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A Christmas Story

Remember to place your burdens at His feet and lean on Him for strength and patience throughout your journey. You are never alone.



My Christmas Baby Girl

Jasper peered down at his beautiful baby girl. A Christmas miracle who survived an emergency caesarean birth after they crashed on the icy road coming home from his parent’s home where they had spent Christmas morning. His wife Julie was sleeping soundly in the hospital bed. White bandages wrapped her head where she had to have her skull drilled into so that pressure could be released. Bruises and swelling made her eyes and nose blur into one black and blue mass. Doctors said they would not know the extent of her brain damage until she woke up. Jasper silently berated himself for not getting the passenger airbag fixed when the alert light came on two weeks ago. He had let excuse after excuse get in his way, and now his wife and baby girl where in the hospital. When the car skidded off the road and crashed into the tree, Julie’s body lurched forward hard. She had loosened her seatbelt because it was cutting into her swollen belly, so when the accident happened, the seatbelt offered little protection. Her head slammed into the dashboard causing a massive haemorrhage and breaking her nose. When the ambulance arrived, Julie was unconscious, and the baby was in distress. Jasper somehow came out unscathed with only minor scrapes and bruising from his seatbelt and airbag. Once they arrived at the hospital, the medical staff immediately took Julie back for the c-section and brain haemorrhage. Now here we are five hours later spending the last few hours of Christmas in this sterile hospital room.


Destiny    


I named her Destiny. Jules would approve, I think. The hospital is discharging Destiny five days after her dynamic entry into the world. I’m not ready! How am I supposed to care for this tiny, beautiful angel by myself? Every time I touch her, I think I will break those tiny little bones. What do I even know about babies and little girls? Jules is the one who knows what to do! This just feels wrong…


Jasper holds Destiny close as he leans over the hospital bed to kiss Jules’s cheek. Don’t worry about us, Jules. You rest and get better. I’ll take care of our Christmas miracle until you can be at home with us. Destiny begins to squirm in his arms, and Jasper knows he can’t procrastinate any longer. Placing Destiny in her carrier, Jasper gazes upon his wife dreading leaving her behind but knowing he had no choice.


Over the next six weeks, Jasper juggled caring for their newborn, sorting through the growing stack of medical bills, and visiting his wife daily with Destiny in tow. All on about 4 hours of sleep each night. His parents helped when they could, but with his dad’s own health issues, they were not able to offer much help. Jules’s parents had died in a tragic accident three years earlier, and with no siblings for either Jasper or Jules, it all fell on Jasper’s shoulders. However, Jasper never complained because God had blessed him with Destiny and because Jules was staying in stable condition. She had not woken from the accident, but doctors were optimistic. She was breathing on her own, and her vital signs were good. It was a waiting game now.


Jasper had finally found a nanny he trusted with Destiny allowing him to return to work. After a few weeks of working, unfortunately, Jasper’s visits to see Jules had dwindled to twice a week. Between work and caring for Destiny, there just wasn’t enough hours in the day to keep seeing Jules every day. And, if he was being honest with himself, Jasper had begun to dread the visits. Jules was not improving. She wasn’t getting worse, but she still had not opened her eyes. Sitting in the silent hospital room watching his wife lay there not responding to him or Destiny was breaking Jasper’s heart more and more with every visit.


While in a meeting, the hospital had called, and Jasper sent them to voicemail. He wasn’t in the mood to talk about the increasing bill he owed or about how Jules was not showing signs of waking. He would listen to the message later. Around 6pm, Jasper walked through his front door to be greeted with Destiny making bubbling noises while sitting in her swing. Instantly, the stress rolled off Jasper’s shoulders. Destiny always had that effect on him. Brenda, the nanny, left around 6:30, and Jasper spent the next two hours feeding, bathing, playing, and putting Destiny to bed. It wasn’t until he settled in on the coach to watch the ten o’clock news that Jasper remembered the call from the hospital.




Faith


I’ve been so shellfish, only thinking about how Jules has left me to deal with everything. I pushed back my visits. I ignored calls from the hospital. I’ve been simmering in my resentment and anger, but last night was a wake-up call. When I listened to the message from the hospital, I could hear the urgency in the nurse’s voice. They needed me to come to the hospital immediately. Something had happened with Jules. By the time I secured a sitter for Destiny, it was after midnight when I arrived at the hospital. Jules was no longer in her room. She had been moved to the ICU. The nurses couldn’t tell me much since it was the night shift and doctors wouldn’t be back to speak with me until the morning rounds. I held Jules’s cold hands while looking at the new wires monitoring her vital signs and the ventilator breathing for her. Please God, I know I have not reached out to You for a long time now, but please give Jules the strength to overcome her struggles. Please don’t let Destiny not know the feel of her mother’s hugs, laughs, and love. I’m giving it to You, God.


