Perspective: It's Everything
So as to not cause you any emotional pain, let me say this right now: This longer-than-usual QBQ! QuickNote has a happy ending!
In a nanosecond, the "important" became trivial.
And that sums up last Friday night.
Karen and I sat here in Denver at 8pm, watching a movie, hanging out, living life—all while getting reports on our daughter Kristin Lindeen (Miller Child #1) and her imminent delivery of our second grandchild. Everything was wonderful! Except, of course, the minutia of life that had gotten in the way of total joy and happiness on that average day.
That driveway guy who didn't quite do as I asked regarding the laying of our new asphalt. “Why don’t people listen?!”
That client who'd promised to commit that day but didn't respond to my email. “When will people honor their promises?”
Politics, of which I am a junkie, going back to 1976 when I shook the hand of the president at a rally—twice! I even remember his profound words as the crowd pressed toward him: “Don't push!” and to a helpful policeman, “Thanks, officer.” I didn't wash my hand for three days! "Who will win on November 6?!?"
And those all-important Denver Broncos. Would Peyton Manning demonstrate that his salary was worth it or will the Broncs have yet another disappointing season. “Why can’t we have a championship team again???”
And Karen had some frustrations Friday, too. With a friend, her horse and a possible health problem, and something one of our still-at-home kids had done that morning.
But suddenly … Who cares?!
Because the text that will forever be burned into my brain came into my phone.
Daughter Tara Gallagher, Miller Child #2, who made it down to Madison, Wisconsin from Minneapolis just in time for the birth, sent this text:
“Baby arrived. Heartbeat strong. Not warming up to the world very quickly.”
We found out a day later that Kristin had told Tara, in those early moments, to not tell us exactly what was happening. For those who understand, the baby's APGAR scores were dismal—mostly because the breathing component of the total score was … zero. Meanwhile, hubby, Erik, knew even more than Kristin and was doing his best to stay strong for her.
The baby disappeared to the neonatal intensive care unit—and an hour later Kristin and Erik got the report:
The doctors didn’t know what went wrong, nor did they know what would come of all this. Somewhere in the conversation, Kristin, Erik, and Aunt Tara heard these horrible words: “potential brain damage.”
My cell rang. I grabbed it. With tears in her voice, Tara said, "Dad, it's not good news."
Within a minute or two my knees buckled from the strongest emotional pain I’ve felt since my mom died of an aneurysm on an average day in 1975 when I was sixteen.
Feeling sick to my stomach while Karen cried on the phone with Tara, I tried to not go crazy. It seemed Rebecca Elizabeth—nicknamed by her parents “Baby Boo” while still a precious life in the womb—had gone eight long minutes after being delivered with nary a breath. The outstanding medical staff at St. Mary's Hospital—moving swiftly into action—had “bagged” Becca, which means to use a manual pumping device to artificially force air into her lungs.
Becca, they were told, would now begin a relatively new “cooling therapy.” Laying on a special bed, wearing nothing but a tiny diaper for the next 72 hours, her body temp would be lowered to 91-92 degrees with the purpose of minimizing secondary brain damage.
But that didn’t mean there hadn’t been any from the initial trauma.
After the early turmoil and confusion, we all began to “settle in” for what would be the longest three days of our lives. Since brain damage is irreversible, we could only pray that during those eight scary minutes, “Baby Boo’s” brain had been protected; had gone unscathed.
While what we now believe was up to a thousand people prayed for Becca, the doctors dutifully reported to Kristin and Erik what they knew—which wasn’t much. And yet everyone knew exactly what they didn’t know: The condition of Becca’s brain.
Saturday crawled by, Sunday dragged (NFL? Replacement refs? Who cares!!!), and Monday was a day to try to find things to do. Finally, at 12:30am Tuesday Becca’s cooling therapy was discontinued and the staff began to warm her tiny body, watching for brain irregularities.
A text came from Kristin at 3am with very early disheartening news: The ICU nurse had come to say they felt the baby was experiencing small seizures. There were “blips” on the EEG and they were monitoring her closely. Then the nurse was gone again and Kristin was alone with the truth that nobody really knew where this was going.
But then, everything turned—for the better. By 9am, the seizures were gone, the EEG wires were coming off, and for the first time in her life little "Becca Boo" was dressed, swaddled, and placed in Kristin's arms. She’d never been held! ... other than for that brief terrifying moment when she was first delivered and put on Kristin's chest—and everybody knew something was horribly wrong.
So things were looking up. Becca was showing many normal baby behaviors: Rooting, sucking, squeezing big people’s fingers, and opening her eyes to take in the world, as best a newborn can. But there was one last big step: the MRI.
At noon on Tuesday, 7 1/2 pound Becca was whisked away for the procedure. The neurologist doc warned Kristin and Erik, along with Grandma Karen and Aunt Tara—still by her big sister’s side—that she might not be back for several hours with news, no matter good or bad. She simply had a whole hospital to cover.
Then, four hours later, the doctor returned to simply say …
“All is well. The MRI showed no damage to the brain.”
And somewhere in that moment, she uttered these words: “I expect a full recovery.”
Can you say “miracle”?
To be clear:
Since Friday night at 8:42pm Colorado time …
Absolutely. Nothing. Else. Mattered.
Each of us can draw our own “learning lesson” from this story. For me, it’s simply about working hard each day to ask great questions like, “How can I love life?” “What can I do today to focus on what’s really important?” and “How can I spread more joy to those around me?”
As most of you know, we call these "QBQs." But today, on this unusually cloudy, cold, and rainy—and beautiful—Colorado September morning, I call them …
A final thought: As I was writing this QuickNote in my home office, the power in our neighborhood went out. When I called the power company to let them know and they told me they had no idea how long the outtage would last, I responded with, "No biggie! Who cares! It's a great day!" and left the phone rep a bit stunned.
Learn more about Becca's journey here: https://www.facebook.com/erik.lindeen
John G. Miller
Author of QBQ!
Grandma Karen, Mommy Kristin, Aunt Tara ... and Becca Boo!
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