1. They Mommy Paranoia – I have never been a paranoid parent – I was never one to over-react over hurt children and illnesses. In fact I always erred on under-reacting. Not any more. I don’t think I over-react, but I definitely keep a closer eye on all of my children when they start complaining about stuff or get quite sick – especially our new baby.
2. Second Guessing – Because of the situation in which Jacob’s defect was discovered I have gained an annoying habbit of second guessing myself. Although there was no way of knowing something was wrong, part of me still says I should have noticed – so that has created a complex where I feel that sometimes I can’t trust my own judgement. Personally I think it is pretty normal with Moms and Dads who have children with serious illnesses. Thankfully, the feeling of not trusting in my own judgement as much is ballanced with trusting in God more.
3. Preparedness – I am more prepared for emergencies both small and large. It caught us by surprise this whole heart defect thing. On the rare occasion I had heard of a heart defect I figured that thye were few and far between. Before Jacob none of my children had had anything worse than a nasty cold. I lived in a bubble where I never realized that any of these terrible things could happen to my family. That bubble has been burst and it is a good thing. I have a large first-aid kit in my car for what ever could happen. I have an army of phone numbers with me and an emergency cell phone. My family and I have been working on making sure we have our 72 hour kits up to date. This experience has just made me aware that you never know what is going to happen in life and a little preparation goes a long, long way.
4. Family and Marriage – Having a child with CHD, or any serious illness, has a huge impact on family dynamics. Jacob was our fourth child and it hit our children hard – especially our second daughter. Suddenly our three girl’s long wished for baby brother was in the hospital and Mom and Dad were gone almost constantly for weeks on end. While we tried our hardest to spend at least an hour or two every evening with our other children it still affected them dramatically. When I took Jacob in for his minor, one-day, procedure last year (two years after his surgery) my second daughter anxiously asked, “Is he okay, how long will you be gone? Will you be gone really long again?” She was anxious and rightly so. The effects can be lasting and take time and years of love and patience to find a place where everyone can feel secure and stable again.
Marriage can be strongly affected too. Paul and I pulled together and were grateful that we had each other to lean on. We cried together, we prayed together, and came out of the experience a lot closer, and, in Paul’s case, a lot grayer. 😀
5. Trust in God – When everything is completely out of my hands and there is no one to turn to, no comfort to be had, I know that I can turn to my Father in Heaven and that he will lift me and give me the strength to carry on and make it through. My love for Him has grown.
6. Zest for Life – All of our children have it, our Jacob has it in spades. I have learned to encourage it, relish it, and love it. To see the world as they see it, so fresh and new. Taking time to enjoy even the smallest things. Learning to be my silly self again and not always the serious Mom. It is a rediscovery of who I am and who I want to be. You never realize how much you take for granted until you almost loose, or loose, some one close to you.
7. Service – I can’t even count the numerous people who dropped everything for us and served us in ways they didn’t even know. Both strangers and friends.
There were blankets that we recieved that were made and donated to the hospital, there was an easter dinner for all the Pediatric patients, families, and staff, there was an annonymous food card so we didn’t have to spend money on food, a friend found out we had nothing our first night at the hospital and went and bought us all the bare essentials, there were meals brought in to us, there were friends handling calls so I didn’t have to constantly go over all the details, there were hugs, there prayers in multiple countries and multiple religions.
The list goes on and on.
After receiving such amazing love and support from others I am more eager to give. I know what a difference it makes and I am eager to teach my children to love, help, and serve others.