This is your baby, he’s absolutely tiny, but he’s in the best of hands.
The Friends of Kijabe podcast was created to share real voices of Kijabe Hospital heroes, speaking about faith, life and work at Kijabe.
Often these heroes are staff, but if ever there is a picture of a true hero, it’s a NICU mom like Doreen, walking the long hard road of trust and faith.
I want to share a conversation I recently had with a remarkable mom, Doreen, who gave birth to a baby at 26 weeks gestation at Kijabe. After 77 days in the Kijabe NICU, Gabriel was able to go home!
Doreen – Gabriel was born at 1040 grams, but he dropped weight to 840 in the following days. So we began our climb from 840.
He was tiny then, I didn’t know where to touch or hold. His current weight is 2350 grams as of this morning.
David – When he was little and you were scared to touch and scared to hold, what did the doctors and nurses advise you at that time?
Doreen – I stretched out my hand and thought, where? But they were encouraging, this is your baby, he is absolutely tiny, but he’s in the best of hands.
David – What would you say to a mom who is in the situation you were in several months ago, what would you say to her as far as encouragement or hope, how to face what’s ahead?
Doreen – The journey is very scary, it is tough.
I remember a woman, who walked in with, not even a 26-weeker, maybe a 30-weeker, but still tiny. One of the things I told her, is you need to change your mindset, your expectation. You will not be here for two days, you will be here for a longer time, much longer but it will be doable. Every day will be better than yesterday.
They call me the welcomer. Everyone who comes new, they come to fetch me. Doreen, come, there’s someone new, she has a tiny baby, come talk to her.
David – That’s amazing, though. It’s not just the Kijabe staff doing ministry, it’s also you guys as moms caring for each other.
Doreen – It’s one of those things I didn’t think was going to be part of my ministry. I’m a singer, worship ministry I’m familiar with. This one is a new ministry. But God has been gracious.
And it’s been tough, some days it’s tough, when the baby is not doing well, the first couple of weeks, those are really low. Those were very tough. The baby had all sorts of things, one after the other. If it’s not respiratory, an infection. It was tough.
In that toughness, God somehow managed to make me tougher, in the toughest way possible.
Lack of sleep, every two hours, it’s not even two hours, it’s more like 30 minutes. . .the most sleep I ever got was 30 minutes.
But the next week there is someone in your shoes, they need you to say that one thing that will encourage them to come back the next day, to toughen up beyond what you yourself can do.
David – Are there any bible verses or quotes or sayings, or songs even that come to mind as you are trying to toughen or persevere?
There is a verse it says, “the Lord will perfect everything that concerns me.” (Psalm 138:8)
That’s what I keep repeating to Gabriel, I will stand by his incubator and pray over him and remind him that, “Dude, the Lord is perfecting everything that concerns you.”
So, if it’s respiratory issues that week, The Lord is sorting this respiratory issue, not just sorting, perfecting.
That’s what I’ve been believing, even now as I wait for him to get off of oxygen. He is going to perfect that. We’ve come a long way I’ve seen perfection in all those ways.
Then the wall of the nursery, has that beautiful verse, “I knew you were formed in your mother’s womb.”
Me, I was surprised by Gabriel’s arrival at 26 weeks, but God wasn’t. One of us needed not to be surprised.
What I, as Doreen, cannot control, God can control.
I sort what I can. I can express milk for the baby, fine. I can stand by his incubator and pray for him, I will do that. I will stand with a fellow mum, or just sit there and let them cry, if that’s what they need.
But what I cannot control, just let it be. The doctors are sorting it. God has put them there, he’s using them to sort out whatever it is. It will be fine.
It’s easier said now that I have walked the path. (laughter)
David – It’s not so easy in the moment.
Doreen – In the moment, you will yourself to remember those things. I’m glad I have been spending time in the Bible before now, cause you need to remind yourself those things.
Ultimately, God is the one who knows how this is going to play out, and it’s played out well.
Note: this interview was recorded in early July, Gabriel is now discharged, weighs 2400 grams and is nearly finished with his oxygen requirement.