Monday, September 13, 2010

The Heartbeat of Grace

I spend a lot of my day watching Tessie's heartbeat on her NICU monitor. Up and Down. Peaks and Valleys. Little check marks all lined up in a row.

I've started to think that living in God's grace is a type of intimate heartbeat.

Grace is not a flat plateau. There is no steady rest in the spiritual life. Instead, the movement is constantly up and down.

There are moments when I feel like I'm free falling from my safe, comfortable spot of trusting God. Just like the heart beat rhythm, however, grace is always there to pick me back up again.

Today was another hard day. I walked into the NICU alone (Jon had his first day back at work) at 9 AM after a 2 hour commute on the subway. I found my little girl all alert with her pretty blue eyes open and a special smile just for her Mama. However, her stomach "output" was a sickening dark, bloody red.

Lots of red output is not good. It's a sign that her intestine is still tightly closed. Before the doctors will begin feeding Tess real food, they want her stomach juices to be clear and a mere 2 mL each hour.

Tess is so, so far from healing from her surgery last Tuesday. She is so, so far from going home.

After a long day of tests and IV pokes, I started crying hard at 7 PM. Jon had stopped by after work and was reading Tess his favorite children's book, Winnie the Pooh. I started crying because I can't believe that we are still stuck in the awful "not knowing" six days after surgery, ten days after my first ER visit and fourteen days after her birth.

I prayed. Nothing seemed to help. I couldn't believe that I still couldn't take my beloved baby girl home with me. I had no idea how I'd tear myself out of her NICU room this night.

After several minutes, Tessa's old nurse from last night stuck her head into our room just to say hello. She asked us how we were doing. I said "not to good." I held up the bloody "output" trap to highlight my point. "Oh no, no," the nurse said. "That is a much better color than last night and there is a smaller amount as well."

"Are you sure?" I said.

"Yes, yes. I was very concerned last night. That is why I called the surgeon. He said we need to give more time for the ulcer medicine to work. See it is already working. Soon it will do it's job."

I didn't feel immediately better, but the heartbeat of grace caught up with me. After the kind nurse left, Jon turned out the lights and sang lullabyes to our baby. I wrote a quick email to a friend in the dark. Afterwards, we walked out of the NICU holding hands.

Sometimes, I can walk away from Tessa's crib and just pretend that my baby is happily asleep in her nursery, a mere 45 minutes from my bedroom door.

Grace. Faith. Prayer. Trust.

St. Teresa of Avila, please watch over Tess tonight.


  1. Abigail,

    We live so near by you and would be glad to give you a ride to the hospital on any day. Please call me.



  2. I'm sorry she's not snuggled next to you at home. I'm praying for her!!

  3. You don't know me, but I am praying for you and your baby girl right now! Praying that you and Tess get a good night's sleep! :-)

  4. My heart and prayers are with you and your precious baby girl.

  5. I'm so sorry. The good news it that you'll have warrior stories to tell her when she grows up. My kids LOVE theirs, every last detail...

  6. We're keeping Tess and the whole Benjamin crew in our prayers. May the peace of Christ that surpasses understanding guard you hearts and minds as you take care of your little girl.

  7. I just wanted to let you know that we are praying for your family and especially sweet Tess!

  8. Greetings, does anyone here know a good dentist? My teeth actually are in pain right now, so I read a great site about a [url=]mississauga emergency dental service[/url]..? The website was very much informative, but I need advice about my teeth. Can someone nicely lend a hand?


  9. Tess was a part of our rosary intentions today. We are strangers to you, but we are anxious to hear that all is well and she is home. We continue to pray! +JMJ+

  10. Abby, I was looking for an email on your site & can't find one so I'll just suggest that you all ask one of your nurses to get your Case Manager to come to your room so you can talk with her. She's probably a nurse who is supposed to expedite your care throughout the hospital system/home, when that time comes. Write down all your questions & put her to work.

    I've been an advanced practice nurse for a long time & I don't trust myself when my kids/grandkids are in the hospital. Don't try to assess Tess yourself. If your nurse that shift doesn't seem to know if the baby's better or worse, request that he/she call the physician on call for your group or service. They have to have 24 hr call coverage. I currently work in an urban hospital ER & I know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease usually applies. No bad will on anyone's part, everyone's just busy, as you know.

    Your analogy of the heartbeat will feed me for many days. thank you!

  11. Your family's suffering brings tears to my eyes. Trust that the good Lord will bring you sunshine soon. You all are in my prayers - GOD BLESS

  12. You all had better get out before we get back in with Joey!

    His first stay was 4's pure misery, especially when all you want is the little one home!

  13. More prayers coming your way. What a beautiful post...