This Was Not the Plan

I lie alone in a pool of my own blood, wondering what just happened.  A little over an hour after arriving at the hospital, the midwife skidded in on the second push as my little blue son was born, wheezing and sputtering as they placed him on my chest. Within minutes, the nurses said they’d need to take him away on their plastic cafeteria cart.  Of course my husband would go with our new one, I’d join after being stitched up when the bleeding slowed. 

This was not the plan.

“He’s going to be okay, isn’t he?”  I asked, weakly, before they whisked him away. 

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t go see my son or even get out of the bed to wash the birth fluids off my weak body.  My husband was with our son, the nurse had stepped out and I was alone.  I lie there and closed my eyes. 

Suddenly I imagined Jesus standing over me, stroking my hair.

Our son spent over 48 hours in the NICU, of which I spent about 40 hours in there myself.  I tried to keep the white and red cords separate from the blue ones.   I was careful not to disturb the IV which pierced his tiny heel, giving him glucose when I should have been his source of nourishment.  Even so, I was constantly setting off the machines until the night nurse would have mercy and eventually silence the machine.

I sat rocking my sleepy newborn through the hours of the night, not caring that he was sleeping more than eating or that I was awake and not asleep.  I stroked his downy, loose skin, like a hound puppy’s.  Flimsy curtains were pulled for privacy, though I could hear everything going on.  The daddy weeping softly and whispering to his preemie daughter, “I love you.”  The gruff, 50-something night nurse, Joe, with a beard rubber-banded in two sections who moonlighted as a teddy-bear counselor for the young nurses and weepy moms who never planned for their babies to not be with them. “Oh, this is the end of the world, isn’t it?” he would chide the teeny babies as they shrieked while he changed their diapers.  On the second night, I caught him cuddling a newborn while looking at motorcycles online.

Once our baby was in the NICU, it was a fight to get him out.  The oxygen levels quickly stabilized, but then it was his glucose levels, then the bilirubin.  When he was finally moved to our room, the pressure was on to feed him enough that his glucose levels rose.  When they fell rather than rose, the woman in charge said he could only leave the hospital if I agreed to feed him supplements. 

The door clicked shut behind them and I stood looking out the window, swaying with my baby, tears in my eyes. 

This was not the plan.  I was supposed to breastfeed easily and naturally just as I had with my other two.  Wouldn’t this hurt his chances of breastfeeding in the future? 

My newborn slept in my arms, unconcerned with adult worries.  My husband had gone out for coffee earlier and I was alone in my grief.  As the sun set behind the Rocky Mountains, my sadness threatened to engulf me.

But then I heard the tapping.

I tiptoed to the window, peering through the smudged fifth floor window pane.  Three small, brown feathered heads on the windowsill all shifted nervously toward me.  Sparrows.

Now, I don’t believe that we should read messages from heaven into every coincidence we encounter, but I do know that God likes to speak to us if we are willing to listen.  And in that chance encounter, I knew He was speaking to me.

The week before I went into labor, my mind echoed with a long-forgotten song, a lullaby sung by Lauryn Hill that had comforted me in college at a time when life was a confusing tangle of twists and turns.  

“Why do I feel so worried?  Why do the shadows come?  Why does my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?  When Jesus is my portion; a constant help is he.  His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches over me…” I had meditated on these words in the weary weeks of being hugely pregnant with no emotional or physical energy to care for my family.

So as those three birds tapped on my hospital window, I knew.

I knew I was seen, loved, and heard.  I knew I was precious to Jesus just as my heart throbbed with love for my new little one.

 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7 ESV).

It was not my plan for my sweet son to be hooked up to machines and secluded away from his mommy and daddy in his first days of life.  It was not my plan to fight for him to get out of the hospital and home with us.  And it was not my plan for this crunchy mama to bottle feed her baby.

But God was present with me when my map had no north.  I felt small and weak, but God saw me as His lovely little sparrow.  


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