Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm not paranoid, I'm just a mom...

I have to say that being a mother has been occasionally terrifying.  There have been moments in the lives of my children where I was rocked to my core.  Completely disabled by the fear that there was something very, very wrong.

Becoming a mother makes you vulnerable, because everything in your world revolves around these little people.  The instant you realize how much you love them, you dread ever having that taken.

They are adventurous and wild, daring and strong, fearless and bold.  And yet all that can change from one heartbeat to the next.

They can become weak and broken, small and tired, afraid and alone.

There are moments in the life of every parent where your heart literally stops beating.  Where time slows down and you can see the events unfolding before your eyes, but you know you are powerless to stop them.  

With my oldest, I learned this lesson almost immediately.  I didn't even get to hold him when he was born.  One quick kiss on the forehead and he was rushed to the NICU.  He was sick and weak.  They intubated him and talked about things like oxygen saturation levels.  About immature lungs and surfactant.  About how they were all fairly confident that he would be okay.  But when your baby has to undergo MRIs an CT scans to check for brain function, you know that he is anything but okay.

I went to see him for the first time, knowing in my head what it would be like since I'd been in the NICU many times before other times as a volunteer and student.  But this time was different.  He was mine.  All I saw was my little boy laying there, helpless.  Time slowed down to a crawl, while everything around me kept going at the speed of light.  I held his tiny little hands and prayed like I never had in my life.  Please just make him be okay.

The second time my heart stopped beating was the day he ran away.   The day that I lost my child.  The store we were in at the time followed their lock-down procedures flawlessly.   He was back in my arms safe and sound quickly.  It was only a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity.  I learned that morning how quickly life could change forever.  How vigilant I had to be.  And how even if I did everything in my power to stop harm from befalling my babies, it could still happen.

On a summer afternoon a few years ago now, it happened again.  One moment the kids were marching around the house banging pots and pans.  The next, there was blood.  Everywhere.  Ashley had fallen with one of the large wooden spoons in her mouth.  Instinctively, I grabbed a kitchen towel, scooped her into my arms, yelled to my neighbor across the street to watch the other kids and drove to the emergency room.  Her life was saved because of the distance of less than an inch.  If the spoon had hit any further back, we would have lost her.

In the middle of the night, a frantic phone call to Children's hospital.  My other little girl on my lap.  There was so much blood and we could not make it stop.  A one in a million reaction to a medication.  When they put those warnings on the label, she is why.  Her existence terrifies me often, as she tends to have sudden and scary reactions to things.  Often, we don't know why. 

Try as I can to be relaxed and roll with the punches, as much as I know that most of the ailments of childhood are self-correcting and temporary, I worry.  My radar is admittedly heightened right now, and it's going off again.  I will do as I must and I will watch and wait.  Only time will tell if this is anything worth worrying over. 

My brain knows these things.

My heart doesn't know the difference.

So I will wait and I will watch, while time slows down again.

I'm not paranoid.  I'm just a mom.

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