I’ll never forget that December evening I found out you were coming. I was in Indiana, helping the David Crowder Band finish up the last of their shows, and your mother called to let me know she was pregnant. I was honestly a bit perturbed as she and I both knew that I was coming home the next day. I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t wait but I leaped for joy nonetheless. I remember running backstage to tell the guys, though they were literally walking on stage when I shouted it to them. The confusion on their faces spoke volumes. Why couldn’t I wait until we were on the bus that night to share the news? They were kind of in the middle of something! Seems we were both a little over-enthused at the news of your conception! It makes sense now.
I’ll spare you all of the medical details of what happened while you were inside your mother’s belly, as I can imagine you’re tired of hearing about that. You probably don’t even care.
We had spent several months preparing to meet you and say goodbye all in the same breath. People from all over the world had spent weeks praying for you, pleading your case before the throne of the King of the universe. Your mother and I, too, had pleaded your case, though most of the time our prayers felt more like grabbing at straws than they did actually speaking with the keeper of promises. To be honest, we didn’t even buy any of the normal baby things for you, though we did already fill out the paperwork with the funeral home so all that had to be filled in was the dates and times. We spent more time preparing ourselves for what it was going to feel like when the funeral home came to pick you up at the hospital than we did wondering how on earth we would care for you…perhaps a tactical error on our part. We’re figuring it out though. Thanks for being patient.
And then on July 26th, we were given the news that you needed to be born immediately, as things were looking a bit rough for you in Ruth’s belly. The conversation that day that we had with your brother and sister was one of the hardest conversations we’ve ever had. I remember going to Suzannah’s house and sitting with them both to tell them that the doctors didn’t expect you to come home with us. Your brother was perplexed and asked if you were so sick that you would probably die. I told him the truth and he melted. You are so loved by your siblings, and have been since long before you were born. Even now, they will often come put their cheek next to your mouth to see if you are breathing, though they try very hard to not give you any germs. I hope that you can somehow feel that love.
So, we packed our bags in silence and headed to the hospital. We sent out the bat signal that you were coming, and it felt like the entire world stopped and prayed for you. We were so excited to meet you and so confused as to how to say goodbye. We had long been prepared for the reality that you would in all likelihood not make it through delivery, but after literally one push, you were born! Your mother was still lying flat on her back with the bed sheet pulled up, because none of us expected you to come so quickly. We intended to have an entire team of specialists staged outside the door, along with a photographer and the other kids, but there was no one there when you were born!
My heart sank. She pulled back the bed sheet, and there you were, beet red and lying still on the bed. A flood of questions ran through me: Are you alive? Did you make it through delivery? If you did make it, are you dying already? Or, is there a small chance that you are going for it, that you’ve got fight in you? And then you opened your eyes and looked up. I doubt you intentionally looked up, but when you did, your eyes were so beautiful and filled with life. Words can’t describe that feeling, so I won’t try. Ruth knows the feeling, and her midwife comes close to understanding the depth of that feeling. We’ll keep that one between us until we’re all on the other side of the veil. Words on this side would certainly only undermine the depth of that moment.
We were told that if you made it through delivery, the moment of your birth would be your strongest and that as your systems tried to start up and your brain wouldn’t tell them how to function, your body would start shutting down. And then the milestones started stacking up. You made it through birth, so we cut the cord. Your heart had a little trouble at first, so your little chest got a massage. And then your heart was doing fine! You had a good bit of trouble breathing, so they cleaned your passages over and over and blew some oxygen in your face. And then you were breathing, so we took pictures, and you were still going. So…off to the NICU! That was an incredible moment when they took you away. We were told that if it looked like you didn’t have fight in you, they would clear the room so we could be alone as a family, but that is not what happened! They hauled you off to fight for you!
That was by far the most amazing night of my life. We watched the hours stack up and you thrived. Each hour was a miracle and still is, though to be honest, these days it’s easy to forget at 3 a.m., when you’re seizing and throwing up everything that we spent the last hour trying to feed you! Hours turned into days and people from all over were driving and flying in to meet you. Doctors would come to see you, and they would close the door and start crying. Family and friends did the same thing. Even employees from other parts of the hospital would come in, close the door, and cry by just meeting you. So many of these people had prayed for you for weeks and weeks and there you were. Alive. Engaging. Beautiful… a miracle, in its most certain form.
God had done a miracle. Not a normal, everyday miracle, but the kind of miracle that makes jaws hit the floor. And he allowed all of us to participate. I’m convinced that miracles exist not primarily for the recipient of it, but for the sake of the name of the One who performed the miracle. But how glorious it is to be on the receiving end! You reap the gift and the Giver! Amazing.
So after a week or so of being in the NICU, we brought you home under hospice care. Sure, you’ve had a few moments since then that you weren’t doing so well, but after a couple of visits back to the hospital, you are doing wonderful. So wonderful in fact, you graduated from hospice care last week. Well, maybe you dropped out… following in daddy’s footsteps. I’m okay with that, up until a point.
Today you turn 7 weeks old. I don’t know if you know this or not, but every Friday someone brings cupcakes over to our little house and we celebrate your life and we celebrate the Giver of that life. One day, you will meet Him, and much of this will make sense to you. We are starting to run out of room for candles on your cupcake though! Sweet girl, you have turned our world, and arguably the world of our many others, upside down in the most beautiful way. It is such a privilege to have you in our family. I don’t remember what life was like before you, and I can hardly imagine life without you. Thank you for the sleepless nights. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Thanks for being patient while I try to photograph every moment. I so look forward to hearing you laugh and feeling your hugs, though I understand you might not be able to do that here. That’s okay. Eternity may have already started but there’s much more of it left to do those things!
You may not have any idea who I am. I don’t know. Maybe you can’t even recognize or remember me from 2 minutes ago. That’s okay. That will not always be the case. You have taught us all what it means to be carried through life. You have taught me that self-reliance is a lie, and you have taught me clearly how dependent I am. Thank God it’s not up to me. I never would have chosen this life for either of us, but it’s so much better than anything we would have chosen for ourselves. Thank you, baby girl. You are loved more than you will ever know here, and more importantly you are shining brightly the Light of the world…to the world. I am so proud of you.