By Jessica Guthrie-
Where does my help [hope] come from? My help [hope] comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
When my son came into the world very suddenly at 30 weeks gestation, my whole world was rocked. I had always considered myself to be someone with a strong faith and conviction – someone who wouldn’t waiver when times got tough. Boy, was I wrong! Throughout our NICU journey, hope seemed to continually slip in and out of my grasp. Hope itself was a journey for me.
As I lay bleeding on my bathroom floor after my water had broken due to placental abruption, I clung tightly to hope. My heart and mind were consumed . . . I just wanted my baby to be all right. But the ambulance ride to the hospital was long. When they couldn’t find my baby’s heartbeat, my hope faded into numbness and shock. I couldn’t bring myself to speak or even cry.
We arrived at the hospital and the nurses immediately hooked me up to a fetal monitor. Within seconds the room was filled with the sound of my son’s heartbeat, and I quickly reached for hope again, gripping it almost violently as I was still so full of fear.
Within hours it became clear that my baby needed to be delivered immediately. The labor was progressing rapidly despite the medicines they had given me to try to slow it down. And because he was in a breech position, a c-section had to be performed. Throughout the surgery I felt like I was fighting to stay conscious. My body wanted to give in to the stress and just pass out. But my heart was still desperately clinging to hope – the hope that I would soon hear my son’s cries. When he was born, though, I don’t remember hearing anything except the sound of nurses whisking him away to the NICU. Hope had slipped from my grasp once again.
After the delivery, my son actually helped me to finally CHOOSE hope. As I had just come out of the recovery room, the nurses said they would wheel my bed into the NICU so I could actually see my baby for the first time. And although I don’t even remember the ride there, or anything they said to me, I can recall every precious second that I was first at my son’s side.
We weren’t allowed to touch him at all, and he was lying on a warmer bed. He looked so peaceful, like he was sleeping. I asked the nurse if he had opened his eyes yet, and she said no. She said sometimes preemies don’t open their eyes for a long time. After we had sat and stared at him for a few moments, trying to soak up every detail of his face before they wheeled me away, my husband told me he thought we should name him Eli. I wholeheartedly agreed, as Eli was a name we had always liked. Then, I looked at my precious baby and said, “I love you, Eli.” Amazingly, Eli immediately opened his eyes! It was like he was saying, “I heard you, Mom! Where are you? I love you too, and everything’s going to be okay.” I was ecstatic! I believe that experience was a gift from God, a message from Him as well that everything would turn out all right. And from that moment on, hope was my constant companion.
Eli spent 5 weeks in the NICU, and throughout that time I definitely had my ups and downs with hope. But I never truly lost sight of it again. With each milestone he reached, I knew Eli was telling us over and over again that he was going to be just fine.
Today, Eli is almost 8 years old and in 2nd grade. He graduated from the NICU with flying colors, and is a very healthy, energetic little boy – which is everything I hoped for, and more.