Thursday, July 10, 2008

God's Perfect Plan

Below is a testimony from Nicole Collier. She is the amazing mother of our Footprints' baby Ethan. What an incredible story of how each of you are touching lives through this ministry! Enjoy and grab a tissue!

When Kim asked me to write about our experience in NICU I thought no problem. This will be easy as pie.
Not the case.
How do you write about one of the hardest things you have faced in your life both physically and spiritually? How do you try to convey to others the guilt you felt? Maybe if I had not had gestational diabetes Ethan would have never had to go through this traumatic ordeal.
Our story really begins on January 21st, 2008 when I found out I had gestational diabetes. I took the class with my momma at my side, as always. I read my sugar levels 3x daily. I understood the consequences of not taking care of myself and the effects it could have on Ethan but I did not listen. I assumed that since I was taking medication that was keeping it under control everything would be okay.
It wasn’t.
Fast forward to May; May 19th, 2008 @ 9:30am to be exact during the 2nd attempt to register a blood sugar reading on Ethan with no success they admitted him to NICU for only a few hours. A few hours turned into 20 days and countless tears later.
Ethan was admitted with hypoglycemic and what they call wimpy white boy syndrome; meaning he had fluid in his lungs. The fluid in his lungs came from him being born C-Section. His blood sugar registered at 1- it needed to be 40 or higher.
For the first week to week and half Ethan was on an IV drip of dextrose to help him regulate his own sugars, he was receiving his formula through a tube inserted into his tummy through his mouth. It was over Memorial Day weekend that he was able to have his first bottle since leaving the birthing suite. His breathing regulated itself out on his own. During all of this he had a PICC line inserted. Due to this, we were unable to hold him. They did not like you to hold him but maybe once a day if that. When we touched him, we were asked to only lay our hands on him; not to pat him or rub his back and such. All I could do was tell him to be strong and he would come home soon.

Shortly after this Ethan was moved to a crib where we were able to finally hold him and feed him. We thought for sure that we were going to be out of NICU soon. Praise God our prayers were going to be answered. Wrong, remember Nicole, God does not work on your schedule but on His. He knew this child before my mother knew me. What was the problem now, why couldn’t I take my son home? I am not a patient person; it runs in the family. We learned that when Ethan would take his bottles he would stop breathing and become what they like to call a “dusky” color. I can go the rest of my life without hearing the word dusky. In the words of Meredith Grey, “Seriously?”

This happened for at least a week before the doctors decided to have him go down for an infant Upper GI which I could not go with him on. The results were that he has reflux. On a scale of 1-5; it rated a 3. With rice cereal added to his formula we were on our way to success. Ethan’s Upper GI was done on June 2nd and on June 7th he was released into our awaiting arms and car. He was finally ours, as weird as this seems.

Through all of this all I could do was pray; something I have not done on a regular basis in a long time. I was raised in a wonderful church, Forest Park Baptist, where I learned and grew in God. However, once I became an adult it was Christmas Eve and Easter that I attended church. I knew what I had to do. I had to hand it over to Him. I had to let my stubbornness go and let God. This is what I did. At the same time as doing this, I would cry myself to sleep with guilt. Guilt that it was my fault for him having to suffer throughout this ordeal. Would things have been different it I had eaten better? Would things have turned out differently if I had not had a c-section? I finally realized that I could not go through what if’s of life; obviously this was what God had planned for us and He would see us through.

One of the ways He showed me He was there with me every step of the way is through Footprints Ministry. I had heard of it and had heard parts of the story of the Wilson’s. I thought it was a great thing they were doing but did not give much more thought to it.
However that all changed when our friend brought a package from Footprints to my room. The fact that they would provide me with this package when I was in a hospital they did not have a relationship with made me feel special and cared for. I felt there were others out there who understood what I was going through and did not even know a face to go with it. The one thing that helped me through the nights in the hospital before my discharge is the receiving blanket they provide for the mother to sleep and snuggle with. The mother will then give it to the nurses in NICU to use so that their baby has your scent with them. The poem that comes with it makes me cry to this day and will forever stay in Ethan’s baby book.

While I would sit in Ethan’s little corner and hold him I would look at the other parents whose babies were in way worse shape than Ethan and feel such heartache for them. I would feel guilt that I was able to hold my son when there were parents who had been there for months who were now able to hold their own child for the first time. I felt guilt there were babies in there who were born addicted to drugs and were born with the cards stacked against them. Who was I to feel bad for myself? I knew right then that I had to get involved with something, anything that allowed me to help those who would unfortunately follow behind me.
God heard my prayers when I started to follow Footprints more closely and saw Kim wanted to reach out to other hospitals in other cities. I knew it was He that was leading my heart to reach out and offer any assistance in helping with Birmingham. After all we do have 2 of the best hospitals for children in the state here; UAB and Children’s Hospital. However, I wanted to start with St. Vincent’s where the staff was phenomenal and answered any question I had. They were always there with reassurance it would be okay. Most importantly they were there with caring and delicate hands in taking care of my child. After all, they were his surrogate mothers in a sense.

Overall this experience has made me realize just how fortunate we are. How in our darkest hour there is always light as long as we have God and his angels. Kim Wilson and everyone involved in Footprints are just that, angels. Some of these angels I have known for the better half of my life. The two angels who I could not have gotten through any of it without are my mother and husband. Without them I would not be here. They held my hand when I needed it most and let me cry when all I wanted to do is cry.

Ethan today is 7 weeks and 2 days old. He is thriving and I cry almost every time he looks up at me and smiles. He is looking forward to his first Saturday football game; he is already a HUGE Bama fan; thanks to his Uncle Nick.
I never knew that the Lord would allow us to feel this much love, this type of love. If it is only a minuscule part of the love he feels for us then we never truly realize how fortunate we are.

"I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb." Jeremiah 1:5

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

1 day old
7 weeks old at home!


Dee Collier said...

As Ethan's Grandmother I have to say that the power of prayer once again was on our side. Working at Baptist East I was blessed to have such dear and caring people praying for Ethan. Chaplain Larry Davidson stopped me in the hallway and placed his hand on my heart and prayed for Ethan as well as several employees of Baptist East added Ethan to thewir Prayer List at Church.

It was so hard to watch my son and Nicole hurt so deep inside for Ethan as we all did but they showed amazing strength and faith. I am so proud of them.

Without that power of prayer or our faith we would have been lost.

Dee Collier

LMilky said...

Nicole, I am blessed by your testimony this morning as I sit at home and wait for the homecoming of my twins that are going into their 8th week in the NICU, Baptist East. I have identified with many emotions your conveyed in your post - most of all the desire to be apart of a ministry that serves families in the NICU.

I am so glad that you and Ethan and your husband are happy at home now! Take care and keep us posted.