Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Not Alone

We spent three and a half very stressful weeks bunkered down in the NICU. While our situation was taxing, it in no way compared to the experiences of many of the other families in our ward. We were so fortunate that in spite of our son's premature birth and probable lack of oxygen, he did not suffer any permanent damage. Not only was our little man the largest preemie in the ward (5.5 lbs), he was among the few that could breathe without a ventilator, and only had a handful of instances of bradycardia.

Because of the constant threat of heat loss, irregular heart rate, and loneliness, the NICU staff strongly encouraged a practice affectionately termed Kangaroo Care. Kangaroo Care is a form of skin-to-skin contact between a parent and their preterm baby. The baby, wearing only a diaper, is held in an upright position against the parent's bare chest with a blanket, shirt, or robe wrapped around the baby's back. Kangaroo Care has been proven to regulate the baby's heart and breathing rates, help the baby maintain body warmth, and promote natural weight gain.

One evening, as my son and I shared Kangaroo Care during a gavage (tube) feeding, I looked around the NICU at the other "pods". The pod that caught my eye was in the far corner of the room, the only glassed-in pod with a separate ventilating system, reserved for the sickest of babies. Inside the room sat a tiny enclosed incubator where two twin girls, born three months early, were huddled in the corner of one bassinet laying side by side, hands touching. I watched their monitors through the glass for a solid hour as their hearts beat in perfect unison. In the moment I was struck with the realization that God did not create us to be alone, he created us to be a part of each other and of community. Even during creation he acknowledged that it was not good for man to be alone; for that reason woman was created to be man's helper. How fortunate to have a God who recognizes our need for community but more importantly, our need for him.

The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man."
Genesis 2:18;22-23

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