It's after midnight. The house is quiet save Peter's occasional grunts and the cats chasing shadows. He's downstairs with me where I'll be on the couch for a few more hours to give Sara a chance at sleep. I've come to enjoy this time of night, when it's just the two of us. He'll open his eyes every hour or so and they'll dart like a man trying to understand where he is after waking from a coma. They're still so dark it's hard to see where his pupils begin. He'll scrunch up his tiny brow in stern disapproval of being awake, slowly close his eyes, and drift off again. It's a far different place from where we were a week ago.
Peter was delivered via C-Section 5 weeks early. We hadn't planned on either of those things. In fact, I was home sick that Thursday when Sara called after her latest checkup. Her placenta was dying. They needed to deliver soon.
The next morning I sat wrapped in surgical garb outside the delivery room, staring at the clock while they prepped Sara. I sucked on cough drops, one after the next, while my thoughts shot back and forth like missiles between two countries at war. How had this all happened so quickly? We'd been saying for months how excited we were to meet our little boy but we didn't mean like this. Not yet. Not this way. Peter wasn't due for over a month. What if he was too underdeveloped? What if something happened to Sara. I couldn't do anything about any of it. I was a passenger on a runaway train.
15 minutes later I sat by Sara's head, holding her hand and stroking her hair as the doctors made their incision. I stood and watched over the curtain as they pulled our baby from her body and held my breath as I waited to hear him cry. He took his first breath and let out a wail.
"He's here," I said to Sara. "Our boy is really here."
Then they took him away from us. He was having difficulty breathing and was going to the NICU. I saw him a few hours later in his incubator. He had a tube down his throat, an IV in his hand and a CPAP over his nose. It was hardly the introduction I'd imagined but he was here and he was beautiful.
Two days later, after running for days on adrenaline and caffeine, I was too sick to see Sara or Peter. I laid on the couch and did everything I could to distract myself from the reality of everything that was happening. My wife was in the hospital recovering from major surgery and my newborn son was in NICU. And I couldn't t do anything but steer clear.
The next day was worse.
Still confined to the couch, I was helpless when Sara told me Peter had stopped breathing. It was brief but they'd be keeping him for at least another five days. Sara was trying her best to stay calm but I could tell she was upset in a way I'd never heard before. My wife needed me. My son needed me. And I could do nothing.
Of course, Sara and Peter were in excellent hands. The doctors and the nurses particularly had been amazing, but I'll be the first to admit that I function best when I have a certain level of control. Even perceived control. And glued to my couch with my face buried in a box of tissues I had none.
Sara and I had prayed for Peter every night while she was pregnant. We'd prayed for him to grow and develop and for good health for both of them. It was almost a form of insurance, as if God would turn away from us if I didn't make my nightly prayer deposit. So I'd made sure to do my part. So why were we in such a hard place?
In his book Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning says this:
"Craving clarity, we attempt to eliminate the risk of trusting God. Fear of the unknown path stretching ahead of us destroys childlike trust in the Father's active goodness and unrestricted love."
I'd done everything I could to control the outcome of Peter's birth and had gotten precisely nowhere. He was a month early, in the NICU and Sara had needed a C-Section. All things we had prayed not to happen.
I was reminded of the fault in my prayers, of my pride in thinking I could control anything, in an old Facebook memory that popped up in the midst of all this. It was four simple words.
Trust more. Worry less.
My need for control comes from a need for security. Trust asks me to give that up. Not an easy task for someone like me, but separated from my family it was the only thing left for me to do. So I entrusted my family to our Heavenly Father and I rested.
Six days later, after nine days in the NICU, we brought Peter home. We'd stood by his bedside every night and prayed for him, trusting, before going back to the hotel for the night. Most mornings brought good news. Some revealed a step back. All I could do was trust.
It's something I know I'll need to do everyday. In the midst of so, so many dirty diapers, late nights and the day to day of being a new parent I need more than ever to take a breath and remember to trust more and worry less.