“Do you believe in miracles?”
What’s the first thing that popped in your head after reading that?
Al Michaels and the most famous call in all of sports would be my guess.
Did any of you have an answer; yes, no or otherwise?
For me, the answer is a resounding, absolute yes with 100% certainty;
because In the summer of 2006, I witnessed a miracle occur 116 days straight.
Some of you may have heard this one before; for the rest,
this is Sean’s Story and it starts with the phone call.
With the advent of caller ID, I no longer pick up the phone unless some immediate family member is calling in the middle of the night. Even that would be predicated on me hearing the ring (which is 50/50 at best). It's as true today as it was 8 years ago. With that said, we begin this tale with Rebecca in the hospital.
She was admitted on Monday after experiencing premature labor at 27 weeks. Fortunately, the doctors stopped the contractions after a few days and she was moved out of labor & delivery in preparation for her release.
I cut out of work early that Friday to rest up prior to bringing her home. My sense was Rebecca would be on bed rest until September – so this would be my last nap for a while. I closed my eyes and drifted off with Days of our Lives softly playing in the background.
The phone rang.
Totally not answering that.
Just a few more minutes…
My wife is in the hospital,
I should probably see who called…
Instead of getting the message to pick her up, I heard “you better come now...”
It was my mom with a seriousness in her voice I had never heard before.
What? This baby is due months from now.
Do I bring anything? Is this normal? Life or death?
Where are the keys?
By the time I got to the hospital,
it was clear this baby was on his way.
Three months too soon.
It’s organized chaos in Rebecca’s room. Nurses rushing in and out.
Doctors sharing instructions. Screams. Tears. Blank stares. Shock.
“Put these on! That baby is coming out now.”
This is insane. Is this real? Do the scrubs go over my clothes?
My hands can’t stop shaking.
This is big. Life changing, grown up shit.
I head outside the doors of L& D to give my mom my clothes and the update. Every time the automatic doors opened, Rebecca’s cries flooded out, drowning everyone in earshot with dread.
As I turned to leave, my mom hands me a vial of holy water from Lourdes that she kept in her purse. Her voice caught as she said “take this in case anything happens.”
We rolled into the OR together and Sean was born a few minutes later.
He weighed 2.2 pounds and was 14 inches long.
His hand was so small it could not reach around the width of my pinky finger.
Before he was whisked away, I made the sign of the cross on his forehead.
Then he was gone. Everyone was gone. We were sitting there in shock. What the hell just happened? This is not in the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. Should we be happy? When do I pass out the cigars? We stayed like that to a few hours until the doctor comes back and told us the news.
Sean needed to be transported to another hospital immediately for surgery. His esophagus wasn’t connected to this stomach – so he couldn’t swallow and a feeding tube needed to be put in; a colostomy needed to be performed and his trachea and esophagus were connected and needed to be closed.
Wait… what? Is someone writing all this down?
Is he going to die? I cannot believe our worst nightmare is coming true.
Fast forward a few hours and we’re waiting. As many are prone to do in times like these, I went to the chapel and I prayed for him to live. As I prayed, one thing kept repeating over and over in my head…
Thy will be done.
I wasn’t angry. I didn’t feel forsaken. I just wanted the strength to do whatever needed to be done for my son, for me, for our family.
Two hours later, the surgeon came out and shared the news, Sean had made it. He was strong enough to endure all 3 of the procedures and I could go and see him.
There were tubes and wires and alarms and lines and monitors everywhere – in both arms, both feet, he was intebated and so small! I was scared to death to even touch him for fear something would break – or it would hurt… The gravity of what was happening hadn’t hit me yet, but I asked if it was okay to bless him with more of the Holy Water. The nurse I was speaking to smiled and said they encourage it – the more faith and hope the better.
So that night and every night after, my wife and I would put the sign of the cross on him prior to leaving. Blessing Sean gave me an incredible sense of peace that God would be watching over him while we were away. For me, it defined a “leap of faith.” It gave me the confidence that Sean would be okay while he alone. It helped replace that empty feeling that comes from leaving your child at the hospital. It gave me the strength to comfort and care for Rebecca.
After a few months, it Sean got bigger and stronger. His esophagus was connected and he was starting to eat. We began to prepare for his eventual homecoming. Rebecca and I talked about how we could ever possible convey the enormity of our gratitude and thanks we had to the doctors, nurses, friends, family and total strangers that sustained us over the last 4 months.
If any of you have gone through something similar, you know that there are no words that are right enough; no thank you gift big enough or can mean enough to ever come close to the intention.
As we drove up the hill on October 9 to bring Sean home, the answer hit me in the chest. My voice cracked and these words came out
maybe all we have to do is love him.
It is so simple really. So easy to believe in miracles when everything turns out the way you want them to. When your baby lives. When your life goes on. When eight years later, a third child is born on Sean’s original due date.
That belief comes with a responsibility –
a duty to share the gifts of hope and the grace with others that need it.
It’s here where I fail.
It’s here where I will get back up and try again.
What about you?
Do you believe in miracles?
Do you need someone to help you believe?
Make some no15e.