August 14, 2022
There was a moment in the delivery room when Harrison was being wheeled away by the NICU team, that I remember thinking “God is good when the baby is blue.”
I know this to be true, and I don’t doubt it. We are a family that believes in and counts on redemption. And although redemption doesn’t always look the way we expect, or the way we prefer, or in our perfect time, redemption is true. When I lose something precious, God replaces it. When I step out of line, God rights my path. When I forget my own standing and birthright, God assures me that I am daughter of the Most High King. He redeems. It’s what He does.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was never the ideal in their birth plan, although Grace and Eli had decided ahead of time that if Baby had any issues during delivery and needed to be taken away, Eli would accompany him since Grace obviously wouldn’t be able. They didn’t anticipate any issues at all, so learning that he was struggling to breathe effectively was a shock. But as Harrison and Eli left with the NICU nurses, the expectation was that he might need NICU for a few hours at most.
Grace was exhausted from the delivery. My Gorgeous pushed like a mutha to get Harrison here. Almost two hours after Harrison’s birth, Grace was taken to NICU to reunite with Harrison and Eli. Lauren and I waited for them, planning to help Grace get settled in her room, confident that Eli and Harrison would soon follow. It had only been Lauren and me with Grace and Eli in the delivery room during the delivery, so the rest of the family was still waiting for text updates about when they could come meet the baby and see Grace. Grace and Eli were both visibly upset when they came out of NICU, but they didn’t speak until after all the nurses left. That’s when Grace said Harrison would likely be staying and needing help for more than a week. His breathing issues were caused by either stress at delivery, inhaling meconium, or infection from aspirating fluid. He could not be held or breast fed until further notice, and he would need supplemental oxygen and a feeding tube.
Lauren was a NICU baby 18 years ago, so Paul and I understood how upset Grace and Eli were. God remembered my tears from long ago. He collected them, and used them as a healing balm for Grace who needed to know someone understood. And when we were all able to be together in Grace’s room, Paul put his fatherly hand on the side of Eli’s face and told him we’d get through this together as a family. All of us. The five Mauks, Eli, as well as his mother, his childhood friend, and all the rest of you who weren’t in the room but have loved and supported them along the way. We’d get through this as a family.
We do not serve a God of triage. He does not attend to our needs according to the depth and ranking and seniority of our sorrow. He meets us where we are. Despite there being sicker babies, and parents dealing with more long suffering heartbreak, He was right there in the room with Grace and Eli when they learned that some of their post-birth expectations would need to shift to accommodate a baby who needed extra help.
Harrison’s health improved much more quickly than the doctors expected. He came off the feeding tube and supplemental oxygen within a day, but still needed his breathing monitored closely. He started nursing. We were all allowed to hold and cuddle him. And again through God’s intensive care for us, what we thought would be more than a week of NICU turned into just 4 days.
I don’t know what it is like when the baby has to stay in NICU for a long time. And I don’t know how it feels when a baby never comes home. It’s devastating to think about, and it’s not fair. My heart breaks for anyone who has gone through that. I’m so, so sorry. I don’t know why God chooses to show His goodness and intensive care in different ways in different circumstances. I know what it is like to have my child in surgery multiple times, and to ride in the ambulance after my child attempted suicide, and to pick through my child’s bedroom looking for clues after she ran away, and to be one call away from a divorce lawyer. I know that God is good in the surgical waiting room, and when an overdose messes with heart function, and when telling a cop my missing child doesn’t have any scars that could help identify her, and when the marital bed is half empty. But with all things that have been lost or damaged in my life, God has redeemed.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
Joel 2:24-25 ESV
When the baby is blue, God is working to comfort and support and encourage and commiserate. God knows grief; He feels it over our sin, and our pain and suffering grieve Him. But in a world that seems hell bent on division and destruction, God is good when those who love Him rage against their own sin nature with a passion and desire to show love and kindness toward Grace and Eli and Harrison. God’s goodness, His intensive care for His children, has been on full display through your prayers and kind thoughts and good wishes and food and gifts. Thank you for playing a part in redeeming the nightmare of things going wrong. Harrison is home where he belongs, and his parents look forward to sharing him with you.