I’ve come to realize that motherhood means just a bit of heartbreak on a far too often basis.
My first experience was when they took Itty Bit to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for his first night. He hadn’t eaten and they wanted to monitor him. I was still running on adrenaline and felt rather invincible.
Sleep? Who needs sleep? Apparently NICU nurses are firm believers that new mothers do.
I was rather ceremoniously ushered out of the NICU (read: pushed out by a friend who happened to be the head nurse) and back to my room. My quiet and empty room where I cried instead of slept. I wanted desperately to hold my little golden boy. My heart broke with missing him.
(by the way, that little NICU visit lasted all of 90 minutes… I was back in there claiming that I had napped and was refreshed.)
The next day, I encountered a terrified-looking phlebotomist who had trouble meeting my eyes. Daddy explained that he’d warned the young man that if the baby cried, his Momma Bear (deaf or not) would come charging ready for action. The poor kid was petrified. He stammered, “I don’t like to make babies cry”.
I felt for him, but it took all I had to keep from tearing his arms off as he pierced my son’s foot and squeezed the heck out of it while Itty Bit screamed. More than a little heartbreak…
My worst moment in the hospital was getting the final diagnosis of Itty Bit’s kidneys. A kind doctor came into the ultrasound room where my tiny premature son laid shivering with limbs failing as they checked his kidneys.
I was desperate to know what his trained eyes recognized. He nodded to himself and spoke quietly to the radiologist. He turned to us and said “the images confirm that your son has polycystic displastic kidney disease.” He quickly followed with, “his right kidney should grow larger to do the work for both; he may be fine but needs to be monitored.”
I didn’t say a word. I couldn’t.
I could feel the hot tears on my face, but had no words for this man. After months of not knowing, our son’s struggle was in black and white on the screen.
The nurse patted my shoulder and said “all new moms feel emotional like this, it’s the hormones”.
The “you don’t even know me, you don’t know what this is like” feeling brought anger. I wanted her to stop smiling patronizingly at me.
Then they placed him back into my arms and I had to hold onto the possibility that he *could* be alright - and he was alive and kicking at this moment. Still, my heart hurt with the news.
Fast forward to the first few weeks at home. Itty Bit was on a “glow machine” (the official medical term for the large machine velcroed around his tummy to treat jaundice - like in the picture with Papa above) and we were literally anchored by the heavy thing. I slept on the floor with the glowbug in my arms.
Daddy asserted that the child did not need to be held every moment and needed to learn to fall asleep on his own.
I was mortified. This tiny little baby? He just got used to being outside of me and the lack of contact would surely make him feel unloved.
I gave it a shot.
And my heart ached when he began to cry.
Tiny little pitiful wails with itty bitty fists shaking in the air.
I started to cry. Harder than him. And I refused to be comforted. It was probably the first real time I had snapped at my poor husband.
I gave it several minutes before my emotions completely crumbled and I reached for him. His diaper was wet (yes, in the full 10 minutes since I’d changed him last) and I felt impossibly guilty. Guilty for not answering my son's cries.
On to his first words, first steps, first birthday, and that constant feeling that I can’t keep up. That I am missing things that can never be recaptured.
I’m there, I’m in the scenes.
But somehow I feel like two years went flying by without me absorbing enough. Though I get the feeling that there’s really no such thing as “enough”.
My latest… the little guy woke up from his afternoon nap thoroughly terrified. He was sobbing hysterically by the time I ran to the room. He refused to be comforted or to tell me what was the matter. Just ragged gasps of breath between awful huge sobs. He is not one to normally cry tears, but they squeezed from his eyes as he refused to be consoled.
I held him tightly.
Mommy got you
Mommy hold you
Jesus bring him peace
Jesus make him all better
He slowly quieted and his face relaxed.
I have no idea what brought on his terror. And as I held him against my chest, I could smell his sweat-drenched golden hair and feel his even breath. I saw his still-wet eyelashes and I wondered at what could have brought him to a place of such fear that even his mommy couldn’t reach him?
I spent those hard moments acknowledging that there WILL be things I cannot rescue him from. And I slowly came to the realization that if I ask God to make my boy strong, that these bits of heartbreak are part of it. For both of us.
I was brought to that place once again.
Abraham and Isaac.
Do I really trust God?
Do I really mean it?
Help me to. Please help me to.