Tears. Lots and lots of tears. And shrieking newborn cries. A new cry. One I hadn’t heard from my five day old baby girl. I ran as fast as my recovering C-section body would allow. I stopped at the top of my stairs. I looked down and saw my husband’s panic stricken, flushed pink cheeked face look back at me. “I’m so sorry, oh my God!” More shrieking cries and soon panic struck over me. Why did I leave her to take a shower? He had our brand new, sweet daughter laying on the floor with each of his hands cradling the sides of her delicate face. He was on his knees and elbows, repeating to her, “Shh. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, little baby. Shhhhh, I’m sooo sorry…” What in the world did he do to our baby? He dropped her. I know he did. Brain damage? Head trauma? Death? I made it down the stairs in Olympic type speed and swept her right out of his hands.
“WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER?” My heart was in my throat and he was so exasperated that he could barely speak.
“I bit her!”
“You did what?”
“It was an accident…” My post-partum self wanted to throttle his neck. How is it possible to accidently bite someone, especially a newborn? Bullshit.
“YOU CAN”T ACCIDENTALLY BITE SOMEONE!” WTH?
“I…I…I…was trying to take her bib off and…” tears began to billow from his eyes…I was still scared and now pissed.
“I was using my teeth to detach the Velcro and didn’t realize her earlobe was so close. I think I ripped her earlobe off. I’m so sorry, oh my God. I’m so sorry…”
The expression, “Becoming a parent is like wearing your heart on the outside of your body” rang true for me, just five days into parenting sweet Sophia. My reaction to my husband may have been a little rough, but my fears and anxieties soared because we had to say goodbye to our sweet oldest daughter, Machaela, before we ever had a chance to be parents. We had to plan her funeral before her birth announcements, I was still learning to trust God that I could, indeed, be a mom.
Turns, out, she was fine. It was an accident. Her earlobe remained intact and so did our marriage. I mean what parent doesn’t at some point use their teeth to remove a bib? Little did I know that this new role of parenthood would be a lesson for me to learn how to deal with my own emotions.
We, as a family, have suffered a lot. Living in and out of hospitals and clinics proved to be tough. Watching them tie down your baby to insert a feeding tube into their tiny body is gut wrenching, so is watching them drug and anesthetize your baby to the point of unconsciousness. The fear of “what If they never wake up” wavers in between, “what if I don’t do this and I lose another one?” Decisions had to be made and the pros outweighed the cons. The temporary physical pain seemed more bearable than the pain of the unknown.
Soon I graduated into the next phase of parenthood. Learning how to deal with their emotional hurts: the ones that I can’t see, except for the crocodile tears that my babes shed when their heart hurts so much that they can’t bear it any longer. The invisible ouchies. The innocent ones. The ones that when they are afflicted with them, they learn how to quiet their soul until a word, a trigger, sight or smell brings it all back up again. It’s what our society calls being “strong.” Then the flood gates open and out of nowhere, after you thought they had a good day, they break down at bed time and tell how their bully won or how they were hurt by someone that they love, ever so much. They learn how their enemy scored another point on them. They learn how to harden their heart and build walls. The enemy moves in, ever so slightly, breaking their spirit a little more and stealing another small piece of their innocence. The small ouchies grow into even bigger monsters… and our littles learn fear. Our littles learn to hide and suppress their thoughts. They learn avoidance and they learn rejection. The complete opposite of what I have tried to teach them.
I cry out to God.
I realized the other day that this pain is greater than any physical pain they have ever encountered. As I cuddled and hugged my child as she bawled for family members she longed to see, I tried to think of all the comforting things that I could say. It wasn’t much. The real truth hurts and is painful. The longing to fulfill a role, familial and natural, is being denied and it’s a difficult realization to process. Her pain and burden became my own as I tried to explain the why’s and why not’s. Difficult. Especially when it’s hard for my own brain to reason. It’s hard to process as a Christian momma, am I wrong?
I’m still learning. Trying to figure out this road of parenthood. I keep things real, telling them the honest truth according to their ability to process it. Some of my kids know more than my others. Being open and honest is important, but hard. It’s a huge hard, not like the starting of an IV or feeding tube. It’s an invisible hard.
And I cry even louder to God. He cries back.
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17
What are your cries? What are your child’s hurts that have become your own. How do you comfort them, how do you remove the nastiness, or even better, how do you explain it?