When Your New Year Starts On the Wrong Foot...

The last place I wanted to spend time with a baby during the flu season was in the the ER. We walked in with our invisible force fields engaged and when they said, "Have a seat" we said thank you, thought  No thank you, and then stood in the corner trying not to breath anyone's air. 

Straight ahead of me, next to the "Ask us for a mask if you have flu symptoms" sign was a woman stretched along the length of four chairs, looking for all the world like she had the flu... and not wearing a mask. Fortunately for us, they gave priority to the baby and we made it through triage and into a room without touching anything except each other. 

Peaches' stomach had repeatedly rejected the pink medicine previously prescribed and we made the midnight trip to see what could be done for our daughter. She had been so very sick and this is where healing had to begin.  For too long, there had been an invisible aggressor in her tiny body. An infection that snuck in masked by the crankiness of brand new teeth and imitating the runaway viral fevers of our friends and family members. As she lay limply in our arms during those days, we talked about the "virus" and how it didn't act like we thought it should... and finally, we asked for help.

Day 1 at the ER
I remember the doubt in the nurse's voice when I called on the phone. She thought I was one of those parents who calls the doctor for every sniffle or fever, but the doctor (God bless her) said "They know what they are doing... give them an appointment." Hours later, we knew that Peaches needed more help than we could give her on our own.

She cried softly as we walked down the sanitized hall, like a little kitten mewing, and my heart broke remembering all the days of pain when we just didn't know. She had been mildly ill for a week but the worst of it started on New Years Eve. I missed almost every moment of Mass while she screamed. It was the same humbling Mass when we arrived too late for the boys to serve as scheduled. And the same confusing Mass during which a faithful Catholic mother admonished me for allowing my unhappy child to cry during the Consecration (even though I was not actually in the church)... and told me I should nurse my baby. I was silent... but oh, it wasn't easy. 

So my New Year started off backwards and upside down; not with cheerful, hearty resolutions and "can do" spirit but in the lap of humility and fear while I continued to hold my suffering child day after day, hour after hour. I submit that to the holy will of God and trust that the journey has His blessing.

Yesterday was the third visit to the ER for a series of shots that we thought a better alternative to being admitted for several days. As we drove into the parking lot, we passed the cancer center. Passed it. Because we do not have cancer. She was sick but she is healing. We also passed a medical chopper ready to take "an ICU situation gone sour" to a different hospital. We would not be using those services today either. I put my hand on Peaches and thanked God that we would be leaving in our car.

Day 3 at the ER. Smiles begin to return.
The changes in just three days have been dramatic. Those nasty shots are filled with something rather potent. Pretty amazing. We avoid antibiotics as much as possible but praise God for them when they can restore health. To see those little apple cheeks smiling at me again is a beautiful thing. And so antibiotics are also a beautiful thing.

Ready for her shots.
E. Coli. An organism so small that I could not see it with the naked eye turned my New Year's upside down... and forced me to hold my baby so much that I fell more deeply in love with her even while I struggled with my own limits.

What is it about service that changes us so profoundly? Even reluctantly walking the path of sacrificial love seems to transform the heart into something a little more like the One Who created it... and instill a greater thirst for that Creator.

Precious Feet.
I don't passionately attend to New Year's resolutions, because I usually feel as if I am still trying to tackle the ones from the previous year, but neither do I avoid them. Lord, show me Your plan and I'll do my best. Where do you want me to go this year? Walk with me and I'll be fine.

And so this year starts off with helplessness and humility and a reminder of the fragility and brevity of life. I can't really complain about that. 

Happily waiting for healing.
My Saint for the year is St. John the Baptist. After I randomly chose the name I thought "Oooh... he's hardcore" and I wondered what this year would be like, walking under his guidance and imitating his love. What defined this great saint? I wrote down some words...

Prophet.
Passionate. 
Burning with Love.
Fearless.
Willing.
Bold.
Suffering.
Baptizing.
Repent!

I will try to quiet down this year and let him speak and teach me how to be excellent in the place God has called me. If that means that I hold a baby close for the rest of the year and have no other particular accomplishments, then may it glorify God! (Humanly speaking, however, I do hope I get to keep my head.)

My word for the year is ...
FREEDOM

When I am feeling overwhelmed and anxious, I recall those first days of new life in Christ twenty years ago. I breathed freely for the first time. I was released from chains and embraced by exhilarating Love. There is no reason that I should voluntarily return to a place of fear. I am His own and I am free. The root of my joy is Christ and if I trust, then I will find my shackles unlocked, free to run and to fly. In my weaker moments, I imagine that I am still chained by anxiety and inadequacy, but it is an illusion.

My resolution/motto for the year is...

Quiet down. 
Get up and walk. 
Again and again. 
For as long as He asks.

Not particularly profound but certainly functional. If I were inclined toward tattoos, I'd ink it so that my kids could read it to me all day long. 

I am under no illusion that I am going to accomplish great worldly things this year. I am just throwing out a guess that I'll be no better at most things during the coming year than I was last year. So I'm just going to keep going, one foot in front of the other, until God tells me to change direction.

Thank you all for your prayers for little Peaches. She is a very pleasant and happy baby and is eagerly embracing her return to health. And I got to take a shower today. God be praised!

Posted on January 13, 2014 and filed under "Baby", "New Year's resolution", "sickness".