My Daughter Gave Birth to Quadruplets!

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Psalms 112:1-2

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Visit to the Eye Doctor/ Learning to Trust

Great-Grandma Stella has no problem holding her grand babies. I can't wait to watch her trick for feeding and changing all four. Maybe I'll learn something!

Great-Grandpa Bob is happy to hold just one at a time.

With oxygen going in the house, we had to go outside for Devon's birthday candles.

When (and if) the babies are occupied, it is "Mommy Time" for Callie.

Jackson went back to the eye doctor. Jackson hates the eye drops and the procedure to check his eyes. The whole thing is very uncomfortable. After the last visit, his eyes stayed dilated for two days! His eyes are maturing, but aren't there yet. The doctor is hopeful that he will do well, as long as he doesn't get sick. If he does, his progress will likely regress.

Samantha has to be seen next. She is at risk for ROP (Retaniopathy of Prematurity) because of the oxygen and being septic.

We heard good news yesterday! Samantha is approved for the monthly RSV shots through the entire cold/flu season. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the #1 cause of hospitalization in babies under a year of age in the U.S. The reason the shots must be repeated monthly is that they are not vaccinations. They are medication that reduces the severity of RSV. If preemies do get RSV, the shots should help them just get cold symptoms that full-term babies get instead of winding back up in the hospital with life-threatening respiratory distress. The shots are terribly expensive. We are hoping that insurance will follow the NICU's recommendation and cover the other three babies as well. So far, they are only approved through January. Please pray that they will be approved.

Lack of sleep and demanding babies has lulled us into a mind-numbing routine, so we forget how dangerous the common cold can be to preemies. We are trying to follow the doctors' advice, but it is difficult. There are so many decisions that have to be made daily. For example, Callie is not supposed to be around groups of children in order to avoid exposure to illness, but she LOVES going to church. She has had to miss several birthday parties, which she also loves. I keep telling myself that we are all making sacrifices, but it is hard to know what is best. I have a hard time balancing faith and action. I know God is in control, but I also know that I have to discern His plan for me each day.

Years ago, I learned an interesting lesson about faith, and I learned it from--of all things--a dog. I was in a weekly Bible study with a friend who had a beautiful female boxer named Whitney. Since my friend and her husband worked long hours, Whitney spent her days in a cage. When she came out of her cage in the evening, she had energy to burn. In spite of that energy, every week that I sat at the table for the study, Whitney would come sit beside me and put her head in my lap. Apparently, we had a connection. I was raised with a boxer, so I am partial to the breed. For some reason, Whitney was partial to me.

Sadly, my friend was getting a divorce and moving. She asked me to take Whitney. I didn't want another dog, but I couldn't say no. Whitney joined our family. She was a typical boxer--spirited, protective, loyal, energetic, strong and smart. She could catch a football mid-air and play keep-away. If someone ran from her, she would take him out at the knees in a hilarious Boxer tackle.

She loved being turned loose on our mini-farm. She would chase the horses, antagonize the goats and run as if her life depended on it. We hated leaving the house because Whitney would find a way to break out. Tom had to replace several windows after she crashed through them to escape. She didn't run away. She would just wait at the end of our gravel driveway for us to come home. She would chew on the windows sills, scratch the doors, and bite the doorknobs. Even ropes and chains couldn't hold her. She would break them like they were made of string. After life in a cage, this dog wanted to be free.

After much trial and error, we thought we had finally secured the house. We left for church, and returned to find her sitting in the driveway. We couldn't figure out how she was escaping. It was a mystery that our neighbor finally solved. One day, he stopped by in his pick up truck and said, "That's quite a dog you got there. Never seen one that can do what she does."

"What's that?" I asked.

"Jump off the roof. Seen her do it twice."

It was true. Whitney was going behind my bed, pushing out the window air conditioner, climbing out on the roof of our front porch, and jumping off. Incredible.

As a teacher, I am somewhat partial to my difficult students. I assume it is due to the amount of attention those students require. The same is true of my dogs. Whitney required lots of attention so she became my constant companion. I loved her.

One day we left for a family birthday. We returned late that night, expecting to find Whitney waiting by the driveway. She wasn't. We went inside and saw the answering machine blinking. The message was from our vet. Whitney had been hit by a car in front of our house. The speed limit was 55 mph.

I returned the call right away, even though it was 11:00 pm. Things were bad. He said, "Whitney's head is swollen to the size of a watermelon. Her eyes are completely dilated and she is sneezing bones out of her nose. She had a huge seizure, fell off the examination table and has been unresponsive ever since. I'm sorry, but she's brain dead."

I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the door frame. "Why?" I wondered. "Why did I bring her home in the first place? Why couldn't this have happened months ago, before we became so attached?" My kids were anxiously watching my face, waiting for me to get off the phone to hear what had happened.

"Are you going to put her down?" I managed to ask.

"I don't think that's necessary. I'll save you the money." He was a farm vet, and he didn't mince words. "She isn't in any pain; she won't last through the night. Just call in the morning, and we'll decide what to do with her body."

I hung up the phone and delivered the bad news. Devon immediately burst into tears and ran over to Whitney's quilt, hugging the worn football. I sat down on the couch next to her, defeated.

After a few minutes, Devon sat up straight and asked a very interesting question. "Mom, why can't we ask God to heal Whitney?"

I looked at Tom. He shook his head and said, "You can handle this one." Devon was staring at me.

Stumbling over my words, I tried to explain. "Well, we can ask, Honey, but you need to prepare yourself. The Whitney we know is already dead."

Angry now, Devon cried and pleaded with me. "But Mom, you always say that God can do anything! You said that we are supposed to ask Him to help us and that He can move mountains. Why can't we ask God to heal Whitney?"

