Saturday, July 19, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

There's a new member in our extended family. Mike's cousin just had a baby boy. We went to see him Thursday night. He was so tiny and wonderful. I held that little limp body and examined the wrinkles all over his skinny legs and decided that my heart definitely wants another baby. I know, I'm not normal. Mike isn't quite as opposed to the idea as he once was, but I still think he would very much prefer not to have another. Well, we'll see.

Anyway, the baby's mama was having a rough day. She had just gotten back from the doctor with the baby because she was concerned about white spots in his mouth. Turns out that he has Thrush (which, if you are unfamiliar with it, is no big deal). They were settling back in with him when she noticed a small lump on the back of his neck. Her husband tried very hard to convince her that it's just a little fat deposit and that it will be fine. But she was very upset and called the doctor. They said to come in on Monday (keep in mind that it was Thursday). She fought back tears. I told her just to take him to the doctor tomorrow and tell them that a first-time mom is asking for them to please take a look at her baby, and I know that they will. I did not suggest this because I think he's ill. I agree that it's a fat deposit and no big deal. No, I suggested that because I know what was going through her mind. She didn't say it out loud, but I'll tell you exactly what she was thinking. She was thinking that by Monday it will be too late because it's probably cancer and it will continue to grow over the weekend and on Monday they will go in and find out that if they had taken him in immediately they could have removed the lump but now it's inoperable because it's grown around the brain stem and he has about a week to live. I know this because I am a mom and a worrier too.

When I was pregnant with my first baby I was terrified. I ended up getting hooked up to the fetal monitor twice because I was just sure that he had stopped moving. I cried all the time because I just knew that I was going to go to the doctor and she would say that she was sorry but I had lost the baby. I honestly could not bring myself to believe that I would have a healthy baby. That's something that happens to other people. It was too good to be true, I guess is what I'm getting at. Then I delivered this perfect little person, and they put him in my arms. I remember that I couldn't open my eyes, and I heard my mother say, "Look at your son! He's so beautiful!" My son? That's when I started crying. I have a son. You would think that reality would then set in and I would stop believing that this is just something that happens to other people. But no. This was only the beginning. For the next week I watched in agony as my son lost weight every day, and I just began to believe that this is how it would end. I would forever live with the pain of birthing a son and then losing him. Then one day he started gaining weight, and the doctors said he was healthy and perfect.

Eventually, I was able to settle in and believe that having a son was, indeed, a reality for me. I still worry about him (and now my other kids too), but I no longer believe that God made some huge mistake and is trying to correct it by taking my baby away (yes, that's what I thought...the combination of hormones and OCD didn't sit well with me). Eventually having children became so routine that I stopped experiencing that panicky "something this good isn't supposed to happen to me" feeling. Yes, routine. That's the best word for my world. Routine. Not in a bad way, but not necessarily good either. Just routine.

When I saw this new mama in her distress I suddenly had a rush of emotion come over me. I wanted to go wrap my arms around her and promise that her baby is fine (perfect, even) and that she will stop feeling so scared all the time in a couple of months and settle into a state of managable worry when things become routine. But at the same time I wanted to tell her to bottle up these emotions so that she can pull them out in 4 years when she has one child crying over a broken crayon, one child peeing in the floor, and one child screaming because she put him down for the first time in 2 hours (so that she could clean the carpet where child #2 peed). I had almost forgotten how it felt to be in a constant state of thankfulness for my children. I take them for granted. Every night when I say my evening prayers I thank God for my children and ask Him to protect them. Routine. I hardly even think about what I'm saying now. In fact, I would almost say that my prayer is less a true prayer to God and more a superstition, as though if I forget to ask God to protect them he'll allow something horrible to happen the next day. I don't believe this, but I still don't dare alter my prayer. It's one of those little things that helps manage OCD worry. I'm sure God understands. The point is, it's just routine, a recited prayer no more meaningful than the poetic prayers we make our children recite before they even understand who God is. I'm not moved to stop my day and tearfully proclaim my gratitude for putting these amazing little people in my life.

Today I vow to stop taking my children for granted. I will live as though I still believe today might be the last day I have with them. And when this too becomes routine, as I know that it will, I will pray to God for some experience like I had Thursday which will stir up these emotions again. Welcome to the world, New One. You will never know how the lesson you taught me this week. I can't wait to watch you grow. God has so richly blessed our family.

1 comment:

Reedmom4ever said...

I love your blog/therapy site! Great job! It is great therapy. I have mine and it's such a great place to vent!!! Anyway, I just wanted to comment because I remember HOW ROUGH it is parenting in the early childhood years. My children were 4 months, 22 months, and 3 years, when they were placed with me. I cried every night for the first month wondering how in the world I could possibly parent three young children. I would watch re-runs of the first season of "Seventh Heaven" and just long to be the fictional mother, Annie Camden. I remember when I was so angry and frustrated, I would physically shake and when I was so overwhelmed and exhausted, I would just cry. But, happy to say, "This, too, shall pass." My kids are older (Ethan, my youngest, is almost seven). This age is WONDERFUL! They still love me and appreciate having their mommy with them (especially in public!!!). They can and willingly complete chores, and there are no diapers or crying babies in carseats or diaper bags to lug around!!! They have their annoying days and I have mine but it gets SO MUCH better!!! You are a great mom and honestly, it does get better! Your children will remember the good things - you reading to them with a crying baby in your arms, you promising to be there when they are scared, and you spending time with them!!! So, be encouraged that "This, too, shall pass!" And if you want to borrow the Seventh Heaven first season DVD's, let me know!!! They are the best therapy! Actually, in season four, the mom gives birth to twins. You could identify with their screaming!!!
Rachelle Reed