Rick + Rachel
“I take you, Tim…”
“Tim!” I screamed for him on a Tuesday night from our bathroom. I held my red insides in my hands in white-faced fear. A few calls later four men I don’t know came into my bedroom to carried me, shoulder strapped down through our narrow hall way and down the stairs.
Me and my second little one. It would be our second stay in the hospital in the short span of her 28 week existence. But this time they hooked us up to fluid intakes and outtakes and all sorts of dopplers with velcro straps and leg squeezers. And that’s where we waited. We waited while they came to check. And check. And check.
So we made plans for a ten week stay.
Swish, swish, swish, swish. The Doppler played our heartbeats and our fates loud to hear.
We read and talked and FaceTimed and called and texted and scrolled and prayed with and prayed over and prayed for. “Best two out of three?” he said, and just as I agreed to beat him a second time in our dice game, the swishes slowed down.
One nurse. Two nurses. The charge nurse. A doctor I’d never seen in a hospital I’d never been to, my home for two days to this point.
For two hours we listened to her.
Oxygen is a funny thing. She needed it, so they gave it to me. Mask on, tangled up in tubes, twisting around so it could get to her, but it just didn’t get there.
I held his hand so tight. He was an anchor and my insides were stormy, stormy seas.
A c-section feels like a duffel bag being unzipped, rummaged through, emptied and zipped back up. Thank God for it.
She was a she, we learned, and she was tiny and blue. Very tiny. And less blue, but not for five long minutes.
Marcella for Tim’s grandmother. Rose for Saint Rose of Lima.
“Young warrior,” it means. And her battle began the night I screamed for him from home.
Her lungs. As it often is, it was her lungs that we petitioned everyone we knew to pray for. One of them collapsed on day two in the middle of the night. Always the middle of the night.
But they’re miracle workers. The people and the machines they use. Her life was hung on them like a big white sheet, shaken out and draped over a clothes line. Angels and men, working together in every NICU, everywhere.
I’ve never been anywhere in my life every single day for 42 days straight except my home. The NICU felt like home, thanks to every person who I know (and some who I don’t even know) making it so I could be there.
Edith’s eyes would close after lunch time and I was out the door. Ten minutes away to her. Wash in. Check in. Bathroom. Wash again. Wash the pump parts. Robe on. Hand sanitizer. Phone. Water. Pillow. Pump. Hand sanitizer.
And finally we were together. For three out of 24 hours, I’d sit with her, first with four tubes, then three, then two, then one, then we could see her face.
Breath on her own. Eat on her own. Sit in a carseat for 90 minutes on her own. Hurdles, hurdled. A mighty warrior indeed, is she.
42 days she was cared for so tenderly by a host of angels guiding RN’s and NP’s and Doctors who kept vigil with her day and night.
But it could have been longer.
They passed her to us like a baton, a soul passed from divine care to hospital care and right into my arms.
And just like that, she was home.
It’s August 24th again. She is twelve months old today and nearly six times her birth weight. She learned to eat on her own, sleep on her own (mostly), do "so big!" on her won, and scurry speedily all over the floor all on her own.
And we’re home. All four of us. Home together time is like the waiting room for heaven. She could be there now. But she’s here, with us. So now we try our best to not toil and spin around this life, but to wait. We wait to see the face of the one who breathed the breaths into her that she now breaths on her own.
On our wedding day I said his name and I held his hand, full of peace and smitten joy and then three years later I screamed his name and held so tightly to his hand, full of trembling and tumultuous fear. For all I know, in my small and confined logic, God led us through this and every patch of grace-traced suffering just to me how much I love him, to show me how much I do take him has my husband.
Stewards we are, he and I, of these two little lives that are on the path from dependence on us to dependence on him, just like our parents were for us.
It is a very happy first birthday for our little Marci Rose. And with hearts brimming, we echo the sighs of gratitude that have put us to sleep each night for the past 365 days. Gratitude for Marci. Gratitude for our loving and live-giving creator and the people he sent to care for her.
(These next few pro photos came from our friend Emma Parker, who came in an instant about a week after she was born.)