I took a deep breath and sank into the couch. It was bad enough that I would have to bury my dog in the morning, but now I would also have to explain difficult spiritual areas to my children that I barely understood myself.

It was late. I was so tired. "Okay," I relented. "Let's ask Him to heal Whitney."

We prayed together as a family, a simple prayer asking God to heal Whitney. Devon smiled, wiped her eyes and went to bed. So did I, but I didn't sleep. I was dreading that phone call in the morning.

As soon as my alarm went off, I called the vet. "Should we come now to get her body?" I asked.

Sounding puzzled, he answered, "Well, I'm not sure why, but Whitney is still alive. Let's just give it a few more hours before we put her down. Nothing has changed since last night."

"Okay," I replied. Then I asked, "Can I come see her for a few minutes?"

He reluctantly agreed. "It's not pretty," he warned.

I grabbed Whitney's quilt and my keys, threw the dog blanket in the back seat of my car, and drove to the vet. I'm not sure why I went. I guess I just didn't want her to die alone in a vet's cage. Maybe I wanted her to know that we loved her. I regreted that I hadn't kept her safe.

The receptionist looked up at me with sad eyes and took me to the back of the building. It was a pole barn that contained large shower-like stalls. Whitney was about four stalls down. She was unconscious and sprawled awkwardly on a rubber woven mat on the cold floor. Her head was swollen to twice its normal size. There was blood and brain fluid running from her nose and mouth that made a long trail to a nearby drain in the floor. "I'm so sorry," murmured the receptionist, patting my arm. Her footsteps echoed loudly as she walked away. She closed the door and left me alone with Whitney.

Slowly, I sank down on the floor and carefully covered Whitney with her quilt. There was no response. I leaned my head back against the wall and closed my eyes. That's when I realized I wasn't alone in the building after all. God was speaking to me. He said, "Ask me to heal her."

Angry now, I opened my eyes and blinked back tears. I didn't want to ask God to heal this dog.

To be honest, every time I thought about asking God to heal anyone, I felt cold. My dad had been sick since I was sixteen. He had suffered terribly. In spite of my fervent prayers, God had not healed him. As a matter of fact, Dad kept getting worse, living with pain that would have broken most men. Dad never complained. He just kept serving God and encouraging me to do the same.

"I am NOT going to ask You to heal a stupid animal when I have been begging You for years to heal my dad!" I whispered as I rubbed my sleeve across my nose.

Patiently, He said it again. "Ask me to heal her."

I exhaled deeply. I knew better than to keep arguing. I am a first-born, after all. I placed my hand gently on Whitney's back and clenched my teeth. "Please. Heal her," I asked. The instant I spoke, I felt something melting inside of me, just like a large block of ice under a heater. There had been something cold inside of me, and I hadn't even realized it was there. But God did.

Whitney hadn't moved a muscle. I wasn't even sure that she was breathing. Emotionally spent, I stood up, walked out, and drove home.

Early the next morning, the phone rang. It was the vet. "You might want to come see this," he said. Tom and I jumped in the car and rushed over. We couldn't believe what we saw. Whitney was sitting up in her stall. The vet said, "She's blind and deaf and her face is crushed, but she's alive. I don't get it." I told him about Devon's prayer. He said, "All I know is that this is a miracle."

While the vet was talking to Tom, I was watching Whitney. Each time Tom spoke, she jerked her head around trying to find his voice. She could hear, and she recognized his voice.

Every day after that, Whitney got a little better. Even her sight returned. After a week, we brought her home. The kids were so excited. "Whitney!" exclaimed Devon when she saw her. She ran over and hugged the dog for a long time. "See Mom? I told you God could heal her."

Whitney kept improving until we had our horse-chasing, runner-tackling Whitney back. She went on to live a normal lifespan. The accident left her with teeth that were crooked from her swollen head. I think it was a reminder so I would never forget what God had done. He not only healed a brain-dead dog, but He also healed a long-dead place in my heart.

God had a lesson for me to learn: He could have healed my dad in a heartbeat--just like He healed Whitney--if it were part of His plan. But it wasn't. His plan for my dad was different and greater than anything I could imagine. I just needed to trust Him.

My dad also went on to live a normal lifespan. After living his life as a hero of the faith, he died on February 26, 2008. Devon and Eric sang this song at his funeral:

I Will Lift My Eyes by Bebo Norman

God My God, I cry out
Your beloved needs you now
God be near, calm my fear
And take my doubt
Your kindness is what pulls me up,
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the maker of the mountains
I can't climb
I will lift my eyes
to the calmer, of the oceans
raging wild
I will lift my eyes
to the healer, of the hurt
I hold inside

I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to you

God my God let mercy sing
her melody over me
God right here all I bring is all of me
Your kindness is what pulls me up,
your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes
to the maker, of the mountains
I can't climb
I will lift my eyes
to calmer, of the oceans
raging wild
I will lift my eyes
to the healer, of the hurt
I hold inside

cause you are
and you were
and you will be forever
The lover I need to save me
Cause you fashioned the earth
and Hold it together
God so hold me now

I will lift my eyes
to the maker, of the mountains
I can't climb
I will lift my eyes
to calmer, of the oceans
raging wild
I will lift my eyes
to the healer, of the hurt
I hold inside

God My God, I cry out
your beloved needs you now

Thanks for praying.


Janine Ramsey said...

I continue to share your updates with many friends online, who are thrilled at what God has done in the quads lives. They wanted me to thank you for your updates. They are real faith boosters. Many of us believe, seriously, that you should write a book. You're writing has brought me to tears several times. What a blessing it would be to others.
Just something to consider.

Anonymous said...

The picture of your Dad made me cry, he sure was a super guy. kerry