Its late at night, I hear Andy snoring in the background along with the two monitors buzzing in their threatening tone that any second a baby will cry. I’m alone in my thoughts, with only the computer screen as a light into the room. I have tears streaming down my face as I’m reading previous posts about this time six months ago. I’ve been avoiding looking back because I want to be moving forward in my life instead of stuck beside that hospital bed where my sweet baby laid for so many days. But for whatever reason, tonight seemed to be the night I couldn’t avoid it any longer.
First, I clicked on facebook and started reading all of my statuses and, more importantly, the comments left under them. My tears stream harder as I realize I didn’t even know how many people were praying and sending me encouragement. I remember my phone buzzing so much from facebook notifications that I had to turn them off while I was in the hospital because it just got to be too much. I feel a pang of guilt that I didn’t personally answer every facebook message, email, text or call. I wish I could’ve been better about that, but I could only exert the energy to read them. I did read every single one of them though, through blurred vision from my tears, but I did read them and am so thankful for everyone who lifted us up when we needed it the most.
Then, I start clicking the links to my posts and reading them and the comments that were left. I am transported back to that hospital room and the feeling of being so alone and yet so loved all at the same time. I have never experienced such heartache and joy all at once.
I remember the events, which were a blur at the time, like they happened yesterday. Though six months isn’t very long in the scheme of life, it seems like a mixture of yesterday and a lifetime ago.
As I close my eyes, I can think back to the first time my radar went off that something seemed wrong in some sense. I remember how slow those two months before her surgery seemed to go. I remember her first procedure and the first time I had to hand her off to the nurse to be put under. I remember Dr. Lashus coming into the waiting room where Andy, my dad, and I were sitting and explaining to us that the procedure was a fail. I can vividly see the look in his eyes as he was trying to sound upbeat that told the truth, there wasn’t much hope for us avoiding open heart surgery at some point. I remember knowing with everything in me that something was so wrong a few weeks later and getting in early to see Dr. Pearse. I remember those long days and nights in the hospital before surgery that were so precious to me because I was able to just concentrate on helping Ryder get better and able to love on her without interruptions.
And oh, how I remember the morning of the surgery. I remember Andy and I holding Ryder together and praying over her. I remember having to hand her off to the anesthesiologist, Dr. Harris, and how sweet he was to me and to our baby girl. I can see the image of him crossing through those huge surgery doors that say boldly “DO NOT ENTER” and just pleading with God that the next time I saw her she’d be alive and well. I remember all those hours waiting during surgery and just trying to distract myself from the fact that my two month old daughter was laying there with her chest open not breathing on her own.
I remember them wheeling her bed past us and letting us look at her for a mere moment before transporting her into the CICU. I remember how frail she was and how I couldn’t even see her face because of all the tubes and wires.
And then when we finally got called into the CICU to be with her, I remember not being able to breathe because of how bad she looked. She was screaming in agony and they just could not manage her pain. I remember being sick to my stomach because the sound of my voice and my touch hurt her even more. Let me tell you, there isn’t much worse to a mother than the fact that not only can you not do anything for your daughter, but you can’t even talk around her or touch her. Those days were so long in the CICU and I became so emotionally numb during them. I hated hearing and seeing babies crash around me, and hated even more seeing their precious parents weeping and pleading for a miracle.
The only picture I got the first day after surgery because she finally was calm for a moment. I just couldn’t bare to take her picture while she was in so much pain.
First time seeing her the next day, and to us, she looked so much better.
Our sweet nurse who loved on Ryder most of our stay in CICU.
First feeding after surgery.
Holding her for the first time, which was such a challenge because of the chest tube, but our nurse figured out a way to do it.
Andy feeding her for the first time.
Finally, after two days, figured out the exact cocktail of pain meds to help her relax and settle down.
Ryder’s heart surgeon and God’s miracle hands, Dr. Mendeloff.
The difference between a few months ago and now is that now I can fast forward to the end without pausing forever to look at and analyze every detail of what went wrong and if it was somehow my fault. I always hesitate over the images of Ryder after surgery, because it is something that will be forever etched into my mind and soul, but I can finally move forward past that.
For so many months after surgery Ryder still wasn’t well and I think that, in large part, contributed to my being “stuck”, but now Ryder is thriving and gaining weight and eating so well and there is so much peace that comes with that. There were times that I honestly didn’t know if that day would ever come.
We now have a story to tell. A story of mercy and grace that is unimaginable in power. We can tell others how the community of Christ is a tight circle and people will lift you up in times of trouble. They will flee to your side and help you through every step. And they will pray for you, oh how they will pray for you, to have peace and comfort through your storm.
I know this because so many did it for me and my family. I can tell you with the utmost certainty that I would have never made it through the hardest days of my life without each of you who prayed for my family and sent me encouragement in the form of Scripture. Because when you are going through your worst nightmare, Satan is very near to you, putting negative thoughts and images in your head every single second. But my friends were there showing Jesus to me and reminding me to stay positive.
So today, six months after Ryder’s surgery, I will celebrate our struggle. I will praise Jesus’ name all day long for carrying us through and building our testimony to better His kingdom. Because that’s really what its all about and all that it comes down to- growing the Kingdom of Christ.
Thank you for being such a huge part of our story.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-19