It’s midnight and my phone rings. My body reacts before thoughts reawaken to read the words flashing on the screen: NICU Methodist Hospital.
“Hi Mrs. Folsom, my name is Rose, and I am taking care of your boy, Arthur. Just wanted to let you know we have moved him back into NICU and finally have him sedated. We are moving his surgery to sometime today.”
“Okay” I answer groggily, thinking everything must be fine, the nurse sounded so calm. The fixing of the inguinal hernia, common for babies born premature, was supposed to be routine. I go back to sleep and am awakened a few hours later by another phone call from NICU. Now I’m thinking something must be really wrong…
“Hi, Mrs. Folsom, Arthur is not doing well and the surgeon has moved his case to first on the schedule. We need you to come in immediately for briefing and paperwork.”
“Be right there!” has barely escaped my lips before I roll out of bed, climb into whatever clothes were nearest and run out the door. My chest feels tight, but I am clinging to all the promises God had given me thus far concerning Arthur. This will NOT be his end.
The scene I happened upon in NICU is etched in my mind forever. The Nurse Practitioner, who probably saved his life, was doing her best to communicate objectively but her face belied all her real concerns. She could barely speak. Somehow, I was a pillar of peace and confidence. They were preparing me like he may not come back from the operating room, all the while I am imagining the power of this testimony. Arthur had just reached the 4 lb mark and was so close to coming home. His poor little bloated body, swollen up from whatever was going on in his abdomen and pale, yellow skin broke my heart…he was sedated, but when he heard my voice he opened his eyes to look at me, just like he did when he was born. I desperately wanted to scoop him up in my arms and hold him close to my heart, whispering songs and prayers of comfort over him.
That would have to wait. God had a miracle to perform.
The prep was finished and the papers were signed. I filed behind the team of nurses and the anesthesiologist carting his bed off to the operating room. The image of his tiny, helpless body mixed with the painful squeaking of the wheels echoing down the impossibly long hallways finally released the tears. I asked the nurse if I could kiss him before they shut the doors.
I did not tell him goodbye, I told him how much I loved him and how brave he was.
The door shut, and I felt bereft. In a daze, I slipped into the waiting room and sat right next to the phone they would be using to call with surgery updates. I was starving and desperate for some liquid gospel, a term I had coined for “coffee” when my daughter was born. I take my chances on the machine claiming to dole out drinkable coffee to the anxious waiting room guests, and immediately regret my decision. I fail to come up with words to accurately describe how bad the “coffee” was. I seriously pondered filing a complaint…really? This was the best they could do for scared parents in the children’s surgical wing? Thankfully my Aunt Wendy was on her way and was swinging by Local Coffee to pick up some snacks.
I settle into my chair and wish I had thrown in a novel on my way out the door this morning. Across the room I hear a popular television preacher and author gearing up for a sermon. It is Sunday morning, after all. His teachings on the prosperity and abundance he believes God’s people were meant for are controversial in the conservative, evangelical wing of church goers, and I look forward to actually hearing a message for myself. His sparkly eyes light up as he begins to implore believers to see their troubles as their deliverance. He gives a message of hope straight out of Exodus, telling the story of baby Moses like I had never heard before. I start to cry because I see how the trouble of this unexpected surgery will be Arthur’s deliverance, and isn’t God so good to see us through!
The phone rings, and I get my first update: “Things are going well” the nurse says. She is not authorized to give details, that is the surgeon’s job. I am, however, elated at this vague news.
“Great! Keep me updated!” Like they weren’t going to…
Right as I hang up, my aunt breezes through the door and hands me a caramel latte, a REAL caramel latte, and sits down to set up our little waiting room bistro. I am so thankful she is here. Her faith does not mess around. She would pray Arthur back to life if needed. She pops the lid off a tub of Mother Culture yogurt and asks me how everything is going? I fill her in and ask for a taste of the creamiest looking yogurt I have ever seen.
Mmmm, it is divine!
The phone rings again, and the nurse tells me, they are suturing and the surgeon would be in shortly to discuss the operation. I put the phone down and continue eating my croque madame in all its cheesy glory. The surgeon could not get here soon enough.
Waiting is torture if you think too much about what you’re waiting on.
Finally, the burly surgeon walks into the room and begins debriefing. He explains that the inguinal hernia Arthur had, a common occurrence in preemies, incarcerated and obstructed, meaning, it twisted on itself thereby blocking normal intestinal functions and blood flow. His appendix had already died as well as a small portion of his intestines. That was removed. The miracle is that they were able to fix the problem just as it was necrotizing and going septic, meaning, just a few more minutes and infection would have spread, poisoning him to his grave. I could have rent my garments in celebration. Instead, my aunt and I just sniffled and hugged and praised God through salty, snotty tears.
We are escorted back to NICU where Arthur will be cared for by one of my favorite nurses. You develop “favorites” when you are in the hospital long enough. It was October, and we had been walking these halls since July. I am relieved she will be tending to him in his fragile post-op state. I knew she would make sure he was the most comfortable he could be, very important knowledge for a NICU mom. He already looks so much better. The swelling is gone, and he is recovering his pinkness. I am not allowed to hold him yet, so I get as close as I can and begin to sing. He opens his eyes to peak at me, and I know he is trying to smile. I tell him to rest peacefully and have fun hanging out with Jesus, because I am pretty sure Jesus takes NICU babies to the beach.
I come back later with my husband and breastmilk and finally get to hold my tiny warrior.
Little one, I cannot imagine the plans God has for you.
I have a child who nearly died twice before reaching the gestational age he should have been when he was born.
I am firmly convinced that God neither slumbers or sleeps as He watches over us.