Saturday, May 1, 2010

Part Six : Making the Hard Decisions, Resting on Faith

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


Amber Rosie on May 1, 2010 at 7:34 AM said...

That was a scary time. I remember Nana J calling me and saying at that time they still didn't know what was wrong and I said Nana I think her bowels are twisted. It was so unnerving when I heard that what I thought was true when Nana called me back later that day. I remember coming to see her and you and John just looked so tired. I felt helpless for you! She looked so sad and hurt. I kept thinking that the one blessing was that she wouldn't remember the pain. I wish you would have never had to gone through that, but I know that God was in it.

kimi kreations on May 1, 2010 at 2:46 PM said...

I am sending prayers to you and your family. I to cry and I am typing this. I found your blog a few weeks ago added it to my reader and I will admit, when I open the reader and it is full of new offering to read. I always look for yours first. I'm not sure if it is the pictures or the words but I seem to connect with you. I am so very happy that everything worked out for Layla. I'm sure God has a special plan for her.
{{Big Hug}}

Rita on May 1, 2010 at 2:52 PM said...

Thank you so much for posting this. You are so right about life. Sometimes we need to sit back and just enjoy life and our children and not worry about the little stresses in our lives.

Heather on May 1, 2010 at 3:30 PM said...

There is nothing more humbling than being a parent... they say mothering is like having your heart walk around outside of you, don't they?

I often learn so much about my relationship with God through my relationship with my girls. Truly, each day is a gift. Thanks for reminding me of that through your post. I think we get mired in the things of the world way too easily, when those things can wait. But our family? Our kids? They might not be there when we're done with those things that we deemed so important at one time. {my personal experience - I'm such a slow learner too}. Bless you, dear.

Beth Simmons on May 1, 2010 at 7:13 PM said...

I have read this story before but I'm so glad you shared it again. As I read it again, I am reminded to keep what is most important in perspective. I'm also reminded to trust God in all things, big and small. Thank you:)

Misty Wallace on May 2, 2010 at 6:40 AM said...

Oh my goodness, I had not heard that story before. Praise God!! So happy all is well and know God has great plans for you all. Thanks for sharing.

Mónica on May 3, 2010 at 4:29 AM said...

this makes us look back and thik in other way.
i'm glad your children is well now and hope you never have something like this to tell ever again.
big kiss.

Janete on May 3, 2010 at 7:22 AM said...

wow, i cried while reading this!! it brought up a lot of emotions that i went through! i've had 4 kids in 4 yrs (2 of which are twins). my son has had 2 surgeries and his twin sister has had one surgery. and even though they were very minor, small surgeries, that fear of "what if they don't wake up?" kept running through my mind, and just seeing that look in their eyes RIGHT before they went to sleep, that look of fear as if asking me "why are you letting this happen to me?" i didn't want that to be their last thought, if they didn't wake up! boy, i never want to go through that again! God bless you and your family, i'm so happy that your children are happy and healthy! praise God that my next 2 children have not had to go through the same thing :)

Anonymous said...

Praise God she is here, Johnna this was so hard.I love you Mommy

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