***This was originally posted on the old blog account on Blogger. This post was one of the most popular, so I’ve added it to this updated site and backdated it.***
I originally had a cute, witty little post written and almost ready to publish last week. It was all about the lessons I learned from almost losing my iPhone (Spoiler: I left it on a commercial flight and the cleaning crew found it). It was an entertaining post, and I’m sure many people can relate.
But then I almost lost my daughter. There’s nothing like a real, life-threatening health emergency to put life in perspective. Suddenly it seemed juvenile and petty to talk about almost losing my stupid iPhone because I can always go over to the Verizon store and get another one. There’s no way to replace a human. I can’t walk into a store and say, “I need a strawberry-blonde, petite, blue-eyed beauty with a vivacious and loving personality. Oh, and make her about 15 months old, with 8 teeth and the tiniest feet you’ve got.” Nope. It just doesn’t work that way.
When my baby girl stopped breathing, I would’ve sworn at the time that my heart stopped too. I tried in vain to help her, to get her to respond to my pleas for some sort of sign of conscious understanding. Then I watched numbly as my husband worked with the 911 operator and then the EMTs to get her back to normal. In those brief, blurred moments when she was blue and non-responsive, I really thought we might lose her and I was helpless to do anything but pray.
I didn’t cry until the next day when she sat in her high chair happily eating some oatmeal and clapping her hands along with whatever Baby Einstein song Pandora was playing. She seemed so normal again. Could our nightmare really have been less than 24 hours before? It scares her when I cry, so I wept silently as all the emotions I’d been holding back overflowed like a burst dam. I had researched infant and toddler illnesses in detail. As a result, I had always known that febrile seizures were a possibility.
I didn’t know that during one such seizure, babies can stop breathing and turn a terrifying shade of blue.
I didn’t know that I’d be unable to hold my baby girl as she finally sputtered and gasped and then began to cry.
I didn’t know that I’d be so relieved to see the EMTs, but simultaneously infuriated as half a dozen of them crowded into our small bathroom and blocked my ability to even just see my precious baby.
I didn’t know I’d have to stand outside and just listen, praying and trying to calm the swelling panic as my husband very efficiently briefed them.
I didn’t know she’d look so tiny and terrified sitting in the infant adaptor for the ambulance gurney.
I didn’t know that I’d feel like screaming “ENOUGH!” as they stuck her four times in an attempt to get an IV to work.
I didn’t know I’d be up all night alternating medications for her every two hours.
I didn’t know that I’d cry again just writing about it.
There are some things you just can’t know until you experience them. You can read every WebMD article, scour every parent chatroom, and participate in dozens of mommy groups on Facebook. You can even talk to your doctor and ask a million questions and think you’ll be prepared. But nothing can prepare you for those dark moments when it seems like your life is teetering on the edge of tragedy.
Nothing, that is, except faith. I couldn’t prevent my daughter’s febrile seizure, and I couldn’t cure the virus that caused it. But I could trust that no matter what the outcome, God was in control. Looking back, it is so evident that God was at work the entire time to protect and provide for us. We are blessed in that our sweet baby girl has made an almost full recovery, with just a few lingering cold-like symptoms to show for the worst nightmare of our lives thus far. God made sure my husband was able to leave work early thanks to some compassionate and reliable coworkers. God made sure we woke up from our naps when we did so we could discover the onset of her high fever. God helped us to recognize her symptoms and know to seek immediate help. God provided expert guidance to most likely save her life and further care to ease her pain. And trusting God is what got us through the next couple of sleepless nights of tracking her fever and alternating her medications.
It seems surreal now, and maybe I’m making more of it than I otherwise would if I was not a first-time Mommy. I don’t think so though, and her doctor validated my reactions and fears. But maybe other mommies out there would have been stronger, faster, more knowledgeable, more forceful…in the end, it didn’t matter if I was “Mommy enough.” In every conceivable way, God was enough. I know that I am immeasurably blessed in that I was able to learn this lesson (for the umpteenth time) and still wake up the next day to hold my baby. I know not everyone shares the same experience, and my heart breaks for those parents who have outlived a child.
There are a couple of times in the Bible when the authors say that Mary (mother of Jesus), stored things up in her heart. Now that I am a mother, I know what that truly means. There are fleeting moments, life lessons, and powerful emotions that we all experience, but being a mother lends a unique perspective on life and the value of the human soul. This was one of those situations, and like Mary, I will store these things up in my heart as I squeeze my baby girl and breathe in her irreplaceable beauty.
Humbled and hopeful,