Thursday, February 17, 2011
As I lie in bed tonight, I can hear my little man Ben coughing. It's a congested asthma like cough...the kind I can't stand. It's not that I can't stand the sound of it, as in "I'm annoyed." It's that I can't stand what it means and what it represents. It means my little man, who can be so tough in one moment, is now under some microscopic attack...again. He used to cough like this a lot, as nearly every little suggestion of a cold went right to his lungs. This was his lot from the get-go of life.
Ben was born prematurely and had hyaline membrane disease. Hyaline membrane disease happens in premature babies when there is a lack of surfactant in the lungs, causing the alveoli in the lungs to close on themselves. As a result, he has had a history of lung health issues, primarily presenting like asthma. In fact, while we were in South Africa adopting Ben, we spent a few days at the MD and physiotherapists office doing nebulizer treatments and chest/respitory therapy. While it was not at all what we anticipated or desired, it was somehow just the way it was meant to be. Looking back, there was something special about needing to care for our son this way as soon as he became a part of our family - absolute dependence on all of our parts. I don't think I would have chosen that situation - no one wants to see their little one so sick and we sure would have liked to have spent that time in S.A. in other ways. We dreaded the flight home, wondering how his little infected ears and lungs would manage the pressure changes. But, God was good and the flights were fine.
Since those moments in an office full of contradictions - a white American family in a predominately black South Africa, with our beautiful but sickly Khosa baby, in an orthodox Jewish physiotherapists office - we have had many sleepless nights, a few visits to the ER, several urgent MD visits, and loads of cuddles all related to these microscopic attacks on the lungs. I've run the gamut of feelings on this one, ranging from frustration, sadness, and loss to thankfulness. The frustration, sadness, and loss came in light of my guy needing to deal with sickness and the early rough stuff of life. The thankfulness in response to the fighter that he is, in part because of his lungs, the distance he has come, and the opportunities that illness allows. When I look at it all with the right view - away from myself - the picture of grace and provision is much clearer. When I look at it through my more selfish frame, the loss seems greater.
I have not heard a cough for several minutes now. Maybe he is done for the night. Maybe not. No matter what, I am thrilled that these moments of holding my breath waiting for the next cough to come grow further and further apart the older Ben gets. His lungs are growing up and growing stronger. He is growing up...growing stronger. God's not nearly finished with Ben yet. That brings me loads of joy... perhaps even more joy than knowing He's not finished with me yet either.