Twice Given – Josh’s Story
I am posting Josh’s story to my blog because yesterday was a big day for us!Josh was baptized 16 years to the day of when he quit breathing in his car seat. On February 6, 1995 I really did not believe we would see Josh live another day, let alone witness him telling the whole world he was giving his life to the Lord through being baptized!Here is his story…
This is the wonderful story of my miracle-boy, Joshua Benjamin Feinn. It is a bit long so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the whole thing. I really think that Joshua’s story is such an example of God’s great LOVE. This story shows how God’s love is not just for the one going through a trial, but it ripples out to touch those all around that one. It shows that God is merciful and GREAT and does not always do what we expect.
Joshua was born on January 6th, 1995. My pregnancy with Joshua was normal and uneventful. His birth was a wonderful experience with just two and a half hours of labor. Joshua was normal and healthy and my husband and I were delighted with our third little baby. We had Joshua dedicated to the Lord in church on February 5th, 1995. I stood on the stage behind the pulpit holding my baby, my husband at my side and told God in my heart that this child was His to use any way He liked. That Sunday, I felt like Hannah, handing over Samuel. Little did I know what the next day would bring.
February 6th, 1995 dawned cold and dreary. One of my older children was sick. I bundled my three precious children up in snowsuits, hats and mittens and dragged them off to the pediatrician for a throat culture on my three year old daughter. Positive for strep. Ugh! A stop at the pharmacy before going home was added to our list of errands. By the time we finished at the pharmacy, we were long overdue for Joshua’s next feeding but at least we were headed home. I knew his hungry cries that were howling from the backseat would soon be satisfied. On our way home he gave up with the crying and fell asleep – or so I thought.
Since he was quiet in his carseat behind me, I decided to dash into the meat market that was next to our house to pick up my meat order. It took about five minutes to pay for the meat and be back in the car. My two older children had stayed in the warm car with the quiet baby – Still sleeping, still quiet, life was good. I pulled up to the mailbox, got the mail and drove up our long driveway. By now I am about to burst with anticipation of feeding my sleeping baby. I parked, opened the door to the backseat and looked down at my cherub. He was slumped a little forward, totally white and dead. I panicked! I kept moaning, “no, God…please help me, please help me!” I quickly got him out of his carseat, still praying out loud. I distinctly remember as I pulled him into my arms thinking, “stop acting like a mother, and act like a nurse.”
Since I am a labor and delivery nurse, I have resuscitated many babies after they were born. Joshua looked just like a baby who had been delivered with an umbilical cord wrapped tightly around its neck. So I gave him a rescue breath on the way into my house. Still death-white. I laid him on my desk and continued to give him breaths. Meanwhile I was unzipping the snowsuit and trying to reach his arm to check for a pulse. When I got to his arm he had such a rapid pulse it could not be counted. I knew this meant he was not getting proper blood flow. I gave him another breath and dialed 911.
While I was waiting for the 911 operator to answer I gave him a breath and a small hint of grey-blue appeared around his white lips. He then made a feeble cough and a shallow respiration. I started a firm rub to his chest and as long as I continued, he would take a breath every few seconds. Slowly I watched as the blue-tinge spread across his face, down his neck and to the rest of his body. When the ambulance arrived, they did not have a pediatric oxygen mask. Although they intubated Joshua in the ambulance, he still had a very low oxygen level in his blood.
When I turned back to my other two children as the ambulance pulled out of our driveway, I found them huddled together in the doorway of my office. Both of them were crying and they said, “is the baby going to die, Mommy?” I too was crying now and I said, “I don’t know. We need to pray for him.” The three of us knelt down right there and we prayed our heartfelt prayers for help from God for my smallest, little sparrow. My mother-in-law came home from work to stay with my two older children and I rushed to the hospital to find out how Joshua was doing.
Another intubation at the local hospital did not improve his condition. In fact, when the hospital chaplain told me I could ride in the helicopter with the baby on his way to Children’s Hospital, I knew Joshua was not expected to live. The trip to Children’s Hospital seemed more like several hours than eighteen minutes. Josh had started bleeding out his mouth around the endotracheal tube and his oxygen saturation never reached above 80%. The nurse did not know my helmet had an open line to her microphone in her headset. I heard every discouraging word she said to the pilot. All I could do was cry and pray.
