6 months.26 weeks.
Half a year...
On January 29th I woke up having contractions 3-4 minutes apart. I was scared. This wasn't supposed to be happening yet! I was only 30 weeks along. Samuel was already being faced with so many medical complications, the last thing he needed was to come early. The doctors had warned me that this could happen. In fact, they would have been surprised if Samuel didn't come early because of how much extra fluid was surrounding Samuel. At 30 weeks my belly was already measuring full-term (40+) because of severe polyhydramnios. This almost seemed inevitable...but we hoped it wouldn't happen for several more weeks at least. We had been praying for God to let Samuel stay put until the appointed time...surely this wasn't it!
For the first part of the morning I tried hard to ignore what was happening. I chugged water and laid in bed, not daring to move. Finally I called my doctor, hoping (unrealistically) for reassurance that it was nothing to worry about. She wanted me to come in right away, just in case. 20 minutes later Seth and I were in the car, driving to the hospital.
I never would have imagined that day as we drove away from our house that 6 months later we still would not have been back home.
I never would have thought that just 8 hours later I would be flown by helicopter to a hospital 3 hours away, and 6 months later still would not have been back to our home town.
It's been 6 months since we've seen our dog.
6 months since we last had dinner at my family's house.
6 months since we walked around our neighborhood.
6 months since we fellowshipped with our church family.
6 months since I last cooked a meal.
6 months since we slept in our own bed.
6 months of spending anywhere from 12-24 hours inside of hospitals - Every. Single. Day.
It's exhausting, and I can't begin to describe how homesick we are...There's just something about leaving so abruptly, not realizing it's going to be your last time home for 6+ months, that just makes being away that much harder.
When we left our house that morning? I still had clothes in the washer. I had breakfast dishes in the sink. Our house was not clean. Samuel's nursery was not set up. I grabbed my phone charger thinking it was the most long-term thing I might need that day...
That night we were supposed to go to someone's house for dinner. Within the next 2 weeks we were supposed to have all 3 of our baby showers. I was supposed to have a maternity photo shoot not long after. But we weren't home for any of those things.
6 months is a long time to be gone from home, and so much has happened while we've been gone. My grandpa passed away in April. My younger sister and brother-in-law graduated from college in May. We missed the wedding of some dear friends in June. My older sister had a baby just a few weeks ago. We have missed out on mourning and celebrating with family and friends. Life continues to march on back home, while for us it seems that time is standing still. I can't believe it is almost August...When we left home the temperature was in the 20s that morning! We completely missed out on Spring (one of my favorite seasons in NWA), and we won't be home before the end of Summer.
Our hearts ache for home. It hasn't been easy. Am I grateful that Samuel is still here with us? Absolutely! God has so graciously granted our son life! Something that many of the doctors didn't expect to last long. We are beyond grateful for God's grace and the gift of life!
But that doesn't make it easy being 1,200 miles away from family.
The only thing that helps? The only way we have gotten through? Resting in the sweet promises of God. Because, over the past 6 months, these sweet promises have become timeless truths. We have seen them play out over and over again as God continually proves to us that He never fails.
Here are just a few of the truths that have helped me get through the first half of this year. I pray that God will use these to encourage you wherever you may be today!
Have you not known?Have you not heard?The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.He does not faint or grow weary;His understanding is unsearchable.He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.Isaiah 40:28-31
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.The path of the righteous is level; You make level the way of the righteous.In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for You; Your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.My soul yearns for You in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks You.Isaiah 26:3-4, 7-9a
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.Zephaniah 3:17
I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing Your praise;I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.On the day I called, You answered me; my strength of soul You increased. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.Psalm 138:1-3, 8
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!O Lord, be my helper!You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent.O Lord my God, I will give thanks you You forever.Psalm 30:10-12
Something else that has helped to get us through? The fact that God has graciously allowed us to walk this journey together as a family from day one! Seth's workplace has allowed him to work remotely this whole time, so the 3 of us have not been separated since we left home in January! We are so grateful! In honor of our time together over the past 6 months, enjoy some of our family pictures from that time!
Our very first picture as a family of 3! Although Seth had spent the entire day with Samuel, I had just arrived at the Children's Hospital after being discharged from my own month-long hospital stay 12 hours after giving birth!
The day after Samuel's heart stopped beating, and we almost lost him. He had to lay sideways in his bed for 10 days while he was on the oscillator, and we prayed that God would allow his lungs to recover from what happened.
The first time I got to hold Samuel again, 10 days after we almost lost him.
Samuel's 1-month birthday! We had no idea that we would be flying out to Delaware the next morning!
A few days after we all arrived in Delaware! They were allowing Samuel's body time to rest and adjust after the trauma of being transported.
Samuel's actual due date! This was minutes before they took Samuel off to the OR for his first open heart surgery.
Right before sending Samuel off for his 2nd surgery - to get a g-tube and nissen. We had no idea that after this surgery Samuel wouldn't be able to eat for almost 3 months, and he would leave all of the doctors stumped.
Our 4-year wedding anniversary! Spent in Delaware with our sweet boy. This was 4 weeks after Samuel's G-tube surgery - 4 weeks since he last ate. Samuel continued to fight, and God continued to provide grace as we waited.
This day marked 2 months in Delaware! We had already been here longer than anticipated. But those precious eyes...Samuel makes every day worth it!
First family picture where you can see Samuel's face without a breathing tube! We had never seen his face without tape and a breathing tube in his mouth or nose. We still can't get over his precious cheeks!
One of the first times holding Samuel with a "stable" airway! After 3 months of counting the number of times that we held Samuel, the process became much more simple, and we lost count of all the snuggles we were getting with him!
One of the first times Samuel was allowed to be held in a sitting position! Before getting his trach, Samuel always had to lay still on his side or back, without moving his head. Sitting up is still Samuel's favorite thing to do!
A day in the life! Snuggles for Mom, and Dad working diligently!
This is what church looks like these days. Sharing earbuds, tuned into our church back home, Bible and baby in our laps.
Samuel is now 5 months old! It has been 4 weeks since surgery #4 when we found out that Samuel's intestines had a hidden obstruction, and realized that it was a miracle that his intestines hadn't perforated during that time.
Looking back over the past 6 months, as hard as they've been and as cloudy as the way ahead still is, we have clearly seen God's hand of guidance and experienced His loving tender grace all along the way.
This is His story, and it is all for His glory!