The next morning, I feel the gentle shake of my shoulder when the doctor says my name to wake me up from where I had fallen asleep holding Jules’s hand with my head resting on the side of the bed. The doctor is explaining something, but my brain is still in a sleep fog. After a few seconds, I shake my head and ask the doctor to start over. Jules had a stroke yesterday, and they had to take her back into surgery to locate and dissolve the brain clot. She is stable again, but they wanted to help her body to rest and recover which is why she is on the ventilator. If she continued to improve, they would remove the ventilator and transfer her back to a regular bed.

 

Jasper kissed his wife’s forehead and told her he was sorry that he had not been here. He would be better. He would do better. As he begins to release Jules’s hand, he feels a tiny squeeze that was so light he thought he imagined it. There was no other reaction or movement from Jules, so Jasper chalked it up to wishful thinking on his part and headed home relieve the sitter. He already told his boss what had happened and that he wouldn’t be back to work until Monday. He needed time with Destiny and his wife.

Children were not allowed in the ICU, so Jasper left Destiny with her nanny a few hours each day to go sit with Jules. Finally, on Friday, the doctors decided Jules was well enough to be removed from the ventilator. If she remained stable through the night, they would transfer her to a regular room where Destiny could come visit.

 

Sunday morning, Jasper buckled Destiny into her car seat and started the trip to the hospital. Along the way, he came upon their church which he had not attended since the accident. Feeling a strong pull in his chest, Jasper turned his car into the parking lot. He sat there for a few minutes contemplating what to do when the pastor spotted him from the doorway where he was greeting the congregation. He raised his hand as a gesture welcoming Jasper in. Taking a deep breathe, Jasper stepped out of his car and gathered Destiny up to head inside. A well-meaning lady offered to take Destiny to the nursery, but Jasper wanted. . . needed her with him. He took a seat in the last pew and continued to feel the pull in his chest. Throughout the sermon, Jasper felt the pastor was speaking directly to him. Reminding him that he was not alone. God is always with him. He just needs to let go and have faith. At the end of the service, everyone stood for the final prayer. Jasper heard the pastor speaking, but he began his own prayer. God, I have turned away from You because I was angry. Angry that You let Jules get hurt, and angry because I felt so alone. But, God, I realize now that is when I should have turned toward You. I should have given my struggles to You. Now I am. I know that I cannot control what will happen, but I will have faith that You have a plan. Thank you, God, for being here. Amen.

 

When he entered Jules’s hospital room with Destiny in tow, Jasper felt a lightness in his heart that had not been there for so long. He smiled down at Jules and let her know Destiny was with him. Destiny, being the vibrant baby girl she always is, begins babbling baby talk, and much to Jasper’s surprise, Destiny says “Mama” while she reaches towards Jules’s face. As her tender fingers stroke her mom’s cheek, a single tear rolls down Jules’s face.

 

Patience


Three weeks. Three weeks since Jules seemed to respond to Destiny’s voice and touch. Three weeks of waiting and analysing every twitch, eye movement, and whimper. The doctors are optimistic because there have been no more complications. Brain scans are normal, and Jules is responding to physical stimuli. Even her hair has begun to grow back where they shaved it for surgery. Patience, I need to remember to have patience.

 

Exhausted, Jasper laid his head on Jules’s bed while Destiny napped in her carrier. It had been a long week with work, Destiny’s shots and check-up, coming to visit Jules multiple times. . . Jasper just needed to rest his eyes. God, thank you for carrying us this far. I’m struggling again, but I am trying to keep my faith and my patience.

 

Something is rubbing his head. Jasper drags his mind awake to the sounds of Destiny playing in her carrier and something rubbing his head. Groggily, his raises up and turns towards Jules who weakly whispers, “There you are.”

 



Coming Back


There is a black void in my memory when I try to think about what happened on Christmas Day and the months following. I remember being pregnant… the feel of a life pushing and twisting inside me… the feeling of anticipation and fear combined. I remember curling up with Jasper our couch the night before as we watched Die Hard (Jasper’s favorite Christmas movie), and us talking about the last few items we needed before the baby came. Then, that is it. Jasper has filled in the gaps, but it feels like he is telling me someone else’s story. I know he is telling me the truth. I don’t remember giving birth, yet my stomach is flat, and Destiny is here. I don’t remember getting in an accident, yet I have a tender scar where my head was shaved, and I am in a hospital. So many months just lost.

 

The earliest moment I can remember is hearing someone praying for strength. The voice sounded vaguely familiar, and I tried grasping onto it only to have it slip away as my mind went dark. Then, I remember hearing different people talking and someone squeezing my hand. The voice of an angel whispered “Mama” as I felt softness brush my face. Frustrated and panicked, I fought to focus and respond, but my mind kept shutting down.

 

Everything changed a few days ago, however, when I heard the same voice once again praying but this time for patience. Something just clicked into place. I knew that deep, soothing voice. It was Jasper! His voice began to fade again, but this time I refused to lose him again. Mustering all my strength, I pried my eyes open just a sliver and reached for the mound of hair I knew so well, He lifted his head and turned towards me. Locking eyes, I felt a sense of peace that I had finally found my way back, and I whispered with a sore and grainy throat, “There you are.”

