Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thoughts on Motherhood : Showing Strength

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As Mama, it is up to me to show my children how to be fearless in a time of crisis. I spent some time last month with Koen crying in my arms and looking down at him with a heart full of fear and worry. I never once let him in on the fact that I was alarmed. You see, Koen had to be admitted to the hospital with a possible case of Mastoiditus last month. This is a very serious infection of the mastoid bone (which is located behind the ear) that can cause all kinds of horrible things to children if it goes untreated. So, we took it very seriously when we were told to get blood work and a CAT scan for a true diagnosis.

We found ourselves in a bright lab room in the hospital. The nurse stuck him in his chubby foot to get the blood work as he lay down on the cold lab table. I leaned over his body and held his hands so that he could not escape, my face was just above his and he was screaming beneath me. My heart started to race and my eyes welled up with tears as I put my lips next to his ear and sang old church hymns to try to calm him down. He struggled and cried and I just wanted to cry with him. I brushed the hair from his forehead and my tears almost started to fall when I saw his eyes focus on my face. In that single moment of eye contact, our souls spoke. He looked so fearful and was looking to me for strength.

At that moment I knew that I could not cry with him, it was time for me show him that he was safe and that I was not afraid. Fighting back the tears, I told him "Look at Mommy, you are safe, Mommy is here, it's almost over." His eyes locked with mine and he calmed down as I continued to gaze at him and sing. His little body relaxed and they were able to get the blood that they needed. I snatched him up and rocked him to sleep, still fighting back the tears.

We spent three days in the hospital so that he could get an IV of antibiotics to clear up the infection. The poor little guy had to have an IV in his foot and could not walk the entire time. I found reservoirs of strength dwelling within me. My mom stayed at the hospital with us the entire time and we tried to make it as easy as we could for my sweet little fella. We found a child's size wheelchair and we would go on walks around the floor. We would wheel him up to a window that overlooked the parking lot and let him watch the cars. It was October so the nurses had decorated the unit with pumpkins and black cats. We made a game to see who could find the most pumpkins. We let him empty an entire box of cheerios on the bed and then throw them all on the floor. We found pots and pans in the playroom and let him pretend to cook Legos. All the while, my heart was breaking into a million pieces for my strong little boy. I could not allow myself to feel weak because he needed me. We created a "new normal" in the hospital and thrived on our new routine.

The next week, we ended up at Outpatient Services getting tubes put in his ears and his adenoids removed. He woke up in furious fit in the recovery room. As he kicked and yelled himself awake from the anesthesia, I found myself singing the same church hymns in his ear. A nurse came into check on him and was a flurry of explanations. "This is just him coming out of the anesthesia , he'll calm down soon." she announced. I was a rock at that moment even though my heart was pounding. My child flopped around like a fish out of water in my arms. I nodded to the nurse and was a bit dismissive as she said "Oh, so you're not upset that he's upset?"

I could not allow myself to be upset with him. He needed me and I tapped into that reservoir of strength yet again. We wrestled and I sang to him and tried to calm him down. Inside, my heart was racing and I could feel panic sneaking up on me. He finally settled into my arms and took a nap. The nurse patted my back and said "Good work mama, most mothers freak out when they
see their children in that hysterical state."

I did not cry one tear until I was home with a healthy toddler. I climbed into the shower and with water dripping down my face, let go of all my strength, and cried my eyeballs out. I had remained strong for my sweet boy with courage that only a mama could have. There will be more moments in my boys' childhood where I have to be a solid force for them, I'm sure. No matter how my heart aches for them or beats fast with fear near them, I will always be the woman who makes them feel safe.

It's simply part of the job.

21 comments:

Holly said...

Just heart wrenching! I remember doing the same with my son, it's so hard. I used to cry in the shower at those times too.

Sarah said...

Beautiful post. I find unbelieveable strength in me when my kiddos need it. I had to do the same thing with my daughters surgery a few weeks ago and she's having another one next week, and I'm terrified and heartbroken, but I know that I will be strong for her when the times come. The things we do for our children.

Sarah said...

Beautiful post. I find unbelieveable strength in me when my kiddos need it. I had to do the same thing with my daughters surgery a few weeks ago and she's having another one next week, and I'm terrified and heartbroken, but I know that I will be strong for her when the times come. The things we do for our children.

