What I’ve Learned from Being a Parent So Far
On vacation at Seabrook Island last summer, Kristi looked at me and said, “I think I need to go get a pregnancy test.” Which was a surprise to both of us, seeing that we weren’t doing what the doctor told us we’d need to do to get pregnant.
On the way back from CVS, tears started to flow. “I think I just started my period.”
We wanted to do the test anyway, and after dual blue lines showed up three times in a row, we were beside ourselves. The rest of the day was a blur.
The next morning, I saw the wetness in her eyes. “More blood,” she said. “A lot.”
This little baby that did not even exist in my mind the day before had latched onto my soul with a fury.
Over the next days, the doctor’s office became synonymous with a knot in my throat. We heard “It’s too early to tell for sure” and “We’ll just have to wait and see” when all we wanted was to know. Either way, just to know. But we were already pretty sure, because what happened did not fall into the category of normal spotting.
Then some nurse who makes amazing and utterly difficult phone calls every day rang our phone and our lives were changed forever. In the coming months, we actually shed tears of joy over Kristi puking her guts out, because it meant everything was okay.
Fast forward several months and what seemed like an eternity of delivery, at 1:45am on a Tuesday morning after one last push, our daughter Sully made her debut into the world. As the doctor lifted her up, my smile very quickly turned the opposite direction. She was very blue and did not make a single sound. For a very uncomfortable amount of time, she was completely silent.
And don’t you know, not one time ever in my life can I remember seeing a baby come out on TV and be completely silent. They always, always cry. Blood curdling screams. And this little girl who had wrapped her whole being around my heart would not make a peep.
“Is something wrong?”
The doctor whisked her over to this little newborn table for the nurse to stick this thing down her throat to suction her. I walked over, crying for a different reason that I had hoped I would be at this point, and stood beside her. I put my finger on her hand and, like she knew the complete turmoil my soul was in, she wrapped her tiny fingers around mine. A moment later she let out her first whimper, which, far from a cry, was still the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.
Over the next few moments, the whimpers got a little louder, a little louder, and finally, something you could consider a cry and the air came back to the entire room. They laid Sully back on Kristi’s stomach and we were still crying but in a good way this time. I had no idea how much you could love the notoriously annoying sound of a baby’s wail.
At this point we were all “Thank You Jesus” and sighs, thinking that she was here and healthy and all would be smooth sailing from here. When your baby is not blue, it’s remarkable how stable and in control you can feel.
Until the next day, when said baby spits up her milk and chokes on it.
We were sitting around with friends, talking and laughing, and all of a sudden our baby is blue again, and I mean blue. And you know the little bulb syringe that the nurse gives you and says to keep it with you at all times? Yeah, we couldn’t find it. I’ve never run so fast in my life.
That, as you can imagine, would be something that would make the typical worry of “Hey are you still breathing?” that happens the first couple weeks of parenting even worse. I’ve never been much of a fearful or anxious person, but the one thing that has haunted me since I was a young child is a dreaded fear of losing the people I love. Which, if you were wondering, is a fear that would tend to escalate greatly when you suddenly have a darling little ball of flesh that bears your last name.
Parenting is the most fun thing I’ve ever done, and it is absolutely, positively no joke. From the first day we’ve known about Sully we’ve been confronted by the reality that we are not in control of her life and that we should not be under any illusions that we are. I can worry all I want to about whether or not she’s still breathing, but I can’t supply her next breath.
This all has been incredibly hard/good for me. Because I am a person who dines on sinful self-sufficiency. I always believe I can somehow fix the problem–I can, via my hard work or will, muster up the wherewithal to meet the needs that arise.
By the grace of God Sully, this bright-eyed little girl who is already growing too fast and smiling and cooing at me, has confronted my self-dependency more than anything in my life. I have been driven to Father, please more times than I can count already, and that is such a blessing. I’ve been given a precious little life to love, value, and look out for, but I can no more sustain her own life or health than I can sustain my own. We are all of us vapors.
This is good news, because I was not designed to bear the pressure of sustaining her life. Someone already has that job, and He will not fail at it just as He did not fail to bring her into the world when it looked like for all the world she would not be. So whether she lives to be 3 months or grows to a good old age and buries her dear old dad, all will be well because He has given and He will not take away before it is time.