I have a lot of guilt when it comes to Abby.
God chose me to be her mother. It was my job to form and carry her in my body. I failed my very first, very important part God gave me as her mother. And I failed it miserably. My body thought her body was toxic. As her sweet little form tried to grow, it set off bells and whistles within mine. It took a toll on my kidneys, liver and blood pressure. There came a point where there was no other way: if we were both going to live, we had to do it separately.
I was her mom, and at 24 weeks, 6 days in an operating room in Norfolk, I gave her life. My mediocre beginning as her mother gave her a 50% chance at living.
After that it’s been one thing after another: it took almost 7 weeks to get off the vent. She had a grade 4 brain bleed. She developed hydrocephalus. Had to have laser eye surgery. Spent 104 days in the NICU. Had almost a full year where her adrenal glands weren’t functioning properly without medication. She’s had two brain surgeries. Multiple falls. Concussions. Seizures. All because of her birth and my crappy job.
Wednesday we had a funeral for a dear family member and were gone the majority of the day. Normally, busy days are no longer an issue for Abby. Yesterday afternoon she complained of a headache, neck ache, and seemed to react more to the day’s temperature. I let her rest when we got home. She perked up and I took her to physical therapy. Then we picked up things at Target, ate a sandwich for dinner and got to bed relatively on time.
In the mix of a very busy, emotional day, I did something I never do: I forgot her PM dose of her anti seizure medicine.
When I went to get her up for school yesterday morning, I heard her snoring, breathing softly and decided to give her 10 more minutes. She seemed to need the rest. I put Henry in his highchair with breakfast a blueberry waffle and pears. I got Jackson onto his chore of getting the trash, trash cans set out.
I went back in and called to her to get up. She wouldn’t answer me. She must be really exhausted this morning, I thought. Abby? Abby? Time to get up. Then I leaned down to her face and saw her eyes. The throw up on her pillow. I flung the covers back and got the strong wave of urine. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. If her brain was misfiring, so was mine. I slid the pillow out from under her head and tried to rouse her. I couldn’t. I ran for my keys and phone, ran for her medicine from the bag I’d brought to the funeral that was still in the car. I called 911. I fumbled and administered her medicine. Her body seemed to relax some. I heard the sirens and then realized Jackson was still doing the trash outside and had no idea what was going on inside the house. The sirens would scare him. I ran to the door and tried to tell him calmly, but he didn’t take it calmly. I couldn’t do both of them at the moment. I had him come inside and sit and breathe, but as the sirens got closer, I asked him to stand outside and show them in.
It was when the paramedic was there, and I was telling him about the medications she takes, what I’d already given her, that I couldn’t remember giving her evening dose. I COULDN’T REMEMBER. I don’t do this. I may get everything else wrong in a day, but I’m a good mother. How could I do this? Look what I’ve done.
And so I had to tell them I forgot to give her PM anti seizure medicine.
Then I had to tell the nurses and doctors at Riverside I forgot. All the CHKD transport people. All of Abby’s family. The new doctors and nurses at CHKD.
The guilt and shame that this was MY fault was like a badge I wore like a scarlet letter yesterday.
I had to keep telling myself that I am a mom, a good mom. I am also a human. I would never, EVER do anything to harm one of my children, whether giving birth too early or being so tired I forget a dose of medicine after a long day. But it happens. It can happen in small, inconsequential ways, like forgetting to pack a lunch, or in big, glaring ways, like forgetting to give a medication. But it still happens and it still sucks.
God knew about a little something I didn’t: Abby had outgrown her Keppra dose. She’s put on six pounds since the beginning of the year. When you’re five, that’s a big difference. She was getting a dose of 3 and really needed 4.5. A seizure was going to happen.
With too low of a dose, she could have had a seizure anywhere, at anytime. She had it safely at home, with me. She recovered quickly with her rescue medicine. She had great medical teams from the paramedics to the nurses/doctors. She didn’t have to stay the night in the hospital. She is feeling much more like herself this morning.
The missed dose also showed us something very important — she needs this medicine. We started it as precaution from her one seizure after her fall and had talked about discontinuing it in about 6 months. One dose should not have done that with someone who was going to wean off the medicine. We were always warned about seizures but had hoped she was the minority. She’s not, and that won’t happen now.
I read this devotion yesterday morning when yesterday was just any other morning, before it became THAT morning. It didn’t mean anything to me. It’s something I’ve heard and read 1,000 times over. This morning if feels so different because I often think of my children as MY children. I forget they’re their own people to God.
This morning, I read this and it wasn’t my devotional, it was Abby’s.
“God planned every single day of your life. Before you took your first breath, God knew every single event of your life.
Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God. It is not fate, or chance, or luck, or coincidence that you are breathing at this very moment.
You’re alive right now because God wanted you — with all of your strengths and weaknesses — to be alive.
Whether your parents were good, bad, or indifferent, God used them because they had the exact DNA needed to create you. God wanted you alive. From the beginning of time, God has had a plan for your life — and he has a purpose he wants you to complete.
No one else could have made you to be you.”
Giving myself a healthy dose of grace today, because God’s already planned it.