Monday, March 14, 2011

(2 Karats and a Kid) Mommy 101: DO. NOT. FREAK. OUT.

Mommy-ism #5:  Whatever happens -- Do. Not. Freak. Out. YOU are now someones protector and superhero -- and superheroes do not lose their cool.

A week had passed since Roman had come home and I was finally starting to get a rhythm.  Pat had gone back to work and during the day and my mother would come over to assist with the baby while I napped.  From the very beginning, Roman and I napped in the same bed during the day, and most times when my mother was in the other room assuming that we were sleeping, I was in fact, lying there staring at him wondering how could someone so little evoke such an immense feeling of love.

The truth is that babies are scary, frightening, and powerful little beings.  Though they look helpless they in fact can bring a 300 pound man to his knees with a smile.  Imagine every type of love that you have ever felt - a first love, a friend's love, a parent's love, love for a pet - then imagine putting all of that love into one person and THEN you can imagine how powerful a child is.

While in the hospital, during one of the morning rounds, the on-call pediatrician conducted a routine check of Roman's vitals.  As she laid the stethoscope on his chest, immediately I say a flash of apprehension on her face.  Though I had only been a mother for less than 24 hours, immediately I knew that something wasn't right.

Over the course of the next two days, after testing and further examination, we were told that "everything would be okay" BUT that Roman had an "heart issue" that would require us to consult a cardiologist for further information.

When the day came to finally go to the doctor, I anxiously prayed that there was some mistake and that we would be dismissed to go home and enjoy our little boy without worry.  Yet, after an hour with Roman's pediatrician, we learned that the ultrasound revealed that our son had a congenital heart defect, called a ventricular septal defect (vsd), which was more simply described as a "moderate to large hole in between the lower two chambers of his heart."

While the doctor tried to assure us that this defect was "fairly common" and "easily repaired with surgery" if it didn't close on it's own - hearing the words "HEART. HOLE. DEFECT. SURGERY" was enough to nearly give me a heart attack.

As we drove home from the pediatrician, I tried to put on a positive face for my husband but I was devastated.  Perhaps it was a combination of sleep deprivation,  fatigue, and my crashing of hormones but a battle raged within me where my fear was overtaking my faith. 

I was a wreck.

When we arrived home I went into our room with the baby and cried for the greater part of an hour. 
[Imagine Pookie from New Jack City + an embattled wife from a Lifetime movie + a homeless mother from a T.D. Jakes movie = Me.]   I was afraid like I've never been afraid of anything in my life and I didn't know what to do.  Suddenly, I wished I could put Roman back in my tummy where I knew he was safe because the realness of being a parent felt like too much for me to bear and I didn't know if I was ready for what it would take to get through this situation.

About an hour into my nervous breakdown, my parents showed up at our house, only to see my bloodshot eyes when I opened the door.  I don't know if I have ever felt as if I needed my parents more than I did that day.  I needed to feel safe and protected in a way that only parents could provide and seeing them instantly made me feel better.

Over the course of the next few hours while my parents visited, they never solicited further details about the doctor's appointment or Roman's heart issue - they simply filled the time with jokes, random stories, news tid-bits, and my father's upcoming retirement.  When I briefly mentioned Roman's appointment, my mother simple smiled and said, "That Roman will be just fine. I already know this - so I'm not worried one bit."

For the first time that day, I believed he would be okay too.

In the back of my mind I wondered how my parents could be so confident and unfrazzled in light of the news but it wasn't until they were headed out the door that I saw a tear in my father's eye that I got "it".

As my parents, my mother and father put on a brave face. Yes, they were worried and anxious because they knew that their child was in pain.   Yet, as my parents, they knew that they had to embody the hope that I struggled to find in that situation.  As my protectors, they had to convey confidence because they knew that I looked to them for some sense of security, for some level of assurance, and for some confirmation that everything would be okay.

On the day that felt like one of the scariest days of my life, I learned how to be a parent.

I realized from that day forth, Roman would look to my husband and I to be assured that "things would be okay."   From that day forth, no matter how much I would want to run "home" into my parents arms, now I would have to the person who convinced my son that there was no obstacle that we couldn't solve together as a family.

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