Last year I was invited to contribute to a book of essays written by moms around the globe. I was asked to write about a pivotal moment in my journey as a mother or about my overall experience since becoming a mom.
As many of you know, my daughter, Holly, was born with nine birth defects but she is a real fighter! She has been through A LOT but still keeps going.
I would like to share with you the essay I wrote for the book “When You’re Done Expecting: A Heartfelt Collection of Inspirational Stories and Advice on Motherhood”.
As I sat beside her hospital bed, I stroked her hair as she tried to sleep. The pain medication she was receiving via the one of the three IVs she had was helping but not enough. Ever since she was a little girl, every time she was in the hospital, she would always ask me to sit and run my fingers through her hair to help relax her. Little did she know that this simple gesture was helping me too. To be able to touch my sweet girl, trying to reassure her that everything would be okay, made me feel like I was doing something, anything, to help her feel better and take away some of the pain.
This was her fourth surgery in three weeks to remove metal rods that had been holding her spine together as she grew over the years. Except now, at the age of twenty-five, that metal was causing complications in her body. The rods were rusting and breaking down, creating a severe staph infection that was very hard to treat. Each surgery was supposed to be the one to fix the situation but instead it seemed to be worse than the one before. And for the first time since she was born, with everything she had been through, my little girl opened her eyes and told me she couldn’t do this any more. She was ready to give up.
This was her twenty-eighth surgery for her congenital scoliosis that she had been born with. It was part of a set of birth defects called VACTERL Syndrome. And it seemed like we had spent a good portion of her life at the Children’s Hospital. Now, though, she was an adult, but that didn’t matter. She was still my baby, hurting so bad that she didn’t care what happened to her. She just couldn’t handle the pain anymore. And my heart was breaking.
I had always called Holly my “Energizer Bunny” because, despite the odds of her disabilities, she kept going and going. She walked when they said they didn’t think she would. She danced. She went to a regular school. She was a straight “A” student despite surgeries, doctor’s appointments, IV therapy at home, feeding tubes at times. She was fighter. But that day, the defeat I saw in her eyes was almost too much for me to bear.
As I continued to sit by her side, she finally fell back to sleep. But memories started to flood my mind. Of handing her to the nurse when she was six weeks old for her first surgery, so scared as a new mom that I was lost. Of having to put her in a plastic body cast daily from the time she was eight weeks old, hoping that it would mold and shape her little body as she grew. Of the countless hospital visits to her seven different doctors to make sure she was growing, thriving and keeping her the healthiest we could as parents and doctors. Of the hospital waiting rooms, sitting as patiently as I could, waiting for the surgeons to come out to tell me that, yet again, a surgery or procedure had been successful. Of the other parents who were at the hospital with their little ones, feeling emotions very similar to mine. We were kindred spirits in a place we didn’t want to be, wishing what all parents do for their children: to be healthy, whole and happy.
Over the next several days, Holly continued to fight the infection that was ravaging her body. But it was only that one time when she wanted to give up. After that, we all encouraged her, prayed for her, and supported her in any way possible to let her know she could do it. She would come out on the other end a survivor and we – I – would survive this battle too.
Today, I talk to my daughter via FaceTime. We try to make sure to chat each day. She has had more surgeries since this one but has faced each one just like all the others she has endured. She still faces daily challenges and continues to amaze me with her strength and courage.
As for me, I still see her as my baby. It doesn’t matter her age – she is my daughter and I fight to protect her, love her, help her, each and every day. Now Holly has a wonderful man by her side, her husband, who supports her and is such a blessing not only to Holly, but to our whole family. He accepts my daughter just like she is and that is an unbelievable gift. And because of my daughter’s courage under such incredible circumstances, she has enabled me to handle a divorce, cancer and now a very rare, chronic illness I deal with on a daily basis.
The love of a mother and child is priceless. It is beautiful. It is a gift from God. And God gave me a beautiful present the day my daughter was born.
Love & Hugs!
PS – If you would like more information on “When You’re Through Expecting”, just click on this link.
My Author Journey