THE SAMUEL SERIES 6: FIRST LOOK
When you give birth to a baby, the only instinct you feel like you’re going to have is the need to hold him or her. And when they wheeled me to the post-partum unit, all I had the desire to do was “know.” I just wanted to know he was okay. It is hard to confess (so to speak) because it makes me feel like an awful, inadequate mother. I almost don’t even want to include this portion of our story to the series, because it’s almost too exposing of my own humanity. I didn’t see him in the operating room that night, and when they brought me into the post-partum room, I was asked if I wanted to go see him in the NICU. All the instincts in my wheelhouse of motherhood had left me, and all I could think to do was sleep. And so there I laid in the exact same position all night and only moved to pump and take pain meds.
When I woke up to pump was when my maternal instincts finally kicked in. I felt panicked that I hadn’t seen him, felt him, smelled him. I felt panicked and worried that the information about how he was doing was sugar-coated and optimistic when all I wanted was real life answers. I remember asking Steve to call down to the NICU every time I woke up, to check on him because frankly, I was too afraid to audibly hear and be met with bad news over the phone, myself. And most of all, I remember Steve’s face. He was beaming. He had seen him, he was with him in the NICU, and he was a proud, relieved, and exhausted daddy. The light he brought to my weary heart on that first night without our baby was life-saving. I couldn’t see our son, but looking into Steve’s eyes brought me hope that I was too afraid to see for myself. I was too afraid that night, but as soon as the light of day reached our window, I got committed to getting my act together to see our son. It was time.
“Now. Now, I was ready.” Or so I thought. Steve helped me into the wheelchair (which was excruciating and I would have opted out of in any other circumstance). He slowly pushed, as if not to jostle my fragile, post c-section body. And it was that ride down that flooded my mind with every single question a momma in the midst of trauma could think of. I was apprehensive about my reaction to how he would look. I had two full-term babies prior so I had no context to what my 2lb baby would actually look like. The apprehension had nothing to do with wanting him to look a certain way, I just wanted to be prepared for the reality, the gravity of the situation before us. On the way down to the NICU, I remember Steve slowly pushed the wheelchair and as all the questions internally came up for me, I cocked my head to the side to ask him for information. I wanted to be prepared so I would not be met with the apprehension while I was in front of our miracle son. I remember he said, “babe, he looks like our sweet baby, just really, really small.”
When we reached the NICU, everything felt like it was in slow motion. The lights were dimmed and the staff spoke softly. There were alarms and beeps, wires, machines, and babies in their isolettes everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Each isolette was blanketed with a cover to give each baby a quiet, calm space amidst the loud outside world. A lot of them were supposed to still be in their mother’s womb, after all. I felt my whole body tense in anticipation. I had no idea when the wheelchair was going to stop. Would it be this one? No. This one? No. And this happened for rows of isolettes. It was its own brand of torture, not having any idea what baby looked like, where he had been since birth, who had touched him and cared for him. And then, Steve stopped the wheelchair. I felt my body start to shake in shock at what was happening. He had stopped me too far from the isolette to reach for the cover to unveil our Samuel, and I remember desperately moving the things in the way of us getting closer. I remember the nurse introducing herself, and I remember all I wanted in that moment was a second to lift that cover and see my son. I wanted to see him for myself, without the noise, without the commotion, without the supervision. I just wanted to be as close as I could. The nurse was giving Steve and I a general synopsis of how he was doing, which I later grew to cling to, but in that moment, all I wanted was to lay my eyes on Samuel. Steve was so nice, so generous and so giving to listen to the nurse, while I’m pretty sure I was cold to anything but him.
Then, just like that, the cover was lifted and my life changed forever. This was the tangible gift that the Father in Heaven delivered safely to our hearts. This was the gift that no one knew would make it this far. This was the kept promise to our weary souls. This was the evidence of all things holy and anointed. This was the land of the living, the stream in the wasteland, this was the “something new.” He laid there, perfect in every way. Absolutely perfect. And he was just as Steve described him, “our sweet baby, just really, really small.” This moment was life-altering, life-shattering, and heartbreaking all at the same time. He was perfect and he was tiny and he had a long road ahead. The heartbreak drew a love out of us that we never knew lived before. It brought us to the feet of Jesus, it caused our lips to sing songs of worship over him, speak prayers over him, and life and love to him. And every step, every hill, and battle, valley and darkness, victory and song we experienced in that room from that day forward was brought to that same place. They were brought to the feet of Jesus.
Below is the video Steve took of me seeing and touching our Samuel for the first time. All I found myself doing was praying and speaking life over his tiny body. The video is upside down for part of the beginning but turns right side up eventually, so you can see him more clearly in that isolette.