I remember this day well. We watched you turn blue and stop breathing during our visit and were rushed out shortly after by some cranky nurses. I remember sobbing and laying awake that night wondering if I would see your precious face the next morning. I remember crying out to God and pleading with him for another day, pleading for a chance to at least hold you in my arms one time. I remember the pain I felt each time someone asked how you were. That question seemed unbearable to answer, because I really didn't know. I could guess, I could imagine, I could hope, but I didn't really have anything concrete to base it off of.
I remember anxiously waiting each day to visit you. To touch you, and to talk to you. I remember watching other parents as they too waited for their visit with their child, only to be told that their baby did not make it through the night. I remember watching their tears, and hearing their cries at the realization that they would never hold their precious child. They would never get to see their first smile, or watch them take their first steps. I remember feeling helpless and fighting the urge to run through the doors and escaping with you in my arms. I remember asking God over and over... WHY? What is Your purpose in this? What are You doing through this God? How long will this pain endure? Will the morning ever come?
I remember the panic I felt the morning we found out you were coming home. I remember the mixed emotions of the JOY I was about to feel holding you for the first time, yet concern for the fact that I knew you were not yet ready. I remember the frustration I felt when I just did not know what to do for you, or how to care for you best.
I remember the LOVE I felt for you, I remember the feeling of having you placed in my arms for the first time,I remember the hours of just holding you in my arms and feeling your little heart beat on my chest.
To me, you are a miracle. A blessing. A gift. But my hope is that you will be that to MANY others as well. My hope is that through every experience with you, we are able to use this to help other children, other parents, other families.
Our eyes were opened to a need that is great, because in that very isolette that you layed in, another baby is likely lying in right now. We don't know that child's situation, but we know that while you were there many other children were in the same room whose parents just could not care for them. For whatever the reason, they live there in the hospital just waiting. Waiting for someone to hold them, to touch them, to talk to them, and to love them.
So I am not only thankful for you, but I am thankful for your journey. For the experiences that God allowed us through your birth and NICU stay.
I hope one day many other preemies or children with special needs, are able to know the love of a family, and the love of God because of your journey. I am so thankful that God put us exactly where He did in those moments, so that we could better see the needs of the children in Panama.
Through the past 6 months of your life, what I remember most is that through it all, God was gracious. God was patient with me. God was faithful. God held us both in His arms, and walked us through the trials to bring us to an opportunity where we can prayerfully make a difference in the lives of many children for Christ.
I love you Jude. You are a true blessing from God, in every way.