I read to Jesher every night before leaving the hospital. At his age (now 30 weeks), it is not clear whether or not he notices; however, I am adamant about maintaining this custom. Not only will it help me form good habits, but it also helps me get a sweet sample of being a dad. To date, I have not had the opportunity to participate in the fun activities of fatherhood. I have only experienced the duty-bound aspects of fatherdom (e.g. perceiving caringly, praying constantly, providing consistently, and protecting compassionately). When I read to Jesher, I am given a respite from the more somber duties of a bedside vigil. I don’t feel like I’m in a hospital; I feel like we’re home. I don’t feel like he is sick; I feel like he is just sleepy.
And he falls asleep too. Whether we are reading about a little boy’s bus ride (Last Stop on Market Street) or a giraffe’s self-actualizaton (Giraffe’s Can’t Dance), Jesher will watch me for about 5-10 pages and then drift off into neonatal dream heaven. I love it! I love that I can comfort Jesher. I love that he is becoming more aware of my presence. I love when Oh the Places You’ll Go speaks prophetically to his future while bringing solace to his present. I love bedtimes stories.
I want to be the type of dad that reads to his son. I want Jesher to know that reading is important. I want him to discover distant places and adventurous characters. I want him to intrinsically understand concepts such as setting, rising-action, climax, and resolution. Before bed, I want him to grab a book, run over to me, jump in my lap, and rest comfortably in the bend of my elbow. And I want him to understand what a good story sounds like. Because one day, I need him to become a proficient purveyor of his own story…the story of a 26 week-old baby who survived immense complications because the body of Christ prayed for him.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
BRAIN–Jesher’s ultra-sound came back and the doctors have decided NOT to pursue more invasive procedures at this time! The results showed a slight reduction of swelling on his left side and a slight increase of swelling on his right side. Although they are unsure why there is a reduction and an increase (which is highly abnormal), the slight reduction is giving them hope enough that Jesher’s body will be able to resolve the swelling on its own. [Here is the Polite translation: We don’t know what is going on, but the partial improvement may be an indicator that a higher power will resolve the swelling so that we can avoid the more invasive procedures.] Jesher will have another lumbar puncture later on this week. He has undergone two of these previously. Lumbar punctures attempt to drain cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] off the brain by extracting it from the the spinal column. PLEASE PRAISE YAHWEH FOR DELIVERING JESHER FROM NEEDING A MORE INVASIVE PROCEDURE, AND ASK HIM TO CONTINUE TO RELEASE THE PRESSURE FROM JESHER’S BRAIN SO JESHER WON’T HAVE ANY FURTHER BRAIN CONCERNS.
LUNGS–Jesher is now down to 28% oxygen. Regular room air is usually at a 21% oxygen level. Slowly but surely, Jesher is experiencing gains with his lungs. From time to time, he still experiences dips in his ability to properly oxygenate his blood, but he is not dipping as often or as low as he had been dipping in previous weeks. The respiratory therapists are encouraged by his progress, and are now needing more of his alveoli to open (and remain open) for Jesher to continue improving. PLEASE ASK THE LORD TO EXPAND THE NUMBER OF ALVEOLI THAT ARE ABLE TO STORE AND DISTRIBUTE OXYGEN TO JESHER’S BLOOD AND ORGANS.
BLOOD–Jesher did receive another blood transfusion on Sunday. The doctors believe that the lumbar punctures probably caused his red-blood-cell count to fall. He also received another round of blood platelet treatment. Although we are wanting to see him maintain his own blood levels without aid, we are thankful for the technology that allows blood transfusions to be administered at this regularity. PLEASE PRAY FOR JESHER’S BLOOD TO MATURE AND BE HEALED FROM ANY DEFICIT, DISORDER, OR DISEASE.
DOCTORS AND NURSES–I have been thoroughly thankful for the medical staff that have cared for Jesher. It has been encouraging to hear the majority of them profess their belief in the power of prayer. So many of them have seen amazing miracles in NICU, and they want Jesher’s story to be one of those memorable miracles. Although they can’t explain everything that has happened during Jesher’s stay, they are willing to attribute certain outcomes to an unseen hand, and I want the same unseen hand to strengthen, equip, and guide Jesher’s care providers throughout his time here. PLEASE ASK YAHWEH TO INCREASE THE ABILITIES, KNOWLEDGE, AND WISDOM OF JESHER’S DOCTORS AND NURSES.
Tonight, I think I’ll read Jesher Preaching to the Chickens by Jabari Asim, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. It is the story of a young, Congressman John Lewis. I love the book because it breathtakingly illustrates how a child’s greatness expresses itself even at a young age. Yes, we now know that John Lewis was an influential civil rights activists who would go on to win a seat in the House of Representatives. But you wouldn’t have been able to guess his future by looking at his humble beginnings. He grew up on a farm in Troy, AL, and worked very hard from a young age. He didn’t have much time for recreation, but, when he was allowed to play, he would preach to the chickens. Only the keenest of eyes would have been able to decipher this playful habit as a glimpse into John Lewis’ storied career. He wouldn’t always preach to chickens; one day, he would preach to a nation.
I’ve begun to recognize some interesting traits in Jesher that give me hints about his destiny. Like the life of John Lewis, these glimpses into the future haven’t provided me with the full picture, but I’m beginning to catch flashes of my son’s destiny. And I want to support this divinely penned plan for his life. I want to bolster the chances of him fulfilling his prenatal purpose. So I read him bedtime stories, hoping each tale encourages him to believe that “with God, all things are possible.”
“Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.” Luke 1:66