Saturday, May 1, 2010
7:08 AM Posted by Johnna Riddell
Part Six : Making the Hard Decisions, Resting on Faith
At the beginning of each part in this series you will see this little note. I want to remind you that I am not trying to come from a negative space, or a judgmental - holier than thou - kind of place. I’m coming from the place of a mother who knows she has a lot to learn, that she knows she has a long way to go… and that she loves being a mother. I hope that you don’t take anything I say as anything more than my own experience and a heartfelt message. I pass no judgment, and appreciate all mothers and the styles they embrace. I hope to learn something on this journey and hear your stories as well.
This post is one that is hard for me to write. It’s highly personal and emotional and one that spans a lot of growing up.
Our children have always been healthy. Full of life and completely wild. Little free spirits, that aside from the occasional ear infection or runny nose have been just fine. We never came up against any major illnesses or events that were too much, and we never had to try too hard to believe that our little life wasn’t threatened.
In January of 2009 that changed. My eyes were opened to a whole new world. And a whole new struggle. It was only two weeks but it was two weeks that changed me forever. One that I will never forget and one that I made me grow up in my life and in my faith.
Layla became very ill… most of you know the story but for those of you who do not, it was a horrible time in our life.
It all started simply enough, she was throwing up, it seemed like a virus, maybe the flu, she couldn’t keep her formula down and wasn’t making proper bowel movements. The weather was bad so we visited the local doctor, one that John and I had seen several times and had known since we were young. He put her on an antibiotic and told us to keep an eye on her. The next night, she was fussy and not moving much, still sick. She made a bowel movement and as I went to change her I noticed the sides were red, I opened the diaper to find it full of blood, the most I had ever seen come from a child. I was shaking, I turned to John and said “It’s blood”… we rushed to the hospital.
We sat in the ER, waiting, they thought she seemed dehydrated a little and decided she needed an IV. Twelve times they tried, She screamed and wriggled, she looked at me like “Why Momma, Why are they hurting me…” I don’t think I stopped praying, asking God to shield my worry with strength. Inside I was falling apart. All the IVs either missed or blew out. With each one we all felt the impending truth, we were headed to Children’s.
We headed, in horrible conditions, to Cincinnati, to seek treatment from the Doctors at Children’s. By this time Layla had a fever and was crying and miserable. So were we. We were scared and frustrated. It all seemed to happen very fast from there though. It only took two tries to get her IV in there and they were immediately running tests to find out what was wrong. She fell asleep and I took a breath. I was still praying…
When they told us what was wrong, that her intestines had folded inside themselves and that she couldn’t physically ingest anything it seemed un real, it was hard to process that idea. They showed us in the x-rays and told us that they had a procedure that would blow the intestines back in place, it was the least invasive and usually very effective. We felt good about it and then we took her to have it done. They lay the child down and force air into their rectum. There is nothing to relax them, you have to hold them in place and just let the doctors do their jobs.
Twice we tried. It was horrible. Twice it failed. I was still praying.
They told us then, that surgery was our option. She’d be put to sleep and there would be a machine breathing for her, she had to be on heavy amounts of anesthesia and they would have to remove a large portion of her intestine, and if their was damage there would be even more removed.
She was so tiny, just an eight month old baby. She was so weak and sore and it was so hard seeing her like that. The thought of all of that seemed too much. What if she didn’t wake up… what if it didn’t work… what if it was too late. While she was sleeping, John and I talked. And we both cried like infants. It felt hopeless. The Doctor came in to find out and we said “Okay, when can she go for surgery” He said “She isn’t going to die. This will fix her” I think we both wanted to hug him. He knew we were scared. He knew we needed reassurance.
I remember watching them take her, and we had to stay behind. I cry now, thinking about it… I’m crying now. Watching them take her away and not knowing what would happen while she was away was almost unbearable. I was praying, harder than I ever had.
When she came out of surgery I was so happy to see her. She wasn’t moving but she was on her way to being better. I felt some peace.
That night things got very bad. The morphine started having no effect and she began to scream out in pain. We pleaded with the staff to do something, the nurses all tried, the surgeons and the doctors all tried… but it was hours upon hours before they changed it. She was refusing to breathe it hurt her so bad… I stood at her bedside as she came down from the adult doses of morphine in her tiny, eight month, body… I shook her arm every time she stopped breathing. I was so afraid. I hadn’t slept at all… I remember getting dizzy and hearing things, I ran into the hallway and got a nurse, I said “please don’t leave her, she only breathes if you shake her arm, I can’t stay awake, I need to know you’ll stay.” I collapsed in a chair for a half an hour, maybe 45 minutes. She was doing much better. Still not moving much but she was breathing and sleeping soundly. I said a prayer into her ear… and told her I loved her.
We had to wait a few days before we could leave, but they all reassured us that she would be all right. She had a bottle and the next day she smiled… for the first time in two weeks. We went home and she has been wonderful since.
During that week I felt so much. Hopeless, Hopeful, Afraid, Angry, Hurt, Loved and Full of Faith. If it hadn’t been for prayer I don’t think I would have made it. I don’t think I could have remained calm and gotten through it. I remember saying, “We’re still on our way, we just need to go this way to get there, God is in control.”
I never saw things the same after that… all the things that used to matter seemed trivial and stupid, all the decisions I had struggled with became pointless. What mattered was my children… and that God gave me one more day. Leaving the hospital, seeing all families that had to stay made me realize all our blessings. It made me see what a big God we serve and that he had given me more than I deserved. It made me realize that life is about the little things… everything else was just complication. I felt so thankful, and every time I change her diaper and see that scar I am reminded of our gifts… and of the gift of life.
I see now, that we come to cross roads where we have to make hard decisions, but if we remain in prayer and keep our faith… God WILL show us the way and carry us to the other side, no matter what that means.
Check Back For the Final Part in this Series “Depression and Working Through It”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and hear your advice and insight… Us mothers need to come together and embrace our similarities and our differences so that we can be united and more supportive. I’ll encourage you to share here, in the comments or blog about it and share the link. Thanks for taking the time to read. It means so much