Facing the Storm through Rest

9 months

Hi Everyone!  It’s been far too long–I know. But we made it!  We are in St. Pete and enjoying the Florida life as much as we possibly can while setting up our new life here as well. I gotta say I was most amazed at the girls just fitting right in and adjusting to their new environment without any complaints. That was a relief in and of itself.
So we have some catching up to do–a lot has happened in the last 7 months!
Last entry, Dan shared his testimony and how this all began. (See One Little Yes) But that was only the beginning to a whirlwind of events that seemed to rock our boat every single day. I honestly don’t even know where to start and how my words can possibly explain all the emotional ups and downs we have gone through as a family.
It was January 25th and it was our last Sunday at the church that Dan and I grew up in, met, served, and dedicated our children. Our only Pastor we knew our whole lives devoted the entire service to ministering to us, as they chose to send us off as home missionaries to the St. Pete area.  It was truly a blessed time for our family.  We felt encouraged, supported and loved. A moment that Dan and I both continue to cherish dearly. But little did I know there was a storm about to rage.

The waters were getting choppy
Later that evening, we got home and a bit emotionally drained from saying our good byes, I noticed that Aliyah, who was 4 months old at the time, was a bit on the crankier side.  I assumed she was tired from the day’s events.  I put her to bed as usual and she went peacefully to sleep.  The other two girls had gone to bed by then as well and Dan and I were ready to sit and veg a little before bed too.  But strangely enough, Aliyah was up–not crying but rather groaning. I picked her up and just held her for a bit and listened to what sounded like she was in pain.  Dan thought it best to call the doctor sooner than later.  As I called, we began to pray over her tiny body.  She had no symptoms, she was perfectly fine the entire day, no colds, no runny nose, nothing.  I even thought someone had to have picked her up and hurt her shoulders, her arms or something. The next thing we knew we were headed to our urgent care while my siblings watched the other two girls. You know it was one of those feelings, better be safe than sorry.  We got there and she gets checked out but the thing was they couldn’t get her heart rate down. Dan and I looked at each other a bit astonished, after all, we have never gone through any of this with either of the other two girls.  At this moment, he and I were both exhausted from being up and it was around 3:00 am now.  They did an x-ray to check her lungs for pneumonia, hooked her up to increase her oxygen flow, and told us that if her heart rate didn’t slow down, we would be heading to D.C, Children’s Hospital.

The boat began to rock
I found myself sitting in an ambulance for the very first time in my life watching my tiniest baby fighting to breathe as her heart pounded so rapidly in her chest and there was nothing I could do to bring her relief.  I remember her little eyes looking at me so sleepily and I would gently massage her tiny hand as it clung to mine, hoping to bring her comfort in any form that I could. Dan drove our car to Children’s hospital as it was winter and the first snowfall for the season began that evening.  As the ambulance pulled in, Aliyah had drifted off to sleep and I was in a daze as I walked quickly beside the stretcher as it maneuvered each turn ever so sharply to get her to her room quickly.  Dan was just a few minutes behind us and lo and behold our Youth Pastor was with him.  Dan described it best when he said, “it was like seeing an angel standing there waiting for him in the lobby.” (plus she’s pretty tall and has some amazing blond hair) Just to have someone else there with us believing for Aliyah’s healing brought such comfort to two very overwhelmed, exhausted parents.  She suggested Dan go home and get some much needed rest as she stayed back with Aliyah and I.
That was a very, very long day.  Aliyah didn’t get better, in fact she had developed a fever which they didn’t treat and it seemed like one thing after the next. Dan came back and was by our side just praying over our little one.  We decided that evening that we would try to keep somewhat of a normalcy for the other two girls so Dan would come to the hospital after work then leave and be with Alyssa and Alaina and do the nightly routine at home. As he left, I remember saying to him, “she’s fine, she will be just fine, don’t worry.” He wasn’t even gone for an hour and a room full of doctors swept in because her monitors kept going off . Again the pulse and the oxygen levels were not in the normal range.  At this point there still wasn’t a diagnosis.  It was still up in the air whether she even had pneumonia. I sat in the chair, holding her closely as they checked her heart, her lungs, her breathing, her temperature, her everything, it seemed!  I can still hear one of the doctors saying to me, “mom, you are doing great! She will be fine, we just need to figure it out.”  Aliyah didn’t cry, didn’t fuss, it almost seemed like it would take too much energy for that.  She would just look inquisitively at what everyone was doing.

