Today my darling baby boy is 2 years old!! Celebrating him and looking at old pictures leads me to reflect on the day Samuel was born and the following 6 days he spent in the NICU.
This is the first picture (and only picture) I have with my third born child, my firstborn son, Samuel on his birthday. There I am fresh out of surgery and wheeled in next to him, only able to touch his foot. I was smiling on the outside but hurting on the inside. I had no idea what was going on or what had happened. Was it something I had done wrong? Was it something about the c-section? Was it something inside his little body?
These are ones Matt took later because I wasn't able to get up and walk down to go see him that first day. To be honest, these are incredibly hard for me to look at. They remind me how close we came to losing him that first day. The doctors said a lot of things, but I remember tuning in (through my post-surgery fog) to the words, "He is a very sick little boy." Whew...even now the tears are close to the surface.
My father-in-law (pictured above) was very wise and suggested we take pictures these early days, even though they would be hard to look at later. He knew having them would help us to process, remember, and even praise the Lord for His faithfulness. So true!
Eventually I did get to hold my boy. Here his nurse is showing me his face right before I got to have him in my arms for the first time!! And as you may imagine, tears flowed freely that day.
Fast forward a few days, and Samuel got to come home from the hospital, a healthy and very loved little boy.
This is the first time the girls saw or met their brother. Needless to say it was a long 6 days of waiting for them as well.
Since then, Samuel has grown and been healthy. He celebrated his first birthday and today will celebrate his second. He is a precious, affectionate, cuddly little boy, and we all love him dearly. I'm so thankful that God chose us as his family and grateful he is alive.
Below is a little something I wrote for a women's event at our church. It gives a few more details and the verse God specifically gave me for this child. It has provided such hope and comfort on so many different occasions.
If you've read this far, thanks!! And if you're one of the ones who prayed for Samuel during those early days, BIG thanks!!! We are so grateful for all of you!!
Happy birthday, my baby. You are a treasure!!
THE GIFT OF SAMUEL
It occurred to me the other day that each of our children's lives has a unique beginning. With Elizabeth, we had no idea there were serious things out there like infertility and miscarriage. We wanted to get pregnant, and two months later we were. It was certainly God's perfect plan.
With Abigail, we became very well acquainted with the idea of infertility, making many trips to various doctors and asking the LORD for many months in a row to create life. Nineteen months later, we were pregnant. Again, it was God's perfect plan.
As we asked the LORD about a third child, my heart felt heavy because I didn't want to go through so many months of waiting and hoping. That cycle can be rough. But through a conversation in the middle of HEB, God challenged me to begin praying a bold prayer. One that He did not promise to answer, but one that He wanted to use to grow me in my faith and TRUST in Him!
So we gathered a group of very dear friends and asked them to pray with us that God, independent of all the doctors and medicine, would create life inside of me. That He would accomplish it this time so that His name could be made great!
Imagine then how hypocritical I felt when later that month we were once again sitting in the doctor's office preparing to start all the routine tests you do before you begin the actual treatments. While we were waiting, God's word came off the page. My reading for that morning came from the book of Acts, specifically Acts 17: 26b-27, "[God] determined the times set for all men to live and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us."
From Paul's great speech in Athens, God spoke comfort, peace, and trust over me. He quieted me.
Well, the results of all the medical tests indicated that I would not be getting pregnant that month. I was crushed. We went home and began the wait for my monthly cycle. (Some of the initial treatments are dependent on that.) And we kept waiting and waiting and waiting. It finally got to the point where I broke down and bought a pregnancy test, even though the doctors told us it was impossible this month. And would you believe, when I took that test at home in the early, early morning hours, it came up positive!! In God's perfect timing, He HAD created life inside of me AND increased my faith in Him at the same time!! Our praying friends and family rejoiced with us.
As the baby grew, it was a joy to feel him move and kick inside of me. When we found out we were having a boy, Matt beamed. We began thinking of names and preparing the room.
Then he was born! We were so excited to see his face and count his fingers and toes. But there were complications, and Samuel wasn't breathing very well. I could see Matt out of the corner of my eye, and I could tell he had stopped taking pictures. The look on his face told me so much. The NICU doctor was called "STAT" to the delivery room, and then they whisked Samuel away to the NICU.
Each day we visited him in the NICU, God would remind me of Acts 17:26-27. I could trust God because HE had determined the times set for all men to live and the exact places where they should live. He had already given Samuel his initial life and would sustain it if it pleased Him to do so. Either way, God is good.
After six days in the NICU, Samuel had made enough progress to safely come home. And his homecoming was a celebration. His sisters, who had not gotten to see him while he was in the hospital, greeted him with homemade art, lots of hugs and kisses, and offers to hold him...all the time! It is a memory I'll cherish forever.
We thank God again and again for the gift of Samuel's life. His story is one that still brings me to tears and reminds me of God's lovingkindness and abundant mercy.