I know this time of year calls for blog posts about cheerful crafts and delicious baked goods, but tonight it is for my selfish catharsis and a look into the dark, small moments of this mother's heart....
Four years ago, Ava Grace was a tiny baby of five months when she came down with a rather intense gastrointestinal infection. We were in the hospital for several days and on one particular night in the pediatrics ward I had one of those clear moments of thought that stands out and sticks with you long after the initial illumination has dimmed.
I sat in the green vinyl rocking chair in our hospital room at about 2. A.M. rocking the body of my listless, lethargic baby, listening to the sound of the nurses sneakers squeaking up and down the quiet hallways.
Even though I know God's presence was with me throughout that whole situation, I still felt so helpless and overwhelmed as very young, very frightened and still very new-to-the-job mother, knowing there was nothing I could do to fix the suffering of my baby girl.
I remember thinking of a campfire song we learned as kids; the one about going on the bearhunt and coming to different obstacles. The lyrics say, "Can't go over it. Can't go under it. Can't go around it-- Have to go through it."
I was struck with how blessed I was to only be given a very small taste of what some parents must feel in having to deal with children who are really ill and really do require so much more assistance and treatment than we did then.
My heart and arms began to physically ache with my empathy and I began to weep for all the mothers (some I know) to whom visits to the hospital, are a more arduous and regular occurrence.
The gratitude I felt then has never really left me, and I can honestly say that the health of my family is something I don't take for granted.
But of course from time to time you hit a stride of life and health concerns fade into the further recesses of your mind and the topics of school lunches and bedtime routines become more of a focus.
Well, today was another hellish visit to the hospital (with my son this time), and once again I found myself at the mercy of medical intervention to give us answers concerning his health and once again I was reminded of the parents who are subjected to medical tests and therapies far greater in scale.
My little son Jackson has never had great digestion.
From the day we brought him home from the hospital he kicked and screamed for hours on end with a bloated tummy and painful gas.
It was awful.
Finally we figured out to rid his diet of lactose and that helped a great deal, but for the last six months his digestion has again been up and down. (mostly down).
I have two courses of action to take, one with a naturopathic doctor to see what they will prescribe and what dietary changes they can recommend,
But in the meantime of waiting on that, I have a very sick little boy on my hands who is getting increasingly picky with what he will eat and the list of foods that set his stomach off is getting longer and longer.
Finally on Sunday we took him in to the hospital to make sure he wasn't dehydrated and that anything emergent or sinister could be ruled out.
They agreed he didn't appear to have a virus, but they ordered a full bill of tests to rule out everything from parasites to intolerances.
This was what I had been dreading the most.
I had heard the shrieks of small children having blood work come from the little bedded room across the hall from the main lab. Kevin handed me the requisition form and I shuddered, I cried, I held my boy and prayed for another way out, then I sucked it up, collected samples of his poo the following day and drove to the hospital before I could back out.
They led us into the little room used for torturing small children with needles and instructed me to swaddle him in a heavy sheet and pin him to the little bed. Two nurses then proceeded to unsuccessfully poke him with three different needles in both arms to draw TEN vials of blood for testing.
I lay next to him helping pin him to the bed whispering into his ears and praying softly while he screamed loud enough to shatter glass. After 5 minutes of this ordeal, even I caved and my prayers started falling on his red face along with my tears.
The look of distrust in his eyes is what destroyed me the most.
And made me think the longest.
As well as this post being about parenting sick children, it's about the ways in which I realized God parents us.
We are sick and in need of treatments we often don't understand. God's heart breaks for his hurting children too, and all he can do is rock us in his the vinyl rocking chair or pin us down when we struggle.
When my hands stopped shaking a good hour later, I held my boy and kissed him so many times I thought my lips might fall off. I cried some more, thanking God that he made me a parent of these precious children but that he is also a parent to me.
Hopefully within days, these tests will give me some more answers, unfortunately they don't give the answers I seek the most in the dark, still moments of my heart.
A fallen world is the only answer available for why some children are sick and why some parents must go this hard road, and that answer can seem desperately thin at times.
If you are one of the parents I know who has no course but "through" illness with your child, know that my prayers REALLY are with you. Those of you I know and follow your stories, I can only say you inspire me and encourage me in the way you bravely, selflessly and even joyfully take on this journeys full throttle.
For tonight I will linger longer at the bedside of each of my sleeping children and take the heaviness of this day to my knees before I lay my head down, but letting these words fall here lets them lift too.
I am blessed and of that I am so very aware.