been a bit of a tricky thing for me, I was completely overjoyed.  I have specifically prayed that this woman, who has dedicated her life to birthing others’ babies, would be blessed with her own.

But life is just never simple.

Some weeks ago, in her third trimester, my friend informed me that they had learned, at an ultrasound appointment, that one of the twins’ heartbeats had stopped.

My heart stopped.

I wept. And I pounded my fists. And I cried to God, “Why, Lord? Why?”

Asking the question for her is a little easier than asking it for myself.

Since that time I have been in constant prayer for her second baby, and for her. I actually have had this visceral need for this baby to be ok. Somehow, her being able to get the desire of her heart feels like hope for me, too. I have needed to see the Lord do a Psalm 113:9 for her:

“He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.”

I need the reminder that, even in the death of this world, God is always working for good and for life.

The reminder didn’t come in the way I thought it would.

Back to the NICU

My friend called – Her baby was born, but he was not doing well. This earnestly desired, much prayed-for baby was struggling to breathe and teetering on the edge of this world and God’s world. It had me undone. It took my own breath away, and my soul fell to the floor in desperate plea.

Please, God. Please don’t take this one.

As soon as I got the news, I knew I had to go. Back to the NICU. It wasn’t even a decision I thought about much, really. I just had to go see her, had to have a face-to-face connection with this family and this baby. To show my love, to try and give them some modicum of support, to make my prayers “stick” better…I don’t know. But I had to go. Like, God-compelled kind of had to go. So I packed up some homemade muffins (knowing what it’s like to spend days in a NICU after having just given birth, with nothing to eat), left the kids with my mother-in-law, and headed into…

Well, much more than a NICU. I headed into an emotional and spiritual tornado.

It’s been a couple of days, and I’m still sifting through the debris.

The tears began as soon as my finger pressed the button for the 14th floor. I hate that I know which floor to go to, without even looking. Then walking over to pick up the receiver to the NICU desk, asking for my friend – it all just came rushing back. Those locked doors that protected the outside world from the world of the sick babies. Seeing those doors again, as I came for a second time to visit a baby on the edge, they felt like barriers to life and hope. I was almost overwhelmed with the longing and the sorrow and the despair of it all – my love for Dominic and my fears for my friend and my grief at this fallen world that takes life from us before it even has the chance to begin.

I waited in the waiting room for my friend, tears streaming unbidden down my cheeks as I looked out the windows. I’d never seen any windows when I’d been there with Dominic. There are no windows in the private room of the NICU – where you get to stay when your infant isn’t going to make it. Or in the room where the doctors meet with you to tell you your baby is not going to live. Or in the family room where you stay once they’ve disconnected all the wires because you will soon be bringing your child home to die. And that’s just how the NICU felt to me – like a place with no light and no hope.

I didn’t want her baby to be there, in that place, with no windows. I didn’t want her to have to go through that dark.

The Light of God’s Working

But then, as I met with my friend, it was like the Lord just opened my eyes to what He was doing. Here I was, back at the NICU, trying to provide support after the birth and illness and death of children, to the very person who had provided support to me through the birth and illness and death of my child. It was an uncanny déjà-vu reciprocation swap like only that the Lord could orchestrate.

It was like I could see God’s word written over the moment:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

And it showed me that the Lord is in this situation. In hers, and in mine. I knew, in that moment, that God was with us both, and that He loves us so intimately that He even tailor-prepared a crazy, other-worldly connection between the two of us through grief and joy. She involved in mine, me involved in hers. God orchestrating it all to display His power and His comfort. It gave me hope, both for her, and for me. And I started, for the first time, to see His light in the NICU.

She took me into the NICU to meet her new little miracle, lying with tubes in him on the same little table crib that Dominic had been in. I wept and prayed as I saw him, interceding for his little life, praising God for his goodness, and pouring out my longing for Dominic all at the same time. But then, as I drank him in, I realized something.

He wasn’t in the private room. He was in the main part of the NICU.

Where there were windows.

I left the hospital, knowing that I had been on holy ground. That God had allowed me in to see a glimpse of His glory – of the hope and life He is working, both in my friend’s life and in my own. I do not know how it is all going to work out. But I do know that God showed me another personal, intimate connection that He has worked through my tragedy, which could have come only from our mutual losses. And that He allowed me to see that even the NICU, the place of my deepest despair, has windows.

And that is why I worship and praise my Lord, even in the dark.

5 Responses to “Windows in the NICU”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thank you all. The Lord has been so faithful, and writing has really helped me to see what He has been doing.

  2. Beautifully written. I wish I had the gift of writing the way you do.. I feel like I struggle to express my gratitude for what you share with us. Meeting you, moving here, reading your posts has literally changed my soul for the better.

  3. Beautifully written, as always. Keep writing. I have to admit, I want to avoid you and your thoughts as I go through my own pregnancy. I feel fear creep in. The thought that, if it happened to her…it could happen to me. But, at the same time, I envy the outpouring of God’s love that is evident in every word you write. The confidence you have in his goodness, even in the darkest times. I do believe God is always good. But I haven’t had to experience his goodness in the worst of times. I love your reminder that even then…in our darkest hour…there are windows. Whether we see them at the time or not. Thank you for sharing your heart, Rebecca.

  4. Rebecca, this thoughtful remembrance is a.tribute to your faith and strength. Such a thoughtful, poignant passage.

  5. Thank you so much for your courage to share your thoughts and emotions in such a personal and real way. It is indeed very helpful, encouraging and a blessing to everyone. It gives me greater insight into what a dear mother might be thinking and feeling as she goes though such a difficult and unimaginable time and I am there as a pastor to try to bring hope and comfort. Especially since I really have no clue what it would be like to be in her place. Again, thank you and I have been praying for you and your family in a very specific and regular way over these past months as I was made aware of what you have been going through. God bless you!!!!

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