Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Open My Eyes, Part 3

This is the third in a series of posts based on a sermon I preached in October.

August 31, 1996, 4:44 p.m. It was a momentous moment in my life, and in the lives of my family. At that moment, our second son was born. People may tell you that the birth of a child is a miraculous moment - they might speak of that moment as if angels sang and all the loved ones gathered around - a Norman Rockwell moment. It may be that way for some people, but it wasn’t a moment like that for me – it wasn’t a moment like that for those of us who watched our son Josh enter the world.

Don’t get me wrong – we approached that moment with great anticipation and joy, and we rejoiced at his birth. But that moment – at that moment, I was afraid. I’ll back up so that the story makes more sense.

In the late morning on August 31st, everything was going as expected. The doctor told us our son (who didn’t officially have a name yet) would arrive before noon. By noon, we realized that he was stuck. His arrival wouldn’t be as quick as we thought.

With much work – they don’t call it labor for nothing – he finally arrived at 4:44 in the afternoon. Immediately, the doctor said, “Well, he didn’t like that very much.” Our beloved son was purple, not breathing, and I was afraid. Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Before August 31, 1996, at 4:44 p.m., I didn’t understand that. At that moment, the Holy Spirit prayed for me, because I could not. The prayer was “Please.”

Lest you forget, this story has a happy ending. Josh did start breathing, and his condition improved dramatically very quickly, and he headed off to the neonatal intensive care unit. We found out later that day that at birth he weighed ten pounds, eleven ounces. I’ll stop right there to let that sink in. His shoulder was what had gotten stuck as he was born, and the nerve bundle called the brachial plexus in his shoulder - right here - had been torn.

A few days later - still in the NICU - we noticed that he wasn’t moving his right arm, but they reassured us that he was fine, and that movement would return soon. But at six weeks old, he still wasn’t moving his arm. By about seven or eight weeks, he could shrug a little. By that time, we were taking him to occupational therapy three times a week.

You can imagine how worried we were for our son. During that time I learned a lot about brachial plexus injuries – even then, the internet was around, plus, I was working in medical research, so I had access to medical journals. I knew his APGAR score at birth, and what it had been 10 minutes after his birth, and what that meant. I knew about the exercises we needed to do at home to try to stimulate his very young nerves to regenerate, and what to do to maintain his range of motion in the meantime. I knew probabilities for recovery. And I worried. I worried about this beloved child of ours who wasn’t able to move his arm.

But there was more God wanted me to know.  Much more that God wanted me to see.

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