Here is the medical update on "the nug," as I call her.
- She had another eye exam this morning, and she was apparently extremely cooperative. Her retinas are still immature (which is normal, seeing as she is undercooked), but the blood vessels almost reach the very edges of her retinas. Translation? For a preemie, she has awesome eyes -- and the opthamologist isn't the slightest bit worried about her.
- She is getting her last dose of caffeine tonight. Pray that sister does well without it, and that she doesn't have any increased apnea.
I have been thinking a lot about how much I wish that I could give her the things that are healing and life-giving to me. When I am sad or struggling or sick, there are some things that never cease to ease my pain.
A hug from Josh.
Sunshine on my shoulders.
A really good book.
A song that makes me dance.
The smell of rain.
Some ice cream or a smoothie ... or a slurpie.
A hot shower.
Unfortunately, her predicament disqualifies her from most of those pleasures (except for naps and Josh hugs ... both of which have indubitably contributed to her progress). I can't bring rain into the NICU or force-feed her a smoothie, but I decided that I can read her a book.
Now, which book? For those of you who know me well, you understand that this was no flippant decision. Words are my love language ... I don't have much to offer Phoenix, but I wanted to gift her a story that has greatly impacted my own life.
A dear friend and mentor, Elizabeth Varaso, introduced me to "Hind's Feet on High Places." I read it first in Philly, a city that will forever have my heart, while I was living there for a summer doing inner-city ministry. I have actually been dwelling a lot on the idea of reading HFOHP again -- it just seems perfectly relevant in this season. The more I thought about that book, the more it seemed to be the perfect story for my struggling little firebird.
To give you an idea of the story, here is part of the description on the back:
"Follow Much-Afraid on her spiritual journey through difficult places with her two companions, Sorrow and Suffering. Learn how Much-Afraid overcomes her tormenting fears as she passes through many dangers and mounts at last to the High Places. There she gains a new name and returns to her valley of service, transformed by her union with the loving Shepherd."
In case you missed it, the book is a shameless allegory (much like Pilgrim's Progress), and it will pretty much blow your mind. Everytime I read it, my heart resonates with the plight of Much-Afraid, and God teaches me new things on every page about His kindness. The best part about this book, I would argue, is the depictation of Sorrow and Suffering as fundamental companions for the faith journey. Too many Christians miss the oh-so-important detail that we are crucified with Christ, and that we become like Hm when we share in His sufferings. That's not exactly billboard material. But my tiny girl is learning a huge faith lesson before she can even begin to comprehend it ... suffering and sorrow are a necessary part of walking with Christ, but they always serve his loving purposes. Like I said ... HFOHP is the perfect book to read her.
Unfortunately, my bookcase got commandeered by the nug ... it now houses baskets full of blankets, tiny socks and headbands. So, in typical parental fashion, I laid my selfish interests aside and conceded to leave all my books in boxes for the time being -- a big sacrafice for a bibliophile like myself. I didn't even bother to try and find my copy of HFOHP, so I stopped at Barnes and Noble on my way to the hospital tonight.
What did she think of book reading time? Well, after I breastfed her, I started reading to her while she was still alert. But she kept making her cute little baby noises and looking up at me with her giant eyes, and I got distracted by engaging with her. So we only really made it to page two. But it will surely be a story that I continue to share with her, and this copy is hers to keep.
Side Note -- Today was the first time in close to 4 months that I have made it all day in a pair of pants with a button. It's the small victories, people.
Side Note #2 -- With all the time I am spending in the car, and all the constuction on the way to the hospital, I have had a hard time staying sane. This song, and the one-woman dance parties that it inspires, are the reason that I haven't flipped off every person between here and the hospital. Turn on your speakers, get off your bum, and shake what your mama gave you. [[Sorry about the obnoxious beginning (and the couple of curse words) ... trust me, the song is worth it]]