Each NICU patron must begin his or her visit by huddling over a water trough (fit for a Clint Eastwood western). The faucet has been engineered to negate the need for touching any part of the sink with your fingers. You don’t even use your hands to turn it on! With a nudge of the left knee, you activate a gush of warm water by pressing a button positioned just above the left thigh. Now the fun part begins! You grab a prepackaged sponge (with bristled backing) and scrub like there are ants running up and down your arm. If you allow your imagination to really fly, you can transport yourself back to your early-childhood baths. Bubbles will start flying everywhere! And just when you begin to notice how anticlimactic this activity is without your rubber ducky, you’ll want to begin rinsing off…but you can’t. You still have 1 minute and :52 seconds left on the clock.
That’s right; you must remain bowed over this steel manger for three straight minutes! At first, you don’t think much about the cardinal rule of the NICU ward: Each person, including employees, must scrub-in for 3 minutes before interacting with patients or staff. Many guests saunter in for the first time considering themselves stalwart hand-washers. They reach for the mustard sponge with the confidence of a certified germaphobe. They realize that any germ can be fatal to the underdeveloped immune systems of most NICU patients, and they refuse to be an Uber or Lyft for a virus or bacteria. Their left knee glides as it triggers the button with intentional forcefulness. They believe washing their hands for three consecutive minutes will be an easy feat. And within 120 seconds, it always happens–somewhere around the two-minute mark they get restless. It starts with a sigh, and then evolves into an abnormal tapping of the foot. The fatigued washer now glances at the timer every three seconds. The anxiety builds while his or her resolve fades. Then, the truth sets in: three minutes is a long time.
This NICU routine has unveiled a great truth that I have yet to embrace: Time doesn’t change...we do. I am the changing variable, not time. You couldn’t have convinced me of this before Jesher’s birth. I would have told you that time is always changing at break-neck speeds. But now, I’m slowly being convinced that time is more like a pontoon ride than a jet-ski. I just haven’t stopped long enough to purposefully watch the moments as they pass; I haven’t mastered the spiritual discipline of discerning time’s true speed. I haven’t slowed down enough to consider its actual pace, and I just recently began recognizing its ever-present, abundant grace.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
SLEEP–Now that Jesher’s brain swelling is abating (praise the LORD!), his nurses are wanting to make sure he is spending specified amounts of time sleeping on different sides of his head. This gives him an opportunity to have is skull properly rounded as it develops. Problem is, Jesher now favors certain positions over others, and he struggles to settle and rest in his least favorite postures. PLEASE ASK YAHWEH TO GIVE JESHER COMFORT AS HE SLEEPS; CLAIM PSALMS 4:8 OVER HIM, AND ASK GOD TO PROPERLY FORM JESHER’S SKULL.
WEIGHT–Jesher was gaining weight at an excellent pace, but he has hit a rut of late. The staff believe he is losing weight due to the increased exercise he is getting on the CPAP [Continuous positive air pressure] machine. The less breathing support he receives, the more calories he burns. Lhorraine and I are asking the Lord to help our son gain weight. We want him to reach 3lbs in the first week of May (he is currently 4oz away from this goal). PLEASE ASK THE LORD TO BLESS JESHER WITH BABY FAT! ASK YAHWEH TO HELP JESHER REACH 3lbs BY MAY 5TH.
BLOOD–Jesher had a slight increase in his blood-platelet numbers! He went from a score of 35 up to 45. This is a blessed sign, and it gives us hope that his body is responding to aid harnessed by prayer. However, at this age, the doctors would like to see his platelets moving closer to a score of 200. We need supernatural aid to strengthen Jesher’s platelet-making factory. PLEASE ASK GOD TO DO A SUPERNATURAL WORK FOR JESHER’S BLOOD PLATELETS…CLAIM, IN THE NAME OF JESUS, THAT NO DEFICIT, DISEASE, OR DISORDER WOULD PLAGUE OUR SON’S BLOOD.
Time doesn’t vacillate; humans do. Time, unlike us, is more closely related to the constancy of the tortoise than it is related to the unpredictability of the hare. Minutes aren’t sporadic or erratic; they are always methodical and dependable. I actually wish they were more like the former. I wish time would sprint by as it did before we had a son. I wish the days here in NICU would match the warp-speeds of my previous schedule. I want time to move like it did last April and the April before that and the April before that. I want to get out of here as fast as possible, but time just won’t speed up! And I’m reminded of its actual velocity whenever I wash my hands. Where, once, time was moving too fast, I now believe it moves too slow. Or maybe it is better stated this way: Where, once, I believed I was always behind, I now see that I have probably been moving way too fast.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present TIME are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18