Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nothing remains quit the same...

There are situations in our lives, circumstances we live through that forever change us. Something so huge and life altering it can cause us to change our world view. To change our entire perception on life and living. Motherhood was one such thing for me. It was a monumental change in everything I knew and everything I was comfortable with.

I was 33 when Jacob came along. I had been on my own since I was 18--before that really, when one thinks about how we pretty much raised ourselves in boarding school. I was married a week before my 27th birthday. I was used to my life being all about me. I knew where my paychecks went--they went to support Me. Free time was spent playing and entertaining, well, Me. Then along comes this tiny, little human--wholly and dependent on...Me. And it was the darkest, most difficult, most challenging time of my life. It had nothing to do with postpartum depression and every thing to do with having given birth to a child who did not sleep and married to a man who was barely home.

In a heartbeat, my world was forever changed. I, as the center of my universe, no longer existed. I found myself filtering all of my decisions through that. For example...I have never been a timid driver--I learned to drive in a 3rd world country. Overnight I became a very cautious, careful driver. And it wasn't just because of the most precious passenger in the backseat. Not only was I tasked with protecting this tiny baby, but I was tasked with doing everything in my power to remain the Mommy. When Kyleigh was a newborn and needing so much of my focus I refused to go out by myself with both children. I knew I would be unable to maintain the sense of awareness necessary to keep all of us safe, at the same time providing the attention both children needed. The baby was almost four months old when we ventured out as a threesome to the park. (And ended up in the emergency room with Jacob getting four stitches in his head. And unable to get a hold of their dad. But that's a different story all together!) My point is this...as parents our priorities shift and focus on our children. At least that's the way it's supposed to be. There are rights I had before that I no longer have. I no longer have the right to be selfish. I no longer have the right to put myself before all others. Even for those who find themselves as parents and don't want the job--that child's life comes first. Always.

I've spent a considerable amount of time this week in the pediatric ward of the hospital--the past couple of days in the pediatric intensive care unit--with Baby Brandon...who is doing fabulous, by-the-way. Yesterday afternoon I met a delightful little girl named Jenna. Her first birthday is today. The only love and attention she receives is from the picu staff--who spoil her totally and completely rotten. I don't know her full story or even why she's been in the hospital for the past three months. I do know her parents never come see her. When she leaves the hospital she'll go into foster care. I cannot even begin to fathom how a mother can abandon her child and yet, I know it happens all the time. I understand giving a child up for adoption--that's a completely different issue based on doing what is right and best for your child if you know you will be unable to care and provide for her. This is different--this is a case where a child got sick and her parents simply did not want to deal with it anymore.

This morning I sorted through some of Kyleigh's old clothes I had put aside for a friend. I washed all of the 12 month size jammies and disinfected some of the toys we had pulled out of the toy box--ones both children had outgrown. I had promised Jacob a trip out to pick up a new Lego set with some of his Christmas money. While we were out I found a small toy that a one-year-old girl might enjoy. I carried an extra bag with me tonight when I went out to visit Brandon and his parents. My first stop on the picu ward was the nurses station. I explained that I had met Jenna yesterday and my friend had told me a little about her history and that today was her birthday, I got her a small gift...if that was okay.

The gratitude, shock and amazement was overwhelming. One nurse even made a point to find me to let me know how much Jenna was enjoying her new toy. What did I do? I brought in used toys and clothes. It breaks my heart that I can't do more. That I can't bring her home.

I would like to believe that I would have felt this level of compassion and heartbreak all those years ago--but I don't know that I would have. I've recently come to accept one of my few regrets...I wish I had learned to be the woman I am now much earlier in my life. However, I know that it's because of my children I am who I am in this very moment. I like this version of me a whole lot more as well...I'm a far better person, woman, wife...human...because of these two who call me Mommy.

15 comments:

MONICA-LnP said...

You sound like an awesome mommy and your kids and your husband are very lucky to have you.
I am glad to read baby Brandon is doing well.thats fantastic!
My sis is a pediatric nurse and has to deal with this type of situation in her job a lot,partly because of this my sis has decided not to have children herself and does whatever she can to help those born unto parents who shouldnt even have children,these children she says are hers and she does what she can and as long as she can for them.

Soozcat said...

This is beautiful, Dori--both in the sense of the concepts being discussed and how they are being framed with language.

And I don't understand either how anyone could ever abandon a child. Especially as an infertile woman--one who has been known to tear up in bookstores when she reads titles like "I Love Mommy," as corny as that sounds--I can't see how anyone who had charge of a child, even... no, ESPECIALLY a sick child, could ever walk away from that. There's a soul-sickness in this world when parents throw away their little children as though they were refuse.

