Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Story of Isaac Part 2

Wedenesday May 26, 2004.
Morning arrives. New nurses. Little sleep.
Chris is hooked up to more wires than I can count. All the monitor bells and sensors, a BP cuff that goes off every 10 minutes - mightas well be alarm clocks. 24 hours of magnesium sulfate does strange things to a person - you can't drink a drop when you're on it, and it makes you hot and shivery at the same time.
Its a scary last resort, and her BP still spikes uncontrollably.

We've seen more friends and family in the last day than I can remember. The docs come by after lunch with more of "If we can't get her stable, we'll have to take the baby", and then later, "Its either you or the baby, and you're our first priority..."
At the end of the day, after too many needles and too many tears, comes the verdict, "We're gonna take the baby out tomorrow".

Thursday May 27, 2004.
We are over a week away from starting the third trimester, and we're scheduled for a 1p.m. c-section... Okay... I grab a social worker and punch every statistic I can out of her head. I learn, "Chris should be fine" - its not a stat, but a "should be" is better than worse, or nothing, at this point. At 14 weeks early, I hear, "1 out of 4 babies don't make it out of the delivery room." Of those who make it to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, "1 out of 4 don't make it home" and finally, of those who make it home, "80 percent are functionally normal".
I got an A in stats in school, for a moment I wish I hadn't.

Chris rocks. She is the most amazing woman I've ever seen. I am seeing perseverance and strength and unbelievable courage, things deep within my wife's character I had yet to know and see. I mean, she was rad before, and we've all teared up when she sings and all... but this is a whole different caliber of person before me. Swollen, tired, anxious, beautiful. I'm not worthy of such a wife. Watching this grace beget durability, fight, and even humor... We click with the anesthesiologist, Brian. Finally a doc with an appropriate synthesis of concern and humor. Chris, for the sake of her friends wonders aloud, "Is he single?" Refreshing, he's the "drug dealer" of the UCSD surgical ward. Given a patient's plight - if at all possible - I imagine most folks are happy to see him. Enduring what would've crushed me, she's making jokes. They roll Chris off to the operating room to begin c-section surgery prep and the epidural.
They hand me a bag of blue XL disposable scrubs. I'm a 6'2" smurf. Waiting, I feel a bit like the hour before our wedding ceremony less than a year ago. Those - at least they're familiar - butterflies, much excitement, some anxiety, knowing certainly, change is just around the corner.

A knock at the door, "They're ready Mr. Harrell", calls my escort. I am led into a blue room, tiled floor to ceiling. Chris is on her back, there's a curtain at her neck, separating her head from her body - presumably so she can't look down at what she can't feel, and shouldn't see anyways - making wisecracks at Brian and the other surgeons... anyone else would have fainted. Surgeons, needles, wires everywhere, rotary saws and drills I could use in the woodshop, nurses, monitor bells, oxygen masks... an unbelievable, indescribable 40 minutes later, Isaac Richard Chanco Harrell is born. He doesn't cry. He's passed on to his own team of specialists and is immediately gone, down the hall to the Neonatal ICU. Born a full 3 months early, "675 grams", someone reports... 1.5 lbs. "He looked good" someone says.
We never even see him go.

I watch the docs sew my wife back together, its almost surreal. They stitch her uterus back together and place it back inside her, then her muscles are reattached, then her skin is stapled shut. "Congratulations, we're all done", a surgeon calls to us... congrats? Her vitals slowly begin heading in the right direction within the hour.

Tuesday we were enjoying a ride down the coast. 48 hours later my wife has been cut in half, and Isaac is here. 3 months early, in a new ring, fighting a battle all his own.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Story of Isaac, Part 1

My shoulder is wet.
I winced a few minutes ago, my finger was being chewed to bits.
A slobbery hand reaches out and grabs my nose, gack... smile... I'm suprised by joy.
"Thhhhhhhppppllllerrrrrfffffssssssh." In case you aren't in the know, that was Isaac-speak for, "I'm happy to meet you."

