13 August 2008

A Moment of Reflection

Have you ever been stripped to your core? You know... Past all the ( sometimes expensive) clothes you buy, the time you spend on your hair and makeup, even the simple pleasures of a quick breakfast or a nice bath? Completely raw and basic?

It took Chase's birth and NICU experience to shake off all that glitters and expose me at my most vulnerable and simple. At the very least, it was a humbuling time. An "open wound" experience.

To enter the NICU you must take off all rings and watches in order to scrub with hot water for 3 full minutes. You aren't allowed to put these items back on and you must rewash after each time you have exited, even if for a second. And, in order to hold your baby, you must wear a disposable yellow smock.

So, By the second day of handwashing, Mike and I found that taking off our jewelry was a pain, so we put our wedding rings in my bag. Within a day, our watches joined them.

Our schedule for 8 days went like this:
6 am - wakeup, eat, get con and ourselves dressed.
8 am - out the door either with con for dropping off or w/o (alternating grandparents for babysitting)
9:30 - arrive at children's
10:45 - pump for relief in lactation and store milk
11:45 - nurse
12 - NICU closes till 3, leave and go to conner
4 - head back downtown to NICU
5 - pump
7 - nurse
9/9:30 - head home
10 - arrive at my mom's
10:30- pump and eat
11pm - pray that this is really just a bad nightmare while holding onto Con and apologizing nightly for what was going on. By this time, I hurt so bad physicaly I couldn't even walk. I hurt so much emotionally that I couldn't cry.

Some nights I slept, some I didn't. The physical exhaustion of doing this every day coupled with the stress and fatigue from having just given birth was unbearable. I still don't know how I survived.

But one thing I do know is that it taught me something about what is important in life. How when I'm stripped of my regular clothes, without a shower for a week, no makeup , bloated from giving birth (looking 5 months pregnant anyways), and only caring about my family, my little man and Chase... through all that Mike and I stood strong. We made life or death decisions for our baby. We fought together. We cried together. We broke together and then, we praised the Lord together. Not for any of the things sitting in my purse. Not for our beautiful house, or cars. Not even for ourselves, but for life.

For Chase.

For Conner.

For the strength to get through our own personal hell.

And it interests me so that when we finally did retrieve our wedding rings and watches I noticed one piece of jewelry that somehow missed the whole ordeal. Both of our cross neclaces, that we find great pride in wearing, were still there. It made me realize God was still there, He had been with us the whole time.

So at our core, we were still ourselves. We had been shaken of the material things and robbed of a healthy baby and "normal" Christmas with our family. And which mattered most, was of course the latter.

I still occasionally look at my watch and think about how silly it is that I even own the expensive thing. It's just a watch. Something replacable. It's not who I am, not even an accurate symbol of me...it's just a decoration. Who I am is a woman who loves her children dearly, who cherishes her family, who loves the Lord for his many blessings. A woman who fights for what she loves or believes in and will continue to do so - whether right or wrong - as a testimate to herself and her family because that is me ... at my core.

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