Marit said...

wow.

Dori said...

Monica, it did my heart good to hear there are people like your sister out there! The nurses I've met this week are like that too and love this little girl! And don't worry...I still have selfish moments!

Sooz...have I mentioned lately that I adore you? Are you sure we're not related?!

I've talked about it before so I choose not to discuss the reason WHY I was 33 when my son was born--there were 5 years spent dealing with infertility, miscarriages and hopelessness as far as having a child went. Paperwork was on my desk to get the ball rolling for adoption when I found out I was pregnant--again, and we were soooo cautious about getting excited and hoping, but he stuck around. And now there are TWO. During those years I couldn't walk past the parenting section of a bookstore without crying. I couldn't go to church on Mother's day. And I couldn't watch the news anymore because it seemed like there was constantly a story on about a baby being abandoned or abused.

OrdinaryLife said...

Your story made me cry. I get so upset when I hear new stories about children being abused or abandoned. I can barely read books that have mention of child abuse. When I hear things like that it makes me want to hug ny daughter and never let go. Isn't it amazing what human beings are capable of doing? Our capacity for evil is astounding. But thankfully, so is our capacity for love. I will say a prayer that little Jenna will find a wonderful family to love her like she deserves!

beth♥ said...

And... I cry. It's amazing what they do to us. Our children. We think we are raising them but, in truth, it is often the opposite. Oh, we feed them. But they... well, they feed our souls.

Yes, as an adoptee, I understand being given up for adoption. I will never grasp a child simply being left behind for any reason. Heartbreaking. You, my dear, may have extended only one small gesture but I guarantee those nurses will never forget your gift. Bravo.

MissKris said...

I am so, so glad to hear Baby Brandon is doing better! But the story of Jenna sure brought back memories for me. My parents were almost pioneers of Foster care back in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. I can hardly remember a time when we didn't have one or two kids staying with us, ranging from infants to teenagers. Their stories would break your heart, too. And Dear Hubby and I have done what you did many times, reaching out to help in such a way. It truly is more blessed to give than receive. And let's hope and pray Jenna is placed with someone who was as wonderful at fostering 'lost' children as my parents were.

Because of Love said...

Stop making me cry! (I cry way too easy these days.) It also makes me want to bring that baby girl home. Breaks my heart!

So glad that Brandon is doing well though.

And you are right! Being a mother does change everything about your life! Still learing that.

Tina said...

I too shed a tear. I would SO love to have another child to add to our family and well, not God's plan so far anyways. SO, when I hear of abandonment It hurts me to the core!!!

It is AMAZING how children make you view everything differently in life. They are truly a gift.

I appreciate what you did for that little girl. May she find a wonderful and loving family!!!

Suburbia said...

Wow, that was so good to read. I can identify completely with how the onset of motherhood effected you, it had the same effect on me to and I marvel at how we can continue to grow and change through our lives.

And, yes, how can that happen to a little girl or any of the children who are abandoned, it makes us want to hold ours all the more tightly doesn't it?

So glad Brandon is doing well. So glad Jenna enjoyed her gift. My wish for her is the same as yours.

HENHOUSE POTTERY said...

Dori, what a beautiful post. You explained motherhood in a way I've never really read or consciously thought about before. I never cease to be amazed by what a compassionate and caring person you are.

Erin said...

*sob*

This further encourages me to consider adoption.

Kate said...

I love that great big heart of yours, and your endless compassion and empathy.

I'd rather that darling girl be where she is, and able to receive your love, and the love and kindness of those wonderful nurses than with the "parents".

I don't know what their situation was, and maybe it was dire. But I am convinced she's safer, and better off without the people she "inconvenienced".

I hope she grows up strong, healthy, safe and loved.

Natalie said...

OK, I'm blaming the teary-eyed reaction from this post on pregnancy hormones, but thank you. I'm actually very grateful that you stated it wasn't a smooth transition at first because I felt like such a failure when I felt that way with my son.

In fact, I refused to ask for any help when nursing went so horrible because I thought it was all suppose to be "natural and wonderful" which then led to 9 months of stubborn torture from undiagnosed mastisis to split nipples. I could go on but that's probably a little too much info already, so I'll leave it at that.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on motherhood. I love my children dearly and want to be worthy of being their mother, but it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. It's also the most fulfilling, so thanks for the reminder.

randompawses said...

Dori, I already knew that you have a beautiful spirit, and this just confirms it. Bless you, dear.