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God’s Glory is in the Details

I never thought I’d be a mom to three NICU babies.

After two hard years of infertility, I always imagined welcoming our first baby and having grandparents there adoring the sweet new addition. Then, with my second baby, I imagined a proud big brother coming to the hospital with a huge grin to snuggle his new little sister. And the third time, while I knew we’d be coming home after a hospital stay, I never imagined the depth of how different our third NICU stay would be.

February 2017, we welcomed a baby boy, O. I had an uneventful high-risk pregnancy, but my induction led to an emergency c-section. Our baby boy was delivered, and I remember asking why he wasn’t crying. The nurse brought O over to me, then took him to the nursery to perform some tests. He wasn’t breathing and oxygenating well on his own, and he was quickly given breathing support, an umbilical IV, and other life-saving interventions. He was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). O’s official diagnosis was Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn and Congenital Pneumonia.

I vividly remember visiting him 30 hours after his arrival. We had just learned the transport team was coming to take him two hours south to a higher level NICU. O was extremely sick and needed more care than our NICU could provide. As I sat in the quite NICU, I felt a sense of peace holding my sweet boy’s hand knowing that whatever happened, God was there. About the same moment that sense of peace washed over me, my doctor quietly stepped in. He stood there, looking at O with me, sharing that his daughter went through the same thing 20 years prior. Then he turned to me and said, “You are strong enough for me to discharge you if you want to go with him. Do you want to go?” God’s glory shined through my OB and then again in the incredible transport team’s compassion and expertise. Then again and again through family, doctors, nurses, O’s strength, my strength, and my husband’s strength, God gave us what we needed to bring O home.

And then he did it again in March of 2019.

We welcomed a baby girl, L, into the world via repeat c-section with a loud cry that quickly became quiet. I remember feeling a shift in the room that things weren’t going well for L. However, God had placed the same pediatric doctor in the OR that day who treated and ultimately transferred O. God’s glory shined as she gently shared that L was already hooked up to breathing support. She assured me I’d get to see her for a few seconds before they admitted L to the NICU. The peace I felt knowing God had placed this perfect person to take care of our newest gift from Him washed over me, and while I was scared, I knew she would be OK.

L’s official diagnosis was immature lungs. She needed intubation and surfactant. She also needed help lowering her critical carbon dioxide level. At 14 hours old, L was transferred two hours south to a higher level NICU with one of the same transport team members who transported O. She remembered us. My same OB told me I couldn’t leave until 24 hours, but he would let me leave as soon as the 24th hour arrived. The nurse who received L called to update me on her intubation and status. God’s love spoke to me through her gentle tone, patience with questions, and anticipation for our reunification with L. During L’s stay, multiple connections from O’s stay continued to shine a light on God’s glory.

One day, the nurse who took care of O the first night we left the hospital for some rest came in to be L’s nurse. She showed up right on time, because a few hours into her shift L became critical with bilirubin levels. The nurse on the next shift? My grade-school friend’s mom. The next two days were some of the hardest, but God placed those nurses in perfect timing to help me. The nurses in the NICU don’t just treat the babies, they take care of the entire family. That’s one large way God’s glory shines in the NICU. Humble servants caring for those at their weakest. Those who must surrender all control and give it all to God.

And then God asked us to surrender again in January 2021.

Our third NICU baby, baby H arrived via repeat c-section with knowledge that he would be a direct NICU admit. Even with that knowledge, H’s arrival was traumatic. For me, for my husband, and extremely traumatic for H. His little face was bruised and swollen from trying to remove him from me. H’s official diagnosis included immature lungs, congenital pneumonia, high bilirubin levels, and seizures. Again, God didn’t wait long to remind us he was there with us, and He had purpose in this.

H was delivered at a different hospital, so he was already at the level of NICU needed to give him the right care. That also meant I was at the same hospital for my care. God’s plan for our move two years prior shined brightly. The head of the NICU was on H’s case, and some of the most amazing nurses too. Two days after H’s arrival the doctor motioned us out before rounds, sat us down, and started talking us through H’s needs and future. H was incredibly sick. The doctor wasn’t sure what was causing the seizures and shared we should really enjoy H now and focus on the present, because he wasn’t sure if H would make it. I had one question for him, “I haven’t held him yet. I know you said yesterday that it would be best to wait for him to be more stable. When can I hold him?” The next 10 minutes to get H in my arms were a blur, but I remember feeling God’s peace wash over me again. The nurse’s gentle tone telling me my request wasn’t small in the least while handing me a tissue box. The doctor’s smile when he saw H placed on my chest. The feeling of completeness holding my baby for the first time and taking the doctor’s order seriously by savoring every second. God’s glory was shining, and it continued through the highs, lows, special coffee trips, conversations with COVID security staff, dear family and friends, and a special nurse who was a friend from high school and cared for us on one of H’s hardest nights. God never left me at my weakest.

Baby H is now a happy and healthy almost 2-year-old boy!

I never thought I’d be a mom to three NICU babies. But God did.

God knew that walking the NICU journey with me would bring him incredible glory. He knew it would cause immense pain, not just for me, but for him as well. He carries and feels our pain with us. He knew each NICU stay would weaken me but strengthen Him in me. He knew how he would use my experience of becoming a mom and my children’s arrivals to draw me closer to Him. God’s glory shines in the details of my story because God was with me, carried me, and lead me through every second. God made sure I knew I wasn’t alone and there was purpose in the pain. That the pain was a gift, and the gift was knowing Him more deeply and surrendering my control so His strength and glory would shine in my life.

God’s glory shines brightest in our darkest moments, but we must remember not to shade it. We must allow His glory to shine by seeing Him in even the smallest, most frivolous details of our life. No detail of our life is too small or too big for God’s glory.

-Toni Fatka

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