Once upon a time a little over fifteen years ago a young mother rushed her six week old infant to the Emergency Room a mere five minutes from her home with a high fever, vomiting, and respiratory distress.
After waiting what seemed like an eternity they admitted the six week old infant to the hospital. They put this young mother’s baby in a crib that looked more like a prison cell with its tall sides and metal bars. They stuck and poked this perfect little baby over and over to get an IV to stay. In the end this poor, sick little infant had an IV successfully places in the top of her head.
For three days this young mother sat by the bedside of her sick infant. Slept in ways that made her neck ache and her back groan. The sleep never really bringing rest, but sleep she did when she could. Her breasts were heavy with the milk that she could not give her infant because they wanted to monitor her young babe’s fluid intake.
The room was quiet. The phone hardly rang. The television was silent because the young mother trying to be frugal, decided not to pay the fee required to use the television set each day.
Fast forward fifteen years.
This mother, while still young in the eyes of many, was seasoned with fifteen years of mothering experience. The young infant has transformed into the beautiful young woman before her mother’s eyes.
This beautiful, young woman became very ill, so very quickly and for a moment her mother was frantic not knowing exactly what to do. After a call to the doctor’s office it was decided that this mother would rush her daughter to the Emergency Room.
While there was that same Emergency Room that she rushed her daughter off fifteen years earlier, now even closer to her home than it was fifteen years ago, she has to load up her daughter and her daughter’s bucket into the trusty family van and drive to a hospital thirty minutes away.
When arriving at the hospital this mother wrung her hands in distress over all the waiting they had to do to even get her daughter the IV that she desperatly needed, the one they all agreed she could use because of the vomiting.
Because it just would.not.stop.
While fifteen years earlier the young infant fussed and cried and in the end was rocked and nursed to sleep, this young woman now laid on a bench with her mother gently stroking her hair. When the young woman finally fell asleep the mother turned to her phone and her friends.
It was a simple game of scrabble, but it kept the mother grounded. It kept her from wondering what if. It kept her pleasant with the nurses and doctors as they patiently waited for their turn to get back into a room. Oh how she was thankful for those friends near and far who by just pushing some lettered tiles around a board helped her more than words can ever express.
When they decided they were keeping this young woman in the hospital over 30 minutes from her home the mother felt completely torn. She had to go home, to get stuff together for her other daughter, to let out the dog, to eat and take her medicine. She knew her daughter was in capable hands, but it was as if she was a failure because she had to rely on someone else to care for her.
The doctor reassured her, told her to go home, told her they would take excellent care of her teenage daughter. She talked to her husband and he agreed with the doctor. She wasn’t the same young mother she was fifteen years earlier and trying to sleep in a chair at her daughter’s bedside would do terrible things to her already strained and stressed body. She needed to be at her best for her daughter, so she decided once she was all settled in her room, she would make her way the 30 minutes home to rest and come back up first thing in the morning.
The nurse was shocked when this mother decided she needed to go home. Not that it was hard to bring that guilt rushing back to the surface. The plaster she used to cover it up that guilt slowly cracked away when she said to this mother, “Oh, I see how it is. You just have something better going on at home.”
The mother nearly burst into tears, but her sick girl looked at her mother and told her to go home. “Mom you need your rest and I will just be sleeping here, its really okay.”
The guilt was still racking at her heart when she pulled out of the parking lot to make the 30 minute trip home. It was still there when she stopped to eat for the first time all day long well after the sun had set. And yet even stronger when she stopped to pick up her younger daughter to take her home to bed and tuck herself in as well.
She woke early the next morning and after getting up her younger daughter and tending to the dog she drove that 30 minutes back to her daughter.
When she arrived her room was dark and warm. Her daughter, this young woman whom somedays she hardly recognized, look so frail and tiny in that hospital bed. Her hand still tucked just so in the nook of her neck where the mother once snuggled and kissed. A place that has always held her hand while she slept.
She kissed her daughter’s forehead and brushed away the hair.. She lingered there just inhaling her scent, so thankful that she looked so peaceful and content. She sat in the dark, drinking her coffee and watching her sleep. All the while, praying that whatever was wrong with her sweet baby would be found and that they would soon leave this place for their cozy home thirty minutes away.
Every so often her phone would chirp and buzz reminding her of friends some that she has never met, and most that have never met this girl, offering words of encouragement, of love and prayers and support. And, of course, the occasional game of scrabble.
When her daughter woke, she looked deep into her eyes and knew that no matter what. Everything was going to be okay.
After many tests the woman and her daughter were sent on their way with a very generic diagnosis of gastroenteritis and well wishes from the staff. The staff that took such good care of them during her daughter’s stay. Staff that thanked them for their kindness and patience and pleasantness.
This mother realized something right then and there, it was because of these connections all over the world that helped her to be someone that the staff was sorry to see go. That without her amazing support system she would have been that crazed mother.
So without further ado, she thanks each and every one of you because of this community she has become a better person and probably a better mother too.