 

I’m physically weak from not using my muscles for months. Doctors tell me it is normal, but I am so frustrated having to depend on everyone for my basic needs. I just want to go home to start living! Jasper tries to help me as much as he can. However, I find myself pushing him away because of my personal torments. Then, there is Destiny. Our beautiful, precious Christmas miracle. My heart reaches for her, but I think she feels my anxiousness because when Jasper places her in my arms, Destiny instantly begins crying so much so that I tell Jasper to take her back. What is wrong? Will I ever feel comfortable as her mother? Will she?

 

I am being transferred to a long-term rehabilitation facility tomorrow because the doctors have cleared me medically. Now, I must relearn how to care for myself. That is not my biggest concern though. All I worry about is whether or not I will be able to find my way back to my family after such a long gap. Can Jasper and I overcome our disconnect before it is too late? Will I have the patience and strength that Jasper prayed for?  


Not Alone


Every muscle hurts! Trey, my physical therapist, must have gone to school to learn how to torture his patients. He always pushes me to do more… ten more steps, ten more arm curls, ten more everything! I know he is driving me hard so that I can leave this place and return to my family, but I am not ready. If I go home, I must face Jasper’s worried eyes. If I go home, everyone will see that Destiny hates me. Right now, I have a barrier. When Destiny gets fussy with me, I can say I am tired and need to rest. Then, Jasper takes his worry filled eyes and our girl home, leaving me to my solitude and fears.

 

Pastor Rick from our church has been coming to visit me every Thursday over the last month. He lets me know that my church family is praying for my recovery and for my family. Each visit he offers comforting advice, but this visit, it was like he knew something more is weighing on me. He left over two hours ago, but his words keep repeating over and over in my head, “You are not alone. Trust in Him to carry your burdens. Only then will you truly heal.”

 

Time for another gruelling therapy session.  My mind and body don’t want to participate. Trey is standing close behind me as I grip the rails on either side for support. Today, he wants me to let go of the rails to try taking a few steps on my own even though I have told him that I don’t think I can. He keeps pushing me until I cave and let go. My fingers ache from squeezing so tightly. I stand there looking down at my feet willing them to move, but they don’t cooperate. My body begins to shake, and my knees buckle. Trey grabs my safety belt right before I hit the floor. I start screaming that I told you I wasn’t ready. That he is pushing me too hard too fast. Trey gets me in my wheelchair and shakes his head. For the rest of my session, I refuse to talk or participate. When Trey returns me to my room, he tells me that there is nothing physically keeping me from walking and until I open my mind and want to get better, I will be trapped here.

 

Jasper and Destiny came for a visit this evening, but I couldn’t handle the sense of failure I feel. Jasper tried to engage me in conversation and tried to get me to read to Destiny; however, he threw his hands up in frustration when I continued to ignore the both of them. As he walked out of the room with Destiny in his arms, Jasper said in an exhausted voice, “Jules, Destiny and I want you to come home. We love you and miss you, but you have to want it too.”

 

Laying in bed, my tears begin to flow. I think back to what Pastor Rick, Trey, and Jasper have said. God, I want to find the strength and courage to find my way home, but I am burdened by my guilt. Guilt for pushing Jasper away. Guilt for not being the mother Destiny deserves. I fear that when I go home, I will fail both of them. Growing up, my parents always told me to lean on You through hard times and good times because I am never alone and because You can lead me through anything. I’ve felt so alone through this journey, and I can’t keep drowning like this. So, God, I am giving my burdens to You. I am placing my fears and doubts at Your feet. Please help me be strong enough to be the person my family needs and You want me to be. Thank You for never leaving me alone.

 

At Monday’s therapy session, Trey tells me to let go of the rail and walk. I take a deep breathe as I whisper, “Here I go God. I’m trusting You to hold me up.”

 

Three weeks later, I am able to walk with only the assistance of a cane. I can dress and feed myself, but the greatest achievement is that I can hold sweet Destiny in my arms without the fear of dropping her. Tomorrow, I am going home to my husband and daughter. Although I feel anxious about the future, the joy, excitement, and peace radiating through me greatly overshadows my trepidation.

 

I cannot believe tomorrow will be one year since our accident. So much has changed since I returned home months ago. Jasper and I have had our challenges, but we faced them together as we continued growing our faith. My fear about not bonding with Destiny and not being the mother she needed was unfounded. She has embraced me completely, and my heart surges with love and pride whenever I think of our Christmas miracle. Tomorrow for Christmas Day and for Destiny’s birthday, Jasper’s parents are coming to our home. We decided that for the next few years, we would not be traveling on Christmas Day. We survived our crash, and we have grown closer as a family, but we want to spend Christmas Day and Destiny’s birthday in the safety of our home.

 

Yes, tomorrow is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus as well as the birth of our Christmas miracle. However, we have one more birth to celebrate that no one knows about but me. As I stare into my bathroom mirror, my hand rests gently on the tiny bump only I can see, and I say with a secret grin, “There you are.”

 

 

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Beautiful

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