My best friend had a baby the size of a Chipotle burrito. (Seriously, I Googled it.)
He was 1 pound 9 ounces. Which is one cilantro-dusting away from twinning with a Chipotle burrito.
And while he was not due until the end of this month, Malik James Bolding was born in July at just 25 weeks, thanks to a severe case of preeclampsia turned HELLP Syndrome. Basically, Lexi’s blood pressure and liver enzymes skyrocketed, her platelets plummeted and she developed severe fluid retention in her legs, and eventually her whole body. It was terribly frightening for her… and frankly, some of the most terrifying few days of my life.
Lex is farm stock, so she remained calm even as they transferred her by ambulance from one hospital to the next “just in case” she were to have a micropreemie.
Lexi’s husband, Ben, and I are a little less farm stock, but not unfamiliar with trauma so we stuffed all our feelings with cookies and hilarious jokes to keep Lexi laughing and in good spirits. Still, we were both on edge about what this could mean for Lexi and the baby.
If they kept the baby in until he was strong enough to survive, then Lexi could die. If they took the baby to get Lex out of the danger zone… the baby could die. It was an impossible line for the medical team to walk. For both of them to survive, timing was crucial. It felt like there was this impossible sweet spot, and every minute that passed Lexi was getting sicker, but the baby was simply not ready. He was small, even for his gestational age. And he was a boy, which means that lung development was lagging a bit compared to if he were a girl. It felt like all the factors were against them, except for the fact that we have a big, gracious God that held that little boy and his mama every step of the way.
After multiple days in three different hospitals, they gave Lexi a series of steroid shots to boost Malik’s lung development in utero, and once Lexi’s symptoms had become so severe that they could not afford to wait any longer, they induced labor. Due to a number of factors, labor did not progress as they’d hoped and they ultimately opted for an emergency c-section. When they wheeled Lexi away to prep her for the surgery, Ben and I got dressed in our scrubs and we waited. I told him that no matter how impossible it was to believe now, that a day would come that he would love this little creature (that was rapidly killing his wife) so much that he would die for him. We talked and waited and we made a plan. He would go into surgery with Lexi, and when they took the baby out, he would go with the baby to the NICU and I would stay with Lex for the rest of the surgery. He was terrified. He didn’t want to leave her side, neither of us wanted the baby to be alone, and Lexi was high as a kite and forgot why were all hanging out in the first place.
I stayed with Lexi while they completed her surgery, and stood close, holding her hand and trying to comfort her as she tremored and seized. I made silent promises to her that if the unthinkable happened, I would put a stop to my speaking career that requires traveling, vowing to stay home and take care of this baby just as she would. I begged God to protect them both and as I laid my cheek against hers and prayed, I watched her blood pressure go down and felt her tremors begin to still. I saw a lot of my bff that day, and I can officially say that I know that girl (quite literally) inside and out and I love her to pieces.
I will never forget the moment I laid eyes on that little miracle. My kids have grown up with their Uncle Ben and Aunt Lexi showering them with love, gifts and special experiences. I knew that I would love her baby… I did. But, I didn’t know that my little speech about Ben’s willingness to die for Malik would also apply to me. I fell in instalove with this tiny baby.
When little Malik came into the world, everything changed for Ben and Lexi. They spend long hours in the NICU and will continue to until Malik is strong enough to come home. Malik is now over 4 pounds and is getting bigger and stronger every day! We are hoping that he will be home around his due date, but he is still on respiratory support so it will more likely be in November. But, much of my kindness for days 4-6 went to this little family.
First, I brought Lexi and my daughter, Annalee, to lunch. Getting her out of the hospital for short bits of respite is really important.
I also had an outfit intervention and forced Lexi to go shopping to buy some actual human clothes to wear to her baby shower that we were throwing on Saturday. I introduced her to high-waisted jeans which is not only on trend, but is a gift and act of kindness to the post-partum body. Muffin tops everywhere rejoiced when high-waisted pants finally made their return to the runways. While we were out and about, shopping for food and decorations for her shower, we had some excellent customer service. As an act of kindness, I decided to ask for the manager so I could compliment how friendly and helpful the employee was. They sent me to Brandy. Brandy was the manager. Brandy was also the employee I was trying to compliment. So, that was cool.
And finally, I threw a baby shower with Lexi’s sisters-in-law. We had adorable decorations, lots of fun treats and food. It was all done out of love for Lexi and this little miracle baby that has stolen our hearts.
I know that none of these acts of kindness were particularly “random” (except when I told Brandy that Brandy was great at her job), but intentional acts of kindness toward the people we love… that counts too. And if nothing else, I will share this absurd picture of Lex as a bit of revenge for all the embarrassing pictures she is posting of me as her #AdamsActs since she is trapped in the NICU with nothing to do besides humiliate her most devoted friends.