Blog Introduction

This blog is the story of how my husband and I faced the illness and death of two of our children. Each blog post is essentially a chapter in the story, so in order to truly understand it, you are going to benefit by starting at the beginning.
I hope you find our story touching, and in some way find comfort and hope through it as you face your own storms in life.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A New Hope

Michael Robert made his presence known to me one day at work with a very strong, determined kick.  I was only about 3 months pregnant and hadn't felt any of the "flutters" that are often first felt as the growing baby inside makes its presence known.  Mike had nothing to do with "flutters"....he was all boy and gave me a good karate kick first thing.  Of course I didn't know he was a boy at the time, but it didn't matter.  I was thrilled with the kick.

There were times in the pregnancy when I worried.  Would this baby be healthy?  Would I have to watch this baby die, as well?  The little one growing inside of me was also growing more and more attached to my heart.  The bonds of motherhood are indeed strong.  In spite of efforts to protect myself from getting too emotionally attached to this baby before I knew it would be "safe" to do so, my heart fell desperately in love with him.  I wanted this baby.  Some were convinced that I was having this baby as a replacement for Sarah.  I actually had to consider that for awhile.  Was I really just trying to replace the baby I had lost?   I didn't think so, but what was the acceptable length of time a person should wait to have another baby after one has died?  Was there some kind of statute of limitations on these things  I was unaware of?  I gave it a lot of thought, and tried to honestly assess my situation.  This was what I concluded.  Yes, I had lost a baby and was now having another one. No, I was not trying to replace Sarah.  She was a unique, one-of-a-kind person who could never be replaced.  There was only one Sarah, and there would never be another.  But on the other hand, there was a baby-sized hole in my heart which created a vacuum for the things that only a baby can fill.  I wanted a baby!  I knew it couldn't be Sarah, but I still wanted to be a mother, with a baby in arms.  This baby was not a replacement;  he or she was an addition!

I also recalled words that I heard spoken about this baby months before.  The day I was feeding Sarah and asked her if she was "shaking off her body", I instantly in that moment heard a voice inside of me say, "I will give you another child."   It was as clear and as unexpected as anything, but it was strong and definite.  I knew God had just made a promise to me.  I would have another child.  This was that child; the child I had been promised- a child of promise.

Michael came into the world on February 6, 1987 at 2:55 a.m., a healthy 8 pounds, 20 inches long, with both lungs fired up and working at full capacity.  He was so loud, I was sure he was waking up everyone else on the unit!  I held him and tried to soothe him, Rob held him and walked with him, but nothing would quiet this boy down.  He was going to make his appearance into this world known to everyone in earshot!   He cried and cried, refusing to be consoled.  Grandpa and Grandma, who had been waiting in another room, came in to greet their newest grandbaby.  Then,  like some kind of magic....some kind of sneaky scheme on Michael's part to get on Grandma's "good side", he stopped crying as soon as she held him!  It was instantaneous.  Smart kid-- he knew from the start who to make points with!  

Michael was a wonderful baby.  He was a good eater, slept well, and was a total joy to have with us.  Things were going great, and the heaviness I had held in my heart before, was beginning to fade even more.

The first anniversary of Sarah's death came only 10 days after Michael had been born.  The day came, and there was a definite acknowledgement of it, but with this lively little one filling up my days and nights, the pain of it was minimal.  But once again, my world was about to be rocked.
Only 11 days later, Michael began to act listless and wouldn't eat well.  I had laid him down to nap by Rob, but kept a watchful eye.  He began to have a fever, and when I went to pick him up, he was limp.  My heart absolutely sank as all the fears, all the emotions came rushing to the surface.  "This baby is sick and is dying, too", I thought.  I was sick; knots instantly tightened in my stomach.  This couldn't be happening again!  We called the Pediatrician who directed us to bring him to Emergency.  Waiting there seemed to take forever.  Didn't they realize who we were?  Didn't they know what we had been we were terrified of hearing  horrible words again?  Why didn't they hurry up?
A young physician came in and examined Michael, who by now was acting completely normal.  Then he looked at me as if I was a bit looney.  I probably did appear that way;  I was scared to death.  The doctor told me to feed Michael to see how he did; he ate like a trooper.  That, combined with his temperature being near normal, meant we were out the door with a "don't be one of those paranoid mothers" looks.  We went home, a bit embarrassed.
 A few hours later,  Mike's fever was back, and he was fussy.  I called the Pediatrician again, and we brought him to her office.  Once there, his temperature was still up, so she decided he needed to be admitted to the hospital for a septic workup.  That meant there was an infection somewhere.  I tried to be strong in the small little office, but the tears started rolling down my cheeks no matter how hard I fought to restrain them.  "Here we go again", was running through my mind.  "Here we go again."   The doctor tried to comfort me and reassure me that it was "probably nothing", but I'd been burned by those words before, and now I no longer had any confidence in them.  I was vulnerable, and would be forever.  I was scared.
I'm sure the good doctor called ahead to the hospital to give orders for our little one's care, but she without a doubt warned them about me.  When we got to the floor where Michael was to be admitted, we were treated overly nice, reassured, and given every possible accommodation.  My swollen eyes and tear-stained cheeks were a sure giveaway to the trauma I was experiencing all over again. I was a mess. I should have been in the bed instead of Michael.  I never felt so defeated, trapped, and alone.

Not long after we had gotten settled in at the hospital, one of our pastors came up to visit us.  He hugged me and let me know how much we were loved and cared for.  He prayed for Michael, and for us.  Weird to say, but our need may have been greater in than moment than Michael's.  My soul was shattered, and my faith hanging by a thread.  Pastor told us of a conference going on at our church with over 1000 people in attendance.  Our need would be shared with them that evening, and they would all pray for Michael.  It was a great gesture, but I didn't put a lot of stock in it anymore, even though I wanted to.  I still believed in God, still believed and desired prayer, but it seemed more of a ritual now, not something that I really expected would make a difference. We had prayed hard for Sarah, built our faith to all time new highs, and yet she died. 

Blood work, spinal tap, all came back normal.  Antibiotics had been given "just in case", and within 2 days we were taking our little boy home again.  He was okay!  Nevertheless, the insidious fear that had already crept into my mind during Sarah's life and death continued to play with me month after month.  The slightest cold or fever, any hint of illness brought instant knots to my stomach, and a tightness that never would let me completely relax and enjoy life with this child.  There were too many "what ifs" blaring at me. I protected him like a mother lion, while still trying to not be overly protective.  I would do everything and anything I could to keep this baby safe.  I had failed miserably with the first; I wouldn't fail again.  Unreasonable and unrealistic beliefs and expectations crept in and took root. 

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