Three hours later, we finally left the emergency room to take Joshua to the pediatric intensive care unit. Things looked very bleak. Joshua’s oxygen saturations had been in the 70% – 80% level for over three hours. Even on the ventilator his sats were not good. As a nurse, I knew this was a poor prognosis. I continued to cry…it was as if I could not stop crying!
I called my mother and father. They had lost three children in a fire before I was born. My mom cried and prayed with me. I knew that she knew my pain. I choked out the words to her, “Mom, I can’t go through this. It is just too hard. I can’t believe that God is going to take my baby.” My mom reminded me that I had given the baby to God the day before. It seemed like lifetimes ago. Yesterday was before my baby was clinging to life in a room down the hall. Yesterday was when I held a healthy, beautiful, red-haired cherub who was full of life with a whole future ahead of him. It had been easy to give him to God yesterday because what could possibly be expected except that he would grow up to become a minister or a missionary or a Christian husband? But today I saw that God was asking me if Joshua was REALLY HIS and I decided that the answer was “sort-of”. I didn’t want God to test me like this. I would give him to God if it meant that I got to raise him. I would give him to God if it meant that God would place a hedge around him and not let anything bad happen to him. But I didn’t want giving him to God to mean pain for Joshua or me. My crying continued.
Even though I was exhausted from the ordeal I hardly slept. I prayed most of the night. I begged God. I reminded God how I had been saved at the age of five. I bargained with him and reminded him that I had never strayed off the path I thought that HE had set me on. I told Him it wasn’t fair that I should be wrestling with him over my child. I had never given God any reason to bring trials into my life…I had followed the “Christian recipe” to the letter. Bad things weren’t supposed to happen to “good” Christians.
The next day at the hospital was another exhausting day. Josh was fighting with the ventilator. His oxygen levels kept dropping and they had to increase the pressure, which pushed the oxygen into his lungs. He had been given a drug to paralyze him so he wouldn’t fight the ventilator but just touching him made his oxygen levels drop. He had lost more blood too. My husband gave a blood donation for the transfusions Joshua needed. It seemed too unfair to me. There was nothing I could do except pray for him and it seemed like God was saying “no”. An EEG (brain scan) was done on Joshua that day also. Worried looks and frowns were all that passed the technician’s face during the test. Meanwhile, I continued to cry. The tears would not shut off.
Day three of the ordeal came. My baby was still not stable. Now he had quit putting out urine. Now his ventilator settings were so high that the doctors were worried about side effects like blindness. Every conversation started with, “if he makes it…” and the results of the EEG came back and didn’t look good. The doctor said, “We saw abnormal brain waves. We don’t know if this is fetal brain waves that are still present, seizure activity or brain damage from the lack of oxygen. IF he makes it, we will repeat the test at some point down the line.” I continued to cry. Where was God anyway? I had the faith that he could heal Joshua. I really did believe that God was my only hope but why was my baby continuing to suffer?
Day four…I got my two other children off to their friend’s houses and prepared to go to the hospital again. I was tired. My skin was peeling off my face in sheets from all my salt-water tears. I went into my bedroom, got down on my knees and cried out to God. I told God that if He was keeping Joshua alive just because I couldn’t bear to let go, that it was ok to take him. I told God that “yes, Joshua really was HIS”. I gave Joshua back to the Lord with no strings attached. I didn’t say, “but please let it be that you will make him better.” I didn’t say, “but please let him grow up normal”. I just said, “It is what you knew it was all along, God, Joshua is your baby. You can take him now.” I stood up and got dressed. The crying had stopped. I knew that when I got to the hospital they were going to tell me Joshua had died but I had peace. My hope was that Joshua would be able to die in my arms that day. I had peace with that too. I knew that really God was holding him already.
When I went into Josh’s room I noticed that the nurse was sitting by his bedside and it was quiet. At first I thought he had already died. However, I quickly realized that he was resting quietly. This was a first! All day I sat beside him and for the first day in this whole ordeal two things did not happen: I did not cry and the staff did not have to adjust his ventilator at all. He was not sitting up, asking to go home when I got there but he didn’t die either. That afternoon he put out a small amount of urine too. I could have danced to see that slow trickle of gold running into the tiny catheter!
