You never know how much courage you possess until you need it, and even then you may not always feel you have enough. Courage isn’t about a lack of fear, but of going forth while fear holds on making each step heavy. It is then that faith kicks in. Most of the time for me it is faith that my courage will not fail, and that I have the strength to face what is to come.
As a mother I worry about my children, their health, their safety. Things happen that I cannot anticipate, and what starts out as something seemingly benign suddenly becomes a crisis of epic proportions. When that happens all that remains is courage and faith.
Courage and faith are what keeps me doing what needs to be done.
I’ve shared what those first days of motherhood where like, when I struggled to bond with each of my children. In those early days it was hard for me to feel anything other than fear. I put my heart on hold, focusing on just getting through each moment before I could truly bond.
When my daughter was four she caught what I at first thought was a cold. I did what most mothers do in such cases, I comforted her and loved her while dosing her with Tylenol. Everything seemed fairly normal. She’d had colds before.
One evening while giving her some tomato soup she started to swell up. I directed my husband to take her to the ER, while I stayed home with our then infant son. I thought perhaps she was having an allergic reaction. When he called to check in it turns out that something else was going on, and they had put an oxygen mask on her. My husband wasn’t really sure what it meant though, but said that the nurses seemed to know what they were doing by way of reassuring me. I asked him how quickly they were moving, to which he said they had flown into a flurry of action. I knew that meant something very bad.
It seemed like forever waiting for my one nearby friend to arrive to watch my son so I could race to the hospital. I had just enough sense to know that taking an infant to the ER was not advisable if I there was another option, and had packed a hasty bag for my daughter of all her favorite things. Beyond that I was in a tizzy.
When I got to the hospital the nurses were very glad that I had shown up. I overheard one of them say, “Oh, good. Her mother’s finally here.” For some reason that set my internal mother alarm screaming. Seeing my little four year old daughter in an oxygen mask did not calm me, but for her I gave every appearance of calm to sit beside her and hold her as best I could without getting tangled in all the tubes and wires.
My daughter was given x-rays and admitted to the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit). She was given the room right next to the nursing station, the one with the window so the nurses could see her at all times. They were all calm and efficient and reassuring, but I knew everything they weren’t saying. My daughter was in serious danger.
It turns out that one of her lungs was leaking, but why was anyone’s guess. Her cold turned out to be swine flu, which may have contributed to or caused the condition. Again, no one seemed sure about that. My husband and I played tag team because we didn’t have family in the area. He would stay with her during the day and used the hospital’s WiFi to work, while I tended our infant son at home. At night we would switch off.
Fortunately after several days of monitoring her body healed without surgery or anything more than antibiotics, pain management, and oxygen. Those were the days of courage and faith for me. It took courage to hear what the doctors were saying and faith to believe they were doing all they could. It took courage to be there for my daughter, and faith that my comfort would help her. It took courage to attend to my son and daily life, and faith that it would all work out.
Looking back I am amazed how we all came through it. To look at my daughter now you’d never know. For her it has become a memory of being merely bored and uncomfortable. For me it is a testament to the strength of the courage and faith that carry me through as a mother. We’ve had other scares since then, and as my children are still so very young I expect we shall have more. I shall face it all with courage and faith.
*Photo: Light at the end by mtkopone, obtained through Flickr.