Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mom's Story, Part Three

Click here for Part One.
Click here for Part Two.

Part Three:

I hurried back to my room. I got out my Bible and looked up 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. Here is what it said: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

I read the verses over and over again, amazed by their meaning, so specific to my particular situation. I believe God was telling me that His concern is for what a person is on the inside, in her heart and soul, and not for what a person looks like on the outside. It was as though He were telling me that my baby was beautiful to Him, and she could be beautiful to me as well.

I laid the Bible aside and pulled the bed covers around me. An uncommon peace settled over me, and I fell asleep.

I was released from the hospital a couple days later, but baby Vicki had to stay behind. A team of experts had been called in to examine her and to decide how best to handle her condition. They concluded that the most pressing matter was the need to protect the brain tissue, which was potentially protruding into the mass of flaccid skin on Vicki’s forehead. At ten days of age, she underwent her first major surgery. A mesh screen was inserted behind the skin of her forehead. This would cover the hole through which brain tissue could seep. Meant as a temporary measure to protect the brain, something more permanent would be required later on. For now, it was all the doctors knew to do. It was unknown if her little body would accept or reject the foreign object.

Vicki remained in the Intensive Care Unit for a month. I spent as much time as I could at the hospital, while my husband searched for employment. Just prior to Vicki’s birth, he had lost his job, along with the family’s health insurance. Now, not only would we have to personally pay for the delivery and my own hospital stay, but the cost of major surgery and weeks of intensive care as well. It was a bleak time for us. It was also difficult for our two-year-old son, who couldn’t understand why he was being left with babysitters day after day. And every day when I arrived at the hospital, I feared I would be told that Vicki had not made it through the night.

But day after day, Vicki survived. She grew stronger and stronger, until at last we were able to take her home. But that presented new problems. Having gotten used to the kindness and understanding of the staff at the hospital, I was unprepared for the reactions I would receive from

others. The first time I took Vicki with me to a store, I returned home in tears. I knew that strangers often approach new mothers, asking to see their baby. But when I was so approached, I was met with gasps of horror or silence and even one woman’s angry declaration, “What did you do to that baby!”

I went through each day in a fog, taking care of the children, the house, trying to live as normally as possible. My husband continued his desperate search for a job, while medical bills mounted. Vicki cried day and night, though doctors could find no reason why. The mesh screen in her head showed no signs of rejection, and there was no infection. She ate well and seemed to progress normally. But still she cried.

I cried a lot, too. I was tense, sad, angry and scared. I tried sharing my feelings with my husband, but he had his own problems. It was his responsibility to take care of his family, to provide an income, to pay the bills, to “make everything right.” But nothing was right. We wondered, would anything ever be right again?



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