The last few days have been difficult for Tyler and I. Being in the NICU can be exhausting and overwhelming as you sit there, hopelessly useless. And realizing Ty has to go back to work on Monday hasn't been easy on us.
The NICU can be a very special place with a very special spirit, but is also a very difficult place to spend the majority of your time. We've had some very tender and beautiful spiritual moments with Max that we will treasure in our hearts forever. But we've also had very scary experiences. Only a few days into our stay we were offered a very real awakening into what can happen here when, the night before Max's surgery, his roomate went Code Blue and we heard the cries of his parents across the curtain as they lost their first baby. As long as I live I'll never forget that sound, the sound a mother makes when her baby is dying.
In the NICU you are constantly stuck between wanting to be beside your baby all day, while also wanting to run screaming from the room. Max has anywhere between 2 to 5 roommates at a time. All of which usually aren't on a ventilator, so they can cry. And those poor babies really cry. Max cannot cry because of his ventilator, but his face cries when he's upset and it's heartbreaking to look at his soundless pleas for help. Yesterday there were just 2 nurses for 4 babies. All the babies were crying, alarms were going off for every baby, but the babies who cried got the first attention because those babies can be held and rocked for comfort. So I sat in this room, while every bell and buzzer sounded and babies screamed in pain and I watched Max's face twist and squint while his low oxygen monitor rang and no one came. I wanted to yell, "Why isn't anyone checking on my baby?!" I wanted to run screaming from the room. But how could I leave my poor Max? I just wanted to hold him close and tell him it will be okay. But I can't do that. It takes 3 nurses to move him just for our daily 30 minute hold time. And now he's lying here so upset and all I can do is hold his hand, try to calm him with my shaking words and cry into my arm. Finally, someone comes to suction the junk out of his chest that occasionally builds up from the ventilator. Tyler comes back from the bathroom and I grab my pump bag and run for the mother's room.
I feel, at times, overcome with great inadequacy at being Max's mother. Especially when I abandon him because I selfishly cannot stand to be in his room anymore. I'm so in awe and in love with this perfect boy, but cannot believe God picked the most imperfect mother. I mean, Max is so special. He has this gigantic spirit. He is incredible. I wouldn't trade Max for anyone else and I don't want him to be anyone else. He is perfect to me, just as he is. But I am not perfect. I am so flawed. And I am unsure as to why the Lord thought I would be best for him. I'm so grateful! I'm so lucky! But I wish I was better, stronger and braver for for him.
I sometimes worry he doesn't know me or realize who I am and wonders where his mother is. He has had 10 different nurses, multiple doctors, a variety of respiratory therapists, and neuro specialists over the last near 2 weeks so, for all I know, he thinks I'm just another voice in the crowd. And despite being there all day, I'm constantly leaving him to go pump or eat, which gets frustrating because I just want to stay with him always. But I know I can't. So, yesterday afternoon while I pumped in the mother's room after running away I cried and prayed.
How can I be strong enough to do this?
Are you sure you I'm worthy to be the mother to this incredible boy?
Please, make me better. Please, make me stronger.
Please, help me be as good as Max.
That night I went home and listened to a talk from our church's General Conference, and these words suddenly seemed like they were written just for me.
"God will take you as you are at this very moment and begin to work with you. All you need is a willing heart, a desire to believe, and trust in the Lord.
Gideon saw himself as a poor farmer, the least of his father’s house. But God saw him as a mighty man of valor.
When Samuel chose Saul to be king, Saul tried to talk him out of it. Saul was from one of the smallest tribes of the house of Israel. How could he be king? But God saw him as 'a choice young man.'
Even the great prophet Moses felt so overwhelmed and discouraged at one point that he wanted to give up and die. But God did not give up on Moses."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, It Works Wonderfully
I have to accept that I will have my emotional days. After all, I am only like 2 weeks postpartum. And leaving your baby in the NICU doesn't help that emotional roller coaster. And while I may not feel like I am good enough, the Lord sees something in me that I cannot. He sees my greater potential. He sees who I can become. And where I lack, He will make up the difference. He will mold me into the kind of person that can mother one of His most special spirits. All I have to do is be willing, have faith, believe and trust in Him.
No matter what trials we endure, this applies. We are weak, but with the Lord we can be made strong. And we can all be better, stronger and braver.