Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From Head to Toe: How I Prayed For My NICU Baby

Having Jack at 23 weeks meant we spent week upon week in the dark quiet, starring at him in a NICU incubator. I am one of those mind-wanderer type of people and in those painfully quiet moments, I had unlimited time to think as I watched his little body hooked up to wire and tubing and machines. Not surprisingly, I had a very hard time not going to worst case scenario when I desperately just wanted and needed to stay hopeful. On top of this, the one tangible thing I could do - provide nutrition for my boy - was getting nowhere. I was having trouble producing breastmilk after my body was ravaged from preeclampsia and the cocktail of meds that was used to keep me alive.

Like any other NICU mom, I got online to find help. I was willing to try anything. One of the pointers I read was that prayer or meditation while pumping, especially while looking at a photograph of your baby, had been shown to help in production. Well, like I said, I was willing to try anything. I went to the store and printed off a photo of the first time I held Jack. Of the first time I felt his heart beat against my chest. The moment when the quick rise and the fall of his ribs as he took a breath almost took my breath away. The absolute beauty of him.

And while I stared at this photograph of my boy, my heart came up with this prayer, one that I still pray today. It is the sort of prayer you visualize, starting from the top of your child's head down to their toes. It became the thing my mind went to each time I held Jack, each time I woke in the night to pump, and through each grueling hour he spent in surgery. The prayer is quite simple, really, and yes, the focus and details change depending on the medical concern or new diagnosis, but this is what I asked of God, for hours on end. For health and healing from head to toe. It is what I still pray when I have those sleepless nights.

I start with his head. I simply ask "God, please protect his brain as it forms and grows." And from there, I ask for health and healing for his eyes, then I go to his nose, then his mouth, throat, lungs, stomach, digestion, legs, movement, all of it... to his toes. I visualize each body part and intricate system doing what it needs to do to keep my boy alive.

Nothing makes you more aware of wonders of the human body than watching your little one develop right in front of your very eyes. I got to experience Jack from 23 weeks on. From fused-shut eyes, to being able to open those beautiful lids. I watched as his skin went from totally transparent when he was born - I could literally see the blood flowing through his veins - to turn it's gorgeous milky color with a fine layer of hair growing on it. I watched and prayed as his body went through each week of gestation, day by day, often hour by hour.

And along the way, with all of those amazing changes from head to toe, I was praying.

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Alana | Rockstar Preemies said...

Loved this so, so much. I wonder if you ever lose that feeling - of just praying with your whole, entire heart to keep your baby safe because it's all you can do. I remember, on the really hard NICU days, just praying for hours, days...whatever if took. Those days have made everything we've been given since then look like such miracles.

(I think I may have mentioned this before in a comment long ago, but I found your blog - the first preemie blog I ever read! - right when we first learned about Madeleine's brain troubles, and it gave me so much hope to see Jack's journey (which turned out to look so similar to hers). Thank you so much for sharing it.)

Jessi said...

And thank you for the comment! So glad this resonated. You are right - everything since feels like a miracle.

Laura Maikata said...

I love this.

And I love the dreams your son's teachers have been having, of him talking. I used to think - when I was working with adults with brain injuries - that when I dreamed of them talking it was because my subconsious had gone beyond where my consious mind could, that my mind saw the person first and foremost as a whole being. It was funny, because the words I'd dream they'd say were TOTALLY in character with the people who said them -- even though they were no longer able to speak.

Somewhat disjointed thoughts from another mom of a "23 weeker."