We carry him in, our day old son. We hug him close, pushing back the receiving blanket to expose his little heel. It’s just a heel stick, the nurse says. She jabs it in. He lets out an infant cry, a squeal. I feel the jab in my heel, my heart. I’m not sure where. The blood drips. His blood. Our blood.
His bilirubin is high, they say. We’ll have to test it again soon.
We gather him up, tucking the blanket carefully around his tiny foot. We want to take him from this place, this pain, and never let him go. Instead we place him in the incubator under the lights. It will help him, they say. We can’t fix this thing. So we let him go.
We linger over the incubator, praying. Doing something because we can do nothing. They’ve covered his eyes to protect them from the lights. I wonder what our son is thinking, if he knows we’re here. Can he feel our love through this thick plexiglass?
We watch our son and don’t answer his cries.
I die a thousand deaths thinking my son might feel alone, abandoned in this place. I want to pull him out and hold him tight, to say I love you in a way he can understand. But right now this is the best way to say I love you. It’s a way he can’t understand.
Our son survived the heel sticks, the separation. We survived. We brought home a healthy baby boy.
This is our Father’s way with us.
Sometimes we’re in God’s incubator, laid bare, exposed to the light. Our eyes are covered, and we don’t see him hovering, standing vigil. We don’t hear him singing over us.
God, if you’re all powerful, why don’t you rescue me? Don’t you see me lying here? I thought you loved me. I thought you cared. We grope in the darkness and shake our fists. Where are you, God?
Fierce love keeps our Father silent. Though we don’t see him, we’re never alone. His tears mingle with ours. Our blood is his blood. And he’s taking us home.
Have you ever been in God’s incubator? What has parenting taught you about the Father’s heart?