Praying for Guts by Sarah – When Our Child Struggles With Medical Issues
At 22 years old, I found out that I was going to be something that I’d dreamed of being since I was little: a mommy. I still remember the panicking, excited butterflies that swarmed in my stomach. It also could’ve been the nausea helping with those butterflies, but I was excited. Scared, but excited. For three months, I laid in bed while my husband brought powerade after blueberry muffin, half of which didn’t end up fully digesting. I was so sick. But still excited. I thanked Jesus for this wonderful miracle growing in my belly.
At 18 weeks, I went in for an ultrasound. While we anxiously awaited to learn the sex, or see a hand move, my gynecologist remained quiet. She paused after four or five minutes and excused herself. We shared nervous glances and my heartbeat sped up. Cue nausea. At that point, that was the longest five minutes I’d ever experienced, and when she returned, she explained the news. That something was wrong. That my baby probably wouldn’t live seeing I’d lost so much weight. That we would need to formulate a plan for my pregnancy, delivery, and post-birth.
The next six months dragged along. September 27th, my little guy made his entrance. Just like I’d been warned, I held this little miracle for three whole minutes before NICU nurses that had been on stand-by during my whole active labor whisked him away. Luca Noel. Strong. Tiny. And here!
My perfect baby was born with a rather imperfect medical condition. Gastroschisis. Basically, during his development in utero, a defect occurred when the stomach area was closing. Instead, the intestines spilled out, exposing themselves to amniotic fluid. While there’s not exactly a cure for it, doctors do know how to drain, adjust, and fit back them back in after birth. However, the process requires several months of NICU and usually several surgeries. The aftermath post-hospital varies case to case as well.
For the first 30 days of his life, I held him seven times. The first happened after a week, because his intestines had to be in a cilo above his body to drain. I had to scrub up and scrub skin off my hands to maintain proper sanitization. I cried to God constantly.
After 60 days of his life, he was finally able to eat his first meal. Then, they watched him. Waited for him to throw up (which happened a lot) and made plans for more surgeries. I cried to God constantly.
Ninety days we spent in the NICU. Ninety days of sharing my firstborn with strangers in blue. Ninety days of nights that I either spent hunched over in a hospital recliner, or calling up to the unit every hour to hear his nurse tell me he was asleep. Ninety days of being terrified, learning a foreign medical language, and trying understand why this possibly could’ve happened to me. Nine months of not being sure my baby would be born alive and/or healthy, then ninety days of begging God to fix this. I’d been fortunate enough to never have really begged God for much. But here I was, begging and pleading and making promises and crying out to Jesus just asking him to fix it. Asking him to take this perfect boy’s guts and fix them. Asking him to fix my heart because it was joyful and heartbroken and confused. Asking him to make me strong and also the doctors capable. Ninety. Long. Days.
My son is now two. He has a button on his side that we feed him through when he isn’t absorbing nutrients like he should be. He goes through phases where he doesn’t gain weight or needs extra love from the hospital, and we do it. His smile has always been bright. He’s always taken everything like a champ. He’s always been so much stronger than me. I truly believe that is the result of prayer. I couldn’t have done this with a child experiencing my grown-adult emotions. I couldn’t have done it had my son been irritable or unhappy. But God – our great God – gave this kid the most beautiful smile in the whole world, and I know it was a way in strengthening us. My God knows what he’s doing, and even though my son’s guts aren’t perfect, God knows what he’s doing. He still made this miracle perfect.
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My name is Sarah and I’m a West Texas born and raised lady. I’m married to the love of my life and we have a beautiful little boy. My son, Luca, was born with a defect called gastroschisis, in which the intestines develop outside the fetus in utero. Outside of being a mommy, I am a Texas Tech graduate that loves to dance and teach. I currently perform with a local company and teach early childhood education through movement. I love Jesus. I love coffee. I believe Gilmore Girls is my second religion. And I love meeting new faces.