My Story

Dear Nikki,

Your body is trembling. You feel like you can’t breathe. You’re begging them to make the contractions stop but it feels like they’re not listening to you. Chris is right beside you holding your hand. He looks scared but you can tell he’s trying to be strong for you. All you want is for everyone to just stop moving and talking so fast. And your mom. You really want your mom.

After one more assessment the doctors will suggest they can wait a little longer and just like that your wish will come true. Your room will empty except for Chris and one nurse. But you still shake, and Chris still looks scared.

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These next few days will be the most painful and scariest days of your life. You will be told all of the possible scenarios of having a premature baby. You will be educated on the risks of developmental delays, physical handicaps, and possible death. You will sign a form giving the doctors consent to take extreme measures to save your little girl’s life. You will endure a pain that literally takes your breathe away. You’ll itch all over and see three of everything because of the steroids that will help your baby’s lung function. After 6 days you’ll be up all night with contractions that just wont stop, rushed into delivery and you will do your best to have your daughter naturally as you grasp to your original plan even if she is coming 16 weeks too early. But everything will go very very wrong and you’ll be numbed from the neck down as you lay exhausted on a table and they scoop your first child out of you. Even though you will be warned that 24 weekers can’t cry when they come out, the silence of her delivery will break your heart. They’ll put your little girl up to your face, snap the picture, and rush her to the NICU. And again, you’ll begin to shake, Chris will look scared, and you still want your mom.

I wish I could tell you the hard part is over… but it’s just beginning. You’ll try to stand up on your own before you’re ready because they wont let you in the NICU until you can have feeling in your legs again. You’ll be wheeled down to the NICU and see the tiniest little human you’ve ever seen. You’ll be so overwhelmed by everything that you think you’ll pass out, but instead you will vomit … in the NICU… in a sterile environment. You will learn how to scrub in any time you want to see your baby, what kangaroo care is, and where you can privately pump every three hours for the next five months. You’ll wait the longest 7 days of your life for her first brain scan to come back to let you know what level brain bleed she has. You’ll wait for tests to come back on her blood levels, her liver, her eyes, and her brain again. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night across town and call the nurses to see how her night is going. You will ride the NICU rollercoaster for five months and you will laugh and you will cry and you will pray and you will beg.

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I know it will be hard and I know it will seem impossible on certain days and I know that you will have faith that you wont ever be in the NICU again, and I know that you will be a second time, and a third time, and I know that you will question everything and experience heartbreak and anger and fear and emptiness…

but that’s not all to your story Nikki … there’s so much more that six years later I can tell you.

You will be in pain and you will shake and you will be scared, but you’ll also have an unexplainable peace that tells you your baby girl will be okay. You will stop shaking once the steroids wear off and there will come a time Chris doesn’t look so scared, and your mom does come, and she keeps coming! You will visit your baby girl every single day and you wont think twice about scrubbing in because you get to hold your tiny baby and experience skin to skin all day every day for those first few months.

Those tests that you’re so scared of, they come back clear every.single.time! No brain bleeds, no infections, no failures,… she’s perfect. You will meet the most incredible nurses that give you so much confidence that God went before you even in these small details. You will treasure the highs and you will endure the lows and you will survive the NICU, again, and again, and again.

You will learn why you took this so hard and feel like a failure. But even better, you will learn that is a lie and you will learn to be a little easier on your self. You will forgive yourself and ask for forgiveness. You will receive that forgiveness and you will experience healing, your faith will be restored, and God will get glory from this season of your life.

One day you’ll wake up and realize you have a six year old little girl who is more than ok, she’s perfect. She is kind and loving and extremely in tune with how others are feeling. She is cautious and a perfectionist and she overthinks things, but she is still that strong and fiesty little girl you see fighting to get unswaddled in her incubator. She will tell you how beautiful you are and make your heart melt and she will also ignore you and talk back and make your blood boil (I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true). She will read to her little brother and she will teacher her little sister how to swim. She will love her family and have a heart for Jesus and she will always be a reminder to you not of a time when God wasn’t there, but of a time in your life where he was so very close and so very kind to you.

