Remembering Our First Weeks with Nathaniel
We were chosen as Nathaniel's adoptive family on June 27, 2013. We spent the month of July learning about his care and preparing to transition him to our home. We teased that we had a one month pregnancy, but in reality it was even shorter because we took a previously scheduled vacation for a week mid July.
We needed EVERYTHING. I remember feeling very overwhelmed when Rich and I walked into Babies R Us early that July. Baby-hood had changed a great deal since we had prepared for our last child fourteen years earlier; even greater changes were noted since we had prepared for our first child twenty-three years earlier. When my other children were little, I had fallen in love with soft baby yellow. I searched for yellow sleepers and yellow receiving blankets. I learned quickly that 21st century baby world is genderized pink and blue.
The process of preparing our home and supplies for a medically complex baby in three weeks was a daunting task. In many ways, it was the least of our concerns at the time. We were also trying to learn as much as we could about Nathaniel's medical conditions and how to provide daily care for an infant with a tracheostomy and g-tube. Notes from my journal reveal the newness of the job. July 17: I brought Nathaniel and a nurse home for a visit today. Nathaniel met Grandpa for the first time. Gained experience traveling with his medical needs, suctioning after vomiting, and using saline to suction. Wow! Rich gave Nathaniel a bath (a first!) and changed his g-button dressing. I haven't given a bath yet. Rich also did his first trach tube change. I helped. This is hard. God, please help us.
I was constantly going those three weeks. I attended his doctor and therapy appointments. I took a class on tracheostomy emergencies. I started to build relationships with his private duty nursing staff and therapists. I learned about his monthly home medical supply needs, agencies involved in his case, and his ongoing legal situation with Children's Division. Just keeping people's names and role in Nathaniel's life straight was confusing. I began collecting business cards and would study them at home at night trying to remember the five or six people I had met that day.
In the midst of all of it, a couple girl friends wanted to throw me a baby shower. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't untangle my brain from the intensity of the moment to envision myself in the middle of a room of women surrounded by blue wrappings and tissue paper. I asked for a night of prayer instead. I wanted to open our home so friends (women, men and children) could stop by for food, to learn more about Nathaniel, and to encourage us. But most of all, I wanted people to gather and pray. For him and for our new journey. My friends made it happen.
For four hours that night, Nathaniel's new nursery was a place of constant worship and prayer. People would step into the room to join the prayer circle; others who had been praying for awhile would step out. I remember walking a friend to her car and looking back at the house. The faded denim Roman shades made years earlier for an older brother, and that I did not have time to replace now were still raised. Light from the room filled the darkening yard and night just beyond the windows. Seven people were standing in the room with their heads bowed. They didn't know each other; they were gathered from different aspects of our lives. Yet they were united in prayer for a little boy and his new family. I came inside and joined them. My friend, Nikki, was praying for the actual room at that moment. "Lord, be here every day. Help the Rankins meet Nathaniel's needs here in this room at every moment. When they are scared and confused, calm them. Use their hands and willing hearts to continue to care for Nathaniel as you have done since the moment he was born." Days later when we had our first night respiratory emergency and even now two years later, I see God faithfully answering those prayers. That is the deepest truth I have learned in two years: God is faithful to His promise to meet the needs of the orphan. If this story seems to be about our family, I have mistold it. It is about God. We are just privileged to have a front row seat to the way He works in one little boy's life and in the world today.
The following are links to different blog posts I have written in the past to introduce Nathaniel and explain our first few weeks together:
Introducing Nathaniel (Photos taken at one year of age, posted the day our adoption was finalized in Feb 2014)
Loved Well (Nathaniel lived with a foster family for seven months prior to coming home)
Meeting Nathaniel (Photos of the first day we met Nathaniel)
Day One: Our Adopted Son's Birth Story
Day One: Our Baby's First Night Home
Day Two: Admitted to the Hospital
Day Three: A Plan for the Weekend
Day Six: A New Hospital
Day Seven: Starting Over
Day Thirteen: Sitting in the Hot Seat
Day Fifteen: Back to Children's Hospital
Day Twenty-Three: Welcome Home Again