Monday, May 16, 2016

Things I Learned from Missing the Birth of my Son

1) This world is strange. 
There are all sorts of feelings and depths that are way more comparable to the writings of Dr. Seuss than the text books I've studied. 

2) Happy happenings and sad happenings are often the same happenings. 
We were in the distance waiting, hoping, praying, fighting off discouragement... While she was right there fearful, dreading, praying, fighting off anxiety... We didn't know her or even about her. She didn't know us or about us. She looked at the tiny miracle baby and lovingly mustered the strength to give him the life and family and home that she wanted for him... Even if that meant mourning the fact that it wasn't with her. Heart breaking in love. We received "the call" that we were chosen to be his parents. Hearts rejoicing in love. 

3) Nurses are amazing... so, so, so amazing.
They ran every test. Distributed every medication. Followed through with every treatment. Changed every diaper. Monitored every stat. Answered every alarm. Fed him every meal. Gave him every hug. Offered every stimulus... They cared for him deeply and wonderfully in the time between families. And four years later I'm still moved to tears considering all they did for him...

4) Moving forward when you are terrified is true bravery. 
I saw this in a birth mom who could've chosen differently for many reasons at many different points... But she didn't. She went through a birth only 24 weeks into a pregnancy she only recently had found out about to a teeny baby who they said {in a language she didn't speak} wasn't "healthy"... With no one supporting her, she reached out for the support of those who offered adoption... And I am forever indebted to her bravery for walking that path. 
I saw this in our adoption journey. We did not know how to adopt. Nor did we know what raising a child with special needs was going to be like. We were afraid of the costs involved and the energy and patience we lacked. We were afraid to continue to hope when time after time we were "not selected" as the family. But we walked on anyways... And I'm continually grateful for the Holy Spirit who makes us brave. 

5) The odds being stacked against a person doesn't eliminate a different outcome. 
Boys who are premature have a lower survival rate than girls. Babies born at 24 weeks gestation weeks undeveloped lungs and hearts that have holes in them. Down syndrome increases the likelihood of having heart issues that require surgery and lifelong cardiac care. Babies who are tube fed have a high risk of struggling with oral feeding. Preemies as well as babies who have Down syndrome typically have a low suck reflex making nursing problematic.
Yet... The hole in Theo's heart closed up as his body grew and survived. This allowed us to be chosen as his family (as our location was too far from pediatric cardiac care to qualify for anyone with heart issues). He passed his swallow study and latched the first time he attempted nursing (as I had given birth to his brother 1 month previous to Theo becoming "ours"). Theo didn't know all the things he "should've" been or not done... He just soldiered on from one miracle to the next. 

6) The value of a life is not determined by popular consensus. 
He was completely dependent on machines and professionals to keep him alive for the first 3 months of his life. He has an extra chromosome that will make many things that come "naturally" for the majority of the population be a struggle for him. He has a team of doctors and therapists who he regularly sees. He needs extra help and time to do what most four year olds do. And yet... What would this world be like without him?

7) God has got my children. 
We weren't there with Theodore when he weighed 1 pound 12 ounces. We didn't speak soothingly to him during the many invasive blood draws, ROP exams, EKG's, O2 sat monitorings, swallow studies... We didn't pray for his lungs to grow strong enough that he might be released from the ventilator. We didn't swaddle him to sleep. Kangaroo care didn't come from his parents. We didn't make his first (or second) scrapbook pages {have I mentioned how amazing nurses are?}... Our time as his parents began when he was 4 months old and 10 pounds heavy (he looked enormous next to those other preemies in good Payne-baby fashion). Sure we (& many others) had prayed. But while we didn't even know who to pray what for, God was in control. While I am beyond thankful that the Creator of this world chooses to use my mothering to grow some little lives, how clear it became that I'm simply "going to work with Dad" on this whole parenting gig. He blesses me with responsibility and graciously gives the strength to meet it as well as the forgiveness when I don't... But by missing my son's birth, it made it ever so clear to me that I must not mistake the roles. God showed Himself enough for my premature baby who didn't have a family for his first months... and He continues to want to show us the same thing now. 

Happy fourth birthday!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Growing Payne-Full Oaks

Tonight we cried together over oak trees and acorns...

Tears blurring my eyes as I read Max Lucado's lines about the yearning for the {now} great oak to be able to tell the young girl that there is a great woman in her, and she just needs to be the kind of person God made her to be...

I knew it was coming. The sweet acorn who feared letting go of his mom's branches... The way the straining of the small oak to produce oranges and flowers was depressingly futile... The introduction of the little girl character... I saw its approach... But I had already gone too far. I even had a decent oak tree voice going on...

I held it together when the image of the small oak judging himself as less because of his inability to grow fruit struck really close to my inner monologue of comparing myself to the homeschool or working or all-natural or volunteering mothers surrounding me. A mental note was made to let the picture of the oak tree straining to grow flowers in order to be beautiful lacking impact on a single fiber of his being sink in to the way I talk to the mirror... But tears did not fall. I faked it through the description of how quickly the girl grew and changed...

But the longing to speak broke through. 

The {now} big oak tree had learned the complex truth from the simple saying his mother oak consistently repeated "You have a mighty oak inside you. Just be the tree God made you to be." He wanted to speak this truth over the scared young women getting ready to set off on her own for the first time... But trees can't speak to girls... At least not in this fictional story...

That longing was just too much as I sat with two of my {now} small oaks on either side of me. It wasn't the wording or the illustration (masterful, though they were); it was the fact that I fear being unable to speak that simple deep truth that I can clearly see in these Paynes growing under me... 

Even as I struggle to consistently grasp it for my own self. 

I'm overwhelmed with the desire for what ground I've found in freedom to be grasped by these {now} young lives so they can wander even farther into the depths of Jesus. I see so vividly the great oaks their little acorn bodies contain. I hear in a still, strong voice repeating that it is God, and not me, who is their Farmer... And I can speak. 

And cry. 

Because the way they rubbed my back when my voice cracked was so tender. And my big boy had tears so instantly when he saw one trickle out of my eye he must've had them on the ready. I heard my own awkward chuckle come from the daughter who didn't know how to respond to two thirds of us crying over the bedtime story...

So we all snuggled and cried and laughed... Because this journey is hard and fast but full of randomly awe-inspiring moments...