Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Miracles

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love getting Christmas cards and seeing pictures of friends, their pets and children. I love reading the letters, making cookies, wrapping presents and finding the perfect gift. Six years ago tomorrow I received my Christmas miracle.

Six years ago the joy of Christmas changed for me and each year since I meet December with joy and tears. Not tears of sorrow, but tears of pure emotion. I'll be sitting in my car and hear a song about Christmas wishes, joy or sadness and just tear up.

Six years ago I was six months pregnant and woke up with my water breaking. Jeff grabbed Lindsey (5 years at the time) and we rushed to the hospital. I knew something was very wrong. I was hooked up to an IV, and the doctor gave us a choice of two hospitals because if I were to deliver now or in the near future I had to be at a hospital with a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I was put into an ambulance by myself and rushed to the other hospital. Luckily there was no traffic, but the experience to this day still seems unreal.

I was not sick and the baby was fine once they stopped the contractions. There was no explanation for the early rupture and I was told I could be on bed rest for the next 3 months. I was committed to do whatever it took to get this baby here safely. The Neonatologist gave us grim details about premature births...like a baby born at 25 weeks had a 50% chance of survival and future issues were inevitable. Each week that I made it on bed rest increased the chances of survival. So after 6 days (December 19, 2001) things were looking good and they said I could get up to use the restroom and take a shower. Shortly after my shower I went into labor and the scene was like ER...All I remember was my cart being pushed by nurses and doctors running through the hallway and arriving in a white room with bright lights and about 12 masked people in white surgical gear. It was very strange and I felt like I wasn’t even really there...more like a bad dream. I was terrified and I didn’t start to cry until I saw one tear roll down my husband’s cheek. Jeff is not a “crier” so I knew this was bad. She was delivered in minutes and taken by the doctors to get her situated. I kept asking Jeff, “did I really just have our baby?” I remember they were getting ready to take her out of the room and all I could do was ask to see her...”Can I please see my baby?”

She looked larger than I expected but was very tiny. I don’t think you are ever really sure what a 1.5 pound baby would look like, but other than her size she looked amazing. She was in an incubator and on a ventilator to help her breath as her only major issue was the development of her lungs. They tried to prepare of for the next 3 months. It would be an emotional roller coaster. There would be good and bad days. There were scary terms for typical preemies like cranial hemorrhaging, deafness, blindness, infections, NEC (a condition that happens and is fatal). I had to pump like I had a baby and was put on a schedule to pump every 4 hours. I would have to set the alarm and wake in the middle of the night to pump. This became my job. I would wake in the morning and get Lindsey ready and then head to the hospital to sit by her incubators and read books on preemies. I would head home before rush hour so we could have dinner as a family and then put Lindsey to bed and then Jeff would go to the hospital for a couple hours in the evening. We tried to keep Lindsey’s life normal and for the most part she didn’t realize anything was wrong. This was our life for months and we never really knew if she would come home.

On Christmas Eve we got the best gift of all that year...we got to hold her. I went to church that night and remembered seeing all those moms with babies and just realizing what a gift each child is...I do remember sobbing in bed after church. It was the worst feeling have a precious little one in a hospital. I remember praying harder than I have ever prayed. I remember the kindness of strangers who gave encouraging words at the hospital, I remember the cleaning lady that sat with me and said a prayer for my little girl. I remember the college aged mother across the way that had a preemie that was out of the incubator and going home that gave me a wonderful card of encouragement when she left. I remember the other babies that weren’t so lucky. I remember the nurses who cared for her, the babies that had no parents sitting at their side. And each time around this year all those memories are fresh like yesterday.

On the day we finally got to bring her home in March I cried as we were carrying her to our car to bring her home...tears of happiness, tears of fear, tears of joy...just tears but mostly tears of relief. The next few years were still uncertain when we were leaving the hospital, but tomorrow My Sweet Petunia will be 6 years old. We were the lucky ones! Lauren survived without any typical preemie problems a MIRACLE.

Not only did I get a wonderful baby girl, but I gained perspective. I was a Type A, detail oriented, perfectionist...but after that day in December I gained perspective on what I value in my life.

May this holiday season bring you peace, joy and perspective.

22 comments:

Maija said...

What a beautiful, heartfelt story! I so glad all is well.
oxox

Shari Beaubien said...

Wow, Lisa. I never knew this story. Thank you for sharing it with us in such a profound and heartfelt way. You're right... perspective is what it's all about. You've really helped me with the latest thing I've been stressing about. Hugs, Shari

misty said...

Oh Lisa, your words gave me such chills. What an amazing story...i had no idea that you had been through something like this. wow...
A very happy birthday to your little Sweet Petunia and to you, too!
xoxoxo

Allegra Smith said...

