~ Our Gift
My husband and I take into consideration the meaning of names when we are to name a child. As you probably noticed, we like Biblical names for our children and even though we might like a name, like "Jacob," we wouldn't use it if the meaning meant something not nice, like "Jacob" means "deceiver". We always choose the name before the child is born, going through much prayer and discussion to do so. The name Nathaniel (in Hebrew) means "God's gift". And we had no idea how much of a gift he really would be.
He was 8 days late and by the time he was born, I had been in labor for 60 hours. No, that is not a typo and no, that is not an exaggeration. It truly was 60 hours, with the last 43 of those hours being hard contractions that you must breathe through. It went that long because those contractions never got closer then 10 minutes apart, and so I didn't "progress" enough, according to the doctors, for them to admit me. I finally got admitted when I went in for a non-stress test (I hadn't felt him move all morning). Once they saw that I actually was in labor, I got my room. Nathaniel was born about 4 1/2 hours later. It was extremely fast. So fast, in fact, that the doctor was still turned around washing her hands and the nurse was still setting up that handy-dandy cart of theirs. And there he was, "plop" on the bed. No suction, no help, no pushing from me, and no movement. He wasn't breathing.
They did get him breathing eventually and within 30 minutes of being born, he had his first observed seizure. The closest hospital where I deliver doesn't have a NICU, so two hours after birth, he was flighted by helicopter to a hospital about 2 1/2 hours south. I spent the next nine days down there with the other four children, sleeping and eating at the Ronald McDonald House, and visiting him when we could. To make a long story short, we surmise that at some point before birth (I think it was the morning of, when I stopped feeling him move) the cord became pinched and when he tried to take a breath, he swallowed and inhaled meconuim instead. The seizures were a result of brain damage he received when he couldn't breathe. I don't think we'll ever know this side of Heaven how close we were to losing our son.
His prognosis? Fifteen months later, he is completely off the anti-seizure medication, he is developing just where and how he should be, his eyesight, hearing and motor skills are above average, he's growing, and the last MRI scan showed there were residual effects from the damage (once it was pointed out to us, we could see the difference from the affected area compared to the non-affected area). This damage could be seen later with his cognitive skill (like learning math, learning to read) or it might not ever be seen. We don't know at this point. What we do know is that prayer works and that every life is worth the risks. (I have included a recent picture of Nathaniel playing with his siblings. As everyone comments on him when they learn his story, "Well, he sure looks normal!")
How does his story relate to this baby? I've been asked, "You're having another one? Didn't you learn your lesson last time"? Our lesson? And what lesson would that be? That our beautiful son wasn't worth the effort, the prayer, the time, the love and the care? I have also been asked, "I suppose you're hoping for a healthy one this time, aren't you?" They were quite surprised when I answered. "No, I'm not." You see, I don't pray for a healthy child, for if I did and we didn't get one, then what? Do I send it back? Do I not want it? What foolishness! What I pray for is that the Lord gives us what we can handle, no more, no less. And if that is a child that has some difficulties, so be it. So when it comes to this child, I'll admit I am a bit nervous because of the labor and what that will entail. But I am not nervous or concerned about what his/her life will bring. For I know what that life will bring: joy, happiness, love and acceptance. On both sides.