For those of you who don’t know me personally…Samuel is here!
It definitely didn’t turn out like I had planned, but after the fact it served as a friendly reminder from God about a few things.
I’ll give the abridged version of Samuel’s arrival and time in the hospital. Samuel arrived at 8:02 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11. He weighed 8 pounds, 14 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. Not too long, but definitely a big baby compared to some. My c-section went much better than it did last time and I believe it had everything to do with the fact that I was prepared for the c-section and because I prayed constantly and had other people praying for a safe delivery.
They barely had Samuel’s head out before he started screaming. I got to see Samuel briefly before they cleaned him up and then Jimmi was able to lay him on my chest for a few minutes before they took him to the nursery.
In recovery, when they let Jimmi in, I found out that Samuel had breathed a lot of fluid and despite the fact that his lungs were healthy and they got all the fluid out his lungs were irritated and he was having a difficult time keeping his blood oxygen levels up. I was able to see Samuel in the nursery late Tuesday afternoon, but only for a few minutes. He was on oxygen to keep his levels up so he couldn’t come to the room with us.
On Wednesday, when I finally was able to get up and get around, I was able to go to the nursery and breastfeed Samuel for the first time. I was worried that since he didn’t get to nurse immediately and because he’d been bottle-fed in the nursery that he was going to have trouble adjusting to breastfeeding, but he took right to it. The pediatrician tried several times on Wednesday and Thursday to wean Samuel off the oxygen, but when he got upset he couldn’t keep his blood oxygen levels up high enough without the extra oxygen.
*Sidenote: We only breathe about 21% pure oxygen along with the other junk in the air. In order for Samuel to maintain a normal blood oxygen level, he need more than 21% pure oxygen.*
I was discharged from the hospital Thursday night, but because Samuel was still in the nursery they moved me to another room to stay as a parent, not a patient. I was able to go and nurse Samuel every three hours and that was the only time I saw him. Part of the time he was under the bililights because his bilirubin levels were high so I could only have him out for 30 minutes at a time.
Each day we had hope that they would be able to wean Samuel off the oxygen and we’d be able to go home. Each day we were disappointed because they weren’t able to wean him off the oxygen. I was starting to get discouraged.
I knew that Samuel was going to be OK and I knew that we’d be going home at some point, but I wasn’t sure when.
Saturday morning the pediatrician told us that it may only be a few more days, but that it could be a few more weeks before we get to go home. He said that normally when a baby’s lungs gets irritated after breathing fluid it only takes a day or so for the irritation to leave, but for some reason despite the fact that Samuel was full term he was recovering the way a premature baby would in this situation.
At this point I hadn’t seen Josiah since Wednesday and I’d been in the hospital since Tuesday. I hadn’t been able to see Samuel for more than 30 minutes at a time and I was tired of sitting in the hospital waiting for better news and watching cable waiting for the phone to ring telling me it’s time to feed Samuel.
This wasn’t the way I had planned it at all. Josiah had only seen his baby brother once and Samuel was 4 days old and only Jimmi and me had been able to hold him. I was exhausted at this point — emotionally drained. Our family, friends, church family, and most everyone we knew had been praying that Samuel would quickly recover and it seemed like we were taking two steps forward and one step back. I missed Josiah and I was missing precious time with my new baby. I just wanted to go home. I’d been crying on and off for a few days and had been discouraged, but after the pediatrician left Saturday morning I lost it.
I had a total meltdown right there in the hospital room and for those that know me they know that that doesn’t happen too often. I got nauseous and dizzy and couldn’t quit crying or shaking. Jimmi was trying to make me feel better and trying to talk to me but all I could say was, “I can’t.” Once I slightly composed myself after several minutes I had to go take a shower and have a moment to myself.
In the shower it hit me. I remember one of the songs that was playing in the nursery the night before, “Strong Enough,” but Matthew West. For that brief moment during my meltdown all I could do was think, “I can’t.” I felt like I’d totally lost my ability to get through the situation. This song was a reminder that I was right, but that it was OK.
