Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ventilator

I was watching Grey's Anatomy tonight. And yes, I realize that it's time to stop watching that show, but I blame Adam because he's the one who has been watching since the beginning and forced me to start watching again. Seriously.

Anyways, at one point during this week's very dramatic episode, the daughter is looking at her dad hooked up to machines and asks "what's making that noise?" and they tell her "that's the ventilator."

At the word "ventilator" I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. My cheeks were wet with tears, and I couldn't stop picturing this tiny little baby from when Caden was in the hospital. While they were preparing us for Caden's surgery, the doctors informed us there was the possibility of Caden's chest being left open after surgery because of swelling. To help us prepare for what it might look like, they told us that we could see another baby with her chest open post-surgery. Hesitantly, we agreed.

We were sitting quietly by Caden's side one evening in the cicu when the nurse came by and whispered to us that they had a baby with her chest open for us to take a look at. Adam and I slowly followed the nurse, our hands grasped tightly, fingers knotted together, breath caught in my throat, and heart beating wildly. We left Caden's side and cautiously approached another bed space. It held a tiny baby girl, skin puffy and orange with betadine, her chest wide open, and her body shaking from an oscillating ventilator.

In that moment, my small reserves of strength shattered. That baby girl belonged to someone, just as surely as Caden belonged to us. And in the next few days, I might see my own baby looking just as swollen and helpless, and I just have no idea how this could be helpful, I sobbed into Adam's shoulder. They assured us that Caden would be on a different ventilator, and wouldn't be shaking the way this baby was. But now every time I think of a ventilator, all I can see is that baby and all I can feel is that moment.

After Caden's surgery, his chest was left open. One night, our nurse approached us to ask if they could bring a couple by to see him. Their own son was having open heart surgery the next day, and they were trying to prepare them for what he might look like post-surgery. We agreed, and gripped hands tightly again as the couple approached. I saw the same shock, fear, and uncertainty mirrored in their eyes that I knew shimmered in my own.

Thinking back tonight on those terrible moments, I realize what a cycle it was. Probably another family had to reluctantly shuffle over to see that couple's son after they came to see Caden . .  and I am struck, yet again, at just how broken this world is. Full of suffering and pain and hurt and death.

And I spend most of my life coasting along, certain that nothing like that would ever happen to me. Never even considering the possibility of my child being sick. And then something does happen, and ever-after I'm convinced that everything will go wrong, every single time. Somehow I live balanced precariously between twin precipices of arrogance and fear, clinging desperately to grace to keep from falling into darkness. Finally, I get my footing, gripping tightly to grace and learning to Trust that yes, sometimes bad things can and will happen. But living in fear of what's ahead is not freedom. And Christ declares freedom, and gives assurance of a hope beyond this broken world.

I still see her little swollen face sometimes. It is forever etched in my memory, and even though I don't know who she belonged to or if she is home with her parents or home in heaven, that little girl in the cicu brought me to my knees before my Savior. And it turns out that there is no better place to be. So when I fumble through motherhood, when I stumble yet again and raise my voice to my daughter and the kid who knocked on our door for the 100th time today, I remind myself of her fragility. Of life's pain and beauty. Of it's uncertainty. And I ask for grace, pray for it while gripping Jayci close and drying her tears.

And with my pleas, I feel His breath fill me. Just as surely as Caden's lungs filled with air from the ventilator, His breath brings me life. And so I can rest, and strengthen my heart for everything that lies ahead.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

10 comments:

  1. Becca, you've always moved me with your faith and your ability to put it into words. But lately, your words have come alive; they speak as loud as any voice. They paint a picture as clear as any photograph. And they touch my heart and on into my soul. What a horrible "initiation" into the club of heart surgery parents, and yet... how kind that they allowed you to get through that initial shock with a child other than your own. Precious babies; as you say, that cycle continues, and we pray. And we praise, too; to be living in a place where it is even possible. In the sermon today, the pastor said that he heard an Egyptian man say that all Christians long for Heaven, but that Americans actually get to experience it here on Earth. Some of what man calls "heaven" is closer to hell, but still, to be able to hold Caden now when elsewhere it wouldn't have been remotely possible, does make me grateful that you are here. Especially here, in Atlanta, where we have access to some of the best pediatric care in the world. Ahhh, your little man... God has great plans for him. And for you. I fully expect a book to come from this; one that will move many hearts towards the Giver of Life...
    (((hugs)))... xoxox...

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  2. I don't watch Grey's Anatomy, but based on the comments I've seen, I'm not sure I want to right now. :/ Anyway, this is a wonderfully beautiful post ... your faith is breathtaking.

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  3. Absolutely beautiful...thanks for the reminder to cling to Him! Thankful for the truth that you are sharing...

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  4. "But living in fear of what's ahead is not freedom. And Christ declares freedom, and gives assurance of a hope beyond this broken world."

    What TRUTH! Becca - this is beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  5. My husband used to love watching Grey's Anatomy too but after we had Logan he too can no longer watch it. It upsets him way too much. I still love it and watch it but moments like the last episode can be painful to watch. Us heart mamas see way too much along our own journey. It can make those medical dramas feel that much more real to us.

    Prayers being sent to you dear friend.

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  6. "Somehow I live balanced precariously between twin precipices of arrogance and fear, clinging desperately to grace to keep from falling into darkness. Finally, I get my footing, gripping tightly to grace and learning to Trust that yes, sometimes bad things can and will happen. But living in fear of what's ahead is not freedom. And Christ declares freedom, and gives assurance of a hope beyond this broken world."

    Love, love, love this. Thank you.

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  7. Another beautifully written post. I wish I had known about your blog during Caden's birth and surgery. But, I didn't. I am thankful I do now.

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  8. Another beautifully written post. I wish I had known about your blog during Caden's birth and surgery. But, I didn't. I am thankful I do now.

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  9. Sometimes I wish I could unsee what I've seen in the hospitals and sometimes I realize that I've been given those experiences to make me more compassionate.

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  10. Becca, thanks for yor comment! I remember you now but don't remember who our mutual friend is. :) how is Caden doing? I understand being transported back to that place. It happened to me once when visiting friends and their baby in the hospital. It's so hard. It will always be part of your story. Anyway, thanks for saying hi. The homeschool journey has begun!! :)

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