"No More Needles"
It was like most other nights in the children's ICU. Visiting hours were over, the night shift nurse was coming up to speed with the patients and most of the children were beginning to nestle down to sleep. Hailey and I had finished our nightly routine consisting of drawing pictures, singing songs on the guitar, watching the movie little orphan "Annie", having a late night trail mix snack, brushing teeth and saying our prayers. As Hailey began to fall asleep I started the mechanics of converting the hospital couch into a bed. A sheet over the vinyl couch so my skin wouldn't peel off if I move during the night. Two pillows at my head so I was high enough to look over and have a clear line of sight to Hailey. A pillow at my feet so when they hang over the end of the couch they don't fall asleep due to lack of circulation. The green hospital blanket pulled up to my neck. I took a deep sigh as I stared at my princess for the final time that night. I whispered a prayer of thanksgiving for one more day together and prayed for the Lord's healing hand to cover each cell in her body as she slept. It was eleven thirty, I was exhausted but we had made it through another day.
Four o'clock in the morning it began again. Nurses whispering apologetically to Hailey that they needed to draw blood labs. Hailey wakes out of a fog and realizes what they are doing and begins to cry, "Daddy, daddy." I stammer out of bed to grab her hand. Two nurses begin searching her hand for an adequate vein. Her arm vein were stubborn and could not be accessed. This time as she pleaded for me to not them poke her, my patience had run out. I thought about why they were doing this at four in the morning when she so desperately needed her rest. I was keenly aware that their schedule required blood to be draw so early so it could be send to the lab and results back before the doctor made his early morning rounds. Life is full of trade offs and this one was no longer working for me-their schedule would have to yield to my daughters rest. As I clutched Hailey's hand I looked at the two nurses and said politely but firmly, "You better have a different plan tomorrow because we won't be doing this again." They understood the tone in my voice but meekly said, "We understand but we have to draw blood, sir." I replied, "No, you don't seem to hear what I'm saying. I will be right here on that bed next to her tomorrow and you will NOT draw blood at this hour tomorrow. Come up with another plan." Hailey looked for a response from the nurses and after a bit of silence looked back to me with assurance in her eyes.
Hailey was still afraid as they put in the needle that final morning but she had a quiet confidence. She knew I would make sure she would not wake to this horror again. She knew that they would have to get through her Daddy before anything else took place. She relaxed as they drew the blood and shortly after fell back to sleep.
I also returned to my make-shift bed and didn't give the event another thought. Two weeks later Hailey was listening to a conversation Pam and I were having about a medical treatment. She heard me mention that we may not allow for this or that to be done and she looked up from her coloring book and said, "You will tell them NO Daddy, just like you did when they tried to draw my blood." Surprised that she had any recollection of the event I muttered, "Yes, baby just like that."
I realized that what had taken place that early morning weeks before was much more than just a tired Dad losing it with a nurse. A Daddy-daughter bond had taken place that was burned into her memory. Daddy will protect me, he is on my team, I am safe when he is near. Well, even though there is actually very little that I can do to protect her from the pains and fears along this journey she will embark, at least for a moment a child's fear had lessened. Her faith to take on a new day had increased. We had a moment together, a special moment of oneness and comfort.
I am comforted just as Hailey in knowing that not for one second are we alone in this journey. Nothing, not one tiny thing has happened, or will happen, that has not first passed through the hand of my Heavenly Father. He is the true protector , the true gatekeeper, the true comforter. And He will work all of this into a perfect tapestry that He has designed for His purposes.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."