Monday, January 19, 2015

in over my head

So much. 

So much to share.

So much I want to remember.

So very much to be grateful for.

So much that deserves to be part of this story.

Today was the day we were supposed to take Mary-Kate to Riley for open heart surgery. The day her congenital heart defect would be repaired.  The day that would truly be the beginning of her physical healing. Plans changed.  And, instead, today became the day I would begin to share in detail what has transpired since our arrival home from China with our baby girl.

I've written so many blog posts in my head that I could have written a book by now.  As much as I drag my feet in sharing the intimate details of this story, I know they are exactly why it needs to be told.  And, really, our God writes with purpose in every life. 

As for me and my story, this story, I'm in a little over my head.  And to do this moment in the story justice, I need to fast forward a little.  To the right now. I feel like I'm treading water, for sure.  And somebody throw me a floatie, would ya?  I mean, I'm really not a fan of deep water.  And by "not a fan", I mean it terrifies me.  I think I've shared before that I don't even like to get my hair wet.   Park me on the beach under a palm tree, okay?  I know I'm talking real water here, not figurative, but the irony is not lost on me.

You would have thought that even the notion of adopting another child at "my age" would have been the proverbial deep end, right?   That was the wading pool, folks. Somewhere along the way, as we resisted cultural norms, ignored financial obstacles and signed on for a "special needs" adoption, the venue changed.  We weren't just in shallow waters, we were leaving the shore.  

Late in 2013, Hillsong released an amazing song.  Oceans became wildly popular.  It's one of those songs you love to turn up loud in the car.  While I know it has a broader faith reference, I've often thought about how it so vividly describes this adoption experience. 

"Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders."

"Wherever you may call me."

"Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander."

"My faith would be made stronger."

Good stuff.  I mean, this is what we hope to live out in this life, right?

Back to this week.  I'm sure you're waiting for me to get to the point. I'm getting there.

If you've followed along on MK's facebook page, you already know she has congenital heart disease and that she's in need of surgery to repair her heart.  We were told a few days after arriving home with her that it was time for her repair. That her shunt was working overtime to provide pulmonary flow.  In fact, there was considerable concern that her heart had been compensating with "collateral vessels" and that the pulmonary artery might not be adequate for a repair.  Some scary scenarios were discussed, but we   wouldn't know anything for sure until her heart cath.

Before we could get in for the cath, we found ourselves with a very sick baby with a very low oxygen saturation level.  On top of a pesky recurring ear infection, a mild case of viral pneumonia affected her sat level so significantly that she needed to be hospitalized and on monitored oxygen.  At one point, we were even introduced to the CICU team.  Thankfully, our girl is a tough little fighter.  She went from barely "sat-ing" in the 80s on three liters of pure oxygen to room air in the four days we were there.  We learned a lot about her baseline oxygen level, mostly that she functions amazingly well on what most of us would consider ridiculously low.

Her heart cath took place on December 18, and it was blessedly routine. In fact, we didn't even make it to the step-down unit but were sent straight home late in the day! We left, however, with the doctor's words ringing in our ears...that her shunt had seen its better days and that due to the virtually nonexistent flow through her pulmonary artery, should the shunt fail, she would die.  And that we should move her surgery up to the soonest possible date.  

We rescheduled with the cardiothoracic surgery team for January 19 and made an appointment with the dental clinic at Riley for the required clearance for open-heart surgery. Unfortunately, our dental appointment last Monday did not go as anticipated.  What we discovered was that our baby girl has a mouth full of decay, enough so that her heart surgery was pushed back once again to February.  Enough so that she will need to undergo general anesthesia for some pretty major dental work this week. Enough so that almost half of her baby teeth, including all four of her bottom front teeth, will need to be extracted and the other half will be crowned.  

One curious happy baby before the masks and blue gloves appeared.

Here's where, surprisingly, the water starts to get deep.  As I'm writing, I'm wondering why I didn't start to feel the ground disappearing under my feet.  This appointment was the one appointment I'd ventured to on my own, and I know now it was by His design.  I wrapped my baby girl up tightly in a blanket and stumbled back through the bitter cold to the van.  So many things were running through my head.


"I am a terrible mother.  Why wasn't I on this dental thing? How is this a surprise to me that she has so much decay in her mouth?  What if something happens to her before she gets her heart surgery? What kind of pain has this baby been in all this time? Her baby teeth.  Her sweet little baby teeth that we didn't get to celebrate.  No more toothy little smiles.  No bottom teeth till she's SIX."

As soon as I had her buckled up and climbed into my seat, I lost it.  I backed out with the tears rolling and sat in the long line to get out of the parking garage, annoyed with myself for being so emotional, distracting myself by scrolling through my Facebook feed.  

I rarely click on video links, especially while on the go, but it caught my eye.  As I paid my parking and pulled out onto the road, I tuned in to the lyrics of this song.  There are just times when you know God's waiting for you.  Waiting with exactly the words you need to hear.

It wasn't until I got to the last words of the song that I knew why I was listening and I knew why I was where I was with my emotions.  That part about being "beautifully in over my head".  I actually laughed out loud through my tears. There couldn't be a better way to describe how I'm feeling right now. 

The whole song, though.  

Being full but not satisfied.  
Being thirsty but not quenched.
Tearing down boxes I've put God in.
Losing control but feeling FREE.
Right where He wants me to be.

And this.

Whether I sink or whether I swim, I'm beautifully in over my head.

I just.  I thought I was as prepared as I could be for this heart surgery that was to occur today.  I knew that I knew that I knew that I was supposed to love THIS baby through THIS surgery.  That she is MY daughter.  That HE would cover it all.  And this dental appointment is what did me in??  What the what??

So what does all of this mean? It's taken me a few days to think it through.  Maybe I'm sinking a little, but I'll eventually swim. It's hard.  Hard to be in this place right now.  I really AM in over my head.  But please know that it isn't as much literally and physically being in over my head as emotionally and spiritually.  I haven't been more sure of where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing in YEARS.  Some days I'm treading in deep water - and some days my head definitely slips beneath the surface - but I'm just doing it one day at a time and doing it with my whole heart. 

Oh, but here's the best part about being in over my head.  Who's really the One throwing me the floatie? Only through Him am I staying afloat.  That truly free place of trusting Him to be the One in control.  And not just of what happens to Mary-Kate, but what happens in my heart.  

This loving orphans, whether we are able to be a family to them or not, it comes with an intangible price. We're wrecked on the inside, and we're never the same.  But the freedom from comes with the full abandonment of what this world tells us is right and acceptable and DO-ABLE.  True freedom is found in the tide the carries us out into the deep unknown, to the things that we can only do through the Father's strength and power.  

So here's to a little more swimming and a little less sinking.

Either way, I'll be okay out here, even if I am in over my head.

Here's the video. Five minutes you won't regret.