Hope is a strange thing. . .I read something a few weeks ago that said that hope was not enough. . . that hoping someone would do better was pointless. . . I knew I didn’t agree, but I didn’t know why. And then this week, and last night, happened. . .
Yesterday morning, two precious babies were entrusted to my care in the ICU- one a tiny preemie, weighing less that 2 lbs that had come from the refugee camp on the border of Somalia and Kenya with no connection from her mouth to his stomach, and no opening for stool. She had not fed for 7 days when she arrived in the middle of the night asking for help. The other was a 9 month old unable to breathe. Her blood count and cells under the microscope revealed a problem even bigger than her pneumonia – a lymphoblastic leukemia and white blood cells 15x the normal limit.
The tiny one lost her heart rate minute after arriving in the ICU and we brought her back. . .she opened her eyes and kicked my hand. I fought for her blood pressure to rise, for her kidneys injured from 7 days of not enough fluid, and for her body wracked by an infection in her blood. She improved, her kidneys began to work – she moved as I touched her tiny hands. I hovered at her bedside, and with every moment she survived, I began to hope she would defy death and live.
The other precious girl required higher pressure into the lungs from our ventilator than I have given in years, her unequal pupils belied a problem with her brain in addition to her blood and her lungs, but she improved with medicine and positioning and I began to hope. She survived moments that she shouldn’t have, and I let it creep in. . .perhaps this was possible. . .
I didn’t sleep much last night, as I paced from bedside to bedside. . . reassessing, readjusting, consulting, praying for miracles. I brought cookies to the ICU nurses who hadn’t stopped for lunch as they fought by my side. These children were sick in ways that required every bit of our combined skill.
When tiny meets problems with intestines meets overwhelming infection, there is impossibility. When cancer meets probable TB pneumonia 3 days after a uvulectomy in a cultural ceremony, there is impossibility. And this morning, impossibility won. Most things looked better, but neither baby was awake, their pupils showed no recognition to my light. Despite every possible thing I could do, they had lost the battle in the most important place – their brain.
So I cried today, with two families. I felt my hope hold on until the last moment only to leave my heart drained from the battle. And tomorrow, I will return to the hospital to fight again, to wonder again, to hope that my hands will be used in this place.
Hope is the thing in our brain that drives us to fight the impossible, to have compassion in the hardest moments, and to seek miracles everyday. Hope makes me run to the hospital in the middle of the night. It is why I breathe for a baby for an hour or more when convention tells me to stop. Hope opens the door to love when we otherwise may have protected ourselves from pain.
Hope is beautiful and undeniable expectation given by the One who works impossible things.