You’ll have two little girls and a little boy and they will have your whole heart. You and Chris will grieve together and heal together and you’ll keep praying together and you’ll always be reminded of God’s hand over the life of your children.

You can trust that these days are momentary troubles but there are days ahead that will far outweigh them all.

You can trust that God is a God of seasons, and though this may be your winter, richer the harvest He brings.

You can trust that though these days feel like days for mourning, I can assure you there are many days of dancing ahead.

And 6 years later, that is what you will do. You’ll jump up and down with your six year old daughter and watch her twirl, and you’ll laugh inside because her moves remind you of her daddy.

And your heart will be filled, and you will dance. 

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Happy 6th birthday Adyson Joy.

My Story

Mourning Into Dancing (part 1/3)

“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4

I’ll be honest, this has been difficult and not in the ways that I anticipated it to be. I have found that writing in the brokenness was easier for me than writing in the healing. And I think that’s where I’m at… for now at least. 

I’m a 1 on the enneagram. I like things black and white. I like that a + b will always equal c (so I thought). I’m always striving to improve myself and the things around me. I like perfection and am terrified of being less than. I wish I would have known these particular things about myself five years ago. Maybe I could have processed things a little differently. Maybe I would have understood why I couldn’t shake the thoughts and feelings of being a complete failure as I entered into motherhood.

I’ll never forget that sign. It hung above me as I was wheeled into the NICU. It read, “Congratulations”. I was being wheeled into seeing my one pound baby who had just been surgically removed from my body. A body that rejected her sixteen weeks too soon. I was very confused as to what we should be congratulating. I did everything they told me to do. I laid flat on my back for six days and hardly moved. I endured the awful steroids and magnesium. I listened to worship music continuously to stay calm. I prayed… and I begged…. and I failed. My enormous amount of pure will didn’t stand a chance against what my body made it’s mind up to do, and that was to end my first pregnancy.

The next five months in the NICU would be the hardest five months of my life. My husband and I were immediately forced onto the NICU rollercoaster. Our hearts broke as we watched our daughter’s fragile body lie in an incubator not knowing those first few days if she would make it. We rejoiced when blood work and MRI’s came back clear. We cried when her oxygen levels dropped so much during the night, that we couldn’t hold her during the day. We rejoiced when she came off the ventilator, and worried when she had to be put back on. We celebrated when she was moved to a bassinet and asked way to many questions when she struggled to move off of the feeding tube. We counted every ounce she gained and recorded every ml she ate every 3 hours. We spent every minute we could with her and played endless hours of Words with Friends and Draw Something. It was exhausting, but there was beauty in all of it too. The amazing nurses that became our friends, the dove chocolates that our doctor would bring to us every night on rounds, and the way our family and friends supported us. We felt like we were falling apart at the seams, but we knew we were being held together by the grace of God and by all of you.

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October 26, 2012 was the day we finally got to bring our baby girl home. Nurses who weren’t scheduled came in just to see us off. My family drove to be with us. It was an amazing day! Our 1 pound, 24 weeker was now a strong and healthy 6 pound, 5 month old. We dressed her up in a bird costume for Halloween (get it? she was the early bird!) and we rushed into the holiday season celebrating all of her firsts. Each “first” was just a little sweeter for us knowing how close we were from things being very different. 

It was a joyous season. Celebrating Christmas, being surrounded by family, the entering into a new year, and purchasing our first home. On the outside it would appear as if everything was perfect. Everything was finally all working out. But my inside reality was very different. I was broken.

I never once doubted God or what He was capable of doing. I knew every time I looked into my daughter’s eyes that he had displayed a miracle right in front of me. My husband was growing and being invested in and the evidence of God’s hand was clearly over his life. I knew there was no denying his presence or his power, I just couldn’t find any of it in me. I had failed, and now I was alone.

I couldn’t make since of any of it. I was healthy, in shape, and following all of the prenatal rules. But even before all of that, I was faithful. I committed my life to God at 15 years old and I never once looked back. Through death and illnesses of family members, through heartbreaks of lost relationships, through challenging seasons of life, I had been faithful. Wasn’t it His turn to be faithful to me? 734304_698094721588_1147574983_n

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One.” Psalm 22:1-3

Check back next week for part 2.