One of the mothering trials that can produce desperate mothers is health concerns with our children. Watching my oldest daughter, Jaime, walk through the fear and fatigue of watching her babies suffer was one of the hardest things I have endured as a mother.
Do you have a child with health challenges or know someone who does? Whether the trials you face with a child’s illness last weeks or months or years, I pray Jaime’s story will encourage your heart. I’ve asked her to open her heart and story to you today and tomorrow.
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Desperation in a mother’s life can have many different faces. I have seen many of them through various circumstances and challenges I have faced in nearly 12 years of motherhood. There are two times in those years, however, when desperation tested my faith and pushed me toward God like never before….
From the first days after my second born, Wyatt, was born I knew something wasn’t right. He didn’t nurse correctly and didn’t start gaining weight. He seemed to be alarmed by every little noise. Hours after his birth Mom flew to Texas to witness the birth of my older brother’s first child just three days later; we shared many late night long distance conversations trying to “fix” the problems.
Wyatt spent the first six months of his life screaming. He literally didn’t stop crying, would sleep in only 30 to 45-minute spurts only to wake up to start screaming again. He was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, a neurological condition that prevents the brain from properly integrating certain information received from the body’s five basic sensory systems. These sensory systems are responsible for detecting sights, sounds, smell, tastes, temperatures, pain and the position and movements of the body. For a newborn, this meant that ANY new stimulus would send him into a frenzy for days. One week, for example, I decided to take a huge risk and go to Target. Bad idea. Wyatt didn’t sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time for 72 hours after that trip.
I spent six months of my life at home: shades closed, praying and playing soft music (yes, I spent some serious time on the internet looking for any possible help.) I begged God to heal him and to help me to love this fussy, demanding little boy. My frantic internet searches resulted in panic a few times when I read what his problems may have been. I feared for his future as a man. What if he NEVER left the house! A lot of this was somewhat irrational due to sleep deprivation, but it felt real. It was certainly real when I called my mom over and over to assure me he was okay, but mostly to sit up with him so I could get some sleep. Again.
Those months were some of the darkest of my life. First time motherhood had been a comparative breeze to the exhaustion and fear of having a sick newborn. Would he be okay? Would I give in to resentment toward God and my little son for my maternal dream of life with my daughter and son remaining a nightmare instead? And how self-pitying could I be for having to care for a sick baby when others faced much more serious situations with their children that I was walking through?
Exhaustion, guilt, questioning God, and fear were stalking me daily. Night after night I tried to sleep and just when my eyes got heavy he would start to cry…again. Then the next morning 4-year-old Kayla would wake up happy and ready for a new day. I’m glad she can’t remember those long days with an anxious, weary mommy.
Wyatt slowly improved. Once we learned his frenulum (the skin attaching the tongue to the backside of the gum line) was tight, we had it clipped. Before long the gassiness subsided and he became an adorable, happy and chubby little boy.
Dad and Mom stopped having to come over to pace with him on Sunday nights. Mom stopped getting as many S.O.S. calls and didn’t have to come as often to scrub toilets or stay with the kids so I could get a short break. For a few weeks I was sleeping for several hours in a row each night before feeding Wyatt and then watching him fall peacefully to sleep again. I was finally starting to normal.
Until the day when he was just eight months old when I called Mom in tears. Maybe she would convince me that the positive pregnancy test I just did was wrong.
Wyatt was finally getting better and I had hope that I wouldn’t be exhausted forever. How was I going to face morning sickness, pregnancy fatigue and agonizing anxiety about how I would cope with two children in 15 months on the heels of some of the hardest months of my life?
What if the next baby was like Wyatt? There was no way I could go through that again.
She wasn’t. Annie was a pretty easy newborn but God chooses our trials and our blessings. You’ll probably laugh (just like Mom nervously did on my next shocking phone call). When Annie was just nine months old I was pregnant again.
And this time there were different trials that I couldn’t anticipate and would have never chosen.
Three children in three years. And two of them were sick newborns.
I’ll share the rest of the story tomorrow.