Saturday, February 1, 2014
If blood makes you squeamish, you probably should skip this post. But if you have suffered loss, maybe you will understand. I have a daughter who is turning seven next Wednesday. Part of that seems surreal to me, because she was our last newborn and she has been very attached to me from day one. She loves to tell the story of how I didn't want her, but I grew to love her any way. Ah, but there is more to that story. I was visiting my oldest grandson and daughter in law in Maine when we got the call. I had taken our last trip with a baby girl we had cared for more than a year, and it was a bittersweet time knowing this angel would not become a permanent part of our family as we had expected through most of her days with us. I was at the emotional breaking point knowing our loss would result in her unification with her family of origin, but the pain in my heart was almost more than I could bear. Foster care had worn me out to the point that I had said, more than once, I was finished laying my heart on my sleeve. I just couldn't suffer another loss such as the one of losing her. It was more than a death to us, and we knew it had become exactly what the state had wanted by reuniting her to her birth mom, but our hearts sensed it would never be ok for us to endure the emotional loss coming for us when we had to say goodbye. The trip to Maine was coming to an end, and I would be flying home the next day. I got "the call." A caseworker who had become more of a friend, was telling me about a baby, just born, who needed to be placed in foster care the next day. "Nope. We have decided not to take anymore foster kids," or something like that had swirled around in my heart and came tripping out of my mouth. "Oh", said the caseworker/friend. "Your husband just said 'yes.'" I think my palms went sweaty, and I swallowed a lump. Of course, I called dear hubby. In the end, I was tentative, but it could still fall through by the time I returned home the next day. As my plane landed at the airport, there was already a text on my phone. He had purchased a baby car seat, my mom had already stocked us in formula and diapers,and had washed the box of newborn clothes. With a snow storm and a foot of snow greeting me, we headed home just a few hours before my "no" baby was in my livingroom. Her original name was Patience. I saw her face and knew immediately she would be forever ours. So, a rocky start, but a beautiful baby, changed our life again. Our sweet foster daughter returned home shortly after the baby came, and my heartache and grief at her loss was soothed by a babe-in-arms. We grew to understand each other, and now I stand at the threshold of her 7th birthday. But it is not without fear. She went through many therapies due to her drug exposure in utero, walked with braced ankles and had to be coerced to talk. After she had ear tubes around two years old we noticed how much quicker she responded, how fast she picked up talking in big sentences. We spent a lot of time together as all the others were now in school, at least 1/2 days. By the time she turned 3 we began a contract with her birthmom to also parent her, as of yet, unborn sister. When that fell through, our hearts faced another break, crying for another loss. She seemed to get it. May 15, 2010. Tears fell so freely, while even she grieved a baby she would never know. A miracle took place that day when our African angel was born. We didn't know it then, but one day we would mark that day as when God's plan took root . This girl, sensitive to praying for a new baby, would pray for a solid year, until just after her 5th birthday, not one - but two!- babies would join us, "for keeps!" It was part of Gods plan, balm for our losses, a reason to understand the infinite grace of a loving Father. Jumping ahead, we are praying again. Our girl has been struggling with health issues, probably since her tonsils and adenoids were removed in 2012. They had a bit of trouble getting the bleeding to stop. Didn't set off many alarms then, but her nose bleeds increased to sometimes, 4 or more a day. They were often unprovoked, and enough to make this mamma concerned. We started last spring back at the ENT that had performed both of her earlier surgeries, to seek advice. We did saline sprays for dryness, allergy pills too. They looked up and around her nostrils, finding nothing of concern. "Some kids just bleed." Hmmm. By fall, she was tired of it, and me too. It became usual to pre-soak bloodied clothing, often a borrowed shirt from school that they had offered when her own had gotten too soiled. We left tables at restaurants to stop the bleeding but it was getting harder. Our pediatrician listened and did some bloodwork. Seems there was a possible clotting disorder. We went to a hematologist. As she bounced off the walls in the hemotologist office, she was the picture of a healthy kiddo. "Let's wait and see." Then the bloody stools began. Not a lot, but it was disconcerting. We were referred to a GI specialist, who poked her tummy. "Where does it hurt?" He asked. "Right here," and she pointed to the exact spot she had for a while. Another, wait and see. The blood increased, the nose bleeds stop, and the pain is still there. Today, she bravely pulled her sleeve up to expose an "awesome" vein, as the technician pulled even more blood from her arm. No tears now, because she has gotten quite good at this medical stuff. I scan the tubes of her blood, hoping, praying, there are answers in there. That the doctor will find what he needs before we go into her endoscopy and colonoscopy this week. It almost seems cruel to tell her she has to go through an invasive procedure this week, her 7th birthday week, but she takes the news like a champ. "I want to feel better mom. I hope they find out what's wrong." She silently looks out the car window,as falling snow and bitter cold impedes our travels home. I want to scream, cry, pound my fists on the dashboard. All the fears of the proceeding months assail all reason. I wonder how to pray. For this child. Prayers for answers, but please God, make them good answers. I plead,silently, so she can't see the raw fear. But she turns toward me and says, "It's gonna be a great birthday mom." Oh yes, I add, "you deserve it, sweety!" And she smiles. Being almost seven is the best ! Dear Father , let's make sure it's just one of many more to come. I don't feel as if my heart could take another loss.