a father’s story
Last Sunday at church, we were asked what brings us joy, as joy was this week’s advent theme. Typically, I would have to ponder on questions like these, but this one was easy.
It all began on the 5th of July. At about 2 O’Clock in the afternoon, Hollyanne was admitted to Labor and Delivery for high blood pressure (frequent hospital stays had become normal for us). I was at work. Fast forward to 5 O’Clock. I got off work and head to the hospital. At this point, Hollyanne was anxiously waiting for the doctor to come by, check on her and the baby, and discharge her. Finally, the doctor came in. He told us that we would have a baby by the end of the week. This news was very unexpected for two soon-to-be new parents AND for two people who plan EVERYTHING. I remember looking at the doctor and asking if we could go home, “get prepared,” and come back later. The answer was a clear “no.” We were in disbelief. DeLanie was not supposed to arrive until the middle of August!
I left the hospital without Hollyanne, phoned close friends and family (shaking, stuttering, and probably pale as a ghost) and headed home to piece together some sort of hospital bag for Hollyanne.
This was a long day for Hollyanne, as we prepared for our precious arrival. I went to work and friends and family visited to keep Hollyanne company. The excitement and wonder were building up for the next day.
I remember waiting anxiously for DeLanie’s arrival. Taking everything in. Sitting quietly beside Hollyanne’s bed. Sending out updates. Praying continuously. The excitement, the nerves. A moment in life I could relive over and over.
Then the moment came - DeLanie was here! Joy!
Once DeLanie arrived the atmosphere quickly changed as things became tough for Hollyanne. I had two options, head to the NICU with DeLanie or stay with Hollyanne. As I held Hollyanne’s hand, prepared to stay, she looked at me with the last little bit of energy she had and told me to go. I looked around the room and I saw my own mom holding Hollyanne’s other hand, eyes closed, fervently praying out loud (tears are streaming down my face as I think about the God my mom undoubtedly knows). I trusted that Hollyanne was going to be just fine. I went with DeLanie, unsure of what exactly was going on with Hollyanne.
Once we arrived in the NICU, I held DeLanie’s hand for the first time, and she my finger, and I said a prayer for her and her mom. My two girls, so helpless at the same time. I felt the need to go back and be with Hollyanne and made it back just in time before she was rushed into surgery. Time never went by so fast in my life, 6 PM - 10 PM seemed like a mere 30 minutes (isn’t it suppose to go by slower?) While we were all waiting for Hollyanne to get out of surgery, I couldn’t keep all the emotion in any longer. Being the guy that doesn’t show much emotion, I walked to the restroom and tears started falling down my face. I had never felt God so near. On my knees on the floor in a hospital restroom (it was clean) I prayed my best prayer. At the same time, so many others were praying for us: friends, family, even people we didn’t know. I was scared, we were all scared.
What a night! To keep it short and not go into much detail, Hollyanne made it out of surgery, but required lots of care and needed lots of rest! But early excitement gave us both the energy we needed. We welcomed a few friends early in the AM, all ready to meet DeLanie. First, I wheeled Hollyanne down to meet her miracle for the first time in her coherent mind.
To give some context - Hollyanne has Type 1 Diabetes. Meaning, her pancreas does not work at all, requiring her to be completely insulin dependent. Due to this condition, Hollyanne was considered a “high risk pregnancy.” The only concern for DeLanie at birth was that they would have to help DeLanie get her pancreas working like normal.
Once we made it to the NICU, we were greeted with the best doctors and staff! Overnight they had discovered that DeLanie’s x-rays showed something abnormal. They ran a few tests and the results came back positive. DeLanie was diagnosed with NEC which stands for Necrotizing Enterocolitis. To help DeLanie’s stomach begin healing, she had to go without anything on her stomach for 7 full days. She received the nutrients she needed only by IV. Despite this, it was still a blessing that DeLanie’s pancreas was working just fine!
Hollyanne was discharged from the hospital with a good report. As we packed up to leave the hospital, it broke our hearts to leave our little girl there. We went home, unpacked, prepared things for the week as much as possible and headed back to the hospital.
As DeLanie remained in the hospital the next two weeks, we were up at the hospital early in the morning and, for me, late at night. We were blessed that DeLanie made her arrival when she did, and not any sooner. The NICU was a happy and sad place to be. It was a place of new life, hope for the future of the little ones, and a place where friendships were made.
Joy at Christmas
With all that said, we find joy in where we are today and in the trials we faced to get here. We tell our story because we’ve experienced just a small piece of the joy the world experienced over 2,000 years ago. It’s crazy how we don’t see that girl who was lying in the NICU connected to all those machines. We see a precious miracle who brings a smile to our faces. DeLanie brought us joy on that 7th day of July and continues to bring us joy each day. The joy we feel from DeLanie’s birth is just a tiny piece of the joy we experience and receive from the birth of Jesus.
May you feel that JOY today and throughout this Christmas Season.
Author: Dillon Craft (DeLanie's Daddy)