One of the excruciating aspects of our hospital’s NICU waiting room is its positioning right across the hall from the Room-In Family Suites. These hotel rooms are reserved for families who have reached the end of their NICU stay and are ‘rooming-in’ to care for their prized child the night before discharge. Once a baby is certified “stable” (i.e., successfully meeting all critical physiological milestones), and the parents have taken all the requisite courses (e.g., How to feed your baby; How to provide Occupational Therapy for your baby; How to protect your baby from Household Hazards; How to Perform Infant, Child, and Adult CPR; etc.), the family will receive a call requesting the need to report to the front desk for ‘room-in registration.’ As you can imagine, this phone call ricochets jubilant reverberations all throughout the hearts of parents. It signals the end of one phase and the beginning of a much anticipated transition. It indicates the answer to an often repeated prayer. It prompts families to prepare for discharge! And all of this enthusiasm comes marching down the hall of the 7th floor, flanking to the left at the second, third, or fourth door while devastated mourners plod their way down the same hallway, flanking towards the waiting room—which is the second door on the right.
The contrast between the two groups could not be any more pronounced. As laughter bursts from one side of the hall, wailing leaks from the other side of the hall. While families praise God on the left, other families blame God on the right. The mixture of extreme emotions in such close proximity creates an inhospitable environment. Like tornado winds that swirl together due to the clashing of hot and cold air, this amalgam does not yield blissful cooperation. The people on the left try to avoid the faces of those in the waiting room, intentionally trying to negate the reminder of sadder times. The people on the right try to avoid the faces of those in the room-in suites, purposefully avoiding a scene that would provoke the deepest covetousness. Both worlds are literally too close for comfort. Both sides are irreconcilable.
I remember being on the right side, and I remember what it felt like to long for the experience on the left side. I remember watching families large and small enter into rooms across the hall. I remember how I felt when I saw a nurse roll an untethered baby into a circle of overjoyed spectators. I remember criticizing the apparent lack of empathy shown by the floor-plan designer. I remember concluding that he or she never had a child in NICU. I remember observing, “Life is kind of like this NICU wing: It oftentimes places our future aspirations in clear view when we are coping with the pain of current sorrow.“
And maybe this is what separates successful people from unsuccessful people. Maybe the two groups are only separated by eight feet of hallway. Let’s face it; at some point, all of us will come in contact with people who are basking in the light of our hopes and dreams. Each of us will have to bear the agony of watching someone arrive where we are trying to go. We will have to sit and watch them celebrate an achievement of the very thing that is breaking our heart. And it is at this pivotal juncture that we must bear down and speak well of ourselves, declaring, “One day I will get there. One day I will laugh too. One day I will see my pride and joy wheeled into my room—no longer tethered to painful disappointment.” We must never stop believing that we too will cross the hall someday.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
ROOMING-IN–Lhorraine and I received the call to room in! We are excited and nervous. The final benchmark to be satisfied is receiving a passing grade on our room-in night. This simply amounts to successfully performing the basic duties of parenting an infant (i.e., waking up at feedings, taking his temp every 3-4 hours, changing his diaper, putting him to bed in the proper position, etc.). Yep, this is pretty exciting! And we hope our slumber party with Jesher ends with a passing grade : ) PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAISING YAHWEH FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY! AND ASK THE LORD TO SEND HIS SPIRIT OF PEACE TO REST OVER OUR FAMILY.
MODERN MIRACLE–It looks like Jesher will be coming home without any mechanized aid! Many babies will oftentimes be sent home with oxygen tanks or heart/respiratory monitors to help parents assess the vitality of their child. But after all he has gone through, the doctor’s have informed us that there is no need to prescribe anything more for Jesher than routine follow-ups and a multi-vitamin (oh, and the infamous formula that is causing him digestive discomfort). We believe this outcome is a result of the fervent prayers offered by this community. Thank you for waging spiritual warfare on behalf of our son! PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAISING GOD FOR THIS RESULT! WE KNOW THAT THIS OUTCOME WAS NOT EXPECTED…YAHWEH MOVED UPON OUR SON, AND WE WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE WORK OF HIS HAND!
The time has come for Lhorraine and I to cross over to the other side, and I anticipate the faces across the corridor will remind me of how blessed we are. With great compassion, I will look to the right and remember how it was to sit in those hospital grade arm chairs. I expect to see the same facial expressions that we wore during our time there, but this time I will peer into that waiting room with a sense of hope. I won’t smile to communicate this hope; however, I will communicate my conviction with my eyes while declaring this prayer over everyone in the space: “Our Father in Heaven, bless those who are waiting, comfort those who are longing, and strengthen those who find it hard to believe. Give these people safe passage to the other side. Make your name great by healing their child. In the name of Jesus I claim it. Amen.”
“On the same day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Mark 4:35