Monday, October 14, 2013

Blessings and a Plea

A year ago my mom would sometimes look at me in wonder and say, "imagine if you'd gone into labor in Europe."

You see, it was a near thing. I touched down back home from a visit to see my brother and his wife in Bulgaria a mere DAY before I went into labor the first time, and less than three weeks before my son was born.

Whenever she said that, I'd get something close to physically ill. I'd mentally sit down and take a brain-breath. "Don't get faint," I'd say, "it didn't happen."  Finally I asked my mom to stop wondering in awe about that timing. It hurt too much to consider the other options.

So many "almost"s and near misses with my son.

Looking back, we were always very very blessed (I admit, a full-term pregnancy would have been a BIGGER blessing; but then again, I might not have realized just what a miracle full-term pregnancies are if not for JAM). We had friends surrounding us, doctors that were kind and forthright, nurses that listened to our needs and encouraged us to take a big part in Jonathan's life as early as was possible without risking his health. We had a strong church uplifting us in prayer, and coworkers bringing us food -- we even had people learning to cook vegan so that everyone could enjoy their feasts.

On top of that, the federal government had our back. I know, I know... shut down and all that. It's not popular in the blogosphere to say GOOD things about this government, especially not our government and healthcare, but in this case, they got it right. There was an extremely vulnerable (albeit very small) member of their society who needed assistance and medical aide.  When insurance told us they'd pay no more, the government footed the bill.  Thank you, government. I pay my taxes with pride knowing that you, in turn, help care for the unfortunate in our society -- the disabled, the poor, and the micro-preemie fighting for his life.

There were other costs -- lost wages as I went down to half-time to attend to doctors appointments after discharge, extra gas costs, etc -- but even here we saw God's hand at work. When we didn't know how we'd make it, there was a check we'd forgotten to cash, or an unexpected gift from a friend, or an oversight in bureaucracy that was remedied in our favor.

In short, we could turn our attention completely to Jonathan because we didn't have a huge financial burden hanging over us. If you've ever been in a spot as grim as us, you'll know how needed that is.  You understand what a huge blessing that can be.
A Plea.

I knew a guy in school over a decade ago. Since I last saw him, he's gotten married and had a daughter. He's walked closely with God and cared well for his family. Unexpectedly, a month and a half ago, he delivered twins at 26 weeks gestation, on the earliest end of prematurity that doctors in that country were able to treat. (Sound familiar?)  Thing is, yes, I said "in that country." Unlike me, they didn't make it home for delivery. They were in a land foreign to both of them. They are not under the umbrella of Medicaid and all the special services that helped carry our family through.

This hits home. Reading their care page takes me back a year. I didn't have twins, but I did feel the pull between my home kids and my hospital kid.  His one son is struggling to get off the vent and struggling to gain weight. (Sound familiar?)

His other son fought hard for over a month, Then his kidneys stopped working. He, like Jonathan, retained so much fluid that in the end he couldn't open his eyes from all the swelling. Best as I can tell, he, like Jonathan, developed NEC. (They never named it, but the symptoms fit. I'm not really sure if the doctors call it NEC -- I assume that Spanish would use the same Latin/Greek terms as English, but I'm not sure.)  After aggressively treating the "NEC" with antibiotic, this little boy's bowels ruptured. He still fought hard. For something like two weeks that little baby tried hard to make it. But his body couldn't take it, and so God, in his mercy, took him home.

I've almost been there.  For so much of their story, I've almost been there.  I remember looking down on a swollen Jonathan and tearfully finally understanding why God could let babies die. I understood how a loving God would save us, when all else failed, save us from the unbearable pain of life. I prayed he wouldn't. I told Jonathan to hang in there, promised him that life got better than the tubes and swelling, but I understood that death might happen. So as I've read their newly arrived and newly departed son's story, I've wept hard.
I never had to ask for money to help cover JAM's costs. I'm so grateful for that. So so many of you that knew me well asked if you could help, and I said you could just pray. Or watch my girls. Or hug us hard. But I didn't have to ask for funds.

If you still wish you could have done more for us back then, will you consider giving to this family instead?  Enough individuals check this blog regularly that I think if everyone who followed faithfully gave $20 USD, or the equivalent of taking a family out for fast food, we'd raise over a grand -- maybe two grand -- to help cover their unexpected costs. What a blessing that would be.  What a miracle we could be.
If you want to help, but feel funny giving to a family you don't know, tell them you're giving in honor of their sons, and in honor of babies like them who have had to fight.  You can even name JAM if you want to.

Here's the website for secure online giving.  Consider it, won't you?

And I promise, I won't ask again. (I MIGHT link back to this page again, though. Give updates --  like when they reach their fundraising goal. Or when they're so close that I think we can help get them over the edge.)

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