Written By: Marnie Pouget
Wil’s story begins about 5 years prior to his birth. About a year after our 4th child was born, I had a dream. I don’t put tons of stock into my dreams but this was different. It was like God spoke to me. I woke with a deep knowing.
I wish I could explain it better but that is what it was. The message was clear – I was going to have another child and I was going to be older. I didn’t know what “older” meant.
Since we had wanted our children 2-3 years apart and we wanted to be “done” by the time I was 40, I assumed that older was something different than our “plans”. I prayed about this message, not quite trusting my feelings or my thoughts, but the “knowing” became stronger….. somehow. I figured I should probably share this with my husband. So I told him “God told me we are going to have another baby and I am going to be older. So, don’t be surprised if I turn 50 and announce that I am pregnant.” He responded, “I hope you are not going to be 50!” I agreed but since I didn’t know what “older” meant, I couldn’t assume.
In the years that followed, we were regularly asked, “Are you done [having children]? My husband would inevitably respond “We are DONE!” and I would say “I don’t know. God told me we were going to have another child and I would be older. I don’t know what that means.”This became a mantra whenever the question was posed or the topic was discussed.
Until one day. In December 2010, out of the blue, my husband quietly shared “ya know, if God gave us another baby, we’d be perfectly fine.” Uh oh. There it was. Confirmation. I was going to have another baby. I knew and yet when it happened so quickly I stayed in denial for a number of weeks. When I finally embraced the circumstance, we were excited. All of us. (Well except for our eldest. For him this was nothing new – he had three younger siblings so this was kind of the “same old, same old”.)
I began to plan a wonderful birth. A home birth surrounded by my friends and family….. and a full snack table….. more of a birth….. “party”. Finishing my child bearing with a bang! On September 22nd, I met with my midwife for a checkup. She expressed some concern that I was measuring larger than normal and asked me to have an ultrasound done the next morning, “just to be sure”. The ultrasound technician assured us that we were growing a happy, healthy baby. No reason to be concerned. I left that appointment and headed on my way to a weekend Women’s Retreat …The speaker was Lisa Van Ryn. The message that Saturday night led us to a time of reflection on what you are holding back from God.
Acknowledged by writing it on a paper. A willingness to surrender.
Symbolized by throwing the paper in a campfire outside of the chapel. I remember being the last one at chapel that night. I knew that I was holding tightly to MY birth plans and MY baby but it took me time to own it by writing it down. In haste, I scribbled these words. The birth and this baby. I wrote them down but I wasn’t going to throw them in the fire. I made my way outside the chapel and to the fire, to at least make a semblance of participation.
I stared in the fire as I turned the paper over in my pocket. A dear friend gently let me know she was waiting for me and without further thought I pulled out the paper and threw it into the fire. I didn’t turn back. I returned to work Monday feeling tired but I was shocked awake to my water breaking in the early Tuesday morning hours.
Five weeks early. No home birth. My plans quickly flew out the window. We headed to the hospital. We arrived before 8 in the morning. Wil made his entrance an hour and a half later, into a room full of witnesses. He was quickly checked by the NICU team and I was allowed to hold him briefly and after a quick kiss, he was whisked to the NICU. I wouldn’t see him again until after 6 that evening. When I was finally able to see him, I was told he was a very sick baby. I was told I could not hold him. I couldn’t nurse him. I could touch his hand but I could not rub. He needed darkness and quiet. No stimulation. They even moved every other baby out of his pod area for the first few days so he was isolated as much as possible.
I quietly watched and prayed for this little man. He was the largest baby in the NICU at 8lbs. 4oz. I had a hard time comprehending how sick he was because, aside from the monitors and tubes everywhere, he looked like a normal, healthy new born. It wasn’t until later that week that I was told that he had PPHN . PPHN is a life threatening disease that affects about 1 in 500-1500 babies each year. My simplified explanation is this: When a child is in the womb, the heart beats and the blood flows away from the lungs. The blood is oxygenated by the mom and circulated through the umbilical cord. During birth there is a transition that occurs. The heart switches to sending the blood towards the lungs to get oxygenated.
Wil’s heart didn’t switch. I spent my days at the hospital and came home to sleep as there was no where I could stay in the hospital. I frantically read scripture searching for a life verse for Wil, as I had chosen a verse for all of my other children.
A few days in, while eating lunch, I found it! I returned to his bedside elated. His nurse that day noticed the change in my demeanour and asked. I explained that I had found HIS verse. She asked me to share, so I did:
“I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Wow. She responded that is a very powerful verse. She then suggested that I print the verse and tape it to his isolette. She then offered to join me in praying for Wil, his life verse, each time she was his nurse. We prayed and had many people praying for Wil.
One day, a couple of weeks later, I was feeling sorry for myself and was very teary. This same nurse approached me to see how I was doing. I bemoaned the story of throwing the paper in the fire. I said “Maybe if I hadn’t surrendered then we wouldn’t be here!” She gently confronted me and said “I don’t think that’s how it works but when are you going to start?” I looked at her quizzically and she said “You are here but you are fighting being here. You say you’ve surrendered your birth and your baby but you are still holding on tight. When are you really going to let go?”
In speaking with others who had experience with PPHN, I learned that 20 years ago, most babies with PPHN died soon after birth and those that didn’t experienced severe disabilities from a lack of oxygen. I needed to understand that babies still die of PPHN. Babies still have disabilities from the effects of PPHN or the high oxygen treatment used to combat this disease. Babies with PPHN can be hospitalized for months. I needed to surrender to whatever was to come. We continued to pray.
I prayed over him and when he no longer required no stimulation, I would sing to him. This song became a regular anthem sung quietly by his bedside. With all of my children, their life verse and “song” were focused on who God was calling them to be and how they were to live. With Wil, I felt very strongly that his life was to bring praise to God. A life of worship. This song, was the prayer of my heart for my son.
During our time in the NICU I watched Wil’s health improve and then he would fall back a bit. We battled with weaning him off of high levels of oxygen and feeding. He struggled to gain weight. However, we continued to be encouraged when the neonatologist asked “Are you praying? You must be praying”. I told him we had a lot of people praying. He said “I can tell, he shouldn’t be getting better as quickly as he is. It is a miracle how fast he is healing.”
Having resigned ourselves to the long haul, we were surprised to be pulled into a private meeting with another of the neonatologist’s who told us that Wil was ready to leave. He still had feeding issues and his progress would be followed until he turned 5 years of age. We were reminded that his lungs would take until his 10th or 11th year to fully heal, and so we were to remain under the care of one of the doctors from the NICU team, that understood his heath history. We were told to expect Wil to have breathing issues when he had a cold.
After 28 days in the NICU, we were able to bring our little man home. We battled with weaning him off of high levels of oxygen and we struggled to get him feeding without a tube, we slowly overcame even that issue. We have been faithful in all of the follow up care to ensure that Wil receives care for any issues that may arise. At his 3 year checkup the NICU released him from further care. He had surpassed his milestones. At his regular checkups with his pediatrician, the neonatologist that has been with Wil from the very beginning, we are reminded of how far he has come from his beginnings as a very sick little baby. The appointment always ends with the doctor reminding us that Wil is a miracle.
There is so much more that I would love to tell you. But I will save that for another day. Be blessed dear friend.
Ever since her teenaged years, Marnie has had a desire to be a positive influence in the lives young women. Discipleship is an important aspect of the Great Commission that is often overlooked. There were women throughout Marnie’s life that took time to invest in her spiritual growth, teaching and encouraging her. She now follows their example by intentionally investing in the lives of other young women.