Have you ever watched over a sick child with the overwhelming feeling of helplessness gripping your heart? We’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt!
Emily’s pediatrician in Chattanooga was an old-fashioned guy with some old-fashioned ideas. One of those ideas was that to do anything except breast-feed was tantamount to throwing your child off a cliff. You may think I’m exaggerating but I’m not. He was really this gung-ho.
We were young and dumb parents. Wanting to do what was right, we figured “doctor knows best” and followed his instructions to the best of our abilities. In the first few days of Emily’s life, she wasn’t doing very well so we went back to the doctor. His infinite wisdom placed the blame on us, especially Miss Vic, and said that she wasn’t doing something right. If she would breast-feed the correct way, this wouldn’t be happening. We went home with lots of guilt, feelings of personal inadequacy, and a determination to get this thing turned around. However, at the midweek church service that night, everything fell apart.
Miss Vic was holding Emily and the child just went limp. Nothing could arouse a cry or even a whimper. I placed an ice cube on the middle of her back and she wouldn’t flinch. Forget the doctor! We rushed to the ER with our child.
Emily was roused from lethargy only when attempts were made to start IV’s. I can still hear those pathetic cries. A parent’s heart is torn in pieces when you know your child is enduring pain and there is no way to comfort them. A nurse must have sensed my building frustration and she said, “It’s OK, dad, we’re just hurting her feelings.” Mess with my child and the “pastor hat” comes off. I told her, “Give me a needle and let me try it on you a few times and you tell me if it’s just hurting your feelings!”
At this point in the story, please don’t feel a need to scold me or to educate me on a better way to handle such things. Do not tell me that the nurses were doing their best. I’m well aware of that and would have said nothing had it not been for that nurse’s comment. My child was hurting and BEING hurt. And, I would have taken her place in a heartbeat if it were possible.
Finally, the IV is established and tests are run. We are not given much hope that she will survive. We are sent with her to her room to watch her and the hours progress.
Sitting alone in the dark, you do a lot of praying. You beg God for miracles. You bargain. You promise. You hope. As morning dawns, Emily’s condition has turned around and it looks like we have weathered the storm. We are going HOME!
Wait a minute…not so fast! A doctor arrives and says that they are going to take Emily for a CT scan before we can leave. When asked what was going on, he informed us that it appears that she was in renal failure and they needed to find out what was going on. In a split second, our hearts crashed once again.
As we waited for the test and results, I felt numb and formulating a prayer was impossible. This is when Romans 8:26 really became practical! “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
After about an hour, the doctor returns with Emily and we were sent on our way. The CT was normal and the abnormal renal tests were caused by the dehydration. God’s continuing grace saw us through once again.
A couple of years later while we were serving in Michigan, God’s continuing grace reached out to us again. We had been carrying a lot of guilt until Emily’s new pediatrician in Tawas, MI told us that Emily’s medical records clearly showed that the dehydration was caused by an intestinal parasite. We were told that a baby can dehydrate in an hour or less so just keep some Pedialyte handy and everything would be fine. When we questioned what we had done wrong, he assured us that we had done nothing wrong and nothing could have prevented it.
Gods continuing grace has put many good people in our lives through the years. Future blogs will tell those stories!