Friday, September 11, 2009
We wove our way around the parking structure and found a parking place. We grabbed the diaper bag and Pickle and headed to the elevator. This place seemed ominous, but I just tried to put one foot in front of the other. We had prayed the whole way down. There was nothing left to do but go in.
As we stepped on the elevator to the entrance of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, we saw another family of three. The dark-haired dad was holding his baby girl. She was wearing hot pink leggings, and her face was expressionless. She had puffy cheeks and patches of hair were missing. The hair she did have was dark, thick and curly.
He said, "Hi. How old is your baby?" We told him five months. He asked, "What's her name?" We said Hope. He said "This is Molly. She's five months too." I started to feel the knot in my throat. Hope was being seen for her small stature - she was 8 pounds, 8 ounces at the time. Molly was quite clearly double her size.
He must have seen the panic in my eyes, because this is what he said next: "She's kind of puffy right now from all the drugs. They've been giving her steroids. It takes a while to get out of her system...Don't pay attention to her size." And with that he smiled, and the elevator landed on the first floor. We exited and the family turned to the right and headed toward Molly's doctor. I stopped, and started to cry. Steve put his hand on my arm, and told me lovingly to just relax.
That's when I realized how much courage parents of sick children have to have. It's a requirement. They can't be weak because their children could and would sense it.
We went on to find out that Hope is healthy, just small. But through our journeys to Children's Hospital, we would see these parents - walking toddlers with hospital gowns on. I had never seen such tiny hospital gowns...pushing strollers and oxygen tanks at the same time, carrying children who couldn't walk that day, combing a sweet child's bedhead, or just sitting with them while they took a break from being in their hospital rooms.
These parents are some of the most courageous people I've ever seen. It was hard enough for me to walk into that elevator, but these parents have a different element to them. You can feel their strength. It is amazing. They look tired, but not defeated. They are quiet, calm and there for their children. While I sat in the lobby, I stared...not at the children, but at them. This was their normal.
For those moments before we found out Hope is healthy, I thought it was hard. But I look back at that time and know that I felt only a very small fraction of what parents of sick kids feel. I admire those parents for their strength and calm, their loving care for their children.
Though I am thankful for our daughter's health, I know that I was shown this on purpose. I understand that God wanted me to see and understand that having a small child is small potatoes in comparison to some of the big battles some tiny ones face.
Having known two sets of parents that were in situations that required this kind of strength, I can only say to you: You did wonderfully. And your children will only benefit from your reactions and grace.
And to Molly's dad, I say this: Thank you for choosing to comfort me, when you needed the reassurance. Thank you for taking care of Molly. It's humbling to know that in your situation, you chose to comfort me. I will always remember that gift.
Just so you know people, I haven't shut down, but I did shut up for a while. I took some heat for one of my posts and the usage of the word "ignorant". Yes, it is true that I offended some people; people that chose not to be in my life anymore because I used this word.
Let me be direct in saying that I meant ignorant in the sense of "unknowing", which is the truest meaning of the word. I don't take offense to this word usually, unless it's spat at me. I am ignorant about many, many things in life. I simply do not have information or knowledge about everything. Thus, I am an ignorant person as well.
Though my life's journey hasn't stopped, friendships sometimes do. I just wonder, if the word "ignorant" can undo the glue of a relationship, how strong was the glue?
It's an answer to prayer, nevertheless.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Should size matter? I mean, when I go to Starbucks and order a venti and they shove a grande at me, that is no good. I wanted bigger. I ordered bigger. Give me the large!
So, what happens when your baby isn't the size you ordered? I wanted Hope very badly. I prayed, and prayed to our Lord for her to exist. Then one day, I was pregnant. I knew who she was before I ever saw her. I knew she would be my loving, animated, bright girl who laughs with her mommy and gets extremely excited when she sees her daddy.
They told me she was going to be big. They told me at least 8 pounds, if not 9.
When she was born, she weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces.
This didn't bother me. However when she continued to stay petite for her age, people said the worst things to me. They would make comments about "how tiny she is...".
I don' t mind so much now. All the tests have been run, we've seen two doctors, and she hits every single milestone with excitement and fervor. Oh, but the things people said along the way:
"Breast-fed babies are usually bigger than formula-fed." Not true. Breast-fed babies can be up to 60 percent smaller, but catch up to formula-fed babies later on in their lives.
"You know she's small, right?" Um, well, if I hadn't heard it before, I guess I do now.
"Just give her formula." Right, because that will instantaneously make her a bigger baby. Which we did by the way, along with nursing, and she had an initial surge in weight, then leveled off. Might the surge have anything to do with the fact that we were shoving her face with food?
"What does her pediatrician say?" He says she's "perfectly normal"; that one day, she will be "thanking us for her metabolism." And the gastroenterologist says, "It's her program."
"Maybe she just doesn't want to be breast-fed." Right, and that's why she eats from me at least eight times a day and will nurse from me no matter how many bottles or food you give her. And each doctor has told me to continue nursing.
Believe it or not, people I consider friends said some of the above comments. You just have to learn that they too, along with strangers, are ignorant. They haven't been in the doctor's appointments, listened to the medical advice, read the studies, or the literature.
My vote is that size does NOT matter, unless the child is lacking in some way. Hope is not. The doctor has assured me of this a number of times.
Every Tuesday I leave my house at about 1:30 p.m. to head to the gym. As I leave, I turn down Sitting Bull and pass a woman with white hair, who sits in a blue car. She's waiting. There is a bus stop nearby and I'm fairly certain she is waiting for her grandchild. One reason she stands out to me, among others, is because she is always the first adult there, and always before the school bus arrives. She waits with her windows rolled down and her silver window shade fully expanded on the inside of her windshield. On Fridays, I leave for the gym at about 2 p.m. By that time, most of the parents seem to be there, hanging out in their cars. As I pass them, I am certain that she was, once again, the first one there.
She reminds me of my mother. Though she has taken her turn as a mother, her role as "Grandma" is still in the works, and she takes pride in it.
Today, Hope went down for a nap. After about an hour, and as I was still folding clothes, I heard her start to chatter on the monitor. I muttered to myself, "A mother's work is never done." It's the truth; once you are a mom, your work is never done and your life is changed forever.
I like to mother with joy. I get tired, but I try not to let it show. When I hit the sheets at night, I pray that I will sleep soundly so I can recharge for her. Daily, I remind myself to embrace the changes, and I do for the most part. This blog will chronicle the changes, the events and the drama that surrounds and is infused in the life of a mother. If you choose not to read it, my feelings won't be hurt because I will never know. It will become my nighttime passion, I'm certain.
Not everyone understands this thing called motherhood. And sometimes, there are women who keep secrets from you. It might be that you don't know what questions to ask because you are new to the role. However you want to look at it, you are somewhat on your own to develop your style. There's no manual, there's no guide. And because your child is different from any other, it's up to you to figure out what is best for this little human being. In an effort to explain and sift through some of the mysteries, I will write.