Saturday, February 21, 2015

Holding on to Truth

When I came to, I was in recovery in what felt like a dark basement. A doctor was putting in an arterial line in so they could measure my blood pressure in real-time (rather than by intermittent measurement). I was really groggy, and I just wanted to see my baby.  I needed to see him and know he was okay. I have to admit that is part of my story I don't remember. I relied on what my nurse Linda ( now a dear friend) and Josh recalled of this time. It is still very hard for me to not be able to remember Ezra's birth (because I wasn't awake!) or even the first time I saw him. These are moments I treasure with each of my children, and hold them dear to my heart.  I am so thankful for a husband and Linda who have helped me peace the story together.
While I was coming to in the recovery room, Josh was with our tiny little boy. 
Our little boy came out crying! This is something that is a miracle in itself. He took his first breath! I am so thankful God protected his tiny lungs, and gave wisdom to my doctor to know to give the steroid shots to me to help mature his lungs. The shots worked. My boy could breathe! 
Josh cut the cord. "What's his name?" they asked.
We had not come up with a name yet. We still had nine weeks, or so we thought.  Josh knew how important it was to me that he had a name before he left the hospital, and he knew which names I liked, so he named him. Our little tiny life was now Ezra Henry.  Ezra means help. We needed help if we were going to get through this. Very fitting indeed. Henry means strong leader in the home. From the moment he was born he started taking the lead, directing our lives in ways we never imagined. Turns out, Ezra Henry is the perfect name for him.
They brought Ezra to me right before they left on the ambulance.  I couldn't really see him. He was in a little traveling box (Josh called the pizza oven. ha ha) and I couldn't sit up yet after the surgery.  My eyesight was poor.  Everything was so blurry. I reached in and touched a foot. At least I think I did. I don't remember.
They were off, and I was moved to the ICU. 
Linda had taken pictures of Ezra and printed them out for me. She taped them up along my bed rails, and this was a huge source of strength for me in the days ahead. She may never know how much that meant to me.  
The time spent in the ICU was the hardest in my life. I felt so sick and alone. I was still on magnesium sulfate, as well as hefty doses of hydralazine and labetelol. It was like time was going in slow motion. I felt like the whole hospital was vibrating, and there was a constant pounding in my ears. I couldn't see well at all, and was attached to so many things.  I had pressure cuffs on both my legs so I wouldn't get blood clots, a blood pressure cuff on my arm going off every five minutes, and a breast pump attached to me every few hours (I could not hold it on my own) so my milk would come in.
I remember begging God to heal me so I could see my son, and to keep him safe. 
As I was lying in the bed all alone, my uterus empty, my arms empty, feeling so utterly betrayed by my own body, my faith was being tested. 
All these questions kept coming, and then the answers. It was like a battle in my mind to hold onto the truth I knew.
How could God allow this to happen?
Why wouldn't He just heal my body so I could see my baby?
Didn't we go through enough with Josie?

I love you, Tamara. I am so much bigger than this. You just can't see it.
Do I owe you an explanation for what I allow and don't allow?
Don't you know Me at all yet?

Then I just felt shame.

I thought of a very dear friend of mine who just lost her baby. How dare I take the gift of Ezra's life with anything but gratitude. Haven't I learned anything from the four we lost?
I thought of Job in the Bible, and remembered how God in chapter 38 where He says "Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them." I always imagined God yelling at Job in sort of a "How DARE you!" sort of way. It was not like that for me. It was more of a gentle reminder. 
I am so thankful for His Word, and His faithfulness to speak to me through it. Being reminded of my loving Heavenly Father is the only thing that got me through these dark days. 
I had an amazing nurse in the ICU.  Honestly, all my nurses were wonderful. I felt at times as though angels were ministering to me, as they helped bathe me, and give me little sponges of water to suck on. Debbie was a nurse who stayed with me at all times. I was her only patient and anytime I was awake, she was right there next to me. She read to me the cards my children made me (I couldn't get my eyes to focus enough to read) and she would help hold my phone so I could talk to Josh who was with Ezra. Of course I probably made no sense at all! Debbie hugged me as I sobbed and would tell me how the weather was outside, and if I had any visitors. She was amazing, and made my days bearable. I was sad to leave her when I transferred to the mother and newborn unit a few days later, but I was happy to be getting better!
Josh has shared his journey through this time on our ministry blog here. I encourage you to check out the posts (I think there are 7!), as he had the more exciting part of the story: Ezra! 
Very soon (but not soon enough!) I would get to be with my son!

Ezra is born! This is his first picture. He cried for everyone. Had to show off those working lungs!

This is the first time I saw his face, in this picture. I am so thankful Linda took these! I thought he looked like a tiny kitten or a baby squirrel.

Ezra was intubated, but not for long!

The doctors and nurses took great care of our baby as they prepared him for his first road trip!

Ezra was SO tiny. Look at the size of Josh's hand next to him. Our little miracle!

This is the first time I "saw" him. Ezra is in the "pizza oven" and I am reaching in to touch him. A few things come to mind when I see this picture. First, I am sad that this was the only time I touched him for five days. Second, I wish I could remember this more. Third, look how very swollen my hand and arm was! Severe swelling is another symptom of pre-eclampsia.

Ezra in his new "home" at the NICU of St. Joseph Mercy in Ypsilanti, MI. Daddy is learning how to care for his tiny little guy while mommy gets better.