I never thought I’d be a NICU mom. The one who sits in quiet, loving agony beside the bed of a fragile little baby, watching the numbers fluctuate on the monitors. But I’ve been living through that experience for over a month now. When William was born, five and a half weeks early, he came careening into the world so fast that the only medical personnel at his birth were my nurse and the doctor. The neonatal team arrived shortly after he made his entrance, and I held him for a minute or two before they whisked him away to the NICU to hook him up to monitors and oxygen and i.v. fluids. Thus began the most painful, agonizing journey we have ever taken.
One of the hardest parts of William’s time in the NICU has been sitting by his bed and watching him struggle to breathe. He will be calm as can be, breathing quietly, then out of nowhere, he begins to arch his back and turn his head, straining for air. His little arms flail and he fights for the oxygen he needs. Sometimes the issue is a simple one to remedy – repositioning his head or suctioning out his mouth. But I will never forget watching him go through bradycardia, an frightening episode of dangerously low heart rate. A team of nurses rushed to his bedside to administer oxygen and possibly chest compressions to get him back to normal levels. I stood a little bit apart from his bed, watching helplessly as they worked to save my baby’s life.
Over the last few months, we have, at times, felt like William – fighting suffocation under the enormous pressure of this trial. We have entered the hospital hoping for good reports from the previous evening, only to find that he is receiving a blood transfusion, or that the nurses had to administer CPR in the middle of the night. In nearby bed spaces, mothers snuggle their little ones, feeding them from bottles or even nursing, while I watch the nurse hook up his next feeding to a pump and deliver it through his feeding tube. Every day that passes is an injury – another day that we didn’t get to bring him home.
So many quiet moments behind the curtain of bed space two, I’ve cried out to God, “Please do something…” And does he hear? Why are my prayers being met with more waiting, or even worse, more complications?
The man who penned the 130th psalm had many of the same feelings as I. He wrote, “Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication….My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning – yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” His lungs were crushed by the weight of the crashing waves as he struggled to cry out to his God, yet his soul was left waiting. How can one bear up under the pressure and yet wait patiently for God’s answer? Though the trial was not over, though he still felt the anguish of soul, this man of faith tells us the simple answer: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits; and in his word I do hope.” Humility. Patience. And trust. Implicit trust in the merciful, kind God who is governing the storm that howls over my head.
Crying out to God from the depths is an act of faith, even if I don’t feel he hears me. I don’t have to feel full of faith to respond in faith. In fact, some of the most faith driven actions take place when I act in spite of my lack of confidence. As I respond in faith, however weak and tremulous it may be, the waves begin to lose their power to drown me. My breathing calms, my soul begins to rest, and I am quiet. And before I know it, my heart begins to sing, “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”
Cry to God from the depths, and he will always hear.