By Nicky Gant
I am one of the newest members of this Oblate community and am probably one of the youngest. I joined because I was looking for a community to support my spiritual growth and to surround myself with people who are further on the road then I am. I need guidance and a supportive place to express the part of myself that is seeking closer connection to God, trying to listen for His will in my life. For the same reason, I told Sue I’d contribute to the Oblate blog every few weeks.
In between the time I told her that and now, I received the news that my son Dylan, who is due to be born on 1/11/09 has a condition called duodenal atresia, which is a blockage in his stomach that will require surgery shortly after birth, along with 6-8 weeks recovery in the NICU. His ultrasounds also show ecogenic kidneys, which have a 50% chance of being nothing or could be some kind of kidney disease. He also has increased risks of other birth defects and Downs Syndrome.
This has been hard news to take. I’m worried about Dylan suffering and am worried about my 22 month old Joshua (always a mama’s boy) feeling abandoned while I stay in Iowa City with his new brother. I am worried I’m not strong enough to see Dylan suffering or to make the right choices of how to divide my time between the two boys during the long recovery time. I’m worried something else could be wrong, besides the stomach blockage.
No question, this is a scary thing to face. And the fact is, I am not strong enough to face it. The news took me to the verge of throwing up and passing out at the same time. I am a mother who fretted over the tiniest scratch on my first newborn – major surgery is out of my league. Thank goodness for God or my husband and I would really be in trouble. This year, more than any other, we’ve grown closer in our faith and have a stronger spiritual toolbox to work with than ever before. I am turning to it every day for strength, guidance and support.
First and foremost, I make sure to count my blessings. We have health insurance, Dylan will receive the best care at U of Iowa, we have every reason to hope that everything will be okay in the long run, and Larry’s current job allows the most flexibility he’s ever had to be there for the baby. So many women don’t have access to prenatal care, and I know several who have carried babies full-term, knowing they would die shortly after birth. Keeping our experience in perspective is very comforting.
I also consciously try to turn my worries into prayers. I have had days where I’ve been overwhelmed by fears and grief but have had more days where I’ve felt strength and courage and peace that certainly haven’t come from me.
Another tool I’m using is to spiritually clean house. Although I’ve been told by my doctors there’s nothing I could have done to prevent this, I have to wonder from a spiritual perspective if there are any blockages in my own heart that I can remove to allow more of God’s healing grace to flow to my son? I’ve been doing a lot of prayer work to release fears and soften hard spots that the Holy Spirit has revealed to me in silence and contemplation. This helps me to feel like I’m doing everything I can for Dylan.
I’m also looking for glimpses of God’s greater plan to find meaning in this difficult time. Maybe He’ll never reveal it to me, but it is comforting to think of good things that could come of this in the long run. Already, experiencing the support and prayers coming out of the woodwork have been inspirational to my husband and I and deepened our calling to play an active role in our faith community and be of service to others.
I would love any other tools that anyone can recommend to get through this time. It means a lot to me to be part of this community. I definitely won’t be at the 1/22 Oblate meeting and most likely won’t make it to February’s meeting either, but I am hoping to make it in March. In the meantime, I want to write in this blog to stay connected to the Oblate community and share some of my experiences.
While Dylan is in the NICU (they are estimating 6 – 8 weeks), I will also be updating friends and family on his Care Page … if anyone would like to sign in, they are welcome. We appreciate any additional prayers.
Visit this CarePages website now: http://www.carepages.com/carepages/161468/invitations/259702/55c74d41f08dfcd8116c51264832fd9eab1b63cb?client_code=default&ipc=miv
(If the link is inactive, copy and paste the entire URL into your browser’s address bar and hit enter on your keyboard.)
Merry Christmas to all!
“Turning worry into prayers”–I have found over and over that this is a powerfully calming sort of prayer. For me it’s a kind of spiritual housecleaning, too, because I then empty all that is in me–all the muck and mess–into an honest pouring forth. The psalmists do this so often as well . . .