Day by day he made small improvements. I hardly wanted to believe that God was giving him BACK! In fact, at first I didn’t believe it. Ten days into the ordeal Josh was taken off the ventilator and twenty hours later he “crashed”. His oxygen levels took a dive and he stopped breathing. When the hospital called in the middle of the night to say they had put him back on the ventilator I thought, “well Lord, you gave me enough time for my face to get back to normal for his funeral.” But God did not take him to heaven. Josh got better quickly and was weaned off the ventilator a week later. A few more days in the hospital on oxygen and the doctors were thinking of sending him home.
There was just one problem. Joshua would not suck. They tried every bottle known to man and he would not suck. The doctors were convinced that this was a “sign of brain damage”. I asked if I could try to nurse him. The doctors said this was not advised yet…he couldn’t wear his oxygen and since he showed no sign at all of sucking when they put a nipple of any length into his mouth, they doubted it would work. I sat and prayed. When everyone left the room I turned to the nurse and told her I was going to try to nurse Josh. She shrugged and said she would ask the doctor one more time. He approved a five-minute trial. We took off his oxygen and the second I positioned him for this experiment he started to eat! The doctor hated the fact that we couldn’t measure what he was getting to eat but I knew that he was getting just what he needed. God knew I needed that too. It was such a reassurance to be able to provide something for my baby that nobody else could give him.
Josh spent five weeks at home on oxygen. So many provisions from God showed themselves with that time of confinement. My wonderful neighbor did all my grocery shopping. A friend came and got my daughter for preschool and delivered her to my doorstep – even though she had to drive across town each way to do it. Joshua would set off the apnea monitor almost every night but it was more from him moving than a breathing problem. In fact, he never had any more problems with apnea. At three months old we had another brain scan and it showed normal brain waves! And the best part was that I held in my arms a wonderful, smiling baby! God did not say “no”! God had said, “wait”.
Today Joshua is a normal, cheerful, healthy boy. He is such a loving and kind boy…always quick with a hug or kiss. He is a constant reminder that God loves ME! God allowed me to experience something so hard that I could only bear it with GOD at my side. The experience helped me see I had put God into a box. It was labeled, “How God acts when I do everything I think He is telling me to do.” God wanted me to realize that He is sovereign and that He does not answer to me. The verses that say, “My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts, says the Lord” are exactly what He was teaching me. Yet He taught me that lesson so gently. He didn’t let my baby die to prove His point. He just let me get to the point where I knew in my heart that GOD was in control and that it was ok with me.
An odd note to the whole story is that Joshua’s name was going to be Isaac. In fact, my husband had filled out a college information update form while I was pregnant and had listed out three children on the form. Their names listed were: Zachery, Abigail and Isaac. During the last few months of the pregnancy I had gotten cold feet about the name. I didn’t like what God had done with the Isaac in the Bible. When the ordeal was all over I laughed to remember that I had chosen a different name for the baby because I did not want to be tested like that. I think God knew that Joshua needed to be a Joshua and fight the battle of his life – like the Bible Joshua fought the battle of Jericho. But this taught me that I couldn’t run from God. I can think I have it all figured out – how to live in denial and that God will operate within that forum. Wrong. God is kinder than that. He does not let me stay in my deluded view of Him. He catapults me out to where I can really see Him and then He surprises me with treats like letting Joshua not only live, but having Him defy all predictions and be a normal, healthy boy.
Since I had been “saved” most of my life (five years old is pretty young…the most I remember of my pre-saved days is telling my mother I DID NOT rip my friend’s dress-up dress and then blaming it on my best friend). I never had the “black and white” testimony that many people have. I often wondered what set me apart from anyone else that God really would have died for me, had it JUST been me on this earth that needed salvation. This experience taught me first-hand that God really does look upon ME and love me with a love deeper than the ocean. Even though I believed in my heart that God is a loving and kind God, full of GRACE and mercy, I really saw in a personal way how God treats us SO gently. He gave me what I did not deserve and what I really did not expect – a miracle so wonderful and so clearly of HIS making that I looked deep into HIS very eyes and saw LOVE.
This was actually done for me on Calvary also but before Josh’s story Calvary was a “yah, yah, I believe it because I read it in the Bible” concept to me. Now it is an “I KNOW IT IN THE DEPTHS OF MY SOUL” story. God could not love me more. His love is so deep I cannot comprehend it. WHAT A THOUGHT. This is true for you also. Perhaps God is letting you go through something very hard right now. Nestle into HIM. Read His word like you are panting after water. Pray and ask God to show HIMSELF to you in this trial and He will. Then you will see that GOD IS SO GOOD.