Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Our Josefina

I think today's blog will be about Josefina. She is my youngest daughter, aged four, but she is a very special kind of child who has already overcome a few difficulties in life.

Why have I decided to write about Josefina? Because she is hanging on to me right now. Josefina is little enough to squeeze her way into my chair. I have the computer in my lap and she is holding onto my hand to "help" me. Now she is trying to use my fingers to type. Shall I let her do it and see what comes out?

BFSSFBGDVADADVBSSBD sssss FDDfDCVsG WQWWScSD1RWEREEEEEDdseqewwe There: Josefina says, "we did it. Look how many words!" She has two little books in her hands, which she is using to obstruct the screen while I write, which means that sometimes I can't see the screen. Here's Cleo the Cat. And here is Chloe the Cow. She insisted I inform you of the titles of these two important books.

Josefina was born on October 26, 2006, some seven weeks premature, with an undeveloped intestinal tract. I baptized her as soon as she was born, which means of course that there is a special bond between us. (The chaplain arrived some minutes later and administered Confirmation, which in the Latin rite is given to babies who are in danger of death). She was then transported to Fairfax Hospital for emergency surgery, where the neonatalogists amazingly connected her intestinal tract, using surgical techniques that were truly marvelous. She was then put into an incubator with a intravenous feeding tube, and given her place in the "NICU" (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).

We were told that when the operation healed and she began digesting normally, we could bring her home. But Josefina kept having setbacks. Weeks turned into months. In March she needed another emergency surgery. There were some scary moments. There were infections, breathing complications. My mother-in-law came from California to take care of the house and kids while Eileen drove every day to Fairfax to be with Josefina (I was still working full time at the school). I went to the hospital as often as I could and took videos so that the other children could see their sister. The whole experience contributed to the subsequent ruin of my health (for more about that, go to the link to NEVER GIVE UP: MY LIFE AND GOD'S MERCY and order my book). It was an extraordinarily difficult and uncertain time for all of us.

But Josefina made it. She finally came home on May 16, 2007, almost seven months after she was born. She started out with a nasal-gastric feeding tube, but soon she was on her own. She has scars from the surgery and where the intravenous tubes were inserted--occasionally when I see them I remember all that she has been through. (Wait, a pink teddy bear is being thrown at the computer screen--STOP).

She has occasional digestive problems and a moderate asthmatic condition, but is otherwise fine. She is still on the small side, very verbal, very social, and irresistibly cute. That's why I've been letting her climb all over me (now she's off coloring--whoever invented crayons is one of my favorite SAINTS). I am, obviously, wrapped around her little finger.

The girl that is always prancing around this house is a miracle. We so wanted her. In 2006 I seemed to be getting well, and back to a regular work schedule. We prayed for another child. Josefina was specially loved from the very beginning. She got such dedicated care in the hospital; it was evidence of the possibility and the desire of people in our culture to do good, of the instinct for life that still endures and even spurs the progress of neonatal medicine. How can hospitals perform life-saving wonders for premature babies in one place, and destroy them by abortion in another?

Everything has gone crazy since 2007. My lifestyle has changed dramatically, as has Eileen's, and here is this wonderful four year old girl with dimples who rules the house. We never expected any of this. But we are doing our best to respond creatively to the circumstances and above all begging God to take care of us.

Really, you cannot plan your life. Affluence has made us forget this. Of course, one makes prudent decisions and looks toward the future as far as one is able to judge its probable course. But we are not in control. Our possession of things is fragile. Really, we hold on to God's plan, with prayer and hope, because He brings good out of everything.

I better go see what kind of mess Josefina is making....