It amazes me that the day I wrote the last post, the little one I now call my daughter was already one week old. For her and for us, much has happened to bring us together. This is the reason for this post.
A little girl was born on September 7th to a woman who has not had an easy life. It was described to us by the doctor as “tortuous”, but as this disturbed woman is now a piece of our story, we want to tread lightly with the details that are hers. This baby girl was very premature, 26 weeks gestation. An uncertain amount of time lapsed between when she entered the world and when she received medical attention. Initially the medical staff doubted that this 1 lb, 14 oz darling would live more than a couple days; however, when she arrived with the EMT, the doctor noted that she was “amazingly alert” and “breathing spontaneously”. (Now as her mom, I love hearing these little details about her.)
The next days were fragile. The doctors noted a brain bleed in her right prefrontal cortex. She was having severe withdraw symptoms of the heroin her birthmother used while pregnant. The potential effects of these initial injuries put her into the category of a “special need adoption”, as the details of her first days of life are alarming.
On September 30th, I got an email from our referral agency: “Urgent. Baby girl born on September 7th at 26 weeks gestation. Baby girl has a level 4 brain bleed and withdrawal symptoms from heroin. If interested please email ASAP.”
I called Jon and we talked. We took the step we felt we were to take in that moment, to just reply to the email. The next evening, I was at a little music show in a brick building down town when I got a response with more information about this baby girl and about her birthmother. As the music played and I sat with my dear friend, I began feeling the reality that this wasn’t just a situation we were reading about, but that this was a real story of a person I may be permanently linked to. And I needed to take it seriously.
Jon and I began a heavy, emotional, five day process of asking for prayer, inviting others to speak into this situation, sitting with really hard questions, and trying to see if we could fully surrender to the weight of unknowns that would come with saying yes to this situation.
A number of guideposts presented to us as we spoke with people about this situation… I went to a conference where a speaker specialized in prenatal trauma and substance exposure… Jon met a number of people with grown children who had similar injuries at birth… We continued to lean in…
Every scripture we read spoke to the situation… (Rescue the weak and needy…) Every song we listened to offered peace… (You drown my fears in perfect love, you rescue me so I can stand and say ‘I am a child of God’…) Everything we ready about Jesus… (I came not for the healthy, but for the sick…) As we sought and prayed and listened, it was clear. We were to go to this girl.
The last thing to do was talk with the doctor, to make sure we had as much information as possible before packing up to go to Kansas. Again, in what could have been a conversation that brought greater fear and a desire to pull away, we experienced increased peace and a desire to GO. The doctor said of this premature baby girl, “She surprises us at every turn.”
In 24 hours we told our family and friends, packed up what we thought we would need, and headed west to Wichita, Kansas. The social worker from the hospital set us up with a room at a Ronald McDonald house right next to the hospital. At 7:15 pm on October 8th, we checked into a small room with two twin beds, dropped our stuff, and headed to the hospital.
Shortly after 8:00 pm, we washed up and were admitted into the NICU, a large room with a number of pods, each pod able to hold 7 beds for premature babies. We were directed to one on the far left, an incubator, holding this little girl with lots of dark hair. “Is this her?” I asked the nurse. She said “yes”, and I cried while Jon and I stood there, arm-in-arm, looking at our daughter for the first time. The kind nurses gave us some understanding of all the tubes and beeping and then asked if I wanted to hold her. As I put my hands under her head and legs, I could not believe how small she was, but so beautiful. “What’s her name?” the nurse asked. I started to answer, but the emotion in my throat wouldn’t let me, so I looked to Jon who spoke for us.
Eden means “delight”, which is what our daughter is for us.
Eden is where creation was made perfectly, like the God in whose image our girl was made.
Eden is where God walked and talked with humanity freely, the kind of relationship we pray she has with Jesus.
Eden is where God taught us to cultivate, as we will try to do with her and teach her to do in her own way.
Lenore means “light”. It is the middle name of my mother, and like sharing a middle name with my grandmother has always been special and inspiring to me, our desire is that she looks to her grandmothers and experiences hope and encouragement.
We adore our Eden Lenore.