When Harper was approximately 1 month old, a nurse cut off her right earlobe with a pair of scissors. It was an accident of course, but the injustice of it all still rings loudly in my two ears—lobes and all.
This was the first hurdle in a series of long hard months that took place in that small, sterile room at the NICU. When the doctor called to inform me what happened she must have used words like “laceration” and “lobulus auriculae” because it took me a few minutes to realize THAT SOMEONE CUT OFF MY DAUGHTER’S EARLOBE. It was midnight, but my husband and I rushed to the hospital.
When we arrived in her room, we found the neonatologist that was on duty and a few other hospital staff members. They explained that the nurse was re-taping tubes on her tiny face and her earlobe was stuck to the tape that she was trying to remove.
A hundred questions came. Why are they allowed to use scissors on babies? Micro preemies? You could easily cut off a finger or stab a vital organ! She was barely 3 lbs! Was she in pain? Did this cause an “event”? Events are when a preemie stops breathing and their heart slows down due to low blood oxygen levels. This however, is no big deal in the NICU—apnea and bradycardia happen often. Harper would have several events per day, especially in her first few months. This often lead to them having to “bag” her, which is slang for giving breaths with a bag and mask until the baby begins breathing on their own again.
So yes, this had caused an event, but the bleeding didn’t last long and they had given her Tylenol—she seemed to be doing fine. They had also saved the severed part of her ear and planned to have a pediatric plastic surgeon re-attach it in the morning. More pain for our baby girl and as it turns out, attaching a tiny piece of earlobe to a tiny ear leaves room for misplacement. To this day it looks like someone walked up and snipped it off.
Still shaken up and angry, we knew we had to see the nurse. After all, if you unintentionally caused someone pain (someone’s baby pain) how horrible would you feel?
There was still room to point fingers of course. I wanted to accuse her of being careless, tired—sloppy. No she didn’t mean to hurt anyone, BUT SHE DID. In a moment of weakness, perhaps hurry, a poor decision was made.
Have you made a poor decision before because you were rushing, or overwhelmed or tired? Have you ever made a poor decision for any reason at all?
When she came into the room her eyes were red and she tearfully apologized for her mistake. Right away my husband hugged her and told her that we forgave her.
Love Your Neighbor
When forgiveness is our first honest action in times of pain and suffering, something beautiful happens. The tragedy of the situation goes from a loud beating drum to a soft, quiet rhythm.
A rhythm that whispers, “it’s going to be ok”, “you are loved”, “you are forgiven”.
The loud drum of anger and revenge only makes matters worse. It shouts, “you messed up”, “you’ll pay for this”, “you’re a horrible person”.
It wasn’t our job to teach this nurse a lesson by yelling—by suing. She was sorry. She admitted what she did and her tears showed her regret.
The Bible tells us to “love our neighbor as ourselves”. Are we obeying this simple command by putting ourselves above someone else’s sin and judging their consequences?
Are we still hurt? Yes. Do we still suffer the consequences of someone else’s sin? Yes. In our pain, are we still called to obey God’s command to love? Yes.
Loving someone as you would yourself is such a wonderful gift. It tells the other person that you mess up sometimes too—that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes.
Also, knowing that I’ve messed up before and that I’m going to mess up again keeps me sober-minded. Do I want someone to kick me while I’m down?
“You are less willing to suffer for love until you know how His love made Him suffer for you.” —Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
Harper will be 3 years old this summer and she is a vibrant and beautiful little girl—emphasis on little! There’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t notice that little nibble from her right ear and think of the scars that are left on all of us from her stay in the NICU. Had we chosen to fight and be angry about her ear, it would have overshadowed ALL OF THE GOOD that came out of her stay. We made new friends, SAW MIRACLES, learned to pray without seizing and most of all, we learned to love—even when it hurt.
Often times giving someone your trust or forgiveness is so hard that you have to cut it right out of your very own being—I say, go get the scissors if you have to.
When Harper’s old enough to know about why one of her ears looks a little different from the other one, I’ll simply tell her the story of the nurse and how she was sorry. I’ll tell her how we decided to give up that tiny piece of her ear for the greater purpose of forgiveness—and how absolutely beautiful forgiveness truly is.
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