Standing there in the shower, instead of continuing my silent cries of “why me?” I started going over the words to that song in my head and it became my prayer.
The lyrics of the song say, ” You must think I’m strong. To give me what I’m going through. Well, forgive me. Forgive me if I’m wrong. But this looks like more than I can do on my own. I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be. I give up I’m not strong enough. Hands of mercy won’t you cover me. Lord right now I’m asking you to be…Strong enough. For the both of us…Maybe that’s the point. To reach the point of giving up. Cause when I’m finally at rock bottom. Well, that’s when I start looking up. And reaching out…Cause I’m broken. Down to nothing. But I’m still holding on to the one thing. You are God and you are strong when I am weak. I can do all things Through Christ who gives me strength and I don’t have to be strong enough.”
That afternoon, with a little nudging from Jimmi and my Dad, I told the nursery that we’d be leaving for a while so they could feed Samuel from what I had been pumping over the past few days. We drove to my Mom’s house and picked Josiah up and decided that even though it’d be tough, we’d figure out something to do between Jimmi having to go back to work and me having to stay at the hospital. It would be OK, but first things first I needed Josiah at the hospital at least for the night — I needed to spend time with him.
Before we left the nurse told us that they had to place Samuel under an oxygen hood or “space helmet” (that’s what it looked like) because he’d had another episode where he got upset and his blood oxygen dropped. This was a step backwards for us, but I was trying not to be discouraged. She’d told us that she’d actually been able to slightly wean him down from 50% oxygen which is where he’d been for a few days. The difference with the hood was the fact that the oxygen through the nose was irritating his nose and the nurse had actually cleaned out A LOT of gunk from his nose because of the oxygen thing. Also, the hood acted as a humidifier which would help with the congestion and possibly help with the irritation in his lungs.
When we got back to the hospital that evening I called down to the nursery to see if Samuel needed fed, but no one answered. I walked down the hall and found Samuel in a bed,
not on oxygen, hanging out with the nurses in their break room. The nurse that had come in at 7 p.m. to take care of Samuel said that around 8 p.m. he put his arm up under the space helmet and started trying to take it off. The nurse said that when she saw his oxygen was good she called the pediatrician and asked if she could try taking him off the oxygen. He agreed, but only if he was being monitored constantly.
Samuel had been off the oxygen for over two hours and hadn’t had a single issue! Honestly this was a miracle. Just that morning the doctor had told us a few more weeks and here it was the same day and he was off the oxygen. I asked the nurse if Josiah could see him since he wasn’t on the oxygen and she brought Samuel down to the room to let me feed him and let Josiah see and hold his baby brother for the first time.
He did excellent all day Sunday. Monday morning they were able to do his circumcision (the doctor wouldn’t do it while he was on oxygen) and they brought him to my room. Tuesday morning we were discharged and were home by noon.
The easiest thing would have been for things to go the way I’d planned. We would have been home by Friday and there would have been no problems. I struggled a lot during that week and our whole family was stressed because of this unexpected hospital stay. However, we all learned something very important.
First of all, I was reminded of the fact that no matter how tough I think I am, I am NOT strong enough. I can’t handle everything that comes my way on my own. I learned this through our struggles with infertility and was reminded of it after giving birth to Samuel.
Second, our family and friends learned that prayer does work and miracles still happen. After we told everyone that the doctor was predicting it’d be a few more weeks, people started praying hard. Our pastor had come and prayed and most everyone we knew was praying. It is not a coincidence that after a negative report and a ton of prayer that Samuel all of the sudden made a 100% improvement after four days.
Finally, I was once again reminded that not everything goes as planned. Let me rephrase that…not everything goes the way I planned it. God was not surprised by what happened when Samuel was born. He had amazing nurses and doctors lined up ready to take care of Samuel’s physical needs and love on him when I couldn’t. God was there to hold my hand and remind me of His promises and His power when I was feeling discouraged.
I’m thankful that we’re home and thankful that it wasn’t more serious than it was. I’m thankful for the fact that even though I’m not strong enough, God is strong enough for the both of us.