The waves came crashing down
We headed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. (PICU) I recall just going through the motions.  Our poor baby girl had to get an IV put in with what seemed like the biggest needle for the tiniest little vein and changed into what seemed as an even smaller hospital gown ever. How do they make those things so small?  It was just so heart wrenching to see her go through all this.  Dan was back and came with my dad and brother who came to pray with us but we were not allowed many visitors  in the PICU. There were so many kids in the PICU at that time that the space was separated by a curtain and the parent was given a folding chair to sleep in.  Boy was I happy to be 5 feet tall then!  I was able to snag an extra chair and made it my bed for the next 5 days.  The very next day she was finally diagnosed with RSV–a virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages  But she had also developed bronchiolitis which is an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. It is a very serious condition for infants and seniors. No meds are administered, just time and how well she adjusts to the breathing machines to aid with the oxygen flow and opening up of her airways.  The end of the week drew closer and we were released to go home that Friday afternoon.  We were so skeptical because it appeared her symptoms were now showing, the coughing, sneezing, fever–she looked like she had the flu. But even still we were discharged with assurance this was all part of it, “it takes time,” we were told.  And we were excited to be home, putting this all behind us and looking forward to recovery.

The boat began to sink
Midnight approached and I see Aliyah lying there in her pack n play beside our bed, struggling to breathe. You know when the doctors ask, “is your child lethargic?”  Well I totally now know what they mean by that–she was so out of it, almost lifeless. Her belly contracting all the way in and her eyes looking up at me helplessly as I already knew from the way she was drawing in her breath what the machine at the hospital would dictate: her low oxygen levels and high heart rate.  We headed for the ER at Children’s once more.  This time our emotions were high.  Everything inside of us wanted to scream.  We were tired, we were frustrated, we trusted the doctors, we can’t help her! As we went through the same song and dance with about 3 doctors to finally get her admitted again, all the what if’s had set in by now.  I can hear our conversation to each other as she finally went to sleep.  See at this point we didn’t have any answers or the picture wasn’t painted for us yet.  We just knew we said Yes to the Lord, we were heading into ministry.  We were just celebrating with our home church right before all this happen–it was an uplifting time. But now, less than one week later our faith was shaken. Were we making the right decision? What if this happened in St. Pete–we don’t have our family there who have been helping us with the older girls? What about insurance? What about money? Is this even a sign to tell us—stay? We were sinking and sinking fast–we couldn’t catch our breath as the water was now rising above our heads. As Dan shared his heart to me, I knew that this situation was only putting fear and doubt into our minds.  It was a real situation, no denying that, but how we climbed out of this sinking boat was going to define our outcome as a family.

The waters calmed, the storm passed
Again our Youth Pastor came and brought us what seemed to be the entire menu at McDonalds! Also our friends Asif and Leaha who we are going into ministry with came and all of us prayed over dear Aliyah. Later that afternoon, Dan and I decided we were going to choose to “rest”.  Sounds crazy? We didn’t have the answers to any of our “what if” questions. Like I said, we didn’t even know what our next step would be to this decision we made.  But what we did know was we were going to keep trusting in the Lord together.  We weren’t going to stand divided but unified in Christ.  We were going to get through this and Aliyah would be stronger and healthier.  We just started professing the good in the situation.  See “rest” for us didn’t mean just throw our hands up and say, “let the chips fall where they may.”  But we “rested” in what we believed in the Bible.  We “rested” in her healing because it was already paid for on the cross.  We weren’t tormenting ourselves with the what ifs. Honestly, as I “rested” I was at more peace, I slept when she slept, I watched as she got stronger and charmed the nurses with her smiles, I even found time to minister to other patients and nurses while we were there.  We believe as we “rested” the Lord was taking care of the details for us.  Sure the boat rocked and seemed to crash over what appeared like 20 foot waves and the storm lasted 10 days for us but when the clouds passed and the sun was shining, our family did not come out  wet, soggy, and hopeless but rather we came out healthier, stronger, at peace, thankful, joyful!

I don’t know the storm you are facing, but I say rest! Let God do the work for you as you trust in His love and  experience His grace.

To Be  Continued…

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