I sit, listening to the sound machine in my daughter’s hospital room while she naps. Those are words that I never thought I would say, let alone type. But it’s kind of funny what life decides to throw at you.
When Emerson Jane was born, I knew at that moment, that I could never love another person as much as her. She stole my heart from the moment she was shoved in to my hands by the nurse one floor up from where I sit now. I had never really held a baby and surely didn’t know how to comfort one. She handed me that tiny 9 pound baby and that sweet little girl looked up at me and that was it. Over the next almost 3 years, every day I have somehow made more room in my heart and my love for her grows.
Last week, as you have read, she started acting off. She was lethargic, incredibly weak, and just didn’t act like her normal self. People always talk about the “momma bear gut.” And up until this time, I felt like it was something that was reserved for those moms who had physically carried the babies and given birth to them. But I knew, in my heart, something wasn’t right. We did all the right things, took her to the doctor, checked on her when she was sleeping, tried to engage her in play to try to figure out if she was just regressing since her brother had been born. But deep in my heart, I knew something was off. On Wednesday night, after almost a week of her being off and having gone to the doctor twice, we made the decision that she would go to school the next day. Her affect throughout all of this had been fine. She was still talking up a storm, smiling, laughing, interacting. Although I resisted at first, I listened to Machelle when she spoke about her possibly not wanting to do certain things because she sees us interacting with the baby and she wants the extra attention. So, she went to school.
I got the phone call around 10:15am on Thursday that the school had just called Machelle and said that she was falling and not able to catch herself. Machelle broke down on the phone. She felt like she had done something terrible by sending her to school. I immediately hung up to meet them at the doctor’s office. It took them about 20 minutes to get there and I am glad it did. My first thoughts when I hung the phone up were not good. They were anger and frustration. The thoughts that ran through my mind sounded something like this, “See, I told her that she shouldn’t have gone to school today..now look what has happened.”
In the time that it took them to get there, I had called a close friend and said, “I need you to talk some sense in to me and talk me down from how angry I am.” She immediately responded with a sentence that may have potentially saved my marriage. She said, very matter of fact, “Mary, EJ going to school did NOT cause this to happen. If anything, it helped you both to see what was going on.” Those 2 simple sentences allowed me to re-frame my thinking.
Instead of the “I was right, you were wrong and look what”s happened because of this” mentality that I had, I stopped. I thought to myself how much Machelle loves both of our children and how much she would do absolutely anything for them. She didn’t do this on purpose and would never do anything to purposefully hurt our children. She thought what she was doing was best and I had to stop my negative thoughts and move forward.
About the time that I had calmed down, they came squealing in to the parking lot. Our daughter was admitted to the hospital about 2 hours later and after a series of tests, they think that she had some rare form of viral meningitis and cerebellar ataxia. She is having trouble walking and watching her go through this is one of the most heart wrenching things I have ever done. She is the sweetest, most kind soul on the planet. She gets shy around cute boys and loves to play it up when people tell her how cute she is. The past 3 days all I have thought about is what our life would be like if she were permanently disabled. Your brain goes to weird places when you are alone in a hospital room watching your child in a crib. I’ve cried more in the past 3 days that I have in the past year. It’s the gut wrenching, feel like you are going to vomit, depths of your soul cry.
The staff here have been phenomenal. Not a single person has batted an eye when Machelle and I have explained that we are both the moms. They are so open and accepting and I think it is obvious to them how much we both absolutely love our children. We couldn’t ask for a better hospital. We couldn’t ask for a better family. We couldn’t ask for anything.
And to my wife: You are the best mother I have ever encountered. If you weren’t, I wouldn’t have said yes to having another baby. You are so loving and you also are able to set the limits with our children that I am just not capable of setting. I watch how you speak to them in such a kind and loving way. EJ hears that and replicates that. What other 2 year old do you know that consistently asks someone if they are ok when they are upset or that says please and thank you without being prompted (mostly). We have wonderful children and it is because of you. EJ will never remember you asking her to pick her buttons up when she couldn’t.