Sarah RDH said...

Great post! My little girl was in the hospital for 3 days last month as well. It sucks. My breakdown moment was in the hallway while they did a spinal tap, and just listening to my poor, sweet girl scream. But ya know, as good mama's, we know they have to go through some of that sometimes- bc the alternative is far, far worse.

Dixie Mom said...

You did it momma. I'm grateful for strength when times get tough. I hope your boy is feeling MUCH better. And if he is, it's because he has a great Mommy.

R Montalban said...

Dexter had exactly the same thing happen to him a few years ago so I know only too well what you went through. I stayed with him in hospital all day and all night as he was there on drips. He too was ok as you know, but I remember only too well how awful an experience it was, and how glad Anders and I were that we didn't take the first GP's diagnosis of it being a 24 hr bug - as it wasn't. Glad you are all safe and well now, as I am for my Dexter and us. Big hug and kiss as I know exactly what you went through.

Sarah said...

I totally know how you feel. Earlier this month, one of my twins was hospitalized for the 3rd time this year, due to respiratory issues. Having him be on oxygen, hooked up to IVs and other monitors, is absolutely heartbreaking. I stay at the hospital almost the whole time, mostly just me and him. The worst part is when they draw blood or insert the IV because it hurts me so much to see him in pain. But I know I have to be strong. There is time later for me to be weak, but not when he needs me the most. I'm so glad that Koen is doing better.

Jenn said...

Thanks for this. We're taking my daughter for tubes this week. Not nearly as extensive as what you went through, but this is a good reminder to me to remain strong in her presence and that it's important to do so to instill in her a sense of security. Thank you.

KT said...

I had tears in my eyes as you describe breaking down later. I know I get very calm during a crisis and break down later. I think it is a Mom thing. Thanks for helping us to remember to be strong for our little ones. Making them feel safe is our number one job.

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Amen, sister. Wow. Tears streaming down my face. Putting our own emotions aside when our children need us to be strong is the hardest thing. I think it sounds like you win a gold medal for this one.
I am so thankful he is okay and that you managed to get through everything as best as possible. Sounds like you have a trooper on your hands. He's lucky to have such a strong Mama.

RunMonkeyMama said...

Wonderful post. It really sums up the really hard partsw about being a mom. My youngest had to have tubes in his ears, and it is shocking to see them in the state they're in after waking back up. You did good, mama.

Sue said...

You're right. Moms need to provide that strong anchor. We've all done it, and we'll all do it again. Again and again.

As you say, it's part of the job.

Great post, Leigh.

=)

AmusingCrystal said...

Beautiful!! And inspiring. I've been there with my daughter with her asthma and peanut allergy. Strength finds it's way out no matter what when our shildren are involved.

Erin said...

It is so hard being a mom, Leigh. And you've captured the essence of it here. Amazing. I felt many of these same feelings when Izzy had her hernia surgery a few months ago....fortunately they gave her some Versed beforehand to help calm her, and she didn't have to stay in the hospital. She also had tubes put in when she was about 18 months old, so...it's been tough for her compared to Abby.

Beautiful piece!

Daffy said...

There is so much strength in motherhood....strength we never knew we had and weakness too :o)

Nikosmommy said...

WOW, great post. It is SO hard to keep it together when your kids are suffering. You`ve been through a lot lately...hang in there Mama!!!!

Amy said...

That poor baby... It's a good thing he had his strong momma there with him. And I am so glad that he is alright now!

Lucy said...

wow. this post is so heart breaking. you are a strong mother. I admire that!

My Captivating Images said...

I remember a time like that in my life and I couldn't have put it in better words than you did! When my econd child was only a few weeks old they told us she may have cancer. We went through lots of cat scans, anesthesia, blood work, and tests until she was 2 years old. Thankfully she doesn't have cancer and is a healthy child today at age 5. I can definitely relate to your post.

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

So hard to be a mom during a crisis. You did so well.
I have a fifteen year old scheduled for surgery. It doesn't get any easier when their older. You wish you could go through it for them.
A wonderful post Leigh,
Dana

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Beautiful post. It must be so hard but you did it.