Can I Carry Him Now?
When my son Joshua was born he had jaundice. Doctors put him under the light in an incubator for 5 days. I was not able to carry nor touch him. I was not able to breastfeed nor hold him. I was only able to see him a few times a day and talk to him from far away. Every time I would ask the doctors “Can I carry him now?” they would tell me “Not yet”.
I went back home with an empty car seat and waited for him to get better. The day they told us we could take him home we went up to the hospital (a 40 minute ride). I could not sit straight yet so I lay on my back the whole way there . We arrived and wanted to take him home. I asked the doctor “Can I carry him now?” They told us “Not yet, go back home and you can take him in few days”. I couldn’t believe my ears, I couldn’t bear the separation anymore, so I decided to lie down on a bench in front of the NICU and stubbornly wait until they gave me my son. Against the doctor’s orders, we took him back home and I was finally able to carry him. He was 6 days old.
A few months later I got Shingles. My back was infected, with a painful rash covering most of it. At the time, I was still breastfeeding my son and every time I had to feed him, I’d have to carry him at arm’s length, making sure we were touching as little as possible. I would wake up every morning and ask myself and my husband “Can I carry him now?”
Always the same answer: Not yet.
I finally recovered and started to get my bearings when I got a high fever. I had to put on a mask, stopped breastfeeding and avoided sitting beside my son. Every day that passed I wondered “Can I carry him now?”
When my son turned seven months old, I became unable to walk. The doctor’s diagnosis of a herniated disc came with a strict order: “Do not carry anything heavy”.
Every day I would sit and wait for my husband, my mom, my mother-in-law to pick up my son up and give him to me. Sometimes my son would lift his hands up towards me in an excited manner asking me to carry him in his own way, I would look at him and say “I can’t carry you now, I have to wait for someone to help me”.
I was given a harsh yet necessary treatment that eased the pain most days. I started regaining my old life, walking around, carrying my boy, and enjoying it. Oh, how I enjoyed it! Then, a few weeks ago I got Mumps. Joshua has only been vaccinated against it once, so I had to send him to stay with my in-laws, 45 minutes away. I was quarantined in my own home, dreaming of my little boy; I dreamt I was carrying him in my arms.
Every time I talked to my doctor I’d ask “Can I carry him now?”
Not yet. Not yet.
It’s been almost a year since I gave birth to my little Joshua.
It was a tough year, but I made it through with the support of my husband, our family, and friends. The hope I have in one day carrying my son and carrying on, I find in my unwavering God. God gave us a little blessing, and every time I carried him, or even spent time with him I cherished it with all my heart and did not take it for granted.
What I am learning about my own yearning heart, and about the yearning heart of God, I will also carry with me forever. The way I long to hold my son is not unlike the way God longs to hold each of us close forever, and wipe away all our tears. And each time the answer is “not yet”, on this side of heaven, it doesn’t deter Him at all, but makes Him pursue us and long for us and ask all the more ardently: “Can I carry them now?”
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
By Grace Dunya Khoury
Grace is a member of the People of God Community in Lebanon, where she and her husband serve with the Young Professional Outreach. Grace studied theater at university but after graduation fell in love with teaching and changed her career path. She currently works as a preschool teacher. She discovered a whole new meaning of love when she became a mom to her son, Joshua, who makes her laugh her heart out.