(I journaled this when Lexi was just a few months old and still in her incubator)
Dear Lexi, I heard you cry for the very first time yesterday. . .I laughed for the first time in a very, very long time. You see, your birth was so premature that your lungs hadn’t developed fully. When you were born, you weren’t able to cry. To be blunt, you couldn’t even breathe — the doctors and nurses wouldn’t even let your mother and I touch you —they rushed you off to resuscitate you. What’s more, your body was so tiny when you were born that you needed lots of help breathing. So, you had a respirator tube in your mouth, a feeding tube in your nose and occasionally an IV in your navel. And because you had a case of bilirubin, your eyes were often blindfolded so the fluorescent lights in your incubator would not harm them. So, when I walked up to your incubator and saw that your respirator tubes were gone, I rejoiced! All of a sudden I heard a sweet, faint little song — only to discover that it was your sweet, faint little voice crying.
You squirmed, frowned, and waved your tiny fists as you cried. And although you were clearly upset about something, I realized that you were several weeks old, but, your daddy had never heard your voice. So I laughed and laughed and laughed! That was nearly two months ago. Today, I heard you laugh for the very first time. It made me cry. You see, there were so many obstacles to your healthy birth and development: lack of oxygen in the womb; low birth weight which could’ve led to brain damage; retina detachment which could’ve led to blindness; a breathing disorder which could’ve led to cardiac arrest, etc. Your little heel was poked for blood on a daily basis. Your slowly developing lungs were suctioned for mucous almost hourly. Your eyelids were pried open so that the ophthalmologist could take a peek behind you eyeballs so as to make sure that further damage to your retinas wouldn’t occur. And a feeding tube was threaded through your nose into your stomach every 4-5 days.
I wondered how all the medical procedures, along with not being able to hold you, rock you, or touch you for several weeks — months even —would affect you. But today you looked beyond all of your struggles and you saw some bright light at the end of a very long tunnel and you experienced joy. You had endured the pokes and prods of countless specialists and nurses, brain scans, biopsies, transfusions, physical and occupational therapy, inoculations with dosages so large that it was administered via an IV tube and lasted several hours. Notwithstanding, you and your Heavenly Father decided that none of those things were strong enough to break your mighty spirit. And in order to openly demonstrate your middle name, Victorias, and your triumph over the incubator, you laughed today — for the very first time. Your entire little body jiggled like Jell-O as you giggled out loud. And I cried and cried and cried.
Happy Sweet Sixteenth Birthday, precious girl! Your life is meant to be extraordinary because every birth is a bit of a miracle. You have overcome great obstacles already — teach others to live victoriously and to find their God-given purposes. You still inspire your mom and me and cause us to ask what we did to be so blessed with someone like you! Thank you for fighting for life. In the process, you saved mine as well.
Dr. Gee is the senior pastor of Fountain of Life Church and the president/founder of The Nehemiah Corporation. You can find out more about Dr. Alex Gee at www.alexgee.com or follow him on Twitter at @alexgeejr.