Nothing in this world could ever take away from you the fact that your sweet petunia is a living miracle.

May she grow up filled with joy and peace, may she live up to her own expectations and her dreams, and may you always know the sweetness of joy tears when you think of that day.

Happy Birthday Lauren and many happy returns of this day, may the Fairies watch over your dreams and may you always wake up with a smile.

edina said...

I was moved to read such intimate details and really touched by your genuine emotions. To give of yourself in that way is very generous because you shared a glimpse into your soul. I know you are grateful to have Lauren but she (and Lindsey, too, of course!) is also lucky to have such a beautiful person for a mother. Have a wonderful time celebrating your Sweet Petunia's birthday!

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

OH.. LISA.. I am a puddle of TEARS...

thank you for sharing this story... of bravery.. of determination... of love.

Happy Christmas to you and your sweet Lauren!

HappyDayArt! said...

Lisa, this is an amazing and beautiful story. WOW! You are so blessed to have her! And I always wondered about what this title meant to you. Thanks for the glimpse inside you.

Catherine

Kate said...

Lisa,

What an amazing story, when you said at the Artnest retreat you had 2 girls I had no idea what you had gone through. It was such a poignant telling of what must have been a very hard time. I am glad all came out well. Give that sweetheart a hug from me.

kate

Missy Sue Hanson said...

What a miraculous and heart-warming story. Thank you for sharing and may you and your incredible family have a beautiful and very Merry Christmas!

katie said...

thank you for sharing this beautiful story, a precious part of your families history, it touched my heart deeply (and i have 5 tissues here that can attest to that :-).

i have no doubt that your sweet little petunia had a lovely birthday celebration.

xox

Missy Sue Hanson said...

Thank you so much for stopping by and giving me the full quote....it's even more amazing. I'm going to be printing it in HUGE letters and hanging it in my studio so that I can be reminded of it everyday.

Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

I found your blog through Heather's blog. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Everyone gets wrapped up in buying gifts for Christmas, but in reality our best gifts are our family (the one we're born into and the ones we find in our journey through life). Thanks for reminding me how important my family is.

Candice Elton said...

thank you for sharing your wonderful Christmas miracle. you are right we all need a little perspective during this time of year. What a blessing to have her here safe and healthy. you are amazing, especially that you pumped for all that time. Merry Christmas and I love the look of your blog.

Heidi Kaisand said...

Life is beautiful and I shall never take it for granted either. Your story is touching and brought tears of happiness for my own angels...Goldie and Virginia, born April 10, 2007. Merry Christmas.

Julie Collings said...

dear lisa,
i am learning myself this year many of things you have felt and experienced. my father in law was diagnosed with cancer 5 days ago, started chemo treatments 4 days ago, and entered the ICU yesterday with his body shutting down.
there are many lessons in life that can only be learned first-hand. a true test of the character of our souls.
it is wonderful to look back at such experiences and see the blessings of peace and service that are given to us by others, sometimes strangers.
then we decide we want to love more, give more to others, and share more of our hearts with the ones we love.
i am so happy you are all together this holiday season and all is well. it is your miracle.
xo julie

Lori S-C said...

Lisa,
This is an incredible story. Thank you for sharing it and giving the holiday the perspective that is needed.
May you have a joyous celebration of love with your family this Christmas...
Lori

Pixie said...

What an awesome, moving story. I hope you and your family have a wonderful and beautiful Christmas.

Tara Ross Studios said...

What a miracle story, I have one too, I'll tell you someday.

Happy New Year to you and your blessed family.

Tara

Shirley said...

What an absolute blessed story!!! You have been given such a gift and are obviously very grateful for it. Praise God for miracles that happen each day. I want to be like that cleaning woman in your story who will sit and pray with a stranger...or the woman who was leaving with her child that gave you the card. I want to be one who loves others in 2008. Thank you. You have given me my "charge" for 2008.
Have a wonderful holiday season.
:D Shirley in Florida

The Artful Eye said...

Lisa- This is a true Christmas miracle story! Thank you for sharing something so personal. Happy New Year! and May you and your family have a year blessed with more miracles.

Deirdra Doan said...

Lisa, what a beautiful story. I was reading it while listening to the perfect music to go with it. I thought it was on your page but it was a myspace band. http://www.myspace.com/quartettomagritte

The song is there first song: Canicola on the piano.

Will you be at Katie Class Jan? I enjoyed meeting you at the class with Judy.

More Christmas Blessings,

deb said...

Lisa,

Thank you for sharing something so very personal. What an amazing journey.

All the best for '08.