By: Staci Stallings
One of the things that always amazes me is how fast time goes. It’s like you’re waiting and five minutes seems an eternity, and then you blink and it’s been 15 years. Today we celebrate one of those 15-year miracles.
Some of you know, others probably don’t. My oldest child, my first daughter, was born three months early (and I swear she’s been early ever since!). She came into this world weighing a whopping 2 pounds. Get out a small sack of sugar and you’ll have an idea of how really small that is.
But even the weight is misleading. Her hand would not go all the way around my husband’s finger, and her leg was the size of his finger. They special ordered diapers that fit about half the size of an adult palm when folded.
It’s hard to describe now how I felt throughout those first few hours, how glad I was we had both made it through the scary, scary night. How it was to talk with relatives and tell them what was going on, hearing the fear–some disguised, some not. And seeing my little, wonderful miracle under the blanket of plastic to keep her temperature up. Whispering for those first few hours when we went into her room because one loud noise could create a disastrous brain-bleed.
The sheer volume of information we learned about premies in record time.
As all babies do, but is more pronounced in the tiniest, she lost weight that first week, dropping all the way down to 1 pound and 9 ounces.
I don’t know if I can explain this, but my husband and I from the very first moments had a peace that this was going to be all right. Then, about halfway through, facing an IV being put in her head because all of her other veins had been “blown,” I lost it. I was angry that God had done this “to” us, that we had played by the rules and gotten burned anyway. However, I now see this was the first real shot at taking down my “self-built” world. It was my first real lesson in “you have to rely on Him totally” instead of trying to swim and save yourself.
The truth was, like it or not, I was wholly dependent on God. I didn’t have the answers. I couldn’t even stuff her diapers with quarters (though I threatened to) so she would weigh enough for us to take her home. I couldn’t “fix” it. I couldn’t do anything but be there as much as possible and pray really hard.
I learned only later how many others across the whole United States were praying for her and us as well. I probably should have realized that at the time, but I see it now so clearly.
One of the nights I remember most about 52 days into her 60 day hospital stay. We were in the “Family Room” by then that was reserved for families that came a lot and stayed a long time (that would have been us, no doubt!). We were sitting on the couch, now getting to hold her for long periods of time–whole hours if we wanted. There was a nurse in there that night that I had never noticed before. She had never been “our” nurse.
We were marveling at how well our beautiful child was doing, how she was growing and thriving, and how they had even said we would get to take her home soon. The nurse said, “It doesn’t surprise me.” We were both surprised by the comment. But she continued, “I’ve seen you guys up here, at nine-thirty, ten o’clock, eleven when you were out on the floor (the main NICU room). I remember one Sunday night you were up here, holding her and singing, ‘The ants go marching one by one…’ She’s very lucky.”
I remember that night too. The ants night. It was my husband’s 30th birthday, and we spent it where we spent every evening for those 60 days, right there at her bedside, talking, singing, telling stories, and just holding her little hand in the isolet if that was all we were allowed to hold. We even made a tape so that that nurses could reach in and flip it over and play it for hours during the day so she could hear our voices–my husband reading Cinderella, me singing and talking.
That’s been 15 years. Today she is just as beautiful as she was the day she was born. Kind, gentle, and tough as nails. And with a deep, steely reliance on God that leaves my faith in the dust.
Sometimes God sends us through the valley, but every valley has a lesson. And every lesson can teach you more about Him if you will let it.
That’s one of the things I learned along with… prayer works and kids are worth it!
Happy Birthday, my miracle girl!