Tuesday May 25, 2004.
Lunchtime. Chris and I are "getting out", on a ride down the coast, headed to a doctor's appointment. She's been on bedrest for weeks now, I think to myself, "its good for her to see the sun and the waves". Her BP is high - and on the up, her sugars are low - insulin needles and snacks are the order for the trip. The doctor retakes the BP, immediately our afternoon shifts gears as we go from one Dr. Kelly to a different Dr. Kelly - one Scripps hospital to another - scaling the ranks of specialization... Perinatologist? You don't visit one unless things are headed downhill.
The adventure is on.

The sort of feeling, that dwarfs the nausea when our hack-nurse-in-training spills my wife's blood all over the floor trying to start a precautionary IV, arrives with the Perinatologist coming into the room with eyebrows raised, my heart skips a beat. We hear, "You aren't leaving the hospital without delivering the baby"... and I'm thinking "we've got over 3 months to go".

From Scripps to UCSD Hillcrest, our third hospital this afternoon. Frustration shades my eyes, I can't see what I should... God's fingerprints... positioning us for that which we cannot imagine. Watching Chris disappear in an ambulance gives anxiety a new face. But this third move is good they say, if she has any more complications, being at UCSD gives the baby a "fighting chance"... a fighting chance?
Needles, blood, my wife a prisoner in a hospital bed... this isn't how its supposed to go down. When preeclamptic swelling hides all the veins, the nurses gore her foot instead - checking for warning signs, constantly monitoring insulin levels among a million other things. Blood pressure though is the central issue, when it spikes she could have a stroke. Some nurses are wonderful, others seem heartless. If the magnesium sulfate doesn't stabilize her BP, there is only one other treatment that is certain to work, c-section. We'll wait for tomorrow, hoping things will calm down.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Conspiracy and Competition

God's "conspiracy" is one that I wonder about, in its work in our lives.
Lost in a soccer game today and was left semi-pouting with a few friends, pretending to be a good sport, being dragged around by my heart, replaying things in my head, wanting to be the god of my indoor league. Pathetic, its a little kingdom, and where I don't even possess it fully I can imagine doing so, one minute I am a monster... and the next day I can't remember the "why" in all the concern. That land where my hand does all I want doesn't exist, so I go mad.

A song goes, "We are gods, we are small"... aaaaaamen.
I'm not the only one, imagining an attractive scene where I am at the top of my game... the best. At it I wonder, "Is competition evil?" All these bad feelings, the coulda shoulda wouldas, the rapturous thoughts of last minute saves... If this evil is only a twisted good, then what was the good?

When I remember to play my part, "Man in Pub with Stine" perhaps, I frame my glorious play differently. I am simply one more "keeper" in a rec league, on the field to have fun. Match my godhood against the others, come out ahead or behind. My big head pops. The Beautiful Letdown, someone once called it... the discipline of struggle is a good thing learned. When I look at my role in the story, and I play my part with too much sincerity, I get a little silly and God's patience laughs and stretches. I didn't spill my stine and ruin the scene, as I'm sure I could have. The good of it all is the joy of play, we grownups make it filthy, its meant to be light. And so repenting I am made perhaps a little more fit for paradise.
Laughing in the end... I'm suprised by joy.

Opening - The Divine Conspiracy

Someone is paying attention.
The Light has shone, giving the knowledge of the glory of God in Jesus. Should that translate into a nomos - we would win. Alas the war was won on the cross - Jesus is Lord. So, head, heart, hands.

Many have seen the light, but live as lost in a wine dark sea.
I am one of these, yet there is a current afoot which bears the ring of Truth! A current akin to a hobbit plodding unseen through middle earth - and I am "Man in Pub with Stine" when the credits roll. I grow pumpkins.

Nothing I say is mine. Most of our words have been used before.
So, there are places where this current can be found. I think this is the point where I plugplugplug my favorites over yours.