And those two words right there are what best sum up the last 48 hours.
But let me back up a little bit here… On Tuesday afternoon my gynae decided to move my scheduled caesarean forward by five days due to some mild contractions I had been having. I was not at all opposed to the idea with the amount of discomfort I was feeling, and so Wednesday was spent running around getting all of our last little bits together while simultaneously trying not to go into labour.
At a little after 5am on Thursday morning we made our way up to the maternity ward at Sandton mediclinic. This is our third baby we were having here, under the care of the same doctor who delivered our girls. And although jitters hung in the air, there was a wonderful sense of familiarity as well.
Shortly after 7am we were wheeled into theatre where life seemed to suddenly move at a much faster pace. The atmosphere was cheerful as my doctor walked in with two take-away cups of coffee (one for the paed) and the room was full conversations about the weather – which really wasn’t boring at all thanks to Irma and Harvey.
Before I knew it, my legs were not my own and although everyone was chatty, there was a great sense of anticipation as we waited to meet our boy! My doctor commented on how we would never have made it to Tuesday and said that my uterus was so thin, it resembled an aquarium.
At 7:33am on 7 September 2017 our son was born. Leevi Laec Richards entered the world weighing an impressive 3.5kg, measuring 52cm and showing off all kinds of cute. For those who have wondered, Leevi means harmoniously joined and Laec (pronounced Lake) means one who longs for community – so essentially God joining him to God and then to God’s people.
After many checks and much observation from our paed (while I was being sewn up), the decision was made to take Leevi to the neonatal intensive care unit where he would be observed more closely. His breathing was laboured, and as many chances as they gave him, he turned an awful shade of blu every time they took the oxygen away from his little face. In the NICU he would be given a decent chance to transition and he’d most likely be back with us in 6 hours. My heart ached and I felt completely empty as they wheeled me back down to the maternity ward on my own. Nothing prepares you for how cold and lonely a hospital room can feel.
It was in neonatal that they discovered Leevi has congenital pneumonia – I’m still not too sure what it is, why it happens or how a brand new baby is born with it. I do know that our paed is not worried about Leevi, he is responding well to the treatment he has been given and although the doctors wont commit to any sort of time frame, I am trying to prepare myself for another week or two before we take our little guy home. I know that this is the reality for so many, but my heart cannot take the thought of going home without my baby.
So here we sit, trying to make sense of it all. I have never felt so full but so broken all at once. I know that Leevi is in incredible care and I am so grateful for that, but my heart longs for my baby. I am sad that we never got to change his first nappy or hold him while he was still a little gooey. I’m sad that by the time we get to care for him, his umbilical cord will be gone, his face will have changed and he will have established a ‘nicu routine’. I’m sad for Leevi that his first day was not spent on my chest as I had intended it to be, that he hasn’t been comforted by our voices or soothed as we rock. That feeds just land in his tummy via a tube rather than being a significant time of bonding. And I’m sad for our girls, that everything went completely differently to what we had prepared them for. I’m sad for Phil, that he has not yet had a chance to hold his son. So while I know that things are really not that bad, that it will soon be over and that so many babies spend a longer time in the unit, I can’t help but feel that we were robbed of so much.
At the same time, our hearts are completely full and we feel so abundantly blessed, not only because we have a beautiful baby boy, but because of the tangible presence of Christ that we have felt in this time. We have tasted His goodness and known His love. We have been surrounded by friends, family, church and even our online communities who have rallied around us, prayed for us and supported us in every way. We have grown closer to Christ and relied fully on His strength and power.
We are thankful too. For the miracle that is our son and that we get to take him home as soon as he is better. We are thankful for community and we are grateful that God has used this time so powerfully.
It’s an incredible thing to feel such love and satisfaction in a time that is so difficult – I find it difficult to put my feelings into words. I can only say that God, our King is a good, good father, that His love is real and that it is in situations like this that because we follow Him, we GET TO experience His goodness. We get to bask in His stillness and we get to share His love with others.