Month: April 2016

On Strep, Surgery and Finding My Mommy Brave

“Hey, Mom, you have four eyes,” Adellyn said, as the nurse, now giggling, released the brakes on her hospital bed and rolled her toward the large double doors where we would part ways.

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It was barely 9am, and just a few short minutes remained before I was going to kiss her on the head as she was wheeled into the operating room. She was going in for routine surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids, a common procedure done thousands of times every year for kids her age. Nonetheless, a scary mommy moment for me.

Clearly her “kiddie cocktail” had kicked in, and she was as ready as she could be, thoroughly looking forward to the popsicles and ice cream that were promised for later. I didn’t have a “kiddie cocktail” to help with my preparation. Heck, I hadn’t yet had a cup of coffee.

In between the “we’ll see you in Recovery unless there are extenuating circumstances,” and the hustle and bustle of machines and monitors and debriefs and doctors, I found myself overwhelmed for the bazillionth time with love for my kiddo and a hesitant acceptance of my complete lack of control over the outcome.

“Is she allergic to any kind of medicine, including anesthesia?” they asked.

I don’t know. She’s never had anesthesia. What if she is? What happens then?

“Is she healthy?”

Yes. I mean, I think so. But what do you mean by healthy? Should we check or double-check something to make sure she’s okay? Leave it to a medical situation involving my kiddo to make Anxiety Girl show her true colors.

After four rounds of strep throat, 40 days of antibiotics and a seemingly unending cycle of illness, I was ready for whatever it took to end the strep throat saga. As the nurse wheeled the bed with a little tiny five year-old through the double doors, there went my heart, handed over and surrendered to completely capable, yet complete strangers. And as much as I knew the surgery was best, the little girl on the hospital bed is my most treasured possession, and I just needed a moment to find my brave.

I get it, kids are meant to grow up. But it means some really, really hard moments of letting go and stepping back and releasing and trusting and having faith in them and their Maker. They should teach these things in Mommy School. They should have Mommy Schools.

I kinda think it doesn’t matter if it’s tonsils or tendons, sending them to preschool or college or down the street for a sleepover for the very first time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scheduled procedure or emergency surgery, if your child is 5 or 45, if you’ve been through it before a million times or never before. It doesn’t matter if you’re American or Israeli, single-parent, working mom, middle-upper-or lower-class. It doesn’t matter the color your skin or hair, what kind of house you live in – or don’t. What car you drive – or don’t. Raising babies is hard work. And we just can’t do it alone.

There was the nurse who took a minute to chat with me while A was waking up. There was the doctor that stopped by just to reassure me that all was well. There were videos and visits, balloons and books. There were movies and messages. There were frozen treats for the little and coffee and chocolate and conversation for the mama. My mommy-heart was made brave not by anything I could do on my own, but by selfless people who showed up in love.

“Mom, you still have four eyes,” said my groggy little girl two hours later. “And can I have my popsicle now?”

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The Holiest Thing

It’s 11pm on a Monday and I’m hanging with my five year old, watching Lego: Friends on Netflix.

Strep has struck again. A dose of antibiotics and a two-hour afternoon nap produced a seemingly endless supply of energy in a little girl who is unable to fall asleep. After she was tucked in and re-tucked in five times, read an extra story, went potty…twice, and had a tummy that “was wondering if it could have some yogurt because it was still hungry,” I gave up the bedtime battle and we are having ourselves a little Monday night party.

In the past two months, we’ve had six cases of strep between the two of us. Doctors appointments, prescriptions, phone calls to nurses, texts to doctor friends, replacing toothbrushes, bleaching sheets, disinfecting doorknobs and countertops and light switches, and last-minute schedule shuffling have recently become a regular part of life at Casa del Clark.

It always starts in the morning when A wakes me up with, “Mom, it hurts really bad when I swallow again,” and I go into strep shuffle mode.

Step 1. Call doctor at 8:02 am. Ask for the earliest available appointment.
Step 2. Check child’s temp to report to doc later, and give child dose of ibuprofen.
Step 3. Begin the schedule shuffle, canceling all non-urgent meetings and appointments.
Step 4. Send SOS texts to all available friends to help with child-care.
Step 5. Take child to doctor, confirm suspicion and keep child quarantined for 24 hours.

Rinse and repeat every 2-3 weeks as necessary.

I like to plan my work and work my plan. When things like a sick kiddo interrupt my expectation of how my day or week is going to go, my tendency is to scramble, trying to muscle my way through it all, shuffling the little girl to and fro, if necessary.

There is that meeting. Or appointment. There is the project. The deadline. The to-do list. And it all needs me, needs attention, or needs to get done.

It’s true, there are meetings and deadlines and projects and responsibilities. There are things that must get done and they are important. They bring great things to life. They create change and momentum and progress. Work and meetings and deadlines make the world go round. But the frequency and force of the two-month sickness strike has made me rethink my approach to these curve balls.

In a world of striving and achieving and constant climbing of one ladder or another, I’ve realized that for me, sometimes the holiest thing I can do is to stop trying and striving and willing my way, and instead, surrender to the unexpected or the unplanned or the interruption.

Cuddling up on the couch with a book and a cup of tea for a whole day. Sleeping in. Taking a different route. Leaving room in the day for the “by the way, do you have a minute” conversations. Hanging with a five year old at 11pm on a Monday watching Lego: Friends on Netflix.

Rhythms and routines are good. I thrive on them. But I’m finding there is adventure to be had and life to be lived in the interruption. The slowing down for a minute can be crucial. And sometimes, the very best memories are made in the most unexpected moments.